The following is a Bad Mommy confessional tale.......
Since I became a SAH mom, I've resorted to relying upon an old-school style wall calendar, hung prominently in the kitchen, to keep track of stuff. Back in my working days, I carried a Palm Pilot and felt as though I were missing an appendage without it, but somehow I broke free from my reliance upon my PDA once I began staying at home. Hubby and I have had something of a tradition over the years wherein we bought a desk calendar for the other person each year for Christmas. He used to get me various kinds of calendars - Jeopardy, Word of the Day, that sort of thing, whereas I always get him Dilbert calendars. Once I was at home, Hubby switched and started buying me a wall calendar instead. For the past few years, he got me one of those "Mom's Planning Calendar" kinds, with all the huge spaces for writing stuff in and stickers to mark certain days. Well, last year, without even discussing it, neither of us bought calendars for the other. I figured it would be no big deal and I'd either go back to using my PDA (I've upgraded from my ancient Palm to a hand-me-down HP PDA that Hubby passed on to me after he got his first Blackberry) or I could pick up a wall calendar sometime shortly after Christmas.
Well, next thing I know, it's early January and I was still without a wall calendar, and I was starting to freak out. My hand-me-down PDA just wasn't doing it for me (okay, so I now have gadget envy and want a crackberry of my very own, but so far, *sigh* I still have my coupla-years-old RAZR. I suppose I'd be equally happy with an iPhone, but they don't work with Verizon. *sigh* again.....) and I was starting to get desperate. I made a trip to the mall's seasonal calendar kiosk and picked up their last copy of a Mom's planner style calendar - not the same one that Hubby had given me each year, but it seemed like it would suit the purpose. Brought it home, opened it up and haaaated it. It was too long and also very narrow, column-wise, and too heavy for the "one thumbtack on the corkboard" hanging method I employ, so it kept crashing down behind the garbage and recycling cans. Grrrr. Take two - the following week, I bought a second wall calendar. It too didn't cut it - the week started with Monday instead of Sunday (really, who likes that format?!) and I kept getting confused. That was even more frustrating. Back I went to the mall the following week, except now it was almost February and the kiosk was closed up until the following holiday season. SHOOT. I wound up scouring the racks at Walmart in hopes of finding a calendar that would fit the bill. Finally, my eyes lighted upon a Far Side wall calendar. Perfect, I love The Far Side - growing up, I had a Far Side calendar every year! Also, it looked plenty large enough for writing stuff in the squares, it started on Sundays and it was only $5! Done and done. I brought it home, crowing over my triumph at finally finding a calendar to Hubby, and promptly hung it up on the wall.
There was just one, tiny problem. You see, this year's calendar isn't any regular old Far Side calendar. Nope, just my luck, this is this year's calendar:
Yeah, a little more dark, gruesome and violent than your average Far Side calendar. I wasn't really worried, though, since Kiddo rarely pays attention to such things.
Except Kiddo decided to pay very, very, VERY close attention to this particular such thing. Each month, she has gazed intently at the newly revealed, full color, gigantic comic panel, and each month, I have had to "explain" the panel to her.* (I wanted to scan in some of the pictures to illustrate my points, but the calendar is an odd size and much too large to fit on my scanner bed. Well, at least I won't be infringing on anyone's property this way!) Take, for example, the "Spider Mafia at Work" one, where a couple of cigar-chomping arachnids are lowering an unlucky fellow spider with tiny cement blocks on each of his eight feet over the side of a bridge. Yeah, that needed some quick repurposing, as did the month featuring "Scene from Dinner on Elm Street" in which a chicken pops out of a dog costume while the family is gathered around the table, chowing down on drumsticks, and says "No, I'm not your little dog Fifi! I'm the chicken you thought you fixed for dinner! Would you like to know where your little Fifi is? Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!" On that one, I said "Oh look, the chicken is playing a joke on the family, saying 'Surprise, I'm not your dog!' Oh hee hee, isn't that so SILLY?"
That's how I've tried to write them all off to her - "Oh, hee hee, isn't that so SILLY?" and though at times, she hasn't seemed completely convinced, she wants to be convinced and will agree with me that yes, it is silly and no, it isn't something to give her nightmares, really, after all. I mean, if Mommy says it isn't scary, then it isn't scary, right? All the five year old faith in parental explanations has been on the line anew each month this year.
Now, why didn't I just go out and get yet another calendar, you ask? Because (a) I'd already spent over thrice my annual calendar budget, (b) Hubby was getting fed up with the weekly calendar switches and (c) dagnabit, I like The Far Side! Round about May - the month that featured Dinner on Elm Street - I flipped ahead a couple of months and the upcoming cartoons didn't look too bad.
However, I didn't flip as far ahead as October. Whoops. Of course for the month that stars Halloween, there'd be an extra-creepy cartoon. This one features the Deaths at home, with some poor Shmoe knocking at their stoop, and Mr. Death saying via the caption "Dang, if it doesn't happen every time! ... We just sit down to relax and someone's knockin' at the door." I mean, that's pretty funny, I know. I chuckled as I turned the page earlier this week, but once again, Kiddo's eyes were drawn almost magnetically to the new picture as soon as she stumbled, not even fully awake, into the kitchen on the 1st and out came the dreaded words... "Mommy, what does THAT one say?" I launched into a retelling along the lines of "Oh isn't this one so SILLY? The people wearing their Halloween costumes are INSIDE the house and the person trick-or-treating has no costume on - see, they're backwards, oh HA HA HA HA HA!" Kiddo wasn't really sure she was buying this one. I "explained" it again, getting her in on it by asking her "now who wears the costumes on Halloween? The trick-or-treaters, right? And who doesn't dress up? The people who stay home and hand out the candy, right? So, this is backwards and that's why it is funny!" Mmm-hmmm, that's why, really, I mean it! It doesn't help much that the Deaths are drawn in a scary sort of way, with clawlike hands and Mr. Death with a big, toothy mouth showing underneath his glowing eyes peering out from the traditional black hood. (At least Mrs. Death has cute cat-eye glasses and lipstick underneath her hood!) Kiddo is dubious, but going with it, though I catch her standing in front of the calendar and saying "those sure are SCARY Halloween costumes those people have on!" in an uncertain sort of way.
I'm lucky that Kiddo is just learning how to read, so I can still make things up without getting caught. I'm not completely thrilled with the "Lie a Month From Mommy" aspect of this, and further, I fear I'm permanently warping her sense of humor. (Though, she does have a pretty finely honed sense of humor already - honed, that is, at the stone of Mommy's Weirdness, so I guess she's already doomed...) For what it's worth (which may be hundreds of dollars of therapy bills, I know), Kiddo doesn't seem to be obsessing over the cartoons nor does she ever have any bad dreams from them - or at all, actually, and I only have two months left for this calendar, and then we're through. I think it will be a few more years before I get another Far Side calendar. For next year, I'm thinking kittens or puppies or butterflies would be good. Nice and safe and not requiring much improvisation. Maybe I'll go crazy and get a calendar with kittens AND puppies... Unless Hubby wants to spare us both the grief and just get me a Blackberry or iPhone of my very own for Christmas this year!
* By the by, each Sunday, Kiddo pores over the comics section of the newspaper and asks us to read her the comics. Let me tell you, explaining the humor of, say, Doonesbury or Dilbert or Non Sequitor just isn't that easy - they don't translate well to the five year old audience. I might as well further confess that Hubby and I both will invent new story lines for the Sunday comics upon occasion, too. The only strips that ever seem consistently safe are good, old Garfield, Peanuts and Ziggy, though Kiddo often wants to hear Jump Start, Hi and Lois and For Better Or Worse, I think because they have kids in them. Let me just go on the record as saying nothing is more painful than "reading" Cathy or Shoe to your five year old and having to explain why it theoretically is humorous............