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Not sick, and slightly useful

I spent last week in a grudging state of malingering. Malingerment? Whatever. I was not SICK sick, you understand. I was not so ill that I could take to my bed without guilt, but I had a cold (THANKS, KIDS!) and just didn’t feel 100%. I got up in the morning and packed lunches and did the other morning routine things, then tried to work for a while and often ended up taking a nap at some point and trying to work some more and then making dinner. And I felt really stupid about it all, because: not sick. Not really. Just a little puny, that’s all.

[Aside: Now that I am officially Working Less my inherent tendency towards crippling guilt has kicked into overdrive. Not bringing in the big bucks? WE’LL HAVE LOVINGLY PREPARED HOMEMADE MEALS AND CLEAN BATHROOMS! Because if I’m not singlehandedly taking care of the mortgage, by God, there WILL be from-scratch focaccia with dinner! So what if I have to wash my hands twelve times while I’m making it because of all the nose-blowing and whatnot? I WILL COOK FOR YOU AND YOU WILL APPRECIATE IT. Also I appear to have made myself entirely too useful at the high school; I blinked and found myself holding no fewer than three positions requiring actual thought and action. I’m dumb.]

It was sort of a long week, is my point. Life didn’t stop and I wasn’t sick enough to opt out, so I just dragged along until I started feeling better on Friday. This meant, of course, that I tried to Do All The Things over the weekend and now today I’m tired and cranky. This whole being an adult thing seems overrated. (more…)

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Oh you know, the regular

We are all trying to get settled into the school routine now that we’re back to it, and it’s been long enough that it’s not feeling new, but short enough that we’re still sort of hoping it might be a mistake and it’s still summer. I’m not really sure what’s happening. Mornings haven’t been too bad just yet (I wrecked it by saying that, I’m aware), but evenings are proving challenging.

I forgot that when everyone doesn’t get home until after seven, I really have to crack that whip and shove dinner in front of everyone to keep the evening moving along. (But why are they late? They had cake after marching band. GUESS WHO WASN’T HUNGRY FOR DINNER?) Monkey used to be my reliable “Well, it’s 8:30, I’d better turn in!” angel of a easy-to-bed kid, but I guess he’s a little old for me to still be expecting that from him. The problem is that escalation, thy name is sibling. Chickadee never wants to go to bed, EVER (this is not new; she was the prototypical BUT I’M NOT TIIIIIRED!! shrieking toddler and is now just… a larger, slightly quieter version of that), but now that NEITHER of them want to leave, it’s a complete goat rodeo every night.

Mind you, I don’t force anyone into bed. Just LEAVE ME ALONE. Go upstairs, be quiet, do whatever. I don’t care. You don’t have to sleep, but I don’t want to see you anymore. I think that’s fair.

Meanwhile, last night I didn’t manage to evict them from the family room until around 9:30, and once upstairs, they commenced having some sort of discussion (?) or argument right at the top of the stairwell, bickering back and forth until I bellowed, “GOODNIGHT! GO! TO! BED!”

Chickadee bellowed back, “DON’T TELL ME HOW TO LIVE MY LIFE!” while Monkey came streaking back down the stairs to do a victory lap around the first floor, shirt held triumphantly above his head and trailing behind him like a flag, calling, “I’m a FREE SPIRIT! I CANNOT BE CONTAINED!”

The dogs were super confused. I, myself, found it difficult to be cross when they were both being such goobers.

ANYHOO, I just like to establish my status as a professional and flawless parent (*cough*) before redirecting you to my latest bit of parenting advice over at Alpha Mom. Today I’m tackling the “my kid isn’t fitting in with her peers” question, and thank goodness, that is MUCH easier to address than getting teenagers to go to bed.

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Cheers, not tears

There were a few things different, this year, as we tried to corral the kids for pictures and they rolled their eyes and bickered and insisted they were just plain over it. For one thing, even in wedges, and even on her tiptoes, Chickadee can no longer even pretend to be taller than Monkey. For another, I sent one of the pictures to Kira and she immediately sent back, “I don’t mean to alarm you, but someone has swiped your baby boy and replaced him with an enormous man.” (This is true. Also: Terrifying.)

We were having fun. Then Otto mentioned that this would be our last photo of two sets of shoes together on the first day of school. That’s different, too. That’s nothing short of miraculous, frankly.

2015-first-day-shoes

Senior year skulls, junior year WOW THAT IS BRIGHT GREEN.

We’re in the final countdown to liftoff, and I’ve never been more excited. You can head to Alpha Mom for more details on why I won’t be wasting any time being sad this year.

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Snippets in no particular order

I remember when preparing the kids for the start of school was practically an Olympic event. You’d get the list of school supplies and head off to your local Big Box store to buy your assigned allotment of glue sticks and whiteboard pens, and if you were supposed to have a magenta with teal striped 2.5″ 3-ring binder for a particular subject, well then, you had best find yourself that exact magenta with teal stripes 2.5″ 3-ring binder OR ELSE. Plus the clothes shopping. LORD. Uniforms, for the uniform years, or just replacement of what’s outgrown (him) and stocking the latest trends (her) before the big day.

Preparation for school this year:
Me: Does anyone want to go shopping for clothes? Do either of you need anything?
Monkey: No.
Chickadee: I’m busy.

I picked up some loose-leaf binder paper one day when I was getting groceries and they had a B1G1 special at the supermarket. Then I ordered a box of pens and half a dozen spiral notebooks from Target. Later that same week Chickadee deigned to go thrifting with me (first day outfit: procured) and I gave Monkey a haircut. Done! I LOVE HIGH SCHOOL! (more…)

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In which I pretend to have a grip

There will always be an element, for me, of “why in the world would you assume I have any idea?” even when I am being paid to dispense advice. The technical term for this is “Imposter Syndrome.” The Mir term for this is “just being my normal neurotic self.”

Today at Alpha Mom I’m offering up some thoughts on knowing when to suspect autism spectrum disorders in your small child, now that I have the luxury vantage point of my kids being nearly grown. On the one hand, I’m not an expert, and I’ll be the first to tell you I made (and continue to make) a lot of mistakes… but on the other, my general philosophy on when to seek help is a simple one, and I think it’s served us well over the years.

And in other news, I found three tiny, perfect cherry tomatoes this morning that the squirrels missed, so I’m taking that as a good omen.

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As my denial comes to an end

I don’t know if you know this, but APPARENTLY simply refusing to think about the realities of having a child applying to college/graduating/getting out of Dodge doesn’t stop it from happening. We are gearing up to start Chickadee’s senior year and I have many, many feels. SO MANY FEELS. But I have to pretend I don’t, because, GOD, MOM, STOP. So it’ll just be our little secret, Internet. I know you won’t tell anyone.

We went through the Cabinet Of School Supplies last week and determined that we still had plenty of pencils left over from the last time we bought a gazillion-pack, but we needed loose-leaf paper, and spiral notebooks, and a few other things. All items were picked up or ordered. And then we were at Costco buying All The Maple Syrup this weekend and they had 2-packs of pillows and I thought, Huh, that’s a good price, and we’re here, and she’ll need pillows for her dorm room. It seemed reasonable. The next thing I knew, I’d ordered her a duvet after arranging with a local crafty friend to have a duvet cover custom-made because EITHER my child is extremely picky and wants something that doesn’t exist in the world in duvet cover form OR this is my lame way of making sure she knows HER MOMMY LOVES HER even after she leaves. Or both. Whatever.

The countdown is on, and I still have no idea what I’m doing. Only now there’s an expiration date on my influence. Fantastic! This prompted me to expound on my cluelessness even further over at Alpha Mom today, because ready or not, senior year is going to be a challenge for both of us (more me than her).

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The dawn of a new era

If forced to keep it to a single word, these days, about how life is, or how the kids are, or how I feel in general, there’s no question that the most explanatory word I can grasp is WEIRD. Life feels weird. I feel weird.

Visiting a bunch of college campuses made it all real, I suppose, except it didn’t make it any less weird. Chickadee is a senior. Monkey is a junior. After years of just-get-through-today we are now firmly in plan-for-your-future mode and it should be GREAT, yes? It is. There were times I didn’t know if we’d ever make it to this point, so it IS great, and we celebrate (quietly, without any sudden movements, so as not to scare anyone or upset whatever deities were kind enough to see us through to this point), but it still feels surreal. It’s easy to talk about a mythological “someday” and even if it’s all you ever wanted, it’s still strange for “someday” to become “right now.”

So, the good: Seeing Chickadee think about her future with excitement. That is VERY good. Seeing her passionate about goals—which, to be honest, is something that’s been missing for her for years—that’s awesome. There is nothing but excitement and pride for me in getting to watch her figure this stuff out. It’s not 100% smooth sailing and there have been and will be disappointments along the way, but that’s exciting, too, because she’s dealing with this thing we call NORMAL LIFE and figuring out how to ride the waves instead of just rolling over on her back and floating or (worse) shrugging and resigning herself to drowning. She’s swimming, swimming, swimming, and I don’t know that it’s fair to want any more than that. (more…)

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Dental hygiene: Well, crap edition

Help, my face is numb.

Backing up: What better way to create a gentle reentry into normal life after a relaxing getaway than to visit the dentist?

Backing up even further: Once upon a time, we were Visit The Dentist Every Six Months Like Clockwork people. I believe in good oral health, truly. But… at some point I had to cancel a cleaning for Chickie because she was in the hospital (yes, this was years ago, I KNOW I SUCK THANKS) and then our dentist stopped taking our insurance and the rest of us stopped going and hadn’t found a new dentist, and somehow—presto, chango, lazy-o—years elapsed and none of us had been to the dentist. Whoops. It wasn’t intentional, it just sort of… happened. So the good news is that we finally got our crap together and Otto went to the dentist a couple of weeks ago and the kids and I went yesterday.

The bad news is that I had a cracked filling and Chickadee needs to have her wisdom teeth out and Monkey came back from his cleaning with a hearty, “Here, Mom, I brought you some gingivitis!”

They had a cancelation for today, so I got my filling fixed, but I am pretty sure my entire face was injected with novocaine. I can’t stop playing with my lower lip, because it’s just this flubby slab of numbness. Fun!

While I go continue to marvel at the never-ending entertainment that is proper dental attention, you could go over to Alpha Mom and read all about how I love Snapchat. No, really. I do. No numb lips required, even.

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While we sweat into puddles

Greetings from… somewhere. I’m not sure where we are, right at this moment. We’ve stopped for lunch on a whirlwind Tour Of Campuses and so far we are still speaking to each other and cheerful, so things are going great. This is especially impressive when you consider that it’s currently 90-something and 70-something-percent humidity and we just spent hours tromping around a campus behind a VERY perky young thing who kept asking Chickadee, “Do ya like it? Huh?” (If there is anything Chickadee loves more than melting in the heat, it’s someone asking her repeatedly if she is happy and engaged. I had to stifle a snicker every time it happened. She kept answering, “… yes…?” which was pretty much Chickie-ese for “Please stop talking to me.”)

Anyway. We’ll keep hydrating and touring, and while we do that, you can go over to Alpha Mom and read about my summer rules for teenagers, if you like.

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This is not the post I meant to write

I’m about 700 words into a different post and I realized that wasn’t really what I wanted to talk about. In fact, I realized I don’t want to talk, because I feel like all I do is talk, and the people I have a habit of talking at/to are tuning me out. IMAGINE.

So: I would like YOU to talk, please. LET’S SAY a certain kid is nearing the end of high school and a frenemy situation has reached Maximum Suckitude, where a former friend has extended the expected nastiness and friend-poaching and whispering to maligning this kid’s genuine achievements in addition to just plain being an asshole. LET’S SAY that all of the usual advice—ignore it, smile and be so sickly sweet that the aggressor wonders what you’re up to, align yourself with those who don’t listen to that nasty crap, know that all of this stems from jealousy and low self-esteem and your best karmic move at this point is genuine pity, etc.—is falling on deaf ears. Let’s say this has been going on for years and the latest straw or three is straining the camel’s back to capacity and promises that “this year will fly by and then you’ll never have to deal with this person again” are being met with skepticism.

What do you say to make it more bearable, other than “Yes, this sucks, and it’s unfair, and it will get better very soon but not soon enough”? My tales of high school suckitude giving way to a much improved life in college are being met with “I KNOW” and eye-rolling.

Hit me with your frenemy stories (preferably ones which end with your happiness and their sad, meaningless existences OR heartfelt apologies once they grew up a little) so that I may demonstrate this is a universal experience and somehow, we survive and thrive anyway. Please and thank you.

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