Ode to My Mother Who Kicked Ass

Parenting gurus like to share the theory that by the time a child reaches the age of 10 mothers lose their place as the primary influencer in their kids’ lives. I was always skeptical of this belief and felt that these so called experts simply enjoyed torturing parents by using this supposition as a sort of scared straight program for hovering moms.

Now, I can tell you that, without a doubt, that the often-repeated parenting claim is not true. Your mother’s influence never ever goes away or loses its impact. I know this because my funny, wise, beautiful and hard-working mother, Gwen Claypool, recently passed away.

I was given the honor of writing her eulogy, which was, I think, a brave choice for my mom to make. She had to have known I would deliver an untraditional tribute.

For sure, some older ladies got a little ticked off when I celebrated my mom’s talent for seriously kicking butt. She was a force to be reckoned with how could I not celebrate that? The fact that she had, during her life, kicked the fannies of some of the ladies present at her service, well sorry (but you know, not really).

The act of writing my mother’s eulogy, of putting on paper everything she had done, and what she meant to me crystallized the fact that what you learn from your mom is steeped into the deepest parts of your brain and soul.

I know my love of reading comes directly from my mother. We would go the library with two laundry hampers, fill them full of books, and spend days just wallowing in the written word.

My mother, descended from Puritans, also valued a work ethic. There was never an excuse to not honor your commitments. Whenever I want to get out of doing something I see her face and it’s giving me the look that says, “I’m disappointed you are even wasting time entertaining this thought.”

She was smart as they come and had no time for “intelligent people doing ignorant things.” This lead to her having zero tolerance for stupidity in any form and if you were being stupid she’d let you know it even if you were a stranger. Of course, being from the South she would put it in such a way that you didn’t really know you were getting the stern scold.

Not being from the South, yet watching my mother’s campaign against idiots, I took up her gauntlet and have attempted to continue this crusade. The problem is I can’t do it with the grace she did. I’ve tried, but I just don’t have her innate charm. (Although, I was sent to charm school, but that’s a story for another day.)

One of the biggest gifts my mom bequeathed me was the freedom to be myself. She was a nonconformist and “felt tremendous sadness” for the herd. This even translated to clothing choices.

When I was a teenager it was the preppy era of fashion. Everyone was wearing $40 Ralph Lauren Polo shirts which back in the early 80’s was pretty pricey. My mother refused to let me buy any Polo garments (even if I was going to use my own money). Her response to my whining was “Why don’t I just let you wear a sandwich board that reads ‘My mother failed because I think a horse on a shirt is important.’”

To this day I can’t buy name brands. Northface, Patagonia, Uggs – never going to happen.

Another wonderful thing about my mom was that she was funny and slyly sarcastic. Someone the other day asked me where I got my signature eye roll. I replied my mother. He laughed and said, “You owe her. It’s a great eye roll.”

She also knew how to hold a grudge and in fact, considered it a character flaw if you didn’t have the “moral fiber to archive dishonesty.” Granted being Southern the grudge was concealed, kind of like pecans in a 10 layered pea salad, but, trust me, it was there.

Sometimes she was very serious in her archival pursuits other times she was joyously silly. For example, she had an encyclopedic memory of who gave me what for a wedding present. And to the woman who gave me a chip and dip platter from Target after she gifted that women’s three daughters with very nice sterling silver all I have to say is since 1984 she’s referred to the woman as “Chip and Dip.”

So, here’s what I have to share with all experts – a parent who has done their job well never loses their influence. In fact, one of the proudest things I will ever say is that I am Gwen Claypool’s daughter.



Ache Free

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Last week, I got a bruising social media beat down and not by discussing politics or religion. Oh no, this was a subject infinitely more volatile: motherhood. All it took was two words, one syllable each, to cause a firestorm.

A friend from back in the day had linked to a post a woman had written about her kids getting older and how she ached, painfully — desperately ached — for the days when they were babies. So, as you can guess, many moms were writing ooey gooey prose in the comment bar on Facebook about how they also ached for those baby days. The smells, the smiles, the spit up.

I, on the other hand, wrote my two words. Ache free.

Well, well, well, say hello to a blistering rebuttal of mom hate. Those two words give birth to a firestorm of comments on how I must suck at being a mother because I don’t ache to climb into a maternal time machine and re-live sleep deprivation and sore nipples.

At first, I was all “Holy crap” at the outrage and then I thought to myself let’s do this! Let’s really mix it up! They want ache. I’ll give them an ache right in the old backside. My first course of action was do what I would call a social media airstrike. One ridiculously, outrageous comment to take down (tick off) many. So I posted this: “Maybe I’m not aching because I’m proud of my children and parenting skills and don’t feel the need to go back in time to correct my mistakes.” Talk about a direct hit! The fallout was nuclear winter in it’s intensity. The angry, the hostility, the rage!

Then I focused on the most pompous targets. The most delicious was tweaking the “friend” that posted the ache link. You would have thought she was still clutching her now teenage children to her breast in an XL, steel reinforced, Baby Bjorn. Oh, how she went on and on about the halcyon baby days with her “precious munchkins.”

I have no problem with that. Every mother should look back fondly at those times. What did irk me was that she led the charge in leveling mom hate towards me when all I did was post – ache free. This woman called me a “baby hater” and then went all stabby with the statement that by being ache free I was a bad mother AND she felt “sorry for my children.”

Really? She felt sorry for my children because I don’t want them back in diapers. And this was from a women who had a skill, no, make that a talent, for eagerly leaving her children with other mothers. She’s the one who would invite her child over to your house for a playdate and then forget to pick them up for the next 16 hours. That’s why I had zero problems with posting this:  “@dmj I get why you’re aching. It’s probably guilt festering from 2003 when you petitioned the church to change their mother’s day out rules to accept babies at younger than six weeks so you could have more ‘me’ time.”

That’s right. I wrote that. Yes, it’s horrible but factual and I was thinking of the greater good. Someone needed to call these women out on their mom on mom hate campaign even if it was me adding lighter fluid to whole hot mess. This is what I don’t get – we’re all on this journey together so why do mothers feel the need to keep a constant vigil scanning the horizon for any chance to bring another mother down? Are we that insecure? I sure hope not.

Oh, and do you want to know why I typed ache free? It’s because as the mother of two teenagers every so often, I, get the briefest of glimpses, of what my children might be like as adults and it’s thrilling. More exciting than when they started sleeping through the night or took those first wobbly steps. These nano second glances into their future makes me not only ache free but joyous for what they might someday offer the world.

cover_1.3-2 *Attention Snarky Friends, I have a brand new book out. It’s the second in the Snarky in the Suburbs series – Snarky in the Suburbs Trouble In Texas. You can buy it for your Kindle or in paperback on Amazon.  It’s also available for the Nook or you can get it for your Kobo reader. Click on a link and give it a test read.  I hope you like it! 🙂

Dear Half Wits

1150959_736793909683398_767698524_nThis is in response to the more than 147 and counting lame emails I have received about the post I wrote about Miley Cyrus. My biggest take away after reading all of the less than delightful correspondence is that most, if not all, of these cerebral cortex challenged folks would struggle to pass a fourth grade reading comprehension and retention test. It’s as if they only saw one sentence in my post. This one – To this I say Miley Cyrus is not the problem – you, the mother, are. Did they read beyond this? Apparently not, because most of the emails were from beyond pissed off moms giving me a beat down for “blaming mothers” for Miley’s “People of Walmart” choreographed VMA number.

Here’s the problem with that assertion – I was not blaming mothers for Miley’s performance. I was, most definitely, taking moms to task for thinking Miley was ever a role model and for all the wailing and moaning on the internet about how Cyrus shouldn’t have been working that foam finger like a woman with a stage 4 yeast infection because “kids look up to her” due to her Disney Channel lineage. One mom even shared that “girls will see what Miley did and think that’s appropriate behavior”. What the hell kind of daughter are you raising if she’s that lacking in self-esteem or I don’t know an independent thought process that she believes just because a celebrity does something it’s okay for her to do it too? Note to all you moms that shared similar lines of “reasoning” with me – don’t ever let your kid near an US magazine or the E channel. Basically you need to go off the grid. I’m talking stone age period, off the grid if you have a daughter this impressionable.

Also annoying the emails about how Miley was cheated out of her childhood by big bad Disney and now she’s acting out. I get that. What I don’t get were the emails that imagined her childhood would have been some sort of mystical, magical place with free range unicorns. Childhood can suck. Let’s be honest Billy Ray and Tish Cyrus aren’t exactly two of the brightest bulbs in the chandelier. They can’t even figure out how to get a divorce. I imagine Miley’s non celebrity adolescent and teen years wouldn’t have been full of idyllic horseback rides and praying around the campfire while making s’mores. The more likely scenario is teen Miley hanging out at the mall and getting it on in the hallway between the Food Court and the custodian storage closet while clutching a Forever 21 bag full of 2 for 1 thongs. So, yes she had a lot of adult responsibility on her very young shoulders but she’s now a very wealthy young woman who could, if she so chooses, go to the college of her choice.

Most annoying were the naive emails refuting my claim that Miley’s performance was a calculated business decision. Are you kidding me?! I’m sure the Harvard Business school will be teaching “Pulling a Miley” as one of the top 20 entertainment strategies of the early 21st century. I’d bet my limited edition Best of Both Worlds concert T-shirt that right now in Los Angles a team of agents is already counseling upcoming Disney Channel actors/actresses on the 7 steps to stardom. 1) Get a reoccurring role on a Disney Channel show. 2) Parlay that to a starring role on a newly created Disney show. 3) Sing the theme song to new show. 4) Release an album. 5) Star in made for TV Disney Channel movie. 6) Leave the confines of the Disney brand to segue to movies. 7) Movies do only okay so reignite singing career by “pulling a Miley” to get international attention. I have no doubt that at least one of the Jonas brothers is giving serious consideration to “Pulling a Miley.”

My very, very favorite emails were the ones that called me a hater and assumed I didn’t have children because “only someone who wasn’t a mother” could write what I did. I was chided for not having any real life experience with child rearing and one person said “God was smart enough to not bless me with a baby.” I wanted to share that I was blessed twice but where’s the fun in that? So I responded that yes, they were correct. I live alone in a studio apartment with my three cats, Demi, Selena and Miley. They are all the children I will ever need.

***For all things wonderfully Snarky go to www.snarkygear.com where you can find the new Spring/Summer  Snarky line of clothing and accessories. Plus, there’s my book – Snarky in the Suburbs Back to School. (Click here for purchase information.) Here’s a little ditty about it: The Spring Creek Elementary School PTA board (a coven of Mean Moms dressed in Uggs, yoga pants, and dermal filler) is up to no good.  Wynn Butler (middle-aged, uncool, and not bringing sexy back) is determined to find out what’s going on. With help from her two kids, a Roomba vacuum turned mobile surveillance drone, and a few good friends, Wynn launches a covert investigation that leads to the “mother of all revenge capers” at the school’s annual Fall Festival.  If you’ve ever fantasized about smoke bombing the idiot parent who has yet to master the fine art of the school drop-off lane, or standing up and shouting, “Liar, liar, Botox on fire” during a PTA meeting, then this delicious tale of payback is for you. To stay up-to-date on new posts and take part in my not so deep thoughts click on this Facebook link – http://is.gd/iEgnJ (That’s the abbreviated link to my FB page) or I twitter @snarkynsuburbs.

Five Ways to Get Out of Volunteering At Your Kid’s School

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It starts in late summer with emails from the PTO alerting you to various “fulfilling” volunteer opportunities awaiting you at your kid’s school. On the first day of your school your child’s backpack is stuffed with sheets of colorful copy paper – each one proselytizing a “fun” volunteer gig. By the second week of school you’re being solicited as you wait in your car in the after school pick up line. Week three of the new school year the gloves are off and you feel a little like you’re being bullied into chairing the school spirit wear sale. When week four hits you give in from equal parts sheer exhaustion and because you get the feeling some of the other moms are talking about you and not in a good way.

Now, before you tape this list to your refrigerator please be advised that I have loved volunteering at my children’s schools. In fact, I have met my best mom friends from doing my volunteer due diligence. But there are times in one’s life when you need a pass from tallying up the school gift wrap orders which is why this handy list was created.

1) Have another baby. A newborn will get out of any volunteer duty. Just showing up at school with your bundle of joy is akin to wearing a sign that says “Leave Me the Hell Alone!” But beware by the time that baby celebrates it’s second birthday you will be considered back on the market and hit up with a vengeance. After all, you’ve had  a “two year break”.

2) Volunteer Outside the School. This one will buy you a year max. But it has to be a substantial volunteer opportunity with not just any organization. It should be high-profile – say Junior League president or chairing the Symphony Guild. Being a Cub Scout Den mother won’t do anything for you. In fact, it could hurt you as in – “Well since you’re already doing the popcorn sale for the Cub Scouts it would be sooo easy for you to just tack on chairing the school’s cookie dough fundraiser. I mean they’re like pretty much the same thing – right?”

3) Start a New Job. Tread carefully when using this one and make sure the words part-time job don’t enter into your career description. Which means even if it is part-time or a home based business as far as anyone on any committee at your kid’s school is concerned you’re putting in 40 plus hours a week.

But be warned this is not a “forever” excuse. It’s simply a single “get out of being a committee chair” voucher. The whole job thing in the school volunteer lexicon is meaningless because there’s always a mom who is a cardiovascular surgeon and is piloting her own jet to Syria two days a week to perform life saving medical treatment with the International Committee of the Red Cross AND is treasurer of the PTO.

4) Get New Agey. Share that you are restructuring your life and prioritizing your family’s goals to enhance pivotal bonding moments and increase your spiritual connection to the Sun Goddess Shemesh therefore leaving you with zero time for “other world” commitments. Sure, there will be talk that you’ve booked first class passage on the Space Shuttle Cra Cra with non stop service to WTF but I can guarantee not only will you be left alone but people will be wary of making eye contact with you.

5) Volunteer for the Big One. By this I mean agree to chair your school’s biggest fundraiser. Oh, I know it sounds counter intuitive, but trust me one big volunteer commitment is your get out of jail free card for YEARS. Here’s how I suggest playing this for optimum long-term impact. When your eldest child is in third grade bite the bullet and say an enthusiastic yes to the fundraiser. While chairing the fundraiser let it be known about all the hard work you’re putting in, the hours it’s stealing away from your precious family, and for extra measure I always like to throw in that it’s causing just the tiniest bit of marital discord. All of this is excellent info to share at any PTO meeting when you’re asked to do an update.

After the fundraiser is done and has exceeded expectations, because who are we kidding you were in charge and of course that means fundraising records were set, you then ride off into the school volunteer sunset. What all this means is for the rest of your tenure as a parent with school aged children you can use the excuse that you Chaired the (insert name of fundraiser here) back in (insert year here) and you really are still recovering. No one will dare challenge that statement and instead will look at you with awe and in some cases eyes aglow with reverence and thank you for your service. Sure, it’s was months of hard work, but if you do the math and extrapolate that over the years your kids are in school you’ll find that it’s a cost benefit analysis winner!

***For all things wonderfully Snarky go to www.snarkygear.com where you can find the new fall Snarky line of clothing and accessories. Plus, there’s my book – Snarky in the Suburbs Back to School. (Click here for purchase information.)

Here’s a little ditty about it: The Spring Creek Elementary School PTA board (a coven of Mean Moms dressed in Uggs, yoga pants, and dermal filler) is up to no good.  Wynn Butler (middle-aged, uncool, and not bringing sexy back) is determined to find out what’s going on. With help from her two kids, a Roomba vacuum turned mobile surveillance drone, and a few good friends, Wynn launches a covert investigation that leads to the “mother of all revenge capers” at the school’s annual Fall Festival.  If you’ve ever fantasized about smoke bombing the idiot parent who has yet to master the fine art of the school drop-off lane, or standing up and shouting, “Liar, liar, Botox on fire” during a PTA meeting, then this delicious tale of payback is for you. 

To stay up-to-date on new posts and take part in my not so deep thoughts click on this Facebook link – http://is.gd/iEgnJ (That’s the abbreviated link to my FB page) or I twitter @snarkynsuburbs.

Dear Snarky – “Where’s My Mother’s Day?”

5dcf4a30000ab041e9e34119166dad3aDear Snarky,

Why don’t I get a Mother’s Day? I’m the mom to three kids all under the age of 7 and yet every Mother’s Day it’s all about my mother-in-law. We go to church with her, have brunch with her and basically spend the entire day celebrating her. I’ve talked to my husband about this and he just looks guilty and says, “Well, she is my mom.” Is it too much to ask that I get a Mother’s Day?

Signed Jennifer

Dear Jennifer,

I’m very torn how to answer your question. You would think that I would go off on your husband for not manning up and taking your side in this Mother’s Day battle. But, here’s the deal I have a son and I can only dare to dream that when he grows up and gets married he will put my wants and needs far, far above his wife’s. (Let’s all hope years down the road I don’t turn into THAT mother-in-law.)

All kidding aside, my peace making suggestion is have two Mother’s Day – traditional and observed. (Yes, yes, I know this sounds crazy, but work with me. The plan has the ability to be a winner.) On the Traditional Mother’s Day, the one on the calendar let your mother-in-law have her moment. Although she is no longer deep in the parenting trenches like you she has been a mother longer than you and deserves some love and if you can’t manage that then let’s call it respect or begrudging tolerance for raising an amazing son – your husband. Plus, for those of us who have aging, frail parents it’s a simple act of kindness that goes a long way in making their day. (I have a friend who recently lost her mother-in-law and while the MIL was a bit of a terror my friend said she never regretted being a role model for her kids about the power of kindness.)

The next Sunday should be your day – Mother’s Day Observed, This is where it is all about you. You can choose to spend the day celebrating with your family or do what I do – declare Mother’s Day a kid free holiday. I treat myself to a matinée movie, a solo stroll through Target and arrive home to a house cleaned by my kids and husband with dinner waiting. (In case you’re wondering they kind of phone in the whole house cleaning thing.) It may feel wrong at first to not get your Mother’s Day on with everyone else, but trust me Mother’s Day Observed is a twofer. You still get your day plus you earn brownie points and add to your karma tally by the simple, but, sort of, painful act, of doing a little gracious kowtowing to your mother-in-law.

Even bigger bonus every time you get in a fight with your husband you can with righteous indignation say, “I even gave up Mother’s Day for your mom.” Bam!

**For more Snarky check out my book  Snarky in the Suburbs Back to School. 

Here’s a little ditty about it: The Spring Creek Elementary School PTA board (a coven of Mean Moms dressed in Uggs, yoga pants, and dermal filler) is up to no good.  Wynn Butler (middle-aged, uncool, and not bringing sexy back) is determined to find out what’s going on. With help from her two kids, a Roomba vacuum turned mobile surveillance drone, and a few good friends, Wynn launches a covert investigation that leads to the “mother of all revenge capers” at the school’s annual Fall Festival.  If you’ve ever fantasized about smoke bombing the idiot parent who has yet to master the fine art of the school drop-off lane, or standing up and shouting, “Liar, liar, Botox on fire” during a PTA meeting, then this delicious tale of payback is for you. 

To stay up-to-date on new posts and take part in my not so deep thoughts click on this Facebook link – http://is.gd/iEgnJ (That’s the abbreviated link to my FB page) or I twitter @snarkynsuburbs.


Dear Snarky – Help Braggy Moms Are Making Me Question My Parenting!


Dear Snarky,

I’m the proud mother of a beautiful 4 month old son. I know I have a lot to be thankful for. My son is healthy and the love of my life. My problem is not my baby, but other mothers. I was in a Mommy and Me play group which is really just an excuse to get out of the house but I quit going because all the moms are so competitive especially about their babies sleeping through the night. My son has NEVER slept through the night and the moms made me feel like something is wrong with him. Do you have any advice how to handle these braggy moms and their comments?

Signed Sleepless

Dear Sleepless, 

Put on your big girl Spanx and get tough. You’ve got a long road ahead of you sister. The first year of your child’s life is all about the milestones.

After the sleeping through the night marathon there’s the rolling over, sitting and pulling up Olympics.  That is quickly followed by the triathlon of walking, talking and potty training.  Those little mommy/baby play dates are really an excuse for a Baby Throw Down.  Babies, start you engines.  It’s time for Who’s the Better Baaaaaby – which loosely translates to Who’s the Better Mommy.  I never won – not once.  I didn’t even medal.  Although, one time I thought, for sure, I would get a bronze.

 Fast forward to elementary school and the stakes get even higher. Who’s reading before kindergarten, who’s already doing addition and subtraction.  Then, there’s always the mom that thinks her little piece of heaven is too advanced for kindergarten and needs to leap-frog directly to first grade or perhaps second grade. (Sigh) See what you have to look forward to and all this is nothing compared to high school. Two letters for you A P – as in “My child is taking 13 AP classes.” This all means you need to – right now – start practicing having confidence in yourself and your ability to be a fabulous mother. You also need repeat every day until your son leaves for college, “I will not judge my child’s success or mine based on the whopping fibs and exaggerations of other parents.” 

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


I Am Not a Crack Whore

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Play-dates, as we all know, are a way of life. The lucky mom is the one with their kid at someone else’s house. Ahh – it’s a few more hours of precious freedom. When you move one of your first orders of business is getting your kids back on the play-date carousel because God forbid they actually entertain themselves while you unpack all the crap you told the movers to just “throw in the basement.”

In my tenure as a mother I figure my kids have probably had play-dates numbering in the, I don’t know, almost one thousand range. That makes me a play-date veteran but, nothing, I mean, nothing, prepared me for this play-date.

My daughter had invited a friend from her new school to come over and play. I got on the phone to talk to the mom and work out the logistics and that’s when my life entered what I like to call a “Modern Mothering” moment. The mother told me she didn’t feel comfortable with her daughter coming over to our house until she makes a “personalized visit.”

Now, to be fair, a part of me gets that – sort of – but, I had met this mother a couple of times up at school during different back-to-school volunteer “opportunities” and each of those time I was actually out of my Target sweats (or as my husband calls them – day pajamas, but that’s just because he’s jealous he can’t wear day pajama’s to work) with make up on so I’m thinking I didn’t look that scary. Point is, it wasn’t a cold call. I was, a bit taken aback, but hey whatever, come on over. We set up a time where she could “pay me a visit.”

The Visit

The house was basically clean and I had not one, but two scented candles, Glade linen breeze, burning to disguise the odor of dog and guinea pig. I would have used my special occasion Yankee Candles, but I didn’t want it to seem like I was trying too hard. I also, just for fun, placed a bible discreetly on the coffee table and by discreetly I mean it was on top on my In Style magazine, Diet Coke adjacent.

I even made chocolate mini muffins.  Okay, so they were from a 57 cent Jiffy mix from Walmart, but hey I made something. I then hide my husbands booze and pushed his big ole Costco super-sized boxed wine to the back of the fridge and slid the gallon of milk and two salad dressing bottles in front of it. And yes, I groomed. I upgraded to my “dress” sweats from Kohl’s. I was like “bring it on sister.”

Well, she brought it.

My first hint that this was not going to go well was when she walked into my home with a face frozen into a smirk of perpetual superiority. I hadn’t seen someone look at me like that since I showed up in a khaki skirt with navy blue knee socks at a Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority rush party. As any good hostess would do I offered her something to eat. Perhaps some tea with one of my “homemade” mini muffins.

No can do, the muffins have trans fat and the tea caffeine. Her family is a proponent of the “clean diet.”  Since there is nothing in my house that doesn’t contain a trans fat and my fruit is non organic ( I think) I offer her a glass of water. Oops – my water straight from the tap and non filtered is also declined.

We then move on to the interview portion of the visit. “Do I have firearms in my house?”

I try to make a joke that the only guns in the house are my biceps, which I thought was hilarious because my arms are so flabby the under fat swings to and fro during any kind of breeze. She didn’t even get it.

This becomes awkward because as I’m trying, perhaps too hard,  to make her get the joke by swaying my arm fat in her face she throws out another question. “Have you or your husband ever been arrested and/or convicted of a felony?”

“Pardon me?”

“Do we keep liquor in the home?”

” For sure, lots of it, but only for medicinal purposes.”

Now I am starting to get ticked off. It’s one thing to question me about fire arms and felonies, but you start hurling judgement on my husband’s booze stash and you’ve crossed a line. I wanted to stand and shout, “Hey lady, I am not a crack whore!”

Poor naive me I thought she was just coming over for a little lookie loo chit-chat to confirm that yes, her family is far superior to mine. I could have saved her the visit and shared that information over the phone. I do not have to be subjected to a duel visit from Child Protective Services and the Parole Board. Now, I have to get her out my house.

How? What will remove her from the premises, but not contribute to the after school pick up lane mom gossip?  Hmm, I could take the high road, but, should I? I’ve been insulted. She didn’t even try a muffin. Don’t I deserve a little retribution? Just a little bit of fun would be okay wouldn’t it? I hear the continuous loop in my head of my husband wailing, “Please don’t embarrass the family.” (Like that ship hasn’t sailed.)  But, aspersions were cast on his liquor wouldn’t he want me to defend his love of alcoholic spirits? Oh, he would. Definitely.

I drop this bomb into her interrogation disguised as chit-chat. “You know we lived in Nevada for four years and they have slot machines in the grocery store and prostitution is legal – even dudes being prostitutes just got legalized which I say is about time because hey, we ladies have a right to a little pay and lay, I mean play, if you know what I mean.”

1, 2, 3 seconds is all took to get her to start gagging and coughing, then she grabbed her Prada purse, hauled butt out of my front door and backed her vintage Mercedes down my driveway so fast she drove in my grass. I walked into my kitchen, stuffed about 6 mini muffins into my mouth, chugged my non-organic milk straight from the carton and thought oh yeah I rock.

*Attencover_1.3-2tion Snarky Friends, I have a brand new book out. It’s the second in the Snarky in the Suburbs series – Snarky in the Suburbs Trouble In Texas. You can buy it for your Kindle or in paperback on Amazon.  It’s also available for the Nook or you can get it for your Kobo reader. Click on a link and give it a test read.  I hope you like it! 🙂

Undercover Snarky

 It is not humanly possible for me to mind my own business.

Some may call that an immense character flaw. I call it the makings of a great humanitarian. I proudly choose to not live a life of suburban isolation. Instead I choose suburban pot stirring.  So that’s why when a friend of mine asked for help breaking up a PTA coven, instead of saying, “What the hell?”  I said, “Hell yes!”

I meet Eleanor last year. We both had children who were doing a club sport. Which in my neck of the burbs means your child has aged out of playing on neighborhood teams and now seeks to empty your wallet by being on a team that requires “try outs.”

Beware newbie parents of any sport that has a “try out” criteria. It’s code for “this is going to cost you a whole bunch of money.” I’m not kidding about this. One of my (many) money-making schemes is starting some kind of competitive league for something or other like the Blue Ribbon Elite Breathing Society.

All parents (suckers that we are) need to hear is the word elite, select or competitive and we’ll pay thousands of dollars for the privilege of our child being one of the chosen ones. It’s an awesome business venture.  Parents fork out money for the lessons, the league events, the extra training/coaching sessions, the uniforms, travel, registration fees etc. Talk about a cozy little nest egg.

There are upsides to club sports. One of them is that your child gets to meet and compete with a lot of kids outside their school district environs. Which, of course, means you, the parent, also get to meet a lot of new people. That’s how Eleanor and I became friends and bonded on the bleachers.

This fall Eleanor began sharing tales of what life was like at her youngest child’s elementary school. Most of the stories focused on the PTA. Which sounded like a domestic terrorist organization that vajazzles. Hello, Homeland Security.

I, with my giving spirit, would offer advice as in: “By God, if my kid went to that school I would do blah, blah and blah.”

We’ve all done it – talking big and braggy about how if we were in someone else’s shoes what we would do  and how it would be infinitely superior to whatever they were doing.

I find woman are most vocal about any kind of husband misbehavior. Brace yourself for the onslaught of righteous indignation flimsily disguised as advice if any friend, colleague, acquaintance or airplane seat mate confides or confesses that their spouse is a huge jack hole.

We will get all worked up, offer a slew of “you should do this” guidance and then snuggle up and get cozy in our blanket of “I feel so blessed” (and by that we mean superior) because our husband “would never to do that.”  Really, a good tale of someone’s jerk of a husband can make your whole day.

Well, just after the new year Eleanor decided to take me up on some my esteemed advice. She requested my assistance with her daughter’s elementary school PTA.  I was all, “Of course, what can I do to help?”

I was assuming she desired more of my sage wisdom and Lord knows hearing myself talk while offering advice are two of most favorite things in the whole wide world right behind Diet Coke and Target. But no, Eleanor wanted a little more from me than my vocal cord calisthenics.  She wanted me to get involved, mix it up, if you will, with the PTA board. She wanted me to go to their next meeting. Oh my, this was quite a gift.

It’s one thing to go to your own kids schools and do a little PTA throw down. Yet, you can really only go so far.  For the most part you have to behave yourself because you’re forced to interact with these women everyday and there’s the principal and usually a few teachers at the meetings. So you can’t go full-out crazy mom. You have to be tactical and a little more stealth.

It’s a long-term mission that requires a mixture of covert ops and perhaps some incendiary devices.  But, just think of the crap you could rain down on a PTA meeting where you would possibly never see or have contact with any of the people again.  For me, it was the stuff dreams are made of.

Before I bellowed yes and jumped in the air while doing fist pumps I told Eleanor she would have to go more in-depth about what the problem is they wanted resolved.  What was their goal? In addition I would need a little face time with the “other moms” she kept talking about that also desired my help.

A meet and greet was scheduled for the next day at 4:30. The “other moms” would meet us outside the building where Eleanor’s and my kid practiced. I came prepared with my trusty reporters notebook (Staples 2 for $3. You should pick up a few. Also great for grocery lists.)  As I’m talking with Eleanor and freezing my butt off, a white, a little bit worse for wear, Conversion van pulls up that looks like something John and Kate Plus 8 drove pre marital meltdown.

The van stops, Eleanor waves, a passenger window rolls down and a woman who needs to up her moisturizer game (maybe a night-time serum with some retinol A and a vitamin C chaser) says, “Get in.”

For a second I thought, “Get in? Was I being kidnapped? I was doing these ladies a favor. Not that I expected anyone to say, “Welcome, Oh Great One.” (It would have been nice) but, seriously, “Get in?”

I looked at Eleanor and she whispered, “They’re kind of skittish about this whole thing, but it will be okay.”

I replied in a very definite non-whisper, “Yeah, well if any of this is going to work these moms need to nut up.”

(By the way, what is the female equivalent of nut up?  Would it be ovary up? Get your fallopian tube out of a bunch or unclench your uterus, is that even possible? None of those sound nearly as good to me as the classic “Nut Up.”)

I reluctantly climbed in the van and I’m greeted by first the reek of boy feet, with an underlay of fermented french fry and finished off with  the funk of unidentified lunch box refuse. It was a turbo sinus cleanse.

There are four women already seated in the van. The driver, a friendly woman with curly hair and a big smile. Like Little Orphan Annie all grown up. She must suffer from some sort of terminal nasal passage blockage (I’m thinking a tumor – hopefully benign) because I don’t know how she drives this van everyday without a) passing out or b) taking it to the nearest full service car-wash for a complete detail job.

There was the window greeter – Moisturize More.  She seemed pretty no-nonsense.  I was poised not to like her, but then I noticed we had on identical track pants and I knew I had found a kindred spirit.

In the back row of seats was a very pretty young mom with short blonde hair that accented her wrinkle free face. (I’m thinking – show off.) Next to her was Ms. All Business. This mom had the body language of a woman who could run a Fortune 500 company and the militant bob haircut that would like great in an Ann Taylor suit.

Eleanor and I sat down in the middle row of seats and Moisturize More asked if I wanted a drink and lifted the lid off a cooler filled with Diet Pepsi.

My friends, this is when I began to feel more than a little disrespected.  Diet Pepsi, in a can, not even a bottle, in a cooler, in a I’m guessing, 1994 Conversion van with odor issues.  Was this anyway to woo someone to do your bidding?  Hell no.

My first order of business was to class up this group. I suggested, okay demanded in a chit chatty way, to, at the very least, be taken to a McCafe, which is McDonalds attempt to be swanky and yet still serve the same addictive swill. They do, though, have Diet Coke on tap and even the aromatic stylings of McRib would smell way better than this van.

Orphan Annie, looks at Eleanor and says, “Do you think it would safe?”

I look around at all of them say, “There’s a McCafe right down the street. Why wouldn’t it be safe?”

Eleanor says, “No, no, it’s not that. We’re worried about being seen or overheard talking by the PTA board.”

I said, “I’m willing to take that chance. Now are we going or not?”

Orphan Annie said, “Sure, if everyone thinks it’s okay,” and starts driving towards the McCafe.

I’m sitting there thinking while trying not to breathe through my nose, “Holy crap, these women act like a bunch of battered wives.  Who the hell is scared of their PTA board? Ovary up, indeed!”

Part 2

I get this motley crew hustled into the McCafe, grab a Diet Coke, and herd everyone into a booth in the back. After taking a few calming, curative sips of America’s favorite sugar-free beverage I flat-out ask, with cursing, which I usually don’t do unless I know someone fairly well, but I felt the situation warranted it.  Plus, I’m still peeved about the Diet Pepsi.

So, I say, “What the hell could a PTA board do that has you all so spooked.  I’m a little embarrassed that a bunch of freaking grown women could be such damn cowards.  Are these women packing heat? Have they threatened you or your children with physical violence?”

More Moisturizer gets frowny faced. Ms. Business sits up all straight and starts working her bob like a pendulum by shaking her head at me. (It was a little hypnotic.) Orphan Annie gasps. Cute Blonde just sits there looking about 12 years old (still hating her) and Eleanor simultaneously apologizes to me about her friends and then apologizes to her friends about me.

I hold up my hand and say, “Let’s not waste our time with good manners. I’ve got about 30 minutes before I have to start the kid retrieval process. So someone please tell me what’s the damn deal.”

It got quiet.  I took another sip of my Diet Coke and surprisingly Cute Blonde is the one who speaks up. She says, “These woman run the school and if we say or do anything they don’t like we’re afraid they’ll take it out on our kids.”

I immediately go for the follow-up question. “Can you give me some examples of how they run the school?”

Ms. Business perks up and I hear her speak for the first time, “Well, they’re so bad the principal is afraid to mess with them.  Which I don’t understand because it’s not like they can fire him, but by the way he acts you would sure think they could.”

Cute Blonde interjects, “They’ve gotten two teachers fired!”

Orphan Annie adds, “They’ve taken over things that used to be the job of the principal and teachers. Like they now decide on Student of the Month and do the school awards at the end of the year. You cross them and your kid gets nothing.”

Finally Moisturize More says with wet eyes, “I tried, nicely tried, to talk with the President about maybe changing a fundraising policy and my three kids were left out of the Award Ceremony.  They were never called up once and her one child got Student of the Month three times last year, three damn times!”

My eyes are now popping out of my head.  This went straight from WTH to WTF.  I say, “Okay, okay, this is all outrageous and horrible, but why do you want me to go the meeting next week and what do you want me to do? I don’t think me showing up and announcing to the whole pack of them that they are on the Terrorist Watch Short List is going to do you any good besides the obvious and short-term pleasure of seeing them get ticked off.”

Ms. Business says, “Some sneaky stuff happened over the winter break. This group of officers were supposed to be moving off the board because their terms were up. But over Christmas they re-wrote the bylaws in executive session and extended the number of years you can serve as a PTF (Parent Teacher Family) board member to 3 years.”

Huh?  Bylaws and PTF.  I thought we were talking about PTA and I don’t do bylaw throw downs.  God, I’m thinking, this is a mess.

Moisturize More adds, “At the general meeting next week is when the “new” officers will be voted in.  This is the only chance to get these bitches off the board.”

I was encouraged to hear swearing. It meant the women were warming up to me and shows they have a fighting spirit after all. “Do you ladies have any ideas of how you would like to go about this?’ I ask.

Orphan Annie says very quickly, “We were hoping you would show up and from the floor introduce another slate of officers to be voted on.”

Oh crap, here I was hoping for a smack down in the cafeteria and these chicks wanted to do revenge by Roberts Rules of Order. So, not my style.

I set there sipping my Diet Coke saying nothing and thinking. It’s obvious these poor women needed my help and at least two of them could use a make-over day at Macy’s  I already hated the PTF (whatever) board of pure evil so my instinct was to jump in and attempt to kick some ass.

Those power perverted women needed to be walking around that school, still licking their post PTF meeting wounds on Field Day.  I just wasn’t sure how I was going to approach this one. It wasn’t something that could be done by brute force. It needed finesse and a certain level of knowledge about boring crap like parliamentary procedure. I had nothing. No idea how to pull this off.

I looked up at everyone and said, “I’m in, but it’s going to take a lot of work. I’ll need deep background on every board member. Most importantly are any of them currently a lawyer, a paralegal, married to a lawyer or the daughter of a lawyer.

Secondly, I need cover. When I show up at the meeting everyone has to believe for 30 minutes that my kid goes to that school. Get me the most common first name of the boys at your school.  Is it Michael? It is Jack? Find out. Third, I need to know where the meeting is taking place and a tour of the school. Lastly, I need to observe these mega witches in their natural habitat or lair.  I want to see what I’m up against.

I was glad to see Orphan Annie taking notes. Plans were made. Assignments were given.  It looked like the next day I would be going to Starbucks to spy on my newest nemesis (God, that nemesis list of mine is long.) – the board president. She did not disappoint. What do you say about a woman who goes to Starbucks and orders a Venti hot water with lemon?

I say she’s one crazy, super skinny, hungry bitch.  How fitting that a size 14 mom was going to attempt to bring her down.

Check out Undercover Snarky – The Game Is Afoot for the next installment.


8 New Holidays For Moms

As mothers we get one holiday a year that’s just for us.  What a serious rip-off. Think about what we accomplish everyday. If men had to walk in our shoes they would be, of course, crippled from our most awesome footwear.  But, that’s not what would almost kill them.  The non-stop multi-tasking we do would require most, if not all, men to begin a liquid diet and I’m not talking smoothies with a protein booster. This is why I’m suggesting that all the candidates currently running for any elected office consider my proposal for these official federal, state and county sanctioned Mom Holidays or hereafter known as Momidays.

Weather Days – Just like our kids gets Snow Days I firmly believe that all mothers be allowed to selected three weather related “days off” each year.  For example, A Low Humidity Day is certainly an occurrence to celebrate for any mom who lives in a climate where water vapor levels linger in the 70% range.  A special dispensation of 2 days off each year will be given to those brave Texas mothers who must parent in terminal humidity. Did you know five of the top ten most humid cities in America are in the Lone Star state? (Gasp, choke, cry.) Yes indeed, everything is bigger in Texas including the dew point. Any mom who experiences a bad hair day 361 days out of the year deserves at least one day off (of her choosing)  when the humidity dips below 50%.   This will allow mothers to go outside for 5 minutes and not feel like they need another shower and it will allow them a chance to enjoy not having their make-up begin melting as they walk from their front door to their car.  Additionally, this day will feature a moment of silence in honor of Arthur C. Van House the “Saint of Shellac” who invented hairspray in 1948 due to his wife’s persistent urging ( re: bitching) that he “quit tinkering in the damn basement and invent something that keeps her hair from moving.”

As any woman who has grown up in moisture enriched climate knows those rare humidity free days are a gift from Mother Nature and should not be spent toiling in an office or waiting in the school pick-up line.  A day with low humidity should be cherished and spent doing something you almost never, ever have the chance to experience – going to a restaurant and actually dining outside on their patio.  Note: Those who live in drier climates would be permitted to observe a day off for “What’s that sound? Holy Crap is that rain?!” day.

I also feel mom’s should get a day off for celebrating the First Cold Snap of the year or as I like to call it – the “OMG, I Finally Got to Turn On My Car’s Butt Heater” day.  This day can be used to drag out your fall and winter clothes and/or utilized as a shopportunity.  On the flip side there should also be a day off for a “I’m No Longer Freezing My Ass Off” celebration.  Where you would dig out your flip-flops and at the very least treat yourself to a pedicure.

My DVR/Tivo is Full Day – All moms should be granted one day off a year to “clean out” the cache of shows on their DVR.  This day will be spent with you at home hanging out with your BFF, the remote control.  You will lay on the couch with a cuddly blanket and your favorite selection of muchies will be no more than a gentle arm stretch away.  This Momiday will be dedicated to the arduous task of watching all the shows you recorded, but never got a chance to see because every other member of your family was hogging the television(s).  The only physical activity you are allowed is going to the bathroom and fluffing the couch pillows.

Mother/MIL Recuperation day – Any extended visit from your mother or mother-in-law will automatically guarantee you a “Recuperation” day.  The 24 hour period after your mom or mil have vacated your home you will be in lock down in your bedroom.  Your only visitor your significant other providing you with meals, magazines, movies books, beverages of the 40 proof variety and whatever your heart desires.  This day will allow you to detox/exorcise the suggestions (demons), helpful hints, parenting, marital and financial advice that was bestowed upon you, all in the name of love, during their visit.

If the school district can give my kids an “Early Release” day every other week than I feel it’s quid pro quo to establish a half day off for mothers every other month to enjoy a New Haircut, Highlight and Blow Out Day.  Getting that gray gone or doing damage control on bangs gone bad is reason enough for a half day off.  But, the real reason for this Momiday is that once you’ve gotten your follicles all sleek and shiny you need to, most assuredly, take that hair, at the very least, out to lunch.  Sadly, we all know from years of soul crushing experience, that our new “do” won’t look salon fresh when we wake up in the morning.

Every mother knows the feeling of euphoria when her entire house is clean. (I’m talking really, really, clean, like even your kitchen junk drawer is organized and you’ve labeled your spices.) From top to bottom everything shines and smells like Limited Edition Gain Febreze.  It’s a sight to behold. You walk through your home and you can’t stop smiling. You think to yourself, “This is the way I was meant to live dammit! You make promises you know you will never keep like: “I will do a chore chart and enforce it with an iron fist.”  “I will make each child throughly cleans their room before they go to bed at night.”  “I will mop the kitchen every hour and clean the toilet bowl after each use with Mrs. Meyers Lavender Surface Scrub.”  That’s why it’s paramount a Momiday be established for each women to rejoice and celebrate My House is Finally Clean and I Want to Enjoy It Before Anyone is Home to Mess It Up.  The time span between a spectacular clean house and a Once Upon a Time clean house is extremely short.  Basically, it last until you have to cook dinner and/or your first kid comes home from school and starts the backpack drop and dump or if you have younger kids when they turn that basket of Legos upside down.  Each mom in the this great nation of ours deserves one day a year when she can sit in her immaculate home and savor the short-lived beauty of domestic perfection.

Rarer than a clean house or A Real Housewives Reunion show where someone doesn’t scream, “You bitch!” is the phenomenon known as Everyone In My Family Is Happy at the Same Time. Kids are smiling and off their technology so they can bask in your maternal goodness. Your Husband is content and it seems like he maybe worshipping the ground you walk on, just a bit. No one is complaining or fighting. Your cankles look, dare I say it, shapely. Your pets aren’t barking, pooping or shedding faster than the speed of light. It’s like everyone you love is on some kind of magical pharmaceutical and all they want to do is a family group hug – repeatedly.  When this happens moms are automatically granted the day off and required to post pictures on Facebook or other social media outlets as verification that this day did indeed occur.

I don’t think these Momidays are too much to ask for.  In fact, the smart move is for one of our 2012 Presidential candidates to take up this cause. The Momiday is the way to score some major votes.  Politicians would be wise to remember the saying, “The hand that rocks the cradle rules the world”?   I don’t know about you, but this mama is more than ready to rock some days off.

*Okay moms lets get out there and share this idea with all the child raising mammals you know.   I think it’s vital for any proposed legislation to have as much input as possible. Call it a virtual town hall meeting.  Plus, I’m open to suggestions for more Momidays. I’d like to get that 8 days off to at least 10.  Better yet, maybe I should run for President.  I’m a U.S. citizen, over 35, and I think if I can run a family I can certainly run a country.  Everyday, I deal with finances and strict budgeting, surly humans, making people get along, cleaning up messes I didn’t make, negotiating surrenders and I’m an expert at doing the scary scold.  (Oh, how I would so love to give Congress my scary scold.) Snarky in 2012 – Truth, Justice and Cankles.  Who wants to join me on my bus tour?  Better yet I’ll have my bus run not on oil, but Diet Coke and all my campaign stops will be at Target and the occasional Costco!  Sweet, sassy, electorate now I’m really excited.  Anyone want to be my campaign manager?

**Many thanks for all of you who “liked” me on Facebook!  May the Snark Be With You.  For those that haven’t done the deed yet to stay up-to-date on new posts and take part in my not so deep thoughts click on this Facebook link – http://is.gd/iEgnJ (That’s the abbreviated link to my FB page) or I twitter @snarkynsuburbs. Oh and while you’re at it go ahead and share my link with friends.  Cheers!

Yes, Your Kid is a Genius – Now Leave Me Alone

Apparently, the test scores are wrong.  All wrong.  American children when compared with students in other countries continually score in the mediocre range in math and science and we’re perched pretty low on the reading totem pole, as well.  But, that can’t be right.  Just ask almost any parent and you’ll discover that their kids are all super geniuses.

Yes, I once lived under the delusion that my children were brainiacs of the highest order.  Then, when they were each about 19 days old, I realized I might be wrong. Sure, if crying were a sign of intelligence then, why yes, back in the infant days they were geniuses, veritable Einsteins at bawling their brains out. But, alas I have learned to lower my expectations.

Now, if my kids turn 25 with not more than one-third of their bodies covered in tattoos, no more than two visible signs of piercing, no outstanding arrest warrants or jail time, no child born out of holy wedlock, the ability and job skills to pay their own electric bill plus no living in my basement then – yippee! We did it! My husband and I can pat ourselves on the back we are/were successful parents.

The whole gifted child thing starts immediately after the precious baby is born. Here you go lugging your bundle of joy around for everyone to see and some other “new mother” asks the dreaded question – Is he/she sleeping through the night?  Um, no because aren’t you supposed to feed them like every three hours?

Well, of course her little angel requires no night-time nutrients and has been blissfully racking out for 10 hours a night since the day he came home from the hospital. I know deep in my heart that there is a special place in hell for those moms. The women who take a scared, sleep deprived, first time mom and begin to torture her with tales of their super baby and then look at you like you must be doing something wrong because your baby isn’t as awesome as their baby.

After the sleeping through the night marathon there’s the rolling over, sitting and pulling up Olympics. Followed by my personal favorite – sign language. Yes if sucking on her fingers is a sign that my baby is hungry then yes she can sign. No, she can not sign her take on the nation’s health care conundrum or that she thinks my hair looks good today.

That is quickly followed by the triathlon of walking, talking and potty training. Ah, those little mommy baby play dates are really an excuse for a baby throw down. Babies, start you engines. It’s time for Who’s the Better Baaaaaby – which loosely translates to Who’s the Better Mommy. I never won – not once. I didn’t even medal. Although, one time I thought, for sure, I would get a bronze.

Fast forward to elementary school and the stakes get even higher. Who’s reading before kindergarten, who’s already doing addition and subtraction. Then, there’s always the mom that thinks her little piece of heaven is too advanced for kindergarten and needs to leap-frog directly to first grade or perhaps second. Ugh.

The worst is parents who like to share their children’s achievements with total strangers.  Peacock parents. Here I was last month, enjoying spring break, sitting out by a hotel pool while my children frolic in the water, blessedly far, far away from me. I was looking at the “spa menu” and contemplating why anyone would want to ruin a good massage, by sharing it with their husband. Couples massage – yuck.

I’m sure it’s the same couples who have a I Love My Husband/Wife bumper sticker on their mini-van (nothing against loving your spouse, but you’re married so I figure it’s like having a “I like breathing” or “bacon is yummy” bumper sticker. All that should be a given)  or worse like to go shopping together. Nothing says love like a husband forlornly following his wife around a department store with a “Yes Dear” look on his face (picture Eeyore) as he waits outside the dressing room for her to “model” her “try-ons.”

It’s disturbing and I dare say a little creepy. And – if the husband shows any enthusiasm for the process and helps his wife select outfits and offers insightful and in-depth style critiques like: “Try this on honey. Purple is the new black and it goes smashing with your new Tory Burch flats. OMG, think of how we can accessorize! ” Run, do not walk, from your marriage because a couple of things are going on here.

First and foremost, your spouse has mommy issues and he plans to wear that outfit around the house when you’re not home. Those eggplant capri’s will really show off his hairy, yet surprisingly muscular calves. The total bummer – he’ll probably look better in them than you do. (Seriously, my husband has amazing legs and I have no doubt he could totally rock a floral capri pant.)

Now on to that pesky mom – Mrs. Two Lawn Chairs Down From Me. She disrupts my thought process and my mojito buzz by asking me how old my kids are. I share the information and that is all it took for her to launch into a forty-seven minute monologue about her brood of geniuses. (Apparently, her hometown of Lufkin, Texas is a genius hot spot. Attention top-tier colleges go to Lufkin for the best and brightest students.)

Goodness, her 13-year-old has already taken the SAT’s, her 8-year-old is going to invitation only G.T. camp this summer and her 5-year-old is so advanced it’s baffling the school where to put the little lamb-chop. Kindergarten would be abhorrently easy and first grade would probably be a waste of time. But, if they put her in second grade it would be precedent setting for the school district. Ground breaking even. It was absolutely keeping her awake a night.

Really? Because it’s putting me to sleep. Like I care. Like anyone besides her spouse and the grandparents would care. (I’m guessing even the g.p.’s are getting pretty sick of it by now too.) What drives people to proselytize about their kids to strangers? Is she hoping I work in college admissions at an Ivy League? What about stranger danger? Maybe I’m a pedophile who targets gifted children. She probably would have gone on longer, but mercifully one of my non-geniuses showed up begging for money for a snack.

I give my 14-year-old son a ten-dollar bill and tell him he has to split it with his sister.  He stares at me – bewildered. I speak very, very slowly and go, “Take the ten dollars, buy yourself a snack that does not exceed five dollars so your sister will also have five dollars to spend on her snack.”

He acts all huffy and says, “Duh, I know how to split a ten Mom, I thought you meant I had to share my snack with her.” He then stomps off and give me an over the shoulder “Whatever.”

Mojito buzz diluted further.

Spawner of geniuses hears the entire discourse and pipes up,“How old did you say he was again?”

I reply, “He’s four years away from college, that’s how old.”

“Oh my,” she says. It was a long drawn out “Oh My” with an overture of superiority, an undercurrent of ha, ha, my kid is better than your kid and just a wee bit of pity.

I sigh and think bad thoughts about her. Can’t she leave me alone? I’m a woman in need of solitude and I’m having to pay a daily resort fee on top on the hotel room rate so back off. The real slap in the face is that she’s wearing a two piece for God’s sake and she looks okay in it.  Has she no mercy?

I’m wrapped up in a one piece with a full length sarong covering thighs no one needs to see e-v-e-r. On top of that I have strategically draped two beach towels over my stomach. Trust me if I could wear a burka to the pool I would. Of course It would need to be somewhat fashionable, maybe in a pastel hue or even better tie dyed with just a touch of fringe.

But, nooo she takes a big breath and launches into phase two of her assault – her children’s G.T. aptitude scores and how they relate in correlation to their I.Q test. I don’t want to be mean to people. Every day I try to be a nice person. Okay, not ever day, but most days. Well, let’s say most days I try to begin my day being nice. Emphasis on try.

It’s spring break and I just want to escape my children for a few minutes, suck on my overpriced mojito that I’m seriously questioning, at this point, if it has any rum in it at all and be left blissfully alone. Mrs. Two Lawn Chairs Down From Me is cutting into that alone time. Yes, If I were a better person I would smile and nod and just let her drone on and go to “my happy place” (which is cakes and cobblers). But, I am not a better person. So, I launch my counter attack – Operation Shut Up.

“Oh my,” I say. “I don’t want to alarm you but I work with a consortium that is doing long-term research on gifted children and their transition into adulthood and the findings have been rather surprising.”

“What, what do you mean?” she gasps and leans over her lawn chaise to hear me better.

“Well, we’ve found that most gifted children peak at a very young age. For instance, your 13-year-old may have already seen her intellectual hey day and your 5-year-old could be a victim of “over peaking” where her brain stimulus core – to put in laymen’s terms  – just shuts down.(Nice touch I thought with the whole stimulus core. Maybe I’m a genius.) It simply doesn’t want to process more information. So, what seems like a high I.Q. now could in few years mean your kids will be average. Much, like when infants learn to walk and talk. Some begin doing so earlier than others but eventually everyone learns how. My advice to you is what I tell every parent I see in my practice (now, in my most syrupy, patronizing tone I add the kicker) just love your kids (dramatic pause) no matter what their I.Q.”

“You’re a doctor – she asks?”

“No, I’m not a M.D. I’m a research scientist,” I reply. ( I say that because I’m thinking there’s laws against being a pool side faux physician and with my luck as soon as I pretend to be a M.D. someone is going need CPR or a baby delivered. Although, twice I have pretended to be cop and once a F.B.I. agent.)

Then I bring out the heavy artillery. “My son, you just met.”

She says quietly, “Yes, yes, the  14-year-old.”

“Well, once upon a time I thought he was a child prodigy. He talked in complete sentences at 3 months – off the charts developmentally. Then, all of sudden a complete slow down in all mental growth. He’s what inspired my research.”

I grab at the edge of one of the beach towels stacked on my stomach, lift up my sunglasses and dab at my eyes for a final touch. Mrs. Two Lawn Chairs Down is silent. I rendered her speechless. Mission accomplished! Slowly she gets up and gathers her belongings.

“Where you going?” I ask. “A couples massage?”

“Umm, Umm”, she stammers. “I think I need some time to process all you shared with me.”

As she walks away I holler, “If you need more information just google – I.Q. back slash brain stimulus core.”

Then I ordered myself another mojito, feel a little guilty for about 3 seconds, rearrange the towels on my stomach and soak up the sun and silence. Ahh.