Friday, September 25, 2009

Shopping with myself

My daughter has gone to college, and I can no longer dress myself. I never thought I would miss hearing her say, “Mom, you aren’t really going to wear that, are you?” or “Mom, that looks stupid on you,” but, after a day of shopping by myself, I do.

I’ve always felt comfortable with my taste and ability to put together a shirt, pants and shoes. I mean, how hard is that? Now that my daughter has gone; however, I realize just how much I depended on her for guidance.

Case in point, I went shopping over the weekend and tried on jeans. Fatal error. In fact, I don’t think any woman can buy jeans by herself. This dawned on me as I asked two complete strangers outside the dressing room if my pants looked too long.

“Oh, no, I think they are a good length,” the young women insisted, as I debated whether I should turn around and ask them if the jeans made my butt looked big. (It’s a cliché for a reason, ladies, don’t deny it.).

Perhaps anticipating my question, they quickly excused themselves, which left me with no one to ask but the saleslady. And that is a problem because her job is to sell me clothing, not be honest with me. She could tell me a burlap sack looked fabulous on me, and I would buy it. In fact, I think I did. (Sweater dress, burlap sack, not a lot difference there).

The other problem with blue jean shopping is there are dozens of different kinds of jeans out there – skinny, super skinny, boot cut, straight leg, flare leg, slightly flare leg. I learned, without the help of the salesgirl, that despite their name, skinny jeans don’t make you look skinny. They reminded me of the jeans I used to wear in the early 80’s, the ones that were so tight they needed a zipper at the ankle, so my foot would fit in them, the ones I had to lie on the bed and quit breathing in order to pull up.

“Are these still in?” I asked the salesgirl, holding up a pair.

“Yes,” she looked at me like, Why would be selling them, duh?

“Well, what shoes do you wear with them?” I asked.

“Oh, heels would look good with those,”

I hung the jeans back up. Skinny jeans and heels, uh huh. I can just see me walking into the next PTA meeting with THAT on.

The pair I ended up buying were low cut, petite, straight flare leg, Artist-style, in case you are interested. Actually, I bought a pair in two different sizes because I have no idea which size fits better. I’m not sure how I’m going to tell when I get them home, either, but, perhaps, I’ll just know. Or even better, maybe my daughter will pay me a visit and tell me how stupid they look - that would be music to my ears.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Leigh Knight's high school reunion

What is it about the mere mention of a high school reunion that brings back every ounce of teenage angst?

I learned of my, choke, 20-year reunion, oh, six months ago. Immediately, I thought I have to finish my book, have perfect kids, run a marathon, and get killer abs – in short, become either Sarah Palin or Kelly Ripa - before I can face those people I haven’t seen in 20 years and will probably never see again (except in the pretend world of facebook)!

Where is the logic behind that?

I don’t know, but the sense of urgency is there. I guess it stems, in part, from the fact that at my last reunion – the ten year - I was told that I was “not all that.” Actually, I was told, “Leigh Knight, you are not all that!” as my ex-classmate turned on her heels, leaving me with my mouth hanging open.

An awkward silence followed.

I looked incredulously at those around me – my husband who didn’t know a soul yet ended up in every photo, the cute boy from history class whose name I still didn’t know, and a couple of nerdy guys who made more money than I could ever dream of.

“Did she just say that I wasn’t ALL THAT?” my voice rising.

“Yeah, I think she just did,” said the cute boy.

“Oh. My. God!” I said, reverting back to high school.

Later, I went home, told my children, and we had a good laugh about it.

My daughter even gave me a birthday card once that I treasure that read, “Mom, you ARE all that!”

But, here we are, ten years later, and I still wonder about that girl. Had she waited ten years to tell me that, and WHY? I barely remembered her. In fact, I don’t think I ever talked to her. Did I used to act like I was “all that”? And what the heck does that mean anyway?

So, now I’m a week out from my high school reunion. I’m 5,000 words into my book, I plan to start running Monday, my children are, well, children, and I’m not even going to talk about my abs or lack thereof. So, am I all that? Despite my shortcomings, I think, yes, I am. And that is exactly what I’m going to tell my classmate if she says anything. It took me ten years to come up with that come-back, but the good part is now I’ve grown up enough to truly believe it.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Confessions of a tennis mom

My daughter’s played a lot of sports through the years, and I’ve enjoyed passively watching them, not concerned about the score, just making sure she is having fun, and it’s not my week to bring snacks.

I made fun of the coaches who rushed to recruit her for their softball teams after she made a double play by catching the ball in the air and then tagging the base - at the age of five. Apparently, had she known she could have made a triple play. I’ve never seen grown men more excited. And who knew Little League coaches have business cards?

I’ve laughed at soccer moms (Why doesn’t anyone use the term “Soccer Dad?”) who run along the side lines with their child, shouting “encouragement.” When my daughter was eight, she had a teammate who received $20 for every goal. Does that make her a pro, and will it ruin her chance of going to the Olympics? Just curious.

Then there was gymnastics.

“She’s going to be too tall to be a gymnast,” my husband said, when he heard I enrolled her.

“She’s six years old,” I reminded him. “She likes to do cartwheels and flips and get a stamp on her hand after class.”

Sometimes, we, as parents, get way ahead of ourselves when it comes to our kids and sports. And, now, on the cusp of Georgia-girl Melanie Oudin’s outstanding performance in the U.S. Open, my daughter is playing tennis.- my sport. The sport I’ve played for 15 years in order to become mediocre; the sport I wished I would have started when I was her age; the sport in which she naturally excels. And, suddenly, I don’t just want her to have fun and develop skills that she can use for a lifetime - I want her to win.

Of course, I would never dare let on. Truthfully, I am thankful that she is a healthy child and can play. Yet, there’s a part of me - the part that was always picked last for Red Rover, the part that didn’t make the basketball team, the part that always got tagged out at first, the part that failed the broad jump, the part that couldn’t climb the rope to the top in the gym – that really, really wants her to kick butt!

But, if not, I will hug her and be just as happy because either way I am proud. I know what it is like to lose; I know what it is like to cheer for three seasons for a team that never won a game; I know what it is like to try and fail and vow to work harder, and, ultimately, that is not a bad thing. It shapes who you are, the person you become. Not to mention, it makes the wins in life that much sweeter.

Monday, September 14, 2009

A word to the wise

It took 19 years, but I finally said it – the words my mama once said to me: “One day you are going to have children of your own and then you will understand what I am talking about.”

And you will be sorry for the way you are acting today is the implied rest of the sentence.

Believe me, if you are a parent and haven’t uttered those words yet, you will, and when you do, you will have the most profound sense of déjà vu.

And you will think, “Now I know what my mama meant!”

And then an epiphany will hit, and you will frown and think, “Oh, my poor mama! She was right, and, boy, was I ever wrong!”

And then your teenager will look at you like you are stupid and say, “What are you talking about?”

And you will smile and nod, knowingly, because suddenly you get it. You have become the wise one. Now all you have to do is wait 19 years until she faces her daughter and hears those very words – words passed down through generations – come out of her own mouth.

And when they do, she will do exactly what you did today, and that is to shed some tears and then call your mama to tell her you are sorry.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Bring or buy? Cash or check?

“Have my lunch money, Mom?” my son asked.

I used to ask him every day if he wanted to bring or buy, until finally he said, “Mom, I am going to buy my lunch every day. I am not going to break my record!”

“You do know they don’t give out an award for that, don’t you?” I asked.

But, for a growing kid, piles of meat loaf, mashed potatoes, beefy tacos, French fries and a carton of milk is award enough.

I don’t mind. It bulks him up for football and keeps me from worrying about whether I should cut his sandwich straight across or diagonally.

So, I go to my checkbook to pay for the cheapest lunch in town and notice it’s the last one. No problem. I’ll just call and order some more. Should be easy enough, right?

I call and get the automated voice, make that, the automated, friendly-man voice. I can say or punch in my vital information. Believe me, with my Southern accent punching it in is the only way to go.

I dutifully follow his directions while he says nice things to me like, “You’re doing great!” “We value you as a customer,” and, my favorite, “We’re almost done!”

Then the voice grows quiet.

“Uh oh” he says, his friendly voice sounding concerned.

Well, this can’t be good, I thought.

“It looks like you need to speak with a customer representative,” he said solemnly.

The phone is quiet for a minute, and I picture the automated robot man getting up and looking for someone who could help me.

Then he’s back, chipper as ever, “It looks like there is no one here at the moment! Say or press two for the office hours of our representatives.”

I hung up on him.

I guess it didn’t hurt his feelings because I called back later, and we went through the whole process, and he didn’t sound like he held it against me.

“Okay,” he said, “let me transfer you.”

More like it, I thought.

“Hello,” said a friendly-sounding female. “Can you please say or press in your account information?”

It took a few seconds before it dawned on me that she too was automated. I went through the same drill with her while thinking, “Do I really even need checks?”

Eventually, I was transferred to a live person, and I went through the drill for the third time. This is for security purposes, I was told. Okaaaay … Perhaps the logic being a thief would have let it go after the first phone call because it was such a hassle.

My frustration level was high when the representative said, “I see you ordered two boxes last time.”

“Yes, that’s correct.”

“So, why not order four or five boxes this time?”

Long story short, my son’s getting used to his peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, cut diagonally. He might miss his hearty school lunches, but I will never miss that bank.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

All I need to know I learned in VBS ...

I missed a lot of Sunday school growing up. In fact, I missed every Sunday for 18 years with the exception of a few Vacation Bible Schools in which I have fond memories of eating flower-shaped butter cookies off of my fingers before washing them down with red Kool-aid.

As a result, now that I am an adult, I have tried off and on to make up for my lack of religious training. Currently, I’m off but have signed up to teach children’s Sunday school class next month, so, perhaps, I can pass along my knowledge of how to make rings out of little butter cookies. Do they still sell those? (Never mind, I digress.)

I have attended many different Bible studies through the years in an attempt to lose my ineptitude when it comes to the Holy Word. I remember one in particular. The leader was (and is) a very sage woman in our church. She taught Sunday school, had been moderator of the women’s circle and was a veritable expert on all things, biblical or otherwise. And to top it off, she knew how to throw a ladies’ luncheon!

As I entered her house the first time for one such event, I realized if cleanliness is close to Godliness, then I could truly learn a lot from her. She was such a charismatic leader and great cook that her guests actually waited in line for second helpings of her “junk salad,” a green congealed mess that looked like its name but tasted strangely delicious.

Full from an incredible meal, we all gathered onto her sun porch for what was sure to be the most enlightening lesson of our lives. We said a prayer, and our leader began our lesson, and some how the topic of “What we would say to God if we could ask him anything” came up.

Some women suggested we ask why there is evil in the world; others were curious as to why good people have to suffer; some wanted to know what they could do to grant the world peace. Finally, our leader cleared her throat.

“Ah have a question Ah can’t wait to ask Gawd,” she said in her slow, strong Southern drawl.

We leaned forward, straining our ears to hear, our hearts open in anticipation.

“Ah want to know how in the WORLD did he expect men and women to live together? Ah mean really!”

We laughed, but the lesson stuck with me. So, even though I occasionally take breaks from church, and I don’t always do as I should, I hope I can pull it together before I die. I’d really like to hear His answer!