Can I put a doily on her head and call it done? And other last-weeks-of-school ruminations.

When will school be over so summer can start?!

18.5 days. That’s how many school days are left for us. And I tell you, I am waving the white flag. Waving it high.

I want to be done. I want to just say WHATEVER to the science project display board, backwards crazy hair day, and the kindergarten reading marathon fundraiser.

I mean, when are we supposed to have time to help our kids get pledges for a fundraiser in the last weeks of school? In that 23 seconds I have after I help my kid with homework while I also cook for teacher appreciation week and before dance recital rehearsal? Don’t forget work and laundry and all the normal crap. Yes, this is the perfect time for a fundraiser! Great idea!

And then my third-grader comes home with the very thrilling news that she gets to be Florence Nightingale for her Living Museum Project. And she has to dress up just like her. And this is happening soon so we have to get her costume ready.

This should be easy to re-create. Think I can put some doilies on my kid’s head and call it a day?
This should be easy to re-create. Think I can put some doilies on my kid’s head and call it a day?

You know, I say I’m waving the white flag, but really I’m making a flag. A (loosely interpreted) American flag in my kid’s hair with hair chalk. We’re practicing for her school concert because she has to look patriotic and somehow we can’t find any red, white, and blue clothing in the half-folded mishmash of winter and summer clothes that is in every drawer of her dresser. Because I just can’t find time to sort through them right now. BECA– USE FLORENCE NIGHTINGALE. Maybe there’s a red shirt in the festering pile of laundry that mocks me every time I pass it?

Ah, crap, I’ll just do the freaking hair chalk. That’s easier than tackling the laundry. There’s a duvet cover in there that we used in the winter and it scares me. (Because it’s May.)

You know, I think I might end up stealing Jen Hatmaker’s Worst End of School Year Mom Ever crown. Because instead of listening to my kindergartener sloooooowly read out loud to me for 20 minutes so she can get another star for her reading marathon chart, I’m thinking about wine and how good it tastes and how much I want some. Sweet Jen Hatmaker is singing church hymns in her head while her kids read. I’m daydreaming about alcohol. I win.

18.5 more days. We can do this, fellow moms. We can.

And if your kids are out of school already and complaining they’re bored, send them on over. I’ve got a Florence Nightingale costume project with their names written allllll over it.

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How a creepy Furby helped me make a belated resolution

A couple of days ago, I walked into my kitchen and came face to face with small plastic Furby toy that sat on my counter, staring at me with a maniacal grin.

“Um, Annie?” I said, backing away from the creepy creature. “What is this, exactly?”

Annie bounded over to me, saw what I was staring at, and rolled her eyes. “Oh. THAT. Mom, you won’t believe this.”

She proceeded to tell me the scary Furby thing belonged to Emma, our neighbor, and she left it at our house. Emma got it at their second-grade class gift exchange in December. Everyone was supposed to bring in a grab gift worth about $3, and each kid picked a gift out of the bag during their little holiday party.

“And MOM,” Annie’s eyes were wide, “Daniel brought in that Furby thing for the gift exchange, and his mom didn’t even BUY it.” She took a deep breath. “It’s a McDonald’s toy he got in a Happy Meal!” she finished indignantly.

Annie looked at me, waiting for a reaction. Waiting for me to show her what she should think of this situation.

Teachable moment! Teachable moment! My brain screamed at me. I recognized the opportunity to impart some awesome mom wisdom but had … nothing.

“Was Emma upset?” is what I ended up lamely asking.

“YES!” Annie proclaimed. “She doesn’t even like Furbys!” And then she ran off.

You know why I had no fabulous, warm-your-heart mom wisdom to offer? Because the first reaction I had was this: Well, that sucks! What kind of mom sends in a crap Happy Meal toy? We’re all busy but come on! I found the time to grab a little thing at Target. Not cool, Daniel’s mom. Not cool.

Right off the bat, I judged Daniel’s mom.


Not cool, JD. Not cool.

Why didn’t Daniel’s mom get a real toy? I don’t know. Really, it doesn’t matter. What I do know is that moment in which I was judging Daniel’s mother made me feel like a crappy mom and a crappy person.

You know what would have felt a lot better? Not judging. Assuming the best. Being kind.

I used to do those things a lot more when life was simpler. Before kids, home ownership, major responsibilities. Before living life more. Back then it was a lot easier to be kind.

Now thinking kindly about people can take more effort. I’m older. And I have had experiences that have jaded me and chipped away at the positive outlook I had when I was freshly out of college and full of optimism.

I’ve been thrown under the bus at work. Gone through several layoffs and had to file for unemployment. I’ve had children and been inducted into the worries of parenthood. I’ve seen horrors on the news that I never imagined could happen. I’ve watched a human being die while I held his hand.

These experiences have shaped me in positive ways, for sure. I’m a stronger person for having gone through that stuff. But I’m also more nervous about strangers. More fearful of the unknown. And yes, more judgmental of others.

It took me a while to come up with a New Year’s resolution, but after The Furby Incident, I know what mine is now.

My resolution is to choose to think kindly of others.

Now, I’m not saying I’m going to live in a happy little bubble and think everyone is good and kind deep down inside. It’s just not true. I know that.

What I’m aiming for is to be a realistic optimist. There are many everyday moments when I assume the worst about something or someone, when it would be just as easy — and better for everyone — to assume the best.

Maybe Daniel’s mom actually didn’t give a crap that some kid in her son’s class was going to get a lame-o gift. But doesn’t it feel better to assume she was having a harried mom moment and forgot to get something? Or that Daniel really liked the Furby and thought someone else would, too?

Yes. Yes, it does.

Later I caught Annie during a quiet moment and explained my thoughts. She liked the idea that maybe Daniel brought the toy in because he thought someone would like it. She thought that’s probably what happened because, in her words, “Furbys are popular, mom. Emma and I aren’t into them, but a lot of kids are. That’s probably why Daniel brought it in, right?”

Right, Annie. That’s my thinking exactly.

Have age and experience made you more judgmental of others? What do you think about consciously choosing to think kindly of others and assuming the best? Tough? Unrealistic? A good idea?

choose to assume the best