Why Do Writers Need to Write?

ben frankline writing quote

By Cindy Haney

“…Everything in life is writable about if you have the outgoing guts to do it, and the imagination to improvise. The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt.”  — Sylvia Plath, The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath

“We write to taste life twice, in the moment and in retrospect.”  —Anaïs Nin

“Why do you write a blog?” a friend asked me recently. “You don’t get paid for doing it, plus you have a ‘real’ job. So what’s in it for you?”

I thought about that question for a while. I acknowledge that I don’t have a brag-worthy number of followers on my blog, my posts have never gone viral, and a Fortune 500 publishing company is probably never going to contact me. Yes, I know I don’t promote my blog aggressively in social media. For me, it’s not about the number of “likes” on Facebook, or the number of clicks in WordPress.  For me, it’s much more than that. The answer is both intensely personal and universally shared.

The act of writing is often described as painful and difficult. Not many people find writing pleasurable. But I do. In school, writing an essay was used as a form of punishment by my teachers. I was the kid in the back of the classroom that was secretly high-fiving myself whenever one was assigned. It’s no wonder most of us stay away from writing when we become adults!

Just the other day, my daughter Emily, 16, turned in an essay that she had painfully labored over the night before. Her teacher, who is the cold and callused type, wrote in red on her paper, “Writing isn’t really your strong suit, is it?”  I could just hear the bless-your-little-heart Southern sarcasm dripping from her red pen.  I was angry and disappointed. This is the kind of comment that sticks with you. Because a teacher said it, she now believes she cannot write a good story. What the teacher didn’t know is that Emily once loved to write, and she would fill notebooks with her musings. She was great at it. But it only takes one mean-spirited comment to crush your self confidence.  Good teachers work to encourage their students, not tear them down.

So what, then, compels writers to write?  If not for fame and fortune, what then?

For me, I am an artist, and writing is a form of artistry. I can paint on canvas, I can design in Photoshop and Illustrator, I can create with jewelry tools, and I can paint with words on paper. To me, there is no difference in the process, only a difference in the tools I use.  Words are like fine tools.  When I find just the right words to express what I want to say, I feel a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction.

“The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug.” – Mark Twain, The Wit and Wisdom of Mark Twain

I write because I am compelled, or forcefully driven, to leave something behind that is bigger and more lasting than my small unremarkable life. In my real life, I am mostly invisible, cursed with social shyness, mostly introverted, and probably the last person you would notice in a crowd. But writing gives me a sizable chance to be seen, to be noticed, to be heard, to make an impact. Writing is a manifestation of a bigger need for others to truly know me, especially my daughters to whom my blog is written. My blog is a love letter to them, a record of their teenage-hood, and a collection of life lessons. That’s the personal side of writing.

For the more universal side, I write for the same reasons all writers write. We want to connect with the world, even when the real world and the people in it elude us, and mostly overlook us. We want someone to hear us and to understand us, and to feel the same emotions that we do.  I want to make my readers laugh, cry, to feel good or to think deeply. I want to share feelings that maybe I can’t state directly, but find easy to unveil on the digital page. I want to entertain readers with my smart-ass reflections on the trival world around me.  And finally, I don’t want to die anonymously. I want to leave an imprint big enough to be seen and remembered.

All of us, on some level have that little creative spark inside of us… even my daughter, Emily, who has been told wrongly that she does not. You can be sure that I’m not going to let that idea take root and grow. I think every one of us desire to be heard and understood, and learning to write well is a creative means to that end.

So here’s my message to Emily, and to Amanda who is majoring in Journalism in college, and to all of their young friends who are just starting out as young writers: Never give up, keep writing, and keep reading. The most avid readers are the best writers. There’s a whole universe of stories, real or imagined, inside your head. Share them! Don’t be afraid to make stuff up, it’s called good fiction! Don’t write for the notoriety.  Write for the love of writing and everything else will take care of itself.

Posted in Moms of Teenagers, On Writing | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

May the Bird Force Not Be With Us

Happy Bird Day

by Cindy Haney

The other night my family and I were getting dressed to go to dinner to celebrate my husband’s 50th birthday. Just as we were about to leave, Paul opens the front door, and suddenly I hear screeching from both my daughters AND my husband.

“Ahhhh! Bird in the house! Bird in the house! Oh my God, there’s a bird in the house!”

You have to realize that my husband ‑ although we love him ‑ is not your typical testosterone-fueled manly man. He’s more like a girly girl when it comes to bugs and other life-threatening animal beasts.  Ok, this was just a tiny bird, but STILL….

A bird had flown in through the front door and was flying around in a crazy tizzy, running amok throughout the house and smacking into walls and ceilings. We were suddenly in a scene from Alfred Hitchcock’s “The Birds” where the all of the birds of the world start attacking the human race.  You should have seen us screaming and losing our minds and trying to duck into corners to avoid the Wrath of the Evil Wren. We suddenly became pants-on-head retarded. It was truly ridiculous.

In the midst of it all, out of the corner of my eye, I see Amanda – ever the photojournalist –  filming the entire scene with her freakin’ I-phone and laughing like a hyena.

Oh god.  This is SO going on Snapchat and Instagram.

“What the hell?” I scream.  “This is no time for documentary filmmaking! We’re having a crisis!!”  In hindsight, that might have been slightly overdramatic.

So after a long, super-extended period of mind-losing hysteria, we had to tap the brakes a little and calm down so we could figure out what to do. We needed a plan, man. Grabbing the bird, or catching him with a net was out of the question, since we have an unusually high 2-story ceiling in our main room.  And to the bird’s credit, he was hanging out on the ceiling and the second story in order to avoid the mass delirium of screaming humans going on downstairs. Wise choice.

Paul’s first brilliant plan is turn on all the lights and make as much noise as possible, open the front door and (a) hope the bird flies out or (b) dies of sudden cardiac arrest.  This is where it really gets funny. So Amanda contributes to the Family Wisdom pot and decides to blast Screaming Hawk noises from her I-phone to my new Bluetooth house-wide speaker. I can only imagine what my neighbors were thinking as they drove by.  Here we are with the front door open, African hawk sounds pouring out into the night, and all four of us are yelling weird noises and dancing what looks like tribal interpretive dance moves in our living room.

I’m not even making this up.

After a long while of this, we decided we needed a new strategy. Turns out that, thanks to Google, insane screaming is what’s causing the bird to lose its mind and smack into walls erratically. So our new approach is to turn off all the lights and noise, keep the door open and sit silently. Suddenly the bird stops its crazy circling, smacks into the wall in the dining room, slides down the wall behind the curtain… and silence.  Amanda and Emily theorize that maybe the bird was sick to begin with and came into the warm house on a cold winter night looking for a place to die.  Great, now we feel bad.  And also, what do we do now?  There was no way any of us were going near that curtain.  And we couldn’t leave for dinner with a bird in the house!

We sat there in the dark for a while trying to figure out who we should call. My brother is 30 minutes away and so is my Dad. That’s too long. So we called Amanda’s boyfriend who came right over.  He thought we were fighting a massive flying pterodactyl.

“Guys, calm down.” He said, “It’s a tiny bird.”

Taylor the Superhero

When he saw the ridiculous scene of all us cowering in the dark with the door wide open, he must have wanted to die laughing.  Either that, or suggest therapy for our collective irrational fear of garden wrens.  Suddenly, we hear fluttering behind the dining room curtain. The girls and I start screaming again, and that’s when Taylor, The Superhero, took over.  He tells everybody to be silent, grabs his Star Wars light saber that he got for Christmas as a weapon, and climbs to the top of the 2-story stairs to determine if the bird is in fact dead or not.  Turns out the bird was just stunned, but very much alive, which we found out pretty quickly when when he flew like a kamikaze out of his hiding place straight at The Superhero with the light saber.

But The Superhero didn’t even flinch.  Meanwhile, my big 6-ft tall husband is whimpering with fear in the closed-off kitchen, and eating leftover Christmas sugar cookies to console himself, all the while complaining that he’s going to miss his birthday dinner!

But The Superhero had a brilliant plan. With Hans Solo-like prowess, he somehow waved the bird into the upstairs bedroom that has a window that opens wide without a screen.  He turned off all the lights, except a small one in that room which lured the bird in there.  Once in the room, he trapped himself alone, in the dark (you know, THE DARKSIDE) with the bird flying wildly about the room.  After several tense moments of Alfred Hitchcock-like suspense and imagined terror, we begin to fear the fate of the brave Superhero.

Suddenly, he emerged victorious!  The bird finally flew out the window. Having defeated the evil forces of the feathered universe, The Superhero enjoyed his hero status because he had saved the screaming weirdo, tribal-dancing family from yet another threat from the animal kingdom.  The Force was truly with us that night…. em, er, actually, it was a college boy who now thinks we’ve all lost our minds.

And the best part was, we made it to the birthday dinner on time! Happy BIRD Day, Paul!!

Posted in Fighting the Animal Kingdom, Moms of Teenagers | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Survival Guide to Last-Minute Christmas Shopping for Working Moms

Survival Guide Christmas Shopping

(Originally published December 18, 2013, edited)

It’s that time of year again. Christmas Crunch Time – the most wonderful time of year where overworked and underpaid moms begin to panic at the fact that Christmas is just a few shopping days away.  During this beautiful holiday season, a deeply religious time of year, moms like me like to observe this special time in a very meaningful way by going to the mall.

Last weekend, as I’m sitting in 22 miles of traffic at the mall entrance, or The Gates of Hell as I like to think of it, I realize that I waited until the last minute again this year. So I made a solemn vow to myself:

“I am going to get it together and shop early next year! Like August.”

Yeah, probably not.

I believe that, deep down, everyone longs for a less consumer-ized Christmas. One of these years, I am going to pull the plug on overpriced gifts that my teenagers only appreciate for about two hours, and celebrate Christmas the old-fashioned way.  How about a year where we sit around stringing cranberries and popcorn by the fireplace, singing Christmas carols and exchanging humble handmade Christmas gifts instead?

If that sounds good to you, well, you can just forget it, sucka’.  If everybody pulled that kind of subversive stunt, the economy would collapse overnight, and the government would have to get involved.  So, too bad, you ARE going along with the Holiday Program, whether you like it or not.  It’s for the Good of the Nation, damn it.  This means you need to go secure a very large sum of money, any way you can,  and GO TO THE MALL.

Unless you live in the Sahara Desert, there should be several malls within five miles of your home. It doesn’t matter which one because they are all the same, so just pick one.  Under federal law, all malls in the U.S. must have the same 32 chain stores.  You have your chain bookstores, your chain clothing stores, your chain shoe stores, your chain restrooms, and your chain mystery meat Chinese food.

The basic idea behind malls is that they are more convenient than shopping at a bunch of random city shops. You can get all your shopping done is one place, right? Well that’s what I’m hoping for, since I waited until the last minute, and now I’m going pay for it… in more ways than one.

The first thing to remember about shopping at the mall at Christmastime is that you will probably get killed in the parking lot.  At least that’s what the evening news tells us.  If you don’t get knifed as you exit your car, then surely a renegade pickup truck, driving the wrong direction while trying to get to that last handicapped space, will take you down. Why?  Because, legally, there are NO RULES in mall parking lots.  You can drive as fast as you want, in any direction while shooting the finger at pedestrians, and it doesn’t matter. Well, this is just one of the risks you are going to have to take, since you were busy working 8 hours a day while all those smug and well-organized stay-at-moms finished their kids’ Christmas shopping lists way before Halloween.

So once you’re safely in the mall, you should avoid direct eye contact with the other holiday shoppers at all costs.  These shoppers have been whipped into a psychotic frenzy by months of holiday advertisements, and they will buy anything they can wrap and put under their tree. If you get in their way, there could be major injuries involved. If your teenagers are with you at the mall, and they are whining about the crowds and long lines, then threaten to force them to go sit on Santa’s lap.  That ought to shut them up real fast.

Now you’re ready for the actual shopping, only you don’t have a list because, again, you’ve been busy, damn it. But instead of wandering aimlessly through the jungle, your goal should be to get it over with as quickly as possible. The longer you stay in the mall, the longer you will plop down just about any amount for any item.  “Oh, you want $1,237 for this I-phone case? Hey, no problem.”   Plus, the longer you stay in the mall, the longer you will have to listen to those holiday classics on the mall public-address system.  Studies show that prolonged exposure to poorly written Beatles Christmas songs can cause permanent brain damage.

So you need a plan, woman.  Here’s an effective shopping method… if you have, let’s say, 16 people to buy for, vow to only spend $10 per person.  Get everyone the same thing for $10 and, boom, you’re done!  For example, go in to the Vitamin Store and get everyone a $10 bottle of Vitamin C, since it’s winter cold season and all, and everyone, young and old, are sure to cry with delight when they open your handy-dandy gift.   “Oh, but that’s not very personal,” you say.  Ok, well if you want to be more personal, then here are some guidelines:

Gifts for Men

Men are mesmerized by almost any stupid thing. As long as it’s electric and can be called a “gadget”.  It doesn’t have to be expensive. I saw an electric cork popper for $4.99.  Hey, it’s a gadget, so he’ll love it. One thing you should never buy a man is clothes. Men, like my husband, actually believe that they already have all of the clothes they will ever, ever need. New clothes make them nervous.  For example, the average man has 45 T-shirts, but he only wears, at most, three of them.  He has learned through humiliating trial and error, that if he wears any of the other 42 T-shirts, his wife will probably laugh at him (“You’re not going to wear THAT shirt, are you?).   So he has narrowed it down to three safe shirts, and has managed to go several years without being ridiculed.  If you give him a new T-shirt, he will pretend to like it, but deep down he will plot to kill you.  Instead, give a man something practical, like a weed whacker.  Now there’s something he can use!

Gifts for Little Children

This is easy because kids will tell you exactly what they want. My girls, when they were little, would spend months and months researching gift ideas mainly by watching hours of The Disney Channel.  Make sure you get the children in your life exactly what they ask for, even if you disapprove of their choices. If your young niece thinks she wants a Tramp Stamp Barbie, with the colorful Butterfly ass tattoo, complete with body piercings, then you’d better get it. You may be worried that it might help to encourage her rebellious tendencies, but believe me, you have not seen rebellious tendencies until you’ve seen a child who thinks she did not get the right gift for Christmas!

Gifts for Teenagers

This is one of the world’s biggest mysteries, so good luck with this one.  You can’t ask them what they want for Christmas because they went deaf years ago from the high decibel levels of their in-ear I-Pod headphones.  Whatever you buy, make sure it has an expensive electronic screen attached to it.  And if you can’t Instagram, Snap-Chat or Spotify their friends on it, then it’s a completely useless piece of garbage.  Teens girls are the worst.  With teen boys, at least you can bet on the latest video game, and it will be a guaranteed sure-fire hit.  With girls, it’s a crap shoot.  But one thing is for sure, if you are a woman over the age of 21, do not, I repeat DO NOT even attempt to buy them clothes.  Oh sure, they’d love a cute outfit, but if YOU pick it out, it will automatically go straight into the Goodwill box. Trust me on this one. Just give up and go home.  This mall is way too crowded anyway.

I hope everyone enjoys the bottle of Vitamin C that I got them this year.  I gotta get outta this mall right now!  Have a Healthy and Merry Christmas!

Posted in Christmas Shoppin, Moms of Teenagers | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Life Lessons: The Great Laundry Fiasco of 2015

Life Lessons: The Great Laundry Fiasco of 2015 by Cindy Haney

Oh my god! You mean I have to do LAUNDRY every stinkin' week??

Oh my god! You mean I have to do LAUNDRY every stinkin’ week??

I’m sure you already know that being a mom is a very thankless job. Most of the time, you don’t get a bonus check for a job well done, or an all-expense paid trip to Tahiti, or even a star sticket on your refrigerator for all of your amazing superhero feats.

Hell, no.

But you’re not in it for the perks anyway. So you keep on trudging through the trenches, doing all those thankless little things that you do, all the while secretly hoping that someday the Academy of Arts and Sciences is going to call and bestow upon you that Golden Statue of Honor that you so richly deserve.

Yeah, right.

But then one day, right of the blue, when you least expect it…BAM!!  After 18 years or so into the slave life, I mean mom life, it happens. Sweet, sweet REWARD! And it’s waaayyy better than a golden statue.

Here’s the story. Amanda, 18, moved to college in August last month. I knew she would be facing some tough challenges from being on her own for the very first time. There were so many things for me to worry about as we began to prepare her for life away from home. Will she make new friends?  Will she be able to handle the difficult coursework? Will she forget to feed herself? What if she runs out of tampons?  How the hell is she going to manage her own laundry?

I tried to teach her the finer points of Laundry Management in the months leading up to her departure.  I swear I did.  But she was always too busy running around doing fun Senior Year things like not doing any homework, falling in love with a sweet boy, shopping for an Oscar-worthy prom dress, going out with all of her friends, working at her part-time job, and sleeping until noon.  I warned her many times about the consequences of not separating your darks from your whites. I preached about the finer points of choosing hot, warm or cold water.  I nagged about the use of fabric softener. She didn’t listen.  In fact, when she left home, she didn’t even know how to turn a washing machine on. Ok, that last part is a bit of an exaggeration.

In other words, I tried. She just had better things to do.  Besides, why bother? Heck, we own a Magic Washing Machine anyways.  You see, how it works is… your mom puts all your dirty crap in there, and then a few hours later your stuff magically appears clean and hung neatly in your closet.  Wow.  Bet you wish YOU had one, right?

Anyways, I decided, quite strategically, to let the laundry issue slide.  Because I knew, as all moms do, that eventually she would RUN OUT OF UNDERWEAR.  And you know what that means, right?  Must. Wash. Clothes. Now.

So about four weeks into dorm room life, when she couldn’t wait one second longer, she braved the whole new world of the Group Laundry Room all alone.  And then I received this email letter from Amanda below, printed here in her own words.  I have to admit, I laughed so hard that I peed a little in my sensible cotton briefs. Might have to wash those now.

Sept. 20, 2015. 11:47 pm 

Dear Mom, 

I am writing you because I thought you could use a humorous story to brighten your day. I hope my unfortunate laundry experience makes your day seem a lot better in comparison.

So today, after having class from 9 am until 6:30 pm, I decided that since my laundry basket was overflowing, it was about time I figured out the laundry room. So I dragged my ten-ton basket of clothes and my detergent (Yes, dragged. It was too heavy to carry. I got some curious looks) down the elevator and across the building to the other Tower where the laundry room is so inconveniently located.

When I got to the laundry room, I found an empty area in the back (this room has like fifty washers and dryers) and put my basket on the floor, not realizing that the floor was flooded with an inch of water!  So all of my clothes on the bottom of the basket got prematurely soaked. Then I put my stuff in the wash and a few minutes later my machine started overflowing and there was no way to stop the wash cycle once it had started. The machine next to it was out of order and I guess that one was too. So now there was TWO inches of floodwater on the floor. Then 30 minutes later, I took my clothes out of the wash to move them to the dryer and I kept dropping all of my clothes in the floodwater.

When I took everything out, I realized all of my socks turned blue along with a few other things that were lighter colors. I guess the dye on my new jeans hadn’t set in yet. Once everything was in the dryer, the machine kept saying that dryer wasn’t available so I had to take everything out and put it in the next one. Then that machine wasn’t working either, so I took everything out AGAIN and moved it all across the room to a different dryer and went to pay. But then I realized I had used the wrong paying machine and paid for a washing machine on the other side of the room. So I had to pay again and now there’s a free washing machine available for anyone who needs it, thanks to me.  

Then I sat in the wash room for an hour and waited for my stuff to dry. After an hour, I went to get my clothes out and realized I never pressed start!!!!  So I then had to sit in there for ANOTHER HOUR. Finally, after being in the laundry room from 8-11 (three hours of my life wasted), I could finally go back up to my room and relax.

 Except NO.  Because then I had to fold all of my clothes and hang them up and put them away and that took another thirty minutes. So next time I might just have to dedicate an entire day to laundry. 

I hope you take pleasure in my sucky experience and that you get joy out of being able to say “I told you so”. Hahaha! I love you and miss you. Right now I am especially missing the magical washer that hangs my clothes or leaves them folded on my bed. 

Your very tired and stressed out daughter, Amanda 

Hilarious, right?  After 18 years of doing her laundry non-stop, I SHALL now privately gloat over a little sweet, sweet laundry revenge.  And no, I didn’t say “I told you so.” At least not out loud anyways. And the next time she comes home for a visit, I’ll bet she will ask for a laundry lesson or two, amIrite?  And for all you moms out there with young girls who like to change their outfits every 5 minutes, don’t worry. YOUR sweet reward is coming, too, one of these days.

Posted in College Life, Laundry Hell, Life Skills | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

I’ll Miss You Like Crazy! Saying Goodbye to My College-Bound Daughter

Amanda and Taylor are so gorgeous together.

Amanda and Taylor are so gorgeous together.

Amanda and Taylor headed to Prom Night, 2015.

Amanda and Taylor headed to Prom Night, 2015.

Amanda graduated in the Top 7% of her Class of 2015! College, here she comes! You go, girl!

Amanda graduated in the Top 7% of her Class of 2015! College, here she comes! You go, girl!

Taylor is an amazing artist. This is a painting of Amanda. If you want to check out more, here is his website: http://www.twiseart.com/

Taylor is an amazing artist. This is a painting of Amanda. If you want to check out more, here is his website: http://www.twiseart.com/

I’ll Miss You Like Crazy!  Saying Goodbye to My College-Bound Daughter

After months and months of preparation, my first-born child, Amanda, 18, is leaving for college next week. I must confess…I am not handling it well.

Of course, I am thrilled for her that she got accepted to the college of her dreams. She worked really hard in high school, earned the top 7% of her class, and gained early automatic admission to a very tough, rigorous and prestigious college. This is exactly what I hoped for her future ever since she started showing signs of intelligence as a child well beyond her years.  I could not be more proud.

But I also feel terribly melancholy, sentimental and sad down to my bones. In my head, I know that this is a thrilling new beginning for Amanda, a chance for her to shine in her chosen career path, a chance to make new friends, and a chance to start a new life in a new city. I know that not everyone gets a chance to go to a college like this, and the doors of opportunity will be opening wide for her in the next four years.  For this, I am humbled, grateful and over-the-moon happy for her.

So why, then, do I feel on some level that I am experiencing a profound loss?

For a while, I will mourn the loss of that little curly-headed, bubbly toddler who used to follow me around the house like my tiny buddy. The one who curled up in my lap every night for a picture book, or two, or three!  The snuggly bunny who loved Winnie the Pooh, soft blankies, puzzles and crayon books.  The advisor, best friend and role model to her younger sister, Emily. The teenager who discovered her love for music, late night girly sleepovers and sweet boyfriends.

Speaking of sweet boyfriends, the feeling of sadness and loss extends beyond Amanda to encompass her circle of friends and loved ones as well.  This is a huge surprise to me.  When you imagine your child leaving in the future someday, you never imagine that your grief will include others as well.  I’ve watched many of these kids grow up from elementary age and turn into amazing adults. It has been the privilege of my lifetime. I will miss her friends and her boyfriend being around the house all of the time.  My house was always the “gathering place” and that’s exactly how my husband and I planned and hoped it would be.

You don’t imagine yourself getting attached to your daughter’s friends because you are not supposed to, right? But as a parent, it’s hard not to love what your daughter loves.  It has been a great honor getting to know Amanda’s boyfriend Taylor over the last 10 months. I can honestly say that we will miss him just as much as we will miss Amanda.  We’ve watched him grow and change and become such a confident, talented, and intelligent young man. He is sweet, sensitive, kind, and has a gentle soul. But the way that he obviously loves my daughter just melts my heart into a million gushy pieces.  My husband has loved having another man around the house to commiserate with (and kill bugs with), and he will miss Taylor tremendously.  Will Amanda and Taylor’s relationship last beyond the challenges of separate colleges?  With all of my heart, I hope so and I will pray that it does.

Amanda and I will always be close, so I know that I am not really losing her. She will always need me, but never in the same way as she did before. In an age of texting, face-timing and social media, I’m sure I will hear from her on regular basis, and I will able to keep up with her activities in a sense. But what I am losing is the child that she once was, and my relationship to her as a child.  Amanda’s going off to college signals the passing of her cherished childhood and beginning of her becoming an adult.

I can’t help but be a bit sad about that.

Regardless of how often she texts, or how many times she comes home to visit, I am aware that she will be gone now in a far grander sense.  She is well on the road to adulthood, and I know that I have to take the backseat now and let her take the wheel. It will be the hardest thing to do, but I take great joy in seeing Amanda make her way with such confidence, independence and determination.  She is an amazing young lady. She is extraordinarily capable of making the right decisions, following her moral compass, and leaving her mark on this world.

My sadness feels like an ending, but I know that it is just a beginning.  She is, after all, doing exactly what she is supposed to do.  God will be with her every step of her grand adventure, and I know she is going to be just fine.  I think we have raised her well.

Posted in College Admissions, Going Off to College, Moms of Teenagers | Tagged | Leave a comment

Dear Potheads Who Keep Trying to Date My Daughter

To My Daughters: JUST SAY NO to Pothead Losers who keep trying to ask you out!

To My Daughters: JUST SAY NO to Pothead Losers who keep trying to ask you out!

Dear Potheads Who Keep Trying to Date My Daughter:

I know exactly who you are. In fact, you haven’t changed that much since I was in high school in the 1980s. Except for maybe the sophistication of your gaming console, you are still an unemployed, socially inept addict hanging out in your parent’s dark-paneled basement playing video games and eating Nacho Doritos out of the bag with one hand and lazily scratching your unshowered butt with the other.  Nope, things haven’t changed a bit.

I would like to directly address all of you stoners at my daughters’ high school. But first let me state that I really don’t care what you do with your own time. Go ahead and smoke until all of your brain cells die a slow, painful death. I don’t care.  But what I DO care about is you, and the rest of your stoner group, hanging around my 16-year-old daughter and begging her to go out with you.  NO. Just no. Never going to happen.  You need to wake up from your smoky purple haze and realize that nice girls don’t go for potheads.  She knows that you are headed for Loserville where potheads flip burgers for minimum wage, get raided for growing marijuana plants in their garage, and end up in the state penitentiary.

I would like for you to stop telling her that she needs to “try this awesome weed, babe!” The basis of your brilliant argument is that “it’s OK, everyone is doing it.”  Really?  Like that one hasn’t been used since time began. How original.  The problem is that I might be starting to believe this because she keeps running into one guy after another who turns out to be a stoner. She has absolutely no interest in dating an addict.  Do you honestly have nothing better to do with your life?

Almost every night, Emily tells me about some new guy she met at school who starts texting her and following her around.  A couple of days later, she finds out that, disappointingly, he’s a druggie.  Red flag. Alarm bells. Time to initiate the Dump Sequence. That’s like 10 guys in row this year. It’s really sad that these dudes feel the need to fill their time with reefers and bongs instead of books and studying and trying to make something of themselves in the future.

So, my little friends, I’ve had to counteract your lies about pot with actual facts. Here is what I’ve told both of my daughters about this drug:

  • LIE: “Dude, it’s like legal and stuff in Colorado and Washington, so it can’t be bad for you.”  TRUTH: That doesn’t mean it’s good for you just because they have legalized it in some states. Cigarettes are legal in every state yet the medical community admits that cigarettes causes cancer and death. Tobacco is a legal substance that is known to kill.  Although marijuana may be legal and decriminalized in some states, it’s still illegal in all states for anyone under 21 and illegal in my state. Law enforcement knows who the dealers are in any given community, and they will come bust down your door and arrest you when you least expect it. When you buy some pot, you are supporting a vast illegal import network consisting of some really bad dudes that are worse than any mobster movie you’ve ever seen. Do you really want to dabble in that game? An arrest can cause a student to lose her spot on a sports team, get expelled from school, forfeit a college scholarship or require entering an outpatient drug rehab program. But here’s the most important thing – The law doesn’t matter. Just don’t use any substance that alters your mind and affects your ability to make wise decisions. And don’t hang out with anyone who does. You could be guilty by association if there is a raid.  That is why my daughter is never going to go anywhere with you, Mr. Weedlover.
  • LIE: “It’s safer than alcohol and tobacco and it doesn’t really affect me.” TRUTH: Really? Did you know that pot is a lot stronger than when Boomers and Gen X people tried it.  According to NIDA, concentrations of THC, the chemical in marijuana which provides the ‘high,” averaged 14.5 percent in 2012, compared to around 4 percent in the 1980s. It’s stronger, more dangerous and unregulated, unlike alcohol and tobacco.  God help you if you get a “bad batch”.  If you say that it doesn’t affect you, then you must be superhuman, dude.  You are also among the most dangerous of drug users because your brain is so messed up that you think you can go around doing normal things like driving, which puts the rest of us in serious danger. Pot is a gateway drug.  It doesn’t take long to get addicted to the high, and very soon, the high isn’t high enough for you anymore.  You move on to much more dangerous drugs in an effort to stay as high as a kite.
  • LIE: “It doesn’t hurt my mind, I’m still just as smart.” TRUTH: Really? According to a 25-year, longitudinal study released in 2013 by NIDA, participants who were dependent on marijuana before age 18 lost an average of eight IQ points between childhood and age 38. Health experts tell us that the human brain is still developing well past age 20. The teen years are NOT the time to be putting things into your brain. It will kill brain cells that will never re-grow. Weed is proven to alter the clarity of your thought process and your ability to make a decision. It gives you a false sense of safety which may make you do things like jump off roofs or have unprotected sex. It also alters your memory process and can affect your ability to study and pass tests. It’s not just a stereotype that stoners make poor grades. They actually do, which puts them on the fast track to Loserville. And, yes, alcohol abuse does the same thing.
  • LIE: “Lots of celebrities smoke pot and they’re, like, successful and stuff.”  TRUTH: Ok, so, because celebrities like Seth Rogen, Miley Cyrus and Justin Beiber get away with lighting up and laughing about it, that makes it cool and awesome, right? These celebrities have teams of lawyers to bail them out of any situation, should it arise.  I’m guessing you don’t have two nickels in your bank account, right?  This means, if you get caught, you are going straight to jail, plus some heavy fines which will take you an entire lifetime of burger flipping to pay off because you now have zero chance of landing a real job with your criminal record. Sounds like a glamorous life, right?

So, little smoker boys, I’m glad we had this talk. You really should stop smoking that shit because, if you don’t, a few years from now you will be a paranoid, disillusioned street person painting chalk pictures on the sidewalk while people throw dimes into your dirty baseball cap so that you can feed your 13 kids.  Oh, and also, I want you to stop telling my daughter that “everyone is doing it, and you should too.”  You can also stop telling her that she ought to go out with you.  She’s way too smart for that because her brain cells are still operating in an unaltered state.  Thanks, but no thanks.

Despite the recent parade of stoners like yourself, I still believe there are smart guys out there who care about the state of their minds and their futures.  Sadly, they are rare, like a needle in a haystack, but she’s going to keep looking, thankyouverymuch.  Meanwhile, enjoy your mommy’s dank basement, your bong and your stale Doritos because that’s probably as good as your life is ever going to get.


All Parents Everywhere

Posted in Dating, Dating Tips for High School Guys, Drugs and Teens, Just Say No to Potheads | Tagged , , | 3 Comments

5 Parenting Game Apps That Will Never Make It To Your Phone

 5 Parenting Game Apps That Will Never Make It To Your Phone by Cindy Haney

Lately, I’ve been obsessed with playing games on my phone, especially Candy Crush. Seriously, have you played this thing? It’s addictive. And, weirdly, I can’t stop thinking about fruit-flavored candy. Hmmph.  Ever since I got my first smart phone a few months ago (yes, I’m very, very late to the party), I love wasting ridiculous amounts of time on Game Apps when I’m supposed to be doing something else, like cooking the crappy dinner no one appreciates or folding someone else’s underwear or possibly working.  You might call it a time-waster, but I call it an escape from the stupid mundane stuff that I don’t want to do.

Maybe it’s just me, but after cruising through the App Store on my phone a few thousand times, there really doesn’t seem to be a whole lot of Apps designed for parents. How about some games based on Reality Parenting?  We have Reality TV, so why not Reality Apps?

So I decided to invent some new Apps for the millions of moms out there who could a use a hand, and a diversion, when it comes to parenting.   And since I have two teen-aged girls, let’s focus in on that for these Apps.  How hard can it be to come up with new Apps? This is going to be FUN!  Ok, I found it really is hard, therefore I’m fairly certain you’re never going to see these on your phone. Don’t hold your breath, people.

Candy A Saga icon


Yum! Yum! Hey, depressed moms, it’s a race against the clock to see how much junk food and processed sugar you can stuff into your face before your butt explodes. Each new level is another new year of poor eating, and with each new level, your ass gets a little bit bigger. You get bonus points for never leaving the couch and forsaking all forms of exercise.  But you have to HURRY!  Mr. Diabetes is chasing you, so have to eat as much as possible before he catches you and stabs you in the ass with an insulin needle. Good Luck!

Angry Mom_game icon


Try your hand at Angry Mom®, the new game brought to you by the makers of Snarky Teenager® and Words with Sarcasm®.  Hurl creative insults at your teenager with ever-increasing intensity until your anger reaches new levels of mental illness.  But be careful! You have to avoid inevitable landmines such as sweet pleading baby voices, doe eyes, crocodile tears and seemingly sincere letters of apology. If you can successfully avoid these, you can maintain your level of screaming anger and irrational behavior which will increase your Powers to reach the ultimate level of Bitchiness. Muh-ha-ha-ha!!

Dinner Rush Gourmet icon


Talk about a time crunch!  Race through the maze of your hellish workday, weave through 5 o’clock traffic, pick up your non-driving teens from various places and then… oh shit! You forgot to plan for dinner! Never fear, Dinner Rush, is here!  Brought to you by The Tired Gourmet®, players are presented with a maze of fast food restaurants, and then it’s a race against the clock to assemble an edible dinner before your looming 9:00 bedtime.  But watch out, though!  Obstacles such as last minute 14-page essays due the next day, Geometry homework that doesn’t make sense even to Einstein, and emergency late night laundry (oh my god, I HAVE to have those jeans tomorrow) are determined to ruin your evening.  Throw caution to the wind and don’t even think about nutritional value!  Who cares! As long they eat something, right?  Good luck, Mom Chefs!

Drivers Ed artwork


And speaking of non-driving teens, it’s about damn time your teen starts driving herself around, amIrite?   This is a game for parents with nerves of steel, the patience of Job, and a permanent prescription for Valium. Yes, you’ll have to leave your anxiety at the door as you climb into the Passenger Seat of Death and hand your keys over to your not-overly-thrilled teen. As the driving simulation game begins, your stress levels will go through the roof.  Your driving training will include all kinds of obstacles to avoid such as innocent pedestrians, hidden stop signs, emergency text messages from hot guys, and road-crossing squirrels.  The trick is to avoid screaming like a maniac every 5 seconds and causing an inevitable metal-twisting crash.  If you make it to the second level, congratulations, you’re still alive.  Now get out of the car immediately and run to the nearest bus stop.

Mall Money Blitz


Cha-Ching!  Hear that?  That’s the sound of money leaving your bank account at an impressive rate of speed. It’s a game of stamina, smarts and clever manipulation.  Only, surprise!  You’re the victim and your teen daughter is the clever manipulator.  First, she talks you into going to the Mall.  Big mistake, stupid parent. In the next level, you get trapped in the dressing room of Forever 21.  Uh oh! There’s no way out!  What? There’s a big Homecoming dance coming up?  Shit, you’re going to be here all day. And, damn, that outfit really does look awesome on her!  Before you know it, your powers of resistance are all used up, plus your feet hurt.  If you’re not careful, you’ll spend it ALL, just to get out of that mall.  Spoiler Alert:  Moms, there’s NO WAY in hell you can win this one.

I told you this was going to be fun!  Anybody know any App Game Creators?  Call them up and tell them we have some really BIG SELLIN’ game ideas for them.  Take that, Candy Crush!

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