Monday, August 26, 2013

Between Humor and Therapy

My parenting goal is to raise my boys to be somewhere between not having to see a therapist to get over their upbringing, and still have a sense of humor when they are adults.  It's a tricky combination that I sometimes fail at. Luckily, when I don't do the best that I am capable of, they are more than helpful in letting me know of my mistakes.  Teenagers are often thoughtful like that.

The no-therapist goal is a biggie.  How many people do you know that don't need a bit of tweaking to get past Mom or Dad issues? Especially when we are kids and parents are just learning how to do the parenting role.  Even parents hardened by the antics of previous children are challenged  as kiddos never come out the same.  My solution to keeping therapy-need at bay is to:

  • seek honesty
  • attempt compromise over control
  • listen to them and myself when I speak
  • be of service to them without creating a dependent cling-on
  • not be attached to how they turn out as human beings
  • get out of their way and let them explore life in a safe, supportive environment
  • guide only when needed
  • walk the line between minding my own business and knowing if they're doing something harmful  
With those goals in mind, I do my daily best to shuck off the uncivilized part of them so that society will accept them as functioning, productive citizens.  The uncivilized part has evolved over the years from not kicking each other in the face in public, to saying no to designer drugs and weapons of mass destruction. So far, we've each done a good job.

Having a sense of humor, well, that I am over joyed to report has been successful.  Both are funny--thank God/Goddess.  If they weren't:

  •  our dinners would be dull
  • their future happily married life would be over before it began
  • they would not be welcome at Family Reunions
  • High School would be depressing
  • jobs would not last beyond six months. 
While I'll never know if they are secretly seeing a psychiatrist once they leave home, I do know that humor will forever follow them like a pound dog puppy.

When one of the boys at eight years old asked that I not call ketchup and mustard 'condiment' as it sounded too much like condom, he laughed right along with us when we asked him to not make a mess when putting mayo on his hot dog.  In being open to a family joke at his expense, I knew right then that he was going to have a wonderful life.

If you have kids, I highly suggest that you keep an inner parenting goal.  You are welcome to adopt mine as long as you include the one I did not write about: love them no matter what.

Heather Leigh

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Tortillas and Traffic

On one outing today I drove ten miles to my son's soon-to-be high school, two miles to the pet store for dog food, down the street for a snack at In and Out, and stopped at two thrift stores in a quest for a new computer keyboard on the way home.  We came in long enough to take our dog, Sydney, out for a potty break, grab dance shoes, and quench thirst from a hot San Diego day.  Then we were off again for a five mile jaunt to the boy's ballroom dance class (believe it or not, they love this class! It's where the girls are.)

Since returning from a two-year escapade in a small town in northern California, it is remarkable how much the definition of a lot of driving has changed for me.  Up there, the ten minute drive to the town that held the only Target department store in the county was worthy of much bitching and moaning on my part. Now, in the spread out geography of million-plus citizenry of San Diego, a ten minute drive is laughable.  How did this town get so spread out?

Here's my ideal: Put every store that I frequent within walking distance of my home.  I go to Sprouts for organic veggies, Trader Joes for sea salt and caramel chocolates, Target for inexpensive pesto sauce, and Pancho Villa for freshly made tortillas, mexican cokes and pico de gallo.  Make the boy's schools across the street, along with the post office, library and an Olympic sized pool because I love to swim.  There must be a short cut for Sydney and I to get to a lovely walk along a river from which I cannot see any billboards or cars.  Throw in a bike ride distance to the beach, and I swear I will never complain again, or attempt to escape from city life with another move to the Pacific Northwest.

The real question here is why didn't the city planners of San Diego ask me where I wanted my favorite stores before they did the planning?  What is wrong with these people that they did not think of my needs and my daily desire for sea salt and caramel chocolates?

Actually, the real question is why does this big city have such lousy public transit?  It would take me over an hour to get to just one of the aforementioned stores if I were traveling via bus and/or trolley.  For such a fine city, why is it such a challenge to get anything done without using a ton of gas and hurting our skies?  Monorails, rapid public transit, anything that would lower our driving time seems like a smart thing to have in a large, sprawling city.  Life is often a puzzle to me.  Maybe someday I will understand the complexities of San Diego--it will probably be on the same day I figure out how to make my own home-made tortillas.

Heather Leigh

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Wild Wave Women

Every Wednesday, throughout this summer, several friends and I  have been meeting at the beach.  Yes, we are that lucky to live in southern California and have weekly beach trips while the rest of the country goes to the monotony of a mall, a dinky lake, or a boring river.  Do I sound pompous and arrogant about where I live? I'll try to remain tactful and not rub it into any one's face that I get to lay in the warm sand, chat with friends, watch playful dolphins and muscular lifeguards, and refresh my legs in cool ocean water.  I won't say another word about living in a warm beautiful city that tourists come to from all over the world for a week at a time and I am here year round. Hmmm.

My friend, Chris, and I got pretty crazy today. For the second time this summer, we got our feet wet. The water was 70.5 degrees, so our bravery is extreme.  The other two moms were not feeling the same dare devil heart that Chris and I were experiencing.  They hung back in the safety of the dry warm towels and wished us luck as we ventured forth to the frothy salt water.  

While cascading toward the wide open sea, our feet took in the change from dry to moist to wet to anticipation to actually touching the water in good stride.  Our hearts pumped faster. A light shallow wave brushed over our toes. Chris was ready to return to the safety of our friends and dry towels but I, like a true friend, threw peer pressure her way and convinced her to stick it out.  She did and we inched forward.  Soon the coolness was lapping at our ankles, teasing our calves, and sneaking a blow at our knees. It was a wild moment.

After holding our sandy ground for at least three minutes, we marched back to our companions.  Triumphant and proud, we had challenged ourselves in the extreme sport of 'middle-aged mom getting her feet wet at the beach'.  I'm still feeling the pride.

There was a shirt I wore as a teen stating that 'if it's too loud--you're too old'.  I think I've crossed the point into the side of being too old.  My kids play their music too loud, the beach water is too cold, and sitting with friends beside a pool is more fun than swimming.  

The great thing is that I am happy sitting with my friends and doing the occasional water dipping.  Next week, however, will be my yearly full body swim day.  You may hear a scream of shock, fear, and joy coming from southern California.  Don't be alarmed--that will be me.

Because as they say, "Well-Behaved Women Rarely Make History"

Heather Leigh

Friday, August 9, 2013

Water Aerobics With John Steinbeck

Water Aerobics has been a weekly class held every Thursday, all summer long, and every Thursday we've been busy doing SOMETHING.  From buying cat food for my starving felines, to watching my kids surf with visiting cousins, to being in a temporary coma (i.e. I forgot), I missed the class. Oh, and then there was that one night when I was swimming laps in the other pool and also forgot about the water fitness class. Finally, last night, I went to the last class of the summer. It was soooo much fun!

Johnnie, the instructor, was one of the perkiest persons I have ever been around.  Ever see 'Parks and Rec' TV show? If you have, picture the role played by Rob Lowe with a snarky sense of humor--perfectly fit and perpetually happy.  He kept our heart rates on high while puncturing funny bones with jokes interwoven with demands for underwater triceps pulls.  In the middle of a sixty second egg beater leg burner, the exercise of choice in water polo, Johnnie yelled out the succulent ingredients of a carne asada burrito. He is lucky I don't eat meat or dairy as I may have been tempted to clobber him with my foam floaty weights. His intentions were actually honorable, he was not out to taunt us; after the egg beaters we had officially burnt enough calories to consume the normally forbidden calorie-cholesterol Mexican staple.  Perhaps two of them washed down with a pina colada

When he played Time Warp from Rocky Horror Picture Show, I had glimpses of how cardio raisers would be in heaven.  I mean, music from the cult classic in a refreshing pool on a warm evening in southern California; sky so blue it seemed wrapped in neon, and palm trees waving their fronds in the distance.  I was working out, feeling the fat cells float away, gluteal muscles firming up, and having an evening as much fun as a personalized weekend writing retreat with author John Steinbeck (he'd be alive for the retreat, of course).

As revealed in the first paragraph, that was the last class of the summer season. The college to which the pool belongs will be back in session in two weeks.  Should I laugh or cry, I wonder? I was able to spend fifty minutes of aquatic bliss while working heart and muscles but could have been experiencing this all season.  In order to prevent my head from exploding or dive into a pool of despair, I am going to force myself to choose to appreciate the time I did get to spend in Johnnie's class.

Maybe I could hire a private investigator to find him and attend some of his other classes.  He must teach elsewhere.  Now that is the most reasonable outcome to the situation at hand: stalk the swim teacher.  Sometimes, just sometimes, my intellect astonishes even me.

Hope you have a day of joyful health and don't miss a whole summer of something that tightens abdomens through laughter and leg pull-ups.

Heather Leigh

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Aussie Admirers Beware

Fellow dog lovers commonly compliment our Australian Shepherd, Sydney, on her beauty. She is one of those tri-colored mixes, black brown and white, with chocolate eyes that can lure visitors straight to her personalized box of biscuits (it's from Milk Bone and it has her picture on the front).

When she was a younger bitch, the beauty was needed as a way to keep her place in our home.  Most people are aware of the Aussie reputation for high doggie intelligence, but the consequences of this feature are not as prized with the owners as they are with outsiders.  She could take an avocado off the table, delicately peel it, lick out all traces of the yummy green insides, and have no idea how the pit and skin got on the floor when we got home.  After eating a box of pink candy once, she was baffled as to how we knew she had eaten it.  I suppose being canine color blind prevented her from witnessing the lovely pink her once white chest had become.

The best food trick she had was opening glass jars.  Having purchased a bag of those incredibly great tasting macadamia nuts, I foolishly thought they would be safe to store in a glass jar on the high kitchen counter. Wrong.  When I got home, the empty, open, unbroken jar was on the floor.  She opened it with her lady like teeth after safely retrieving it off the counter.

Speaking of glass, we once had a glass front door. Everyday when the mailman came, she would throw her self against it and bark with wild abandon until he went away. I suppose she thought she was doing a great job as the mailman never stayed long on our porch. Did you notice my choice of words in writing that we once had a glass front door? After months of being slammed against by our loving Sydney, the door finally broke free from it's daily harassment.  We weren't home but learned from neighbors that our snarling baby busted through the glass and was greeted by a shooting of pepper spray from the mailman.  That was the first of two write-ups, and three postal pepper sprays, the postal service sent us for our beauty. I think she is still on their list of three strikes and you're out.

When we got home that afternoon, we pulled up to a happy dog standing in the middle of a once unbroken glass door.  I don't know how she managed to not deliver a scratch to herself--not one drop of blood.

Oh, and getting loose.  Aussies do not do well when left alone. She broke out of three fences, each one reportedly too strong for a dog to get out of.  You know those metal kennels that no dog can break?  Well, Sydney proved that theory wrong, too.

All that being said, our once rambunctious challenging Sydney is now a ripe and lovely twelve. She takes breaks on long walks and thinks walking up the stairs is some kind of punishment we have concocted for her. Used to be that she would herd the other dogs at the dog park, now she watches all the silly youngsters while laying down.

Her greatest joy now is car rides, short walks on cool evenings, and licking the cats clean.  She still gives them baths that leave them sopping in dog saliva; the cats love it and will tap her mouth for more.

Once Sydney is gone, my dog days are over.  Somehow, over the years, that damned challenging dog crept into my heart and ruined me for ever being able to love another dog again. How does that happen?

Heather Leigh

Friday, August 2, 2013

Job Jokes

Today I woke to the happy e-mail that I am now a professional freelance writer for a local law firm. Yey! The articles that I will be creatively typing away at will persuade untold millions to gain representation from the firm that I am now supporting.  The job sounds creative and imaginative on my end.  After being given a subject, my end is to research, report and write an article.  The especially intriguing aspect is that I will be signing a disclosure stating that I will not tell ANYONE any details of a case.  So now the jokes can begin:

I could tell you what I am doing, but then I will not only have to kill you, I will also sue you.

Why was the blond author not fired for throwing away the W's at the M&M factory?  She had representation from her moonlight job as a writer at a local law firm.

Why did the blond author put lipstick on her forehead? She couldn't make up her mind. Luckily, her lawyer friends cleaned up the mess.

Okay, I'll stop killing you with the terrible jokes.  They are certainly crappier than the ones I told when working on my Economics thesis in school--the economic feasibility of sewage lagoons. Well, it was a shitty subject, but everybody poops.

Job jokes have been even worse in my life time. When we owned a Children's Resale Shop, there should have been a law made against people asking me how much children re-sale for.  If I had a quarter for every time I heard that one...

Hmmm, maybe the biggest laugh came from a friend when we were discussing royalties made from Hey Little Baby (she is not a writer). In discovering what I made, she pondered her financial situation for a moment and came back with this.

"I owe about that in credit card debt.  Maybe I could write a story this weekend, get it sold, then pay off my debt."

Perhaps only a fellow author will appreciate the ache that was worn in my side from not being able to laugh at her naivete.  I did not want to offend my friend.  If only it were that easy to get published by a major publisher!  I would be retired in, well, wherever I wanted that was tropical, gorgeous and served plenty of pina coladas by very good-looking tan waiters.

In reflecting on my life and the many careers I have chosen, I am gaining a deeper understanding as to my love of variety--it gives me a great source from which to draw some extremely stupid jokes.

Thank you for sharing in my joy.

Heather Leigh