An Introvert’s Mother’s Day

As I believe I’ve mentioned, Mother’s Day to me is a big deal. I don’t give a hoot about Valentine’s Day, Sweetest Day, or any other Hallmark holiday. Mother’s Day, however, I am dead serious in its execution.

Why? Because as an introvert, I need my alone time. Time to regroup. Time to let my thoughts sort themselves out in the quiet moments of boredom. Guess what NEVER happens during parenthood?  All of those things.

Now I am a lucky woman because I have a husband who understands me. Understands my need for alone time. I usually get a chunk of time, if we have it, to myself each weekend. Problem is, with kids comes obligations, responsibilities, and birthday parties, oh my God, the birthday parties. Not to mention baseball practice, Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, and dance practice.

So what I ask of Mother’s Day is simple: No responsibility.  No one to need me.  I know, one day I’ll miss it, but now in the throes of life with youngish kids, STFU.

Parenting is tough for an introvert. We crave alone time. We like our routine, our schedules and control of our daily lives. Again, none of these things happen when you have children. We like the quiet. We hate meeting new people. We hate new, unfamiliar situations.  Parenting makes you experience these things all the time. And I have two people looking up at me to show them the way. Show them how to navigate social situations. Guess what I don’t do well?  All those things!

When placed in new situations, I am an awkward, stumbley mess and am usually overwhelmed by my surroundings. Add two kids to that unease who say and do whatever they feel like and I can no longer hide along the wall where I’m most comfortable. I have to jump into the fray, figure out the lay of the land, and do so dam quick, so I can assure my kids that contrary to my inner self’s musings, people are good.  You should want to interact with people, make friends, be a productive member of society. Not, like me, dread the sound of the doorbell. All of this is exhausting to an introvert.

Fortunately and unfortunately, my son is my mini me. He’s fine without people. He’s social and likes people, but given a choice, he’d be reading. Ha! No, I’m kidding, he’d be playing a video game. It’s me who’d rather be reading. When the two of us are together, it’s awesome. We each take a chair and experience togetherness doing our own thing in the same room. Relax, I push when needed, but I also understand my introvert kid doesn’t need to be on the go all the time.

Dog       005

Now my daughter craves interaction. She’s an extrovert to the fullest. While I wouldn’t classify her father as an extrovert, I’d say they are similar. G needs people, loves them and wants to spend time with them every single second. Her dad, while not needing people as much, still enjoys entertaining and spontaneous get togethers. I would rather hide in my room or binge watch Grey’s Anatomy. This is why we are a good match. He makes me come out of my shell just often enough so that I don’t become the hermit cat lady and my family and friends still know what my face looks like and that I can be in fact a very sociable nice person. If he didn’t push, I’d be Martin Mull on that episode of the Golden Girls. (For non-fanatics and those under 22, Dorothy friends a man who hasn’t been out of his apartment in 20 years because he was agoraphobic.)

I feel like I’m getting off track. Basically, I take this one day each year to unleash my full introvert potential. I am like the fun aunt to my kids. I love them, laugh with them, and do the fun stuff, but when the hard responsible part comes up,  for today only, I get to hand them to their dad no questions asked. I get to go back to my book, or my mid-Mother’s Day nap. One day a year, there’s no mom guilt for how I’ve failed them. No feeling lazy for not wanting to pick dandelions with them. Every whine, every request, every need is answered with, “Go get your dad.” And it’s awesome.

Please don’t get me wrong. I love my kids. I even love the responsibility and the hard parts. It makes me a better person. It makes life worth living. It brings fullness to my life. But today, just today, I get to see the greener grass on the other side.  Just for 24 hours.  And you know, it’s actually too quiet in here…

That's better.

              That’s better.

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Girl Power

Sigh.  Finished my first Daisy Scout meeting today.  I only had 5 girls, but it was still pandemonium.  Lesson #1 of the Day:  5/6 year old girls are just as nuts as 1st grade boys playing baseball.  As usual, the scene I pictured in my head didn’t match up at all with what actually transpired.

The scenario in my head:

Five nice, quiet girls sit down, eat a quiet snack, do a quiet craft (neatly), and then sit in a circle to learn all about Girl Scout traditions.  Do the friendship circle to close and disperse.  (God, typing that I do realize what a total moron I am.  I mean, I do have one of these creatures don’t I?)

Actual scenario:

Girls running throughout our meeting place (the school cafeteria), constantly having to go to the bathroom, only to be found playing with water and paper towels.  Throwing a beach ball at each other, even when said ball never did get used for its original name game ice breaker purpose.  Diving right into the craft upon entry to learn Lesson #2 of the Day:  Glitter glue NEVER dries, but will get on EVERYTHING.  Which leads into Lesson #3 of the Day:  Bring paper towels to arts and crafts times.  Which leads to Lesson #4 of the Day:  YOU SUCK AT ARTS AND CRAFTS JENNIFER.  WHAT WERE YOU THINKING?!  You bought a hole puncher that was too small.  You brought glitter glue for 5 year old girls to use.  You didn’t buy enough rainbow yarn for the necklaces and for the love, seriously girl, glitter glue?!

Then we dive into snack.  Everyone chugs juice boxes like they are going 10 rounds with Mike Tyson.  Cheez-Its are ravaged.  (OK, I’m being dramatic, they just ate the crackers and juice quickly, but it was NOT IN THE ORDER I HAD PLANNED.)

Then, what the hell, there are 20 minutes left, let’s just go to the playground and run around.

I did manage to cram 10 minutes of actual Girl Scouting into the last tiny bit of our meeting.  We did the friendship squeeze, learned the Girl Scout Pledge (crap, Promise, I will get this vocab down soon I swear) and got our hands to do the motto thingee (again failing at the vocab.)  They all seemed to like the squeeze thing, so it gave me hope that with a little control and organization, they may just like this whole thing.

Apparently, the guide books that told you to establish rules at the onset were on to something.  It’s like I’ve never met a kid before.  Yeesh.

Overall, the parents were nice, grateful that I took the helm and seemed ok with the fact that this first meeting was not the finely tuned, efficient machine I had envisioned in my head.  Thank God.

Thank God also for Pinterest (which just made me panic at my inadequacies and lack of planning, but which I think will prove helpful for the future), a great program and support system by our local Council and most importantly, for the mom who promised to be my second in command and who also seemed genuinely excited to help come up with arts and crafts after I professed how bad I suck at them. GOD BLESS YOU MY NEW BEST FRIEND!

SIDEBAR:  Are we noticing a trend in my volunteering?  Girl Scout Troop Leader who sucks at arts and crafts.  Boys baseball coach who can’t catch or throw a baseball.  Why can’t I stick to volunteering at what I’m good at?  Is there even a school age club for dirty books and napping?

Guess I have to stick to things outside my comfort zone, which is why I continue to make these seemingly awful decisions.  Cause let’s face it, if I don’t, I will end up the hermit cat lady who is dead for a month before anyone notices she’s gone. I will constantly strive to break out of my introvert shell to avoid this grime fate.

So to sum up, glitter glue + insane expectations = a humorous tale to make you feel better about your own lives.

Hope you enjoyed!

This is what an idiot looks like.  And yes, I do have glitter glue on the butt of this new shirt.

This is what an idiot looks like. And yes, I do have glitter glue on the butt of this new shirt.

League of My Own

Seriously, that title was way too easy.

So, my new title is Coach.  Ever meet an introverted coach?  No?  Me either.

Well I am redefining the role I guess.  Like an idiot.  Which is how I introduce myself lately, “Hi, I’m Coach Jen…cause I’m an idiot.”

Short story short, my son’s 1st grade baseball team didn’t have a coach, so the Rec sent an email to all parents asking for volunteers.  Me, having the patience of a gnat, thought about it for 5 whole minutes (with no outside counsel) and emailed back that I could do it if NO ONE else volunteered.  Well apparently, no one did.  So, I took the job.  Like an idiot.

I figure how hard can this be?  Baseball’s not a hard sport right?  You throw the ball, hit it with a bat, catch it with a mitt and repeat until everyone is begging to go home.  BUT…did you know that there are different sizes of bats?  And batting helmets?  And kids for some reason don’t catch the ball, or hit it, or throw it naturally in 1st grade?  Did you know there is a batting stance?  A way to catch a ball?  A way to throw it?  Seriously.  There is.  All of these things I have not a clue how to do.

These poor kids.  Remember the line in Clueless where the girl says her doctor said balls can’t go near her face?  Well that’s the thought I have while teaching baseball to first graders.  LINES FROM CLUELESS.  There goes my social life.  (hee hee see what I did there?  It’s a line from the movie.)

I cannot catch a ball.  Every time I catch a ball, I get an ear to ear grin, stop, point to the ball in my mitt, and exclaim, “Hey!  I caught it!” in wonder and awe.  This is not great when playing catch with a 1st grader, who isn’t really that impressed that his COACH can catch a ball.  And they tend to get slightly annoyed when they throw the ball back to you and you miss it, oh say, 5 out of every 6 times it’s thrown to you.  So you have to go chase the ball down, just to have them throw it again.  Basically, catch with me is like playing catch with a dog.  You throw it; I run after it and come back all panty and drippy, and only look confused when you throw it right back to me to do the whole process over again.   At least I don’t bring the ball back all slobbery.

We’ve had two practices.  The first one was chaotic, but not as bad as I thought.  The parents are nice and very helpful, and none seem to be the ‘roided out, living through their kids type either.

Another big plus is my husband is in his element.  He’s kind of taken the lead on this coaching thing, while I take the paper pushing aspect of the job.  I am the organizer, he is the coach.  Problem is he can’t make every other practice and will miss all weekday games because of work, so at some point, I will have to step up and be an actual coach.  These are the days I might fail to live up to my promise to my son “not to embarrass him.”  Not that this bothers me all that much really.   A little embarrassment makes a kid stronger right?  And in 10 years, he’ll look back not in embarrassment, but with pride that his mom cared that much to step waaaaaay out of her comfort zone to make something happen for her kid.  OK maybe not 10 years, but maybe 20?  25?

Well, I do care enough.  I want him to know I will support him even if it scares the hell out of me.  And I need to get out of my comfort zone every now and again.  If I don’t push myself, I will end up alone with a houseful of cats like all hermit-like introverts.  And while that does sound slightly appealing at this moment in my life, I don’t want the police to find my half-eaten body six months after I’ve died because no one else cares to look for me.  So basically, 1st grade baseball coach = not being eaten by my own cats.  Don’t say I don’t have goals people.

Just a fair warning.  You will probably hear A LOT of baseball stories until about mid-July.  Bear with me.  This is kind of a big deal for me.

Coach Jen OUT.

Thanks Mom and Dad for the hat!

Thanks Mom and Dad for the hat!

Shake Your Money Maker

So…I took Friday off. If you read my last post, you’ll know why. Yes, I know I won’t always be able to buffer my kids from hard spots in life, but this time I could. After the miracle surgery on G last August, (tonsils and adenoids) we have weathered this winter and early spring with very little illness (knock on wood). A few days for the prerequisite strep throat and a quickly contained stomach bug (it only hit Bear) made up some of the few sick days I have had to take this year.  Therefore, for the first time is 3+ years, I got to take a day off.  It was awesome.

We hit the town kiddie style.   We went to Imagination Station (think COSI out of towners) to see the Titanic exhibit.  It was PACKED.  Apparently, I wasn’t the only one who had this genius rainy day idea.  The kids humored me and $50 later the three of us were traveling through my favorite historical subject.  It was great, but not so great with a 5 and 7 year old.  It was A LOT of reading.  Maybe the walking audio tour would have been cool, but my G wouldn’t have listened anyways.  Bear and I would have, but it would have been a constant whirling around looking for G, who most likely would have wandered into the 3rd class cabin exhibit and proceeded to have jumped on the top bunk.  Plus they were $5 a pop extra and after $50 just to get in the door, I was maxed out.  So basically we spent $50 (have I mentioned this enough) to quickly buzz by some portholes and plates in the sand.  Oh well, it is across the street from my job, so I guess I could just sneak over there by myself.  Maybe if I give them the sad-mommy-wanted-to-see-it-but-the-kids-wouldn’t-let-her look convincingly, they’ll let me in free for another quick peek.  Yeah, probably not.

photo 2

Who wouldn’t want to spend time with them?

 

Look at us in the dirty parking garage elevator!  Don't step in the pee!

Look at us in the dirty parking garage elevator! Don’t step in the pee!

Anyways, this whole day off got me thinking.  How can I make money aside from an 8 to 5 job?  How can I do this everyday?  How can I get someone or something to pay me to only do the stuff I want to do?  Can you even get paid for sleeping on the couch?  Or maybe there is a lucrative market for binge watching Netflix watchers?

I don’t necessarily want to relive that Friday every day.  I loved spending time with my kids, but places like Imagination Station make this introverted, anxiety queen a big ball of nerves and tense muscles.  Literally.  Every single time we go there, I have to go home take 2 Advil, a Xanax and take a nap.  It is just way too much interaction with strangers and germy kids for me.  I love the idea of getting kids interested in science and whatnot, but I don’t want to do it constructing a bunch of germy blocks that I just watched some 3 year old sneeze on before our turn.  It’s just stressful.  Too much pandemonium.  Too little line queues.  I need strict time limits and cattle prodding.  I can’t let the people in front of me have 20 minutes at the paper airplane table without losing my mind a bit.  I hate having to apologize to people behind me because my daughter really wants to figure out how the robot hand works.  I just can’t handle trying to be polite while at the same time trying to get my kids to enjoy themselves and learn something to earn our $50 worth of tickets. (You had to buy general admission and THEN a Titanic exhibit ticket to get in to the exhibit, so we were going to take full advantage, even if mommy did have a nervous breakdown at the water/sand table.)

photo 5

One day…maybe. Except she was like, “Mom! I’m a space walker with a purple bow!” So she’ll be a wickedly accessorized astronaut.

photo 4

Breathe lady. Breathe. You have hand sanitizer in the car.

 

Science!

Science!

Anyway, I am digressing as usual.  I need to figure out a way to get paid doing this writing gig.  I am not sure I am good at it.  I am not a super grammar Nazi.  I make a lot of errors and end a lot of my sentences in a preposition at.  I just like doing it.  However, unlike most bloggers, I don’t really make the internet a better place.  I don’t cook (Kraft mac and cheese recipe anyone?).  I don’t sew (Just ask my 7th grade home ec teacher).  I don’t craft (If I can’t buy it, I don’t have it).  I don’t clean (Want me to write about someone else doing it?).  I don’t organize (I want to.  Badly. But House of Cards isn’t going to watch itself).  I basically have no talents, except the occasional joke that makes other moms and wives feel like maybe they aren’t the worst there is.

 

Maybe I could write about doing hair?  HA!

Maybe I could write about doing hair? HA!

Seriously.  I am REALLY good at it.

Seriously. I am REALLY good at it.

I’d love to say I have the next great American novel spinning around in my head, but I don’t.  I don’t have any Edwards, Bellas, Katnisses, Peetas, Trises or Fours (sigh Tobias, I love you) yelling inside my head wanting to get their stories told.  I am strictly a truth teller.  Seriously, everything I have written happened.  To me.  I just don’t have time to imagine other lives that are actually interesting.  My mundane, every day plain Jane life is overwhelming most days, let alone if I met a factionless vampire from District 13.

Help me people.  Tell me how to make money on this.  Tell me who will listen to me spout off randomly, pay me something and offer me freakin great health coverage?  Said persons must take into account I like to sleep in, watch Kelly and Michael, drop and pick up my kids from school and workout every day.  (Ha, ha.  That last one was wishful thinking.  In reality, I’m pretty sure I’d just spend time driving around town trying to find the last of the Girl Scouts hawking their addictive cookies.)

Goodnight.  See you tomorrow, where someone will have a case of the Mondays.

If I stayed home, I could get this poor kid a dog.

If I stayed home, I could get this poor kid a dog.

And...this one... No reason.  Just makes me happy.  (Babysitting our niece and nephews.)

And…this one… No reason. Just makes me happy. (Babysitting our niece and nephews.)

Bully Pulpit 2

I just a heart to heart talk with my son. Sometimes parenting sucks, but this is life folks.  It is spring break this week and his daycare has a week full of field trips planned.  He’s happy about all but one.  Friday is swim day at the local Y and he’s terrified he won’t have anyone to swim with.  I have promised that I will find somewhere fun for him to go that day, but he’d really like me to take this week off work so he can stay and play with the kids in the neighborhood.  Unfortunately, it’s April and I only get 18 days total to play around with.  Not a lot when I have to use them as sick as well as vacation days.  And when we have at least two mini trips planned and a wedding in CA and a wedding I’m a part of back to back in October.  Let’s just say my days add up fast. 

I’d love to take a week off and just do fun things as a family.  Unfortunately in this family, at this time and place, it’s just not an option.  I guess all kids have to have something to complain about as adults right?  How their childhood was shitty and they would do this unlike their parents?  Well, this will be my kids.  2 working parents.  1 parent only home on the weekends…the fun one at that. 

While I’d love to not work and shield him from this week that will most likely suck, I can’t.  And I shouldn’t right?  I can’t put him (and G eventually I’m sure, we just aren’t there yet with her) in a bubble and roll them around like hamsters all while screaming at everyone or anything potentially harmful to get away.  I would love to, but I try to think back on what has made me the kick ass adult I am today (Quiet, I am!).  Struggle.  People and kids being mean.  People challenging me.  People putting me down.  People hurting my friends, my family.  All that has molded me into the strong adult woman I am today.  For the most part.  Until crap like this happens. 

I by no stretch of the imagination had a hard childhood.  But I was picked on…when I was noticed.  I tended to mostly hide in the corners and blend in to avoid being noticed, which has led to its own difficulties as an adult.  Now my son tells me he does the exact same thing to avoid being singled-out and picked on.  He hides behind stuff and if they notice them, he hopes like hell they’ll decide to be nice to him.   Well crap.   Way to create a clone of you Jen.  Same insecurities.  Same coping mechanisms.   I need to nip this in the butt before he becomes the hermit I fight being every day.  I need to help him overcome this quicker than I did, which was around age 30, which is a lot of wasted years and hot, not saggy body time.  

From what I can tell, there is a pack of roving boys that seems to dominate the before and after care scene.  They are older, not by much from what I can gather, but they are bigger.  There is one ringleader that the adults seem to not know how to handle.  I can’t quite grasp if there’s really only one set of boys to hang out with his age, but he seems to think this is his only option right now.  To hang on the fringe of the meanies and hope he doesn’t get singled out or even, occasionally, on the really good days, he might just be included and be part of the group. 

Now here’s the thing.  What do I say?  I told him tonight to never ever feel embarrassed or ashamed to tell me about his fears or struggles in school or with other kids, because, believe or not, his dad and I both have some fairly decent experience in this area.  His dad was picked on for being the pale kid from the wrong side of the tracks.  You know, the one adults always accused of stealing stuff, because he was the poor one, and the non-athletic goofy kid all the kids targeted.  I, on the other hand, was just not noticeable enough to get picked on, but on the same side of the coin, not noticeable enough to get ignored most of my school going years.  I had my small handful of very loyal friends, but most people left me alone and didn’t know I existed.  Which was its own type of childhood hell. 

What advice can I give to the kid?  What can I as a mother do without being too overbearing and intrusive?   I’ve asked if there are other groups of boys he could pal around with, or even maybe just one or two who are quieter and like the things he does.  He doesn’t seem to think so, but mother hen me will be making sure of that with his teachers come Monday morning.  He had a great girlfriend with whom he’s paled around with since preschool, but she has decided he can’t hang with her because her new “girl” friends don’t want a boy in their group.  Ewwww.  (Even though said boy will most likely be a rich genius one day, so you might be missing your chance here ladies.  But this is just one biased opinion.)

I know I can’t shield my kids from harmful, painful things in life.  Because bullies become adults too.  They just take different forms.  And they get sneakier and meaner.  And they craft passive aggression like an artform.  They manipulate the system so people are afraid to stand up to them because their wraths are terrifying.  They make it so everyone walks on eggshells so as not to upset them.  People around them make excuses and make you feel like the bad guy for cutting off contact or standing up for yourself.  My kids will need to learn to successfully identify and stay away from these people.  They will need to handle them with confidence and defuse them before the situation gets out of hand.  They will need to learn when to stand up for themselves and when to let it go.  They will need to learn to choose their battles wisely. 

And Bear’s a boy.  Girls are a whole new level that terrifies me.  So far, G has only had minor spats with girls she loves and calls her best friends.  C won’t share her toy.  B wanted to be the teacher today and I had to be the student.  Stuff like that.  Lord help if she realizes her dream of growing up to be a cheerleader.  What will someone like me do with that?  Pray for me.  I am not strong enough for those mothers, let alone help her with her peers. 

My solution for the moment is to survive spring break and wish this week away as quickly as possible.  Talk to his teachers about it.  And ultimately move him to his school sponsored summer daycare where he’ll hopefully be with a few of his classmates for the summer.  Fortunately, this has been limited to his after care and he is so far a hit with his school friends (none of which go to his current after care). 

Here’s where being an introverted parent is challenging.  Time to break out of my comfortable armor and go fight for my kid.  Ask questions.  Make decisions to stand up for him and put him where he’ll be loved and accepted for who he is.  Wish me luck.   

SNOW!

I got stuck in my driveway today because of the stupid snow.   And like most problems, this started with a penis.

Yes, a penis.  My sister came over to my house today to pick something up while I was at work.  She called on her way out to report that someone had drawn a penis on the snow pile in my front yard and labeled it with what we think is the word “kinky.”  This makes me totally paranoid and now I am thinking we need to get better blinds, because really, how do they know?!  Are they warning us?  Can they see in?

Anyways, I digress.  Youths my husband says.  No hidden meanings involved.  Just some bored pre-teens who just discovered penises are actually pretty easy to draw and have had way too many snow days to wreak havoc on the neighborhood.

anigif_enhanced-buzz-31558-1382644384-13

So, instead of gunning it into the driveway going around 80, I meandered in, while mostly craning my neck to see this glorious artwork in my front yard.  Completely forgetting the snow plow comes through also going 80 and doesn’t give a crap about my little minivan having to careen over the mini-mountain (a molehill if you will) just to get in my un-shoveled driveway and hope to heck my back end stops fishtailing in time to thread the needle, which is  a good way to describe how my car fits into our tiny garage.  Because, oh yes, I will get it in the garage.  I don’t care if the kids can’t get out of the car or I hit the bikes every single time I pull in, I WILL NOT go outside in the winter.  EVER.  Garage to garage is how I roll.  If I don’t go outside once from December to March, I’d be a happy hermit.

So, I get really really stuck.  It’s just me and the kids as usual (much like the horror show of the squirrel escapade) and I am trying to figure out how to teach Bear how to gas it and brake while I push, when thankfully my neighbor comes over.  By then I had shoveled a little bit.  And by little, I mean shove the thing around a few times, take a breather and try to figure out how on earth I can speed this up and make it simpler.  All while huffing around and whining to myself.    I would try to snow blow it, but the thing is so persnickety, you literally have to blow it to get it started.  Seriously.  Mark says I have to put something in the broken pumpy-get-it-started-thingy (actual term) and BLOW.   Mkay.  So no, I am not blowing the snow blower thank you very much.  I mean, what’s it ever done for me?

I threw piles of salt around the wheels and the super awesome neighbor helped me shove it back into the street, where I promptly pulled into my next-door neighbors driveway, only to get it stuck there (It’s OK, his was shoveled, so with enough revving, it came loose pretty easy).  Hey, at least I had my driveway open right?

So, boring finish.  Even my big strong MAN neighbor couldn’t get the snow blower started, but this was mainly because there was no way I was going to explain how he had to put his lips together and blow to get it to work.  So I just said thank you so much, but forget it, I’ll just do it my way, which is wait until Thursday when it’s going to hit 50 degrees and let it melt.  Until then, if you see me going 90 down my street, just get out of the way, I am preparing for my dismount.

Can’t wait for spring.

20 Signs You Really, Really Hate People

Hilarious and dead on. Rock on my fellow introverts.

Natalie-Kay-Es-El

1. The idea of getting your ass out of bed, dressing up and stepping out of your front door is just

Michael scott no

2. When you take public transport, you can’t help but think:

theres-too-many-people-on-this-earth-we-need-a-plague

3. You’re on your way to meet a friend and then you get a text from her saying she’s brought a tag-along.

This is your reaction:

dont need another friend

4. You find yourself praying that plans get cancelled all the time.

cancelling plans

5. When you get invited to a house party, you pray to God they’ve got a pet so you can act busy and not interact with actual human beings.

Credit: Gemma Correll Credit: Gemma Correll

6. When people tap you on the shoulder, or try to do that cheek-kissy thing that white people love, or touch you in any way:

you-dont-know-me-like-that

7. When someone whips out a camera and everyone squeals in delight, you’re just like:

Robert Downey Jr Pained Photo Taking

8. You loovvvveee the internet. And the invention…

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