Sunday, November 24, 2013

Neon Nails

I have metallic blue fingernails. I was driving home from the salon and it hit my like a mani/pedi hangover!I'm way too old to have made such an immature decision. What was I thinking? I should know better. I might have gotten away with it when I was a teenager, but I'm not a teenager. I the MOTHER of teenagers. Dear Buhda, what have I done?

Perhaps I should have taken the hint when the nail tech asked--for the seventh time--"Blue on the fingers, too?" It's a beautiful color for a flower or an earring or even a dress. It shouldn't be on the tips of a 40 year old woman's fingers.

Why not just open up the polish remover, you ask. I thought about it. I almost did. Then I realized how wonderfully, terrifically, amazingly awesome it feels to have blue nail polish as my biggest current life regret. My current biggest regret is not a bad relationship. It's not a bad job choice. It's not a loss of temper or an embarrassing F-bomb foible. It's not a bad debt or even a now-empty gallon of Rocky Road ice cream. My current biggest life regret is nothing more than a questionable color choice. Now, that's a regret I can live with.

So, why should I be in some desperate hurry to erase it? To save myself embarrassment or critical glances? I don't think so. Perhaps, I should just live with it for a while. After all, it's a vivid reminder that life is...well...full of opportunities to create regret so I need to slow down my A.D.D. brain, think things through, don't make rash decisions, and (every now and then) consider the ancient wisdom of Asian philosophy.

What's your latest regret?

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Bad Kid!

He’s a bad kid! The words came from an adult, passing judgment on a boy she didn’t know. I corrected her. He’s not a bad kid. He’s a good kid who made some stupid decisions, but he’s still a good kid. She pointed to his stupid decisions and relentlessly insisted he was a bad kid! In sticking up for him, I found myself raising my voice and angrily gesturing. I actually started shaking, I was so mad and the boy isn’t even my kid! I wanted to point out to her the stupid shit most teenagers pull from time to time and how we are called not to label them for their stupid actions. This woman, who works diligently with multi-cultural issues such as inclusion and acceptance, was labeling a child she didn’t know based on gossip. Her judgment rattled me for the rest of the afternoon, but also got me thinking. What exactly is a “bad kid”? There are extreme examples, like school shooters and such. But what about everyday examples? What separates the Ornery Kid from the Bad Kid? The Stupid Decision Maker from the Purposeful Instigator? The Peer Pressure Caver from the Willing Participant? What gives parents that gut feeling that we don’t want our children hanging out with THAT kid? Furthermore, what separates the Judgmental Mom from the Gut Truster Mom? Honestly, if most of us knew exactly what our own children were texting and tweeting and chatting and drinking and doing outside of the prying eyes of parents, we might condemn them, too. I’m not saying all kids who make stupid decisions are blameless. I’m also not excusing poor behavior because everyone else is probably doing it. I guess I’m simply empathizing with those my friend calls “Bad Kids”. I would not want to be a teen in today’s world. The pressure, temptations, justifications, opportunities, disturbing role models, and mixed societal messages have magnified a million times compared to earlier generations. When otherwise good, decent young people fall into some of that muck, I don’t think our first reaction should be to label him “Bad” and spread his dirty secrets. After all, we adults have created the muck, isn’t it our obligation to help teens avoid it or help rescue them when they don’t? Don’t misunderstand; I still believe there are young people who are bad influences. I’ve witnessed good kids go down bad paths, led by some pretty bad kids. There are people of all ages out there who give me that gut feeling. But I think it’s fair to say that there are some kids out there who give me the opposite kind of gut feeling. There really are good kids who make stupid decisions. And apparently, there are good adults who say stupid things. I guess that doesn’t necessarily make them bad adults.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

I've Just Been So Busy...

I've been meaning to post glorious, insightful parenting gems for weeks. I've just been so busy. At least that's my excuse.

Today, as I was busily scrolling through Facebook, I saw this:

And I stopped. Immediately. The message slapped me awake. It's what we do, isn't it? We glorify our "busy".

Now, some of what we do--of what I do--is legitimate busy. I do have teens with hectic schedules and without vehicles. It seems that their practices are always scheduled at the same time on the opposite ends of town. And of course, they are scheduled on the same day as important meetings I've been mandated to attend. There are days I am fully in favor of human cloning!

Today's Facebook post brought some perspective, however. When did society begin glorifying busy. We all know those Super Moms who spearhead every community service project and decorate personalized cupcakes for every student in her son's class for party treats and creates 50 page scrap books from found art and recycled bridal bouquets for teacher gifts and organizes the soccer treat schedule, but brings treats to every game anyway just in case someone forgets and just ran a marathon last week and NEVER has a perfectly highlighted hair out of place! We all stand in awe. How on earth does she do all of that? It makes us feel guilty when we send the bag of Oreos to school and  have to rely on Super Mom because we did, in fact, forget soccer treats. And our hair is never perfectly anything. And yet we feel so busy. In fact, we beat ourselves up if we aren't busy.

So what is the pay off for busy? Does it make us feel like Super Moms, even if we aren't crafty or won't ever run a marathon? Does busy help us feel justified for our parenting choices? Does Working Mom glorify busy as a way to make up for not staying home? Does Work-at-Home Mom glorify busy as a way to make up for not doing it all, like Working Mom does? I've had the opportunity to be both. If I stop my busy long enough to think about it, the answer (for me) is this. Busy does make us feel like we are sacrificing for our families. When we run--or rather drag our tired butts--through the finish line at the end of the day, we feel some satisfaction that we gave our all to our kids. That's a good feeling, but it might not be such a good lesson.

Have you noticed that our kids now glorify busy to the point that they don't know what to do with leisure? They get nervous if they aren't Tweeting or chatting or listening to music or watching TV. We can hardly blame them, though. It's how we raised them. We dragged them to Scouts and soccer and cheer and gymnastics and baseball and dance and Tae Kwon Do. We even equipped our cars with TVs and DVD players, so they wouldn't be bored while eating MacDonald's on the way to swim team. If we are honest with ourselves, there were probably many times they told us they did NOT want to go to practice or games in 100 degree weather or rain or after a late night. Looking back, I wonder why all that busy was so important. I think I'd like to have a little bit of that busy back.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

There's No Feeling Sorry in Soccer

I almost can't watch NCAA March Madness or Superbowl or NBA Finals with my son anymore. He gets so mad at me. Inevitably, when it gets down to the final seconds, he'll turn to me. "Don't say it, mom! Do NOT say it! Don't say you feel sorry for the losing team."

I can't help myself. I do feel sorry for the losing team--even if the losing team just lost to the Jayhawks.

Yet, as much as I feel sorry for the losing team, I have yet to figure out how to parent losing. It's easier with my Drama Queen Daughters. When they don't get the part, it's easier to understand that maybe they didn't fit the "type". They were too tall, too short, too pretty. It's like this--an actress can be the most beautiful, most talented, most experienced blue puzzle piece on the planet, but if the director is looking for a yellow puzzle piece, she's not going to get the part. So they go on and find the director looking of the perfect blue puzzle piece. Not that there aren't Pity Parties. After all, what's a Drama Queen without her Pity Party?

The analogy doesn't work with athletes, though. When the buzzer sounds, one team was better than another. Period. That's it. Somebody loses and somebody wins. It doesn't matter what color your puzzle piece is. Somebody was clearly better than you.

So here's what happens when a Roaring Stage Mom tries to be Roaring Soccer Mom. Second Place Kid saunters to the side lines. Roaring Mom smiles. "You did great!" Dirty glare from Kid. "I'm so proud of you." More Dirty Glares. "I could tell you were giving it your all!" Huff and Glare. "You don't have any reason to hang your head." Finally, a verbal response, "Mom, we lost." As if Mom wasn't watching the game or something. "Yes, but YOU played great." Another, huffier response, "I don't want to talk about it!" Mom goes in for the hug. "Seriously, Mom!" Huff and Stomp Off.

I have probably spent twice as much time at soccer practices, games, tournaments, try-outs, conditionings as I have at theatre activities. You'd think I would have figured this out by now. No consolations for the Second Place Kid. No Pity Parties. No Puzzle Piece Analogies. No feeling sorry for the losing team. At least not immediately.

World Cup Champion Brandi Chastain, in her book It's Not About the Bra, says it's about finding balance. "One of the first things I learned about losing is not to overreact to the emotion of the moment." I've never been good at not overreacting to the emotion of the moment. I've cried in almost every darkened theatre my kids performed in and, more embarrassingly, on plenty of soccer sidelines as well. But my Soccer Kids rarely do--not on the sidelines. They celebrate victories and accept losses. Then they refocus, reload, and reclaim success as quickly as possible.

And if you think about it, that's what the Drama Queens do, too. It's the Roaring Moms who are left watching, helpless, from the wings--cheering, crying, praising, praying--win or lose. In fact, I think the Roaring Mom has the harder job.

So when the World Series rolls around this year, I won't tell my son I feel sorry for the losing team. I'll tell him I feel sorry for their Moms!

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Roadtrip Survival 101

At the airport the morning of the big NYC trip
just before the flight was cancelled and they had
to scramble to find another. Clearly the travel
gods do not love us!
Here's how I know my teenager is prepared for her travels to the Big Apple: I've set a splendid example. Sort of.

It is one of the summer days when I sleep in too long and wake in a panic. I have a ton of stuff to do. No time for a shower, I shellack the hair, throw on a bit of make-up and run out the door. By noon, I have successfully completed the errands, put out at least 2 figurative fires, and avoided 3 future problems! I am a woman on a mission. In fact, I am a woman done with her mission and who desperately needs a shower after running around, unbathed in the already 90 degree weather.

But fate has other plans. As I pull in, Sophie is pulling out. She is headed to Oklahoma City (about 2 1/2 hours away) for a master voice lesson. Suddenly, I have one of the Roaring Mom gut feelings that she should not go alone. So I jump in her dad's SUV with her, which is already gassed up and ready to go, and we head out.

It is a lovely mother/daughter bonding trip isn't! On the way out of town we decide to grab a bite. However, according to Dirty Shirley (the technological witch referred to in the February 18, 2012 post Tech Trouble), there is nothing available other than Asian food. No offense to the Chinese, but Asian food is the only food I really, really do not like. Finally, after 45 minutes of rush hour driving while my stomach attempts to eat itself, the Hunger Anger sets in and yelling starts.

"Fine!" Sophie yells back, "It says there's a Grandy's up ahead. Turn right." Only Dirty Shirley did not signify on her deceptive little Garmin screen that this is the dirtiest Grandy's in America! Hunger wins out and we order. We ignore the bugs and spider webs and sticky substances on the tables and try to eat. But it can't happen. My hand will not let itself bring that "food" to my lips. So we leave.

An hour later, the SUV crawls to a stop on the highway. Of course, it happens as I am passing a semi, so we barely make it to the left side of the road. Vehicles whizz by, 6 inches from the passenger side. A lot of the honk. None of them stop to help.

So we help ourselves. After 45 minutes of sitting in the 100 degree heat, making numerous phone calls home and to AAA and to the tow truck place, we decide to forge the 1/2 mile walk down the nearby exit ramp to the Conoco--correction, the Dirtiest Conoco in America. I decide to make the best of it, find the humor. That's what I do, right? I grab my bag and an umbrella for sun protection, lock the car and start our journey through the tall prickly grass that lines the exit ramp.

I'm thirsty. I'm hungry. I'm ruining my pedicure and my overpriced Grazies. I open the umbrella. At least I won't be sunburned, too. But the umbrella is no help. The spokes were broken and it won't hold it's shape. The wind turns it inside out.

Suddenly, a tortured laugh escapes my parched throat. "Sophie, this just goes to show you that you should always travel with sensible shoes and water. Just in case."

She stops, unamused, turns to me, and says in all seriousness,"Mom, I'm wearing tennis shoes. I have a liter of water in my bag, three oranges, a long sleeved light weight jacket and a fully charged cell phone. You are wearing blingy flip-flops, carrying a broken umbrella, a dead cell phone, and a bag of make up. I think I got this."

" least I'll look good!" Only I don't. Nor do I smell good. That extra hour of sleep was really not worth it.

An hour later, cramped in the cab of a tow truck with a mute driver who apparently doesn't believe in radios, I'm starving to death with no connection to the outside world. Sophie is still hoarding her oranges and cell phone. I hope she knows that if we are ever on Survivor, I'm voting her off and stealing her supplies!  Wait! Strike that! I'm voting myself off so I can take a hot shower in a cushy hotel. She'll be fine with her Mary Poppins backpack. And she'll be fine travelling to and from NYC, too.

What can I say? If you can't be a shining example of the right way to do it, be a memorable model of how to do it wrong. And pray your kids run in the other direction.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

The Apartment Complex

It happened to me again last night. I got the "apartment complex" stare!

I was taking a brisk walk around the beautiful lake in my new serene back yard when I came upon a woman walking her dog. I immediately recognized her as a fellow soccer mom. She was surprised to see me in her neck of the woods.

"Hi. What are you doing over here?"

"Hi! Well, we just moved in to the apartments over there."


There it was--that blank, confused, uncomfortable stare. Once again, I found myself jumping into the upbeat explanation of my life decisions.

I first noticed this "apartment complex" stare several months ago in the lunch room at work. A fellow co-worker overheard my discussion about our upcoming move. "Uh-oh," he said. "You're moving to an apartment? Is there something going on?"

At least he was upfront and showed some concern. I quickly laughed off his concern, however, and explained that this was a choice. In fact, it was a good, healthy choice for our family. After this initial experience with the  "apartment complex" stare, I recognized it more and more. Soon, I had come up with a brilliant explanation that rolled off the tongue, sometimes even before the stare manifested itself.

"You know I have 2 out of the house now and the 2 who are left spend part of the time with their dad and we just didn't need the 5 bedroom, 3 bathrooms, 2 living rooms, a dining room and breakfast nook, office and big back yard and actually I don't really like yard work anyway, in fact, I hate it and the kids don't really like it either and although that was a great house for us at a different time in our lives, it's not the place for us now and the kids and I looked at a lot of smaller places and the apartment is the one they chose, it will be like and adventure and we really only have to live there for a year and if we don't like it we can move so it will kind of be like a yearlong vacation...oh, and we don't have to shovel snow either."  Whew!

It was ridiculous, but something good did eventually come of it. As I verbal vomited all over a single mom friend of mine one day, she breathed a heavy sigh and confessed that even though she got the house in the divorce, it had become a bit of a burden. It needed new windows and flooring. She'd been eying some new condos, but...A few weeks later another mom friend called to tell me they were  moving out of their 5 star hotel house and into an apartment. "We've become slaves to it," she said. Both of these friends seemed relieved to tell someone who understood and didn't judge and didn't give them the stare.

I guess it's no different than the look I give empty-nesters who choose mortgage over retirement or young couples who buy the biggest, baddest, fanciest, shmanciest house while still paying off crippling student loans. Perhaps instead of giving the stare, we should all just smile and ask, "are you happy there" and if the answer is yes, then we should be happy for them. After all, home really is where the heart is and should require no explanation.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

I've Created a Monster

I'm outnumbered, pure and simple.

You would think that this would be a familiar feeling, considering I am a single mom with 4 kids. You would think, but you would be wrong.

Now that I'm down to only 2 at home, I am more outnumbered than ever because the 2 who are still home are frequently referred to as "The Frank-n-Carmen". When they were toddlers together, the monstrous nickname was cute. It was funny. Now, it's downright scary.

I wish I could have recorded our first serious conversation in our new home. It had obviously been planned for some time. But not by me.

F-n-C: Mom, now that we're in a new place, there should be new rules. So we're each going to write down 3 rule changes that should happen.

Mom: Ok, how many rule changes do I get?

F-n-C: (Exchange of secret language expression) You can have three, too.

Mom: Oh, good.

F-n-C: (In unison as if scripted) Three total. Not three for each kid.

Mom: Well, let's see your changes.
Rule Change Lists:
  1. Later Curfews
  2. Cussing is allowed.
  3. Ability to come and go when you want and all you have to do is tell mom where you are going.
1. When we go out, we don't have to give a big background check on our friends.
2. Everyone go with the flow.
3. Mind yo own business, Fool! (That includes everyone).

Mom: You understand that I do have veto power on all of these, Fool?! (Okay, I didn't say, FOOL, but I dearly wanted to. But this was their first attempt at sitting down to discuss rules in a mature manner. I wanted to respect the process.)

F-n-C: Come on, Mom. We thought that once we moved to the apartment, you would be cool. All kids who live in apartments have cool parents.

Mom: How many kids do you know who live in apartments?

F-n-C: (Again, in unison) You know, on television.

Clearly, I would never make it as a TV mom. 

I have feeling this is only the first of many double teams for which I will have to brace myself.

For years I have told the Frank-n-Carmen, "Do you know why you guys are so close together in age? It was planned that way, so you would have a playmate. Now, go play." It seemed like such a good idea at the time--you know, sibling bonding and all that. Well, at least I can say the bond that was created is a strong one. I guess I can take solace in that, even if it means I'm outnumbered!

Sunday, June 9, 2013

If God Doesn't Make No Junk, How Come My House Was Full of It?

I've heard it said that to make room for new in your life, you must get rid of the old. Well, if that's true, I've got a whole lot of new coming my way.

Remember that show Clean Sweep, where the crew would completely clean out 2 rooms of a home, redesign, redecorate, and re-enter only those items absolutely necessary to the space? Well, imagine doing that to 14 rooms plus a garage and an attic. And all the stuff has to re-enter half as many, smaller rooms. Sound impossible? Well, it nearly was. In fact, the process is currently ongoing, so I'll let you know if it can actually be done.

I always wondered why the homeowners in the Clean Sweep episodes cried at the finished product. Now I know why. Downsizing is physically, mentally, and emotionally draining. Imagine looking at every little tiny thing in your dwelling and making a decision as to whether or not it is important enough to make the cut. Every postage stamp, kid art, wine glass, candle, blanket, and even pet must be considered. The bottom line is that I've made more decisions in the last 2 months than I have in the rest of my living years put together. I can only hope I made the right ones. In the end, the overwhelming conclusion is that I have too much stuff. We all have too much stuff. And when the place you put the stuff in is too big, you have stuff you don't even know you have. For example:

The fact that we could never find a pair of scissors for any of those Sunday night projects that the kids had 3 weeks to do, but put it off until the night before resulted in the purchase of 8 pairs of scissors that would one-by-one disappear into the 7 junk drawers located throughout our 5 bedrooms and 3 baths.

The fact that we could also never find sharpies, pencils, colored pencils, and pens during those panicked moments resulted in 2 shoe boxes FULL of writing utensils moved to the new place. We should never be at a loss for pens again. No junk drawers here.

Not sure how this one happened, but I think it has something to do with the excessively tall kitchen cabinets in the old place and my 5'3" frame. Three unopened bags of flour made the move. Now I know I like to bake, but three? Geesh! Before I started packing, I didn't know I had even one!

And finally--two laundry baskets full of socks--and not the fancy schmancy $15 socks that all the 14yr old boys are wearing now. We're talking men's tube socks from the ex-husband who left like 5 years ago, socks with holes, socks with no elastic, funky mismatched socks, and a few matching, decent running socks thrown in. Really? Who in the world needs all those socks? By the way, just so you know I'm not a complete crazy hoarder, the socks did not make the cut!

As telling as the emptying of the junk drawers and pantry is, I don't think that's why the Clean Sweep homeowners cried. I think it was the letting go of the emotional burden that brought on the tears. Hanging on to the possibility of finding that matching sock and the knowledge of the existence of scissors you can't seem to get your hands on is emotionally burdensome. It's like hanging on to the possibility that your past heartaches were only in your imagination. Sweeping clean a house that holds the memories of a lifetime, choosing the ones that make the cut, that you will carry with you into the future, purges not only junk drawers in the home, but also in the heart. And it makes room for something new.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Get A Life

So apparently my life is over and I didn't even know it. I made this realization, quite unexpectedly, while cooking dinner in my kitchen on an otherwise uneventful Monday evening. The revealing conversation went a little something like this:

Beloved Son: Why would anyone want to get old? Wouldn't you rather die young, like at 40 or something? What's there to do after 40?

Me: (mildly amused and slightly offended) Uh, I'm 40.

Beloved Daughter: Yeah, 40 isn't young!

Me: (mildly amused and reasonably offended) What do you mean 40 isn't young?

Beloved Daughter: Well, it's not like anyone really has a life after 40.

Me: (curiously annoyed) Oh, really?

Beloved Daughter: Think about it, Mom. What do you do with your life? You go to work. You come home. You grade papers. You take care of us. And we're almost all outta here. What will your life be when we're gone? Go to work, come home, and grade papers? That's not much of a life.

Me: (thoroughly depressed) Well, thanks for clearing that up.

Beloved Son and Daughter: (Laughing) But as long as YOU like it. That's what matters.

Me: (plotting revenge) Is that right?

Beloved Daughter: Well, it would be an okay life, I guess, for normal people. But you're not...normal.

Beloved Son: Yeah, you're not normal.

If any one of you Roaring Moms and Dads ever wondered what your adult life looks like in the eyes of your got-it-all-figured-out teens, there ya have it--abnormal and old. Shortly after this enlightening conversation, my normal, young teens went back to their exciting lives of staring into a cell phone screen and tweeting one-liners for the next 4 hours. So, I called a girlfriend and planned a Margarita night. I had to squeeze it in between my upcoming trip to Kansas City to watch my published author friend accept a Reader's Choice award and a fund raiser event.  Then I searched the calendar for a day I could pencil in "Get A Life." Unfortunately, there wasn't anytime available. Maybe I'll get around to that...when I'm done grading papers and taking care of my kids.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Brainiac, Smarty Pants, or Class Weirdy?

It only takes about five minutes in the presence of my nephew for me to know that I am not smarter than a 6th grader. Of course, I felt the same when he was 7, only I was not smarter than a 2nd grader. I'm not smarter than his little sister either. I often marvel at his mother and how she's able to stay sane raising not only 1, but 2 children with a genius IQ.

Then there's my other sister who held a Smarty Farty Party for her kids last year. All of them had straight A's! Great! Not only are they are highly achieving brainiacs, but they host a mean party, too!

Nothing like a little family bragging to make a Roaring Mom feel...adequately average.

Don't get me wrong. Although we're not brainiacs, we do have our strong points. After all, the FrankandCarmen were valuable members of their Scholar's Bowl team. They always knew the correct answer to questions like Who sang the song "Hey, Jude"? or What's the only animated musical to win an Oscar for Best Picture? Apparently, Pop Culture is our thing.

I still remember the day Sophie came home from school quite disturbed. "Is it bad," she asked, "when you make an obscure movie reference and the only kid who gets it is the class weirdy?" Then her sibling answered, "I thought you were the class weirdy."

At least we know our place. Well, some of us do. We're still working on Sophie.

So, in honor of my brilliantly average-but-stuffed-to the brim-with-useless-knowledge-brained kids, here's a Roaring Moms Useless Knowledge Pop Culture Quiz for all you brainiacs out there. Go ahead, give it a try. You, too, could be a class weirdy and you just don't know it! It takes a perfect score to be a Class Weirdy. Otherwise, you're just a regular brainiac. Sorry, but what's the fun in that?

1. What is Princess Leia's birthplace?
2. Who is Miss Piggy's true love?
3. What was Johnny Depp's first role?
4. The number 300 from the movie of the same name stands for what?
5. Who says, "You are a sad, strange little man..."
6. What color is Mace Windu's lightsabre?
7. What is Drake and Josh's sister's favorite nickname for them?
8. What's the most wonderful thing about Tigger?
9. What happened to Max on the night he wore his wolf suit?
10. Why does the Jayhawk fly backwards?
11. Who wears number 1 on the Women's USA soccer team?
12. Which one of the Golden Girls is from St. Olaf?
13. What was Nanny Fran's previous occupation?
14. How many Lego pieces is in the Millennium Falcon set?
15. Whose motto is "Never Give Up! Never Surrender!"?
16. When does a wizard arrive?
17. What's the name of Ron's Weasley's rat?
18. In what years did KU win the NCAA Basketball championship?
19. What is the secret ingredient in the Krabby Patty Formula?
20. Oh where, oh where, oh where, oh my hairbrush?

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Drinking Practice...for 13 Year Olds

I still remember my first(and last) drinking game. I was terrified and embarrassed and humiliated. Everything my mother said I would be...or would have said I would be if she ever would have acknowledged the presence of drinking games. (Instead we usually got the very cryptic, generalized "nothing good ever happens after midnight" speech. And if it wasn't good, we didn't need to know about it.)

I was so naive. How they ever let me into that sorority, I'll never know. And why I thought it was a good idea to attend that frat party is even a bigger mystery. Nevertheless, there I was, surrounded by a bunch of very impressive, beautiful, cool, drunkards falling all over themselves and each other with inebriation and laughter because of a question and answer game that resulted in someone--the winner, the loser, I'm still not sure--chugging a beer.

Ok, let's stop right there while I give you a bit of history. First, I HATED the taste of beer. Still do. It tastes like sweaty gym socks soaked in urine. In addition, the only experience I had had with "chugging" was downing big gulps out of the milk carton before my mom walked in the kitchen and caught me.

So I decided I just had to be part of this party game. I answered a question, everyone laughed, and before I knew it, someone was shoving a beer in my face. I chugged a can of sweaty urine and it came right back up, like a baby who sucked down his formula too fast. As if the fact that I had no idea what the game was, how it was played, how you won or how you lost was not embarrassing enough for my stupidly naive college sorority self, now I was covered in beer vomit. Soooo cool! At least I wasn't so stupid as to repeat the drinking game experience. I did have enough brain cells left to figure out that the name, rules, and winners of the game truly didn't matter. The purpose was to get drunk--that was it. Wow! How bored and pathetic must the very impressive, beautiful, cool people be if this was their idea of fun.

So here's the question. Why, if the purpose of a drinking game is to get drunk, why oh why are our middle schoolers playing non-alcoholic versions of them at parties? I was shocked the night my 8th grader came home from a birthday party at the home of a friend with the parents present, and he started describing the fun party games--various versions of Truth and Dare or Have You Ever where the party players had to drink for answering a certain way. There was also the Blink and Drink game where partiers watched Twilight and took a drink of soda every time Kristin Stewart blinked. So I asked my child what was the point of those games. His answer came with a vague, confused expression--to find a reason to take a drink.

I was shocked. Then I was mad. Then I was disgusted. Not with my child, but with the parents. Does it matter that there was no alcohol in their Red Solo Cups? Did the parents ever check on the kids? Did they not provide alternative activities that didn't involve mock drinking games? Was this the best entertainment they could come up with for a bunch of 13 year olds? What is wrong with parents who think this kind of fun is ok or even cool for our kids? For crying out loud, do we not have Google for a reason? If you can't think of something more appropriate, Google it. If nothing else, go to Laser Quest. Rent an inflatable obstacle course. Host a Nerf War. Play Dodge Ball. Surely, we can do better for our kids.

One humiliating, gross experience with a drinking game made me realize that all these cool kids weren't really cool at all and that games played for the purpose of finding a reason to take a drink were not only a waste of time, but also a poor determination of friendship. I was in college, arguable the appropriate time to become "educated" enough to make those kinds of educated decisions. And maybe I didn't need that much "education" because I had been exposed to a myriad of other kinds of fun that don't have "finding a reason to drink" as the purpose. So I guess I'm admitting that I'm glad for naivety that night. I think it gave me healthy perspective. Maybe we should give our kids a little naivety too, instead of helping them find a reason to drink. Wouldn't that be cool?

Sunday, January 6, 2013

There are Worse Things

"You are turning into the cat lady."                      

At least that's what my friends tell me. Just because during a two week period in December, nine out of ten of my Facebook posts were about my new kitten does NOT mean I'm turning into the Cat Lady. Just because my sister opened a photo text from me the other day and responded, "I thought that would be a pic of your new grandson, not your cat," does NOT mean I'm turning into the cat lady!

I have dogs. I hate the dogs, but I still have them. And what's the use in keeping alien beast canine creatures who wake me up three times a night, sneak naps on the couch which used to be green but is now a lovely dog hair white, eat entire stacks of pancakes from the kitchen table when we turn our backs, and do unspeakable semi-sexual things to each other when they are bored. In the middle of my living room. With company present. Sometimes my mother. What's the point of keeping them around if their mere presence does not preclude me from being called a Cat Lady!

Besides, if I am a Cat Lady, I'm not a very good one. I'm not sure actual Cat Ladies would allow me in their club. I almost got my last cat killed. In my defense, I did nurse it back to health after a broken leg which was NOT my fault, I might add. Still, I did almost get it killed. But not until after I tried to give it away to numerous people. But the stinking thing (and I do mean stinking) wouldn't stop pooping on everything--except the litter box. I just couldn't live in a cat toilet anymore, so I took him to the Humane Society. Seemed like the humane thing to do, right?

After I filled out all the paperwork and said my goodbyes, they inform me that they don't take Pooper Cats. They would be putting him down that day. Then the intake lady confesses that her own cat sometimes prefers to poop on her bath towels and gives me a look that says we should expect as much when we invite animals into our homes. She follows that with a mini-lecture on how cruel it is to just turn a cat out and make him live outside when he's been used to being inside.

Careful, Lady! I perfected the guilt trip lecture! In fact, maybe it was cruel of us to turn him into an inside cat when we "rescued" him from the outside. Maybe he prefers to be outside. And maybe your Pooper Cat prefers it, too and that's why he poops on your bath towels! I took Pooper Cat and left. I brought him home and introduced  him to his new lodgings--nature!

Can I help it if I missed the snuggle of a soft kitty, warm kitty, little ball of fur? So when I saw the ad seeking a home for an unwanted kitty, I couldn't help myself. I ran over to the owner's home and scooped him up (after making sure he was box trained, of course).

So you see, I am not a Cat Lady. Just because my arms and hands and feet and legs have so many cat scratches I look like I've been attacked by a poltergeist but I still let the little furball snuggle under the covers at night does NOT mean I'm a Cat Lady. Just because I turn on Maru You Tube videos for hours on end because the kitty is obsessed with them, which forces me to put off my computer work until it's cat nap time, does NOT mean I'm a Cat Lady. Just because I like to watch the occasional Maru video myself does NOT mean I'm a Cat Lady. Just because I bought my first QVC purchase--a new camera--late one night with the idea in mind to document cute kitty poses does NOT mean I'm a Cat Lady.

...                                                SEE MARU VIDEO HERE

What does it mean, however, that I am now buying things off QVC in the middle of the night?
Oh, God! I think I'd rather be a Cat Lady!

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Praise for the Super Nag

I thought I knew all the parenting tricks. I really did. Then something interesting happened. My teenage daughter said I could nag her. In fact, she insisted I nag her! Now that's a new twist in motherhood I never expected. The same teen who tells me I care too much and that it makes her angry when I praise her asked me to nag her into submission!

You see, she's got a fitness goal. I'm really proud of her for making this goal. She's new to high school sports and wants to make sure she can compete. I tell her she's awesome. She's great! She can compete with the best of them. Her response--the ol' Huff and Puff followed by the ever effective Eye Roll. Sometimes there's even a bit of "You don't know anything, Mom" or "You have to say that. You're my mom."

And yet she comes to me, Roaring Mom, for the Super Nag! YESS!!! All those years of perfectly punctuated lectures have paid off. 

Who knew that the perfectly punctuated lecture was the desired parenting procedure, even over the perfectly punctuated praise. I sure didn't. But that's the thing about parenting--we learn more from them than they probably ever learn from us.

So, I eagerly awaited my first nagging opportunity. It didn't take long. It was only later that week, in fact. She'd been sitting in one position, staring at her phone screen so long that muscular atrophy was only minutes away.   Here was my chance and I jumped right in!

"You need to work out. Get off that phone. If you wanna earn your spot, you gotta work harder than everyone else. Stop staring at that phone. Don't be so lazy. Get up and get going! Let's go! Let's go! Let's go!" 


"Come on! Let's go! You said I could nag you. You think Hope Solo stares at her phone for hours on end? Let's go! Let's go! LET'S GO!!!"


"What? You said I could nag you."

"Yeah, I said you could nag me. I didn't say you could be annoying!"

"Oh. Is there a difference?"

"I guess not with you."

"Well, I'm just gonna keep on being annoying until you get up and go. So deal with it!'



And she got up and go-ed! Yes!  Success!

Funny, all the Roaring Mom Praise in the world couldn't motivate her, but the Super Nag did the job splendidly. 
Guess you can teach an old Roaring Mom new tricks!