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MOM AND POP
CULTURE:
Calendar Girl

 

by Marrit Ingman

I have seven calendars this year, and I’m less punctual than ever.

Then again, I don’t actually use my calendars. The Best of 14,000 Things to be Happy About Page-A-Day Calendar didn’t have enough things to be happy about, while the Onion’s Day-By-Day Calendar had too many things to be happy about, which meant I sat down and read it like a book. I missed my dental appointments and forgot to change the air filters in everything.

I was excited about Melissa and Doug’s My Magnetic Calendar. Its tiny round pictographic magnets announce playdates, vacations, holidays, and appointments, and it can ostensibly be managed by a child who is not yet writing but wishes to track engagements. I say “ostensibly” because ours quickly stacked, scattered, or otherwise abused the magnets, which are now squirreled around the house while the board itself is curiously missing. With it he also attempted to control reality, like Cho-San with his magic paintbrush, moving his birthday up to January and placing Christmas two weeks later (“So we will have time to shop.”).

But really my problem with My Magnetic Calendar is that it’s just too limited for our needs. We require an apparatus that will accommodate the whole family’s schedule at a glance, and that means Mom and Dad, too.

Mom would like magnets indicating her wildly unpredictable freelance schedule, for one: three or four magnets depicting a frowning reel to indicate when she’ll have to watch and review a Bad Movie; another with a cassette recorder to indicate when she’ll need to interview someone about something, like *Ratatouille* or the Austin Jewish Film Festival. We need a picture of a speculum—preferably made to appear cold somehow—to represent her annual exam; we need service reminders for the rattletrap Volvo (I still need a new CV boot, whatever that is). An empty refrigerator with door ajar denotes Grocery Day in the household. We used to have an actual magnet for cleaning day, but that one was the first to disappear.

Of course the whole household should be aware of Mom’s cycle: an unwrapped and hastily bitten-off chocolate bar announces Premenstrual Symptoms, comedy and tragedy masks herald Mood Swings, a tampon with a tail welcomes the arrival of Aunt Flo, a droplet the color of Dr. Pepper denotes Mid-Cycle Spotting, of which Dad must be informed. If she is expecting, Mom can indicate the date ending her first trimester, as well as later events: Glucose Tolerance Test, Baby Shower, Massive Swelling, and Obstetrician Getting Nervous. This will end all speculation.

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And besides Father’s Day, Dad requires a magnet for Sports Participation, which is always followed the next day with a magnet for Recuperation After Injury. The magnet for Barbecue will show a speeding fire truck, and it will inform the family of a particularly long dinner wait. Mom can send a message by sticking up the Lawn Mowing and Take Out Trash magnets (three-inch blades of grass and a swarm of flies, respectively), but she’ll probably do it herself after all.

Because modern life requires it, all the adults in the household can note Changes to My Medication (a lovely pink-and-white caplet) and Shrink Appointments (doctor with fingertips pressed together reflectively). A mug of beer indicates a Drinking Engagement, and the set should come with several of these. Girls Night shows a Manolo Blahnik slingback, with one in the set featured as size thirteen for Dad if that’s how he rolls (there is no judgment in My Magnetic Calendar, only information). We also have Series Finale (a television), In-Laws Visit (a highball), and Seeing Single Friends (a question mark). Of course we also need Court Date (a gavel), Bills Due (a dollar sign—simple and to the point), and Power Turned Off (a black magnet positioned one week after Bills Due).

The child may wish for ponies and playdates, but sadly his or her magnets must also reflect the bleaker aspects of existence, lest they be forgotten. Invasive Medical Procedure works for Mom and Dad, but it also reflects Junior’s barium scan and paraphimosis reduction. There is ample need for the self-explanatory magnet called Vomit. There will be a magnet for Pinworms and another for Lice, and I’ll let you imagine how those should appear.

It’s perfect for the holidays. The ones in January, I mean.
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 About the Author:
 
Marrit Ingman
is a freelance writer, film critic, occasional educator, and constant mother. She is a frequent contributor to the Austin Chronicle, and her writing on popular culture has also appeared in Brain, Child, Fertile Ground, Alternet.org, Clamor, and Venus. Her first book, Inconsolable: How I Threw My Mental Health out with the Diapers, describes her experience with postpartum depression and was published in 2005 by Seal Press.

 

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