It’s a rainy Halloween, which means I was up early ironing hair and painting on mouse noses and finding money for the Halloween dance and packing lunches that no one is going to eat and finding white tights and convincing Canadian children to wear their coats over their costumes and searching for the umbrellas.
There are never any umbrellas.
I used to think that there were never any pens, but then I discovered Sharpie pens and became a complete and total pen hoarder and now my children know that I always have pens and I always have gum. See also: Tic Tacs. Which have basically turned me into some sort of wizard slash magician (and I didn’t even have to step foot in Hogwarts—take that, Hermione) because you would not believe what I could get my two youngest children to do for one teeny, tiny Tic Tac. Forget about Oreos, crazy student scientists, you should be studying the addictive power of Tic Tacs. I swear to you. They are the dangling carrot I need to properly bribe my children to do my bidding—Joshua now makes an excellent cup of tea.
My kids actually got lucky this morning and I drove them to school. Please don’t tell anyone but I was still heavily pajama-d when I threw my jacket and uggs on and piled them into the car and drove a white rabbit, a Minnie Mouse, and a pirate — oh, and a giant baritone — to school. I am beginning to think that my pint-size seventh grader strategically chose the baritone so she could bum rides off of people. “Please kind mother, you aren’t going to make me walk home from school with an instrument that’s bigger than my person, are you? Have you no soul?!”
She is a master manipulator, that one. She’s so great at catching me an inopportune moments, when she is bound to get a yes answer out of me. Yes Emily you can have a cookie, just let me have a shower in peace. Yes Emily I will fishtail braid your hair at 7:15 in the morning if you leave me in peace for a few minutes. She’s good. I’ll give her that.
But, don’t think I’m a pushover.
I’m really excellent at saying no as well. It’s like a gift.
They will tell you about all the Nos. Just ask ‘em.
No, you may not wear makeup to school. No, you may not plunk your body in front of a screen on a school night. No, you may not USE MY BATHROOM. Again. I’m a battle picker—and I choose to stand my ground when it’s really important. Cookies? Not really all that important. Hair braiding? Easy.
Ask them about the school pictures that I will never buy.
Yes, I’m a terrible mother. I don’t buy school photos.
My mom did. And there is a drawer in her house jammed with stacks of photos sheets filled with uncomfortable imagery of me and my siblings all sitting in front of a fluorescent blue or green or brown backgrounds with strange half-smiles plastered on our faces. Shoved in drawers, because no one ever wanted to display them.
I love the class photos, and I have each one tucked away in my Mama filing cabinet. But I just can’t bring myself to spend money on these photos. The cheapest package costs $10, but that only buys you the weird plastic photo key ring that only seems appropriate for grandparents. In the ’80s. You really have to go up to about $27. And if you spend $35 you can get a free calendar that you’ll never use!
Do you know how many times I can go to Menchie’s for $35?
I am a photographer. I take wonderful pictures of my children that capture their real personalities. I take pictures of them laughing and singing and smiling and frowning and giggling and yelling.
I take super cheeseball photos of the first day of school.
Their lives are documented.
There are plenty of photos of seventh grade, sixth grade, and third grade. And there will be plenty more.
And none of them have hard flashes, uncomfortable poses, and turquoise backgrounds.