Halloween Misunderstanding

As you can see by the photo at left, Jeffrey and I had a little misunderstanding regarding the parent-child relationship and my entitlements as the one who brought him into the world.  Simply put, it is the divine right of parenting to humiliate one’s offspring up to and including the point at which therapy is required.

The chicken suit, purchased by his GoGo, a.k.a. my mom, a.k.a. the Captain, did not make it fully on his person before he said, “All done.”  All done?  Hardly, my son.  We are far from done.  We are, in fact, only just beginning.

I figured it was time to share with him a story of my youth, which helped me to fully understand the iron fist of parental humiliation.  I’ll take you back to second grade where the rule of the McClelland household as legislated by the Captain was so eloquently stated, “You pick your play clothes.  I’ll pick your school clothes.”

Every morning the Captain laid out an itchy, velvet, smock dress (I must have had at least a hundred of those), which I begrudgingly hoisted over my uneven bangs.  (The Captain, as captured in my school pictures in grades K-5, cut my hair with a dull, rusty blade, but will forever insist the style du jour was an “angled” bang.  BS.)

Outside of school house I contentedly dressed myself like a clown, and paraded around the neighborhood like a colorblind orphan.  We had found a easy stride of compromise, the Captain and I…until she pulled out the plaid knickers and matching plaid, piped shirt.

I protested.  I cried.  I wailed in hysterics known only in Hollywood.  I made deals with the Devil.  I refused to go to school (yea right).  I begged her to spare me the humiliation and the ruination of my 7-year-old reputation.

The Captain would not relent.  In case I was unclear about the policy currently in place, she barked from the bottom of the stairs,”You pick your play clothes.  I’ll pick your school clothes.”

I wore the damn knickers…with a brown bag over my head.

I’m not quite sure that Jeffrey got his 2-year-old head around the moral of my childhood anecdote, but he wore that stinkin’ chicken suit to school this morning.  You see, sweet child, I waited 36 years for this moment.  “You pick your play clothes.  I’ll pick your school clothes.” Wipe those tears, and get to cluckin’.

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“Taking Back Tuesday”: You Say Yee-roh, I Say Gyro

It’s “Taking Back Tuesday,” and I’m facing my personal inventory of gripes head on today. I’m putting them all out there in the Wild West of the Universe and letting the Big Man Upstairs sort them out.  You’ll see them once, and never again.  They’re dead to me.  In no particular order of importance:

  • I’m tired of being wet.
  • I’m tired of political ads and, more so, of the people who think they are biblical truth.
  • I’m tired of cleaning up toys, stepping on toys, and having toys stuck to the bottoms of my feet; only to pick them up and have them dumped back on the floor when I go to the bathroom.
  • I’m tired of paying in the $4 ballpark for a gallon of gas.
  • I’m tired of shifting summer and winter wardrobes.
  • I’m tired of watching men get paid HUUUUUUUGE salaries for what a woman can do before breakfast, and without all the “atta boys.”
  • I’m tired of matching socks, only to find my pile of partner-less socks getting larger and larger.
  • I’m tired of trying to decide whether or not to turn on the furnace.
  • I’m tired of wiping boogers.
  • I’m tired of cooking delicious dinner morsels that get caked in a) barbeque sauce, or b) ketchup, or are c) fed to our dog, Snoopy Jones.

Therefore, I have no other recourse than to axe my entire stash of bitches and moans in one fell swoop.  Tonight to celebrate my purge of negativity, I’m having a gyro all by myself… in the center of the toy heap, in dry clothes still warm from the dryer, with one sock on, and the television off.  The kitchen is closed and the ketchup is going on the fries only.  Let the boogers run.  Let the politicians whine.  Let the boys eat macaroni and cheese drowned in Heinz.

God, I love Tuesdays.

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Halloween on the Verge of Ruin

When I was in elementary school, I sat alphabetically in front of Joy McElhinny in nearly every class from Kindergarten through fifth grade.  In my opinion, Joy was the complete package:  smart, funny, a gymnast (I was the Amazon in the back row of all the pictures), and the perennial winner of the most original, homemade Halloween costume.  Clearly her parents loved her more than mine loved me.  I was Tweety Bird for my first eight years of life; Joy’s mom wrote sweet messages on the peel of her banana.

Two of Joy’s costumes are forever etched in my scrapbook of childhood memories.  In third grade in Miss O’Reilly’s class, Joy dressed for the Halloween parade as a plate of spaghetti and meatballs, her cherubic face encapsulated by paper-mache, ground beef.  In fifth grade, the McElhinnys brought their A-game, and dressed the diminutive Joy as a box of movie theater popcorn.  I was, again, Tweety Bird.

The costume was one for the ages, a HUGE red and white striped refrigerator box (judging by Joy’s costumes, the McElhinnys must have bought a new refrigerator every October) topped with REAL popcorn.  She was the talk of McClellan Elementary School, and rightfully so.  For the rest of the fifth grade class, festooned in old bedsheets and fake blood, Joy made the Halloween parade feel more like a walk of shame…until the unthinkable happened.

You see, there was a design flaw in the popcorn box.  NO ARMHOLES!  As we were coming around the bus circle on the final stretch of the parade, Joy tripped over the speed bump and face planted on the asphalt.  NO ARMHOLES!  Wonder what her banana peel read the next day at lunch?  “Dear, Joy, Sorry about the costume.  Glad the dentist was able to extract all of your teeth from the inside of your lips.  Love, Mom.”

The fifth grade class was traumatized, not only for witnessing Joy’s painful fall–and her fall from Halloween grace, but in knowing that Joy’s trick-or-treating prospects were looking pretty dim.  No candy for Joy.

You can imagine our…joy, when little Joy rose from the ashes like a phoenix The Great Pumpkin.  That Halloween, Joy ate her candy with her back teeth.  She was one tough broad.

Moral of the story: This Halloween, don’t let Frankenstorm rain on your Halloween parade.  Buck up, little ones, just like Popcorn Joy did.  Grab a pillow case and an umbrella and run like hell.  Get your sticky little hands on a Category 5 candy haul.

Just make sure you have armholes.

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Who Knew?

Slap me silly and call me a fool because, clearly, I am an ignoramus.  Who knew?

I promise that given the apparent value of show ferrets, I only tailgated long enough to snap this picture as a public service announcement.  The show ferrets were never in danger.  In fact, if ever the situation arises, I’m sideswiping the K-9 police cruiser to avoid taking out a show ferret.  I’d ask that you do the same.

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Creative Last Minute Halloween Costume for Kids

We were all set for Halloween until this morning.  Jeffrey was going to be a chicken for Halloween, he’s been practicing his clucking for weeks.  Then we heard on the morning news that Allegheny County was under a code orange air quality alert from the National Weather Service due to high air pollution concentration levels, and were promptly forced back to the drawing board.  Given that children are considered a vulnerable population we’ve decided to go in a new direction, one that is equally healthy and hip.  Once again, Michael, you were ahead of your time.

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Taking Back Tuesday: Protecting Our Family’s Financial Future

For my new readers, “Taking Back Tuesday” is my personal, one woman crusade to give meaning and purpose to Tuesdays, by far the lowliest of the sept jours (That’s French for “seven days.”  Figured it makes me sound high society.)  Here’s how I will be making the most of this Tuesday, October 23, 2012.

Last night Jeff and I watched the Presidential debate together, and though I won’t be using “Taking Back Tuesday” to pontificate on our political stances, I thought I’d share with you our strategy for securing and growing the economy of our household.  I hope that our creativity and entrepreneurial spirit might help to inspire you to find your own solutions to the current economic crisis, and carve yourself a little piece of the proverbial American pie in the sky.

After taking a discriminating look at our current work/life balance, we both agreed that though some additional income would be desirable, we just couldn’t justify sacrificing the priceless time we spend as a family to increase our financial stability.  We had a little brainstorming session and came up with a solution that may seem a bit out of the box to you; but remember, we just want you, like us, to find a viable financial plan that works for you.  No judgement here.

What we discovered was that our son Jeffrey, who is just shy of his second birthday, is our family cash cow, and a completely underused resource…until “Taking Back Tuesday.”  We really see ourselves in a fortunate spot right now by sheer accident.  A few months ago, we showed Jeffrey how to put change into the slot of a big Piggy bank, and he was hooked.

“Money, money, money,”  he repeats on loop to friends and strangers alike with his sticky, little hand outstretched.  Really cute.  Disgustingly cute, at the risk of exposing my parental bias.  Without fail, folks open up their hearts and their wallets to indulge the cherub-faced little lamb. They feverishly dig into their pockets, purses and wallets, showering our little Rockefeller with loose change and an occasional bill, whatever they can spare.

Atta boy, sweet angel.

So I think you can see, we know we’re on to something big and we’re capitalizing.  Panhandle the hell out of Jeffrey while he’s still little and cute, before he becomes an obnoxious, awkward tween; then flip that money into a few rental properties and high yield bonds, and call it the American Dream.

See how great Tuesdays can be.  God bless America.

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Memoirs of a Middle Child: Never Too Early to Celebrate the Birth of the Golden Child

It’s a given of the McClelland family birth order, that I was destined for a life of neglect,  hand-me-downs, and leftovers; the scraps remaining from meeting the every whim of my older brother Matthew, the Golden Child, and my little sister Mindy, the Duchess.  For years I have eaten crusts, longing for a sweet bite of the intersection where peanut butter meets jelly.  My parents had their priorities and clearly the poor, orphan, middle child was not in their top ten.

(Dear Mom and Dad,  It was really tough being raised by that pack of wild wolves you left me with on your family trip to the beach.  I just wanted you to know that I waited next to that trash can in the Arby’s parking lot for a good day and a half before I figured you weren’t coming back, but I’m not mad at you.  Just a little hurt and forever nauseous of the smell of hot grease and ketchup.  There are people far less fortunate than me.)

This year my birthday was overshadowed by elective dental surgery and the honorable birth of my sister’s first child and heir to the throne.  You can, therefore, understand my nose being a bit out of joint when my mom, the Captain, and my dad, Mr. Wonderful, kicked off the Golden Child’s birthday homage an entire month before the blessed date.
Never can start to early, waaaaaaaaaay too much to celebrate with that kid.

My parents put their heads together and sang into the receiver (speaker phone is technologically out of their league), their most heartfelt rendition of Happy Birthday.  It was the song of angels.  The Golden Child wept, and lost in his emotion managed to sob. “But, but, but my birthday isn’t for another m-wwwwwaaaaaaoooooooo-nth.”

So as not to offend the 2nd favorite and youngest, the Duchess, the Captain concocted a real half-assed story about a soon-to-expire coupon and lack of freezer space.  They had to sing because his birthday cake would be served at dinner with the Fluhme’s that evening.   The Captain was not going to lose $5 off, and she had far too many sale pizza to store the sacred sweet until he came home for Thanksgiving.  I call b-s.

While it certainly sounds like a plausible tale given the Captain’s penchant for couponing and a good sale (They’re her choice drugs, you know), I know better.   We just celebrated the Duchess’ birthday a few weeks back, and that girl has a memory like an elephant.  There is no way she’s putting up with a cake purchased for the Golden Child when she got homemade cupcakes.

Oh hell no.

As for me, I’m still waiting for an acknowledgement of my birth…since June.  Until then I’ll weep silently in the Arby’s parking lot and long for their return.  I hope they’ll throw the empty bakery box at me;  I can pick off the crusty, icing remnants and pretend I matter.

Happy birthday, dear Molly.  Happy birthday to you.


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