SuperWoman Gets People to Do Things

It had been a long week, as most weeks are. A week of days sitting at a cubicle, finding excuses to stand up and drink tea. Days spending lunch breaks trying to exercise and deal with frizzy hair after coming in from the gym’s shower. Nights cooking eggs or spaghetti and meatballs for her progeny, which she always has to fight them to eat, even though they kind of like those things. And then, to top it all off, SuperWoman was having a new bed delivered for TalkMonster and needed to get off her ass to take apart the old one. The old one was a monster, one of those too-high loft thingies that seemed great in theory until her child had to climb up and practically kiss all the cracks in the ceiling while sleeping. He didn’t like it. The new bed would be low to the ground, civilized.

Except. Here’s the thing. SuperWoman wouldn’t know her way around a drill if it was laced with buttercream icing. She wouldn’t know it if it were hot pink and glittery. You should have seen her trying to put curtain rods in two years ago. Sometimes—and by this she means sometimes—she can use a screw driver, but don’t hold your breath. So she pretty much tries to avoid any incidence of putting things together or taking them apart. She pays people in cash or beer. (She avoids housework, too, though laundry and dishes and emptying the litter box kind of have to be done. Just don’t look at her bathroom floor. And thank God she doesn’t have a lawn to worry about.)

However, SuperWoman does have ingenuity. So what did she do?

She bought cheese, hummus, tomato crackers, and sparkling rose, and she asked her friends, Susa-Power and Davie-oh-oh-oh to come over and take down the bed for her.

She did not phrase it this way, of course. The request to Susa-Power and Davie-oh-oh-oh went like this: “Would you help me? I’ll buy you food.” And then she just got lucky when they pretty much did the whole thing.

First, there was divine cheese. A nice sharp cheddar, a triple cream brie, some Italian brick soaked in Syrah which was very good. There were pink bubbles in champagne glasses. And then SuperWoman led her friends to TalkMonster’s room to begin disassembling the monster metal bed like pros from HGTV. Susa-Power assessed the situation and said they needed a special kind of screw driver or none of this was going to work. SuperWoman almost despaired, because all she had was a trusty twenty-dollar basic tool bag from Lowe’s. But she found the L-shaped metal bar—several, in fact! where did they come from?—and they all went to work.

Well, all is not quite honest. SuperWoman’s progeny WonderMess and BeautyQueen called to Facetime while the event was going on, and SuperWoman ended up just watching these  svelte creatures pull apart the bed before her very eyes.

It was a beautiful thing. Not only the disassembling action, but the people, straight out of Trading Spaces or some show like that.

And now, days later, the happy ending. TalkMonster has his new bed, one that’s low on the floor. He has organized the bedroom so that it looks monkish, with nothing on the floor and all his clothes neatly put away, which will probably last for the whole 8 hours that he sleeps, until he starts frantically opening drawers when he tries to find something to wear for school in the morning.

And SuperWoman? SuperWoman feels blessed to know she has such good friends, and that they expect so little of her, and she will surely try the wine and cheese trick next time challenges arise.

Do villains eat cheese? She hopes so.


Image: “Princess Bed” by THOR via Flickr Creative Commons

SuperWoman’s Not Super for Nothin’

It was a humid, rainy Sunday. There were places to go, people to see. WonderMess with her Girl Scounts. BeautyQueen with her favorite babysitter. And SuperWoman, with TalkMonster and his compadre, at the movies to see one of those action-packed thriller-type pieces, Mission Impossible.

A movie like this is not SuperWoman’s top choice. She likes to see those little indie flicks, sometimes with a dash of romance, a woman finding her way, people dancing at midnight in their pajamas. But on this Sunday, audience was the priority, and she had two eleven-year-olds to entertain. Despite its PG-13 rating, SuperWoman assumed her male sidekicks could handle a bunch of cool stunts a’la James Bond or The Bourne Ultimatum or Spiderman, where men leap from one building to another, and stuff like that.

SuperWoman doesn’t mind indulging in the battles and victories of other superheroes, although she’d prefer to see more women doing the ass-kicking on the big screen.

TalkMonster had his popcorn behavior all planned, which is the plastic straw method of getting butter all through the kernels, not just on top. And SuperWoman brought Twizzlers (gotta love those Twizzlers), and juice boxes in her large boxy purse. She wasn’t going to pay 18 dollars for candy and a soft drink. They found seats close to the front and sat down, ready for 2+ hours to escape and be inspired.

Here’s the thing about SuperWoman, though. As you may have already noticed, she’s not the type of superhero who believes in blood and gore. She’s more like a karate sensei, willing to battle only when battle finds her. And the kinds of battles that find her are more the existential kind, in which she stares down self-doubt or sluggishness or the temptation to eat an entire lemon cake. So when the men on screen started shooting their guns, she began to grit her teeth. She looked frequently to her compadres to debate whether this outing was actually a good idea.

“How is it going, guys? This is kind of violent. Are you okay?” she whispered. The boys nodded, as boys do. She looked around the movie theater, where there were other parents, other boys the same age. Were they okay with this, too?

She sat back in her seat. She’d give the movie a couple more minutes, see if it got any better.

But there were more guns, a woman being held at knife-point. Not better. Things were intense, and they’d only been there 15 minutes.

Another crash happened on screen. People were being killed. This was not something SuperWoman took lightly. She knew what happened to impressionable young minds when they saw violence, and she did not condone it.

The popcorn was mostly gone, anyway.

“Okay, boys,” she said. “We’re leaving. This is too much.”

The boys didn’t argue. They are a sensitive set, prone to peace and calm. They’d spent the earlier part of that Sunday morning in the silent worship of a Quaker meeting, after all.

The next conquest? Figuring out to do for two hours before she had to pick up WonderMess and BeautyQueen. The boys had already eaten, and they didn’t want dessert. (SuperWoman could have gone for dessert, a brownie sundae perhaps. Or a Tres Leches cake. Those were good.) The boys didn’t want to go to the bookstore, either, because books reminded them too much of school. So as rain dripped on their foreheads, SuperWoman took action. They’d paint pottery. That store wasn’t next to the movie theater for nothing. How many other people had spent a day watching a bad movie and then painting quietly in a studio? Probably plenty.

“Alright, move it, pick some pottery, here we go.”

She ushered the boys in. One picked a mug, the other a Lego-box-thing. SuperWoman let them fill their palates with warm shades of red and gray, and she got a latte next door at the coffee shop and a couple of cookies to share. The boys set to work, talking, nodding their heads to soft music by bands like The Head and the Heart and The Lumineers as they worked.

What a better way to spend an afternoon.

For SuperWoman believes in peace. And so do these boys.

SuperWoman Plans a Birthday Party (Kind of)

It’s not every day that BeautyQueen turns 4.

The problem is, her birthday is in summer, and it happened to be right after a trip to California, and SuperWoman wasn’t quite on the ball in the way you need to be on the ball so that people–i.e. little 3 or 4 year olds and their parents–can come.

And there was added pressure because for this birthday, opposed to the others, BeautyQueen knew more. She knew what a party was supposed to look like, or what kind of party her friends had had anyway: kids in socks, doing cartwheels on mats in some big gym, or climbing rock towers or climbing through plastic tunnels before sitting down in a blue and green room eating pizza and cake. And don’t forget about those damn goody-bags. All the kids expect to go home with goody-bags.

The best way to handle all of these expectations is to pay for someone else to do it, which is what SuperWoman fully intended to do. So when SuperWoman arrived home from vacation, she started scrambling, calling any place that might be open for BeautyQueen and her friends.

But finding a place, and people, to come to this party turned out to be not so easy.

Not only was it hard to secure the place BeautyQueen wanted her party, but it was also hard to do all the other arrangements while in an office 8 hours a day–place the deposit for the location, order the cake, get the class list, fill out the invitations. (And that last part, buying paper invitations, she forgot and forgot and forgot).

And what happened, once the arrangements were settled?


Okay, not zero. But one, maybe two. And BeautyQueen’s two best friends couldn’t come.

This was a problem. So.

SuperWoman understood exactly who her evil opposition was going to be in this episode. PERFECTION.

It looked like all the excitement of the birthday and party that BeautyQueen had been talking about for months (since everything she saw that looked even remotely interesting, she asked to get it for her birthday) would lead to heartache. SuperWoman had nightmares of that archetypal image of the sad girl in the pretty dress with cake, waiting for friends to arrive, only for no one to show up.

This would not happen. Oh no. SuperWoman would be, well, SUPERWOMAN! She’d deliver a damn good birthday party for her girl.

Quickly, she made a change in plans. They’d have the part on a different day, a Sunday afternoon instead of Saturday, so BeautyQueen’s two best friends could come. She’d tell their parents to bring the girls in their most beautiful princess dresses, since BeautyQueen loved dressing up in her own when they were home. (And yes, there are plenty of rantings about the problem with princess obsession for young girls in this day and age, but SuperWoman has decided she just doesn’t give a shit.) She checked that a few family friends with kids could come, as well as MotherBear and Mama-the-Grand. And on Saturday, SuperWoman headed out with her sidekicks to procure entertainment options–nail polish to paint the girls’ nails, a game called Pin the Tail on the Olaf, and a large pinata filled with Hershey kisses. The SuperFamily made their own cake with organic icing (whoot!), then covered it in sprinkles and chocolate chips. And the next day, a good time was had by all.

PERFECTION be damned–this party was perfect in a whole other way–in a way that was unique to the SuperFamily.

Lesson learned? As in life, a party doesn’t have to look the way it does for other kids. And it can still end up with a damn good result.


Can SuperWoman Make a Decision? Apparently Not.

Apparently not.

It was a hot Monday. SuperWoman had just traveled cross-country home from California on the putrid American Airlines (with no Biscoff cookies, no TVs on the seats, lame) with her three sidekicks. She arrived in Philadelphia at 11 pm. The children got to bed after 12. So when she went to work the next day, do you think she wanted to come home and cook?

Puh-lease. The obvious answer is no.

She was going to just get pizza. Pizza-rooni. Pizza-all-the-way. Pizza, everyone’s favorite meal. Forget about all that hullabaloo about eating out too much–this occasion was special. It was the first day back after vacation. They needed to ease into their regular lives a bit.

The question was, where to go? Their local spot, right around the corner from the apartment, or somewhere else? SuperWoman hated making these decisions. The thing that was hard about divorce–and subsequent singlehood–is having to make these choices all on one’s own. There’s no other person to bounce things off of. It requires a certain sort of decisive power that SuperWoman lacks. Until today.

SuperWoman is going to CONQUER INDECISIVENESS.

But before she does, she’s going to be very indecisive. Just watch.

When SuperWoman picked her sidekicks up from camp, she decided to ask them where they’d like to get pizza. Was the usual place usual okay, or did they have another idea?

“Oh yes,” they said. “Another idea, another idea! “A place called Brick-n-Brew.” SuperWoman hemmed and hawed only the littlest bit. Brick-n-Brew was a tiny place, often crowded, but they did have good pizza, and she could get a glass of wine. The key here, after the first day back to work and long plane ride the night before, was that glass of wine. “Okay,” SuperWoman finally said. “Done.”

Except they drove by and saw that Brick-n-Brew was closed on Mondays.


“Ooh, I have another good idea,” SuperWoman said. “There’s another place about 15 minutes away we can go. I’ve always wanted to take you there–it just never worked out.”

They called. That place was closed on Mondays too.

SuperWoman now had to make a decision and stick to it. But the evil villain, INDECISIVENESS, reared its head again.

So they began to drive, and SuperWoman suggested they just go home and eat, have bagels or eggs or chicken nuggets or something, easy stuff. Save the money.

Wondermess’s response: “Nooooo! You said we could get pizza. Now you’re going back on it!”

TalkMonster’s response: “Why do you always listen to her? Why do you let her always decide? Let’s just go home and keep it simple!”

And BeautyQueen? Her response was to agree with whoever asked her the question.

“We’re just going home,” SuperWoman said. “A quiet night at home. Who wants chicken nuggets? Who wants eggs?” TalkMonster had convinced her. He was so good at it.

I’m going to be better at making decisions in this family, she quietly muttered to herself.

They turned onto the road that led home. Ugh, the dishes, SuperWoman thought. And no wine. And having to make three different things for three different people , because she put the options out there already, and she wanted to stick to her word.

They got out of the car and SuperWoman changed her mind again. (Can you believe it?) “You know what, sidekicks?” SuperWoman said. “Let’s just get pizza. It’s just so much easier. We go there and eat it and I don’t have to do anything else. We can walk there.”

TalkMonster very dramatically pulled at his hair and rubbed his head, waving his hand in frustration. “You always do this, you always side with them.”

“I’m not siding with them, I just don’t want to have to make a bunch of different stuff and do all the dishes.”

“Well we can do the dishes.”

Hmm. There was a point. Teach them something about work and chores and stuff.

“Okay, you’re right, let’s eat at home.”

“Noooo!” shouted WonderMess. As convincing as TalkMonster was with irrationality, WonderMess was as convincing with those quick, bulbous tears. “You said we could have pizza!”

Deep breath. This was getting ridiculous. A complete head-mess.

“TalkMonster, why don’t you just stay home and eat something, and I’ll take the girls to the pizza parlor.”

“Fine,” TalkMonster said.

But then SuperWoman changed her mind.

Yes, again.

“No, wait, we’re supposed to be having dinner as a family. I want you there. Let’s just go. We’ll all go together. Decision made. That’s it! That’s it! That’s it!”

On the walk, SuperWoman told her progeny: “Look, things are going to change around here. I’m going to start getting better at making clear decisions, not asking for everyone’s input all the time. I’m the head of this household.” (Okay, she didn’t say that last part.) “And we’re going to start eating healthier too. After tonight, of course.”

They got to the restaurant. They ordered fries, ordered pizza, watched the end of the Phillies game. The sidekicks colored pictures. It was much fun. Everyone felt better again. Things were decided. Firm.

And you know what SuperWoman realized? It would have been just fine if they went home, too.

Image: “Pizza” by Dale Cruse via Flickr