All the stuff you read here on my blog is my stuff, not yours, and therefore copywrited by me, Christine Waldman. If you even think about plagerizing, copying, or whispering in someone's ear, you'll be sorry because my brother is a black belt in karate.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

School Assemblies and Other Forms of Torture

School Assemblies and Other Forms of Torture
by Christine Waldman

None of us go into parenthood with blinders on. Every woman knows of the pain involved in childbirth as well as the difficulties involved in raising a family. What many are not aware of, though, is the pain that awaits us when our children start school. What I’m referring to, of course, are school assemblies.
The most torturous of all assemblies has to be the school band concert. As if it isn’t painful enough to have to pay monthly to rent your child’s instrument and to be made to listen to them practice, we are also expected to sit through their concerts.
I was willing to put up with it because I wanted to encourage my daughter’s natural musical abilities. Don’t get me wrong, I hold no aspirations of her becoming a professional clarinet player. I just figured that she should learn to play an instrument and read music before she reaches her teens and her brain completely shuts down in the pursuit of boys.
Fortunately, I have developed an arsenal of skills for dealing with the challenges of parenthood. My best skill is tuning out the noise associated with having kids. I feel very proud that I haven’t developed a nervous tick from listening to my daughter practice her clarinet. So it was with supreme confidence that I thought I was prepared for her first concert.
What I didn’t take into account was that there would be 40 kids playing at the same time. As they began to play, I initially sat in stunned silence; the sheer volume and cacophony of the song messed with my equilibrium, making me dizzy. After my head cleared, my next reaction was jut plain giddiness and I couldn’t stop laughing. I think I was overwhelmed by the fact that I, not only would have to try and make it through this concert, but that I had dozens more to look forward to in the future.
And that’s just one child. I have 2 more that could someday be dying to play the violin or tuba!
But being the dutiful parent, I fought the impulse to bolt for the door and instead, clapped loudly after each song and was very proud when I actually was able to pick out a melody. By far, my favorite song was the one that sounded as if injured waterfowl were allowed to join in.
As excruciating as some of the concerts have been, and enough time has passed that I have been to several, nothing compares to agony of sitting through a school play.
In fourth grade, my daughter had a speaking role in the play. This was the last year in the long career of the music teacher who directed the performance. Because of this, he decided to have the kids perform his opus which was a particular Disney classic featuring large cats. It is also a complete rip-off of my favorite childhood cartoon – Kimba.
My parents make the mistake of agreeing to come to the performance. To say that the play was lengthy is putting it mildly. The only other play that could have been longer would be a Broadway version of War and Peace. It was so long that they practically had to use the Jaws of Life to get all of those creaky grandparents out of their seats afterwards.
The performance so exhausted the entire school that they haven’t put on a play since and no one seems to mind.
Now my daughter is in the middle school, so I have a whole new school assembly experience to look forward to. The middle school building is over 50 years old and has no air conditioning and has one of the most antiquated auditoriums known to mankind. They have wooden seats which means not only will the assembly be painful, but your back will be, too. As if getting a herniated disc wasn’t bad enough, I made the mistake of looking up. The ceiling is sprayed with an acoustic material that resembled rotten cottage cheese. I sat through the entire assembly, scared that parts of it would fall on my head and give me cooties.
The first assembly was for the middle school open house. The principal was as outdated as the auditorium and kept talking about what a grand time our kids would be having at the school. He also assured us that it was normal if our children got the heebie-jeebies over starting middle school. All I know is that the ceiling was giving me the heebie-jeebies.
I got through the time by passing notes to my friend and giggling. I think that we were channeling some juvenile behavior from the thousands of adolescent butts that have sat in those chairs over the past 50 years.
Thankfully, they are building a new school, so I only have a year to enjoy band concerts, choral performances, as well as the various school functions beneath the cottage cheese ceiling. But being a seasoned parent, I now know to wear a hat to stave off the heebie-jeebies, and maybe even some earplugs.

Monday, July 4, 2011


I want you to be honest with me. Would you adopt a hamster named ‘Caligula’? I am an avid animal lover, but the idea of owning a hamster, which are known for their love of nibbling fingers, named Caligula makes me feel faint.
When I took my kids to pick out a small pet the other day, no one was more excited than I was. There were a number of small furry guys to choose from; hamsters (long-haired, teddy bear, black, and Dwarf-like they’re not small enough already), gerbils, Guinea Pigs, rats, mice-you name it. If it’s small, furry, and likes to scurry, you can find it at Pets Inc.
Even though getting a hamster would be cheaper, I steered my daughter towards a Guinea Pig since they are much less bitey. The other reason was that they had a few that were on sale because they were older. So we went with the ‘day old’ version of a pet, which was just up our alley.
Jerry, the very helpful employee at Pet Inc. said he had another Guinea Pig in the back that they didn’t have room for out front. He said that this Guinea Pig was his buddy. I think that Jerry needs to get out more.
I perused the other furry little guys while I waited for Jerry and came upon a sign on a hamster cage.
Caligula-for adoption $2.
You couldn’t pay me $2 to become a foster mother to a hamster with such an ominous name. I peered into the cage, curious as to what this beast looked like, but only saw a furry little rump, at least I think it was his back end, staring back at me.
Jerry appeared with a white and brown spotted Guinea Pig who sat very calmly in his arms. He had a sort of punk look going on with one eye smudged with eyeliner, and a cowlick that reminded me of my brother. The cowlick made him look as if he had white bushy eyebrows, which reminded me of my dad. With such a strong family resemblance, we had to have him.
My daughter of course fell in love with him and asked his name. “I call him Drippy. You can change it, if you want”. I wasn’t so sure that having a pet named Drippy was a good idea for my carpet, but Jerry said he used to have a Drippy eye that has since cleared up, hence the name.
Drippy seemed pretty tame, what with Jerry spending all of his time, usually reserved for dating human women, walking around with Drippy. One of the other employees saw that we were interested in Drippy, and said, “Ahhh, Jerry, you’re not going to cry, are you?” Someone seriously needs to get Jerry a date.
On the way home, we renamed Drippy, Spot because of a spot on his nose. Then we re-re named him Neville because he has a long bottom and because my daughter is obsessed with Harry Potter.
Our 3 cats have only tried to eat Neville 472 times, the dog, thankfully, ignores him, and Bob the Beta fish, well he’s a fish, so who knows what he thinks, or even if he thinks.
Of course, the minute we got Neville home, his eye started dripping again and he does this weird thing where he shakes his head and runs around in his cage. So now we’ll probably have the expense of taking him to the vet, which means I can kiss that pedicure and eyebrow waxing goodbye.
Now my eyebrows will be so furry, they can put me in a cage and sell me at Pet Inc.

Sunday, May 8, 2011



“What do you want to do for Mothers Day?” that was the question posed to me by my husband. I didn’t know what I wanted to do-well, that’s a lie-what I really wanted to do was to lie on a beach somewhere…all alone- but that was a highly unlikely scenario for my day.
I knew what I didn’t want to do, and that was to make a decision or have to plan an activity for the day. That’s what I do the other 364 days of the year. Yet, I was reluctant to leave the decision of how to celebrate in my husband’s hands. If I did, it would surely involve what he likes to do to celebrate, which almost always involves eating. I did not want to spend the day herding our 3 kids into an overcrowded restaurant, along with all the other miserable moms, only to have to deal with hungry impatient little ones during a long wait.
And that’s just my husband.
If you ask any mother, at least the ones I know, what they truly want for Mothers Day is a break from being a mother.
This is, if you think about it, the antithesis of what the special day is all about. You don’t see that on any other holiday. On Valentines Day, you rarely see people in love desperately avoiding their significant others. Nor do most people take joy in slamming the door in the faces of trick-or-treaters on Halloween. And you’ll never find me turning down a chocolate bunny on Easter, either. It’s just unheard of.
I lucked out on this Mothers Day with a beautiful spring day, so I opted to pack up the kids, the dog, my husband, and even an extra kid-my daughters friend (because 3 kids just wasn’t enough) and off to Valley Forge Park we went.
On the way my oldest daughter said, “It’s like we’re on a highway.” I think she may have been referring to the speed at which I was driving. I was anxious to get to our destination asap, because my dog was so excited about a walk that she was levitating in the back of the car.
Right about then, my 6 year old son started singing, “We’re on a highway to hell!” I didn’t even know he was an AC\DC fan. I didn’t get a chance to ponder too long on how he knew that ditty, when my daughter stuck her head out the window like a dog. My real dog was whimpering and panting and pacing in doggy anticipation of our arrival. My other daughter, who was sitting in the back with the dog, very wisely held a pillow up for protection so she wouldn’t be stomped on by our 70 pound Lab.
We finally made it to the park just in time to avoid my dog’s nervous breakdown as well as my daughter’s eventual trampling.
The walk was lovely and much to my delight, only 2 of my 3 children repeatedly told me how stupid our outing was and I only heard that they wanted to go home 47 times.
What I’ve learned from my day is that it is much easier to please your dog than your kids. I am happy that at least Shelby the dog is happy and I’m very happy to later have escaped for a few hours to a cafĂ©, where I am writing this…all alone.
When my child complained that there was no Kids Day, I explained to her that every day is Kids Day- even Mothers Day.
copywrite cwaldman 2011

Wednesday, January 19, 2011


Tony is toothless and apparently, likes mashed potatoes; a wise menu choice for someone who is sans teeth. For years now, I’ve noticed Tony wandering around town all alone, not a tooth in his head, and painfully thin. He always has his shirt tucked in and a belt synched tight around the waist. He is so skinny that I am sure he had to punch a new hole in his belt so it could properly hold up his pants.
Although “Toothless Tony” is not his real name, it is certainly fitting, and the name that comes to mind whenever I see him. Despite his lack of teeth and questionable mental clarity, he always seems a happy sort, with a smile ever present on his face and a bounce in his step. But these days, Tony has a bigger reason to feel chipper other than just a general love of life.
Tony has a lady friend; a Ying to his Yang, a match to his scuffed shoe. She is around the same age as Tony, maybe in her 50’s or 60’s, with a body that is soft and round. Tony’s lady has monotone coloring, with a fluff of blond hair almost the same color as her skin. This is apropos since it reflects the blandness of her expression. I’m not sure what it would take for Tony’s girlfriend to have an emotion register on her face, but I have never seen any sort of reaction from her.
But her non-reactive personality doesn’t seem to be a deterrent to Tony. He often can be seen guiding her through the streets of our town. Although her shuffle is reminiscent of someone who is heavily medicated, Tony keeps on talking a blue streak, while she placidly follows along with her gaze never really focusing on anything.
Recently, I spotted the lovebirds at a local fair, and all I can say is that Tony is one chivalrous, romantic dude. He was leading her around the fair grounds, pointing here and there while giving a running narrative of the rides and concessions. She walked beside him with a detached air, barely glancing at the raucous amusements. I don’t know how anyone could not be star struck or at least dazed by the over-the-top lights, sounds, and smells found at a fair, but she didn’t respond to any of it.
I saw them again about a half hour later, and there was Tony’s lady with a huge Teddy Bear clutched to her chest. Her face was as vacant as ever, but Tony had a huge toothless grin, obviously proud of winning his woman a prize.
A month after that sighting, I saw the pair walking together in town. Tony was talking a mile a minute and she, as usual, was a blank canvas. Tony suddenly stopped to pick an item up off the sidewalk. I mistakenly thought he had dropped something, until I noticed that he had found a discarded cigarette, which he promptly lit.
I glanced at his companion to see if she would be aghast at this act. To be honest, what I was really hoping for was some sort of life to flicker across her face.
But, ever the gentlemen, Tony handed the cigarette to his lady love so she could have the first puff. There apparently is no limit to his thoughtfulness.
A little while later, I was out in front of my house when my path crossed with the couple again. I caught a snippet of their conversation as they passed by.
“I like mashed potatoes,” Tony shared with his girlfriend, as he helped steer her around a rock on the sidewalk.
“Now see, this a better way for you to go. This is the way you should go next time,” Tony continued. Perhaps he was giving her a preferred route to her previous, less desirable way of going. I could imagine that he may be concerned if she were to walk alone past a busy road. I’m not sure how aware she is of her surroundings. But, with Tony acting as her human guide dog, he can make sure she is kept out of harm’s way.
I find it very interesting that your first thought when seeing Tony could very well be, “I hope this guy has someone helping him out.” But as it turns out, he is the caregiver who looks out for his lady’s wellbeing by steering her in the right direction and caring about her needs and safety.
Obviously, you don’t need to have a tooth in your head or even weigh more than a large child to be a true gentleman. Tony is quite a guy and I hope that his lady knows it. I hope that somewhere, deep inside that blank exterior, she is smiling.