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The greatness of terrible television

I watch way more TV than I probably should, and some of it is great, but a lot more of it is downright terrible. I’m okay with this. I don’t go out and get plastered or gamble; if watching stupid programming is my biggest flaw, I figure I’m doing okay.

Recently Chickadee got first me, and then Monkey, hooked on Girl Code. Have you seen it? It’s AWFUL. Just, like, cringeworthy in every possible way. It’s so bad, it’s FANTASTIC. If you’re not easily embarrassed and are looking for an open door to talk to your teens about sex and other uncomfortable topics, Girl Code is your show. It is MTV’s living, breathing answer to the timeless question, “Are most people really pretty gross?” (Answer: Yes. Yes, they are.)

So when someone wrote in to Alpha Mom to ask me about dating rules for my teenagers, I was ready. Because we watch Girl Code! And we talk about all kinds of stuff! And no, I still have no idea what I’m doing, not really, but I have an approach that—so far—seems to be working. Come on over? (And seriously, DVR Girl Code. You can either thank me or chew me out later.)

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The magic of growth

The older I get, the easier it is to figure out what really matters. I had a friend in high school who often proclaimed that she didn’t “suffer fools gladly,” and while it was a grandiose turn of phrase, at 16 or however old we were, it felt kind of… rude. It felt like the point was that stupid people are stupid. Now that I’m older and arguably wiser, it feels more like a declaration of focusing on what’s important. I’m not always good at it, even now, but I’m improving.

Also, I believe God has a wicked sense of humor, so of course I have a couple of teenagers to help show me the way via stark illumination of the many ways in which a human can get caught up in everything BUT what really matters. Hooray!

Example 1 of focusing on what matters: Duncan has (another) ear infection. He is pitiful and cranky, and he really doesn’t want me messing with his ear, which of course I need to do to put medicine in it. (Progress: a year ago he would’ve bitten me. Now he just pulls away and cries and my heart breaks.) Duncan also has a deep and abiding love of ice cubes, to the point where anyone using the water dispenser on the fridge will cause him to materialize out of nowhere, staring upward and wagging, hoping for an errant chunk of ice. He’s still doing this even though he’s unwell, but (perhaps because he’s unwell?) he is likely to grab any offered ice, spirit it away to another room, and then leave it to melt and create a surprise puddle. So I don’t want to give him the ice, because I don’t like surprise puddles.

“Just give him some ice!” Chickie said, seeing me trying to explain to him that he didn’t really want any ice, this morning. “Who cares if there’s a puddle? He loves it! It makes him happy! He’s old and his ear hurts! GIVE HIM SOME ICE!” Know what? She was right. The moral is something about being nice even if you end up with a wet foot, or something. I don’t know.

Examples 2-6 of focusing on what matters: I’ve got an assortment of unexpected life lessons I’ve had to teach my teens over at Alpha Mom today, because “practically raised” does not, oddly enough, mean things have gotten any easier. (Kids, man. SO MUCH WORK.)

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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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