Awkward Social Situations And Chinoiserie

This year I talked my daughter, Riley, into having a birthday party in an effort to help her manage her social anxiety. I wanted to show her that being the center of attention doesn’t have to be traumatic in a safe, low pressure environment…and also to make up for the fact that the only other party I threw for her sucked.

Okay, I need you all to look past my fragile ego and narcissism and focus on my desire to be a good mother here. Thank you.

Anyway, this party was much better than the last one. Our theme was Awkward Social Situations in a Chinese Setting, and I think we pulled it off. I’ll admit that the whole theme didn’t fully gel until the middle of the party when one of my daughter’s eight year old friends asked me for my full name and if I had a Facebook account. But then it all fell into place.

Awkward social situations are much more pleasant under paper lanterns and balls of tissue.

Awkward social situations go well with paper lanterns and balls of tissue.

This particular friend is a sweet girl, petite like my daughter with an innocent face…exactly the kind of person who turns out to be a sociopathic stalker in a Lifetime movie. And because that’s the way my brain works, an image of this girl boiling our rabbit on the stove a la Fatal Attraction immediately popped into my head, even though we don’t have a rabbit and the girl is really too young to be cooking without an adult’s supervision.

"I won't be ignored, Mrs. Redican."

“I won’t be ignored, Mrs. Redican.”

Since it would be inhospitable to answer “None of your damn business!” to a guest in my home and also highly unlikely that I would be granted a restraining order against a third grader with dimples, I opted for the only reasonable alternative, feigning hearing loss, a language barrier and incontinence.

At that point the other girls were trying to draw and quarter each other in the living room so I figured that she would forget her need for my personal information. Eight year old stalkers have notoriously short attention spans as they are easily distracted by Littlest Pet Shop toys and Justin Bieber. As soon as she was safely in her parent’s car I put it out of my mind.

However, four days later at a school function the same girl approached me and complained that I hadn’t answered her friend request. Having not checked my Facebook page in a couple of days, the complaint caught me off guard. I hadn’t had a chance to carefully craft a casual but responsible response to such a request using my best understanding parent voice.

"Stop stalking me!"

“Get away from me, evil child!”

Instead I said, “You sent me a Facebook request? I haven’t gotten it,” as if I had a friends list full of minors. Then I ran home and checked my account.

Sure enough, there was a friend request from an eight year old waiting for me which triggered a horrifying string of imagined situations: me hosting keg parties for grade schoolers, getting a stripper for my son’s sixth birthday party, taking prepubescent girls on secret runs for birth control. It’s a slippery slope. One day you accept a friend request from an eight year old and the next day you’re on trial for having inappropriate relations with your Middle School student.

I told myself that I was overreacting. I don’t even have a teaching credential.

To which I responded: Of course I’m overreacting. THAT’S WHAT I DO! You cannot expect me to receive a friend request like this and not descend into a downward spiral of parental panic anymore than you can expect me to sprout wings and fly. It’s in my nature.

Point taken.

But to be fair to my psyche, because it’s the only one I’ve got, an eight year old girl friending adults on social media who her parents don’t really know is dangerous. It might be antiquated thinking but I’m not a big fan of kids this age on social media to begin with. I’d like to go back to the days when kids played on the street without having to worry that some pedophile they met in a chat room was going to abduct them or that the suggestive pictures they took on their smart phone and then forwarded to the boy they had a crush on were being circulated across the internet. Thank God there were no smart phones in the 80s or there would be suggestive pictures of me all over cyber space.


Am I right, Lisa?

And even more importantly, where would I spill intimate details about my children and their tiny stalker-like friends or look at inappropriate memes and risqué comments if my Facebook news feed was invaded by young impressionable eyes? Seriously, you can’t expect me to be responsible all of the time and you really can’t expect that of my friends, some of whom are at least as crazy as I am.

So it looks like I’m going to have to have an awkward conversation with somebody’s mother while trying to avoid suggesting that their child is a stalker and/or that they are a bad parent. Am I the only one that doesn’t see this going well?


Photo Credits:


Attack Of The Ninja Sparrow

An obnoxious bird has made a nest over our door. Don’t get me wrong. I love animals. I do. Ask anyone. The last time a bird made a nest over our door the kids and I watched in rapt attention as the nest was built, the eggs laid and the baby birds developed. As soon as the baby birds left the nest I even went out and stupidly took down the nest for closer inspection. I say stupidly because freshly used nests are full of tiny bugs and all I really accomplished with my closer inspection (after several showers and a manic cleaning tirade) was giving my children a phobia of birds’ nests.

There's our nest in all of its filthy, bug infested sweetness.

This bird, however, is paranoid. First of all, it built its nest in such a way as to discourage Peeping Toms so that I can’t be nosy and appreciate the wonder of nature. What good is having a wonder of nature in such close proximity if I can’t use it for family entertainment? And second, the bird insists on dive bombing my head every time I try to enter or exit my home like I’m some kind of predator, which admittedly I am, but if it paid attention it would notice that I prefer carefully packaged large birds for my dining pleasure. This is not the Ozarks. I don’t eat animals from my front yard. Clearly it’s confused about its location and my benevolent nature.

If I looked like this the bird would be justified in its paranoia, but I don't most days. (image via dreamstime)

I can forgive confusion, but open hostility is intolerable. And as I’m often preoccupied and possess a limited short-term memory (my pregnancies claimed that along with my six-pack abs), each avian attack is a complete surprise to me. It feels like I have a Jack in the Box installed above my front door and I don’t like Jack in the Boxes. Surely I wasn’t the only child who felt that Jack was an evil little toy who waited in a box for the sole purpose of traumatizing unsuspecting children?

No? Just me? Okay, moving on.

If you don't think this guy is waiting to jump out and skewer a tiny heart on his wire hand, you're sadly mistaken.(image via dreamstime)

Anyway, on my way to pick up my son from preschool today I was understandably still reeling from the shock of being viciously attacked by a three-inch rabid animal, when my phone, which has chosen for itself (since I haven’t properly learned how to use it) as its text notification sound, a jet plane swoosh, decided to notify me of an incoming text. The text was from my dancer friend who had just discovered her son’s tap dancing genius and was understandably excited, but that’s beside the point. The sound of a jet zooming through my car on the heels of my attack stimulated my Post Imagined Stress Disorder (or PISD), which, though not recognized as a legitimate affliction by any medical organization,plagues me nonetheless. In this heightened state of paranoia I naturally assumed that the bird had covertly gained access to my vehicle, cunningly waited until I was thoroughly engrossed in driving and then attacked. Because birds are known to be covert and cunning masters of tactical genius.

*Hey Stan, guess what? *What? *I'm a ninja! *Cool. I'm a pigeon. *I wear a hood and carry nun-chucks! *I poop on cars. (image via Dreamstime)

Now I’ve watched my husband reenact enough harrowing felony arrests to know that when under attack, one should feint to the side and quickly draw their weapon to return fire. Instinctively that was what I did.  The only problem was that I wasn’t a police officer, not actually under attack and didn’t have a weapon. What I did have was a dirty Mazda Protege whose steering wheel I yanked to the left in an unnecessary evasive maneuver, narrowly missing the back end of a truck whose driver had made the mistake of driving on the same Burbank road as a delusional mother in a hatchback. Luckily I didn’t cause an accident and the driver of the truck didn’t stop and demand an explanation which no doubt would have necessitated a psych evaluation.

Thank you to Hubs for illustrating the proper way to react to a threat. In no way did I look this cool.

You should know that I might be terrible at many things (writing thank you notes, painting furniture, organizing my kitchen cupboards) but I’m an extremely conscientious and capable driver. It’s a point of pride. Normally after making such a bonehead driving maneuver I am so contrite that I practice extreme traffic etiquette and obey every traffic law ever made or imagined for at least a full day. However, today I was so distracted by the absurdity of the situation that I made two other bonehead maneuvers in rapid succession, at which point I nearly pulled over, handed my keys to the nearest person and asked them to pick up my children from school because my children deserved the relative safety a complete stranger could offer them. Luckily my often silent, tiny voice of reason convinced me that the elderly Armenian woman with the walker probably didn’t drive and would break a hip climbing into my car anyway. So instead I continued on my way to the preschool without further incident.

A nice lady gave me her car today so I took it to the track and bet on the ponies. (image via dreamstime)

But now that nesting bird and I are really at odds. It’s overactive sense of self-preservation is colliding with my overactive imagination and wreaking havoc with the safety of the public at large.  Not since a band of delinquent raccoons vandalized our Halloween decorations and made my daughter cry have I been so incensed at an animal. I can’t be responsible for my actions. I have a legitimate made up disorder. Someone should send a representative from PETA to relocate this bird to a safer location. Like my neighbor’s house.

Then again, PETA might take issue with the collection of carefully packaged large birds in my freezer and they’re scarier than a homicidal sparrow. You know what, on second thought I’ll just use my back door for the next few weeks.

English: Feral cat showing fear, and lack of s...

Traveling with children is like trying to rescue a feral cat in the fast lane of a freeway filled with semi trucks–chances are there will be carnage. At the very least, your outfit is not coming out in one piece. On the other hand, if you survive the ordeal, you’ll laugh about it later over beer and pain reliever. You might even look back on the harrowing event with fondness.

Traveling with Children