Thursday, February 19, 2009

Mother of the Year

O.k. so I’m having one of those glorious mornings where everything is going like clockwork. My husband and eldest son are up before 6 a.m. to start a new daily jogging routine. My youngest comes downstairs for breakfast fully dressed, and I only have to tell him to brush his teeth twice before he actually does it. Yes people, this is cause for rejoicing. The runners return, shower and join us for eggs and toast and it’s not even 7 a.m. I’m in the zone now. I pack lunches and sign the necessary school papers. I even remember to give my seven year old, who was hacking like he smoked a carton of Marlboros, some cold medicine to help ease his cough while at school. My crew is out of the door and on the way to carpool line by 7:20. I’m feeling so in control, I could run a pit crew at the Indy 500.

Back in the kitchen cleaning up and basking in the glow of my competency, I realize that the medicine I grabbed to give my child, as he was running out the door, was “night time” cough and cold liquid for children. Yeah, I know, it’s terrible. My “Mother of the Year” dreams now shattered are replaced with the terrifying image of my seven year old snoring in a pile of drool at his desk while his teacher is calling the roll. Although I did not have the good sense to double check the medicine bottle, I did have the presence of mind to catch my husband as he got to work and ask him to go back to retrieve our sleepy son. I saw no reason both of us had to go through the embarrassing task of explaining the story to the school secretary.

Before you call Social Services, you should know that I’m not the only one out there harboring severe mother guilt for bouts of parental stupidity. Your mom has stories like this too, you just don’t know about them because she’s smart enough to keep them from you and your therapist. And when you become a parent, you too will keep a running tally in your head of these things and hope at some point the triumphs out number the mistakes.

You hope that the time you drove your kid to school with his new puppy in tow and held up carpool line for thirty minutes while you and the P.E. coach chased the escaped hound down the halls while still dressed in your pajamas, will be a “happy memory” for your child. You hope that giving a constipated guinea pig an enema with tweezers, as one mom friend did, does not permanently end your children’s dreams of med school. You hope that the impromptu summer activity involving a water hose, a playground slide and your toddlers hurtling bare bottom into pine bark mulch without bathing suits will be remembered as an “fun-filled” day in the backyard. The fear that your children will unconsciously flinch at the smell of landscaping materials, as adults will be with you always. Recounting her “slide” story my friend says that as she ran into the house for medical supplies, she heard above her own tears her child wailing, “Mommie did not have a Dood idea.”

Monday, February 2, 2009

You may even be a Rock Star - Young Author's Fair Revisted.

“There he is! There he is!” He made his way through the gauntlet of adoring fans handshake by handshake pausing for the occasional requests for photo ops and autographs until he reached the Main Hall. It was a packed house. The lucky first arrivals filled the floor seats within minutes. By the time they opened the balcony to take in the overflow you could feel the anticipation building among the sea of fans craning their necks to get a glimpse of the show’s headliner sitting just out of reach of the stage lights. When he finally took the microphone the crowd could contain themselves no longer.

The hoops and hollers and thunderous applause rose up to give the first time visitor to Mississippi and international star a proper Southern welcome. This was not Lollapalooza at Grant Park but the Young Author's Fair at the Ford Center. There was no mosh pit or ticket scalpers. Nobody insisted on green M & M’s back stage, or hurled their Fender into an amp. And not once was there concern that one of the writers would incite a riot by biting the head off a bat (If you were born after 1970 Google Ozzy Osbourne.) The audience members were not head bangers but fifth graders from Oxford and Lafayette County schools and the star of the show was not a rapper or pop star but children’s author Christopher Paul Curtis.

It’s a wonderful and rare thing to live in a literary town where authors reach rock star status, ten year olds want to spend allowance money on the newest series and teenagers crowd into our local bookstore on a Friday night to hear a reading. We have a lot of amazing citizens and organizations like The Literacy Council, The Center for Southern Studies, The University and the Junior Auxiliary of Oxford who are willing to spend their time, energy and resources to bring events like Conference of the Book and The Young Author’s Fair to Oxford.

We also have unsung heroes like the moms who spend mornings at our elementary schools reading with struggling children to make sure they don’t fall behind, the librarians who go out of their way to organize and promote reading fairs and most importantly the teachers who do it ALL. We also have Jill at Square Books Jr., who has her own set of groupies, parents and kids alike who would be lost without her literary guidance. When Young Author’s Fair organizer Sarah Frances Hardy left to pick up the Newberry Award winning author Christopher Paul Curtis from the airport, her daughter Sallie asked “Is he really famous?” “Yes. Sallie he is,” she replied. “More famous than Hannah Montana?” “Yep. Baby, more famous than Hannah Montana. “To paraphrase the teen idol, “He might even be a rock star.” (If you were born before 1970 Google Mylie Cyrus.)

We look forward to this year's Young Author's Fair with New York Times Bestseller Trenton Lee Stewart and "The Mysterious Benedict Society." I'm ready to roll! I wonder if he knows "Free Bird?"