This Parent Said “NO”

The care and feeding of teenagers is not always fun. The horrible truth is that parents are just saggy, older teenagers. It takes me a few seconds every morning to adjust to the fact that I am not a teenager and don’t have to make my bed if I don’t want to. (Not strictly true as it is so deeply ingrained in my soul that an unmade bed is the major source of chaos in the universe that I sometimes make my husband’s side if he gets up to go to the bathroom during the night.)

I only know everything when I’m lecturing my kids. Inside my head there are warning bells, my mother’s voice, house plans, yogurt flavors, vacuum cleaners, puppies, wine, shoes, zebras and calorie counts all swirling haplessly. It’s amazing I can even keep a straight face when giving advice or laying down rules. Truthfully, even my kids call me a pushover. I know I am. I HATE arguments and don’t like it when anyone in my family is unhappy with anyone else. I am a born peacekeeper to the extreme. I fully embrace “Can’t we all get along?” and have probably made a lot of “don’t be your kids’ friend” mistakes.

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So, it has come as a surprise to my second child, my numba wan son, that I have said NO to spring break. Spring break. Are there any two words that can as quickly cause a parent to smile and reminisce, remembering their own debauchery and, perhaps, their mug shot, and, at the same time, wince? While we may have lived through our own antics, no parent can possibly think a teenager let loose in Daytona or Panama City is a good thing. Amazingly, though, there are thousands who apparently do. I have been told that I am the only living parent in the southern states who has said NO. The only one. I have influenced his father, who is now in cahoots with me. We are both irrational, deluded and untrusting. These are the arguments with which we’ve been presented:

You think I’m a bad kid. (No, just a kid who will not receive his adult brain until the brain fairy brings it along about 25. )

A parent will be there. (Yes, a parent we don’t know, in charge of 1,346 kids.)

I have a big car. I’ll be safe. (We have a big car that we allow you to drive. You’ve had two minor wrecks and we’ve been called by a state trooper who caught you going 86 in a 55…)

The wrecks were not my fault. It was in the ice. (Was Frosty driving? I’m confused.)

I didn’t get a ticket. (Because the trooper thought we could punish you worse than the courts. Boy, did he have the wrong mom. )

I won’t drink…much. (Hahahahahahahahahaha!)

Everyone is going but me. (Then might we be in danger of the continent tipping over when all that weight shifts to Florida?)

I can take care of myself. (I’ve seen you try to match socks.)

You can’t baby me forever. (Ha. I’m remarkably strong for my advanced age and adult diapers come in all sizes. I feel sure I could tackle, powder and diaper a 150 pound child with little to no injury to myself.)

You can’t even argue with my valid points. (By this time, I’m just mimicking him. He does have valid points but my instinct still tells me no. Jim Jones probably made valid points and look what happened there. )

My son is the ONLY person he knows who will not be among those at the beach this break. In years past, we’ve had multitudes of kids stay with us at the lake. Some breaks have been good and some haven’t. Now that they are 16 and 17, our boys want to venture beyond, where there are buffets of bikini clad girls beckoning drunkly at every turn.

I don’t care about the girls. Good luck to these guys. I’ve made it safely through that stage with my daughter and I say every mother for herself on that one. Any good mom knows it’s a boy’s single unwavering compulsion to get lucky and she should arm her daughters with that knowledge. I’m not even uptight about a few beers. I am a realistic parent. Teenagers drink. I drank. My husband drank. We did worse. Our parenting theory on drinking was to offer sips when our children were young. They would try a sip, grimace and that would hold them for a year or two. This strategy worked so well that our daughter was 19 before she tried again. Even now, she has a good head on her shoulders and never rebelled by drinking. (Extreme eyeliner was another story, but, thankfully, that passed without harm to either of us.) Our son, well, our plan has worked, but only moderately.

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When our son was 15, an older kid that we didn’t know brought alcohol in through our basement door and got our son and his friend rip roaring drunk. While I don’t like this kid, I don’t blame him as I’m sure my son was a willing participant. Throwing up drunk. Sick, sick, sick drunk. My husband went downstairs to find our son, naked, sick and lying in the shower. He described him as looking like ET by the creek. We took great enjoyment the next day in rousing the two boys up early in the morning and making them work, in the July sun, on the dock all the next day. It was extremely pleasurable on our part, and taught the boys a big lesson. The other boy does not drink at all and our son has a huge respect for alcohol as well as a distrust of blue drinks.

Still, our kid and most of his friends do drink some. We have a policy about no questions if they are somewhere, have as much as a sip and need someone to pick them up so they don’t have to drive. It’s hard to keep mum when driving a car load of singing boys home at midnight. In speaking with other parents, I find they have a similar policy. To tell a kid not to drink and then expect them to obey is a great thought, but a reality that could end disastrously. I’d rather be safe. Every parent out there allowing their child to go to spring break is telling them the same thing. “No drinking”. As if. Even in a stable, two parent home with a curfew we have to keep a constant eye on them. At 17 their brains have not fully formed, all their thoughts are in their pants and they are so loaded up with testosterone that they fully believe themselves to be Wolverine. Not a good combination to turn loose with thousands of others kids, all feeling the same way.

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So, my poor unfortunate kid, with the fabulous car, the designer clothes, credit card and, I feel, dang lenient parents, is NOT going to be at the beach with his friends. He won’t be getting a ticket driving down, he won’t be in the wreck on the side of 75, the tragedy broadcast on 26 stations. He won’t be getting lucky and getting herpes, poor kid, and he won’t be getting stitches at the Panama City hospital. He won’t be in the sand, with 4 oiled up, sandy babes plastered to him. He won’t be getting plastered at all unless it’s with his mom, on umbrella drinks, while doing yard work. (Nothing says fun like partying with Mom…) My poor tortured boy will somehow be living through this incredible stretch of time (7 days), alone, without his ever circulating fraternity, to emerge alive and unincarcerated sometime in mid-April. I know, cry me a river and call DFCS. This parent said NO.

 

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10 Steps to Great Parenting

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Haha.  Not really.  I just called it that because it’s funny.  I have no idea how to be a great parent.  I’m still constantly surprised that someone let me bring two babies home from the hospital with no adult in charge.

At 19, my daughter is more the parent in the house.  She was most likely the parent at 9. That’s just her nature. My observation is that we do the best we can to teach kids to be good and kind, keep them from setting expensive stuff on fire and keep them safe.  They really come fully programmed from the factory to be who they are. It’s just our job to guide them.

I had someone tell me not too long ago that I was too much a friend, not enough parent.  I am good at listening politely and then laughing when I hang up and so I did.  This from a parent whose child would rather die than spend time at home.  A self righteous parent who has no idea what their child is up to, doesn’t want to know, and is parenting by the “do not” method.  If there is a surefire way to produce a rebellious kid, it’s by the “do not” method.

So I’m a friend, so what?  My kids, at 17 and 19, choose to spend time with me, their friends hang out here and in that way, I can be a real parent, keeping them safe and knowing what’s what.  They have both survived, so far, as good and lovely humans, even with a parent like me.  They are lucky The Goose came with an adult gene to keep us all in line.  So, to other happy hippie parents everywhere, these are my ten observations:

  1. Don’t keep Sharpies within reach until kids get a driver’s license and then only with limited access.  No amount of Kilz will make this go away. Once applied in indelible ink, a hallway will still say “poop” 16 years later no matter how many coats of “Creme No. 5644” have been applied.Image
  2. Cultivate a “nothing” face, so when your kids tell you who among their friends is getting into trouble and being generally stupid you can make them think you are non-plussed by this while you cultivate a plan.  I have heard volumes of information from both of my kids, who think I”m cool enough to handle it, and in this way, I have steered them from harm.  I should be used by the FBI as a secret weapon.
  3. Don’t brag about your kids to other parents.  They don’t care.  If your child cures cancer, another parent will still find her child more fascinating because she got the the spirit stick at cheer.  Everyone thinks their kid is the best.  That’s the beauty of being a parent.  No matter how fat, skinny, tall, short, smelly, freckled, wart covered, glittery or down right stupid a child might be, to Mom and Dad, they’re da bomb.  Just keep their vibrant glory to yourself, no one else is interested, especially at parties. Nothing harshes my party mellow than pictures of someone else’s kid. Especially when I know mine are the best.Image
  4. Any time a child is expected to be quiet or respectful, like at church or at their grandparent’s anniversary party, they will inevitably belt out something rude or toot loudly and fall down laughing.  Be prepared to explain that they have had a recent concussion and come armed with medical terms.Image
  5. A child will rat you out to grandparents every chance they get.  They will tell them you didn’t actually go to church but, instead, stayed in your jammies all day watching tv, with your door closed, while expecting the kids to eat reheated Bagel Bites.  They will pull up the hems of their skirts to show the clever way their mom uses duct tape. They will tell their teachers and Sunday school teachers every infraction you commit.  They will supply the answer “wine” when their Kindergarten teacher asks what their mother’s favorite thing to make for dinner is.  They will pull on your coat and say “nuh-uh, Mommy, you quit your job!” when you tell their teacher you can’t help with field day because you’re working.  This is their revenge.  Expect it.  Stay ahead of the curve and occupy them with something, anything, when trying to speak to another adult.Image
  6. Be the “fun” house.  Always let kids come over and have fun.  Be a little bit nicer than other moms and in this way you can covertly eavesdrop and know all.  Yes, it’s messy, yes, kids want to eat constantly, but, of all the things I did right, this was one of them. I know lots more than I really want to, but at least I’m not in denial. My kids’ friends have confided in me, my kids have told all and I think I’ve had a grasp on the real situation out there.  High school is a super scary place.  It’s good to be aware.

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  7. Your 11 year old travel baseball player?  Probably not going pro.  Your daughter who spends 6 days a week at dance class?  Yeah, most likely not going to be doing that at 25.  All these things are fantastic if the kids love it.  Many times, though, it’s the parents’ dream.  For crying out loud, let the kid have a day off to catch salamanders and get dirty.  Lock up the xbox and send that little precious outside to play.  A kid that has to be stripped in the garage and carried to the tub because he’s encrusted in mud is a happy kid.  It’s like a secret recipe.  Kid + water + sunshine = kid that doesn’t wear black and listen to death music.  Imagination is an awesome thing.Image
  8. Don’t try to make kids be who they’re not.  I saw a video once, called The Animal School and it changed me.  I highly recommend looking it up if you have kids in school. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wN7QfjIcVvA or, look up “Raising Small Souls” and find it there. It is the most beautifully done video for understanding individual children I’ve ever seen.) If your kid is really NOT a math kid, quit shoving it down his throat.  Chances are, he’ll do something with his real talents that don’t involve solving for X. Let kids explore their talents and abilities.  If they spend all their time trying to be good at something they’re not, they never get to be really good at what they naturally tend towards.  Kids today are over scheduled, stressed and confused.  Teach them real skills like how to balance a checkbook, how to use the front loading washer with 42 settings and how to say “yes ma’am” and “I’m sorry”.   It’ll take them a long way.
  9. Be flexible.  Kids are going to try stuff.  Be ready to keep them safe through it all.  My 16 year old called me from a party and said “I drank some beers, come get me”.  I wasn’t happy about the drinking, less happy about driving 30 miles in my jammies, in hair curlers (not really, but my hair was almost as embarrassing) but I was so happy he’d called me.  When I got there, he seemed perfectly fine.  When I commented on this he said, “yeah, I had two beers four hours ago but I promised you I’d never drive after having a sip”.  How can I be mad at that?  Kids are going to experiment, better to be able to talk about it and hope they learn.Image
  10. Teach kindness.  I raised vegetarian kids. I told them that God loves all his creation, two footed, four footed, swimming or crawling.  The one thing I’ve stressed is goodness and kindness to animals and others.  I see this deep within them, no matter what phase we’ve been in, and there have been plenty.  Sometimes teenagers aren’t happy creatures with whom to share a home.  Still, there is a carefulness for the feelings of others, a swerving for squirrels, a moving of turtles, a scooting outside of spiders that lives in them that thrills me. Show me a person who has compassion for animals and I’ll show you a person who is good to the core and won’t grow up to keep human heads in their refrigerator.

Enjoy it.  I spent years worrying over the cleanliness of my floors and the dust on my tables instead of sitting down and coloring.  Now, when it’s late in the game and I’ve seen the loss of several of my kids’ friends, I sit when they want to, I go when they ask me along and I enjoy every minute until they move out and I have to call them several times a day.  It does go by fast, even though those preschool years seem to go by in long sleepless dog years.  Young mothers, it gets better.  It gets fun.

I’m no model parent.  I am silly, can’t stick to the rules, cannot help with math.  I have been described by my son as a pushover and, sadly, by my daughter as “shrinking” (surely not, I still say I am just slumping). I see all these parents with ten million rules, expectations and demands and think they might just be missing the point.  I’m not saying my kids will invent a new source of power, but they might.  They may not make billions, but they could.  They may not change the world, but they have changed my world, and I have changed theirs.  That’s pretty cool in itself.

About Sex, ‘Cause it’s Funny

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If there is anything in my mind that points towards the Theory of Evolution, it would be sex.  I have a hard time imaging God, with his clipboard, saying “Walking apparatus, check.  Nutrition system, check.  Beelzebub, do you have the reproduction system ready to go online?”  And, from the bowels of the earth, comes an evil laugh.

Can you imagine the conversation between Adam and Eve?  You want me to do WHAT?  Did they even have tennis bracelets then?

Sex is funny.  From the time The Goose and I got together, sure we had invented great sex, we would sit in church (Quick aside, our entire family has a real problem behaving in church.  Not one of us can be quiet or control our laughter and The Goose frequently chooses this time to whisper something dirty in my ear.  Latent rebellion to mean Sunday school teachers, I’m sure.) and covertly point to old couples and whisper “they do it”.  Our worst insults have begun “yo mama ….” and we don’t even have to finish with what.  Nothing says gross like parents doing, uh, that.

Once, The Goose was on the phone and then handed it to me saying that his mother wanted to talk to me.  I didn’t believe it because his mother NEVER wanted to talk to me.  Thinking there was no one on the other end, I put the phone to my mouth and went on to describe exactly, in graphic ugly detail, what his mother could do to Hosea Williams (why him, I do not know), only to hear his mother stammer weakly, “what…?”.

One would think this would have dissipated over the years, but we still glance at other couples and raise our eyebrows to each other.  The picture in our minds is just too funny to ignore.  I mean, really, Barbara Bush?  My 4th grade math teacher?  Mr. Rogers???

Sex becomes completely unfunny, however, when one has kids.  The first time I realized this is when it came time to name their private parts.  Those of you who feel kids must learn anatomically correct names can stop reading here, take your kids to their “Upward” sports games and hand them an organic celery stick because I feet it perfectly acceptable to use those time honored, more mannerly names, “whooha” and “willie”.  I feel confident that if they are in some sort of accident involving these parts, they will be able to adequately convey to the emergency room doctor what their problem might be.  “Bit’s and pieces” can be substituted in a pinch, as can “tompan, tallywacker, coochie, ladytown, jimbob, thingie, twinkie, ding dong, junk or bidness”.

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Left up to me, my kids would still believe a public toilet seat, a house with no parent home, hot tubs and sharing swim suits can all cause spontaneous pregnancy.  I felt this covered two great issues, early pregnancy and germs, but the The Goose took it upon himself to educate them at a very young age.  Driving them home from a baseball game, when the kids were around 9 and 7, he apparently blurted out a convoluted version of where babies come from that included Tim McGraw, our neighbors and Subway sandwiches.  During this talk, when my poor daughter asked why anyone would do this, instead of answering that it’s a sacrifice we made so we could have our wonderful special children, he answered “because it’s fun”.

I sat with each child as I put them to bed that night and asked if they had any questions.  True to their individual personalities, Cricket’s eyes welled up and she said “please, please, promise me you’ll never let him do that to you again” and I crossed my fingers and swore, agreeing it had been a cross to bear.  Moving into The Boy’s room, his eyes shining with new and evil gleam, I asked if he had any questions.  He said, in his gruff little boy voice “So, does my willie have to be way up for this, like when we go over the railroad tracks in the car?” and I stammered “It helps” and he nodded sagely, “I thought so.” and I sadly turned off the light and left him to his imaginings about the pigtailed little girl in his class.  I then went downstairs and informed The Goose he’d ruined my children.

One never wants to think that their child might someday, well, you know.  We have talked, ad nauseum, about “the deed” and tried to make it as horrible and scary as possible.  We have used time honored sayings, some from The Goose’s mother and handed down in the family such as “a willie has no conscience” and “alcohol can cause someone to slip and fall on a tallywacker” but they have fallen on deaf ears. I have described millions of diseases that can make willies fall off, pregnancies wherein, if a girl is under 25, 6 legged monsters with whiskers and horns are formed, and the unimaginable physical agony involved to teens participating in this practice necessitating a call to the fire department, all negated while The Goose makes lewd gestures behind my back, smacks me on the tee-hiney and whistles happy songs coming out of the bedroom.

It has helped, though, as they’ve grown, that they are as disgusted with us as we might be about them.  I feel this might be the greatest deterrent ever. Because they are nearly grown, The Goose and I can spend a lot of time away together and the tables have turned.  When they start to get uppity, we play it to the hilt and mime deep and amorous kisses at every chance, allude to romantic dates and try to throw the word “snuggle” into our conversations within their earshot.  This bothers them greatly.  It worries and disturbs them. My son shakes his head and whispers “no…no” and our daughter coughs and gags. They say we burn their eyes.

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This weekend, Cricket was spending the weekend downtown, with friends, and I texted her and asked her when she was coming home.  When she had the audacity to ask why, I responded, “because it takes a lot of time to roll up the trapeze and put away all these handcuffs properly” and I got the response “I just threw up”.  In this way, I know my ploy is working I am still doing my job as a responsible parent.

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How’m I doin?

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The Golden Goose and I just spent a week in beautiful Exuma, in the Bahamas.  I know, poor me.  All that spare time caused me to do three things, drink too much, get too much sun and think.  While I should have been enjoying brain dead time gazing at the florescent blue water, my mind whirled.

One night, I awoke at 3:00 am, the time when everything in the world is wrong.  Suddenly, I needed to know that my kids, who were free wheeling at home alone, were okay.  For years Cricket has been in charge of The Boy.  My friends who travel with me joke that I’ve been leaving The Boy home alone since the 7th grade.  This isn’t strictly true.  Cricket has always been in charge and has been fully able to run a small country since the age of 6.  I never worry that things will run smoothly when she’s in charge.  The Boy, however, tends to go AWOL, ignore texts, failing to email or check in.  Thus, I suddenly panicked at 3:00 that I was a terrible mother.

I prodded The Goose and asked him if he was awake.  I told him I couldn’t stop thinking.  This produced a sarcastic laugh and he told me he thought he smelled smoke.

“Am I a terrible mother?” I wailed.  “Have I gone wrong by being so trusting?  I mean, what could a 16 year old boy get into while home alone?”.

So The Goose and I got to talking about mothers.  The Goose was left to walk himself to school in Kindergarten.  He got himself ready and took himself to school.  I, on the other hand, was driven door to door in an armored car.  That’s the difference in a 4th child and an only child.  We have long exhausted the subject of my happiness with my own perfect mother as well as my delight at finding such a groovy wonderful birth mother.  This subject has been inspected, turned around, talked about and diagrammed.  I just have happy mother issues and am covered up with great mother feelings from all sides.

Things moms say make a big dent in who we become.  My mom never went to the grocery store without full make up and lipstick.  Because of her, I know what’s tacky, what’s acceptable and what’s “done right”.  I know children shouldn’t say “yeah” or “huh”, that legs really should be crossed at the ankles and that if an artificial nail comes off in the cotton candy at a school festival, one should look the other way and pretend it was someone else.  I know from her that the we are in a constant war with germs and should be ever vigilant with the Lysol, that there are peeping toms waiting around every corner and that women who color their hair bright red usually can’t be trusted.  Cricket recently had shoes that hurt and when she started to complain about it she held up a hand at me and sighed, “I know, one has to suffer for beauty.  You’ve been telling me since I was a toddler”.  I had no idea she even listened and my heart swelled because I’d passed that one right on from my mom.

The Goose’s mother was decidedly different.  Although she had many great qualities, she wasn’t a lovey-dovey mother or grandmother. “Did you feel properly mothered?” I asked him.  The Goose answered that he was perfectly happy with his mom.  Although she was not a very loving person, he always felt as if she would be there if he needed her.  Maybe this is what counts, having kids secure enough to know that there is someone there to be their safety net. The Goose’s mom had several important pieces of wisdom to impart.  Frequently, when he was a teenager, she would say to him “a penis has no conscience”.  When asked how she felt, she would often answer with “well, I feel like I do now better than I did when I first got here…but don’t tell anyone” or some convoluted version thereof.   She called having a bath a “Clara Barton” and named her end table “Abnot”.  These oddball sayings have become dear to us since she’s been gone and I find myself thinking about the quirks she had and how they helped to form the great Golden Goose that I have now.  Surely she was the perfect mother for him.

ImageThe other day I wrapped my arms around The Boy and asked him if he felt happy with me as a mother.  Did he feel he could always depend on me?  This caused him to laugh and say, “Well, Mom, you ARE a total pushover but you are a great mom.”

“What about all those Bible songs we listened to in the car when you were little? That was pretty darn respectable. Remember how much we read and how we played in the creek?”.

“I remember you read “Are You My Mother” over and over to me because you thought it was funny that it made me cry.”

“Okay, but I was strict enough with the rules that you are a good kid now”.

“I remember when you whacked the daylights out of my head with a giant sucker” he replied.

How long I’ll pay for that particular miscalculation, I don’t know.  They never forget.

“Well, what about when I was your room mom?”

“Sure, that’s back when you were allowed in the school.”  This referring to the fact that I am, mysteriously, not asked to sub anymore.

“Uh, huh, well, I gave you my great car.”

Finally, then I received a hug and some reassurance that he was, indeed, happy with me as a mom.

Both moms and dads shape who our kids will become.  Cricket never walks into the house without The Goose yelling “you da bomb, baby!”.  She, in turn, rolls her eyes.  Every single game of The Boy’s life, whether he does well or fails, I have told him, “you were definitely the cutest one out there.”  While there have been groundings and spankings, plenty of yelling, mainly over math, and several slammed doors and temper tantrums, my kids  never have to guess how much they are loved.

And so, I sought out The Boy, who had so recently called me “a pushover” (which I very well may be), looked him in the eye and told him that after much introspection, I feel that if all he has to complain about is being hit on the head with an all-week sucker, then I must have been an okay mother.

But really,  I have to thank my great kids.  No matter how “mommy” I might not have been, I still walk around in the world, connected to these strange two people about whom I know their quirks and fears.  Whose fat, wrinkled necks and Johnson’s baby shampooed bald heads I can still recall, who wrote on the back of my baby blue linen chair with a green marker, who brought a garden hose, turned on full blast, through my house while coming in to get a popsicle.  Those toddlers with deep husky voices who would climb out of their beds, come down the stairs, get as close to my face as possible and yell “MOM” to see if I was awake.  Two loonies, one of which recently put on a pair of size one jeans and called herself fat.  I know what they will eat, what they won’t, who threw up in a baseball hat and cried because I threw it away, who can sing and who shouldn’t.  I know both of them love school supplies, thrift stores and sour gummy candy.  These are the kids who changed all my passwords to Penis.  The idiots who have caused such disruptions in churches that we have a list to which we shouldn’t return. Almost grown children who hold true to their Christian, animal loving, chaotic hippie homed, vegetarian values. Two individuals who can catch my eye and burst into wild laughter at inappropriate moments.  These two humans whom The Goose and I whipped up, from scratch, who understand us, share our scary humor, love us and one who might take care of us when we’re old. These two oddballs, without whom I wouldn’t have the great and inexplicable joy of calling myself mother on Mother’s Day and everyday.   Happy Mother’s Day to every mom who finds her children to be the very best, no matter what weirdos they actually are.

Little Boy Blues

The other day my daughter told me I was immature.  Nuh-uh, I said.  Yo mama.  This caused me to get thebleak look of pity”.  Unlike theblack glare of death” that she used to give me when she was in high school, this look just means that she loves me, she feels I’m slipping into my dotage and she feels sorry for me.

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Four or five years ago, I felt hip and with it.  Heck, even two years ago.  I blame the fact that sparkly bottomed jeans have gone out and skinny ones are in.  I just can’t make the jump.  It’s hard to feel sassy in pajama looking pants and flats.  Apparently, I had been relying on bimbo clothes to prop me up.

Also playing into my slippage is the fact that I’m not really as necessary at home as in the past.  I have become…well, I was going to say an eight track player, then I upgraded to a cassette and still felt I was shortchanging myself.  I am a CD player.  No one really needs them, but they are nice to have at home, hold some of our favorite memories and we spent a lot on them.  That’s me.

This weekend The Golden Goose and I went to the lake.  We went on Friday night and had a lovely evening to ourselves, complete with a roaring fire and wine.  On Saturday, our son, The Boy, came up with his posse, roaring into the driveway, music blaring.  I had so looked forward to this because I have spent years playing with these boys.  Instead of my sweet gang of boys, though, a changeling group of asshats and buffoons arrived wanting nothing to do with me.  The great evening out I had planned in my mind, eating dinner at the club by the big fireplace and sharing humorous stories over dessert devolved into debacle of Arby’s curly fries and muddy boots.

ImageWhile The Boy was telling a fascinating tale of  a drug lord at school, or something, I made the unfortunate choice to interject a question. He had the audacity to say to me “oh, Mom, you just don’t know about stuff, sitting over there in your little chair, with your paisley pants and your hair up, your wine, with those little glasses on your head”.  WHAT kind of poorly constructed, insulting sentence is that for a mother to receive?  The fact that I was sitting in a chair from which it’s hard to effectively launch oneself and, also, I didn’t want to spill my wine, is the only thing that kept his head on his neck.  Well, that and the thought of getting bloodstains out of the rug.


This has caused a great maudlin boohoo on my part and stalwart suffering for the Goose as he listens to my distress.  He has patiently explained to me that there is nothing in a 16 year old boy’s head but boobs.

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“My child no longer loves me” I’ve said, at least 40 times since we left the lake, envisioning his chubby baby neck and how he used to bring me tadpoles.  I’ve called him numerous filthy names, both aloud and in my head.  I have texted my daughter at work and told her how she is my very favorite and how I will never subject myself to a weekend alone with all that testosterone again.  She, being the first child, believes this has always been the case and has accepted my declarations with stoicism and a glinty eye aimed towards my will.  She has reminded me several times that I once said “that Boy will be sweet and snuggly all his life”.  Then she laughs the Cruella laugh.

The Goose, being, well, The Goose, reminded me of the fits of despair I went through when Cricket was in 10th grade.  She dyed her hair purple, bought stock in black eyeliner and black clothes and rolled her eyes at every breath I took.  Not one thing I said was cool or even bearable.  Now that she is 74 and has passed me in age, she finds me tolerable, if somewhat childish and is happy to share my wardrobe.

The Goose is right.  The Boy will come back around or wreck the car and need to be nice for a while.  He’ll fail math and need a bail out and I’ll be the hero again.  I’ll do research on thug lingo so as to appear cool and drop a word into conversation casually and shrug and I’ll be all that again.  He’ll grow up and leave and remember me fondly.  He’ll come home on weekends, hugging and glad to see me.  We’ll talk over old times and look at photo albums, tell stories of summers at the lake, of playing in the creek.  He’ll remember the snuggling, the building of forts and the fantastic childhood his mother made for him. He’ll have my picture in his dorm room.

Then, he’ll marry some tacky witch who just wants me to die so she can get my stuff.

Sigh. Image

Dating in the Two Thousand Teens

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The Goose and I are coming up on a big anniversary.  The 30th, I said THIRTIETH, anniversary of our first date.  I failed math three times in high school, but this appears  mathematically impossible to me seeing as how I’ll turn 31 in two months.

The truth is, I was 17 at the time.  He was 21.  Seems kinda sketchy now, but looking back, he didn’t ask and I never told and, to his credit, I was out of high school.  To my detriment, though, he did sport a giant porn mustache and why that didn’t scare me away, I’ll never understand.

It took us three years to get married.  I still had another two inches to grow and we had to finish school.  By the time those three years were over, there were still plenty of things we didn’t know about each other and that kept it interesting.

The reason I bring all this up is that kids today (OMG, did I just say that?) just aren’t doing the relationship thing correctly.  When a boy was interested in me, he had to call my house and repeatedly scream his name to my mostly deaf father on the phone to talk to me.  So many times he would come to my room saying something like “Honey, there’s a man from the park calling you.  Did you do something to get in trouble at Stone Mountain again?” only to get to the phone to find out it was someone named Mark, not park.  It kept me on my toes.  Then I would stand and twist myself up in the cord going in one direction and then spin back around the other way while this boy or the other stammered through the details of our upcoming date.  At no point did we discuss our thoughts, feelings or what he was watching on TV (limited to three channels) or what he was eating at the moment.

If there was a new boy on the scene, we couldn’t stalk him on FB, we had to implement actual phone book intel to discern his address and then gather our girlfriends to covertly institute surveillance upon his house.  We had to call friends of friends to hear the scoop on him and that might take days, even weeks.  We had to do it all seeming as if we didn’t care.  The less interested we seemed, the more desirable we became.  Works to this day.

Last night, my son, The Boy and his friends were complaining about girls.  Complaining not about the lack of, but the annoying surplus thereof.

No matter how many times I counsel girls on the genius of “hard to get”, it is impossible to implement this strategy if they are constantly textually active.  Sometimes The Boy will just turn down his phone and turn it over.  When asked why, he’ll say he is caught in a group message with several girls and the conversation is boring and confusing.  Well, duh, girls are mature and smart at 16 and a boy cannot hope to follow along.  My boy still frequently arrives places without remembering to put on shoes.

By the time a teenager has been “talking” to another for a week, they have been texting all day, every day, for the entire time.  They have been texting in their sleep.  They have commented on their clothes, music, who they hate, who’s hot, who they love, their teachers, their parents, their exes and within the span of another week, they are done.  It’s like using the fast forward button. Just when I fall in love with their girlfriends, the relationship has become tired and over and I’m left feeling like I’ve been broken up with!

These kids have no hope.  They know too much about each other to ever find anyone interesting.  Remember how much fun it was going on dates?  The excitement and anxiety? Spending all day lying in the sun, with sun-in in our hair, heating up the hot rollers, using pliers on the zippers of our jeans because they were too tight? I have a callus on my disfigured finger to this day from lying on floor to zip up my Gloria Vanderbilts. Seriously!

Kids don’t go out on dates anymore.  They “hang out”, which means they lie around in my basement, in their pajamas, watching Netflix and eating Bagel Bites. Now how can a girl hope to be alluring and mysterious in Sponge Bob pajamas? Where is the eye liiner, I ask you, where is the strawberry lip gloss?

I was telling the boys last night that dating back then didn’t require a commitment. It was just for fun. I would go on a date with a boy from one school on Friday night and a different boy from another school on Saturday night and my son’s friend looks down and murmurs “there’s a name for that” and they laugh.  After I smacked the living daylights out of him, I reminded him that the entire group of healthy 16 year old boys were home at night playing cards with a mom. No one really listened to me though, they were getting a text.

Kids

I’ve never been very, um, “mommy”.  I mean, I was a good mom when the kids were little but I didn’t lose myself in being mommy.  Maybe it was selfishness, maybe immaturity, maybe it was a deep desire never to wear high waisted jeans or drive a mini-van. I stuck to my bimbo code and the kids dealt with it.

I’ve mellowed, become more tolerant and find that I’ve had so much fun with my kids as they’ve gotten older and now there are lots of kids that I truly love.  There are so many friends of my kids who have become like my own.  I wash their clothes, feed them, yell at them, play sardines with them, chauffeur them around on the boat and listen to their secrets, hopes and dreams.

In return, the kids that I love have drawn giant genitalia in my front yard.  They have written dirty words on my car and let me drive around with truck drivers honking and nodding at me.  They have changed my status to “I’m gay” at least 400 times.  They changed my Apple password to “Penis” and I now cannot figure out how to change it back.  Every time I walk into see a Genius, I have to mumble this to them while their whole demeanor changes and they sneak sideways glances at me. They have set their carpet on fire, set the car seat on fire, set themselves on fire.  They have thrown up vodka and blue juice onto the carpet in my basement.  They’ve turned over the ATVs, grounded jet skis, and one has had crying fits worthy of an oscar, but I’m not saying which.  They constantly add mess and confusion to my household, glasses stuck to nightstands, plates with pizza stuck to them, clothes everywhere, friends everywhere. I am single handedly pulling my son through high school using threats, manipulation and little treats, just like I trained my Jack Russell.

In the shadow of all the tragedy surrounding us lately, both in our community and in the country, I’ve been looking at things differently  I think of all the moms that won’t have kids come home to annoy them. Their kids won’t make messes, won’t make mistakes, won’t embarrass them.  They won’t be there to spontaneously grab their moms, pick them up and squeeze them  until they scream.  They won’t share sweaters, won’t borrow their cars, won’t remind them of the stupid things they’ve done, repeatedly.  Their kids won’t ever become smarter than their parents and be there to hook up technical devices.  They won’t still snuggle and watch a movie, even though they’re almost grown. The enormity of that makes me want to fall to my knees and be thankful that I have one more day with my babies.

This makes me forgive all the craziness and realize that this is what makes life fun, watching them make mistakes and learn from them.  Watching them struggle through senseless biology and math. Seeing their hearts get broken and then seeing them rise above it.  It makes me want to hug them until they say “Mom, this is awkward”. I’m seriously thinking of asking if they want to climb in and sleep with me and their dad tonight, but anticipate rejection and looks of concern.

My son, The Boy, recently said “Mom, we’ll both be gone in two years.  What will you do?  You’ll have no life.  Who will play with you?”.  It caused me to feel sad and go straight to bed because they’re right.  I think I’m one of them.  Who is going to play with me?  The thing I hold onto is that, unlike those poor moms for whom I can’t stop crying and praying, I’ll still be able to call my kids once, twice, maybe 26 times a day.  I can sleep over at their dorms and apartments.  Oh, and I will.

Also, the Goose is going to have to step up and get me a puppy.