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Month: October 2007

Parenting a teen–and other things that make you stupid

Parenting a teen–and other things that make you stupid

If you are a parent of a teenager, there are a few things you should know that might help you feel…better about this new journey. Parents of preteens, this most likely applies to you, too. Parents of toddlers, I apologize for the glimpse into your probable future. You see, parenting a teenager is like being dropped into a foreign country–while you were sleeping– and you have no Parent to Teen Translation Guide. It can be disorienting, confusing and frustrating. However, there are a few things you can do that may help you out. Well, help may be a strong word. Perhaps I should say a few things that may aid you in feeling less like a foreigner and more like a tourist on an extended trip through Teenville.

First, you are stupid. Now, it does not matter if you were the smartest person on the face of the Earth prior to the teen years. Now? Well, now you are probably the stupidest person ever. Whereas you once had the answers to everything, you currently know nothing. And when I say nothing, I mean you have the intelligence of a rock where your teen is concerned. Other parents? Well, they probably think you are still smart, so you can rest comfortably in that. The good news? As your teen grows up– and it make take until he or she has kids of his or her own– you will once again be brilliant. You just have to ride out your stupidity for now. It’s okay. We are all Stupid Parents of Know-It-All Teens. Welcome to our club. We would have meetings, but we are not quite smart enough to plan any.

Secondly, you are not cool. Not even a little bit. Don’t even bother trying. It is like nailing Jello to a tree. Pointless and impossible. You may have been the super star of the world once upon a time, but now you are a dork. This is especially true if The Teen is around his friends. Even if his friends think you are a “cool parent”, trust me when I say your teen still thinks you are the most uncool person to walk upright. Personally, this just adds to the enjoyment. The moment my sons put on their “My Mom is so uncool” hat, I immediately become just what they fear. God bless the updated Freaky Friday movie for the embarrassing line of “Make good choices!” shouted out of a car window to a teenager. If you think I have not popped that one out when I get attitude, you either don’t know me or don’t see the humor in finding creative ways to keep your kids from acting too cool to have a parent.

Can we talk about your wardrobe? It just isn’t working. It doesn’t matter if you are impeccably dressed for the office and would make it on Blackwell’s Top Ten Best Dressed List. Your teen is not impressed. You probably look like a nerd. Or we can go to the other side of the spectrum. Take for instance the other day when I had on an old pair of jeans and a vintage concert t-shirt. Comfortable. Casual. And might I mention the t-shirt in question is the exact t-shirt The Teen stole out of my closet just a week before to wear to school. Now? Now it is just “so old and outdated” and makes me look like I am trying to be cool and failing miserably. Seriously. You cannot win no matter what you wear, so don’t try. Even stealing one of their very own t-shirts is a crime against humanity. In fact, once it has touched your body, it is no longer a shirt they will ever wear again. (I have found this useful on more than one occasion when I really covet something The Teen has in his closet.) When it comes to how you dress, dress for yourself because you will never be cool enough for your Teen.

Now that we have established that you are stupid, uncool and cannot dress yourself properly, let’s go over a few guidelines. I did not make them up, but have been well trained by my teen and near-teen long enough to have them down.

Do not speak to your teen in public. Unless his hair is on fire and then only use hand signals. He is above this whole communication in public situation.

You do not speak their language. I do not just mean text speak. I mean at all. Period. Even if the words that are coming out of his mouth sound like words you know, they do not have the same meaning if you were to use them. Just give up the challenge and hope to gain a phrase here and then that makes sense.

It is absolutely, positively unacceptable to show any kind of affection what-so-ever towards your teen if there is another person within a 20 mile radius. My teen and I came up with something similar to a gang sign that means, “Golly gee, sweetheart, Mommy sure does love you. Have a great day.” I don’t think his means the same thing. And “whatever” means “Are you finished talking yet because I am really not listening and am in desperate need for your voice to be quiet now.”

Don’t believe that I am telling you the truth? Read what these moms have to say about their teens. Busy Mom has the Ten Commandments of Being the Parent of a Teen that is a must read. You can see how she is learning about things that fall into these areas. And Chris Jordan? Her open letter to her son was priceless. (And for the record, telling your teen that continual and repetitve rolling of his eyes will cause seizures does not work. It just results in a massive eye-rolling event.) And Tammara? She is learning about picking her battles. Always good for some learning on everyone’s part.

But most of all, the thing you should remember is that even at their worst, even when they slam doors or roll their eyes, they need you. They will never tell you that. They will never even admit it to themselves, but they do need you. That little toddler that was learning to walk and knew without a doubt that should he fall, you would be there to help him up and get him back on his feet? He is still in there. And he is still counting on you to help him up when he falls and get him back up on his feet again.

I am off to listen to my stupid music, wearing my dorky clothes about to take my uncool mini-van to the store. Alone.

The the impotence of proofreading your work

The the impotence of proofreading your work

Okay, for those of you writers out there, this is hilarious. Depending on your spell checker? Think again. It is especially for my good friend whose job it is to proofread the fun things we writers throw out there. Don’t let this happen to you. “Proofreading your peppers is of the utmost impotence!” (Warning! It is a bit risque, but nevertheless hilarious!) How did I not find Taylor Mali before now? I adore him. Listen to some of his things. They are good!

Example exerpt:

So I got myself a spell checker
and figured I was on Sleazy Street.

But there are several missed aches
that a spell chukker can¹t can¹t catch catch.
For instant, if you accidentally leave out word
your spell exchequer won¹t put it in you.
And God for billing purposes only
you should have serial problems with Tori Spelling
your spell Chekhov might replace a word
with one you had absolutely no detention of using.

The The Impotence of Proofreading By Taylor Mali

*punch to the maternal gut*

*punch to the maternal gut*

I have written both here and on BlogHer about how the best support system is other moms/other mom bloggers. So, I am taking my own advice and looking to you to gage my “reaction” and learn from you. Here is the dealio. (Did I just type dealio? I am so going to have to go to Urban Dictionary and find a new word.)

I have been doing what seems like “battle” with an administrator at one of my kid’s schools for what seems like…well, since I met her. In the last 2 weeks it has gone from doing her job to what I see as bullying. We got a letter sent home prematurely about absences and told that my son’s past 5 absences would be counted as unexcused unless I could provide a doctor’s note. (Not a problem. He went to the doctor and was really sick.) However, this came before the policy states a doctor’s note is necessary and she was going to go back and make what was previously excused now unexcused. Pardon the pun, but excuse me?!

I have mentioned her here before and her very “attentive” ways. Now don’t get me wrong. I think that a kid should be in school when he is able to be there. But if they are sick? Keep them home! And to start with threats? My son makes all A’s with a B thrown in here and there. When he is out, he makes it up. He is a good kid. (And yes, I know all parents say that, but he can back it with grades, too.)

Clint and I talked it over extensively and decided the best policy is to let him be the go-to parent when it came to having to talk to this particular person. (I really want her to bother him at work over some of this. He is not as “nice” as I am when I am telling you off with a smile on my face. He doesn’t smile.) You could say she and I have a personality conflict. But, I suppose her bullying tactics worked. Why do I say that?

Last Thursday night my son stubbed his toe hard on a stack of boards. (Remodeling is dangerous!) It was not just a “say a bad word and move on” stubbing. It was bloody and swollen. When he woke up on Friday, I insisted he take Advil and would be okay and forced him to go to school. (Against what my gut was telling me was the right thing to do, but trying to avoid more harassment and bullying.) After going through 5 bloody bandages and insisting to the nurse that he was in severe pain, I finally got a call. A call that pretty much told me that it was serious and Why was he in school with this kind of injury?

*punch to the maternal gut*

I told the nurse upfront that it was only due to the issues I have been having with said administrator that he was even there. And of all days this was a day when I was not working from home, but was 30 minutes away and unable to get home then. My son was hurting badly and I could not get to him.

*punch to the maternal gut*

I picked him up as soon as I could and took him straight to the ER. After x-rays and exams, we discover he has an open break. That was a new term to me. It meant the cut we saw? That blood? It was from the broken bone in his toe that cut him from the inside. (Go ahead and gag. I did.) Then the ER doctor proceeded to kindly (and he really was nice) tell me that I should have brought him in sooner and he was now at risk for an infection getting into his bone. He should have had stitches. He should have been seen earlier. He should not have been walking on it all day.

*punch to the maternal gut*

Through my tears, I apologized to my son over and over until finally his pain meds kicked in and he looked calmer and was not suffering.

I ignored what I knew to be the right thing to do because of a school bully. (And you thought they were just the kids in school that were bullies. Not so much. They grow up.)

So, now, my son is hurting more than he should and I am angry. Spitting fire angry. And (though I just wrote a long post on banishing maternal guilt) feel guilty. But more than that? Angry.

I have no desire to deal with this woman, but I am sick of her and the way I have seen her bully not only my kid(s) but others. The principal is nice, but is also a “deal with this between the two of you to resolve it” kind of principal. And honestly, I don’t even want to see this woman. There are very few people in this world that can make me this angry, but she is right up there on the top of my list.

You see, if it was just me, this would not be an issue. She would hear what I think and she would have no misunderstanding as to how I feel. But I know this type of person. If I even think about stepping on her toes any further, she is the type of adult to take it out on my son by being even more of a…by being even more “attentive” towards him.

What’s a mom to do?

How did I wake up yesterday “old” when I was just a teenager a few days ago?

How did I wake up yesterday “old” when I was just a teenager a few days ago?

Last night I went to a high school homecoming parade and pep rally. Now remember, y’all, I am from Texas. We love our football. So, a Homecoming parade and pep rally is for the entire part of town that feeds into that particular high school. Everyone gets into the spirit. Old. Young. Adults. Teens. Elementary. College. It is for everyone. So you can imagine the energy that reverberated around that gymnasium. All at once I was 17 again and loving the beat of the band, the screams of the student body and the energy of the football team. Yet looking around me I felt completely ancient. As in “In my day I walked to school in the snow uphill both ways” ancient. (Yes, as a matter of fact I did grow up in Texas and that shall not diminish the accuracy of the claim I make.)

As I sat on the floor of the gym (my knees and butt have reminded me that I am too old for that) looking around at the high school kids, I suddenly realized sometime between my senior year in high school and waking up yesterday morning, I became old. Not old as in “Who is that crazy old lady in the back of the bus screaming about some old cheese smell?” but old as in “I am not a kid anymore.

In fact, I am so far removed from those kids, I could have been their mother. (Please pause while I gnash my teeth and weep for a moment as I realize I have become my mother or your mother or any mother who was looking at those kids and thinking “Gawd, I became–of all things— a parent– at some point when my youth wasn’t looking.“) I will admit that I did enjoy myself and have fun in the moment. And? I enjoyed remembering how much fun it was in high school at my own school pep rallies. And when I looked as young and fit and young as those kids look. (Seriously, though? When did things head south and for that matter, hips and butt head east and west? And was that really necessary, Ms. Metabolism and Mr. Age? So wrong!)

But as I watched the fun unfold I thought “It hasn’t been that long since I was one of them.” And then after I got home, it happened. I got a notice in my email about my 20 year high school reunion. TWENTY years? Oh, I don’t think so. There is no way. I did the math. Yes, way.

As I looked at my kids and the fun they were having. I watched my 6 year old as her eyes lit up every time the cheerleaders performed. (For that matter, every time they looked at her and waved.) I saw her future and the fun she will have. Then I watched my preteen as he realized he is so close to being a part of all of that action. Suddenly, it didn’t feel so wrong to be old enough to have kids that are looking at this in their future. (The very near future in some cases.) Because? I would never go back to high school if you paid me. Sure, many of my very best friends to this day are people I met in high school. They know me better than anyone in the world. (My husband included. Remember, he is my high school sweetheart.) I will admit, there is something to having people in your life who knew you then and know you know and yet…still love you. But going back and living in that time again?

You couldn’t pay me enough.

But it was fun! And it was a nice trip down memory lane. But I prefer to stay here in Momville where I am the parent of the teens who have to go through all of the High School Drama that is the teen years and not one of the young kids who think that those are the best years of their life. Because? Now? Where I am now? These are the best years of my life.

I’m a bad mom– and other lies

I’m a bad mom– and other lies

“I am a bad mom.” How many of us have thought that, said that or typed it out? As I was cruising through many mom blogs today, I decided to see how many women had this same thought. The result? Way too many! I am not talking about moms who are neglectful, abusive or actually lack parenting skills. These are moms just like you and me who have bad days. And let me tell you something, ladies: We all have bad days. Bad parenting days. I had one this weekend. (We’ll just go with that one rather than airing out all of my bad mom days.)

I decided to sleep in and let my husband deal with the kids. Then, I had the nerve to work online for most of the day. Again, letting my husband do most of the weekend work. (Though, I have to say, for a mom taking the day off, I sure was doing a lot for the kids!) However, it was the times that I said no to reading one more story and no to playing a board game and even no to just sitting and watching a movie. Honestly? I felt like a bad mom in those moments. And honestly? I was not. And neither are you when you are doing something for yourself or your business.

The moms I came across said they were bad moms for things that are so ordinary, so everyday that I guarantee at least one reader of each of these can relate. (Personally, I related to all of them. I am not sure what that says about me and my Bad Mom Status.)

Let’s take Bad Mom Number One. She claims to be a bad mom for not having milk in the house for almost a day.

Tomorrow I HAVE to go get milk. It has been almost an entire day and the kids act as if they will die from calcium deficiency if they do not have milk in the morning. I know I am a bad mom for running out of milk.

Not a bad mom. A mom who was exhausted and just did not make it to the store that day and forgot to factor in “two extra milk drinkers for a week.” My daughter can only drink Soy Milk and she has gone more than one day without it when I forget about it until 10:00pm and am too exhausted to go out and get it right then.

Then we have Bad Mom Number Two. She is a self proclaimed bad mom because she does not like playing with her son the games he wants to play.

I hate playing cars and dinosaurs and house and all that stuff. I have absolutely no imagination at all and it bores me to death to do so. I watch Edd and Carter play together and pretend to fight monsters or wrestle in the floor and I sit there and wonder why I can’t get into it. I just can’t. Believe me I have tried, I last about 5 minutes before I am bored to tears and start thinking of the million other things I could be doing.

Sorry, but if that makes someone a bad mom, put me right up there in that line. Barbie? She makes me want to cry. Dressing that doll is like a lesson I once had in college physics. That I failed.

We shouldn’t forget Bad Mom Number Three. Her self proclaimed bad mom-ness comes from neglecting to take her 4 1/2 year old daughter to the dentist.

Little Barbie is 4 1/2 and she lost her first tooth today. I’ve been flabbergasted over the whole thing. She isn’t really old enough to lose a tooth? To be honest, I think she tried to open/break something with her teeth and knocked them loose. The bottom two front teeth to be exact. I am a bad mom because I haven’t yet taken her to the dentist…

I am going to have to plead the 5th on that one seeing as I fear the dentist more than I fear a million spiders crawling into my bed when I sleep. Taking myself or my kids every 6 months for a cleaning is unheard of for me. (It is every 6 months right? See? I don’t even know.) Move aside, Bad Mom Number Three. I think I dethroned you on that one.

And then we have a comment left on one of these posts by Janel who simply and honestly stated:

I think I am a bad mom because I put on the TV if I need my own time.

Do you think my youngest can sing every Dora song and High School Musical song by heart because she was programmed that way? Of course not. It is because sometimes Mom needs time to herself. And if an hour or so of TV keeps me sane, bring it on and help me stay sane.

What is my point? Easy. Moms, listen up. You are NOT bad moms because you forgot the milk, didn’t get to the dentist, let your child watch occasional tv or you are not jumping for joy when you are asked to play cars or dinosaurs for nine millionth time. You are human. You are normal. You are a good mom.

Why a good mom? Because for these things–these small, little things that really don’t add up to much in the big picture– bother you so much, they are obviously not only out of the norm for you, but show everyone who reads your words that you are aware. You are on top of your game with parenting so when one little thing happens, you feel as if you have failed. You have not. You are not bad. You just are NOT. Period.

Let’s give ourselves some slack. Are you being your worst enemy? If another mother came up to you and said she was a terrible mom because she forgot to send a bottle of water to school with her daughter–even though she knows she is supposed to every day– and now she must in fact be a bad mom, would you agree with her? Would you look her in the eye and say, “Yes! YES! You are a bad mom, you water forgetting horrible woman!” (I hope you would not because honestly, I usually never forget that water!)

We make mistakes. All of us. Relax. Enjoy your children while they are young. Enjoy being a parent while you have these wonderful kids in your care. And remember, you are not a bad mom. You are a human one.

Jenn is off to be a bad mom and watch her DVR’ed shows rather than making sure she leaves a note to remember the water tomorrow.

Motherhood, Mentors and Mistakes

Motherhood, Mentors and Mistakes

Let’s face it. Motherhood is tough. It doesn’t matter if you live in a small town in the middle of no where or in the bright lights of Hollywood. Whether you have very little money or enough to throw around carelessly. The act of motherhood in and of itself is tough. It is for that reason that it is vital that mothers have a support system. A group of people in her life that can lift her up when she is low. People who can ground her when she is losing it. A support system that will stand by her in both good times and bad and offer support, advice and guidance. For many women one of those people that is so integral in her life is her own mother. That is not, however, always the case. Sometimes women do not have mothers they can count on or who are even around to be able to call upon when needed. Which is why a support system should be an integral part of every mother’s life.

My own mother was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis before my first son was born. At first, she was there as a mentor. But as the years went on and the the disease took its toll, I lost that mentor. Rather than floating above the realm of reality or getting bogged down in the depths of despair, I reached out to other women. Women I respected, admired and trusted. I cannot imagine where I would be if I did not have the women in my life who loved me enough to call me on the things in my life–in my parenting– that could have been detrimental to me or to my children. They were like tethers in my life. I was able to fly solo and be the Mom I knew how to be, but when I drifted too far off course, they were able to reign me in with a gentle tug and a supportive hand. It made all the difference in the world to me. It literally saved my life.

But what about Moms who do not have that? What about the Moms who do not have people around them who are willing and able to say, “You are way off course here. You have to get help!” What about the women who are surrounded by people who either encourage erratic behavior or just don’t have the gumption to say, “ENOUGH! Look at your life and look at your children! You will lose them if you do not get help!”

Look at Britney Spears.

It doesn’t take the recent court ruling stating that she must hand over custody of her sons to Kevin Federline this week “until further order of the court” to see that perhaps this Mom is in trouble. That certainly was not the first sign that she was in trouble. Where were her lifelines? Her tethers? Her mentors? If ever there is a need for stable people in a person’s life, it is in Hollywood. How many of us watched this train wreck long before it came down to this? How many of us shook our heads at the entire situation as it was plastered all over the front page of tabloids, magazines and “entertainment news” shows? But who stepped forward and helped this struggling Mom?

This news wasn’t really shocking, but it was distressing. I want to believe that Spears had to know that her failure to show up at the parenting classes and drug counseling sessions Gordon ordered her to attend and her apparent refusal to sign a judge’s order would result in the loss of her two kids.

But, I could be wrong. Maybe she had no one to remind her that she had to do it since her lawyer, manager, parents and a handful of friends and employees had either turned on her or abandoned her completely. (emphasis mine)

Some folks just don’t like riding on trains in which the next stop is a brick wall.

We have all made mistakes. Some minor and common. Some that are huge and life changing. Either way, we have all made mistakes in out mothering. Every. Single. One. Of. Us. Who do you turn to? Do you have a support system? A mentor? Someone who will kick your butt when it needs to be kicked and kiss your cheek when you need to be loved or just praise you when you so desperately need to hear that you are doing a good job in a very tough position?

Thanks to the online world, there are those who do not have anyone in person who can help them. Have you ever tried to step into a situation and criticize a mommyblogger who has admitted shame in doing something she feels was bad or wrong? Good luck to you if you do because that is one strong community and we look out for one another. Not only do we support each other through our similar trials–potty training, sleepless nights, colic– but we look to women who have been there before to help us through the hard times too– dating, driving, puberty.

And it isn’t just motherhood alone. I believe that mentors are amazing for women when it comes to parenting and career. Because? The two do not exist in a vacuum. One does inevitably effect the other. Sometimes you need a person to help you realize that one may not compliment the other and you need to step back. Sometimes career moves that seem to be ideal may not be and we need these mentors to grab us by the collar and let us see the big picture.

Who are the mentors in your life? Do you have someone or a group of people who will be there when you need them most? To trust their judgment when yours may not be the best? That is the hard part. Trusting someone who does have a clearer picture of what you are doing and how it can effect your life, your career and most importantly, the lives of your children. Where were those people for Britney? Who are those people for you? Share them with us. Not sure you have one? Shout out. I promise you will find one.

Me? I have so many it would take up pages to list them. I have been blessed to find mentors and a support system both online and in real life who have helped me along. And because I have the floor, I want to thank them. Namely my peers and fellow mommybloggers who have been there in good times and bad to help guide me when I have those “I just can’t do this!” days. I would love to name them all, but I just could not. Each mom I have become friends with–become a part of a support system known as mommyblogging– has touched me in ways I just cannot begin to list. But there are a few that I simply have to name as they have been there for me in so many ways– motherhood, career and life.

Just to name a few: Cynthia Samuels. Have you met her? If not, meet her. She is one of the most amazing women I know. She has been a support in both my career and my personal life. She sees in me the person I want to become. I am all the better for knowing her.

Jory DesJardins. (Yes, our Jory.) She has been there when her life is so busy she probably doesn’t even have time to sleep. She is the type of woman who sees through mistakes to who you really are and stands by you. She has been an amazing mentor when I come to her with career questions. Never once turning me away. (And trust me on how busy she is. She could very easily say no.)

The best selling author Shirley Jump was one of those women who blew me away with advice and support these past two years. Though a bestselling author and very sought after woman when it comes to writing advice, she was one of the first people to contact me after my mother died. She encouraged me to keep pushing through with my writing and take the mental break when I needed to do so. She got it. She walked me through one of the toughest times of my life–and with a book deadline looming!

And one of the sweetest bloggers I have met online, cassie-b, who I have begged to adopt me on more than one occasion. When it seems like I am at wits end with parenting, she always gives me a fresh perspective on motherhood. (And, hey, Buzz turned out pretty great, so she must know what she is talking about.)

Tell me about your mentors, your support system. Need one? You will find one here. Just ask.

Jenn is off to work on becoming the person these mentors and friends think she actually is.

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