When the Kids are Away, The Parents will, um…. Sleep

This is my husband (not really) during our exciting, fun-filled, kid-free week of Summer.

This is my husband (not really) during our exciting, fun-filled, kid-free week of Summer.

When the Kids are Away, The Parents will, um…. Sleep by Cindy Haney

Well, there’s a first time for everything, right?  This week is one of those Firsts.  It’s the first time ever that both of my teen-aged daughters went away for the entire week… in the same week!  This is so historic that my husband and I made plans to break out the champagne on the first night and toast to our new found (albeit temporary) freedom!

Ahhh, you gotta love summer. Amanda went away to her annual Choir Camp and Emily went to her best friend’s family’s farm.  I am sure that while they are gone, they are imagining us moping around, depressed, bored and empty without them, counting the minutes until they return.  They think that we are crying in our margaritas (mere distractions, of course) while watching their baby videos in slow motion for hours and hours.  *Sniff*Sniff*  “When will we ever feel WHOLE again…!”

Hang on, let’s tap the Reality Brakes a little.  If you are one of the tens of thousands of parents who shipped their teenagers off to camp this summer, then you already know that you don’t have time for all that sentimental bullcrap. They’ll be back before you know it, so you’ve got to GET BUSY being F-R-E-E!!  This is one glorious week of no homework, no driving kids all over the place, no trips to the damn mall, no painting anybody else’s fingernails, no cooking dinner (pizza EVERY night, oh yes!) and no washing 47 loads of barely used bath towels.

Oh sure, we’ll miss them. On the first night, the silence was eerie and deafening. On the second night, the silence was divine and peaceful.  I could get used to this!  Ok, no, just kidding. Of course it’s weird when they’re not home.  But, trust me, they’ll be back all too soon, so I might as well make the best of it and live a little.  This week, I don’t have to be a Mom, I can be a regular grown-up.  What does that mean anyway?  I have no idea.  I forgot.

“So what will I do with myself?” I ponder in between pages of my romance novel while lying in my lounge chair in the backyard.  Well, I have a few ideas for all you empty and lonely parents out there…

Things to Do While Your Kids are Away at Camp:

  • Enjoy a Staycation. Hubby and I still have to go to work while the kids are gone, unfortunately, but in the evening we can go to the pool or just put our pajamas on at 6:00 pm and then sprawl out on the couch.  We can even eat pizza in our underwear. And while you are enjoying the peace and quiet of your own home, why don’t you…
  • Take a really, really, really long bubble bath. Wouldn’t it be nice to use all of the hot water for yourself for a change? Wouldn’t it be lovely to soak in the tub without any interruptions, such as, “Moooommmmm, I’m out of face wash, can you take me Walgreens right noooowwww!”
  • Use the laptop ANYTIME you want. I never, ever, I mean never, get to touch that thing. It is permanently attached to one of the kids at all times.  Wouldn’t it be historied to use it without having to issue a five-minute warning to get off the computer…twenty times.
  • Cook a five-star, four-course gourmet meal. Hahaha, just kidding. Are you on drugs?  Hell NO to that suggestion, you wacky jokester you.  Haven’t you been listening? This week, I am F-R-E-E and that means absolutely no D-I-S-H-E-S!
  • Go see a Rated-R movie during dinnertime! And have popcorn for a meal. I know, scandalous, right?  We’re going to go see the most violent, curse-word filled, mostly naked movie we can find.  Without any teenagers tagging along.  We’re going to wear black hoodies just in case we see any parents we know, that way they can’t positively identify us.
  • Re-Organize all the closets in your house. Gotcha’ again!  Hell NO to this one too.    Just seeing if you’re paying attention.  I think you’re catching on.  Go take a long, uninterrupted late afternoon nap instead.

Speaking of sleep…the first night, we were anxious to put into practice one of the above suggestions.  So we got home from work, and decided to start our exciting kid-free evening by having a heart-felt and stimulating, adults-only conversation, uninterrupted by whiny kids and listening ears.  It went like this:

“So, how was work?”

“Fine, you?”

“Sucky.”

“Whaddya wanna do?”

“Let’s watch the Bachlorette.”

(15 minutes later…)

“Zzzzzzzz. *Snore*Snort* Zzzzzz.”

Yes, getting used to our precious daughters not being home this week has taken quite a bit of effort on our part.   It’s an adjustment, for sure, but rest assured, we are soldiering on. Don’t call us with your sympathy, though, because we not answering the phone.  I think, with a little bit of adjustment, and some tequila, we are starting to forget all about our pain. Plus, we’re catching up on a whole of lot of sleep. I highly recommend it.

 

Posted in Lazy Summer, Summer and Teens, Summer Camp, Summer Vacation Humor | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Stupid Things I Did As a Kid

This is me as a kid. We lived in The Danger Zone and it was awesome!

This is me as a kid. We lived in The Danger Zone and it was awesome!

Stupid Things I Did As a Kid by Cindy Haney

Now that Summer has finally arrived, a predictable routine of sloth-like laziness has taken over my teenagers.  Since they are taking a 3-month break from anything even remotely requiring active brainwaves, they purposely sit around all day staring at various blinking techno-screens.

I was not allowed to lie on the couch all day when I was kid.  Of course the difference between then and now is that my mom was home during those long summer days and she exercised her god-given parental rights daily by literally kicking my butt right out the door.  We were told to “go find something to do outside” and that’s what we did.  All day.  Until dusk fell and we’d hear my Dad’s obnoxious whistle, which usually meant, “get home fast or else!”

I’ve been thinking about my happy, carefree childhood and all the stupid things we used to do to entertain ourselves.  We had to actually use our imaginations because we didn’t have video games and smart phones to do our thinking for us.  It makes me a little bit sad when I think about how my kids’ generation will never get to experience some of the things we used to do, like……

Crank Calling on Home Phones

During our slumber parties, we were always daring each other to “crank call” the “foxiest” guy in class.  We’d dial the guy on our rotary room phone, whisper something like, “Owww, I love your butt!”, hang up and then laugh until we barfed up grape Kool-Aid on our lime green shag carpet. It was awesome.

But the invention of Caller I.D. and personal cell phones changed all that.  You can’t dial anyone anonymously anymore.  We haven’t even owned a home phone in years.  As the Edward Snowden scandal proves, there ain’t no such thing as privacy anymore. Big Brother is watching you, apparently, so my girls have to find other ways of annoying guys anonymously.

Friends Right Next Door

I don’t know if I was just lucky, or if everyone had friends to play with on their street back in the day.  Whenever I got bored, I just walked right next door, flopped on Helen’s bed and we’d talk for hours about The Bay City Rollers, Andy Gibb, Donny Osmond and whether or not her cousin’s best friend Kevin wanted to kiss me or what already!  Back then, if you didn’t know anyone on your street, guess what… you’d go knock on someone’s door and make new friends. Pretty soon, you were eating their food, feeding their cats and having slumber parties (see above).  That’s just how we rolled.

In stark contrast, when my girls were little, there weren’t a lot of kids their age living on our street.  And I never, ever let them knock on a stranger’s door. Charles Manson or Edward Cullen might live there. Maybe it’s our fault, as parents, because we tend to shelter our kids more than we should.  I blame it on the “too much information” age, where they scare us to death on the damn nightly news.  As a result, my girls didn’t play outside very much.  I regret not being there to shove them out the door like my mother used to do. Luckily, today, they have lots of great friends, but it’s an effort to go see them, especially in the summer, because they don’t live right there on our street.  Isn’t it a shame that no one even knows their neighbors at all?

Loads of Freedom

The most striking contrast is the freedom I enjoyed. I was basically a Free Agent, especially in the summertime.  I’d eat breakfast, and then I’d walk out the door.  I would wander around the neighborhood on my bike.  I’d hit the convenience store for some Pop Rocks, Hubba Bubba Bubble Gum or Candy Cigarettes,  and then I would wander around some more. Aimlessly.

Sometimes we’d go hunting for “Hobos”, which my crazy aunt insisted lived in the fields behind her house. We’d catch “craw-dads” and lizards with our bare hands, way before someone invented the word “Salmonella”.  Sometimes we’d climb the huge tree in my front yard, stealthifully hide in the branches, and then pelt the neighborhood boys with “chinaberries” whenever they stupidly dared to ride their bikes past my house.

Most summer days involved everyone meeting up at the neighborhood city pool, and then we’d stay the entire day.  Later, when I became a lifeguard at that same pool, I realized how annoying this was to the staff.  For the low, low fee of a dollar a day, these kids got babysitting services all day long.  What a deal! My mom must’ve LOVED that!  We’d be gone so long, sometimes we’d forget to eat lunch. Imagine that!

And then that obnoxious whistle would sound just as the crickets began to chirp and the day began to turn blue.

My daughters didn’t get to experience this level of freedom.  It’s a different world now.  What I wouldn’t give to go back to that kind of innocent life, where we seemingly had nothing to fear!

Danger, Schmanger!

What’s a little danger?  Back in the day, we didn’t know danger was all around us, and that’s a very good thing.  There weren’t lawsuits lurking in the bushes at every turn.  For instance, we didn’t even wear seatbelts in the car back then.  I remember laying across the backseat, laying across my brother and sister, laying across the back window, jumping around in the backseat or possibly attempting cartwheels, but never sitting quietly and restrained.

Then, in 1984, “Buckle Up, It’s The Law” went into effect and now we restrain our kids with straight-jacket belts made for the Space Shuttle from the time they come home from the hospital until they are 30. No siree, there was no jumping around in the backseat of my car!

And what about helmets?  I didn’t own a single helmet and yet I rode my shiny blue ten-speed all over that town, and I somehow survived.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for helmets. In fact, I super-glued them onto my kid’s heads when they were little. But that still didn’t stop Amanda from breaking her wrists three separate times (trampoline, bunk bed, scooter) and spraining her ankle once (swing set).   I think danger is bound to happen no matter how much we try to bubblewrap them.

And how about the Militant Childproofing we do to our homes when our kids are born? I took every one of my hazardous cleaning products and stored them in the attic, protected by laser beams and titanium padlocks.  I kept things like scissors, hot dogs, pennies and permanent markets far away at an undisclosed satellite location.  Not so at my house when I was kid. Our policy was, if you ate poison once, you sure as hell never did it again.

Things were a lot simpler when I was a kid.  If we could un-invent the computer, video games, and smart phones, would we do it?  I don’t know.  Maybe.

But one thing I do know for sure…  today when I get home from work, I’m going to force my teenagers to strap on their helmets and ride their bikes with me to the neighborhood pool, where we are going to do some cartwheels off the diving board and into the deep end.  Then we’re going to chew some Hubba Bubba Bubblegum while running with scissors.  *SONG*  “Highway to the Danger Zone…Gonna take it right into the Danger Zone….”

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Lying to College Admissions Committees is a Valuable Life Skill

Maybe if Amanda had done THIS last summer, we'd have something interesting write on those college applications!

Maybe if Amanda had done THIS last summer, we’d have something interesting to write on those college applications!

Lying to College Admissions Committees is a Valuable Life Skill by Cindy Haney

School is finally out for the summer, thank god.  But there will be NO lounging around and doing nothing this summer. No, sir!   There is work to do!

This is the summer before Amanda’s senior year, and according to those annoying College Planning Guides, she is supposed to spend the summer sweating over the perfect Pulitzer-prize-winning college essay and filling out enough entrance paperwork to fill up a landfill.  She’s also supposed to look for ways to boost those “extra-curricular” activities that colleges seem so overly interested in.

I’ve always thought that it was the SAT scores that colleges cared the most about.  Stupid, naïve Mom. But, hey, we did get the results from Amanda’s SAT test last week, and we almost fainted when we saw them.  The scores were amazingly high.  And this is from a kid who could not be bothered to pull herself away from texting and Spotifying long enough to even crack the spine of the brand new $39.99 SAT study guide I bought her. Not once.  This stupid book sat on the coffee table for four months collecting a stunning amount of dust.  Whenever I suggested she look over the mock tests in the books, she would shrug and say “Meh.”   Her friends were signing up for “SAT score-boosting” classes on the internet, but she never studied once. Suprise, she did better than her friends, so I guess that shuts my mouth.  So how’s that for natural SMARTS, people?

So checklist….she’s got the scores, she’s got the GPA, she’s got the class rank, hopefully the bullcrap essay will fly, but what she doesn’t have is “extracurriculars”.  For some reason, admissions committees are VERY concerned about what you do with your spare time.

Amanda didn’t get a chance to do a lot of outside activities over the years, basically because her parents are broke assholes.  So that’s not really her fault.  Can we say that in the essay?  She didn’t get to volunteer to heal Lepers in India, intern as an understudy on Broadway, or build houses for the underprivileged in Cambodia.  She didn’t get to go on any great excursions or life-changing trips to war-torn developing countries. She didn’t get to live in a mud hut for 3 months and subsist on grubs, worms and tree bark, and then come back with a new appreciation for fast food hamburgers.

Oh sure, there were plenty of summer trips like these available in our area.  For the low, low price of $10,000 bucks or more, all for the chance to go to Guam to teach the villagers how to grow kale hydroponically, or to go and teach the tribal monkey-men in the remote rainforests of Africa how to trade in their loincloths for Levis so they can become more American.

All of these are worthy points-winning activities in the eyes of any Admissions Committee, I am sure.  But none of them happened, so what in the world are we going to write in that section of the application?  We can’t tell the truth, can we?

“Well, sirs, for the last ten years, I’ve spent my summers locked in my house with the blinds closed while my parents went to work. I learned the valuable skills of sleeping until noon, watching re-runs of “Hey Jesse!” (hey, Jess-ayah!) and eating peanut butter sandwiches in my underwear.”

I’m sorry, but these committees are forcing us to lie and make shit up.  Which I plan on doing to the fullest extent.  Do you think the following BLATANT LIES will help her get into college?

1)      I spent a challenging summer at a National Food Supplier studying International Nutrition and Food Distribution.  (She works at local grocery store).

2)      I spent several fulfilling summers studying the fascinating work of Child Development and particularly the issues of Give and Take and the Art of Negotiation in the context of Sibling Relational Studies.  (She babysat for her younger sister for years).

3)      I spent numerous summers studying the Field of Hospitality and Entertainment and how that relates to Guest Satisfaction in a Geriatic setting.  (She went to visit her grandparents).

4)      I spent one summer studying Relational Behavior of the Male/Female bond and experimented with mixing different dating partners in an effort to define the Perfect Personal Dating Match.  (She dated a bunch of different guys last summer).

Okay, so you get the picture.  It’s a good thing I know a thing or two about “creative writing”, amIrite?  Otherwise we might not ever get Amanda into a good college and out of my house!

Maybe it’s not too late to add some of that real-world experience to her resume.  I just receive a flyer in the mail for an opportunity this summer to go backpacking blindfolded and barefooted while wearing adult diapers through the Australian Outback.  There’s also one for an unpaid internship juicing carrots and beets at Jamba Juice.

Hmmmm…. how will we choose…..?

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Falling Down the Rabbit Hole of What-the-Crapness

Down the Rabbit Hole of What the Crap

Falling Down the Rabbit Hole of What-the-Crapness by Cindy Haney

Life is stupid.  Life always seems to find creative ways of throwing metaphorical tire-spewed mud water at your head on the same day you just had your metaphorical hair done.  “What the crap?!” you scream as you find yourself shaking a clenched fist at the metaphorical speeding monster truck.  I’m talking about those weird every-day occurences that lead you down the rabbit-hole of what-the-crapness.  Those things that leave you scratching your head and muttering….

“Wait.  What?  Seriously?  What the crap?”

Here are some head-scratching moments from my life lately…

  1. So we were at the neighborhood pool last Sunday swimming and relaxing when a nice-looking family with small children entered the gates with the usual overload of pool paraphernalia.  The pudgy middle-aged Dad then strips down to a European Speedo and proudly proceeds to parade his junk-in-the-front around, like a narcissistic peacock.  He repeatedly mounts the diving board just to make sure everyone there, including all the little children, could get an eyeful of his inappropriately  large “tool”.  What the crap?  This is America, damn-it, not Europe! Go get yourself some floral-printed knee-length board shorts like every other man in this country! You know what my biggest regret is?  I cannot unsee that fleshy public porn show.
  1. I’m cleaning out my fridge, and as I’m dumping the beef stew leftovers from four months ago into the garbage can, I carelessly miss the can and it goes sliding all over the kitchen floor. Not only does it smell like Satan’s foot fungus after several centuries of untreated Athlete’s Foot, but I’m also out of paper towels.  I alternate between dry heaving and eye-watering as I try to clean it up with regular towels.  What the crap?  I seriously consider throwing all the towels away and buying all new ones.
  1. It’s 10:00 at night when my youngest teenager announces that she is out of “feminine hygiene product” and needs more immediately.  “What the crap?” I yell, “You couldn’t have announced this a couple of hours ago?”  So I pull on my nastiest sweats, my purple crocs and my dinner-stained T-shirt and schlep on over to Walgreens in the middle of the night. I grab a big-ass box of “product”, not caring who sees me, as I walk over to the check-out register.  And there, grinning the 100-watt smile of Channing Tatum, is an extremely good-looking young guy who I’m guessing only works there at night to support his other job – modeling for Calvin Klein underwear.  Meanwhile, I looked like a homeless person who had just escaped lockdown at the city shelter.  “What the crap?” I think, as I smile politely at Mr. Tatum.  Back in the car, I glance at my face in the rearview mirror.  There’s a piece of spinach from dinner in my front teeth waving back at me.
  1. If you know me at all, you know that I constantly bitch about vacuum cleaners. I think they are the biggest consumer rip-offs ever designed. I throw a vacuum cleaner out and a buy a new one every three months.  They cost over a hundred damn bucks, and they stop sucking garbage out of your carpet almost the moment you get it home.  This is insanity.  I started collecting vacuum cleaners in the corner of my garage like a mentally disturbed hoarder. I finally made my husband throw them all out the other day because I was afraid a neighbor would notice and call a film crew from one of those reality shows. Then this weekend, when I had a rare extra five minutes to myself, I hauled out the current Vacuum-From-Hell, turned it over, and started taking it apart.  It is only a month old and has already started spitting, spewing and overheating.  I started fishing out 13 miles of compacted hair and debris from the bottom tubes. “What the crap?” It just kept coming out! Then I noticed the canister was completely clean.  Turns out, the tube leading to the canister was turned off, so the debris had nowhere to go!  All I had to do was turn it back on. Oh my god.  How many vacuums have I thrown out with that exact same problem???   I never even checked those tubes before.   I am a mechanically-impaired idiot.
  1.  Lately, my husband has been making a lot of late-night, red-eyed trips to the local Kinko’s store to print last-minute high school homework that is, of course, due the next day. He goes so often, in fact, that the store owner has started fist-pumping and high-fiving my husband upon entry.  Probably because we are keeping him in business.  Our home office printer suddenly decided to stop working a few weeks ago.  It was fine until we tried to install new printer ink, and then it decided to go on a permanent vacation. After several hours of jacking with it, we resorted to pleading and threats.  We explained our urgency to it. We told it that Emily had a huge project due the next day, but it just blinked it’s ugly red error light and sent us messages about USB cords, paper jams, and greedy requests for more ink.

We tried talking sweet. It just blinked at us. Then we tried death threats.

“Look if you don’t print right now, Imma’ take you down. Downtown to Chinatown!”

It answered, “Whoa, cool down there, Daddy-O. No need to blow your top. You know what is else goin’ down?  My ink levels.”

“What the crap!” we furiously screamed, “We just filled your damn ink levels!”  Then we started saying things like “Oh no, you didn’t!  Oh, snap.  Aw, Hell, NO!”

It just blinked.

That was the last straw. We picked it up and threw it out the second floor window, screaming, “See you in hell, printer!”

That was SO satisfying.  And let that be a lesson to all the other electronic devices in my house!  Especially the current vacuum cleaner.  I WILL NOT be puttin’ up with any more of your crap!!!

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Chicken Cutlets at the Prom – The Sequel

Well, it’s that time of year again. Prom season.  Amanda got asked to the prom again this year, so I thought it would be fun to re-visit my first story about prom.  Last year, the experience was brand new for both of us, and pretty funny at times, so I thought you might enjoy a Re-Blog.

The shopping experience was almost the same this year except for a few key elements that we learned through hard-earned experience from last year.  We went to the same “Chicken Cutlets” lady for alterations this year, which reminded me of the story from last year.  Here’s what’s different this year:

  1. Amanda is now 17, but still a junior.  Which means, yippee, we get do this YET AGAIN next year.
  2. We started shopping way earlier this year, instead of waiting until the last minute. We bought the dress in February instead of May!  She didn’t even wait for a date to ask her out this year.  She just got together with all of her friends who planned to go as a group. Way to go, right?!
  3. …until, surprise! She met her brand new model-gorgeous boyfriend in March.  So, yeah, different guy this year.
  4. The dress is sparkly red this year, instead of sparkly gold.
  5. We actually BOUGHT some chicken cutlets this year for the dress. We laughed so hard because last year we said we’d never buy those things!   If you don’t know what Chicken Cutlets are, then read on below.  Oh my god, I hope they stay in the dress during the Harlem Shuffle.
  6. Absolutely NO beach house, lake house, or any other kind of house after prom this year.  This is non-negotiable.

 

I wrote this story on my blog at May 5, 2013:

This is getting scary.

I am referring to the alarming increase in costs associated with successfully dolling up a teen for the Prom. Good Lord, I could own a pimped out convertible Mercedes by now. But a fabulous sparkly gold gown is way more useful. You know what’s great about a Mercedes though?  I could probably use it more than once.

Actually, we got a reasonably good price for the sparkly gown. We found it in an obscure corner at the mall, but unfortunately, it was the very last size 3.  Amanda, 16, tried it on and immediately declared it was the “absolute perfect dream dress.” There was only one problem. The dress was a little too big.  Isn’t that hilarious? I fondly remember the days when my left thigh was a size 3.  So we had the sales lady call 47 stores in the Houston area, and wouldn’t you know it, there was no size Ones left anywhere. Probably because no normal human being has ever actually been a size One, except for maybe Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen.

After much debate, and since it was, after all, the “perfect dream dress” we bought it anyway, deciding to have it altered to fit. Which of course totally canceled out the benefit of the relatively low price to begin with.

I took Amanda to the alterations store where we met an overly friendly seamstress named Gert, who’d been doing alterations for, like, 100 years. She had a Sears sewing machine that looked about that old, too. Just as I was beginning to doubt my choice of alteration professionals, she began pulling and yanking and grabbing and pinning until, suddenly, the previously sagging potato sack looked like a Cinderella gown. Wow.

“I have a suggestion, ” said Gert. “Since this dress requires a little ‘enhancement’ in the upstairs department, if ya’ know what I mean, you might want to go to the mall and pick up some chicken cutlets.”

What the heck? Is she suggesting Amanda gain some weight before the prom, and also, the mall does not sell chicken cutlets the last time I checked.

Meanwhile, Amanda was standing there in front of the full-length mirror turning seven shades of red, because it’s extremely easy to embarrass a teenaged girl. Gert figured I was confused and explained that “chicken cutlets” are these slimy, rubbery, skin-like bra enhancement thingys that *ahem* less-endowed women use for special occasions. I looked at Amanda, and she looked at me, silently exchanging an “Omigod” moment.

So we smiled very maturely, thanked the ever-so-helpful seamstress, paid the overpriced bill, and got the hell out of there before our very unlady-like laughing fits could begin. In the car, I couldn’t drive for 10 whole minutes because we were laughing so hard.  “Mom, I wouldn’t wear chicken cutlets in my bra even the President called and offered me a million bucks for research purposes! Just imagine it…I’m gettin’ really crazy on the dance floor and one of those things slip right out of my dress and slide across the floor like a tan-colored squid. Imagine explaining THAT to my date!”

So today on this relaxing and stress-free Sunday, I’m going to take my teenager to Victoria’s Secret so she can try on a hundred “enhancement” bras for her prom dress, but we’ll definitely be skipping the chicken cutlets.  And then we’ll spend the next 8 hours foraging the damn mall for the perfect shoes, the perfect handbag, the perfect jewelry, the perfect hair accessories, the perfect tanning spray, the perfect nail polish and the perfect perfume. I told you it was getting scary.

It’s a good thing we got such a great price for that dress. Do they offer Prom Loans at the bank?

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I’m Not Always Right. Wait. Yes I am!

Mother Was Right about Everything

I’m Not Always Right. Wait. Yes I am!  by Cindy Haney

(A Tribute to All Moms on Mother’s Day)

Remember when your mom used to tell you that if you don’t put your stuff up where it belongs, then you’ll never be able to find it when you really need it?

Well I’ve told Emily that eleventy-thousand times, but no matter how much I lecture, plead, command or threaten, she cannot grasp the concept of picking up after herself.  She lives in a whirlwind tornado of messes and, because of that, can’t find anything ever.

It does not bother her that every single article of clothing she owns lies in a wrinkled pile of filth on the floor of her room.  Last night, Emily, 15, spent two hours looking for her choir shirt, which she had to wear for school the next day.  She accused everyone in the house of “taking her shirt”. After much yelling and gnashing of teeth, she finally found it. Guess where?  You got it, at the bottom of the filth.  I hate to say “I told you so” but “I told you so”.  Score another one for me.

This is not the first time I’ve been right.  Just ask my two teenagers. In fact, I am right ALL THE TIME.  It’s a curse for all moms everywhere.  Or is it a blessing? I’m not sure.  But what I do know is that teenagers think they know it all, but it’s the moms who actually do.  Why?  Because this ain’t my first rodeo, sista’.  I’ve around the block a few times, made a million mistakes along the way, and lived to tell about it.

I realize that it’s a universal rite of passage for teenagers to rebel against everything their mothers say.  It’s also their right to think that their mom is the stupidest person that ever lived. I get that. I didn’t listen to my mom either.  But guess what?  I came to regret it and so did generations of teenagers-turned-adults just like me.

But what if we could break through the barriers, cut through the noise, and somehow reach our teenagers before it’s too late, before they do stupid things that they are sure to regret?  What if we could spare them even a little bit of heartache?  In other words, what if mom actually does KNOW BEST?

For My Daughters:  A List of Things I KNOW I am Right About (because My Mom was right about these too):

• You’re Only 15.

It’s a simple statement, but it says it all. There’s a reason I won’t let you date until you are 16.  When I was 15, I didn’t listen, and I dated an older guy who was a bad influence. He was not at all good for me. When we were forced to break up, I thought the world was coming to an end.  I couldn’t see what my mom always saw… that I wasn’t ready for the complications of a relationship.  Thank God she stepped in and did what was best for me.

• I Just Don’t Like Her.

I’ve liked most of my daughters’ girl friends.  But there were a few that I didn’t like or trust. There was one in particular that Emily met in the third grade. I know that girl was just a child, but something in my gut told me she was trouble, and I told my daughter so.  Emily didn’t listen, and hung on to the friendship for three more years after that.  Every time she hung out with that girl, bad things happened. I stuck to my guns and insisted that Emily distance herself from her. By the time junior high was over, Emily began to see for herself that this girl was toxic, and decided to cut ties all by herself.  Turns out I was right.  Today, in high school, that same girl is rumored to spend her weekends smoking pot and chasing guys .

• He Doesn’t Deserve You.

Last night, Emily finally dumped a guy that wasn’t treating her right.  He’d been pursuing her for several weeks. He would text her at all hours of the day and night and beg her to go out with him, but at school, he would completely ignore her and act like she didn’t exist.  He said numerous times that he did not want a girlfriend, yet he never stopped pursuing her.  I told her that if a guy was really, truly interested in you, he would treat you like a queen, and would proudly introduce you to all of his friends.  She finally realized that he was wasting her time.  “He doesn’t deserve me,” she said.  Damn right, honey.

• Go Change Your Clothes Right Now!

This society is so sexed up, you can’t even go to the mall without seeing 10-year-olds dressed like skanks.  Recently, Emily tried to leave the house in a bra-revealing tank top and short skirt.  She threw a hissy fit when I made her go change.  I don’t want them going around attracting dirty old men.  My mom wouldn’t let me dress like that either.  Guess what?  My mom was definitely right, and so am I.

• There are Plenty of Fish in the Sea.

Don’t settle for a mediocre boyfriend just because he likes you.  Make sure you like him back first.  If you agree to go out with someone just because you feel sorry for them, it will only lead to pain and heartache when you have to tell him the truth later.  Believe me, I know. Don’t settle for mistreatment and disrespect.  Don’t settle for lame, boring, unimaginative and unromantic.  Don’t settle for anything less than the fairy tale you dream of.  Every girl deserves that.  He’s out there, you just have to be patient and wait.

• You Can’t Rescue All the Stray Puppies.

Amanda is a particularly tender-hearted person. She feels great empathy for the underdogs and the outcasts.  She tries to befriend and rescue all the lost souls she meets.  There’s a Goth guy in one of her classes that is a depressed individual who shows signs of abuse.  It scares me that she has befriended him.  This is admirable, but there’s also a fine line that should not be crossed with an emotionally damaged person.  I know she wants to, but you can’t always save all the lost souls.

• Nothing Good Ever Happens After Midnight.

I hated it when my Dad used to say this.  I remember hating my 11 pm curfew, too.  I thought I was smart enough to handle all-night partying.  But when I got to college, I realized that nothing good ever did happen after midnight.  Staying up late typically ended in me making bad decisions.  Which is why it is my job to enforce a curfew, whether you think it is fair or not.  You will thank me later.  And by the way, thank you, Dad.

• Degree Before Marriage.

An education is the most important thing.  I expect you to wait for love and marriage until you get your college degree.  There is plenty of time for marriage and family later, but only a small window of opportunity to complete your education. My parents stressed the importance of an education, and now they can proudly say that they put four children through college.  Even if you become a stay-at-home mom in your later years, you will always have your degree to fall back on.  Life sometimes doesn’t go as planned, so as a woman, it is absolutely critical to be able to support yourself.

• Save Your Money.

I didn’t.  I could write a book on all the financial mistakes we’ve made.  I’m still paying for them today.  But that doesn’t mean you can’t be smarter with your money.  You can, and I expect you to save every dime you can.  Financial security outweighs a closet full of cute outfits any day.

• Listen to Your Mother.

And finally, even though it’s counter-cultural, listen to your mother.  And your dad as well.  Remember they have already been down the road you are traveling, and they know all the roadblocks and detours. I promise you will arrive at the door of adulthood much better for it.  I would never steer you wrong!

Love, Mom

Happy Mother’s Day!

Posted in Mom is Always Right, Mother's Day | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Teaching My Teen to Drive: Not as Much Fun as it Sounds

This is the car I learned to drive: My mother’s 1974 AMC Hornet Sportabout Station Wagon. ‘Cuz what teenager doesn’t want to drive around in this fine lookin’ MomWagon, amIright?

This is the car I learned to drive: My mother’s 1974 AMC Hornet Sportabout Station Wagon. ‘Cuz what teenager doesn’t want to drive around in this fine lookin’ MomWagon, amIright?

Teaching My Teen to Drive:  Not as Much Fun as it Sounds by Cindy Haney

Do you remember the first time you got behind the steering wheel of a car? For some of us, it was the scariest time of our lives, for others the most exciting. Somehow we lived through it all, and now we hardly ever think about those early days of driving.

Well, I’ve been thinking about those days a lot recently.  I’ve also been thinking about life and death, too, and whether or not I’m going to survive the paralyzing fear of handing the keys over to my daughter. Not to mention the paralyzing fear of paralysis if we hit a tree or something. I plan to wear football pads and a helmet and maintain a death grip on the door handle, just in case I need to suddenly jump out and save myself.

Amanda, 17, is learning to drive right now.  It’s one of those necessary life skills, but I can’t help but fear this particular skill. I should have signed her up last year but I kept putting it off (maybe until she’s 30?) and now she’s lagging behind all of her friends in the driving department.  Partly, it’s because of my irrational fears (what if she texts while eating a peanut butter sandwich while painting her toenails while driving?) and partly because she’s pretty apathetic about the whole thing.  If you asked her last year if she wanted to do some driving practice, she’d just shrug her shoulders and say “Meh.”  This really baffles me.  How can you care so little about learning to drive?

When I was sixteen, I couldn’t WAIT to get my license and speed off into Independence-Land.  I wanted to ditch my parents, pile all of the friends I could find into my car and go to all the “cool places” that the “Populars” hung out at, like McDonald’s on the Strip (hey, it was a small town).  My dream car was a navy blue convertible Camaro sports car.  Notice I said “dream”.   In reality, I learned to drive in my mother’s 1974 AMC Hornet Sportabout Station Wagon, which was – and I am NOT making this up  – a lovely shade of puke-colored lime green. (See photo above.)  It looked just like a bug. But not the cool Volkswagen Beetle variety, no, NO!   But more like an oversized squashed grasshopper.

It was so mortifyingly embarrassing to drive that momwagon Hornet that I used to hunker way down in the driver’s seat, you know – Justin Bieber-style, when I pulled into the school parking lot and then I’d pray that no one knew it was me driving that thing.  I’m pretty sure this was the reason I didn’t have any friends.  This was, of course, way before the days of big-ass SUVs, but that thing could still guzzle a small Middle Eastern country’s entire supply of oil just to back out of the driveway.  But no one cared about that crap back then.  Hell, gas was dirt-cheap and plentiful and we had other things to worry about.  Such as, “Does this Michael Jackson military jacket look good with my parachute pants and my spiral perm?”

I guess my Dad must’ve felt sorry for me or maybe my Mom got tired of all my gum wrappers, AquaNet hairspray and Prince cassette tapes littering up her car. So eventually he bought me my first (used) car. And when I say “used” I mean, battered, beat-up and completely worn out  — but only on the inside.  But on the outside, MAN, it was so cool, so who cares if it runs, right?  That 1979 Dodge Omni was sporty-looking (it had LOUVERS on the back window, for God’s sake) and that was all that mattered to a 17-year-old. Oh, and it also mattered that it got me to the mall so I could chase guys.  Here’s exactly what it looked like:

This was my sporty little 1979 Dodge Omni. Check out the Brochure cover with the flying jet in the background.  Hahaha! The engine was opposite of that -- a sputtering, broken-down, snail-paced failure! But, boy, did I look cool!

This was my sporty little 1979 Dodge Omni. Check out the Brochure cover with the flying jet in the background. Hahaha! The engine was the opposite of that — a sputtering, broken-down, snail-paced failure! But, boy, did I look cool!

JEALOUS?  Never mind that on the inside it was a total piece of shit.  I can’t even count the number of times that sporty little junk heap left me stranded on the side of the freeway.  And this was way before the days of cell phones, people.  Back in those days, you just waited for some Good Samaritan to come by and give you a lift to a nearby gas station.  I can’t believe I never got raped or mutilated.  I’m just lucky like that, I guess.  I even found this Auto Legend listed in a web article asking “What was the WORST car you ever had?”   Hahaha!  I told you it was bad.  That old Dodge will live on in infamy as the stuff of family legend.  It became the measuring stick for worst-case scenario cars.  Such as, “Hey, that car doesn’t even have an engine and the brakes are completely rusted out, and oh by the way, there’s a couple of dead bodies in the trunk, but it’s way better than a Dodge Omni!”

So speaking of embarrassing cars, my daughter will soon have all the makings of her own “family legend”.   You know that saying “what goes around comes around”?  Yep, well, it’s a-coming back around. Amanda will soon inherit her grandfather’s 1989 powder blue Toyota Corolla.  Awh yeah, ‘cuz what teenager doesn’t want to drive around in her grandfather’s hand-me-down clunker, AMIRIGHT?  Hey, seriously, it’s a great low-mileage car, believe it or not, and it has had hardly any problems even in it’s old age. And the best part is that it’s “payment-free”.   At least, that’s how I sold the idea to her.  Her only comment was:

“Wow. Imagine my friends’ disappointment as I pull into their driveway to show them my ‘new car’.”

This is her New Old Car:

History really does repeat itself.  Here is Amanda’s less-than-cool Grandpa-Mobile.

History really does repeat itself. Here is Amanda’s less-than-cool Grandpa-Mobile.

My husband and I can’t help but laugh our butts off.  This is very funny.  It should make for some great stories to tell her daughters someday, right?  She may not see the humor right now, but someday she will.  You see, she lives in an affluent neighborhood where most of her friends are driving new, or almost new cars.  Our family is an island of semi-poverty surrounded by an ocean of wealth.  But you know what?  This is a very important life lesson which goes beyond just learning how to drive.  It’s a lesson about learning to appreciate what you have, and working hard to earn what you want.

If she wants a better car then I expect her to work hard to get it.  Shiny new sports cars shouldn’t be handed on a silver platter to young, inexperienced teenagers.  They don’t appreciate it anyway.  It’s just wrong and it doesn’t teach them a thing about working for what you want.  I certainly didn’t get a shiny new car and neither should she.  Especially since dings and fender-benders are most certainly a possibility. But we’ll always be there to help her out and to encourage her to earn and appreciate all the big rewards in life.  I know she’ll be a better person because of it.

Now if I can just survive the required 30 hours of parent-taught driving without losing my mind or my limbs, it will all be worth it in the end.*

*Rebuttal written by Amanda:

First of all, I’ve been busy this last year.  I haven’t had time to do driving lessons since I go to school, have homework, have a part-time job that takes up my entire weekend, take voice lessons, attend choir functions, go on dates and other social outings and spend hours and hours texting and Spotifying.  Second of all, mom, YOU don’t teach me how to drive at all because you are too Chicken.  Dad is doing all the teaching because he doesn’t freak out (okay, he does a little bit).  So there.

Posted in Moms of Teenagers | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments