Good Bye Dr. Suess

Except this.  This was her favorite.  Or was it mine?
Except this. This was her favorite. Or was it mine?

I was one of those weird pregnant ladies who would read poetry to my womb.  Every morning.  Before work, I would toast myself 2 frozen waffles loaded with butter and syrup and sit down to read a few chapters from a book of Mother Goose collections.  Don’t judge me.  I had to eat waffles because they were the only thing that didn’t make me feel like I had to hurl.  Besides, she was getting some nursery rhymes in return.  Swapping brain food for umm, brain food?  What’s so bad about that?

Why did I do it?  Not the waffle thing, but the poetry thing.  Because I had read somewhere that if you start reading rhymes to your fetus, they will turn out brilliant.  Brains courtesy of Little Boy Blue.  Who would have thunk?  This habit of reading to her continued on from the day she was born until she just didn’t want me to read to her any more.  When was that?  I can’t pinpoint a date.  I  will wager a guess at somewhere right around tween-dom.

Needless to say, we had accumulated about a million books throughout the years.  A million.  And now here I am almost 16 years later with them all over the house.  In her room, on shelves, in closets, in the playroom that is no longer the playroom.  Everywhere.  It was time.

So, with all the energy I could muster, I got myself a couple of cardboard boxes and started neatly piling children’s books into them.  One by one.  Each one a memory.  Angelina Ballerina, Dr. Suess, Goodnight Moon, Tomie dePaola, just to name a few.  I gave them to a friend of mine who has a bunch (yes, a bunch…no lie) of young children.  I knew they were going to a good home.  Why should I be selfish and keep them to myself, allowing them to collect dust?  Not being touched by anyone?  It was time to share the love.

I was surprised by my emotions.  I know I sound sappy.  But it was one of the hardest things I’ve had to do in a long time.  So many memories.  I used to love bedtime.  Not only so that I could have quality time with my glass of wine, but because The Kid and I would snuggle up in her bed and I would read to her (no, I didn’t drink wine while reading to her).  Three books.  That was the limit.  Three books of her choosing.  Every night no matter what.  Well, I would swap with DH but he read to her too.  Every single night.

Aaah, those were the days.  Now I have to worry about her driving in a couple of months and going out with boys and hoping she doesn’t try marijuana.  Oh Lord.  I’m having a panic attack.  I think I want my books back.  Or at the very least, visitation rights.  Think my friend will mind?

Liar, Liar, Pants On Fire

Warning:  Spoiler Alert.  Send your gullible children out of the room before going any further.

We all raise our children to be truthful. To not lie. To be honest. They are learning these ideals from traitors — mommy and daddy. From the moment they are pretty much born, we start in with the lies. One right after the other.

  • A jolly, fat man enters your home through the chimney bearing gifts? Sounds great, but come on. Oh, and he flies in a sled led by 8 or 9 reindeer (is Rudolph part of the team, or what?). A sled that is chock-full of gifts for every child in the world. What’s even better is he does it all in about 8 hours, give or take. Do you know how much time I wasted looking for that damn man up in the sky when I was a kid? I should sue.
  • A life-size rabbit who hops from home to home bringing chocolates and plastic eggs. Comes from the same planet as the man in the red suit. This crap is what nightmares are made of.
  • Eyes in the back of our heads. I wish I had a dime for every time my kid asked me if she could see these eyes. We only perpetuate our lie with more lies because, of course, children don’t have “The Special Magic Power” to see them.
  • How about the chick who flies in the night collecting missing teeth and leaving money? I got caught once. The lie I told her to get out of it? “The Tooth Fairy makes herself look like mommy so you don’t get scared.” I know. Total Oscar worthy moment.
  • The word “Liar” appears across your forehead when, well, you lie.  It worked like magic. It got to the point where if she lied, she would cover her forehead and run from the room screaming. Classic bullshit with a capital “B.” I should be ashamed of myself. But I’m not.
  • I would terrorize my kid by telling her that Santa was watching through the ceiling light fixture whenever she misbehaved. Surely she didn’t want to be on his “Naughty” list. There’s no greater satisfaction than watching your 5 year old look with her little doe eyes up at the ceiling trying to catch a glimpse and then whimper because she got caught.  Kinda makes me feel like crap. Just kinda. Ok, not really.

Children have been falling for these lies for decades. Can they really be that dumb? Okay, dumb may be a strong word here. I’ll be kind and use the word “Naive.” We grown, mature adults, prey on our naive children for our benefit. It’s not a surprise that so many kids grow up and need therapy.

Well, the Santa and Easter Bunny lie is not completely for our benefit. Actually, it kind of pisses me off that those SOB’s get the credit for all the crazy-ass work we did prepping for those holidays. The shopping, the crowds, the money, the pushing, the shoving. I gotta go. I think I need to call my shrink.

Picasso Is In the House

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I love DH’s hair. I always wanted a man with a ‘fro.

I have saved enough of the kids’ art and school work to paper every wall and ceiling in our house, with enough left over for the neighbor.  I have a large Rubbermaid bin for every single year from pre-school through 5th grade.  Why only through 5th grade?  I’ll get to that.

I just have to preface what I am about to say with this:  I absolutely adore her stick figure people with a head, arms and legs.  Even if they don’t have a body.  I love them even more in spite of it.  And her elephant with the trunk coming out of its eye.  Priceless.  I will cherish them forever.

I was completely obsessed about making sure her homework, teachers notes, report cards and art was filed away in the correct bin.  Everything.  If something wasn’t dated, I would break out in a major sweat and have to down a fifth of scotch to calm my nerves.

But all that changed a few years ago when my mother gave me a small cardboard box.  What it contained was some artwork and odds and ends from my childhood.  She was smart enough to pick and choose the best of my work and toss the rest.  If she had showed up on my doorstep with 15 plastic bins, I would have had her arrested for trespassing.

That is why the kid’s middle school bin is light.  Bin.  Singular.  Because when DH and I go into retirement and move to some little place down south or travel the world, where will I house it all?  I won’t.  I’ll most likely give it to her as my mother gave mine to me.  At the rate I was going, I would have had to rent a U-Haul to get it all to her house.  I’m sure that would go over as well as a monk farting in church.

So, if you are going to take my advice and downsize, hear this: while tossing some of your children’s artwork, make sure you remove it from the house.  Like into the next town.  While she/he is away at summer camp.  Because I got caught.  She melted down so badly I needed a mop.  Then she claimed I didn’t love her any more.  Trying to do damage control with an 8 year old is not fun.  And the disposed artwork?  You will find it in bin #6.   Dial 1-800-UHAUL for a good time.

Walking Up Hill

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Seriously.

Remember when we were kids and our moms would tell us about how when SHE was a kid, she had to walk up hill both ways to school in the snow sleet and rain a hundred miles barefoot?  Well, I have not only turned into my mom, but my dad, grandparents and great aunt combined.  Every time we would visit mother’s childhood town, she would show us the exact route, where she stopped to cross the street and the place where the soda shop used to be.  I could walk every step of that route.  On my own.  Blindfolded.

Every story from walking long distances to using pay phones are told to the kid at great length and in great detail.  She rolls her eyes at me just as I did at my mother a generation before.  When the kid complains about having to walk ANYWHERE, I am reminded of the story of what I had to do at her age.

I was pushing the ripe old age of 12 and my family made a transition from our rural country Tennessee home to Yonkers.  It was a stop along the way to our permanent home.  You know, just temporary.  And thank God it was just that.  Temporary. Or I may either be dead or….well, dead.

On the first day of school, my mother walked my 2 brothers and me to our schools so that we would know the way.  We had one chance to learn the route, so we were paying close attention.  The walk to P.S. 23 was exactly 1.2 miles one way.  That’s really not that far if you think about it.  But when you are 11.5 years old and you have to walk through a literal war zone in the process, it’s not so fun.

To top it off I was knobby kneed, weighed 50 pounds soaking wet and happened to be very afraid of my own shadow.  Also, remember my mom made my clothes.  Need I say more?  During that first week, a mean girl decided to stare me down.  So I did what every self respecting white girl in the middle of the ghetto should do.  Stared right back at her and didn’t back down.  BIG mistake.  No.  HUGE mistake.

I was rewarded with a nice jump on one of the street corners on my walk home.  It wasn’t as bad as you might think.  They just pushed me around a little.  My brothers were younger than me but they weren’t exempt of any danger.  One of them had a knife pulled out on him.  By a girl.  Who was 7.  A 16 year old boy threatened to kill my other brother.  My other brother was 9.  Awesome.

So, next time your mom complains that they had to walk 15 miles one way through the great flood, ask her if she was jumped, knived or had a price on her head.  I bet she didn’t.  It’s cool.  We survived.  What is that saying?  What doesn’t kill you, makes you stonger?  I don’t know if I’m stronger, but I won’t stare down a mean girl ever again.  Or go for a walk through the Amazon.

Go Outside and……Oh, Never Mind

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Remember when we were children?  There was no such thing as the video game.  We had no smart phones or computers to keep us busy.  What we did have was the Great Outdoors.  Our mother’s favorite thing to say was, “go outside and stay outside.”  I think we were only allowed to play inside of it were raining.

I remember leaving after breakfast and only coming home for lunch and dinner.  Our rule was we had to come in for good when the street light’s came on.  DH’s mom had a cow bell attached to the front of her house that she would ring to let her boys know it was time for lunch, dinner or bed.  It was a simpler time.  It was a carefree time.

When the kid was little, I remember feeling so resentful that I couldn’t let her play as I did.  Why couldn’t I?  When did it change?  I mean, I think they had just as many perverts back then as they do now, maybe even more.  My parents weren’t afraid some psycho was going to snatch us off the street.

Because I had to conform to society and because I loved my kid and was scared shitless of what the media said, I kept her in.  Safe and sound.  I remember if she played outside in the yard, I would pull up a chair. I mean, we would hear on the news that weirdo’s were coming into people’s yards and taking their children.  Out of their own yard!  That right there is some scary shit.

What are our kids going to tell their children?  Probably something that sounds a bit like this:  “When I was young, we would play Wii until the cows came home.  And there was this really cute place called a Park and all the moms would sit on the bench and watch us like hawks while we played.  I remember this one time, your grandmother had a heart attack because she lost sight of me for about 40 seconds.  Haha!  It was a trip.  You should have seen the look on her face.  We almost had to call 911 on her.”

I can totally see why we are called helicopter parents.  These poor kids will not have street smarts. My kid sometimes forgets to look both ways before crossing the street because she always assumes it’s my job.  I don’t think she can find her way out of a paper bag.  I’m afraid when she goes off to college she’s not going to know what to do.  How to navigate.  We’re going to have to pin a GPS device to her jacket.

Look, I know I’m exaggerating a bit.  I have dropped the kid off at the mall with some friends and she comes home unscathed.   I’m learning to let go a little.  Be a little less afraid.  So let’s see….three years, 6 months and approximately 1 week until she leaves for college.  A little more time for me to hover.  Then what?  Advice to give our kids who are going off to college:  don’t put your drink down and travel in packs.  Let’s hope they listen or I’ll be having another heart attack.  Or twelve.

I Am a Do Gooder

I signed the kid up for tennis camp last summer.  Outdoor tennis camp.  In 90 degree weather.  With students who could rival Billie Jean King.  To top it off, it was an hour away.

Every morning we would sit in rush hour traffic, all the time asking myself, “where is my crown?”  This one certain morning we get stuck in construction traffic.  It wouldn’t be so bad if it weren’t the only single lane street leading into town, but it was.  There were police officers directing traffic, but I see that there is someone trying to make a left onto the street from a parking lot.

No one seems to be letting him in.  What’s wrong with people?  So I stop to allow him room to pull out.  But he doesn’t.  I flash my lights.  Nothing. I give him the universal hand signal to go ahead.  Nothing.  Finally, I roll my window down and start waving like a crazy lady while whispering (well, maybe not whispering exactly) obscenities.  What?  Is he on his cell phone or something?  The guy isn’t paying a damn bit of attention.

The cop in front of me is starting to get pissed that I’m holding up traffic.  The cars behind me….that’s a different story.  Suddenly I hear a low giggle beside me and this — “Uh, mom?  You do realize that there is no one in that car, don’t you?”  Oh.  Geez, you could have told me…

By the way, did you know that Billie Jean King is still alive?  I thought she died like 20 years ago.  I found out because I was looking up the correct spelling of her name. I must have been getting her confused with Arthur Ashe.  Simple mistake. Anyone could have made it.  Right?

The American Girl Bait and Tackle

This is the biatch that started it all
Scam Artist

May I tell a story about how American Girl sunk her manufactured teeth into our middle income wallets?  I’m sure many of you can relate.

It all started in December 2003.  My mother-in-law, the kid and I are in a taxi cab going to see the Christmas Show.  When, what to my MIL’s wondering eyes should appear but….The American Girl Place.  Why oh why did you have to look, mom.  She’s got enough Barbie’s to choke a small horse.  She certainly doesn’t need any other doll, that’s for sure.  I wanted to tell the driver to step on it.  But it was too late.

MIL:  (Gasp) Look what they opened!!!

The kid:  (gasp, gasp, and more gasping)

ME:  Oh help me Lord.

I’m not quite sure how it happened, but we somehow wound up at “The Place”, along with 90% of the city’s spoiled little rich girls and their mothers.  After we get trampled on by over-priced doll loving brats and make our way up the escalator, we see this store has a cafe.  Of course it does.  Lucky for us, there is an opening.  Joy.  They seat us.  But they do not seat us alone.  No.  We have a guest.  Her name is “Samantha” and she is seated down to the kid’s left.  She even gets her very own teacup and saucer.  How nice.

We have a marvelous time.  It’s truly magical.  Memories to last a lifetime.  The only problem is, Samantha doesn’t get to come home with us. No, if we want our very own “Samantha” it’s gonna cost.  And big.  All I can say is, thank God this joint serves wine.

ME:  Ok, honey, say goodbye to Samantha.  She has to go back to see her friends now.

The Kid:  Oh, but mommy, I am so attached to her.  I just love her so…

She has mustered up the cutest little tear in the corner of her right eye.  Yup, I fell for it.  Hook, line and sinker.

On the train ride home, there is one happy kid and one dumbstruck mother whose bank account has been depleted of $100+ in a matter of seconds.  DH is gonna love this one.

It turns out, Samantha makes for a great conversation piece:

The kid:  Oh mommy thank you so much.  She is my best friend!  I LOVE her! (blah, blah)

MIL:  You are such a wonderful mother. (blah, blah, blah)

And so that’s how it continued for 73 minutes.  Hearing about how wonderful the doll and I are.  So happy to be placed in a category with Miss Samantha.  It warms my heart.

That little jaunt was the start of a very expensive addiction.  9 years and 12 dolls, clothes and accessories later and guess where they are?  In the attic with the mice, bats and cobwebs waiting to sink their teeth into a new generation.

Let this be a warning to all mothers of doll loving little girls…do not eat in the cafe.  They are running quite the operation.  I am living proof that this is true.

Parental Discretion Is Advised

Parenting comes with its trials and tribulations. You want to be able to give your teen some freedom. You want them to be able to figure some stuff out. But we have to keep them on a leash of some sort and guide them. How do we know what we should and should not allow them to do? I think it just comes down to good old fashioned common sense.

A few months ago, my 14 year old daughter came home from school asking about a party she wanted to go to.  The conversation went something like this:

Her: Mom, there is this party this weekend. Can I go? The thing is, the parents aren’t going to be home. Like, I think you should let me go though. So-and-so’s mom is letting her go.

Me: Thank you for your honesty. I appreciate that. But, no. You will not be going to someone’s house party without adult supervision. And you are not so-and-so (ugh that was a major “I have turned into my mother” moment).

Her: Mom, I think you need to trust me. I mean, I’m not going to drink or take any drugs, if they have any of that stuff there.

Me: (holy shit…drugs? alcohol? Lord, help me survive the next 4 years) It’s not a matter of trust.  Of course I trust that you will make the right decision, but putting a bunch of 14 year olds in that kind of situation can only lead to trouble.

Her: Gawd mom, I don’t understand what the big deal is!!!

Me: Ok, fine. Then I’m going to call Penelope’s (name changed to protect the innocent) mom and thank her for allowing a party to be going on at her house while she is away. That is super nice of her, don’t you think?

Her: OMG! No mom! You cannot do that. OMG, please don’t do that, I will die!

Me: Well, if I can’t call the mother, then you definitely cannot go.

Her: Never mind.

My kid is smart. So, why do I have to explain this stuff in triplicate? Then I recall when I announced to my mother at this exact age that when I had kids, they would be allowed to do whatever they want.

I wanted to see what she would do in this situation. She is definitely much smarter than I was. Unlike me, she’s a straight A student and has more sense in her head than I ever had in my left pinky toe. Surely, she realizes how stupid her request is.

So, I asked her this: “Honey, put yourself in my shoes. If you were a mom and your teenage daughter approached you with this same question, what do you think you would do?” REALLY dumb question, by the way. Her reply? “Of course she could go, I don’t see what the big deal is.” Duh.

So, it is completely true what all those child psychologists and books say. Teenagers are stupid. Plain and simple. I don’t care if you gave birth to Albert Einstein. I bet his mother thought he was an idiot at 14 too.

As for that little party, it didn’t happen. It turns out I’m not the only parent that is totally uncool. What can I say? We certainly know how to kill a good party. We uncool moms have that effect.

Leave Your Bags at the Door

I am the mother of a 14 year old.  I am just about at that stage in my life when I will have to start searching her friends’ bags when they come over for any hidden paraphernalia.  For instance: beer, vodka, bongs…

Now I was no saint when I was a teen.  But I didn’t start acting like a complete dumb-ass until I was at least 16.  What’s with these kids today and their need to grow up so fast?  Teenagers are stupid.  Even though at this age I proclaimed to my mother that MY children will be allowed to do whatever they wanted.

I worry that my kid will make the wrong decision someday but for right now I’m feeling pretty confident that she won’t.

Here are just some of my reasons:

  1. She will not take cough medicine even though she is coughing so badly she has all but coughed up her esophagus.
  2. She will not swallow her Flintstone vitamin AND an Advil because she’s afraid of drug interaction.
  3. She will not spray a little saline up her nose to help ease some dryness for fear of becoming addicted.
  4. She will not take Tylenol because someone once told her it will kill her liver.

So, to those mom’s who also check bags…I think you may be safe with this one. Unless she’s holding it for someone else.  But that is a whole other topic.

They Do WHAT On the Bus?

Back of School Bus

About 2 years ago, I started hearing these horrible stories about what goes on in the back of the school bus.  I was completely flabbergasted not to mention a bit freaked out.  I know I sound like my mother, but what is happening to the youth of today?

So, needless to say, I had to have the “talk” with my child.  I mean, she already got the generic Birds and Bees talk.  You know, the “you must wait until you are married for 5 years, and only if you really, really love your husband can you share that love in a special way that MARRIED men and women do” talk.  I was pissed that I had to go a bit deeper.  Damn you, stupid slutty girls.

Me:  Do you know what Oral Sex is?

The Kid:  Well, yes.

Me: (oh God) What do you think it is?

The Kid:  um…when you talk about sex?

Phew…ok, she’s still Pollyanna.  Now I had to, in a way that would scare the living shit out of her, tell my sweet little 12 year old what this Oral Sex was all about. Luckily, she was completely, out of this world, disgusted by the concept.  I can only hope this disgust lasts for, oh I don’t…EVER?!

As for the kids sitting at the back of the bus?  Some words of advice:  Boys, keep it in your pants.  Girls, keep your mouths closed, it ain’t all that.