Posted by Julia Bendis
Yesterday was the last day of my children’s freedom, and incidentally the last day of my imprisonment. As I counted down the dwindling hours of winter break, I was also counting down the hours till my head was going to stop throbbing and my voice would sound human again (oppose to a hissing, barking, and squealing-female version of a prison guard type of a voice).
So, I decided to reward my boys with a lunch at Red Robin (mainly because I had a coupon) to celebrate their last day of vacation! Even though they didn’t seem to appreciate my goodwill and sarcasm about the whole thing, they still agreed to go. What a tough life! Poor little children being taken out to lunch after having endured two weeks of fancy shmancy activities, trips, restaurants and who could forget not one but eight nights of Hanukkah. Next year, I already told them that they will be taking a little trip to Skid Row for the holidays; and later I will re-wrap their already played and forgotten toys for Hanukkah.
After being seated along with the many other Moms who had the same exact idea, I tried making conversation in between Atari’s Breakout and NimbleBit’s Tiny Tower; yes they are over Angry Birds and Plants vs. Zombies or whatever the hell their names are. Let me tell you, it requires some serious mad skills to be able to carry on a conversation with your Mother while building a whole condominium at the same time, and don’t get me started on those pesty little people walking around needing something every ten minutes, the alarm on Tiny Tower is the most annoying thing I’ve ever heard in my life, right next to a child crying and whining at the table next to me while I’m trying to enjoy an ‘Adults Only’ dinner. Why is it that its perfectly alright for the child to throw a fit in a public place, but it is NOT alright for me to come over to it and smack it on the head? My theory is if the child’s parent isn’t going to do anything about it, that clearly means they want other adults to do something about their annoying child’s behavior. You with me on this? Good, moving on. Oh wait, one more thing before moving on… As my Father likes to say quite often, “When I was a little boy in Lithuania (FYI, we lived in Latvia, but that’s not the point) if a child ever talked or cried in public, any adult was allowed to come up and shut that bastard up! End of story.” Alright, so I added the last part from myself but you get the point here.
Somehow I managed to get my kids’ little eyes away from their iPods long enough to have a five-minute dialogue about our adventures in Florida back in the day. Specifically, my oldest wanted to know why I took him to a ‘HOOTERS’ restaurant in Orlando one day. His words: “Mom, I just don’t understand. I was only like 7 or 8 at the time! Why would you think it was appropriate for me to see girls in very short shorts and boobs everywhere serving me food? If I wanted to see that, I’d stay at home and look at you.” First of all let’s get something straight, I’ve never in my whole life worn short shorts or shorts of any kind. My idea of shorts are pants that come up to my calf, I believe they are called ‘Mom shorts’ a.k.a. Capris. Second of all, I have never until that day been to a Hooters restaurant, nor have I heard much about it. Sure I’ve heard the name, but didn’t know what it was about. Believe me, as soon as we walked in I realized it was not your typical place to eat. Maybe we stayed because I was curious, and maybe it was because we were both starving and the other closest restaurant was not close by. After explaining such to my twelve-year-old, he seemed pretty satisfied with the answer and immediately after went back to destroying aliens, or building a house for them, not quite sure which one. After a minute, he looked up and added this interesting fact: “It’s OK Mom, I am not mad at you. Turns out most of my friends have been to Hooters with their Dads anyway, so it wasn’t just me that was put through that torture. And to tell the truth, I like girls now so its OK. Let me know if you’d like to go there again.” Oh thanks son, make me feel like the worst parent ever, then reward me with that little announcement…
My six-year-old caught wind of ‘boob talk’ and decided to chime in, specifically wanting to know where there’s such a place with girls in short shorts and boobs everywhere, and more importantly why I’ve never taken HIM there? Oye, how can one brother be so different from the other? One is all about the rules and structure, and the other only wants to have a good time. Boy I sure hope the older one doesn’t find out about my new tattoos, there is a lecture I’d like to avoid. Last time it only lasted a week, who knows how long this one will take… I plan on keeping a shirt on whenever taking him to the pool, beach and anywhere else that requires a swimsuit. Stay tuned for that conversation, I am planning on recording it…
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December 23, 2011 | 1:47 pm
Posted by Julia Bendis
When you receive your first holiday card, you realize that you’re officially in the holiday season, or as I like to call it, “The Holiday card nightmare”. As we enter the holidays, we also enter the awkward holiday greeting card etiquette. The other day a long-time friend asked me if I get offended when people send me “Merry Christmas” cards, instead of the obvious Hanukkah cards. Well - I replied, do you like getting “Happy Hanukkah” cards instead of “Merry Christmas” cards? No need for explanation here…
If you don’t know someone well, I understand the general “Merry Christmas” statement, but if you know that person is anything but a Christian, why not order an extra set of plain “Happy Holiday” cards? My friend’s reaction was, so am I supposed to order separate Hanukkah cards even though I don’t celebrate it? No, I like getting the ones with Merry Christmas crossed out and Happy Hanukkah hand-written on them, right next to the baby Jesus and folk chanting: Our savior has been born, let’s rejoice! But Happy Hanukkah anyway, you sad, sad Jew who’s missing out on all the saving and rejoicing that’s about to go on in here!
We (and by we, I mean the Jews) get that unless you live in Israel, are in the minority in this country and throughout the world, however that does not mean that all Gentiles have to completely ignore the fact that there are millions of people that don’t celebrate Christmas. Anywhere you go its an automatic “Merry Christmas” greeting; from grocery stores to workplaces. Do we (the Jews) go around saying “Happy Hanukkah” to strangers and store workers? Can you imagine checking out at the local supermarket and just as you are about to leave announce: Happy Hanukkah to you and your family, may the spirit of Hanukkah light up your Menorah! Actually, I have done that last week to a store clerk, just so I could beat her before the usual “Merry Christmas”. You know the reaction I received? A blank stare followed by an awkward “I am not Jewish” statement. Doesn’t feel so good, store clerk, does it? Didn’t think so.
My parents on the other hand take a very different approach to all of this; they just accept and deal with it. That’s their advice to me as well, just deal with it like all the Jews have dealt with it for thousands of years. Then they proceed to remind me how we used to “deal” with it back home in Russia: walk home fast during the holidays, making sure that the Menorah you have wrapped in newspaper is tucked far enough into your coat that it doesn’t resemble anything “Jewish”, if anyone asks what you have under there simply reply with a “Oh, this? It’s just a dead chicken I was able to find at the store on Minskaya and Leningradskaya street. You might want to hurry, I heard they were about to run out of them!” Then you proceed to distract the gentile with something as you reposition the Menorah and walk briskly towards home. Usually the whole ‘they-are-selling-chickens’ routine gets people distracted enough to make them forget they might be talking to a Jew, since chicken was comparable to a diamond in those days. Another way how the Jews have been so-called dealing with it, mainly in the former Soviet Union is to pretend they are not Jewish or have ever been one. It’s a very common practice, which many families still participate in to this day… Our family however did not, only for the simple fact that there was no getting around ‘looking Jewish’ as my Father put it.
As much as I appreciate my parents input on how to deal with the holidays, they very well know I am not the one to ‘just deal’ with anything. My approach is more of a head-on-attack kind of way, which usually means pissing off a lot of neighbors, friends, strangers and parents in the schools that my kids belong to… People seem to forget that World War 2 started because people chose to ignore, and deal with the way things were changing in Europe. Even the Jews went along with what they were told to do by the Nazis, only because they were afraid to rock the boat, and in a way they didn’t want to think that something so awful would ever be allowed to happen to them. But it did happen, and in a way because people ‘just went along’ with every change that was happening. That’s part of the reason I refuse to go along with this whole ‘do as you are told, say Merry Christmas and blend in’ routine. Sorry, but if you send me a Christmas card with baby Jesus on it, you bet I am sending back a Hanukkah card that may say something like this:
” Happy Hannukkah, let’s celebrate our people’s battle from oppression and genocide, after the Greek-Syrians destroyed our Temple for the second time, massacring thousands of Jews, desecrating the city’s holy Second Temple by erecting an altar to Zeus and sacrificing pigs within its sacred walls, making the Jewish people pray to the Greek Gods and outlawing Judaism. But thanks to Judah Macabbee and his brave army of twelve little Jews (all proudly under 5 feet 4 inches), who drove the Greek army (of 1,000 mind you) and finally rebuild the Temple. Let’s celebrate the many failed attempts of trying to wipe out the whole species of Jews - 5772 years later, somehow we are still here! Happy Hanukkah! We are still here, Biatches! Not going anywhere, so stop trying!”
Well, maybe I’d leave out the ‘biatches’ part, but either way you get the point. So, to quote Adam Sandler: drink your ginatonica, and smoke your marijuanica, and have a happy, happy Hanukkah!
November 15, 2011 | 11:40 am
Posted by Julia Bendis
A distant memory came to mind the other day. Back in Russia, well technically it was in Riga, Latvia my parents decided to get my brother and I English lessons in the anticipation of our future move to the United States. This was about a year before we actually immigrated, so we thought it would give us plenty of time to learn the language… On top of private tutoring, we also had English lessons in school, however as we found out later it was a total waste of time. Not only was I NOT learning how to speak English, but it was confusing the hell out of me to have to go between Latvian language and English. Since Latvian was the main language of this former Soviet Republic, those children whose first language was Russian had to learn it in school. On top of learning Latvian, which by the way has a Latin alphabet where Russian is Cyrillic (more confusion there), going back and forth between English and Latvian made all the pronunciations that much harder.
Take this Latvian word as an example: Piens. In Latvian it means milk, and you would pronounce it just like its spelled: Pii-E-N-S, however in English you would pronounce the same word either: Pie-N-SA, or P-NSA. See the confusion? Also according to my English teacher at school, I was never going to speak English because I was absolutely awful at it. Hmm, well… not much I can say here except for wishing I’d remembered her name so I could send her a very sweet letter, all in English. Unfortunately, I do not.
I vaguely remember forcing myself into her classroom every day, only to hear her monotonously berate the students about their lack of brain cells when it came to English. It was definitely a very effective way to encourage students to apply themselves harder. Now that I look back at all my teachers in Russia, it was almost THE protocol of how they were SUPPOSE to teach: berate, abuse, humiliate. And it never failed; every chance they got to make fun of you, they took it! Somehow it was supposed to make us better students, which at the time I didn’t understand or care for and it only made all of us more apprehensive and stressed. The strange thing about all of that is somehow it worked! Not only did I learn how to speak English, but obviously to write and read as well…
Maybe this whole verbal abuse is not such a bad thing for children. What I mean is, take a look at most Russians, they are for the most part accomplished, well-read, ambitious, and educated individuals. Sure they are not the most balanced, calm, mild-tempered, soft-spoken, shy, aggressive-less people in the world, but who needs that? That’s why they are one of the most feared people in the world. And when you got that going for you, who needs to be chemically balanced?
November 9, 2011 | 12:34 pm
Posted by Julia Bendis
Just for laughs, I thought I would share my six-year-old’s interpretation of a hit song Holiday by Green Day: Six year-old’s interpretation of Green Day’s ‘Holiday’ song!
November 4, 2011 | 10:00 pm
Posted by Julia Bendis
It has been years since I’ve watched old episodes of ‘Seinfeld’. I usually come across it, watch for a few minutes then move on. Today’s show, however made me pause and think. It was the one where Elaine tries to change a homosexual man into a heterosexual unsuccessfully. The following conversation between her and Jerry Seinfeld is what got me thinking: “Here’s the thing. Being a woman, I only have access to the ‘equipment’ what 30, 45 minutes a week. And that’s on a good week! How can I be expected to have the same expertise as people who own this equipment, and have access to it 24-hours a day; their entire lives!” To which Jerry replies: “You can’t. That’s why they lose very few players…”
If you think about it, that is very true. How can any woman compete with a man’s vast knowledge of his own “equipment”, and please him in the same way? Women like foreplay. Women like to take their time and take it slow. Women need to be “warmed up”. A man can accomplish the goal in a matter of seconds, minutes if we are lucky. Men don’t need foreplay, or to be warmed up. They are always warmed up and ready to go. I can only imagine what goes on when men are left alone without any supervision! On second thought, maybe I don’t want to imagine that…
It seems to me that it would only be natural for a man to be with a man, doesn’t it? Follow this logic: Only a man knows exactly how to please another man, right? A woman knows nothing about what feels good for man. A man knows what feels good for him. So according to this theory every man should be homosexual, just like every woman should be also. This could be just another absurd theory of mine, but somehow it makes a lot of sense. What do you think?
October 18, 2011 | 6:10 pm
Posted by Julia Bendis
This morning was a bit of a somber morning for me… Our six-grader headed out to a four-day overnight Science camp today! I have to emphasize the OVERNIGHT part since it was the only thing I heard when first learning about this little adventure, which might as well had said a six-month-overnight-camp. It all sounds the same to me, because all I hear is: my child will be without his Mommy! It doesn’t matter that he hasn’t called me that in years, I still think of him as a three-year-old. Surely, I am not the only Mother (or the last one) to worry about her child going away for days at a time, however I suspect I might be in the minority when it comes to everything else I did prior to his departure…
That would include:
- packing eight pairs of underwear and socks instead of the recommended four, as specifically stated in the camp flyer
- packing four pairs of pants instead of the recommended two, again as specifically stated in the camp flyer
- packing enough toothpaste to last him til next year instead of the recommended one-trial-sized-tube
- packing shampoo and conditioner to last at least two weeks because it was listed under the “optional items” section
- packing four pairs of pants instead of the recommended two
- packing eight shirts instead of the recommended four
- and of course packing enough snacks for the long 30-minute ride to the camp completely ignoring the section marked “what NOT to pack”, because like a good Jewish Mother I never let my kids leave the house with a little something to nosh on “just in case”.
The last few days leading up to today I kept thinking how much my son will be homesick, and me not being there to comfort him. The more I thought about that, the more I started to notice that it doesn’t seem to phase him one bit that he will be gone for a whole four days! All he cared about was getting his friends into the same cabin, and whether or not he can try sneaking in his iPod… Every night I snuggled next to him telling him not to worry, that he will have a great time and to call me for any reason, no matter how small it may be. And every night AFTER that I would overhear him telling his brother to be good and “distract Mom as much as possible because she will be a total mess!” Nice.
When we finally dropped him off at school this morning, I quietly told my son that I love him and that I might cry a little bit when he goes. He turned to me and with a straight face replied: “I know you love me Mom. It’s OK, you can cry. Just go do it over there somewhere, not too close OK?”
Not much more I can say after that, except for: looks like I’m the one with the homesickness problem, not my child.
October 10, 2011 | 6:32 pm
Posted by Julia Bendis
At a flag football game for my 1st grader, I couldn’t help but enjoy my son’s aggressiveness. I know how wrong that sounds, however after trying soccer, baseball, basketball and tennis I’m happy to see that he finally at the old age of six, found his sport! Besides, its only flag football and tackling is not allowed. Although that doesn’t seem to stop my child from jumping on other players. He sleeps, eats and lives for football, and was very angry that he isn’t allowed to play tackle or as he calls it “regular” football.
My fake phone calls to the officials at “regular” football league insisting that they allow this six-year-old to play went unanswered, which was not good enough for my kid. He begged that I physically go to their offices and demand that they let him play, since he is READY!
Having no problem with lying, I went ahead and told him that after much consideration the football officials decided he needs to wait a couple years before getting slammed and pummeled onto. My son’s response? “Nobody will slam me down, I’m too quick and awesome for that to happen!”
Seeing that this issue won’t be going away any time soon, I’m secretly hoping that he will pick another sport in the near future. Before I ever had kids I always said that I’d never let mine play a savage game like football, but now I don’t see much of a choice. This brings me to another issue. How do Mothers allow, and seem to be fine with their young children being shoved, and slammed into while playing football or lacrosse or any other violent sport? Am I the only parent that thinks its completely wrong to allow your ten-year-old to be physically hurt?
Where are the rules and guidelines about starting boys too young in violent sports? Shouldn’t there be some kind of a mandatory law that says you can’t play before the age of fifteen, or at least til your child has facial and body hair?
America is the only country in the world that has the most boys between the ages of 10 and 18 with head traumas and concussions! I truly hope my son changes his mind about playing football, I’d hate to be the only Mother in Orange County to ban my kid from playing tackle football…
September 22, 2011 | 6:47 pm
Posted by Julia Bendis
My phone rings. I answer.
- Hello Ma’am. My name is Blah Blah (I’m not good with names, can’t remember what the hell he said) from Avis Heating and Air conditioning. I’d like to talk to you about your heating system. Would you be alright with that?
- Sure, I would be alright with talking to you about my Hot Box, as long as you would be alright with a $1,000 fine for talking to me about it, since I’m on a “Do Not Call List” and all…
- Um, no Ma’am I would not be alright with that. And I didn’t call about your “hot box”, I called about your Heating system.
- Oh no? Well, maybe you should have thought about checking that list before calling me. See the thing is that I’m usually very nice to telemarketers especially when I have the time to listen to them, but now you pissed me off.
- How did I piss you off Ma’am?
- Well, you did it again just now; you called me Ma’am.
- I called you Ma’am?
- Yes, you called me Ma’am. Did you forget? Not sure if you are aware but I am a very young and energetic young lady who enjoys life, dancing and long walks on the beach preferably with a very hot, young thing who is not wearing a shirt. Or pants. I am not very picky. I would prefer a shirt and no pants, but I can roll with anything. I know that’s typically what a girl wears in all those chick flicks, a long men’s shirt and no pants, but I kinda think a hot guy would look good like that also. What do you think?
- Ma’am, I mean Miss… I am not sure why you are telling me this, and I probably should be going now…
- Why? Do you have something more important to do besides listen to a crazy chick fantasize?
- No, no Paul. Now you will listen to me.
- My name is Blah Blah.
- OK, Peter. I guess I better let you go. My Hot Box is making some strange sounds, need to check it out.
- It’s Blah Blah, Miss.
- Shut up.