Tag Archives: desperate

Call the Red Cross. Because you can’t get there on the Web.


Add to Technorati Favorites

My oldest is taking the Red Cross Babysitting Course today — we signed up for it online, to save ten whole dollars, which believe me, we earned, since the Red Cross web site is a natural disaster in itself: unbelievably torturous to navigate. It’s as if they deliberately hide information in an online labyrinth, sending users click after click in a nearly endless search for the one small piece of information they seek.

Armed, even, with the course number of the babysitting course, once we stumbled on the “Take A Class” section, the course refused to manifest itself for registering.

My daughter and I, stymied, at last puzzled out that we could excavate the registration page by searching for the course by NOT using the course number as a parameter – or using ANY search parameters at all.

(Smart girl, that babysitter-to-be.)

The services they offer, of course, are as good as their web site is bad, so I have far higher hopes for the class itself. It’s a full-day gig, and my eldest, usually a late-morning weekend sleeper, was up and ready for it. She’s got an ulterior motive: a babysitter certified by the Red Cross is WAY more likely to be rolling in jobs and cash than your average 12-year-old.

Add to that a mom with a graphic design background, and a neighborhood to post flyers in, and my little entrepreneur has dollar signs in her eyes.

To her credit, though, she also sallied forth with a notebook, pen, and a willing spirit to soak up everything the class has to offer: particularly, I warned her, the part in the course description that says “How to Communicate with Parents.”

This, I told her, is one of the key breakdown points in a babysitter’s career.

As an enterprising 12-year-old myself, I recalled one disastrous episode where I managed to keep a panicky hold on three human toddlers for about eight solid hours, even managing to get them all to sleep. Their humanity was questionable, although they were unquestionably primates; their ability to hang from the ceiling and from any small outcropping on the wall or high dresser proved that.

The kids trashed the already-messy house, but remained somehow alive and relatively clean themselves by the end of the grueling day. When the mother — tall, blonde, and blithe — finally arrived home to relieve me — tiny, disheveled, and exhausted — she was insanely furious that I had not, somehow, also cleaned her house, as well as feeding, cleaning, and caring for her maniacal tots.

She refused to pay me my one dollar an hour fee.

This was before I developed my full-blown nerve, and while I was still under the constraints my parents had deeply instilled in me never to shout profanity at, or smack the bejesus out of, grownups. I was a polite, respectful kid. I felt hot tears in the back of my near-sighted eyes, and a large, even hotter lump in the back of my throat.

I simply fled.

Lucky for me, my mother was the same sort of mad grizzly bear that I am now. Furthermore, my mother had been counting on robbing me of my babysitting money, which augmented her fury. She marched over, breathed dragon fire on the blonde welcher, and returned triumphantly with my cash, which at least I got to look at before it ended up in my mother’s purse.

Thus I illustrated to my own daughter: make it clear up front that cleaning the children, not the house, is what you are being hired to do.

I am certain the Red Cross will have the perfect words for that concept.

Not only that, the Red Cross class includes infant care – something I myself learned on the job, way back when. It’s startling, really, how desperate some people are to get out of the house, that they’ll leave the very youngest infants with the very youngest pre-teens, including clueless ones such as myself. How could they be sure that I was as nervously watchful as I was? It took ages to figure out which end of the diaper went where.

I remember calling my mother, who was absolutely no help at all with those odd plastic tape things, since I, apparently, was a cloth diaper baby – oh, she just dropped them in a box and someone brought clean ones to the house. And – funny story, she used to stick me with pins… Okay, Mom, thanks anyway, gotta go, there’s weird green stuff coming out of this baby now…

The worst thing I ever did was eat my employers out of house and home once the kids were asleep. (Once, bored out of my mind, I ate an entire box of Wheat Thins out of someone’s pantry. Kindly, the woman told me next time to please simply tell her what I’d like to have around and she’d stock it for me. I wanted to sink through the floor.)

So I will be supremely thankful to the Red Cross for giving my daughter the kinds of heads-up on infant care that a mother simply can’t.

Although my daughter and I DID have a talk the other night that was both reassuring and profoundly disturbing at the same time.

“There are a lot of girls at my school who are trying to get their boyfriends to get them pregnant,” my (only) 12-year-old said.

Me: (putting on my stone face, in an only half-successful attempt to disguise my inner “OMG!” and resorting to “Old Faithful”) How do you feel about that?

Her: I think they’re idiots.

Me: (at last able to exhale.) Why’s that?

Her: Because they don’t realize that once they actually HAVE a baby, they’ve got to take care of it. Like getting up at 1 o’clock to feed it, you know?

Me: (unable to resist driving the point home) Like getting up at 1 o’clock to feed it. And then again at 2 o’clock, maybe. And then at 3, waking up to change the nastiest diaper you ever saw or smelled. Then, just as you fall back asleep at 3:45, the baby wakes up again hungry. Then at 6, it’s feeding time again. Every two hours, around the clock – for months, until you’re desperate for sleep, and you can’t believe you’re being tortured like this, and the baby hasn’t even smiled yet.

Her: (looking at me, and blinking impassively.) Yeah, that’s sort of what I meant.

Me: (catching my breath) I’m not really a baby person.

Her: I get that. Don’t worry, Mom. I’m in no rush.

Me: Okay, good. Okay, then.

Her: My friend says she’s not going to have sex until she gets married.

Me: (unable to exhale again.) Yeah?

Her: My friend is an idiot.

Me: (exhaling tentatively.) Well, you know you can always talk to me. You don’t want to get pregnant before you’re ready, and you certainly don’t want to die. So talk to me, okay?

Her: (grinning.) I will. You’re fun to watch.

This is definitely a kid who can be trusted. After all, I ruthlessly use her to watch our youngest all the time, and when she’s on the job, I never worry for a second. That’s saying a lot. 

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under confidence, family, humor, life, self-image, sex

I’m baaaack. Anyone care for a drink?


Add to Technorati Favorites

Hmmm. It looks like Elizabeth Williams Bushey could use a little, tiny drink.

Hmmm. It looks like Elizabeth Williams Bushey could use a little, tiny drink.

I’m BACK!

It’s really not the alcohol so much, really, as the cute little bottles it comes in.

No, really. I swear.

The alcohol I drank a LOT of came in a bottle of Gordon’s gin. And the part that sucked was when the tonic ran out. The part that only sort of sucked was that I had no limes – just the little slush of lemon juice I had left over.

It was okay, though. One finds hidden resources when one is desperate – and one finds, too, that a little lemon juice goes a long way – and one finds that one does not need lemon juice, or lime juice, after a few gin and tonics, after all.

Especially now that Peter is home.

Which sort of explains my absence from these pages.

We’ve renovated the backyard, which, if you’re a regular reader, up until now was pretty much Dog Turd City. Nice for Tucker Dog – not so much, though, an area that the girls and I were so much eager to go frolicking in ourselves.

Dog Turd Pudding jokes aside.

Peter came home, horrified – not only that I’d glued myself to the computer screen, but that the backyard was an overgrown, dog turdy mess.

Regulation dartboard. Watch the wires; your dart will fly right off.

Regulation dartboard. Watch the wires; your dart will fly right off.

In about a week, he’d installed a pool, built a slate patio, hung a dartboard, strung those little white twinkly lights all over the place (you know, the kind you see when it isn’t Christmas in restaurants?) and I was able to show off my artistic skills by printing up “end of school pool party” invitations for my oldest’s middle school friends.

He even took the props from my kids’ concert shows and decorated the yard and fence with them.

It went from looking like all that was missing was a car on cinderblocks to a virtual paradise.

I was stunned.

Hence, the alcohol.

Hence, the “blog? What blog? Real life has suddenly become WAY more interesting.”

And boy, can I throw a dart now. Even my youngest can. (We found a crate for her to stand on.)

Anybody wanna try me?

2 Comments

Filed under confidence, family, humor, life, satire, self-image

Secrets from the Closely-Guarded Girl Manual


Add to Technorati Favorites

what's left of the rosebushSure. I could pay a tree service. Or whoever you hire to take down a massive rose bush with thorns the size of my thumb that one neighborhood kid has already gotten himself snagged on.

This rose bush – less than a foot tall when I naively planted it – has mushroomed to mammoth proportions, as if some evil fairy I neglected to invite to a party has cursed me and now is attempting to surround my house like Sleeping Beauty’s castle.

The leviathan is, now nine feet tall, extending numberless barbed branches like seven foot-tentacles, searching for victims as it waves in the wind like deadly chimes.

We’re all afraid of it.

It’s already injured a neighbor’s kid. Diving for a stray ball, this 11-year-old boy slid like a prince diving for rescue under the horrid brambles. Got snagged by these malignant, inch-long thorns. On his face, no less. Nice kid, too. Even nicer parents.

“Don’t worry about it,” they said, blithely attributing his carelessness for throwing himself into what is obviously a Hansel-and-Gretel child-catcher.

No roses on the diabolical thing, either.

Really. No roses. Well – it actually DOES blossom – tons of them, white, perfect, with a fragrance that would make you lift off the ground with pleasure. It would be a stunner, except for a beast more evil than the rosebush.

Deer – actual, living, tick-infested deer, in this actual city.

These skinny, spindly-legged monsters flock the very day the roses bloom, devouring every one right down to the petals, save for a few lonely, lingering blooms teetering at the top to taunt us.

Fearless, despite their flinchy reputations, nervy enough to high-step their pointy little hooves right up to my front porch and munch their wicked little hearts out.

(So that makes, what? Kittens and deer that I don’t love? Wait, who’s the monster? I really AM much nicer than I sound, I swear.)

So: here I am, facing this titanic mass of thorns, a menace to the neighborhood, which attract even more menacing deer, dropping ticks on my lawn for my children to contract Lyme disease.

At last I find the hedge clippers, which is a small miracle of hope in itself, since Peter won’t be back for another two weeks.

Despite my nine-year-old’s frantic warnings for me to stay the hell away from it – after all, if I am successful in chopping the damn thing down, think, woman, think! It will fall on you, stupid – I nevertheless am desperate enough to try, even though all I am wearing is a tank top and short shorts.

Ow. Ow. Yikes, ow. Now I am bleeding. “You’re right,” I agree. Not only am I stupid, this is not working. Hedge clippers are not the thing. I need a chainsaw.

And Peter.

But since Peter is not here, and neither is a chainsaw, I need to rely on the only tools I have.

The tank top and short shorts.

Hence, The Closely-Guarded Secret Girl Manual, given out in the nicotine hazed girls’ rooms in every middle school across the country, filled with secrets like: Never Call First; Don’t Tell Him Why You’re Mad; It Drives Him Crazy When You Won’t Talk To Him; The Less You Seem Interested, The More He Will Want You; etc.

There’s a whole chapter on how to get work done for you.

It goes sort of like this:

You have a rosebush you hate and want to get rid of, but the thorns are really sharp, and it’s going to be a real pain in the ass.

And Peter is away, or he would totally do it for you, because he has the energy of a small steam locomotive, and besides, he would probably simply pull out his Leatherman, take two swipes at the thing, and it would be gone, leaving you feeling both foolish and full of admiration at the same time. “Rosebushes?” Peter would say. “Easy! You just do this.”

If his arm was hanging off when he was done, he’d just snap it back into place and sit down for dinner without another word.

Instead, I see, far up the street, jogging along, at a nice little amble, my kids’ dad. My head flips through its mental rolodex and I rustle up said chapter in The Closely Guarded Secret Girl Manual, and I begin hacking away at the rosebush randomly, violently, and with some bloodshed on my part. Within minutes, my lawn is covered with thorny stalks.

He stops. Anyone would, really. I look like a madwoman, my shirt half up my belly by now. This is intentional. A pretty, blonde, madwoman.

“What are you doing?” he asks.

“I can’t stand this rosebush any longer. I have to get rid of it.”

“Do you need some help?”

“I really, really do. I think I’m overheating,” I say.

I hand him the hedgeclippers, and head into the house, where he, at least, manages to get rid of most of the stalks I left on the lawn, and defenestrate the bulk of the bush.

He doesn’t complete the job, of course – I know him too well to expect miracles – but Peter will be home soon.

“What the hell happened to the rosebush?” he’ll ask.

“I tried to get rid of it,” I’ll say.

“Rosebushes? They’re easy,” he’ll say, and in a fit of testosterone, he’ll whip out his Leatherman, and take care of the rest of it for me.

And I’ll put away The Closely Guarded Secret Girl Manual until I need it again.

(photo © elizabeth williams bushey. it’s what’s left of the rosebush.)

Leave a comment

Filed under family, humor, life