Mean Mom, reporting for duty

In the continuing saga of Mir Gives Out Advice On The Internet Like She Knows Stuff Or Something, today at Alpha Mom I’m tackling the question of how to handle kids and parties where there may be drinking and/or drugs.

Spoiler alert: I am not the Cool Mom.

Also, I’ll offer this addendum: These days I have to talk more often and more in depth with my kids about how to narc without being found out, as both of them have attained Snitch: Expert Level. While their friends are good kids and there’s not a lot I worry about, I worry more about one of them being taken to task for narcing than I am about them drinking. So there’s that. At the same time, none of our kids are immune, so it’s worth discussing, and by that I mean an ongoing discussion.

… even if that discussion always ends with, “I’m the reason you drink, right, Mom?” (Yes, honey.)

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Lessons learned (a.k.a. maybe ask)

You know that I always bake for school meetings, right? And for when my kids go off to their weekly gaming night? I love to bake. I can no longer actually EAT most of what I bake, but that’s okay. It makes me happy to feed other people. Funny story: usually at the holidays I start making cookies at the beginning of the month and bake all month (sometimes making/freezing dough to bake later, sometimes baking cookies and freezing them) so that we can give out goodie baskets at school before the winter break. That’s not the funny part. The funny part is that I just found out that one of the teachers we’ve been giving cookies to—ready for this?—has a wheat allergy. She didn’t tell me (and assumedly doesn’t know that I’m also allergic); one of the kids figured it out.

I felt terrible, of course. Our past gifts were useless and perhaps we seemed thoughtless. What if she hates us now?? (I’m glad I didn’t overreact or anything.) But I didn’t know! So today I emailed and asked some questions (Celiac or allergy? Is cross-contamination an issue? Do you even like sweets??) in preparation for Cookie Season. That was well-received and now I know how to proceed. It’s almost like… things go better when you get clarification. WEIRD.

This is a clumsy lead-in to my post today at Alpha Mom, in which I learn that what I think about a situation matters a whole lot less than what the person actually IN the situation thinks about it. Again: WEIRD. Who knew?

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Two turkeys, no waiting

Remember when I used to write here regularly? I can’t decide if my life is less interesting now or if I just finally realized my life is not nearly as interesting as I once believed. It’s probably best not to dwell on it.

Today we are trying to Return To Normal Life, only that’s working about as well as you might imagine when my entire family returned on Saturday, over-stimulated and under-rested. Otto is a pretty good sport, as you know—plus when he’s tired he’s not mean, because he is a fully evolved human—but the kids spent most of Saturday in bed and then grumbled around for a while on Sunday and this morning they’re both sick. Because of course they are. (In fairness, Monkey told me he wasn’t feeling well on Saturday, I was just trying to wish it away because that’s a thing that’s worked so well in the past. HAHA. Kid made it 15 minutes at school today before I had to pick him up. Now he’s home with an ear infection and a lot of guilt-inducing comments about how he TOLD me he was sick!)

Chickadee is at school, though, because (quiz time):
A) She is a conscientious student.
B) She is paranoid about falling behind in her AP classes (read: all of her classes).
C) She wants to see her friends.
D) She fears I will give her a hard time for staying home.
E) She’s doing me a solid because she knows Monkey is sicker.
or
F) Some combination of the above.

This was all a fitting end to my few days of solitude, I guess. (more…)

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Totally not getting dressed today

Greetings from my very quiet, very not-filled-with-frantic-cooking house. I am busy working in my pajamas and the dogs are very busy holding down the floor in my office, and this is very much like a lot of other days in my life because, hey, freelancing is all about not having to put on real pants. But it is also unlike other days because USUALLY on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, I am baking and prepping while the teenagers alternately complain that there is nothing to eat and insist they’re not hungry yet.

This year, though, I got a good night’s sleep last night while my children stayed up all night on a bus with a hundred of their closest pals. (Sounds super fun, right? FOR THEM.) This morning I got a rapid series of texts from one teen proclaiming the greatness of coffee and the other one is ignoring me completely, but is, in the wise words of an adult on his bus, “grumpier than George Costanza’s dad.” Oh. Well, then. I’m sure once they get to a crowded, noisy hotel he’ll perk right up! HAHAHAHAAAAAA.

So I wrote you this post at Alpha Mom, yesterday, before they left, and I stand by it. It’s weird, not having them here. But it’s okay. They’re having a big adventure and I am having a little extra quiet time to think about how marvelous it is that they are. Happy Thanksgiving to all!

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What a long, strange… well, you know

In an interesting the-universe-has-a-weird-sense-of-humor turn of events, I received a fairly heartbreaking question for my Alpha Mom column on the same day that Chickadee received her first college acceptance. (This is the school she’ll attend, but not her only application, so I say “first,” but really, it should be “one and only that matters so far as she’s concerned.”)

It was right around this time, about four years ago, that we started a long, slow slide into the darkness ’round here. Every time I thought it couldn’t get worse, it did, and usually exponentially so. There were a lot of sleepless nights and a lot of tears and worry, LORD, years and years of worry, even after things started getting better. Can you hold your breath for years? It sure felt like it.

During the worst of it, I would’ve punched you right in the face if you’d tried to tell me how that which doesn’t kill me makes me stronger, blah blah blah. Whatever. And yet… I look at my daughter, now, and while I know that there will always be challenges, I also no longer doubt that she can best them. She lived. We lived. We’re all stronger for it, even if maybe we would’ve happily stayed a little weaker. (Ha!)

What I remember most about the bleakest times is not how sick she was or how scared I was, but how those who loved us held us up. And so in response to a distressed auntie worried about her nephew, mostly my advice is to keep being there. I promise, it will not go unnoticed.

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Whoops, it’s okay

I realized I may have—in my attempts to be privacy-shielding and vague—accidentally left the impression that the sky was falling with that last post. And no, I wasn’t smart enough to figure it out on my own; rather, after a bunch of concerned emails followed by one from my dad asking what was going on, it occurred to me that sometimes I need to distinguish between “feeling miserable here” and “genuine crisis here.” So. Um. Oops? I’m sorry! And thank you for the concern!

Long story short, Monkey has been ill, but in that special Monkey-licious Aspie way of “NO I AM FINE I JUST HATE EVERYONE AND EVERYTHING AND LIFE IS TERRIBLE!” It doesn’t matter that we’re coming up on 16 years of this, every single time I have to go through this trajectory of “Oh my God what is WRONG with him?” and “Wait, I think he’s sick” and “But no, really, WHAT IS WRONG WITH HIM??” before we get it figured out. And in the meantime, it’s frustrating and he’s in pain and everything sucks. (Long story even shorter: Did you know that a severe Vitamin D deficiency can make you feel like garbage? True story!)

In the meantime, life marches on, and as we continue preparing the other kid for college (hey, at least she can tell us when she’s sick, so she has that going for her), I made sure that even though things are going really well in Chickieville, I still have something to worry about. I’m great like that. Fellow parents of ADHD kids, you’ll want to check out my post at Alpha Mom today.

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Getting through a rough patch

Everything is fine. In the grand scheme, that is. Everyone’s basically okay, there’s nothing here we can’t handle, and yet… it’s been a hard week or two for various reasons. I’m finding that the interesting thing about being a family who’s weathered some Serious Shit is that when a problem crops up, you’d think (correction: I’D think) that we’d sort of go, “Oh hey, no biggie, we’ve handled WAY worse than this!”

The reality is that a problem crops up and everyone melts into a puddle of OH GOD NO NOT THIS AGAIN because emotions have a way of beating out rational thought, every time. It’s just plain hard, having someone you love hurting, and when it’s not an easy fix (or even, sometimes, an identifiable cause) and your family unit has spent so much of its life prostrate to emotional wreckage, problems can feel bigger than they are.

Oh, look. I just used a lot of words to say, “Don’t panic, we’re fine, but I can’t fix everything for everyone with a magic wand and that sucks.” This is totally different than your experience as a parent, I am sure. HAHAHA.

Anyway! In the midst of this I read a hundred different iterations of articles reporting on this new(ish) study about kids and religion and generosity, and as usual, I have some thoughts. I’m over at Alpha Mom wondering if I’ve failed my kids, because I spend an awful lot of time wondering if I’ve failed my kids. It’s my favorite hobby! (That word favorite may not mean what I’m using it to mean, here….)

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It’s scary in there

So my folks were here visiting for a bit, did I mention that? My father checked the blog one morning and then said, “Your readers aren’t going to like us.”

“Huh?” I said, because I’m eloquent and stuff.

“When we’re here you don’t blog,” he said. And then I laughed and laughed, because I barely blog when they’re not here, but I like that he’s willing to take the blame. Oh, I didn’t write here for several weeks? Totally my dad’s fault. Sorry.

Our house is laid out such that 1) our master is on the first floor with the kids upstairs (this will be important in a minute) and 2) although there are technically 4 rooms upstairs, only 2 of them qualify as bedrooms with doors and closets. I would draw you a picture if I could draw, but basically you go up the stairs and the bathroom is ahead of you, with a pass-through room and then a bedroom on either side. This means we don’t have a designated guest room, but as Chickadee has the larger of the two bedrooms (and the larger bed), she gives up her room for guests and sleeps in the pass-through room on Monkey’s side as needed. This is all preamble to explaining that I don’t go upstairs very often, and I almost NEVER go into the kids’ bathroom because I have a strong gag reflex, but before my folks arrived I checked Chickie’s room and then their bathroom and then I killed both children because they are unforgivingly disgusting and cleaning up the blood seemed easier than dealing with the mildew. (Just to give you an idea: Rather than attempting to clean the existing tub mat, Chickie threw it away and bought a replacement with her own money. THAT BAD.)

Everything got cleaned and we had a lovely visit. The end.

It did, however, get me thinking about how I view my children’s rooms now vs. when they were smaller and I still believed I could force them into cleanliness. HAHAHA. And then I got this very timely question about kids’ room privacy at Alpha Mom and mostly I was relieved it wasn’t a question about how to make your teens realize they are standing on a solid rectangle of mildew in the shower, because I don’t know the answer to that one.

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It was a very merry Halloween

For some reason, we don’t really get trick-or-treaters at our house. This means I buy a bunch of candy “just in case” and then no one comes and then a month later I wonder why I’m fat. It’s a mystery! I wonder if I’ll ever solve it!

Nonetheless, some Halloween merriment did commence. Monkey had been declaring himself the symbol of American freedom for months, so it was a natural choice for AP Dress-Up Day for him to go as, well, the symbol of American freedom:

monkey-eagle

(I think his teacher liked it. At least, midday I got a text asking where I’d gotten the wings. I’m going to assume Monkey got his extra credit.)

Chickadee and a pal spent the night watching Saw, and I earned bonus Cool Mom points the next day when they went looking for Saw 2 on Netflix only to discover the Saw movies had, apparently, only been available until Halloween, and I went ahead and rented it for them on Amazon. The thing that’s nice about having a nearly-18-year-old child with similarly nearly-adult friends is that I don’t have to stop and think, “Is this movie appropriate?” Instead I can simply think, “Can I possibly curry favor by aiding and abetting the viewing of this terrible movie?” It’s great.

Anyway, that sort of got me thinking about the passage of time and other such “my baaaaaaaybeeeeeees are growing up!” sorts of things, so today I’m waxing nostalgic over at Alpha Mom about how much things and have changed (and some ways in which they haven’t).

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Well THAT never happens

You are just never going to guess what happened to me today. NOPE. NOT THAT.

Why, today marks the fifth time in 4 years that my Discover card was hijacked. I have no idea why I’m so popular—or why the dirtbags who try to use it always go spend it so stupidly that Discover immediately catches on—but there you go. (Lest you think I exaggerate: I give you January of this year, August 2014, January 2014, and November of 2011, otherwise known as Saladgate.)

Feeling a little light in the wallet? Just steal my Discover number. Everybody’s doing it.

Anyhoo. That put a crimp in my day, and so I felt like I needed a little levity to take my mind off of it. I bet you didn’t know I’m super artistic, but I totally am. In fact, I made you some great illustrations of parenting teenagers. (If you want prints you can just pay for them with my credit card, apparently.)

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