When Executive Functioning Takes a Vacation, Part 2

So, I had gotten through Pumpkin Math and reset my mind to Liam's class party. I had volunteered to buy and bring the snacks because I couldn't see myself organizing crafts or games right now and even if I could, I was the only mom at the planning meeting who didn't bring a million printed Halloween Party ideas with me so buying snacks seemed easy and mindless. Money might not be able to buy happiness, but it can certainly get you out of ruining Halloween craft time for 20 first graders!

And if it weren't for the fact that this school has a very specific snack list, one in which you have to get certain brands and not others of the exact same item, or the fact that included in those other moms' lists were decorated snacks like mummified juice boxes and pumpkin faced fruit cups, things I was now on task for, this would have been a total no brainer. But after buying all the snacks at Costco and then having the school nurse turn them down, each and every one, because the brands were not on the "approved snack list" I realized my easy role actually required a little more thought and planning.

So, it was the day after Lily's Pumpkin Math, the day before Liam's party and I had finally gotten all the food and had finished mummifying the juice boxes. (If you have no idea what that means, go to this article in Parents Magazine  to understand why I might hate Parents Magazine and the crafty moms that are behind it…..) My most endearing neighbor had searched high and low for googly eyes and I had just finished gluing them on the juice boxes, telling her that the party was tomorrow and I was totally ahead of the game because I had already finished most of what I had to do, when I sat down to my computer to give myself another Mommy Star and saw this email sent from the class mom's iPhone:

--Karen, is everything ok????…..

It was 2:30 and I was about to go pick up Solomon and his friend from school but wanted to get back to her before I forgot so I wrote back: "Yup. Just finished the Mummy Boxes and will put the faces on the fruit cups tonight. See you tomorrow."

Then horror struck and I wrote again:

"The party IS tomorrow right????" I went to my calendar: the party was scheduled for the following day.


---No, it's today!---

What followed was sheer chaos. I had put the party on my calendar for the wrong day. It had started at 2 and would end at 3 and it was now 2:35 and I HAD THE SNACKS!

"Oh my gosh, oh my gosh, oh my gosh! KURT! The party is today, I have to go, I have to go! You have to go pick up Solomon, Oh my gosh! I can't believe I did this! Oh my gosh! I have to go!!!"

Kurt was so pleased with me.

"Where's my phone? Oh my gosh! I can't believe I did this! Oh my gosh!"

Kurt calmly grabbed his keys as I loaded my arms with two boxes of UNFACED fruit cups, a box of mummified Juice Boxes, three bags of assorted cookies and snacks and "Where's my phone!? Oh my gosh, I can't call you, I will call you, just go, go, go, oh my gosh! WHERE THE HECK IS MY PHONE?!"

I will not say how fast I drove down the curvy back country road, or how many times I honked at other drivers to keep them from pulling out in front of me, but I was in the parking lot by 2:40. I ran inside the school, Mummies falling out behind me, frantically explained to the front office that I hadn't realized the party was today and I had the snacks and for the love of God can someone please help me! She buzzed me through without a question (note to future bad guys, just act like you are supposed to be there, like an hour ago, and they will let you in, easy peasy!) and darted down the hall, bags ripping, people staring….I may have even knocked into a kid dressed up like superman but I am not certain…..without a breath left in me, I reached the classroom and dropped everything on the nearest desk. The entire class looked up in their costumes (except poor Liam who DIDN'T EVEN HAVE A COSTUME YET!) and the other moms rushed to help (I think more to calm me down than to worry about snacks) as I repeatedly apologized for my blunder…..

Once I caught my breath I asked to use one of their phones to call Kurt.

Me: Kurt, you have to pick up Cody too.
Kurt: Ok, who's Cody?
Me: That's our neighbor's kid.
Kurt: Which neighbor? I don't even have car seats. And I am driving around but have no idea where the school is. Where am I going? (I began to suspect a hint of frustration in his voice.)
Me: It is the church across from the gas station (the benefit of a small one-gas station town….) and it's around back. Just stick them in your car and go home. I will come home right now and take Cody.
Kurt: I missed a business call for this. (Yup. Definitely frustration.)
Me: Ugh. I am sorry. I'll be right home.

When I finally got to Liam's table to distribute snacks, Liam grinned up at me and eagerly announced: "Mom! Guess what, Mom?! I'm on Yellow! I'm having a good day today."

Deep exhale.

"Awesome job, little buddy. Keep it up until the end of the day, and I'll see you at home!"

The little girl across the table held up her Mummy Juice: "I'm done," she said, rather defiantly.

"Great. You only get one. Hope you liked it. Now you can play with the mummy," I said.

Another kid told me he didn't like the Twizzlers I was passing out for them to use to make Spider Legs for their Oreos.

"Awesome. Then I don't suggest eating it," I replied, teeth now slightly gritted, though still smiling, kind of.

Apologizing again, I left the classroom and rushed back to the house to find Solly and his buddy playing quietly upstairs. Kurt was tickled pink with the perfection of my mess…at least that's what I'm going with, and he went back down to work as I took Cody home. On the way back, Solly and I stopped by my relaxed-and-totally-on-top-of-things neighbor's house to pick up the tickets Aidan needed for the hockey game that night. As I recounted my day, my neighbor's mom, who was there to celebrate my friend's son's birthday, chuckled delightedly at my tale of woe. I was glad to offer some amusement for their day and then they asked if I might have some birthday candles they could have. Happy to help, I told them I would go get the candles, pick up the kids at the bus stop and be right back. They offered to keep Solomon until I returned since he had already dumped out some toys and was playing quietly. Back to the house to grab the candles and then to the bus stop to grab the kids, I went. As I got close to the bus stop, the kids were already half way up the street so I sent Aidan running up to our friends' house to give them the candles. Apparently Liam had not been very kind to one of the neighbor kids on the bus so I had to speak with the two boys and have Liam apologize for his behavior. By the time we finished the conversation, Aidan was in the car and on home we went.

The babysitter arrived as I was getting the dinner on the table. I proceeded to tell her what her job was that night and when I got to the part where she was going to bathe Solomon, I stopped short: Wait, where's Solomon?

Out the door and back to the car I ran, and back down to the neighbor's house where my dear friend was sitting on the floor playing with Solly.

"You were just waiting to see how long it took me to figure out you still had my kid weren't you."


That's when you know a friend is a keeper.

And that your brain has officially left the building. Let's just say, I plan on giving my Executive Functioning System a raise if it ever comes back. Apparently, it, too, is a keeper.


When Executive Functioning Takes a Vacation, Part 1

Last week, without giving me advanced warning, my Executive Functioning System decided to take some unpaid leave. (Yes, this is a system….it's like the Cardiovascular, Endocrine or Nervous systems only on the cognitive level. And I might be making this crap up but just go with it for the sake of this VERY NON-SEXY post……shoot, I think I just lost half of today's unintentional readers…..)

So, earlier in the week I had awoken to this feeling that there were way too many balls being juggled in the air and I was surely about to drop a dozen or so of them (which Kurt repeatedly confirmed in his panic attacks over having too many balls up in the air…..) I checked my calendar and everything looked normal (which means it was a constant stream of insanely crazy chaos….how's that for redundant?!….but nothing out of the ordinary.)

At any rate, this year I decided I would make an effort to volunteer in each kid's classroom at least once before the school year was out. That may seem weak to some of you ├╝ber-awesome-moms who are in the classroom weekly and live your life to be the teacher's pet, er, I mean, to be engaged in your child's education, but for people like me who are consistently skating by, hardly able to keep up with the bare minimum of household responsibilities (because chickens are so much more enjoyable than laundry….seriously, they totally are….but really, so is stepping on legos in the middle of the night when your three year old has peed his bed for the third time that week….), the idea of making it into a classroom and being held accountable for helping another 20 kids is like standing at the bottom of Mt. Everest, getting ready to trek up the mountain only naked……and without gear….. or legs. Ok, poor choice of images but really, some of us are just not the classroom volunteering type. I'd rather attempt Mt. Everest with a pack of live hens than have to go judge a teacher by their class for two hours. Wait, what?

Anyway, so I missed out on volunteering for Lily's class parties (she forgot to give me the form which I found a week after the deadline up in the attic being played with by the cats) and so I volunteered to do "Pumpkin Math" instead. She brought home the packet for me and told me repeatedly we needed to bring in a pumpkin. I questioned her regularly because NOWHERE in the packet did it mention needing to bring in a pumpkin but the night before, we went and picked out a small white pumpkin ("Because we will be the ONLY GROUP TO HAVE A WHITE PUMPKIN, MOM! I. MUST. HAVE. A. WHITE. PUMPKIN!") just to be safe. (She was totally right on both counts.) I read the cover letter twice the night before, making sure I understood my role; flipped quickly through the packet, skimming the instructions so that I knew what we were doing; and then put a HUGE GOLD STAR on my mommy chart for being so on top of this volunteering thing. Bam! I got this.  

The day of the Pumpkin Math, after my alarm had gently reminded me that I needed to be at the school, I calmly grabbed the packet, the very WHITE pumpkin that would make our group Lily-original….Lilyriginal….. and headed contently down the lane to the picture perfect school. Which is a complete and total lie…..what really happened is that I was outside trying to wrangle the chickens back into the coop when my phone reminded me a gazillion times that I needed to get to Lily's school but there was this one hen who would not cooperate and after chasing her around and around the coop for over twenty minutes, while simultaneously burning the three Halloween Cookie Cakes I was making for our neighbors and sending away an electrician because I misunderstood what he was there for because I had failed to communicate at all with my nearly frazzled husband, I scrambled into the car, forgetting to grab the pumpkin, bolted back inside, realizing I had burnt the cakes, cursed a few times while I dumped them into the trash, grabbed the pumpkin, and drove like a bat out of hell to get to the school, praying all the while that dumping hot, burnt cookie cakes into the trash wasn't going to burn my house down…..and shoot, did I turn off the oven?

I signed into the office, right on time, (the last parent to arrive but really, did you guys need to be ten minutes early? No! Suck-ups.) and then noticed I was the only one carrying a pumpkin and the only one NOT carrying a bag of accessories like bowls and spoons and carving knives.

Me: "Ok, so, apparently I am THAT parent and didn't realize we were supposed to bring knives…..where did it say we needed to bring that stuff?"

EVERYONE ELSE: "It was in the packet."

Me: "Seriously? But I read through the packet. There was no supply list in mine. Where in the packet was it?"

Silence. No one knew how they knew but EVERYONE knew to bring the supplies. Everyone but me.

Goody-two-shoes: "Oh, don't worry about it. I brought plenty of extras just in case. You can borrow mine."

Me: "Of course you did." Ok, so I just thought that; what I actually said was, "Ooooh thank goodness! Thank you so much! I really appreciate it. But at least I remembered the pumpkin." This was met with quizzical looks by every last parent. Because they are all jerks. And they obviously don't understand the work that goes into getting hens back into the coop…..shoot! I left a hen out….dang hen.

As we walked to the classroom, I flipped back through my packet. Still no supply list. Then, as we began the group project, I saw (on page three), the very first instruction was: Parents, please bring in a bowl, spoons and a carving knife.

Come on, seriously? PAGE THREE?!?! Don't you think that little bit might have been on the cover letter where those severely challenged parents (you know, the ones who only skim the packet) would actually have the chance of seeing it?

At any rate, it all turned out just fine. And even though I was the only parent whose phone camera had no more space left and so could not take a nifty group photo of my child's class behind their five orange jack-o-lanterns and ONE WHITE ONE, I left feeling like I could at least keep my gold mommy star another day, after all, ours was the only jack-o-lantern with 3D cat ears held in place by toothpicks…..and it isn't like I totally failed to go or anything ridiculous like that……

-To be continued-


Sorry to Disappoint (But What Did You Think a Sexy Silkie Was?!?!)

Boring Fact: Graceful Like a Chicken averages around 70 page views a day. After a post has been published, the views reach closer to 200. Sometimes more, sometimes less.

These are not bragging rights. The Graceful Chicken has a very small but lovely following. I have conversed with many readers, some I know well, some I have only just begun to know, and then there are those who have contacted me for all sorts of interesting reasons; very nice people I will likely never meet. And I thank you all for stopping in, whether a loyal fan or an unintentional reader just passing through. (Except Mr. Anonymous who keeps spamming my comments in attempt to get me to click on junky links…..you can go away now[insert juvenile name calling here].)

Interesting Fact: My last post, Sexy Silkies: A Pre-Halloween Tale, generated 1,773 page views. Seriously. It really begs the questions: WHAT THE HECK DID YOU THINK I WAS WRITING ABOUT PEOPLE?!?!? I mean, come on! Sexy Silkies….really?! Chickens people, I write about chickens! (And other non-perverted topics like kids and annoying things and God and humorous sufferings and a little lingerie along the way but that was funny and embarrassing and not meant for ogling!!)

One can only guess what that many wandering readers were looking for (and if you are sitting there thinking about it for more than a second, please remove yourself from your computer and take a nice brisk walk to collect yourself…..and retrieve your head out of the gutter!)

The best part is that as the large number of page views caught my eye this morning, I got all excited: I FINALLY wrote something that got some attention! Yay! They noticed my story and liked my writing enough to pass it along! YIPPETTY-DO-DAH! So, of course I wanted to know what the difference was between that and every other post I have ever written……

Hee hee hee…..it all comes back to sex folks. I'm a slow learner here but apparently there are some key words that need to be included in a post title to grab some (unwanted) attention. So from now on, I am going to make sure to give each post a scantily dressed name, douse it in cheap perfume and send it out to the streets where it can generate scores of hits. I just wanted to give you a fair warning in case you see the Graceful Chicken standing on the corner in stilettos with one, fish-net covered leg exposed through an extra high slit in her tight leopard print skirt. I worry she won't be able to get away from the neighborhood bear in an outfit like that but alas, we can't hold their hands forever.