Eight years ago today

Eight years ago today

It was 8 years ago today, I know because Facebook memories told me so, that I took my kid, and the girl who I had spent the previous 7 years as her “other mother” (a name given to me by her own amazing mother) to a music festival 3 hours away. It was Friday during the first week of school, and I picked them both up as soon as it was over and we took off to a town 3 hours away so my kid could see the band he wanted to see the most, Finger Eleven. I was the meanest mom in the world for not letting him skip the 3rd day of school so he could make sure he saw all of his favorite band, but that was quickly forgotten as soon as we arrived at the festival, and again when we went back for the second day.

Not that it had anything to do with the music festival, but that was also probably the last year that my kid didn’t actually hate me. I don’t mean the “You won’t let me play with my friend, you’re making me do homework, I can’t have McDonald’s for dinner for the 4th time this week,” I hate you either. The kind of I hate you that I was getting thrown at me was the “It’s your fault I don’t have a dad at home, or someone who wants to be my dad, because nobody can stand to be around you, you never do anything for me, I’m practically raising myself because you’re always at work, it’s your fault I am not doing well in school, we never do anything fun,” kind of hate. You know, the mean, spiteful kind of hate. The punching holes in my walls, breaking everything in the house, underage smoking and drinking, kind of hate. It’s the kind of hate that has left me crying in the shower on more occasions that I will ever admit, wondering where I went so horribly wrong as a parent.

This weekend, I had the chance to talk to another friend of mine, and was completely blown away when I heard that they were having similar problems with their oldest. I listened for 3 hours as this person told me about all of the problems and trials they were having with one of their children, even though the family background couldn’t possibly be more of a polar opposite to the family background at my house. This child was raised in a 2 parent, affluent household, with FAR more conveniences than my kid had, and with the added benefit of one parent working, and the other at home, able to be there for the children at any given time of any given day. This family shouldn’t be having the same problems with their kid as I am with mine. It just doesn’t make sense…at all, right?!

Towards the end of this 3 hour conversation, I realized that we had so much more in common than I ever thought we could. Both of us felt like we had failed at some point as a parent, and couldn’t for the life of us figure out where we went wrong. Both of us saw our value as a person tied directly to how these humans we had raised turned out as adults, and as the conversation wrapped up, we realized we had BOTH come to the conclusion (her through professional counselling and me through boozy conversations with my best friends) that we both gave our children all of the tools we possibly could to be decent humans. They were loved. They had all of their necessities taken care of. They each had plenty of opportunities for the fun extras. They were safe. They had seen first hand how they SHOULD treat other people for their entire lives. How they chose to use these tools was not a reflection on how they were raised, rather it was a reflection of who they were choosing to be, no matter how heartbreaking it was as a parent to watch them turn in to little assholes who didn’t care about anyone but themselves.

So be kind to people you meet; you never know who’s raising teenagers, and in the stolen words of one of the coolest people I’ve met this year, “Hug your people y’all.” (Seriously though, those people raising teenagers who are being assholes for no apparent reason definitely need your hugs.)

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On what it’s REALLY like being a parent

On what it’s REALLY like being a parent

High school health classes are REALLY missing the boat on the whole preventing teen pregnancy by sending students home for the weekend with a robot baby thing. Yeah, it’s annoying to have to wake up and feed, change, or play with the robo-baby, but that’s all over with in 2 or 3 days, and you’re back to life as normal. Do you want to really give your children an idea what it’s like to be a parent? Skip the robo-baby and give them a toddler who hasn’t napped in 3 days, an 8-year-old who just lost screen time privileges, a pre-teen ball of hormones, or a teenager who thinks they’re entitled to EVERYTHING, and has the attitude to go along with it. You want to teach kids what it’s like to be a parent before they’re a parent? Those are all better options than a baby robot. Scar them for life with some real parenting obstacles.

Here is a much more accurate depiction of what it’s really like to be a parent. Imagine you’re drowning, and you see someone headed your direction in a boat, and you think you’re being rescued. The boat stops and they throw you a life-preserver. You catch it, relieved for a split second until you realize it’s made of concrete, and the people in the boat aren’t even looking back while you just keep on continuing to tread water. Then you just repeat that for the rest of forever.

The Obligatory Christmas Update

The Obligatory Christmas Update

You know those cutesy Christmas letters that normal people send out with a family picture…that they took in like August, because they have their sh*t together and actually plan these things? Yeah…I’m not one of those people. I tried to be. I really did, but after killing myself year after year to take care of Christmas by myself, putting up the 300 ornament, front room clearing monstrosity of a tree, baking the cookies, buying the neighbor gifts, attempting to make it look like the kid had sufficient presents under the tree (a REALLY hard task when there is only one person buying stuff for one kid), all while trying to also keep the little snot humble, I gave up on it.

I had partially given up on it 3 years ago, because the kid refused to help clean up HIS messes everywhere in the house, and I didn’t have the energy to deal with it. I replaced the ginormous tree with a little pre-lit potted tree that sat on my coffee table. The gifts he received looked a whole lot more impressive surrounding that than they did underneath the tree from the previous years. PLUS, I got to pretend we were being “simplistic” instead of the truth: I was too damn depressed to deal with it.

The gigantic Christmas Weed didn’t make a return the next year either, as Mr “I’m too cool for my mom” woke me up on Christmas morning and said “Can I open my presents so I can go to my friend’s house?” When I told him his friends were spending time with their parents, he retreated to his room for the rest of the day so he could talk to those friends who were also forced to stay home with their families through whatever form of social media the “cool kids” were using at the time.

Last year…hard pass on the real tree again. Actually, it was a hard pass on Christmas spirit altogether around our place, since the kid spent most of his time declaring his absolute contempt for having to wash his own clothes and pick up after himself by telling me at every chance he had that he couldn’t wait until he was 18 so he could just move out. In an effort to find something that didn’t completely suck about the season last year, I bought Christmas gifts for the adorable little boys of an incredibly appreciative friend, and of course my own spawn as well. As appreciative as this friend was, my kid was the complete polar opposite, asking if I kept the receipts so he could just go get the money, before muttering a quick “Thanks though” and leaving to go to what ever friend he was making horrible decisions with at the time, which brings us to this year’s obligatory Christmas update.

Dear friends and family,

It’s definitely been a year of ups and downs. Coming off of a tumultuous 2016, we didn’t expect 2017 to be quite as eventful but boy were we wrong about that one!

The kid turned 18 this year, but his attitude reverted back to that of a 2-3 year old. Fresh off of his ticket for minor possession of tobacco and curfew violation during the 2016 Thanksgiving weekend, he celebrated his birthday with a realization that stupid things done now come with much higher consequences.

During the summer, he finally got a job when one of his mom’s friends took pity on him. Surprisingly things were going well with that, until he realized a couple of months later that you actually have to show up to work and lose the attitude to keep your job. He moved out when his mom continued to expect him to do far too much around the house. Cleaning up after himself, washing his dishes, and expecting him to NOT put holes in walls, doors, and mirrors were simply unacceptable rules to have to live with.

Apparently, having not learned anything during Thanksgiving 2016, he rounded out the year with a minor consumption ticket, and since we live in Utah, there will be some pretty hefty fines and possible jail time to go along with that one. Perhaps the only good thing to come out of that is the fact that he’s 18, so the meanest mom in the entire world won’t have to shoulder ANY liability for that one. It’s truly a miracle he’s still alive though, since in a desperate attempt to sound much cooler than he is, he likes to brag that he blew a .55 (I’m not planning a funeral, so obviously he didn’t) when the officer broke up the little shindig that he and the rest of his idiot squad were partying at. .55 and still standing….it’s a true Christmas miracle!

Now for the worst mom in the world….the one who “ruined the kid’s childhood,” 2017 wasn’t a complete loss. She spent some time with some truly amazing people in Minnesota and Washington, DC as the “green haired girl from Utah” trying to get our current Congress to do the right thing and fund cancer research, close a loophole keeping seniors from getting life saving medical services, and other awesomeness. In an effort to keep from joining the parenting ranks of Casey Anthony, she learned how to deflect stress with painting, which she actually kind of kicks ass at. It’s a good thing painting is cheaper than a defense attorney, because the kid certainly gives her plenty of reasons to need one. Yes, she’s still single. No, that probably won’t change ever. Yes, she’s still the black sheep of the entire family…..for now.

2017 can officially suck it, and we look forward to seeing you all in 2018, hopefully still on this side of the Grey Bar Hotel. Merry Christmas, and here’s to a new freaking year!

That’s oddly specific

That’s oddly specific

Memory lane…sometimes it’s my favorite.

I was perusing the Facebook memories again today and came across a picture I posted back when my man-child was a cute, easier to manhandle when he was being an assholesomewhat well-behaved child, sitting on a recliner at my grandma’s house with my nephew on his lap. This of course was back before he started smoking, chewing, talking like an uneducated hick, and sporting the most ridiculous mullet in the history of forever, all in the name of being cool. He was 10, and life was a WHOLE lot easier.

About 2 weeks before this picture was taken, I had asked him to clean his room and all of the sudden he was walking like an old man, groaning that he had a migraine, doubled over in fake pain, and for good measure, because his friend at school just got 2 days off for strep throat, it hurt SOOOOO bad to swallow. It was uncanny how it all hit him before I even got the word “room” out of my mouth!

I let this charade go on for a couple of hours, because it was HILARIOUS, and then we loaded up and headed to Urgent Care. We had to go, because even if he was faking, there’s always that ever so slight chance that he isn’t, and even at 10 years old, he was apparently well versed in how much worse symptoms of a man cold are than the exact same illness in a woman. That, and because if he wasn’t faking it, the next day would bring an ER co-pay instead of the insanely inexpensive Urgent Care co-pay.

When we checked in to Urgent Care, he had that nurse wrapped around his finger. She asked if he needed a wheelchair, gave him a popsicle from the freezer, and offered to get him an ice pack if it would help his throat feel better. The entire time, I was thinking “you really are so sweet,” while also simultaneously thinking “I can’t believe you’re falling for this!” She apologized profusely for having to gag him with that giant cotton swab for the strep test, and then checked to make sure he was warm enough before leaving the room. Really, she was STELLAR at her job.

When the PA came in the room, he was every bit as nice as the nurse, checking glands, and giving the boy a thorough “does it hurt here, how about here, what about here” look over. Finally he asked “Can you tell me exactly where it hurts?”

“Right by my uvula,” said the kid, with the most deadpan expression I have ever seen on his face.

The PA blinked, took a split second to compose himself and said “That is very specific,” to which my kid responded “Well you asked exactly where it hurts.”

After a few more seconds to compose himself, he informed my kid that the strep test was in fact negative, and he would like to do a flu test and possibly a blood draw to check for mono before sending him home. When he looked at me to verify that it would be OK to proceed, I SWEAR he winked at me. Why? Well that would be because he was the PA who administered the flu test to my kid just 9 months prior to this, and he remembered just how much my kid enjoyed that.

The recovery rate after hearing the words flu test and blood draw was miraculous. He sat up straight, quit talking like he was on his death-bed, looked at the PA and asked him if he thought that maybe it was just a virus and he would feel better if he got some rest, drank lots of Gatorade, and took it easy for the weekend.

“Yes,” said the PA before adding “and clean your room.”

That was the best $30 I ever spent in my entire life.

Toilet water and cigarettes

Toilet water and cigarettes

I like evidence based arguments. Feelings and emotions are open to interpretation and get in the way, but scientific, evidence based facts and arguments….those are pretty difficult to dispute. For example:

Emotion based facts about tobacco (several of these opinions belong to my 18-year-old idiot, obviously)

  • Smoking is gross
  • Smoking makes you look cool
  • Smoking is fun
  • That chew can ring in the back pocket of my jeans is sooooo sexy.
  • Avoiding law enforcement because I’m too young to do this legally is such a thrill!
  • Tobacco helps me not be such a raging hormonal asshole (He said “deal with your stupid rules” but I prefer raging hormonal asshole to “cleaning up after myself is just sooooooo unfair.”)

Scientific/evidence based facts about tobacco (Just a few…obviously I could go on and on and on, but nobody came here for a health lesson.)

  • There are 250 harmful chemicals in tobacco smoke alone, and 28% of those chemicals are known carcinogens.
  • Smoking causes 1 in 5 deaths in the United States
  • There is no “safe” form of tobacco
  • In addition to cancer, tobacco causes heart disease and high blood pressure
  • Tobacco increases your risk of stroke

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You see “There are 250 harmful chemicals in tobacco smoke” is much more accurate than “smoking is gross,” even though it is. I mean, if you’re old enough to light up or shove something in your lip, and you feel like playing roulette with your own health, by all means, go ahead and do it. There is absolutely nothing I can do to stop you. BUT, if you’re my kid, and you’re not even old enough to buy this shit legally, and I’m paying for your health insurance, dental bills, and doctor’s visits, among all of the other things I’m paying for, you can bet your sweet ass I’m going to have an opinion on your filthy habit.

For crying out loud, I’ve spent YEARS trying to help pass bills to combat the use of tobacco, and you know what? Collectively, the group I work with on this has been successful! Smoking rates among US adults is at an all time low. Only 15.1% of US adults smoke! Another all time low? Only 8% of high school students smoke. 20.2% of high school students used any tobacco product in 2016, which is a 5.1% decrease from 2015.

This weekend, I was able to celebrate some great successes ACS CAN members have been part of. Successes like Guam raising the legal smoking age to 21, entire cities in California banning the sale of flavored tobacco products, including menthol and all flavored E-Cig juices, and New York City raising tobacco taxes to the point where a pack of cigarettes purchased in NYC is now $13. You can argue that these things are all unfair all you want, but if fewer people are using tobacco, then fewer people are dying from diseases caused by tobacco, and THAT is never going to be a bad thing.

While all of these people are doing all of these things to combat tobacco use and all of the problems it causes, the response I get from my man-child is simply “I don’t care if I get cancer.” Soooo….when I left town to go to Washington DC to ask members of congress to fund cancer research, to close the Medicare loophole in colorectal cancer screenings, and to improve quality of life for people with long-term illness by passing the Palliative Care and Hospice Education and Training Act, and found a nearly full pack of Marlboros sitting next to my microwave, I did the only thing I felt was appropriate, or would at least satisfy my devious nature. I took 2 of them out of the package, dipped them in the toilet, dried them with my hair dryer, and placed them back in the package. I left a note that said “2 of these have been dipped in the toilet. Good luck figuring out which ones they are,” and then walked out the door and left for 6 glorious, smoke free, teenage asshole free days in the nation’s capital. I’m sure he never saw the note, because my house was still standing and had no new holes in the walls or doors when I returned home, which makes it even more satisfying to my devious/evil side. I regret absolutely nothing about this decision.

Since you’re hell bent on getting cancer…

Since you’re hell bent on getting cancer…

My kid tends to be an idiot. I can say this here, because I say it to his face, and I don’t regret it at all. I can also say it, because he’s 18 and he knows everything, which really solidifies the conclusion that he tends to be an idiot.

Yesterday, el tonto asked me “Would you rather I chew, or smoke?”

“Well,” I told him, already annoyed that he was waking me up to ask me this, “considering you’re 18 which makes them both illegal for you, and given the fact that they’re both absolutely repulsive habits, and you’re on MY health insurance, I’d prefer you didn’t do either one.”

He said “That’s not an option. You have to pick one.”

At this point, I told him he was number one with my favorite finger and responded, “If you’re that hell-bent on getting cancer, you may as well keep them both up, quit eating any kind of healthy food, and start tanning daily too. It’ll help clear up some of your acne from never washing your face with the hella expensive Rodan and Fields skin care I bought you, and you’ll have nice tan skin and melanoma to go along with your lung, throat, esophageal, stomach, and gum cancer. Plus all the money you spend trying to get cancer will help your goals of never having anything nice or God forbid, your own place. I hear chicks really dig guys who live at home with their mom for their entire life. Go big or go home sweetheart.”

He rolled his eyes, mumbled something about me being stupid under his breath, and stomped up the stairs like a herd of elephants. I’m pretty sure this is why my baby making parts jumped ship right along with him when he was born. There’s no way in hell I could do this more than once…

 

The one where I FINALLY catch a damn break

The one where I FINALLY catch a damn break

My 18-year-old, know it all man-child has been driving me up a freaking wall lately. By lately, I mean, reasonably for the last 4 years at least. You know the drill, I don’t know anything, I’m the meanest mom in the entire world, and my personal favorite,  you abuse me (The reasons for this are INSANE….for instance, I don’t buy white bread. Who knew that was child abuse?!).

On a daily basis, I think to myself, at least once, any of the following things, if not all of them:

  • Why do you keep coming home?
  • Just move the hell out.
  • Get a f*cking job!!
  • Buy your own damn white bread.
  • Cut that God awful mullet off.
  • Stop talking like an uneducated effing hick. IT’S NOT F*CKING COOL!!
  • Try drinking some water for once. I’m not buying a damn gallon of milk every single day.

It’s honestly got to the point that any time he’s actually nice, the only thing I can think of is “What the hell do you want?!” Every occasional “I love you mom” triggers an instant “What the f did you do?” And every single time someone says “You’ll miss this some day,” or “There are plenty of people praying for what you have,” it takes every fiber of my being to not punch them in their stupid throat. NOBODY misses this shit. I’ve literally never met a single person that said “My kid was SUCH an asshole. I miss that so much.”

Last week, through a series of events that I’m not privy to, my boss and a friend of mine managed to come up with a job for my kid. I don’t know what kind of strings were pulled, but this is a damn good chance for a kid who dropped out of high school and has really just been a damn drain on society for the past 18 months. Seriously, it’s a miracle, and there is no possible way to sufficiently thank either of the 2 men who made it happen. Even more so, his new boss managed to get him to cut that ridiculous mullet off. For that, I owe him my undying gratitude, because seriously, that mullet was disgusting, and though I can’t post a picture of the new and improved look, because he’d probably kill me if he saw it on the blog….or knew the blog even existed…I can drop an Instagram link, and you can see it for yourself. This kid FINALLY looks presentable again! Hallelujah!

He has a job (let’s hope he manages to KEEP it), the mullet is gone, AND, my friend that is employing him won’t let him take smoke breaks, so if the new boss has his way, within 3 months, he can kiss that stupid ass habit goodbye as well. Even better, he can buy his own stupid white bread, and finally start paying back the unending pile of money he owes me. Thanks to my people, the 2 of us may be able to tolerate each other, and I may not need to end every day with a xanax or a glass of wine just so he can continue existing on this side of the ground and I can stay out of maximum security housing.