Slow Down


Posted by Gina Perkins, Pre-School Mommie | Posted in Gina Perkins | Posted on 24-12-2013

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To all those who are celebrating, I wish you a very Merry Christmas Eve!

I was standing in line at See’s Candies yesterday, when my ears were assaulted by petty complaints.  Sure, it was busy in there – but wasn’t that a given? I mean, it was the day before Christmas Eve. In fact, I was actually pleasantly surprised by the crowd – fewer last minute shoppers than I had anticipated.

Now, I didn’t know it at the time, but DJ, my four year old had a double ear infection.  (She wouldn’t make that obvious till about 30 minutes after our See’s departure. Poor kid).  A nervous sales clerk wandered the store with a tray full of free samples.  She kept offering chocolates to my girls.  I didn’t mind. It was her job. I even heard her mention more than once that she was “just trying to keep people happy as they waited in line.” It bothered me that people were even unhappy, in need of the sugary bribing.

But, they were. Three unrelated women in line just behind me, complained in unison, as if they’d been rehearsing together for years. Each one egging the others on.  “Why is this taking so long?” “They should have more registers open.” “I’m a total germaphobe, and this small space is just crawling with illness (I wasn’t sure if this was a direct hit to our family, who was doing their share of sniffling).” And my favorite, “I parked illegally, thinking I’d just be able to run in. I’ll be really upset if I get a ticket!”  Um, lady, that would be your fault, not the poor cashiers who are sweating bullets and bending over backward to keep their smiles.

At one point, I turned to face them all. I wasn’t really sure what I was going to do, or say. In fact, I think maybe I just intended to flash them my “mom-look.” That one that reads, “stop it, already.” But, as I was turning to face them, a thought came across my mind – I’d just step aside and let all three ladies go in front of me. And then a funny thing happened, as I faced them, two looked away, and the one directly behind me said, “well, it’s the holidays, it’s going to be crowded anywhere.”

Yes. Yes, it’s the holidays.  And so far, I hadn’t overheard even one “Merry Christmas!”

In that moment, something occurred to me. We all know that complaining is ugly.  We all know that we’re supposed to treat others with more compassion. We all know that the holidays, of all times, are a time for giving – patience, kindness, politeness, forgiveness, and selflessness.  Why then, don’t we practice those things? Why do we choose to complain instead?

I think it’s because we’re all in such a big hurry. We’re always on the clock with our lives timed out down to the minute. We have this place to be, and that.  We’re late for work. Our meeting ran over. Dinner is served at 6:00. Bath time is at 6:45. Bed time is at 7:30. We have a conference call at 7:45. And that book we’ve been meaning to finish. And lunches to pack. And a partner to connect with. And, and, and.

And, we’re never unplugged. Never disconnected. Rarely spontaneous. We’re married to our iPhones, which afford us a certain type of instant gratification.  We don’t have time to look up and smile at a stranger, because we’re too busy looking down – treating friendships like business affairs, by texting our way through the relationship. We’ve lost the art of communication. The urgency for the real stuff that human interaction is all about. We don’t know how to connect intimately anymore. And, we’re so mad at anyone who gets in the way of our agenda.  How many times a day do our kids hear, “Hurry up!” come barreling out of our mouths?

What if our agenda was simply to slow down? What if our agenda was to be present? What if we re-prioritized? What would happen if we decided not to park illegally, and instead choose the spot at the far end of the lot? Gosh, maybe we could use those extra 72 seconds of walking to take some deep breaths, to notice the poppies growing out of the cement, to hear the Christmas music from a neighboring storefront, to help a struggling mother load groceries into her trunk? What if we stopped breaking the rules in an effort to save time – and instead, we savored our time?

I didn’t let those ladies cut in front of me in line.  That gesture was fleeting once I realized that they realized they had been caught.  Ha!  I was sad for DJ, though, that her excitement in sharing how we were going to bake a cake to celebrate Jesus’ birthday (our Christmas Eve tradition) wasn’t met with equal enthusiasm.  No one cared to take the time from tapping their feet with irritation to hear her joy.  If for no one else, can’t we slow down for the children? Our children.

Hours later, I found myself in the pharmacy waiting for an antibiotic to be filled for DJ. There was an older woman also waiting. She was really sweet to DJ, offering her Kleenex, and asking her to demo how the hand sanitizer dispenser worked (since DJ had mastered it, and was basically building snowmen out of foam).  This woman was entertained by DJ’s vast vocabulary and animated storytelling.  She told me that she used to be a kindergarten teacher.  I was impressed by her interest and engagement with DJ, and felt a twinge of relief that not everyone was in a hurry. And then, out of nowhere, she abruptly stood up from her chair and said, “You know, I have groceries in the car. It’s sure a good thing I didn’t buy ice cream. What on earth is taking so long?!?!” I just had to laugh.

Slow down, people.  If we can all agree to doing this, then we just might be able to save Christmas.

What Makes a Mother?


Posted by webmaster | Posted in Miscellaneous | Posted on 06-05-2011

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Well, it’s Mother’s Day this weekend.  And I’m heading out to visit Mom tonight.  She just had cataract surgery on Wednesday.  My sisters spent a couple of days with her and I’m going to go take care of her for a day or two.  She’s worth it.  After all, she’s my mother.

Without bragging or putting my mom up on a pedestal or anything, I have to tell you about a memory of her.  The entire time I was in elementary school, my mother was the classroom mom.  Hand picked by all the other students in my classroom.  Some kids today might think that”s a horrific thought.  Having your mother come and work with the teacher in the classroom whenever the teacher needed her.  Holidays.  Birthdays.  Special events and fundraisers.  My mom was there.  I didn’t see it like a lot of other kids – as a chaperon, a spy, an embarrassment.

On the contrary.  My mom was a patient saint when I look back.  I loved having all the other kids tell me how cool she was.  I never got jealous that they hogged her to themselves whenever we went on field trips.  I rarely sat with her or walked with her.  She was holding hands of the other kids, making them laugh, and showing them by example that it paid to be honest, have integrity, and compassionate.  My mom made me proud.  I was her son.

When we all graduated to junior high school – no elaborate elementary school graduations here – almost the entire class cried when the teacher gave my mom some flowers.  For all of her years of service.  We had grown up in front of her and she was beside us the whole way.  Only the girls cried though.  Okay, a lot of the boys did too.  See?  My mom still weighs down on me to tell the truth!

My mom has been through a lot.  Thrown from the back window over 100 ft from her car when she was hit in a high speed unmarked police chase in 1979, she was in a coma with a broken neck, hip, arm for 5 days and she came back to us, she burped, and said “Excuse me.”  That’s my mother.

I could go on and on about how she beat cancer, how we were broke when I was a child and on Christmas Eve, she was determined to give us a Christmas, so she drove us, my sisters and myself, in the pouring rain, and at midnight, hopped a cyclone fence at a nursery in San Carlos, and threw a tree headed for the shredder over the fence and on top of the car.  We decorated that tree with popcorn strands and one string of lights and it was one of the best Christmas’ ever!!

I could go on, but I won’t.  My mom may not be proud of some of those moments because they may not have been the right thing to do, but that determination to do what moms do best – deliver the goods – every time; well, that’s who she is.  And always has been.

What makes up my mother is now part of my makeup.  I learned I will always provide.  I will always survive.  I will try to show my children by example.  I may not always be proud of the ways in which I do things, but…

but, I know, my mom always will be.

Happy Mother’s Day to all of the Mommies!!

Geoffrey the Giraffe


Posted by Gina Perkins, Pre-School Mommie | Posted in Gina Perkins | Posted on 20-12-2010

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Did you hear what happened to Geoffrey the Giraffe, the Toys R’ Us Mascot?  Yeah, he checked himself into a psych ward a few years back.  OK, so maybe I made that part up – but I sure wouldn’t blame him.   Toys R’ Us is just another name for DMV in my book.  Mad chaos.

So far, our Christmas isn’t mirroring the vision I had for it.  As you know, December has brought some good viruses to our household.  In fact, just yesterday, my husband was diagnosed with pneumonia.  Luckily, the doctors caught it at the very early stage, so with a five-day supply of mega-antibiotics, he should be fine.  I keep telling him that there were other, more reasonable ways, to get out of our annual cookie-baking extravaganza.  Anyhow, this is why I ended up at Toys R’ Us without him yesterday.

We were doing the math yesterday morning, realizing that we had less than a week until Christmas.  All of the toys that we wanted to get for DJ would require assembly, so we knew we had to get crackin.  With the little Christmas Angel in tow, I headed to the giant toy store.  I was immediately enveloped by the warm, musty scent of children and the sounds of them not getting what they wanted, when they wanted.  It was a pleasant welcoming.

I have never understood why they make the aisles so small, the toy displays so large, and the bottom of the shopping cart without cross bars?  I mean, even Safeway knows that folks need a place to store their flats of water so as to leave room for the milk and eggs.  Whatever.  So there I was, trying to load three ginormous boxes into one tiny cart – no help to be found, just angry mobs of equally distressed parents.

We made our way through the migraine-inducing maze, over to the check out stand.  I was greeted by a talking can of paint.  Well, not exactly, but the checker’s personality was so lacking that she could very well have been anything but human.  We stood there for some awkward moments as she stared at me, and I stared at her.  I finally asked, “Is there a problem?”  “I need the bar code.”  “OK, is that something that I need to get for you?”  “No.”  And there we stood again.  I piped in again, “OK, so do you need to call someone?”  “No, I just need that box lifted up here.”  Wonderful, now we were on to something seeing as I was capable of lifting.  BINGO!  All scanned in, ready to pay and even under budget!

Thank goodness for the Shopping Cart Fetcher in the parking lot.  He was by far the most helpful person on the premises.  He offered to help me unload the nonfunctional cart, and even jammed a mammoth box into the upholstery of my backseat.  He was, actually, very well intentioned, and I was, actually, grateful for his background in Costco’s art of bulk loading.  Wait, have I mentioned yet that it was pouring rain?

We made it back home, and successfully transferred the boxes to Santa’s workshop, aka – the garage.  DJ was exhausted, and I didn’t even curse my husband for having pneumonia.  However, you can imagine my reaction when DJ was more excited over the wrapping paper and box for the one gift we allowed her to open early (a Cabbage Patch Kid that I had ordered on eBay and couldn’t wait to arrive!).  I was immediately reminded of a conversation that I had recently had with a friend, where I arrogantly said that “this would be our cheapest Christmas ever” – knowing that DJ would be more interested in the wrapping than the contents.  Why had I forgotten that I said that?  I knew that.  My expectations shouldn’t have changed.

Perhaps DJ, at her young age, has a few things to teach us.  I mean, it’s really not about the gifts after all, anyway.  She would be perfectly happy playing with an old rattle so long as it meant she had our undivided attention.  So, I am attempting to adjust my attitude and forgive my trespasser,  Toys R’ Us.  It’s not about the crowds desperate to fulfill the expectations and visions of gifts under the tree, but about our ability to stop everything and just be together – really together.

Five days until Christmas.  Let’s get it together, people.  Fa la la la la la la la la la.

Fall Affairs


Posted by webmaster | Posted in Miscellaneous | Posted on 15-10-2010

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Well it’s mid-October and Autumn is trying to arrive.  The sun continues to insist on hanging around and push heat around.  It really doesn’t matter what the weather is like during the season because with the oncoming months come the holidays.  Hallow e’en, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years.  And with those holidays, come the affairs.

No, not the adulterous kind, but rather the school affairs, or events.  The sports events never let up, but rather compete with other events like Homecoming, holiday dances, and college tests and applications.

These affairs have numerous effects on the teens and the outcomes are as unpredictable as they are unexpected sometimes.

Some teens step through these celebrations because they are a ‘tradition’ that must continue while others will use them as platforms for competition for attention.  They will compete to see who will arrive in the most expensive car or limo; to see who will wear the most expensive designer dress or the least amount of clothing and look the sexiest; who will arrive with who to appear higher on the social ladder.

Some teens go because they actually like to dance.  They want to have fun with their latest crush, boyfriend or girlfriend.  Some really love anything that has to do with their favorite holiday and just want to participate in the social aspect of it.

During my many years of being a Total Teen Dad, I’ve seen my teens go through many of the different emotional aspects that come with these affairs.  I’ve heard them say it wasn’t what they were hoping for; it was lame; the date sucked; they were tired of getting groped and grinded on.

Disappointment.  Sadness.  Discouraged.  Anger.

True, these affairs can bring all of these emotions.  Terrible, isn’t it?

Don’t fret.  Aside from these emotions, there were others that, as a dad I have had the chance to enjoy as well.

I’ve had the opportunity to enjoy giving the dates the third degree while trying to reenact the dating scene from Bad Boys II (too graphic to link to – it’s a family blog!); seeing them dressed up in a beautiful dress or a handsome suit; or seeing their smiles when they come home and talk about how nice they were treated or how great the food and music was.

For the most part, the good experiences outweigh the bad ones.  And the teens always seem to learn something important during these traditions that continue on.  The traditions may get carried out a bit differently, but the important thing is, they still exist.  They link our past to their present.  They connect us.

And that IS life.