Why are Kids so Demanding?

Real Parenting

IMG_1537Since when did my cute adorable son with such a delicate appetite start eating for a football team?  In addition to two protein shakes daily, he requires many snacks, breakfast, lunch and TWO dinners and many more snacks.  Forget the Parisian diet of 3 meals and no snacks.  In this house the kitchen is like Grand Central Station.

And God forbid I want something as simple as a PB&J. I go to the refrigerator the mission: make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. First I get the bread out, only the two end pieces left, to be expected. Next, the peanut butter. I take out the jar and lo and behold its as clean as a Tiffany catalogue vase. You know it must have taken a lot of scraping to get the peanut butter off the sides. Next comes the jelly, hopeful, I spy the jar, but of course there’s nothing left.   Every time I go to get something it’s either empty of not there.

I’m in my shower totally wet, I go to get the shampoo but where in the world is the shampoo? My lovely daughter has kidnapped it to one of two places: her shower or swim bag.  Needless to say as I drip water all over the wooden floors trying to find, I curse myself for not checking my shower before I started to see if someone pilfered it.

It never ends.  I go to my desk with 10% power in my iPhone and iPad and all three cubes and charging cords are gone. Extension cords disappear and seltzer evaporates.  There must be an abyss where all the mugs, glasses and teaspoons disappear.  Wait I found them in my kids’ bedroom and bathroom. Don’t get my started on why anyone would ever need a teaspoon or teacup in the bathroom?

And the towels…  I was raised in a house with 7 people and one bathroom.  The line outside the bathroom started forming at 6:00 am on weekdays. We were allotted less than three minutes to brush teeth, go to the bathroom, and wash up before the complaints from the others in line would begin.  We shared towel racks and each of us got one bath towel to last the week. I wouldn’t be exaggerating to say my son can go through 3 bath towels a day and of course they all end up on the wooden floors, wet. Apparently, one now requires the morning shower, the after workout shower, possibly the epsom salt soak bath due to sore muscles and then the before sleep shower to relax. Each bathing incident requires a new bath towel and wash cloth. You can definitely see by the healthy abundant green grass in the backyard where my cesspool is located.

Missing food, dirty towels, no chargers…where does it end, if it ever does? How was I to know if dinner is served before 6:30 another one is needed by 9:00.  If I say something like get some cookies or chips, it’s tantamount to committing child abuse.  “No! I need a meal. Something healthy. Not junk food!” Frozen food was invented for a reason.  I remember when a Swanson Turkey Dinner was something to look forward to and savour.  I mean it was a hell of a lot better than Dinty Moore or chicken in a can.

I just need to realize the laundry and shopping will never abate no matter how frequently its done.  I have raised these discerning, perfectionist, demanding creatures and God help them when I retire to Hawaii.

 

Copyright 2017, All rights reserved.

It’s an epidemic!

Real Parenting

Please be kind. We can’t help it. When I say ‘we’ I mean anyone of a certain age who would mostly like be dead if he IMG_5748lived a hundred years ago. Life expectancy for men in 1907 was 45.6 years.  It didn’t say how long women lived back then. I guess after a woman reached 30 she probably wasn’t noticed much except when the house was dirty or there wasn’t food on the table.

This epidemic causes many painful and embarrassing moments for those poor souls who are afflicted and their friends and family.  I won’t keep you in suspense any longer; in fact, if you have one or more of the following symptoms you have a bad case and need help.

  1.  You thought LOL meant lots of love until you sent an email to someone saying something like, “I’m so sorry for your loss.  I always admired her. LOL.”
  2. You have caused friends and family pain when you didn’t even know you did something wrong on social media. Example, my daughter showed me a  snapchat picture on her phone of the hottest guy on campus. Of course I couldn’t see it so when I clicked on the screen to enlarge the picture I apparently sent him a heart and embarrassed my daughter to the point where she almost took my head off. (Fortunately she was distracted by a message on her phone.)
  3. You use the “Share if you agree.” Apparently this is not cool. Who isn’t against cancer? Who doesn’t love their religion and take pride in their country. Who thinks clubbing seals is a good thing? Most people reading your Facebook posts aren’t on your payroll. Remember most likely your audience is reading to relax not to work your cause.
  4. You over post. So you go on a vacation great. Posting a few well-picked interesting pictures is good but posting every moment of your trip is monotonous for the rest of us. Sometimes less is more. Especially when it comes to your kids’ performances. We don’t need to watch every moment of your darling’s success.
  5. You think a selfie-stick should remain behind closed doors in the privacy of your own room.

Unfortunately I tested positive for all the symptoms, so I asked my daughter for help on improving my social media etiquette she said,”Watch a video on it, google ‘social media for the elderly’.”

Copyright 2017. All rights reserved.

I lost my iPhone and Trusted Muppets

Real Parenting

Avenue-QToday I couldn’t find my iPhone, so I asked my daughter if she had seen it. In the ultimate exasperation that only an 18-year-old daughter can deliver to her mother, after several sighs, she told me to call it.

So I did precisely that: “Emily’s phone, where are you? Ally, ally, oxen free, come out come out where ever you are.” To which my phone replied, “I don’t know how I’m going to last the whole summer with you.”

Then I got it. She meant I should dial my cell phone number on another phone so I could hear it ring and thus find it.  My kids think I’m scatter brained but they have never walked a day in my shoes as the master family facilitator.  I bet my job is as difficult as Winston Churchill’s. The details, warring fractions, negotiations and strategic logistic planning is mind-blowing, especially if you are a single mom and work.

I’ll be 5 minutes to leaving the house en route to my job when my daughter will face time me in a panic.  “I have so much work. It’s so unfair. My paper’s due in 20 minutes and I need you to proof read it. NOW! Also, see if my thesis makes sense and the 12th paragraph is coherent…and I need a conclusion.  Be sure to put all your corrections in a different color print so I can see them.  I should have printed this out hours ago. MOM!!! You know about old Norse literature and the Orkeyinga saga, don’t you?”

Then there’s my son who needs a navy blazer tomorrow morning for an important high school debate.  I tell him to use the one I got him last fall.  He comes out of his room wearing the blazer which falls above his hips and the sleeves are a good three inches too short, closer to his elbows than his wrists. It’s ten o’clock at night.  What does a mom do?  I call his friend’s mothers to see if they may have one in his size that we could borrow.   No luck.  We go into my late husband’s closet so he can try on one of his Dad’s.  They are all circa 1980’s with the jacket length almost kissing his knees .  This I can fix. Not with a needle but with duck tape and staples.  The only problem is my son’s shoulders are much too broad for the jacket and he can’t move his arms or talk without making strange faces and sounds. He decided not to wear a blazer, just a shirt and tie.

And then of course just recently there was the disaster when I took my kids into the big city to get “cultured,” have dinner in a nice restaurant and go to Avenue Q, an off Broadway play that my friends highly recommended. I was so worried that I’d forget the tickets or the parking voucher I found on Groupon, I left my wallet by the computer where I ordered everything.

Picture this we are in the latest, greatest overpriced Manhattan vegan restaurant and after ordering drinks, appetizers and main course, I feel an overwhelming sense of panic. I discretely check my handbag only to confirm my worst fears.  I have no as in ZERO money or credit cards.  I forgot my wallet! I don’t mind washing dishes to pay for a meal, although my kids would probably have a problem with it but I don’t think that’s really an option– just part of an old black and white movie on PBS. Finally, I remember I have a check in a hidden pocket, but still I don’t have my driver’s license or any identification. I don’t want my kids to worry.  Tonight is supposed to be a night of cherished memories and culture, not a night where mom screwed up… again.

I excuse myself from the table and make my way to the maitre d’.  I explain calmly and ( I hope) a cultured voice about my unfortunate oversight.  She tells me the restaurant doesn’t accept checks, ever, but she’ll explain my situation to the manager. I go back to the pleasant dinner table where my children are pondering what overpriced desserts to order.  Can you say STRESS?

In the end everything kind of worked out. The restaurant accepted my check. The kids didn’t get t-shirts or snacks at the play but I had old lint ridden gum in my hand bag to savor and I had prepaid for the parking garage voucher. The only really uncomfortable time of the night was during the play which was acted out by Sesame Street type muppets when two muppets were having oral sex?! Thanks for the recommendation friends! It certainly made for interesting, pleasant driving home conversation with my children.

Copyright 2017. All rights reserved.

 

 

 

 

 

A Tale of Two Kitchens

Real Parenting

It was a vegan diet. It was an omnivore diet.

My kitchen stood divided.

newtable

My daughter and I are vegans and my son is a omnivore. I am the cook. Typically this translates into preparing two different meals, for two different cultures. I feel as though I’m living in the Gaza Strip. This is a typical “family dinner.”

I place the plates on the table. My daughter and I get veggie stir-fry while my son has steak, mashed white potatoes—he only eats sweet potatoes or yams if there are 2 inches of marshmallows baked on top and then it’s only the part of the potato that has marshmallow stuck to it –and select veggies from the stir-fry

We sit down and say grace. Then our family dinner turns into a battlefield.

My daughter launches the first submarine. “I don’t understand how you eat flesh.”

Me, playing my part as Henry Kissinger: “Alright let’s support his choice and not criticize.”

Incoming…Daughter launches a scud: “You shouldn’t feed him that sh*t. He’s going to get cancer.”

My Son tries to retreat from the battle: “I’m going to eat in my room.”

Me, the peacemaker: “Please don’t. Let’s make pleasant dinner conversation.”

Letting off some poison gas, daughter: “Don’t expect me to send flowers to your funeral.”

And then my son drops the nuclear bomb. Son: “At least I’m not fat!”

(Now my daughter isn’t fat, if anything she’s underweight but my son goes for the jugular and hits hard. He knows what buttons to push.)

Daughter: “Are you going to let him get away with that?”

The warring sides retreat from the battlefield, with their dinner plates in hand leaving me in the war zone loading the dishwasher to the sound of doors slamming. Yet another failed peace proposal, another “family meal.”

Copyright 2017. All rights reserved.

My Kids Don’t Get Me

Real Parenting

The Generation Gap

My kids are constantly telling me I have the worst sense of humor and to be quiet because I’m embarrassing them. Meanwhile, I’ll laugh at something I just said to the point of tears, while they just shake their heads, which of course only make me laugh harder.

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I have this one friend, Amanda, whom my son loves but says she’s crazy. I love her because she is certifiable. She’s outrageous. For example, one time she parked her car at the grocery store and couldn’t remember where she parked it so she called her son to pick her up. She waited almost a month before she finally went back to the parking lot to locate her car.

We bonded over many hours of boredom watching our sons battle it out during football, lacrosse and hockey games. I guess we clicked over the fact that we both were in total disbelief that other parents really enjoy waking up at 5am and driving 2 hours for an all day tournament in the freezing rain or scorching sun.

After years of our boys playing on the same teams we still don’t know who all their teammates’ names. I think that’s because the boys all look the same in their identical costumes. Now this is where my son would glare at me and say “uniforms” and I’d start to laugh since I always wore costumes in dance recitals and plays. He’d interrupt my laughter to say, “You’re not funny, mom!” Which would only made me laugh harder. If Amanda were with me, she’d laugh, too.

How can my son love an activity where he always has to wear the same outfit for the whole season? I digress… but maybe we could get someone who workouts out in style such as Gene Simmons to design some flashy lax ‘uniforms’ with sequins and neon colors.

And on the topic of uniforms, I think there should be more than one uniform each season. We had a three-day tournament in Baltimore in the heat of July where the boys were expected to wear the same costume for 9 straight games without washing them. Needless to say we went through cases of Febreze that summer and drove home from the tournaments with the air conditioning blasting and the car windows open.

Fortunately he’d fall asleep impervious to his odor so I could listen to my mindless chick lit CD’s by Elin Hildenbrand and Candice Bushnell. However, sometimes he’d wake up at the most embarrassing moments in the narration where the reader would say something like “I felt his hard manliness throbbing inside me, sending spasms of ecstasy ripping through my body.” Then I’d hear from the backseat “Aw, mom, what are you listening to? That’s so gross!” And I would be forced to say “I don’t know what this is but it’s disgusting.” I’d quickly turn it off and wait for him to nod off again so I could turn it back on and return to the story.

My daughter thought my taste in driving literature was so trashy when it came time to take her to college, I went to the library and picked philosophy CD’s on tape. Needless to say my daughter fell asleep within 2 minutes of starting one of her learned CD’s and I was stuck listening to Sartre’s philosophy and existentialism for five hours. My kids may not get me, but my friends do. Amanda would have prefered my choice in CD’s.

Copyright 2017. All rights reserved.

Freelancing Mom Realities

Real Parenting

Being a freelancer is like being in love with someone who doesn’t really love you. The other party calls all the shots and you can only comply or get dumped. Meanwhile, every time you work, it’s like auditioning for a full-time position, so the pressure is great. Co-workers are nice but sometimes get frustrated since the freelancer is not up to speed on changes that were put in place since she last worked.

The life of a freelancer is one of feast or famine. For example, I hadn’t any work for days and then in one day I was asked to work nine consecutive days which was excellent since it was December. The very next day I got a text for the employer saying “big changes, we no longer need you to work those days.” Apparently I was filling in for a writer who quit and then decided not to leave. Sometimes I’m asked to work immediately which leaves me scrambling to find rides for my son and preparing his dinner in the morning so he can zap it in the microwave when he gets home from school and I’m still working.

I feel like I never can relax. I’m constantly checking emails to make sure there isn’t a job offer I’ve missed. Most companies will ask several freelancers at the same time to work and the one that gets back first is the one who gets the assignment. I’ve missed several jobs simply because I didn’t have a cell signal and couldn’t call or text in time.

I always feel like an outsider or the new kid at school. When the staff casually arranges to go out after a shift or get together, I’m usually ignored and not invited. When the employees all marvel at the health club that is included in their benefits, I just silently think, ‘must be nice.” People are always planning their next vacation while I’m planning on how to pay the electric bill. True I have enough time to take a vacation, but without a job I can’t afford one. I hear about profit sharing, medical and dental benefits, retirement savings and other company perks such as free or discounted tickets to shows and sporting events and shopping discounts.  I get to listen, but never share in the bounty.

Granted there are advantages to working as a freelancer. First, I can ignore a lot of the office politics and backstabbing.   After a particularly draining shift I know when I walk out the door I my not have to return for several weeks.   I don’t have to get involved in boring meetings and training sessions. No one sees me as a threat and I can acknowledge that this is not my only job when things go poorly.

People seem amazed that I could possibly have a busy schedule without the ball and chain of a full-time job. Being both a mother and father to my children takes time. I have a daughter who just started college and needs a lot of phone consultations and hand holding. My son needs to be driven to practices and tournaments.  And if either child needs help with school work I need to learn the subject and become his tutor. Meals still need preparing since there is less money for takeout, ready made and restaurants. Laundry still needs to be washed and since I can’t afford the dry cleaners I have the ironing and hand-washing. Since I only can afford to get my yard mowed twice a month there’s still a lot of maintenance to maintaining  two acres of land and gardens. Paying bills takes longer. I have to figure out which bills I must pay immediately or can delay every month. Forget household help or hiring tradesmen.  YouTube has taught me how to plaster a wall, grout tile and unclog a toilet, repair lamps, the vacuum and the garage door opener. Shopping takes longer. I can’t just order what I need on the internet or buy at the store. I research items to make sure I’m getting the lowest price. And sometimes I have to go to several stores to get the sale prices.  I also sell my kids outgrown clothing on eBay.  On top of all of this, I have to stay current in my field, know what’s going on and teach myself new technology.

The next time you think of quitting your nine to five job and freelancing think twice.  It may not be as relaxing as it looks. I’m are always looking for the next gig and worrying about money.

Copyright 2017. All rights reserved.

 

 

 

How to Move Out of the College Dorm

How To DIY, Real Parenting

The First Summer Home

It’s May and spring is finally here:  flowers,  green leaves and warm weather.  Yet spring also heralds in some less than pleasant changes: allergies, spring cleaning and picking up your college student for the summer!

The last academic year was one of firsts, mostly for my daughter but also for the rest of the family.  Last fall, I was getting at least 20 texts and three teary calls a day about her terrible, awful, college life.  First it was the smelly roommate from hell who never showered or spoke.  Then she realized pre-med was not a good major for her since she hated math and science so she had to change her courses.  Next hurdle was the college swim team: she was having a hard time getting back in shape.  Finally the dining hall food wasn’t working since she is a vegan and the selection of food she could eat was limited. On top of everything else, she was homesick.

Up until spring break she wanted to transfer but magically when I arrived with the SUV in May to bring her home for the summer, she didn’t want to leave.  It was a total 180 degrees change.  I was ecstatic!  Could this positive, happy, well-adjusted 18-year-old be MY daughter.  And then I realized she was my child for when I got to her smelly dorm room not one single item was packed.

 

The above pictures show how the room looked after two hours of hard labor.  In all fairness to my daughter she had just finished finals that morning.  So we came up with a stress-free plan that worked quickly which I will share.

Divide and Conquer

Think of battle.  Picture yourself as a commander: you need to divide and conquer. We separated the items into the following piles:

  1. Trash: old school papers and notebooks that she won’t reuse,  mostly used lotions, dying plants, perishable items, cracked glasses and mugs, and anything else that is too gross to bring home. But be sure to check what your daughter deems trash.  Mine put a lamp in the pile claiming it just stopped working.  I asked if she tried changes the light bulb.  She said she didn’t know light bulbs had to be changed.
  2. Bedding: mattress protectors, foam mattress, sheets, pillows, comforter, sheets and blankets and towels.
  3. Items she won’t need until she’s back at school: extension cords, lamps, desk organizer, pencil, paper, pens, shower caddy, hangers, laundry bag, over the door hangers, unused command strips, trashcan, etc…
  4. Clothes she won’t need during the summer: coats, vests, heavy sweaters, pants, tights.
  5. Sorority clothes, signs and decorations that will go untouched over the summer.
  6. Team wear and training equipment that wouldn’t be used during break.

 

All of the above items could be stored in plastic containers or magic vacuum bags. If they need to be cleaned, as did all her bedding and towels, she had to wash then reseal them in magic vacuum bags when we get home. I found magic bags at Target but different brands are available at most large discount stores. I bought the largest size.

magicbags

You will need a vacuum cleaner to suck all the air out of the bag.  Of course my daughter didn’t have a vacuum cleaner or know if there was one available in the dorm so instead of lugging my heavy upright model (which would also take up valuable space in the car) I found a compact Oreck 5 lb. vacuum that was easy to carry.

oreck

Toss into bags or leave on hangers

All her other clothes that needed to be cleaned and/or would be used doing the summer were thrown into the vacuum bags.  Some of her clothing such as items requiring ironing were left on the hangers and put into a large garbage bag with the hooks of the hangers sticking out.  Then we wrapped an elastic band around the tops of the hangers and tightened the bag’s drawstring around the them.

Most schools require the students to take everything of the walls, clean and unplug rental refrigerators and microwaves, wipe down all surfaces and empty the trash.

After we did accomplished this all that was left for us to do was lug the items 4 flights downstairs, cram everything into the car and have a well-deserved dinner before the road trip home.
Copyright 2017. All rights reserved.