High jinks and utter foolishness at the grocery

Excitement awaits you in the soup aisle

I know this probably sounds a little strange but visiting the grocery store can be a rewarding and educational experience and yes, it is a bit thrilling. I suppose that it helps to play these things up because in reality grocery shopping can be one of those elements of the daily grind that can really grind one up. It’s a boring chore of the mundane that can drive anyone crazy. Since I’m a mom to two growing teenagers I am forced to go food shopping on an a constant basis.

I pride myself on my shopping prowess and I am quite the shopping cart driver. I can turn on a dime and I am faster than you’d think so get out of my way. I am on a mission here. I have no time for doubt or indecision. Get what you need and go. I have no time for slow pokes blocking the aisles.  Long lost lovers reuniting, old people arguing about soup and especially the one’s who park right in the middle and disappear; leaving their cart to parts unknown.  Those are the worst. I try to carefully move their cart out of the way and if they catch me at it I get the dirtiest looks, its like I am molesting their produce or something.. I am tempted to throw small and expensive items like scented pine nuts and organic razor blades into their carts in hopes they are forced to pay for them.

I suppose at times I can get somewhat territorial and a bit hostile. It is a jungle out there. And It’s everyone for themselves. I have seen acts of desperation and cowardice. I myself have been victimized, my thick wad of coupons stolen from under my nose along with my grocery list to add insult to injury.  I have been hit up by crooked foodstampers who want to commit food stamp fraud with me, hit on by the Pepsi guy, insulted by the Cheetoes guy and screamed at by a small child who wanted my mint chocolate chip ice cream.

I have learned to be tough and ruthless. I have learned about double couponing and what happens when you bag up lavender scented snuggle dryer sheets with dove dark chocolate and, I have learned much about my fellow humans.

I liken it to a jungle and it is.  It reminds me of a wildlife safari.  Each part of the store is like a different habitat; each with its own ecosystem.  The frozen food wastelands: the habitat of the eternal bachelor. He is easily identified by his bulging cart of frozen pizzas, canned chili and beer.  The organic food section sprinkled with pale hipsters in their 30’s who bring their own burlap shopping bags with inspirational messages written on them.  The lemon-scented cleaning product section: the lair of the harried mom ( you can find me between the Pine Sol and the Febreeze) and one of my all time favorite places; the colorful and the sugary, the cereal aisle!  This is the place for everyone to embrace their inner child.  Hey the Froot Loops box says it has more fiber. Who am I to argue?

So many spontaneous moments happen in the grocery store. It is the perfect place to see a cross-section of humanity. The strangest scenes will play out in the aisles and believe I’ve seen it all. It seems some people liken the grocery aisle to their dysfunctional living room and they will act accordingly.

"The New Fred Meyer on Interstate on Lomb...

Image via Wikipedia

I go to a chain store that advertises one-stop shopping. That makes it interesting because it causes some items to mix with others that should not mix;  Ortho Lawn Be Gone and Kraft Macaroni and cheese with chain saws, diapers and 12 different kinds of olives, for example. Throw in a Starbucks,  a deli, a bank, a optomistrist and a day care center and you have more than a store… you have a lifestyle.

It also makes for some interesting sights and it certainly can be a convenience for weary shoppers. Take furniture for instance; it is hard to turn down a nice soft sit down on a comfy new sofa showcased next to the Doritos and bean dip. It is a common occurrence to see shoppers sprawling out on the furniture.  I’ve seen people reading books, eating a sack lunch and playing games on their phone. I’ve seen old men napping and a young mother nursing her fussy infant. It seems the store not only approves of this but encourages it with big screen Hi Def T.V.’s tuned to The Sports Channel with cases of cheap beer a scant few feet away.

Food shopping can be quite the experience, every trip is a new adventure.  At the very least I’ll get the makings of tonight’s dinner and a wee bit of my money will be set free out there to swim with the others, reproduce and stimulate the economy.  So.. Happy Shopping! It’s the American way and remember Buy Local;)

American Corporate Flag

Image via Wikipedia

Strawberryindigo.

Busyness

Tanakawho - Busy busy...(by)

Image via Wikipedia

 What’s the rush?

It seems most people are in a hurry these days, always on the run. A blur of activity. Many practically live out of their cars.  Ferrying themselves and their children from here to there, from work to home, to school, to activities. What’s for dinner is decided in the drive thru of a fast food joint and eaten in the backseat by sleepy children after a much too long day filled to the brim with busy.

Sleeping with no deadlines...There is literally no time. No time for this or that.  No time to talk..”gotta’ go”.  No time to eat, let alone cook a healthy meal. No time to say hello, or good-bye. No time for family or friends, no time to read a book or take a walk.  No time for improvement or creativity. Or fun?  No time for love. No time to stop and smell the roses or appreciate a beautiful sunset.

No time to think, or reason or ask why. No time to see the man behind the curtain.

Time ticks by and every moment; every second is a miracle. It is a gift and most of us, myself included, just plow right through it.  Always in a hurry.   Always a full agenda.  It can’t be helped, you know..I’ve said this to myself.  People have responsibilities.  I’m swimming in them and my life is full.   Sound familiar?

Busyness

How many times have you asked someone how they’ve been doing and your query was answered with “busy”  How many times have you said that?  I know I’ve said that.

It is the correct answer, most of us are busy. With jobs and families and everything else in this ever-changing ever evolving world.  Our society becomes faster paced and more complex.  The bar is set higher and higher and you better run faster and jump higher than the next guy because it’s a jungle out there.

BusynessEven when we are not busy, most of us say we are. Idleness is looked down upon. Busyness is related with importance.  An important man is a busy one and his time is more valuable than yours, so you wait.  The poor and insignificant spend a lot of time waiting.

Busy people are needed and wanted.  Busy people are in high demand. It is those that are the movers and the shakers in this world. It is the busy ones that get things done. The busier you are the more important you are and the more valuable your time is.

In Praise of Slowness

There is much to be said for slowness in our fast-paced society.  The fact that  the very concept of “slow” is seen in a negative light shows our need for the benefits that slowness brings.  It’s difficult to see clearly when your life in always in motion. Growth can only come with examination and reflection.

Life is not a road race or a competition. It’s the journey not the destination. Life is meant to be savored. The people in our lives are important, our children are important. You can do more for your child’s development and future success by talking and spending time with them rather than dragging them to a million activities and “enrichment” classes. Time spent together is essential.   Years from now when we are old and running out of it time will any of us look back with rue and regret about how we didn’t spend enough of it at Busyness?

 

Strawberryindigo.

Happiness is a warm teacher

School

I am fresh from a round of parent teacher conferences, between my two wonderful teenagers, I have now attended 19 of them during my continuing career as involved parent.  The last few have been “arena style”.  This style has come into vogue as of the last few years and I believe it adds to the surrealism of the event.

Imagine a large space, perhaps a cafeteria or gymnasium.  You are in the middle, surrounded by rows and rows of tiny desks.  At each one is seated a teacher.  Most are engaged in discussions with worry-faced parents.  There is an air or solemn soberness.  Most voices are hushed and not a wisp of laughter or small talk that usually accompanies large groups.  No, this is not a social event, like Back to School Night.  Like war, this is serious business and like war it is filled with short bursts of excitement mixed with long stretches of anxiety and boredom.

Every conference is unique unto itself and as the years pile on I have come to expect one thing; the unexpected. It is interesting to see your child, your beloved “perfect” child through the eyes of another.  It can surprise you and as one who has been surprised a number of times, I can attest to that wholeheartedly.

These surprise have been varied and thankfully never life-threatening.  Some in fact, a good number of them have been pleasant surprises.  I am blessed with  fantastic kids who have  given me many occasions to swell with parental pride.  However, I have experienced a time or two when I wanted to just sink right through the chair and  disappear into the  freshly polished checkerboard floor.

 It is on these occasions that the past gets the bite on me and I am transported back to the 80’s, back to the days of big hair and bad taste.  Back when I was a punky teen with an attitude and poor grades.  It feels like I am getting “busted” for something and all I want to do is run.

But I cannot run, I am a “responsible” adult and I must face the fire.  The fire being a stressed teacher with legitimate gripes about my child.  I smile.   I say all the right things, seemingly passing an untold test on the proper reaction to the given circumstances.  I have always been cooperative and I have tried to not take any of this too personally but, at times I have felt the sting of the hot lights of interrogation which upon reflection, seemed a bit much.

I try to put things in perspective but it is at these worst of times that stick in my worried mind and anxiety tends to creep in every year at conference time.  I have tried many methods to calm my nerves but really, all I can do at this point is to hold my breath, cross my fingers and hope for the best, and help pick up the pieces later.

 I vowed to make this year different.  I have found myself a bit more reflective since I have been writing in this blog these last few months and I’m realising that perhaps I have been projecting my old latent fears and struggles with school and authority figures from the past into now.  This is coloring my attitudes with regard to my role in these conferences.

Usually one’s unfounded fears never materialise they way they are expected and this current round of conferences proved to be no exception to that.   I took them for what they were, which was not so bad, really.  I guess that holding my breath and crossing my fingers paid off, not to mention the hard work by my kids with a lot of nagging by me.

 Number 18 went as smooth as can be.  No interrogation or hot lights.  The arena  had been abandoned for a more intimate setting in indivdual classrooms.  The report went well with progress made and hope for the future with an actual “A” mixed in….I was walking on air all the way to the next school and my date with number 19.

It was the end of a long morning, the sun shone through the cafeteria window drawing a bright beam of light across the stained linoleum.  The teacher smiles and offers me a seat.  We  exchange pleasantries. He tells me that my daughter is self-directed and motivated and that she too, has shown  progress.  We spent the rest of the time having a pleasant conversation about books.  Just two people; an energetic enthusiastic teacher and an involved parent having a talk about a mutually beloved subject.

  It will be these conferences I will endevor to remember  when it’s time for the next round.   (with some finger crossing too.)

 Wishing you blue skies and a happy day!

Strawberryindigo.

Sick

None - This image is in the public domain and ...

Image via Wikipedia

S I C K... A RANT By Strawberryindigo…

This is usually the magical time of the year when one or both of my kids bring home from school something they did not take there; this comes as the form of a virus that if not carefully contained infects the entire household.

It all starts with a cough, just one, then another and another. The coughs get deeper and deeper.  I know, MM knows, we look at each other..”Oh no, not again.”  We know the drill, It happens every year, flu shot or not.

We are lucky enough to work at home so it is no problem keeping our kids in when they are sick.    This year it was my daughter who first fell victim.  I kept her home for 4 days.  She rested, took in lots of fluids and basically sat around waiting to get better.

On the morning of her last sick day I received a phone call from the school. To my surprise it was the school psychologist. She inquired about my daughter’s state of health.  I told her that my she had been ill but that she was “getting better and that she would be returning the next school day”.  The psychologist then, in a breezy offhand manner told me that “something was going around”… and then she became way too serious when she said that my daughter had stayed out longer than anyone else.

I was a bit surprised.  4 days?  This warrants a call from the school psychologist?

I said what she wanted to hear and  somehow I felt that I had barely passed some test of hers.  We said our goodbyes and the next day I sent my still coughing daughter to school.

The words of the psychologist echoed in my mind and the more I thought about it the angrier I became.  I thought back to the beginning of the year to a speech given by the Principal during Back to School Night.  She was bragging up the school’s achievements from last year and justifiably so. My daughter’s school is fantastic, it is one of the best  in the city and we are lucky to be able to have our daughter attend it.

It was something she said specifically about the school’s attendance record…”which was and still is…award-winning”?

Did I hear correctly?  The schools compete with attendance records, the ones with the fewest absences “win”.  What do they win?  The winning school and apparently the winning principal get bragging rights, which I say are well deserved… but in hindsight I can’t help but wonder if the school is a bit over-zealous in their commitment to achieve perfect attendance.

I thought of my daughter and all the make up work she must do just to catch up.  I think of all the valuable school days missed.  School is important and the quality of her education suffers when she must miss school because of illness.  However, I think my daughter’s health and the health of all the people in the school are more important than an attendance record.  It seems that this prevalent attitude among the schools fosters a climate that encourages families to send their sick children to school where they infect others…and the cycle continues.

It is amazing how one small seemingly insignificant action or non-action can affect so many.  One properly sick child can infect a roomful of people and through that action can affect so many more.  We are all connected, even in sickness.

I realise that many people have to work and have no choice but to send their sick kids to school as well as coming to work with obvious illness themselves.   Maybe an attitude adjustment would be appropriate for bosses and the bosses of bosses as well. Maybe an attitude adjustment for everyone, public school systems too.

We all know firsthand that sick people are not at their best and do not perform well, at school or on the job.  Sick people make more sick people.  This seems to have a snowball effect; making more people perform at sub par. It also turns people off.  When the teller at the bank sneezes on my money or the grocery clerk coughs all over my celery, I’m turned off.

What I’m trying to say, in a long-winded round-about way, trying not to offend anyone but I need to say, really plead….You. (you know who you are) If you are sick and you are able to, please stay home. If your child is sick, try to keep him or her at home, If you can’t do that please wash your hands and do what you can not to infect everyone.

And in a personal note to one school psychologist; keeping my daughter home when she is ill is a consideration to you as well as everyone else.

And so to everyone: Have a great and healthy day!  Strawberryindigo.

Hey You! An Indigo Rant

Crosswalk sign

Hey you…Yes you..Can you hear me?  I guess you don’t but I’m going to tell you anyway.  Maybe someone smarter than you may listen and learn something….

We almost hit you today, my friend and I.  We almost plowed right into you with his dark green Honda.  You could have been seriously hurt or worse.  You have no idea how close you came to getting your nice young red blood spilled all over the street.

If it wasn’t for my friend’s lightning quick reflexes and some kick ass breaks you would have been toast today.

I can imagine how your parents would have felt.  You getting hit on your way to school, at the start of a new school year.  Maybe they saw you off this morning, maybe they watched you with pride as you walked off to school.  You are quite tall for your age, which I suspect is about 16.  You with your dark hair and black clothes must have cut quite the figure as you walked off, navy blue backpack, jammed full of books on your back.

Being a parent of a 16-year-old myself, I understand how it’s hard to let go and trust that your kid is going to do the right thing.  You teach what you can and hope for the best.  I’m sure your parents taught you how to cross the street.  I bet they told you to use a cross walk, look both ways and don’t just walk out into moving traffic.  But yet this is just what you did.

You walked into oncoming traffic, without a care in the world…You never even looked up, or you would have seen us.   You, stooped over with your hood covering the tell-tale white cord and ear buds of your IPOD.. you never even heard us, honking at you…you never heard the screech  that the tires made as we stopped just in the nick of time.  We came so close..you came so close, and you never noticed. 

I wanted to stop and get out of the car and chase you down to give you a stern talking to.  I wanted you to know how serious it all is, this life business.  I’ve lived long enough to realise that life is fragile and fate can turn on a dime.  One second of stupidity can make you pay big time for a lifetime.

I know you probably made it to school, the very same school my son goes to, you might even know him.  And you probably made it safely home after school today as my son did. All the while never knowing how close you came to your life changing forever, and not just your life, but your parents lives, who most likely bought you that IPOD and would never forgive themselves for it, or the lives of your friends and family members who would miss you, not to mention, my friend who would have hit you, he never would have been the same either….

And so to anyone who is listening tonight…hug your kid a little tighter tonight, I will.

Stay safe,  Strawberryindigo.

Retro Revert

Ms. Pac Man on Crack

Image by boboroshi via Flickr

The other day I went and tripped around downtown with my teenage son.  He’s 16 and I don’t know how much longer he’ll want to be seen with me, so I take advantage of these situations.

I led the way as I showed him where all “the cool shops” were.  There was just one thing about that; all “the cool shops” I once went to were all gone..they existed twenty years in the past. I felt stupid and old at that point.

If that wasn’t enough; my famously poor sense of direction got us lost.  We started wandering into uncharted territory.  It was a park filled with young “business” people who were selling their “wares” all across the length of the park., it was obvious what was going on.  I was glad that my “Suburban Mom” look deterred them from asking us if we wanted to “score” something from them.

As any good parent would do, I used the situation to preach against drug use.  It was then we found a Starbucks!  After having some caffeine and a realisation that I can be a hypocrite,  we pressed on…

It was starting to get hot and technically we were still lost.  My son is a great guy, I would have to say that because he is my son, but he is  truly a one-of-a-kind special person.  I wish I could take credit for this.  In reality, I got lucky with him. I’m not just bragging him up for nothing.  He has tremendous patience with his sometimes scatter-brained mom….

Now here we are, it’s getting hotter by the second.  My son wants me to ask for directions, I refuse; stating over and over; “I have a good feeling about this, let’s go that way.”  We go on and I’m starting to really feel the heat, all I had to eat was coffee all day and now its starting to take its toll…

I feel like a bad mother, dragging him around like this.  I am sweating and I think I’m about to pass out when I see it.

What is “it”?  you ask.  A glittering oasis in the desert; An old school retro arcade! Yeah!  This town rocks sometimes!  It doesn’t take much to revert me back to kid again and this was no exception.  It reminded me of the old days.  Inside it was dark, hot and packed and I felt eleven all over again.

The change machine was broken but we found a few quarters. This is exciting to someone like me and my son could see it in my eyes, they practically pulsated as they darted from one game to another.  We pass Frogger, Mr. and Ms. Pac- Man, We skirt the pinball machines and pass centipede and right over to the Mortal Kombat! Yes!

Now I will proceed to kick some @$$.. I won the first match. HA!  My yellow guy beat his blue guy!  I can see my son is surprised and a little impressed.  That is almost impossible; A 16-year-old boy being impressed with his mom… watch out son…

Next round, he kills me, blood everywhere.  What a mess.  Next round, more killing.. I am dead, well, yellow guy is dead.  I am looking for more quarters…

My son, being 16, is looking for the lunch I promised.  I vow a re-match and we go and get some bad Chinese food at the mall.. and that is another story…What a great day!

  Strawberryindigo.

Wishing you a great day!