Carlessness (car-less-ness)

I am coming to terms with my newest diagnosis, carlessness.   It is not recognized by the medical community and the only known cures are time and/or purchasing a of third car.  We practiced and prepared for months….. I was clearly in denial… We discussed important issues that are not covered in the handbook.

*Conditions:  To further reduce the carlessness blight the ground work must be laid.  My stuff will always be more important than your stuff, so….. there.

*Protection from cross contamination:  Only push the unlock button once to open the driver door so no one can jump in behind you (all I can see in Farah Fawcett trapped in her fireplace in the movie Extremities.) Reminders of the actual law, will potentially reduce the threat of abundant people in the car.

*Avoiding non-essential hemorrhaging:   If the parking meter has a yellow pole you get a whole hour for a quarter and if it is green you get a measly 30 minutes. This is a huge deal when your carlessness flares up while helping the instigator pay a parking ticket.  Continuous reminders of the cost of maintenance, insurance and fuel can significantly reduce attempts at third car syndrome.

*Therapeutic remedies:  A rash may appear if I ever see or hear she was texting and driving, this is unlikely because I threatened to never let her drive again and flip phone for life.  Spend new acquired time doing something for self, try to avoid driving other child around every five minutes for at least 5 months and work on getting her involved in activities with more carpooling opportunities.

Sometimes I find myself staring out the window wondering what I am supposed to be doing.  When I realize that she took the car to dance or work, my symptoms are momentarily relieved, only to be overshadowed by the thought that my baby is growing up.  My carlessness is feeling quite hopeless today, but there is a bright side.  I complain a lot less and I may even have time to cook real meals again.  Maybe it is more of a virus.

The Teenager is 16.

I remember the day I found out I was pregnant.  I remember it vividly.  I was 28 and fresh off of NYC, living in a three bedroom apartment, in Wilmington NC.  Those who questioned my choice of apartment didn’t understand the closeness of NYC.  I rented three bedrooms so I could breathe and because it was 500.00.  I was most recently paying 1500.00 for one bedroom 20 minutes outside of Manhattan.  I gleefully moved in, spread out and suddenly had room for a new choice.

The circumstances were not ideal, the road ahead wasn’t at all clear, but the choice was mine. Could I put this being’s well-being ahead of my own for, well…. ever? ? ? Me alone in the bathroom with a stick covered in pee, could answer that question definitively almost immediately.  I felt that space in my heart and soul could be rented out permanently.  I knew that if I was not able to give it the best of me, I had options.  It is because of these options that I could willingly and excitedly make that choice.

Imagine the same scenario, but that young woman doesn’t have a choice.  It can become forced, coerced, unwanted.  Months later that child is brought into this world by a woman who didn’t get to decide those answers for herself.  The consequences are unknown.

The now Teenager and I have a great relationship,  I trust her, and she trusts me.  I respect her and she respects me in return.  She isn’t the cleanest person in the world, but she is kind, self-assured, smart and emotionally intelligent.  I looked at her the other day and said “I am glad I didn’t abort you.”  she replied “thanks mom!”  I put everything I could into that human, let’s make sure she has the same choice.

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nobody is perfect :)

The Teenager wanted to work at the local Ben and Jerry’s and waited patiently until she was 15.  We went over the whole job applying process very thoroughly from start to finish, and when she started was teased because she had never mopped a floor.  She came home a little forlorn, and I said “It’s my fault, I never taught you how.”

It can be argued that I employ a “different” parenting style with The Teenager.  Much to the chagrin of my husband and increasingly myself this focus is not on house cleanliness.  In my mind I am arming her with different information.  Information on how to move about this crazy world with empathy, self-confidence, kindness and fun.  Some of these lessons are impossible for a person of the male persuasion to understand, and I understand his confusion.

Our conversation that mopey mop day continued and the topics ranged from global politics to the difference between baking flours.  Weeks went by as they tend to do and I began to see large gaps in my parenting agenda.  Most of the problem areas are related to cleaning, and we begin to imagine the messes we will make in her future home.  Tea bags in random places, smoothie cups drained dry but not rinsed, blender stuck to the counter. I will most definitely leave my underwear on her bathroom floor tangled up in the soaking wet towel that I took from her hook. I relax thinking about it, my eyes twinkling.

I am startled out of my reverie when I realize that I also making these same mistakes with The Associate.  I temporarily talk myself up and deny my faults.  “If she knew how to clean up after herself, than we wouldn’t know what the sneak is up to.  We can hear her eat sugar from the bowl because of the clink of the fiesta ware as she puts the spoon back in.  I cannot hear the brown sugar container open or close, but I can always read the telltale signs of a powdered sugar meltdown.  The sprinkle of dust goes all the way down the cabinet, under the burner on the stove and into a little heap on the floor.  There is no good way to justify this behavior in her or me, especially when a steady stream of ants invaded for a couple of days.

What to do now, how do I right this wrong? Now that I am finally seeing the light, The Husband can stop banging his head against the wall (which is good), but The Descendants aren’t thrilled with the change.  The Associate yelps out NO! like she is two and The Teenager smirks and lurks off to work or dance or something else of vague importance.  What to do…..?  I know!  Demerits!  (stay tuned.. he…… hee…..)

Why is this in the fridge?

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Evidence that The Associate has been trespassing in my studio.

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Label reading

When The Teenager was just a wee lass, she accompanied me everywhere.  We were always learning on the go.  For instance, if she wanted me to purchase crappy food at the grocery store she would have to read the label.  Keep in mind she was five when we started this and she couldn’t read much at all.  She could however pick out the word sugar with surprising quickness, and we won’t buy a product if sugar was in the top 5 ingredients.  As “new and improved” sugar substitutes became available we learned that if it sounded like a crazy chemical it probably was and it was best not to consume it all, and always be skeptical of “natural ingredients” packaging.  As the years went on and she had a firm, slightly jaded view on pre-packaged food we moved onto math and price illusion (as I like to call it.)  Now she is 15.75 year old educated consumer, and we did a little vacation shopping.  We paused and gave a nervous giggle, snapped a picture and entered into a bewildering, obviously recently re-branded grocery store chain.

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“Who do they think they are fooling?  There is no farm in there!”

We were instantly struck by the ridiculous lengths that this chain went through to make people think that their crap was any better than anybody else’s crap or fresher and local? The Teenager was horrified by the “Chicken Kitchen.” Stuck to the floor leading up to the counter where a man stood wearing a chicken hat butchering chickens and selling it in every configuration I could imagine were chicken feet decals.   “MMMOOOOOOMMMMMM”  “It looks like the chicken are walking to their death!!!!”

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OY!  no chicken today.  We quickly turn and The Teenager’s disgust turns to laughter as she gawks at the single muffins.  “Look mom they are single and ready to mingle, but that is a pricey date.”

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Right next to the muffins were half loaves of bread.  Not a small loaf, but a whole loaf that was broken up into two loaves and then sold for the same price as a whole. I mutter that “I can waste my own bread thank you very much” as The Teenager counts the slices and declares that “you can’t even make four whole sandwiches”  we laugh the laugh of the confused, but begin to draw attention and step away without photographic proof.  “This place gives me the creeps!” she whispers.  We wind our way around to stop dead in front of yet another petrifying sign.

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“MMMMMOOM??  do you see all the gears?

I begin to conjure images in my head of a boardroom full of executives howling with maniacal laughter as they try to scheme us out of our money.  How gullible do they think we are?  That windmill isn’t creating energy it just a vertical fan! Those are not greenhouses, they are filled with frozen food! That bakery smells like a cookie candle! Quickly we grab our absolute essentials  (ice cream and coffee) and depart hastily.

I have been thinking about this a lot lately because of the recent ruling about GMO labeling voting nonsense.  All of my meticulous training for nothing!  My instinct tells me to teach my children not to eat anything genetically modified, but how will they ever know in order to make that choice? Maybe I need to teach The Associate a different method all together and we can start by never going back to that “store” again.

 

 

7.5 years apart

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I actually planned to have my children this far apart, and most of the time it works out alright.  The age gap became ever so much larger when The Teenager started to drive.  In the space of 30 minutes I went from indulging The Associate in a game of “I am a kitty take care of me (pictured above)”, to explaining to The Teenager how to drive responsibly.  Surprisingly enough I didn’t cry all over myself and was repeatedly astounded by my calm demeanor.  She chauffeured me all over the winding roads of Lakeview Cemetary, around dead people that she couldn’t kill because, you know, they are already dead. Each turn became a little smoother and her foot more leaden.

stopping for gas on the way home.

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We arrive home to The Associate panting at the back door. “Yes, you are a sweet kitty, here is some milk”  “NO MOM! I need you to take my picture so it looks like I am stopped in mid-air!”

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Switch!

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The manual is read and highlighted.  It is full of useless information, but I don’t tell her that.  There is no driver etiquette, or even common sense, so I begin to point these out quite obsessively when we practice.  I go over what I think a young driver should know, but the DMV has very different ideas.  I am all for it being difficult to get a driver’s license, and the questions to be tricky, but two questions she got wrong are utterly ridiculous. They are so bad I woke up thinking about them.

The first question on THE NEW DRIVER TEST that she gets wrong asks.  “If a driver is over 18, who in the car has to wear seat belts?”   My cautious and thoughtful teenager that I have spent 15 years buckling in, over 16 if you count me buckling my giant pregnant belly, answers: Everyone?  Sounds good, safety first, but to her surprise and my horror, this is incorrect.  The correct answer is: Only the people in the front seat.!  Thanks DMV.

The second question on THE NEW DRIVER TEST that she gets wrong asks.   “If a driver under the age 21 gets pulled over for drunk driving how long do they lose their license?  Again, The Teenager reasons, well the driver is drinking underage which is bad and driving under the influence, that’s really dangerous.  Her answer is 2 years. This however is incorrect, and the correct answer is 60 days.  Soooooooo. Let me get this straight…… A person under the age of 21 and over the age of 18 can drive around with people unbuckled in the back seat (kids included), while under the influence of Alcohol that they aren’t even legally allowed to drink yet, AND it is really not a big deal. 60 days and they can get their privileges back.  SERIOUSLY who do I call? Even if this messed up stuff is the law, is it necessary to put it on the NEW DRIVER TEST?? I have 7.5 years to get it changed, who is with me?