Tag Archives: Parenting

I’m Pretty Sure My Kid Has Miss Viola Swamp This Year

17 Aug

3 out of 4

It seemed liked the odds were really in my favor, my son’s favor. It really did. But then I looked at the list and there it was the 25% that bit me on the ass.

Crap.

I stood there about ten minutes, hoping that I hadn’t read it right. Hoping that for some reason my Jedi mind tricks could magically rework the list. Hoping, no not really, praying that my kid would not have this chick as his teacher.

I had met her once before at the Open-House-Meet-Greet-Show-Off-Your-Kids-Work Conference. She was next door and they had encouraged all the parents to stop by all the classrooms to meet the possible future teachers for the following year.

I usually like everyone. It’s rare when people rub me the wrong way, but this chick with her negative attitude, dismissive nature, and non-welcoming personality burned me out. I would have understood if it was the end of the evening, but it was just an hour into it. I know a lot of teachers too, I know they put on their best face when parents come in, but this chick apparently forgot. This chick was Miss Viola Swamp. I left the room thinking, dude I hope my kid doesn’t even pass her in the hallway.

miss-nelson_02

Miss Viola Swamp

And then there he was on the list. Room 29.

Crap.

I shook my head in defeat, he would be at the mercy of Miss Viola Swamp. After a couple of hours, and some chocolate, something came over me. I got a little parent crazy for a minute. For some reason I found the need to investigate. Yup. If this chick, was going to be hanging out with my kid for seven hours a day, I figured I get some information on her. Maybe she was having an off day, when we met. Maybe she was hormonal. I don’t know. I was thinking of all kinds of excuses as to why someone would give off such a negative vibe.

Have you met this teacher? Do you know the type?

I was curious. The crazy overprotective parent in me wanted to find out more. But I wouldn’t say I went into stalker mode, more of an unlicensed private detective in search of answers.

There’s a lot you can find out about a teacher on the Internet, people put a lot of unnecessary information on Facebook, but nothing to excuse someone of jackass behavior. And you know she probably doesn’t even remember being a jackass, but I do. Meeting people matters.

I was never a huge fan of first impressions, I always tried to give people the benefit of the doubt, but they do seem to form 80% of my opinion. It’s like if you meet your all-time favorite actor, singer, player, author, or musician, and you’re so jazzed to have the opportunity to meet (although to be clear I wasn’t jazzed about this meeting, I was more just meeting someone and checking out the scene) and you have this picture of them in your head and then when you meet them, they just suck. Whether it had anything to do with you or not, that meeting taints your whole outlook on them from that point forward, and it takes a lot of work to change your perception.

So here I am, tainted and burned out by the fact that my kid ended up with the one teacher I wish he didn’t have.

I was so not looking forward to the beginning of the school year, although I had to hide that from my son. Didn’t want him going in with negative thoughts, so I just told him I didn’t know much about his new teacher, but that I’m sure he would get to know more about her on the first day of school, and that it would be a great day.

The day was done and my kid survived his first day without incident.

However, next week is Back To School Night, I don’t know if I’ll be able to say the same thing. Stay tuned.

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40 Accidentally on Purpose Random Acts of Kindness Before 40 … No. 18, No. 19, No. 20.

11 Jul

For the most part I’ve learned that people welcome unexpected kindness. Most people that is. Don’t know if it’s because it’s random and unexpected and that’s what makes them happy, that’s what makes them realize that small blessings happen. Or maybe it’s because of the kindness itself and it’s such a relief because they’re having such a crappy week and they haven’t seen kindness in months. I don’t know I haven’t figured it out yet. But I’m kind of leaning toward the randomness factor, and the fact that the kindness came out of no where.

Then I realized people like it when it happens to them, but love it when it happens to their kids. So last week I decided to spread kindness to the minions roaming my neck of the woods and hopefully make the day in the life of their parents a little easier.

:)

🙂

One of my first stops happen to be the pool and as all parents know you definitely need some Little Swimmer Pull-Ups when your kid decides to be Michael Phelps, but sometimes buying regular diapers and nighttime diapers can be expensive. So you tend to think twice about using those, you’re on a budget so sometimes you might save those if your kid didn’t pee in them. Or some of you out there just let them chance it. I mean you warn them to tell you if they’re going to pee to go ahead and tell you, until you realize that it’s been three hours and they haven’t peed yet and you remain suspicious of there will power, because it hasn’t happened before and you figured that they probably peed in the pool, and you hurry away before someone discovers you. Yeah…I’ve seen you. I stay away from your end of the pool.

So in an effort to make everyone’s life a little easier, I thought I’d leave a pack of Little Swimmers in the dressing room with one of my 40 Before 40 special notes, asking them to take one, some, or the whole pack. Hoping that some mom, who forgot her Little Swimmers, was relieved to see the free pack waiting for her at the diaper changing station.

Now I figured after swimming all day, you would build up an appetite, I know my kids do. And sometimes the pool is not always close enough to your house, or sometimes you’re just starving and can’t wait. We always seem to make it home, but I noticed that not everybody made it.

A few people had pulled up to the Del Taco near the aquatic facility. Now I’m not a big Del Taco/Taco Bell person, I usually just make those at home, but apparently nachos are nachos, and kids love cheese, and they love chips. Plus kids meals have prizes. Those always seem to rock, no mater what. So I got a kid’s meal voucher and then walked up to a mom and her daughter, handed them the kid’s meal coupon and smiled.

But aside from the necessities of parenthood, I thought some fun little extras would be a good surprise for parents and their kids. Hanging out at the zoo has always been a treat for my kids. It’s always been an awesome adventure and we tend to love hanging out in the tropical rainforest with the jaguars, or looking for the meerkat exhibit and watching them, or rushing up the hill to make it in time for the elephant show. We’re big on Wild Kratts over here, so going to the zoo is a monthly occurrence.

So when I saw a couple rushing to stand in line to purchase tickets for their family I thought it would be cool just to walk up to them, give them free passes, and say, “Hope you enjoy the zoo, have an awesome day.”

So I did. And I walked away before they could thank me, in fact probably before they could figure out what I had given them. But I’m sure they read the note I attached. By the time they had, I was long gone, checking out the seals.

I didn’t see the family inside, but I imagine they probably enjoyed the jaguars, meerkats, amd elephants too. I imagined they bought some kettle popcorn and lemonade and made their way through the park. I imagined they had a good story to tell their friends about how they got to the zoo late, how they were the last ones in line and how some random chick in a L.A. Kings hat just handed them some free tickets to go in … that would have made my day for sure. Hope it made theirs.

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Just-Do-It Character Even With Saucony Shoes

29 Jun

Even though the miles were the same and the landscape didn’t change, running through it, biking through it, and swimming through it made me different every time.

I don’t do it to lose weight, to work on my non-existent six-pack, or to post pictures with you-should-be-doing-this type of headlines in order shame or guilt moms with kids who are barely trying to survive ’till 7 p.m. I do it because it makes me feel good. It’s become part of my lifestyle, part of the routine that makes me feel like me, like that 2.0 version of yourself that’s always been there, the kind that comes out in a Just Do It commercial, the one that you produced.

Although I wish I didn’t have to recover with Alleve and BenGay the next day. But that’s what happens. You can’t fool your bones. They know you’re 39. They know it and they’re passing the message along to your muscles.

But regardless of how much menthol-smelling cream I need for my aches and pains the awesomeness I feel when I cross the finish line at the TinMan Triathlon keeps me going for at least a week or two. Even though I didn’t finish first, second, third, or even in the top 10, I still felt like a champion.

The hills were tough, but I kept going. Biking Devil’s Canyon was brutal, but I kept climbing. It kicked my ass, most definitely but I kept pedaling. And the swimming … well the swimming was so much better this time. Can’t say anything about the swimming, I felt like Michael Phelps. But no matter how challenging the other parts of the race were I kept going. I got the Just Do It vibe in me, even though I was sporting my Saucony running shoes.

And the thing I realized is that I passed that on to my son.

I was super proud of that fact. Proud of the fact that my son kept going after the lady handing out water during the running leg tripped him. Proud of the fact that after he fell hard, really hard on gravely road, he still got up. He scraped up his knee and the elbow was in need of some Neosporin and Band-Aids, but he didn’t give up. He needed a minute, but then he kept going, on to the biking phase, the swimming leg, and finally sprinting, not jogging or walking, but pumping his little arms and sprinting the last 20 yards to the finish line.

And I was there to watch him do it.

He raised his hands up in victory as they gave him his TinMan medal.

I was proud of his athletic accomplishment, but even prouder of his character, because he had Just Do It Character. Gatorade-commercial worthy character.

Yeah, this year the miles and scenery were the same, just like last year, and the year before that. But when we finished the race, we both had something different. I’m holding onto that for a while. I’m hoping he does too.

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Detour With Dad

20 Jun

You got the backseat drivers. The play-by-play commentators. The Kung-Fu grip holders that grasp to the armrests for dear life even when you’re just driving 20 miles per hour. You have the I-would-have-gone-down-3rd-street instead passengers. The heavy-sighers. The AY! AY! AY! SLOW-DOWN passengers that raise your blood pressure.

You’ve had them all in your car. You sit there, gripping the steering wheel and closing your eyes thinking of your happy place. You’ve come to the realization that driving with your parents is one of the most stressful outings of your life, and it will continue to be.

But I’ve got to say that throughout my entire directionally challenged driving existence, my dad never once got road rage crazy or analytical when I drove the car. I remember every wrong turn, bad parking job, and over-the-speed limit excursion and none of those would burst my Dad’s bubble.

He’d keep a cool head and just look out the window as he listened to his jazz music. Even when there were crazy, inconsiderate, reckless drivers out there igniting road rage along their path, my dad would never honk for hostility’s sake. If he ever used the horn it would always be for the don’t-crash-into-me reason, and as Father’s Day rolls around this weekend I was thinking of one our famous driving adventures. I imagine someone else would have never let me hear the end of it, but not my dad …

:)

🙂

I had just graduated college, and the whole family had driven up to help me pack up my stuff. My Dad and I decided to take the ginormous U-haul, while my cousins, aunts, and mom decided to take the giant SUV. As we drove down the freeway, we hit a fork in the road and while my relatives took highway 580, we ended up taking highway 880, which I swore was the right way back home. I mean I would know seeing how I had lived up there for four years. Why wouldn’t I know? But apparently two hours later we found out my internal GPS was not working properly.

After checking out our Rand McNally map, my Dad realized we were in the middle of farm country and at least an hour and half away from the right freeway. We pulled into a farm bought something to eat, and then took our bag of dried apricots on the road for dessert. I was feeling pretty crappy about the whole delay. I had just graduated and I couldn’t even figure out how to get home. And before you get all crazy on me this was before electronic GPS was invented, we were old school. We used maps.

But apparently I was so confident I hadn’t even looked at the map. I was down on myself, feeling pretty anxious and stressed out about the lecture I was gonna get.

Did my Dad freak out? Did he yell at me? Did he storm off in an outburst of profanity? Was he burned out? Did he get upset about all the gas we wasted? Was he freaking out because we weren’t making good time?

“Well,” he said laughing and shaking his head, “looks like we’re out on an adventure!”

I smiled.

He patted me on the shoulder and then smiled back.

“But don’t tell your mother.”

I nodded. It would be an adventure, a very scenic one through farm country and windy roads.

And to this day no one really knew why we were so late. It had always been our secret. When we got home and they asked us what happened, my Dad said he had left his wallet at a Denny’s and we had to drive all the way back to get it.

He took the fall for me, so I wouldn’t get sassed and made fun of by the rest of my family. I was exhausted after the long drive back, but still very grateful that my Dad had been my copilot that day. He was later promoted to head pilot.

Out of all the detours in my life, I always remember that one.

Thanks Dad. I love you and I miss you.

Happy Father’s Day.

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:)

🙂

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Bits and Pieces of Color … Well … A Lot of Color

15 Jun

I tried to slow down to take it all in, but they just wanted to go, go, go!

They wanted to get their shine on, they wanted to get the fun going, while I was trying to relive an awesome moment from last year. I was trying to slow the process down, trying to have them enjoy it a little more. Savor it maybe. But kids don’t savor much. They devour stuff. Good stuff. Oreo cookies. Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream. Doritos. So it was no wonder they wanted to get to the action as quickly as possible. They wanted that awesome feeling, so it was no surprise that they ran like The Flash during the Color Run just to get to it.

So after the first ten minutes I just let them go.

I let go of my expectations and I let my kids run wild among colors, and things turned out just fine. With the help of some uphill climbs we were able to meet somewhere in the middle, and that was pretty cool too. The middle is cool. I was still able to capture some pretty awesome Kodak moments, and absorb the energy, the feeling, and the happiness of our moments, and for that I was grateful.

Everyone, including myself, tries for the big moments in life. They seem the most rewarding, but sometimes life is made up of little accomplishments that end up becoming bits and pieces of who you are as a person, parent, or family. I was grateful to have added more of these pieces to my life and to that of my kids. Bits and pieces of color … well a lot of color.

The beginning ... a crowded one. But still a good one full of music, bubbles, and good vibes.

The beginning … a crowded one. But still a good one full of music, bubbles, and good vibes.

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Ready to rock!

Ready to rock!

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Feeling blue.

Feeling blue.

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Took a spin through the orange.

Took a spin through the orange.

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The Guats letting our awesome out.

The Guats letting our awesome out.

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For When You Can’t Get Over Hump Day …

17 Sep
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The Real Kind of Tired Hits Fridays

5 Sep

I was beginning to see a pattern happening every Friday night, but it wasn’t deliberate.

It was exhaustion.

Duuuuuude.

For some reason Friday night has been the end of me.

I clock out.

I’m done.

My body is weary, not tired … weary.

 

Duuuuuuuuuuude

Duuuuuuuuuuude

 

 

Completely falls into a let’s lie down on the couch and exhale for five minutes … the kind of five minutes that turns into a two-hour veg out session, followed by a crash-out session that last until the crack of dawn.

I blame it on parenthood and the lack of staff around here … you know personal chef, dishwasher, chauffeur, babysitter, cleaning lady, gardener, and masseuse. I have none of that, and I’m sure plenty of you out there also get by on what I have, but come Friday don’t you just wanna crash?

Doesn’t your body say, c’mon now … c’mon now. That’s enough. You take one more step and you’ll be sorry.

And then you do, and you are.

Dude.

It’s hit me this month and I’ve had no reserve to get me by, I’m on echale!

And so my Friday night wild outings to the Regal Beagle have ceased to exist, and my dedicated musings on my blog have been absent. But I’m back on the wagon tonight, trying my best to get my writing juices flowing after getting a punch-me-in-my-stomach-thanks-for-trying-there-were-so-many-noteworthy-applicant-stories-this-year-so-it-was-hard-making-a-decision-but-we’re-just-not-that-into-you letter.

Yeah.

I got one this week and Ben & Jerry’s became a little richer as I emptied out the freezer section of my local VONS Supermarket. And even though I was still exhausted tonight, still on empty, and wallowing in cookie-dough ice cream I managed to break my Friday writing drought and get something on the page.

So for those of you who follow me regularly I apologize for my Friday absences, I wasn’t off enjoying spectacular three-day weekends, just making the butt print on my couch a little bit more permanent due to fatigue and exhaustion. Not the fake celebrity/actress/singers I’m tired because I’m on tour with my entourage tired. The real kind of tired. The working class, struggling to pay my bills existence, parent of two who hasn’t been on an actual vacation in seven years kind of exhaustion. That kind of tired. Getting one of those it’s-not-you-it’s-me letters didn’t help the cause either.

But it’s all good tonight, I’ve found a pocket of energy and I’m riding that through this post and a little fiction writing later, in the hopes of finally getting the congrats-we-totally-like-you-you’re-in letter.

Yes! Yes! Yes to the hippopotamus!

:)

🙂

 

The Power of Duct Tape Makes Our Bucket List Adventure Come True

25 Aug

It all started over 35 years ago … on a Saturday morning when I woke up at the crack of dawn and witnessed the awesomeness of Hanna Barbera’s Wacky Races.

 

Where it all began ...

Where it all began …

 

 

I thought … I want to do that one day. I want to build something wacky and enter a race. I want to have some cartoon fun.

And then it happened … this weekend another Bucket List Adventure began only this time I had a navigator and he was fulfilling his Sandbox List Adventure and together we were doing our best not to sink.

I had to put my MacGyver skills to the test on this one…

Six cardboard boxes.

Five rolls of silver duct tape.

Two rolls of white duct tape.

One small can of gray paint.

One small can of blue paint.

And endless trips to the hardware store.

In the end, with a little help from my Disney-Junior-watching crew, we created our own Wacky Race vehicle and my son decided it had to be the Millennium Falcon.

 

The Millennium Falcon, complete with Han Solo, Chewy, Obi-Wan, and Luke Skywalker watching our back, and R2-D2 in the cockpit.

Ahhhhhhh the power of duct tape made The Millennium Falcon possible. It came complete with Han Solo, Chewy, Obi-Wan, and Luke Skywalker watching our back, and R2-D2 in the cockpit.

 

We had to make sure we had engines ... my son wanted the Hyper-Drive working.

We had to make sure we had engines … my son wanted the Hyper-Drive working.

 

My young Jedi Knight disguised as some new rebel getting ready for the race.

My young Jedi Knight disguised as some new rebel getting ready for the race.

 

While we waited for the races to start, we thought we'd check out the rest of the boats. This one was called The Floating Stones.

While we waited for the races to start, we thought we’d check out the rest of the boats. This one was called The Floating Stones.

 

The Pirate Ship, who happened to win for best theme.

The Pirate Ship, who happened to win for best theme.

 

The Shark Boat, which won both of its races.

The Shark Boat, which won both of its races.

 

The KISS boat, complete with little rock stars.

The KISS boat, complete with little rock stars, who never gave up during the race. Even when their boat flipped over they managed to swim to the finish line and win their heat.

 

This was my daughter's favorite boat, the Sweet Treats, complete with an ice cream sundae, all made out of cardboard.

This was my daughter’s favorite boat, the Sweet Treats, complete with an ice cream sundae, all made out of cardboard.

 

This Frozen Ice Castle was voted most likely to sink ... and it didn't let us down.

This Frozen Ice Castle was voted most likely to sink … and it didn’t let us down.

 

And finally this was the People's Choice Award winner, it was also pretty fast in the water.

And finally this was the People’s Choice Award winner, it was also pretty fast in the water.

 

After all the oohing and ahhhhing we all headed down for the Wacky Races to begin

After all the oooohhing and ahhhhing we all headed down for the Wacky Races to begin.

 

As we loaded our boats I remembered ... we paid so much attention to building the boat, I forgot to show my son how to row the boat. So we had a quick two-minute lesson.

As we loaded our boats I remembered … we paid so much attention to building the boat, I forgot to show my son how to row the boat. So we had a quick two-minute lesson. Unfortunately we needed more than just two minutes, as we lost the first race. But we bounced back and won the second one and he was happier about that finish.

 

In the end we didn't sink, but there were plenty of other boats that didn't quite make it, and in truth that was one of the funnest parts of the race.

In the end we didn’t sink, but there were plenty of other boats that didn’t quite make it, and in truth that was one of the funnest parts of the race.

 

We might not have won our division, or a prize for the best looking Star Wars Ship Cruiser, but we still had a great time at the cardboard yacht regatta. I was happy to see my son so excited, practicing his light saber skills while all the people passed by and complimented us on the boat. I smiled at the fact that someone said “May The Force Be With You.” I cracked up that we had spun out of control and began cruising backwards for a couple of meters during the race. I was ecstatic that we didn’t sink. And I was thankful for “The Power of Duct Tape”.

As far as parenthood goes, this was definitely an awesome adventure. I had checked something off my Bucket List and so had my son and daughter. It was a Guatacular event. And the best part wasn’t our unsinkable ship, but the smile on my kid’s face as he high-fived me and the jumping and cheering coming from my daughter during the race.

 

 

 

 

At First Sight

8 Aug

It happened right there on the elevator.

I never thought of it happening like that.

But it did and she said it was so easy.

I never do stuff like that, especially at the mall.

I hate the mall. But that’s where she said it happened, they were in the elevator and their eyes met as they both hit the button for the second floor.

She said she had a feeling.

What? What kind of feeling could you ever get in a mall elevator that didn’t resemble heartburn in your wallet and irritability that there were so many people there?

She said it wasn’t that, something in her gut and she went with it.

A blue sippy cup fell from the stroller and it  was friends at first sight.

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They ended up talking for like four hours outside of Wetzel Pretzel and became good friends.

I told her she needed to go see Single White Female starring Bridget Fonda, she assured me it was nothing of that nature. In fact she invited me to a get-together where this new best-bud would be there. And so I went.

To my surprise, Viviana was pretty cool. Down to Earth, easy-going, with a good sense of humor. I got along with her pretty well,  and found it hard to believe that they met in a mall elevator. Stuff like that doesn’t happen. Well, at to me it doesn’t.

I’m usually focused on my mission … in-and-out no stopping. Just want to get out of there, probably because the mall just doesn’t interest me, I’ve had some irritable experiences with the uptight and noses-in-the-air Mommy & Me Mafia posse talking about how advanced their kids are and how healthy they’ve been on their gluten-free diet and how I should really give it a try.

Bad luck, I guess.

In any case I thought about this during my next outing to the Old Navy, unfortunately the blond lady behind me was angry that the cashier wasn’t going fast enough and apparently “this is bullshit” was one of her favorite phrases. She paced back and forth and exhaled loudly every three minutes, while her kid terrorized the Big League Chew Gum and knick-knack section.

I shook my head and thought maybe it just works when you’re actually in the elevator … the one near the Wetzel Pretzel.

I’ll have to think on that next time.

 

 

How Wendy’s Almost Ruined Our Triathlon Triumph

30 Jun

For me it’s reaching the top of Devil’s Canyon without stopping … or falling … or passing out … that’s when it happens.

 

The gruesome uphill battle that begs for BenGay and Advil the next day.

The gruesome uphill battle that begs for BenGay and Advil the next day.

 

My quads are on fire, my back is aching, and my 38-year-old knees feel like they are 78. But I’m stubborn and I press on. In fact I don’t even want to look up for fear that my muscles will realize what’s in store for them, they’ll cuss me out, and I’ll just fall over. Mutiny.  So I turn up the volume of the iPod, dig deep, and believe that … “King Kong ain’t got nothing on me.”

Yeah … That’s probably what kept me going.

When I got to the top and saw Bob or Dave or Mitch — the volunteer in his bright green TinMan Triathlon shirt handing out water — I felt a sense of awesomeness overwhelm me and a smile stretched across my face as I yelled out: “Duuuuuuuuuuuude I’ve been thinking about you for miles!”

 

This was him ... the dude everyone was happy to see.

This was him … the dude everyone was happy to see.

 

I felt Gatorade-worthy.

It also happened when I took the plunge into the pool, feet first and feeling the cool waters wash over my weary muscles as I surged through the Olympic-sized pool for the first 25 yards …

I felt Gatorade-worthy.

And it happened most when I finally reached the finish line … I saw that red, blue, and yellow banner, and the clock ticking, so I sprinted to reach the end. I knew what was waiting for me … Yes there were high-fives and smiles and the awesome finisher medal that I wore all day but that was not it … It was the watermelon. The finish line watermelon. It’s the juiciest, sweetest, best-tasting reward on Earth. Nothing like it … Finish-line watermelon. I looked forward to it for miles.

It made me feel Gatorade-worthy.

All these moments … these were highlights that kept me going, these were the simple rewards that made me feel amazingly Guatacular all day. I bottle that stuff up and live off of that badass feeling for at least a week. And even though I was proud of myself for surviving Devil’s Canyon and thriving under the heat I was even prouder of my son. For the second time in his five-year old existence he successfully completed the Tiny Tot Triathlon.

 

And they're off!

And they’re off!

 

Dude.

You don’t even know.

I was one of those crazy parents cheering loudly at every leg of the race …

 

It was an easy and smooth transition. He remained serious despite my enthusiastic cheering.

It was an easy and smooth transition. He remained serious despite my enthusiastic cheering.

 

And just as I had my Gatorade-worthy moments and rewards he had his own. Jumping into the pool and being able to swim without me was something that both of us were ecstatic about.

 

Doggy-paddling his way to the finish.

Doggy-paddling his way to the finish.

 

However crossing the finish line and outrunning the two older kids in the green division was something he was high-fiving me about all day.

 

:)

🙂

 

But I’m sad to say that the one reward he wanted that day for this awesome accomplishment didn’t quite happen and it almost ruined that amazing feeling — that emotional high that makes you feel great all day — that juice.

And who was to blame?

Who almost killed it?

 

:(

😦

 

Wendy’s … yeah I said it … it was Wendy’s and you almost killed it. I don’t know Dave Thomas, but I’m sure he would have been so disappointed.

My son has never had a Happy Meal. Never ventured into the Golden Arches … we’ve always been an In-and-Out kind of family. So when he finally asked for one it wasn’t the McDonald’s Happy Meal … it was the Wendy’s Kids Meal. That’s what he wanted … that was the reward he was looking forward to at the end of his race.

Why?

He’d been dreaming of that DC Comics Swooping Superman Glider and the Super Hero Training Comic Book that came with the meal. That was it. That was his “Finish-line watermelon”.  He’d seen the commercial for weeks and decided that that would be his prize. He was so excited that he decided we should order a kid’s meal for his sister too, just so she could get Wonder Woman’s invisible jet and they could form the mini Justice League.

I mean he has superhero action figures here, they both do, but these were Kids Meal DC Comic Superhero prizes and they were way better … they were “finish-line watermelon” so I agreed.

I understood.

So we drove twenty minutes out of our way to find the nearest Wendy’s because apparently there was no Wendy’s near the race.

He walked in wearing his medal, smiling the toothless kindergartener smile, and walked up to the register and ordered a kid’s meal … the one with the superheroes in it.

And then that’s when it happened.

The guy behind the counter just looked at me and shook his head.

Dude.

He had conquered the football field run, raced through the ginormous parking lot on two wheels, kicked and splashed his way past older kids, and sprinted to the finish line. He’d finished. He’d accomplished something big and had a medal to prove it. And we had driven … and driven … and driven in unknown neighborhoods misguided by our outdated Garmin GPS that didn’t even have the freeway we were driving on listed. But we drove and eventually got there ready to get that finish-line kids meal.

And they didn’t have it.

Wendy’s didn’t have it.

The look on my son’s face … Disaster.

I felt bad. His sister felt bad. The guy behind the counter felt bad.

My son assured him that they did have it. This was Wendy’s. He had seen the commercial. He needed to look again. It said that they were soaring into the kids’ meals.

Still nothing.

Dude … parent failure. My heart felt heavy.

The dude reached behind the counter for something else … some kind of connect-the-puzzle-pieces-transform-this-into-anything kind of toy.

My son looked at it bowed his head and slowly walked to the booth where he slumped down in the chair and waited for my arrival.

The guy behind the counter said they hadn’t had any of those in weeks and doubted that any other Wendy’s would have it either. I told him seeing how he was gainfully employed by Wendy’s he should use his connections to stop showing the commercial.

I looked back at my son … sigh.

“Dude. I’m gonna need some kind of chocolate or ice cream ’cause that plastic building set is just not gonna do it.”

Chocolate to the rescue.