Author Archives: agsawan

Don’t Be A Sh**Head

http://tentotwenty.com/dear-kids-if-i-die-please-dont-be-a-sh-head/

I recently wrote a post for Ten To Twenty Parenting. Here is a copy of my parenting wisdom summed up in 10 pieces of advice. That’s all I got…

Dear Children:

Should I die from heat stroke in hot yoga class I am being forced to take tomorrow by my alleged “friends” here is a list of ten of the most important life lessons I want you to remember.

Love Mom

1) DON’T be a sh** head.

Don’t be a sh** head is actually the only piece of advice you will ever need in life. A sh** head can best be summed up as a person who thinks they are better than everyone and therefore can act however they want without taking into account the feelings of others. Just think about it: ISIS, filled with sh**heads. Nazis, sh**heads. Westboro Baptist Church, sh**heads. That girl in fourth grade that invited everyone in the class but you to her birthday party, sh** head. and her parents are also sh**heads.

You will, unfortunately, find sh**heads everywhere, they will be in your school, on your sport teams, sitting beside you in the movie theatre, the coffee shop, on the train, the airplane, the beach, maybe even at Thanksgiving dinner.

2) DON’T ever think you know the whole story. The truth is while some people are born sh**t heads, most are made that way by either crappy parenting or crappy events in their life. You never really know when someone acts unkindly to you what else is going in his/her life so give people a second chance, then if they are still a sh**head, move on.

3) DON’T let anyone push you around. If some stupid bully on the playground hits you, hit them back. I know, I know, your teacher says, “Use your words.” Great. Here are some words to use (try to say this with a low and gravelly voice, like Liam Neesen), “Listen jerk, I don’t want to hurt you, but if you hit me again I will hit you back and you won’t like it.” Now, if they hit you again, hit them back, hard. You tried to warn them, you used your words, it didn’t work.

4) DON’T ever say, “I would NEVER…” The truth is, we don’t know what we would say or do in certain situations; what words we might say or how we might act. Don’t be too quick to judge others. There are circumstances in life that cause us to become strangers even to ourselves.

5) DON’T do drugs. Seriously, have you ever seen this particular life choice work out well for anyone? Ever? Elvis? Whitney Houston? Michael Jackson? The Rolling Stones? Ok, well maybe the Rolling Stones, but that’s it.

Onto the 5 DO’s:

6) DO check your teeth, feet and fly before leaving the restroom. Teeth: for wayward pieces of broccoli; feet: for pieces of toilet paper that are quietly and grossly trailing along behind you and fly: to make sure it’s up and you don’t look like a creep.

And don’t forget to discreetly tell your friends when they have something stuck in their teeth or if their fly is down. What kind of a sh**head wouldn’t tell their friend when something was in their teeth? Wouldn’t you want to know? Isn’t that what a true friend does? Tells you when something isn’t quite right. Helps you out in a jam. Steps on that nasty piece of paper stuck to your shoe. Now that’s a true friend.

7) DO pass the ball. PASS THE DAMN BALL! And I don’t mean to your best friend or the star player on the team, I mean pass it to that kid that will probably miss it. The one who might fumble. Throw it to him/her and if they miss it, no big deal, this isn’t the NFL or the NBA. They just want a chance. Everyone wants to be a part of the team.

8) DO surround yourself with people you can be yourself with. So here’s the harsh truth: you tend to make mistakes, you are sort of strange and sometimes you smell. You are no different than anyone else, and you better be with the people or person who will love you through all of that. I recently read about a woman who said she could never pass gas in front of her spouse because it would ruin their romance. Seriously? I have been married for almost twenty-five years and personally, I just don’t have the energy to hold in all of the bad parts of me all of the time. Once in a while the ugly and smelly just come out. It’s life. It’s human. It’s you. It’s me. It’s all of us.

9) DO say yes when someone asks you to dance. It takes a lot of courage to get up the nerve to ask someone to dance. They aren’t asking you to marry them; it’s just a dance for Christ sake! So, don’t be a sh**head, dance!

10) DO listen to old people once in a while. We know a few things. We have had hookups and breakups. We have done mean things and done the right things. We have been drunk and high, and woke the next morning full of regret. We thought we knew the whole story, only to find out later that we didn’t actually know the story at all. We have worked up the courage to ask someone to dance only to be rejected. We have tried to hold in the stinky parts of us, only to realize we cannot. We have known sh** heads and we have been sh** heads. We know.

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Fly Away

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The plane lifted off the ground and the buildings and cars and trees below quickly became nothing more than small gray smudges against the earth. Clouds soon enveloped the tiny window next to me and unable to see past the foggy haze anymore I sat back, willing myself not to cry.

I had just said goodbye to my daughter who is spending a few months abroad in Europe.

I arrived a week earlier and she met me outside of my hotel where I held her in my arms for an embarrassingly long time, burying my face in her shoulder and drinking in the familiar, delicious scent of her. She proudly showed me around her city: the coffee shops she frequents with friends, the bakery where she gets her morning pastry, the bars with the best sangria.

Despite the relentless rain we had a wonderful week, traveling about, meeting her gracious host family, touring the university, listening to the stories of her adventures in foreign countries, but as happy as I was to see her, somewhere below the surface I kept feeling a slight something; a tremor, a subtle shifting…something had changed and I couldn’t quite put my finger on it.

So now as I sat there on that plane, the miles between us growing with each passing minute, I thought back to the beginning of this life journey which we had started together so long ago.

I remembered bringing her home for the first time, setting the car seat down in the living room and just sitting and staring at her… I was terrified; filled with fear at the realization that I was now responsible for the very survival of this tiny, helpless creature. Oh, how she needed me and oh, how it frightened me. She needed me to be her sustenance. She needed me to be her voice. She needed me to be her eyes. She needed me in ways I had never been needed before and it was, I thought, too much. But somehow, step-by-step, day-by-day we made it through and slowly, overtime, my confidence grew until I found myself on the other side of the ambivalence, suddenly relishing the fact that she needed me.

She needed me.

How flattering. How empowering. How wonderful.

I was needed.

I thought back to when she needed me to clean off her skinned toddler knees after falling in the park. I thought back to when she needed me to stay by her side as she wobbled down the street on her two-wheeler. I thought back to when she needed me to coax her into the pool, “Come ‘on. Jump! You can do it!”

How she needed me later still to help her navigate the strange changes in her body, the unexpected torment of fluctuating middle school friendships and the confusing new interactions with boys.

Then I thought back to that summer after a particularly bad school year during which a ruthless teenage bully had undone all of my child’s confidence.

I had wiped her tears and told her that this mean girl was no good. That the things she said weren’t true. That it was all just garbage. But no matter how many times I told her that she was beautiful and perfect, I couldn’t fix what was broken. She needed something else.

“It’s called Girls Leadership,” I said, handing her the colorful brochure sporting photos of teenage girls rock climbing and zip lining. “I think it might be good for you.”

She gave it a fleeting glance and handed it back, saying with the sage wisdom of a teenager, “You can call it whatever you want Mom. I know what it is. It’s confidence camp.”

The night before she left we went for a walk on the beach and she cried and begged and pleaded,

“Please don’t make me go.”

How I wanted to say, “You’re right. Forget it. Stay with me. I will make it all better.”

But I didn’t. I couldn’t, because while I wanted to always be the one who could magically kiss away her fears and fix her bad days, ultimately it wasn’t me she needed anymore.

She needed to go. She needed to discover that she would be all right on her own. She needed to climb over those rocks by herself and if she fell, well then she needed to find her own way up.

She needed something more than me.

She needed herself.

So there on that plane, as I thought back through all those years, I finally realized what the unsettled feeling I had been having all week truly was: it was the glorious, beautiful, and bittersweet goodbye of childhood.

Goodbye.

She has done it. She is standing on her own now without me by her side. She is scrambling over those rocks on her own. She will stumble, this is certain, but if I am not there to offer a hand, it’s ok. She will get herself back up, she will clean off her own skinned knee and she will whisper to herself, “Come ‘on. Jump! You can do it.”

A Real Mom

I haven’t written anything here for so long, but something irked me recently and I have something to say, and when a mom has something to say, she says it! So roll your eyes if you must, here it is.

I was perusing my Facebook news feed the other day, checking up on friends, reading various articles, when I stumbled upon this post posted by a well respected, well known online news publication.

A photo of three dogs with the caption: We’re adopted? OMG!!! You mean you’re not our real mom?

And underneath the post: Precisely why I’m not letting my pups know. What they don’t know, can’t hurt ’em.

Immediately I stopped. Now obviously it’s about dogs, great, I get it, and I know, it’s suppose to be funny, I should lighten up, but… those words, “You mean you’re not our real mom?” stuck with me all day: at the supermarket, the post office, the coffee shop; everywhere I went I saw infants strapped to their moms, young children skipping along next to their moms, teenagers slumped down in the front seats of cars next to their moms, adopted or not? I don’t know. I am sure some of them were and some of them weren’t but all of those moms sure looked real to me. I tried to talk myself out of my silly thoughts, perhaps I was overreacting, so I went home and reread the post, which by now had thousands of likes, hoping to see it through different eyes, and then I scrolled down and read the comments, here are a few:

“I never say, “adopted” in front of my fur babies because I know they understand English”

“I never say the “A” word.”

“Mine would never believe you if you told them I wasn’t their real mom.”

But you said that we’re your BABIES!!”

dogs

And then came another photo of a dog, that said, “I’m adopted??? OMG! You mean you’re not my real mom?”

Maybe I shouldn’t have read those comments by all those ignorant people, but I did and my blood began to boil. “I never say adopted”, “The A word.” “You mean you’re not my real mom?” Wow, I thought, how would my daughter or someone else’s child feel reading this? I had always promised myself I wouldn’t become one of those crazy, over the top, annoying, politically correct parents.  I believe that the world should strive to laugh more at itself; I don’t want to be one of those people that everyone has to be extra cautious around, and maybe four children back I would have been the one saying, “Oh calm down! It’s just a joke!” But life changes you, love changes you and I am not the person I use to be.

What does it mean to be “real?” Real means to be actual, genuine, valid, true, physical and tangible; something not imagined. I am my daughter’s real mom. I worry when she is sick, I laugh when she is silly, I hold my breath when I see her struggle, I get annoyed when she acts up, I cry when she is hurting and sometimes, as I watch her sleep, her hair a dark tangled mess, her eyelashes fluttering against her cheek, I have to take a deep breath, humbled by how fortunate I am to have this child in my life. These things are not imagined. These feelings occur with all of my children. I love each of them to my core, to the center of my soul, to the middle of my bones, whether they grew beneath them or not. I am a real mom to all of them and I am tired of people insinuating otherwise when it comes to adoption. Adoption is not the “A” word something to be hidden or ashamed of, adoption is something to be celebrated and we will celebrate because we are a REAL family. Real: actual, genuine, valid, true, physical and tangible; something not imagined.

And by the way, the dog joke…it’s not funny.

Sweet Sand

Here’s a piece as we say goodbye to summer yet again.

Five More Minutes.....

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I went to the beach last week with my kids. After forcefully applying sunscreen to my two older boys they finally broke away and ran off, quickly gathering a group of kids for a wiffle ball game, while my five year old, Eliza, plopped herself down on the sand by the edge of the water and began digging.

Soon a stout little girl in a flowered bathing suit sidled up.

“Whatcha ya doing?” She asked.

“Building a mermaid castle,” my daughter replied. “Wanna help?”

“Sure.” The girl said, picking up a shovel, “I’m Ava.”

(Amazing: a bat and ball… a bucket of wet sand, apparently that’s all you need to spark a few friendships. We adults certainly have a lot to learn, or unlearn perhaps.)

The two little girls planted themselves not far from my chair and began to dig, chatting as they worked side by side: How…

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Princesses

 

Watching Princess Kate on the “telly” with her impeccable manners, fantastic clothes, and her jet setting life style it’s hard for a girl not to think, wouldn’t it be grand to be a princess? Always perfect, always poised and pretty, but… what if you just aren’t that type of girl? What if you prefer messy spaghetti to neat finger sandwiches; and overalls to long gowns? Can you still be a princess?

I have two wonderful daughters. Two daughters, two girls, two VERY different people.

When my oldest daughter was little she was a princess loving freak! She wore dresses and tutus and loved anything that glimmered and shined. She watched Ariel and Jasmine and Belle over and over; beautiful (and overly priced) dolls littered the hallways and stairs of our home and she dreamed of one day actually living in her own giant, pink, plastic, elevator-equipped Barbie Dream house.

My younger girl…not so much. Most days it’s all I can do to get a brush through her hair, and she barely made it through one year of ballet class. This little girl spends much of her time being a Ninja warrior, and for her birthday this year she wants Legos (not the pink ones), an extra large plastic container of orange cheese puffs, and karate lessons (God help us).

 

 

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It takes all kinds of girls, and thank goodness for that.

So for my two girls, and for the millions of girls in this world, those that are quiet and those that are loud, those that are graceful and those that are not, those that dream of being princesses and those that already are, I wrote this little rhyming picture book.

 

 

 

SOME PRINCESSES

 

Some princesses wear high heels, shiny and new.

Some princesses wear flip-flops, or red running shoes.

 

Some princesses walk slowly, their heads held up high,

Some princesses like to skip, leap and soar to the sky!

 

Some princesses’ attend grand balls and waltz all about.

Some princesses rock the drums and totally jam out!

 

Some princesses play croquet, gently tapping the ball.

Some princesses play baseball, hitting one up, Up, UP…

and over the wall!

 

Some princesses eat sandwiches, with the crusts all cut off.

Some princesses crave tacos, or spaghetti with sauce.

 

Some princesses watch their manners and try not to slurp,

(but all princesses pass gas and ocasionally burp).

 

Some princesses’ dress in long gowns covered in jewels.

Some princesses wear overalls, with pockets for tools.

 

Some princesses have hair that’s always shiny and neat.

Some princesses have hair that just FREAKS out in the heat!

 

Some princesses make a mess, and have maids put it all away on a shelf.

Some princesses have moms that say, “Princess, go clean that mess up, YOURSELF.”

 

Some princesses have brown skin, some freckly, some fair.

Some princesses wear eyeglasses, some use a wheel chair.

 

Some princesses may be quiet, while some are quite bold,

but all girls are princesses, with hearts spun from gold.

 

It’s true.

 

No matter who they are or what they like to do;

ALL girls are princesses, especially,

 

Girls.

Just.

Like.

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Anne Sawan 2014

March Madness and Three Little Pigs

So we are all into March madness over here, both the basketball kind and the kind brought on by prolonged winter cabin fever.  Lucky for me, Susanna Leonard Hill is sponsoring a March Madness writing contest to help alleviate some of the boredom and restlessness that has settled into my brain. This one requires a 400 word max fractured Fairy Tale. thIt’s all just for fun (and a few great prizes) so give it a try, you just might get hooked!

http://susannahill.blogspot.com/2014/03/the-march-madness-writing-contest-is.html

Inspired by almost-true events:

Go outside Three Little Pigs!! 

Once upon a time there were three little pigs.

Three little, lazy pigs that just sat around all day and did nothing but play video games.

Until, one sunny day when Mama Pig decided she couldn’t take it anymore.

“That’s it!” She said, pointing to the door. “I have had enough! Go. Out. SIDE!”

“What?” said the First Pig.

“You want us to go out… there?” said the Second Pig.

“But, there’s never anything to do outside.” complained the Third Pig.

Mama Pig threw open the door.

“Have an adventure! Use your imagination! Just go outside, NOW!”

So the three miserable, lazy pigs went outside.

“It’s sooo hot out here,” moaned the First Pig.

“I’m sooo bored,” whined the Second

“I miss my video games,” cried the Third.

A dark shadow crept slowly along the fence.

“Little pig, little pigs, let me in,” whispered a deep, gravely voice.

“The wolf! Mom! Mom!” The three pigs banged on the door.

“Go away,” said Mama Pig from inside the house.

The three pigs stared at one another.

“Quick!” said Pig Number One. “To the straw pile!”

The three pigs ran across the lawn and burrowed their way into the middle of the straw.

“Ha!” laughed the Wolf. “Do you really think that measly house made of hay is going to keep me away? I am going to huff and puff…”

The three pigs dug as fast as they could through the back of the straw pile.

“To the tree house!” yelled the Second Pig.

The three pigs clambered up the ladder to the tree house and slammed the door shut.

Snap!

A branch snapped, and then another, and another.

Snap!
Snap!

Suddenly through the wall came the wolf’s furry head, his red, beady eyes and his pointed teeth.

“Really, a house made of sticks?” He snarled.

The three pigs quickly threw themselves out of the treehouse, landing one by one with a thud on the dirt below.

“Over there! Behind that brick wall!” yelled Pig Number Three.

The three pigs scampered behind the wall but they knew it was no use;

sharp claws soon crept over the rocks…

“Help! We’re doomed!” They cried.

“Pigs! Oh, Pigs, time for din-ner!” Yelled Mama Pig.

“Awww, already?” said Pig Number One.

“That was way more fun that video games!” Said Pig Number Two

“Sure was.” Said Pig Number Three. “See you tomorrow Wolf?

“See you tomorrow Pigs.”

Do You Believe In Magic?

I am in a really bad mood today. Don’t know why, maybe its the never-ending pile of snow outside my front door. Maybe it’s because the door on my car was frozen shut when I went to drive the kids to school.  Maybe it’s because I had zero gas in my car once I finally opened the car door and then had to stand out in the snow and wind and freezing rain to fill my tank. Whatever the reason, I am not in a good mood. So on the advice of my sister I am headed to HomeGoods to buy something with a starfish on it and then I am going to bake a cake. A chocolate cake. In the meantime here is a little story I wrote about a girl who woke up in a bad mood, and the help she gets from her brother to turn it around, because sometimes all it takes is a little, fun, child-like magic…(and sometimes it takes HomeGoods and chocolate cake)

Harry’s Magic

 

Eliza woke up on the wrong side of the bed,

her hair all askew, her eyes seeing red.

She didn’t know why but she felt angry and mad;

her insides felt twisted, and crinkly and bad!

Her head was all groggy, her lungs full of steam;

she wanted to shout, she wanted to scream!

She put on her shoes and downstairs she clomped,

Each step getting louder: stomp,

STomp,

STOmp,

STOMp

STOMP!

 

“Hello!” Called her brother,“ What’s that? Whose out there?

Is a there a dinosaur in the house?  A monster? A bear?”

“No, Harry, it’s me,” Eliza said with a growl.

“I woke up feeling grumpy, my mood is just foul.

I don’t want to laugh or smile or play.

I just feel like yelling, so stay out of my way!

I am furious, irate, annoyed and quite fuming.

I feel like a beast, like something not human!”

 

“A beast!”  Harry said. “Well, I can fix that!

Quick, bring me my wand, my cape and my hat!

I will drive out that fiend! I will shatter that curse!

I will make you a potion before it gets worse.”

 

“Now, let’s see…

First, I will need the dog’s chew bone, then some old bubble gum,

three hairs from a hairbrush and an earring from Mum.

A sock that is smelly, a Band-Aid that’s new,

a crayon that’s green and dad’s left running shoe.

Some Halloween treats, an old boiled egg,

a button from your sweater, a scab from your leg,

some bologna that’s slimy, an elephant with wings,

three rotten apples and a dolly that sings.”

 

Eliza reached under sofas and reached under chairs,

she peered into closets, and ran up and down stairs.

She pulled back the curtains and opened the drawers,

she climbed into the bathtub and searched behind doors.

She gathered it all, the old and the new,

the smelly, the gross, the slimy, the chewed.

 

“Let’s go!” Harry said, throwing open the door.

“Outside! We aren’t done, there is still a lot more!

We must search all around and find all that we need,

like that slippery worm! Quick! Over there, by that weed!

Next a butterfly, then some flowers: both yellow and red,

a grasshopper and a rock from under the shed.

Wild goose feathers, and a jumping bull frog,

a nut and a twig and some moss from that log.”

 

So, Eliza ran and jumped and climbed into the trees,

she crept through the bushes on her hands and her knees.

She gathered it all up and put it into a pail.

“And lastly,“ said Harry, “one teeny-weeny snail.”

 

Eliza searched and searched until at last she found one.

“There!” She said, “Is that it? At last, are we done?”

“Almost,” said her brother, slowly stirring his brew.

“But there is just one more small thing I still need you to do.

You must jump! Dance! Leap! And sing out a song!

And when you are done, that beast will be gone.”

 

Eliza growled and groused, but did as he said,

singing sort-of-a song and barely nodding her head.

She gave one leg a slow shake and the other a jiggle,

she wiggled her backside and then… she started to giggle.

Huh?!

 

Eliza’s eyes grew round, her mouth opened wide.

“Harry,” she whispered.  “I feel different inside.

I am no longer crabby, or mean, or a beast!

I feel silly, elated and not mad in the least!

All gone are my monsters, my meanies, my pout,

I just feel like singing and dancing about!

I feel crazy and happy! I’m Eliza! I’m me!

Oh, thank you! You did it! You set my fun free!”

 

“You’re welcome,” said Harry, with a wink and a bow.

“My magic always works and I’ll tell you how.

First you conjure up some sillies, then stir in some fun,

give a hip and a hop and… ABRACADABRA! It’s done!

Because no beast can survive, no grumpies will stay,

if you just let a little Harry-magic into your day.”

I Love You!

       Happy Valentines Day everyone! Here is a small, silly, rhyming children’s book I wrote for my kids about all the ways in which we can express and keep I Love You in our heads and hearts. Hope you like it and feel free to share it with those you love…especially if you love a publisher of children’s books 🙂                                                  safe_image.php

I Love You

I love you.

I love you.

I love you.

 

I can yell it out real loud,

or whisper it real low.

I can chant it, I can hum it,

I can tap it with my toes.

I love you!

 

I can holler it as I wiggle,

I can whistle it as I skip.

I can shout it as I jump,

I can shake it with my hips.

I love you!

 

I can say it in Chinese,

or how they do in France.

I can sing it hopping on one foot,

or while I do a crazy dance.

I love you!

 

I can quack it like a duck,

I can croak it like a frog.

I can spout it like a whale,

I can bark it like a dog.

I love you!

 

I can be a scary monster and say it with a growl,

or maybe with a grunt…

or a roar,

Or a HOWL!

I love you!

 

I can scratch it in the sand,

and scrawl it in the snow.

I can write it in the clouds,

and in the brown dirt down below.

I love you!

 

I can spell it with spaghetti,

or from carrots, or even peas!

I can scribble it in the bathtub

while I scrub my dirty knees.

I love you!

 

I whisper it in my bed

while I’m counting sheep,

and I see it in my dreams

when I’m fast asleep.

I love you!

 

I hear it in my head,

but I keep it in my heart

for those times when we’re together

and those times when we’re apart,

I love you.

I love you.

I love you.

Anne Sawan, 2014