Sweet rewards of parenting


Image result for difficult teenage boys cartoon

My teenage son has contributed to the vast majority of my gray hairs, and although I love him a crazy amount, he also makes me crazy.

From his special ability to only see things from his own viewpoint, rendering himself the victim in every possible scenario….. to his disregard for a clean organized room and bathroom which is all I really will ever want from him for Christmas….

It is sometimes quite a challenge.

And, you know, he’s a teenager. So multiply everything by 5 million because if those two chin hairs are any indication….hormones are raging, and rational thought is out the window.

Something is happening though…

Here is an example of something that kind of gives me hope that he might come out the other side of puberty in a good place.

He was at his dads house Monday, because that’s one of his nights with his dad. I get a call from him, around the time I need to put the little ones to bed, asking if I can iron some clothes if he brings them over because he forgot he needed to dress up for school.

“Don’t you guys have an iron??”

He doesn’t want his dad to iron his clothes, and he doesn’t want to….because neither one is capable of doing it well, not as well as me.

This is true….but also designed to inflate my domestic ego so I can’t resist demonstrating my mad ironing skills.

It works. He comes over and hands me a shirt that looks like-and probably was-balled up somewhere before it was fully dry, and a pair of pants with questionable history of cleanliness.

I iron them both, he takes them and leaves.

Later that night, I get a text.

Good night mom, love you. Thank you for everything you do for me. By the way  you need to step it up, you’ve been slacking lately. JK, love you but for real pick it up get your head out of the gutter, JK love you. Tell Gasan to keep up the good work, he’s been ballin lately.

Interpretation: I love you mom. I’m 15 and on the verge of being a man, but still kind of a little boy and I know maybe I’m hard to deal with but I’ll never actually admit that…but we can both just “know it” and I’m going to cover up any expression of feelings with little odd remarks about you not doing your domestic duties well enough and a nod to your husband for being a cool guy.

Progress people. I’ll take what I can get.





How to win a trophy

Sammy finished his first T-ball season yesterday, and the coaches surprised the kids with a trophy for each of them.

Of course Sammy was feeling pretty self important and strutting around holding that trophy for the rest of the night.

We took it with us for celebratory ice cream, the trophy displayed rather blatantly at table center.

Jenna trailed behind Sammy the whole time, just wanting to be near. Of course she wasn’t allowed to get too close. I didn’t hear his explanation to her as he shut down her last attempt at sneaking a quick touch. But it all became clear…..

“Mom…..”  she began, with those big, earnest, brown eyes….

“So I can get a trophy when I’m six…..and a boy?”

Uh. Yes?



mother/sister confusion

The other day, my sister and I went somewhere together. Sometimes, we do that.

We went into a building and passed by a security guard. He looked over and smiled at us. “You must be mother and daughter, huh?” He kept smiling and continued “You look just alike, you probably get that all the time, huh?”

I smiled, but my mind was racing….. did he just….?  did he just ask me if I was her MOTHER?

Looking at my sisters smiling face. No, she wasn’t just smiling. She was laughing.

We continue on, stepping into an elevator. I’m inspecting myself in the reflection. “It’s the sweater…. it’s a total mom sweater….”. I asked one of the people in the elevator, “do I look like I could be her mom?!”  He looked confused. “NO!”, I helped him with the correct answer. “I DON’T!”.

Then he smiled knowingly, “you’re sisters huh?”

Clearly….. the first guy may have been completely blind. I don’t even remember him having eyes to be honest.

I give you exhibit A. A recent photo of two SISTERS at a play together…..

And exhibit B: 4 kids in the train at the mall. They all look under 10 to me. No mom-looking people here……

And exhibit C:

Hmmmm, so maybe I do tend to look overall more subdued. More mature in a very young and not mom-ish way. Definitely don’t look like I gave birth to that lady with the chopsticks….

And finally, exhibit D:

Oh, well isn’t that precious. She was my little bitty baby sister….. and I doted on her and probably did pretend to be her mommy back then. Just look at that little face…..

You know what? It’s really ok. I do kind of feel like a mom to her sometimes, I practiced my parenting technique on her before trying it out on my own kids…. thanks to the mistakes I made with my sister, my oldest has turned out pretty awesome.

Oh, I love that little sister of mine. Even if I am going to have to ugly her up a bit before we hang out together next time…. 🙂


a funny happening


courtesy of thewritingnut.com

When I started this blog, I had no idea who I was writing to, or always what to write about.

It was my sisters idea, actually….. she knows I’ve always loved to write. “Start a mommy blog” she told me…. “you will become wildly popular and wealthy beyond all your wildest dreams”.

Or something like that.

I quickly realized that when forced to research topics to write about, things that other people might want to read about, I was less than inspired to write. Too much like work.

So it’s evolved into whatever it is right now… I guess it’s still a mommy blog, I do talk a lot about my kids…. sometimes I think the only people who will truly find some worth in it are my kids.

Which is why I find it so surprising and strangely flattering to hear that my oldest daughter has friends who actually read this too. And they tell her things like “OMG, your mom is so amazing and cool…. I wish she was my mom.”, and ” your mom is hilarious, I wish I was her.”, and “I’m so in love with your mom, I’m going to kidnap her.”

Or something like that……

And you know, this is a big deal for me…. never having been a “popular” kid in school. I was way too shy and blushed a lot….. and of course I didn’t have cool shoes so that alone set the stage for 4 years of high school misery.

And so, at the age of 40, quite past the age of my daughter and her friends…. they are somehow sucked in by the effortless charm I seem to exude, the breezy way I handle challenges and disappointments (with chocolate donuts..), and no doubt… by the rock star attitude with which I approach everything from potty training to bathing suit shopping.

…..or something like that.


Return of the Tooth Fairy


So this happened today at school. See that gap at the bottom? Wasn’t there this morning.

We had him at the dentist about a month ago, she noticed that tooth was just a bit loose, not enough to think about. Over the past 2 weeks, he’s noticed it more and more.

At first, he wasn’t sure how he felt about it. We were in the grocery store, and he brings up how the loose tooth means he’s getting older. Which  leads him to thoughts of his mortality….asking me if this means he’s getting “old” now with a stricken look on his face…. I promised him at 5 years old he’s still pretty close to brand new, not close at all to getting old.

And then came the perpetual tongue wiggling, working at that loose tooth. The inability to chew food for some reason, because now all of the sudden he wants to eat like a beaver. I had to remind him he doesn’t chew in the front of his mouth so it really shouldn’t be a problem.

Brushing teeth has been fun, with him flinching and pulling away if I get near that tooth…

Yesterday night he showed me how the tooth comes all the way up in the back, but was pretty well anchored in the front. I figured we had some time left, and didn’t want to try pulling it and making him bleed or hurt. I was really saving that job for my dad, the family tooth-puller. No matter how many times it happened, he ALWAYS tricked me into “just letting him wiggle it”, which of course led to a quick bloody yank and me feeling tricked and somewhat relieved to have it over.

Today, I picked him up from school and I could see the gap as he walked to the car, smiling.

Oh No!!! I missed it! I wasn’t there for the first lost tooth!  Then I felt even more cheated when the teacher told me the tooth somehow went missing as they were walking outside. They did their best to look for it, showing me two jagged pieces of some enamel colored objects, possibly bits of stone or tooth they managed to find in the parking lot. It didn’t look like the tooth I remembered sitting is his mouth yesterday…. so I let her keep it.

He didn’t seem too upset. I didn’t tell him I still have teeth saved from the older kids, and now all I have from him are his first hair clippings. I am sad although future generations will be glad they have one less weird thing to throw out as they sort through my belongings posthumously.

But lets look on the bright side. The tooth fairy is coming back from her extended vacation, ready to surprise and delight with gifts of money and possibly little notes of encouragement in exchange for lost teeth. In this case, of lost, lost teeth… she’s willing to cut us a break.



Homework is painful for everyone

This is a big fat lie.

This is a big fat lie. Or they are drugged.

A lesson in 5  year old comprehension.

Believe it or not, Sammy has homework in Kindergarten. Things have sure changed since I was in school…..

Tonight he had to read 3 paragraphs, and then follow the very specific directions afterwards to test his comprehension.

First story was about a kid who likes going to the park. That was the first sentence, “I like going to the park.” This was followed by the things that he could do (swing and slide), and the things he had trouble doing (monkey bars). He asked his parents to take him to the park…..they are taking him on Saturday.

I know this, because it’s burned into my brain. I will never forget that he likes the park, and the slide, and the swing, and the monkey bars. I know he is going on Saturday. I will carry that knowledge with me forever.

Sammy stumbles through the paragraph. He is only 5…. I still have to help with some words. Invariably, by the time he is finished, much of what he has read is lost. I guess that’s the point of this exercise, to help with retention and comprehension.

First question to answer after the reading: “Where does the boy like to go?”

Sammy ponders….. “The playground!”

No. There is no playground. Now that you know the question, start reading again and see if you can find the answer.

Guys. He literally read that paragraph 3 times. And came up with 3 different answers… none of which were “the park”.

And this is how I know for sure, without a doubt…. I was not cut out for teaching.

I would not give him the answer…. but I was dying, at first inside…but my suffering did spill out for everyone to see. It went on, we had to circle things with a red crayon, underline with a blue crayon, box things with a purple crayon. So many steps, so difficult for me to hold back from just TELLING him what to do.

We got through it. I really think we both need points for this one.



Shoe crisis Monday


Monday is the day the week starts back up, and Sammy has to wake up hellishly early so I can drive him several cities away to school.

He is not a morning person. Especially on Monday.

After a brisk sternal rub with no results, I awkwardly try to drag him out of bed to a standing position. This might be why my shoulder hurts all the time……

So at least he’s standing, and then it’s the painful process of getting him through all the little morning hurdles like peeing. brushing his teeth. getting dressed. Any of these can take him a good 20 minutes, as he will just stand there like a zombie until I repeatedly prod him into action. Sometimes his face crumples, about to cry…. but so far I’ve been able to stave it off with threats of losing the kindle.

He perks up finally, right before we leave.

I drop him off, zoom off to work, and I am back to pick him up.

Remember. Mondays suck.

He has a pained look on his face when he gets in the car.

Starts to tell me how this boy has these amazing shoes that are faster than HIS shoes, and now this boy is faster than him and Sammy NEEDS these shoes.

He knows this because the boy told him this, so without a doubt the kid must be faster and Sammy’s heart is broken.

I tried to reason with him, which was a really stupid idea anyway.

“Did you see him run? Did you guys actually have a race? Have you EVER seen him run??”


But he SAID his shoes could go “100 speed”. So obviously that’s faster than Sammy’s shoes.

And the crying started.

He cried all the way home. I felt bad because part of me was laughing about how ridiculous this was. I also felt really annoyed and didn’t want to really deal with this right now, having had the worst sinus headache for 2 days and the crying wasn’t helping.

And here I am still trying to reason with him. Telling him shoes don’t make you fast, it’s your body that makes you fast… and this boy and Sammy could wear any shoes and race and it wouldn’t matter what shoes they had on. And of course trying to feed his ego and tell him that kid was probably just trying to make you think he was faster because he KNOWS your faster, and he’s probably just jealous.

Crying. Garbled bits of yelling about how he KNOWS that boy is faster…. it’s all about the shoes mom!!! Crying without any sign of stopping, varying degrees of shrill and loud. My head is pounding. Good lord, I can’t find my compassion.

This is happening because it’s Monday.

Finally, Finally… we cut to the chase.

“Sammy, I’m not going to buy you shoes because some boy has them and you think they’ll make you faster than him. BUT… if you really liked how they looked, and want a pair like them I will try to find them. Just so you know they aren’t magic or anything.”

So I get the description. They are grey. And blue. And they must be skechers. I ask how he knows they are skechers… because they are cool, and all cool shoes are skechers. Right.

And we get on Amazon at home, to just take a look. And he picks out these:

Skechers Kids 95683L Go Run Ride 3 Nite Owl Running Shoe ,Green,12 M US Little Kid

I am pretty sure these are not the same shoes. But I think they probably go like, 200 speed.

The power of a Friday nap


Summertime was great, wasn’t it?

No school, no waking up at 6-ish to drive everyone everywhere.

And naps.

The kids napped for sure on Fridays, because they’d stay up super late Friday nights. It was (still is) movie night, popcorn night, and spend time with daddy night, since he usually isn’t home until their bedtime on most nights.

I miss those naps. I miss sleeping in on Fridays because I didn’t have to work, and the kids didn’t have school….and we could be lazy until like 8:30am!

I loved summer time naps. I’d get the kids settled in my bed, sitting next to them with my trusty Kindle. On the perfect day, windows would be open, and a slight breeze might blow in now and then.  Sometimes I’d sneak out when they fell asleep, and do important grown up stuff like laundry, dishes, washing floors.

Other days, I would sit there with them and read until they woke up. Savoring the quiet, lazy feeling of just sitting still. It’s not done a whole lot around here.

So guess what happened today?

Slept through the alarm, woke up after 7am. Panicked a minute. Decided to take a mental health day. Kept the kindergartener home (don’t judge me). Spent the morning playing with our baby cousin, then drove home.

Both kids fell asleep in the car.

I carried them upstairs one at a time. (Very difficult)

And now… here I sit, in the glorious quiet of a perfect Friday afternoon.





Creative punishment pays off

It’s 1am on a Friday night, well, a Saturday morning….. I’ve been organizing my filing cabinet for hours. Throwing away what feels like parts of my life, and reminiscing on years past….

I forgot how wonderfully creative I used to get with punishment. I have essays, written by the older kids as punishment for a particular insult. I’ve really been enjoying these, as well as numerous notes and letters the kids have written me, sometimes in love, sometimes not. I will never throw these away. In fact, I’m going to share one of my favorites.

Apparently, an essay on the importance of listening to your parents, written with all the awesome passive-aggressive sarcasm a preteen can muster. A work of art, really.

“I think it is important to listen to your parents because you and your parents would get along better. Also, because you would not get in trouble often. Also because the parents are the adults and they can treat kids any way they want, which gives kids the impression that, that is why people abuse their kids. It is good to listen to your parents because they might actually give an effort to listen to you when you try to say something because you have their attention when you do something good. Also when you listen to your parents you get rewarded like a dog that did a good trick. It is also good to listen to your parents because you don’t get in trouble and you always want to keep your parents happy. It is bad not to listen to your parents because you have to write an “I’m sorry report” (like me). You will get yelled at uncontrollably (like me). and occasionally or all the time you feel like you hate your parents and you want to run away, and that your friends are better with helping you with your problems because they don’t take anything you say the wrong way and they feel sorry for you and they don’t mock you by saying “Oh, poor Rachel!” And that is why it is important to listen to your parents, all the good parts about listening, and all the bad parts about not listening.”

At the time, she was kind enough to leave room for me to write a letter grade as well as a percentage grade at the top…. I never did it, and the space has remained blank all these years later.

A+++ Rachel, it’s perfect.

I can’t wait to share your essay about the downfall of spitting in the kitchen sink…..