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September 3, 2012 |

Not a Fan

BY Jen Hatmaker

My friend Doug once described me in an article he wrote like this:

“Imagine if George Carlin and Beth Moore had a kid…”

The ease with which deep, important spiritual ideas cohabitate with absolute drivel in my brain space is probably disturbing. I crave comedy and laughter so viscerally, that when my thoughts have hung out in the deep end too long, I physically ache to watch a Will Ferrell movie.

I don’t know which is funnier: The perfect comedic timing of calling Will Ferrell “Sporty Spice” or bowing up on this tiny woman. Consequently, I say “ARE WE DOING THIS?” to my kids constantly.

So after the last few For Real Blogs about basements and adoption and life-changing books, the drivel is begging to be penned. It needs a voice. It says, “Hey there, Mrs. Important Topics. We matter too. We are legit. You know you’re thinking us, so give us our just due in print.”

So I was thinking, my Beth Moore side is often disturbed by true injustices, like human trafficking and self-righteousness and greed. But my George Carlin side has a bone to pick with some stuff, too. In no particular order, what follows are some grievances I have with the universe, for these are the things in which I am…NOT A FAN.

1. Party favors…not a fan.

Okay, listen, I am not a party mom. I’m just not. First of all, I have five kids. Second of all, four of their birthdays are one-two-three-four in rapid succession. Third, I’m not a detail person and I’ve been trying to tell you people this for some time. For instance, I jammed my youngest two sons birthdays into one party (veteran move) scheduled for this Saturday, September 8th: Caleb’s actual birthday was June 4th and Ben’s was August 7th. You picking up what I’m laying down here?

So it’s a bloody miracle I’m giving any of their little friends something to come to at all. If there is cake and an activity, I feel like I should be nominated for an award. Why do we have to give prizes for coming to a party? You got to have fun and I paid for it. That’s your prize. I once omitted party favors for one of Gavin’s birthdays, and a boy came up to me as he was leaving and asked, “Where is my present?” and I said, “I’ll give you one on your birthday, kid.”

I have friends who go so over-the-top on kids’ birthdays, I’m talking about from the time they are 1-year-old, that I often marvel we are friends. My girlfriend Christi did a whole sushi party for her 3-year-old daughter complete with kimonos, bento boxes, hand-rolled sushi, and Japanese CD’s. I just lost consciousness typing that sentence.

2. Shredding cheese…not a fan.

Some people hate war. Others hate politics. I hate shredding cheese. Of course, it must be done, because the waxy preshredded bags of cheese just won’t do. I can’t explain it, but when the recipe calls for cheese, I just despair. The process of grating the block of cheddar over the shredder until I develop Muppet Arm has literally caused me to abandon a recipe in midstream. It’s an irrational aversion and I DON’T CARE BLAH BLAH BLAH YOU CAN’T FIX ME.

The downside of being a pretentious ingredient snob is that you must shred your own cheese, proof your own dough, blend your own sauces, and hand-batter your own okra. It’s a mess. Your kitchen always looks like a frat house. Every recipe takes approximately ten times longer. You end up saying pompous things like, “Grocery store tomatoes are not 1/100th the quality of my Cherokee Purples in the backyard.” This actually makes people hate you, like when you complain about shredding cheese and someone says just buy the preshredded bag and you call it waxy and unacceptable and they are like I kind of wish you were dead.

3. Hot tubs…not a fan.

This is especially tragic because my hubs would spend 16 hours a day in a hot tub if he could. The first time I went to Brandon’s house in Colorado after dating a few months, he made the casual suggestion that we head to the hot tub one night (veteran move). While he clearly had making out on his mind, I was entertaining a different mental thread: how to not puke. Reaching my threshold, my peripheral vision started shutting down and his face became a pinpointed, prickly, spotted mass of light. The next thing I knew, I was face down on the cold tile half-passed out, which as anyone can imagine, is super sexy. You like this, Boyfriend? There’s more where this came from, you lucky man.

My core temp simply cannot be raised. This is devastating, because now I’ll never star in The Bachelor.

4. Talking on airplanes…not a fan.

I know. You had the most amazing conversation of your life on a plane once. Your seatmate ended up converting to Christianity and now he is a missionary in Peru. And once? You sat next to a girl who turned out to be your long lost identical twin. What are the odds?

Let me explain what a plane ride is to me: FREE TIME. I’ve downloaded or packed at least two books for this. I might even have a People magazine to get caught up on my news. If you look closely, you’ll see not one child in tow. I am going to sit there for two or four hours, and not one person will ask me to tie their skates or cut up a peach or count how many days till her “birfday” (149). It’s like a vacation and while, yes, sad and pathetic, this is my life and that’s the end of it. Have I ever put headphones on and acted like I was listening to music so I didn’t have to talk? Maybe.

(Disclaimer: If I breach this rule, I go big. Idle chitchat is not my medium. The last couple I talked to on a plane were flying to Austin for their first ever visit before moving here, and by the time we deplaned, they had a list of 12 restaurants, 10 notable excursions, 15 must-see spots, 3 potential pediatricians, and my phone number. Bless them. I’m sure they were terrified. I completely ignore you or over-love you. I have no middle lane.)

5. Signing kids’ folders…not a fan.

Not only is this daily, every kid is different. Sign here for my daily behavior, here for my homework, here for my reading minutes, here for next week’s assignments. This one is once a week, this one is every day, this one is only if the behavior chart is signed, this one is only if your apple got moved.


You want to know what is awesome sauce? Middle school. The teachers virtually never communicate with parents. No homework folders. No reading minutes. No 459 pieces of paper in every Friday Folder. They are like, “Play time is over, kiddies. Do your homework or flunk out. What do we care? Mommy can’t bail you out anymore, chumps.” If you’ve been paying attention, I subscribe to the same sink-or-swim philosophy in this house, so I’m buyin’ what they’re sellin’.

(Dear Elementary Teachers, you KNOW I’d take a bullet straight through my brain for you, but the paperwork/correspondence occasionally makes me consider homeschooling.) (This is a bold-faced lie.) (Never leave me, Elm Grove Elementary staff, oh my gosh.)

George Carlin Jen has spoken, and she is not a fan of party favors, shredding cheese, hot tubs, talking on planes, and signing kids’ folders. It’s a hard-knock life for my inner GC, clearly. Someone put me on your prayer chain.

How about you? What first-world problems does your inner George have a gripe with? (Not world hunger and orphan stuff, but ketchup that squirts out too fast and Blu-tooth stuff.)