Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Back-To-School Bonds

It's been a long hot summer and those of us with kids on a “traditional” calendar will be swapping out our sunscreen for schoolbooks and tan lines for carpool lines in no time at all. My kids and I have had a lot of fun catching up with each other these past few months, although we're getting to that breaking point where bonding is becoming binding and vacation is starting to feel more like work. Even “pool” has become a four-letter word.

I know it's time to for the season to move along when my mid-summer night dreams are no longer about hopping into a stately black limo that whisks me away to an enchanted ball in the evening. Instead, I settle for a fantasy about a bright yellow school bus that carts my kids off to a full day of school in the morning.

However, I'm not rushing summer out the door so quickly. I know that all too soon those lazy whines; “We're bored - we have nothing to do” will quickly be replaced with the crazy cries; “We're floored - we've got way too much to do.”

As beach bags make way for backpacks, I try to pursuade my kids that school is like sorbet for the brain - a cool and refreshing way to prepare them for life's next course. But as we casually kick back at Goodberry's during one of their last homework-free nights of summer, even I have to admit that my lump of Gump theory; “school is like a scoop of ice cream”, is easier to dish out then it is to swallow. It sure is nice to pop over and sample the flavor of the day without having to worry about school projects, sport practices or any other scheduled spontaneity.

Alas, like most good things, summer must come to an end. I sense that change is really in the air when the arrival of the new Target “Back-to-School” circular is more thrilling than the delivery of a letter claiming that we may have already won a free weekend at some new Myrtle Beach timeshare. There's just something about “4 glue sticks for $1” that triggers a Pavlovian school-bell from within and the internal ringing instantly makes us hungry for a slue of shiny new school supplies. It resonates inside our heads, shaking off our floppy sun hats so that we can don those smart “thinking caps” once again.

My boys, Jared and Jasper, start to feel pangs of first day jitters as they eagerly size up the new line of Superman notebooks and the latest in crayon technology. And although it's still well over 90 degrees outside, my daughter Sydney wistfully pours over the pictures of cool new sweaters, jeans and other equally hot fall fashions that she insists she needs to buy right away.

This year, the opening clap of the bell will have a special ring for us. Sydney will be entering those exciting eye-rolling, hair-flipping and drama-filled years of middle school as our boys cross the halfway mark of elementary school in third grade. Last spring I sat through at least a half-dozen “transition” meetings for parents, but the bottom line was always the same. Like the seasons, it's time to let my children move along. However I'm not rushing them out the door so quickly.

Maybe summer can stay just a little bit longer so the kids and I can take one more dip in the pool.

Blockbuster Summer She-quels

One of the coolest things to do during the dog days of summer is to chill out at the movies. Unfortunately, so far I’ve found that most of this year’s offerings are more lackluster than blockbuster.

There just haven’t been enough good chick flicks I can relate to. I’ve taken the liberty of doing a little rewriting and think that I may have some hit sequels for next summer.

Coming soon to a theater near you:

“MISSION IMPOSSIBLE 4”: In this nail-breaking thriller, a desperate housewife is on a mission, which she has no choice but to accept. She must tidy up her entire home before her picky mother-in-law arrives in four hours. With enormous piles of laundry blocking every door, she must beat the clock and clean while dangling from a vacuum cord suspended from the hallway air vents.

Tension mounts as she decides to change the filters while she’s up there.

“OMG, IT’S LIKE, THE DA VINCI CODE”: A mom threatens to shake the very foundation of a secret society called “Teen Angst” by cracking their closely guarded code of acronyms and emoticons used for instant messaging in cyberspace. She comes to realize that deciphering the Mona Lisa’s smile is a lot easier than reading her daughter’s e-mail messages.

OMG, u r going 2 lol, it’s 2 kewl, k?

“CLICKER”: A far-fetched fantasy film about a TV remote control that miraculously returns itself to its rightful place on the arm of the arm of the couch. This clever clicker never gets dropped, lost between sofa cushions, or ends up in the refrigerator. Things get really crazy when the remote goes haywire and everyone starts agreeing on what to watch and how fast to flip through the channels.

Like I said, it’s a far-fetched fantasy.

“SUPERMOM RETURNS”: Our heroine, aka Mom of Steel, saves the world by returning all fashion faux pas hanging in the closets of Metropolis—past 30 days and without the receipts. She and her best gal-pal, Lois Lane, hit the malls for truth, justice and more shopping—isn’t that the American way?

“THE DEVIL WEARS ABERCROMBIE”: A normal and attractive woman finds out that she is actually just a frumpy, unfashionable mom as she tries to navigate her way through the ultraglamorous life of a preteen. She learns that, surprisingly, this highly coveted position of parenthood is not all it’s cracked up to be. At times her “boss” can be demeaning, demanding, and downright grouchy.

To survive in this cutthroat environment, she must master the seemingly impossible task of driving, shopping and talking with her daughter without being seen or heard.

“CARPOOL”: A new animation sensation about a hotshot rookie mom who speeds through errands, racing for that primo front spot in the carpool line. You’ll cheer her on in this slow-paced mama-drama as she sits, waits, and wonders why, if life is a journey, she is spending half of hers just waiting around in that dang minivan?

Co-starring Paul Newman and Owen Wilson—at least in her daydreams!

“THE FAST & THE FURIOUS; TOKYO DROPPED”: Hopped up on the exhilaration that comes from a night of not having to cook, tempered with some MSG from the Chinese take-out, a woman frantically chases after every last grain of rice that has fallen from her messy family’s dining table and is now covering her floor.

“THE LAKE HOUSE GUESTS”: A time-twisted tale of a woman who is still cleaning up after her houseguests, and waiting for their thank-you note to arrive, after their visit two years ago.

“NACHO LAUNDRY”: Cheese and salsa stains prove to be no match for the mother of a Mexican wrestler who thanklessly scrubs her fingers to the bone to keep her son’s snappy hooded wrestling costume clean and Downy fresh.

Even Mrs. Siskel and Mrs. Ebert would give these films two thumbs up!