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You can help a crazy mother out

11 Oct

I’ve got a confession to make. I’ve been cheating on you. Well, not you, exactly; I’ve been cheating on Snide Reply.

See, instead of writing about my life, it’s ups and downs, the funny things my kids are doing, the obscene things my iPad is saying, the people who are driving me crazy, I’ve been writing about being crazy. And I’ve been doing it somewhere else.

But I’m ready for you to join me there.

Yesterday, I launched a new blog that I hope will grow into a thriving digital community where parents who have mental illnesses can go to find help, information, entertainment and camaraderie.

It’s called Crazy Good Parent and it was born out of my own frustration at not being able to find the kind of information I need as someone with bipolar disorder who is trying to be the best parent she can. There is plenty of Internet help for parents, for people with mental illness, and for people parenting people with mental illness. But we parents managing kids, work, family, marriage, etc., while also managing our minds? Well, we’re not really feeling the love on the Web.

So, I started my own hangout for people like me—crazygoodparent.com. Come on over and bring your crazy mother (and father) friends, too.

Janice

Parenting Wisdom

14 Jun

800px-Cyst_-_wisdom_toothMy son and I have gotten along all week. He has been on Vicodin the entire time.

Seriously.

See, my son had his wisdom teeth removed Monday. In my geeky “medicine is science so this will be really interesting” mind, getting wisdom teeth removed sounds awesome. I know it’s wrong to be more than a little intrigued about a process that would cause my offspring pain, but my own wisdom teeth are securely nestled, sideways, in the upper reaches of my jaw. They aren’t going anywhere; this was my only chance to get so close to wisdom extraction.

The first intriguing fact about removing wisdom teeth is that the removee is completely sedated. I had eight teeth pulled at once when I was a kid. Apparently, contrary to what my children may think, I have a small mouth. My small mouth wouldn’t accommodate the number of teeth genetics demands are necessary for adult humans.

I got gas—nitrous oxide—to keep me quiescent through the extractions. I know first-hand why they call it laughing gas. The dentist told me to close my eyes and let myself drift off to sleep. I was 13 and rebellious; there was no way in hell I was doing anything an adult told me to do. So, I kept my eyes open. I inhaled once. Nothing happened. I inhaled again. Nothing. On the third inhale, though, I found moving my fingers made the silliest little noises, like fairies flitting around my hands. I wiggled my fingers again and again until the doctor said, “I know what you’re doing. Close your eyes.”

My son got intravenous sedation. No flittering fairies for him. He simply went to sleep and woke up looking like Marlon Brando in “The Godfather” if the godfather had been a 16-year old with long blond hair and a scruffy red beard.

I took him home, tucked him into my bed and kissed his forehead. Ordinarily, when my son is sick, he’ll argue that he doesn’t need a nap, he’s perfectly fine, he can relax while he plays video games, etc., etc., etc. But he begrudgingly agrees to a nap, informing me he won’t sleep because he’s not tired. When I wake him an hour or two later, he says something like, “Damn you, Mom. I hate it when that happens.” I smile my inner “Mother knows best” smile and leave him to Zelda.

This time, though, he didn’t complain. He didn’t even say “meh.” He snuggled into the covers and closed his eyes.

At seventeen, my son rarely requires the kind of mothering skills I’ve honed over the years. I don’t bat an eye at a fever unless it’s over 101. When a kid tells me her tummy hurts, I know to ask if she’s pooped. I’ve got boxes of Jello and little containers of applesauce always on hand. I even make a pretty good chicken soup.

Teenagers, though, are shark-infested uncharted territory and I am prone to seasickness. A typical day finds me muttering curses at my son’s angrily retreating back. Everything makes him angry except for the things that make me angry. When we’re both angry my husband does his child psychologist impersonation and my daughter runs for cover.

Sedated, my son became less a man and more a child I could deal with. As soon as he fell asleep, I went to Whole Foods in search of mushable foods. As always, the place was aswarm with vegan mommies and their little sweet peas. One mother, a ringer for Christy Turlington, pushed a cart with one hand and held a chubby baby, face forward, snuggly against her hip. Two little girls with Goldilocks curls, danced pirouettes in the canned goods aisle.

Any other day, my grandma gene would have kicked in and made me wistful for tots of my own to gush over. That day, though, I happily negotiated the aisles gathering goodies for my little man. All you young mommies got nothin’ on me, I thought. My baby was at home, sleeping in mommy’s bed. Ice packs to his cheeks.

My son didn’t just accept my ministrations. He welcomed them and, remarkably, expressed gratitude. More remarkable still? Unsolicited affection! Really! Affection from someone known more commonly to us as uncommunicative and emotionally withholding.

And, the maraschino cherry on the hot fudge sundae of love this week has been? My kids are getting along. The boy is asking his sister for help and she’s gladly doing it. The girl is asking for playtime together and she’s getting it.

The drugs are wearing off, though, as I knew they would and should. In much less pain, my son is returning to full-on man mode, complete with the desire to have nothing to do with mom as he establishes his own identity. He’s getting crankier quicker and spending more and more time in his room, planning what he’ll do with his friends now that he’s cleared to fly. Passing his bathroom, I caught a whiff of Axe.

Parenting my son into manhood is fraught with prickly interactions that could turn toxic at any point. It’s exhausting never knowing how any interchange will turn out, even one that starts with humor. This week, though, we got a reprieve.

My kids say funny stuff, too (I’ve lost count)

26 Feb

My poor husband. He is frequently the butt of family jokes, particularly from my son and I. I’d like to say he’s laughing with us, but really, he’s not. Generally, he’s a pretty good sport. Every now and then, though, he’ll let us know he’s had enough. So, we’ve been trying to be more careful of his feelings, but still . . .

On a recent car trip, my daughter and I were tweaking Dad. He was being very patient, but I could tell we were getting under his skin.

“Aw, honey,” I said, intending to tell him we wouldn’t tease him if we didn’t love him, “We only tease you . . .”

“Because it’s fun!” said my daughter from the back seat.

My son said something funny I can write about!

12 Feb

 

 

I’ve said numerous times that my son’s sense of humor is so obscene that I can’t write most of what he says. I attempt to keep my blog relatively family friendly and he tends to use far too many F-words for print. A while ago, though, he uttered the following gem.

My daughter and her friend were in the back seat, singing along to a favorite song. It was something kind of Selena Gomez-ish or maybe it was Call Me Maybe. Regardless, they were young girls and sang in those screechingly high, thin voices that make even in-tune singing painful to hear. The girls were not singing in tune. It wasn’t bothering me as I will accept just about any sound that isn’t whining. My son, however, is a musician.

“My god, Mom,” he said, “It sounds like somebody’s grabbed a camel by the testicles!”

 

Sometimes my kids aren’t very funny at all

5 Feb

pACEBW-1126408dtSeems like lately, we’ve been going through a not-so-funny period at what is usually The Fun House. Between arguing about whether driving is a right or a privilege with our son and arguing about how much duct tape is too much with our daughter, I’d say things are decidedly downbeat. Today, I find myself trying to find the humor in a hole the size of a ten-year-old’s heel in the staircase wall. It’s not coming. Note to new parents, you think you will escape the horrors of preteen and teen parenting. I laugh at you. All I can say is have plenty of wine on hand, and a tub of spackle.

How’s your day going?

Oh, no she didn’t!

15 Jan

My daughter is a fountain of funny kid stuff.

Every evening, my daughter tells me when she would like to wake up. Last Thursday, she told me to wake her at 5 a.m. so that she would be awake by 6 a.m. to study for a test. I have no idea why it takes her an hour to wake up, but it’s her beauty sleep so I go along.

Five a.m. I woke her, saying “Sweetie, it’s 5 o’clock.”

“I’m tired!” she groused.

Five fifteen. “Peanut, it’s time to get up.” Grousing was the reply.

Five thirty. “You told me you wanted to me to wake you at five. It’s five thirty.” Again, grousing.

Five forty five. “Leave me alone!” was the reply.

At six a.m., I told her it was six a.m. and went downstairs to make my tea, telling her I was going downstairs to make my tea. I left her grousing self to get dressed.

At seven a.m., I came up stairs. (Even at seven, she had plenty of time to study.) I was greeted like this:

“IT’S SEVEN O’CLOCK!! I’M GOING TO FAIL MY TEST!!! YOU WERE SUPPOSED TO WAKE ME UP!”

“Sweetie, I tried waking you up for an hour.”

‘NO, YOU DIDN’T!!! A NORMAL MOM WOULD HAVE GOTTEN ME OUT OF BED!!!!”

Confused, I said, “What was I supposed to do that I didn’t do? I tried to wake you up and you kept telling me you were too tired.”

“If you were a regular mom,” she said, “you would have said, ‘GET YOUR ASS OUT OF BED!’ ”

 

My daughter says funny stuff

8 Jan

I have come to the conclusion that this will likely be my daughter’s spotlight for some time. My son says very funny things, but most of them are so politically incorrect or obscene that they are, to my mind, not fit for publication. I may decide to write a heavily redacted version of some of the things he says, but until then, here is another gem from the Empress.

Empress is now in the orchestra program in our school district; she plays the viola. She related this exchange with the orchestra director from the middle school her brother attended and that she will attend next year. You may recall my son has ADHD, as did at least one other boy in the cello section.

Empress: She said my last name was familiar when she was tuning my viola, then she asked me if I had a brother or sister, so I told her who my brother is.

Dad: Did she say, “Poor you”?

Empress: Sadly, no.

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