America, Put On Some Damn Pants!

sad grads 1

America, we need to talk. This weekend I saw things. Things I will never scrub from my eyeballs. Things I wanted to shield from my children’s view. Things that will haunt my sanity for years. Was it a crime scene? No. Natural disaster? No. Warzone. No. Rather, I was at my niece’s high school graduation in rural America and based on the things I saw, America, we have a problem.

Last Friday, my brave mother and I loaded my two hellcats into the car and embarked on a two-day trip that included 18 hours of driving. (For those of you not familiar with the horrors of 18 hours in a car with Nugget, I’m likening it to the first level of Purgatory.) But I adore this particular niece and would move mountains, (or Nuggets) to see her proud moment. After several hours of cartoons, soul- shattering kid music, shady rest stops and explosive diarrhea (Nugget’s not mine) we arrived in rural America in time for graduation the next morning.

Having spent several years in education, I’ve been to a graduation or two in my day. I’ve sat through those with gowns and mortarboards and those with suits and dresses. I’ve even been through one with barefoot hippies and while the garb of the grads has varied, one thing does not – it’s a big deal for those kids and should be treated as such. Audience, that means step it up a notch, comb your hair, put on some freaking pants and have some respect. That message didn’t make it to my niece’s school.

Before heading out to the graduation, I was horrified to realize my eight-year-old, now being a full-on man and thus should be allowed to pack his own bag, packed a shirt with a giant missed-my-mouth trail of tears down the front. “For the love of God, you can’t go like that Number One Son, this is a graduation!” Thankfully my years of world travel left me well-versed in the art of hotel-bathroom laundry. Once he was ready, I had to tend to  Nugget’s style. I’d packed white pants but due to the afore mentioned explosive diarrhea, my reservations were great. My mother chimed in, “Oh put him in some damn shorts. He’s two. He can get away with it.” Ah yes, magic words Mom. Now pay attention here America, HE can get away with it because HE is two, but the rest of you assholes – put on some damn pants.

Now I am a product of the rural America education system so I had an understanding of what to expect. Unfortunately it seems things have changed greatly since 1990.

As I watched the proud community filter into the sweltering gymnasium for graduation I saw one woman wearing the same “shorts” I’d slept in that night. (Honey, I know you bought those in the pajama department. Put on some damn pants!) I saw men in cut-off jeans. (These haven’t even been a thing since ’79!) I saw way too much camouflage. (Clearly these individuals wanted to be there to see the graduation but wanted to be certain no one saw them in attendance.) I saw one man so covered in oil and grease I’m pretty sure he’d just crawled out from under a car moments before they cued up Pomp and Circumstance. (In his defense, I later learned that his son receiving a signed diploma may have been news that only broke moments before the ceremony.) I saw a graduate’s mother in a day-glow top and booty shorts. (Yes, you read that correctly – booty shorts…in a size 18.) And between the plethora of dollar store flip-flops and truck stop t-shirts came the piece-de-resistance, Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum. To quote my mother, “We can tell people about these two but no one will ever believe us.” Indeed mother. Indeed.

Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum were in their mid-20s and I’m assuming graduates of this same illustrious institution. Both were obese, though not yet requiring a scooter while purchasing their Ring-Dings and Ho-Ho’s. (How do I know their dietary choices? They brought them to graduation, as obviously a grown-ass man needs a snack during a 45-minute ceremony.) Both had identical haircuts freshly dyed pink. (Yes, pink.) As well as matching dirty jeans, muddy sneakers and best of all, matching lavender and blue plaid shirts open to reveal identical t-shirts reading, “Let’s Get Weird.” And both smelling so fiercely that even Nugget signed, “Mom, somebody pooped. It wasn’t me.”

America, is this a cry for help?

From what I could see, most of the graduates looked smashing and with the exception of the one young lady who I was hoping would not go into labor before receiving her diploma, their footwear was shockingly appropriate. (But hey, when you’re 12 months pregnant at graduation, flip-flops are appropriate.)

America, when Jesus gave us comfort fabrics, he didn’t mean for you to make them the fabric of your life. He didn’t intend for you to wear t-shirts and booty shorts to your kid’s graduation. He didn’t intend for you to think a camouflage tank and seed-corn cap might serve as acceptable attire for the culmination of your child’s early education career. There is a place and time for these things and a public event celebrating your offspring’s academic achievements is not that place.

While solo-parent interstate travel is never easy, I am so thankful the Turk was not privy to this onslaught of trailer-park inspired couture. How do I explain to my foreign husband that when he waved that flag and took that oath, you agreed to be part of ALLLLLL this too?

I leave you with this America, or should I call you ‘Merica now? Yes, that seems more appropriate. ‘Merica, you want your kids to respect you but on the biggest day of their young lives this is the best you could give them? Do you really think so little of education that you couldn’t even put on clean pants? I certainly realize we have far larger issues in this nation at present and my hope is waning, however, how ‘bout we start the change we need with a simple first step. America, show some self-respect and put on some damn pants!

 

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Pardon My Dance Break…

dancing boys

Like most discerning television enthusiasts just shy of age 3, Nugget has sophisticated viewing tastes. He loves the hard-hitting facts exposed in Sid the Science Kid, the fast-paced adrenaline rush of Paw Patrol and the gritty work-place drama of The Odd Squad. While he’d love to be an avid binge-watcher, he’s only allowed that luxury in the presence of phlegm or vomit. (his or mine). After a hard day on the swings, nothing takes the edge off like kicking back with a juice box in one hand and the TV remote in the other.

While his television viewing is generally age appropriate, (with the exception of his unexplainable love of The Goldbergs which I fear is due to seeing his own Smother in the adoringly oppressive Beverly) there is one show that we just can’t keep him away from and due to the scantily clad nature of the ladies, the age appropriateness is questionable. My Nugget is currently obsessed with Dancing With The Stars and while he’s danced with fandom in recent seasons, this time around he is obsessed, even requesting a Dancing With The Stars themed birthday party.

Every morning upon waking, he signs – Dancing With The Stars tonight? If my answer is yes, he’s elated. If it’s no he demands a quick fix from YouTube so he can carry on with his day. This coming week’s two-night finale is likely to blow his tiny mind. (Back to back Dancing? Madness!) An odd obsession for a toddler boy or is he merely emulating his adoringly oppressive mother’s interests much like his love of Wonder Woman and the musical stylings of Flo Rida? Or is this the first sign that finally, after losing hope with Number One Son following 8 years of less than stellar art projects and school performances, that my Nugget may have gotten my artsy farty gene? A mama can only hope but I venture to guess his current obsession stems from something far deeper.

See, Nugget is Team Nyle all the way and waits in anticipation for any glimpse of his dancing hero. For those of you, (unlike Nugget and by extension now, even the Turk) who aren’t DWTS fans, Nyle DiMarco is a profoundly deaf actor and model (and fine male specimen) that was the recent winner of America’s Next Top Model. (No, Nugget is not a fan of ANTM, nor am I. Tyra, love ya girl but that show is ridiculous.) Winning Top Model and being deaf gave him a direct path to the token “disabled star” slot on the latest season of Dancing With The Stars.

As with most television programing, this show also has a formula that relies on stereotypes and the token disability slot is part of that, as is the token geriatric slot, the old jock slot, the rehabilitated child star slot, the washed-up musician slot and the hottie-past-her-prime slot. But much to the surprise of both the DWTS producers and its fan base, (primarily old broads and their bored husbands (oh, and Nugget too)) this year’s token disabled star quickly proved that he wasn’t disabled at all.

In case you, unlike myself, have not spent the past few years pouring over audiograms and learning about the four levels of hearing loss, being Profoundly Deaf means you hear nothing and even aided you still hear nothing. That means that when this man is dancing, he is dancing to complete silence. (Suck on that Baryshnikov.) And in case you are not watching this season, the “disabled” man who dances to silence has been absolutely amazing, receiving top scores and far surpassing the rest for the competition for the entire season. But better than that, he’s used his time in the spotlight to push his political agenda, one that happens to be mine- bilingual (ASL and speech) language acquisition for all deaf and hard of hearing children. (Click here, in case you missed my high horse tirade on the matter and want to better understand why this is even a thing.)

From political appearances to forming the Nyle DiMarco Foundation, this man has made huge strides in the push for bilingual education for all deaf kids all in the midst of rehearsing a cha-cha and polishing his pasa doble. In addition to this activism that warms the hearts of parents like me, what’s much more important is his role modeling. My Nugget is obsessed with Dancing With The Stars because when he is watching he sees a guy that talks with his hands just like he does. He sees a guy that learns with his eyes, just like Nugget does and he sees a guy that keeps it classy in a world that is growing increasingly trashy. (Just like Nugget damn well better do when he’s a grown man or his mama is going to take care of that.)

Something tells me that when the producers filled the token disabled contestant slot with Nyle DiMarco, they had no idea that he would prove again and again that being deaf is not a disability but rather, a different approach. They also had no idea that he would bring with him not only the entire Deaf community, but the parents of deaf and hard of hearing kids, advocates, supporters, educators and anyone who works with these kids, one little chubby toddler in Indiana and tons of other kids who see themselves in this guy and millions of viewers who are shocked to have their preconceived notions of the deaf obliterated by dance.

It’s wonderful to see someone using this ridiculous platform that is Dancing With The Stars for good instead of trying to reignite a flailing career. Good on you Nyle DiMarco. This family will be watching you in the finals next week. (Not like we have any other choice…Nugget rules.) You’ve certainly got our votes but I am hopeful that this love affair will fade before I have to come up with a Dancing With The Stars themed birthday cake in July. I already have all those football decorations…

dancing girl

 

 

Thanks For The Coffee Klatch Paul Stanley

Toddlers on bench in gas masks during WWII

Unleash the balloons! Discharge the confetti cannons! It’s over. (No, not the US presidential race, we can only dream about that ending. We’re stuck in that crap-nado for at least six more months.) No, the case conference was yesterday and Nugget now officially has an IEP and is placed in a school for fall. He’s even been put on a bus route. (Though I doubt the chubster’s stump-like legs will be capable of mounting bus stairs and thus he will need a drop off, but I digress.) While the beginning of his formal education doesn’t look at all like I’d anticipated, we’ve got an education plan and the next step is happening.

We had great options but Nugget fell into the in-between and none were ideal right now, so he’ll be spending his first semester on the Island of Misfit Toys with other little buddies that need an extra push to get things going. (Side note- when we visited the Island, Nugget had a grand time laughing at a kid with enormous glasses and that kid pointed and laughed right back, because on the Island, it is perfectly acceptable for a kid with one ear and a hearing aid on his forehead and a kid with Coke-bottle glasses to mock each other. The Island is a level playing field. Socialization at it’s core.) He’ll have a full morning of social time and therapy, much like a Baby Betty Ford Clinic. Best of all, the teachers will meet Nugget in his zone, not all sign language, not all speech but a combo of both, just like Nugget.

In addition to his speech and language needs, they will also help him with his anxiety. (Again, much like a Baby Betty Ford Clinic – sans pharmaceuticals.) The plan is to bring that sassy little chunk out of his Mama-needin’ shell so he’ll become comfortable enough to entertain the masses with his sweet dance moves and vowel-based recreations of Flo Rida jams. (El-um u i ous : That’s ‘Welcome to My House’ as interpreted by the Nugget.) The kid is well on his way to comedic genius and while I’d love to save it all for my own entertainment pleasure, the world needs a good laugh right about now and Nugs is ready to lead the charge…as soon as he can get off his mama’s lap. (I’m assuming Jerry Seinfeld started on his mom’s lap as well. Right?)

While the decision is made, I still had my doubts. The what-if’s are massive in this Polly-the-Planner, Wilma-the-Worrier mind of mine. Sure, all parents worry about making a wrong choice – like will Timmy become an ax murderer because I sent him to a Waldorf school over a Montessori school? (Unlikely, but though he’ll be able to knit at age 3, he might never learn to sort beans properly.) In the realm of special needs parenting the worry is heightened because your kid is already behind and parents are often working against developmental time clocks, age deadlines, insurance restrictions and school district constraints. (Man, have I learned a lot this year!)

Just as I was getting ready to dosi-do into a second-guessing square dance over my morning coffee, I got a little gift from Paul Stanley that seemed to put things in perspective. Paul Stanley, yes Star Child from Kiss and a founding father of hair metal, has the same ear deformity Nugget does and even wears the same kind of hearing aid. Didn’t know Star Child was half-deaf with one ear did ya? (There is your useless trivia for today. You’re welcome.) That’s why he started the hair thing – to hide his ear. And I guess that also explains the whole volume thing too. Gene: Turn it up guys, Paul can’t hear a damn thing, he’s only got one ear! Paul Stanley never went public about his Microtia until recently and since then he’s been a huge supporter of tiny Microtians doing great things for kids all over. (And you thought he was just some sleazy, tight pants wearin’ rock star didn’t you? Nice, Judgy Judy)

Anyway, this morning an interview with Paul Stanley came across my inbox and my second-guessing ceased. In the article, the writer asked Stanley his secret to overcoming the huge obstacles placed before him as a kid. He replied, “You don’t take giant steps. You initially take baby steps appropriately. As you have small successes and small wins, it encourages you to go the next step.” Logical? Yes, but sometimes when wisdom is delivered by a hairy rock icon it sticks better. Thank you Star Child.

Nugget is doing just that. He started by signing single words and now he’s signing sentences. He used to be a miserable, grunting tyrant and now he uses sign language to recreate hilarious adventures from his day. (Explaining how he got an owie is usually Oscar worthy.) Signing has given him enough confidence to try verbal approximations and he just keeps building. It really doesn’t matter where he is in school because right now, he is taking baby steps at his pace and eventually those will lead to great success. In time, Nugget might just pick-up a guitar and forge a new sound that will take the world by storm. (Though in all honesty I look for him to be more R&B than Metal. Chubby guys are good at smooooooooth.) Take your time Nugget and keep going with those baby steps. We’ll get there. I have no doubt about it.

 

Hold On America, Mom’s Comin’…

Portrait-Face-Photo-Female-Male-impersonator (1)

Here in Indiana, the land of Hoosiers (And no, even after 3.5 years I still don’t know what the hell a Hoosier is and why these people have hung on to the moniker.) the political scene has been, well, there has actually been a political scene for once. Usually the presidential primary race is determined before the Hoosiers get a chance for input but this year being the gigantic cluster duck that it is, Hoosiers had a say yesterday. While I was elated to have a break in the nonstop bore-ass coverage of the 100th anniversary of the Indy 500 (Seriously, if you hate car racing as I do, May is rough here.) I must say that if I see one more nasty, spiteful, crap-filled political ad, Mama’s gonna blow.

I’m sure most of my Stateside readers have suffered through most of the same ads, with the exception of incessent references to Hoosier Sensibility.(Something I see in the general populous but has yet to be demonstrated by their elected officials. I’m lookin’ at you Governor.) And while a few of the ads were tolerable, the rest resembled a third grade playground smack down. (Sorry third graders, I know you’re more mature than that but you get my point right?) All of this got me thinking, do you know what kind of president America really needs? America  needs an old, hard-assed mom for prez. Who better to whip this country into shape? Moms multitask 24/7, negotiate with hostile parties hourly, placate stubborn dictators daily, and solve monumental problems maintaining tight budgets on the reg. Many African nations have figured out that electing moms is the answer, so get on it America.

So as of today I am officially launching an inquest into my presidential run as a mom-centric third party candidate. (PS- that 3rd party will be called the Wine Party. It opens a treasure trove of wine/whine wordplay ad options.) America, I get it. You need me.

Years ago I threw my hat into the ring for VP on the Ronn Paul ticket but was wholly disregarded. (And yes, my bitterness remains.) Prior to the white smoke confirming Pope Fran, I also lobbied to become replacement Pope but was denied. (The Vatican said something about me having lady parts and being a heathen ruled me out. Whatevs.) But third time’s a charm, right? Before you all rush out for yard signs, I need to do a little background cleansing and issue a few payoffs. I’m pretty sure Chris Christie can guide me through the process. (Plus we share the chub card and chubs help chubs.) Once I’ve fully expunged the early 90’s I’ll be ready to roll.

As we are at the inception of my campaign, I’ve only begun to hash out the details of my platform but here are some of my top plans:

On Immigration: I’m not a jackass with absolutely no understanding of the US immigration system who believes mass deportation is a moral and ethical option. However, I am going to implement mass deportation of the Stupid by Choice. Those who are offended by the innocuous (I’m looking at you red Starbucks cups people.) as well as the woman now bringing a $5 million lawsuit against Starbucks for putting ice in her iced coffee, will top my list. It’s time to make America intelligent again (Or at the very least, let’s make America C students again.).

On World Policy: Like my potential opponents, I am also highly concerned with world affairs. (Let me clarify, like a couple of my potential opponents. There is at least one who is “uuuugely” clueless about world affairs.) After sending my secret team of CIA moms to bump off a few leaders who must go, (No one would suspect murder by mom and Lord knows moms can handle it.) I will then eliminate ISIS by assembling the Legion of Badassery. The Legion of Badassery will be led by the Turkish mafia backed-up by members of other Eastern European crime families. ISIS has nothing on these dudes. Thanks to my years in Turkey, I’ve got connections. You’re welcome world.

Pay Inequality: (Excuse me while I play my woman card.)  I will take care of the gender-based pay gap by issuing all women a 27% pay increase to make up for the difference. Any male business owner who does not comply will be sentenced to 9 months of wearing a pregnancy simulator, while driving a filthy mini-van full of tired toddlers and hormonal adolescents after a full work day. That should solve that. On a related note, any male politician who takes it upon himself to write legislation pertaining to any component of women’s health will likewise be sentenced to 40 years of wearing a menstrual cramp simulator for one week each month. During that week there will be no sick days accepted and they will be commuting in the above mentioned mini van. (40 years jackasses, think about it.)

In addition I will bring diversity to the White House with my Muslim-born First Man, my foreign born First Midget and my hard of hearing First Nugget. These past weeks of political overload have moved me. America, I’m here for you. I mean… as long as I can get some big money behind me to fund my run. Super Pacs, you know where to find me- on the playground, at the bottom of the swirly slide.

innagural parade float