NOTE: I wrote this a long time ago (October 07 actually) and it has languished in my drafts folder for months. Not for any reason other than I have had some sort of mental block about blogging since then. I'm back for now (but don't hold me to it) and I had forgotten about this particular post so I'm publishing it. The references are dated, but the subject is more relevant than ever...

Most of you know that I work for my step-dad. He is a very kind and generous man and I love him. He also talks a lot, even when he really has nothing to talk about. Which isn't even true because he always has something to talk about. We sometimes have to talk about the same things over and over again several times throughout the day. This isn't because of senility, it's just the way his mind works. It's always been this way. There's no such thing as a quick question and everything (trip to the gas station, getting a haircut, etc) has to be planned and talked about, talked about and planned. Sometimes he'll say something in passing that will make no sense or have no relevance to what we're working on. These are the things that for most of us are fleeting thoughts that stay in our heads and might even go totally unnoticed by the active parts of our brains. For my dad, those fleeting thoughts fall out of his mouth. I call them drive-bys (in my head, of course). Anyway, the always talking is often hard for me because I happen to be one of those people who occasionally just needs silence.

My sister, who lives out of state, likes to remind me how lucky I am because I am here to reap the benefits of working for our dad. Free lunches, flexible hours, shopping trips with our mom, etc. Today I felt the need to remind her that while I am lucky in many respects, I also deal with my fair share of frustration around the office. I decided that every time Papa (that's what my kids call him) spouted some gem of irrelevance, just for the sake of talking, I would IM it to her. This was fun for me, and it helped me unclench my fists a bit at the sound of his voice - until she left work early (according to her there was some emergency at her house, but I think she was having flashbacks of living at home and had to take the rest of the day off).

Anyway, my sister's not available for the rest of the day and this has been oddly therapeutic, so I'm sharing with you, the internet. So, internet, here you are:

Today's drive-by Papa-isms:
(stuff in parenthesis is my internal dialog of sarcastic come backs, that out of respect, I don't let fall out of my mouth)

  • "Do the girls like Miso soup? Maybe I'll warm it up later and see if they enjoy it. Speaking of which, yes, Halloween is next Wednesday." (uh...we weren't speaking of Halloween, yet anyway)
  • "It's too bad that Keiko's boyfriend didn't bring a big platter of sushi the other day when he dropped by." (and it's too bad you didn't mention that the other day, when it would've been relevant.)
  • "Brown, blue, green. Everyone's got their trash cans out!" (to be fair, he says some variation of this every trash day - but WHY?)
  • "Ah...they came by and emptied up the brown trash can." (really? what a surprise! oh wait, they do that EVERY week, Rainman!)

So there a sampling for you. Maybe I'll make this a regular feature. Check back for more Drive-By Papaisms. I guarantee you that he won't disappoint.



Emily has been in Brownies since school started last year. This was a new experience for both of us since I was never a daisy/brownie/girl scout. For Emily, being a Brownie has been fun, fun, fun! And it's been exciting to watch her participate since I was always such a wallflower as a little kid. For me though, it's been an exercise in patience, patience, patience.

(OFF TOPIC, FOR A MINUTE) I've gotten into the habit of saying that I don't really like other people's kids. Of course, there didn't used to be so many kids in my life and the ones I noticed on a day-to-day basis were...obnoxious. Hmmm, that's probably why I noticed them. Anyway I realized recently that I need to stop saying that because there are many kids out there these days who I'm really rather fond of. I've volunteered in Emily's classes and I've enjoyed getting to know her classmates. Of course, all my good friends' children are dear to me and without a doubt, I'm in love with my nephews. Which all adds up to a lot of other people's kids. That I like. So you see what I mean about not using such a blanket phrase anymore? But it seems that in most group settings (Brownies, swimming lessons, soccer, dance class, etc.) there's always a kid or two or more that's just unbearable. Those are the kids I don't like. I have a hard time holding my tongue around those kids, and I have an even harder time hiding my irritation and dislike of those kids. Perhaps I'm immature or maybe I'm just a bitch. Whatever. So instead of saying that I don't like other people's kids, I'm going to start saying that I don't like other people's kids that are jerks. Excellent! Glad I got that sorted out. (SORRY, THAT WAS LONGER THAN I PLANNED)

Are you're getting that I'm not really the ideal candidate for chaperoning trips, being class mom and running the carpool?

So anyway, one of Emily's first Brownie adventures was an overnight campout at a Girl Scout House in Laguna Beach. Emily really wanted to go but was too nervous to stay the night unless I went. If I didn't spend the night as a chaperone, I would have to go pick her up at lights out and then drive her all the way back the next morning, which would have been a total drag. So I sucked it up and volunteered. The other chaperone moms were nice and one of them matched me in sarcasm which means I liked her right away. At first it seemed that the experience wouldn't be so bad. But there were these two girls, whose moms were not there (of course!), who were utterly, ridiculously, obnoxious. One of them literally threw herself down on the ground and cried because not enough of the girls were paying attention to her. She was bossy, melodramatic and defiant. She tried my patience to the very limit and she and I had words. The other little peach would pound on the piano as hard as she could, every chance she got. We'd make her stop and she'd move on to some other obnoxious, repetitive behavior that we'd have to ask her to quit doing. This went on...and on...and on until she said to one of us, in a very snitty little pre-teen voice "You're not my mom." The restraint I had to use after that nearly made my head explode. It was clear that I was in my own little custom-made hell.

After that trip, I secretly hoped that Emily would stop loving Brownies and want out. She didn't, so I reluctantly continued to shuttle her around to the Brownie meetings and outings. I helped her sell cookies and I helped the Cookie-Mom (who happens to be one of those dear friends whose kids' I adore) pick up the thousands of boxes of cookies and distribute them to the troop. And don't tell anyone I'm saying this, but that part was kind of fun.

So last week, as a reward for those thousands of boxes of cookies sold, our troop got to go to an overnight Adventure Camp at Sea World. I wasn't going to go, but some people had to drop out because of vacations and whatnot and they had extra spots and it was Sea World and I love Sea World and so, again, I signed up to be a chaperone. There was a little part of me that was excited, but oh man was I dreading dealing with the difficult girls.

But the fates must have been pleased that day because this trip was different. It was FUN! Certain girls chose not to go and the group that went gelled beautifully. No drama, no tears, no fights. It was an all around mahvelous time. We had a guide that led us through the park, did crafts with the girls and taught them songs. We slept in our sleeping bags in the manatee exhibit and got to fall asleep and wake up again to those sweet, gentle creatures floating, twirling and swimming around above us. It was awesome and an incredible privilege and there wasn't a single bad attitude in the group.

At one point, we were walking into the bleachers at the nighttime dolphin show and fireworks extravaganza, and the staff was passing out snacks and apple juice to the Adventure Camp kids. Emily turned to me and said: "This is one of the best days of my life!" For the remainder of the trip, I was just so glad that I was there to experience that excitement with her, that I would've dealt with all the obnoxious brats they sent my way. I was so grateful that she was telling me that it was one of the best days of her life and not some other kids' mom.

So there it is. At that moment I became a (significantly less reluctant) Brownie Mom. Taking the good with the bad. And maybe, just maybe there will be more good than bad. I sure hope so, because I really can't stand other people's kids that are jerks.