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Disregarding the line between fantasy and reality

Let me tell you the story about how I was a teenage hussy.

No, wait, that’s not right. What was I? Oh, a teenaged girl who had unrealistic expectations of life thanks to all the fiction books she read. If someone had told me that the shit I read in books was only loosely based on real life then I wouldn’t have this story to tell, and frankly, this story is embarrassing as all hell.

My father and stepmother took us kids to Disney World when I was 14. Because the most traveling I had ever done was a few road trips to Montana, I was excited to fly on a plane and visit a time zone THREE! WHOLE! HOURS! ahead of ours. So I consulted my well traveled friend, Wild Waves, on how to pack my clothes with minimal wrinkles (roll ’em up!) and borrowed her Broadway Dress from her for the night we visited Pleasure Island.

Pleasure Island, if you’re not familiar with it, was a part of Disney World where the grown ups can play. Night clubs, shopping, dining, and a New Year’s Eve celebration every night, all named after that place in Pinnochio where all the little boys party all the time then turn into jackasses. For some reason, my dad thought it was a great idea to take a 10 and 14 year old there, but I didn’t give a thought to how the visit might be inappropriate. I was jacked, because I might find my first boyfriend!

Now, let me explain something about 14 year old me. I read. A lot. And my favorite books? The Babysitters Club books. (Nerd alert: I have every single book from the series. DON’T JUDGE ME.) Do you know what happens every time the Babysitters go on vacation? They find luv. Since this was a group of girls just a year or so younger than I was, do you know what I thought would happen? I’d find some guy my age or just a little older, fall in love, we’d stay in touch until we went to the same college and he waited for me and we got married and had little babies and told our cute story of how we met. Because, you know, stuff like that happens.

The night we went to Pleasure Island, I put on Wild Wave’s dress, carefully applied the makeup I either had with me or borrowed from my stepsister, and then wrote my name and the phone number for our hotel room on 2 pieces of paper and tucked them away in my purse to hand out to my lucky future mate. I didn’t meet anyone, obviously, but in the course of the night I lost one of those pieces of paper. As a result, this happened:

The phone rings at 2 AM, my older stepsister answers the phone groggily. “Hello?” She listens for a moment and hands the phone to my younger sister. “Hand this to your sister.”

My 10 year old sister grabs the phone sleepily. “Hello?” She almost immediately hands the phone over to me. “It’s for you.”

My heart pounds. Who is calling me?

“Is this Ava?”


“Hey, this is Mark.” GASP! He sounded like an older boy!

“Hi. How did you get this number?”

“I found it on the ground at Pleasure Island.” OH MY GOD HE DID NOT. IT’S FATE. IT’S DESTINY.

“Oh.” So smooth. How do I not have a string of suitors lined up to take me out on my first date?

“So you wanna meet up?” Wow, already?

“I can’t, I’m sleeping.”

“Night time isn’t for sleeping, it’s for playing. Let’s go somewhere.” Wait. He might be more than an older boy…

“Uh, I don’t think my dad will let me…”

“So your dad won’t let you outside of the mo?”

“The what?”

“The mo? The motel?”

“Uhhh. No. I’m not really old enough to go out by myself.”

“Bring him with you. We can ditch him later. Or bring one of the ladies I talked to before you.” It’s entirely possible this guy had no idea he was talking to a 14 year old. And it’s also entirely possible I was beginning to freak out.

“I really can’t, I’ll get in a lot of trouble.” Because, you know, I wasn’t already going to be in trouble.

“Oh, come on. Live a little.”

Now, I did what any rational human being would do. I set up a fake meeting with him. I told him to meet me at Typhoon Lagoon tomorrow at 3 PM by the big wave pool. I told him to look for a girl with blonde hair, which was kind of true, and a black bikini with white daisies on it, which was not true. I had a black 1 piece with a giant daisy on the front. You know, something you would expect a 11-14 year old to be wearing. But he didn’t know that, so he enthusiastically agreed.

Needless to say, we did not meet up the next day. My family and I were at Typhoon Lagoon the next day and indeed, I was at the wave pool around 3. But this guy wasn’t looking for me. He was looking for a blonde hottie in a skimpy bathing suit with the confidence to throw her phone number around, not a shrimpy, flat chested girl with braces who relied on books about girls who were stuck in the 8th grade for 12 years for romantic advice. Oddly enough, as I was walking to get something to drink around 3:45 a group of what appeared to be college age guys walked past me, jostling a guy in the middle. “Man, you can’t be waiting around all day for some girl you ain’t never met!”

Late that night, I got another phone call. My sisters passed the phone on to me as they had the night before and I gotta say, Mark was NOT happy. He was stood up! He had every right to be! I don’t remember much of this last phone conversation, but it boiled down to me being a tease and a bitch for standing him up in front of his brother and friends…and that’s when my dad came in, summoned by my older stepsister, and took the phone.

“Do you know who you’re calling?”

A pause.

“She’s FOURTEEN. How did you get this number?”

Another pause, and a glare. “I suggest you lose it.” He slammed the phone down. That was it. No tongue lashing, no grounding, nothing. He simply told us to go back to sleep, stalked back into his room, and closed the door. Hard.

The lesson I took from this: don’t take your phone number to Pleasure Island and if you do, make sure it doesn’t fall out of your purse. The lesson I should have learned?

Don’t model your life on girls who are frozen in time in the eighth grade.


Wherein my mad parenting skills fail me

We had a play date yesterday with some new friends of ours. They hosted, so we got to play with someone else’s toys, trash someone else’s backyard, eat someone else’s food. I’ll never understand why this is so awesome to kids, but it’s like Christmas, birthdays, and a trip to Chuck E. Cheese wrapped up in chocolate and rolled in Pixie Stick dust. The girls were excited to see their friends, and very curious about this new place we were going. What toys will they have? What will their house look like? Will there be cookies? Can I go potty? CAN I PLAY WITH THEIR SNAKE?!

As it turns out, a snake wasn’t the only pet they have. They had 2 dogs: a chihuahua and the other one was big and gentle. I’d like to point out, both the girls were entranced by the snake, and I’m pretty sure I will be Cult Leader’s first target if I don’t get her one. Anyway, Evil Genius, who happens to love pointing out animals, heard the dogs before she saw them. “A woof-woof!” She was really excited about these faceless woof-woofs until…

…they rushed into the house.

You guys, my kid Lost Her Shit. And had about 5 cows. And then Lost More Shit. This was the most hysterical I’ve ever seen this child. She was shaking from head to toe, screaming, burying her face in my shoulder. It was so sad! I had no idea how to deal with it. When Cult Leader Loses Her Shit, it’s usually just a matter of getting her out of the situation and giving her space until she’s done. But Evil Genius is my more even child. She doesn’t have a lot of tantrums, she doesn’t get hysterical, she doesn’t sob for hours. It’s the most helpless I’ve felt since, well, that one incident that I will write about later, because what kind of kid falls backward off a metal slide, hits the stairs on the way down, and is fine 5 minutes later? And what kind of mom is traumatized by such an event? This kid and this mom right here. It deserves a blog post.

But I digress.

I was totally helpless, and did the best I could to calm her fears. Apparently I sucked at it, because she wouldn’t let me put her down. I don’t know if you know this, but a 30 pound toddler isn’t easy to hold for long periods of time. I tried over and over to detach her from my neck, but apparently she was pretty fond of becoming my new necklace. There were moments where I could set her on the ground and she would be fine. She’d play with her friend, she’d chase the older girls, she’d be occupied by some toys, but then she’d hear the woof-woofs, or she’d see them, and she’d practically jump into my arms.

I think she’s scarred for life. This presents a problem, because my in-laws have a new dog at their house, and we are thinking about getting Cult Leader one. I have it on good authority that certain breeds of dogs are good for kids with ADHD, and I have this thing where I like helping my daughter cope with her brain. I’m not really sure how to help Evil Genius. Could I take her to an animal shelter and toss her in a cage full of dogs, much like our grandparents taught our parents how to swim my throwing them in the pool? No? Bad idea?


I guess we’ll play the wait and see game. If anyone has any tips, I’d be happy to take them. My girls are going to need enough therapy when they’re older; being traumatized by dogs isn’t something I want for them.