Monday, May 23, 2011

Should Ronald McDonald Be Sentenced To Death?

OK, so there are groups of people who want to lynch Ronald McDonald. I get it. He’s the wolf in sheep’s clothing, trying to lure children into fast food bliss. We certainly know the eventual outcome of a diet with too much McDonalds in it and are in the mode of trying now to protect our children. “Call out these money-sucking advertising thieves so we can get our kids thinking healthy foods again!”

Well, it’s not that simple.
It’s not that simple ever.
Why? Because Americans need their freedom and messing with Ronald is like messing with George Washington for some people. Also, the rest of the world is hooked.

I remember being in China in 1995 for a women’s conference. It was a gathering of women from around the globe in an attempt to discuss basic human rights issues. I remember a lot of different encounters and clashes during that conference, but one in particular I will never forget. Outside the conference area were food stations where people could go and get a snack. The portable McDonalds had, by far, the longest line of all the food venues. In the line were women from every part of the world, regaled in African dress, veiled, colorful.

Circling the area was a group of American women with signs protesting McDonalds' very existence at the conference. They viewed it as a symbol of American repression and capitalism that had strangled the world with its sick fast food clutches. The American women were angry, shouting, “Down with McDonalds!”

I watched from a distance, curious about the scene.

One African woman finally stepped out of line and said, “Lady, if I want to eat a hamburger, I’m going to eat a hamburger. Get out of my face!”

She wasn’t small. Not that that matters except that she was determined, and overpowered the tiny protestor.

My point in all this is that people need their right to choose. If we start taking it away, there will be a revolt.

Whether Ronald is here tomorrow or not does not rile my patriotic heart. What does is getting my children educated enough to choose their food well, whether companies push their junk with ads or not.

The power is ours.
Plus, who knows? Maybe Ronald will symbolize some healthier foods in a couple of generations. Ronald becomes a vegetarian in 2022?

Ronald is 48 years old this year. If he wants to stay healthy in the minds of those trying to put him in the old folks' home, the least he can do is up his fiber.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Crazy Mom Moment

We all have them, you know -- the crazy mom moments. So, if you're a mother, don't act like they don't happen to you. I'm not proud of them, but they happen.

Now I catch myself trapped in hindsight, head bowed in shame. Blog confession might temper the guilt. Or maybe I'll just be wracked with the memory and never get relief.

It all started the morning I looked at the calendar and decided none of it made any sense. Three children in three different places at the same time (you know how this goes). But, with carpools, I could manage. And one would be late for a game, which coach said was OK.

Then one of my daughters gets a text and decides that she wants to skip practice and go to a friend's birthday party, a friend who has just been released from the hospital after an emergency appendectomy. How could I say no? "Sure, you can miss practice. I'll let the coach and the people I carpool with know."

That change happened with ease.

Then my husband chimed in. "Oh, I forgot to tell you that I have to go to a dinner tonight."

In the mind of the mommy master, he is not eating dinner out. He is picking up one daughter from practice and, now, making sure the other one gets home from the birthday party.

"Oh no. Well, that stinks. I'll have to figure something out." My first reaction was forgiving. My second, not so much. After stewing a bit about untangling the mess, I said, "It would have been nice to know this before this morning!" Then I murmured the words "selfish" and "narcissistic" and dropped it because what's the point?

Off to work and then home to pick up the daughter going to the birthday party. She gets in the car, "Mom, can we go to Big Y to buy Elinor an ice cream cake?" Again, appendectomy.

"Sure, I don't see why not, but I still don't know how you'll get home tonight. I won't be home until 8:00."

"Don't worry. I'll get a ride from someone," she says.

We go to Big Y for the cake. I manage to produce some kind of dinner. I drop one daughter at her friend's and then go get the youngest for her lax game in Somers. Of course, she's late in getting out of her choir practice because the concert is in less than a week, so we start the journey to Somers, already short on time, twenty minutes late. She changes in the car and eats her Subway. A dish is clinking in the back.

"What's that?"

"Oh, Josie left her chili bowl in here from last night," she says.

GROSS! We're eating our dinners in the car! This is what I hate about lax season!

I look ahead, cars lined up for an eternity, crawling down the street. Ahhh...rush hour.

I watch the car clock like I do a horserace had I bet my entire year's salary. Thirty minutes until game start and we're 45 minutes away. I had scribbled directions on a paper and suddenly noticed they lacked the detail I intended to add with a Mapquest search. All I have now are the basic directions from a coach's email. Hmmm... that should be OK. I-91 to 190. A right turn on South Road. Simple enough.

We chat a little. How was your day? I watch the clock. I breathe deeply. That doesn't really help because Cigna traffic has amassed. Ten minutes have passed and I haven't left West Hartford. Breathing deeply only makes me cough.

Finally, I jump on I-91 with only three near miss accidents, none of them my fault, of course.

"We've got fifteen minutes until the game starts!" I look back and Frankie is slumped in the backseat. I look down and see a cooler filled with cut watermelon and oranges. Even though I was assigned oranges, I loaded up on watermelon, too. Never hurts to go the extra mile. The soft cooler bulges. I imagine the fruit getting soggy in the plastic bags with the sun beating through the window. For some reason, I hit the gas.

Finally, exit 47E. Phew. Five minutes until the game starts. "Frankie, you might make it!" I pull off the exit and take a right onto 190, just as my instructions tell me to do. The traffic is worse here. I creep along the road. Clock reads Game Time. I try to maneuver through traffic. We move a little. I curse under my breath. Patient daughter sits in the backseat without saying a word. Her biggest fear is that Mom will have an accident. She assumes I will.

"It's no big deal if I don't get there, Mom. Coach Ann already knows I'll be late."

"Yeah, yeah," I say as I swerve into another lane.

The fruit is disintegrating. Oh no! What if we don't make the game? I paid $20 for fruit that's going to go bad. Now I am obsessing on the fruit.

My directions say that I'll be on 190 for several miles before South Road. I have lost track of mileage only knowing that I've been in traffic for a long time. As I approach a light, I see "South Road" to my right. "We're here!" I yell.

I take a right and expect to see the field right there. That's what it says on the directions. Take a right and the field is right there. I look. No field. "Frankie, do you see a field anywhere?"

"No, Mom." By now, she is in a trance after an already long day.

I cruise down South Road where all I see is grass. Some small houses. Maybe if I go a little further. Nope. Just a funeral home to the left. No field. Wait a minute. There's a field. "No, Mom, those are baseball players." By now, the clock is ticking away. The game has started. I panic and call a friend. He tells me to get to an intersection and he'll figure out where I am.

I sit at the corner of Beech and South, waiting for direction. His computer is rebooting. We make small talk. After ten minutes of confusion, he apologizes and says, "I have to go to a concert."

Great. I pull back onto South and stop on the side of the road to catch pedestrians. "Hey, do you know where Firehouse Field is?" I yell at two high-schoolers wearing Fermi shirts (HELLO!). They look at each other and scratch their heads. Desperate, I pull into the funeral home parking lot and ask mourners if they had any idea where Firehouse Field was. "No, we're from Vermont." Dressed in black, they apologize. Head bowed in shame, I realize what I just did. This is a low point in my life's career.

"I'm really sorry for your loss," I said, embarrassed and humiliated that I would do something so embarrassing and humiliating. Did that knock sense into me? Did that stop me from barreling out of the parking lot? No. I am fixated on getting to this game. I call my middle daughter whose gotten a ride home from her dad who picked her up before his dinner. :) She can't figure out the lax website and suggested I go to a gas station.

I finally find one. Of course, the barely English-speaking man had NO IDEA where Firehouse Field was. I walked out and proclaimed, "I am going to kill myself! I am going to kill myself right out here in front of your gas station!" I'm sure he wasn't clear as to whether he should laugh or call 911.

Then I accost a woman getting into her car at the gas station. "Please help me," I say as I tap on her window. She opens the window. "I can't find Firehouse Field."

"Firehouse Field?" I have no idea where that might be." I sigh with exasperation with no higher self in existence. Who does this? Who carries on about getting to a lax game? Apparently, I do. Feeling defeated, I walk back to my car prepared to drive home with a cooler full of cut fruit and a very disappointed little girl. The woman calls out, "Hey, what town is it in?"

I turn around. "Somers," I say, as if obvious. "Aren't we in Somers?"

"No, this is Enfield. Somers is about 2 miles further down." She points east.

What an arse I am.

We got there right before half-time. Frankie played most of the second half. The girls got their lax behinds kicked real bad, but they enjoyed every succulent slice of watermelon and wedge of orange.

I think I should invest in a GPS.
Fermi, by the way, is the high school in Enfield. Duh.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Don't Slap Moms With a Price Tag

Since 6:00 AM this morning, I have made breakfast, fixed up lunches, located shorts for one daughter, a lax uniform for another. I’ve bandaged up an infected toe, written an early dismissal note, fielded a dozen questions. “Who’s driving? What time will you be home? How am I getting to the jamboree tomorrow? Did you buy a present for the Bat Mitzvah? Have you heard from Grandma? Is she coming on Sunday? Did you buy batteries for the Wii remotes? Why can’t we dog sit Benny and Sophie again this weekend?”

I’ve loaded the washer with dirty clothes, emptied the dishwasher, answered three emails, helped rhyme a poem for teacher appreciation day and now I sit down to breathe for a second (it's 7:21, 10 minutes before I drive my middle daughter to middle school) and read the Courant’s front page (Yes, we still get the paper version. Don't ask!).

The left column reads, “How Much Is Mom Worth?” Of course, I’m curious. I feel worthy, but I have only had the discussion of a mom’s monetary value ONCE because the concept is beyond ridiculous. I imprisoned the man in the corner with my finger in his face as I tallied up the mom tasks. Then, when I was short on my list, I pulled out the big guns. “How can we actually measure a mom’s worth?” I yelled. “There are all kinds of moms. How ‘bout those ‘executive moms’ -- the moms who would be running the companies if they took that energy out into the world? They do it all! You can’t put a price tag on being a mom.’”

The man backpedaled and agreed that no insurance policy, even the one valued at a million dollars, could ever cover a mom’s value. That man, my husband, hasn’t uttered a word about replacing me with an insurance policy since.

I’m sure he read the headlines this morning and wanted nothing more than to bury them beneath sections C and D where this article belongs. Seriously, why are we telling moms they’re only worth $61,436.00 on the front page? I hope there’s plenty of backlash for Mr. Sturdevant, the messenger.

I remember reading a while back that to replace Mom would cost in the range of $400,000 a year. Lots of stay-at-home moms celebrated this affirmation. Not me. A mom’s value is beyond money. Any attempt at equating Mom with dollar signs, high or low, is a futile one. Moms are simply irreplaceable. A sad, but true, fact.

How does it go? “Summer activity planner -- $8, 726. Nursing wounds -- $430. Fixing up the house -- $1,000. A mom’s love – priceless.”

Love cannot be deposited into a bank account.