Sparkygate 2017

The Sparky costume lives in Janitorial Closet #2.  It is an uncomfortably small room, but well organized and unsuspicious–like a telephone booth. It’s never easy to put on the 5-piece orca costume, which comes with a faux tummy attachment to make Sparky extra huggable, but it is even more challenging when three of your children are with you asking questions and trying to help.  However, I thought it might bring some levity to an otherwise tumultuous morning of missing shoes, compromised lunch boxes and poor time management to include the children in my part time gig.  It worked. Soon we were laughing and hugging in the snuggly little closet — even deciding on a theme song for Sparky’s entrance. Ki suggested Back in Black.  Finally, we had achieved unity.  Nothing can bring people together like mascots can, except maybe Field Day…

We opened the door and exited “the phone booth” with slow motion swagger like Resevoir Dogs –ACDC playing on my phone in the background, muffled by my fuzzy fin.

Our first encounter was with my daughter’s Kindergarten teacher.  Her enthusiasm was palpable, appreciated and just what I needed to get really pumped up. Pictures were taken. High fives, “or fins” were exchanged. It was time to head outside…

Get ready kids. I thought. It’s Field Day–and Sparky came to play.

The Pasley kids went to their respective lines, proud of their mom and their school.  Abel,  a Pre K graduate, was my handler. We walked lockstep out onto the blacktop, where students mingled in haphazard lines awaiting the bell that would usher in Field Day fun.

The Kindergarteners were the first recipients of Sparky’s friendliness. They gently waved their little innocent hands and requested hugs from the lovable whale with subtle gestures, like outstretched arms, and doe eyed stares. I was in the zone.  Clever dance steps, and strategic fin placement communicated school spirit and tenderness all at once.

Damn, it feels good to be a mascot.

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As I moved beyond the lines of Kindergarteners, more and more children approached like a tide coming in. This wasn’t my first rodeo though.  I had a handler.  Sure he was less than four feet tall, and no where to be found, but, I knew he was out there somewhere. Perhaps even surveying the situation and seeking out an adult or two who could help out if things went off the rails.

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I felt a dorsal fin pull here and there as the crowd grew, but knew that came with the territory.  I am sure the Mariner Moose has had a child or two test his antlers. It wasn’t until, all the recipients of my mascot merriment were eye level, that I realized the demographic had changed. These were not students who wanted a little Field Day inspiration from their friendly neighborhood whale, these were older kids who were hell bent on discovering Sparky’s identity.

They begin to press their pre pubescent faces against the black screen that protected my personage.  Worse yet, their morbid curiosity became a challenge to one another. I took up defensive position against a thin white pole and looked for an adult while the diabolical boys batted at my head shouting out clues to one another.

It’s a girl!!!  They shouted as they caught a glimpse of my pony tail.

They pushed and pulled at my second skin, laughing maniacally. The heavy whale head bobbing up and down on my shoulders. I was drowning.

And then…

It happened…

Sparky got decapitated.

My sweaty head, and tousled hair sat naked atop the fuzzy whale costume in the middle of the populated playground of stunned children. It was like an episode of Scooby Doo.

A demonic voice came out of me that had previously been reserved only for difficult parenting situations..

“HEY!!!!!!! UNBELIEVABLE BEHAVIOR!” I screamed, Orca head in hand.

My eyes began to fill with tears as I looked around the school yard at all the the horrified faces.  My cover was blown. Worse yet,  I had broken the only hard and fast rule of mascotting (outside the handler height requirement) –never let them see you cry.

I placed the shamed whale head back over my own and walked toward Janitorial Closet #2, leaving in my wake a viral tale that is sure to live in elementary school lore forever.

Where were you when Sparky lost his head? They’ll say.

God knows I will remember where I was…

 

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*Thank you to Ms. H., Kindergarten Teacher of the Year, who let me walk around her empty classroom in a headless killer whale costume venting after the incident. I am sure the simultaneous laughing and crying was a little unnerving. Thanks for the “We Love Sparky” chant too.  It restored my faith in humanity, and made my retirement less traumatizing. 

**Please leave comments that detail what you would have said when your head came off.  I am pretty disappointed in my lack of creativity in that moment. 

 

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***Sparky Out

 

 

 

 

Send Me the Bill

I couldn’t stop crying. Intimate crying. The kind you only let a few people in your life see due to unsightly swelling.  The kind that won’t stop and makes others uncomfortable, unless they are cat people.  Fortunately, they all were.

“I think he is done. I think he doesn’t want to do it anymore.  I think he wants to be done now. ” I said between sobs as I approached the desk holding our cat.  Bill writhed and whimpered and took in only hard earned breaths–his bones  visible through his fur coat. All the piss and vinegar that made him the cat from hell, our cat from hell, was drained out of him, a fighter without without a ring, only a blanket.

This melodramatic scene would have been perfect for a Marlee and Me cat spin off.  Especially since my tears were dripping with irony. I hated our cat. Not a malicious hate.  Not like I hate suffering or cruelty. More like I hate the 49ers or warm milk. He was not likeable. He was mean to me, my mother and pretty much everyone else too. He ruined our sleeping arrangements.  He caused me and family bodily harm. He was aloof. He hijacked my computer. And then there was his awful habit of murdering local wildlife.

We weren’t exactly his dream humans either.  He came from a wealthy family.  A family that purchased him intentionally and lavished upon him accordingly.  A family without small children and loud music. A family with an organized garage and clearly labeled bins for everything. A family with cat allergies.

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“You fell for the you look like a nice family”trick? Don’t do it! You don’t even like cats!  This is a bad idea.  I will let you decide, but if you say yes…he is your cat.”

Mike was right. I am not a cat person.  At all.  I have had several downright traumatic experiences with them throughout my life.  Scritty Palitty the Kitty, our first cat, was an arsonist. He knocked a lamp over on my parents bed that led to our home nearly burning down when I was 3 years old.  Scritty survived by hiding under the house.

Mike had a cat when we first started dating that hated me.  Her name was Cora.  She had a negative attitude and made me feel bad about myself.  I think she also made his parents question my integrity.

Then there was Maggie and Tanner.  Before I married Mike, I lived with his lovely sister and my dear friend, Kate.  The aforementioned cats were hers.  Tanner was socially maladjusted. He ate and hid.  Hid and ate.  He was weird, emotional and orange.  It wasn’t right. I was always afraid that one day I would come home to him listening to the Cure.  Maggie had a more interesting personality, but was reckless.  She destroyed several of my most precious belongings including a set of teacups that belonged to my great grandmother. She never apologized.

This tumultuous history made it all the more surprising that I fell victim to flattery that day at the pool, when the wealthy family with cat allergies offered us a kitten named Billy.  Maybe I needed affirmation that day. After all, I was a new mother of four and not exactly swimming in confidence. Maybe I just wanted to know that I was capable of loving an animal.   Maybe I just needed a story to tell…

 

Coming Soon — Part 2 : “Mom, He’s Scary!”

Bed and Butter

She had a rash.  She was tired. She was miserable. She wanted to sleep but couldn’t. 

Our other three children were also in need.   One was emotionally distraught over an upcoming jog-a-thon, another was not happy with  her bedtime attire, and our young son was attempting to suplex anyone that crossed his path.

When all offspring are in need at once, I find the triage approach to be helpful.  The rash was clearly the most  life-threatening issue, followed by the suplexing toddler and the jog-a-thon situation . The pajama problem would be dealt with last if at all. So, with a plan in place, I headed to the rash victim’s room. I applied a salve to the affected region, all the while cursing the bargain Easter dress whose lace was likely to blame. Next, I dealt with the baby wrestler. A bottle did the trick. It kept his hands busy and his mouth closed.  Problem solved. Back to the rash. Her anguish was untouched by the salve, so I hit up the freezer for the trusty, all powerful ice pack.  Unfortunately, we had no pack, just ice.  Chaylee, the afflicted one, loves to eat ice, so I searched for some frozen vegetables to use instead.  None were sealed.  The alternative solution? Frozen butter. We had loads of it and she hates butter, so there would be no danger of her ingesting the cure. I said a prayer, kissed her goodnight  and promised to pick up the butter after dealing with the jog-a-thon problem–by then she would surely be asleep.

I am not sure what woke me. Perhaps my maternal alert system picked up a needy presence in the room. Or maybe it was the rhythmic thud of a child flying up the stairs at mind boggling speed to avoid the nothing behind them.  I can’t be sure, but when I opened my eyes she was 6 inches away from me, standing sternly by my bedside. 

“What is it honey? Did you have a bad dream?”

“No,” she replied indignantly.”I’m covered in butter!”

As my eyes adjusted to the subtle light from the alarm clock,  I could see that she was indeed glistening. It was 2am. She had been rolling around on two sticks of butter for hours, slowly melting them with her body heat until she was fully glazed like a self basting turkey.  

I took her to the bathroom as she cried. “I hate butter!!!!” 

I attempted some fun word play to lighten the mood and hide my shame. 

“Nothing like a little bed and butter.”

No laughter, just tears.

“You’ll feel butter in the morning,” I quipped.

More tears.

After a thorough scrub down with warm rags and barrage of hugs and apologies, she was back to sleep — in our bed of course. Hers was smothered in butter. At least the rash was gone.

Poll: What food would you rather not find yourself sleeping in or on?

Family Fun Fact:  Mike slept through this debacle. He learned of the incident by looking for his favorite pillow in Chaylee’s room. Didn’t see that one coming did ya Mikey?

In other news:  This is my first blog attempt since departing my beloved Australia.  It feels weird. But, I needed to get this story off my chest, and I thought it might help other mothers feel butter about themselves.