Tag Archives: parenting

Post-it Parenting: Raising Kids by the Letter

Due to busy and conflicting schedules, and because I was a working, single mom for many years, my children and I had to take a lot of shortcuts.

Shortcuts, by the way, is Latin for “single parent.”

We communicated by writing a lot of notes to each other. After deciding in fifth grade that I was a writer, it just seemed logical to communicate with my offspring through the written word.

Mom, Please don’t take the trampoline down. We are still using it. Thanks. –Chris

During summers, when the kids were out of school, those notes turned into a Tolstoy novel.

As I often remind my kids – it could be worse. What if I was a professional roller derby athlete? Those women don’t mess around with leaving notes. When their kids misbehave, I’m sure it’s a quick elbow to the guts or an expertly maneuvered roll over the shins that brings them to their senses. And knees.

I prefer jotting over jabbing, which goes something like this:

Kids: Keep the house clean. Be good. Be respectful. All of the bath towels are missing. Find them and put them in the laundry room. ALL of the glasses and cups are missing. Find them. Wash them. Use dish soap, not bar soap like last time. The principal called. Do not wear my Stray Dog Tavern T-shirt to school again. You know better.  Return it to me at once! One of you see if Grandma needs her yard mowed. Don’t take any money for doing it, no matter what she says. Love you, Mom.

P.S. ALL glasses, cups and towels must be recovered or no allowances this weekend.

Mom, Jumped off a cliff today. Kidding. Ha. –Ben

Mom — Jammin’ at Steve-O’s. No towels in my room. I’ll check my car and trunk later. Promise. All the glasses from my room are in the sink. Ben took the rest. I had to go to work and did not have time to wash them. Make Ben do it. I need $5 for gas. Took it from the money jar. My check was short this week. I’ll pay you back. Promise. Love you. Don’t have your shirt. Ben probably stole it. — Chris

Mom, I mowed Grandma’s yard, so I did not have time to look for glasses and towels. Chris didn’t do anything. I do everything. Can I borrow $5? I’ll pay you back. Promise. Gatt’s dad is taking us to Hooter’s. We can go in cause we’re not drinking beer or nothing and Gatt’s dad said the buffalo wings are good. Harpo borrowed your dog drinking shirt. I told him to bring it back.

P.S. Grandma MADE me take some money. I begged her not to.

Boys: Chris, get my towels out of your car! AND the glasses and cups. No jammin’ with Steve-O today until your chores are done. Do not take your guitar amps outside. The neighbor will call the cops again. Ben, stop taking my white socks! Do your own laundry – you learned how in 4-H last year, remember? No going to Hooter’s. The wings, among other things, are not real. We’ll talk later. Get my dog bar shirt back from Harpo and do not loan my clothing to your friends. Beaner still has my Life is a Beach hat. Get that back, too. Love you guys. Keep the house clean. Be good. Be respectful. — Mom

Mom, Can I go to the Withered Craniums Morgue concert in Cincinnati this weekend? I’ll do all my jobs. Promise. I’ll be good. And respectful. Can I borrow $55 for the ticket? I’ll pay you back. Promise. Harpo’s mom called for you. All the glasses and cups are back in the cupboards. I found all the dirty towels in the upstairs closet. Ben should have to wash them cause he put them there. I didn’t. I should get a reward for finding them. $55 would be good. Love, Chris

Mom, All my socks are gone. Chris stole them. He’s a but. Went to Hooter’s. Kidding. Ha. Can I spend the night and watch movies at Murk’s and Mel’s Saturday? Took $2 out of money jar. Will pay you back. Promise. Chris is letting me practice drive in the driveway. There’s a lot of glasses and cups in his car. There was one under my foot and I almost drove into the neighbor’s house. I’ll be 16 in 2 years, you know. Did you hide some pop? Where? Love, Ben.

Chris: Cincinnati?! I don’t think so. Cincinnati is a BIG city. Besides, for $55, it should be the Rolling Stones or Beatles, not the Shriveled Deadheads or whoever. We’ll talk later. If you have Ben’s socks, give them back — he’s wearing mine. Do your laundry! Feed the cat! –Mom

Ben: Butt has two ts, BUT don’t call people that. Yes, I hid the pop. Look up the meaning of “hide” in Webster’s. Also hid the money jar. By the way, is Mel Murk’s brother – or is Mel Murk’s sister? You are too young to date–you know that. No more overnights at Murk’s if Mel is Femel. We’ll talk later. Keep the house clean. Be good. Be respectful, especially to Mel. –Mom

Mom: Aren’t the Beatles dead? Are the Rolling Pepples those old guys with bad skin? The Withered Craniums Morgue is so much cooler and so much awesomer! I can drive to Cincinnati. I have a map. I will be 18 next summer. You had a baby and lived in California when you were 18. I must go to that concert! Please? I’ll be good. And respectful. I won’t have a baby. Please? Can I borrow $20 for gas? I think Ben stole my money. I can’t find the money jar. I think he stole that, too. I’ll pay you back. Promise. Love, Chris.

Mom, Chris stole my new DVD. He’s a but with two ts. Mel is a guy, Murk and Gatt are girls. Ha. Kidding. I found the pop in the dryer. Bet you thought I’d never find it there? I was looking for some money. I only drank two. Chris stole the rest. Going to mall with Gatt. Harpo’s grounded and he can’t go. I’ll be good. –Ben

P.S. Who’s Webster?

BOYS!! Harpo’s mom is mad. We’ll talk later. You guys are in trouble. I strongly suggest you do ALL of the chores on your list. Chris: I was married, living in California and had your sister three weeks before I turned 19! But I was never allowed to drive to a rock concert in Cincinnati at that age. The Rolling Stones are TRUE rock and roll. Never speak ill of them again Why are you are spending so much on gas? You work two blocks away. Ben: I found your new DVD – the one you accused Chris of stealing – in my sock drawer … WHO DRANK ALL THE POP? It’s gone. Saying “but with two ts” is no less rude. Keep the house clean. Be good. Be respectful. Love, Mom.

P.S. No glasses in the cupboard AGAIN. Find them! Today!

By Viv Sade

Originally published June 24, 2005.

Kids Take Flight During Birds and Bees Talk

For a society and culture that seems to be obsessed with sexuality — and why does the word sexuality sound so much less dirty than the word sex? — we sure are squeamish when it comes to talking about it.

As the mother of four, I was always squeamish when it came to having The Talk with The Kids.

Girl First and Only was always shy and soft-spoken and would turn red if I even mentioned s-e-x. Son No. 1 , who was four years younger than his sis, would wait until we were at the dinner table and ask matter-of-factly, “What is masturbation?” or “What is oral sex?” while his sister groaned loudly and buried her head in the mashed potatoes and peas.

I would answer Son No. 1’s questions the best I could and sneak into Girl First and Only’s bedroom and leave pamphlets with titles like, “Why does Alexandria’s Changing Body Need Supportive Underwear?”

I think it worked. They both had children after they married.

My two youngest sons were born 16 years after Girl First and Only and were 9 and 11 when I decided we would have The Talk in the middle of an Italian feast I had prepared for the occasion.

I explained that pasta should always be cooked al dente´ and that parmesan was always better when freshly grated while casually peppering the conversation with words like “condiments,” “penal code,” “Uranus,” “hoagie buns,” “gesticulate” and “titmouse.”

Both boys got that panicked-deer-in-the-headlights look, jammed their fingers in their ears, jumped up from the table and ran screaming from the kitchen — just as I was about to embark on a lively debate of the virtues of mascerating versus marinating.

Several times after that, I again tried to have The Talk with the boys, to no avail.

I resorted to leaving copies of books like, “What’s Up With Alexander’s Suddenly Hairy, Pimply Body?” on their unmade bunk beds and hoped for the best.

A few years later, Son No. 2 fell in love (insert tired sigh) and it became obvious that I had missed the window on having The Talk or taking them on those field trips to Intercourse, Pennsylvania and Bangkok, Thailand.

One day, I nonchalantly walked into the living room while Son No. 2 and The Girl were supposedly watching TV.  The Girl – a pretty, coquettish thing – was reclining on the sofa and arranged across my son’s lap like an after-church all-you-can-eat smorgasbord.

My son gave me a sheepish grin.

Remaining very calm, I wedged in next to them, forcing The Girl to sit up.

A few awkward minutes later, they got up and headed for the upstairs.

“Where are you going?” I asked.

“To my room to watch a movie,” Son No. 2 replied.

Visions of tiny, eager swimming sperm and coquettish, seductive eggs that I had seen in a grainy cartoon-version of “Health and Human Reproduction” in tenth grade flashed through my head.

The Baby — aka Son No. 3 — who was standing nearby, snickered.

“I prefer you watch it down here, in the living room,” I said oh-so-sweetly.

“Yeah, not in your BEDroom,” The Baby sang while leering and moving his prepubescent pelvis suggestively.

Son No. 2 punched The Baby, who punched him back while The Girl giggled.

The next weekend The Girl was back. When I peeked into the living room on my every-four-minute-sex-check-watch, they were locked in a lip embrace.

“What are you guys doing?” I asked, because that’s the only thing I could think of to ask.

Girl First and Only and No. 2 Son — unlike Son No. 1 and The Baby — had never quite mastered the art of a well-executed lie.

“Kissing. What did you think?”

Geesh. What did I think?

I thought The Girl’s cute, little belly button was hanging out of her too-short shirt and too-low pants and showing a little too much skin.

I thought that her mother had also missed the window on having The Talk.

I thought that Alexander’s book should have included a warning about young, limber girls who practice yoga in the smorgasbord position.

I thought I should at least pretend to  trust him.

But not too much.

I forced myself to go to another room, but not before slipping The Baby, almost 13, a crisp five-dollar bill with whispered orders that he was to stay in the living room and keep an eye on his brother and The Girl.

Later, The Baby came to update me on The Situation.

“What are they doing?” I asked.

“Just watching TV,” he said, then added, “Boy, is she hot! When they break up, she’s mine.”

That’s when I snatched my five back.

I needed it to pay for anti-anxiety drugs.

.

Best stick to MickeyDees

I remember when I used to get the urge to prove to the world that I was a culturally diverse human being and exceptional parent.

That was when my kids were young. And before I gave up.

I remember taking my two youngest children —  when they were 6 and 4  — to an elegant Chinese restaurant.

The first thing the 6-year-old did was unfold the linen napkin and make a parachute for the G.I. Joe he had hidden in his pocket. He climbed under the table to assemble Joe’s apparatus and once done, stood on his seat and threw Joe skyward yelling, “Bombs away!”

Meanwhile the 4-year-old remarked to the waitress loudly that he didn’t want no dadgum subgum chicken because he had already had the chicken pox. I tried to point out the boy’s healing scabs — proof that he was no longer contagious — but the waitress just kept backing away from our table, while the people at the next table suddenly disappeared.

And don’t think I didn’t notice when we later left the restaurant, that those same people were sitting in another corner of the restaurant.

The 4-year-old liked the egg drop soup and was devouring it until the 6-year-old asked, “What are those gross white things floating around in it?”

They both stared into the bowl for a long time and then pushed it away.

The boys were thrilled that I was letting them order real tea for this special occasion. At the time the tea was delivered to our table, I was in the Outer Limits, daydreaming of being in a bathroom by myself with no one pounding on the door asking what I was doing and why was it taking me so long.

When I snapped out of it, the guy at a table to my left was giving me a look of disgust. The kids had each dumped about 16 packets of sugar into their tea and had used up all of the sugar at our table and the one behind us.

I glared back at the man. What the heck?! Did he think I would purposefully jack these kids up on sugar and caffeine? Did he think I want them even more hyper than they normally are? Was he implying with that look that I was a bad mother? Geesh, a bad mother would have ordered a bottle of Chinese wine with a wine glass and two junior cups with lids and straws.

Hey, buddy, it’s a special night and we’re trying to get some culture here, so bug off you dipshit son of a ——- …

No hon, that’s enough sugar … no more sugar.”

Steaming bowls of fried rice, sub gum pork and sweet and sour chicken were delivered to our table and the 4-year-old, who never talked in anything but his LOUD VOICE, immediately began complaining.

“Ughhh … What’s those green things? What’s those round things? Are those oniyuns?!  What’s that pink sauce? That’s not chicken! Where’s the leg? I want a leg! I can’t eat this! I will die!”

I ignored his cries of protest and ladled out a small amount of each dish onto our plates.

The 6-year-old wanted to season his own food.

“No mom, I’m not a baby like Ben. I can do it myself. No, let me! Whoa! — that came out fast, didn’t it? Here, just a little of this brown sauce — whoa! — that came out really fast, too, didn’t it? Can I use your napkin, mom? This yellow stuff is too hot! I need the pink sauce. Whoa! That came out fast …”

The 4-year-old was incensed. “I am not a baby!”

He ended up consuming nothing but two large bowls of white rice and two glasses of sugar-laden tea.

He then announced in that deafening preschooler voice that he was full and he needed a hard, folded-up cookie stuffed with paper thingies.

Both kids broke open their cookies and I translated and read their fortunes.

You must keep your eyes open to see the nice surprises in life. (i.e.: Be good and you’ll get a Teenage Ninja Mutant Turtle at Wal Mart.)

He who rides with the wind has too much wind in his sails. (i.e.: Never, ever stay up past your bedtime or your eyes will grow shut.)

The boys loved their fortunes. However, mine was somewhat ominous.

She who tries to impart wisdom and culture on her offspring is left with egg (drop soup) on her face. Best stick to McDonald’s.

by viv sade

Why teachers and parents drink

I’m sure many of you have seen this floating around the Internet, but it’s worth sharing for those who have not seen it.

The following questions were set in last year’s GED examination. These are some of the actual answers received from teens who took the test.

These young adults will someday breed and maybe vote … which explains a lot.

1. Q. Name the four seasons.
A. Salt, pepper, mustard and vinegar.

2. Q. Explain one of the processes by which water can be made safe to drink.
A. Flirtation makes water safe to drink because it removes large pollutants like grit, sand, dead sheep and canoeists.

3. Q. How is dew formed?
A. The sun shines down on the leaves and makes them perspire.

4. Q. What causes the tides in the oceans?
A. The tides are a fight between the earth and the moon. All water tends to flow towards the moon, because there is no water on the moon, and nature abhors a vacuum. I forget where the sun joins the fight.

5. Q. What guarantees may a mortgage company insist on?
A. If you are buying a house they will insist that you are well endowed.

6. Q. In a democratic society, how important are elections?
A. Very important. Sex can only happen when a male gets an election.

7. Q. What are steroids?
A. Things for keeping carpets still on the stairs.

8. Q. What happens to your body as you age?
A. When you get old, so do your bowels and you get intercontinental.

9. Q. What happens to a boy when he reaches puberty?
A. He says goodbye to his boyhood and looks forward to his adultery.

10. Q. Name a major disease associated with cigarettes.
A. Premature death.

11. Q. What is artificial insemination?
A. When the farmer does it to the bull instead of the cow.

12. Q. How can you delay milk turning sour?
A. Keep it in the cow.

13. Q. How are the main 20 parts of the body categorized (e.g. The abdomen)?
A. The body is consisted into 3 parts – the brainium, the borax and the abdominal cavity. The brainium contains the brain, the borax contains the heart and lungs and the abdominal cavity contains the five bowels: A, E, I,O,U.

(This kid must have been up all night smoking weed … but it does deserve kudos for creativity.)

14. Q. What is the fibula?
A. A small lie

15. Q. What does ‘varicose’ mean?
A. Nearby

16. Q. What is the most common form of birth control?
A. Most people prevent contraception by wearing a condominium.

17. Q. Give the meaning of the term “Caesarean section.”
A. The caesarean section is a district in Rome.

18. Q. What is a seizure?
A. A Roman Emperor.

(Julius Seizure? I came, I saw, I had a fit)

19. Q. What is a terminal illness?
A. When you are sick at the airport.

(Irrefutable)

20. Q. Give an example of a fungus. What is a characteristic feature?
A. Mushrooms. They always grow in damp places and they look like umbrellas.

21. Q. Use the word “judicious” in a sentence to show you understand its meaning.
A. Hands that judicious can be soft as your face.

22. Q. What does the word “benign” mean?
A. Benign is what you will be after you be eight.

23. Q. What is a turbine?
A. Something an Arab or Shreik wears on his head.

Teens must choose their own path; and run over anyone who gets in the way

Newborn babies make me cry. Beautiful sunsets make me cry. Weddings — especially some of my own — make me cry.

But nothing makes me cry like teenagers, especially teens who have passed their driver’s test. But what brings me to my knees is seeing the insurance premiums for two newly licensed teens — the result is all out convulsing, gut-wrenching, snot-running sobbing.

I subscribe to the sage advice of two late, great female humorists who said, “The best way to keep children at home is to make the home atmosphere pleasant, and let the air out of the tires,” (Dorothy Parker) and, “Never lend your car to anyone to whom you have given birth,” (Erma Bombeck).

It turns out I don’t have the let the air out of the tires – the high cost of petrol has taken care of that.

When my youngest got his license at the age of 16, he ran out of gas within 48 hours.

Awesome.

He was forced to hoof it for about two miles.

We used to find his little used S-10 randomly abandoned everywhere when he ran out of gas. I once had to walk around it in the middle of the driveway. My car and his 18-year-old brother’s car were blocked in for 24 hours until he scraped up enough change on his floor to buy gas.

The 18-year-old didn’t seem to run out of gas so frequently. This is because either: a) he has a part-time job and has more readily available cash; b) he’s learned the economical skill of siphoning; or c) he has a lot of down driving time because he tends to crash into things.

My fairly frequent and frantic one-sided phone conversations with my two youngest and other involved parties sounded something like this:

To the 16-year-old: “No, don’t drive to school. It’s four blocks! I don’t care. Use an umbrella. Since when are they only for sissies? When I was your age, I couldn’t afford gas or a car. Heck, I couldn’t afford a bicycle. I walked miles to school and … Hullo? … Hullo?”

To the 18-year-old: “So, had you noticed your brakes acting funny before this happened? Through the hedge over the fence and then hit the neighbor’s truck? The neighbor to the south? The important thing is that you aren’t hurt and you didn’t run over the neighbor … You didn’t run over the neighbor, right? Yes, you still have to go to school. Just walk. That’s where you use those appendages called legs and put one in front of the other. I’ll come home and call the insurance company. When I was a teen, I wasn’t  lucky enough to have a car. I sometimes had to Pogostick to school … Hullo?”

To the police: “That’s it – the Buick on top of the fence with the front end kinda sitting on top of the neighbor’s truck. No, that bumper was already ripped off from last month when he hit his grandpa’s fence. Oh yeah, the back window was already broke out after he locked his keys in the car and couldn’t think of a better way to get inside.”

To the wrecker service: “That’s right, the Buick on top of the fence and the neighbor’s truck. The start key is broke off in the ignition. Just insert a screwdriver in there and give it a little twist to the right and then jiggle it until it starts.”

To the neighbor to the south: “In another life I was childless. Really.”

To the 16-year-old: No more money for gas! There’s a thing in America called a j-o-b. When I was your age I walked to Illinois, Ohio, and Michigan, planting apple tree seeds and wearing a pan on my head … okay, okay, that was Johnny Appleseed, but you get my point.”

To the 18-year-old: “Good grief! Your accelerator stuck and it’s been sticking for six months?! You drove through a two neighbors’ yards and crashed into a cement post? The same neighbor? No? Oh, the ones to the north. That’s good. A different set of neighbors. The important thing is you are not hurt and no one was in their yards or sitting on the post, right? Right? I’ll be right there. Yes, you will be late, but you are going to school. Yes – just walk. When I was your age … Hullo?”

To the wrecker service: “Yes, the same Buick you towed a few weeks ago, only this time it’s on top of a fence post near the two neighbors to the north. Remember how to jiggle the ignition? Nothing’s changed. Well, except if you need something from the trunk, go in through the back seat,  because the latch is broken.”

To the police: “Yes, I know, I know. This time it’s a different neighbor. What do you mean? Yes, I’m serious. No, I haven’t considered changing his name from Christopher to Crashtopher, but thanks for the suggestion. Are you laughing? My son could have been hurt!”

To the neighbors to the north: In another life, I was completely sane. Really.”

To the 16-year-old: “Okay, so far you are a better driver than your brother, but don’t get all smug. It’s only because you’ve never had enough gas to drive more than 12 feet. And no, I won’t reward you with $20.”

With the radio: “All of a sudden, a rod started knockin’, down in the depths, she started a-rockin’ … Well, they arrested me and put me in jail, I called my mama to make my bail, and she said, ‘Son, you’re gonna drive me to drinkin’ if you don’t stop driving that hot – rod – Lincoln.’ “

Or Buick.

To the insurance company: (in my best Dr. Evil voice) “So, two teens plus two wrecks equals two meeellllyun dollars?”

To the bartender: “Give me another. I’m walking.”

by viv sade, a woman constantly in search of her lost youth and car keys.

Finally, New Year’s Resolutions That I Can Keep

by viv sade

For the first time in my life, I decided this year not to have the same old New Year’s resolutions that always manage to crash to the earth and die a horrible death by Jan. 3rd.

I am happy to say that it is almost June and I have succeeded at accomplishing all of my resolutions for 2012.

I do hereby resolve in the year 2012 that I will POSITIVELY, ABSOLUTELY do the following:

1. Get one year older.

2. At least once a week forget the names or ages or birthdays of my kids or siblings.

3. When writing a check, I will actually sometimes forget the %$#@ year!

4. Sleep less (refer to #15).

5. Reveal what Victoria’s secret is.

6. Never forget to eat.

7. Belt any skinny chick who says, “I try to remember to eat, but I just forget.”

8. Never get on the scales when I remember and remember and remember and remember to eat.

9. Dance more. And not only when I’ve been over-served at the wine tasting bar.

10. Confuse my job with my life.

11. Fail to end world hunger.

12. Succeed at ending my hunger.

13. Quit acting like I’m enthralled when a politician wants to talk about tax abatements.

14. Quit acting like I’m enthralled when a politician wants to talk about anything.

15. Drink a minimum of eight pots of coffee a day.

16. Never admit that all restaurant menus are starting to look like this:

•••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••

•••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••

•••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••

17. Leave the mementos in the shoebox marked, “Baby Boy, 1987” and throw away the new scrapbook and scrapbook supplies.

18. Never dress in buffalo pelts (proven to add 15 pounds), buy 100 pounds of beef jerky or an AK-47, even if the world is ending.

19. Throw off the guilt while feeling smug about myself when watching a “Hoarders” marathon.

20. Decline to join a nudist colony.

21. Continue passing off the dust bunnies under my bed as beloved stuffed animals from my childhood.

22. Call 1-800-Psychic and tell her she should already know my Visa number.

Questions parents ask

Is that my toothbrush in the toilet?

Why is the cat wearing a diaper and a T-shirt?

Is that real vomit or is it a concoction of mustard, ketchup and old bread like last time you skipped school?

You don’t really think you are going anywhere wearing that, do you?

Does anyone know why there’s a big snake in a shoebox on the dryer?

Anyone know why there are 27 For Sale signs in our yard?

Who sprayed the dog with gold glitter?

Are moms allowed in the No Grils Club?

Why would the neighbor call and want to know if I have homeowners insurance?

Who cut off all the miniblind cords and tied them in square knots?

Did you put that toad in the mailbox?

Do either of you know who spray painted “Chris and Ben live here” on the front sidewalk?

OK, who attached the remote control to the TV with a big wad of chewing gum?

Why does the dog smell like WD-40?

Why do you smell like WD-40?

Why is your underwear on the picnic table?

What were you thinking when you used a  weed whacker to try and cut your brother’s hair?

Why were you on the roof with the garden hose?

Can anyone tell me why there’s a police officer at the back door? Anyone?

If you were at your friend’s house all night, then why did her mother tell me she thought you were both over here for the night?

Which one of you told those nice Jehovah Witnesses that we are from the planet Zadknaucher and are not human?

How could you not know that if you throw a lava lamp at your sister’s face, it would break her nose?

Damn it! … Who drew the Batman symbol on the back of my new sofa?!

Did you know it would catch on fire and explode?

Think it was funny to put sweeper hickeys on your brother?

Why are there dead crickets in the toaster oven?

Who is responsible for those BB holes in the bay window?

Anyone know where the snake is that was in that box on the dryer?

by viv sade