Category Archives: rants and tirades

Lock down drills… or why the hell do we terrorize our children for little benefit?

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This is definitely a rave. I don’t have facts and stats to back me up, I haven’t spent years studying the effects of drills on a students’ psyche and I’m not a trained therapist or psychiatrist… but I am a parent. So when my child returns home and divulges that she spent a portion of her school day thinking she was going to die and how sad it was that she didn’t get a chance to do more with her life, I get pissed. I get really, really pissed.

The reason she thought she was going to die is that her school had a “realistic” lock down drill, meaning, I assume, that they wanted it to feel more “realistic” than the average announced lock down drill (which in my mind are already bad enough for our kids). So they had this lock down unannounced and teachers ran through the halls shouting about a lock down (so naturally the kids thought it WAS FOR REAL). So they all huddle in a corner (this in itself baffles me… let’s all cluster so the school shooter doesn’t need to think about where we are… they can just kill us all at once, let’s make it easy!) and they huddle and they wait, thinking that they are going to die. The person who eventually opens the door is a policeman (at this point the kids think that it’s the shooter opening the door as the police officer did not identify himself) who is checking to see that everyone is OK.

No they are not OK, they thought about dying, being shot, in school… and they had to feel these feelings because we can’t take the chance that they won’t know what to do in the case of an actual school shooting. Our children need to feel this fear on the very tiny chance this actually happens to them… like really, here’s a brilliant idea, let’s terrorize them on the tiniest chance that they’ll ever be involved in a school shooting. While we’re at it maybe we can give them food poisoning so they know how to handle that if comes their way… maybe we can mock rape a girl so she might know how to react if that happens (which of course is WAY more likely than a school shooting).

I wonder why my kid has to think about dying from a shooter EVER at the age of 16. I do understand that there are children all over the world who do have to think about these things… but why a girl from Vermont needs to have those feelings and that those feelings were planned and thought out by the school district, teachers, government officials so that our children “feel safer”. I call bullshit, these kids don’t feel safer they feel more FEARFUL. We are filling our kids up with a good dose of fear under the guise of their well being and it’s absolutely crazy. Fear is kinda running the show these days, it’s what’s playing out in politics and close to home. I’d like to say I have an answer on how to change this.. I don’t. So for now I’ll hug my kid, tell her to watch out for the real shit that might come her way and let the other stuff go… as best she can.

 

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Holy hell… a long summer and I’m forced to face my bullshit

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So this is how it always starts, so full of hope and beauty. Summer is finally here. I started this summer with a trip “home” to the Rhode Island shore, just me and my husband in a little cottage on the ocean for a week… all the seafood I could eat, outdoor showers, basking in the sun reading crappy books, no whining or complaining for a week. It was beautiful and I needed it.

I returned home to face the fact that I was now camp director for 2 teenage daughters for the next 11 weeks… 11 weeks of hell sprinkled with intermittent beauty, a family camping trip, the occasional minute of a cease fire between my daughters, a trip to the beach here and there (usually by myself as I ran from the house before I said something to one of the kids I would regret later). I realized many things by the end of the summer but the most important one was: the 13 year old is going to camp next summer and the 16 year old gets a job. We didn’t plan camps because we had no money to pay for them so I was trapped with 2 children who wanted to play on their phones all day and watch YouTube clips. Having 2 teenage daughters in the house together for 11 weeks was a foolish foolish plan. If they weren’t going after me they were going after each other… of course they were, duh, they are 13 and 16.

this is what it felt like:

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I just had to include this photo… my neighbor was taking a photo of our kids playing and just happened to catch this, the look on my daughters face (which is a hysterical coincidence) kind of sums up how I felt this summer.

So to add to the craziness I had been applying for jobs since the Spring, sending out resumes and going on interviews for the few places that called me in. It was a hit to my ego for sure, I mean I consider myself a competent intelligent person with a fair amount of skills to offer and it was hard to even get an interview! The Interior Design jobs I had were drying up (mostly because I am absolutely horrible at Marketing myself) and I needed to bring in some money so throughout my hellish summer I was also in constant panic about paying the bills and as all the back to school crap started I realized I had to shove my ego even further down, suck it up and apply (once again) for serving positions. I applied to 3 places and had 2 interviews scheduled about a half an hour later… So back to the Serving life I go.

I have no idea why it took me so long, well actually I do… because it’s not a “career”, because it’s not something people are proud of, because when I wait on people my own age I can sometimes feel their judgement. But you know what, I’m changing it up in my own mind because Serving for the past 15 years has allowed me to stay home and raise my kids, it’s allowed me to be the Primary Parent, it’s allowed me the flexibility to take on side projects that make my heart sing, work in my studio and make some damn art, bake cakes when the world is getting me down and take long walks through the woods with the four legged creatures whom I adore.IMG_2776

The best part is I walk away with cash in my pocket, and I’m done, no stress to take home, you work when you’re at work and then you are done and I can come home to my family. That’s not to say that waiting tables is stress free, it’s totally stressful, you never know what will happen when you walk through the door, what your customers will be like, if the kitchen gets backed up, you get seated 5 tables at once. There are a myriad of challenges and not everyone can handle the multitasking while continuing to smile and be friendly.

So I’m going to try and hold my head high, the career path 9-5 benefits kinda life will never be mine, and that’s OK, I understand that now because this life is pretty OK and I did what I had to to make it work for me and still work for my family. Because even though my summer was hellish I believe that me working a 9-5 would have made it even more so… and I’m pretty sure that my 13 year old would have burned the house down.

And now that I’ve made the decision, I’m happy… and when I’m happy I make things and when I don’t have to worry about making things to sell I can make things that make me even happier… like a sculpture of a squirrel wearing a hat and pearls.

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Lice… the only time I let my kids say “hate”

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It’s that time of year! The notices start rolling in, lice in your kids classroom… panic and swearing ensues. Years ago when my first daughter was in Elementary school, I read the notices and judged the parents whose kids had lice… I mean wasn’t that a bug that only dirty kids got? Ummm, I learned my stupid preconceived totally classist shitty thinking was totally wrong as I saw my nightly bathed 3rd grader scratching at her head uncontrollably. She was sitting on our front step when I noticed, I sat down and casually parted her hair. I can’t remember what I did yesterday but I will never forget what I saw that afternoon. Her head was CRAWLING with lice, they scattered like roaches from my fingers… I nearly puked on her head. Then like any other rational human being I freaked the fuck out. I read everything I could, I cleaned everything in the house, I was convinced we all had it, I threw whatever chemicals on her head no matter the side effects or costs. I was like a uber clean whirling dervish. When all was said and done and I’d tortured my poor kid to death and her scalp was nearly falling off from the trauma. At one point she said “Mom I know we’re not supposed to say it but I hate lice.” I said “I think that’s totally reasonable, I hate them too. You are now allowed to say “hate” when you refer to lice.”… it was almost like a bonus to her (now at 15 she talks like a sailor and refers to her father affectionally as asshat… but you know I tried harder then).

It took me a couple years and many infestations later to treat lice like I would picking up dog poop… I’m not fond of doing it but I can still hold a conversation while it’s happening.

Through the years I’ve developed a chemical free way of dealing with lice that really depends on the nit picking part, because that’s where people get lazy and why the re-infestation really happens. I no longer even bother cleaning rooms and bagging stuffed animals and pillows. I even pick nits off other peoples children because I find it easy and it no longer phases me.

Below is my treatment method, share it with newly shattered parents and tell them to calm down, stop scratching their heads, have a drink, let your kid watch a shitty show on TV and get down to the picking…it’ll be OK.

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friends… or the people who can call you on your bullshit

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Years ago a very good friend of mine committed suicide, it came as such a blow to those who loved her and had no clue she was suffering so bad. The evening after I heard the news I took a dance class and when entering the room my teacher took a look at me and came up and said “Are you ok?” I told her what had happened and she said “I’m so sorry.” I quickly replied “It’s ok.” She looked me square in the eye and said “No, it isn’t OK.”… at which point I fully broke down because it SO wasn’t ok, it’s not ok to hide your sorrow from your family and friends and admit you’re weak and struggling and for my part it wasn’t right to try to be the strong one and put on the face of someone who was ok either, because I wasn’t ok.

So often I find that we put on the face and march along like good little soldiers, we help those who ask, we help our children, we take care of our parents. The hope is that someone might look you square in the eye, like my teacher, and call bullshit. Bullshit that you are holding it all together. Someone who can see you and that (more importantly) you let see you and then letting that person bear some of the weight that you are carrying around.

Let me assure you, I am fine… no really, this isn’t a call for help. Not that things are ok… I struggle with lots of shit on a daily basis, hell I have a fourteen year old dramatic actress living under my roof who never stops practicing for her own daily soap opera… but on this grey May morning I was reminded of people who really “see” you and how important that is.

So my task, should you choose to accept it is that you find someone you love, look past their words of “ok” and call them on their bullshit, and then take them out for a cupcake.

frustration for my daughter… or why being a girl can suck.

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Let’s agree the transition from 11 to 14 is a big one. Let’s say your daughter starts out being a girl all covered in tee shirts and jeans, does a 360 and starts wearing crop tops and mini skirts and then by 14 starts to mellow, finds her footing and starts coming into her own.

I know it’s hard to be a parent. PERIOD. There need not be any more statements as the challenges that face every single parent can be daunting and filled with dread. Parenting teen daughters is one such endeavor. After spending the summer with my girls, doing errands, going to the beach, and countless other activities I can say this : it sucks to be a 14 year old girl. It sucks to look like an 18 year old and be 14, it sucks to constantly be oogled, it sucks to be judged, it sucks to have to deal with shitty people, it sucks to walk around in a body that is the object of other people fantasies and shitty thinking.

When the original jeans to mini skirts transition happened I would jokingly say to my friends “You’ll know my kid, she’s the one dressed like a hooker.” … or the time when she came downstairs to go to the farmers market in a tube top, mini skirt and high heeled flip flops and I told her she might be mistaken for the drag queens at the pride parade… have I mentioned what an awesome parent I am yet? She was playing around with her new found girly powers and I was adjusting and neither one of us was doing it gracefully I might add, but at least she had the excuse of being 13… what was mine? I was just being an asshole of course and in my defense I really did let her wear want she wanted.

And then this year happened and my awkward teen girl became a gorgeous young woman… a self assured beautiful girl. Now we live in a small liberal city and my girls have always walked home from school and around town with their friends but now the reports started rolling in….

“This guy invited me to a party on my way to the dance.”

“What did you say?”

“That I’m 13.”

“This guy offered me money to take my shoes off and show him my feet.”

“What did you do?”

“Um, kept walking.”

“The guys outside the bar started talking to me and then followed me.”

“What did you do?”

“Kept walking.”

The kid is smart, like wicked smart and knows how to handle herself but more and more incidents were happening on an almost daily basis to the point that my daughter didn’t even want to go to the town beach because too many guys talked to her and made her uncomfortable… and I know why, really, she’s young and blonde and has huge boobies… she’s a walking ideal of “girl”… but she’s freaking 14! So we go the beach as a family and my daughter gets oogled by some old nasty guys (I’m talking like 60 year olds) and wants to go home and we don’t, so she walks home. When we get home she’s upset.

“What happened?”

“Well like 4 cars honked and yelled at me and then guys at the bar tried talking to me again and I’m just sick of it.”

and the my husband steps right in it….

“Well you have to take responsibility for how you dress and what you put out there.”

let me just say my husband is as liberal and woman centered guy as you can wish for and probably wanted to die as soon as this left his mouth.

If my daughter could have laser eyes at the moment he would have been dead as she let him have it

“Oh yeah, it’s MY fault, I’m just a slut, I’m just a whore and that gives all those people the right to say whatever they want to me? It shouldn’t matter what I’m wearing, the guys at school have no dress code, the guys are never told to change what they’re wearing.”

She’s right, absofuckinglutely right. As a girl is she supposed to dress in a Burka to get respect? She’s smart a whip and most people probably immediately dismiss her because of what she looks like and instantly label her slut or slacker or something else dismissive so they don’t have to see the real her.

It’s really easy to blame the media and the culture but really I was the first to label her the hooker. I was the first to judge her and it sucks to realize it. Our daughters should have the freedom to express themselves however they want and hopefully be safe while doing it. Now she wants to walk in the slutwalk and I know she’s only 14 but I think as long as the outside world sees her as older and worldly I just might have to as well. She hasn’t had done anything that could even remotely be “slutty” but she sure bears all the weight of peoples ideas about sluttiness… and really “slutty” what a screwed up idea. I hope my kid finds pleasure in sex, why shouldn’t she, it’s fun and I want her to live a full life, a life filled with partners and lovers and friends and family.

What I don’t want is some skeevy creepy 60 year old staring at her boobs at the freakin beach, or asking to see her feet or whatever other shit people think they can bring into her beautiful orbit. I can’t protect her from them and I hate they get to impact her in such negative ways.

I want so much more for her but in the end I might just need to settle with the fact that I’m really happy that she knows how to stand up for herself… I just wish she didn’t have to.

Some other peoples thoughts on these types of things:

http://goodmenproject.com/ethics-values/brand-dear-daughter-i-hope-you-have-awesome-sex/

http://viewsfromthecouch.com/2013/09/04/re-fyi-if-youre-a-teenage-girl/

but you’re supposed to be the cool parents!

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Ok so maybe we’re not really all that cool because I just had to dig to find a 3 year old photo of us doing something other than a home improvement project but all in all I think my husband and I consider ourselves to be in the “cool parent” category. We still stay up too late, we still have parties, we still dress a little funky, still dye our hair… we’re not letting the fact that we’re in our um… mid forties make us grow all the way up just yet. I like to think we have a pretty elastic parenting style, we’re not too tight but there are boundaries. We’re usually on the same page so that’s helpful… our kids a more sassy toned than we would like, they are definitely sarcastic (which we have to let slide because we are a household fully drenched in snark and sarcasm), they are stubborn and like to beg and push more than we like but overall they’re pretty well behaved and let’s just say they have some spunk with a little attitude, so basically they do take after their parents.

So now we’ve raised these little beings and they’re growing up, they’re leaving the nest and staying away more and more hours of the day and you pretty much have to throw up your hands and hope for the best. I mean you can’t follow them around all day telling them to remember to say “Thank You” and “Please”, be nice to friends, respectful of teachers, wary of the weird guys who offer you money to look at your feet (yes this did happen to my 13yo). So you send them away and they start to come back with way more information then you wanted them to have (like explaining why some weird guy would want to look at your feet) and a huge case of the “blah blah blah’s parents let her”. I really fucking hate blah blah blah’s parents sometimes… what are they fucking thinking letting their kid watch American Horror Story, stay up until 12 on a school night, skip school because blah blah blah feels like it, eat mini brownie bites for breakfast, etc, etc. Why am I suddenly the strict parent? I’m sure blah blah blah’s parent do let her do some of these things, I’m sure some of it is pure bullshit blah blah blah tells her friends to be cool too. So here I am on a Saturday in a full day feud with the 13 year old on why she cannot watch American Horror Story…

“because it’s too sexual and has rape scenes”

“I know about sex Mom I’m not stupid”

“Obviously you’re not stupid and you know everything but you haven’t seen everything, seeing a woman performing oral sex is different then knowing about it”… (yes I actually got this far in this fight)

“I’ll just close my eyes when they’re having sex”

“No because you won’t be watching it”

“Mom, you always shut me down, what if it’s a reward for being good?”

“Starbucks money is a reward for being good, not letting you watch a show you’re not ready to watch and that shows graphic sex, that’s you getting what you want, which I’m assuming is the only answer you’re going to take or you’re going to be a shit head to me all the rest of the day”

and then it came, the phrase I had been waiting to hear…

“but you’re supposed to be the cool parents!”

It slayed me, in hindsight it was a well placed blow in her battle, my kid is a very strategic player and we have thought she should be a lawyer since she could talk because her arguments are usually so well thought out and damn she’s convincing, but damn this one was a clear punch in the face. So I did what any other parent would do after a day long stupid battle, I cried. She looked at me startled. In that moment I had to truly look at myself as a parent from her side. In the eyes of my daughter I am nothing but rules, do this, not that, do this, be nice to your sister, be a better friend, get good grades, go to bed, rule, rule, rule, follow, follow, blah, blah blah. So for her me being the cool parent is never going to happen, it’s impossible to have boundaries for a teen and be the cool parent in their eyes. My only hope is to keep true to myself and hope when she’s older and has kids of her own she realizes that because I stuck to my guns and had rules but still allowed her to be as much herself as I could, that I was a cool parent. I mean I let my kid go out of the house dressed like a hooker… because I’m not the parent who will control her style, I allow her to wear what she wants and I trust her to be where she says she’s going because so far she hasn’t blown my trust. So blah blah blah’s parents can say “I don’t care what her parents let her wear to school” and “just because her parents let their 13 year old go to a Rave doesn’t mean you get to”… so really I’m just another “she gets to” person for some other parent who wonders what the hell I’m doing and thinks I’m a bad parent.

But I have the proof that I’m doing something right because as the tears rolled down my face my daughter leaned forward gave me a long hug and said “I’m sorry Mommy I didn’t mean to make you cry.”

3:29am and taking care of this family will be the death of me

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So the phone rings at 3:29, in the middle of a deep sleep on a Sunday night, and you wake, struggling to get your wits, locate the noise, make it stop, realize it’s the phone, pick it up, look at the caller ID, realize it’s not a number you know, put it back down feeling like an incompetent asshole for not knowing how to mute it with out picking it up, worry about waking the kids before a school day, forcing you out of your warm bed to comfort them. It stops, you roll back over and it starts… Maybe I should have answered… what if it was something wrong with Mom, she lives in the middle of nowhere by herself, if she should get murdered how long would it take me to realize, what would happen if she had a stroke or heart attack… who would find her and how would I know, do those people know how to contact me, how would they? Her house, we’re going to be there next week on our way to vacation, I should have her write Emergency contact numbers some where obvious… Fuck… vacation and I haven’t gotten the summer stuff out of the attic yet, I wonder if Lila has sandals that fit, where will I find sandals in Vermont in February because there’s no time to order online now… does Adele even have a bathing suit that fits? Her boobs are huge now and there’s no way the bikini that she wore this summer will cover them, holy hell, she’s going to be walking around Florida with her newly powered pubescent body, shit… what if she get’s her period when we’re there? She can’t go in the pool if she won’t use a tampon… damn I’m on schedule to get my period while we’re there, that’ll be great… kinda like last time we visited Mom and I stained her white couch… who the hell buys a white couch… right older women who live alone and might just have someone call their daughter at 3:29 to let them know there mother is in the hospital… and you didn’t answer the phone because you care more about your sleep, you’re an asshole… oh great and now it’s 4 and your never going to get enough sleep to deal with getting the kids out the door without yelling, did Lila pack her lunch? damn I knew I should have made her do it after dinner now that’s another thing to do in the morning… what was that noise? It’s nothing just the wind knocking something over in the backyard… if it was someone breaking in the dog would bark, that’s the nice thing about having a dog, I feel safer in the house… wait where is the dog, usually he’s right there on the floor, maybe the person breaking into the house drugged the dog… you’re being crazy, nobody drugged the dog to break into your house… did I lock the back door? Yes, I remember tripping over the skis and coats when I checked… why the hell can’t the kids ever hang up their damn coats… oh right I have to sew a new loop in Adele’s it broke last year… oh God I totally forgot to make Lila knit this weekend and now we’re going to have to do it all this week…. teacher conferences I forgot to sign up, I wonder what times are left, probably the ones that no one can make it to like 1 in the afternoon, I have to meet with the music teacher so he can ream me out about not making Lila practice her viola but really I can’t take on another $40 a week for lessons they really should add that in when they tell you about the total cost of private school… great now it’s 4:30 and there’s no way you’re not going to be a raging bitch in the morning, stop, breathe, count backwards from 100… 99, 98, 97, 96, 95, jesus what’s that noise? Adele coughed like she’s a 70 year old smoker, I hope she’s not coming down with something, I can’t take anymore sick days, stop… must focus on sleep…100, 99, 98, 97… nope too complicated, why do people count backward? it takes too much effort, I’m getting too old, really if I don’t start exercising and loose some weight I’m going to have to start blood pressure meds and then I’m going to up all night peeing and then I’ll really loose some sleep, yeah but dieting isn’t going to work, right… if I start playing the Just Dance game for 20 minutes a day that would help… you’re never going to because you can never change your habits… maybe I’ll start running… fuck that I hate running… stop obsessing time to get some sleep, you can berate yourself in the morning… maybe if I snuggle up to Nat I can fall asleep… out