Are You Suffering From FOKMO?

Screen Shot 2016-07-14 at 10.10.49 AMBecause, I guess, I’ve made a career out of complaining (proving the adage that everybody is good at something) friends, random strangers, and Target employees quite frequently enjoy sharing their latest outrage with me. It usually starts with, “You’re not going to believe this.”

I act appropriately to their story and by this I mean I shake my head and say, “Are you kidding me?” But more often than not I’m thinking yikes, I can so see myself doing that or much worse, I have done that.

The latest missive of shock and awe that came my way was a mother sharing the insanity of her sister-in-law who was canceling a long-awaited family vacation because her eight-year-old son made a Little League All Star team and couldn’t afford to miss practice. She was all WTH about it and how crazy we had gotten as parents that our family priorities were skewed towards a third graders recreational sports schedule.

I did my “are you kidding me” thing and then felt sheepish for not attempting to defend the sister-in-law. That’s right defend because I saw what happened five years ago when a friend of mine opted to take a family vacay to Hawaii instead of having her, then elementary school, son play on the All Star team. It was a long and winding road of retribution.

Because of “Vacationgate” the next spring when it came to the Little League “draft” her son was not selected until the last round and at the first practice the coach (a dad who lived down the street and was an assistant pastor at their church) came up to the mom and solemnly shared with her that “no one had wanted her son because of the family’s egregious lack of commitment to the league” and then quoted some bible story from the book of Malachi. (Umm, am I the only one who didn’t know there was a book of Malachi?)

Then even when her kid killed it during the regular season hitting home run after home run and being an amazing first baseman he was not selected for the All Star team and the mom was told once again it was because of the “bailing on the team” the previous summer. It took the family years and getting their son in a competitive baseball league for the stench of the “Vacationgate” to finally dissipate.

This level of extra curricular crazy is, I’m afraid, the norm and has led parents in massive numbers to be afflicted with FOKMO – Fear Of Kid Missing Out. FOKMO is like FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) but a million times more intense because it’s about your kids. I mean really once you have children who cares if you’re missing out, but, by God and all that is holy, you don’t want your kid to be a single rider in the not included lane.

I believe FOKMO, fueled by its evil sidekick Social Media, is the number one reason why our children’s summers are so bloated with organized activity. In this day and age is there anything worse than admitting your kid has the big Z.E.R.O. going on? I think for many moms and dads it’s akin to admitting you suck as a parent. If you want to see a group of moms throw down just mention how your kids are so busy and then step back and watch the one-upmanship.

Listen I’m not judging. I’m as guilty as everyone else. Raise your hand if you’ve ever had to sign a contract stipulating your attendance, dedication, and obedience to your child’s sports activity. Yeah, my hand is now raised and I can only imagine what my mother would have done decades ago if someone had asked her to sign such a thing. She was a southern lady so it wouldn’t have been hoisting her middle finger, but I’m sure she would said something along the lines of  “Well bless your heart” then she would have gently returned the contract unsigned.

Why is it that our parents never suffered from FOKMO? Was it because they were smarter and  knew the value of boredom? A dollop of boredom allows your brain to recharge, to wander and to create. I’m not exaggerating when I tell you that my very best ideas have occurred while vacuuming. Now, I feel like as parents we have been conned into believing if our kids aren’t constantly doing a planned activity it will culminate in an embarrassing ACT score.

Recently I put myself in FOKMO rehab. Mainly because FOKMO takes up a lot of time. To be a stellar FOKMO parent you constantly have to be searching for new opportunities for your child and be on high alert for what everyone else is doing. These days I think I’d rather vacuum.

 

Excuse Me, But There’s a Turd In the Wavepool

I am officially waterlogged.  I have spent ten days experiencing a moisture carnival. I have been swimming, floating, tubing, sliding, paddling and marinating in my own bodily juices until my skin has begun to take on the sheen of a catfish.  My wet and not so very wild adventure began at Seaworld.  Let me share with you that the spa there is one-of-a-kind.  Lucky me, I got to experience it for eleven hours straight.  I began with the hot stone massage which uses concrete stadium bleachers heated to a temperature of 120 degrees fahrenheit to sear off any dead skin and hopefully (fingers crossed) cellulite attached to my buttocks or upper thigh region.  The burning sensation takes a little getting use to, but at the suggestion of the spa attendant I sat in the dolphin “splash zone” in an attempt to cool off my flaming butt checks.   Next up on the spa menu was aromatherapy. There were so many fragrance choices to choose from that it was a little overwhelming.  Finally, I settled on the scent cornucopia featuring bold B.O., rancid churro, expiration date challenged bratswurst, sea lion excrement and baby in need of a diaper change.  It can best be described as a colonoscopy for your nasal passages.  By this time I was ready for my full body treatment.  I chose the purifying salty perspiration exfoliating scrub followed by the re-mineralizing sodium masque.  To experience the scrub I stood in line with hundreds of other people waiting their turn for the Atlantis water coaster and was rubbed and jostled by their bodies until my skin was chafed and glistening from the exchange of shared perspiration rich fluids.  The sodium masque was applied by a very large shirtless man, standing far too close to me, who used his immense belly to coat my back and swath me in his own special brand of furry man sweat. The pinnacle of the treatment was when his dude nipples, decorated with corn kernels, that I’m guessing got trapped in his chest hairs after eating the park’s roasted corn, were transferred to my back as he kept bumping into me. He then touched my back, removed the corn kernels and ate them.  Yum.  My spa experience came to a close with the invigorating Lemon Chill scalp massage administered by an idiot who spilled his icy treat on my head after getting overly excited during Shamu Rocks.

Not content with just enjoying Sea World we ventured off for two days at another waterpark.   It was wavepool, water coaster-rrific.  There is nothing that says summer like floating in communal water enriched by the urine of thousands of children. The huge wavepool became a family favorite.    Mainly, because you didn’t have to stand in line.  It featured ocean size waves and you could just float around and around.  I spent a large amount of quality time attached to an inner tube until I saw something that immediately set off my ick factor meter.  There I was enjoying being pounded by the waves, secure in the knowledge that most of my swimsuit clad body was mercifully hidden by the deep water when I spied what at first glanced looked like several black shoe inner soles. I fluttered kicked over for further inspection and my worst fears were confirmed.  Ladies and gentleman we have turds in the wavepool.  A flotilla of man size turds, at that. I abandoned tube and swam like Shamu being chased by a fleet of Japanese whaling vessels.    By the time I reached shore I headed straight to my swim bag, grabbed my half gallon Costco bottle of antibacterial hand gel (Yes, I take hand gel to the pool.  Don’t you?) and began vigorously washing myself as if I had just been exposed to nuclear radiation. (Remember Meryl Streep in Silkwood taking the shower?  That was me.) After I was pretty sure I was turd free I began looking for family members that may or may not be still in the wavepool.  Fortunately, I located my kids at the (surprise) snack bar getting a funnel cake and my husband was buying a beer (also not a surprise).  I called an emergency family meeting and issued the edict that no one should get in the wave pool until further notice.

After securing my own personal safety and that of my family members I was off to notify a lifeguard. Stat.  I found one that looked less like Malibu Barbie and more like middle-aged Ken and issued the statement: “Excuse me, but there’s a turd in the wavepool.”  I was asked to classify said turd(s), by size – infant turd, child turd, adult turd.  I gave it the adult turd rating and the chase was on to locate and apprehend.  Apparently they train for this scenario a lot because they were on it!  A special whistle toot exchange ensued that resulted in the wave machine being silenced, lifeguards shouting at everyone to get out of the wavepool, and a search and destroy team being sent into the water.   After a mere five minutes the turds had been located and scooped out of the wavepool.  A lifeguard emerged from the water holding his net high filled with his turd bounty.  Everyone clapped hoping that this meant the wavepool would soon be back on.  I had the personal satisfaction knowing that I had possible saved hundreds, maybe even a thousand swimmers from some nasty E-coli infection.  My patting myself on the back didn’t last long.  Something was wrong as hundreds of wavepool expatriates looked on as the lifeguard was walking right towards me.  I look over my shoulder hoping he’s walking towards a trash can or something, but, nope he keeps coming my way.  He stops right in front of me and says, “Ma’am is this the fecal matter you saw in the pool?”  I stammer, “Yes, I guess so. You know fecal matter looking alike and all that.”  Then I hear the pool chatter.  Everyone watching thinks it’s my turds!  That, I turded in the wavepool!”  I want to scream, “Hell no, I didn’t turd in the wavepool.  I’m your hygiene savior.  I found the turds.”  I hear people say things like, “how disgusting, gross, unbelievable, she should be thrown out of the park.”  Even my own family is backing away from me.  My husband has taken our pool bag and towels and is every so quickly and quietly distancing himself and the rest of the family from me.  I look over my shoulder at him and he says, “Maybe you should lay low until this cools down.”  I look at him, my mouth gaping open and say, “Seriously, you’re deserting me.”  He, very unsuccessfully trying not to laugh, says, “It’s for the kids safety. Go to another part of the park and hope your poopy pants reputation doesn’t follow you.”   Well, maybe he did have a point. There was still an angry crowd milling around waiting for the chlorine shock treatment of the wavepool to dissipate. We were told that would take a minimum of thirty minutes.  So, I guessed hiding out in another section of the waterpark wasn’t a bad idea. Fortunately for me I always travel with two swimsuits for each family member.  I could schlep all the way to the car, grab suit number two, a baseball hat and presto – I’m no longer the alleged “Woman Who Turds in Wavepool.”  I discreetly inform my husband of my new master plan.  He, still laughing, tells me goodbye and I’m off to assume my new identity.

I have settled in another part of the park and have even scored some coveted shade.  So, take that, family who abandoned me in my time of need.  Right over my head is the Coaster Cloud. It’s some sort of thing that has three people attached to what looks like part bungee cord, part swing set rope and they get launched into the air where they go really high and then back and forth, back and forth over a part of the waterpark until their speed slows down. I was enjoying the shrieks of the Cloud Coaster maniacs when something happened that now leaves to believe I’m cursed by the Ghost of Bodily Fluids.  As three Cloud Coaster riders soar over me one of them, (I’m hoping it was just one) barfs, hurls, blows chunks as he’s coasting. The vomit spew trail is immense because of the trajectory path of the ride and as the vomit becomes airborne the wind picks it up so it is literally raining vomit – On. My. Head.   I don’t know about you, but when I smell vomit it makes me want to vomit.  I muster all the self control I have and sprint to the bathroom and stick my head in the sink.  Thank the lord for the baseball hat which caught most if not all the chunks.  It’s at this point that I declare defeat.  I surrender.  I’m giving up my family waterpark experience and heading back to the hotel where I will take the world’s hottest, longest shower and stay in the safety of the indoors the remainder of the day.  I find my husband, who upon seeing me asks me, “Do you know you smell like puke?”  Yes, I just experienced an aerial bombardment of puke. Thank you very much.  Now give me the car keys and I’ll pick everyone up in 3 hours.  I’m officially done.

I was grateful to get to the last stop of our adventure, my parents house.  My dad is a first class germaphobe so their backyard pool is always pristine.  The whole extended family was excited to jump in the pool and began our yearly tradition of a water balloon fight to the death.  It’s every man, woman and child for themselves.  In the morning we all sat on lawn chairs using the hose to fill hundreds of balloons in preparation for the battle.  As tradition dictates each family member gets a set amount of balloon artillery.  When my dad blows his horn everyone is allowed in the water to begin the fight.  You can feel the anticipation in the air as my dad raises the horn to his lips and blows. On cue we all jump and/or bust a cannon ball into the pool and then after the splashes you begin to hear the screams.  Screams of intense pain as our bodies are being savaged by water that has been turned into a neurotoxin. Kids start crying and jumping out the pool, running for their towels and their grandma.  The adults at first groan and then no longer able to hold it in, shriek in anguish as they fight through the agony to hoist themselves out of the water.  Like a scene out of a war movie we all lay on the ground, some of us in the fetal position, rocking back and forth, whimpering as we try to figure out what went wrong, what happened.  Why are our eyes on fire?  Why does our skin hurt? Finally, I have the pain enough under control to ask my dad what happened to turn the pool water into a pond of mustard gas.  He looks guilty.  My mom looks ready to kill him.  My dad admits that in a germaphobe induced trance, triggered by the fact that seven “I might be peeing in the pool” grandkids would be in his scared watering hole all at one time, he upped the chlorine by just “a little.” And apparently “just a little” means until the water could be classified as military grade chemical weapon.  Fortunately it was nothing a family trip to the minor emergency clinic and a regimen of prescription eye drops couldn’t fix.

Suffice it to say I’m now so very, very over being wet.

*Thank you so very much for reading Snarky in the Suburbs!   You can stay up-t0-date on my blog postings by going to clicking the FB icon at the top of my blog page.