What a veteran mom learned about Childhood Cancer this month

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September is Childhood Cancer Awareness month.

If you search my blog from 2007 to the present, there isn’t a blog sometime in September that doesn’t start with that sentence.  It’s usually followed by a lot of facts or figures or rants about how underfunded childhood cancer research is.

Not this year.  This year I’d like to share what my daughter taught me about childhood cancer.

In late June my daughter came to me and explained she wanted to try out for the school soccer team.  I’m not sure who reading this has ever watched soccer but despite its classification of being a non-contact sport it’s a very contact-oriented sport.  It’s not like she came to me and asked to run on the track team or swim on the swim team.  Not to diminish track or swimming in any way, they are both strenuous sports.  But neither track nor swimming involves a 5’7” 135-pound girl running full speed at you attempting to take a ball away without using her hands.

Thinking she would be discouraged I told her she needed to find out more about practices and try-outs.  Less than an hour later she told me they practice every night from 5:30-7:00 and try outs are on July 31.  This was a Friday, she told me she planned on starting the following Monday.

I sat at my desk trying madly to come up with excuses not to let her play.  She had played up until she was 12 and quit when the girls started getting a little more aggressive and a lot bigger than her.  I stopped short of just saying NO and I tried to gently point out the challenges she would have to overcome.  I should mention at this point that she’s had 2 brain surgeries and multiple surgeries on her left arm, hand, leg and foot to correct some of long-term effects from the brain surgeries.  What long-term effects?  Oh… yeah, she’s hemiplegic on her left side.  And she has NO peripheral vision on her left side either.

I gently reminded her that she would need to run, and she hadn’t been working out regularly – so she should consider that.  In my mind I was recalling my son playing soccer in high school where he ran a minimum of a mile daily all summer long including when we were on vacation.  She put on some running shoes and came back, fairly quickly and dejected.  She had tried to run around our neighborhood which is exactly 1 mile around the outer roads and she said she couldn’t.  I told her she could cry for 20 minutes and she needed to pick herself up and move on.  Secretly, I was kind of hoping that she would see this obstacle as too much to overcome.

She did exactly what I told her to do.  She cried for about 20 minutes, came out of her room with shin guards and cleats and told me to get in the car because practice started in 30 minutes.  Sigh….. OK I’ll take her to practice.  We arrived and only a handful of girls were there, a few more arrived a little later.  The coach, Sarah (who is amazing – by the way), showed up and started running drills.  I watched, anticipating that at some point she would realize she was in over her head, but she kept pushing on drill after drill.  And not to diminish her success, but I was expecting soccer like I had experienced with my son – cut throat competitive “take-no-prisoners” travel soccer which spilled into the suburban high school level as well.  This was a group of high school girls who thought it would be fun to play soccer – which in all honesty is what school sports should be.  On senior night, every one of the girls was going to college with a scholarship for music or art or their 4.6 grade point average – none of them mentioned continuing their soccer career.

She was super excited after practice, talking non-stop and when I asked if she wanted to go back tomorrow she said “YES!”  So, we practiced, night after night up to the day of tryouts.  Sarah had talked to her about her limitations and they came to an understanding about what she was and wasn’t capable of doing.  Their school is a small urban college prep academy with a focus on fine arts and music – so they only have a Varsity Girls soccer team.  But the coach is a heads-up kind of lady who realized that she could have the underclassmen play on a “B” team and the upperclassmen play on the “A” team and the “B” players could gain experience as necessary.  Teagan, with all her hard work and challenges, made the Varsity “B” team playing defensive back.

I was proud, but still very nervous and skeptical.  Sure, the girls on her team weren’t “do or die” soccer players but what about the teams they would play against? I have nail bitten my way through several games while she plays about 10-20 minutes as a relief for her “A” team counterpart.  And she’s good, she knows where to play on the field, she doesn’t back down from a challenge – she has proved me wrong.  For all I know that has been her motivation the whole time.  And she loves it and she’s having a great time being part of the team.

My “learning moment” however didn’t really come until August 31st.  I received a group email from her coach stating that she had been nominated by a teammate to be the “Man of the Match.”  She didn’t win because she scored a goal or blocked a goal or for that matter even set foot on the field.  One of the upperclassmen’s locker had jammed and she couldn’t get to her jersey, shin guards or cleats.  She gave the upperclassmen her uniform, shin guards and cleats so that she could play.  Her coach pointed out in the email that she always gives 100%, never misses games or practices and was “a stellar example of a perfect player.”

I cried a bit that morning. There were happy tears because I was proud of her for her accomplishment.  But there were guilty tears too.  I was ashamed that I had assumed she wasn’t capable of achieving this goal because of her disability.  In all fairness I was mostly concerned for her safety because she trips over air on a good day and you can literally be standing next to her on her left side and she can’t see you.  Neither of which lend to success in a sport like soccer.  But she was determined, and she showed me and a lot of people she’s got a lot of resolve packed into a very small package.

I guess I didn’t learn anything “new.”  Mostly, I forgot that she is more than just her brain tumor.  She is not defined by the tumor she had when she was five and all the damage it left behind.  She is in control of who she is and who she’s going to be. She is writing her story and the tumor was a chapter but it’s not the whole book.

I won’t forget that anymore, I promise.

 

PS.. really not loving the “soccer mom” title again, jus’ sayin’

 

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My Son Went to Kindergarten….. 12 Years Ago…

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For all the mommy bloggers lamenting their babies going to Kindergarten, I present you all with this – today my son turned 18.  And 5 days ago he started his Senior Year of high school.  I’ll be honest, I was more emotional when he started high school four years ago.  I’ve read, with a bit of a smirk, the emotion filled blogs worrying about leaving their child at Kindergarten.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying they don’t have a point because Kindergarten is the first “let go” moment of many to come.  But I’ve hit the rapid decline stage of “letting go” so I’m allowed to smirk a little.

One of the mommy bloggers was talking about how she “wasted” the first five years of her daughter’s life; why hadn’t she appreciated every trip to the coffee shop even if they ended in tantrums and how could she have blown through potty training so quickly without even blinking?  I laugh.  I laugh not because she doesn’t have a valid point but because she’s doing what I’ve been doing over the last four years.  I’ve seen pre-K kids at stores and their exasperated parents just trying to get five minutes of tantrum free grocery shopping done and I would catch myself thinking “oh I miss those times.”  And I’ve resisted the urge to tell them “enjoy it while you can,” because when people used to tell my former frustrated self that in a store I had to resist the urge to punch them.

The truth is, I don’t miss having to pack a baby bag filled with four outfit changes, 22 diapers, diaper rash cream, wet wipes, scented baggies for poopie diapers, bottles, pacifiers, back up pacifiers, toys that rattle, toys that don’t rattle, mini Tupperware bowls of Cheerios (sorry I’m showing my age I’m sure there is something newer and cooler than Tupperware), bibs, spit up rags, and a portable changing pad.  I also don’t miss having to take 4 extra outfits in case potty training failed.  I don’t miss Pull Ups.  And I didn’t enjoy spending 20 minutes packing the car full of all of the above only to get the grocery store and have one child have a meltdown because the breeze was blowing the wrong way and the other one asking for every piece of gum and candy in site (that still hasn’t stopped by the way… yes both meltdowns and gum & candy … teenagers are a lot toddlers just slightly more eloquent).

To the first time Kindergarten moms and dads out there having emotional breakdowns let me explain that this is the first of many emotional breakdowns in your future.  They may be starting Kindergarten now, but in just six short years they will be in Middle School.  Ah yes, Middle School – those are years that will make you want to move to a remote island no one has heard of and live like the cast of Gilligan’s Island.  And then just when you are breathing the sigh of relief that the jungle known as Middle School has ended you find yourself pulling into the High School parking lot – dodging teenage drivers and thinking to yourself “I’m not old enough to have a kid in High School.”

That was when my High School breakdown occurred.  We went from his only social life was Xbox to suddenly he had friends who could drive and he would ride in cars with them after school to get snacks at the gas station before soccer practice started or late night runs to Taco Bell after games.  He would go “hang out” with the guys at pizza places.  And he needed nice clothes because wearing t-shirts and basketball shorts (the only thing he wore during Middle School) was suddenly not an option and now he’s somewhere between fashion icon and professional model (ugh… and sigh).  Then there were girlfriends (see ugh … and sigh above).  Yep that’s a fun roller coaster to ride on.

Honestly that was my last truly emotional moment; the day before his first day of high school when I pulled in the High School parking lot to pick him up from soccer.  That’s when it truly hit me that I was on the downhill slide of milestone moments and I started to long for the days of YMCA soccer on Saturdays where the snack at the end was the best part of the game and for the days when homework was coloring a picture of your family and explaining who each person was.

Last Tuesday he let me snap a picture before he got in his car and drove to school and I went about my day and it wasn’t monumental that it was the last “first day of school” for him.  No tears, no drama, just routine.  I made a nice Flip-o-gram for his birthday today with pictures from Newborn to his Senior picture.  I did have a slight moment because I couldn’t find his 3rd grade picture, but 3rd grade was in 2007 which was a bad year for our family and I don’t even remember if he had school pictures taken or if he did I apparently didn’t pay for them because I can’t find any.  I had a bit of guilt trip over that but still no tears, no drama.  I’m actually just looking forward to enjoying this year.

So for all you Kindergarten moms out there worrying and fretting that you should’ve cherished every one of those 1.57 million seconds of your child’s first five years – IT’S OK!!  You have 13 more years of memories – good, bad and ugly – ahead of you.  If you want to know what got me over the hump – I’ll tell you.  When I would find myself feeling sad that he wasn’t that cute little six-year-old anymore, or getting frustrated over something he did and thinking oh wait I can’t be frustrated at him because I don’t have very many years left of him being home I would pause and remember there are still many things ahead to look forward to:  College? Marriage? Grandkids? I can see myself at his wedding longing for the days he was starting High School.  It’s just how a parent brain works.  I mean there’s no guarantee on what’s coming up but certainly there will be milestones to celebrate.

Well there’s that and I bought a puppy.

Don’t judge my coping skills!

Which means in four years I’ll need another puppy……YIKES!

Dear Teen Age Girls……… and their Parents

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This blog has been buzzing in my head for a while – since one terrifying week back in December where I was honestly afraid of my doorbell ringing one more time. See within a few days of each other I had one girl appear at my door claiming her I-phone had gone missing and was showing on the “find my I-phone” app that her phone was at my house and then a few days later a group of girls showed up Christmas caroling. Two seemingly innocent enough occurrences – right? Wrong. Although I didn’t know the “missing I-phone” girl she was easily enough linked back to one of my son’s ex-girlfriends. And after she and her “we’re not accusing anyone of anything” father left my house (yes they met my 911 voice in person) I asked my son what the odds were that his ex-girlfriend had either a) put her up to it or b) taken her phone and placed it someone at our house. So in the middle of December at 10pm Dawson and I had flashlights out checking every bush, tree and rock around our house. Either it was really well hidden and we’ll find it in the spring thaw, or it was never there in the first place.

Moving past the hour of my life I’ll never get back searching the landscaping at my house – a few days later the doorbell rings again. My husband opens the door and I hear a giggly version of “Jingle Bells” start up. He looked bewildered and asked if I wanted to listen to the “carolers.” Timidly I walked to the door to find a different ex-girlfriend, her sister and a handful of their friends wearing felt mustaches and singing along to an I-pod. When I recognized the ex she started to walk away then just hid behind another girl as her sister explained they were doing a “birthday scavenger hunt” that their mom had made up and about that time there was a flash from a cell phone camera – it was the mom in the car taking their picture. Note to self: for my next scavenger hunt I should add stalk an ex boyfriend/girlfriend by showing up at their home randomly. I sort of remember shutting the door, I’m pretty sure I remember saying “WTF?” and then my son emerged from the hallway asking what was going on. That was a very good question.

What is going on with these girls??

First of all my son has “dated” less than a handful of girls since starting high school a year and a half ago. Out of these girls there has been only one (who still likes Minnie Mouse and Disney Princesses) whom this blog does not apply to. Yet even in this small sample of girls I have discovered I am terrified for my son to date any more. I have read text messages that would make a porn star blush, text messages calling my son names and things I’ve never even heard of (however I’m keeping a list in case any more angry dad’s show up on my doorstep), seen Instagram pictures of these girls in bikini’s and showing off belly button rings and overheard conversations with enough drama they are worthy of reality TV.

The “caroling queen” had me concerned enough at one point I was afraid I’d come home and find a bunny boiling on the stove. We had to block her number, her sister’s number, several of her friend’s numbers and her MOM’s number from our phones. Luckily she had some miraculous change of heart and has concluded she is now “over” my son…. and hopeful on to terrifying another boy and his family.

Beyond the weird stalker approving mom ……

I’ve also been required to meet several parents before my son is allowed to “date” their daughter. This is genuinely a bad idea as I’m having a harder time these days stifling my real personality instead of playing the part of “perfect suburban mom.” Maybe my son will catch on to this soon. I have an incredibly hard time listening to the “rules” these parents are giving me before their precious child is allowed to spend time with my son. Especially after viewing selfie after selfie of their sweet innocent girl in short shorts, showing off her belly button ring, wearing more makeup than a cover girl model, and the endless summer shots of her and her besties in itsy bitsy teeny-weeny bikinis. Please tell me again you have a “rule” against her and my son spending any “alone” time together – Hmmm I guess that means I should return the hotel key and condoms? Yes I really had a mom tell me that. No – I did not retort with the snappy comment above, but I will the next time. Perhaps if I scare off the parents the girl goes away too.

My son has tried to “coach” me through these parent meetings too. Don’t say this, don’t say that. After the last one I’m pretty sure he knows just not to ask anymore. I’ve met the people who put the HELL in Helicopter parent. Sometime you should ask me about the 49 minute phone conversation I was required to have with a mom I’ve never met before so she and I could “get to know each other better” before then having to meet her in person for another hour-long parental endurance test (insert torture here) before my son was allowed to take her daughter to the adult chaperoned homecoming dance – where, by the way, she taught my son how to play some serious tonsil hockey. These are the parents who wrapped their little girls in bubble wrap when they were toddlers right?

Just a warning to the mom’s with son’s out there: These girls, especially the ones who have the helicopter parents, come with some unseen magnet that magically clings itself to my son’s side once her parents are out of sight. They hang on him to the point I want to vomit. They cling and they hang and never eat in front of him. And (close your eyes moms of perfect angels) they are usually the first one to instigate a giant make out session when they think I can’t hear or see them. Then they post all these overly dramatic meme’s about love and romance quotes depicting how their whole life revolves around this perfect love and perfect boy (spoiler alert – those two things don’t exist and they have never in the history of ever co-existed).

Dear teen age girl who wants to date my son…. try being yourself (I know you have to eat sometime) … and if your parents need to meet me before you’re allowed to date him you should probably find someone else or have them call 911 (because even if you don’t reach me I have faith in my coworkers in answering all your endless questions) … and seriously you should take down your selfies that make you look like you’re 25 when you’re only 16 (if for no other reason than there are creepy scary men out there)… and I don’t want to see your belly button ring or ear spike … and seriously you can’t go around throwing your cat at everybody.

Sorry but I wanted to end on a movie quote…. #easya

(PS…. the ear spike girlfriend, yeah that was when he was in 6th grade …. and her mom didn’t like my son because he only had a C average… I totally see that logic!!)

The Big Fish Story

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The big fish story.

You know the one that somehow turns a guppy into a shark by the time the fisherman have made it back to shore?  My son mastered the big fish story over the weekend.  The fish kept growing bigger and bigger as more and more details emerged.  The problem with this fish story is the guppy actually turned into a shark.  No actual fish were caught or harmed in this story – at least I don’t think so – I really hope there weren’t any fish.

It all starts at an out-of-town soccer tournament.  I’m going to skip over the rant regarding playing a soccer tournament when it’s 37 degrees outside as I dutifully posted my discontent repeatedly on Facebook all weekend.  As a team building activity the manager thought it would be a good idea for the team and parents to have dinner at a nice Italian restaurant.

The restaurant staff was wonderful –placing the boys at one table and the parents at a second table. Oh I almost forgot, during the 2nd game the goalie who rode with us to the tournament, got kicked in the head and needed stitches – that becomes important here in a bit. But he got released from the hospital and made it to dinner.  The tables were covered in white butcher paper and the waitress even brought the boys (age 15-17) crayons.  The crayons were a big hit.  I’m afraid of what may or may not have been drawn.  Dinner was wrapping up and we were waiting for the bills the boys asked “Can we go to Target across the parking lot?”  Sure… why not?  It’s a Target.  It’s not like the mall we were at last year at an out-of-town tournament where we found them picking up college girls in the food court.

The parents stayed and were chatting and finishing wine and having a grand time – until one parent noticed we’d been there waiting for bills for about 30 minutes.  An apologetic server came out and said they were trying to match up the boys with the parents but it was complicated.  Twenty minutes after that the manager came out and announced dinner was on him because they had no idea how to figure out the bills.  GREAT!  Hmmmm…. It’s been almost an hour, what could the boy’s be doing at Target.  The answer to this question is where the fish story starts.

I rode to the tournament with the team mom and as she and I pulled up to the Target in her minivan followed by the other parents we see a gaggle of girls in micro mini-skirts and heels surrounding about half of the boys.

“Oh my God, they picked up girls at the Target?!?!” It was half an exclamation (or exasperation) and half a question.  That was the team mom speaking.  I was just staring in awe shaking my head at the fact that they had managed to find a gaggle of teenage girls walking around a Target.  Most of the boys saw their parents vehicles pull up and went directly to the car at a rapid pace with their heads down.  Mine and the team mom’s son decide to stay and take group selfies with the girls.  So we roll up next to them in the soccer mom minivan and yell at them to get in the car.  They comply and as they are entering the car state that they “got kicked out of Target.”  Wait, we’re missing one.  The goalie is MIA.  About the time we ask where the goalie was he rides by the front doors (on the inside of the store) on a bicycle.  Between me and the other mom yelling things like “HOW THE HELL DID YOU GET KICKED OUT OF TARGET” and “SOMEBODY GO GET HIM OFF THAT BIKE – HE HAS A HEAD INJURY!” the van was a bit chaotic.

In the chaos the team mom’s son managed to escape the van and head back over to where the girls were.  The few remaining team members exited the Target and finally the goalie appeared, without the bike thankfully.  The girl gaggle called him over saying “We need a picture!”  I exited the van at this point and with all the calm caring demeanor I’m so well-known for (insert snicker) yelled “GET AWAY FROM THE GIRLS AND GET IN THE *#(&$!@ VAN!”

Once corralled in the van the questions and answers started overlapping a bit.  “How did you get kicked out of Target?” and “We sooo weren’t doing anything wrong.”  “Where did the girls come from?” and “Why were they so dressed up?”  “They were at a birthday party.”  “Someone was pushing Dane around in a cart.”  My son volunteered that “the whole team didn’t get kicked out of Target just me and Carson.” “Oh good they only kicked out the Ring Leaders.”  Luckily it was a short ride back to the hotel.

Back at the hotel discussing the incident further the story starts to build.  Why? We pass an opposing teams’ player in the hallway who nods and smiles knowingly at my son.  Opposing team players only nod at each other if they have engaged in some type of mutually beneficial mischief.  “That was Brice,” my son explained giggling – he’s 16 and he was giggling.  “Well we really don’t know his real name but we were calling him Brice and yelling at him across the store.”  The explanation I was then given regarding them being  dis-invited to shop at Target was that a lady told the manager she feared for her and her child’s safety because they were pushing a team member around in a cart and they almost ran into her.  But (there’s always a but) they really weren’t anywhere near her and she was just exaggerating.

Then his phone went off and he started giggling.  What?  So he shows me a picture of him and Carson getting escorted by Target security out of the door.  Awesome. The girly gaggle had apparently documented the incident on SnapChat or Instragram or #Selfie.com or whatever super cool social media app that teenagers think their parents don’t know about.  The team mom and I hung out for a bit while the boys played Xbox and then everyone headed to their rooms.  As I was going to bed he received a video of several team members in a Minecraft foam sword battle in the toy aisle.  Great, just great.

When we came down from breakfast several of the team parents jokingly (I think it was jokingly, maybe) called out to my son, “Oh there’s the trouble maker!”  Great…. and good morning to all of you, can I have coffee before we start this session of the Peoples Court?  Several of the boys had obviously spilled their guts to the parents about EVERYTHING.  Now there were several pictures and videos being tossed around the All-You-Can-Eat Continental breakfast bar in the hotel.  Every picture shown has my son and the team mom’s son – in the middle.  When I told him to be a strong leader this is not what I envisioned.

In addition to the Minecraft foam sword battle – in which competitors wore Ninja Turtle and Captain America Masks while battling (safety first ya know) – there was also a jousting competition.  Yes I said jousting competition. The jousting consisted of 4 players and 2 shopping carts, one player pushing (at a run) the cart heading for the other 2 team shopping cart with the players inside holding a jousting stick.  I’m not sure if they were using the Minecraft swords or if they upgraded to some of the Ninja Turtle Combat Gear.  I’m sure the lady who was in “fear for her safety” somehow walked into the jousting competition since they were in one of the main aisles of the store.  I’m still not sure how, where or why the goalie got on a bicycle.

The last picture I saw was my son wearing a pink tulle tutu.  Awesome.  So we went from “all we did was push Dane around the store in a cart” to a jousting competition with Ninja Turtle Combat gear and pink tutu’s complete with a full on Minecraft Sword battle in a separate aisle and the goalie completing the Tour de France on a powder blue Huffy. The more details that emerged the more I wished the guppy wasn’t turning into a shark.  I finally asked the question, “Why were you and Carson the only ones who got kicked out?”

“Uh… because when the store manager started walking towards us, me and Carson were the only ones who didn’t run.”

Ah .. honor among mischief makers.

My next parenting talk will go something along the lines of “Be a positive role model and leader – not the ring leader!”

PS: to the lady in the Target in Evansville who “feared for her safety.”  Keep it real…. If you want to complain because there are 13 (maybe more I forgot about “Brice” who doesn’t even belong to our team) teenage boys being stupid and annoying in the store, complain because they are being annoying don’t make up some BS line that you’re afraid for you and your child’s safety.  It’s not like they were going to hold you at Nerf gun point and take your kids candy.  I answer 911 calls – I know when people feel the need to embellish because they don’t want to be “that person” who knows that what they are complaining on is BS – but they want to complain anyway so they make it sound way worse than what it is.

PPS:  I really want to be that parent that complains to the makers of the Minecraft swords and Ninja Turtle Combat Gear that there are no warnings on their products stating that they shouldn’t be used in a shopping cart jousting competition.

PPSS:  My daughter will never be allowed to go to any store ever without parental supervision because as the details of this escapade emerged when we got home she told my son that they should have tried throwing milk jugs at each other because they basically explode on impact and spray milk EVERYWHERE!

“On Wednesdays We Wear Pink” Rachel McAdams in Mean Girls

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The title to this blog is not my favorite quote from the movie Mean Girls…. My favorite is “Boo you whore!” but I wasn’t sure anyone would read this if it was titled “Boo you whore!” 

This blog was written last summer but I held off on posting it (I had to explain that because it references outdoor summer soccer).  I decided tonight just seemed like a good night……

My mom posed an interesting question the other day.  How are these young girls (speaking of 10 and 11 year olds) so mean this early in life?  This question came after Teagan was recounting an incident that happened in school where she was told her hair style (pigtails) made her look like a teapot and that you aren’t supposed to wear your hair like that.  This occurred when she was in 1st grade.  So from that point on she no longer wanted to wear her hair in any type of ponytail.  It took me nearly 3 months before she told me why she didn’t want to wear her hair up anymore – when I found out, I was pretty unhappy.  I couldn’t believe that at age 6 or 7 there was a little girl berating another little girl because she didn’t like her hairstyle.  This was the first of many incidents regarding shoes, shirts, pants, jeans, hairstyles, backpacks, lunch boxes etc…. that we have had to get replaced because of someone making fun of her choices.

So the answer to my mom’s question came to me the other afternoon.  It wasn’t like it was a big revelation as I have come to meet some of the mothers of the girls who like to make fun of other girls and I can assure you that these girls have learned this behavior from the mom.  But the other afternoon I was waiting for Dawson to finish soccer practice and it was a nice breezy afternoon so I parked and rolled my windows down.  Next to me were two ladies also waiting for their kids – also enjoying the breezy afternoon with the windows rolled down.  I tried really hard to focus on my radio station or the butterfly flying by or just about anything but the annoying and loud conversation they were having.

They were discussing their friend “Christie.”  Poor Christie…. She had the worst hairdo the other day.  It looked like someone threw her hair into a salad spinner.  No I’m not paraphrasing they actually said that.  And her outfit was hideous, I mean she really needs to quit trying to squeeze herself into the Junior’s size and buy something that doesn’t show off her rolls of fat.  I was trying so hard not to eavesdrop anymore I turned the radio up but it didn’t work.  It seems the berating of Christie was due to her making and selling similar jewelry on ETSY as the lady parked next to me.  This was a HUGE issue to them – because Christie copied her jewelry design.  I realize I was at the high school but at 41 years old I didn’t think I was still in high school.  And these ladies were every bit in my age range because when the boys came out I recognized her son and he is 2 years older than mine.

I’m not sure if this is the norm or an exception.  The reason I don’t know is because my job obscures my objectivity.  At my job this is the norm.  Yes people call the police for things like copy-cat jewelry designs, neighbors who don’t rake their leaves, or rake their leaves into other people’s yards, ugly cars parked on the street (no not suspicious cars, just because they are old or run down) and kids bouncing basketballs too loudly. No I’m not kidding.  And sadly I could go on and on …….  So I see the really bad side of people – maybe not “bad” as much as annoying.  I guess I just don’t get how someone can let so many trivial things rule their life to the point that they call the police or a lawyer or sit and berate someone loudly in a parking lot to their other friends.

Admittedly I don’t deal well with drama.  I really don’t deal well with “girl” drama.  And I am learning I categorically don’t deal well with 5th grade “girl” drama.  I think back to middle school or high school and sometimes want to time machine myself back to 1986 and smack the holy living hell out of myself.  But that was me then, and I am almost completely opposite of that girl now.  Why did I change?  There are A LOT of reasons, but I’m glad I did.  My daughter, however, may not feel the same about my transformation as I am constantly reminding her to “be the bigger person” or “walk away from that situation.”  Despite my best advice she somehow keeps finding herself smack in the middle of some type of drama though.  And when she finds herself faced with confrontation she usually backs down – until she doesn’t.  And when explodes it’s like a firework! Remember that “mom influence” I was bitching about above?  Yeah I’m guilty of it too.  While I may not influence her to make fun of others or berate people who are different from her I have found that she has a knack for not backing down and saying whatever pops into her head (which sometimes is NOT good!).  While I have grown a filter from my brain to my mouth that usually works or at least waters down what I may be thinking, hers hasn’t quite grown in yet.  We’re working on that. 

Am I really that outspoken? And if people think I’m outspoken with my filter in place – dear GOD what would happen if anyone ever heard my inside voice!

Hopefully she learns to be a little more tactful as she grows up.  Hopefully she remembers me reminding her to “be the bigger person” just like my grandmother reminded me… DAILY… while growing up.  Note to Nana in Heaven: I finally caught on.  Further note to Nana in Heaven: You never said being the bigger person usually sucks and really doesn’t make you feel any better (I mean if we’re being honest).  All lessons my adorable 11-year-old tween drama queen needs to learn – hopefully sooner rather than later as I’m not sure I can handle 7 more years of this.

Ps….. Boo you whore! 🙂

Shopping for the Apocalypse

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Every so often someone who reads this blog says “you should write about __________.”

After writing last week about what people of certain age groups buy when there is a potential of being stranded or snowed in, my mom said, “You should write about what Dawson and Teagan would buy if they were going to be snowed in.”

So if you read Adventures in People Watching and you were concerned as I was about what the Gen Y’ers were buying for winter storm Janus (PS when and why did we start naming winter storms??) wait until you see what the Gen Z’ers plan for.  You might be surprised… I was.

One thing that I’ve come to realize as I’m writing this blog is that my kids and most Gen Y’ers in this area have never really experienced a true power outage.  Unless there has been some type of weather disaster in your area recently most people haven’t experienced wide-spread power outages or outages lasting more than a day.  And to be honest it’s hard for me to remember what it was like back when the big blizzard of ’78 (named the Cleveland Superbomb – apparently we were naming winter storms back in the 70’s) struck or when severe thunderstorms could knock the power out at my mom’s house in the country for 3 or 4 days.  But I do remember a little.  Of course I remember silly things like giant snow drifts taller than I was and my sister finding a puppy who was appropriately named Blizzard.  I had cereal and milk and bologna sandwiches and was never the wiser that there was a crisis.

The concept of planning ahead for being snowed in or not having power is just not something younger generations grasp.  I blew my daughters mind the other day when I told her we had to pay for electricity and heat and water.  “You pay for that?? Why??”  I really didn’t have an answer for the why but then I showed her the utility bills and she decided she was living with us for the rest of her life.  Maybe this will inspire the Gen Z’ers to solve the energy crisis – or they will be like my kids and just plan on living at home for the rest of their lives.

So I asked my kids:

IF YOU WERE TOLD YOU WERE GOING TO BE SNOWED IN FOR 5 DAYS WHAT WOULD YOU GO TO THE STORE AND BUY?

Teagan’s initial response was:  electronics, toys, candy and drinks.

Dawson’s initial response was:  I’m inviting my friends over for 5 days to party!

Ok, but what specifically would you buy?

Teagan said 2 boxes each of Krave cereal, Reese Cup cereal, Gushers and Fruit by the Foot.  Dawson said he would buy “steakies” and “chickies.”  For those of you not accustomed to Dawson-ese that is the Tyson pre-cooked chicken or steak strips.  Okaaayyyy.  Back to Teagan, any other ideas?  Potato chips, Honey Buns, Reese Cups and maybe a couple of books to read.  There must have been a spark in my eye when she said books because Dawson countered with a “RIIIIIIIIGHT.”  So she continued:  ice cream, waffles, JELLO, Pillsbury cinnamon rolls, yogurt and medicine – ‘cause somebody might get sick.

“Oh whatEVER!  I’m done!  Like she’d really get medicine!”  Dawson left the room.

Laughing I asked if she wanted anything else.  Of course:  strawberry banana smoothies and a mini fridge.  Then she asked, “Wait…. Can we get all this stuff?”

“No.”

“But you made a list; we have to get it if you made a list.”

“No, it was just a question for a blog.”

“But I really wanted the mini fridge.”

Who would you rather be snowed in with?  A 11-year-old girl with 4 boxes of cereal, 4 boxes of fruit snacks, potato chips, honey buns, Reese cups, books, ice cream, waffles, JELLO, cinnamon rolls, yogurt, medicine, strawberry banana smoothies and a mini fridge.

Or… A 15-year-old boy with several of his friends and pre-cooked chicken and steak strips.

I don’t think either one of them understood the whole concept that they wouldn’t be leaving the house for FIVE days in this scenario.  If I would have added a power outage into the mix I think they might have just looked at me like I was stupid – what do you mean power outage?  The power doesn’t go out.  I mean these are the same kids who “barely survived” (their words not mine) a severe thunderstorm in Florida with a five-hour power outage – see Beach Blanket Blog-O II.

Yeah…… I’m staying with Teagan and her mini fridge and her mountain of junk food.

I wish my kids were still that small – NOT!

Recently I caught myself looking at a cutie patootie toddler and thinking “Oh I miss my kids being that small.”  I also caught myself telling a mom who was bemoaning her toddlers recent temper tantrum “You will miss that when your kids are 15 (and still throwing temper tantrums).”  I have since stopped saying these things because I realized:

THEY ARE NOT TRUE!!!

The truth is:  I don’t want to admit I’m old enough to have a child in high school.  I don’t want to think that in 3 years my oldest will be going to college and my youngest will start high school.  Feeling nostalgic about my kids younger years is way more about me wanting to not admit to getting older than yearning for the toddler years again.

I mean honestly let’s think about this;  who misses having to take 2 bags full of diapers, bottles, wipes, 6 different outfit changes, pacifiers, toys, and a stroller just to go to the grocery store after surviving on about 4 hours of sleep?  Do you really miss the meltdowns at age 2 because they want to stay on the slide at McDonald’s and you want to leave because you’ve been trapped in the Play Place for 45 minutes with some psycho mom who keeps showing you pictures of every day of her child’s 730 days on Earth? The answers to these questions are “No.”

But look at these cute pictures……

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See aren’t they just adorable?  The reason you have thousands of adorable pictures lying around your house and hung on your walls is because nobody takes a picture of them when they are being bad.  I don’t have a picture of Teagan after 45 minutes of non-stop crying the night I made her give up her pacifier – affectionately called “boppy.”  I don’t have a picture from the ER visit we made after calling Dave over while he was on duty on the ambulance after Dawson made some daring leap off the top of the couch and hit a table and feigned a broken leg.  It was later revealed he really didn’t hurt himself he just acted like he did because he wanted Daddy to come home – later at the ER… after an X-ray.  I guess technically I do have a picture of it, the perfectly normal X-ray of his leg.

But it’s so easy to remember how cute they are when they are six and telling all the family they are playing in the “Pee Wee Baseball World Serious.”  Or the time when you catch your 4-year-old “reading” to his baby sister after he crawled up in her crib with her.  It’s much nicer to remember those things than when he microwaved her bottles for 4 minutes – and that icky melted plastic smell that lingered in the house for days.

It’s nice to think about the times they were cute and caring and thought you hung the moon.  Because now they talk back, they know everything and think you are the stupidest person in the world.  Ok well the full-blown teenager does, the tween is still cute about 75% of the time with the other 25% pushing the edge of full-blown teen.

If I had to truly pick a “favorite” time frame – I think it would be somewhere between them needing help tying their shoes to about 3rd grade – when they start understanding what the older kids are talking about on the school bus.  Of course technically I still have to tie Dawson cleats from time to time – well more specifically if I don’t want to watch him have to stop 3 times during a soccer game to re-tie them I have to tie his shoes.

Just like puppies.  Puppies are so cute!  Who doesn’t want one?  Until you remember the time you had to Google “Is Tire Slime hazardous to dogs?” It is not, in case you were wondering.  Or the time you had to rush to Dick’s Sporting Goods to buy a new baseball glove 1 day before a tournament and try to get it broken in because the bulldog thought the one that the 12-year-old left out in the yard looked like a good chew toy.

So while I may comment on how cute and adorable your 3 month old is or how sweet your 3-year-old is I vow not to say “I wish my kids were still that age” or “you will miss this when they get older.”  Because you really only miss the cute stuff – not the tantrums, tattling, screaming, saying no, potty training, and whining.  Actually minus the potty training it’s not that much different from having a teen ager.  And down the road when Dawson graduates or finishes college or gets married – I will remember the good stuff about him being 15.   I’m sure there’s good stuff……  I’m just kidding; currently he can crack me up with some of his one liners, he can surprise me when he texts me with an idea to raise money for kids with cancer and although he pushes the ‘I’m-the-man-of-the-house’ thing when Dave is at the fire station he is really becoming very responsible.

Maybe I should start saying “you will miss them being that cute when they get older – but when they are older they will still have their moments.”