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11:33 a.m. - 2011-06-26
After Party.

Wolf had a great birthday.

(Yes, despite what some might have thought. My glum assessment of my role as a mother might be the truth but it doesn't mean I freight my kid with it. He got the easy breezy "YAY! It's your birthday!" mom. Just as Mick gets the easy breezy smiling wifey 98% of the time. Harsh emotional honesty is for my journal, not my family.)

Mack came over in good time and the boys fell right into goofing around. Mack brought a Play Station 3 with him and for a startled second I thought he was giving it to Wolf as a birthday gift! Huge laugh all around. I told Mack's dad I'd been worried we might have to send Mack to college or something to balance off such an extravagant gift. He winked and whispered just having the night off was a good deal as it was. I could dig that. Mack lives with his dad and apparently his ex is as attentive a parent to Mack as my ex is to Wolf. He said good-bye to his boy and I walked him out. Bri shook my hand and said it was a relief and a pleasure to know his kid would be safe and well cared for while he and his lady friend had a grown-up's night out. Don't know where he got the idea Mack was in good hands, I'd planned on selling him to the circus and heading to Atlantic City with my ill-gotten gains. Heh.

After the requisite boasting about whose game system was cooler and who could beat who at Super Smash Bros and then outside for some bouncing on the trampoline the kids were ready to zoom off to the fun center. Used to near silence from the back seat, my dear hubs was bemused by the chatter and teenage braggadocio behind us. Mick rolled his eyes at me as the boys one-upped each other with grandiose plans for their high school careers. I flapped a hand at him, it's what kids do. I'd be concerned if there wasn't a lot of peacocking and biggety talk. Reality is for old people like us. The young guns in the back seat should be dreaming large. They'll have the whole rest of their lives to deal with grubby real life with its blasted hopes and dashed expectations.

Since I'd last been there the fun center had changed over from tokens to swipe cards, much easier. We bought the boys a fairly hefty card-load and set them free. Off they went to drive go-karts and climb the rock walls and whack golf balls. Knowing the kids would be fine, Mick and I sauntered across the road to the shopping plaza. We browsed the Tractor Supply Store and as always were astonished by the variety of stuff you can buy there. We left with wild flower seed, 2 mini book lights (bendy neck, magnetized and includes a laser pointer too!) and some Anti Monkey Butt powder. Of course Mick's cycling shorts are padded, but my guy rides like an animal and the narrow saddle on his bike plays hob with his junk. Some extra help against chafing is a good idea. Sometimes Mick still struggles with the notion that a good workout doesn't have to leave him wracked up and bleeding. Exercise should be painful and scarring or it doesn't count! Right.

As an antidote to all this machismo I went to Payless and picked up a set of earrings with a lovely hematite finish and another pair of beaded sandals. The BoGo sale meant I got the sandals for a whopping $1.50. My kind of shopping, baby. The custom embroidery store was closed so we couldn't price new work shirts for Mick. He does get shirts from work. Outerwear too. But this year's new shirts were awful. Thick polyester nasty things that look like sports jerseys. Ugh. You can tell the new principal used to be a gym teacher. Since Mick spends a great deal of his work day outdoors he wants some decent shirts in a nice breathable, sweat-wicking material. At least he's free to choose his trousers and work shoes. The security staff at Wolf's old school are gussied up like storm troopers. All in black with their cargo pants tucked into paratrooper boots. Stupid. And scary. Yo! You work at a school not a super-max prison, you idiots. Mick's polo shirts and jeans are far more suitable to the school environment. Besides Mick's plenty scary already. He could wear a tutu and still be intimidating.

The rest of the birthday day went down as planned. Pooped and hungry after their spree at the fun center the boys chowed through their burgers. Wolf scored a new-to-him used game at the game shop. Home again, the folks joined us for cake and presents. Then back to video gaming. The boys once again attached to their electronic umbilicus, the older dudes talked conspiracy theories while MIL and I plotted out the week's schedule. Doctors (Mick on Monday and FIL on Wed), a meeting with the director of Wolf's summer work-study program, the gym, two farmer's markets, and the rest of the usual busy stuff. MIL's been hocking me to go for my color and cut at the local beauty school where she and FIL get barbered, but after the last botch job haircut I'm leery of handing my coif off to anyone. An experienced stylist mucked up my hairdo, what kind mess would a student make of it? Um, no. I'll cut and color it myself, thanks. All done with hairdressers for the nonce.

Heckle and Jeckle spent the rest of the evening trading off between gaming and goofing around outdoors. As much as my kid loves his Wii I never have to tell him to go outside and play. Wolf's too active to sit in front of a screen all day. (Unlike his sloth of a mother.) Plus Mack luuuurves Wolf's trampoline. Mack's been riding on the back of his dad's Harley since the 5th grade, but the trampoline is still a thrill for him. Thinks Wolf is sooo lucky. I overheard Wolf tell Mack that he has a trampoline at MIL's house too and Mack about fainted. (MIL's tramp was originally her other grandson's, but at 22 Jon doesn't come over and use it very often anymore so now it's Wolf's by default.) Mack's got a couple inches on Wolf, but he's just as skinny, so together they weigh next-next to nothing and the only danger of using the trampoline together is maybe some head bonking. Wolf's forbidden to do flips and never disobeys me on this and Mack's a timid sort so no jackassery from him either.

In fact watching them together yesterday I had to admit that if those two make trouble it'll be my kid who instigated it. In a weird way I like this set-up. It's good to know my son's best bud isn't going to lead him astray. This way I only have to worry what my kid is doing. (And prep and rehearse apologies to Mack's father for when/if my son takes his kid down the garden path to mischief land.) Truly my boy could have done much, much worse with his choice of BFF. No telling what manner of hoodlum Wolf will gravitate toward at his new school. If only Mack were going there too. But he lives in the Malltown school district, poor kid. Rough school. And huge. Three times the size and population of Wolf's high school. Tough crowd over there in Malltown. At Mack's new school the dress code is mostly about prohibiting gang symbols and at Wolf's the rule is about removing one's golf cleats and polo helmet before class.

Today we're partied out and taking it easy. Poor Mick's overdue for a lazy day. He's been busting his buns helping me de-stress. It's been lovely for me, but it's gotta be tough on him. All normal grousing has been suspended and there is much sympathetic listening and foot massaging. Then he was a champ with the birthday. Not that the day was so hard, but he's still getting used to doing the dad thing. Plus after 16 years of working high school security the sight of two teenaged boys horsing around pulls an instinctual "You two cut it out!" reaction. Standing down into relaxed dad mode feels a little unsafe. Mick is very, very aware we're minding someone else's kid and anxiously wants to return him in good condition.

Me? I'm delighted Wolf had such a good birthday. Thanks to Mick's awesome cosseting I'm feeling good. Relaxed and ready to get about the business of momming and wifeing without the secret snarl.

On a sunny Sunday morning, ~LA

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