Sunday, March 28, 2010

Losing My Authority?

Both of my teens just wandered into the kitchen, Jess headed for the fridge and Jack to the pantry where various chips live.

"Dinner will be ready in about an hour," I sort of whined. "Please don't eat anything!" Once upon a time they would have reluctantly, yet affirmatively, obeyed. And now? Fughettaboutit. Jack grabbed the Doritos with a flourish and an evil laugh; at least Jess sauntered out of the kitchen with a container of blueberries. Healthy. Not a totally awful "appetizer."

But... there was this parting remark from her regarding the dinner menu: "Steak?! I don't like steak! And when have you heard me say I like baked potatoes? Ugh!"

This is what my thought bubble read: "Tough nuts, sweetheart!"

Once upon a time, they started their homework when I firmly suggested it. Ate what I put on the dinner table. Went to bed and turned out the light when I told them it was bedtime. Put on a freaking coat when the temperature dipped below 60-degrees. I seem to have very little authority left. Even when I say "please," sometimes at a normal decibel level and often quite loudly.

This is getting depressing.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Can these two BE any different?!

My son Jack's 14th birthday is on Monday. If he were his sister, Jess, the party or sleepover with friends would have been planned for weeks now; Jack only today got around to grunting the info to only two friends. Jess would have tried to invite at least a half dozen.

Jack's birthday gift list was short: just two items, and pretty affordable. My daughter has champagne taste.

Fridays here in New Canaan mean hoards of middle and high school kids head into town to eat, giggle, hang at Starbucks, blah blah. Jack can take it or leave it. When he does partake, and I spy him on the sidewalk in a gaggle of teens, there is jostling and loud laughing by the others, and Jack stands there with a shy smile, amused, observing. Jess never met a Friday in town she didn't like. Since 5th grade! She is the most animated sweetie pie on the planet; one of those jostling and laughing.

My older two are the same way - almost polar opposites. Kenny is the more flamboyant, outgoing one, and Blake is also the observer, keeps his thoughts close to the vest.

It never fails to cause me to scratch my head.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

A College for All?

Most high school juniors - or seniors in the first semester of their last year in school- are routinely asked my adults: "So, where are you looking at schools?" I admit it, I ask. But sometimes I stop myself and rephrase, "What do you think you'll do after high school?" Because not every kid takes those steps towards a college or university. Some take a "gap year." A few just go right into a job. Maybe their parents can't afford to pay for college. There are those who decide to pursue an art they are passionate about (acting, music, etc.) Or, they join the military.

I am sensitive to this because my oldest went off to Marine Corps boot camp a month after high school graduation. He and I both endured our fair share of wide eyes, some shocked and confused, when the "where are you/where is he applying/going to?" questions came fast and furious, and the answer was: "the Marines."

My second oldest when to college, but it was not a traditional ivy-covered, four-year institution. He knew where his passion lay - recording music - and his guidance counselor found an accredited school where he would - and did - four years of college in two, graduating with his Bachelors at age 20!

Now my daughter, a junior, is starting the college quest. Kind of. She's not an A student, more like a C. Or C-ish. And she too is not sure she wants a "traditional" school. Yes, I get a little uncomfortable when other parents inquire after rattling off the names of very good, great and popular colleges, and I stammer or change the subject. Or, I simply say what my daughter told her dad and I: "There's a college for anyone; why do you think it's a reflection on you if I don't go somewhere 'good'?"

Out of the mouths of babes.

Think about it: Are you going to think lesser of someone you have thought highly of, when they in passing mention the college that they attended?

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Truce Called


My son and I have "let it go." It's "water under the bridge." And all things like that.
Arguing with a United States Marine isn't always the smartest thing. But I am still calling this a slight victory for the momma.

I think all children know - in their heart of hearts - when they have hurt their mother's feelings, and even if they don't come around to actually verbalizing "I'm sorry," their actions can give them away: a hug, a favor unasked for, a quick snuggle, or a meaningful look, mouth turned down the tiniest bit at the corners.

Amend made. Apology accepted. And move on with love.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Sons, Daughters, Mom's Birthday

March 3: Who knew that a day that I am really not super thrilled to acknowledge on a vanity level, yet one that still makes me feel special, would actually cause me to feel pretty low?

March 3: It's my birthdate; my birthday. I like birthdays at face value - it's YOUR day! Celebrate another year of being alive! (But just don't go announcing how many years unless you are south of age 30, or north of 90.)

March 3, 2005: My mother died of ALS. I walked into her room at the hospice care center and the nurse pulled me aside and whispered, "It's probably going to be today." Her words slammed into my chest. I wanted to whimper, "But it's my birthday." Instead, I waited a couple of hours and mentioned it casually to her and we both shared a horrified stare. And so it went. My birthday would forever be linked with my mom's death. Then again, my birthday is also forever linked with my mom living, ergo, giving me life.

So, last week my birthday dawned, with the usual - and unusual - mix of emotions it now brings. There were some very random birthday cards left for me in the kitchen from my husband, youngest son, Jack, 13, and daughter, jess, 16. In the card, ostensibly "from Jess," she wrote: "Daddy picked this out; sorry!" Later on, my second oldest son, Kenny, 24, phoned me from the road - which is now his life - to wish me a happy day. When Jess came home from school, she presented me with a gaily wrapped gift: a fragranced candle which read on the outside: "What would you attempt to do if you knew you could not fail?" She knows how much I love candles and sayings like that which make one pause and consider.

By nightfall, I had not heard from my oldest son, Blake, now 26 and a Marine living in San Diego. Nada. Not a peep. And he doesn't have the excuse of being in Iraq in combat this year. In a knee-jerk reaction, I posted the following on his Facebook page: "If I weren't born, then you wouldn't have been born. That is your only hint about what today is."

Suffice it to say that we are both pretty angry with one another at this point. His last words to me were something along the line of if he can't remember his OWN birthday why should he be expected to remember anybody else's?

Clearly birthdays mean more to females than males. Or most males? Some?

Mom's special day is easier for a daughter to acknowledge, than a son?

I want to call a truce.

What do you think?

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Safer to Drive High?!

Heard the most absurd thing from another mom of a teenager today. My friend's daughter had two friends stop by after school while she - the mom - had left to run an errand. Upon her return, the two girls were gone and in their place were the following items in the sink: 4 bowls that had been full of Kraft Mac'n Cheese, and 2 with remnants of ice cream. On the counter sat half a dozen "Gushers" wrappers.

"What's all this?" the mom cried to her daughter. "Can't you all put these in the dishwasher? And what's with all the pigging out?"

"It wasn't me that ate all of that!" her daughter cried. "Sara and Emma were hungry!"

Then the mom paused for a light bulb moment; the visiting girls had the munchies from smoking weed. And, one of them was driving her parent's car while impaired.

"Oh, I get it. They were high? And they had the nerve to come to OUR house to satisfy their munchy cravings? And then drove?"

Her daughter looked her right in the eyes and said matter-of-factually: "Do you know that people drive safer when they're high?"

True story. It sends shivers down one's spine.

Monday, March 08, 2010

Hop to it, kids!

Six long weeks ago, I fractured my ankle and tore up some tendons and ligaments, rendering me one-footed and crutch-dependent. My two teens at home have been stunned at having to do things for themselves - like laundry and dinner - and grumpy about doing simple chores that we should have had them doing all along: feeding the dogs and taking out the kitchen trash. Wah-wah kidlets! You are freakin' 13 and 16, a hair's breath away from 14 and 17: man and woman UP!

My not being able to drive has been a terrible inconvenience for all, and both Jess and Jack continue to whine about why I don't just drive with my left foot. You can imagine WHERE I want to place said foot.

My hope is that they and their father, will appreciate all that I normally do, now and after I am a two-footed human being again, sometime by the end of this month. Stay tuned for that near-impossibility. Not my walking again, but rather, the undying appreciation.