Punky Mama


The Belle Of Brooklyn!

Thorazine were invited to come to New York City to play which both delighted and terrified me all at the same time. New York is full of young pretty people. What do they want with a punk band full of folks pushing 50?  It was a great idea for a show, a benefit for an outdoor free concert in the summer, and all ages in the afternoon.  We could bring the kids which is always a plus.

For two weeks I was dreaming about all the millions of ways this show could be a bust. Every morning I woke up with a new horrific way this show could fail. It was making my waking hours miserable. It was our first real out of town show since reuniting, besides Wilmington, DE which is really only thirty five minutes from Philly.

Packing up yesterday was rough.  Elliott, who our bass player has renamed Captain Seven Amps for his multiple on stage amps, was a wreck.  His crippling stage fright is back after all the years of not playing.  He gets VERY cranky before a show. That does not bode well for a family ride to New York.  He quit the band at least twice and was calling a sitter for the kids and got as far as dialing the phone. We got all seven amps in the SUV, and the kids, and Aaron’s food headed out on the road. We stopped once, got the kids a snack, and went to the bathroom.  Captain Seven Amps was still wound so tight.  The kids breathing was under his skin. Then we got lost in Brooklyn.  The club was on Grand STREET but I had typed GRAND AVENUE into my GPS so we arrived on time to the wrong address in Brooklyn.  We then got back on track.  The kids were amazing being super quiet as we tried to navigate Brooklyn.  We arrived at the club and I got the best parking spot a girl could get out front of the club.  Dallas was all JO HOW DID YOU GET THAT SPACE!! Poor dude had to park four blocks away.

After we loaded in Captain Seven Amps went off to pace, Hoover took the kids, and bought me a beer.  It was kinda exactly what I needed. We took some deep breaths and the show started.  All the bands were really good.  The crowd was small to start but the placed really filled up as the afternoon wore on.  The kids LOVED the bands. They were up front with Hoover and Elliott the whole time, of course they wore ear plugs.  Then the place REALLY filled up.  I mean a ton of people.  Our old bass player F’ed was there, a friend from my bar also made the trip, and four friends from ELEMENTARY school, another old friend from the warehouse dwelling years, and a ton of people I never met before. When we played our set a pit broke out and I was grateful that F’ed got Ryan behind him and stayed at the edge of the melee.  We played FAST AND FURIOUS.  It was so fun and the crowd roared after every song. Dallas and I exchanged looks with each other with our eyes that conveyed WHAT THE HECK IS THIS RESPONSE . I was so blown away at the response of a crowd in New York which are known for being jaded. Looking out and seeing the faces of women I played with on the playground, seeing my kids eyes wide and dancing, and the roar of the crowd of a full venue was so intense.

After the show we sold our merchandise as bands do.  The kids were so EXCITED to help!! Merch is Aaron’s thing. He loves the inventory and making change. We talked to the people buying merch. A group of guys came up and excitedly said we were into Thorazine as teenagers and we never got to see you live. We came to the show this afternoon hoping it was you and that this was not a lame reunion band with one original member.  With wide eyes the guy exclaimed you guys are almost ALL original members!!!  It was so exciting to see you and we had a great time and can’t wait to see you again. Then I faced four women I have not seen in years. These women remember the first time I sang onstage with the school play in where a nine year old me got to sing Beauty School Dropout in our Catholic School sanitized version of Grease.  I remember that moment in my life sharply and after that experience I wanted to be in a band, but not till many years later did it become a reality. It was such a full circle life moment to have them at the show smiling and screaming in between songs.

At the end of the show we were packing up the cars and still selling merchandise in the street in front of the club, then headed for dinner with the band and my old Catholic elementary school friends. The kids were hungry but they were great in the restaurant. Hoover was showing Ryan how to use European utensil etiquette style which touched me because it is something I never thought to tell him about. We picked an Italian restaurant knowing that we may find food safe for Aaron to consume, which we did, but supplemented with food we brought with us.   I got to visit with women who I vividly remember as kids. They missed Thorazine the first time because keeping in touch with people was so much harder before the internet and social media.  We talked and talked which made me laugh because when you have friends you have not seen in that long things can become awkward but it was the opposite. One of my old friends laughed at one point and said, this is going to be a blog post.

As we got on the highway back to Philly Ryan piped up.  Mom, Dad, I have been to every rehearsal but I had no clue how exciting a show would be.  You guys are real ROCK STARS and the people were screaming, bumping into each other, and stuff!!  I could not stop dancing through your set.  When people started bumping into each other it was so exciting but I was really glad F’ed was there to block me from them but I could see everything.  Aaron said yeah I could not stop watching you guys. Then Ryan exclaimed that he was a lucky kid to have parents in a band and he could not wait till the next road trip. I replied well we were invited to play in Rochester NY next, his eyes lighted up and he said oh, I am ready!!   Then he said I love being able to support you guys like you support me by coming to swim meets.  I said well Ryan that is what a family is supposed to be about.

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In Where Ryan Trusts His Teachers.

Ryan’s class has nine kids with IEP’s.  It’s a tough having so many kids with so many different needs but his teacher is a special ed teacher and her assistant teacher is amazing. No other class in the school is so stacked with kids who have IEP’s , it’s just what happened, it was not planned and no other class in the school has so many kids with IEP’s.  A boy in Ryan’s class has a preoccupation with the military and military  history. If they made collecting cards for the civil war this kid would have them all. He is a great kid and he and Ryan are friends. His preoccupation with talking about weapons often upsets one of the girls in his class and makes her cry.  This distresses Ryan.  He wants to protect the girl but he doesn’t want to get his friend in trouble.

Ryan said he thought about it and he went to the teachers and told them what was happening. He said he was afraid to tell the teacher but he knew his friend would not get yelled at, suspended, or anything like that. He felt confident that the teacher will help his friend learn that some people get upset when he talks about the weapons. That’s huge. In his last school he wouldn’t tell anyone anything even if someone was upset or hurt because when you spoke up, the bullies went after him even more than they already did. It was self preservation not to tell even when he saw something he knew was not appropriate. Telling the teachers at his old school included interrogations, accusations, suspensions, and yelling.

He’s come a long way.  He trusts the adults around him to do the right thing for the kids in their care. For a kid with Ryan’s history, this his huge.

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The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year!

I know, I know it is the middle of January but to me this is the best time of the year.  This is the time of the year when stuff happens. Everyone is back from their long holiday and are ready for action.  Life which all but stopped in December has started up again, and it feels like exciting adventures await around every corner. Although I worked over the holiday like normal, my whole family was home for over ten days and although we got out we also engaged in the act of hibernation. We are such busy people and the time around Christmas finds us watching movies and engaging in other laying low activities. I played more Trouble and Uno in December than I did all year   Now that January had arrived I started getting exciting emails again.  It is the beginning of “opt out of the PSSA” season, the band is planning it’s spring shows, and the potential for freelance work has arrived. The bar is back to normal after the bizarre ebbs and flows of the holiday season.  It’s good. My real life is exciting so the holidays are the time to relax and regroup except when we get a snowstorm to keep the kids at home which is a party in itself.  Since January started the band has already booked a show in New York, my oldest freelance client handed me a bunch of work this week, and the kids had a few specialist appointments. The end of January brings two interviews for me.  One about mothering over 40 and another for the band.

It’s January and 2015 has so much potential.  I can’t wait!

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We Are All Not Parents

I have had two career type jobs.  While working both jobs I had to pretend I was not a parent and my kids did not matter during my work day.  It was an awful task.  I have memories of bosses at law firms telling me that if I did not pump my breast milk in less time than it took the other employees to smoke, I would lose my lunch break even though that same boss knew I went to see my baby at daycare at lunch to nurse everyday.  I, of course, got another job that was more progressive about me nursing but when Ryan was booted from daycare for “bad parenting” at 18 months old I left the world of 9 to 5 jobs. It’s been a struggle of working nights at the bar and freelancing because of the lack of sleep and lack of days off but in all this time I never ever felt like my kids had to cease to be because of my job.

The band is comprised of two parents of two kids, who both happen to have special needs. It is not easy to be in a band with Elliott and I but Dallas and Hoover are maneuvering our choice to be parents with amazing poise and grace.  Unlike my old day job they have been completely supportive. For example, this week the usual swim meet time has been changed from noon to 3:30pm.  This is an issue since our show is in Delaware which is thirty minutes south of the city, the swim meet is thirty minutes north of Philadelphia, and load in at the club is supposed to be at 7:30pm.  I contacted the promoter and explained our hardship. Dallas and Hoover could be to the venue on time but Elliott and I would be very late not because we were rock stars but because of our parenting duties. The promoter was very understanding and so were our band mates.

Except our band mates are both child free by choice.  They chose to be in a band with Elliott and I and in that choice they have decided to accept our kids and the kids needs.  I am so touched by this gesture. Not even our families have embraced the boys and their endeavors as much as the band does.  I hate to be the band mate that needs accommodations. HATE IT.  We need support and without that support our participation in the band could not happen.  Our band mates accept that the boys are part of the journey and embrace it, although they are both child free. They don’t resent the boys they do what they can to make this happen for all of us.  I have read so much about ‘breeders’ and their “crotch sprog” over the years I had missed that the child free can embrace and support the children in their lives and the parents behind them without the negativity,

I hope I can support them in their choice not to parent. I hope the guys understand that El and I don’t always want to be the family they are forced to make accommodations and feel taken advantage of.

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In Fits and Spurts

I am not sure how neurotypical kids mature. I do know how mine is growing and changing. I find these days one minute I have an over five foot tall two year old on my hands when his issues get the best of him and he is overwhelmed and over stimulated. Then on the other hand I am raising a thirty-five year old. With Ryan it is all or nothing.

Lately he is thinking about making his own money and saving for college. ALL the time. When we have a play date and the kid has a younger sibling along Ryan tries to practice his babysitter skills and he is pretty successful with it.  Last night Aaron was slow to get out of the locker room from swim team.  I found Ryan with the two youngest kids on the team organizing a game of push the Barbie car.  As we walked to the parking lot he said, Mom I was practicing to babysit. I think on the time off swim team I need to find him a baby sitter course. He also wants to pet sit. He begged me for weeks to put up a pet sitting post on the neighborhood Facebook page. I relented and we instantly found interest. If I can say anything about Ryan it is that he is GREAT with kids and pets. He rises to the occasion, I am sure he is going to be a great at both jobs.

Today it snowed and even though it was a few inches I decided to take a cyber day with school.  It was enough snow to make our commute four hours long.  Aaron wizzed through school but Ryan was struggling a little.  His level of work got harder after the testing he had in late December.  It is just something he needs to get used to, but his focus was a mess today.  Aaron finished his school work hours before Ryan.  At the end I sat with Ryan and made a discussion out of what he was doing.  I didn’t give him the answers but we discussed the passages he was reading and it helped a ton.  I was proud of him for sticking with the work and finishing. He hugged me at the end and said my ADHD was not letting me learn this today but changing it up helped a ton.

Then he and his brother got dressed to go play in the snow. Except when I looked out Ryan was not playing in the snow he was shoveling!!  He did our whole driveway and is working on the next door neighbors driveway since they are at work. People in my life are forever groaning about their kids from eleven on.  This is so not my experience. Since his childhood was so hard on all of us this almost teen time is simply amazing. I am going to enjoy every second.

Ryan is the shoveler

Ryan is the shoveler


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