Yo. Snap. Whassa matta hamma?!

 

Stephan Pastis—the man is a writing genius and we are in the Pearls Before Swine fan club! One of my top five favorite strips is “Yo. Snap. Whassa matta hamma?!”

Here’s what Urban Dictionary has to say about it:

According to the Pearls Before Swine strip from April 27, 2011, “It means, ‘I just burned you. What are you gonna do about it?’” It’s going to sweep the nation.

Rat: Dude, check it . . . I’ve invented a new expression . . . it’s Yo. Snap. Whassa matta hamma?

Pastis: What the heck’s that s’posed to mean?

Rat: It means, I just burned you. What are you going to do about it? I’m hoping it sweeps the nation.

Pastis: I wouldn’t let it sweep my bathroom floor. Yo! Snap! Whassa matta hamma?!

Rat: It’s a sad day when a nerd cartoonist gets the better of you.

 

Here’s how Mason swept my nation one fine eve.

Prologue: Michael goes to a social skills class to learn two-way conversation and phone etiquette. I tell Mason, his younger brother, that I would like him to practice just like Michael has to. He can call anyone he would like to, but he needs to ask a question, listen to the answer, and then comment based on the response.

A few days later, Mason calls me from his cell phone and claims, “Hey Mom, I’m ready to practice my two-way communication.”

“Oh my God, that’s awesome! What do you want to ask me?”

Click.

Yo! Snap! Whassa matta hamma?!

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Smiles Again

For the past three months, I’ve been under more strain than I’ve been in . . . years, or ever maybe. It involves finances and protecting my children. So I’ve been stressed and more “mentally absent” than usual.

Yesterday my neighbor gave me some of her old art and craft supplies. In that was a bag of colored needlework floss, the kind I used to make friendship bracelets with. This morning I showed my oldest son, the one diagnosed with Asperger’s, how to make bracelets. My plan was to show him and then get my computer/finance work done.

Turns out it was difficult for him to do it on his own. He could do it, but two sets of hands were much more effective than one set of hands. I’m soooo proud to announce that I made the difficult decision to sit with my son. It was more difficult than one might imagine to sit and spend time with my child, with all the “stuff” to do . . . ya know. I went and got my coffee and sat with him and held each string as he knotted it around the next twice. I sat while he got fidgety and said, “I won’t let myself talk to my conscience because if I do, then I’ll be able to take a break, and I don’t want to take a break.” I sat with my son and took the most important thirty minutes of my day to be present with him. My other son is an incredible pianist, so while Michael and I were weaving the bracelet, Mason was creating a piano piece depicting a three-series Pokemon battle. His music soothes my soul for sure.

I’m smiling right now feeling great about my decision. I’m smiling right now thinking about how even after three months of worry, thirty minutes can shift my state of being. I’m smiling right now because my son has moved on to another type of weaving and is almost done with his next project. I’m smiling right now and it feels like it’s been way too long since I’ve smiled like this.

Yeah.

 

Freedom in Women’s Black Pantyhose

Michael wanted attention. No, wanted isn’t the right word . . . demanded. Michael demanded attention. He is a performer extraordinaire. Almost always he is talking louder than others, doing things bigger than others, “others” is probably best defined as his little brother, but I want to offer the benefit of the doubt to the wider audience who has been overtaken by the performer, myself included. This night, as Michael is eight years old, Michael did something that made me bend over with laughter, so much so that tears ran down my face. He’s lanky for sure. Slender, chai latte creamy brown colored skin, long brown hair with his brown eyes, he is such an incredibly beautiful child. Some say he looks like me, but I think he looks like him.

The black pantyhose looked different on me than they did on him. I’ve not seen a Cirque du Soleil show as of yet, but I assure you that was what I was picturing as he became this slender, black-limbed tree dancing and singing around the bedroom.

Yes, Michael sported my black pantyhose, pulled all the way up to his armpits. I thought I was going to spew out of my nose from laughing so hard. After he was done performing for the crowd, which consisted of me and his little brother and probably the two cats, he remained in the pantyhose while reading books and lounging in the rocking chair. Oh, the joys of wide-open children and black adult-size medium pantyhose on eight-year-old boys.

Freedom is joyous and hysterical.

(Can’t find a photo anywhere—you’ll have to use your imagination.)

 

 

Compassion

I mostly ask people to find compassion for others. Tonight, I am urging you (speaking to myself directly, of course) to work so very hard to find compassion for yourself. Now.

I say to myself, “Mica, you are OK.”

I say, “Mica, you have so much. It’s OK to feel overwhelmed.”

I say to myself, “Mica, it makes so much sense that you have an ear infection, your house is messy, and your kids still have not eaten dinner. You are OK right here, right now. They’ve eaten fresh fruit, yogurt, and granola and say they don’t need anything else. Worry no more, dear woman, you are OK.”

And then my boyfriend calls. He says, “How are you?”

I start to cry.

He says with a sweet chuckle, “I’ll be over in ten minutes.”

I’ll start with the compassion I see him offer me, and then I’ll continue compassion for myself.

Breathing and hopeful.

 

 

Drastic Decision

I want to share that I have made a very drastic decision in my life. I have chosen, with the help of my son and former spouse, to take my eldest son out of school for the remainder of this school year. When my son came to me (we were already seeing signs of struggle) crying one night and said completely unprompted, “If you want to see my full light, my full truth, and my full happiness, then you will not make me go back to school.”

I had already been considering taking him out. We loved his teacher, but she left. The new teacher didn’t get it. With Michael’s beautiful, heartfelt plea full of crocodile tears, there was my answer. I waited to make the decision until it was perfectly clear, and it could not have been more clear than to hear those words from my son.

My youngest son attends the same school. We will have to move through the awkwardness of pulling one child out and keeping one child in. Yes, there will be awkwardness in that. It’s a very small school. How my younger son will react and deal with it is yet to be determined. Will he be jealous? Will he be glad to have a break from his brother? Will he even notice anything is different? I know not. It will work out. It always does.

I write to say, “Take care of your children now.” The choices are hard, but I figure I only have one shot at his learning and experience. This will not be easy by any means. I’ve tried homeschooling before. It didn’t go so well, but it’s years later. I have a job that I have to keep as well. We will all have some MAJOR shifting to do.

I know that he will go to school next year for sixth grade. We already have that confirmed. And for those who do not know, my son has a label which is Asperger’s. I do not like the label, but it will help to make sense of his school issues. He had a new teacher this year who simply didn’t get it and wasn’t going to be able to serve him the way he needs to be served.

No, we will not receive any tuition back. Yes, my former spouse and I will have to spend more money than we want. Yes, I am filled to the brim with anxiety about finances and being able to be with my son for extended times . . .

And . . . and yes, my son knows that his needs will be met and he doesn’t have to be afraid or confused or anxious about going to school each day.

In love to all who parent—it’s a tough and beautiful road.

Hang It Anywhere

Part I: Excerpt from my life this previous Sunday I was SOOO mad this morning at a certain individual, who I may have had two children with, that as I drove away from the gas station ( a horn was honking furiously), I MAY have heard some thunks and klonks and then maybe I noticed the pump hose still attached to my van and not at all attached to the station. Uhhh.

I already had tears in my eyes as I walked into the gas station. I told the guy, “I’ve completely wrecked your gas station.”

Blank stare.

“I drove off with the pump, sir. What do we do now?”

Blank stare, no words, furrowed brow. In my complete and utter madness, I clearly had lost all ability to communicate with the natives. My primate self decided to get more specific.

I pointed outside. “Pump #2, you’ll notice there is no hose connected anymore.”

He looked outside. He looked back at me. He sighed. Got paper and pencil and handed it to me.

“Just leave your name and number; sometimes they charge to reconnect.”

“What do I do with the hose?”

“Hang it anywhere.”

 

Part II: Wednesday

My son was with me when this all went down Sunday. Have I indicated that he is emotionally connected to me? I don’t think I’ve covered that as of yet. Well, when I’m in a bad mood and don’t realize it, I often find that Michael is in a twist (emotional upheaval). When I do happen to notice that Michael is in a bad mood and struggling, more times than not I will realize my own bad mood. At that point, I can either name it or shift it and he immediately calms down.

So how did my madness affect Michael? He was a freaking mess the entire day! He just witnessed his mother doing something that very clearly he knew was not normal because she was mad at his father. So on top of me being maniacal and raging (which is not very maniacal and raging compared to most people), we had to be in this crazy space together all day long.

My boyfriend and his little girl were scheduled to come over and this could change everything. My thought, if I had a rational one, was that maybe I could talk to my boyfriend about this. I know even as I type this that that was a crock of bull. I was so far into the emotions of my former spouse’s stuff, it would have been pretty near impossible to reach me. I divorced that guy for a reason; this being one of them! I even pulled a hose out of a gas station and STILL I was feeling crazy and completely disconnected from my body.

Well, my boyfriend and his little girl came over for the visit, and I warned that guy, after he got here, about what I thought he was walking into. My boyfriend and his little girl left earlier than normal after I asked them to, as kindly as you can ask someone to please leave before I say more hurtful things. It was too much and I was finding it hard to be kind and hospitable. That poor guy got a big apology from me the next day and still will receive more. I was not able to work it out and talk it through. Nope. Not that day.

That night, though, a major shift occurred. I built a roaring fire before dinner, because truly there is nothing like a roaring fire built by an angry woman. Michael, Mason, and I sat down with the talking stick. We have a talking stick in our house where the person holding the stick is the only one allowed to speak. It’s a GREAT tool for those of you who struggle with “devoted communicators.” We don’t use it often, so it is still highly effective.

We had a conversation using the talking stick about how Michael is unkind to Mason and what are some ways we can stop that. I was raging alone; Michael was raging on Mason. It was not OK. The conversation was a really beautiful time together and we really did relax into that moment and become more present. And the truth and honesty was stupendous. At one point, Michael says, “Well, I could just say nice things.” This was in response to the question: “What are some ways to be kind to Mason rather than to say hurtful things?” So Mason grabs the stick and says, “Why don’t you just do that then?”

That’s the million dollar question, isn’t it? “Why don’t you just do that then?”

The gas pump attendant hasn’t called me. I kinda wish he would in an odd sort of way, maybe to validate that I really did pull a pump hose out of a gas station. Although, I know I did without a shadow of a doubt. Michael is all too eager to share our story with others as it does have a nice dramatic feel that invokes reactions of shock.

The three of us are in a better space today. Wednesday. I woke up happy this morning and know that I have moved through my anger and can live another day without the dark cloud over me. I don’t know what I’ll do about the incident that started all of this. That is not for today though. Today is to relish my happiness and to welcome it back. Today is to look my kids in the eyes and say, “I’m sorry I left you for a few days. I’m back.” Today is the day to write this piece so that I don’t forget this part of my story. And today is the day to thank you, dear reader, for reading and being part of my story. Thank you.

And please thank your local gas station attendants for what they do. You never know, the woman before you could have wrecked their entire gas station.

Perfectly Roasted Marshmallows

This is taken from a writing prompt from a Fall Writing Retreat Playdate I attended. The prompt: Think of a place where you feel perfectly content.

In Front of My Fireplace

Winter is not my favorite season. I don’t like to be cold. At all. I will tell you, though, that winter holds my perfect moments. Moments in front of my fireplace.

Mason will curl himself onto my lap, while Michael bops around talking and talking. Michael, with all of his beautiful energy, jumps on the mini-trampoline, he comes over to lean on me at times, and then walks off again, to move his energy all around the living room.

There is no place to go. There is nothing to do. Ahhh, nothing to do except to roast the perfect marshmallow. Mason and I have so much patience. We could sit for hours on end with our marshmallow sticks topped with two marshmallows (we almost never roast just one at a time), just gazing at the fire. Turning the marshmallows this way and that, slowly round and round for the perfect browning color. Michael doesn’t have the patience for such still work. Good. I get to roast his marshmallows for him. Score for me.

It’s the most important and productive nonwork in the moment. My fingers are all sticky, which makes it that much more perfect. At least one of my fingers is dotted with black soot from tending to the fire. And my pyromaniacal tendencies get quenched with hours of log burning fire that I get to start and tend to. It doesn’t get too hot either, except if we can only find very short kabob sticks for roasting. Then we have to strategically place our hands just outside the fireplace in order to get the perfectly roasted marshmallow. Know this, our nonwork act of camp side fire roasting of marshmallows is an art form all its own. This is not your typical set the marshmallow on fire, blow it out, and eat the charred sugar glob. This is watch the marshmallow until it is the perfect golden brown on all sides with the middle cooked just so that it is getting wobbly on the stick. Ahhh, perfection, almost every time.

Mason and I have a new trick now too. He places one sheet of newspaper on the fire and we watch with entranced gazes as the fire WHOOSHES instantly into a tall roaring flame and then back down again. I always say, because this happens now quite often, “This probably isn’t my best Mommy decision, but I love the fire, so as long as we’re all here and safe, it’s OK.” They both smile, knowing my Mommy choices are sometimes questionable.

I’m comforted to complete peace in front of our fire, with Mason curled on my lap and Michael free to roam and talk all he wants. Mason and I are used to being quiet. The fire is also speaking to us. The perfect moment was created by the three of us, plus the fire, plus the kitties, and I will savor it for as long as I can. Which is who-cares-how-long . . . nobody cares. Perfection.