Sunday, February 17, 2008

Nobody Puts the Feldmans in a Corner

Last night, we decided to take our kids out to dinner with us on our usual "date night."  Our son had just been diagnosed the day before with strep so rather than risk infecting his grandma, we took the pair out with us to somewhere new.  One of my mom friends recommended this Westchester restaurant on her website so I figured, even if we had to drive 40 minutes to get there, it still would be worth the trip.
When we arrived, we were told there would be a 35 minute wait, even though I had called earlier and they said we wouldn't have a problem getting in.  And so, while the kids whined about the fact that they were "starving," we took a seat near the bar and ordered a pizza while we waited to be seated.
After about 45 minutes had passed, the hostess finally came over to get us and pointed to a table that was a few feet away from where we were sitting.  At first, we figured if the kids made noise, that spot would be perfect, but then reality set in.  Every time someone opened the door, we'd instantly feel a 20 degree drop in the room temperature. Then, it took about 10 minutes for the waiter to come over and take our order and when I asked for a chardonnay, it took him another 30 minutes to come back and inform me that they had run out of the wine he had recommended.  Annoyed, I ordered a diet coke - which didn't arrive for another 20 minutes.
But the most aggravating part of the evening was the bar scene.  If you plan to take your kids to a restaurant and they seat you next to a bar and there is a long wait for tables, expect to start feeling incredibly claustrophobic when the crowd starts spilling over to your table.  As dozens of people entered the bar, I watched as two women inched closer to where we were sitting.  At one point, I think my son got slugged in the head with a handbag and we would have offered them an appetizer if someone had finally brought some food over to us.   And as the bursts of cold air, lack of a beverage and overcrowding situation worsened, I went ballistic and was ready to bolt.
My husband then complained to the hostess for sticking us in the worst corner of the restaurant and when he told her we'd like to take our check and leave, she called over the manager and he instantly found us a table inside.  As fate would have it, the table was next to another door which opened continuously and caused a draft every time someone opened it, but at least it was away from the bar scene.  
My whole beef about the evening was a simple one - why do restaurants discriminate against families?  I mean, I wouldn't want to eat at a place where there were screaming kids around who were causing a scene, but my children have been trained to be well-behaved since we eat out all the time.  I've had it with the poor service, putting us in a bad location and the obliviousness of other people who have no problem standing within two inches from our table while they're waiting for their own.  
So what's our takeaway from this experience?  Don't trust other people's restaurant recommendations? Don't bring your kids to a restaurant that's not kid friendly?  Suck it up and deal with poor service?  Or just eat at home?     While we may not dine at that restaurant again, what we do know is that if we ever get faced with a situation like this again, we will make one major request:  nobody puts the Feldmans in a corner.

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Monday, February 04, 2008

My Candidate is Better Than Yours

3rd Grade Language Arts Homework by Rebecca Feldman Assignment: Use the words divergent, career, humble, boastful, humility and memorable in a sentence: My mom and dad have divergent views of who should be the next president. My mom is voting for Hillary Clinton and my dad is definitely not. My mom admires her career and thinks she is a humble woman. However, my dad thinks she is a boastful person who lacks humility. I don’t know who will be president this year but the election will be a memorable one. If you thought Maria Shriver and Arnold Schwarzenegger were the only married couple in America who have opposing views of who they believe is the best candidate for president, think again. Tonight, on the eve of Super Tuesday, my husband and I will not be arguing over whose turn it is to take out the garbage, we’ve got bigger fish to fry. I’m digging in my heels and supporting Hillary Clinton, as he prepares to stand by his man, Republican frontrunner John McCain.
How could two people who are compatible in every way veer off in a completely different direction when it comes to politics? It beats me, but as long as I’ve known him, my financially savvy spouse has always leaned toward the right, while me, a creative spirit with a bleeding heart, is as left as they come. And now, even our kids have taken sides.
When we asked who they hoped would win the election, my daughter announced she was supporting Hillary Clinton because she wants her to become the first woman president. My five year old son took a simpler approach - selecting Republican Mike Huckabee because he likes the sound of his name. So tonight, as we gather round the kitchen table debating the merits of our respective candidates, while we may be pulling different levers on election day, it doesn’t mean we love each other any less. It’s just that when it comes to politics, sometimes you can agree to disagree.

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Saturday, January 19, 2008

Searching for Becca Fisher

When I read about the untimely death of champion chess player Bobby Fisher, I really didn't think much about it.  I vaguely remember the movie I saw about him being a chess-playing phenom as a kid, but other than that, the news of his passing didn't make that much of an impression.  That is, until this morning.
As we prepared to spend a day running errands or figuring out what to do with our kids, my daughter came running into the den waving a form in my face. "Mommy, my chess teacher said I need to be in this tournament and it's today."  Nothing like a little advanced warning.
After re-reading the sheet about five times, I reached the fine print section and noticed that after I forked over $50, my daughter could enter the chess match and compete.  Lucky for us, one of her best friends was selected by the teacher to play too, so our friend drove them over in time to register and we decided to meet her there - thinking we'd spend about 1-2 hours watching her play a few rounds.  
When we arrived, the hallways were teaming with kids of all ages - from kindergarteners to fifth graders - who knew that chess was so popular? While kids played chess in carefully guarded classrooms, parents were instructed to stay far away from the door so that we didn't screw up their concentration or shout out pointers.  If only my dad weren't allowed to watch my tennis matches when I was a kid - I probably would have won a few more games.  But back to Becca... 
After spending four hours at the school - doing whatever we could to entertain our son (thank you Nintendo), Becca emerged exhausted and victorious.  She won the first round, lost the second, tied the third and won the last round - which meant she qualified for a medal! Even better, after all the points were tallied, her school came in first place out of seven other schools - earning them the championship trophy.  The parents couldn't have been prouder and the kids were thrilled - for a moment I felt like I was in that "Akeelah and the Bee Movie."   As other kids trotted around with private school jerseys and t-shirts promoting their chess club, my happy go lucky kid who attends public school won a medal at her very first chess match.  Today the school championship, tomorrow the state!
And just think, I started my day thinking we'd be buying bananas and luncheon meat. Sure I don't have groceries, but I do have a chess-playing daughter who can also crochet, ice skate and is pretty damn good at gymnastics too.  My Becca never ceases to amaze me.  And that's the ultimate joy of being a parent - watching our kids try their best and pursue the things they love.   Gotta bolt...Becca is giving me my very first chess lesson!   

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

The Uninvited Guest

I officially had the grossest experience to date in my ongoing quest to be a free wheeling Manhattan entrepreneur.  While lunching at Maggie's in midtown with a former colleague, I placed my bag on the floor and didn't think much about that decision as we caught up on lost time.  After lunch, I grabbed my bag, slipped it on my shoulder and walked over to my new office near Grand Central Station.   While I checked in at security, I looked down into my bag and saw IT peering up at me.  
It must have been the size of my hand - okay - it wasn't that huge but all I knew was it was big, brown, with tentacles flaring and it was taking up residence in my monster purse.  I'm convinced it was a cockroach, water bug, cricket or some other humongous creature that had pranced into my bag and was creeping on top of my folders, Jenny Craig snacks and my laptop case, searching for something to nibble on.  
As the security guard attempted to take my photo so he could print out my temporary ID card, I could hardly speak.  I then started wriggling around, trying to figure out how to get rid of the roach. I finally managed to ask the guard for a napkin and he still couldn't understand why I was freaking out until he came around the bend to inspect my bag and saw the creepy crawler ducking for cover.  He then handed me a towel and I crushed the thing, like a bug.  Wait not like a bug, I actually crushed the bug and handed the towel back to the guard.  I then smiled and posed for my picture.  
As Cindy Adams says, "Only in New York kids, Only in New York."   

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Was it Something I Said?

I think I have a complex.  Or it might just be a rude neighbor.  You see, a few days ago, I was shopping with my husband and kids and we noticed a mom I knew shopping with her young daughter and when I walked over to say hello, she snubbed me.  I mean, I even called out her name and she did that "I'm pretending not to see you look" that I've used dozens of times on people I don't want to say hello to because then I'll be caught in a conversation with someone I really don't feel like speaking with in the first place.
Wait a second.  Did she pull "the snub" on me because she wanted to avoid me? Am I annoying?  Or someone she doesn't want to even acknowledge even though I practically see her every day at my kids' school?  Was it something I said, or didn't say?  I have to admit, it was rude of me to not buy her a baby gift when she gave birth about a year ago, but I didn't think she'd hold it against me.  
Come to think of it - she's not the only person who purposely snubs me even though I know she knows exactly who I am.  There's one mom in particular - I actually wrote about her about a year ago in a post called The Witches of Preschool - she is by far the Queen of all snubbers in my neighborhood.  I can't tell you the dozens of times I've seen her at school, in the supermarket, the post office, and even at my own kids' birthday party and she pretends not to see me or will carry on a conversation with another mom and act as if I'm not in the room.  I don't know what I did to her either, but she is by far the rudest snubber I've ever met - except of course for my cousin.
Yes, my own relative has snubbed me on numerous occasions.  Even though we live approximately 1/4 mile from each other, we are practically in another country - I'm in New Rochelle, she's in Scarsdale - in a gi-normous mansion.  I've never been invited to her home and have told my parents on numerous occasions that we should just ring and run just so we can check out her expansive foyer.  One time, she even snubbed me as we were walking into a Chinese restaurant and she was walking out.  She gave me that "I'm looking over your head" so I don't see you snub - a classic.
I am really growing tired of being snubbed by rude women and relatives and while I may be partly to blame, why can't people stop being oblivious for a change?  I know I'm guilty of snubbing people from time to time, so maybe in the New Year, I'll make a point to smile when people try to catch my attention. Say hello when someone calls my name and never ignore my neighbor.  Wait, I just discovered the 11th commandment - Thou Shalt Not Snub.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Old Feet and Other Commuter Pet Peeves

I hearby make a citizen's arrest.  In the name of cleanliness, manners and plain old decency, I proclaim this fellow commuter guilty. Guilty of assuming that his seat aboard a Metronorth train doubles as a Lazy Boy recliner.  Last I checked, thousands of people sit down exactly in the spot where those foul looking feet were parked today. And trust me, while I managed to sneak in this shot, you should have seen him go to town on his ear wax. 
I know when you step on a train many of us get lost in our own world - listening to music, watching a DVD, reading the newspaper, a great book, or in my case, meeting my favorite girlfriends for the most enjoyable part of our day.  So when I see someone plant his feet on the very spot where Robin, Mardene, Susan, Lauren and I sat earlier today, I just get utterly disgusted.
There have to be some commuter rules to follow and if you violate one of them, you get taken to task by the commuter police or by me and my 8:48 posse.  So here are seven tried and true commuter rules to live by and if you happen to have been riding the 4:23pm train to Scarsdale today in your bare socks, I hope you're paying attention:
1.  Do not under any circumstances take your shoes off on the train and stretch out your odor eaters on the seat in front of you.  
2.  If you choose to sit in a six seater and five talkative women nudge their way in so they can launch into their early morning coffee klatch, make sure your bags are off the seat and do not roll your eyes when they cover 10 topics in 33 minutes.  Besides, you may learn a thing or two if you decide to eavesdrop on the conversation.
3.  If someone is talking loudly on their cell phone, you are allowed to tell them to keep it down.  If a working mom is talking on her cell phone - back off Buster - she's either on a conference call or trying to take care of all the loose ends in her day and make it home in time to relieve her nanny.  If you attempt to rattle her cage, trust me, she'll bite your head off.
4.  If you accidentally spill a beverage on the floor and the liquid proceeds to roll down the aisle and seep next to the leather briefcase of a fellow commuter, don't pretend you don't know whose drink it is.  Use those extra napkins you swiped from that Dunkin Donuts dispenser and mop up your mess.
5.  Don't leave your newspaper on the seat after you leave.  Who do you think is going to clean up after you?  Your mother?  It's your responsibility to clean up after yourself - not the train conductor.
6.  Don't interrupt the poker players.  If you see them congregating in their favorite four seater with their oak tag spread out on their laps, a serious game of five card stud is taking place - either observe and be amazed or move to another row - those poker games can get rowdy.
7.  Deodorant may be bad for the ozone layer, but it's required for rush hour train rides.
The commuter code of ethics isn't tough to follow - so think before you do something offensive aboard your train, subway or cross town bus - you never know when the undercover mom is watching.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

The Sanitation Mom

Can someone explain to me why I am the human trash can in my family?  It's not like I've volunteered for the job but somehow, when my kids are finished with their gum, their drinks or their tissues, they don't hold onto their refuse.  Oh no.  Why do that when you have the Sanitation Mom sitting right in front of you chauffering them around from one activity to another?
Picture the scene.  We're running late, as usual and I've given the kids a quick snack so they won't complain that they're famished the minute we hit the open road.  Within one minute and forty five seconds one of them has finished their juice box and granola bar and I can feel little fingers tapping me on my shoulder as I'm trying to make a right turn.
"Mommy, here's my garbage, take it."
I don't know when I became the wastebasket but even when my husband is around, they instantly hand me their half eaten snacks so that I can magically make the garbage disappear.   And when we're outside of the car, my role as Sanitation Mom kicks in at movie theaters, festivals, museums, the zoo - there is not a place in the tri-state area that I haven't traversed where my kids have used me to get rid of their trash.
Now I know I should just tell them, it's your garbage, you find a place to dispose of it, but frankly it's just easier to take care of the mess rather than let something smelly fester in the back seat of my minivan.  And besides, at least I know I'm not alone in my garbage duties.  There are other parents who have become voluntary sanitation workers too.
Just yesterday, I was in the supermarket on the check out line while a sweet looking three year old was savoring a piece of mozzarella cheese on a toothpick.  As his dad was busy packing up their groceries and paying the cashier, the tyke held out the toothpick motioning to his dad.  When his father didn't pay attention to his directive to relieve him of the toothpick, the whining began to commence.
"Daddy....take this away!" he whined.  And within one second, the dad grabbed the toothpick and proceeded to drop it on the same conveyer belt where my groceries were about to be deposited.  Now that is just plain offensive.  If you have accepted the role of Sanitation Mom or Dad it is your obligation to dispose of all waste in a trash receptacle.  If you can't live up to the demands of the job, then you must instruct your child that they must hold onto said toothpick until they can find a trash can themselves and drop it where it belongs.
I never realized that there is a code of Sanitation Mom ethics, but there is.  Just like the tell-tale phrase, you break it, you pay, the same holds true for garbage.  They give you their trash - you throw it out. And if you break the rules, then maybe your kid can take on garbage duty themselves.  Dare to dream.  Dare to dream.

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