Imperfect and awesome

Something I've noticed recently with all of my online dating: Every single person on the planet is just a little funny looking. All of us. Dwayne "the Rock" Johnson has eyes that are just a tiny bit too close together and a fantastic smile. Megan Fox has fat stubby thumbs and gorgeous cheekbones. 

 Dwayne and Megan

Dwayne and Megan

Also, every single person has some hang-up or quirk. You don't get to the adulthood without a few dents. 

Every single human is a little bit flawed, physically and emotionally. It's like we're all expecting to look and perform like the burger in the commercial and we wake up like the burger that we get in the drive-thru. 

 Burger commercial versus reality

Burger commercial versus reality

It's interesting how people rank others based on features they had no control over other than a genetic lottery. Bald men are a thing. Short people can't magically be taller. Voices will be nasal or shrill. 

What makes you attracted to someone? Is it just dat ass? I have a distant cousin who married an "ugly woman" according to his mother. The mother was concerned she would have ugly grandbabies. My cousin's wife is the sweetest woman on the planet. After several years of marriage and some beautiful grandbabies, my cousin grinned at my mom, "She gets prettier every year I'm with her!"

I get that there is biology involved. The species wants to survive, and so our body chemicals want us to mate with wide-hipped women and broad-shouldered men. We can be a bit more cerebral than that, though. I can attest that some very handsome men around this town are downright hateful. 

Everyone being imperfect is pretty freeing. We can enjoy ourselves and each other. Soak up those picky eaters, bow-legged bad dancers, and nail-biters in your life.

I remember lamenting the stretch marks on my thighs as a teen once I "blossomed" into puberty. Until maybe the last few years I would have claimed the circles under my eyes rivaled a raccoon. Amazingly, no one else cares. People (to my knowledge) don't point me out as "that mom with the stretch marks and dark circles," because let's be real, that's every mom.

I also have adorably small ears. I have naturally wavy hair. I have those little dimples on my lower back (Rich called them cutie booty dimples). I am so flexible, I can fold up like a lawn chair. I can lift a 100 lb dog and push a Suburban.

I have a giant sign on my fridge that says: 
"YOU ARE (imperfect and) AWESOME!"

Things are rough these days for a lot of people. There are some truly awful people in this world. But most people are imperfect and awesome, just like you. Brush your teeth, clean your room, wear fresh undies, be kind to people, speak up when people are mean. The rest will sort itself out.

 Scandalous sexting

Scandalous sexting

Tugging on Superman's cape

Summer is supposed to be easy. Carefree. No schedule, no tests, no worries. But let me tell you there is a lot of worry going on around here.

Ian never wants me out of his sight. I can normally grocery shop without him, but now he’s right there in the produce aisle with me lest he is sobbing at home that something made a sound and I’m not there. I told him the other day I was going to mow the lawn. He looked up from Fortnite and quivered, “You’re not … leaving, are you???” Dude. By definition, I will be on our property. You can hear the mower and see me out any window in the house. 

As I was three quarters done with the lawn, he came racing out the back door. He looked pained and he had his fingers in his ears from the noise. I stopped the mower, killed the engine, paused my music, took out my headphones. 

“Are you ok, Stink? What’s up?” 
“Are you done yet?” 

I just blinked at him. My child is in the gifted and talented program, I swear to you. And he just asked me if the lawn that I’m clearly in the middle of and has sections which are demonstrably taller than others was done. 

So yeah, he’s been like a very large barnacle. If he had his way, I would wear him around in a backpack like Master Blaster. 

 My kid is a lover, not a fighter.

My kid is a lover, not a fighter.

Adding to that mix, he’s been sorta argumentative with me. He tried to tell me this weekend that “pumptism” is an actual disease. I said, “I highly doubt that.” He countered, “Yes, it is! Look it up!” 

You know what, you little asshole, I will. And so I looked it up and read the definition to him that it was a term MADE UP by a YOU-TUBER. And so maybe he should shut his trap about internet diseases, Dr. Short Stuff.

We were driving home from a movie last night and he asked me about the order of homes the orphans went to in “A Series of Unfortunate Events.” I told him I wasn’t sure. He said he knew they went to X and Y but he wasn’t sure in which order. I conjectured that it was Y and then X but I wasn’t sure. “No! That’s not right!” 

“You know what? Why are you even dragging me into this discussion? I was happy over here just singing along to Hamilton songs. But you asked me a question just to tell me I’m wrong. And I’m super sick of having you tell me I’m wrong all damn day. I broke up with the last person who spent all his time telling me I was wrong.”

We had a tense ride home and a quiet dinner. I didn’t want anything to do with the little jerk. 

I remember Rich telling me that people have to be right when they have low self-esteem. I tried to think of what would make Ian feel insecure. And then I remembered the kid at camp. Cameron is literally half the size of Ian but has been harassing him and even hitting him during camp. It’s hard being a giant child. Ian could snap this kid in half, but he doesn’t. And if he even defends himself, it just spins up this little guy, so he goes all howler monkey on him. And Ian didn’t feel like he could get away from him at camp. 

After two weeks of this little asshole, Ian needed to feel like he had some control over things. Some power. Some security. And that manifests itself in being right about stupid stuff. 

We went upstairs and he was super apologetic about his attitude. I told him I think I knew what was wrong. We talked about how bullies tend to be that way because something isn’t going well for them in their own lives. And they project it on other people. And that maybe he was mean to me because he couldn’t get away from the people being mean to him. He nodded his head and started sobbing. 

So we made a plan. He would tell the counselors very specifically that he didn’t feel safe and he was being bullied. And if they did nothing, he would use his phone and call me. We talked about how if someone tries to insult you but you treat it as a compliment it usually confuses them and frustrates them. 

“You’re fat. You look like a girl.”
“Thanks! I get to wear my hair however I want and I eat lots of really healthy food. I’m really tall and strong and I’m going to be really tall and strong as a teenager and adult too.”

We talked about how bullies need to be fed like a flame. If you can starve the flame of air, it will usually fizzle. It takes practice to do it. And I told him if he ever hits a kid in self-defense, I will never be upset with him and I will support him to the ends of the Earth. 

We did camp drop off this morning. I talked to the Coach. He knew about Cameron and said they had separated them as much as they could last week. And Cameron isn’t at camp this week. I told him about the other two possible kids that may pick on him and Coach said he would keep an eye out. And that he would talk to Ian about it. And he would make sure Ian felt safe. He thanked me for bringing it up.

I reminded Coach that one of my favorite things about Norfolk Academy was that as a sensitive kid I felt safe and heard by the adults. It was exactly what I needed growing up. And I need my kid to feel safe at NA summer camp if he’s ever going to attend NA school in the future.

We took Ian out of the afternoon swim lessons too. It was exhausting him and he was a hot mess when I picked him up. He wants to go to the library in the afternoons. Fine by me, dude. 

It’s been an emotional week. Irritation, smothering, whining, arguing, crying, feeling hopeless, making a plan, feeling heard, having some hope. 

I hate bullies. I want to smash their faces in with a brick. And I also want to scoop them up and find out who hurt them to make them so mean. Then maybe smash that person with a brick. It’s a long road to get to Bully Zero that started it all. Probably Cain getting shitty with Abel. 

Shitty people exist at all ages. Living well is the best revenge. 

 Ice skating in July

Ice skating in July

Father's Day on our terms

Ian says that he gets one less holiday than everyone else now that Daddy is dead. We didn't celebrate Father's Day. I didn't even tell him it was happening today. It's not like he's on Facebook to hear about it. 

We went to Water Country USA. Ian has been a bit anxious the last few weeks, having trouble sleeping and easily spooked. I wondered how he would fare with some of the rides. 

That little stinker wanted to ride everything. Even things that seemed like a horrible idea to ride! And I found myself going along with it as the parent. 

I'm not a water play sort of person. I like to float in the water. I like to putter around in the water. I don't like to be dunked. I don't like to be splashed. I'm not much better than a house cat in that regard. And yet, there we were at a water park all day.

I'm also pale and freckled. After today, I'm about 200% more freckled. I must remain vigilant against the rays of the sun all day. I reapplied sunscreen every hour and a half and I'm still a little pink. 

I left my phone in our locker, deciding to focus on us and the activities. It was nice. It also meant that I didn't get any photos of us doing our thing. They did have a photo kiosk, though, that had a couple of pictures of us exiting one of the rides. It pretty much sums up my feelings about most water rides. 

 That face, tho

That face, tho

There is a ride there called Vanishing Point. It is a vertical drop with no raft or mat. Ian really really really wanted to go on it. I agreed to follow him up the stairs and see him off. When we got to the launch platform another girl his age was about to ride. Her mom was with her and was equally unenthusiastic about the ride. We decided to send the kids down together. 

I was all for this plan. But once they reached the bottom, the other mom turned to me and said, "You know what? Let's do this, Mommy. Let's mom the heck out of this. We got this." How could I abandon her when she said that? 

And so I held my shoes, Ian's shoes, my sunglasses, and my watch in my fists like I was Steve Martin in "The Jerk". And I went down this ridiculous ride. Water went up my nose. Water went up my ass. I was dragging my insulin pump alongside me the last 10 feet. I exited the ride like Bill the Cat, grateful my suit was in approximately the same location it was 20 seconds prior. 

And that is what parenting is about. Doing shit you don't really want to do because it makes your kid a better person. Ian was brave and happy all day. We had Dippin' Dots. We got our photos. We made it home with little traffic. We picked up new swimsuits for Ian. We are ready for summer camp to start Monday. 

Happy Father's Day to everyone doing their part to make kids better people, regardless of your gender.