the dark fire will not avail you, flame of Udun!

Oh my goodness!  Do you remember last year’s huge, huge drama when I forgot about the Homeschool Sports Valentine’s Day Party, and I was feeling all pissy and tired, and the kids found out about the party after they had their sports session and they begged – begged with tears in their eyes and sad clowns in their voices – to go back and get like ONE COOKIE PLEASE MAMA, so we went back to the party room and there was every single homemade treat you can imagine and a couple dozen amazingly original artsy-fartsy handmade Valentine’s Day card boxes, and everyone was having so much fun, and my kids got a cookie but at the sight of the festivities went all crazy wanting to stay, and I marched them out of there to the tune of much, much protestation?

Because Oh, I remember it.  Sadly, I do not seem to have blogged about it at the time.  I wish I would have because the only thing better than being the mom of the only kids who don’t get to do an activity they really want to do – merely because I assed out on knowing about it – is having them flip their shit in public, yelling, screaming, probably sharpening a complimentary YMCA pen into a shiv and going for my neck while we struggled out to the car.  I don’t remember all what.  I just remember feeling like I really showed my ass on that one.  Oh and sometimes I wish I could just be the mom that lets my kids eat a bunch of cookies and get a bunch of Valentines even when we didn’t come prepared to reciprocate, because honestly in situations like this most of the other parents don’t mind, everyone is happy and just wants to share and What was up with that grim harridan so cruelly herding her sad, sad children away from our fun party?

So anyway.  You can bet, motherfucker, that this year I did not forget about the Homeschool Sports Valentine’s Day Party.  In fact my husband came home last night and was asked (nicely) to march through a series of party-related endeavors (while I frittered my time away on some crafts, see my last blog post) and this morning even after severely scalding my own hand I went through the remaining motions to make sure we got to that damned thing armed and ready (thank God it was my left mitt that had to be immersed in ice water for an hour).  In short, at 1:30 PM we sashayed into the Y loaded up with homemade refreshments, handmade Valentine’s Day mailboxes, and Ralph-and-Sophie-crafted cards. vvv


Oh, and I’ve been silently laughing all day at Sophie’s dinosaur/Valentine’s Day pun: “can i claw you up to say hello?” next to the fossilized deinosuchus (the flipped-over Valentine in the picture above says, “let’s meat again”).  She is so smart! And a bit grim.

So, the YMCA’s Homeschool Sports crowd is very…  Christian-y.  I haven’t talked to a single parent in attendance who didn’t reveal early on they were Christian and church-going.  Christians do this, you know, sort of to let you know RIGHT OFF THE BAT that’s how they roll.  So in the gym if you’re listening you’ll hear lots of Lord this and Lord that and God provides this, pray that, etc.  I’m probably one of the last social agnostics on the planet who is not offended by Christianity.  I mean I can see by the behavior of some of my so-called “progressive” friends it’s fun and right to hate on Christians, because they’re so wrong and silly!  And I know non-believers who avoid Christians and their activities like the plague.  Weird because last I heard you can stand next to or talk to someone religious and not be overtaken by their beliefs against your own will.  Or maybe you can’t, and it scares you.  I don’t know.

Today while the kids run about in the gym, I slip into the party room to slice up the delicious rhubarb stir cake my husband made.  As I plate the wedges a tall, pre-teen girl with long, swinging hair bursts breathlessly into the room and starts fiddling around with some of the set-out goodies.  “Is your name L*?” I ask the young woman.  “How did you know?” she gapes at me, her head cocked like a bird.  “You hit my son in the face a couple weeks ago and gave him a bloodly lip.  He told me your name,” I respond.  Instantly the girl says, “Oh, I didn’t even know I did that!” her wide, beautiful eyes absolutely innocent.  But she’s not well-seasoned at deception because she follows this up with, “That happened when I was in Homeschool Sports, now I’m in Teen Fitness.” I ask her how old she is, but she barely has time to answer before her mother marches in the room, stabbing her finger and fuming, and begins to berate the girl for running ahead into the party room.  L. adopts her innocent tone at first, but upon being snarked at in such a focused and extensive manner I hear creeping into her voice a very smart, very guarded, and likely soon-to-be brilliantly-rebellious spine of steel.  I resume cutting the cake and listen to this mom douche out her kiddo for the next few moments.  BTDT, I no longer even feel the remotest bit smug, superior, or even uncomfortable when I hear some other parent lose it.

A few minutes later and the rest of the children begin arriving, excited. Now, some of y’all readership may think we are a crafty bunch of Hogabooms, always doing this or that cute thing out of paper or fabric or tongue-depressors and Band-Aids. But these other homeschool kids, well, I’ve never seen such elaborate and fabulous card mailboxes.  There were wedding-cake based boxes and baseball boxes and doilies and Legos and clay.  One child had created created the standoff between wizard Gandalf and the Balrog from The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King – a two-foot tall papier mâché sculpture complete with licking flames (made of paper, duh)! I kind of wanted to make fun of this little dweeb but my daughter immediately recognized the scene and loudly began praising the boy’s skills and taste to the room at large, and even as I watched this unbidden in my mind I heard the words, “the bridge of Khazad-Dûm”! And yes, I did give both children and myself a revenge-swirly for being such colossal nerds.

I stand back as the kids trade Valentines, then dig into the food.  My children are so deeply satisfied, and despite scar tissue from my earlier kitchen accident and the fact I’d left the house in a mess and whatever else, I am so glad I got them to this silly party.

L. hands me an extra Valentine: the only version – in addition to our set – handmade and not storebought (crafted mailboxes: tres hawt. Crafted valentines: Try-Hard).  It is simply a square of construction paper taped to a bag of M&Ms, carrying a photocopied message hand-cut and glued: “God is Love.”


After the party, we drive through the sunlight to the local mall. I order my late lunch in Spanish and eat a vegetarian burrito and drink a sugar-Coke (hecho en Mexico) while the kids win at Skee-ball; we spend almost an hour in Penney’s buying the kids jeans and one button-up shirt for my boy. Something about the pathetically-limited, yet adequate, childrens clothing choices in this old-school store – and our townships at large – comforts me. Things seem peaceful and easy, and in no small way does the sunshine help me feel good.

On our way home we encounter a column of black smoke and come upon the most intense fire I’ve ever seen in person; we park and exit and watch for a while, the crowd excited, the fireman efficient and almost relaxed in their efforts, the heat from the building (an empty one – no one was hurt) feeling creepily delicious.

Home and I’m worn out from it all, but in a good way.

* Not her real initial.

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