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 Associate is an IB learner.

Over the last couple of years our school system has been transitioning to the International Baccalaureate curriculum. Below is the mission statement.

The International Baccalaureate® aims to develop inquiring, knowledgeable and caring young people who help to create a better and more peaceful world through intercultural understanding and respect.

To this end the organization works with schools, governments and international organizations to develop challenging programmes of international education and rigorous assessment.

These programmes encourage students across the world to become active, compassionate and lifelong learners who understand that other people, with their differences, can also be right.

It sounds sophisticated and wonderful, but I was sure that if we allowed our teachers to teach without interference they would come up with a similar plan. I do still believe this, because all the teachers I know are awesome, but I have to say this program appears tailor-made for The Associate.  She is quite dynamic and strives to embody all 10 IB traits. (Inquirers, Knowledgeable, Thinkers, Communicators, Principled, Open-minded, Caring, Risk takers, Balanced, Reflective.)  We are consistently negotiating these ideas.  For example, being a risk taker does not mean hurling yourself over the couch blindly,  and nobody told her she could inquire as to where I put my chocolate, but you get the point.

We were at a park this summer and all of the kids were running around in circles,  The Associate was picking up garbage while running full speed.  I yelled to her “What are you doingggggggg?”  she relied without skipping a beat.  “I am being Pricipallllleeeeddddd!”  That is adorable.

She has an entire school set up for her big eyed fluffy animals and spends hours discussing the IB traits.  I have since rearranged her room to move the classroom out of the stairwell and avoid death by stuffed animal.  IMG_1025

 

 

 

 

 

 

When we got the paperwork for her to sign up as an ambassador,  I was hoping she would want to do it. After much consideration she did and was accepted.  One of her jobs is to welcome new students to our school and make them feel welcome.  When I woke her this morning, she said and I quote “we received word that there would be a new student today, I have to get ready.”  Quite a departure from the normally groggy jerk that I encounter in the morning.

So far so good,

P.S. Thank you teachers!

learn more

 

 

 

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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First day I have to myself, and I clean my cabinets, then scarf.

I love summer and I am lucky to be able to be around when my kids are off,  but by mid August…  Anyone that stays at home with their children and attempts to have any semblance of a career can relate that it starts to suck.  In addition to my home duties I am starting a non-profit and I actually have things to do that require total concentration.  Apparently this idea is a bit too abstract for my spawn. I get a lot of “oh ya, that… ” from The Teenager whereas  The Associate simply wants to know if I am the boss.  When I answer “yes?” she wants to know if I can fire people.  Besides bringing the The Donald to mind and sending a nasty shiver down my spine I try to explain the concept of collaboration, and she quickly loses interest. *Sigh*

Purgatory is over and school is back in session. I can answer all my emails, complete those important phone calls, write a blog and get back to business.

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The Associate on her first day of 3rd Grade.

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This is the only image I was allowed to take of The Teenager.

As I poured myself a second cup of coffee in my blissfully empty home a cabinet door crashed to the ground.  By the time I rounded up a new hinge, screws, drill bit and successfully charged up the drill, I had gone crazy cleaning out my cupboards in the mudroom and kitchen.  I forced myself to finish the chore I unwittingly started and attempted not to lament my dream of a peaceful morning.

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However! I did find something to play with while digging through the mudroom.  Even though it is too hot outside yet to wear scarves I don’t let myself hesitate.  I have had this idea for a couple years and every year I end up stuffing them back into a bin because I miss the boat.  I guess it can be argued that I have little control over my day, even when no smaller people are bugging me.

Momentarily I am distracted by the most wonderful package EVER!!!

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Seriously does this woman know me or what??? *Thanks Julia!*

The project is simple.  I have somehow accumulated 9 plaid scarves from various thrift shop adventures.  They are all different and all too short.

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After washing them and matching them up  I debate sewing them with a machine.  I give this a shot but feel like it looks lame.  I am trying to create lush and vibrant neck wear and the small stitching looks silly.  I trim off that mistake and decide try my absolutely favorite glue in the entire world!

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Some off the scarves are wider than others, but I really like the way the patterns and colors hang together.  I use the trim from the middle scarf to cover the overlap, and let dry.  The bond is very secure and in my past experience will hold up in the wash.  I discard ideas of decorative stitching in contrasting colors (mostly because I am terrible at it.)

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I then attempt to take pictures of my creations, but recall my model just started 10th grade.   This is the best I could do after discovering them in pile on her floor still un-selfied.

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Now I will put them away until the temperature goes down.  Maybe I’ll go answer some emails, answer phone calls. Oh wait, The Associate is home sick.

 

 

 

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?

last days scramble

As the teachers of the world scramble to get the last days of school done, those parents that are at home with the children all summer scramble for a last bit of sanity.

My conversation in my head goes as follows.

Monday! Only four more days of school!  There are meetings I must schedule. done. now how to spend any possible free time I might have. One last alone trip to the grocery store, start meditating (too late), sit on the porch quietly? think clearly while not being hit with a water gun? organize my life? take a uninterrupted shower?

Monday starts off ok, as I get interviewed for our local paper.  I struggle through the parts about me that I have yet to nail down, and of course gush about my new project and my team.  Slightly proud of myself for stepping outside of my comfort zone and not having a panic attack, I go on with my day, and manage to organize the mini studio a bit while fielding phone calls.  I spent the evening fretting over The Teenagers study habits, because she didn’t call off work and had a math final in the morning. I have already mentally prepared myself for the bad news, and I am irritated with her when I pick her up from work.  I do manage to calm myself and tell her that my attitude stems from my desire for her to be able to become whatever she wants when she grows up. I don’t want her to be held back by grades.  Her chilly exterior defrosted and we move on.

Tuesday starts by waking up The Teenager and her dragging her butt to school, LATE for her exam.  I know this particular child only learns when she messes up, but I find it difficult to hold my tongue. The Husband and I head out to a doctors appt in the maze of The Cleveland Clinic. We attempted to have a nice brunch ALONE after only to have my eggs delivered with a hair draped across them.  (I could scrap it off,  NO, I could cut around it, NO, I could send them back, YES, but appetite is unfortunately gone for good :(.  For some stupid reason I decide to spend the rest of the beautiful afternoon cleaning out the garage!  sit down! be quiet! do a puzzle! I do manage to meet my friends for dinner and relax until I get a phone call from The Associate begging me to come home because her orthodontic paraphernalia has popped out of her mouth.  Asleep by 10:30 I awoke bright-eyed and bushy-tailed to call the orthodontist and beg for an immediate appointment. I only have two days of peace and quiet left!!!! The woman felt my pain and told me to come right in. As soon as we are back in the car The Associate begs for donuts, because we always get a donut as a reward for orthodontia! FINE!  We are not allowed to go through the drive thru anymore because The Associate learned it was bad for the environment. I somehow manage to get her to agree to a simple glazed donut opposed to the double chocolate one that she wants and all is right with the world, until she starts to negotiate for a second and third donut. deep breath. I drop her at the front door of the school and peel out of the parking lot.  (five hours and 15 minutes) I take care of some paperwork, take care of my mind and head to pick her back up from school.  The Teenager lets me help her study for a bit, of course it is the exam that she is really prepared for because she has a great teacher and she loves it.

Thursday I dragged them out of bed and to school and I took care of my important meetings.  On my way home we crammed a bunch of teenagers in the car and they proceeded to lay around on each other, eat and zone out.  We retrieved The Associate from school and I almost immediately went into shock.  My brain stopped working. After substantial amount of time, I snapped out of it, and I realized how lucky I am, and decided to stop complaining. HAPPY SUMMER.

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baseball cupcakes

The Associate is a tough interrogator, and can sniff out the truth like Matlock.  She is full of questions all of the time, and doesn’t hesitate to grill me.  My parenting style has always been to give as much information as possible without giving my direct opinion.  One of deeper conversations while driving about town was about metal detectors in stores.  After figuring out what the heck she was asking me, I paused (a little too long for her.)

TA- MOMOMOMOM!

me- yes!!! sweety!!! I was just framing my answer.  Do you know when you try on clothes and there is that annoying tag in a really bad place?

TA- yes.

me- well that is there so if you try to leave the store without paying for the clothes that metal detector thingy sets off an alarm, and the police will come.

TA- why would somebody do that?

me- that is called stealing, and it is against the law to take something you haven’t paid for or doesn’t belong to you.

TA- but that store has plenty of money.

me- *sigh* Wellllll, that store has to buy those clothes from another company, and then this store adds some money to the price and sells it to us.  So…. if someone leaves the store without paying the store loses money and then it will go out of business.

TA- so….

me- That store creates jobs in our community  (this is where it gets tricky. We are actively shaping her power to work for good, so my answers are straight forward, but lean towards the consumer and the worker, without demonizing well run businesses.)

me- (in my head, how the heck does she do this to me every time, why can’t we have a nice ride in the car and look at the trees!)

me- Ok, we are going in this store to get one thing, we are on a mission to get things we need not things we want.  (mercifully she does not argue and we make it all the way to the counter without incident)

TA- Why do they need to make these?

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what the heck?

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why would anyone collect cereal?

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me- at least no one will steal that junk.

The associate’s bloody tale

She was born smiling, her teeth popped through in all the right places creating a perfect set of teeth, straight and white.  We ignored the gentle warnings of our dentist that this was not going to last, and we snapped a million pics of her beaming smile.

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(That was her cramming raspberries into her face phase)

As they fell out we realized that Dr. Dorothy was in fact correct and our little smiler was quickly starting to look like Sponge bob.  She wasn’t fazed at all and kept flashing her chiclets.

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About 6 months ago we began the arduous task of correcting her jaw and she was a trooper.  She would obediently lie down on the couch so I could crank open her palette and crack jokes all the while. The Herbst appliance was next and she became bionic.  You can hear the hydraulics inside of her mouth operating like one C3PO’s limbs.   She soildered on and only slightly complained, always looking forward to her braces, which for some crazy reason she thought was cool.

Then one day I decided to obey her and hang the hammock. I went in the house to grab some water and then heard a blood curdling scream.  I ran out the door to see blood spurting from her mouth and through her fingers, while she yelled “MOMMMMMMM”  I grabbed a towel that was luckily blood-red and dashed over to apply pressure.  Leaving her alone I ran up the stairs to find The Husband trying to get off of the phone face stricken from what he overheard downstairs.  While The Husband dug around in the grass to find the missing tooth I called the dentist, and she cautioned us to put it in a cup of milk.

The Husband- what?

Me (very loudly)- Just put it in a glass of milk!!!!!

Our dentist met us at her office so she could take a look but it was very clear this child needed to be knocked out, so we headed down to the ER.  Somehow I managed not to throw up while holding her, and her cup of milk with tooth while looking up the number for the ER and requesting a pediatric dentist.  The Husband at the wheel got us there in no time flat.  I was half in the bed with her trying to calm her, as people came in and out.  Apparently the new method in the ER is to give very specific directions about what they are going to do to you.  I interrupted knowing that this child or possibly I would not benefit from the nurses’ over sharing.

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We managed to get a movie playing on the TV and were calm for a bit, but by the time Dentist arrived the poor kid was anticipating the needles and moaning.   One nurse sat on the bed with her knees around The Associates head, another was trying to distract her with a huge ball and another with an ipad, all the while the Dentist tried to trick her into opening her mouth.  I came in and out of the room my heart pounding while she screamed at the top of her lungs.  The Father sat solidly by her side and as per usual tried to distill the tension with humor.

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Screaming, crying and definitely over stimulated the The Associate hushed us all up.  We all backed away, hands up and she declared “Let’s get this over with!  The mayor is waiting for me!”  Stifling giggles they got back to work and the tooth was finally wedged back in. The room was quiet and she was instantly better, still excited to see The Mayor.  Sanity partly restored we were freed to go back to home.

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As we drove out of the hospital. The Associate came up behind me and reminded me that The Mayor was waiting in a conspiratorial lowered voice.  I laughed as I braced myself to go to at least 3 pharmacies to get the medicine we would need.  Three weeks later her tooth looks alive, but we shall see, one step at a time.

imaginary friends

The Teenager, had three very elaborately concocted imaginary friends when she was little. “Salad” was the first to enter her world.  She (Salad) was very particular about what she consumed, opting most often while dining for “just salads.”  “Black eyed Susan” didn’t actually have a “black eye” but was always referred to by her full name and really loved black beans.  “German” was a bit more elusive and was always traveling. When questioned about his whereabouts, The small Teenager would be ready with an extensive list of destinations that “German” was currently visiting.  It has been to revealed to us just last week that “German” was her imaginary boyfriend.  We have yet to delve into the reasons why he was never around, but I feel we will be informed in time.

Around the same time The Niece was very vocal about her Imaginary friend whose name was “Matthew Bloopbloop” sex, female.  “Matthew” was also an avid traveler and was known to visit her grandma who lived in Manchester, New Hampshire, but was originally from Managua, Nicaragua.  “Matthew” has vacationed in many real places that I didn’t even know existed, but such is the crazy smart brain of The Niece.  When I have the pleasure of her company I learn more from her than she does from me.

This cast of characters are a distant warm memory now that both girls are Teenagers, but The Associate did not disappoint. Approximately 5 years ago she appointed her very literal imaginary friends.  “Mirror” was the first to arrive, and being eager to hear her explanation, I questioned her immediately.  Her answer was very rational “I can see her in the mirror” – “so she is your reflection?” -“yep.”  Whenever we happened upon a reflective surface she would happily converse with it.  Next, “Shadow” appeared,  and The Associate explained that she is always with her, and you can’t argue with that.  Mirror and Shadow’s presence dwindled over the years until we went on a recent vacation, and they came back and multiplied.  Being the youngest by 7.5 years can be tough, especially because The Teenager is very mature for her age, and laughs at all the adult jokes. The Associate’s wit is quick and when the topic goes over head she kind of just wanders away to text her imaginary friends whose names have been changed to “Miranda and Shada.”  Yes, that is correct in the span of 8 years technology has come so far that you can imagine you have a smart phone and on it you can reach anybody you can conjure up.

We chatted about this quite a bit while we were away, and it came in quite handy when I was questioned while muttering angrily to myself about “Religious Freedom.”   When The Associate asked me why I was upset I could easily keep the conversation age appropriate without spewing my anger onto her.

me- “Well honey, Some adults have imaginary friends too.  The difference is that they feel like their imaginary friend can tell other people what to believe and how to live their lives.”

TA- “Why would you want your imaginary friend to be a bully?”

me- “good question.”