Dear Snarky My Sister Doesn’t Give a Shit

Dear Snarky,

I’ve got a summer family feud brewing. My sister is doing some ridiculous thing called “free training” her bScreen Shot 2018-06-15 at 1.21.07 PMaby. This is when your baby never wears a diaper and just does his business anywhere. It’s supposed to be a gentler form of potty training. To each his own, but my problem is when my sister’s family stayed at my house over Memorial Day weekend and my “free training” nephew used not only my entire home as his bathroom, but he also pooped in the pool resulting in us having to do a shock treatment and making the pool unusable for most of the long weekend.

All of this made me dis-invite my sister and her family for July 4th. My sister is now furious and is accusing me of not respecting her parenting style.

I need to shut this down now. Any advice?

Signed, What’s Wrong with a Diaper?

Dear Diaper,

The only way to shut this down is to give in to your sister and I strongly suggest you don’t do that. Because here’s the deal – just because someone has a preferred parenting style doesn’t mean they can subject the rest of the world to it.

It is totally your sister’s own business if she doesn’t want to put a diaper on her son and let him view his home and yard as one great big toilet. It’s whole other box of Pampers if she feels it’s okay for her off spring to soil property outside of their home. Beyond the disgusting factor, which is off the charts high, it’s also a public health issue.

The fact that your sister thought it was okay to let her child defecate all over your home makes me think she’s about 10 kinds of crazy. Do not cave on this issue. Just tell her that you respect your home more than her parenting style.

If you have a question for Dear Snarky – 21st Century Parenting Advice With an Attitude – please email snarkyinthesuburbs@gmail.com

Hair Raising Issues

I consider myself an assertive person. Give me a family member with an issue and I’m all over it. The two areas, though, where my assertiveness evaporates is any kind of monetary salary negotiations and my hair.

I know this combo is totally non-sequitur. So, let’s first get the whole money thing out of the way. For some reason money, in regards to me getting some, is my kryptonite. I can’t explain why in almost all other arenas of my life I’m a bull-dog, but when comes to asking for a raise I lose all my boldness. It’s freaky.

I have talked about this issue with a friend who has a degree in psychology, but is currently a pharmaceutical rep, and she thinks it’s because I’m insulted that I even have to quantify my worth. It should be a given that I’m fabulous and should be compensated accordingly. Yes, yes and yes, to all of the above.  Another friend, also with a psychology degree, who is now a realtor, told me it could be a result of me being uncomfortable putting a price tag on myself.

This makes perfect sense especially when I think about my childhood. I was raised in a southern home where you didn’t talk about money. It was considered uncouth. So, perhaps that’s the problem – southern manners keep me from self-advocating. Note to self: Work on this issue – asap.

Now onto my hair. My whole adult life I’ve been a coward about telling any stylist that I don’t like what they’ve done to my hair. I will sit in the salon chair and bold face lie after I’ve dropped 100 plus dollars on my mane and say, “Yeah, it looks great. Thanks.”

In reality, it looks horrible. So, horrible, I’m already doing hair math and calculating how many times I have to wash it with Head and Shoulders to get the hideous color out. Yep, that’s right I’ve endured that many bad salon treatments that I have it down to a science how to remove color. Spoiler alert, it’s equal parts dandruff shampoo and baking soda with a vinegar rinse.

The fact that I will pay money to get my hair done and then wuss out infuriates me. Why can’t I share that my desire was, in fact, not to look like the Bride of Frankenstein? Instead of being assertive I’m persuading myself that it’s not that bad. That, it’s only hair. It’s no big deal and maybe I’m just being overly vain.

I’m ecstatic to report that recently I had a breakthrough. I finally got the gumption to stand up for myself and my follicles. During my last hair appointment, I knew things had gone terribly wrong when the stylist removed the towel and my hair looked like the dirty water that’s left over in your shampoo vacuum – murky and of indeterminate shades of ick.

I gave myself the usual pep talk of “Just wait till it’s dry. I’m sure it will be fine,” but then something happened. Something came of my mouth that I had never heard before while sitting with wet hair in a salon. I asserted myself and muttered, “This looks bad, like really bad.”

The stylist assured me all was well as she started blow drying my hair and, of course, it wasn’t. I remained strong and proclaimed, “We’re going to need to fix this because my hair is now making me sad.”

It was liberating. I felt beautiful, minus my hair of course, and I was so proud. I had done it. I had finally asserted myself all over that hair salon. Now, all I need to do is work on that money issue and I’ll be golden which, ironically, is what I was going for with my hair color.

Summer Mysteries

Summimages-1er is a time of year that you don’t usually associate the word mysterious with. It’s sunny and bright and just way too hot for anything that involves effort filled intrigue. But, there are some summer mysteries lurking under that cloak of perennial sunshine. Mysteries that I’ve tried for years to decipher with zero luck and I’m now thinking as classifying as unsolvable. To be sure my mysteries aren’t on the same level as where the aliens are stored in Area 51, but they are, nevertheless, still baffling.

Mystery Number 1

Why is that the more expensive the summer eye-wear the better chance it means that they will vanish into thin air? Sunglasses and swim goggles disappear at an alarming rate during the summer and if you paid more than the going rate at Target for said items they will become lost in a matter of a days.

Last year, I shelled out some big bucks for premium swim goggles and three days later they were gone. It was like they dematerialized. Meanwhile, the goggles I paid probably five bucks for more than a decade ago have survived two moves across the country (and many vacations) and can always be found in the bottom of the swim bag. These goggles must be telepathic. They always find me. I’ve even, on purpose, left them at the pool multiple times because they fog up horribly and there’s always someone running after me shouting, “Hey, you forgot your goggles.”

The scenario is the same with sunglasses. Some white snazzy sunglasses I got at a party super store for 99 cents as part of a goodie bag for my daughter’s swim party eight years ago I also still own. Meanwhile, the one and only time I upgraded to Ray Ban’s they vanished into thin air before the week was out.

Of course, the moral to the mystery is don’t buy sunglasses or goggles that cost more than $10, but still I crave the knowledge about why this happens. There has to be an explanation.

Mystery Number 2

Why is that no matter how much sunscreen you apply some part of your body always gets burned? I consider myself a sunscreen ambassador. I believe in sunscreen like I believe in the healing properties of chocolate and a “Real Housewives” marathon. Yet, I’m always getting a random burn and to further the mystery it’s always a bizarre shaped patch like I’ve gotten branded with solar blazed hieroglyphics. If I think about it too much it’s like some unseen force is tattooing me. (Maybe it’s those Area 51 aliens?)

 Mystery Number 3 

This is a personal mystery that might not apply to the amazingly coordinated, but why is it so hard to gracefully get on a pool float? One would think you would just plop and drop on a float with nary a moment of embarrassment. Yet, in my reality getting on a pool float is like trying to saddle up a greased pig.

I know the prodigious amounts of sunscreen I use are to partially blame for the slipping and sliding, but there has to be some other explanation for why I, along with millions of other pool float challenged people, have long-term summer self-esteem issues related to conquering a float. One of my children took a video of me trying to get on a raft and to this day it might be the single most embarrassing thing I have ever witnessed. If you play it in fast motion it looks like the raft is trying to kill me. Again, could it be an assassination attempt, by, um-hum, that’s right – aliens?

Binge Cleaning

There’s na21145a3450f1de069b92a002bf1bb30othing like the smell of Johnson’s paste wax. Is it a yummy smell? Oh, heck no. It’s pungent with a kick of industrial solvent, but when I get a whiff of it I know there’s some serious housecleaning going on.

Paste wax is an olfactory trigger for me. One sniff and I know what I need to do – grab two cotton dish towels reserved solely for the paste wax application process and get to work. This is all because I grew up as a child of a paste wax fiend. My mother didn’t think a house was really clean until all the wood surfaces glistened and you were basically getting high from the fumes.

Last weekend I had what my husband described as an attack of binge cleaning. I don’t like to brag about myself (that much) but I was like Wonder Woman if she was about 30 years older, wore bleach stained leggings and an old t-shirt and instead of a lasso of truth and those silver bracelet things she was finessing a Swiffer Wet Jet, a Dyson vacuum and a can of Johnson Paste Wax.

Nothing could stop me. Not dust bunnies hiding out in chandeliers that required me scaling a six-foot ladder, not crown molding that got the Magic Eraser treatment, not bathroom tile that was slapped around by a bleachy sponge. It was vicious cleaning spree that even extended to my linen closet. I purged that bad boy of about half its contents.

At first it was hard to let go of random pillow cases, fitted sheets that have lost their elastic integrity and towels that were one level above car wash rags, but I did it because I was – yeah, that’s right, Wonder Woman.

I never even asked my family to grab a mop and help out because, to be honest, they aren’t up to the task. This was a job for a mythical warrior not some humans that would haphazardly clean a floor with zero enthusiasm or muscle. Besides their vision, when it comes to seeing dirt, is significantly impaired to the point of being legally blind. (Interesting note – they also suffer from refrigerator blindness. If an item is not the size of a gallon of milk they can’t see it.)

The pinnacle of my cleaning binge euphoria was opening a fresh can of Johnson paste wax. Once you use a kitchen knife to pry the top off the metal container it’s the Defcon 1 of aromatherapy. The no-nonsense scent beckons you to go above and beyond and polish your home with a zeal you didn’t know you had.

I was in the zone until my children came home and started gagging and wheezing over the scent, calling the house “uninhabitable.” I was equal parts outraged, saddened and disappointed. How had I raised children who didn’t appreciate and savor the smell of Johnson paste wax?

In between their coughing both looked up the contents of the paste wax on their phone and in unison told me I was “killing them.”

Now I was really angry. How insulting that they thought I wasn’t well acquainted with the cleaning trifecta of mineral spirits, carnauba and microcrystalline wax.

I told them there was only one thing to do to cure them of their sensitivity. They needed to immerse themselves in the satisfying chore of polishing the dining room table and it’s eight chairs.

As I went to the kitchen to get more dish towels those fiends bolted from the house. My son sent me a text that said “let us know when it doesn’t smell like a chemical plant exploded.”

What a bunch of babies. I guess this means the paste wax legacy might be ending with me. Their loss, I promise you that.

I’ve Packed My Last School Lunch – Forever!

I have packed my very last school lunch. In fact, I estimate that I have Glad Ziplocked more than 6,916 meals for my kids to take to school. If that number looks high to you please be advised that not once, as in never ever, in both of my children’s K-12 experience did they buy lunch at school.

Of all the parenting journeys, I’ve had I can say with one hundred percent certainty that, nothing was more fraught with peril or open to scrutiny and judgement than what you put in your child’s lunchbox. When my son started school in 2002 the lunch as a bellwether of your parenting style hadn’t yet begun. You could still throw a nacho cheese Lunchable in an insulated Thomas the Tank Engine bag and call it a day.

By the time he started second grade if you sent your kid to school with a Lunchable you might as well have also included a cartoon of unfiltered Marlboro’s and a flask because the reaction from the mom squad would be exactly the same – abject horror, followed by a shunning.

When my son reached fourth grade the Smucker’s Uncrustable was still okay, but just a year later it the white bread PB&J cut into the shape of a circle was a satanic sign that whomever packed the lunch was an evil slacker lacking in education about the demonic nature of bleached flour.

All of this was minor league, a real amateur hour, when compared to my daughter starting school four years later. In second grade her elementary school began a “Lunch Nazi” program. Okay, it wasn’t technically called that, but some really “helpful and caring moms” started a nutrition committee and began volunteering during lunch and writing disparaging notes to parents whose children’s lunchboxes they found lacking in both fresh fruits, vegetables and low sodium choices.

This lasted for about a week until a mom organized a counter attack and left a note on the school marquee that one of the “lunch note” mom’s husbands was having an affair. That was the end of school notes written by non-school personnel for quite a while.

When my youngest hit third grade lunch had become a political statement. (Full disclosure she was attending a school on the West Coast.) If you weren’t packing a fair trade, non-GMO and organic lunch for your child than you were a hater who didn’t care about Mother Earth.

Fast forward to a year later and it’s no longer about the family origin of the carrot sticks in the snack size Ziploc instead lunches had transcended into works of art. Moms were packing “masterpieces” in Bento boxes. Sandwiches that looked like hedgehogs, fruit and cheese that resembled Cinderella’s castle and one kid actually had a mini charcuterie board. It was not a good year for a mom with a picky kid that only liked, yep, Smuckers Uncrustables with a Capri Sun chaser. Let the public flogging begin.

That was also the same year parents began the practice of sending kids on playdates with their own snacks and it wasn’t due to any food allergies. It was because, as one mother explained to me, “fear of food that hadn’t been vetted by the child’s parent.”

By the time middle school rolled around it was no longer about the food, but who packed it. Alerting other parents that your child makes his own lunch became a sign that you were raising a superior kid with, of course, superior parents. So, if anyone reading this was about to send me an email about how your children have been packing their own lunch since their seventh birthday – don’t.

Today I welcome the sweet freedom of being done with packing school lunches. In fact, I think I’ll celebrate with a Nacho Cheese Lunchable. Cheers!

Dear Snarky – Teacher Gift Drama

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It’s time for the end of the year class gift for my son’s fourth grade teacher and the class mom is adamant about not buying the teacher a gift. This mom thinks she is Miss Manners and since the teacher has never acknowledged the birthday present, Christmas or teacher appreciation gifts that the kids gave her we should be quote “officially finished with gifts for this teacher.”

I agree that the fact that the teacher couldn’t even bother to send a mass thank you email to all the parents is kind of lame, but it just seems petty to me to not give her an end of the year present and I kind of think I need to cover my ass because what if my next kid gets this teacher. I don’t want to leave on a bad note. What do you think Snarky?

Signed, Conflicted

Dear Conflicted,

First, let me share that if the only problem you’ve had with this teacher is her lack of thank you note writing acumen than count your blessings. 

That said, there’s an easy fix for this problem. Instead of collecting money for a gift have each child write a thank you note to the teacher that shares what they liked best about her and the school year. Then take those notes, tie a big ribbon around them and present them to the teacher. The teacher will love reading them and bonus – nowhere in any etiquette book do you have to write a thank you note for receiving a thank you note. 

P.S. I also suggest that some of these moms get a life outside of their children’s elementary school. Yes, it’s gauche the teacher never did any kind of thank you for her gifts, but as I’ve said a million times your child’s K-12 journey is a marathon not a sprint. Pace yourself and carefully pick your battles.

If you have a question for Dear Snarky “21st Century Advice with an attitude”;). Email snarkyinthesuburbs@gmail.com. 

Can You Still Be Considered A Southerner If You Hate Grits?

Southern-Style-Grits-e017b085-1When your grandmother is the “Grits Queen” not liking “Southern Porridge isn’t an option.

As a Texas girl with a southern mama and grandmother, I was raised with a keen and enthusiastic appreciation of brunch, although we called it Sunday dinner. It was the meal you ate at noon right after you got back from church. In its purest form, it was a salute to carbohydrates. Nothing was safe from being battered or deep-fried. Even bacon got coated in a mix of brown sugar, eggs and flour and then was plunged into a pool of hot, bubbling Crisco.

The final flourish was rolling the bacon, which now resembled a hybrid of chicken tender and fritter, in cinnamon sugar and then dipping it in honey. I’m surprised no one had a cardiac episode at the table while they were eating. But then again, it was the late 70s and my grandpa’s preferred dining style was a forkful of food and then a drag on a Lucky Strike cigarette. Suffice it to say; the health movement had not permeated my grandparent’s house yet.

The one brunch food I had no appetite for was grits. I thought they were horrible — like, pretend to eat it and spit it out in your napkin, horrible. This devastated my grandmother. She had a reputation for being the “Grits Queen,” and she was proud of that moniker. In her mind, every southern woman had to be the master of three things in the kitchen: biscuits, gravy and grits. Not only could I not stand to eat grits, but there was also no way I wanted to learn to make them.

This lead to my grandmother staging what I would today call an intervention. She had the female family members gathered in her kitchen and each one shared with me how my shunning of grits hurt them deeply. (Did I mention I was still in elementary school?) The result of this exercise was me vowing to learn the art of making grits at my grandmother’s side.

It was a cooking lesson I wasn’t looking forward to because, in my opinion, grits were gross. They’re the equivalent of eating raw cornbread batter – tasteless and grainy. Seriously, blech. Even as a child my food theory was that if you have to work that hard to make something edible, then it’s the lord’s way of saying don’t bother. It’s the same reason no one should eat Cream of Wheat — it takes a pound of sugar and butter to even make it palatable. Grits are even worse.

First, hominy grits (the OG in the grits category) are just plain old corn kernels (my grandmother was all about the Boone County White) that have been tortured with some sinister substance like lye. (Do you know what lye is? It’s what our ancestors used for soap. I’m just going to throw it out there that if we moved on to lathering up with Irish Spring, why are we still using lye for food prep?) Once the lye bloats the corn kernels to three times their original size (kind of like my family after eating deep-fried bacon) and they look a little like teeth ripped out of someone’s mouth by a serial killer with a dental fetish, you then haphazardly grind up the teeth (oh sorry, I mean corn). After that, you have to soak the mixture in water and then add half of the stuff in your pantry and refrigerator to make it appear to be something a human should consume.

Based on all of this, was it wrong for me to just want to be left alone to savor the caloric splendor of bacon dipped in a brown sugar batter? Of course not, but I loved my grandmother, so I faked it. I put on an apron and vowed that I could conquer my fear of grits. Ugh, I embraced the creepy corn and went through the motions of grinding, soaking and making a “porridge” that looked like jaundiced papier-Mâché goo that had been left out on the sidewalk in mid-July. That was the easy part. The hard part was sitting down with my grandma to enjoy the “fruits of our labor.”

I took the smallest spoonful I could get away with and realized that, with my grandmother and two great aunts staring at me, I wouldn’t be able to pull the old spit out in the napkin routine. I was going to have to actually eat my grits. Then something magical happened – yuck turned into a very relieved me thinking, “Praise God, I don’t think I’ll die from eating this.” These grits tasted almost decent. My female relatives cheered when I smiled and took another very, very small bite.

I felt euphoric like I had passed some sort of generational test — and I had. I was now part of the sisterhood of grits.

Dear Snarky – The Case of the Lifestyle Stalker

 Dear Snarky,de40a8f35bfc8cbe84601905da22c982

I have a friend I’m seriously considering sending a bill to for interior design. It’s either that or I’m never going to talk to her ever again. For three years, I have been planning my dream kitchen. I have the cabinets, flooring, fixtures and even the art picked out which are paintings of a beach in Maine where my family took vacations when I was a child.

 Imagine my disbelief when I go to my friend’s house to see her new kitchen and discover she copied everything I had posted on Pinterest down to the beach paintings. I literally started crying. I asked her why she stole my kitchen and at first she acted all innocent and then said that if it was a secret I shouldn’t have put it on social media.

A week later I’m still angry and hurt. Do you think I should send her a bill to get the point across that she ripped off my kitchen?

 Signed, Devastated

Dear Devastated,

Sure, I could go all imitation is the sincerest form of flattery and tell you to take the kitchen copy catting as a compliment, but when I got to the part in the letter where this “friend” bought the beach paintings from your beloved childhood vacation destination I was like, “Oh no, she didn’t.”

The whole thing, quite frankly, is creeping me out, like Lifetime movie of the week creeping me out where the woman first copies your kitchen and then frames you for murder so she can steal your husband and take over your life.

That rant aside, I wouldn’t waste my energy sending this loon a bill for services rendered for kitchen design. Instead I would distance myself – pronto- from this lifestyle stalker. And in the future, I would go old school and keep my home remodeling plans private – just because you never know who’s watching.

 

Dear Snarky – Our Neighbors Want to Clone Our Dog

Dear Snarky,

 I like my neighbors, but they have put my husband and I in a very weird predicament. We have the best dog ever. She’s a mutt and a mix of what we think is Bishon and Corgi. Our neighbors also love our dog and apparently a lot more than we thought because they recently asked us if they can clone our dog.

We were so shocked that we didn’t know what to say. Now they’re pressing us for permission. I thought you had to wait until a dog died to clone it, but they’re telling us all they need is a tissue sample. 

 My first reaction is I don’t want my dog cloned, but now I’m thinking well if it won’t hurt our dog why wouldn’t we allow them to do it. My husband though still thinks it’s creepy and says absolutely not.

 What do you think Snarky?

 Signed, Cloned 

Dear Cloned,

 Are your neighbors loaded? Because this letter had me doing a deep dive on dog cloning and it cost six figures to clone a dog. Yeah, $100,000. Do you know all the good that kind of money would do to help a dog shelter or provide spay and neutering services? 

I’m guessing your neighbor’s saw the same article the rest of us did on Barbara Streisand cloning her dog and then didn’t do a price check on just what that cost is. Proving three things, they suffer from a lack of reading comprehension and research skills and they’re just goofy. Really who’s so wacky that they want to clone the neighbor’s dog? This whole incident is a red flag. I would keep a polite distance from these neighbors and a watchful eye on our dog because you never know when they might attempt an impromptu tissue sample.

Employee Hiring Tips – Try a Roller Coaster

Hiring the right person for a job is one of life’s harder decisions. I’ve had a boss describe it to me as getting married after one date. Truthfully, it’s not even a date. It’s more like getting hitched after a 10-minute conversation at a Starbucks.

Fortunately, for human resource departments everywhere, I have come up with, what I think, is a superior method for finding the right person for whatever job you may need filled. I formulated this new breed of, let’s call it employee matching, while waiting in line for roller coaster over spring break. Not to brag or anything, but it might be my best idea ever (which is saying a lot because I pretty much love all my ideas).

Here’s how my employee matching would work. Let’s say you’re looking for a marketing manager and you’ve narrowed it down to four candidates. To see who would ultimately be the best one to hire all you need to do is take all four potential employees to a crowded theme park for a couple of hours because here’s the deal – how you act while waiting in line for a churro tells a lot about you.

Before you enter the theme park with your job candidates you’ve already got a plethora of data about their personality solely based on what they deem as appropriate park attire. Anyone that shows up in flip-flops should be automatically jettisoned from the applicant pool.

Flip-flops as a foot wear choice for walking miles on asphalt while your bare toes and upper foot mingle with the bacterial cast offs of humanity shows a brazen disregard for health, safety and speaks to a lack of respect for hygiene and practicality. The person you want to hire is the one who shows up in tennis shoes and has a backpack loaded with antibacterial hand gel, 70 SPF sunscreen and Band-Aid blister pads. This is the employee who would be prepared for any work emergency and probably knows CPR.

The mere act of entering the theme park is another opportunity to profile a potential hire. The person who has already downloaded the park app on their phone and has pre-selected attractions to avoid wasting hours standing in line is someone who shows initiative and is a self-starter. You don’t want to hire the dullard who has done zero planning, even if he or she is wearing closed toe shoes, because this is the person who will schedule multiple meetings to discuss the same thing over and over again when sending one email would have gotten the job done.

Once you get inside the park noticing what rides your job candidates choose to enjoy is a window into their soul. A person who loves roller coasters that go backwards and have loops shows a thrill seeker and adrenaline junkie who won’t freak out over a quick deadline. A candidate who takes a pass on being turned upside down demonstrates a need for control and a cautious nature which might be just the thing you’re looking for.

Waiting in a long line for a ride is a given at any theme park and how your potential employee handles that wait is telling. Does he or she whip out their phone and stare down at it the entire time in line or do they chat up their fellow line buddies? Your organization might need the outgoing and curious chit chatter or this maybe a red flag that here’s the person who will float from cubicle to cubicle wasting everyone’s time with a recitation about how their day is going.

I’m telling you – ditch the traditional job interview. If you want to hire the best person for a job get on a roller coaster.