Monthly Archives: August 2013

the hated…

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I was seated at a table, in a crowded restaurant bar.  Seated around and beside me,  were several women, in varying age, who through the grace of God, have been given the same task.  Raising children.

My friend to the left began, “Every day my daughter tells me how much she hates me. Every single stinking morning, if I don’t set aside ten minutes to help her-with whatever, she broods, cries, and then turns into a cranky hormonal bitch.”

We all laughed; simply because, we have either already experienced the hormonal tirade of teenage boys and girls or are currently going through this period (no pun intended) ourselves. “My doll tells me several times a day, how much she hates me-with attitude and body language thrown in for good measure” I relay. “Whenever my daughter told me she hated me,  I would say to her ‘Oh good, I’m doing something right’…which usually resulted in a slammed bedroom door or locking me out of her room”.  Another woman offered.

We all laughed again.

“Just wait…it gets worse…” Another woman added. “How much worse can it get?” Some of us say (ME ME ME) under our breath. In reality we REALLY don’t want to know. “Don’t you remember…” Another woman asked, “What you were like back then?” I laughed and then replied “Actually, I wasn’t that bad. You see, my older sister Ann (who was seated next to me) set the bar really high for me. All I had to do was the complete opposite of Ann and it was smooth sailing…” Shaking her head up and down she agreed, “Yes, I was a bitch to my mother. When she was going through menopause, I used to walk up to her and sing ‘Ch ch ch ch changes….things that make you strange, ch ch changes….’ among many other things. I really was quite bad…” She finished, with a laugh.

As the conversation then turned toward other topics and reasons to laugh, I paused for a moment, taking in the luxury of having such good friends to laugh and commiserate with. After all, we are “The hated” parents. Honestly i can’t think of a better place to be  right now.

Blessed.

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Role call…

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My alarm goes off every morning at 6:30 am and every morning I hit the snooze button to allow myself ten more minutes of sleep-in theory. In reality, those ten minutes are for me stretch, toss, turn and then get myself up and moving; much to my distaste for mornings. The boy on the other hand sets his alarm for 5:45 am, rolls out of bed, gets dressed then walks out into the living room, grabs his fully charged nook, lies down on the couch and begins to play with his device. Only once has he fallen back to sleep.

By the time I make it downstairs, I’m rushing and always taken aback that my teenaged son is wide awake watching videos. My doll, on the other hand is very much like her old mum here and needs a torch lit under her, to extract her from her dreams. Once she’s awake I return my attention back to the boy and ask him the same 5 questions every morning:

1) Have you eaten breakfast? Nine times out is ten his response to me is “No” to which my response is “Why the hell not? You’ve been up for over an hour….” To which his response is watching me watch his eyes glass over with indifference.

2) Have you taken your meds? Odds are if he hasn’t eaten the answer will be “No” as well. During the height of allergy season, if he doesn’t take his meds, all of our lives will be miserable.

3) Is that a clean shirt? To the boy, even if the shirt is dirty it’s clean to him. Hence I recently purchased five new school shirts, so he’ll always have a “real” clean shirt available to wear. However, this does not warrant me to stop asking, nor smelling daily.

Perhaps the most important question of all:
4) Did you put on your DEODORANT? This morning he said yes; but not trusting him I took a sniff anyway; he had. However, one day of automatic response does not mean he’s off the hook for the question. It only means he’s a work in progress.

5) Where are your glasses? Seemingly mundane, but also hinted at in that question is also: Do you have your school ID and your calculator. School has been in session for two weeks and he’s forgotten all three almost every day.

“Buddy you need to get stuff done in the morning if you’re waking up so early. Eat something good to sustain yourself until lunch. Make sure you have all your stuff packed and ready to go! Don’t just lay around watching videos.” I say as part of my daily morning mantra to him. This morning he grabbed a handful of pepperoni’s saying “Here’s my protein” as we hurried out the door. I could only shake my head and hope we get a better start the next day.
*****
Some of you have asked what happened with the $5 I gave him for a school lunch on Tuesday. According to the boy, he was able to purchase the card for lunch, just not use it that day. In addition he explained “They literally forced me to eat two cookies, a bag of chips AND a pop.” Then he handed me $1.10 in change adding “I know mama, I was quite upset too!”

Looking down at what had once been a five dollar bill, I shook my head in resignation. “But mom wait, tomorrow is pizza lunch..” He said in a hopeful tone, as he held his lunch card up and smiled. Well, the way I see it, at least he’s eating something…I guess.

take another road…

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“Mom would you be mad if I didn’t do so well on a test?” The doll asked. “Doll all I’ve ever asked of you is that you try your best.” I said in return. “But what if my best gets me into something I don’t want…”

For the past two years, the kids elementary school offered accelerated classes to students who were advancing faster than others. We liked the program because it kept the boy from becoming bored and continually challenged him to pay attention. This year they added accelerated math to the sixth grade curriculum, which has frightened the doll, rather than excited her. How they determined where the kids would land came from a comprehensive 5-page math placement test.

All the students were told if they didn’t understand a section they were allowed to skip without fear of a letter grade. The school just wanted to see where their level of understanding was. “Doll if I recall, in 2nd grade Mrs. Mooringer said you had an acumen for math; higher than lots of your classmates.” I tried to encourage. “Mom that’s just because I was seated between Matthew and Gabe–who never did their math class work.” She explained. Shaking my head I replied “I don’t know doll…Sounds to me like you’re selling yourself short”. “But you still didnt answer, would you be mad if I purposely didn’t do well on that test?”

Ah. “Purposely” there’s the operative word.

Truth be told, we’ve never worried very much about her academically. There have been areas where we worked really hard with her (speech, spelling), but more often times than not, she was always way more upset about a low scoring grade than we were. As such, the doll’s face of worry and fear were very easy for me to read. “Doll, how about this…just take your time on the test okay? Don’t ‘purposely’ do bad. But don’t worry about where you land either. Simply take the test and see what happens okay?”

The test took place over four days and each day I’d ask “How did you do on that test?” And each day I got the same response, “I don’t know, I’m still working on it”. Yesterday I asked, “So doll, do you know where you landed in math yet?” She replied “Why don’t you guess?” While I hoped she landed in accelerated, I asked “Um, standard math?” As I didn’t want her to think I would be disappointed in where she ended up. “No” she replied. “Really?” I said excitedly. “Yes really. But…” Oh no there’s a “but” I shivered to myself. “I’m going to try it out for a few days but if she goes too fast I’m going to switch to the other math class–they happen at the same time.” Smiling and offering her a hug I said “I’m proud of you for doing your best. Don’t let your fears and worry about the unknown hold you back, okay?” Hugging me back for a moment, she pushed off and said, “Geeze mom it’s only math class ..”

Today…

lunch money….

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Over the weekend, the boy and my sister Ann shared a conversation about lunch. “Do you eat lunch at school?” Ann Marie asked. “Not really, I kind of circle the cafeteria.” “But if your mom fixed you lunch, would you eat it?” she asked. “Sure, if mom fixed me a good lunch, then yes I would”.  Later when she informed me of his declaration I shook my head in suspicion. “Um i think the operative word here is ‘good'” I said in return. To which the boy replied, “Yes that is the reason I don’t like your homemade lunches.”

The boy and I have battled for several years for him to eat lunch at school. Regardless what I packed each morning, he would inevitably bring home his lunch, untouched. Eventually I made sure he had some crackers and vegetable/fruit juice to enjoy. Of course this changed when hot dog or pizza lunches were involved. Then he would be ravenous and want to eat everything he could. So it came as no surprise to me this year when he said “Don’t pack me a lunch mama”.  “Bay, you have to eat something in the middle of the day, otherwise you won’t learn in the afternoon classes” I tried to reinforce. “That’s okay, I have a few dollars. I can get something in the cafeteria.” He explained.

Something in the cafeteria could mean anything. As I mentioned in an earlier post, he really likes the cookies sold in the lunch room. The thought of him only eating cookies…causes me to shudder. “Bay, you can’t exist on candy and cookies. You need protein” I implored, as any good parent should. “Don’t worry mama, I have it handled.”

Why do I not believe him?

Yesterday i handed him $40 dollars and said, “This is for you to buy a lunch card. I want to see the card as proof that you not only purchased the card, but that you ate the lunch. And by the lunch I mean everything entitled–the meat, the side dish and desert. Everything you got it?” He shook his head in part-at disgust of all the things I expected him to eat, as well as in thanksgiving, that I was handing him money for the card at all.

When he arrived home from school I said, “What did you eat for lunch?” Walking past me to the refrigerator he said, “Nothing”. “Nothing!?!  What the heck bay, I gave you $40 bucks?” I replied very perturbed by these turn of events. “Well they didn’t have the cards ready yet…” He said calmly, as he began making himself a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. “But you had money to buy yourself a lunch!” I argued. “Yes I did. And If I had used part of the money to buy lunch, and not have a card for you to see, you would have thought I spent the money on something else…wouldn’t you!”

Busted.

Looking back at him, I realized his argument was sound. “Well…yes you’re right, damn it!” I replied. He smiled and said “Ha! so I was right…” “Yes, to a point.” I conceded and then said ” Still you need to eat something at lunch. You REALLY do!” Thinking for a minute more I said, “Okay when are they expecting to have the lunch cards available?” “They said maybe tomorrow, but I’m not sure.” the boy said,  Not offering any good information to work with I finally said,  “Alright, this is what we’re going to do, I’ll give you $5 dollars tomorrow, in addition to the $40. Now if the cards are available, I want my $5 back, got it?” He took the money this morning and happily went to school.

Yet here I sit knowing full well he ate junk for lunch and my additional $5 is LONG GONE!

Berdan!!

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The boy’s high school is located four miles from our home and can be reached by many different routes. When the subject of the best possible route came up, I believed, having been a student there some 30ish years prior; had the best route. My husband, who drove a truck for work most of his adult life, felt he knew the best route too. Of course they were different. So we put the different routes to the test, not necessarily for the boys sake or to save gas per say, but more so for the satisfaction which comes from proving your spouse wrong.
***

“Mama, you need to take me back to school” the boy announced “I forgot a book I need for homework”. Clearly disgruntled, the thought of driving back to school on the fringe of rush hour traffic, was not high atop of my to do list. Regardless, we hopped into my car and left. Finding traffic backed up on our usual route, I decided this would be a good time to try one of the hubby’s alternative ones. As a result, we hit every red light imaginable. Our usual seven minute car rider to the school turned into a twenty minute one. “Mama, don’t get mad, but please don’t ever take this route again.” The boy expressed, smiling as he shouted “Berdan Mama, Berdan!”

Berdan Road is the route we drive to school each morning. Prior to the advent of expressways, Berdan was the main thoroughfare which afforded cars a direct route, from the west side of town, to our downtown area. The road cuts through several neighborhoods, yet only contains three traffic lights and no stop signs along the way. In addition the traffic speed is the same as most busy streets, which makes driving to school efficiently, via Berdan road,  very easy to do.

After picking up his book, in an effort to avoid the same traffic we encountered on the way to school I decided to cut down to a different street (another hubby route), which while containing more traffic lights, also allows a higher rate of speed. The thought was if I could work the speed limit right,  I could easily make all the lights home. Yet, just as our luck was proving, the moment we turned onto the road we were stopped by a train. “A train really?” I said aloud. The boy smirked and grunted. “You know I can’t remember the last time I was caught by a train” I began. “All the tracks around our neighborhood have been removed” The boy turned toward me, smiled and said “Berdan”! Maneuvering the car to turn around, I turned back toward the boy’s oft requested Berdan road, but chose to jump onto the expressway interchange instead. Bad move. Road construction on the E-way brought traffic to a standstill. What should have been a quick three minute commute turned into fifteen minutes of bumper to bumper traffic.

When we finally arrived home, our usual 15 minute ride, to and from the high school had turned into almost an hour. The boy walked into the house, spotted his dad and shouted “Berdan!!!” Coming up behind him I concurred. My husband shrugged his shoulders and smiled in defeat. Yes I won. Now if the boy would only stop shouting “Berdan!” at me every morning…

As if I could forget….

segues on the path….

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Saturday as I sat in church, I noticed a woman; an old friend who grew up down the street from me; rise to be one of the day’s lectors. As she walked up the steps to the podium, I marveled at how well she looked. Just a few months earlier she needed the use of a walker and took small steps, as she recovered from a freak accident. I remembered when she told me what had happened, how a party tent on a blustery day, blew over a fence, knocking her down and breaking several of her bones in the process. “Talk about a freak accident” I said back, not believing a tent could have done so much damage. Pulling out her phone, she showed me all the pictures she had on her road to recovery. “Right?! I’m just really slow right now, but I’m making progress” she told me. What I remember most about our conversation was how okay she was with what had happened. She wasn’t upset or angry. Didn’t act as if this was the end of the world and really wasn’t bitter about all the steps she needed to take toward recovery. “You seem to be handling this very well…” I said, adding, “If it had happened to me I would have been a big baby.” She smiled back at me and said, “Well Marsha, I can’t say there weren’t days…but life goes on. Why wallow in something you can’t change?”

Amen.

*****

The doll informed me the other day that her perspective of me and her father are completely different. “Well when daddy yells, he’s scary.” she said as she tried to explain why, when I yell at her about something, I get an argument from her in return. Yet when her father yells at her about something, she bursts into tears and then comes to find me for support.  “So you’re saying I’m not scary?” I replied, wondering if I needed to change my demeanor to match my husband’s. “Well you are, in a mom sort of way, but not nearly as scary as dad.

Note to self…. if it ends the arguing….then I have something to work on.

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I’ve been thinking for a while about creating another blog, to go along with the mean mommy series called Segues Along the Path. I’ve had friends tell me I give good advice, though as per usual I lack the ability to take my own… Be that as it may, someone challenged me to write about other stuff that concerns me. So I’m going to give it a try…. The way I see it…skewed as may be the case, we are all on a journey somewhere…and inevitably, we take segues, whether we want to or not. Those segues will be the topic on my new blogs. I will have the site set up soon and then post when ready. If you feel inclined to read them, then thank you in advance. If not, well at least keep reading the mean mommy ones.  I love seeing how many people actually are reading this thing. Oh and if so inclined, please recommend to friends, Who knows my overall writing may improve as the result.

 

what have I gotten myself into…?

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The doll met me at the front door as I arrived home from work, excitedly bouncing up and down. “Mom, guess what?” On average the doll will ask me a ‘guess what’ question at least thirty times a day. But her bouncy excitement warned me this question would have ramifications. Boy would they. “What doll?” I replied. “Well, now that I’m in sixth grade, I’m old enough to start attending dances and theresadancenextfridaycanIgopleasemommyplease?” “Wait, what? Slow down…” I encouraged having only caught part of what she said. “Okay, well there is a dance next Friday night over at the all girl high school, but only for the sixth, seventh and eighth graders-you know, the middle school students. Anyhow I know for sure Natalie, Alyssa, Amy, Emma, Maddie and Grace are all going to go to the dance, so there will be plenty of people there I know” she explained.

“A dance?” My heart sank. You’re not old enough to go to a dance! No, No, NO! I shouted to myself, but said, “Okay” to her. “REALLY!?! Oh Thank you, Thank you Mommy!” the doll said as she jumped up and down with glee. “Oh brother” I thought, though kind of amused by her reaction. “Now doll, wait, what time is this dance and do you think we might be able to car pool with some of the parents?” Calming herself down she said, “Well my twin was going to ask her parents the same thing, so maybe we can work something out.”

****

“Mom, what was it like when you went to your first dance?” The doll asked presumably looking for hints on how to behave at a dance. Unfortunately, asking me is like asking a watermelon where a desert lies. “Doll, my first dance was after my eighth grade graduation. ” “Seriously?” she asked with an incredulous tone. “Seriously…Then the next one was homecoming my Sophomore or Junior year of high school, I can’t remember which”. “Oh…” she replied with a sad tone to her voice. “You know, you could always ask one of your cousins…Meg or Carrin, maybe they might be able to help you…plus they went to that all girls high school–they might give you some insight on the school” I replied, trying to offer some help to brighten her bleak dance information reality. “Maybe…” she said, with an unconvinced tone.

******
Last night the doll came to me, dress in hand and said, “Okay Mom, I think I’m going to wear this cool coral polka dotted dress that you bought me over the summer to the dance. Though as you see, I left the green belt upstairs, along with the silver sandals I you bought me for the wedding. Do you think this will look nice? Wait, do you think they will have a skirt requirement, like if the skirt of the dress is too short, they won’t let me into the dance?” I stood there in stunned silence. The dance was more than a week away and the doll had everything pretty much planned (like she always does), but left room to worry about her dress length. “Um, I don’t know, have you grown much since you got it?” I replied dumbfounded by her planning model. “I don’t know, maybe we shou..” “Doll…” I interrupted “Why don’t you check with the office tomorrow and see if they know what the appropriate dress length for dances is?” I said shocked at myself for actually saying something intelligent back to her. The doll smiled and said, “Good idea Mom!” then turned and skipped away.

*****

I understand this is her first dance of many…but I wonder, how many other mother’s dropping their sixth grade babies off at the dance are going to meet at an area restaurant/bar to commiserate. If you are, please let me know where. Lord help me, I’ve got a girl–with plans.