Rest In Peace

church_dress

(Some vintage Snarky about using church as my not so final resting place.)

The best sleep I’ve ever experienced happened at church about 10 years ago. It was a legendary yummy, cozy snooze. I was out as soon as my head hit the mini-van headrest. No, I wasn’t at a drive-in church. Do they have those? If not, I’m telling you that’s a good idea. I was in the church parking lot, which I found makes an optimum place to nap. I discovered this quite by accident on a breezy fall Sunday morning. Because I’m an idiot of the highest order I had told a friend I would help her out in the church nursery. Yes, indeed, when your own children are making you consider abandonment the best course of action is to, of course, volunteer to take on the care giver responsibility for more screaming kids.

The church I was graciously doing nursery duty at was not my “home” church. And by home I mean the church where I got married and the kids got baptized and where when Christian duty and/or guilt kicked in I would drag myself out of bed and attend on limited occasions. This was a super sized church. I’m talking their own Starbucks in the lobby big.  Well, it wasn’t really a Starbuck’s – it was a churchy version of Starbucks called “Sacred Grounds” featuring heavenly blends. My best description of the church is that it was a cross between a J.C Penny’s distribution center and an airline check in terminal. It was massive and it turned out that made it a perfect place for grabbing some shut-eye.

I arrived at the super church with my two children. One was just four, the other five months old and I was so over being a mother. Reality was not living up to the hype. Talk about false advertising. Where were my Kodak moments? I sign them in to their Sunday school “classes” and in exchange for handing over my children I receive what looks like a pager from the Olive Garden. (I was tempted to ask for extra breadsticks.)  It would light up and flash if my children needed me.  I then went to the nursery to listen to other babies beside my own howl.  When I arrived my friend told me they had enough hands and I was free to go to church and not help out. Excellent. Before heading to the sanctuary I dashed to my car to get a sweater, because the church was freezing. Well, that trip to my car turned out to be a very bad thing. It made me have un-God like thoughts like skipping church.

What if I didn’t go back in the church? I asked myself. What if I just sat here? Who would it hurt, you know in the big picture of it all? Not me because I would be getting one entire hour of silence. I had the Olive Garden pager if my kids needed me and who would miss me?  The church is huge. There are three freaking sanctuaries. One for traditional worship.  One for contemporary and one with a rock-climbing wall for what I guess must be for getting an elevated Jesus epiphany. No one would even know. Dear Lord in heaven, I could actually close my eyes and sleep. I needed sleep – badly. What to do, what to do? I decided to pray about it to see if God would give me a sign. And he did.  I looked over and saw a beach towel in the back car seat. It could be used as a blanket. The Lord wants to me stay here and nap.

As the bible says, “judge not lest ye be judged”.  I was a woman on the verge of a breakdown. My five month old never slept. Yes, perfect parents out there, I know it was my fault my daughter never slept. In my defense – I am a wuss and my husband is a wuss to infinity and beyond. We can’t stand to hear babies cry. We tried it all.  We Ferbered. (The method where you let your baby cry until they puncture a lung or fall asleep – whichever comes first? The Ferber Method can also be found in Hitler’s Guide to Your Baby’s First Year.) We bought the sleep baby postioner. We massaged. We perfumed the room with calming lavender. We ran a white noise machine with the soothing sound of ocean waves and when that didn’t work the subtle sound stylings of spring rain. Basically, the nursery was turned into a five-star spa and the kid still didn’t sleep.

I have my theories on why she resisted any attempt to close her eyes.  She already hated me and at five months she couldn’t figure out how to waterboard, but she sure knew all about the abuse of sleep deprivation. The Center for Victims of Torture say 96 hours of sleep deprivation is considered torture. Even the CIA got busted for keeping alleged terrorists awake for up to four days. Pussies. Try five months. That’s 3,600 hours of not sleeping. Besides affecting my mental health the lack of beauty rest was really doing a number of my appearance. I was one step away from looking like a Wal-Mart greeter. I was using concealer they sell to burn victims in an attempt to disguise my under eye circles. My other, much more flattering, theory is that I am such an entertaining, intriguing individual that my daughter didn’t want to close her eyes in fear that she might miss one minute of my fabulousness. I know, I know, it’s the first theory. She was torturing me.

Now, that I had been directed by the Lord to stay in the mini-van and nap my biggest problem was how to nap incognito. I didn’t want anyone to see me in the driver’s seat with my mouth open, slobber slithering down the window and come and ask me if I needed help. I had to be the stealth napper. Well, praise the lord again because the mini van has tinted side windows and seats that fold down – way down and let’s not forget the beach towel as blanket. Mighty comfy.  I set my cell phone alarm so I don’t oversleep and I’m out.

Best 55 minutes of sleep ever. I awake slightly refreshed and go retrieve my kids.  My friend asks me what I thought of the sermon.  Not wanting to lie while standing inside the Almighty’s house I hedge my bets and reply, “It was surprisingly restful.”

“Restful,” she says sounding confused.

I stutter and add, “You know, like a restful spirit came over me.”

“Oh yeah,” she says while smiling. “I get that.”

Next Sunday, rolls around and I pack up those kids and head to church. While I’m standing outside the Sunday school rooms to sign in my cry babies I hear some moms talking about bible study right after church. I interrupt and ask,“ Is there child care for the bible study?”  Blessed be to God, there is. That gives me two hours of sweet, sweet, slumber. I hand off my children, inform the staff I would be staying for bible study and head out to the mini-van. Just in case anyone was watching I first went to the ladies room and then did a zig zag spy pattern through the parking lot.

This time it was even better. I had brought a pillow from home and some of that lavender spray from my daughter’s room to disguise the odor of fermented French fries and feet. I wake up 1 hour and 55 minutes later, check my face in the rear view mirror, wipe the drool off my chin and then oh crap. I have pillow marks on the left side of my face. How I’m I going to explain that? I doubt they have pillows in bible study. I start massaging and then slapping my face to get the marks off.  It just makes it worse. Now, I have magenta colored slap lines and pillow marks on my face. I go back into the church to pick up my kids with my hair hanging way over one side of my face to cover the pillow/slap marks. I’m thinking I might be able to pass it off as the new sexy me. Wrong, I catch my reflection in a window and I look like H.R. Pufnstuff after a bad meth bender. Thankfully no one says anything about my new “do” and I get my kids and head home one rested mom.

The following Sunday, I hit the trifecta or should I say the Holy Trinity. I found out that you could go to Adult Sunday School at 9, Church at 10 and then Bible Study at 11. Childcare was provided for all of the above. That’s three hours, three whole hours of mini van naptime. Many of you maybe thinking right about now that I’m a big Loser (note that I spelled loser with a capitol L).  You’re thinking, hey Loser what about daycare or mother’s day out programs?  Why do you have to nap on God’s time?

Here’s the beauty of the church nap – you can’t leave the premises.  Once you drive out of the parking lot the Olive Garden pager doesn’t work. Why is that so great? It’s great because that means there is nothing else for you to do. Let me explain further. If your kids are in daycare that means you are at work. Okay, so you can nap at work – a little. Come on, who here hasn’t had some work related shut-eye. My favorite is staring at the computer screen with your eyes closed, head tilted slightly forward. The way to get away with this is to also have a book and/or papers on your desk in front of you so anyone walking by will think you’re reading and writing while experiencing deep billable hours thoughts. But, you can’t really rack out at the office. You never reach the deep REM sleep you need because a part of your brain is on high alert for the boss. If you’re at home full-time with a non-sleeping baby and the child is in some sort of “morning” program you are still seriously screwed in the nap department.  The few shorts hours you are baby free turns into a tsunami of errands, laundry and housecleaning. There is no time for night, night but at the church you can’t leave. This means you go to worship or to the mini-van.  I choose mini-van and no worries because each Sunday I was making a very nice cash offering to the church in a valiant effort to convince myself I wasn’t a member of Satan’s extended family.

There were more upsides to the church nap.  All my church “attendance” was making my husband look bad and really what spouse doesn’t strive to make their “better” half look bad. Here I was taking my children to church for three hours every Sunday, while he stayed home to “catch up” on work. I was getting sleep and getting to be sanctimonious. Oh, how I enjoyed getting on my high horse and throwing out verbal tidbits like, “Well, if you went to church you might feel better” or “today’s sermon really spoke to me. I’m so sorry you missed it.” That’s where I went wrong.  My moral superiority and out right lying – bit me right in the butt.

One Sunday, it all came crashing down. My husband was up, dressed and ready for church. He wanted to surprise me and have us all go to church as a family. I was busted.  “Great!” I say trying to hide my disappointment. I start giving myself a pep talk in my head. Okay, I tell myself, suggest that we might need to take two cars so he doesn’t have to stay for bible study that will grab me an hour of sleep at least.  Even better, tell him you need him to stay here and do stuff around the house while the kids won’t be in the way. Nothing works the man is hell-bent to go to church for three whole hours.

As soon as we drop the kids off at Sunday school it gets awkward.  Remember, I have never even been to any of the three sanctuaries and I couldn’t find where they meet for adult Sunday school or bible study without GPS.  Never mind that no one has ever seen me before in Sunday school or bible study.  I have no choice, but to confess my sins. I tell my husband we need to ditch church and go out to the mini-van to talk. Sweet, naive man that he is, thinks I’m not feeling well.  “I look pale,” he says.

We slid into the van; I look fondly at my pillow and beach towel in the back seat, take a big breath and tell him the truth. “Honey,” I say. “I really miss our old church. Would you mind very much if we got the kids and tried to make the 10 o’clock service?” He didn’t mind one bit. We turned in our Olive Garden pager, got our kids and headed across town to our little, one sanctuary church.  I used the time to bid farewell to my Sunday morning mini-van worship and pray for my mortal soul so that one day I don’t spontaneously combust into flames on my way straight to hell.

***For all things wonderfully Snarky go to www.snarkygear.com where you can find the new winter Snarky line of clothing and accessories. (Flannel Snarky P.J.’s anyone?) Plus, there’s my book – Snarky in the Suburbs Back to School. (Click here for purchase information.) Here’s a little ditty about it: The Spring Creek Elementary School PTA board (a coven of Mean Moms dressed in Uggs, yoga pants, and dermal filler) is up to no good.  Wynn Butler (middle-aged, uncool, and not bringing sexy back) is determined to find out what’s going on. With help from her two kids, a Roomba vacuum turned mobile surveillance drone, and a few good friends, Wynn launches a covert investigation that leads to the “mother of all revenge capers” at the school’s annual Fall Festival.  If you’ve ever fantasized about smoke bombing the idiot parent who has yet to master the fine art of the school drop-off lane, or standing up and shouting, “Liar, liar, Botox on fire” during a PTA meeting, then this delicious tale of payback is for you. To stay up-to-date on new posts and take part in my not so deep thoughts click on this Facebook link – http://is.gd/iEgnJ (That’s the abbreviated link to my FB page) or I twitter @snarkynsuburbs.

The Case of the Diaper Dumper

Surveillance Log:

October 6, 2011

11:00 a.m.

Parking Lot of a church that shall remain unnamed

I’m in my car on my son’s laptop (which I’m using without telling him because if he finds out he’ll accuse me of “messing up his settings.”) recording my findings from the parking lot.  So far, it’s been quiet. I’ve parked my nondescript mom mobile an equal distance from the church’s front door to my neighbor’s car. Oh yeah, some of you don’t know the back story and by some of you I mean those of you who don’t check the Snarky In the Suburbs page on Facebook. I don’t mean to scold, but you people are slowing down the whole Snarky train. Would it be too much to ask that you open a FB account under an assumed name and address just so you can stay up-to-date? (I’m guessing that’s a no.) Okay, back to business. Here’s what occurred that forced me to go all Brenda Lee Johnson (love her) from The Closer in a church parking lot.

 Yesterday morning at approx. 8:47 a.m.

My Neighborhood 

I’m walking my two dogs, which is really akin to herding cats, through the neighborhood and I see my way down the street, bible bunko neighbor. (Whom I previously described on Facebook as about as fascinating as a bowl of Rice Chex, which upon further reflection is inaccurate. She’s more Cream of Wheat, original recipe. So not that yummy maple syrup and brown sugar variety.) She’s in her driveway with tears in her eyes, standing by her car, which has all four doors wide open. I stop, of course, to ask what’s wrong. While I’m asking this I’m mentally thinking she probably didn’t have time to put dinner in the crock pot or something equally boring that led to this episode of watery eyes. Although I’m hoping that it’s something juicy like she just found out her husband is a cross dressing swinger and wants to start borrowing her shoes and Spanx. What I got from her was even better, if you can believe that? I know I still can’t

Mrs. Cream of Wheat blurts out that she thinks a woman she works with at her church’s Mother’s Day Out program hid 6 dirty diapers in her car! When she went to get in her car this morning to go to, where else, but church, she was almost knocked to the ground by the overwhelming smell of festering feces. Cream of Wheat says she opened all her car doors, held her breath and then started digging around in her car for what was causing the odor. Shoved under the rear passenger seats she found not 1, not 2, but 6 poopy diapers.

I just stood there with my mouth hanging open. Who would terrorize this seemingly bland, very nice, mild-mannered 50-year-old woman by breaking into her car and depositing used diapers? I was intrigued and that left me no other alternative, but to offer her my investigative services. I mean, really, what else could one do? You just don’t hear a story like that and go, “Oh, wow, I’m sorry that happened. Why don’t you try using some Gain Febreze?”

No, this kind of story demands action. Anything else would just be un-neighborly and I’m nothing if not neighborly.

Cream of Wheat seems confused when I offer to help track down who is doing this to her. She asks me if I used to be in law enforcement. Sadly, I had to answer no. I so want to carry a gun and kick ass, but me (ch)armed and dangerous was never meant to be. (Total bummer on that one.) I do tell her I used be an investigative reporter and that’s no lie.

She seems scared of me. I’m used to this reaction but after years of having people slowly back away from me, I know how to talk them down and win them over. I finally convince her that she needs my help by pointing out that, perhaps, it was divine intervention that sent me to her. I really never head in this direction on my morning dog walk. I usually go another route. But, today, for some reason, I went towards her home just at the precise minute she was standing in her driveway in distress.

Praise the Lord, she agreed with that. So, I helped her freshen up her car, told her to not throw away the diapers, calling them evidence, and off she goes to bible study, but not before agreeing to meet with me this afternoon at 5.

Yesterday afternoon 5 p.m.

Cream of Wheat’s House

I suggested we meet at Cream of Wheat’s house. I knew if we held the meeting at my home my nosey, tattle-tale kids, would eavesdrop and be texting their dad my latest scheme. Like I need that kind of hassle. I showed up with one of my old reporter notebooks which look just like something I’m sure the F.B.I. would use. I had worked out my list of questions. This wasn’t my first rodeo people. One doesn’t grow up reading Encyclopedia Brown, Agatha Christie and DVR’ing every C.S.I., N.C.I.S.,  and all the Law & Order’s without having a serious set of interview skills.

I first asked if she had any idea who would be doing this to her? She seemed reluctant to answer. This is what happens when you are a very nice person. You don’t want to point the finger or think the worse of anyone. I can freely admit, I’ve never had that problem. Slowly, I coax it out of her the name of the woman who “seems to have an issue” with her at the M.D.O. Then I ask “How do you think she’s getting in your car?”

I had already looked for signs of forced entry or any trace evidence on Cream of Wheat’s car and hadn’t seen any. I also, with one of my son’s drumsticks, (sorry son) had gone through the poppy diapers. What I found was interesting. There was no one brand of diaper. Based on the cartoon character or color (1 denim diaper (really?), one camouflage (really? again) the diapers were 1 generic, 2 Pampers, 1 Luvs, and 2 Huggies.

I asked Cream if when the M.D.O. changed the toddlers diapers did they use church brought diapers or did each mom leave diapers for their child? She said when they had to change a toddler they used diapers bought by the M.D.O. program citing that is was easier than digging through all the different diaper bags. This proved that if the crime was happening at the M.D.O. it was after the collective diaper change. Cream said that after lunch each child got their diaper changed before nap time.

I had a couple more questions. “Is there anytime when you leave the toddler room for more than, say, 5 minutes?”

Cream volunteered that right after lunch she takes all the food trash to the church kitchen garbage cans. That’s when she also gets a soda from the vending machine and stops off at the four-year old room to say hi to her little niece. My next question was where does she leave her purse?  She told me that they all leave their purses in the room, in cubbies. Lastly, I asked who, if anyone, takes the dirty diapers, out of the room. From that I extrapolated a time line. Let me tell you, if I was tested on this kind of math and reasoning skills on the S.A.T. I wouldn’t be here writing this dumb ass blog. I’d be on the Harvard alumni website crowing about my newest scientific breakthrough.

Here’s how I think the diaper dump is going down: When Cream leaves the toddler room at the M.D.O. around noon someone in the room uses that opportunity to get Cream’s car keys out her purse. That person then volunteers to take the dirty diapers to the outside dumpster, but instead of the dumpster they go in the back-seat of Cream’s car. Then the Diaper Dumper rushes back inside, puts Cream’s keys back in her purse, and no one is the wiser. Why the person is doing this foul deed to Cream is not my first priority. The number one objective is to catch her in the act.

Clearly, I had to do a stake out. Based on my time line the Diaper Dumper would strike between 12 and 12:15 at Thursday’s M.D.O. I’d be in position in the church parking lot at 11:30 and I planned to record the dumper in action. I instructed Cream to say nothing about finding the gross diapers in her car. She was to act as if her car smelled fresh as a daisy. I wanted to provoke the dumper to strike again.

This morning – My House

You can not imagine how excited I am about the stake-out! I couldn’t help myself and had to share my big plan with my family. My husband, who you would think would be proud of me, walks out the door for work this morning, not with a “I love you” or even a “Good luck at your stake-out.”

No, this is what I get, “Don’t get yourself shot” and then he turns and says, “Or get us sued.”

I’m so tired of hearing that. Just because in the past some people, may or may not, have threatened legal action against me is no reason to leave the house every morning with that kind of goodbye. He really needs to let it go.

As for my kids I think they should be more impressed by me. I’m out there solving crimes – solo. Who else does that? Even the Lone Ranger had Tonto. I had to tell both of them repeatedly to not bother me today with any phone calls or texts of the “I forgot my P.E. shoes, band instrument, books etc” variety because I would be working a stake-out. As I dropped each of them off at their respective schools I delighted in bellowing out the window, “Remember, I’ll be on a stake-out!”

Both of them just keep on walking and shaking their heads. Ingrates.

I rushed home, walked the dogs, unloaded the dishwasher, threw a load of laundry in the dryer and then prepared for my stake-out grooming. Really can you go wrong with black Target track pants (capri), a black t-shirt, a C.S.I. baseball hat I got from the Vegas airport 5 years ago, my husband’s lawn mowing sunglasses because they cover my face more and I think look a little bad ass, tennis shoes, plus a quick dab of my new gift with purchase Philosophy lip balm?

I loaded my supplies in the car that included my son’s computer, my phone, my 32 ounce diet coke and the notes from yesterday and headed to the church. It was on people. It was on!

My first problem was where to park. I didn’t want to park to close to my neighbor’s car because I thought that would scare the dumper away. But I wanted to be close enough to properly videotape the crime so there would be no doubt what was going on and who was doing it. I drove around and tried some spots and tested them with my phone video camera to see what angle would take the best picture and be the least conspicuous.  Then I waited. Well, first I posted on Facebook that the stake-out had begun and then I settled in to wait. Then I got bored and started typing all this up for you to read and now I’m done typing and have nothing to do besides as everyone on Facebook predicted – use the bathroom.

12:07 p.m. Uh, oh, I see a woman leaving the church with what looks a white kitchen size trash bag. Gotta go.

Later today

I’m now renaming this The Case of the Holy Crap Storm. I would have never volunteered my services if I had known I would have to endure a hostile Q & A by a member of the clergy. But I’m getting ahead of myself, let’s back up to 12:07 p.m.

There’s a woman walking in the direction of my neighbor’s car with a trash bag. She’s seems to be about my age and looks very attractive. Totally Mom of the Month material.  Jeans, what seems to be a J. Crew sweater set and from what I could tell some really darling flats. What in the name of God is this mom doing putting soiled diapers in a co-church member’s car (and as a side bar thought I’m thinking who wears an outfit that cute to work in the toddler room of a M.D.O. program)?

I’ve slouched down in my front seat and I’ve got my video camera on her. Sweet Jesus, I see her point the unlockey thing at the car. She’s in and I get her bending over and stuffing diapers not just behind the front seats, but she’s got the hatchback open and it looks like she’s got at least two in there. Then I freeze. What do I do now? I’ve got it on tape, well, really digital imaging, but do I just show it to my neighbor and be done with it? Do I get out of my car and say something? Do I perp walk her through the parking lot? Then I thought W.W.J.D.? What Would (Brenda Lee) Johnson Do?  The heroine of The Closer would get out of her surveillance vehicle and confront the “suspect.”

I slowly opened my car door, jumped out and yelled as I was walking towards her, “Why are you putting dirty diapers in a car that isn’t yours?”

She jerks her head out of the rear of the car and stares at me. That’s my cue to keep on talking. In an authoritative voice that I use when playing Clue I say, “I don’t know who are, but I know you must be a member of this church and work in the Mother’s Day Out program. I also know that this is at least the second time you’ve illegally entered this car and vandalized it.”

I added, “Did you know what you’re doing is against the law and qualifies as criminal mischief.” (Right about now friends, I was impressing myself – big time. This could be my calling – accosting strangers in parking lots.) She still just stood there, all deer in the headlights. I then quickly added, “Um are you okay?”

This is when I saw what the Diaper Dumper is made of. She looks at me, you can tell she’s sizing me up, and pulls a real bone head move. She accuses me of “trespassing on private church property”!!!

Let’s review shall we. I’ve got her on camera entering a car that isn’t hers and stuffing used diapers in it and she’s coming back at me that I’m on church property.  Well, now I’m Old Testament ticked off. I reply with my best “hey dumb ass” voice and say, “I’m not trespassing on church property if I’m parked here to go inside the church to show my neighbor the video of you vandalizing her car.”

This shuts her up for a moment. As I race walk into the church she’s in hot pursuit not pleading her case, not throwing herself on my mercy, but bitching to me that it’s illegal to tape someone without their permission. God, who is she – Nancy Grace?

Once I get into the church I stop. I’ve never been in this church before in my life. I don’t have the slightest idea where to find my neighbor. I thought I would hear kids or at the very least follow the tell-tale smells of M.D.O.- slobber, wet diaper and play-dough. But, I’ve got nothing. I notice that the Ladies room is right across the hall and I desperately needed to use it after that 32 ouncer. I figure it wouldn’t hurt to take potty break and catch my breath. I also notice that the Diaper Dumper has disappeared. I’m guessing she’s grabbed her purse and is leaving the premises. That guess was incorrect.

As soon as I exit the Ladies room Diaper Dumper and the M-i-n-i-s-t-e-r of the church are waiting for me. The reverend asks to see some identification! Yeah, right. I’m doing a citizen’s arrest in the parking lot and the first thing I think of is to grab my incredible Coach bag that I scored at an outlet mall for $50.00 during my vacation 2 months ago, that’s a big no on that one. All I had on me were my car keys in the pocket of my hoodie and my phone.

I told the minister that my neighbor in the toddler M.D.O. would vouch for me. He sends his secretary to retrieve her. About a minute later my neighbor is walking up the hall. She gives me a distressed look and I announce to no one and everyone that the lady standing across from me is the Diaper Dumper and I got her in action on my phone.

The pastor asks to see the evidence and I show him the recording of the Diaper Dumper. He watches, says nothing, goes back in his office to get his glasses and watches it again. Then calls his secretary out and they watch it together. I’m thinking, c’mon folks it’s not the Zapruder films.  It’s a pretty high quality recording with some excellent camera work of one of your M.D.O employees/church members going all crazy pants or crazy diapers, as the case maybe. He then asks my neighbor and the Diaper Dumper to go into his office while he talks to me.

Huh? Aren’t his hands full enough already?  Why does he need to talk to me?  Unless he’s going to thank me but somehow I don’t think that’s what’s going to happen. He begins to grill me on “my role in this.”

I know I’m in the house of the Lord and I know this man standing in front of me is allegedly a spiritual person ordained by God. But, I don’t think it says anywhere in the bible that I have to take crap off of him. I begin talking very slowly because at this point I’m doubting his intelligence and ability to process even the simplest monosyllabic words and explain that my poor neighbor, one of his flock, was being terrorized by one of his employees. I, as a citizen of Earth, felt duty bound to offer my assistance. I also pointed out that this was a case of criminal mischief and charges could be filed.

He was silent for a moment and then asked me to erase my recording. I said, “That’s a great big no.”

He then asked that I “not share this unfortunate incident with anyone.”

“Hmm,” I said. “That’s going to be a problem. I was on Facebook about it yesterday and I was giving status updates about my stake out when I was in my car in the church parking lot.”

He looked to be turning green. So, I added, “Here’s what you can do for me. You should be very nice to my neighbor. She loves this church and I respect that. You also must and as I mother I mean right now, get the Diaper Dumper off your staff and away from kids. She obviously has some mental health issues that need to be addressed. Who knows maybe it’s as simple as her cholesterol meds are messing with her Zoloft, but you have a moral and legal duty to get that figured out.”

His response to my very stern yet passionate Law & Order-ish speech was, “I’ll pray for you.”

You could tell from his tone he didn’t mean it in a very reverendly manner. It sounded more like a put down, like the ecclesiastic equivalent of “F You.” So, I quipped, “right back at ya” and added, “you should also pay to have my neighbor’s car detailed” and with that walked out of that church.

The fact that I didn’t get struck my lightning when exiting the building was a sign to me that the big guy/girl way upstairs had my back on this one.

Four hours later I go over to my neighbor’s. I’m relieved that Cream of Wheat greets me with a smile. I asked her what happened. The Diaper Dumper decided to take some “extended personal time” away from her M.D.O. duties and my friend was promoted to head of the Toddler Room.

I said, “that’s great and all, but did she ever give a reason for putting the diapers in your car?”

She quickly and succinctly responded, “She was jealous of me. Can you believe that?”

“Of course I can,” I say. “Your sane and she’s crazy.  She was jealous of your sanity.”

I keep on prodding and finally in bits and pieces a story comes about envy, misplaced rage, coveting and revenge.  A whole 10 Commandment/Golden Rule saga. Who knew a church Mother’s Day Out program could be such a hot bed of seething emotions?  It seems Cream of Wheat was becoming a raising star in the M.D.O. program. She started working in the toddler room right after Labor Day and the little kids loved her, all the moms thought she was wonderful and the director of M.D.O. told everyone who would listen that Cream of Wheat was “quite possible that best M.D.O. worker she had ever had.”

Apparently, Diaper Dumper, last year’s M.D.O. Queen Bee,  got jealous and was attempting to make Cream quit by freaking her out with the dirty diapers in her car. Got a headache yet? I know I do.

While you maybe thinking the moral of this story is to approach any Mother’s Day Out program with extreme caution or to beware of clergy that ask for I.D it’s not. Although, both of those are excellent ideas. The moral is I should really, seriously, consider opening up a detective agency. I think I rock at this – kind of.

P.S. I will never post the video so don’t ask. Remember my husband’s second commandment: Thou shalt not get us sued.

 

*Attencover_1.3-2tion Snarky Friends I have a new book out and for a limited time only it’s just 99 cents for a heaping helping of Snark! You are now gazing at the second book in the Snarky in the Suburbs series – Snarky in the Suburbs Trouble In Texas. You can buy it for your Kindle or in paperback on Amazon.  It’s also available for the Nook or you can get it for your Kobo reader. Click on a link and give it a test read.  I hope you like it! 🙂

 

When Vacation Bible School Goes Bad

vacation20bibleI’m just going to come right out and say this and don’t go all holier than thou on me people, I speak the truth and I believe that’s one of the ten commandants – most moms view Vacation Bible School, in it’s purest form, as daycare.  Sure, I’ll say it’s a chance for the kids to bond with the lord if that makes any of you feel better. But, at the top of the list it’s daycare, free church daycare.

The churches know what they’re doing. Is VBS offered as soon as school gets out? No. It’s offered in the middle of summer. Right when most parents begin hitting the wall of summer. The big, “What are we doing for fun today?” “I’m sick of the pool.” Can I have ten friends over?” wall of summer. (My sister-in-law this summer alone has sent her kids to seven vacation bible schools. Which says volumes about my sister-in-law. But those stories are for another time.)

VBS’s placement is perfect. As soon as moms start mentally counting down the days till school starts (or buying the I phone app) VBS comes to the rescue. It’s a brief couple of hours summer respite from our kids. If VBS is in the morning than it’s three hours for a mom to get some work done. If it’s at night than it’s two hours to grab a child-free meal with your husband.

Unless, of course, you have been arm twisted, guilted into or see it as your gift to the higher power to volunteer to work at VBS. I was two out of three of those choices. So, here I am all ready to do VBS 2011 and “Saddle Up for this Ride with Jesus.” Under conditions of my “employment agreement” I was assisting with the 5-year-old group. Emphasis on assist. I was the follower not the leader.

The “teacher” of our group was a delightful woman who I had volunteered with pleasurably at my children’s’ school. She was a little high-strung and very anal about everything. We had to have three, count em three, before VBS meetings at her home to go over the curriculum and the arts and crafts.

I had two problems with the meetings. One, no booze. I have a long-standing rule that if you’re going to invite someone into your home after 3 p.m. on a Saturday there should be the offer of libations. Especially in the summer when the range of cocktails you can offer really opens up. I mean who can say no to a watermelon margarita and would I come to a meeting with a smile of my face if I knew there would be watermelon margaritas, why yes I would. Instead, we were offered water and Crystal Light.

Secondly, the meetings were kid free and on a Saturday. (Which both suggests to me that cocktails will be served.  Am I wrong about this?) The kid free thing on a Saturday is not that big of a deal but having a meeting on a Saturday is. Most of us have enough meetings Monday thru Friday and I, for one, like to keep my weekend meetings free, if I can help it.

A hint about the strictly enforced no kids edict became clear when I went to Mrs. VBS’s house for the first meeting. Upon entering her home and walking into her foyer to the right was her living room where velvet ropes, oh yes, velvet ropes, just like the kind you see in the movie theatre, were blocking off the entrance to her living room. I, being me – incredibly curious, had to blurt out, “What’s with the ropes?”

I was told it was a “special occasion” room and the ropes only came down for “memorable family events.” My reply was, “Really, those ropes work for you?  Because in my house it would be a matter of my kids honor to not only go under those ropes on a daily basis, but to jump over them, take them down and catapult them at each other, and last, but not least attempt sibling strangulation by velvet rope.”  (I think that last one sounds like a CSI murder technique. Can you trademark stuff like that?)

Mrs. VBS smiled very sweetly at me and just said, “Well, different houses, different rules.”  She’s got that right.

We continue walking through the foyer and approach the world’s cleanest kitchen complete with a massive child chore, enrichment activity and summer reading chart resplendent with velcro attachments. I’ve tried the chore chart. It lasted maybe two days. I like my method of yelling while jumping up and down and threatening. While, I’m sure it’s not as effective, it is, some days, my only cardio.

As for the summer reading chart that was killing me, really breaking my spirit. Her girls had read loads of books and we were only half way through summer. The only reading my daughter had done all summer was People’s Magazine Justin Bieber special edition and my son, I was lucky if had read the back of the Honey Nut Cheerios box. I took another look at the summer “chart” and knew exactly what was looking back at me – a road map to the Ivy Leagues. Crap.

After being offered the no fun drink choice of water or Crystal Light we got right to work on the craft projects and bible theme stories that would be the crux on the VBS experience. One of the craft projects was weaving ropes (braiding) to make a lariat so the kids could “lasso Jesus.” It was at this point in the meeting I had to speak up. Being the only mother with a male child I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that boys and ropes are never a good idea. I couldn’t even get out my list of reasons before the other moms just glossed right over my well founded objections.

This, my friends is what I call the parting of the parenting Red Sea. Done not by Moses, but well-meaning moms who only have calm, studious, polite offspring with superior impulse control. There are some lucky parents out there that have perfect children. I call them fairy tale children because they are too good to be true. Most of these fairy tale children are female. Years ago when my son was four I’ve even had a very painful break up with a much-loved friend because she was the mother of three incredible fairy tale girls.

They were quiet, had impeccable manners, could sit still for longer then five minutes and didn’t size up every household item for it’s weapon or flying projectile potential. Her little girls could mutely color for hours and talk in hushed respectful tones to their mother. I knew we had to break up when my son (age 4 at the time) took his Thomas the Tank Engine train (key point here the Thomas trains have magnets on the front so the trains can hook up with one another) wrapped one of the fairy tale girls Barbie Doll’s hair around it and then attached the train with it’s magnet to a metal stand fan.

The Barbie’s hair got tangled up in the fan blades, the fan went all wobbly crazy, tipped over, hit the coffee table, cracked the coffee table, sending four cups of grape juice flying off and bringing an onslaught of screams and tears. (Further proving my point about how well-behaved these girls were – What parent gives a kid grape juice in an open container? Not me. We were strictly a clear or white beverage family and I forced my son to drink from a sippy cup until about his 10th birthday.)

Obviously they had never witnessed the awesome powers of a boy before and the fairy tale mom was traumatized. Oh, did I mention this little accident didn’t happen at my house. I immediately go into apology mode, call a carpet cleaner, and demand that my friend let me replace her coffee table and fan. No amount was too high. I then grab my son, throw him over my pregnant with another non fairy tale child belly and we make a run for it.

Two days later, I take my friend out to dinner and break it off. Her girls were too perfect, she was too good of a mother. Me and my son clearly frightened her family. We had to break up. There could be no more mommy and kids play-dates. As any mom knows, once you reduce a friendship to just the two of you spending time together, forget about it. It’s the death knell in the friendship coffin. When your kids are young there are not enough hours in the day to schedule “dates” with girlfriends.

Now, I told that little story to illustrate not how lucky parents with fairy tale kids are but to show how they can be woefully naive about what happens in the real world. This would prove to be Mrs. VBS’s achilles heel. Not only was she the mother of two perfect fairy tale girls. She is, as previously illustrated, very anal.

Don’t get me wrong these kind of moms are invaluable. They are the backbone of every school’s parent organization.  Without their skills the gift-wrap sale would never happen. In fact, I doubt any fundraising would happen. The PTA would never have a treasurer that got happy printing out the excel spread sheets and organization in every endeavor would be slipshod. These moms are good people and good parents. They just, in this case, at least, should never volunteer to interact with other people’s children. They’re not prepared for life in the parenting trenches.

Unlucky for Mrs. VBS our class was full of rowdy boys. I knew we were going to be in for a world of hurt when I saw her outfit. It was a short skirt, a nice blouse and cute flats.  Not exactly the outfit to get down and dirty in.  We were surrounded by busy boys looking to lasso a whole lot of fun. The kind of fun that doesn’t come from sitting still in circle time. According to the spreadsheet schedule, posted on the wall and color coded, the first 30 minutes was free play while we wait until all the kids arrive. Then it was a 30 minute bible lesson, next was circle time, followed by arts and crafts and then a snack.

Trouble began immediately when, as the boys arrived, the Battle of the Lincoln Logs ensued. Lincoln Logs, as any mom knows, are great for building, throwing, and being used as a battering ram to knock down other kids log cabins. I got down on the floor to act as a referee and corral the log throwing. Mrs. VBS was dismayed that the boys and a couple of girls would actually throw the logs at each other.Then when two boys put some Lincoln Logs down their shorts and jumped up and down until they fell out she admitted to being a little queasy. The boys thought it was hilarious and if you’re a five-year-old boy I can totally get how “pooping logs” would give you a giggle fit.

Mrs. VBS was aghast. Her girls she told me “would never, ever do that” and she was freaked out about the now extremely unsanitary logs. I was thinking as I the put the butt cheek soiled logs in the sink, “Well, Mrs. VBS let me wish you a warm welcome to the real world, make yourself right at home cause I’ve saved a seat for you.”

After the Lincoln logs were collected and put up and it was time for the bible lesson. Mrs VBS had no concept of the short attention span theatre that is the normal five-year old. Her bible lesson was more bible sermon and even I was getting antsy. The kids were squirming, interrupting, and then started leaving the circle en masse. I whispered to Mrs. VBS that it was time to deviate from the schedule and perhaps go to arts and crafts. This freaked her out because we would be hitting arts and crafts a whole 15 minutes early. I then gently pointed out that since there were no kids even left in the circle we might want to just call it quits, for now, on the bible lesson.

The arts and crafts project, in keeping with the western theme, “Saddle Up for this Ride with Jesus” involved giving each child a straw cowboy hat to wear then three pieces of rope to make a lariat. The rope was the kind you would use to hang clothes on in your backyard (if people still did that kind of thing). Each kid was given three, 4 feet pieces of the rope so they could braid it for a cool lariat. The three pieces were already tired together so the kids could start braiding.

The first problem was 5-year-old kids can’t braid. Most of them have yet to master shoe tying. The second problem was imagine the disaster that is a non fairy tale five-year old with three pieces of rope connect at the top and the rest dangling. Hmm, what would a kid do with that rope?  Would the child start swinging the ropes and causing a windmill of doom? Why yes. Would a child accidentally start whipping the rope at his closest seat-mate? Certainly. Would a rope free- for-all begin? You betcha ya.

Whap, slap, whip, that was the sound of an arts and craft project going downhill. Add in kids crying as they got hit or experienced rope burn and then throw Mrs. VBS delicately screaming at the kids to “stop it, just stop it!” and it’s pretty much like you’re there. I entered the fray and started collecting up the ropes. We immediately executed plan B.  I would braid the ropes while the kids drew Jesus in the desert.

After the ropes were braided I was given the duty to go into the church kitchen and get the snacks while the kids were going to be taken to the sanctuary for a group prayer with all the VBS students. Off I went to retrieve carrots, grapes, and zucchini sticks. Oh, how I longed for the cyclamate laden Kool-Aid, Twinkies and Ding Dongs that was my vacation bible school experience circa the 1970’s.

As I’m carrying the tray of veggies back to our church classroom I turn the corner and my life is forever changed. There on the 10 foot stone statue of Jesus in the vestibule is the lord and savior with a straw cowboy hat on looking very Brokeback Mountain. He has also been lassoed (sort of, ropes are on him but not around him) not once but three times. Apparently, our five-year-old cowboys took the lasso theme to heart.

Mrs. VBS has climbed up Jesus, in her short skirt, and is straddling the statue so she can get off the hat and the ropes. But, it’s not just a straddle. She is continuing to shimmy up the statue to reach the hat. It’s a shimmy, jump move. The motion makes it looks like Mrs. VBS is indeed having a “moment” with the lord.

Cue, the minister with some teen and adult volunteers walking into the vestibule and witnessing this. Truly an OMG.Mrs. VBS is so intent on freeing the statue of the ropes and hat she doesn’t even grasp what it looks like until one of the teen volunteers blurts out, “Oh my God she’s doing Jesus!”

The poor woman slides off of the Jesus statue, gives her skirt a very lady like tug and sobs her way into the bathroom. I hand off the veggie tray, take the kids into the sanctuary and pray. Pray feverently, that the visual of Mrs. VBS and the Jesus statue will soon be eternally wiped from my memory and that no one will ask me to help with Vacation Bible School ever again. I think that prayer will be answered.

*Attencover_1.3-2tion Snarky Friends, I have a brand new book out. It’s the second in the Snarky in the Suburbs series – Snarky in the Suburbs Trouble In Texas. You can buy it for your Kindle or in paperback on Amazon.  It’s also available for the Nook or you can get it for your Kobo reader. Click on a link and give it a test read.  I hope you like it! 🙂