(A) or (B)?

Your kid texts you shortly after leaving for middle school in the morning, “Mom I left my project on the bus what can I do?”

img_1585

Do you (A) give him some tough love and reinforce his independence by telling him to go to the front office and ask for help, and when they are not able to offer anything other than “you’ll just have to wait until you ride the bus home after school” you explain that he has to be responsible for his mistakes (although everybody is human and everybody makes them); or

(B) call the county school bus company, get transferred to dispatch, explain the situation, hold while he radios the bus driver on the walkie-talkie, says she looked but found nothing, text your kid back with the bad news, talk your kid off the ledge because he worked on the project for days and will get a late grade if he doesn’t turn it in today, continue periodically trying to calm him down via text, an hour later decide to call the county school bus company again (wonder should you disguise your voice this time… but decide no, that’s weird and not believable because your British accent tends to fall off mid-sentence) and ask if you can personally locate and search the bus because the kid knows down to the row, seat, and exact coordinates where he left it, profess your undying love for the understanding dispatcher who goes out to the bus, looks for and locates the project himself, drive to the bus depot two towns over (thus missing the last group workout of the morning and you know you’re not going to the afternoon one now) to pick up the project, drive it to your kid’s school, and text him to let him know it is there for pick up, then come home and take a nap?

Yeah, me too.  I went with (A).  I definitely went with that one.  Oh, who am I kidding?  That nap was awesome.

screen-shot-2016-10-05-at-4-00-45-pm

And he had a quiz in the middle of all of this!  You know it’s serious when juvenile humor doesn’t get a smile out of him.  Try saying ‘Boobie Washington’ a few times without giggling.  You can’t.

Wish me luck for tomorrow…

How To Communicate With Your College Freshman During Finals Week

All across these United States, college students are fah-reak-ing out over finals.  The Stacks are full and their Starbuck’s accounts are almost empty.  Just hang on, kids.  It’s almost winter break.

I need to talk to Kid A about all kinds of things… money, schedules, where she plans to live next year, her grandiose plans for spring break vs. what’s really going to go down, etc.  But finals week is not the time to bring up such serious buzz kill topics.  This is the time to send love notes, supportive messages, and comfort food.

And fun text messages:

Screen Shot 2014-12-09 at 10.38.03 AM Screen Shot 2014-12-09 at 10.36.54 AM

Please wish Kid A luck on her finals…

Mama’s Got This

Sheepdog and I had just finished playing a fantastic game of hide and seek late last night, when a text came in from Kid A.  A friend had alerted her that somebody just “hit” our driveway with shaving cream.

I like to refer to myself as "highly procreative" rather than "a slut," but to each his own.

I like to refer to myself as “highly procreative” rather than “a slut,” but to each his own.  D-minus for creativity, Class of 2015.

Ah, Junior/ Senior Wars.  A time when high school kids can play lighthearted pranks upon members of the opposing class.  A little toilet paper here, some shaving cream there.  Some call it a rite of passage.  Some call it fun and funny.

I call it stupid and a ginormous pain in my ass, especially when I am hosing off my driveway in my pajamas at 1 a.m.

The police department calls it vandalism, especially if it escalates.  Shit just got real, yo.  On your permanent record.

There are always going to be fartknockers who wreck it for everybody else.

Sheepdog and I do not condone Junior/ Senior War activity and we do not allow our kids to participate.  But I was alerted via Facebook that some juniors’ houses in the neighborhood got TP’d the night before, so I took precautionary protective measures in anticipation of my senior getting a little something-something, just because.  Cutting down the two river birch trees from the front yard a few years ago wasn’t going to be enough.  I tapped into my Jersey Girl/ Boardwalk Empire roots and asked myself, What would 3-Pops do?  But, since the answer to that question likely involved a baseball bat and some knee caps (not really my style), I decided to go a more technologically advanced route.

IMG_0271

If you mess with her cubs, you had better be prepared to hear from the Mama Tiger (Swiger, like tiger).

I love a good penis on the garage door as much as the next girl, but I am a little concerned that all of your penises (and there were many) look like cacti.  If you were drawing from memory, you might want to get that checked by a doctor, Picasso.

I love a good penis on the garage door as much as the next girl, but I am a little concerned that all of your penises (and there were many) look like cacti.  If you were drawing from memory, you might want to get that checked by a doctor, Picasso.

An apology would be nice, but I won’t hold my breath.

Wish me luck for tomorrow…

When Life Gives You Lemons

… slice them up and stick some in your sweet tea.

… ask for tequila and salt.

… give yourself a lemon facial.

… squirt someone in the eye.

… give them to your cat/ baby and put the video on YouTube.

… take them.  Don’t waste free food.

… wing ’em right back, and add some more lemons of your own.

images-1

Those are just a few of the gems I found when I googled the old adage.  Why was I doing that, you ask?  Well, the Swigers have had a run of bad mojo as of late, so I was technically doing some parenting research.

Kid A did not get a fancy scholarship that she was really excited about from one of her top college choices.  Kid B did not make the varsity soccer team at her high school.  Kid D only qualified for the rec baseball team, not the select one.  Kid E was dismayed that I eventually sent him back to kindergarten after a couple of days of staying home sick, watching TV, and playing Minecraft.  And Kid C is always very sad that no one else in our family busts out into dance moves when her favorite song comes on.

There has actually been quite a bit of disappointment around here, and the mood at our house hasn’t been awesome.  And I hate it when my kids are sad.  It makes my Mama Bear come out, and it makes me feel icky feelings.  I have been trying to deal with them in a healthy, productive way, but all I really want to do is punch people in the face.  Instead, I have been taking lots and lots of deep breaths.

But I guess it also gives me and Sheepdog the opportunity to teach these kids some important life lessons.  We are trying to teach them lessons about resilience, dignity in defeat, good sportsmanship, and overcoming adversity.  Don’t quit.  Work hard.  Try harder, try again, or even cultivate a different dream.  Life isn’t always fair, you are not as important as you think, and – sometimes – things work out better than you imagined they would, just not in the way you expected.

It’s like a motivational poster factory up in here.

One of my favorite pieces of advice came today from Kid B’s travel team soccer coach.  First, he told her it was okay to be disappointed.  But only for a minute.  Then, he said, “No one else will feel sorry for you in sports.  Don’t feel sorry for yourself either.”  His message was so good that it made me cry in the frozen pancake aisle at Kroger.  But I’m sensitive like that.  And it was exactly what she needed to hear.  She’ll get lots more playing time on J.V. and she will be just fine.

The other kids will be alright, too.  Kid A is in the running for another fancy scholarship at another of her top-choice colleges, and she has already been accepted at some really great schools.  Sheepdog ended up signing up as head coach of Kid D’s rec baseball team, went to the draft last Sunday, and amassed an awesome team of great kids and parents that will make for a really fun season.  Kid E went back to kindergarten on the 100th Day of School and came home with a fancy hat.  And Kid C has decided that she doesn’t have a favorite song, but she’s going to keep dancing anyway.

So, even when life gives you lemons… it’s all good.

images

Wish me luck for tomorrow…

Whiplash

“Mom!  I can’t find my North Face jacket.  I think I left it in North Carolina.”

“Mom, my elf didn’t do anything last night.”

“(via text) We need to discuss 2014.  Let’s talk tonight.”

“Stacy, I swear to God, if you don’t get me your Christmas lists right now, I’m gonna make you buy all your own shit.”

It is December.  The smell of fried turkey may still linger in the garage, but Thanksgiving 2013 is already a distant memory.

It is December: put up tree and decorate house http://www.amazon.com buy Sheepdog some egg nog design Christmas cards remind kids of real reason for the season ask them for wish lists Nutcracker end of season team party ding-dong (www.amazon.com delivery) make and refrigerate cookie dough watch “Love, Actually” design photo calendars for family presents class party money collection for bus drivers buy Sheepdog more egg nog ask kids for better wish lists (no, you may not ask for cash) http://www.amazon.com go to stores for things not available on amazon label and stamp and mail Christmas cards decorate gingerbread houses money collection for teachers buy dress for Sheepdog’s law firm’s holiday party buy snowman tablecloths and small water bottles and help with wintry craft at another class party watch “Elf” ding-dong (another http://www.amazon.com delivery) wrap presents Toys for Tots go see Santa get hair cut and colored need to buy Sheepdog more nog go to Sheepdog’s law firm’s holiday party bake cookies drive around to look at lights wrap presents hide presents http://www.amazon.com because there is not an even distribution of presents watch “Rudolph” cousins pollyanna party unwrap presents pack suitcases pack presents pack Christmas socks (that’s what Kid E calls our stockings) ding-dong (whew – glad that last delivery made it in time!) wrap presents hide presents make more cookies because we tore through the first batch Christmas Eve remind kids (again) of real reason for the season visit family deliver presents Christmas Magic wake up early run down stairs make strong coffee open presents open more presents finish off second batch of cookies and egg nog while sitting in sea of crinkled wrapping paper plastic toys electronics and happy faces.  Count our many, many blessings.  Whew.

Stress over Christmas bonus

Don’t forget to stress over the Christmas bonus

It is December.

Wish me luck for tomorrow…

Shut The Front (Garage) Door!

What the hell is going on lately?  I know that it is a full moon, but it seems like more than that.  The planets must be aligned in some extra kooky way because my kids are over the top bonkers right now.

Everybody is nursing a cold, so there’s that.  We finally ran out of Halloween candy, so maybe they are lamenting the loss.  Then there is general PMS-iness that seems to lurk in all of the teenage (and pre-menopausal, as I have been oft-reminded) cracks and corners of our household.  There are always tears coming from somebody… morning, noon, and night.  And it’s not about anything horrible or crazy or life-changing either.  It’s just stupid stuff.

Yesterday morning the bus stop tears stemmed from the weather, short-sleeved t-shirts, and fear of a new bus driver (but I’ll give them the last one… the new dude is O.L.D. and change is scary).  The other night’s dinnertime tears were about sweet potatoes (even though they taste like the recently departed HALLOWEEN CANDY, for cripes sake), and yesterday morning’s meltdown was over me not being able to come to school during the class’ allotted 6 minutes of book fair time.  Oh, and did I remember that I was late arriving last year too?  More tears.  More crazy.

Kid C hasn’t been crying so much, but she has been totally “off” for the past few weeks.  She is unfocused, scatter-brained, and ditzy.  That’s on a good day.  She is the last one to leave the house for school in the morning.  By the time she heads out the door, I am already upstairs doing chores and starting my day.  She leaves through the garage and she forgets to close the door every single time.  I have tried reminding her nicely.  I have tried threatening her.  I took away her phone for a week.  I took away television as well.  I have pleaded, coaxed, and cajoled.  I even said “pretty please.”  Nothing works.  I said I would ban the use of the door and she’d have to find another point of egress.  That didn’t work either.

Then one day I very calmly said, “Do you know that 117% of home invasions happen through open garage doors?  Do you want some criminal to walk into this house and shoot me dead while I am folding your mismatched socks and tiny bras?  Do you?  I could be lying in a pool of my own blood on the floor and it would be your fault because you couldn’t be bothered to close the door on your way to the bus stop.  Could you live with that responsibility?”  With wide, blue eyes, she shook her head no.

Yes, I said that to my overly-anxious, wildly imaginative, twelve year-old daughter, who is already scared of everything right now.  She doesn’t like to be home alone.  She won’t go down into the basement unless every single one of the lights are on.  Oh, and I said it whilst her little brothers were within earshot.  Not my shiniest parenting moment, I admit.  But at least she was on track to shut the stupid door now.

Or not.  It was totally wide open when I came downstairs yesterday morning.

I do not think that Kid C knows how the internet works.

I do not think that Kid C actually knows how the internet works

The other side of the coin with Kid C is that she is super creative lately.  She has been rocking her assignments in school, especially the ones that require something “extra.”  She made a very extensive booklet on cell biology for her science class.  She has been killing math, where they are studying linear, quadratic, and exponential functions.  She had a value drawing due for a Visual Arts class she is taking and it was really, really good.  Value drawing is all about light and shadows and shading, which creates depth and can bring a drawing to life.  She drew a guy lying in a pool of his own blood on a deserted island, along with a shark swimming menacingly nearby.  There is so much going on in the picture and she shaded it all beautifully… the sand, the setting sun in the sky, the water, a lone palm tree.  Then, on the back of the drawing she wrote “He wasn’t killed by the shark.”  And, if you examine the drawing closely, you will see the slightest shadow and the hint of a man hiding behind the palm tree, which isn’t really noticeable at first.  It was awesome!

But I’ll bet somebody left the garage door open at their house too.

Wish me luck for tomorrow…

11/22/2013 Update: Guess who remembered to bring home her value drawing so her mother could scan and upload it to her blog?  It has changed a little since I saw it last, and the scan quality makes it look a bit different than it does in person, but you can definitely get the gist of it.  Enjoy!

"It wasn't the shark that killed him." - Kid C

“It wasn’t the shark that killed him.” – Kid C

Speaking of Wood…

Speaking of wood, Kid D is about due for The Talk.  Yes, I mean THE Talk.  He is in the third grade.  Too young, you say?  Seriously, have you ridden on a public school bus?  Have you watched a rerun of Friends on television?  Have you heard of a little thing called the internet?

S-E-X is everywhere.  And it has basically been motor boating my son since he was born.  He just wasn’t aware that boobs could be used as anything but food or a soft pillow until now.  And he has questions… I can see them trying to escape from his little boy mouth.  Mostly I see them now when I am showering and he lingers for a fraction of a second too long in my bathroom.  Then he leaves quickly, muttering, “…nevermind…”  because his little boy brain doesn’t yet know the words he wants to use for the things he wants to ask.  And his body will be changing soon and his friends will be saying things.  And I don’t want him to feel like he is an alien growing a fifth limb.

"Erections sometimes don't know when they're not wanted." - from "What's Happening to Me, " written by Peter Mayle and illustrated by Arthur Robins

“Erections sometimes don’t know when they’re not wanted.” – from “What’s Happening to Me, ” written by Peter Mayle and illustrated by Arthur Robins

I have several options about how I can handle this.  I can leave some brochures and books on his nightstand for him to peruse at his leisure.  But that seems so isolating and scary, and likely the pages would get stuck together before long.  I could ignore the issue and let him find out on his own, in a more organic way.  But what if he gets the wrong information or has questions or it freaks him out?  At that point, he likely won’t feel comfortable enough to come to me with questions because I never approached him with the facts in the first place.  Then sex becomes a dirty little secret in our house.  And those are NOT feelings that I want my kids to associate with sex, ever (well, the dirty part can be acceptable, but that’s a much more advanced lesson for later).

I learned about sex in a combination of all of the ways listed above.  I regularly organized my mom’s walk-in-closet (honestly, she had a ton of clothes that always ended up on the floor, and it gave me tremendous peace to fold them or hang them back up), and she conveniently left a copy of “What’s Happening to Me?” on a shelf for me to “find” when I was about eleven or twelve.  Little did she know that my cousin, now a lesbian for what that’s worth, had told me all about the nitty gritty when I was at her house for a sleepover.  I was nine.  Any other facts about body development or intercourse or STDs trickled in over the years via sex education classes, Seventeen magazine quizzes, and my friend McWorm, who explained to me in the 7th grade that Dexy’s Midnight Runners most definitely did not want Eileen to hurry up.

Taking what I learned from my own experiences, I went into my own parenting wasteland wishing to make a complete 180 when it came to talking to and teaching my kids about sex.  I’m not judging my parents for not talking to me.  I know firsthand how hard it is to have The Talk, for both the parents AND the kids.  And honestly, my parents didn’t get The Talk from their parents either.  So the dirty little secret is all they knew.  But I was adamant that I would try to make it, if not easy, than at least a smidge easier for my kids to talk to me about all things related to sex.  I would start being open when they were very young and we could build trust from there.  I thought it was a good plan.

When the girls were little, I drove a minivan.  A silver Mazda MPV, pre-sliding doors, but it was still super convenient for the car seat-toting set.  It was also the place where we had some of our best sex talks when they were young.  I was laying the groundwork.  For example:

One morning on the way to carpool, Kid A, who was in 1st grade at the time, asked what I’d be doing while she and her sisters were in school all day.  I took a deep breath and said that I had a doctor’s appointment.

“A well visit, Mommy?  Do you have to get a shot?” asked a very curious Kid B, who was in preschool.  She was used to her own pediatrician.

“Um, no, actually.  I am going to a mommy doctor called an OB/GYN.”  I steadied my nerves and looked straight ahead at the road (talks in the car were most awesome because there was never any eye contact involved).  “The OB stands for ‘obstetrician,’ and that’s a doctor who delivers babies.  I am not pregnant, so I’m not going for that.”

“Whew,” said a smartass Kid A, “‘Cause you’re usually pregnant a lot.”

“No, I am not pregnant right now.  So I am going for the GYN part – the ‘gynecologist…’ ”  I took a very deep breath.  “…and that is a doctor who takes care of your vagina.”

If the girls had brake pedals, we would have skidded out right there in the middle of the road.

“Whaaaaaaaaaat?” squealed both of the older kids.  Kid C toddler-giggled at their reaction.

“There is a doctor just for your your cha-china?”  More giggles from the backseat.

“Yes, ” I answered, determined to be calm and cool and all NBD about sex.  “He will check my weight and my blood pressure and ask me medical questions and do a check to make sure my vagina is all healthy and good. ”

“Well, that’s just like a well visit, Mommy, ” Kid A pointed out.

I was so proud for being straightforward and honest and open about sex with my daughters.  They understood.  I was making progress.  Change is good!  And then Kid B broke me.

“But what about if you make a stinker out of your vagina when the doctor is checking you.  What happens then, Mommy?  If you make a stinker?  Out of your vagina?”

I slammed on the brakes at that point, both figuratively on the conversation and literally on the minivan.  Fortunately, we had just pulled in to the school drop off.  “Have a good day, girls!”  I fake-smiled and waved and completely ignored the final, utterly unnerving question about S-E-X.  I was actually shaking in my seat.  Where was that kid from?

Kids are evil.  They are ornery.  Kids are put on this earth to pulverize their parents’ best intentions into dust particles and then throw them into our faces.  Groundwork, shmoundwork.

Now that I think about it, I’ll wait just a little while longer before I give Kid D The Talk.  He can learn about S-E-X like everybody else, the old-fashioned way… from a Victoria’s Secret catalog.

Wish me luck for tomorrow…