Category Archives: Parenting

Ode to my sons

IM from my son Friday:

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Never mind the heart pounding I experienced considering the damage his ignorance could inflict on my beloved washer,

Never mind that (as I was later to discover) he had loaded the machine with his socks, only his socks and not one other item sharing the hamper with his socks,

Never mind that he went from brazen challenger to quitter in one sentence,

Never mind that, at 12 years of age, Sarcastic Willy Wonka is his chosen avatar…

Never mind.

None of that matters because,

My son knows we have a washing machine and he knows what it is for!

Mommy win.

And it got me thinking. I don’t take time often enough to thank my boys for all the joy they bring me.

So, without further ado (too late)

Here it is:

 

Ode to my sons, a thank you

 

A computer breaks, an engine won’t start,

You come to me and it warms my heart.

Your wreckage arrives,  as there’s “nothing mom can’t do!”

And so I do, and do, and do and do and do.

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I love you but if everyone could stop breaking things, that’d be great.

 

I like to be outside, this you know,

So without complaint we go, go, go!

But when life ties us down and we’re unable to roam,

You bring the lovely outdoors right into our home!

Seriously. There’s dirt everywhere. I’m freaking Cinderella, cleaning, cleaning…

 

I strive to be fit, to keep up with you,

Your energy, speed, our active milieu!

And you, my sweet darlings, help me on my way,

By making me run stairs a dozen times a day!

The next time I have to walk up and down stairs just to tell a kid  his food is cooked someone is losing an eye…

 

I love you, my cherubs, more than is possible to tell,

But there is one thing I love almost as well.

So thank you, for you and your fantastic freak show,

And flooding me with reasons to drink more Merlot!

Cabernet, Pinot Noir, sometimes even a nice Riesling…I’m not picky…

 

I love you boys. Never change.

Except, shower – do that. And wear clean underwear… maybe get a job one day…. 

 

Hunting, what really happened

My boys went hunting last weekend and, because I wanted to aid in the successful stuffing of our freezer for the winter (without having to actually do anything), I decided to help them pack.

My job was food. As I wish to see them happy, I asked what they wanted.

They said:

“Shredded beef, roast beef, turkey, ham…”

“Hamburgers, hot dogs…”

“Steak…”

“That’s it? You aren’t forgetting anything”

“Oh right. And cheese. Thanks Mom”

“What are you going to eat for breakfast?”

“Can we have Poptarts?”

I have not been so happy to not be on a camping trip in a while. Think about it. The lot of them in an 11 x 12 foot camper on a diet of protein and sugar.

good times
good times

Anyway, I packed what they asked for and, because I love them, included condiments, a loaf of bread, and a selection from the popular food groups “chips” and “dips”.

I’m just caring like that.

(I also tossed in some food from the lesser known – more nutrient dense and life sustaining – groups, but that was only so I could unpack those same foods, untouched, a few days later.)

(I’m just ridiculous like that.)

Then, I sent them on their merry way and for the next 72 hours wallowed in the misery of my empty home pining for their return…

Kidding.

I sent them on their merry way and for the next 72 hours I did whatever the hell I felt like.

(I won’t go into wild details but suffice it to say Wine and Pinterest were involved.)

(It was awesome)

And then it was over. Waaaaaay too soon. My beloved family returned a day early.

Rained out, they said and wet they were.

But…funny thing…

I cooked vegetarian that night and, for the first time ever, guess what was missing.

Complaints and leftovers.

Win.

For those wondering, the weekend wasn’t a total bust. They came back with a grouse.

And ate it. Wrapped in bacon.

 

Chaos Theory

arrows

My fourth child would have been a time traveler.

If I’d had him.

No, I’m pretty certain this is a valid assumption. You see, my other three children are polar opposites. That’s right, three opposites. Three points of a triangle. Pick an example any example, apply it to my children and this is what you get:

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I am mother to:

An omnivore

An herbivore

And a carb-ivor (He only eats carbs. It’s a thing)

Also:

A son who could not lie to save his life

A son who weighs his options at every venture

And a son who does wrong simply because it’s there

Oh and don’t forget my:

Son who loves flying machines

Son who love wheeled machines

and their brother, the guy who gets motion sick on a slide.

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The logical fourth dynamic of this paradigm is time.

Ergo, my unborn fourth child, the temporal pilgrim.

It’s algebra.

Sometimes I’m sorry we never had baby Z.

(What else do you name a child with extra dimensional powers? Bob?)

I’m sorry because I believe Zee might have been quite a handy guy to have around.

I’d probably never lose my phone. Or if I did, I’d never know it because Zee would just bounce back in time and tell me where I set it down. I’d also not have to worry about a shopping list with Zee at my side. He’d bounce into the future and let me know what we were going to be out of, what would break next week, when to expect a growth spurt…

Maybe, just maybe Zee might even make his way back to the day we decided to start our family and say…

“Hey Mom look! Wine!”

Ah Zee, my son.

He’s my favorite.    

 

 

Space Time and Teenagers

sloth

Last night I had my least favorite recurring dream, the missed flight dream.

Are you familiar with this nightmare? You’re supposed to take a trip but you’re running hopelessly late. In mine I’m miles from the airport, have not packed, have not even dressed and my airplane is leaving in 30 minutes. Every single time.

I hate every moment and still, it keeps coming back to me.

Yesterday, I finally realized why.

I have this dream because I have sloths.

SONS! I mean, I have sons.

I have three wonderful sons whose range of speed goes something like this:

Slow

Slower

Impossibly Slower than That

and

Not Moving at All.

 

My everyday existence is a miss-flight-mare, no matter what is on our agenda.

Me: “The movie starts in a half an hour.”

Son speed: turtle.

Me: “If we leave now, we can go to the game store before it closes.”

Son speed: turtle with a broken leg.

Me: “There is a man outside giving away tickets to Disneyland for anyone who can get to him in 5 minutes.”

Son speed: turtle with a broken leg riding on the back of a dead snail.

Yes these are teenagers, yes they have boundless energy, yes it makes no sense, and yes I am not exaggerating.

Yesterday I told my son (still in bed and pajamas even though I’d spent the last 2 hours telling him to get ready) that we were leaving in 10 minutes. When I checked on him five minutes later the only advancement he had made was to take his shirt off.

When I asked him if he was ready know what he said?

“Almost”

Almost?

“In what universe?” I cried. “By what stretch of the imagination are you “almost” ready to go? A blind fish on tranquilizers could get out of this house faster than you!”

Kidding. I didn’t say any of that.

Telling a teen to hurry is like honking at someone because you want their parking spot.

You think it will speed things, the opposite happens.

Anyway he was moving, we hadn’t hit full stop yet. And besides it is far more important that he understands no matter what, I love wine…

HIM! I mean, No matter what I love him…

Stop laughing Wine. That was totally believable! Hey I had that dream again, are you free later?

 

 

 

Wiser words

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I’ve noticed a lot of internet advice on what NOT to say to a parent of an autistic child lately.

A LOT.

And, while helpful, it seems a bit snarky. It’s as though the authors want you to know how to behave but also want the world to know that you, at first, behaved badly.

I don’t really like it and, for my part, want everyone to know that I understand and I’m not offended. Autism doesn’t fit in a box and humans aren’t wired to respond to unquantified information. At best we stare. At worse we open our mouths and sing a song of ignorance.

Neither situation is ideal.  

But, it’s not compassion that’s lacking it’s training. People just need to be told what to say. What is acceptable?  

Never fear, I am here. I have assembled for the world today an arsenal of suitable responses for that moment when a parent tells you their child is autistic.

Level one. The beginner.

It’s your first time. It’s OK. Breath. You can get through this. Just remember DO NOT look sad.

Too much to ask for? Can’t control your gloom? Don’t worry, there’s a fix. Turn that pathetic attitude on you! Pity yourself for not being a member of the spectrum club and moan:

Wow. I just met you and your life already sounds way more interesting than mine.

First timers that are natural optimists might try:

You know what I love about autism? The jumping! It’s mesmerizing. The focus and power… it seriously should be an Olympic sport.

Level two. Intermediate:

Step up your game and learn the difference between Neurodiverse and Neurotypical. Then, use your words. How about:

It’s so exciting to live in this era of neurodiversity. I can’t wait to see where it takes us because I’m positive it’s going to be amazing.

Or (because self-pity can go a long way) say:

My house is full of boring neurotypicals (pout face). I hope you can carry this conversation because I got nothing to offer.

Level three. The enlightened:

You’ve been around the block. Your way isn’t the highway and you are totally OK with that. You know that the craziest thing you ever saw couldn’t have been by the simple fact that you are still alive.

Go for a smile with: 

OMG. (dramatic face) THANK you for talking to me. Everyone else at this party is lame!

Or:

Of course you have a child on the spectrum. Autism is common in families of unusually high intelligence. Everybody knows that.

See? Easy. You are welcome. Not convinced? Still afraid you are going to trip over your tongue? No worries. I’ve got just the phrase for you. The moment a parent tells you their child is autistic, look them earnestly in the face and say:

I am paying for all your drinks this evening.

I guarantee this will go over well but if you are doubtful, call me. We can practice all night.

 

 

 

 

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Guess Cryogenics is not just for dead billionaires anymore. That’s right scientist now believe that a stint in a Cryogenic chamber enhances the body’s ability to heal.

Amazing. What will they think of next?    

Well, if anyone’s looking for ideas, I’ve got one… how about cryogenics as a treatment for puberty?

Wait, hear me out.

While adolescence is a necessary stage in development it is also painful, tremulous, frustrating, embarrassing, and sometime dangerous. What if, instead of forcing our young adults to endure it, we simply let them sleep it off in a Cryo-chamber?

This wouldn’t be just a long nap, mind you. The subjects would be connected to a virtual world. As they snoozed the cerebral cortex would be engaged in a continuous stream of realities designed for optimum experience and growth.

Think about it, all the angst, error, words that should have never been spoken, actions that should never have take place that are integral to maturing, minus any long term damage because it’s all make believe.

Consider it: sleep and video games molded into one painless coming of age process. What could be more perfect?

Yes, I know what you are thinking – I am a genius.

But I can’t take all the credit for this dream. I live with free roaming adolescents and necessity is the mother of invention.

Yes I am a parent of teens and it’s become quite clear that I am really bad at it.

Don’t believe me? Here’s a list of the horrible things I did in this week alone:

 

I did not inform a certain someone that it was Thursday, and it had been Thursday ALL day already.

Someone (not me but that’s no excuse) ate all the eggs.

One adolescent put his socks on faster than another while I stood by and did NOTHING.

(This is actually my fault through a myriad of dressing scenarios – shirts, jackets, shoes… At first I found it confusing but since have seen the errors of my ways and completely accept responsibility)

I had the audacity to propose a trip to the beach.

Then later (clearly having NOT learned my lesson) I wildly suggested we go out for dinner.

And finally, (I’m a little embarrassed to admit this terribly low point in my parenting journey, but here it is all the same…)

I looked my son square in the face and said:

 “It is time to make pizza”.

 (Oh. The. Humanity.)

 

I need a super puberty busting cryogenic chamber STAT.

My kids need it.

Society needs it.

There must be a cryogenic scientist out there living with teens who understand and would look into this.

Please?

I’ll be waiting.

 

 

 

Toddler-escence

 

When my kids were little HALT (the “are you Hungry Angry Lonely Tired?” behavior tool) was all the rage in progressive parenting. An effective method for identifying when an unmet core need is triggering undesirable conduct, HALT (funny enough) was originally designed to keep addicts from relapsing. (Which probably isn’t funny at all and should definitely tell you something about what it is like living with toddlers)

Anyway, it was so effective for the tremulous 2s and 3s that lately I’ve begun to wonder if it might be useful for life’s other arduous growing period; adolescence.

Specifically, (because this is my circus at the moment) with adolescent boys.   

After a few months of careful research, here’s what I’ve discovered:

Tired.

Well, tired really isn’t an issue any more because they sleep. They sleep, and sleep and sleep and sleep…They sleep so much I check for signs of life, A LOT. In adolescence it seems the only time tired leads to unsavory behavior is when something disrupts the teens sleep autonomy. Things like school, family functions, emergencies, Christmas (true story there), events that happen on a schedule that your average day sleeper isn’t likely to conform to. And honestly, outside of emergencies perhaps, these things are avoidable.

Stand-napping master 2016.

Lonely.

Yep lonely is still a thing and now that we (parents) are often the enemy tackling this problem is tricky (especially if your teen can’t be bothered to wake up and attend functions involving other similarly minded individuals) But all is not lost for there is the internet.

God save us if that fails.

Hungry and Angry (Together here because hungry and angry have fused).

Yes the once independent disturbances now simultaneously fuel each other in a state commonly referred to as “hangry”.

Remember the adage about the way to a man’s heart? Well it’s true. It’s through his stomach. Coincidentally this is also the way to his reason, sanity and composure. Forget about scorned women, hell hath no fury like a man unfed. And there is no time when that is more clear than in adolescence.

Don’t believe me? Find a teen boy, pick a fight with him then a second before it blows into world war 3, hand him a pizza.

*poof* crisis averted. 

With a house full of mini men in ever expanding bodies, Mowgli and I now fight a daily battle against the hangry. Everything has changed. Even the way we greet them.

Before adolescence:

Hello! How are you?

Now:

Hi! Here’s a sandwich!

He-llo, we learned the hard way, left them without the promise of food one syllable too long. It won’t surprise me if next month we cull further to:

Sandwich!

What?  Doesn’t seem a reasonable salutation to you? Then I ask you to imaging a land where in lieu of polite verbosity passersby simply yell Wine! and thrust a glass in your hand.  

I would quite like that I think. 

 

Well its back to the trenches for me, but before I go, here’s something I spotted in a questionable (possibly nonexistent) dictionary recently:

 Armageddon (n) the state of affairs when the internet fails before lunch is consumed.    

Hope all is well.

 

 

 

 

 

We’re Hiring

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Wanted:

Assistant to busy writer/mother/wife who’s currently suffering give-a-shit deprivation.

Applicants should be cheerful, punctual, individuals able to maintain her families standard of living. Tendency toward self-sacrifice is an asset, boundless energy, a must.

Crybabies need not apply.

Duties:

Cooking. Three times daily for five people who lack a single shared taste bud between them.

Meals must be healthy, delicious, simultaneously no carb and all carb, and composed of none of the following: fruits, vegetables (except carrots or broccoli), legumes, meat (that isn’t ground or chicken), funky cheese and anything that smells funny or just “looks weird”.

Eggs approved on an individual basis.

Cleaning. Everything all the time.

Nature refuses to stay outside. Employee will be responsible to see that it does.

Extra curricular scheduling and maintenance. Limo service.

A comfortable, reliable car is a must though, based on the anticipated hours employee will be spending in their vehicle, a motor home is advisable.  

Miscellaneous. Conflict resolution, life course changes, cash flow issues, hospital runs, crisis management, etc., etc.

Employee will be informed of what is expected of them when it’s expected of them. 

Hours: 24/7

Salary and Benefits: Endless admiration and gratitude and every third Tuesday off. 

Please send CV and previous work history to: Jolie@whoamikidding.com…

Well, if that doesn’t work, there is always my back up plan:

Wanted:

Wine. Lots and lots of wine. Drinker is an equal opportunity alcoholic. All flavors, colors and pedigrees encouraged to apply. 

 

 

Teen part 2

A year ago I blogged about living with a teenager here

Today, the saga continues…

Bigfoot ˈbɪɡfʊt/ noun

  1. a large, hairy apelike creature resembling a yeti, supposedly found in NW America.

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A Bigfoot has taken up residence in our house.

There is a mysterious, and apparently benign, being living in a room upstairs.

He’s nocturnal so our paths cross infrequently and, when they do, he speaks a language of guttural tones that I fear we will never be fluent in. As a result we learn about the creature primarily through observation.

Once the sun has set and we are abed for the evening, our Bigfoot roams. The house is haunted by bumps and squeaks that make it impossible for me to sleep in a continuous stretch.

Food, in large quantities, disappears while we rest. Whole pizzas, a jumbo box of crackers, entire loaves of bread, anything requiring absolutely NO culinary skills to make edible will not last to the dawn.

(Actually, if you’re trying to diet, a resident Big Foot can be quite handy. Carbohydrates are his favorite.)

There is hair too. A lot of hair. A carpet of it can be found in the shower most mornings and the bath towel looks like a porcupine hide.

Truthfully, I find it difficult to fault a Bigfoot for trying his hand at personal hygiene. It’s a daunting task that he fails at routinely.

No matter what he does an odor* lingers in every corner of the house. It’s as pervasive and mysterious as the creature himself. I now walk our halls armed with deodorizer and, at times, crying out,

“What the holy hell died in here?!”

Despite all this, I like our Bigfoot. I wouldn’t want him to leave.

But I do pray that, one day soon, his evolutionary journey will align with ours.

Maybe if I leave out more crackers…

 

*(It occurred to me this “odor” might be an attribute of the male of the species only. I like to think that a female Bigfoot would plague our house with pleasant flowery aromas. Of course there would probably be much more hair…)

 

 

 

 

You are making it very hard for me to be the parent I thought I would be.

 

When my kids were little I had one rule: no day would pass without some fun.

And I was pretty good at it. I’m not saying the entertainment was always appropriate but it did the job. The mood was light and everyday had some part worth remembering.

I had that Mom of the century thing nailed. Yep. Nothing could stop me. Not even the dreaded

Teen years…

HERE'S JOHNNY!
HERE’S JOHNNY!

Well guess what…?

They’re here. 

Four months and two weeks ago I became the parent of a teen.

And I have to take back everything I ever said about mom of the century.

However, while not entirely pleasant, the last four and a half months haven’t been a total waste. In fact they have been quite educational. There were so many things I did not know about myself! Now, thanks to the raw hormones of a certain thirteen year old, my eyes have been opened.  

I never knew it but,

I am not fun. For 12 years and 364 day my good time ace-in-the-hole was to put on Madonna’s “Don’t cry for me Argentina” and, together with my son, sing and dance. Those days are OVER. No, more than over, they have been erased from the annals of history. They never happened. I’m not allowed to even say “Evita” inside the walls of our home anymore. I probably will catch hell for typing it just now.

Not only that,

I can’t cook (but I better keep trying). My life is a vicious cycle of, “what’s for dinner”, “I hate that” and “What do you mean it’s all gone??”

I can’t win, but that’s no surprise considering,  

I am totally unreasonable. Would you believe I had the gall to ask my thirteen year old to eat food, not out of the carton, but in a secondary vessel designed specifically for food consumption? I know, ridiculous! Welcome to Stalag Mom.

And another thing…

I would never make it as a lawyer. Possession is 9/10 of the law don’t I know that? It doesn’t matter if I paid for the computer. He uses it, ergo it belongs to him. Get out and close the door.

Speaking of closed doors…

I am the commanding officer of Camp Sleep Deprivation. Seriously, the only thing I ever do is wake people up. It’s my favorite thing. Dear Guantanamo, you want me on your team. Just ask my kid.

Ah, parenthood, and my journey is barely getting started because…

A few years ago Mowgli and I had a bit too much to drink and thought, you know what would be awesome? More kids. Yeah, we should have more kids…