Gym Class

I hate math, how I never failed a single math course is beyond me. Placement tests for college? I was placed in a class that focused on whole numbers and decimals. Six classes under college level. But ya know what I always hated more than math? Gym class. Or, Phys. Ed. if you had that one teacher who found the other disrespectful.

As an adult I can grasp the value of children learning the importance of movement, exercise, and team activities. I’m not saying the class should be veto’d or anything, but it is one giant master plan to embarrass the nonathletic and clumsy.

Like me, wearing a shirt with Betty Boop working on her fitness.

Presidential Standards for Physical Fitness Tests? I never met any of the standards, below average actually. Push ups, sit ups, and don’t get me started on the damn pull up bar.

Please. Just put zero and let me move onto the next embarrassing “test”. I guess the sit and reach wasn’t so bad. Fly yourself forward as fast as you can and hope your partner can read the line your finger was at for a split second – and then lie.

The mile run? More like the mile lackadaisical walk. Queen of the shameless 27 minute mile, right here. Probably why I wasn’t top pickin’ for team games.

Any sport or activity that involved things being kicked, thrown or smacked in my direction was just not my idea of a good time. If someone made the questionable choice to give me a chance of participation, I’d throw it away – literally get rid of it as quick as I can. If that means handing the football off to the opposing team because they happen to be standing right there? Okay.

Please don’t throw it to me. Please don’t throw it to me. Please don’t throw it me. Please don’t throw it to me. PLEASE don’t throw it to me.

Me, silently chanting to myself

Am I the only one who gave eyes to the other weak girl on the opposing dodge-ball team? You get me out and I’ll return the favor. Oh, my turn to enter the game again? Nah. I’ll hang out until the teacher noticed and forced me back in the whirlwind of foam balls.

Why is the rope climb important? Why can’t it be optional? Like, extra credit. This should only be mandatory for adults who would need to perform their job duties. Firefighter. Police officer. Military. Body Builders. Can’t think of a single reason why my chubby 15-year-old ass needs to attempt to climb hang from a rope in front of my class. As if hanging from the pull up bar wasn’t shameful enough.

I realize that I am a woman in my mid-thirties who just went on a rant about something from over a decade ago so I tried really hard to think of some positive memories also. Seeing how I couldn’t come up with single f****** one, I feel my emotions regarding this subject are justified. Thank you for listening.

Officially a Mom to a Teenage Boy.

My only offspring is now a teenager and as expected, it kinda hurts my mama heart. His voice is lower than I’m comfortable with, he’s as tall as I am, and his friends are “dating” (but not him, so he says). We don’t hold hands anymore, but he still kisses my cheek before leaving the house so I will consider that a win.

Never could I have imagined 13 years would pass so fast. And what am I doing? Looking through old pictures finding it impossible to remember my man-child being so small and cuddly.

This day 13 years ago, I was clueless. I had no idea what the hell I was doing: I overfed him his first week home and watched him projectile vomit in his crib. I’d never cried with a newborn in the bathtub at 3AM before, brand spanking new experiences. Later that week, I dropped him. They say babies are less fragile than they appear, and he proved that to be true.

PSA: Don’t fall asleep while you’re holding your baby in a chair – they’ll barrel roll all the way to the ground.

His first word was, Hi! And it didn’t stop until it was almost unbearable.

Hi. Hi. Hiiiiii. Hi! HI! hi. -Bennett

Ya know the song Rumor Has It, By Adele? When it finished, he asked: What do you think Umar has? When he picked our brains about shooting stars he said: I’d give my wish to mom.

Now that we’ve begun the teenage adventures I’m grateful that he’s still a sweet boy, just now a little more stinky and way more annoyed. Thankfully, proper documentation is not a problem for when I’m feeling sentimental, sad, proud, and weirded out – all at the same time.

There was the Elmo phase, his first real obsession. Middle of August, it’s hot and humid and like a diamond in the rough he spots an Elmo costume at a rummage sale. Kid could care less how sweaty he was, lived in the thing all summer.

When they’re toddlers, you can’t look away for more than a second, but on the other hand, you don’t even want to. You just stare at them like,”you crazy little person, what the f*** are you even saying? Why are you so adorable? I can’t believe I made this little monster who’s destroying everything“.

and it’s kinda magical.

When he was four my dad snapped my favorite picture of us, oh, and this was also the first year he was able to write out requests to the Easter Bunny.

Dear Easter Bunny, Please bring me tattoos.

He stole the show on our wedding day. From the moment he crept up on me while taking pictures, his robot dance moves, and genuine silliness…he made our day over and over.

He began showing initiative to save money by jumping in a ride with a stranger instead of using his own coins at Chuck E. Cheese, that was a proud moment. Another personal favorite? He insisted, swore up and down that he would love tomato juice. Why? Because red was his favorite color…and tomato juice is red. Life is actually that simple when you’re five years old.

He also declared his like for big butts, and couldn’t lie about it.

…and I busted him taking his first selfie.

There was the time we pulled a pretty stellar April Fools joke on him…

His voice on that video is so small, and he hasn’t grown into his teeth yet, but if you listen close to the beginning: “I love you guys.” He’s always been one to randomly throw out an I love you and I assume that means he’ll make a pretty great husband someday (to the girl I’ll try my best to like).

And just like that, he’s a big kid. There was always a preconceived notion in my brain saying little kids are harder to parent. My big kid likes to sleep in, and so do I. The challenges don’t get easier, they just change.

I’m not scared of the teenage years, not even intimidated. I know him. Is he going to give me an attitude when I don’t deserve it? Yes. Is he going to do half the shit I did when I was a teenager? I really really hope not.

A Widower Walks into a Bar

People eat at restaurants all by their lonesome for a variety of reasons: People watching, grabbing a quick bite between point A and point B, maybe they needed to get that all-you-can-eat shrimp at Red Lobster before it’s gone and everyone else is busy. Career waitresses often have the ability to figure these people out.

One particular evening a single gentleman was sitting on the cocktail deck, parallel to the bar of the quaint Wisconsin supper club I sling food and beverage at. He ordered a Whiskey Old Fashioned, nothing obviously telling as to why he was a single table of one. While approaching to take his order roughly 4, no more than 5 minutes after dropping his beverage, it was gone. We shared a good laugh: there must’ve been a hole in the glass and I’d be sure to bring him another without a leak next time. Once he was on his 3rd he shared with me his reasoning for being there alone.

It was his wedding anniversary, except his wife passed away in March of this year and my place of employment was his lady’s favorite place. He cracked another joke, he liked it there too, but it was the only place she ever suggested.

Based on personal assessment, to him, it was the right place to be. Flushed with emotion, I thanked him for coming out to celebrate his marriage with us.

I realized now, there will be instances when you meet other human beings who have experienced sorrow in ways you’re unable to comprehend, and just being present can give immense comfort. I listened to every word he shared as if there’d be a quiz later. It was his first anniversary without his wife, and I imagine that in itself is a very unique kind of heartache. These are the kind of moments that force reflection on your own life.

Just 15 minutes before we were strangers and suddenly his words of an experience he endured shaped my own thoughts, putting a number of things into perspective. Tomorrow will come, but not for all of us. The big picture we all strive to look at can dramatically transform into a nightmare without warning. Anything is possible, good or bad. When it happens, how will we cope and manage day-to-day life? I’ll tell ya what, I want to do it like the man at my table.

After careful thought, I ordered him the complimentary (homemade, super tasty) cupcake we gift out for celebrations and telling the whole story to a friend at work who made a stellar point: How do you even know he likes cupcakes? Not that this is much concern for the average Joe coming in for their birthday, I was trying to bring this man who lost his wife any form of happiness.

The overall goal was for him to get home and realize he made the right decision, to come to his late wife’s most favorite restaurant on their wedding anniversary, without her.

How easy would it have been for this man to stay home feeling sad? He deserved any dessert he wanted. I handed over a dessert menu and instructed him to pick out any dessert he wanted, on me. I wish I could find the words to describe the look in his eyes but I can’t. It was a look of the purest appreciation I’ve ever seen.

The owner of the restaurant I work for likes to say, we aren’t in the food business, we’re in the people business serving food, and that night it couldn’t have rung truer. I dropped off his choice of Creme Brulee and he asked if he could give me a hug, which turned out to be the most real hug I’ve ever shared with a near-stranger. I hope to see him again, and I hope he’s well and at peace. Me? I’ll just be over here mulling over the memory, reminding myself that life can change in an instant, and not taking tomorrow for granted.

Age isn’t defined by a number (unless you’re a minor).

My brother’s voice was echoing against my bathroom walls through my speakerphone. As I sat in front of the mirror tweezing the unwanted hairs off my face, he is giving me a quick rundown of his most recent estate sale finds. I noticed something; Am I getting wrinkles?

I zoned out briefly and gave him the quick, “uh huh…” to let him know I was still attempting to listen. I am turning 30 this year, is it a damn right of passage or something?! I must have checked out longer than I thought because I heard…

So, what do you think?

Silently staring at myself in the mirror, rather than give him my thoughts on his purchase (that I clearly had no clue what it even was) I blurt out, I have wrinkles,.with true desperation in my voice.

HA! You are turning 30 this year aren’t you?”

-My brother

I felt so flustered by these lines that protrude out past my eyes when I smile, grimace, squint – I’m pretty sure I saw every single face I am capable of creating that morning as I searched for other dreaded signs of getting old. I found some on my forehead also. Should I be making a direct run to Target to pick up some of that wrinkle cream Ellen endorses?

Thankfully, my meltdown was brief and it had an unexpected outcome. While I combed through my hair to see if I could spot any gray, I gave myself a mental slap in the face.

PULL IT TOGETHER, JEN! YOU’RE NOT OLD!

And I went about my day.

As morning turned into afternoon, I refused to think about the issue I had earlier, finally that evening I confronted it. Who cares if my face is showing a few small signs of aging? It’s supposed to. Hell, it’s totally natural. If what they say is true, you’re only as old as you feel, I should be content with where I’m at.  If my now brain was able to channel how I was feeling at 22 years old – I wonder how old I actually felt. It has to be older than I feel in the present.

Happiness can shed years off your age. Age isn’t defined by a number (unless you’re a minor…) or the wrinkles on your face.

“Age is a case of mind over matter. If you don’t mind, it don’t matter.” Satchel Paige

[Weekly Writing Challenge]

Dear Mother at Kwik Trip

Dear Mother at Kwik Trip,

I was waiting to check out with a few items, noticed you and your daughter walk in. With excitement in her voice your daughter exclaimed:

MOM!! CAN I GET ANOTHER EGG ROLL!?

To which you replied:

Yeah, because that is just what you need, another egg roll. Why don’t you ask for a banana?

I was not the only person taken aback by this. Numerous people turned in your direction with disgust written all over their faces.

Obviously, your daughter’s choice of words like another would imply that you have bought her numerous egg rolls in the past, making her question completely relevant. Instead of saying, “How about you get a more healthy snack like a banana?” you made the decision to cut her down, and make her feel 2 inches tall in front of a store full of people.

Your daughter is overweight. That is your fault. Not every obese child’s parents are to blame – sometimes there are other reasons -. in this instance, however, I blame you. Not only does your daughter need to deal with the struggles of being overweight in everyday life, but even her own mother says hurtful things to her.

You are supposed to lift your children up. Make them believe they can conquer anything standing in their way. You are supposed to make sure she lives a long healthy life. You are supposed to make sure she enjoys her childhood.

Real question: what the hello is wrong with you?

You’re a bully and you disgust me.

Sincerely,

J. Boggs