Category Archives: parenting

Let The Games Begin!

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Let The Games Begin!

Let the games begin! I give a chin up nod and raise a plastic glass to my reflection in the bathroom mirror before starting the colon prep that will literally own my ass for the next 18 hours. This may be the most 2020 thing I do all year and doesn’t it feel appropriate.

I was supposed to do this after I turned 50 a couple of years ago. I wasn’t in a rush, further delayed by my father’s death. He had an emergency colonoscopy, got perforated and subsequently died after a couple of weeks in the hospital. You can understand my hesitation. 

At this year’s physical I was reminded again that I was overdue so I decided to put my big girl panties on (or is it Depends?) and request the appointment. For this GI practice you mail in the paperwork and they call you with dates a few weeks after your information is received. They offered me a date in September so I took it. Turns out my colonoscopy happens to be on the anniversary of my father’s death. I’m trying not to think of that, 2020 is one spooky bitch.

The prep started 5 days ago with a low fiber/low roughage diet. For the past 7 months I’ve been focused on eating better – whole grains, fruits, vegetables – all that is out the window as I welcome back a bland low fiber diet of white bread and pasta with no raw fruits or veggies. I thought I would enjoy the diet relapse more but not so much. 

One thing I was looking forward to was a guilt free night of no cooking and sequestering myself in my bedroom after 4:30pm, some well earned “me time”. I had a busy day shopping for clients in the morning and taking my mother to a medical appointment in the afternoon. 

Outings with my mother always lack efficiency. You plan to do one thing but 6 more things get added to the list with some unexpected twists along the way. Sometimes it’s my mother’s doing and sometimes it’s the Universe just f*cking with me. It reminds me of the children’s book – If You Give a Pig a Pancake by Laura Numeroff, here’s an excerpt –

If you give a pig a pancake, she’ll want some syrup to go with it. You’ll give her some of your favourite maple syrup, and she’ll probably get all sticky, so she’ll want to take a bath. She’ll ask you for some bubbles. When you give her the bubbles..

Here’s the version for my mom, who goes by Nannie:

If you take Nannie to the bank she will also want to go to the food store. While in the food store she will curse loudly because they don’t have the right Swifter pads. Then she will leave her cane in the shopping cart while complaining that the stores near her house aren’t big enough. When you leave the store she will want to get something to eat, after she eats you will take her to the doctor. While walking to the doctor from the car she will realize she left her mask at Starbucks and you will have to beg the receptionist for a mask…on the way home from the doctor you will get detoured for twenty minutes due to an accident…

Seriously, all that sh*t happened. Back to my prep – as I mentioned I was looking forward to a little me time. Clearly nothing exotic just not cooking or cleaning up after people for an evening would be a treat. At 4:30pm I announced that I was going upstairs. The hubs looked at me and said something about dinner…I may have blinked really slow. I reminded him that I was taking the night off for medicinal purposes and I wished him well. Of course this would be the week that he has a huge project on his plate but really figure it out people. I texted him an hour later to remind him to make sure our daughter eats.

I could hear the discussion taking place regarding dinner – the guys were set with chicken parm subs, the girl was requesting Mexican take out. I got a text from my daughter requesting help, I told her to come upstairs. She had to place the order by phone and apparently that is more scary than hairy spiders for her. I talked her through it while she stood in the doorway of my bathroom and I sat on the toilet.

Daughter: Mom what’s the name of that Mexican place I like?

Me: Aztlan (pronounced Azz Land because WTF not)

Daughter: What’s the name of those nachos I like?

Me: Aztlan Nachos

15 minutes later I get a call from my son who was sent out to pick up the nachos.

Son: Mom what’s the name of the place with the nachos?

Me: Aztlan

Son: What’s the address? Is it on the same street with the tailor and the church…

Me: I don’t know honey can you Google it, I gotta go (still on the toilet).

The day before the colonoscopy is a liquid diet. I had jello, chicken broth, tea, water, more water and for a change, water. The prep includes a concoction which tastes like rancid cough syrup mixed with dish soap. You dilute that with water and when you finish that you drink more water and then you explode, maybe

Before I finished drinking the first round of 48 ounces (second round is the morning of the procedure) I got a headache and the chills, apparently this happens. It passed after about an hour. While I was Googling side effects, I read that orange jello is a no-no which is most unfortunate because I ate several bowls of the stuff. I wish I was joking. The instructions from the GI office state you should not consume red or purple jello or beverages. Nothing about orange so I’m hoping this doesn’t derail me. 

Speaking of “go”, the prep is effective. All the things you hear about the prep are true – vile, disgusting, rancid, rank, gross, gnarly (this is taking on an 80s Valley Girl theme, like Oh My God) Satan’s cocktail, poo primer, make up your own name it’s fun (sad, sad, fun). Anyway I was able to drink it and not vomit so yay me! The fireworks started within an hour…more like water works. I don’t speak for everyone but somehow my ass turned into a faucet. Even more odd was the faint chicken smell, guess it was the broth I had. Pretty much an all liquid event with varying shades of yellow, gray and eventually clear. This apparently is the goal.

The next morning I stepped on the scale because who doesn’t want to weigh themselves after 14 hours off liquid evacuation. I lost 1.8 pounds. I realize some people sneeze that in a day but for me this is big news. It takes me weeks of clean eating and consistent exercise to lose that. And yes, I suspect it will be back up tomorrow, shhhh, let me have this moment.

A few hours later….

The hubs dropped me off at the appointment and I gave him instructions to come back in two hours. I was fairly certain he’d be back. There’s only so much take out they can eat and those people (my family) won’t even wash fruit FFS. 

I registered and was directed to my waiting stall. I was instructed to keep on a bra and socks. I told the nurse I hope a camisole is acceptable because I haven’t worn a real bra since March (and I’m never going back to that titty prison). While in queue for a procedure room I had to use the bathroom TWICE. It was a bit of a spectacle, I had to navigate an IV pole while holding my gown closed, tricky business. 

It was finally my time and I was wheeled into the room.I just got oxygen clips in my nose when, uh-oh, I had to go again. I said Jack (nurse) I need to get untethered so I don’t sh*t the bed, he was quick about it. Took care of business, met my doc and went night-night. 

I woke up to hearing I didn’t have any polyps which was good news. My doctor spoke to me about how fabulous my colon was and how I did a great job with prep (no mention of orange jello, phew). Unless things change, I don’t have to do this for 10 years.

So here are the takeaways:

I think the low fiber/low roughage diet for 5 days prior helped with the prep. I had minimal cramping and bloating was eased as soon things got moving. 

The nausea passed soon after I finished the solution. During the second round I would take a long swig of solution and then have a small sip of water to ease the after taste. 

I had a headache and chills each time I drank the solution, that’s just how it is for some people. I was allowed to take Tylenol which helped. 

I got cottonelle wet wipes to help with the burning sensation (did I mention the ring of fire? Just imagine you have 1,000 papercuts THERE, yup that’s what it feels like)

Go light on the food after your colonoscopy. I got a little too enthusiastic at dinner and I think it was too much after the day’s events.

Colonoscopies are recommended starting at age 45 for African Americans, 50 for most and younger for those that have a close family member that had colon cancer.

The Struggle is Real

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The Struggle is Real

In 2016 my daughter went through an intense hand sanitizer phase, it was sandwiched between the days of making her own slime and travel soccer. She was not alone, all of her tween BFFs were afflicted with the same disease, a hallmark of the middle school years for girls.

Such a carefree time when my biggest concern was….can they actually get drunk from smelling this sh*t? How many hours can 5 tween girls spend in Bath & Body Works? Why am I the only mom schlepping these girls to the mall? What is a reasonable amount of hand sanitizer and is that affected by the buy 12/get 82 free sale? So many questions as we navigated our way through the days of olfactory overload.

Fast forward four years and now that once annoying and inconvenient phase has gifted us with a plethora of outdated and funky smelling gel. I haven’t seen traditional hand sanitizer in any store for over two months. My supplies are dwindling so I had to put on my mom jeans and raid the leftover stash from my daughter who has since moved on to grunge, goth and her two faves Brian May & Gordon Ramsay. If you have a tween or teen daughter, chances are you have a similar stash if you didn’t get all Marie Kondo and throw them out three years ago like a responsible parent, tsk, tsk.

If you do have a stash on hand of the 2016 Bath & Body Works Collection, please allow me to provide a little guidance. Here’s a review of the three bottles of hand sanitizer that I “borrowed” from my daughter’s room earlier today.

Chill Out

Sage advice B & B W. The bottle features a penguin wearing a grass skirt on a beach with a palm tree. That would be a nice place to chill out. Trying to sort out what part of the world this penguin is from, perhaps the Galapagos?

Anyhow, the scent (inhales deeply while holding the canister in my right hand, the left hand flutters in an upward motion).…it smells like a pina colada with strong notes of Axe deodorant. That’s a brilliant move by the marketing department – 98% of the male middle school population wore Axe deodorant in 2016. Bravo!

ISLAND *MARG*ARITA

WTAF B & B W. This bottle has a boozy looking drink on it with a partial white face with blondish hair which looks Trumpian. I think someone in the marketing department may have gotten a contact high from all the product. The median age of your hand sanitizer demographic in 2016 was 11 years and 7 months. Are they supposed to drink this sh*t or are trying to sort out which parents aren’t paying attention to their kids purchases and then question their decisions 4 years after the fact. Touche, sorry I got side tracked.

The scent is (inhales once again, same hand motions)….tough to dissect this one, it’s complicated. There is a hint of lime with a suggestion of future bad decisions and a twinge of vomit. Well played marketing, well played.

The Struggle is Real

This bottle features what I can only guess is an ice cream container with a spoon. The ambiguity of the artwork is a good call since your customer can fill in the blanks – is it an ice cream container or cookie dough, what’s your comfort food of choice? And really it’s never too early to introduce emotional eating is it? It has become clear to me that you are casting a wider net then I originally anticipated. Perhaps you went into this venture hoping to appeal to tweens and their boozy and/or mildly depressed moms. Sure it was a reach but I do appreciate the effort. Whispers…my comfort food is Milk Duds.

Last time, inhales deeply (forget the hand motions, who are we fooling this stuff all smells the same)….ah…this is a familiar scent…Hawaiian Tropic Sunscreen and wait….ah yes, the tears & sweat found only in a middle school gym locker room. You’ve out done yourself with this one. You have the perfect formula for happy scent with a dash of realism. I suspect the adult version of this replaces the gym locker room scents with something like unrealized dreams and cortisol.

The struggle is real, it sure f^cking is.

Smile & Wave…

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Smile & Wave…

When things get bad I either retreat inward like a turtle hiding in their own shell or bleed all over the floor, on a stage with spotlights and a large audience. It seems I’m not great at middle ground. I use to compare parenting to jumping off a cliff with no knowledge of what you’ll be landing on – could be a pillows, could be razor blades, no one knows. Right now I feel like I am threading a needle in the dark with shaky hands, it’s not a great place to be in.

Most of the monsters I am fighting are not my own. This adds to the frustration and the fear, the unknown is a formidable beast. Throw in vastly different opinions regarding medicine & parenting and you have yourself an unsavory cocktail of emotions and no real path for progress. I’m in a bit of limbo right now, a shitty version of purgatory, not sure which direction we’ll be going in next.

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Anyhow, moving on….I haven’t posted in a while so here’s an update for the curious –

Two weeks ago I got cleared off restrictions from my ACDF surgery. That means I can go back to the gym (YAY!!!!). This made me obscenely happy. Exercise is my primary means of maintaining mental health. Not exercising to the level that I am accustomed was tough during my recovery. I understood the need, I just missed the endorphins and the familiar faces at the gym.

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Speaking of familiar faces…I saw one lady at the grocery store last week and she asked where I’d been. I gave her an update and we chatted pleasantly, told her I’d see her back at the gym. Fast forward to Saturday and the gym parking lot was a hot mess. I had to wait for an open spot because the lot was completely full. I had my blinker on waiting for a car to vacate….then a women rolls up next to me and starts screaming.

Her face was distorted with rage, she was using hand gestures and possibly frothing at the mouth. I responded with a few friendly shrugs, pointing to the spot I was waiting for and a what-can-you-do look on my face. Who was this angry woman….the same lady I chatted with at the grocery store. A few days later I was in the gym parking lot again and she walked past my car – we made eye contact, I smiled and waved enthusiastically, she looked down at the ground and walked to her car. Namaste parking lot lady.

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I went back to work with Rob and Laura after the holidays. For the first couple of weeks I just went out on solo missions to do their shopping. I would also cook them meals and run errands as needed. One day Laura forgot I wasn’t cleared to drive them yet. When I arrived in the morning she had her coat on, ready to go. When I reminded her of the temporary grounding, I got some side eye and a huffy “Fiddlesticks!”

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Fortunately I can drive my friends again.

Fed Up!

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Fed Up!

Everyone is in full on crazy mode right now. Hanukkah and Christmas are just around the corner, weather has been a complete mess for a large swath of the population and I still need to figure what to get my Brother In-law.  Since my surgery last month I have become pretty good at saying – “nope, not doing it” and Christmas is no exception.

I have gotten gifts for my kids, the hubs and my nieces and nephew…I’m just not stretching much beyond that this year. I may attempt to make biscotti, maybe not. I tried to bake something last week and it made me awful to be around. I go into a weird rage when I attempt to bake, it isn’t pretty.

Clearly I’m not the only one feeling the pressure, a local mom posted this picture in a Facebook Group –

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Sure, it’s all fun and games until little Timmy goes to school and starts discussing how Snowball landed on his dinner plate and it takes a few beats for his first grade teacher to realize that mom has probably been hitting the eggnog a little too hard this year. Or perhaps the offspring of this stressed out parent is observant and wonders why Snowball’s right leg is longer than his left (inquisitive little monster). Then dad has to come up with some convincing backstory on the fly about a sledding accident in 2004. I tend not to lie simply because it’s too exhausting.

It’s not just the holidays making me nuts, it’s the recovery from my ACDF. The other night I went to a women’s networking holiday party. It was great to get out and feel human again. Bonus I ate a meal that I didn’t shop for, cook, serve or clean up – that is always a plus. I got a bit panicked when it was time to leave because a snow squall had come through and I was afraid of slipping on ice and snow. My friend graciously walked me to my car as I held on to her arm (just in case). Then I had a white-knuckle ride home on black ice. I am usually excellent about driving in the snow – since the surgery I’m afraid of getting into a fender bender or skidding off the road. I’m sure this will calm down as I get further into recovery but right now I’m feeling fragile and it effects me in ways that never have before. I don’t like this new version of chicken-shit me, not one bit.

I went back to a modified work schedule a couple of weeks ago. The modifications mean I do not drive Rob and Laura around anymore, not for the foreseeable future. Instead I visit them at home, run solo errands and do some cooking for them. This has been working out except one day last week when Laura forgot I wasn’t driving them anymore. You haven’t lived until a 93 year old woman is pissed off because you won’t take her to the laundromat. Luckily a driver was coming the next day to tackle that task.

One of the new chores is to assist Rob with the spraying of the fruitcakes. I didn’t know this was a thing until about a month ago. Rob made 22 fruitcake loaves and one wreath back in November. Since then, he sprays the bounty every Wednesday. The loaves each get 5 sprays of brandy and then they are sealed in a Ziploc bag and placed in an airtight container. The wreath gets about a dozen sprays. I’m fairly certain the wreath is an alcoholic, it’s a broken mess. I didn’t get the specifics but I did see the results and I explained what a smash cake is to my friends. We have deemed the boozy treat a smash wreath and that should totally be a thing.

This week was special because it was time to remove the cheesecloth. Pieces of liquored up fruit were falling off like a drunken avalanche. Rob (a non-drinker) was scooping up the bits like a kid who just busted up a Pinata. I’ve never seen a 95 year old move with such cat like reflexes. After a few fistfuls his aim was off on the spraying and the right side of my body smelled like a bar at 11:59pm on New Year’s Eve. Luckily I made it home without getting pulled over. I may need to change my sobriety date.

On the plus side, I still have my sense of humor and luckily I’m not the only one….this gem popped up on Facebook the other day. I like this an unreasonable amount. Happy-whatever-you-celebrate! 80406706_1768755406589367_978716565929197568_n.jpg

 

The Oh Sh*t List!

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The Oh Sh*t List!

Hello friends, I haven’t posted because things have been kind of icky and who wants to read that mess. For those that have been following along my neck surgery is next week. I went for all the pre-op tests yesterday so it feels real at this point. I haven’t been stoic about this situation but I’ve tried to keep the public bitching to a minimum. I’m struggling a bit, I suspect some of my emotions are to be expected. I don’t know if I’ve learned anything through this process but I have made some observations along the way…

I have really good friends. I’m putting together an “Oh Sh*t List” – this will house the names and phone numbers of people that have offered to drive, feed and/or shelter my kids while I’m in the hospital and during recovery. These are people that mean what they say and say what they mean…they will show up if needed. Some of them will show up even if they don’t get a call. I hope you all have friends like this in your lives, I am profoundly grateful for mine.

It isn’t just about meal prep and Muber (Moms that Uber for free) some friends are just there when you need them. Last Saturday I texted a friend around 5pm and asked her if she wanted to go see a local production of Rocky Horror at 9pm. My daughter bailed and I didn’t push it because I thought it might be inappropriate (spoiler: it was COMPLETELY inappropriate).

Me: Any chance you want to go to Rocky Horror tonight?

Lisa: Daughter Bail?

Me: Yup

Lisa: Sure. What are we wearing? Sedate Janets or wild Rockys?

Me: I don’t think I have the wardrobe for either. I can probably put together a party goer outfit…black pants/jacket, shiny shirt (maybe) and an obscene amount of makeup. What have you got?

Lisa: Corset, high heel boots, red wig?

Me: Of course! I need a wig.

An hour goes by as I frantically search through the Halloween boxes looking for anything that will pass for Rocky Horror fabulous. What I find is Thing 1 & Thing 2 toddler costumes which makes me want to smile-cry and sends me to my bedroom closet which leads to…wardrobe disappointment. I did manage to find a cool jacket I purchased in Turino, Italy in 1996 and a hat I wore last year when I went to a party as Captain Obvious.

Me: I look more steampunk middle-aged hooker than Rocky Horror party-goer.

Lisa: Sends me a picture of herself looking fabulous in a zebra inspired pimp hat, gorgeous long deep purple velvet jacket, red wig, corset and boots for days. Too much?

Me: Hells no you look awesome! I put eye shadow on with a Q-tip. I’m not fit to be in your presence.

We had a great time at the show!

 

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Another observation…your family will squeeze every drop out of you until you make them stop.

Yesterday I had to drive to Philly for my pre-admission testing. The drive wasn’t bad and I managed to score street parking which is a bargain. I walked 4 blocks to the first appointment (Cardiologist) then had to get to the remainder of my appointments another 4 blocks away. Naturally it was raining and did I mention I woke up at 2:30 that morning just for giggles. So I was tired, cranky and in considerable pain. I find it ridiculous that people need to jump through these physical hoops for medical procedures to fix an orthopedic issue. The other patients I encountered yesterday were in tremendous pain and having to navigate city blocks and multiple buildings was a lot for their worn out broken bodies. Seemed like an unnecessary obstacle course – put it all in one building preferably on the same floor, oh and GET OFF MY LAWN (just threw that in because I sound like a grumpy old lady).

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Any way after 5 hours of that nonsense I was looking forward to a nap cuddled up with my heating pad. I just got my self nestled in when I hear footsteps approaching my bedroom door…next thing I know my mother is barging into my bedroom.

Mom: Your husband told me you were resting. How are you, are you OK?

Me: I’m in agony mom, I just want to nap. I’ve been up since 2:30 this morning, long day.

Mom: Oh so it hurts, huh.

Me: Yes, yes it does. Is there something you need?

She then rattles off two things that she needs which causes me to get out of bed and go downstairs. I gave my husband strict instructions to lock all the doors from now on and set the alarm.

Naturally Rob and Laura are concerned about me and wondered how they would manage while I’m out. Super woman friend, Vickie, saved the day. She met the family and shadowed me one day this week on outings. Rob & Laura will be well cared for in my absence.

So my – Oh Shit List – is filling me with gratitude. The people I encounter in real life and my cyber friends have been very supportive. Seriously, you need these types of friends in your life.

Bananas

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Bananas

Sweet Geezus the bananas are out of control…AGAIN. Those pesky peels are showing up everywhere. Real damage is being done, people are dying slipping on those damn peels. Even the schools are not safe. Teachers who went into their chosen field to educate and enrich the lives of their students have to carve out time to teach students what to do in the event of a banana peel emergency. And an emergency is bound to happen, they always do. We’ve already had a handful of banana peel incidents this year and it’s only February.

Great minds have been debating this banana peel issue for decades and still no solution for the problem. Some people say that all bananas should be removed from circulation. Others argue for more restrictive banana rights. Others say “hey leave my bananas alone, our founding fathers fought so I could have a right to my bananas.” Maybe some people can’t handle the power of the banana, maybe not everyone needs one. Perhaps there should be a consistent test to determine if someone is within the right frame of mind to carry a banana?

We could make public places safer to avoid unwanted banana entry. Schools should probably be built more like prisons to keep the bad bananas out. That makes sense right? Really high fences – 20 feet high with barbed wire, a few guards at the entrance a banana pat down on the way in, maybe a retinal scan, we have the technology. Sure schools are going bankrupt paying for pension funds and a push to redistribute property taxes. Put all that aside for a moment…I’m sure Congress will loosen up the purse strings so we can keep our bananas AND make schools safer. We do after all value the safety and well being of our children as well as a free and accessible public school system.

There is a lot of speculation as to why the banana problem exists: poor family values, antidepressants, a lack of love & God, mental illness, video games, the pro-banana board which spends gobs of money keeping bananas accessible. At one point Australia had a banana problem and they just said “turn in your f*cking bananas.” Apparently that’s working for them. That couldn’t possibly work here. The UK, Japan and Germany also have a low tolerance for bananas. Shocking as that is, those countries have fewer banana fatalities than we experience in the USA. What could it be? We need our bananas we aren’t like those other countries.

I don’t know what the answer is…I mean I guess you just have to say a prayer and hope your kids don’t slip on any peels when you send them to school. That seems to be working out just swell…as long as it isn’t your kid slipping on the peel.

 

This was originally posted on a sister site in February of 2018 after the Parkland mass shooting. It’s September now, that time of year when parents wonder if the bullet resistant backpacks will hold up, teachers try to anticipate which kids will have panic attacks during the “active shooter drills” (the new fire drill except this “fire” mimics when a maniac comes into your kid’s school with an assault rifle) and teachers mentally calculate how many more months they have to deal with this insanity before they can retire.

Sadly, the post is still relevant. Thank you teachers everywhere for still showing up under these obscene conditions. Kids I don’t know what to tell you, I’m so sorry we haven’t collectively done better. You deserve a safe place to learn, all of you.

Fellow Americans do you remember when drunk driving was a HUGE issue in this country? In the 80’s grass roots organizations like Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) got fed up and pressured the government to do something…the legal drinking age was changed to 21 across the nation. Drunk driving laws were tightened and strictly enforced and the public’s behavior changed. People still have a cocktail with dinner, they just plan for the drive home with more caution now.

Why can’t we use a similar common sense approach to guns? Thorough, consistent background checks, close the purchasing loopholes, be a little more selective about who can purchase a weapon. I have to show ID to purchase allergy medicine can’t we have at least that much scrutiny for a military grade weapon? Or shall we just continue to traumatize the generation we’re supposed to protect? Is that better because that sounds bananas to me.

Cheeky

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Cheeky

Parenting is hard…you have to keep inventing new ways to troll your teens. A few weeks ago my DD begged for some jeans. Having just spent our budget on the back to school wardrobe, I wasn’t too keen on the idea. She was relentless (she really needs to become a lawyer she digs in and will not let go). Anyhow after two hours of bantering (alright 10 minutes but it FELT like 2 hours)…I decided to barter.

DD: MooooooHoooohm, please, PLEASE, PLEASE, I really need some more jeans.

Me: You do not need new jeans we just went shopping, you want new jeans.

DD: OK, I REALLY want these jeans AND they’re on sale buy 1, get 1.

Me: Yeah, that’s how they hook you make it seem like you are getting a bargain by charging $60. for one pair of jeans and get a second pair for free. Where are the $30. buy one get one jeans, I’d be down with that.

DD: Nobody sells $30. jeans it’s 2019.

Me: Alright you want the jeans you need to weed – 6 hours of weeding $10./hour.

DD: Ugh, I hate weeding.

Me: Same. Pinky promise?

…and with that a pinky promise was made and jeans were ordered. This past weekend the jeans arrived and I left the package unopened on the back bench. DD snagged the package and placed the jeans in the wash.

I am now holding the jeans hostage until the weeding is done as agreed. I text DD pictures of the jeans she begged for with notes that say “Save Me” and “Pull The Damn Weeds Already!”. The jeans happen to be called “Cheeky” well, I too can be Cheeky.

DMV

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DMV

Hello my blogging friends, I have missed you. Nothing exotic happening here I just haven’t been able to steal time from other parts of my life to get a post up. I have some catching up to do…

My teens are off from school, that happened approximately 312 hours 37 seconds ago. I’m teaching one of them to drive, that’s fun. He’s a good driver for the most part, sometimes he takes turns like he’s in an electric go-kart. When we sent him for camp and winter league a few years ago, I didn’t think through the driving habits that were being downloaded into his brain at the time. I try not to gasp out loud or visibly wince, that’s been tricky. Now I make the sign of the cross and genuflect before I get in the passenger seat so that’s new.

The first official day of summer break I took my son and my mother to DMV. My mother and I needed to get photos for license renewal and my son needed his permit. Once again, I didn’t think this one through friends. We went on a Tuesday which apparently is the worst day to go (because of course it is). The DMV is closed on Sunday & Monday so Tuesday is the busiest day of the week and I can vouch for that.

My son was going to a different counter he was number 442. My mother and I were 195 and 196. As soon as we arrived, mom plopped her stuff on a chair that I found for her (the last chair, I had to race to beat a 90 year old to it and she almost got there first but I did a home base slide to secure it…I’m sure the walker slowed Ethel down). Anyhow, mom doesn’t even sit down she goes out to get some air (smoke). So I sit in her seat to hold it and ignore the dirty looks from Ethel and her friends from Sunnyside Eldercare. Mom comes back forty minutes later sipping from a large aromatic coffee cup and says “I guess I should have asked if you wanted one” as she reclaims the hard plastic throne.

90 minutes later we are starting to get to our place in line, 192 pops up on the display. Mom decides to get more air. I pointed to the display and reminded her that our numbers were almost up, she shrugged it off. “I’ll be back in a jiff” she smirks and she’s out the door before I can lift my jaw from the floor. Three minutes later, the numbers get to 194. The average wait time between clients has sped up from a 10 minute average to 90 seconds. My son’s line is also making progress with just a few people ahead of him. I send him out to do a quick Nannie search, he comes back sweaty and panicked, “I can’t find her”. OH FFS I think to myself and then my number gets called.

I am clearly distracted as I go through the process of license renewal. I steal side glances to see if mom has returned and wonder how much stalling I can do to buy her time. My brain goes blank, I give a pensive smile for the camera and do not take the time to check my hair or put on lipstick. I regret the lack of primping as soon as I see the image that will humiliate me for the next 4 years, sigh.

While I’m taking a shitty picture and contemplating the location of my mother, my son’s number is called. I slide from counter A to B and join him for the inquisition. The gentleman, Reggie, working the counter is a textbook definition of a disgruntled government employee. My son takes his paperwork out of his jean pocket which has been folded into a square. Reggie conjures his inner thespian and makes a dramatic display of unfolding the papers and mentions that he’ll need to “ern them”, which took me a second to mentally translate to iron.

I continue to smile and act pleasant while Reggie sighs heavily and gives off the I-want-to-end-it-all vibe that radiates off him like heat on asphalt in July. My son remains respectful, a little anxious, waiting for instructions. Reggie grunts and points to a row of computers which my son and I interpret as a cue to take the written test online.

I wait nearby and watch as Reggie makes the “I’m going to lunch” announcement. Announcement isn’t entirely accurate, it was more like a muttered statement that I happened to over hear. For a moment I get hopeful that perhaps a more charming individual will replace him and we will end this nightmare on a positive note.

I finally see my mother who has somehow managed to slip in just in time to hear her number. The boy finishes his test and stands next to me, I tell him about Reggie’s lunch break. Then I am hit with the sad realization that there will be no Reggie replacement and we need to wait for him to get back. I cry a little but only on the inside because I’m a winner, damn it.

We meet other Reggie castaways as the minutes tick by and we all come to the same conclusion, Reggie sucks. After about thirty five minutes our counterman is back and he begins his reign of disregard toward his line constituents. When it’s our turn he doesn’t say anything beyond, “here” as he shoves paperwork into my son’s hand and thank GAWD it included his permit. I make a mental note of how time moves differently at the DMV. For instance, 10 minutes at DMV is equivalent to 3 hours outside. I suspect it may be comparable to prison time, we managed to survive 27 hours in the joint.

How’s your summer going?

Hallmark Milestones (make me cry)

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Hallmark Milestones (make me cry)

It’s fine, I’m fine, everything is FINE….my Gawd why do I get so emotional at these predictable Hallmark milestones? My kid just finished 8th grade and naturally there was a ceremony, we have one for everything now, first period parties, hard pass. I approach these events with the cynicism of a crone, meh, it’s 8th grade not med school, calm the hell down and yet…

As I scan the faces on the stage I feel a strange mix of emotions. I’ve known a dozen of these kids since preschool, most since Kindergarten, half the grade has been at my house at some point. It’s not a huge grade maybe 115 kids and as I watch them, I’m reminded of the ever growing gap in the parental/child relationship. I’m keenly aware that while I once knew everything about my kid, I’m no longer the primary confidant. One of my friends summed it up – once we shared them with the world, now they share a piece of their world with us.

Throughout the day I hear the refrain of Sunrise, Sunset go through my brain and my emotions play out like a predictable plot, so pedestrian in their ebb and flow. Somehow I’m OK with that because this is the shared camaraderie of parents. I can catch a side glance toward another mom and within seconds I know she’s on the verge of losing it as I quietly pass her a tissue. There’s comfort in that, knowing your peers are experiencing a similar cocktail of bittersweet emotions.

Is this the little girl I carried?
Is this the little boy at play?
I don’t remember growing older
When, did, they?
When did she get to be a beauty?
When did he grow to be so tall?
Wasn’t it yesterday when they, were, small?

Sunrise, Sunset – Jim Nabors

I’m sure the middle school promotion ceremony plays out in a similar format throughout America. The same six kids get recognized every year – leadership, citizenship, athleticism and all around Stepford child awards. My kids never get them. My son was one B away from straight A’s in middle school.

The single B was from 7th grade gym class where they had to choreograph a dance. Three dudes where set to shake it to Shaggy’s  Bombastic but some Lynne Cheney type bish decided that was too risque so they had to switch songs at the last minute. So basically censorship prevented my kid from making straight A’s in middle school. That same year they were forced to do square dancing and since there were more guys than gals, his partner was a known douche bag who likes to pick fights. I don’t think I’ve hated anything more in my kids school careers than 7th grade PE.

Bombastic

My girl had one C in middle school and it happened last semester in Algebra. I can barely spell Algebra let alone do the equations, I won’t hold it against her. My kids are good. They usually make the Honor Roll, don’t get in trouble and they are respectful around adults (well, the girl gets testy around me, she is fine with other adults). So in sum, my kids are slightly above average academically and there isn’t an award for that.

They stopped doing sports when they realized that concussions are a strong possibility and my son got sick of @ssholes on the soccer field. My daughter flirts with instruments – flute, piano, and now guitar, she has some musical abilities she just hasn’t stuck to one thing long enough to excel. Should I force her to play the piano an hour a day? Seems stupid to me and I’m done paying for lessons that aren’t enjoyed.

And those six kids that get the awards, they work their asses off and so do their moms. These kids have been groomed in utero and on through to this day to stay on track – musical instruments, student council, tutors, travel sports – resources and talent have been carefully mixed to keep their kids in the front of the pack. I admire their tenacity yet I opted out. I picked calmer weekends and weeknight dinners around the table, I was hoping for some sanity.

If my kids decided they wanted to do something specific, I followed their lead. We had one year of travel soccer (crazy and expensive) and a brief foray into lacrosse, neither stuck and I wasn’t too sad about it. So now my kids don’t do sports and I think the Grown & Flown types would have me feel bad about it but I just can’t muster up the guilt (yawn). BTW, the Grown & Flown Facebook Group has some seriously mean people in it. The posters routinely include “please don’t be mean” in their posts because there are some ragers in there.

As I’ve been a witness and a participant in this raising of humans, I am constantly aware of the privilege around us. I did not grow up like this. I was raised by a single mother and I had a dead beat dad, we were broke. My brother and I had to fend for ourselves. There were no tutors, no activities that required rides from mom or added any extra expense, it wasn’t an option. We were latch key kids who understood that there wasn’t money for extras, we barely got by.  I used to clean my neighbors apartment so I could earn money to go roller skating.

My kids don’t know that struggle. They have two parents that would set themselves on fire to give them what they need and we have financial resources that neither my husband nor I had growing up. He came from a working class family, his parents were immigrants, they worked their asses off to get their kids a better life.

When the college admissions scandal blew up this spring, I wasn’t surprised. I can see this happening where we live, these people are so primed for it. All the money, time and sweat equity they have poured into their offspring, they aren’t settling for anything less than Penn State. The ones that want Ivy Leagues pay for college coaches, they’ve all spent at least a year’s tuition on the prep before they receive their admissions letters.

Back to the ceremony…there was the obligatory photo montage featuring a small collection of photos for each student. A guarantee for tears is what it is…pictures of babies morphing into high school kids on a continuous loop until the ceremony begins. My brain went through a total recall of my daughter’s childhood. It extended into the known parts of her friends, past and present.

There were times when I felt like I knew too much…that girl is on anxiety meds, that one is struggling with her sexual orientation, another was once a close friend until she wasn’t, that kid’s dad has cancer, his parents are separated, divorce, divorce, affair, those 4 kids each lost a parent (one dad died 7 weeks ago, heart attack), the boy who has been in a wheelchair since he was two, the blind kid who has the same birthday as my daughter…..my heart broke a million times yesterday knowing some of their struggles. And while, I am still somewhat involved in the district, I don’t know everything. Each one of those kids is struggling with something, regardless of the awards, perfect hair or blatant talent, privilege can’t take away every obstacle in life.

Last night there was a party at the school for the kids. It had a theme because of course it did. I can barely remember a time when parties didn’t have a theme, barbaric. The theme last night was Aloha High School. Some moms came up with theme related activities. Decorations included grass skirts around the basketball hoops. These parents are EXTRA, they go all out. There were at least 8 different activity stations all with Hawaiian flair – hot potato, scooter hockey, volley ball, an inflatable obstacle course, limbo, hula hoops, and my personal station Flip Flop Flippin.

Flip Flop Flippin or FFF as it is known on the street, features two elevated hula hoops and flip flops. The goal is to flip a flip flop off your foot through one of the hoops. Yeah, sounds easy, in reality, not so much. It’s easier to do with a heavier shoe, I know this now, I know it deep in my sole (typo intentional, calm down grammar nerds). I had maybe five customers in 2 hours.

Midway through the party,  I went over to assist at the inflatable obstacle course. Actually, I wandered over to chat with a mom friend, she soon put me to work. Before I knew it was the inflatable course warden yelling at boys to stop grabbing each other’s ankles as they attempted to climb the slide. I yelled to the point where my throat hurt and some dudes got black listed from the course. I have without a doubt destroyed my daughter’s chances of dating any of those guys, mission accomplished.

Despite the carefully planned curated activities it turned into a zoo in no time. Noodles for the scooter hockey were immediately weaponized as 14 year old boys unleashed their inner Zorro. The boy in the wheelchair had at least 4 kids on the square scooters trailing behind him in a whip chain for at least 40 minutes (I was happy about that, he had a blast and his mom is a G-damn hero).

In the end, the gym looked like a Hawaiian party war zone. The “no food in the gym” rule was breached, a Moku dessert bowl bleeding pomegranate on the wooden floor. Remnants of leis were scattered like ashes from Mauna Loa. No doubt, the remains of a good time as they leave this part of childhood behind. I’m not crying, you are.

Next Stop, High School

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Next Stop, High School

Things have been busy around here. The Holderness Family made a video called MAYcember which is a beautiful tribute to the insanity that is the end of the school year.

Holderness MAYcember

My daughter is about to finish 8th grade which apparently is a big deal now. When I transitioned from 8th into 9th grade in the ’80s, not so much. There’s a promotion ceremony which requires a new outfit and shoes ($$$$). There’s also a party for which parents are expected to donate time, money and a pint of blood (specifically, unicorn blood).

Of course a Sign Up Genius went out via email and I was ready. I beat out at least 17 other parents to be the virtual first which means I get to be Napkin Mom. This is the most coveted of all of the sign up options, followed by Paper Plate Dad with Aunt Disposable Utensils coming in third.

Yesterday Facebook made me all gooey by showing a photo of my daughter from five years ago. It was her third grade field day and let me just say, we do field day big here. Until middle school then it falls off a cliff because middle school should suck every damn day. When I was a kid we had tug-of-war and races, that’s it. If you were lucky you got one of those frozen POP-ICE sugar water things that bled purple dye on your legs, done.

Field Day here has a theme and kids are encouraged to build something to go with the theme. They order special t-shirts each year which kids (and adults) customize. One year it was flying machines…most kids went with airplanes and helicopters, my girl made a flying saucer and it was the sh*t!  The memory photo that came up yesterday featured the seafaring vessels. That year both my kids participated. My son made a viking boat and my daughter brought out the big guns and made a submarine.

Obviously these projects require some supervision. Unlike the Boy Scout Derby Car that my husband totally made (1st place winner), field day projects are individual with minimal construction help. My daughter would always consult my father in-law. Nonno was the fixer of things around here, that Italian ingenuity deep in his DNA, he could jury-rig anything. She would come to him with a very specific vision of what she wanted, sketches in hand and he would search for the materials to make it happen. They would tinker in the detached garage until the structure was built and then she would take over with painting and any finishing touches.

Yesterday’s memory photo featured my daughter at 9, beaming with pride next to an equally proud art teacher, the submarine in the foreground. That particular teacher is a mentor of emerging artists, an innovator, one of those teachers that makes a difference. Nonno helped her make that submarine, letting her lead, making gentle suggestions only when necessary.  It was a snapshot of that precious time between childhood and the teen years. The last real bits of childhood, before you care about how you look or what others think. Before she was on Instagram or Snapchat, when she was a ball of creativity and enthusiasm guided by the gentlest of souls, her dear departed Nonno. She still has those qualities, they are just a bit muted now by life experiences and the realization and pressures of the real world beginning to unfold.

Next stop, high school.