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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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I’m a disgrace

My favorite thing about writing for Alpha Mom is the occasional, drive-by, years-after-the-original-post which is always—and I do mean ALWAYS—someone who wants to tell me that I’m an insult to humanity and irrevocably screwing up my children. You have to have a pretty thick skin if you put yourself out there (which is something I didn’t always have, true) but the random general “U SUCK!” comments don’t even count. I find myself wondering what makes a person think “This is very important that I tell this person how displeasing and wrong I find them. I shall do it right now, for it cannot wait and takes precedence over any other matter in my life. However, I should be very conservative with my use of letters, as they are a precious resource.”

Because my life is lacking in meaning and direction… er, I mean, because I am filled with hubris and also because it’s my job (and also, my poor terrorized children think it’s HILARIOUS that I sometimes give parenting advice on the Internet), our new teenage-problems advice column has a second installment up over at Alpha Mom. This time I’m tackling homework wars, particularly when special needs are part of the mix. Not that I would know anything about that. My perfect children always complete their homework with joy and laser-like focus, largely due to my superior skills as a parent.

Please remit “U SUCK”s at your earliest convenience.

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Everybody keep breathing, please

Summer is firmly upon us, and I am enjoying all of my unexpected down time. HAAAA. You know, in-between the driving lessons, ferrying children to and fro, working on a few different projects for the school (damn my need to be “helpful” and “participatory”), gardening, sort of working, various visits and engagements, and trying to keep everyone alive (which turns out to be harder than I think it’s going to be, all the time).

We had houseguests who brought their two dogs, and do it was DOGAPALOOZA here for a couple of days, and after they left, Duncan seemed REALLY tired, which, fine, I guess having two extra dogs all up in your face is stressful. But then he started refusing to get up… or eat… and he got up one afternoon and peed all over the carpet and lay back down right next to it. Plus he was blowing little snot bubbles out of his adorable little smushed-up nose and there was a lot of sneezing and some coughing. (Pro tip: Don’t Google “canine influenza.”) Anyway. The vet put him on some antibiotics and he’s perkier, now, thank goodness.

Monkey is very busy 1) eating everything that is not nailed down and 2) planning out various D&D campaigns and talking to his friends about said campaigns and showing up in my office to say things like “And each oracle gives you a one and a half modifier to your level for the next strike!” (I try to nod and look impressed.) Chickadee is very busy 1) working, 2) driving, 3) doing music stuff like joining a jazz band so that she can learn yet another instrument because apparently jazz flute is not so much a thing, 4) studying for the ACT, 5) binge-watching Netflix, and 6) insisting she is too busy to unload the dishwasher. I choose to believe this is all fine and good.

Because there’s not enough other stuff going on, I’ve finally ordered some paint for my office. You know, because I picked out that paint two years ago and I am nothing if not punctual. Otto said he’d redo the floor for me, too, if I picked out some laminate, so maybe that’ll happen, too. Then my office will be BEAUTIFUL and I will maybe have to, you know, work more.

While I try to relocate two overloaded bookcases (ZOMG), you can head over to Alpha Mom to read about how teenagers differ from toddlers. Spoiler: Notsomuch.

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Vroom vroom vroooooooom

I don’t think I ever posted about taking Chickadee to get her learner’s permit. We did it well ahead of when we let her start driving—much to her chagrin, because we are simply The Worst—and I guess it seemed like sort of a non-event? The most entertaining part was that it was a twofer—our Bonus Kid at the time who was about half a step above being an orphan also came along for permit-ing due to a lack of actual parental units willing to do the honors, and theoretically you have to be a relative to take a minor to the DMV for this stuff, so when asked if said kid was my child, I smiled and lied, claiming to be the aunt. Without batting an eyelash the clerk signed and stamped all the paperwork while the kids tried not to giggle.

We came home, took a dozen pictures of the two of them posing with their permits, and then neither of them actually learned how to drive. Kind of anti-climactic.

It was a good eight months later that we finally allowed Chickadee behind the wheel, and for the first four months of practice, it was slow going. She was terrified, for one thing, and for another, we’re still The Worst, setting up RIDICULOUS and UNFAIR rules like “be caught up on your schoolwork” and “treat family members with respect” and other such nonsense to earn a turn behind the wheel. It wasn’t until a couple months ago when she really started getting her crap together on a consistent basis that we moved to serious training. Nowadays, if we’re headed somewhere? I just toss her the keys and get in the passenger seat. We’ve both just gotten comfortable with this new status quo. (more…)

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