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Growing Up

There comes a time in every child’s life where they have to step away from their parents, leave the safe haven under their wing, and truly become an adult.  It doesn’t happen when you graduate high school and turn 18; leaving the big yellow bus behind and acquiring the ability to buy cigarettes does not make an adult.  It doesn’t happen when you move out; one can get their bills paid and hold down a job while still relying heavily on good ol’ mom and dad.  It doesn’t happen when you snag a highly successful and well paying job; money and success are both great, but they don’t always go hand in hand with growing up.  In order to fully enter adulthood, one has to stop using mom and/or dad as a crutch to lean on for every little problem that comes their way.

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That isn’t to say that a child must cease to rely on their parent(s) for everything ranging from a bit of emotional support to getting a ride to the airport before a vacation.  Grandmas are great babysitters, moms are fantastic listeners, and dads are incredible problem solvers; it makes sense to go home and get help when needed.  The problem arises when you’re picking up the phone every single time your car breaks down and calling only one number:  mom and/or dad.  Because you know they will not hesitate to help, they become the solution to your problem of having a junker for a car.  You don’t see a reason to repair the vehicle because mom is a few button pushes away and she’s 100% reliable.

As a teenager or a broke college student, it’s perfectly fine to take advantage of your parents a bit and let them bail you out of bad situations.  As an adult, you need to be able to bail yourself out.  Dad should not have to “loan” you gas money every time you come to visit because you forgot your wallet, overdrafted your account, or forgot to factor the cost into your weekend budget.  Mom shouldn’t be used as your personal (and free) daycare service while you work your night shift.  They shouldn’t be doing your laundry, packing your lunches, running your errands, or paying your bills.  When you reach adulthood, you have to stop using your parents as the solution for all that ails you, and you definitely have to stop with the “poor me” routine that makes every soft-hearted parent cave to your wishes.

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It makes me sad to see someone I care about get taken advantage of by their child, who is older than me and who carries themselves as a very mature and well-adjusted individual.  I’ll be 32 soon and I spent quite a few of my earlier post-18 years relying heavily on my parents for certain things.  I put my first car in my father’s name to keep payments low and stayed on his insurance so my rate was low as well; even though I made the payments, I was still being carried.  I didn’t start paying my own cell phone bill until I was 20, then got back on my parent’s plan after I had my son and couldn’t afford a plan on my own.  I let them buy me groceries, gas, and other things I either couldn’t afford or didn’t want to spend my “fun” money on.  But eventually, as it always should, the time came to cut myself off and learn to live without using their help as a backup plan for everything.

I got criticized for putting my son in daycare when he was slightly over a year old because it was “too soon,” but it was necessary.  Not only did it help him socialize, but it allowed me to stop waiting tables and bartending at night and go out to get a real job with the normal schedule I would need when he eventually started school.  Having him in daycare meant I was no longer relying on my mother to play babysitter while I was away.  My husband and I currently ask his mother to take the boy here and there (we have a three day Chicago trip upcoming where she will be watching him) but we would never ask her to become a scheduled caretaker for him, be it full or part-time, because it’s unfair, inconvenient, and not something a responsible adult would put on a parent’s shoulders.

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Most people would put their foot down after a while and tell their kid to knock it off and deal with it on their own.  Unfortunately for the person in my life, she is far too kind to even consider this so she is at the mercy of her demanding child.  Today, she was making phone calls and doing research for her child (who is sitting at her house and doing nothing) days after her child screwed up royally and had her chauffeuring her around town to deal with some other nonsense brought on herself.  She has been sleeping on the couch for over a week so her child can have her bed.  While her child’s spouse is at work (working 24/7 apparently), she is bending over backwards and then some for her child and has been working double overtime for nearly two years now.  She does her child’s laundry, packs lunches, cares for the kid, does the grocery shopping, cooks every dinner, loans out her cars, and caters to every whim (be it as small as wanting chicken for dinner or as large as fixing a legal situation for her child).  It bothers me tremendously.

An adult doesn’t ask these things of their parent.  An adult may take up their mom’s offer to provide full time help when a baby is born, but they must say enough is enough after a couple of weeks and give their mom a break.  Dad can treat you to lunch once in a while, but he shouldn’t be your go-to meal ticket.  As an adult, YOU should be treating your parents here and there; pay for their lunch, cut their grass, get the oil changed in their car, or offer to buy on the next shopping trip when they try and pay for the whole purchase.  Growing up means a lot of different things, but one of those things must be to let go of the dependence on mommy and daddy and truly become your own person.

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Riled Up And Rowdy

On Tuesdays, my mother-in-law usually picks up our boy from school so he can have some fun quality time with grandma before coming home to his boring parents.  This past Tuesday, he talked her into a trip to Chuck-E-Cheese for pizza and games.  After insisting he had behaved beautifully in school to both her and to us over the phone, we agreed that the trip sounded like a great idea and off they went as my husband and I went in search of sushi.  The boy came home with goodies won with tickets, got his bath and some playtime, and went to bed with a smile.

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The next morning, I drove the boy to school minus the husband who stayed home to telework, and went to work in an attempt to get through those eight hours as quickly as as smoothly as possible.  Shortly before noon, I got a phone call from my son’s elementary school.  From the principal, to be more specific.  She had my son sitting in her office while she explained to me the reasons he had landed himself there.  First, he stomped on a boy’s foot at recess on Tuesday before telling him “if you tell on me, I’ll beat you up.”  Then, after the child’s mom called the school to complain, my boy was called down to the office.  Once he realized he was in trouble, he proceeded to throw a fit so violent that he had to be restrained.  Once he calmed, she told him that she would get me on the phone.  He was still agitated as we spoke, learning that he would lose his recess for the rest of the week and possibly longer if he didn’t reign it in.

When I picked him up Wednesday afternoon, he knew he was busted and made no effort to hide it from me, although he did ask me to hide it from daddy.  He knew I was upset, especially since two weeks ago, he got in trouble on a field trip for bullying 3 and 4 year olds.  I wish I could say he learned his lesson, but he has been a disaster the past couple of days, breaking the rules and coming up with ridiculous lies to try to save himself from getting in trouble.  He knows from experience that we always find things out (mainly because he’s a terrible liar) and knows that he gets in less trouble if he comes clean in the beginning, but he still keeps lying about the smallest and stupidest things imaginable.  He’s been grounded from TV, video games, and most of his toys, but the lesson is still lost on him.

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What frustrates me is that my boy knows right from wrong and knows it well.  He’s one of the smartest kids in his class and has been in previous years as well.  His teachers always comment on how sweet he is, and they’re absolutely right.  There’s just something in his 7-year-old brain that pushes him to jump into action even when he knows that nothing good will come of what he’s about to do.  He will bully other children, knowing full well how awful it feels to get bullied since he went through it.  He’ll lie about what he did even if you saw him do it.  The thing that bothers me the most though is that he just doesn’t seem to care sometimes.  He doesn’t seem to understand the effect his actions have and the stress it puts on his parents.  His only concern seems to be how things affect him and how soon he can get his privileges back.

There are quite a few moments where I take a step back and try to see what I’ve done wrong.  What did I do wrong, what did I miss, where did I screw up?  He knows darn well that we didn’t teach him to bully people or lie, and he even admitted that to my husband on Wednesday night.  The awful things he does are not things he learns at home, through us or through television.  We don’t spank him, so he’s not learning that it’s okay to hit as long as you have a good reason for doing so.  We don’t BS him about things and he’s not witnessing us lie to each other or anyone else.  Try as I might, I can’t see where I’ve slipped up or what I can do in order to have my words sink in and for him to finally come around.

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I know, I know; he’s just a kid and this is what kids do and I need to get used to it because it’s just going to get worse.  I just cannot stand this careless attitude combined with the silly lies.  I want the best for him and he’s not going to get the best unless he fixes himself up and quits beating on kids in school before he’s old enough for them to throw him out or lock him up.  I want to rid him of the habit of lying to get out of a bind so he doesn’t grow up to be a totally dishonest and untrustworthy person.  This kid is incredibly smart and lovable, and he can do great things.  I just want the best for my son and I want him to be able to come to me with his problems without instantly assuming that I’ll be angry and that his behavior must be masked or downplayed with lies.

The boy is grounded again today and on his way to having a very uneventful weekend.  The goal of my husband is to make him hate losing his things so much that he will never misbehave like this again.  I usually give in after feeling bad and return some forbidden toys to him early, so I’ll have to be tough this time around and stick it out.  I’m very hopeful that he can bounce back, stop the crazy lies, and knock of the bullying before he pushes the wrong kid and gets knocked out.  I’m trying to remember what it was like to be 7 and trying to understand that he still has so much learning and growing to do.  I think he has a pretty good support system in my husband and I, plus an amazing grandma and fantastic extended family, so I hope that between us all, we can keep him on the right path and get that little punk in line.  Meanwhile, I think a beer is in order for the stress of this week.  Cheers.

Baby Boy No More

My boy turned seven years old back in August, started first grade this year, and has a new fact learned daily from either school or from simply being curious and observant.  He’s begun rushing upstairs as soon as we get home from school to dive into a project with his Legos, something artsy while hovering over his desk, or a game on his Sega.  He’s getting to the point where I can trust him to eat breakfast unsupervised while I try to make myself look somewhat decent for work and getting much more vocal about his morning preferences.  He’s funny, opinionated, clever, and growing up fast.

It seems so recent that he had a binky in his mouth and was afraid of just about everything, reluctant to try new things or venture off on his own.  On the 12 hour drive when we moved, he screamed so loud during the last stretch that I half expected my husband to leave us by the side of the road and run for his life.  A gate was installed by the stairs so he wouldn’t tumble down as he ran around the house like a crazy person.  He pooped in the bathtub.  He was a handful and needed constant supervision.  Now, I can mostly trust him to take care of himself so long as I’m nearby.  His birthday was the first time I allowed him to roam free (for the most part) in Chuck E Cheese as opposed to shadowing him nonstop.  It’s an odd adjustment.

I’m excited that he’s growing up and I’m thrilled to have him acting more independently and discovering the things he loves to do, but it’s strange to me to not be needed as much as I once was.  I don’t have to dress him, to sit in the bathroom while he plays in the tub, to panic about his safety when he’s on the playground, or brush his teeth for him because he has yet to figure it out.  I barely even have to fight him to go to bed now; when he is ready to go, he tells me it’s time.  The mommy jobs I’ve gotten used to are no longer necessary.

I think this is the time I’m meant to go baby crazy and beg my husband to get me pregnant so I can have another little tiny helpless being to care for.  However, with as much as my sister-in-law overloads me with baby information, I don’t have baby fever.  I don’t want to pop out a kid because I miss my son being little, I just want to know that I still matter now and will continue to matter when he’s a teenager and hates me for being lame and annoying.  I want that little dude to love me now and in the future as much as he loved me when he couldn’t speak.

I worry because of how well he picks up on things now.  When I’m tired and fed up with work, he’ll ask for something by first saying, “Mommy, I know I’m annoying, but….”  I don’t want him to think I’m annoyed at HIM.  Though I sometimes am, I hate the fact that he’s picking up on my stress and assuming it’s because of him.  I don’t want him to think I don’t love him and only think of him as a chore that is never complete.  I want him to know how much he has made my life better; compared to the way I was living prior to him, I have found incredible success.  While he’s too young to fully understand everything now, I hope that a part of him knows what a positive effect he had on my life by being born.

Part of me doesn’t believe he’s been with me for seven years now.  That I (with the help of my husband and momma-in-law) managed to raise an intelligent, loving, sensitive, and hilarious little boy who is somehow not screwed up like his crazy mom and his off the wall dad.  For all his mistakes, he is incredibly well-behaved; I see kids in public acting like animals and am so grateful that I don’t have a feral child who is out of my control.  I’ve learned from the mistakes of my parents and have refrained from trying to buy his love or be hateful like my mother with horrible words and cruel punishments (not that it crosses my mind to treat him that way) or to push him into activities he wants no part of.  I’m nowhere near being a perfect parent, but I’ve managed to make it for the last seven years.  I just hope he knows how much I adore him and that even when mommy is mean, it’s out of love and a desire to make him into a great man one day.  But not too soon.

I’m A Fake Mom

Thank you, TIME Magazine, for putting a spotlight on attachment parenting.  Some principals of attachment parenting, and I’m not about to list them all, include breastfeeding and often extending the feeding for longer than typical parents would, co-sleeping with the child, no childcare for more than 20 hours per week for children younger than 30 months, avoiding feeding schedules, and never spanking or yelling.  Obviously the TIME cover made the general public focus mainly on the breastfeeding piece of attachment parenting, asking all us other women if we are “mom enough” to do what this mom did.

I am the mother of a soon to be seven year old boy and I am proud to say that I’m not even half the woman the TIME mom is.  I didn’t breastfeed at all due to a vitamin deficiency that forced me to supplement on formula, prompting me to decide to skip breastfeeding altogether and stick with Enfamil.  I did scheduled feedings, ensuring my son got the right amount of ounces per feeding and panicking when he seemed to spit up everything he just drank.  I slept in my room and he slept in his, and he was in daycare at 18 months old when I quit my nighttime bartending job and got a “real” office job to earn better money.  My son is a happy and healthy kid, incredibly intelligent, active and thriving, and other than his inability to keep his hands to himself in kindergarten, I have zero complaints about his development or behavior.  I love the kid and he knows it.

I’m happy with my decision to skip breastfeeding and I plan to skip it if/when my husband and I have a baby, although I WILL be pumping it out and bottling it.  I’m very weirded out by the entire breast feeding process and I want nothing to do with it whatsoever.  It’s a personal thing and I don’t think it makes me any less of a mom to feel this way.  Perhaps my husband will change my mind, but I don’t see how holding my baby to my breast will make me bond deeper with him or her.  I bonded with my son the minute I saw his little purple face and heard his cry.  We share little looks and inside jokes that I’m sure make no sense and I have amazing memories from his time growing and learning.  My feeding method did nothing to help or hinder that; our bond comes from the fact that I love the hell out of that kid and I would do anything in this world for him.

Another thing that I am not mom enough to do is arrange a co-sleeping arrangement with my child and future children.  My son, as an infant, would often nap on my bed or with me on the couch during the day, but when it was time for me to sleep (or attempt to) we went to our separate rooms.  My bedroom is a private place at night, meant for my husband and myself, and eventually our pup dog who thinks he’s people.  I saw no need to have a bassinette in the bedroom, nor do I see a reason to have sleepover parties as a way to help my child’s development and self esteem.  I want my child to learn that his room is his place for privacy, as mine is for myself and my husband, and that he deserves that privacy and should enjoy it as he sees fit.  I don’t want to raise a clingy codependent child by gluing him to my side and not even allowing him alone time to rest.

In a perfect and ideal world, we wouldn’t need childcare.  Sadly, I have these annoying things called bills that refuse to go away, so I need a steady job with good hours and high pay.  This means my son and future babies will need to be in childcare at an early age.  Unless someone out there would like to gift me with a few million to pad my account, I can’t afford to keep my kids home until they reach three, or until kindergarten.  My husband can’t afford to stay at home at this point in time either.  Assuming his novel takes off as I hope, he can definitely do so in the future and keep our boy and hypothetical future kids out of daycares, but for us and for many couples, it’s not realistic and simply doesn’t make financial sense.  I would love to be able to save up a nice chunk of cash to give to my son after graduating high school for college, an apartment, or wherever life decides to take him, but I can’t do that if I don’t work and I can’t work without daycare.

Am I less of a mom because I disagree with attachment parenting and I don’t follow their rules and guidelines?  I don’t know.  I was mom enough to fight through a pregnancy solo, holding two jobs and struggling every step of the way from the positive test to the drive home from the hospital.  I was mom enough to remove him from living situations that were convenient for me but harmful to him.  I was mom enough to keep him healthy and consult doctors immediately at an early age when he had breathing issues (that are gone now).  I was mom enough to be picky about daycares and do what I had to do to ensure he was in a good one and was happy.  I was mom enough to teach him right from wrong and feed him knowledge, making him the smarty pants he is today.  I was mom enough to now have a kid who loves me to pieces and refuses to leave me at his school without a hug and a kiss.  Maybe I’m not mom enough for the TIME Magazine mom and maybe I’m not mom enough for you ladies who breast feed until your kid boards the bus to kindergarten, but I’m mom enough for my kid and that’s all that matters.

Til Death. Part Time Of Course.

I heard something the other day that annoyed me.  Because it’s secondhand information and because the person may not want me regurgitating their information, I’m going to be as brief as possible.  Single female, with children, dated two married men with the full and complete knowledge that they are married.  I suppose it’s all right to be brief in the description since this scenario is unfortunately quite a common one.

Being single with children is rough and I don’t think there’s a certain age range where it’s any easier than another; you either have children who don’t understand, preteens who are resentful, teenagers who act rebellious and unwelcoming, not to mention the depression and guilt that can strike any age when the child is left wondering why one parent isn’t around and doesn’t love them like they believe they should.  As a former single mom, I know how hard it is to date and shed the unwed mom image or the notion that you’re loose and your bad behavior is what landed you with a kid.  Other than the single moms I knew, guess who understood my dating dilemma best?  Married people.  I’m not quite sure why, but my married friends (both childless and parents) somehow got it and sympathized.  I can definitely see how a vulnerable single woman would be drawn to a married man who understood how lonely she felt.  That being said, there’s a very clear line there that cannot and must not be crossed.

To a single mom, a successful man is quite attractive and one who is a family man as well is even better.  Raising a child alone doesn’t make for the most stable environment, no matter how good you are at it.  To hear a man talk about the things he does for his kids after work and how proud he is of them could definitely be attractive.  To hear about how he pampers his stay-at-home wife could definitely make a woman feel a bit of jealousy and wish she was in the wife’s place.  That doesn’t justify trying to stick yourself there.  You don’t get a marriage license because it’s fun, you do so because a marriage is a legal binding agreement between two people.  If they choose to separate on their own without outside interference, so be it.  No one should insert themselves into someone else’s marriage, no matter how you feel or what promises the married party makes to you or lies they feed you.  If you’re giving up your goods, of COURSE the unfaithful married person will swear they’re getting a divorce or are already sleeping in separate beds, so long as you keep on taking your pants off.  Only a fool buys into that and only a fool puts themselves in that position to begin with.

I can’t imagine any man out there who would make me want to become a homewrecker.  Why would I want to teach my son that marriage vows mean jack shit by sleeping with a man who is promised to another woman?  What does that say about my self-esteem and self-worth?  What kind of woman does that make me at the end of the day?  If you simply want sex and no strings, there are plenty of single people out there who would be happy to roll around with you and never call you again, so there’s no excuse for going to someone who’s married.  If you want a sugar daddy/mommy, there’s also plenty of them out there who have yet to put a ring on their finger.  If you’re looking for love, do you really want the love of someone who is willing to cheat on someone they love(d) enough to marry?  I can’t imagine ever being secure with a man who left his wife to be with me; I’d always fear for the next new chick to come along and cause his eyes to wander.

Except for those instances where the married party fails to disclose their marriage, both parties are at fault for beginning and carrying on a relationship.  A man can throw the greatest lines at you, buy you diamonds, offer vacations, and come off as the most fantastic person to ever grace the Earth with his presence, but if he’s married he is OFF LIMITS.  Period.  His appeal is no excuse for carrying on with him.  As for the married part of this, don’t get married if you’re not done dogging around.  You can’t love your spouse AND sleep around, it doesn’t work that way.  Cheating doesn’t have a place in a relationship with true love; if you need or want to cheat, separate beforehand and then have at it.  If that’s too much work, keep your pants tightly belted on and keep your hands to yourself.

We all make mistakes and have moments of weakness, stupidity, bad judgment, foolishness, and regret.  It’s forgivable to fall in love with a married man, as emotions are tough to control.  It’s unforgivable to act on those feelings and taint his marriage, even if he says it’s all right.  It’s okay to want to recapture your childhood, find a sitter for the kids on Saturday, and go out and party like you’re in college.  It’s not okay to take a married guy home and give him an anatomy lesson.  Even if you find yourself in a near-perfect sneaky scenario, you’ve got to understand that people are smarter than you give them credit for and chances are, the spouse will find out, their kids will find out, and so will your kids.  What kind of piss poor parent wants to teach their child that marriage doesn’t mean shit and promises of love come with unfaithful acts and chances of catching a disease?

Listen ladies, the guy isn’t leaving his wife for you.  I don’t care what he says, it’s not going to happen.  It’s pillow talk to make your dress come off quicker.  Even if it’s just a fling, it’s still an equal amount of wrong.  There is not one single solitary reason under the sun that makes it okay to get involved with a married person.  Chicks have enough trouble being taken seriously and not being just a pair of boobs to the majority of guys, don’t devalue our gender more by making it okay for a married man to make you his piece on the side.  Have some self-respect.

Angry Wives Society

I was browsing CNN.com yesterday when this articlecaught my eye.  The heading read Why We Get Mad At Our Husbands.  As someone who is happily married to a sometimes difficult man, I couldn’t resist checking it out.  The article stated that “46% of moms get irate with their husbands once a week or more” and mothers “with kids younger than 1 are even more likely to be mad that often (54 percent).”  It also states that mothers get angry that their husbands seem unable to multitask when it comes to the kids, don’t help with the chores or create even more work when they try to help, take too much time for themselves and not enough time for the family, and don’t act like an equal partner.  44% of mothers are reported as saying that “dads often don’t notice what needs to be done around the house or with the kids.  We hate that we have to tell them what needs to be done, that they can step over a basket of laundry on their way to find the remote control.”

I will admit, I found myself relating to a few bits of this article.  I expect my husband to know what needs to be done and to help without asking while he expect me to ask for assistance if I feel overwhelmed and want him to give our boy a bath or throw something in the washing machine.  I wouldn’t consider myself a part of the 44% who think their spouse doesn’t notice what needs to be done, but I can sympathize with the frustration of having to ask for help or point out things needing to be done.  It’s a problem that doesn’t need to be one though when you marry someone responsible and who exists on the same page as you.  I may find myself annoyed that my husband can’t sense when I’m overworked and doesn’t automatically jump up to help me, but is that really his fault if I’m too busy storming around the house to ask for a helping hand?  On the surface, moments like this make me feel anger towards him, but in reality I’m angry at the pile of various housework facing me and I’m willing to bet that a good deal of women who reported anger towards their spouse can say the same if they’re being honest with themselves.

Women and men are wired quite differently and it definitely shows when you put my husband and I side by side.  We tackle chores differently and choose different orders and ways to do things.  I prefer to come home from work and immediately tackle what needs to be done so I can get it out of the way while my husband likes to take some time to relax and get in comfortable clothes, unwinding before getting his hands dirty.  He likes to write down a list of everything he wants to accomplish and I choose to play it by ear and hopefully remember all that needs to be done.  We have different ways of washing dishes and clothes, different methods to bathe and feed the boy in the best manner possible, and different directions in which we tackle cleaning and disinfecting various rooms and areas.  If you haven’t guessed, the key word here is different, not unequal or unbalanced, just different.  The key to a peaceful household isn’t being with someone who does as you do but to be with someone who succeeds in the areas you fail and who fills your gaps, allowing you both to operate at 100% as a unit.

It comes as no shocker that the article reports about half of the mothers out there find themselves getting irate at their hubby at least once a week and I’m sure the men can say the same about their wives.  Marriage and parenthood have its downsides that come with all the good and one of those includes being fed up with the person you’re with.  My husband will freely admit that he sometimes goes out of his way to drive me a little batty, mainly because it’s pretty easy to do, but it’s one of those things that will happen whether you intend it to or not.  The best thing us females can do is to ensure we’re picky about who we choose to cohabitate with.  I married someone who is even more germaphobic than I am and who only knows what lazy means on Sundays, someone who doesn’t slack off or procrastinate (too bad) and someone who is committed to getting the most out of life.  It’s the reason I’m a member of the happy half of wives and the reason I have little sympathy for the angry ones out there.  Know what you want and make sure you have it before you even think about adding marriage and children to the equation, otherwise you’re setting yourself up for many upsetting days in your future.

Drink, Drank, Drunk!

Last night, my husband and I indulged our new obsession and squeezed two episodes of 30 Days into our evening before giving up and surrendering to sleep.  The description of one episode mentioned a mother who decided to binge drink in order to prove a point to her daughter.  I can’t read something like that and decide to watch something else!  Not surprisingly [SPOILER] the mother’s efforts were wasted on her 19-year-old daughter; she held on to that “I know everything and alcohol doesn’t hurt me like it hurts other people” attitude.  This college student was determined to continue drinking heavily because it was fun and she believed she could handle it.  Thankfully, the mother’s youngest son benefited from the experience and seemed to be generally turned off to alcohol and its effects when abused. [END SPOILER]

I’m not against drinking or getting drunk and acting like an idiot.  That being said, I’m not in support of people who drink and can’t handle their alcohol.  This applies to those who get violently ill, who drive while heavily intoxicated, who ruin the fun for everyone around them, who have attitude problems, and who use and/or harm others.  The young female on 30 Days [SPOILER] claimed to black out frequently, but would also claim to be able to handle her booze in the same sentence.  She was cocky about her drinking and terribly rude to her mother, who was putting her health at risk in a last-ditch attempt to help her daughter out. [END SPOILER]  I drank in college and even though it’s illegal when you’re underage, I don’t necessarily thing it’s wrong.  It’s part of college life and the students are adults who are old enough to make decisions for themselves, even though the law states they need a couple more years.  The drinking age in most countries is 18, and with the US being more uptight than other countries about almost everything, I’m more inclined to go with the views of a great deal of the rest of the world and think that 18 is old enough.  That being said, I do think there are certain things college students should be doing if they are going to act as adults and indulge in alcohol.

1.  Let go of the belief that you know everything.  Us old people have been there, done it, and have the battle scars to prove it.  Sometimes your parents aren’t idiots and do actually know what they’re talking about.  At the very least, don’t be a smart ass and blow them off when they’re trying to help.  They took the time to raise you, the least you can do is take the time to hear them out.

2.  Don’t forget where you are.  You’re in college.  It’s a place to learn above all else.  If you only desire to party, save your parents some cash on tuition and drop out, get a job at a bar or something.  If you can’t balance your studies with your drinking, you have to give one up.  I failed U.S. History the first time around because it was at 8am and I generally didn’t go to bed until 3am or later.  If I had to do it all over again, I definitely wouldn’t have picked an early morning class.

3.  Always have a plan to get home.  The parties I went to in college were either within walking distance of my dorm and I made sure I went with a sober friend or was the sober friend.  If you’re drinking and you’re underage, you CAN NOT DRIVE.  One sip of beer is legally too much and you don’t want that on your record; you need a designated driver.  If you’re walking back, it helps to have the sober friend as a designated walker to ensure you get back home safely and without climbing a tree or knocking on random doors thinking you’re home, behaviors that can out you as a drunk minor and get you in trouble on campus.

4.  Drink responsibly.  Yeah, I know, seems silly to tell minors to drink responsibly.  But if you’re in college, you’re an adult (unless you’re one of those genius kids who graduates high school at 12).  Don’t starve yourself before drinking so you can get drunk faster; eat a good meal before going out and don’t turn down a slice of pizza or other fun foods while drinking.  Get a bottle of water or two and alternate good old H2O and your drink of choice; it’ll keep you hydrated and hopefully keep hangovers at bay.  Don’t try to keep up with other people; we all have different tolerances and it’s better to have your boy call you a pussy than it is to be lying on the pavement in a puddle of puke.  Do not operate heavy machinery or do anything else that the little voice in the back of your head tells you is a bad idea while intoxicated.  Don’t pass out; people are dicks to the guy who passes out and people have cameras on their phones for instant upload of your shame to the internet.

5.  Don’t expect mom and dad to approve of your activities.  If they’re paying for your education, give them their money’s worth.  Don’t expect them to fund your extracurricular activities as well as your education.  If  you don’t have the cash to go drinking, you either don’t drink or you get a job.  You shouldn’t be shocked if your parents are upset with you for doing beer bongs.  They SHOULD be upset; you’re too young and you’re supposed to be learning useful things, and NOT the best way to do a keg stand.

6.  You are NOT Superman or Wonder Woman.  My husband has never had a hangover (jerk) but that doesn’t mean he has the free reign to drink whatever he wants without consequence.  Just because you’ve never tripped down a flight of stairs after a 6 pack doesn’t mean it’ll never happen to you.  With alcohol comes stupid behavior and shit happens to the best of us.  If you have the cocky attitude and act like you can take shots all night and be fine, you better believe it’ll come back to bite you in the ass eventually, and everyone who you aggravated with your “I’m untouchable” attitude will be there laughing at your expense.

7.  Learn the benefit of being the sober friend.  I think I had a psychic ability in college that allowed me to sense when NOT to drink; it saved me from MUIs (minor under the influence) and allowed me to drive drunk friends back to their dorms, saving them from consequence.  It also allowed me to have a damn good time laughing at my drunk college buddies.  The Hangover movies are hilarious because drunk people do dumb things and it’s funny to watch and even funnier sometimes watching them try to piece it all together the next day.  Try it out once in a while.

8.  Remember, IT IS STILL ILLEGAL!  A loud party can get the cops called and you busted.  Sneaking drinks at a concert or bar can get you in trouble as well.  The cops won’t buy my argument that you’re an adult because you’re not at the legal drinking age and that’s all they care about.  If you’re willing to take the risk, be willing to deal with the legal ramifications as well.  As lucky as you think you are, you are not immune to the cranky cop who’s fed up with drunk frat boys and you might be the person he decides to take his anger out on.  A few drinks isn’t worth a night or two in jail.

Alcohol is awesome but it can’t become your crutch when partying; you have to learn to have fun without it and you have to be willing to take a step back if you’re frequently blacking out and waking up in strange places with odd people.  What’s the point of having a fun night if you can’t ever remember what you did?  I’m not telling any of the under-21 crowd that they shouldn’t drink because I did enough of it before I legally could, but you’ve got to be smart about it and you’ve got to have respect for your parents.  I’d be devastated if my son came home describing the numerous jello shots that caused him to black out and wake up in a bathtub.  No parent wants to hear that crap about their child unless they utterly fail at parenting.  If they’re telling you to slow down on the alcohol, it’s not because they’re trying to kill your good time, it’s because they’re trying to save your dignity and your liver.  It’s coming from a place of love.

I’m not getting preachy here or advocating a life of sobriety; this chick plans on having a bottle of wine to herself one night this weekend.  My bottom line here is simply to use your brain for more than a beer-absorbing sponge.  Don’t become the sloppy chick who alternates between weepy and slutty.  Don’t turn into the guy who projectile vomits like clockwork after the 8th shot of whiskey.  If every night is spent using a toilet seat as a pillow, maybe you need to rethink your liquid diet a bit.  Drink, get drunk, and be merry as all hell, just don’t let your drunken behavior define who you are and control your life.  Now….. who wants a shot of Crown?

Not Every Mom Is A Mother

Due to circumstances beyond my control, I have to deal with my father a couple of times each month.  If you happen to be unfamiliar with my situation, try to imagine how hard it would be to deal with a parent who has written you out of his will even though you’ve never asked for anything or taken advantage of them.  A parent who has sued you for somewhere around $50,000 of bogus claims and charges.  A parent who calls your marriage a sham.  It’s quite uncomfortable and after years of dealing with more than I can put into a blog, I gave up trying to reconcile with my mother and father.

Last Friday, my father presented me with an overstuffed manila envelope with my name crudely scribbled across the front.  He said “your mother thought you would want this.”  Having manners, I said thank you.  He turned his back on me.  After he left, I brought the envelope upstairs and cut through the packing tape that was wrapped around it multiple times.  Inside were my photos.  Or rather, photos of me from the day I was born up to around the time I had my son.  There were also certificates from silly accomplishments in elementary school, ribbons I won on field days, badges I had earned.  I went through the photos slowly; me in the hospital looking like a little Chinese baby, my first dive during swimming lessons, various dance recitals, vacations, awkward preteen moments, high school graduation, prom, my whole life in pictures.  In an envelope.  When I reached the end of the envelope’s contents, I found a piece of paper that in large black letters said “DO WHAT YOU WANT WITH THESE, I DON’T WANT THEM ANYWAY!”  All it was missing was a “Love, Mom.”

My mom is notorious for taking jabs at me and doing things intended to hurt me and make me feel three inches tall.  My husband has seen the cruel letters she’s written to me and he’s heard her lay verbal assaults on me.  Whenever I angered her, I was sent to my room for weeks at a time without radio, books, or anything to entertain myself with other than gazing out of my window.  The very first time I brought a guy to the house, she told him with a straight face: “I don’t like people.  I don’t like you.”  That pretty much sums up how she treated each and every one of my friends and boyfriends since that day and currently; she didn’t approve of my husband from day 1 and never even gave him a chance or even bothered to meet the guy, although she did lay an evil look on him in Target while he visited me in Georgia.  My mother absolutely hates me, no question about it.

Thankfully this act of giving me all my pictures and effectively erasing the photographic presence of their daughter from their home wasn’t hurtful as intended.  I had been feeling regret that I had no photos of my childhood to show my son and (maybe) future kids and now that issue is solved, as I now have my life from birth to early 20s covered!  I toyed with the idea of sending my mother a thank you email, but decided against it.  She would take the email as 1. Proof that she had emotionally scarred me by sending them to me, 2. A reason to reply with a scathing email about how God hates me and I’m going to hell, something I really don’t have time to read or make fun of, 3. Interpreting my thank you as an attempt to reconcile rather than the half sarcastic message it was meant to be, or 4. A sign of my weakness and proof that she once again found a way to break me.  I do send her non-verbal thanks though for gifting me with memories.  I also have come to terms with the fact that it will never make sense to me and I should stop searching for reason where there is none.

Some people aren’t meant to be parents and sadly, my mother and father fit into this category.  What it all comes down to is the simple fact that having a kid doesn’t translate into loving your kid.  I’ll always be their daughter in the genetic sense, but that’s where it ends.  They’ve made it clear throughout my life that I didn’t fit well with the rest of the family.  Once my grandfather, my biggest defender, passed away, there was no holding back my mother from making it clear that I was a terrible person.  What I’ve realized is that maybe it’s not entirely their fault.  My parents weren’t programmed to have an independent child; they needed someone who would remain under their influence and do what they saw fit at all times.  They weren’t prepared for someone intelligent enough to see through their lies and someone bold enough to call them out on it.  I wasn’t the prissy preppy daughter they wanted, who planned to marry rich and become a baby factory with a bachelor’s degree that never got put to use.  And for some reason, rather than accept me for the person I am, they chose to treat me like trash and then cast me aside.

I’m lucky though when you think about it.  I didn’t get stuck in a microwave or a cage like some parents are doing to children nowadays.  I was never beaten badly enough to warrant a trip to the emergency room.  I didn’t suffer any permanent damage, physically or emotionally.  I learned the unfortunate lesson that the ability to have a child doesn’t come with the ability to be a parent.  The unconditional love I feel for my son isn’t something that came with donating my genetic material to put him together.  The love my husband has for our son didn’t come from any genetic bond; he met my son during his toddler years and became his father by choice, loving that kid more than I thought possible.  People have given me that judgmental glare when I mention that I don’t communicate with my parents, thinking that I owe them something for raising me or thinking that they HAVE to love me, I just need to apologize.  No, I don’t owe them anything for raising me; they chose to have me and wouldn’t let me leave their house until I turned 18.  No, they don’t HAVE to love me just because they made me and no, an apology from me won’t mend fences, I know from experience.  The truly unfortunate part is that the parties involved constantly refuse to take the high road and agree to disagree.  Maybe we should view parenting in the same way we do a romantic relationship or a long friendship; sometimes things just don’t work out and the only thing left to do is to go in separate directions.

“Just because someone spits you out of their crotch doesn’t make them your mother.” – Agent Paul Kellerman, Prison Break

Free Parenting Lessons! Inquire Within

My son turned 6 last Friday, officially making him a big boy and me an old lady.  To celebrate, he wanted to head down to the Indiana State Fair for the rides.  We also took him to Disc Replay to pick out some games for his new GameCube and the GameBoy he got last Christmas.  He had a blast at the fair with the giant slide that he rode about ten times and he picked out some great video games.  I’m certain he had an enjoyable birthday weekend and I’m also certain we pushed ourselves past exhaustion; none of us were anywhere near ready for it to be Monday.  It was definitely worth it though.

My son can get a bit out of hand from time to time and is not above throwing a fit at school or, like last night, using the towel rack as a pull-up bar.  He causes trouble and sometimes makes me wonder if I’m doing something wrong as a parent.  That being said, my kid is better behaved than 99% of the kids I come in contact with, especially the gremlins we were around this weekend.

At the fair, I expected a decent amount of shrieking hyperactive children, fueled by funnel cakes and cokes.  I expected to be shoved and stepped on, to trip over toddlers who were fleeing from their parents, and to deal with a tension headache that would result from being surrounded by rowdy midgets.  I didn’t expect to have to stand in line behind my son to hold back two older boys who were attempting to cut him in line.  I didn’t expect my son to turn around and give a boy a foot taller than him the look of death after the tall boy poked and bumped into him one too many times.  I can only place half of the blame on the children though; why should they behave when their parents are busy smoking cigarettes, playing with their smartphones, loudly gossiping and laughing with friends, and simply ignoring the kids and their bad behavior?  Disc Replay was equally as bad as the fair, which is unacceptable because a store is not a place for kids to run wild.  One child screamed “I WANT MY BAH BAH,” “I WANT THAT, GIMME GIMME,” and “PICK ME UP NOW MA MA!” over and over and O-V-E-R again while his mother dragged him through the store as she browsed movies.  My son asked me permission to pick up about a dozen movies that a child had knocked onto the floor.  One child kept burping and laughing hysterically.  One kept spitting and making fart noises with her mouth.  One used language that even I would be uncomfortable using in public.  And all the while, the parents did nothing.  To these less than involved parents, I have a few words of advice:

1.  Teach your child some manners!  Rude kids grow up to be rude adults.  Tell your child to add “please” onto their requests, followed by a “thank you” when you oblige.  If they can’t manage to squeeze in a please, they don’t get what they want.  Lead by example with this one and make sure you say please and thank you when necessary.

2.  Pay attention to your kid!  Don’t update your Facebook or text your friends while your child is kicking over store displays.  Don’t continue shopping while your kid throws random objects at other store patrons.  If you can’t handle your child AND do your grocery shopping, leave the kid at home or bring a chaperone along with you that will keep your child in check.  Don’t stand idly by while your child terrorizes everyone around him.

3.  Monkey see, monkey do.  If you’re carrying on like an idiot with your friends, your kid will assume it’s acceptable to be loud and obnoxious as well.  Save your rowdy time for the nights you have a babysitter and you’re out of the house.  When you’re with your kid, act in a way you would want them to act, a way you would be proud of.

4.  You are in charge!  Your little one does not dictate where you go, what you do, or what you buy.  They’re not going to be happy with everything they have to do, but that’s life.  They don’t get to go everywhere they want to; make it clear that not everywhere is a kid-friendly setting and don’t take them to adult-only places, no matter how much they beg and complain.  Don’t be afraid to tell them NO!  Otherwise, they’ll see you for the pushover you are and they’ll control everything.

5.  Bad behavior is not cute.  I’m guilty of saying “aww” once or twice when my son was starting out on solid foods and would splatter mashed green beans everywhere.  It was cute when he was a baby, but it stops being cute once you realize what a pain it is to clean up that mess.  When at a restaurant, it isn’t cute when your kid dumps the sugar caddy on the floor, finger paints in ketchup on the walls, or screams because he doesn’t want macaroni and cheese.  It’s not cute when your child throws whatever they can grab and laughs hysterically at the people dodging objects or stuck cleaning it up.  How cute would it be if I spit my chocolate milk in YOUR face?  Not cute at all?  Well I don’t think it’s cute when your kid does it to me.  Don’t encourage bad behavior.

6.  Own the authority.  When I worked retail, parents used to say “Stop doing ____ or that lady will get you!”  During my days waiting tables, it would be “If you throw your food, that lady will get very mad at you!”  Great, so a bunch of kids now think I’m the big bad monster at your local department store or restaurant.  Sure, it’s easier to make a stranger into the bad guy so your kid doesn’t hate you, but that doesn’t mean it’s right.  Try telling your kid to knock it off or they go to bed early, lose their toys, or can’t watch cartoons for a week.  I’m sure plenty of cashiers at Walmart are pretty sick of being called the “mean lady” by mothers trying to frighten their kids.

7.  It’s called “baby talk” for a reason!  Growing up I knew a boy who said “napkee” rather than napkin until he was eight years old.  Baby talk is cute because babies and toddlers can’t quite form the words properly and instead spout out adorable alternatives.  Adorable or not, it’s the wrong way to speak.  “Does baby want blankee?” shouldn’t be coming out of your mouth.  Additionally,  baby talking to your kids is insanely annoying to the adults around you who are stuck listening.  Especially in public restrooms.  I can’t pee when all I hear from the next stall is “Sweetie, go pee pee?  Mommy goes pee pee, see?  You go pee pee?  Need wipey?”  Ugh.

8.  Watch the language.  I say fuck, shit, damn, hell, cunt, and a wide variation of other words that you won’t learn on Sesame Street.  I don’t say them around my kid.  Neither should you.  For you kidless folk, if you happen to be in a Toys R Us or anywhere that puts you around children, watch your fucking mouth please.

9.  Don’t rely on unwilling babysitters.  Working retail and waiting tables put me in many positions where a patron would either leave their kid with me or would ignore their kid completely knowing that myself and my coworkers would follow them around to ensure they didn’t destroy anything.  Working at Ross, I can distinctly remember five times I chased a child out the doors, stopping them just steps from walking into oncoming parking lot traffic.  THAT IS NOT MY JOB!  Yes, the guy at the fair will probably grab your kid before they start pulling at electrical cords, but they shouldn’t have to.  You have to.  Or at least give the unwilling person who is keeping your kid from eating stuff off of the floor $20 or so.

10.  Take responsibility and make your kid do the same.  If your child bumps into someone, tell your child to apologize and please do the same.  Make an effort to clean up your mess when out to eat and have your child pick up his discarded napkins off the floor and stack them on his plate.  If your kid knocks items off of a store display, make your kid pick it up.  Say excuse me when someone is in your way so your child learns to say it rather than shove past people.  If your kid is throwing a tantrum, have the decency to remove your child from the setting and go somewhere private; people around you shouldn’t be forced to listen to a screaming child if they don’t have to.  Until your kid is 18, YOU are responsible for them!  Spend those 18 years showing your child the proper way to act and holding them accountable for bad behavior.  Trust me, it’s a great feeling when strangers go out of their way to tell you how polite and well-behaved your kid is.

I’m Punching Toddlers Today

There is a carnival going on today and over the weekend in a field adjacent to the building I work in.  Today is also their picnic, which allows employees to leave at 11:00am and also allows them to bring their kids to work.  A couple of years ago, before I worked in the building, my husband brought our son in so he could see where Daddy and Grandma work.  He enjoyed it; he watched movies on a portable player, talked on Grandma’s phone, and was out of here before lunchtime.  Most importantly though, it was a pleasant experience for everyone because my child is well-behaved and well-mannered, which can’t be said about the gremlins in here today.

There was a long line to get through security because people couldn’t be bothered to hold their kids by the hand or carry small ones through the line.  Couldn’t use the restroom easily because a lady washing her hands was allowing her toddler to roam around and peek under the stalls.  Another woman was using an incredibly loud baby-talk voice to convince her daughter to “go potty, yes darling?  Let’s go potty with mommy!  Oh yes, it’s potty time!  Potty potty potty!”  On the way back to my office, a large woman leaned against the wall while her small son danced in the middle of the hallway.  While I tried to dodge him, along with numerous others, she cooed “Now darling, there are people walking!”  I had to bite my tongue to keep from telling her to move her fat ass and grab her kid before someone steps on him, but I doubt she would have bothered to move.  I can hear high-pitched shrieks from the hallway over my iPod.  Almost ran into a woman’s ass on the way back from the store because she decided to bend over in front of me to shake hands with a boy who stopped in the hall.  My mother in law said it’s like a zoo in the cafeteria.  There is a child banging on our office door and the mother is laughing, saying it’s SO cute how excited he is to be here.  Apparently, I work in a freaking daycare for children with ADHD.

I don’t blame the kids though.  I blame these lazy parents who can’t be bothered to take a bit of action and control their child.  I blame the moronic people who treat these kids like kings and queens and allow them to run rampant in a place of business.  I blame the moms and dads who assume the bad behavior isn’t bothering anyone because their child is just SO cute and cuteness overrides all annoyances.  I get that it’s Bring Your Brat To Work Day and I expect things to not be business as usual, but that doesn’t make it okay to treat the office like we’re at Six Flags on free Pixi Stick Day.  I popped a kid out too, people, I’m not going to be all that impressed with your offspring and I don’t want them touching my things or singing the ABCs while I’m taking a phone call.

I’m not attempting to portray myself and my husband as perfect parents, we’re far from perfect, but we did manage to raise a kid to almost the age of six who knows how to behave in public, who understands the difference between what is acceptable to do outside versus inside, who uses his quiet voice when in settings that require it, who says please and thank you, and who is (mostly) a joy to be around.  We don’t beat the kid to get those results, we just demand excellence from him.  When he acts up, it is immediately corrected, and not with “Mommy is going to count to three” or other empty threats.  The daddy voice alone is enough to stop bad behavior in its tracks.  We don’t try to be friends with the boy, we act like his parents.

If you’re too lazy to teach your child how to act and how to carry themselves, please never ever reproduce.  Get yourself sterilized immediately.  Being a parent is a never-ending job not meant for the faint of heart.  You’ve got to keep your kid in line for their own benefit, but also for the benefit of others.  A spoiled little boy will grow up to be a self-absorbed man with a false sense of entitlement.  A little girl who gets told she’s a perfect princess as she destroys the house will grow to be a bitchy woman who thinks the world should kiss her ass.  Let your children have all the fun in the world, but teach them the difference between playtime and serious time.  Help the child understand what things are acceptable to do around people and what should be left at home or not done at all.  Trust me, if your kid doesn’t hate you once in a while, you’re not doing it right.

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