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This is a week (a week a week a week)

It’s one of those unwritten rules—similar to how bringing an umbrella with you keeps it from raining—that if you have Something Big happening, a million other things will have to happen at the same time, because it is not enough to deal with that ONE thing. Of course.

So: Our production of The Vagina Monologues opens tonight, which means Chickadee and I have been spending long hours at rehearsal, AND Otto has about a dozen extra things going at work, AND Monkey is under the weather AND every committee I am on for school needs something from me right now AND a great job opportunity fell in my lap (but from a Luddite organization which apparently needs a paper resume rather than just looking at my LinkedIn), AND it’s been raining so SOMEONE has been pooping on the floor rather than getting their paws wet (geez, Otto, get it together), AND AND AND AND.

And: I am tired. It’s gonna be a looooong charge through the weekend. (Hopefully a good one, but still.)

Last night was our final dress rehearsal, our first JUST KEEP GOING, THIS IS IT run, and when we do the show at UGA, we perform in the chapel, which is a lovely old building. There are TEENY wings for the chapel stage, and a small bathroom on only one side. If your assignment is to wait in the other wing and you have to pee? TOO BAD. But… last night my darling daughter decided to make a just-before-curtain bathroom run, and we’d just had a few words and I was worried she was mad at me, so I tapped on the door to try to talk to her and she told me to go away. “We’re about to START,” I said, finally, worried she was so pissed off she was going to miss her cue. In fact, she didn’t come out for her first cue, but then I had to go over to the other wing and just trust that she’d emerge in time for the next one. Time passed, and about twenty minutes later I got a text from her, asking where I was. Turns out, the very old door to the very old bathroom is having some issues, and she’d actually been trapped inside (without her phone). She hadn’t wanted to make a lot of noise because we were running the show, so she resorted to quiet tapping until another cast member noticed and was able to free her. She’d spent what I’m sure felt like a very long time in there convinced she was going to miss the whole show and maybe have to live in that crummy bathroom. So. Um. Everything is going to be perfect tonight, I’m sure, because the ridiculous awful thing has already happened! Hooray!!

In the meantime, Monkey and I are still figuring out what he needs when he’s sick, and you can read about that over at Alpha Mom, if you’re so inclined.

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Now there is less of me to yell at

So I did this weird green smoothie cleanse and lost some weight. I never know if writing about that sort of thing is interesting or boring; I mean, it’s interesting to me, I guess? Maybe not to you? I might write about it next week. It was… an adventure. I’m glad I did it for a number of reasons, not the least among them that I appreciate being able to fit into my pants.

Anyway, during the first few days of the cleanse, especially, while I was dealing with caffeine withdrawal and general hopelessness (I’m the best advertisement for this cleanse EVER, clearly), I felt like I wasn’t thinking super clearly. I made a lot of dumb mistakes. More dumb mistakes than usual, that is. And then I sort of came out of that and felt clear! And ALIVE! And ENERGETIC! But I still caught myself sometimes not thinking entirely straight.

Then I wrote this piece for Alpha Mom about teens and disturbing texts, and my intrepid editor and I went back and forth on some issues of guilt by association and bullying-vs-just-generally-being-a-jerk, and I suspect some commenters are going to yell at me very soon. I still stand by what I said, I think, based on the information given to me, but it’s definitely a tricky issue.

And anyone who disagrees with me has to bring me a snack. I think that’s fair.

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How to get your kid into college

I’ve been threatening to do this for months, but I finally wrote a counterpoint piece to all of those “HOW TO MAKE SURE YOUR SCHMOOPYKINS GETS INTO HARVARD” articles. It was surprisingly cathartic.

My distress over various “experts” in this area is threefold:

1) Who says you have to go to an Ivy or other generally-rated-as-one-of-the-very-best sorts of colleges in order to succeed? That’s dumb. If that was true, none of the other colleges would exist, or no one who graduates from them would ever make a living. These pieces are rife with a snobbery about education that I find really distasteful.

2) It always seems to assume a trajectory that begins with laser-focus even before your kid hits high school. Call me crazy, but I think it’s okay to let kids be kids.

3) I don’t remember my parents doing all of this college stuff with me… because they didn’t. I picked the schools I went to. I wrote my applications. I handled it with minimum input from them, because honestly, if a kid can’t get themselves through the process here without mommy and daddy pointing out every step of the way, they’re unlikely to succeed at ANY college, much less a “top” one.

Want to know what needs to be happening through high school for your kid to be on track for the right college? Here you go. I may not be an expert, but I’m a realist—and unlike a lot of folks I know with high school seniors, we haven’t really found this year stressful.

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In case audio is your thing…

… I cannot remember if I have mentioned here or not that I’m going to be in The Vagina Monologues again this year. But in case I hadn’t, before, there ya go. Now I have. This may not mean a thing to you (maybe you live very far away; maybe you are opposed to vaginas for some reason), but this morning I was on a local podcast along with one of our directors to talk about and promote the upcoming show. And you could listen to it, if you wanted to, to hear how much MORE awkward I am in real life (hard to believe, I know).

Bear in mind that I got a phone call late last night asking me if I could step in today, because our other director was going to be unavailable and my schedule is flexible and also I am a sucker. I said sure, because why not? Then we got there this morning and had settled into our chairs and Andrew was about to start recording and Audey was all, “And I want you to do part of your monologue, too.” OH. OKAY. NO SWEAT. I did it, but, uh, surprise! (This is a lovely building the newspaper offices are in. I have very much enjoyed talking about Eve Ensler’s important work. Sure, I’d be happy to start moaning and let you record it.)

You can listen to the podcast here (or download it, if you’re fancy like that). If you’re local, please come to our show! And if you’re not, please consider visiting the V-Day Event Locator to find a local production to attend in February. All productions of The Vagina Monologues are fundraisers for organizations dedicated to preventing violence against women—see a fun show, support a great cause.

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I have poor planning skills

Having children just a year apart in school has its advantages, sometimes—they often do the same activities at the same time, and this year when so many things are broken into a 9th/10th night and an 11th/12th night, we only have to go once—but somehow I forgot about the whole TWO KIDS HEADING TO COLLEGE AT NEARLY THE SAME TIME thing.

It’s not fair, really. I am constantly gauging and assessing Chickadee’s experiences this year to help us make decisions about how to handle things with Monkey. This is (surprise!) resulting in a litany of “But how come HE doesn’t have to—” and “but when I was a junior—” and the occasional “But Chickie didn’t—” and that’s SUPER FUN. I’m really beginning to understand how people with 4 or more children end up with the oldest and the youngest feeling like they were raised by completely different people. Live and learn! Or live and give up! Either way!

Lucky for me, years of raising “different” kids and having my perception of what’s truly important in life challenged for… oh… years on end (NOT THAT I’M BITTER) has left me in an interesting place when it comes to college prep. Specifically: any time I read an article about how to get your kid into the BEST school for the BEST life, I laugh and laugh and laugh. In fact, I think I’m going to be writing up my very own ESSENTIAL COLLEGE PREP TIMELINE for Alpha Mom very soon, but I promise it’s not going to look anything like what you’re used to.

In the meantime, here’s my take on what’s wrong with the GOGOGO mentality of pushing kids to focus on college from a young age, and I’m sure you’ll be shocked to read that I don’t think pressure is the only path to excellence. Spoiler alert: You don’t get to go to college with them, folks. Maybe let them figure most of it out on their own.

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We need to talk about kale

Well I, myself, need to talk about kale. Maybe you don’t. But you’re here and I do, so we’re going to talk about kale.

[Possible alternatives to talking about kale: Talking about the fact that I just got 10″ of hair chopped off and now I have no idea how the hell to manage my hair, because even though I was tired of just putting it up in a massive bun every day, that doesn’t mean I’ve figured out how to do an actual hairstyle ever in my life; talking about the fact that my kids are going on yet another school trip and this morning when I was trying to assist Monkey with his packing he got RIGHTEOUSLY PISSED OFF at me for not letting him do it on his own and it was so age-appropriate but also so aggravating that I had to hide in my office to both take some deep breaths and giggle; talking about how Duncan is ONCE AGAIN becoming allergic to the food he’s eating and I’m switching the dogs to another option, but in the meantime he is itchy and unhappy and his ears smell like cheese. In other words: You really wanna hear me talk about kale.]

Kale is stupid. I mean, I know not everyone is into salads, but I happen to quite like salad-things, and I love, like really LOVE spinach (honest and for true), but kale continues to infuriate me. I KNOW it’s a superfood, I KNOW it’s good for me, blah blah blah, yes, got it. Still: kale is stupid. Kale mocks me with its pretentiousness. Kale can be made palatable but it is SO MUCH WORK and in the end, what? You’ve found a cure for cancer? Celebrated a job well done? Helped the homeless?? No. You’ve eaten some kale. Whoop-de-do. (more…)

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Obnoxious, but sometimes with good reason

I spent the bulk of the past weekend and this week baking cookies. Some doughs I make and freeze for later baking. Some cookies I went ahead and baked and froze when they were done. Some I baked this week and refrigerated. And then—like EVERY SINGLE YEAR as if I’m just new to this whole thing—on Thursday I of course discovered that the number of Cookie Gifting Vessels I owned vs. the List Of Teachers was a mismatch, and off I went to buy more containers. At least that trip to the store broke up my day of finishing baking and dividing up everything and packaging it nicely and printing little cards and all of that.

Several people have asked me why I still bother to do this, now that the kids are in high school. Most people don’t, I guess. For one thing, I enjoy it, even though it makes for a rather nutty week. For another, I can’t just drop a wad of cash on every teacher who’s making a difference in my kids’ lives (even though sometimes I wish I could). A bunch of cookies seems like the very least I can do.

Someone asked me what they have to do to get on my cookie list. I said, “Teach at my kids’ school and don’t piss me off.” See? It’s easy. (And honestly, only once in many, many years have I ever skipped giving a gift to a specific teacher. It’s pretty hard to make me mad enough to where I withhold cookies.)

And yes, okay, part of why I do it is because sure, I can be a pain in the ass sometimes (pretend to be surprised), and I want to do something nice for the folks I may have irritated earlier in the year. I’m not one to opt for “not making waves” over what I think is right (again, just play along and act like that’s surprising). I will hold feet to the fire if I need to. But then I’ll make you cookies. It all evens out.

This brings us to my column this week at Alpha Mom, wherein a mom asks if she’s being too helicopter-y, and I get right up on my soap box about speaking up, loud and clear. It’s not about cookies, it’s about teaching our kids what is and isn’t okay.

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I’m ready for winter break

For some reason this past week has been… ummmm… more crazy than usual. It’s just that end-of-term nuttiness along with some other life events—some foreseen, some not—making it kind of a wild time. I’m looking forward to Christmas! Except mostly I am looking forward to the kids being off school and everyone having some down time. We totally know how to party ’round here (if by “party” you mean “watch Netflix,” and I do).

Of the 3,000 things which have already happened this week (HOW IS IT ONLY WEDNESDAY??), I will of course choose to tell you about the one that makes me look like the biggest, most inept tool. My gift to you! No charge! I’m sure we’ll look back and laugh someday.

So here you go: over on Alpha Mom, allow me to make you feel better about that time you didn’t think your kid was really all that hurt. I’ve come to learn that everyone has a good story in this vein, many more cringe-y than the one I’m going to tell you, but misery does love company.

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I have many questions

My life is confusing. I mean, I’m sure it’s no more confusing than anyone else’s, but I am easily perplexed. Sometimes I just randomly wonder about stuff, and other times I am genuinely flummoxed. Because it’s Monday and I am me, I’m just going to share some of my recent questions with you in no particular order. Feel free to offer insight, or just to let me know you’re confused along with me.

What is a reasonable expectation for a cheap hotel? Some background: Over the summer during our Collegevisitpalooza, Chickadee and I stayed at a perfectly serviceable, if unremarkable, hotel near her chosen college. The cost for the night was… around $100, I think. (Bear in mind this is not in a major metropolitan area, or anything. Small town, maybe 8-10 hotels from which to choose.) Last week we went for another visit and this time I went poking around online and chose a slightly cheaper option—about $60 for the night—because I am cheap and it was just a place to crash for the night and no biggie. Yeah. Um. They did indeed LEAVE THE LIGHT ON FOR US, but it quickly became clear that that was perhaps because 1) they didn’t want us to wait in the dark for the 10 minutes it took the manager to appear at the check-in desk, and 2) the light scares the roaches a little. It was… so gross. Like, I-checked-for-bedbugs gross. We were there for about 9 hours and we lived, obviously, but when I submitted a complaint via the website, all I got back was a “we are taking measures to rectify this issue” email. Am I out of line here, or should $60 still get you a roach-free room? (more…)

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Mean Mom, reporting for duty

In the continuing saga of Mir Gives Out Advice On The Internet Like She Knows Stuff Or Something, today at Alpha Mom I’m tackling the question of how to handle kids and parties where there may be drinking and/or drugs.

Spoiler alert: I am not the Cool Mom.

Also, I’ll offer this addendum: These days I have to talk more often and more in depth with my kids about how to narc without being found out, as both of them have attained Snitch: Expert Level. While their friends are good kids and there’s not a lot I worry about, I worry more about one of them being taken to task for narcing than I am about them drinking. So there’s that. At the same time, none of our kids are immune, so it’s worth discussing, and by that I mean an ongoing discussion.

… even if that discussion always ends with, “I’m the reason you drink, right, Mom?” (Yes, honey.)

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