Welcome to the Club

My sister called me this morning and asked me to lie to her. I don’t like to lie. I’m not very good at it and I honestly find the truth to be much more incredible, hilarious, and easier to keep up with. But she begged. So I did.

I told her that my husband and I were living the dream in our home with five kids (ages 16, 17, 18, 20, and 21) decorated with hearts, butterflies, and rainbows and that all that stuff we’d heard about how difficult these years would be is just a big box of hot air bought and paid for by pharmaceutical companies pushing their Xanax dreams. I told her that her two lovely early teens would be mature, pleasant, helpful, drama-free, productive members of society all throughout their teen years, just like mine have been and continue to be. I offered her my Groupon savings for unicorn rides at the next Mother-of-the-Year Awards Gala event.

And then I told her that they may want to consider upgrading that wine cellar they have and I’d be her designated driver if she needed to restock. Or I could load all the 12-step program meeting locations into her iPhone next time she came by here.

The truth is Dr. David Walsh wasn’t even remotely exaggerating when he wrote about the whole “teenage brain” thing. They are incapable of making rational and mature decisions. They’re just not equipped to make them. And it requires a hella lot of patience to stand by and point out why the choices they’re making are dumb or not well-thought-out or insane or whatever adjective you want to stick in here.

So, when my sister called and asked me to lie to her about this inevitable phase in her childrearing life, I did. I laughed all the way through it. But I did it because she just needed a little 30-second break from reality. Before hanging up, she said for me to tell my husband hi. He didn’t miss a beat when he replied, “Hi back. And welcome to the club.”



The Doctor is In

I’ve known him all my life. And after my dad, he’s the “adult male” that I would turn to for car maintenance advice, a kind word, a belly laugh in the form of some hilarious anecdote that had  happened that week. Uncle Tracy has been a comfortable constant in my life no matter where the Army sent us throughout my childhood.

My cousin, Wendy, was my best friend/pen pal during all that back and forth moving overseas to Texas to Alabama and back overseas, etc. I felt grounded reading her letters and a sense of normalcy writing back to tell her all about my softball season, how much I hated Algebra II, and which boy I had a crush on that week. I always sent love to her parents and she always sent it back to mine. And for us, there was never any awkwardness. Even though she wasn’t a military BRAT like me, we would pick up right where we left off three years before. We’d run out to play on the zip line that Uncle Tracy had built using the tallest trees in the backyard or play basketball or throw pine cones at each other or at night, jump out from behind a fat bush on the side of the road to scare the crap out of teenage drivers who were speeding up the street and then take off running as they slammed on brakes and cussed at us out the open windows.

When I spent a week with them during the Summer Wendy had gotten her learner’s permit, Uncle Tracy earned a new nickname. We were in his pick-up truck. Wendy was driving. We were in the left only turn bay and she was having trouble with the 3-on-the-tree. Uncle Tracy was patiently bellowing directions from the passenger seat. I was the quiet moron in the middle; head turning left then right then left again as the conversation continued across me. After about 4 light changes from red to green and back to red, Wendy was beyond frustrated as the engine choked and died again. Uncle Tracy stated loudly, for the tenth time, “Wendy, you’ve got to put the damn thing in first gear!”

“It IS in first gear!” she shouted back, red-faced.

“Wendy, if this damn truck was in first gear, we’d already be in the driveway by now. Put it in first gear.”

She violently pulled the shift bar from where it was to neutral and then back to where it was. “It IS in first gear, Daddy!” The light turned green again. She let up off the clutch again. The truck jerked forward and died again. The car behind us started honking again as he was too close to go around us like the cars behind him. The light turned red again.

“Wendy, you’re in third gear. Put the truck in first gear!!”

“Daddy, it IS IN FIRST GEAR!” she shouted back.

Uncle Tracy actually yelled this time, “IF THIS TRUCK IS IN FIRST GEAR THEN I’M A GODDAMN BRAIN SURGEON!”

The dumbass in the middle, sensing the tension and trying to show solidarity with her cousin waved and said, “Hiiiiiiiii, Doctor Tracy!”

They were too pissed off at each other to laugh. She finally found first gear and we went home. When we got  back to their house, I figured I should make myself scarce and then I heard my aunt laughing in the kitchen. I went to get a glass of tea and she handed me a tall cup to take to “the good doctor.” She and Wendy howled with laughter.

I handed him his tea and he just looked at me. Then he laughed and said it was in third. I  told him that out of all the pipefitters in the world, he made a fine brain surgeon. He’s been Dr. Tracy ever since.



At Least She’s Polite

My daughter’s teachers are amazing. I cannot sing their praises enough. And my daughter LOVES them, even though there are days when the Autism-induced frustration comes flying out of her mouth in a Tourette’s Syndrome style of four-lettered words.

Her math teacher, Ms Scott, is kind of new. She started last year. She and Randa hit it off. Ms Scott mentioned that Randa never said anything bad to her like she had to all of the other teachers. Perhaps Randa was allowing the new to wear off.

Last semester I was talking with several of Randa’s teachers while the kids were at lunch. One laughed as she recalled the day that Randa said hello to her and then called her “stupid bitch” while throwing a finger at her. The teacher had said, “Randa! What did you say?” And Randa immediately dropped the middle finger and gave her a thumbs up instead and said, “Stupid fish?”

Another teacher told of a fond memory where Randa plopped down next to her at a table and said, “Ms Miller, why do you have to be such a son of a bitch?” To which Ms Miller replied, “That’s just how I roll.”

There were a few other stories and we all laughed, my laugh more of a nervous reaction to my concern that I’m never going to get put in for that Mother of the Year Award due to the stellar example I’ve set for my AU kid. Ms Scott admitted that she’d finally been admitted to the Randa-Cussed-Me-Out Club.

She’d told Randa to get her work and sit down at her table when Randa looked at her and said, “Shut the fuck up, Ms Scott.” Ms Scott calmly told Randa, “I think you can find a nicer way to say that, Randa.” Randa didn’t bat an eye.

“Shut the fuck up, please.”

We died laughing.

Definition of Teenager

As a frazzled mother of five kids under the age of 7, everyone I knew who had kids older than mine would tell me how it gets easier when they’re older. One of the side effects of Prozac, apparently, is selective memory. Those women are a giant pile of fucking liars.

The TRUTH is this:  Teenagers are nothing more than toddlers who can wipe their own asses. Everything else is exactly the same.

Symptom:                 Toddler                         Teenager

WHINING?                Yes                                Yes

TANTRUMS?             Yes                                Yes

DRAMA?                    Yes                                 Yes

NEED HELP 24/7?   Yes                                  Yes

WIPES OWN BUTT? No                                   Yes

That pretty much sums it up. I should know. I have had 5 toddlers. I now have 5 teenagers. My house is full of 3 non-thinking, testosterone-oozing, shouting, smelly, man-boys, 2 non-thinking, overly dramatic, menstruating, shouting, not-as-smelly woman-girls, and I’m perimenopausal.

My poor husband doesn’t stand a chance.