Dear Snarky – My Parent Teacher Conference Got Hijacked

Dear Snarky,

I’m so mad at myself. Yesterday there were parent teacher conferences at my daughter’s elementary school and while I’m in the middle of a conference with my child’s third grade teacher this other mom barges in and apologizes for being late and missing her conference time.(Back story – This woman is always late. It’s her thing.) She then asks if she can have some of my conference time and says “because your daughter doesn’t’ matter.”

I look at her and say “excuse me?”

And then she backtracks and says, “Well I meant that you have one of those perfect girls and my son has some real issues that I need to talk about.”

 Then the teacher looks at me and asks, “Do you mind? I really need to talk to this parent.”

Because I’m an idiot, I agree and just leave. I’m now so angry I want to know if I have any recourse because I don’t think I should have been peer pressured out of my conference time.

 Signed, Furious

Dear Furious,

 First, stop beating yourself up. It sounds like you were bamboozled. Another mom interrupts your conference, tells you your child doesn’t matter and then before you can say WTH? the teacher pretty much herds you out of the room. Trust me, it’s not your fault.

 In fact, I checked in with some of my educator friends and they all said the blame for the situation should be placed 100 percent on the teacher. She should have asked the mom who interrupted the conference to leave the room and wait outside in the hall until your conference was over. In no way, should the late, ill-mannered mother had been accommodated at the expense of your child.

 A former school administrator told me that you should write an email to the teacher and co-copy the principal. In the email state, exactly what happened and how you feel your child was shortchanged. Do not mention your hurt feelings, instead focus on how the teacher comprised your daughter’s conference time.

 As for that rude mother. Sure, you might want to say something, but it would be a wasted effort. It’s not like she’s going to change. Instead just get some pleasure out of giving her the side eye every now and then.

*If you have a question for Dear Snarky – 21st Century Advice With an Attitude 😉 – email me at snarkyinthesuburbs@gmail.com or PM on my Snarky FB page.

 

Dear Snarky – I Refuse to Wear an Ugly Halloween Costume

Dear Snarky,

My friends and I are going as a group to a Halloween party and we usually do a themed costume for all of us. I suggested we go as Wonder Woman through the ages. That got shot down and now the group wants to do a Beauty and the Beast theme. The problem is I was “voted” to be the beast. Excuse me, but I don’t want to spend an entire party in a furry mask and looking ugly.

 We go to this party every year and all of us want to look hot because there’s usually a bunch of cute guys there. I think the reason my group wants me to go as the beast is because I’m usually the hottest one at that party and if I’m the beast that’s less competition for them.

Do I bail? Do I throw a fit? I don’t know what to do without everyone thinking I’m being a baby.

 Signed, No Beast

Dear No Beast,

Girlfriend adjust your attitude. You will go to that party as the beast. A super sexy beast.

Yes, you sound a little (or a lot) full of yourself, but I totally understand not wanting to spend  your Halloween breathing through an acrylic fur mask from the Costume Super Store , sporting horns and wearing a coat and pantaloons. I’m middle-aged and chubby and even I wouldn’t want to work that costume all evening.

So, re-imagine the beast costume into a beast bikini and instead of a mask just do some make up and add in a horn headband. Will your friends be mad that you’re not hideous? Probably, but FYI  you might need a  bestie upgrade and every costume is open to artistic interpretation and that’s exactly what you did.

Also, I think it’s total BS that one girl in the group gets the designated “unattractive” costume. By going rogue with yours you’re turning the beast into a beauty and isn’t that staying within the theme of your group?

*If you have a question for Dear Snarky – 21st Century Advice With an Attitude 😉 – email me at snarkyinthesuburbs@gmail.com or PM on my Snarky FB page.

 

I’m Having a Senior Moment

What in the name of all that is holy has happened to high school graduation photos?

Remember getting your senior portrait  taken back in the day? You shuffled into the gym where the P.E. teacher, with now no classes to teach, became the de facto stylist. He or she threw a graduation gown at you and then crammed a mortar board half way down your face while swearing that if you moved the “hat” to the back of your head like a “raccoon trying to get down a chimney” you would have to run the mile.

After the litany of threats, you took your seat behind a blue background, crossed your arms in front of you, smiled while the photographer took five or six photos and then you were unceremoniously hustled out of the chair so the next person in line could get their turn. It was, all in, about a 60 second photo session.

Did you always look amazing in those pictures? No, but you looked like yourself which is one of my huge problems with the whole senior photo extravaganza of today. But, let’s start with me sharing my deepest thought about the whole pic process.

Graduation photos taken at school have now gone the way of people availing themselves of their turn signal on I-35. They still exist but no one uses them. Today’s high school senior schedules a three-hour photo session, with hair and make-up, at least five outfit changes, and with location shoots all over the metro.

I’m baffled by all the senior photos I see of girls posing in the urban core against crumbling brick walls. I’m sure none of these deep suburbia teens go downtown on a regular basis and if they do it’s to a Lady Ga Ga concert not to lean against an abandoned building while wearing heels and a romper.

I had a huge Texas wedding (think puffed sleeved bridal gown and sequins for days) and I didn’t have this level of attention devoted to my bridal pictures. I’ve said it before and, without shame for repeating myself, I’ll say it again. We, as parents, society, whatever, have taken every event in our kid’s lives and blown it up to what I would call “wedding level” proportions. This, my friends, is why the average nuptial costs almost 40 grand because when your high school graduation pics include an entourage to make the “magic happen” that’s going to be pricey to top.

Another huge WTH is looking at pictures so photo shopped you, at first glance, do not recognize the child. First, what 17-year-old needs to be imaged enhanced that extensively? Youth is beauty. It’s not like there’s crow’s feet or jowls that need to be vanquished. Sure, there could be some zits and you want those to go bye-bye, but I don’t think a child needs to have the equivalent of a Magic Eraser used on their face. And seriously, no one has teeth the color of a virgin snowflake descending from the artic sky.

A senior portrait  should be capturing a moment in time, not a Vogue photo shoot. When I would go back to my parent’s house and see my framed senior picture hanging in the hallway it would always make me smile. I looked a little goofy. Eyebrows over tweezed, mortar board a tad askew and I was half laughing because as the photographer was taking the pictures the PE teacher was yelling at some boy for putting the gown on inside out.

Gorgeous no. 100% authentic – yes. Bonus my kids have enjoyed mocking that picture for years making it, most definitely, a priceless photograph.

Dear Snarky – I Got Flipped-Flopped At My Office

Dear Snarky,

 I think I might be getting fired. Last week we had an office retreat and the facilitator asked everyone in the group to name one thing that would improve the workplace and I said no more flip-flops because too many people in the office have un-groomed feet and I find it disgusting.

 The very next day I came to work and there were five pairs of flip-flops on my desk. So, I thought ha, ha and I retaliated two days later by leaving nail clippers on the desks of the people who always wear flip-flops. This landed me in the human resource managers office because the clippers were considered a “weapon” and the flip-flop people felt that I was threatening them.

Are you kidding me? Now, I have in my work file that I was creating a hostile environment. I’m panicking. Is this going to get me fired? How do you think I can make this go away?

 Signed, Desperate

Dear Desperate,

 Run, do not walk to your Linked in page and start looking for a new job. If you work with people who think nail clippers are a weapon and if your employer agrees then a couple of things are going on here. 1) You’re not the most popular person in the office and the clipper-gate is seen as a way to get rid of you. And 2) You’re at a company that is not a good fit and you need to find a job in a more traditional corporate environment where free ranging, hairy , hobbit feet and dirty toe nails are not welcome.

Look upon this incident as a sign that you need a change. Put on your closed toe shoes and do what ever you need to so you can take a permanent hike out of that office.

*If you have a question for Dear Snarky – 21st Century Advice With an Attitude 😉 – email me at snarkyinthesuburbs@gmail.com or PM on my Snarky FB page.

 

I Need A Millennial!

“I need a millennial!”

That’s my work battle cry at least twice a day. (To be specific I need a younger millennial. Sorry, but you older 80’s baby millennials just don’t have the same tech chops as your late 1990’s peers. Don’t feel bad, it’s not your fault that you once used a Motorola flip phone.)

In fact, I’m not sure what I would do without the baby millennial. Technology crisis – millennial, social media best practices – millennial. I’ll just cut to the chase and say that basically any question that begins with “What the heck is this?” requires a consultation with a millennial.

Lucky for me I live and work with millennials and even better they usually respond to my calls of help. My son, Mr. Millennial, has scolded me for my dependency on his generation. He said I’m taking the “easy way out by not solving my own problems.”

Wow, I had some mild panic, followed by guilt and then deep, reflective, thought on the topic until I realized what does my son know? He’s a millennial.

That right there is basically my catch-22 with the generation. Millennials are awesome, but hey they’re not as awesome as my generation – the baby boomers.

Well, depending on what chart you look at I’m not a baby boomer. I’m, sort of, straddling the Boomer and Generation X line. So, I guess that makes me a Boom X’er. Confidently, after reading about the characteristics of Generation X I’d like to go full Boomer.

Yikes, according to many cultural anthropologists Generation X blows. It says we’re “shallow, materialistic, self-absorbed, and controlled by money.” It sounds like my sorority back in the 80’s not an entire generation. I’d like to take a moment to formally object to this description of the good people born between the time when Bonanza and Dallas were the number one rated TV shows.

What’s up with these generational labeling anyways? It’s all very mean girl unless you happen to be born between 1901 and 1924 and are “the greatest generation.”

This I can’t argue with because of all the people I have known none surpass my grandparents in sheer awesomeness. Besides their overall kindness, their work ethic, pretty much until the day they died, was incredible. Hand to God, my grandmother died waxing her kitchen floor and trust me it was the way she would have wanted to go.

The newest label is Generation Z or Centennials or Linksters. It seems like there’s a problem deciding what to call the folks born after 2002. If you ask me none of them work, especially Linkster. I can’t imagine myself sitting at my desk in twenty years and bellowing, “I need a Linkster!” (I just tired it and it sounds as stupid as you think it would.)

The main characteristic of this generation is that it’s the very first born with an iPhone in their hand. Okay, not really, but this generation is being referred to as “digital natives” or “linked into technology from day one.”

There’s a whole list of things this generation will never do and the biggest “Are you kidding me?” moment for me is when I read that they will never learn cursive writing? I’m shocked.

It seems cursive writing is going the way of the butter churn? What a shame because there’s a whole of fun in writing the curly Q and how about the snazzy Z. It’s  loop-tastic. Bonus – back in the day learning cursive took time away from math. RIP cursive, because you will truly be missed.

Hmm, I just had a thought. That’s something my generation can be authorities on – cursive.

Don’t worry you post 2000 humans I’m here and waiting for a Linkster’s urgent howling of, “I need a Gen X’er who thinks they’re a baby boomer!”

 

Dear Snarky I Went to a Fundraiser Disguised as a Wedding

Dear Snarky,

I’m sure I just got robbed. My friend got married last weekend and it was a joke. She had 4 bridal showers where I had to pony up a present and then I go to her wedding for 200 people and it’s an outdoor ceremony in a field off the interstate. If that doesn’t suck enough for you the reception consisted of 2 picnic tables with lemonade, ice tea, something called a popcorn bar and a doughnut cake.

Then the happy couple had the nerve to ask for donations to help pay for their honeymoon and they passed around a basket.

I’m all for people not going into debt to get married, but I feel like I’ve been scammed. I dropped like $500 on shower gifts and a wedding present and all I get in return is popcorn, a doughnut hole and mosquito bites. Am I wrong to feel taken advantage of?

Signed, Majorly Ticked Off

Dear Ticked Off,

There is no wedding math where the number of showers you attend creates an algorithm about how fancy a wedding should be. For example, attending four showers doesn’t equal a wedding reception with an open bar and a sit-down dinner.

That said, I think a bride and groom hosting a wedding for 200 people should be thinking, just a little, about their guest’s comfort and experience. I’m not going to lie popcorn and a donut hole sounds grim. But, back in the day people got married and the reception consisted of cake, punch and for some reason always Jordan almonds. (Just why on that? Please someone tell me.)

In fact, I was almost going to give the couple a pass, but then I got to the part in the letter where you mentioned that the bride and groomed asked for honeymoon donations and I was aghast. A wedding is not your own personal fundraiser and this couple’s character sounds a little gift grabby.

So, based on that I’m going to say you go right ahead and feel justified wallowing in your anger while you scratch those mosquito bites.

*If you have a question for Dear Snarky – 21st Century Advice With an Attitude 😉 – email me at snarkyinthesuburbs@gmail.com or PM on my Snarky FB page.

College Tours – Journey Of The Damned

Praise be to the gods of higher education! I have gone on my last college tour or to more accurately describe it a death march. In fact, I would like my obituary to read “and during her parenting years Sherry Kuehl heroically survived more than 23 college tours.”

Holy mother of tuition why haven’t schools come up with a better way to do the campus show and tell? Why haven’t they asked parents, like me, to assist them in upping their game to make it less miserable?

You know what, forget about waiting to be asked. I’m right now going to do a public service and offer up some suggestions for increasing the quality and enjoyment factor of the college tour.

Let’s begin with one word – Snackage. I’m not saying colleges should feed the hordes that come for a lookie loo. What I’m saying is, “Hello, how about some hospitality in the form of a cold bottled water to prepare you for your two-hour hiking expedition.”

I’ve looked at schools on both coasts and pretty much almost everywhere in between and the only colleges that offered anything in the way of hydration and a nosh where the Texas schools. I’d like to think it’s because the schools’ admission departments are run by Texas mamas who would rather surrender their life long subscription to Southern Living then not have a little something out for their guests.

Kill the Power Point. Most college tours start with what I call the Power Point Presentation of Doom. The standard procedure is that you get herded into a room where a perky admissions representative begins a Power Point lecture that lasts at least 30 minutes. My problem with this is that all the information that is being READ ALOUD to you verbatim from the screen is all online and in most cases copied and pasted from the school’s website.

If the student and a parent are so lackadaisical in the college information gathering process that they have yet to do any online research about the campus they’re about to tour then to that I say don’t make the rest of us suffer and offer these fools a remeidal session.

Also, if I worked in college admissions I would give everyone a quick 10 question test about the university and use it as a weed out. If someone fails thus demonstrating a total lack of curiosity or any sort of pre-campus tour prep work I would give their application a big old “no thanks.”

Have three tour groups. Every college tour has three groups of parents:

Group One. Parents who love to ask questions that are prefaced with an overbearing brag about their child as in “My daughter got a 36 on her ACT so I was wondering if there’s a dorm area for kids with exceptional IQ’s?”

Group Two: Parents and children who are busy recording every facet of the tour that they start directing people to get out of their shot. This also includes parents kicking it old school who are literally writing down everything the guide says up to and including stopping the tour to ask the  for the correct spelling of a horse featured prominently in a statue. (Yes, this happened and the mother and her son had matching red composition notebooks.)

Group Three: Parents and their children who aren’t crazy.

By dividing up the groups the braggers would get to enjoy incessantly interrupting the tour guide while one upping each other for two plus hours. Meanwhile the journaling for posterity group could, without shame, drag out the tour as they write a novel or a record a documentary of the experience.

This leaves the not crazies to stoically follow their campus host and with minimal questions knock a good 45 minutes off the tour or even allow for some sort of bathroom break.

The good news is these suggestions are immediately doable! The better news is I don’t have to go on another college tour.

Water Boarded

There are two kinds of people – those who can gracefully get on a pool float and those who can’t. In a surprise to probably no one I’m on “Team Can’t. “

It doesn’t matter what the float is made out of I still find it almost impossible to haul my body onto one with any amount of dignity. From Dollar store rafts to those fancy Frontgate catalog floats that feature the  “latest in marine-quality, triple-dipped PVC vinyl closed-cell foam technology” I’m still flummoxed.

I’d like to say it hasn’t always been this way. That as a child I had some serious mermaid skills and could leap onto any float with a motion so fluid it seemed like I must be the daughter of Poseidon.

Sadly, that never happened. Even at six years old I was raft challenged. It’s not that I didn’t try. I did, but it was like endeavoring to mud wrestle a greased pig with anger issues at a county fair. Slipping and sliding and finally busting a move that was so awkward not once, but twice, lifeguards thought I was drowning.

If that isn’t enough humiliation for you I also have problems with inner tubes. Granted, as a child I could get myself in a tube, but as an adult I seem to be remedial in regards to tube maneuvers.

There are two ways to get in a tube. You can go underwater and swim yourself in or if you’re gifted with finesse can just do a little hippity-hop and plop yourself in the center.

For obvious reasons I’ve always opted for the underwater entry. The problem with that approach is that sure you’ve gotten yourself standing in the middle of the tube, but you still have to yank your bottom half up and over. Trust me when I tell you that can take a whole lot of hippity-hop.

Of course there is a third way, but that’s just too embarrassing and fraught with peril. I’m talking about the plop and go. This is when you stand on the side of the pool, with your back facing the water and attempt to fall in the middle of the float or tube.

The gianormous problem with this method is that for it to work it’s going to take some math.  You’ve got quite the algebra problem going on with an overlay of physics.

You just can’t blindly fall backwards on a float that’s moving. You have to figure out mass x force plus the co-efficient of your body weight, the movement of the water and well a whole bunch of other stuff that gives me a headache.

And even if you do figure out all that stuff chances are you’re still going to miss the float and do a pretty impressive back flop into the water.

All this drama is why I was recently near tears when I was conned into paddle boarding. (To be accurate it was more like peer pressured or to be honest shamed. Yes, I was shamed into paddle boarding. There I said it.) I know a paddle board isn’t a raft or tube. I know it’s not squishy, but still you have to get on it and that’s always been my problem.

Even worse all my fellow paddle boarders just waded out to almost shoulder deep water and hopped on like they were dolphin gymnasts that had just taken the gold in the Ocean Olympics floor routine. I, on the other hand, resembled the Loch Ness monster trying to pull on a Spanx high-waisted, mid-thigh, body shaper.

There was groaning, oodles of flaying limbs, a whole lot of industrial grade hoisting, prayers and, then proving that miracles do happen, I got on the board.

I wasn’t standing up on the board. Oh no, I was face down. And I was okay with that. I urged everyone else to go and I would just float around on my stomach. It was all good.

But noooo, the paddle board posse was bound and determined that I could stand up on the board. Ever so slowly I made it to my knees and to me that was standing. Was I on my feet? No, but I was upright and that works for me.

For a while that placated the other paddle boarders. I told everyone I needed to get my sea legs. But, truth be told I had no plans to stand up. Because I knew what would happen if I stood up. I would fall.

I wasn’t that I was scared about falling. What freaked me out was the fact that if I fell off the board I would have to get back on and I didn’t think I had it in me to suffer through that again.

As predicted the other paddle boarders wouldn’t give up on their mission to get me standing. Apparently, they had a “100% success rate” in getting people to stand on their board. I didn’t have the energy to break it to them that I was about to ruin that statistic.

They were so unrelenting in their quest to get me fully upright that I had no choice but to go for it – on my own terms, of course. I would pretend that I was attempting to stand up and then abandon board and swim to shore. Call it the one and done.

Every so slowly I began to stand. I went from kneeling to a half squat and then began to straighten my legs. Hey, maybe I could do this. Maybe I didn’t need to give up. Oh my God, was this really happening? Was I, the raftless wonder, standing on a paddle board?

I felt so accomplished. So cool, like one of those fitness models on the cover of the Athleta catalog, except I had on a swimsuit from Costco with  Lycra that was losing it’s tensile strength. Let’s just say the “tummy tuck panel” had surrender two summers ago.

Then I made a fatal mistake. In an attempt to increase my coolness factor I attempted to swing my hair. Not a big swing, just a little shake. But that was enough to cause me to sway and lose my balance. My moment of glory had gone overboard. I hit the water face first, but I went in smiling.

I had done it. I had stood up and paddle boarded. I didn’t do it for very long, but who needs those details. As far as I was concerned I had accomplished a life long goal. I had conquered a flotation device. Not just any floatation device, mind you, but a very cool paddle board so take that inner tube.

 

 

 

 

Dear Snarky – I Don’t Want My Nephew In My Daughter’s Class

Dear Snarky,

I think I need to get my nephew out of my daughter’s third grade class. The problem isn’t my sweet nephew. It’s his mother – my sister-in-law. She’s the most competitive person I have ever met. My nephew was in private school until my sister-in-law decided it wasn’t good enough so lo and behold now he’s in public school and in my daughter’s class.

This means for the entire school year all I will hear about and see on social media is how much better her son is than my daughter. Also, my sister-in-law will attempt to totally take over the class by basically camping out at the school.

I’m getting anxiety just thinking about it. Do you think I’m overreacting or would you change classes?

Signed, Worried

Dear Worried,

I think there’s a lot more going on here than you’re telling me because I see this as an adult problem being projected onto the children. Since you called your nephew sweet and you don’t mention any conflict between the cousins than I think both would do just fine together in the same class and that it would even be comforting for your nephew – new to the school – to have his cousin there to help him learn the ropes.

Yes, your sister-in-law sounds like a piece of work, but do you want to spend the rest of your child’s entire school career dodging this woman? The loser won’t be you it will be your daughter as you yank her out of this and that so you don’t have to deal with your sister-in-law. Why do you want to give this relative that much control over your life? You need to find a better coping mechanism than playing musical chairs with your child.

You can, in fact, choose to not  to engage in your sister-in-law’s competitive games and when she goes off the rails just do what my mother always did when a family member tried to stir up drama and say, “well bless her heart” and move on. 

Forever Frosty

Right about now summer is sucking the life out of me. I don’t care if we managed to dip into the high 80’s for a couple of days because I’m still in a recovery program from when the heat index was 114.

I’d like to be one of those brave or crazy people who you see outside jogging when the temperature is hell adjacent. They mystify me. How do they do it? How do they willing journey outside to baste in sunscreen and sweat and then slowly grill themselves on the sidewalk?

Doctors call this “Hansel and Gretel syndrome.” It’s when people have a perverse need to be extra toasty. Okay, I just made that up, but seriously I think, I missed my calling by not going into the medical sciences because, come on, doesn’t’ Hansel and Gretel syndrome sound like it should be a thing? At the very least it’s kinder than calling someone insane.

I’m willing to admit that perhaps I also need a label. I’m certain I’m suffering from a sensory disorder called “Forever Frosty” because I’ve always felt the need for extra chill. I don’t even like to turn my heat on in the winter. I swear on the life of my XV20i TruComfort Variable Speed AC unit that family members have been known to wear coats and mittens inside my home. I don’t even feel guilty because it’s a cozy look and I’m always offering up hot chocolate.

The extremely good news is that I married another fellow “Forever Frosty.” I can’t imagine the level of conflict and suffering if a Hansel and Gretel hooked up with a Forever Frosty. The fights over the thermostat settings would be brutal and the F.F. would and should always win because to quote my mother “You can always add on layers to get warm, but you can’t march around stark naked in public to cool off.”

This means the H&G should put on a down coat, thermal socks, insulated gloves and just deal with it. Harsh, perhaps, but the logic is sound. And I’m warning you don’t you start questioning the wisdom of my mama.

That common-sense advice should also, in my opinion, be followed in any work setting. There should be no do-si-do’ing do with the thermostat. A recent study showed that 3 in 5 employees tamper with the office thermostat to make their surroundings warmer.

Beware Hansels and Gretals have taken over the work force!

I recently moved to an office where the ambient temperature was the corona of the sun. I was bewildered and downright scared about what had happened to make an office feel like I was a corn dog being fried in iffy carnival oil. After some impressive A.C. forensics it was discovered that the previous inhabitant(s) had dislodge a ceiling tile and jammed up the air duct.

Oh the humanity!

What fiendish soul or souls are that cold in the middle of a sweltering summer that they would without remorse smother the air conditioning delivery system? It was murder plain and simple. Death to a duct by asphyxiation.

I was certain no one would cop to committing the crime so I started a covert investigation on my own. My first clue was discovering who had space heaters under their desk spewing out sinfully hot air on a day when the temperature was one degree away from triple digits. This narrowed my suspect pool down to two. I then with some not very aggressive questioning got a full confession.

The perp was obviously in the throes of a full-fledged Hansel and Gretel psychotic break with temperature reality and I had nothing but sympathy and a hot beverage for them.

What else could I do? I may be a life-long Forever Frosty, but my feelings aren’t frozen.