Tag Archives: teens

Chapter 3: Sorry, We’re Tied: ALL Kids Are Filthy

chap 3

Kids are filthy.

From a sweet baby’s very first up-to-his-earlobes explosive poop to a darling daughter’s bloody bathroom waste basket to a teen son’s crunchy socks next to his bed (let’s do this together, shall we: ewwww), our kids are an abundance of nasty from the get-go.  The intensity of it simply grows as their size does.

Most parents usually evolve through these stages of mess and mayhem. I can’t speak for everyone but I know I am not alone in my transformation, having begun as the Organizer of Playsets After Bedtime (because, hello, Luke Skywalker, you do NOT belong with the Riddler) to where I am presently,  throwing up my hands in defeat and closing doors to the war zones I don’t want to see.

Oftentimes offspring go through transformations, too.  It’s hard to pinpoint exactly when it happens but there’s an undetected moment in their lives when kids go from not bathing at all to taking forty minute showers. It may seem unexpected but at least for boys, it actually follows the natural progression of your hand lotion disappearing (again, in unison: ewwww).

I remember meeting someone for the first time and our cordial chatter revealed the ages of our children.  I think at the time my oldest might’ve been thirteen but his were a bit older.  At one point this dad rolled his eyes dramatically and quipped about paint peeling off the bathroom walls.  I smiled politely and moved on because I had no idea what he was he was talking about.  Before long, I did.

Ohhhh, the steam, now I get it ….  I’ve since had to repaint my bathroom.

I think we can all agree that every parent believes she has the world’s worst kid-and-hygiene story (“I’ll take Toenail Clippings in the Kitchen for $500, Alex”).  Arguably the most reviled aspect of parenting, yep, it’s a total bummer.  Every parent can relate to the appalling conditions of kids’ bathrooms because there’s really nothing like it.  For years I commuted using NYC subways and yes, those smelled better.  If I’m being honest the sheer concept of a kids bathroom is not something I was privy to until a few years ago.  I may be living like a filthy American these days (looking at you, separate potty room) but I actually grew up sharing a bathroom with four other people and raised my own family of six sharing one, too, for quite some time.  Personal sinks are sweet luxuries indeed — until it dawns on you you’re the only one cleaning them.  I may be fortunate enough now to have my own (ahem, master) bathroom but sadly it didn’t come with a moat — so keeping out the unwanted is an everyday struggle.  Now that I’ve seen how the other half lives, I don’t want to share.  I’ve never been a fan of the family bed and I am now less enamored of a family bathroom.  So yeah.  Get the fkkk out, spawn, and take your hash-marked boxer briefs and clumps of drain-clogging hair with you (and … while I’m at it … feel free to grab your dad on the way out).  There aren’t enough adjectives for gross.  At what age does a sanitary bathroom become important and why are there so many unanswered questions about it? How does toothpaste even get on mirrors?   If not on the mirror, why must it remain in a goop in the sink until it becomes cement? Are the fifteen empty shampoo bottle for a science project?  Do you really not see the pee hitting the floors/walls/heater ???   Gaack.

We love the stuffing outta them but our kids are disgusting.

Curdled baby vomit on our clothes (and no, the smell never comes out)

Poop, poop and more poop (and, in the case of boys, continuing FOREVER).

Bloodied knees, broken bones, cracked teeth.

September backpacks containing June lunches.

Service for six place settings under beds.

Yogurt spoons under couch cushions.

Insert your favorite find here:  _______________________________________________

I’ve no doubt a friend could top you.

Childhood is dirty and grimy but we all signed up for that.  Thanks to What to Expect When You’re Expecting (how in the world did our mothers ever do without it?)  we all knew what we were getting into.  What we didn’t see coming (because we expertly drowned out our own mothers) was the speed and monotony in which filth flies at us beyond diaper duty.

The good news is, there’s relief if you want it.  You just have to want it bad enough and change your behavior – not theirs.   We have to essentially, well, give up.  Raise that white flag and sing that annoying song from Frozen.  When I finally realized Barbies and Bratz were living harmoniously despite which bin I strategically placed them in each evening, I gave that up.  When I saw that every other ‘tween on the planet was wearing a similar stained hoodie at the bus stop every day in lieu of a winter coat, I gave that up, too.  Eventually I also stopped stripping beds and taught my kids how to change their own linens.  My kids spend ridiculous amounts of time cleaning their bodies – only to put on dirty clothes and sleep in smelly sheets and I am the only one bothered by this?   Really.  Who’s the crazy one here?

I totally get why it’s a struggle for some moms to give up.  The older our babies get, the less they need us.  Throw in a cell phone and kids can communicate within 160 characters and go a few days at a time without a complete sentence grunted in our direction.   Letting go of the actions that keep us maternally connected is extremely hard.  It’s in our DNA:  we need to be needed and it’s sad to watch that slip away.  What we don’t need is the constant thanklessness that comes with say, doing laundry:  When that epiphany hits it’s like a Costco-sized tub of Tide falling on your foot.  Good grief, how many times was I going to throw half a basket of clothes into a washing machine before realizing they were still neatly folded from the last time I’d cleaned them?  Cue the veins bulging.  Think about it: doing daily laundry for four able-bodied beings capable of keeping my grocery tab at triple digits each week.  I began to realize I was perpetually irritable most of the time. I’m not sure what it took to hammer that last nail into my Whirlpool coffin but one day I just stopped.  I was younger than junior high when I’d started doing my own laundry (you were, too) and here I was enabling my adolescents far beyond that.  I was suddenly embarrassed by it.  So I walked away from doing their laundry with nary a threat or a door slam and never looked back.  What’s that sound, you ask?  Freedom bells ringing.

That was definitely one of my Great Mom Moments to date but I haven’t reached Grand Master Level just yet.  To be clear, there’s still a tsunami of mess in my home at any given time if I don’t keep up with the nagging but I’ve grown wiser as well as weary.  I now dangle car keys until rooms are picked up and I’ve been known to make bacon and refuse to slide it over until trash cans are brought in, dogs are walked and the mystery smell is unearthed in the mudroom.  When things are gettin’ done I guess the strategy doesn’t matter.

And their bathroom?  Please.  I still rarely go in there.  Some days I just can’t do it.  But they’re learning:  now I won’t let their boy/girlfriends come over until they clean it.   Ahhh, the enchanting effect of the adolescent significant other.  I do believe I’ve come up with another chapter.  Stay tuned!

 

*   *   *   *

 

Missed Chapter 1?   Click here:   https://tinadrakakis.com/2017/07/29/a-collection-of-eyerolls-chapter-1-yes-billy-joel-we-will-all-go-down-together/

Missed Chapter 2?  Click here:  https://tinadrakakis.com/2017/08/13/chapter-2-sometimes-kids-suck-a-lot/

 

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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Chapter 2: Sometimes Kids Suck. A lot.

ch 2

The idea for this book was derived a super long time ago, during one Christmas break when my then-teenaged daughter stopped talking to me (for a mountain of reasons that will be peppered throughout this momoir but really, it happened so often, does it matter?).  She was grounded for the entire vacation and I was committed to making sure she didn’t bolt or sneak out so I stayed home, too, (you will soon see why I’ve crowned myself the Mother of all Martyrs).  Misery may love company but cutting off a teenager from her friends is really quite satisfying.   I had a lot of free time so I just started taking notes.  Lots and lots of notes.  (A side note:  I take notes all the time because again, I am of a certain age and can only remember song lyrics of my youth.  Remember when I wrote on cocktail napkins to remember details of my hilarious cruise?)  Digressing again.  Anyway …

Ironically, she’d been pestering me to write a book for a long time.  Of course at that time her literary requirements consisted of summer love and vampires so I’m hoping she’s not too alarmed at what emerged from her urging.  Had she known my first attempt would be (somewhat – a quarter?) at her expense she might’ve toned down her behavior a notch, but hey, a book’s a book.

The last of my four children is now a teenager so I’d like to think I’ve gotten a decent handle on this adolescent thing.  You know, that out-of-the-blue explosion of angst and rage and emotion that’s been known to destroy a family dinner with a single grunt.  One thing I’ve found is it’s significantly easier dealing with irrational adolescent behavior when someone you know has already experienced it.  For example, one time upon hearing my daughter threaten to turn me into the authorities I (naturally) called her bluff, scoffing, “Go ahead – make the call.”

In retelling that story (who wouldn’t?) I discovered that my friend Jerry had a way better response when it happened to him.  He shouted back to his insolent teen, “Go ahead – make the call – and tell them to bring a body bag because they’ll be making a pick up!”

See?  Older and wiser plus additional experience equals a far funnier story.  I love Jerry.

It pays to surround yourself with people who have weathered earlier storms because someone else’s story will always top yours and you might realize we all come out alive.

Like I said, I’m no expert but I am somewhat experienced.  I know I’ve got more melodrama headed my way but for the record I’ve already survived:

A kid sneaking out of the house after I’d gone to bed.  Repeatedly.

A kid coming home high.

A kid lying, stealing, drinking, plagiarizing, and being an all-around dickhead.

A kid packing up a duffle bag and moving out six days before his high school graduation.

And about a gazillion other dizzying incidents that – God willing — may seem uproarious many, many years down the road.

That’s really my only goal here:  to one day find each excruciating and hellish kid antic humorous in some small way.  I think parenting is easier when you believe it might.

Haha, remember that year you got so angry you threw all your Christmas presents in the garbage?

                Remember when you fried your laptop by spilling nail polish remover?

                Hey, wasn’t that hilarious when you left all those wet towels on the floor and they permanently warped your floorboards?

                 Ohmygod how funny was that when you lost two cell phones in two months?

 

For sure, those are some things that were absolutely UNfunny when they were happening in real time.  But man, oh man, I think we all need to believe they will be one day.  I’m a big believer in camaraderie and an even bigger advocate in the healing power of laughter.  I think the world’s a prettier place with daily laughs and nightcaps, and Tylenol PM and a sound machine (oh wait, nevermind, that’s my bedtime list)  so I try to look on the brighter side of say, wanting to punch your kid in the face, and try to look for that clichéd light at the end of the tunnel.  It’s always best if that light isn’t an oncoming freight-train of a kid’s fury but deep breathing helps.  Sometimes.

Let’s be real:  kids suck a lot of the time.   They really do.  They test your inner core and oftentimes leave you questioning where you went wrong.  They make you wonder how their once-adoring eyes could ever hold such genuine resentment of you.   They continuously criticize you, and complain about you, and keep so much of their real selves hidden that you’re convinced they were swapped in the hospital. But we stick to the plan because at some moment in a lifetime a hundred years ago we, too, loathed our lame parents the exact same way.  I think deep down we all know that one day this moment in time will be amusing and our Good Kid is going to return and we might actually like each other again.  It’ll happen.  Right?

I’m here to attest that yes, it will.

Hopefully your good days outnumber your sucky ones because – especially if your children are still small — there will definitely be some doozies to come.  Just remember that despite their declarations to the contrary, we are all good moms doing our best.  If you’re like me, you’re making some major-ass mistakes (letting my 11-year-old be the Beer Pong ringer at his cousin’s grad party?  Perhaps not my finest mom moment) but at least we’re learning as we go.

My missteps have continued as my kids have gotten older.

I scoop wet towels off various floors and toss them in the dryer every day without washing them.  Every.  Single.  Day.

I also cut off my kids’ cell service when I couldn’t withstand one more minute of backtalk … and then forgot to pick them up because I hadn’t heard from them.

There was also a time (only once, I swear) when I texted my kid’s coach (perhaps … not … entirely … sober) to squawk about his playing time (a side note: if you’re going to try this, which I wholeheartedly do NOT recommend, first make sure the coach is one helluva good guy).  Nevertheless, not an entirely proud moment.  AT ALL.

Some of my best Mom Moments are a little unorthodox.  For instance, I keep my cell phone charger in my underwear drawer and make sure my kids know it.  Why?  Because should it go missing – like all chargers do – I want my kids – especially my boys – to know they’d be fishing around through my panties in order to find it.

I wouldn’t order my daughter’s prom dress because she didn’t clean her room.  And that was our deal – that it had to be Mom Clean first. But it never was.   So guess what?   She borrowed a dress and – gasp! – lived.  If you can imagine, that scene was absolutely apocalyptic at the time (upcoming chapter entitled Got Girls?  Get Wine) and (irony) I’m sure she doesn’t even remember that story now.

I’ve even changed the locks to make a rebellious teen know for damn sure that I was completely, stick-a-fork-in-me done with his nonsense.

I’m amassing a pretty extensive list but I don’t let it get me down.  It pays to remember:  The worst thing you will ever experience has always been weathered by someone else.  I try to focus on the fleeting blips of positive.  I’m pretty sure that for every really (really) lousy thing I do (or, in the case of changing sheets, don’t do), I make up for it in other ways.  For instance, even though they tower over me now, I still kiss my kids a lot.  And I tell them I love them all the time.  I always have.  The words are spoken so often that I now possess three sons who actually say it back to me even without a money transaction:  in front of their friends, over their shoulders as they’re scooting out the door, and (yes, sir) sometimes even when they’re mad at me.  And teens are mad a lot.  One time, when it dawned on me that my moody and excessively ornery ‘tween was attempting to become an Ornery ‘Tween Bedroom Mole, I demanded impromptu hug practices and made him stand locked in an embrace with me until he smiled.  We’re moms.  We’ll do whatever it takes.

My home is pretty nasty at times (here comes my pat on the back from nobody-cares-about-your-undone-chores-Oprah;  you know, spoken as if she’s one of us and might have some dust in her life) but I know I’m a pretty good mom regardless.  There are still moments when I watch my kids from afar.  Not in the “Get back here, a stranger’s going to steal you!” kind of way, but in a fascinated, still-can’t-believe-they’re-mine way.

Nowadays I don’t have to write much down since I can immediately promote their perfections and pitfalls in my blogs and the super honest billboard of Facebook (insert many laughing emojis) but one thing’s for sure:  these babies grow up when we’re not even looking and life is too damn short to dwell on dirty sheets and sour demeanors.

Yes, oh yes, kids do suck.  But when they’re in the back seat of a (cough, extremely cool) minivan giggling over the stupidest of stupid bad-gas jokes, they suck a little less and make you giggle, too.  And every now and then when you’re ready to lock yourself in the bathroom for just five more minutes before your head explodes off your neck, they’ll do something unexpected and delightful to make you unlock that door.

When they were little, when they’d hear Barry White come out of the speakers they’d seek me out (“Mom, it’s your soooooooong!”) and spontaneously dance with me in our kitchen.     I loved those moments.  It’s all about the moments.

 

My kids may roll their eyes at my I-pod but hell to the yeah, they know all my songs.

Now that they’re older and (* makes the sign of the cross) out in public without me, every now and then I’ll get the mother of all compliments (no pun intended) when I least expect it, sometimes from complete strangers:

You’ve got great kids.

I’m thinking a terrible mom would never be able to pull that off.

So I’ll be keeping my phone charge in my underwear drawer, thankyouverymuch, because who knows, maybe I just may be onto something here.

#     #     #     #

 

Missed Chapter 1?   Click here:   https://tinadrakakis.com/2017/07/29/a-collection-of-eyerolls-chapter-1-yes-billy-joel-we-will-all-go-down-together/

 

 

 

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. 

A Collection of Eyerolls Chapter 1: Yes, Billy Joel, We Will All Go Down Together

book

 

Introduction

Life comes with a certain expectation of bad things.  As a mom, I fully expected exhaustion and weight gain and crumbs – ridiculous amounts of crumbs, everywhere (I underestimated here).  As a middle aged woman I begrudgingly expected divorce (of friends), defiance (of teens) and death (of parents).  There’s not a whole lotta surprise there when it comes to the circle of life.

What I didn’t expect were the explosions of unfairness that are both unanticipated and paralyzing.  The numbing cancer diagnosis of friends (worse, younger friends).  The out-of-nowhere brain bleed that grips a group of friends to its core.   The unimaginable loss of child.

If I can be blunt, this past year saw a whole lotta f**kkked up sh*ttt happen around me.  In addition to providing solid proof that love and friendship keeps us all afloat —  it also provided a resounding wake-up a call with a simple, shrill message:  Now.

Love now.  Enjoy now.  Embrace now. Do now.

So I am.

I am doing.

Now.

I’ve talked about writing a book since forever and I’m not waiting anymore to try to publish it.  I’m publishing it right here, right now, one chapter at a time (just like Kendrick Lamar and Carrie Underwood drop tracks.  I think I can be cool like that).  Maybe if enough people enjoy it, it’ll catch on like the Faberge commercial.  Maybe it’ll end up somewhere, someday.  Maybe my gal Tina Fey will send me a tweet.

And maybe nothing will happen.  At the very least, I will show my kids that I did it before it was too late.

Because life is too short to wait.

I haven’t chosen a title yet so feel free to pick your favorite:

 

A Momoir:  Parenting Essays to Put a Tear in Your Eye (or a Drink in your Hand)

I Love Parenting (and Other Lies…)

Kid: I Hate My Mom (Me: OMG, I Did, Too!)

 

 

And away we go!

 

*     *     *     *     *

Chapter 1

Yes, Billy Joel, We Will All Go Down Together

 

My obvious disclaimer:  I am not a parenting expert.  None whatsoever, of any kind.  I never will be.  I gave birth.  Four times.  That – along with a blog that perpetually pokes fun at those birthing miracles – taps my credentials.  It may not be much but it’s far and wide a way better reason to heed my warnings over say, Oprah’s.  I’m actually fairly particular about my own experts.  For instance, I don’t want my fitness instructor or nutritionist to have a muffin top or bat-wings (I don’t actually have these professionals in my life but I feel very strongly that if I did and was handing money over to someone for vanity purposes they should without question look a LOT better than me).  I also don’t want my hairstylist to have Farrah feathers either, no matter how awesome she looks.  And while I may not go often (maybe a few times in summer to look slimmer instead of exercising) I don’t want the owner of the tanning salon to be Oompa Loompa orange.  So yes, I completely understand having advice standards.  I’m also personally critical of accepting guidance from anyone that can’t one-up me, so I tend to tune out other moms unless they’ve got older kids or – trump! – more kids than me.   Kate Gosselin, no offense taken, you can stop reading this now, I get it (your ex, though, maybe he should?).

But here’s why you might want to keep reading this:

I am shamelessly flawed, and not afraid to show how.

I do more things wrong as a mom than I do right, yet my kids (appear) well-adjusted.

I mercilessly mock stupid parents and – because there’s no shortage of them – it makes for some funny stories.

All of that and  — the bonus – to date, my kids don’t have assigned probation officers gives me some pretty ample street cred.  Quite possibly, this is the support group you never knew you needed, but always wished you had.  I feel when parenting’s concerned, there’s always strength in numbers and when that fails, there’s always, always wine. This book will give you both.  (In the case of the wine, just pour a glass and read; I’ll bet you’ll be able to visualize me joining you.  Really, I’m as good as there.)

Other qualities you might admire:  I’ve never lost a kid at a mall (Disney, yes, but I won’t shoulder that blame alone: there were 14 of us…) but I have been known to lose track of my 10-year-old’s last shower.

and … I suspect that if Children’s Services ever caught wind of the actual number of times my kids’ sheets are changed, well there may be some action taken.

and … I confess I have signed homework sheets that I never really checked.  I’ve also feigned sleep when I heard a screaming child in the middle of the night just to allow my husband the experience of flying out of bed like a rocket to deal with it.

and … I’ve allowed electronics to entertain my brood for hours at a time, just to talk on the phone a little longer or clean my house or finish my Netflix binge.

and … I’ve been known to throw my kids out of the house on a beautiful day and lock the door behind them.  True story:  none died of dehydration or were snatched by a dingo.

and … when my kids peed their beds I’d simply change their jammies and flip them to the other end. (I used to know a mom who’d go mental whenever this happened.  She’d rip her toddler out of bed – no matter the time – and throw her in a bath, frantically changing the sheets and carrying on like a lunatic.   What a psycho.  Obviously we weren’t friends for long.)

and … I will admit without shame that – until they were old enough to realize – I skipped pages of bedtime stories.

and …  I have not always enforced regular teeth brushing with my toddlers because, I’d reason, they’re just going to fall out anyway.

and … I have driven past the library only to hear a tiny voice in the back say in wonder, “Hey, I remember this place, I think I was there once…”

And that’s just the little kid stuff.  Wait until you get a load of all the teenage nonsense I’ve already dealt with (because really, have we even truly parented until we’ve taken a bedroom door off its hinges?)   You’ll quickly see I am far from perfect.  My house is always dusty and my inability to remember details makes it impossible for me to recall the name of the last antibiotic any of my kids were prescribed.  A profound failure at keeping baby books, I do try to write down the wonderful, embarrassing and quite ordinary things that happen in our daily lives.  When I noticed my little guy’s Spongebob underwear clear through his tiny white tee-ball pants, I jotted it down.  It was without question the cutest thing I’d ever seen.  And when my toddler loudly pointed out during an extremely crowded Easter mass that, “Mommy, look, they drink wine like you do at home!” much as I wanted to die, I wrote that down, too.   Apparently I also wrote down that my daughter could get her ears double pierced but I don’t remember that  (because I am quite certain that little minx hit me up while I was cocktailing with friends when THAT request came in).    Still, it’s all good stuff.

I’m actually glad I wrote down a lot because my memory is junk.  There’s something profoundly unsettling that I can recall every word to We Didn’t Start the Fire but I couldn’t tell you where my kid is going after work because he only told me three times an hour ago…  Ugh.  Don’t get me started.  I digress…

I love all my kids.  Fiercely.  But that doesn’t mean I haven’t daydreamed about shipping them off to a faraway island.  While kids can make us crazy, teenagers can make us alcoholics.  Hell, they can make us question every certainty we know in life and can cause nervous tics just by entering a room.

So for all the moms who have ever had a child declare in a silent waiting room that they’ve discovered your mustache …

And for all the moms who ever realized – too late — with mortified certainty that the word FART was written in Sharpie on their Thanksgiving tablecloth…

And for all the moms who have ever gotten that 2am phone call from a kid needing to be picked up “… or the police will bring me home …”

 

This book is for you.

Hope you’ll keep coming back.

Cheers.

 

#     #     #     #

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. 

Kids, I Love You. Now Cut the Crap.

brady bunch

A friend shot me a note the other day which read simply, “Can you please write a blog about boys pissing on the toilet seat?” …   To which I immediately replied …

 

“No, but I can write one about boys pissing into cups and Gatorade bottle and leaving them in their bedrooms … and then hurling them out the window when their mom loses her shit over finding them…”

 

(My friends know:  this is 100% truth and the reason my husband will not drink out of plastic cups anymore.)

 

Honestly.  So many stories still untold.  It’s like the Naked City – only there’s usually actual nakedness (because kids can’t find towels because they’re still wet and scattered on various floors).

 

There’s a reason why all these gems float around my head and never make it to the page.  I’ve found myself in that interesting yet ironic state of Perpetually Pissed and Profoundly Proud Parenting:  when my entire emotional state fluctuates between one extreme and the other.

 

Kids cause that.

 

I don’t know what to write about half the time because by the time I’m done revealing reasons of happiness or reflection I usually want to throat punch someone.

 

If you think about it, it’s a pretty remarkable paradox.  And no matter the ages of my kids, and despite how many times I remind myself that much of what now happens in life is out of my hands, these kids still have complete control over which way that pendulum swings.

 

My 3rd kid just graduated high school and of course, it was the momentous, magnificent whirlwind of ceremony it should have been.  (Disclaimer:  this coming from a mom who has repeatedly deemed graduating high school No Big Deal because really, aren’t you supposed to?)  But the Kid did alright.  Acceptance into a damn good school, a couple of nice scholarships and a bona fide bang-up senior year chock full of awesome memories.  My heart’s been full for seemingly months at a go and I will not lie, it’s been a fine, fine time for us.

 

Welp.  My boast balloon burst as soon as I got the text message at work asking if I’d left him a template for the Thank You cards he was writing following his grad party. A template.  Followed by his query, “How do I address an envelope?”  Good God.   Off to college he goes?

 

To quote a very agitated tween, I just can’t even.

 

Bringing up the adolescence rear in our household, my youngest, too, turned his sophomore year into an impressive array of academic and athletic accolades.  Really, he’s the Mayor.  So adored.  So praised.  But yet astounding that he hasn’t yet choked on the ridiculously short leash we have him on due to all the stupid choices he keeps making.  He seems to keep forgetting he is our fourth child and we have seen this movie.  And we know how it ends.  Lather, rinse, repeat.

 

To quote another very agitated tween, I’m shaking my head.

 

But wait — the Jeckyll and Hyde of emotions isn’t limited to the confines of my home anymore either, for even those that have flown my coop (some states may refer to them as “adults”) are adept at keeping my angst ablaze.

 

Like … my oldest, off in his first apartment (yay!), carrying a full-time job AND full-time school course load (hooray!), excitedly bragging about booking flights for his first “grown-up vacation” (wow!) …   which he planned … on the very weekend of his sister’s college graduation.  Are you kidding me?

 

Or … my daughter (she of the above reference)  … announcing upon said graduation (pride!) that to begin her first job (congrats!) she would be driving cross country (what?) … to  Utah (ummmmmmm)  … alone (whaaaaaat???) … and …  not to worry .. because everything will be fine

 

(End note:  in the end, she did not.  Due to sheer logistics, not parental pleas. Naturally.)

 

Sigh.  Remember when we thought baby colic and constipation was a thing?  (*slaps forehead)

 

A very wise friend once declared “Little kids, little problems.”

 

These aren’t problems, I know.

 

They’re just slices of life that keep that damn pendulum swinging.

 

And parents already know:   life’s pretty amazing dodging that thing.

 

 

#     #     #     #

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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Kids & Cell Phone Obsession: 5 Ways You’re Making it Worse

cell phone

I am no different than most moms. I make a boatload of mistakes in my parenting but sometimes – way down the line when my missteps don’t seem so embarrassing – I make sure I let other moms know them (strength in numbers, gals). So I won’t mince words when I admit that when it comes to kids and cellphones, I was kind of an idiot. Past tense, for really, I feel a fool no more.

I have four kids. The older two are college age (cue in a plethora of OTHER worries, thankyouverymuch) but my younger two are teens. And boys. I know, groan, right? Teenage boys are dumb enough to begin with, let alone with access to handheld porn, but this constant connectedness before the onset of acne brings a whole new freak show to parenting. Sure there were cell phone fights with my first two but these smartphone smack-downs are ridiculously worse. These monsters we have created kids are obsessive – and it is getting completely out of hand.

It’s a huge, festering problem and most parents know it … yet can’t seem to get a handle on it. So listen, exasperated parents, and calmly repeat after me: Take back the phone, take back the kid.

A quick story: Last summer my ninth grader did a pretty stupid (alas, typical) teenage thing at the beginning of the summer. We were furious and immediately shot that parental arrow smack dab into his Achilles Heel: we took away his phone until the first day of school. That’s right. The entire summer.

Now, we fully expected a miserable 10 weeks of epic hormonal proportion and duly braced ourselves. But a funny thing happened during that time. Our kid returned.   I don’t even think we were entirely aware he’d been missing so long but for certain his pleasant personality and funny disposition had been hibernating for some time. It turned into an enjoyable summer, full of conversation (remember conversation?) and eye contact (remember eye contact?) and it was nice. Really, really nice. I had an epiphany at that time and have since changed the way I parent my teens with their cell phones. So by all means, do learn from my mistakes and take heed:

Steadfast Rule # 1: Limit the phone. Every. Single. Day.

A few years ago, parents everywhere welcomed the teen cell phone. No apologies – of course we did!  We could reach our beloveds at our will, know exactly when to pick them up, and ease their mortification of being the last kid standing at the movie theater. (Pretty amazing any generation ever survived that, right?) The truth is, somewhere between those dinosaur days and the present, parents have somehow forgotten that cell phones aren’t life-saving devices all the time – especially when our kids are nestled safely in our homes.   It may be an adolescent way of life nowadays but cell phones are certainly NOT a necessity. What started as a means of communication to ease guilt-ridden parents has morphed into this absurd entitlement of round-the-clock entertainment. We created this beast. We need to reel it back in. Start taking phones when teens walk in the door. Bonus: You’re bound to hear more about their day if you do.

Rule # 2: Keep the Phone Nearby

Don’t have the kahunas to follow through with Rule # 1? Then take a smaller step: Don’t allow teen phones off your main floor. Especially if bedrooms are located upstairs, make sure phones are used, charged, and visible where most people congregate at all times (this holds true with computers, too). Bonus: This reduces the inevitable Mole Syndrome, where your teenager stays behind a closed door for hours, only exiting to eat.

 

Rule # 3: Take the phones with you when you go to bed at night.

Not-so-shocking news flash here: Kids who sleep with cell phones in their rooms aren’t really sleeping much at all. They’re sending and receiving text messages (and other nonsense) with all the other kids who also retired for the night with their phones. Mine tried to tell me he needed it for the alarm. Bull dinkies. I showed him how to set an actual alarm clock (oooh, mom’s a magician). Good grief, parents:  kids behind closed doors socializing all night long?  Such a ludicrous and completely unnecessary concept if you really think about it.  Just say no. Bonus: Believing they’ve missed twelve hours of breaking social news, they’ll surely get up faster in the morning, too.

Rule # 4:   Use a smartphone like a dangled carrot every chance you get.

Sad but true: most kids get their first cell phone before their first job, which basically means their parents are stuck working longer and harder to pay for it. I make sure my kids know that since they may be too young to be legally employed, their only “job” is to do well in school, pitch in around the house, and be an upstanding citizen. Come on now, isn’t that the very least they should be doing for the privilege of using such expensive equipment?  But they’re kids – and there’s always going to be a thing or two they need to work on. To save my own life, I could not get either of my boys to bring wet towels out of their room. I’d  scream and squawk about it every day of every week. Now every morning before they leave for school, in order to get their phones (which naturally are with me) I’m shown the towels they’re hanging up. Viola! An exchange of goods is made and bam, my mornings are a lot less cranky. By all means, use the force — of the phone bill you pay – to get back control: stop chasing down missing school  assignments, incomplete homeworks or baskets of laundry that need to be put away.   You pay for it. The privilege of using it should be earned. Period. Bonus:  Easy.  Life lesson of what’s expected in the real world.

Rule # 5: Know the password to get into the phone.

This might seem like a no-brainer but remember, I’m a former idiot about this.   The cold hard truth is (and don’t kill the messenger here) eighth grade girls are sending pictures of their boobies to boys and boys younger than eighth grade are looking at all sorts of things worse than boobies on their phones. Honestly, (and I know I’ll get some slack for this) I don’t make it a habit of checking my kids’ texts or photos or anything really. I do allow for some degree of adolescent privacy because I am acutely aware: If my own mother ever knew some of the things I wrote (ON PAPER) to friends (AND BOYFRIENDS) there’s a good chance my internal organs would’ve melted from heated shame. But.  And here’s the big but:  I can  check my kids’ phones at any given time. They know this, and they also know that when I put my hand out to do a random check, that phone is mine, with no questions asked.   I’m not saying they’re not doing stupid thing with their smartphones (again, boys: it’s pretty much a given they are). I’m just saying that if the constant possibility of Mommy seeing it makes them think twice about doing it in the first place, I’ll take it.  Bonus:  Always smart to keep ’em on their toes.  Always.

Listen, nothing is guaranteed here.

But kids – teens especially, crave boundaries.

We’ve got to give them some.

This is an easy fix, parents.

Take back the phone, take back the kid.

 

 

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. –