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I don’t know how this happened…

… but school starts next week. I mean, that should be illegal, right?

Monkey is embarking on his last year of middle school (!!!) and Chickadee will be a sophomore at the high school. I… may need a moment here. It never seems to matter that I’ve been with them for their whole lives, the fact that they’re lurching towards adulthood always surprises me. Like, isn’t he just four or five? And she’s only seven or eight, I swear.

Anyway. The back-to-school dance feels a little more serious this year, so of course I wrote about it for Alpha Mom. We have some big decisions to make, soon. And really, how am I supposed to do that when my kids have rudely grown up against my explicit instructions??

[Unrelated, but kind of not: Yesterday marked a milestone that delighted even Mr. I Never Want To Grow Up, maybe because it struck him as hilarious. Guess who's now taller than his therapist? Summer growth spurts are amazing things.]

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“All kids do that”

I went through a long (longer than I will admit) period of time when the phrase “all kids do that” made me furious. Irrationally, completely, insanely full of RAGE. It seems to be used, most often, for someone to dismiss a special need or parenting concern with a not-so-subtle overtone of “you’re overreacting.” To be fair, I think many purveyors of this dreaded phrase are trying to be… comforting? Supportive? It isn’t always meant as “calm down, crazypants.” Sometimes it’s meant as a kind of solidarity or empathy, a sort of “I feel you,” albeit one that rings hollow because they don’t, not really.

As I’ve grown older, as my kids’ needs have changed, and as I’ve come to hate people less (ha), I’m realizing that “all kids do that” comes from a place that means well, more often than not. Lots of times it’s true that “all kids do that,” and it’s just that the degree/severity/frequency is the part that’s different and/or troubling. There’s nothing to be gained by believing that my special snowflakes somehow out-special someone else’s. Any common ground is worth having.

That said, you show me an organized teenager and I might have a bridge you’d be interested in buying. Yeah, my kids are probably more disorganized than most, but today at Alpha Mom I’m talking tips for teens who need organizational support, and I think they can be used for just about everyone. After all… all kids do that. (See what I did there…?)

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Teams for all and all for teams

I’m sure this is going to come as a shock to some of you, and I hope it’s not too devastating, but… I don’t think either of my kids are going to end up at the Olympics. Or getting sports scholarships to college. Weird, right? I mean, I myself am so very athletic… in my mind….

For years I assumed my sports aversion was a (non-genetic!) quirk of mine and tried to help them find their sports. Acceptance came when I made my peace with the fact that I absolutely do want them to have team experiences, and I want them to get exercise, but those two things don’t necessarily have to go together to work.

So that’s what today’s post at Alpha Mom is all about—because I believe you can have well-rounded, well-adjusted teens who don’t play sports. At least, I hope you can (for obvious reasons).

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Gone skinkin’

So the supplies were gathered up, the trailer packed, and this is the part where I would normally conclude “and we were off in a cloud of dust,” except it has been so rainy that there is no dust. We were off in a cloud of mud? Mud doesn’t really cloud. We were off in the splash of a puddle? That sort of works. We packed up and left, is the point. Because why sit around at home when you could sit around in a forest and be eaten by bugs?

[Fun storm fact: Right before we left, the monotony of regular thunderstorm after regular thunderstorm was broken up by ye olde BIG ASS THUNDERSTORM FLASH FLOOD ZOMG, and thankfully that doesn't mean anything too terrible for us because we live on a hill, but our #^&*@#% cursed pool, I'll have to ask Otto if he took pictures, because I have never seen anything like it. For one thing, our crappy pool was transformed overnight into an infinity pool! By which I mean the water level was right up to the concrete. (Flash floods are FUN!) For another thing, all of the debris knocked off trees and whatnot had washed down the driveway and directly into the pool, so after EVERYTHING we've gone through to right the pool and balance the chemistry, it was not only overflowing, it was swampy with lord only knows what. Otto spent a day fishing out branches and stuff and the water was still brackish when we left even after a day and a half of running the filter.]

I wanted to burn the house down before we left, but Otto—so unreasonable!—was all, “Look, I bought you some candy for the ride, just get in the truck and let’s go.” So we left. (more…)

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Sleepless preschoolers have nothing on this kid

One of my favorite parts of our visit with Kira—and please brace yourself for hysterical laughter from her when I say this—is that her 4-year-old doesn’t sleep. Mind you, Kira has nothing but my most heartfelt sympathy that she has been blessed with a child who has 1,001 excuses for why she cannot POSSIBLY go to sleep just yet, but it’s not MY kid who refuses to sleep, so for me, it’s kind of amazing to observe. Because Sophia is wee and lovely and delicate and she needs some water, no, some milk, and she needs her music, and her dolly, and she didn’t say goodnight to everyone yet, and she needs another hug, and did she say ALL her prayers, and what about the moths, did you get rid of all the moths?, and come to think of it she’s kind of hungry, and that shadow looks like something, and where is the kitty right now and WAIT she didn’t say goodnight to the dog yet, and and and AND AND.

The kid is a pro, is my point. (Also, it should go without saying that Kira and her husband are saints. Somehow Sophia ended up asleep, eventually, every night, and they never seemed particularly frustrated or bleary-eyed. I think one or both of them might be part unicorn.)

Anyway. As impressive as I found this nightly display, it turns out that Sophia was apparently something of an inspiration to MY child. You know, my FIFTEEN-YEAR-OLD? Who is FAR TOO GROWN-UP to engage in similar delay tactics? Yeah, that one. (more…)

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Don’t be a Thelma

Given the news that’s coming out of the Supreme Court today, this feels kind of selfish and unimportant, in comparison, but… well, I’m thinking no one wants to see my victory dance or hear my scintillating commentary (mostly consisting of, “Hey, today I don’t hate everyone!”), so instead you get this.

This one was hard to write. I made Chickadee proof it for me and confirm that it was okay for me to share. I think it’s important, but I never want my child to feel like she has an obligation to be an object lesson for anyone. The upshot is that friends should be kind to each other, and that goes double for when you have a friend facing difficult and often misunderstood issues. Also, everything I ever needed to learn about how to be a reasonable human came from children’s books.

So please come on over to Alpha Mom today, because chances are your kids are eventually going to have friends struggling with mental health stuff, and I hope you’ll help them to be good friends rather than encouraging them to be judgmental jerks.

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Desperate times, etc.

I was having trouble coming up with a good way of expressing it that didn’t sound trite, I guess. Ebb and flow! Sunrise, sunset! One step forward, two steps back! The course of true love and/or parenting never did run smooth!

But, you know. There’s only so many ways to say “hey, no biggie, but this week is kind of feeling like a slog and I am tired.” Otto did a lot of traveling this month and I miss him when he’s gone; whether she’ll ever admit it or not, I think Chickadee does, too. So by this past weekend, we two ladies (using that term ever-so-loosely) (though not implying we are loose, mind you) were well and truly sick of each other and working one another’s very last nerve.

Thankfully, Otto came back last night, and I told him to STOP LEAVING US, FOR THE LOVE OF GOD. He agreed, mostly because he was done traveling, anyway. Yay!

Truly, his return wasn’t a moment too soon, because things here had become dire. (more…)

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Math and other things

I keep thinking I’ll post something coherent when a full-fledged story presents itself, and then I look over the past 9+ years of writing and realize that this whole notion of actually having a cohesive narrative has never stopped me BEFORE. Why now? Possibly because I am lazy, or possibly because there’s some gelato in the freezer and it’s not going to eat itself. I don’t know. But because I’m a trooper, I shall soldier forward as best I can with disjointed bits and pieces of things.

I’m a giver.

Summer mathin’. I may have mentioned the whole math thing…? Hey, kids, let’s do an entire year of accelerated math in a 6-week summer course, online, in the snow, uphill both ways! Okay, the last two may not technically be true, but still. The 6-week course started on a Monday and then concludes with a final 5 weeks later on a Tuesday, so the MATH people are bad at COUNTING. (Irony: it’s what’s on the syllabus!) It’s a 5-week long course and I’m fairly certain it’s designed to kill the students who are taking it. Chickie doesn’t seem to mind, most of the time, but it is killing ME, and I DO mind. (more…)

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So very warm and fuzzy

Here’s a part of a terrible picture I snuck around a corner of Kira‘s house and snapped while my girly was chilling out with her new posse:

(From left to right: Tre watching Max play a video game, Max playing said video game, Chickadee texting and making Max into her personal cushion, and Raphael desperately wishing he was the one playing the video game.)

There’s something unspeakably awesome about your friend’s kids welcoming your kid into the fold, so of course I wrote about our trip for Alpha Mom because I still feel like there are cartoon bluebirds circling my head. (Sure, they’re teenage bluebirds with stinky feet and they periodically squabble with each other, but still.)

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Teenagers and travel and moths (oh my)

There was a time in my life—a long time, actually—when I thought I would have a houseful of children. Then I realized I was neither independently wealthy nor particularly patient, so I figured 3 or 4 kids would be plenty. And then, y’know, life happened, and I ended up with two kids and the realization that I am perfectly content with the size of my family. (Well, okay, some days I’m perfectly content and some days I am willing to sell the children for puppies or parts or even just to make the noise stop.)

So this is to say that I have no regrets about the state of my life or the size of my family. On the other hand, I packed up Chickadee and we flew out here to Kira‘s house, and I am positively marinating in pack-o-teens and lots of kill-me-dead-with-the-adorableness of watching said teens cater to Sophia (who is FOUR and a BIG GIRL), and there is a not tiny part of me which thinks that having an entire houseful of rowdy children would be really, really awesome.

Kira and I have been friends for coming up on a decade, now, and this is the first time our children have met, which is just weird because my kids know Kira and Kira’s kids know me. (I’m bummed that Monkey isn’t here, but he is still off being manly with Otto.) I think it took about half a day for Kira’s boys and Chickie to fall into an easy pattern of competing to see who could be the most obnoxious to each other (it turns out that my 15-year-old and Kira’s nearly-15-year-old may actually be sharing a brain, which is both frightening and FANTASTIC), and suddenly I can picture what life would be like if we formed a commune. It would be loud, mind you, but very entertaining. (more…)

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