Make like a tree and leave

leaves“Don’t you love fall foliage?” A friend of mine asked as we watched brilliant leaves of red, orange and gold waft down from the trees. “It’s such a beautiful time of year.”

I rolled my eyes. I had no patience for the leaf lovers, the autumn enthusiasts, the fall foliage fanatics. I had bigger fish to fry.

I was a woman with a house to clean.

Of course there was a time when I loved the change of seasons as much as anyone else. But now that I am a mother and a homemaker, I realize that the different seasons just mean different messes in the house. In the spring, the dog drags mud through the house. In the winter we have piles of slush. In the summer, everyone tracks in water from the pool. And now that fall is upon us, I can look forward to the melodic sound of leaves crunching under my feet in the family room.

I suppose I should be more understanding of this particular seasonal annoyance considering that it is a scientific anomaly. I have discovered that my house is uniquely situated in the center of the universe so that every time the back door opens, a giant wind tunnel is created which sucks all the leaves in from the deck and spits them into my house. It is such a rare occurrence in this part of the world, that scientists have actually named it the Beckerman Freak Foliage Phenomenon.

While we are pleased to have contributed to mankind’s understanding of the forces of nature, it is mostly just a big pain in the neck. If I don’t catch the leaves and sweep them up right away when they blow into the house, they get trampled and broken into millions of crunchy little leaf pieces that get into the rug and eventually all over the house until I crawl under the covers at night and find myself on a bed of shredded leaf. While this might be fun if you’re a hibernating bear, personally, I prefer my sheets to be cottony soft and decidedly leaf-free.

Clearly, this would not be an issue if the door remained closed. However, my family seems to be somewhat door-challenged. They have no problem getting the door open: It’s the door closing they have trouble with. And when the door is left open and that wind tunnel thing happens, we get leaf piles in the house big enough to jump in. It can get so bad, I actually consider getting a rake and a leaf blower to get it under control.

Finally one day, I hit my leaf breaking point.

“WHO LEFT THE DOOR OPEN???” I bellowed. The dog came running.

“No, not you.  You don’t have opposable thumbs.  You get a pass,”

Next my husband arrived.  I pointed to the fresh pile of leaves that had blown in from outside.

“Hey, why are there so many leaves in here?” he wondered.

I sighed. “Remember I said when you leave the door open, the leaves blow in?” He nodded blankly.

“Well, voila!” I exclaimed sweeping my arm around the room.

“Oh sorry,” he said while I went to grab the broom and vacuum cleaner. Ten minutes later I found the door open and a fresh pile of crunchy leaves in the family room.

“Congratulations,” I said to the guilty party, who was not, in fact the dog. “You get to clean up the leaves.” I handed him a broom and left the room. Moments later a voice rang out from the kitchen.

“Hey honey!”

I returned to the scene of the crime to find my husband, the broom, the dog, and three times as many leaves on the floor.

“What happened?” I asked incredulously.

“I went to sweep the leaves out, and when I opened the door, a big gust of wind blew all the leaves back in, plus a bunch more.”

I shook my head in disbelief. Then I took the broom and stuck it in the corner.

My husband stood perplexed. “What are you going to do?” he asked.


©2015, Beckerman. All rights reserved.

bookbutton-04“Lost in Suburbia: A Momoir. How I Got Pregnant. Lost Myself, and Got My Cool Back in the New Jersey Suburbs” makes a great gift!! To get a copy for you or a cool mom you love, CLICK HERE

To become a fan of Lost in Suburbia on Facebook, Visit me here
To follow me on Twitter, visit me here


Filed under Cleanliness is Next to Impossibleness, Husbands and other Aliens

How to Survive Second Grade without Needing Therapy as an Adult

chalkboardMrs. Kinsler was vexed!

When she wasn’t vexed, she was appalled. And sometimes she was vexed and appalled at the same time. This was not an uncommon state for my second grade teacher considering the misery we apparently instilled in her life. But the problem wasn’t so much that we left her vexed and appalled but that we had no idea what those words meant.

I was thinking about Mrs. Kinsler recently as the new school year rolled around and I realized that as much as I had despised Mrs. Kinsler (and she, us), I at least had to credit her for helping to significantly expand my vocabulary. She not only taught me the words vexed and appalled, she also taught such advanced words as “cretin” (as in “you miserable little cretins”), “ignoramus,” (“you are such an ignoramus, you must have been dropped on your head as a baby”), and “exasperated” (how she felt when she wasn’t vexed or appalled). So, apparently, we were cretins and ignoramuses and she was often vexed, appalled and exasperated by this fact. Although I didn’t know what the words meant at the time, I was not so much of an ignoramus that I couldn’t infer that she hated us. It was, in all, a delightful way to go through second grade.

While I’m not confident that Mrs. Kinsler was Roald Dahl’s inspiration for Mrs. Trunchbull in the book “Matilda,” I wouldn’t be surprised if she didn’t have a lasting effect on more than one child who, in addition to having their vocabulary expanded, ended up having years of therapy. She was that awful.

For me, the breaking point was what I will always remember as the Great Oreo Cookie incident.

Mrs. Kinsler insisted that we take turns bringing in a snack for the whole class for snack time in the afternoon. That would have been fine if not for the fact that she rated our snacks. Most kids got a “Good” or “Very Good” rating on their snack, especially if it was homemade. Only one kid got an “Excellent” and it was no surprise that he was the teacher’s pet – the only child in the class who neither vexed nor appalled Mrs. Kinsler. He brought in Hydrox. I have to admit, Hydrox were good but were they better than the chocolate chip brownies that my friend Karen’s mother had made? I think not. Still if Brian could get an Excellent for his Hydrox, than I would go him one better. I brought in Oreos.  Everyone knew they were essentially the same thing so I thought I was a shoe-in for an “Excellent.”

Mrs. Kinsler got the class into our usual snack time circle. I distributed two Oreos to each member of the class. Mrs. Kindler took four.  Then five. Then she took a sixth. I thought this was a great sign. At the end of snack time, we all held our breath for the pronouncement.

“Tracy, this was an enjoyable snack,” said Mrs. Kinsler. “But I have to give you a ‘Fair’ for lack of originality.”

No other student had ever received a “Fair” in Mrs. Kinsler’s class. I was devastated. As far as I was concerned, I failed snack time.

I held it together for the rest of the day and then burst into tears when I got home. When I finally hiccupped my way through the story for my mother, I could see the anger all over her face. The parents knew about snack time, but they knew nothing about the rating system. My mother was really vexed, and now, Mrs. Kinsler, was about to become really, really appalled.

The next day as I sat in class, I happened to glance out the door window just as my mother stormed by. Moments later, Mrs. Kinsler was paged to the principal’s office. When she returned, she was red up to her ear lobes and could not look me in the face. I wasn’t sure what had transpired, but I thought I was either going to sail through second grade from this point on, or they were going to find my dead body under the train tracks. I was OK with either option.

From that day on we had no more snack time, and no one except Mrs. Kinsler and me knew why. Aside from that, life in our happy class returned to normal. Then, just before Back to School Night, The PTA sent home a letter and asked the parents to bring in snacks for each of their children’s classes.

My mother thought for a minute, and then went to the store and bought a box of Oreos.

©2015, Beckerman. All rights reserved.

bookbutton-04“Lost in Suburbia: A Momoir. How I Got Pregnant. Lost Myself, and Got My Cool Back in the New Jersey Suburbs” makes a great gift!! To get a copy for you or a cool mom you love, CLICK HERE

To become a fan of Lost in Suburbia on Facebook, Visit me here
To follow me on Twitter, visit me here



Filed under Uncategorized