Friday, January 29, 2010

Great Information, How Does It Apply To Me?

Sitting in the junior high auditorium at parent information night listening to school officials outline the expectations for my soon-to-be eighth grader was a piece of cake. I was calm and relaxed, and, unlike at last year’s parent information night for incoming seventh graders, I never once hyperventilated.

Unfortunately, my peaceful state was short-lived as the focus shifted from eighth grade course descriptions to a frightening presentation regarding ninth grade.

“When choosing classes with your future ninth-grader, be sure to read each course description carefully,” I heard the advisors caution, “as failure to select the correct courses will undoubtedly ruin all hope your child has of living up to his or her fullest potential.”

At this, I looked up from the eighth grade course catalogue.

“Depending on which course you choose, you could either set your child on a track that will guarantee a post-doctorate research grant midway through his or her junior year of high school, OR you could set your child on a track that will guarantee he or she will live at home with you for the rest of your life…”

My pulse quickened.

“… so choose carefully or you will end up spending your golden years doing LAUNDRY for a nest full of 30-somethings...”

My breathing grew shallow.

“… because high school, college and the REST OF YOUR LIFE are right around the corner.”

I began to sweat. I had no idea how much pressure was involved with pursuing a junior high education.

While one parent asked a question about the Fulbright Scholarship, my mind wandered back home to my firstborn, content in seventh grade and far away from frat boys and finals. My dear daughter, who, thanks to unlimited texting, can type 40 wpm using just her thumbs but is nowhere near ready for a dissertation. My little girl, who looks forward to using her new algebra skills someday (in fashion school) but, at that moment, was most likely in her room humming a song by a band I have never heard of before.

All this talk about college as it related to my daughter seemed a bit premature, given the fact that she still hasn’t grown in all of her permanent teeth yet.

Then I remembered how quickly the time passed from seventh grade to the day my parents moved me into the dorm at KU. I went from navigating my way through puberty to navigating my way through campus in the blink of an eye. And through it all my parents never knew the names of my favorite bands either. In fact, they still don’t get that Bono sings with The Edge and not Cher.

On the other hand, they do NOT still do my laundry.

Which gives me hope. I may not know who sings “Fireflies,” but I’m sure when ninth grade enrollment comes along next year my daughter will be ready. Even if I am not.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

The First One was HUGE!

“Hey, Mrs. Dunwap!” yelled little Patrick (not his real name, for reasons that will soon be obvious) from across the grocery store checkout line.

Patrick is my friend’s son, a beautiful, wide-eyed little three-year-old with a fantastic speech impediment I hope he never outgrows.

“Hey, Patrick,” I said as I swiped my credit card. “How was Christmas? Did you get lots of presents?”

His face lit up, “It was gweat! Santa didn’t bwing me a puppy, but I got a wemote contwol twuck. And you know what?” He continued without letting me answer, “I got to go to Wichita fo Chwistmas and wide in my Gwampa’s WHEE-YO-CHAY-YO!”

“Wow! A ride in your Grandpa’s wheelchair!” I replied in an effort to both match his enthusiasm and confirm what he had just told me.

Patrick was on a roll. He was so excited he could hardly contain himself. My groceries were bagged and in the cart, so I drove my cart closer to Patrick, who had attracted a small audience by this point.

“Yeah! And it’s a AUTOMATIC one!” he yelled with glee, clapping his hands and laughing.

“An automatic one?” I smiled back at him, “How cool!”

“Yeah!” He bounced around in the seat of his cart delighted to share his good news. His mother, however, seemed nervous.

“You wanna know why I got to wide in the AUTOMATIC whee-yo-chay-yo?” he asked, about to burst.

“Oh, no, here it comes,” she mumbled as she smiled at me, grabbing the cart handle and speeding us along to the exit.

Unfortunately we were not out the door when Patrick shared this next part.

“I POOPED IN THE POTTY FO-AH TIMES!” he shouted with pride for all to hear.

Unfazed by the personal nature of his announcement, and knowing how much my friend had hoped this accomplishment would one day be reached, I joined in Patrick’s celebration.

“FOUR TIMES?” I said, dropping my jaw for emphasis.

“FO-AH TIMES!” he squealed. “The fohst one was HUGE!” he exclaimed, holding his hands apart for visual effect.

My friend smiled at me and explained, “It had been almost a week; he had a lot to unload.”

But Patrick wasn’t through. “The next one was---“

“And now Patrick isn’t afraid of the potty anymore!” she cheerfully interrupted through a tight grin, jumping directly ahead to the end of his play-by-play.

It took all I had to stifle the laughter, but as I walked to the car my New Year’s resolution came to me: to celebrate every achievement in 2010, no matter how HUGE or insignificant, with the same enthusiasm Patrick had, though perhaps not always in public.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Best Care in the Air? (continued)

I wrote to Midwest Airline's Customer Service Department. (It was a [mostly] nice and non-flippant letter. Swear it.) That was over a week ago.

I even tried writing to Oprah.

Unfortunately no one has responded. Not a word. Not even an automated "we got your email" one.

And, while I did not want to do this, I see no other options. So if anyone out there knows how I can reach Chairman, President and CEO of Republic Airways, Bryan Bedford, please send me the contact information so I can forward the following revisions to his letter in the MyMidwest in-air magazine on behalf of myself, my husband, the other 98 people on the plane, the 25 people who were not allowed to fly, and the flight attendants who gave these revisions their blessing (click on photo to enlarge):

Thursday, January 7, 2010

What I was Doing New Year's Eve...

The following is true. I could not make it up if I tried...

This New Year’s Eve, and Dave and I, along with our friend Michelle, visited our college friend, Ron in Palm Springs for New Year’s weekend.

“Be sure to wear something nice,” Ron told us before we got dressed for the evening. Dave and I had not been out on New Year’s Eve in many, many years, so I was really looking forward to getting dressed up and counting down with people other than Ryan Seacrest and Dick Clark, hours past my actual bedtime to celebrate the new year.

With people my own age.

And no kids in sight.

Dave wore black pants and a nice shirt. I wore a short patterned dress with black boots. I even did my hair. Michelle looked stunning in a one-shouldered black dress. Ron wore a plaid vest and matching jacket. And his murse.

Unable to get tickets to the Rolling Stones cover band at Agua Caliente Casino, we opted for a party at a nearby resort that featured a DJ, followed by a classic rock cover band.

Our first clue should have been that this venue did not charge a cover.

Our second clue should have been the elderly woman exiting the very upscale resort entrance wearing polka-dot Capri pants and an oxygen tank.

Still, Dave, Michelle and I made our way through the exterior entrance while Ron parked the car, excited about ringing in the new year with dear friends and maybe making some new ones on the dance floor.

We could hear loud music coming from the lobby behind the resort’s front doors.

With one last primp of the hair and straightening of the dress, we flung open the heavy doors to find…

A bunch of families on vacation filling the lobby floor, surrounded by elderly couples in velvet, sequins and lame` watching everyone cut loose to "Celebration" on the dance floor.

"It looks like a wedding,” Dave said, as a flock of pre-pubescent boys wearing flannel shirts and sideways baseball caps came tearing through us, sliding on their knees to the dance floor.

Michelle and I couldn’t speak. As dressed up as we were, we looked like 30-something hookers next to the clean-cut all-American families cutting a rug to, at this point, “Hey, Mickey!”

We laughed so hard I not only lost all of my mascara, I nearly lost all of my bladder control too. I made a quick dash to the restroom where I overheard two elderly women in sequins remarking to each other, “This is just the happening place to be!”

Thinking the party for grownups who did not have their kids or their AARP cards with them must be in another part of the resort, we explored the ballrooms (empty) and the back patio (where the 13-17 year olds apparently escaped their parents to go make out while a band covered Beatles songs in Spanish). We looked around for Ashton Kutcher, thinking we surely were being punk’d, but he was nowhere in sight.

Just then, Ron finally showed and rescued us from the Griswold Family Reunion and took us to the casino with an hour to go before midnight, where things were bound to be better...

Fast-forward to 11:55 pm:

Dave sat in the poker room trying to take pension money from old people (apparently they are mass-produced in Palm Springs) and unable to receive any texts, while Michelle, Ron and I sat at the one bar on the property open to the public, wondering where the poker room was.

This bar faced the main entrance. It was dimly lit with light blue tones. Beyond the bar was a restaurant resembling a Denny’s. There were a couple of drunk businessmen to our left and a couple of gigantic hooters trying to escape some poor girl’s push-up bra to our right, with a throng of young men around her, ready to come to their rescue.

Sipping our drinks out of disposable cups – and looking radiant doing so – the three of us counted down the end of 2009 with our bartender who, we discovered, had not only never heard of the Regal Beagle, but, three minutes into the new year, would shout, “Last call!”

We finished our drinks and set out to find Dave…

Dave, meanwhile, sat in the poker room beefing up the pensions of the old people who, at the stroke of midnight, looked out into the rest of the casino and grumbled, “Why are they being so loud?... When are they going to quiet down?... What’s with all the noise out there?”

After checking in with Dave, Michelle and Ron decided to hit the Blackjack table. I tagged along for moral support and to protect Michelle from the Russian man who seemed to be following her.

But as we made our way to the tables, we found ourselves behind a very elderly woman in a wheelchair, scooting along the packed casino by moving her chair a few inches at a time with her foot.

Ron, being the kind-hearted and concerned gentleman that he is, leaned down to her and asked her if she needed any help.

“WHY, YES I DO, YOUNG MAN!” she shouted in a voice that could best be described as a cross between Marge Simpson and Dick Cheney.

“Are you headed back to your room?” Ron asked (because it was after 1:00 in the morning, not because he planned to join her there).

"NO!” she shouted, “PAI GOW! WE'RE GOING TO PAI GOW!” And she nodded to the Pai Gow table 40 feet to her left.

Then, thrusting her arm in that direction she barked at Ron one last time, “AND YOU CAN GO AS FAST AS YOU WANT!”

Without delay, Ron wheeled his new BFF to the Pai Gow table, where she joined a friend.

Needless to say, she stayed at the casino much longer than we did. I just hope she came out better with Pai Gow than Dave did at the poker table.

And so I leave you all with the first lesson I learned in this new year...

PAI GOW! May 2010 bring you everything you need, as fast as you want.