Tag Archives: Family

Hilarity on the High Seas

hooper

We have returned!

As previously reported, we brazenly laughed in the face of odds (and disaster flicks) and embarked on a Carnival cruise.  Surprisingly (sadly?) there was nary a floating turd on the Lido Deck so we will never be lifetime travelers courtesy of the cruise line.  Ah well.

But, as duly noted on my Facebook status, we arrived home sufficiently brown, shamefully bloated and very, very broke (bar tab?  No thank you. I’d rather just write out my daughter’s college tuition check since it pales in comparison).

Honestly, it was a trip. A flipping hilarious, can’t-make-this-stuff-up trip.

Here’s why….

If you think the best part about departing on a ship right out of the New York harbor was our cost-saving on airfare, you’d be brilliant, alas incorrect.   Saving money is superb but vacationing with 95% of passengers hailing from New York or New Jersey trumps just about everything.

The roof, the roof, the roof is on fire!

It was a joyous freak show of continuous people watching and I actually found myself jotting notes on napkins so I wouldn’t forget any of the details.  I’ve got to be good for at least two more full-length blogs but we’ll see how this goes.

Now don’t lick the stamp on that hate letter just yet.  I happen to be a born and bred Long Island girl myself — as was my sailing partner/former college roommate, Betsy.   We were amongst our people.  We were one of them.  We had the right to mock.

And mock we did.

Maybe I could just get started on some bullet points:

* 2600 passengers on a ship and no less than 2500 tattoos.  So much ridicule, so little time…

For me, the whole tattoo thing is a perpetual head-shake.  20-somethings with deep, philosophical verses (or rap lyrics) emblazoned in calligraphy all over their body?  Really?  You’ve already got everything figured out so decided to spell it out in a line from “Fight Club” or a Ne-Yo song?  Good idea.  Idiot.

And the middle-aged woman sitting at the bar with the face of Tony Orlando on her right shoulder?  Hmm.  You might guess we barely had anything at all to say about THAT.

Or the guy with the faces of different Transformers on the backs of each calf?  Nope. Just don’t get it.

The clear winner, though:  The creepy, skinny guy with G-O-D-S  G-I-F-T  written across his knuckles.  (Mom, what do you think of my new boyfriend?)  Stupidity on parade.

I could’ve easily ignored my party of eleven for the whole week just watching the tats go by.  (Again, let’s go easy on the hate mail.  My husband just got his first tattoo after running the NYC Marathon this year.  He rocks.  And his tattoo is the bomb.  But to be fair, I’d mock Tony Orlando on him, too.)

* The food thing.

Sweet Jesus.

It’s actually easy to keep the pounds off while cruising if you simply follow some obvious rules:

First, simply glance around the dining room at everyone eating as if it’s their last meal.  All day long.

Or, grab a seat directly across from the old man with the tracheotomy netting politely covering his well, tracheotomy, because it turns out he will, in fact, start coughing if   when something gets stuck in it.  Kinda makes you put down the danish if you know what I mean.

If all else fails, park your lounge chair next to the deli station that’s poolside.  Besides the fact that nothing screams We Are New York!, Dammit! like the lofty smell of sauerkraut all afternoon, you may even find yourself sick to death of Ruebens by Day 2 (unless of course you’re a 14-year-old boy — then you’ll still be eating three daily up until disembarkment).   At the very least, sticking poolside and watching people eat in their bathing suits is calorie counting at its most efficient.

* Interesting people abound.

Good grief, I could go on and on with stories about all the fascinating folks I stared at for eight days but I shall end with the best (and maybe continue on with others in my next installment).

We spotted The Most Intriguing Man on Board the first day at sea.

Now, if you combine Samuel L. Jackson, Issac Hayes and Linc from the Mod Squad, you might come close to how coolly intimidating this guy was.  Completely (awesomely) tattooed (including his bald head – I’m telling you:  BADass.  There was NO mocking here), he was walking around with neon colored bungee cords slung over his shoulder.  Not the stupid little kind your husband keeps in the garage “just in case” but enormous 8-feet-long ones with bright brass hooks.  We assumed he was a maintenance worker because he was shirtless, with jeans rolled up to his knees and work boots.   But THEN we caught sight of him that night, strolling into the adult comedy show wearing (and I don’t even think I can adequately provide a proper visual here) a bright red shirt, equally bright red PANTS, and a glittery jeweled belt, smack dab in the center.   Like an international man of mystery:  we couldn’t take our eyes off him.

Next day, there he was, strolling with his bungees again.  At this point we were beside ourselves with curiosity (you know, because there were few others on board to fixate on.  Laugh.)

Fast forward another day, another few buckets of beer and POOF!  He’s hanging poolside.  My gal Betsy made a beeline.  It needed to be revealed:  FortheloveofGod, she questioned, why the bungees???

They were (wait for it) his on-board workout routine. In the coming days he went on to delight us by actually doing his resistance training routines on the deck rails above us because – along with being the Most Intriguing Man on Board, he was also a cool, good guy and seemed happy to accommodate our shallow lives by providing a little spark.  Don.  From Brooklyn.    The Man.

I haven’t even gotten through half of my napkin notes yet …

(… to be continued …)   (obvs)

Tina Drakakis blogs at Eyerollingmom and was featured in the 2014 Boston production of “Listen to Your Mother: Giving Motherhood a Microphone.” Her work has been featured in NPR’s “This I Believe” radio series yet she places “Most Popular 1984” on top of her list of achievements.  (Next would be the home improvement reality TV show of 2003 but her kids won’t let her talk about that anymore).   A witty mother of four, she takes on cyberspace as @Eyerollingmom on Twitter and Eyerollingmom on Facebook. and@Eyerollingmom on Instagram.

Mom’s Passed Out (or rather, Vacation Week is Here!)

wally

My family will be taking a vacation soon and there’s not a doubt in my mind I will be the first one asleep on Night One.  We haven’t even left yet and I am exhausted.  Why?

Because I’m the Mom, that’s why.

And every Mom knows:  when the vacation countdown begins, if we ceased doing what we do … ain’t nobody goin’ nowhere.

We push up our sleeves with a determined “I Can DO this” mantra but the truth is, the procedural that takes place the full week before departure is outrageous.  It makes me wonder why anyone ever chooses to leave their home in the first place.

The laundry?  Kill me.

The packing?  (Did I already say kill me?)  I laughably thought it would get easier as my kids got older but now — in addition to needing bigger baggage (for bigger clothing) — I find myself in Supreme Nag Mode.  Apparently I am the only household member over the age of 14 that finds it necessary to actually haul a suitcase up from the cellar before 2:00am the night before pulling out of the driveway.

The checklist of Wal-Mart runs, haircuts, dog-walker-flower-waterer-house-watcher instructions —  along with the panic-inducing Don’t-Forget-to-Pack-or-the-Vacation-is-Ruined items — has me realizing I never even did the end-of-the-year backpack clean-out on the last day of school.  (Quick silent prayer:  Please God, let those nasty knapsacks be free of yogurt this year…) May I be totally excused?  I’m going with yes, totally.

Worse than that:  It was my intention to exercise my way into a respectable bathing suit by now but by the time all of the above was completed (pfffft.  was there ever a doubt?) there was no time left.  Now I’ve got to rely on the sunburnt-skin-turning-brown trick-of-the-eye to help me get to that goal.

Nards.

So yes, I’ll be a little tired and a little (cough) thicker than I’d like to be but I’m thinking as soon as that first icy cold margarita gets sipped, my revved up week of “Maaaaaaa, where’s my …?” will be but a blur.

We’re taking a cruise with one of my bestest friends in the whole world:  my college roommate and her family.  When she’s not making me look like a wallflower she will be enthralling my kids with one hilarious story after another.  Each day I suspect our husbands’ lounge chairs will be purposely perched farther away from us but believe me, we are sooooo used to that.

That we’ve brazenly decided to throw caution to the wind and stick with our plans to go on Carnival –  you know, the “Fun Ships” (“fun” of course questionably translating into fiery engines and passengers hurling overboard) — only shows how committed we are to having stupendous stories to share at the end of our trip. Good God — can you even IMAGINE the blogs to follow should we spy poop floating on the Lido Deck due to scary sewage fiascos?

I’m fairly certain I would finally break into the International Blogosphere if something ridiculously newsworthy befalls our ship so, by all means, keep your fingers crossed and your eyes on the CNN ticker.

My family doesn’t do trips like this often but truthfully, lately my husband and I have been invoking a Live for Today attitude.  A couple of sudden deaths in the family and a handful of kids unbelievably graduating in the blink of an eye will do that.

Time is whizzing by faster with each passing year and life certainly isn’t getting less complicated as we muddle through it so … this year at least … we’re acting a tad frivolous and going for broke.

I mean that literally.  But I’m also banking on this bad boy boat clipping an iceberg or something and getting a lifetime of free cruising from our friends at Carnival so really, it’ll be fine.

Just fine.

Bon voyage!!!

Tina Drakakis blogs at Eyerollingmom and was featured in the 2014 Boston production of “Listen to Your Mother: Giving Motherhood a Microphone.” Her work has been featured in NPR’s “This I Believe” radio series yet she places “Most Popular 1984” on top of her list of achievements.  (Next would be the home improvement reality TV show of 2003 but her kids won’t let her talk about that anymore).   A witty mother of four, she takes on cyberspace as @Eyerollingmom on Twitter and Eyerollingmom on Facebook. and @Eyerollingmom on Instagram.

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Eyerollingmom’s Christmas Letter: Nothing But Ho Ho Honesty

grinch

 

I don’t send out Christmas cards anymore and if I’m being completely honest, I kinda sorta question why some people still do.

I’m not a Grinch.  Hell no.  I still partake in holiday cheer (ahhh, too much, some may say) but I guess I just feel that a lot of old traditions are rather redundant in today’s all-knowing-all-the-time existence.

I never planned to stop.  It just sort of happened the year my mom passed away.  Three months after she was gone I struggled to put up a Christmas tree, let alone send out a photo of my kids who weren’t looking much different than all the pictures I’d been throwing up on Facebook throughout the year.  And of course anything good or eventful that went down in my life had already made it into a post, or text or blog.  Really now, is anyone in need of a recap?

But I’ve always thought that if I did send out a Christmas letter it really wouldn’t be like everyone else’s.  Here’s what I mean:

If I sent out a Christmas letter I’d say for sure, my year was just likes yours:  full of happiness and thanks and blessings and joys and laughter and (hello, four perfect kids?) plenty of proud and boastful accomplishments.  But then I’d feel compelled to add it was also a year filled with a whole bunch o’ family crap,  a shitload of sadness, some bitter disappointments and (hello, four slightly imperfect kids?) too much embarrassment to mention.

I’d start by bragging about my oldest, my newly minted 21-year-old.  He is my unchallenged sweetheart — mainly because he is hands down the most respectful of the tribe.  To this day, he’d do anything I ask without so much as a sigh.  I’d say how my heart swells with pride that he is a USAF Reservist and I am duly delighted that he’s going to school to become an EMT and paramedic.  But then I’d have to admit that his lack of motivation to work at anything — ANY thing — full time makes my blood pressure surge.  And worse, that when I see him playing video games for hours at a time I want to scream like a crazy person on a NYC street corner.  Don’t even get me started on the beer cans in his room.

I’d then go on to gush about my daughter, who’s rocking her sophomore year at college and blossoming into a beautiful and engaging young woman right before my eyes.  She’s really something else.  I’m genuinely in awe of her compassion for the environment and her conviction to make it a better place.  Though I’ll miss her like mad, I know one day soon her dreams and plans will take her away to some exotic place far, far away from me.  Still, I’d be remiss if I didn’t admit her staunch insistence that humanity is failing … troubles me greatly.  Quite honestly, her woe is the world philosophy is a complete and total buzz kill at the dinner table and (sigh) an argument typically ensues when she really gets going.  Truth be told, if I must nitpick, the toxic fumes festering in her room from the mess seem to be a blatant contradiction of the green earth she’s desperately seeking to save. (Apple cores:  best placed in a compost heap rather than under that bra on the rug, no?)

I’d continue and blather on and on about my middle son, a high school sophomore, who is incredibly handsome and intelligent and easy going and popular and athletic and …  and … so incredibly lazy I feel I should start researching boarding schools.  Or wigs — since I’m dropping fistfuls of my own hair as I chase him around screaming about missing homeworks and vanishing assignments.  I am convinced the sound of my voice is like a dog whistle to his immune ears and I fear he may fall out of bed one night and suffocate in the pile of wet towels next to his bed.

I’d then be forced to boast about his sidekick — my youngest — the king of the eighth grade and future president of the United States of America.  Here is a fellow so incredibly beloved and kind and charming and funny … that his teachers and friends’ parents would be aghast at the shrill volume of his disrespectful back-talk to me.   If he was heard by the masses on a particularly bad day he’d find himself one lonely little boy indeed — because parents wouldn’t let this Talented Mr. Ripley within earshot of their own children.  If they only knew…

I’d tell about our loss this year of our infamous Grandpa Eggo, my stepdad, and only remaining grandparent on my side of the family tree.   Just shy of his 92 birthday, he was one hell of a hot ticket – and  — a bonus — had Carl Fredericksen from the movie UP as his celebrity doppelganger.  Looked JUST like him and THAT was hilarious.  We got a lot of laughs out of his couple of years without my mom as a buffer but man, I’d have to admit that the old guy drove us batshit crazy much of the time.  What’s worse:  his death leaves a distinct hole in the lives of my siblings, for we are now forced to reconcile our simmering differences without a neutral zone of connection.  Being a grown-up becomes acutely harder when you’re left to deal with the messy family stuff without parental referees.

I’d close my Christmas letter with the unthinkable confession that some of my happiest moments are the rare occasions when I pull into my driveway after work and the house is completely – silently – empty.  For a short time until the chaos begins again, I am blissful.

But then, then … as my final admission,  I’d confess there are unexpected moments that catch me off guard … when the house is quiet and — to the contrary — I am consumed by a wordless panic.  My thoughts drift to a time soon to come when I’ll finally be without the video games and the wet towels and the beer cans and the fighting and the back-talk.

And my dread is paralyzing.

Funny how life knows when to give you a swift kick in the ass when you need it.

In those minutes of solitude and fear I somehow understand my personal charade.  Perhaps I bitch and squawk so much … only to mask how crazy I may become without them?

And that’s the truth.

So anywho, even though I don’t send out Christmas letters … or Christmas photos (please.  No-shave November is killing any chance of that; who wants multiple Wolverines in their family photo?) I do always reflect on my passing year, only in a warts-and-all kind of way.

 

Wouldn’t it be great if more people did the same?

 

Merry Christmas, dear friends and readers!

 

Tina Drakakis blogs at Eyerollingmom and was just featured in the Boston production of “Listen to Your Mother: Giving Motherhood a Microphone.” Her work has been featured in NPR’s “This I Believe” radio series yet she places “Most Popular 1984” on top of her list of achievements.  (Next would be the home improvement reality TV show of 2003 but her kids won’t let her talk about that anymore).   A witty mother of four, she takes on cyberspace as @Eyerollingmom on Twitter and Eyerollingmom on Facebook. –

 

 

“… ‘cuz when you’re fifteen …”

mean girls

My little girl turns 15 today and I am (weirdly? surprisingly? vaklempt-ly?) emotional about it.  I didn’t get this way with my firstborn (a son) and I imagine I won’t get this way with the younger boys either (because naturally I have confidence they will both reach every year of adolescence with a Nerf sword in hand).  And my feelings have little to do with my daughter’s incessant request for a belly button ring.  (An aside:  I really don’t have an issue with this – call it admirable jealousy:  I clearly didn’t have her cute figure when I was a freshman.  Nope, she’s battling her dear ol’ dad on this one.)  Yet I’m strangely flooded with pensive memories of the significance of this milestone.

Fifteen was a good year for me.  My two closest girlfriends at that age are still in my life today and hugely important to me.  I make my daughter aware of this often.  Fifteen was also the year my tender heart was broken for the very first time (oy vey, Adam Boyar), cementing my lifelong attraction to funny, Jewish guys (which clearly explains my utter enjoyment in Ben Stiller and Jon Stewart but curiously casts a light on my eventual choice in soul mate – a Greek/Puerto Rican/Catholic charmer…). Hmmm….

Still, everybody knows: fifteen today is waaaaay different than fifteen of then.

I feel for her.

I fear for her.

And I forever wish that her good sense remains unclouded when the rains fall and heartache beckons.

For her birthday, along with the designer sneakers and other items (that WILL be returned, I am sure of it) I got her something special.   I commissioned a handmade pen and ink calligraphy of her favorite song, “Fifteen” by Taylor Swift.   It is a song I am unable to listen to in its entirety without tearing up (“…..and Abigail gave everything she had to a boy…who changed his mind…”).   It was meticulously crafted onto pale pink parchment paper and was framed to match her bedroom.  It is beautiful.

And taped to the back of it is a card from the artist – my best friend at fifteen – who devilishly inserted a photo of the two of us, arms entwined, from 1981.

Proof that true friendships last.

Proof that strong beautiful teenaged girls survive fifteen.

Proof that even though tempers flare and hatred is hurled, our moms are always, always, always going to love us.  And cry at songs that remind us of being a girl.

Happy Birthday, my sassy, sharp, and stunning Carson.  You are the light in my life (and one day you’re going to laugh when you find out your dad has nicknamed you “The Fury” during this oh-so-fun time in your life).

2014 Update:  Fours years later, my lady, my love, is a college sophomore today.  She survived fifteen with grace and wisdom that carried her through sixteen, then seventeen, and eighteen and finally nineteen years old.  She surprised me with an impromptu visit from college tonight — her first time home since August.   I am happy beyond words and — apparently — feeling a little nostalgic. xoxo

cklove

Forever & Always: an 80s Kinda Gal

16

 

I have to admit (though if my kids were to miraculously start reading my blog I’d feign dementia) that as hip as I am (that’s right) I am, at times, well, a little lame. In fact, I’m actually all sorts of lame for a variety of reasons.

 

For starters, I totally fake my way through the French words in “Lady Marmalade.”  I know….seriously.   (Hypocrite lame?)

 

I am vain to a fault, having worn lipstick through four childbirths (a subtle mauve) and also popped every blood vessel in my eyes because I made sure my contacts were in, too. (Insecure lame?)

 

I have never seen “The Rocky Horror Picture Show.”   (Uncool lame?)

 

I think tattoos are a really bad idea on most body parts (unless you’re planning on being perpetually nineteen and skinny … then I stand corrected).   (Judgemental — or jealous — lame?)

 

I can’t text without using proper punctuation (naturally it takes me five times longer because finding the apostrophes is always troublesome).  (Grammar Nazi lame?)

 

I loathe baking.  The only reason I even own a rolling pin is because one holiday season a neighbor creatively attached one to an invitation to a cookie swap and stuck it in my mailbox (of course prompting my immediate response What the hell is a cookie swap?)  (Lazy lame?)

 

But perhaps my lamest admission is that I really (really) heart the 80s. (Aqua Net lame?)  I spent my adolescence, my college years and my Melanie-Griffith-Working-Girl stage in that decade so who can blame me?  John Hughes movies, white zinfandel pinkish-pretend wine,  grocery shopping in track suits … (oh wait, maybe that last thing was just Long Island …).  It was just a funny time – so big and brash and booming.   The best.

 

Lately my friend Theresa and I have been debating the Worst. Song. Ever.  Whenever we think of one we text it to each other (properly punctuated on my end).  So, while I’m sitting at the Macaroni Grill and my phone beeps, I’ll look down and all I’ll see is “Raspberry Beret.”

 

I crack up.

 

And when she’s waiting at a practice field, her phone lights up and displays “99 Luftballoons.”

 

It’s been going on for a couple of months now and I’ve just realized that all of the songs we’ve been using are 80s tunes.

 

“Eye of the Tiger”

 

“China Girl”

 

“Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go” (my God, I think I just threw up a little in mouth just typing that one)

 

“(I’m Only) Human” (man, I hate that one)

 

“Shy, Shy” (funny:  just texting the name Kajagoogoo alone is worth sending…)

 

Still good stuff.

 

Just some really (really) lame music.

 

And it was all played a couple of weeks ago at my high school reunion (I can’t even begin to go there yet because I’m still processing the visuals from it).

 

Maybe soon though.

 

Tina Drakakis blogs at Eyerollingmom and was just featured in the Boston production of “Listen to Your Mother: Giving Motherhood a Microphone.” Her work has been featured in NPR’s “This I Believe” radio series yet she places “Most Popular 1984” on top of her list of achievements.  (Next would be the home improvement reality TV show of 2003 but her kids won’t let her talk about that anymore).   A witty mother of four, she takes on cyberspace as @Eyerollingmom on Twitter and Eyerollingmom on Facebook. –

 

About A(nother) Boy

Potts_12

What?   You want to know about my kid — your student?  Pffft.   You don’t have to ask twice.

I’ve been waiting for this homework assignment.  And — since I already bared all about the other kid in a previous post — parenting rule #16 dictates I must now provide equal billing here.

When asked to “Tell About My Scholar” in a million words or less, here’s what I said to enlighten my son’s seventh grade math teacher:

 

Now that we’re a couple of weeks into the school year, it is likely Trevor has already charmed you.  I am here to explain why.

Sure, there are the usual reasons:  Affable?  Compassionate?  Kind?  Check, check, check.  But his natural tendency to be an all-around nice kid comes from a darker place.  He’s actually making up for lost time.  The truth is, he spent the first two years of his life crying miserably and awoke from every slumber angry and screaming and ready to rumble.  No one ever knew why.   It was almost as if he knew from the start he’d have an uphill battle for attention as the youngest of four children and wanted to make sure we all knew he was around.  He’s been working that playbook ever since.

Even today when he fights with his siblings, he is the loudest. It’s actually kind of amusing.  For certain you will witness none of this ridiculous behavior in your classroom, because he is the middle school Clark Kent of secret personas.

So yes, he’s a super awesome kid but he carries around this deep dark secret.  It’s true; we have proof (ask him to tell you about  “the picture” that one of his teachers kept on her desk for a while last year).  I just felt you should know.   If you ever have a student in need of a friend, Trevor’s your man.  If there’s a task you need help with, he’ll be the first to offer.  And unlike his brothers that came before him, he actually tells us about his school day.  We’ll hear all the good, the bad, and the ugly algebraic equations that are kicking his tail (again, this constant chatter at home is  simply a constant reminder that he is, well, around.  Nothing more).

According to his stats, he is presently the only breathing middle schooler without a smartphone.   If he doesn’t do well in your class , he knows this sad, sad statistic will not change for him.  I imagine because of this he’ll work extremely hard in your class.   (Fun fact:   he did get a perfect score on his third grade Math MCAS … this keeps him on the Scholastic Leaderboard of Competition we keep on our kids but  hello, third grade? — this star is losing its luster and he knows it).

I hope you enjoy Trevor as much as we do (you know, on his good days).  He’s got a great sense of humor and a winning disposition.  He’s one of our favorites but we’ll never, ever tell.

 

Tina Drakakis blogs at Eyerollingmom and was just featured in the Boston production of “Listen to Your Mother: Giving Motherhood a Microphone.” Her work has been featured in NPR’s “This I Believe” radio series yet she places “Most Popular 1984” on top of her list of achievements.  (Next would be the home improvement reality TV show of 2003 but her kids won’t let her talk about that anymore).   A witty mother of four, she takes on cyberspace as @Eyerollingmom on Twitter and Eyerollingmom on Facebook.

 

About a Boy

about a boy

 

I had a pretty awesome “homework” assignment last night.  One of my son’s teachers asked for an essay – “in a million words or less” –  describing our child, our “scholar.”  This was a seventh grade Math teacher and it struck me as brilliant for a couple of reasons.

First off, it’s seventh grade Math.  Yawwwwwn.  How much compelling personal interaction could possibly go down in a typical math class?  In a 43-minute Algebra lesson with so much material and so many learning types to master, could there ever be any time for group anecdotes about weekend cookouts or opinions of the latest Adam Sandler movie?  Mmmmm, doubtful.
Second, this particular son of mine is that kid – the fairly quiet student who laughs at the class clowns, and perhaps secretly strives to be one.  I have no doubt his teachers don’t get an inkling of his true personality until after Christmas break.
So she wanted to know who her students are and blew right past the requisite fill out this questionnaire routine.  Another hidden agenda of brilliance:  how telling to hear the actual voices of parents.  Who’s a braggart… who’s a worry-wart… who’s incapable of decoding their, they’re and there?  I just thought it was great.
So off I went and had some fun.  I just hope he had the kahunas to hand it in.  It’s (naturally) extra-credit and we recently had checked off our “You-will-do-any-and-every-extra-credit-offered-to-you-because-you’re-a-dummy-if-you-don’t” discussion.  We’ll see.
I hope his Math teacher has a sense of humor.  Here it is:

 

There’s a lot you should know about my scholar Luke …..although much of it would make him turn six shades of crimson and want to crawl into his desk….

That little conundrum leaves me with little to reveal.

I guess he wouldn’t mind if I told you that I believe he’s a sharp lil’ whippersnapper, with his Mom’s love of humor and his Dad’s love of sports (because to Luke, ESPN really stands for Every Sport Possible No-lie-will-be-watched-on-every-television-set-at-all-times).

Luke won’t give you any trouble and certainly won’t be to blame for any nonsense that might arise within your classroom (because anything that happens will likely be his younger brother’s fault.  Really.  Go ahead, ask him.)
My scholar is a reflective kid, usually just observing the world around him, taking it all in, and keeping a lot of notes.   He “gets” it.

 

He knows the words to every song on the radio.

 

Won’t talk to his mother about girls.

 

And is extremely well-liked (and that’s not just his mom talking).

 

(Caution: Do not tell him this.  He already thinks he’s all that and a bag of chips, so in this house, we try to keep the compliments to a minimum.)
In general, I think you will thoroughly enjoy having him in your class.  We kinda like having him around here, too.  Especially on the days when he showers – then he smells realllllllllllll nice.  (Actually, if I’m being truthful, I guess I have to mention that he showers every day.  That’s a good thing for 7thgraders, right?  In fact, he showers so much that he’s almost at the 40-minute-shower stage of adolescence that starts peeling paint off the walls.  So, he’s right on track.  It’s all good.)

He’ll stay under your radar ….

….. and chuckle at the jokes that go over everyone else’s heads…….

 

Have fun with our scholar – we certainly do.

 

 

 

 

Tina Drakakis blogs at Eyerollingmom and was just featured in the Boston production of “Listen to Your Mother: Giving Motherhood a Microphone.” Her work has been featured in NPR’s “This I Believe” radio series yet she places “Most Popular 1984” on top of her list of achievements.  (Next would be the home improvement reality TV show of 2003 but her kids won’t let her talk about that anymore).   A witty mother of four, she takes on cyberspace as @Eyerollingmom on Twitter and Eyerollingmom on Facebook.

Kid-Free Vacations: Parenting Guilt or Brilliance?

home alone

I just returned from a short vacation, not only without the kids, but – for the very first time – having left them home alone without adult supervision.  Before the speed dialers hit the DSS hotline, I guess I should point out that 50% of my dependents are, in fact, (cough) adults.  Well, as per their official documentation, they are.  Legally, I was good.

 

Quasi-adults or not, I’m not going to say it was without stress.  Quite the contrary, in the days leading up to departure I think my hair started falling out more than normal and a queasiness in my belly was brewing.  Graphic headlines taunted my dreams:  Selfish Parents Perish in Plane Crash …  Kids Left Alone Arrested for Stealing Snacks, Claim Partying Parents Left No Food …  Party House Sees $20k in Damages for Negligent Owners.

 

Good God.  What was I thinking?

 

For the record, I challenge my husband frequently on daily matters both big and trivial – you name it, I will argue it:  parenting issues, furniture-placement, even which appetizers to order in restaurants.   But when he was doing his best to convince me of a solo jaunt more than six months ago, well, it didn’t feel like much of a fighting matter because there seemed to be more pros than cons.  We’d gotten a super cheap deal on both lodging and flights, our eldest would be turning 21 by summer’s end, and the remaining 3 were primarily self-sufficient (bathroom hygiene notwithstanding but I imagine with teenagers that issue won’t be disappearing anytime soon, eh?). Besides, our neighborhood watch is stellar and my kids knew it:  my phone would rival the Batphone should any shenanigans arise.

 

But six months came quickly and by the time I should’ve started packing, I still wasn’t so sure I was comfortable with the decision.

 

“My parents left me alone for a week when I was a junior in high school,” my husband countered.  I just gave him the face (cue in knowing nod from all the wives out there).

 

I cooked for days, typed and retyped a multitude of lists, texted every neighbor within earshot of my address and threatened every one of my spawn with their own personal Achilles Heel of punishment.  If Project X was going to happen in my absence, livelihoods were going down, one body at a time, dammit.  It would be a race to the rat-out of epic proportion.

 

So we grabbed a couple of friends who like us, never came across a Happy Hour they couldn’t enjoy, and hopped over to Myrtle Beach for three days.

 

Now, Myrtle Beach is a fine and lovely place.  It is also – in the middle of August – Africa hot.  (Hence the need for Happy Hours in South Carolina?  Coincidence?  I think not.)

 

And three days isn’t a particularly long time – especially when you’re on the clock of Only Got Three Days – but hitting the ground running upon arrival helps.

 

We sat our sleep deprived selves in one lounge chair after another (by day) and one bar stool after another (by night) and amassed some amazing laughs in a mere 72 hours.

 

The kids called every so often and only one questioning text came in from the neighborhood watch.  When I realized the house wasn’t going up in flames and no one seemed to be killing each other, I had to (popular song reference ahead) let it go.

 

We had a rental car but we jumped into nightly cabs regardless to do our part to be responsible.  Turns out, my kids were doing theirs.

 

When we arrived back my daughter (19) audibly sighed with relief when she got in from work.  “I am sooo glad you’re home,” she said, slumping down on the couch with me.   Hmmm.  This responsibility thing is exhausting, isn’t it?

 

My middle son (15) couldn’t wait to show me something cool.

 

“Mom, come here, check this out.”  He was giddy.

 

He tapped the centerpiece fruit bowl, which contained a frightfully blackened  banana and what appeared to be a couple of apples from the Clinton administration.  Three thousand fruit flies shot up and swarmed crazily above it.

 

Nice.

 

Note to self:  Despite the obvious, “Throw out rotting fruit” needs to get typed onto that list next time.

 

But alas, will there be a next time?  Maybe down the road but definitely not for a long time.

 

I need to wait until my hair starts growing back in before even thinking about it.

 

 

 

 

 

Tina Drakakis blogs at Eyerollingmom and was just featured in the Boston production of “Listen to Your Mother: Giving Motherhood a Microphone.” Her work has been featured in NPR’s “This I Believe” radio series yet she places “Most Popular 1984” on top of her list of achievements.  (Next would be the home improvement reality TV show of 2003 but her kids won’t let her talk about that anymore).   A witty mother of four, she takes on cyberspace as @Eyerollingmom on Twitter and Eyerollingmom on Facebook.

 

 

Cancun Can(‘t) Do

cancun

 

Just visited Cancun for the first time this summer.  Couple of friends, no kids and unlimited food and booze.  As a bonus, a mildly-middle-aged (or, in-denial-about-it) gal like myself can feel pretty good about herself lounging around a pool with a bunch of confident  Europeans, known globally for letting it all hang out.  It was a rather delightful self-esteem boost.

 

A not so delightful self esteem boost:  going out to a club one night.  Clearly this decision should have been filed under “what were we thinking” the minute we found out the van was departing our resort for the club at 11:30.  That’s pm.  Still, we threw our shoulders back and crammed into that un-air-conditioned death mobile with reckless abandon. (”We’ll sleep when we’re dead!” became our vacation mantra.)

 

We were determined.  Determined to actually ACT they way we FEEL.  Determined to keep up with the hip twenty-somethings that were (inexplicably) hanging with us all week.  Determined to return home to our kids with wild-n-crazy Mexican adventures.

 

After our eyes adjusted to the strobes, we made our way single-file (connected, chain-gang-like) past hordes of gyrating, thrusting, heaving, puking, sobbing, screeching teenagers (ahh…right…the drinking age is eighteen in Mexico).  We huddled together in our resort-appointed table and stared.  It was like an MTV marathon without commercials.  I made the decision right there that my children would never, ever visit Cancun (or any other Caribbean island) until their honeymoons  (Natallee Holloway anyone?  Yeah, STILL freaks me out…).

 

We left before the wet-tee-shirt contest concluded, making our way to the exit past the authentic boxing ring that had been brought in for it.  We’d heard that this club’s big finale culminated with the roof opening and “rain” pouring onto the dance floor.  Excellent.  Wet-tee-shirts for everyone.

 

No thanks, we were done.  We were going to get our mildly-middle-aged-or-in-denial-about-it asses back to bed because we had a big day starting in a few hours.

Tequila volleyball began at noon.

Tina Drakakis blogs at Eyerollingmom and was just featured in the Boston production of “Listen to Your Mother: Giving Motherhood a Microphone.” Her work has been featured in NPR’s “This I Believe” radio series yet she places “Most Popular 1984” on top of her list of achievements.  (Next would be the home improvement reality TV show of 2003 but her kids won’t let her talk about that anymore).   A witty mother of four, she takes on cyberspace as @Eyerollingmom on Twitter and Eyerollingmom on Facebook.

How Long is 3 Years? Any Mom Can Tell You

time

I lost my mom three years ago today and began marking the anniversary of her passing with some reflections about passing – time passing, that is.  Most people don’t notice time passing in any given day but Moms certainly do.

 

Moms get it.  We get it when we look down at our 8th graders and see hairy man legs.  Even though we’ve seen that gangly leg a zillion times it still halts our heartbeat for a second when we, you know, really see it.

 

We notice time passing when our 10th graders start sporting sideburns and facial hair and we realize we never even saw it coming.  One day it’s just, well, there.  When did that start? we wonder.  Geeze, we’d focused so intently on the deepening voice …

 

When the summer days start getting shorter moms become aware of time when our college coeds start gathering their things again.  Already?  Really?    We watched them whizzing around for a few weeks, burning the candle at both ends (a mirror image of ourselves so many years ago) and then poof, they’re gone again.

 

We moms also give a knowing nod to the slow passage of time when our oldest children – kinda sorta adults in the making — start paving their own paths through life with or without our gentle suggestions. Having to watch mistakes being made — then figured out — oddly enough causes time to stall a bit (insert nervous laughter from parents living with young adults).

 

It’s pretty easy to see how moms become acutely aware of time.

 

This past weekend a big group of friends and I took a ferry over to Provincetown and spent a spectacular summer day carousing in the sunshine (and, okay, perhaps a few bars, too).  It was a stunning day yet I had tiny moments of sadness throughout it because it dawned on me: the last time we all did this together was exactly three years ago.  I know this so well because it was the one lone day of fun I experienced that summer before spiraling down the heinous rabbit hole that was my mom’s cancer.

 

I used to phone her on the weekends to catch up, telling her all about the kids’ games or what I bought on sale that afternoon or any frolicking I’d done with my zany friends.  Sometimes I’d just pour a glass of wine and shoot the shit with her. She’d always turn down the volume on the Law and Order episode in the background and listen happily as I went on and on, blissfully content in the animated updates of my life with her beloved grandkids

 

That last ferry outing is seared into my memory because when I phoned her that evening to tell her all about it, for the very first time she was unable to keep up her end of our conversation.  She was frail and whispering and I remember hanging up and sobbing.  I knew:  she was fading away from me. Our special phone thing was never going to happen again. Within days I was back with her in New York, where I didn’t leave until her horrific ordeal was over, just weeks later.

 

I remember every moment of our final phone conversation.

 

156 weeks have flashed by and still my maternal awareness of time flares at the most unexpected times.

 

Today, the dynamic of my family is dramatically different than it used to be three years ago.  Now a household of teenagers and young adults, it is, if I’m being honest, a much lonelier place for me.  Mind you, it’s not a sad place – quite the contrary – it’s busier than ever and full of laughs (ahem, hilarious at times) and as chaotic as any other family of six usually is.  But as Dorothy Gale once said, “People come and go so quickly around here.”   That tends to happen in a household of primarily self-sufficient bodies.  Work schedules, college distance, school events, social commitments, you name it.  Family dinners are a rare occurrence now and more often than not there are nowhere near six people under the roof at any given time.

 

Everyone’s so busy they’re hardly ever here anymore.

 

So sometimes it just gets a little lonely when I remember about that pesky – and fleeting – time thing.

 

It makes me appreciate car rides.  And conversations.  And calendar pages with few markings on them.

 

And it makes me feel wickedly sneaky frying bacon for the sole purpose of waking teenage boys out of weekend slumbers.

 

And it makes me acutely aware that small moments are very, very good.

 

And  — without question — it makes me vow that forever … if I happen to get a phone call from one of my loves that is afar … I will turn down the volume of Law & Order and listen up.

 

And be very, very happy.

 

Just the way my mom was.

 

 

 

 

 

Tina Drakakis blogs at Eyerollingmom and was just featured in the Boston production of “Listen to Your Mother: Giving Motherhood a Microphone.” Her work has been featured in NPR’s “This I Believe” radio series yet she places “Most Popular 1984” on top of her list of achievements.  (Next would be the home improvement reality TV show of 2003 but her kids won’t let her talk about that anymore).   A witty mother of four, she takes on cyberspace as @Eyerollingmom on Twitter and Eyerollingmom on Facebook.