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In lieu of Nerd Night goodies…

… all I have for you today is this. (There was no Nerd Night this weekend, alas.)

Monkey began texting me about some injustice in class, but it quickly devolved into the following. And for the record, this went on for quite a while even after this. It’s a good thing I’m fond of that kid.

monkey-fish-puns

(Eventually I told him I had to go. He responded, “Sea you later! I’ll reef you abalone now.” Internet, HOW DO WE TEACH HIM TO USE HIS POWERS FOR GOOD?)

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I bet my Monday was Monday-er than yours

Yesterday was rife with complaints about the time change and how Monday is so completely awful and now it’s Monday-plus-a-time-change and EVERYTHING IS THE WORST. I was busy bathroom-wrangling, or rather, trying to wrangle what’s happening with the bathroom and the contractors and when oh when might we have a working bathroom up there… does anyone know? Plus there was the usual work stuff and getting the kids back to school stuff and some other stuff and I remember thinking, yesterday afternoon, that it was a pretty terrible day and I would be very glad once it was over.

But then it got worse, which was—oddly enough—also when it got better. Sometimes you just need a reminder about what really matters, I guess. (At least I do.)

You can read more about it over at Alpha Mom, though I’ll go ahead and give you the spoiler: Everyone’s fine. And, as my dad always says: Never a dull moment.

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Just a regular day (but extra snot)

Monkey—sweet, darling Monkey—has changed SO MUCH over the last few years that sometimes I forget about the things which haven’t changed. Like, say, the fact that he now towers over me does not change the typical trajectory of: it’s a minor cold, it’s a minor cold, it’s a minor cold, MOM I THINK MAYBE I’M DYING MOM I FEEL AWFUL. Good job, me! My streak of sending that child to school even though he’s sick as a dog remains unbroken! WOOOOO! Yesterday had an added bonus of his doctor mentioning that it may be time to go back to the ENT and discuss sinus surgery… I think… I was too busy screaming “LALALALALAAAAAA I CAN’T HEEEEEAR YOOOUUUU!”

Yeah. Um. Yesterday afternoon was spent picking him up from school, taking him to the doctor, going to the pharmacy to get his antibiotics, and then stopping to pick him up a milkshake (flavor: MOM GUILT). But at least while I was doing all of that, Chickadee texted me to say she thought maybe she was sick, too. Because of course.

This is all true, but also a good introduction to this post I wrote for Alpha Mom about figuring out how to balance working and mom-ing. Spoiler alert: There’s no one right answer. But I do appreciate having the flexibility to deal with a sick kid or two without worrying I’m going to lose my job, obvs.

Also! If you’ve been paying any attention this election cycle (with mounting horror, one assumes), you may be struggling with how to talk to your teens about it, in which case I’ll suggest this Alpha Mom post, instead. My kids are asking hard questions, and they’re forcing me to figure out better answers.

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I wrote you some things

Somehow I never linked you up to my Alpha Mom advice column last week, probably because I was busy dealing with non-writing things as if I actually have a life outside of the computer. HAHA. Anyway.

That’s the bad news. The good news is that today you get a twofer from me!

First, I’m answering a reader question about the value of labeling autism, and I think you know which side of that argument I come down on, but it’s hopefully worth a read, anyway.

Second, no one asked me, but because I know how to make sure your kids don’t have sex before they’re ready, I’m telling you. (Disclaimer: Results may vary. Do not come yell at me if your precious snowflake does something naughty. To parent is to accept that you can never really control another person EVEN IF you know better than they do, and probably that’s how it’s supposed to be.)

Third, there is no third. Just those other two. Go read those, please.

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3 things about The Vagina Monologues

1) Although this year was my fourth time being part of my local production, everything was different this time because Chickadee was in it with me, too. We could not have picked a better way to come full circle from the first time I was in it, years ago. (And if you want to read more about her, head over to Alpha Mom. I don’t know if you know this, but I am awfully fond of that kid.)

2) I’m not sure how (lies, I know how; I am largely oblivious), but my ENTIRE FAMILY conspired with Kira and kept me completely in the dark until SHE APPEARED AT MY FRONT DOOR ON SATURDAY and I started screaming loudly enough for her to hear me outside. This is because Kira lives 2,000 miles away, and I had no idea she was coming, and in fact I hadn’t even asked her to try to get to the show this year because we’ve never been able to manage it before AND she went back to college this year and went from being insanely busy to actual, like, truth-is-less-believable-than-fiction levels of swamped. But she came all this way to see the show and spent less than a day with me because she is the best.

3) There is video. [Editing to add: NSFW video, obvs.] My husband set up shop the night he came to see the show and so if you missed it but are dying to see my piece (and if you are, I am both flattered and slightly uneasy, but that’s another matter…), you can. But Imma put it after the jump, here, because I don’t think we need it sitting right on the front page. If you don’t need video, you’re done. (more…)

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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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I’m always behind

I realize that we are probably the last people on earth to have discovered Sherlock, but OMG, are you watching Sherlock?? I’ve never really understood all the fuss about Benedict Cumberbatch—I mean, fine, he’s an actor? Who acts well? And I have always enjoyed this ridiculousness—but now I get it. I GET IT. TEAM SHERLOCK 4EVAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA.

Seriously, if there’s an evening I think we’re going to watch it and then it turns out we can’t for some reason, I become despondent. And I’m probably headed for a full nervous breakdown, because we’re almost done with Season 3 and then what am I going to do with my life? I just love it more than anything I’ve seen on television in forever. I love it more than Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (don’t tell Monkey), which is saying something, because I really love S.H.I.E.L.D. more than is probably normal.

Better late than never, right? I think so.

Right. CUE THE AWKWARD SEGUE: I want to say “Why didn’t you tell me??” about Sherlock, except that I’m sure you did and I didn’t listen. And many of you warned me about all of these pesky FEELINGS I would be having this year and I was all NOPE, NOT ME! And of course I was wrong, because I am often wrong. Also I am behind (per usual) on figuring things out. I feel like I’m just starting to figure out just how hard this whole releasing-my-kid-into-the-world thing is, and “Why didn’t you tell me?” is the wrong question, I know. The right question is, “Why didn’t I listen?” or maybe “How do I make it more bearable?” You’re welcome to read more on Alpha Mom, but fair warning, it’s a little sappy. I’m sorry. We can always go back to talking about Sherlock, if you’d rather.

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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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Mama’s got a new set of wheels

I have decided that time is a terribly confusing construct. There were years when it seemed to drag on and on and on and I was sure that my children would never grow up and we would be frozen in time, forever. Then I bought a new car and went to write about it and thought to myself, “Surely I have only owned the previous car for a few years, right?” So I went and looked it up and no, actually we bought my previous car almost six years ago. How is that even possible?? Also, how is it possible that we bought that car knowing it would someday go to Chickadee (and laughed about, at that time) and now said child is practically an adult? DARK MAGIC.

Anyway. I bought a new car. Did I mention that? I bought a new car and then I wrote all about it, sort of, so if you’re into that sort of thing, you could go read about it. I love my new car. It is ridiculous how much I love my new car, really. And I’m not just saying that because Otto programmed the display to pop up a picture of the dogs when I start the car up, either. Probably.

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Sir, that is not how you (but you do)

I don’t want to alarm everyone (LIES; I would like you to please be just as alarmed as I am), but it appears that my youngest precious babykins is now officially 16 years old, which is impossible, because I just gave birth to him a couple of years ago. Clearly there is some black magic at work here, and I would like it to cease and desist immediately.

Part of this is my fault. Well… technically it’s all my fault (Parenting! Because guilt is forever!), but one particular part of it is especially my fault. Remember when Monkey skipped a grade? That seemed like such a good idea at the time. Blah blah blah appropriate academic challenge, blah blah blah more mature peers, blah blah blah HA HA HA MOM YOU FORGOT THAT GIVES YOU ONE LESS YEAR WITH YOUR KID, DUMMY. So: my fault. Also my fault that somehow it never occurred to me that we would spend the better part of this year getting Chickadee ready to launch and then once she’s out of the house we’d have to turn around and do it all over again RIGHT AWAY with him. Or, more specifically: We’d be spending a lot of time this year saying, “We need to do XYZ with Chickie. Heck, let’s go ahead and do it with Monkey, too, because he’s only a year behind.”

Chickadee got luggage for Christmas. (MERRY CHRISTMAS, GET OUT!) Monkey got his own set this morning for his birthday. (HAPPY BIRTHDAY, GET OUT!) (And then I bit my tongue because NO NO DON’T GO YOU’RE NOT READY. Mmmmmph.) This afternoon we are headed to the bank to open his first checking account so that he can blow his birthday money on fast living without having to clear it through me. (Fast living = online gaming and D&D manuals, of course.) (more…)

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