- Remember that every person you meet, nice ones and mean ones and pretty ones and plain ones and every color of the rainbow ones, every person was once someone’s baby. So when that person is driving you batshit crazy, just think of him/her as a baby and hold that image in your heart. It helps.
- Always say Gezhunteit when someone sneezes.
- When you thank someone, for anything, look into their eyes and smile. So few people do this, and when you do, people remember.
- Accept compliments gracefully and humbly.
- Give compliments selflessly and genuinely.
- Remember we’re all on this rock together. Good, bad, ugly, right now Earth is all we have and we’re all here together.
- Don’t fart in an elevator, but dear god if you do, don’t giggle about it. People will know it was you.
- Fart around dogs or potty training children instead.
- Just because I love Cards Against Humanity or Family Guy doesn’t mean I’m racist or homophobic or insensitive. It just means I have a healthy sense of the absurd and love to laugh. That’s come in handy raising you two.
- When things are hard and miserable and there appears to be no end to it, remember that all things do eventually change and you might even look back and laugh at it all. Or maybe not. Most of 2011-2012 is still a raging shitstorm of suck for me.
- Pro/con lists are vastly underrated.
- If your significant other asks, “Does this make me look hippy?,” fake a seizure. Nothing good ever comes of this question or the subsequent
- Never, ever ask a woman if she is pregnant unless you personally see the head exiting the body. Even then, you should probably act surprised. Unless you’re the father, at which point being surprised by the pregnancy is likely to get you killed in the delivery room. Don’t fuck with a woman in labor, she can rip a car in half with her bare hands and burn holes through walls with her eyes. Trust me on this.
- Don’t drink cheap booze. Have some self-respect, man!
- Cheap table wine from Costco or Trader Joe’s is acceptable, however.
- I’m sure you’ve probably noticed by now that you have been afflicted with the following family-heirloom curses:
- When leaving on a trip or vacation, you will need to return to your home at least once for something you’ve forgotten, something that you really do need. Hint: it’s usually sunglasses.
- You will find yourself with a refrigerator groaning with condiments. Salsas, olives, but especially mustards, they will take up at least one full shelf and two-thirds of the door. Any efforts to cull the herd just pisses them off and they reproduce when the light goes out. The same goes for salts in the cabinet; at one point I had 25 different varieties.
- Bad back and/or knees and/or jaw/shoulder/neck. This is why #14 is on this list.
- Never hang wallpaper with a significant other. There is no Netflix in prison.
- Marry your best friend, but have other friends too, so you have someone to talk to when your best friend pisses you off.
- Do something every week to show your SO how much you love them, even and especially when you don’t want to.
- It’s one space after a period, the Oxford Comma is law, and if you screw up an apostrophe, may god have mercy on your eternal soul.
- NO CHRISTMAS MUSIC BEFORE SANTA SHOWS UP ON THANKSGIVING!
- Things are not always what they seem. So before you go getting your knickers in a knot, get more information and make sure it’s accurate. Then and only then can you fly off the handle (or not). You can avoid a lot of drama this way.
- Self-care is non-negotiable. Sometimes you just really need to take a mental health day. Do it too often and it’s not self-care but a sign you need to re-evaluate your life.
- You may not think a clean toilet is important until you have food poisoning and you have your face in there projectile vomiting for 18 hours.
- You are not where you go to school, or what you do, or what you drive, or how much money you make. You’re not even the aggregate of the five people you spend the most time with, though that is important. Quite simply, you are how you treat other people. The world would be a much better place if we all remembered that.
Oct 09 2015
Oct 02 2015
Boys, you’re at an age when you should start learning some things from your parents that may not have been covered previously. Yes, we’ve made sure you were potty trained before school and that seatbelts are non-negotiable, but sometimes the details get missed. So, before I succumb to old age and further child-related memory loss, here are 25 things I want you to know.
- First and foremost, you can’t go wrong with Wil Wheaton‘s internet advice: Don’t Be A Dick. I know you’ve heard me say it, many times, but seriously dudes, live those words. If you’re about to do something and don’t be a dick pops into your head, you probably shouldn’t do it.
- Odd-numbered Beethoven symphonies. The evens are meh.
- Even-numbered Star Trek (original series) movies. The odds are meh.
- The correct viewing order for the Star Wars oeuvre is 4-5-6-1-2-3. However, your father makes a compelling case for 4-5-1-2-3-6. We will revisit this after the next set of movies have been released. Stay tuned.
- Spend money on quality, especially if it’s something you’re going to get a lot of use out of. This includes shoes, computers, and mattresses.
- If you ever say the words yes dear to a significant other in any way other than in a joke both of you appreciate, that significant other has my full support in trying to smother you in your sleep. I’ll provide bail and everything.
- Own one killer suit (please see #5). Have it altered to perfectly fit your body. You never know when you will need to impress a boss, a potential investor, or a future spouse. Spend for quality and it will last for years.
- Learn to play an instrument. We’ve given up this battle with you as kids, but I do hope as adults you’ll come to your senses and pick up something. I don’t care if it’s piano or a banjolele, play something. It makes you more interesting.
- For the love of all things noodly, get out of your comfort zone. That doesn’t mean search out the dangerous, but life is meant to be lived, not for sitting at a computer all day. That makes you boring.
- A finely crafted obscene joke is an art form.
- Knowing when and where to share it is a life skill. Learn it.
- If you don’t laugh at Mel Brooks movies I will refuse to acknowledge our shared DNA.
- Read. A lot.
- The most important card you will ever have in your wallet is a library card. The complete knowledge of the world is in that card. Yeah, you’d think a computer and the internet would have that covered, but when you go through your broke college stage, which we all do, a library card is free and can get you onto a computer and the internet. Plus there are books. Lots and lots of books. Please see #13.
- It’s ok to change your mind, just be ready for any consequences from that. This includes changing college majors, careers, and relationships.
- With #15 in mind, every single decision you make affects other people. Don’t let that rule your life, but never forget it.
- Be kind. Or I’ll find you and smack you upside the head.
- I will probably embarrass you several times as you navigate your teen years. It will not always be intentional. Let’s call it payback for your toddler years, m’kay?
- Tip at least 20% for services.
- Respect the people who keep society running while you’re tucked in bed all snug and warm and snoring. This includes, but is not limited to: custodians, nurses, police and EMTs, and the woman pouring coffee at the all night diner. This list is greatly increased if you live in New York City.
- It’s ok to make a mistake. It is not ok to keep making the same mistake or refuse to learn from it. Please remember #16.
- You will always see the world in a different light. You’re just wired that way. That doesn’t mean others are wrong, it just means sometimes you need to shut up and listen.
- Learn to cook at least one seriously impressive meal, one you’d make for a date. This is in addition to the five breakfasts/lunches/dinners you should probably also know how to prepare. For the love of god, don’t survive on microwaved burritos and mac and cheese; your digestive system deserves better than that.
- Always shovel the elderly neighbor’s driveway and sidewalk. Always.
- Whatever you do, wherever you go, I will always have your back. I may not like it, I may bitch about it, but I will be your rock until my dying day.
- BONUS! Karma is real. Don’t be a dick.
Sep 25 2015
There are usually two reactions to such a strange ailment.
The first is a grimace of pained sympathy. An offer of ibuprofen or a massage or a heating pad. Advanced sympathy also offers wine, a soft pillow, and the TV remote.
The other reaction is a sly grin on a blushing face, a knowing sidelong glance, a giggle, and a bawdy comment about leather ties and overnight activities with your husband.
As much as I would love to have an amusing story about how I got to this point, if for no other reason than to watch people turn pink and wonder about quiet ole’ me, I’m unfortunately far too boring for such antics; that’s a post for another day, or more likely, a private journal entry. I’ve always said with a self-depreciating laugh that I’m a cube; square on six sides. The real story behind my sprained neck tells that out.
Yes, somehow I managed to sprain my neck sleeping. Not “sleeping,” but real, honest to god eyes closed and drooling on my pillow sleeping. It’s a rare talent, I tell you. That I awoke on my birthday with a sprained neck from sleeping is just further proof that middle age has arrived with a vengeance. Not quite fair.
So it’s ibuprofen and chiropractic and purple RockTape (made from unicorn hides, I swear; this stuff is magic) and moving very slowly and carefully. I can’t slather up with Deep Relief, because the RockTape will slide off. Flute playing is all kinds of fun, as that requires not only turning my head, but also jaw/arm/shoulder/rib/finger activity as well. I am FrankenJen, moving my entire body to have a conversation and bursting into unexpected rage for no apparent reason (except for, you know, pain).
I think this would be easier to manage…and surely be a hell of a lot funnier…if there was an entertaining reason behind it all. But I slept weird just doesn’t qualify, and I’m old and falling apart is even worse. So perhaps I will price out leather ties and such after all. You never know when you might need to come up with a clever cover story.
Sep 24 2015
Give me strength. I mean, for chrissakes, it was my birthday. And, on the 42nd anniversary of my entrance onto this planet, I spent a huge amount of time in the car, driving Andy to and from a birthday party a million miles away. And how does my beloved firstborn son thank his long-suffering mother, on her birthday no less?
By leaving me “presents” on my iPhone. Unfortunately he knows the login code (which will be changed shortly), because sometimes I need him to log in for me for traffic updates while I’m driving (modeling safety, folks!). The
little shit dear child kept giggling and sniggering and flat-out laughing while I was driving mumble mumble miles per hour on the expressway and I couldn’t see what he was doing. He would only tell me that he was leaving me “presents.” After his last set of gifts, I trust him about as far as I can throw him, and as he is getting heavier and heavier…there ya go.
I checked my phone over when I got home. Couldn’t see anything out of the ordinary.
And then I went to comment on a post on Facebook and proceeded to give thanks to every deity here there and everywhere that I give the once over to everything I ever text, email, or post.
little shit teenaged troll went on a tear with my iPhone’s text replacements. Care to appreciate his handiwork?
An corrected to asscheese
Andy corrected to assnugget
J corrected to WiiU
Jen corrected to Me
No corrected to penis
Tom corrected to 1234567890
Yes corrected to goatsimulator
I discovered this as I was finishing dinner, read them aloud, and Tom is still recovering from the coughing fit from asscheese; never good to inhale a fine piece of tuna into your sinuses.
So. Yeah. He done got me but good. I suspect this won’t be the last time he trolls me, and I’m glad he knows I know it’s all in good fun…to a point. I could yell at him and punish him and make a big deal about it, but it’s really not a big deal. Even the language he used isn’t that big a deal to me; god knows he’s heard worse from my own lips. I’d rather save the big deal reactions for the really big deal issues. This isn’t one of those issues.
Besides, assnugget is a great name for him. Now where is his iPhone? Because I need to teach Siri his new name. Heh…
Sep 23 2015
Today I am 42.
Never mind that I have a neck so stiff that it’s making me queasy. Never mind that my day will be spent mostly in the car (though I do get to have lunch with my mama). Never mind that I’ve been struggling with the direction my life has taken and my emotions and my weight and my writing and how I parent and Life, the Universe, and Everything.
Today is my birthday. 42.
And not only my birthday, but The Geek Birthday. And in this house, Geek is everything.
So on this, the day that marks my 42nd trip around the sun, I declare that I will figure out Life, the Universe, and Everything by the time ye olde body odometer clicks over to 43. Chances are better than average that the answer will be “beats hell outta me,” but hey, you never know.
HOLY CRAP WHEN DID I GET SO OLD? How the hell am I fully into my 40s already? I have flute students my kids’ ages, flute parents younger than me! I have former students with kids! NO NO NO I DO NOT ACCEPT THIS. I CANNOT POSSIBLY BE FORTYFUCKINGTWO YEARS OLD. Granted i feel 84 most days, but still! I’M TOO YOUNG TO BE THIS OLD! It’s time for a third-life crisis…because I refuse to believe this is midlife. Time can slow the hell down already, this out of control life treadmill needs to pull back a few dozen clicks. I’M NOT READY FOR MIDLIFE!
Ahem. Carry on.
Life, the Universe, and Everything. And me.
Sep 21 2015
If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all. That’s what we all learned growing up, isn’t it? Kind of a keep the peace sort of thing. This is why I tend to keep my mouth shut an awful lot.
If you can’t blog something of quality, don’t blog anything at all. This is the online writing version of that old saying, and where I’ve been for the last several weeks. It’s a large rock, and I’d say it’s like living under one, but it’s more like being dragged underwater to your moist demise. Yes, moist, because that word tends to drive people batshit crazy, and there I go saying something not so nice. Heh.
I’ve started several blog posts the last few weeks, passed on writing for today’s GHF Blog Hop (but you shouldn’t, because it’s on parenting G2e kids on a shoestring), and have been journaling daily for my own sanity. I’ve been struggling with writers block so intense it’s more akin to writers Chicago-rush-hour-ain’t-no-one-gettin’-nowhere. There was no funny, there was nothing of quality, it was all middle-aged angst of what am I going to do with my life and I’m bored with myself and long stretches of fuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuckkkkkkkkkkkk. It has not been good, is what I’m saying.
Something finally shifted this morning, I don’t know what. It may be the essential oil I’ve been diffusing all day, it may be that I got great sleep this weekend, it may be that my body finally exhaled and accepted that summer is gone and the golden loveliness of early autumn is here. Who the hell knows. I just know that I’ve been questioning everything and have been miserable. Did I want to stay with my blog? Start a new one? Give up the gifted writing? Give up writing? Find a full-time job? Be patient and grow my flute studio? Slam my head repeatedly in the dying refrigerator? Run away and join the circus? But I did none of the above and just sat with the uncertainty and here I am today, writing, no clown makeup, no headache from the fridge. I think the changing of the seasons and/or hormones and/or the start of a school year and/or generalized depression and anxiety just grabbed me and decided to beat me about the head and neck with a rusty shovel.
It’s been nearly ten years of blogging here, and I do wonder if I have any stories left to share. I can’t tell my sons’ stories as easily anymore, because I value their privacy more and more every day. I don’t really care anymore if something I say is nice, but I do care if it’s of quality. Whining isn’t quality, so I’m limiting that to my journal. I feel I’ve said nearly all I can say about giftedness. So my stories are changing.
It’ll be interesting to see what they say.
Sep 11 2015
How fortunate I am today, that my biggest fear is that I’m wasting my life, that I have a chronic case of just standard existential confusion. How fortunate I am that the child who wouldn’t sleep for love or money 14 years ago now requires threats and bribes and klaxon horns to rouse in the morning. How fortunate am I that my family is safe and healthy and well fed.
How fortunate so many of us are today, 14 years after our world was shattered.
Every year on this date I am quiet and introspective and every year on this date I am extraordinarily grateful we only had a five month old infant. Granted, that five month old infant didn’t sleep much and certainly added to the stress of that day, but I didn’t have to explain that level of hatred and evil to an intensely sensitive kid while barely able to cope myself. I used to quip that I didn’t know which one I didn’t want to explain first, Santa, sex, or 9/11. We’ve made it through all three with both boys, though I do have to throw a little credit to Star Talk for providing some of the details of the first two.
This morning J mentioned over breakfast that he expected that social studies would be about 9/11 today. I would certainly hope so. I consider it current events, even though it will always be just history to him. It’s still painful to think about, and today I’m avoiding news channels more than usual. I’ve gotten more sensitive and emotional lately and I really don’t need to pick at that scab.
It has stopped raining and the sun is peeking out from behind the departing clouds. I can go hang the flag now.
But first I have some threats and bribes and klaxon horns to dole out.
Aug 31 2015
The boys are now back to whatever passes for school for them. J is into his first full week of middle school, and Andy has started the first of his online classes. I’m having only a slight bit of difficulty reconciling myself to the fact that I am the parent of a sixth grader and high school freshman. Slight, of course, meaning all the difficulty in the world; I still think they’re my wee widdle babies who had a granola fight in J’s crib. That was last week, right? No? Nine years ago? Well. Shit.
This is the first year when it has really hit that I’m walking a fine line between the traditional education world and the homeschool education world. I am firmly in both camps, and yet not so. When people ask why I’m homeschooling one and not the other, my very truthful answer is that we have put our boys into the best educational structure for them at this time. If it changes, fine, we have experience with both and we can adapt. But for now, this is the plan, such as it is.
Last week J had his middle school kickoff. He got to bring in his school supplies, find his locker, walk his schedule and meet the teachers, have his school photo taken (which, doing this before the school year starts, is brilliant), and have a spot of ice cream. Kids and parents were everywhere, there was a feeling of relief (parents) and excited resignation (kids) in the air, and overall it was good to be there. Not ninety minutes later I was at a introductory homeschool meeting at a local library. Mainly parents, a few young kids, I was only one of maybe three who said they were homeschooling high school (please don’t call me brave, it is what it is), and there was more of a sense of Let’s Do This. I was both comfortable and uncomfortable at each of those events.
If I were truly honest, I’d be happy to have both boys in school. It’s exhausting for me to homeschool (mainly the planning and the panic), and while it can be done inexpensively, that isn’t exactly the case here. I’d be able to work full-time (provided I could find something), the boys could be involved in activities I can’t provide, and maybe we could pretend to be normal for awhile. We once lived this and it didn’t go so well (please see If This is a Gift, Can I Send It Back? <affiliate link> for the details of that little segment of life), but I still hold out hope. But if I were truly honest the other way, I’d be happy to have both boys home. To not have homework battles (because those will start a couple hours from now), to be free of worry about Pearson and PARCC testing and what all that intrusive assessment is doing to my kid, to teach my kids to learn at their own pace and as deeply as they’d like….well, it’d be nice. I’d certainly appreciate the slower and calmer mornings, that’s for damned sure.
I feel like I’m at the top of a split-rail fence, arms out for balance, walking heel-toe between two very different educational worlds. Both have their pros and cons, neither one is The One (just The Best At The Time For The Particular Kid), neither one is better nor worse than the other, both are awesome and beautiful in their own right. I teeter to one side or the other as I walk, thinking this is it I’m going to land on this side, but always manage to regain my balance and continue heel-toe. It’s going to be this way for the foreseeable future, as I don’t see bringing J home or sending Andy to what is inarguably an enormous high school, though one with a great STEM program. Who knows, something may change this year and finally shove me into one camp or the other, but for now, I’ll just continue to walk the line.
Aug 24 2015
What do you think of when you think of bullying? Playground taunts? Cyberstalking? Mean girls? Workplace passive-aggressiveness? We’ve been very, very fortunate here in the House of Chaos to have had little bullying come our way. It could have been horrifically life-altering for the boys, and what little we’ve had was quickly ended with a little parental intervention. It was mostly ordinary meanness anyway. But hooboy…coulda been bad. That said, J is heading to middle school this week and who knows what tween horrors await.
My friend Pamela Price recently released her new book on gifted kids and bullying. We’ve talked, off and on, about bullying and what it looks like. I maintain I somehow escaped a lot of bullying growing up, and I suspect she doesn’t entirely believe me. There was a little middle school drama, but nothing life-changing. In high school I lived in the band room and half my friends were guys; I really missed out on a lot of the Mean Girl life (thank.god.). College and grad school and beyond…I can’t think of much. I know my husband had a considerably different bullying experience, but that’s not my story to share.
So maybe I escaped bullying from others growing up, but I sure as hell didn’t escape it entirely.
I bully myself.
If others spoke to me the way I speak to myself in my head…I just can’t imagine. I can’t imagine hearing the humiliating and insulting things I say to myself come from someone else’s talk hole. It may also be known as Impostor Syndrome, but goes a little deeper than that, deep into the very core of me. One is what I do, the other is who I am.
You should really…
Why don’t you…
Why aren’t you…
Why haven’t you…
If you would only…
If you could only…
You slept too late (all of 7:00 am), now you’re behind for the day. No wonder you can’t get anything done.
You got up too early (all of 6:00 am), now you’re going to be exhausted and worthless for the day. No wonder you can’t get anything done.
You overdid it again today. You’re going to pay for that tomorrow and be worthless for the day. No wonder you can’t get anything done.
You didn’t exercise today. No wonder you have 50 pounds to lose. Also? Fifty pounds? Jesus, woman. No wonder you’re tired and achy all the time. How can your husband stand you?
You call yourself a writer? Really? Because there’s not a whole lot of writing going on lately. Sure, you’re managing to get some journaling in most days, but writing? Pfft. You’re a hack. You’ll never be a writer and you’ll have to live with others doing what you want to do, because they were able to get their lives together enough to get words on a page.
You call yourself a flutist? Really? How about you practice for a change? You’re going to get to band next week and piss down your leg. Don’t you remember when that happened in that one orchestra rehearsal, and you were disinvited to return? You want that to happen again?
You’re a homeschooler? HA! Your poor kid. You are screwing him and he’s going to pay for your educational negligence for the rest of his life.
You haven’t been in the official workforce for 15 years and are entirely unemployable. Better hope your son overcomes your educational negligence so he can afford to care for you in your dotage, if you make it that long, you unhealthy bag of meat.
No one likes your humor, you are far too profane for a woman of your age, your best days are behind you, and you’d better just hope you don’t end up alone because who the hell would want to add your metric crapton of baggage to their lives? You lucked out with Tom, better not screw that up.
I’m a riot at parties.
Now, before you worry about me and call the soothing men with the huggy jackets, please know that this isn’t always a running monologue in my head
; sometimes I sleep. Most of the time I am fine, go about my days, rock the hell out of my life, and generally kick ass and take names (see? profane). But that bullying voice knows exactly when and where and how to drive in the knife and twist; it’s when I’m unawares and maybe hurting a bit and a little sensitive, then BAM! Bullies are good like that; they know when to attack for the most satisfying result.
I do my best to ignore it, not give it the attention on which it so obviously thrives, and sometimes I even fight back. I’m getting pretty good at shoving a metaphorical dirty sock into its mouth; it fights back by crying out past the sock that it’s just saying what others are so obviously thinking, so don’t kill the messenger. I wouldn’t believe someone if they actually said these things to me, I’d actually lose respect for someone saying them to me, and I’d probably have a good laugh at that person later. It’s so much harder when it’s your own voice telling you these things. I’m getting better at not believing everything I think, which is a great first (and thirtieth…and four hundredth) step, but it sure ain’t easy.
So what do you think of when you think of bullying? Do you recognize it when you do it to yourself? Because that needs to stop, just as it needs to stop against our kids. We’re worth it too.
Today’s bit of blogging therapy is part of August’s GHF Blog Hop, on the topic of bullying and the gifted/2e population. Take some time and visit the other participants, it’ll be well worth your time.
Aug 23 2015
My sons never fail to entertain me. They went on a road trip last week with my parents, gone for a handful of days to visit the Ford Museum in Michigan. Tom and I had an unexpected few days alone together. We hardly knew what to do (get your mind out of the gutter, that we know how to do). We talked and we enjoyed the silence. We watched some TV before we were so tired we’d fall asleep in front of the set. However, one night he got a phone call and was on long enough that the Apple TV screensaver came on. And we were treated to this:
That, my friends, is a thing of beauty. Our 14 year old hacker son, the one with the alphabet soup of diagnoses, the one I’ve lost so much sleep over worrying about his future, the one with slowly improving executive function skills…planned and executed the perfect trolling of his parents…and I had exactly zero clue. He found the photos, set up an album (which somehow I did not discover), changed the screensaver (which we did not know could be done), and then did the hardest part. He sat and waited. And waited. We don’t watch a lot of TV, so he was waiting for quite awhile. Turns out he did this a week before we noticed. I don’t know how he managed to keep it quiet and not blow from anticipation. Poor kid, after a week of waiting we discovered it while he was gone.
After all the years of worry and therapies and fretting and frustration and fear and anger and helplessness, we’ve hit a good stretch of what could almost be called contentment. Things aren’t perfect and never will be, but right now they don’t suck, and I’ll take it. I do have very serious concerns about the other boy in our home, but I’m hoping they’re just the typical tween crap that seems so huge now because when his brother went through it, it was with the accompanying 2e hell and we didn’t notice. But right now, on this cusp of middle and high school, things are good.
Even when living with a teenage troll.