Dear Snarky – Say Hello to the Prize Police

Dear Snarky,

 I’m in charge of our neighborhood’s Fourth of July parade and I’m getting some serious attitude from other people on my committee. In the past we have given out ribbons for best bike decoration, best patriotic stroller etc. and I want to change that.

 This year I would like to limit the number of ribbons and only recognize a few parade entries. By doing this we can spend money on better prizes and more importantly not keep rewarding kids for just showing up.

Last year, we handed out ribbons to kids who didn’t even decorate their bikes. It was a joke. I think the families who actually take the parade seriously should be rewarded.

 My fellow committee members think I’m being mean but I think I’m teaching kids and parents a lesson.

 Do I listen to my committee or just know that I’m doing the right thing and not worry about what they think?

 Signed, Integrity Matters

Dear Crazy Lady (because I not going to use the word “integrity” in addressing you),

Are you freaking kidding me? You’re choosing your neighborhood Fourth of July bike parade to get all high horsey? You need to calm down and release your death grip on those ribbons. Your sanctimonious “kids shouldn’t be rewarded for just showing up” B.S. is totally out of place at a neighborhood parade. It’s not like the kid that wins “most red, white, and blue bike” is going to use the award to get into Stanford.

If you’re seriously on a mission to stop the practice of “everyone gets a trophy” than I suggest you chose another venue to proselytize at than the Fourth of July bike parade. These are your neighbors. Families are showing up to have fun not to face your judgmental wrath. Give everybody a ribbon that probably costs 10 cents and get over yourself.

If you have a question for Dear Snarky – advice with an attitude – email me at snarkyinthesuburbs@gmail.com. 😉

Dear Snarky – Church Camp Went Straight to Hell Before It Even Started

Dear Snarky,

 My daughter has been excited about going to summer sleep away church camp since we signed her up for it in January. I recently found out that she won’t be bunking with her three best friends. A mom, who signed up late, bribed the church secretary to change the cabin assignments. The secretary sells some nutritional juice line and I was told that this mom bought a ton of it to get her daughter into the “good cabin” which meant my daughter got kicked out.

 I’m so angry! I can’t believe this has happened to my child. Right now I don’t even want her to go camp. Also, what can I do about this horrible church secretary?

 Signed, Summer is Already Ruined

Dear Summer,

 The first thing you need to do is put a mom spin on the cabin re-assignment. Tell your daughter there’s been a snafu and while she won’t be rooming with her best friends she will get a chance to make some new friends in another cabin which is a big part of summer camp –broadening your horizons.

 Also, remind her that she will be very busy at camp and will still get to do everything with her best friends except share sleeping quarters. Make it seem like this could be the best of both worlds. Sell it sister!

 As for the scheming mom and the greedy church secretary I would go straight to your minister about this wanton display of broken commandments. The secretary needs to be fired – pronto. She abused her position of trust and I bet the entire Sunday offering plate that this wasn’t her first rodeo. I’m sure she has a long history of being super shady.

 And to the mom who bribed the secretary she’ll eventually get what’s coming to her – like maybe choke on all that nutritional juice she bought. What YOU don’t want to do is give her the power to ruin your daughter’s summer camp experience. You need to rise above this and encourage your child to have a wonderful time.

If you have a question for Dear Snarky – advice with an attitude – email me at snarkyinthesuburbs@gmail.com. 😉

Dear Snarky – The Teacher Returned Our Class Gift

Dear Snarky,

I’m super angry with my child’s teacher. For Valentine’s Day the moms went  all out and collected money for a really nice piece of jewelry from a popular retailer for my daughter’s 3rd grade teacher. The reason we did this is because the teacher is getting married soon and we thought this would be a nice Valentine’s Day and wedding gift from the class.

Well, come to find out from my sister who works at that store the teacher not only returned the necklace we got her but she was a huge, F bombing bitch, about it because she couldn’t get cash back. They would only give her a gift card because she didn’t have a receipt. According to my sister she even insulted the moms who picked out the necklace calling their taste – basic and low-class.

I’ve already told all the moms what happened and now we’re wondering if we should say something to the teacher.

 Signed, Insulted

 Dear Insulted,

 My advice is four words. KEEP. YOUR. MOUTH. SHUT.

Sure, it would be awesome to let the teacher know that you have Intel on what a boorish trog she was but after that thrill what do you have left? I’ll tell you – a kid that’s in her class for another three months. Talk about awkward.

I strongly urge you to not do that to your child. Instead learn a lesson from this. For the rest of your parenting career don’t get a teacher an expensive gift that’s very taste specific like jewelry. If you feel you must get a present go the gift card route. I also suggest the parents in your class skip the teacher appreciation and end of year gifts in favor of handwritten notes from your children highlighting the favorite things they’ve learned that year.

If you have a question for Dear Snarky “Advice With an Attitude” email me at snarkyinthesuburbs.com 😉

MacGyver Mom

There are times in the parenting journey when you feel like you have taken up  a permanent residence in the innards of your child’s disesteem. Lucky for me, in regards to my daughter, I didn’t care – that much. Being a mature woman my teenager’s lack of shock and awe about the greatest that is me was quite frankly her loss. But, a part of me still craved her acknowledging, just the tiniest bit, that I was a-okay in the mom category.

I know I’m not the cool mom or the hot mom or my kid’s very best bestie because none of those roles interest me. I’m just a solid mom with no gushing adjective attached. But then something happened last week to change all that. My daughter had a life crisis and I swooped in and saved the day. I rescued her Apple AirPods.

For the technology, unaware Apple Airpods aren’t the name of a family pet or anything remotely human. The Airpods are miniscule little wireless headphones and if you’re a teenager they come in at number two, right behind the iPhone, as the most cherished thing in their world.

We were out-of-town when the tragedy happened. Like most cataclysmic events this one came out of nowhere. One second we were both exiting the car to go inside our hotel and then before I could say “make sure you throw away that Chipotle bag” an Airpod had vanished. One of the little buds had been swallowed whole by the interior of my car.

Well, to be more exact, as my daughter was disengaging one of the pods from her ear it fell out and got lodged in the no man’s land that is the seat belt thingamabob. In the part where you click in the seatbelt there’s a space that was just the right size to eat the Airpod. It was trapped, ensnared by plastic. We pounded, we went under the seat, over the seat, prodded and plied and yet the headphone remained imprisoned.

My daughter’s despair was at Defcon 1. She pleaded that we take the car to a mechanic and have the seat taken apart to free the headphone. I tried to explain that the labor expense of making that happen would equal the cost of about 10 Airpods. She then latched on to the idea of maybe, must maybe, going to buy new Airpods. This earned her a look that said – never going to happen.

Due to her distraught nature, I suggested she go up to the hotel room and mourn her Airpod in private, maybe start planning its memorial service, while I parked. What she didn’t know was that I was about to go full MacGyver on that car seat. I was getting that headphone out.

The big problem was I didn’t have any tools. So, I took a headband that was a piece of flexible metal covered in fabric and straightened it out. Then I got out a bra that fell out of a bag I had taken to Goodwill a couple of days earlier and using nail clippers cut out the underwire. Next, I attached the underwire to the metal of the headband and started the precision maneuvering needed to snake the wire into the crevice and release the headphone from its plastic grave. I felt like I was doing endoscopic surgey. It took about five minutes and required me hanging out of the backseat in a very unlady like fashion (ass in the air) but finally I freed that headphone!

When I delivered the amazing news of the successful rescue of the Airpod (via Snapchat, of course) there were literal tears of joy.

I, for one brief, shining moment was my teenager’s hero.

Do I Suck At Being A Mother? ( Deep Thoughts At the Grocery Store)

I think I may be a bad mother. No, correction I think I may be considered a bad mother if you apply 21st century suburban perimeters to my parenting skills. Okay, I’m going to change that again because this admitting you’re a bad mother thing is hard. I’m a bad mother, but only in regards to the teenage years.

I’m sure you’re wondering how I came to this watershed event of questioning my parenting greatness. It happened at the grocery store. Yeah, the flipping grocery store. There I was trying to decide if I wanted to buy the classic Cheez It or the new Cheez It Bacon and Cheese duo, which is quite the taste sensation, but you feel a tad greasy and a smidge shameful after eating them. So, as I was reaching for the Bacon and Cheese Cheez It (Of course, I decided the greasy shame would be worth it.) two mothers that I know strolled into the same aisle. As moms do we started talking about our kids and that’s when it hit me.

I stink at motherhood.

These moms, who both did not have carts with any processed snack foods, began rhapsodizing about all the things they were planning on doing to ensure their teens last summer before they graduate high school would be “magical.” Instead of nodding my head and just rolling with the conversation I had to open my mouth and blurt out, “My definition of a magical teen summer is making sure my kids get  jobs that run June through August.”

This was not the right thing to say. I got “THE LOOK” x 2. Any mom knows what the look is. It’s a judgmental side eye delivered by another mother that’s accompanied with the slow burn of sanctimony.

At first I was confused. What did I say that was wrong? Summer jobs and teenagers go together like bacon and cheese infused into a cracker. It’s a good thing – right? Well apparently not because according to these moms by making my children work I was “robbing them of memories.”

Oh how I wished they hadn’t gone there. I’m not a memory mom. A long time ago I took a pledge to not base my parenting and every moment of my life ensuring my kids would be living in their own personal fairy tale thus ensuing a childhood resplendent with momentous memories. Sorry, but I have/had no interest in raising a prince or princess. Primarily because for that happen you have to be their servant. I took a firm pass on that job.

For a brief moment I thought about defending myself and then just accepted that in these moms eyes I was a bad parent. It hurt a little. No mother wants anyone to think she’s failing at raising her children. I, adroitly as I could, made an excuse to leave that conversation and hauled over to the frozen food section.

As I stared at the Eggo chocolate chip waffles I had a moment of deep reflection. Had I made a mistake by years ago not embracing the “memory mom” movement? Would my kids look back on their childhood and shudder because I never packed their lunch boxes with food origamied and styled to look like Cinderella’s castle? Seriously, I was Smuckers Uncrustable mom. Good Lord, the horrors of eating a sandwich that wasn’t sculpted into Thomas the Tank Engine.

I got so upset I had to lean my head against the cold glass doors of the freezer section for relief. Then one of the memory moms walked by and she was on her phone. It sounded like she was having a fight with one of her kids. I stood up, held my head high, and thought that’s the problem with parenting in Fantasy Land, no matter what, reality always finds a way to creep in.

Dear Snarky – Pokemon Go Away

Pokemon-Go-Full-Google-Access.pngDear Snarky,

I have a friend who is now calling me a stalker. We both have boys who are 9  and do a lot together. A couple of days ago I texted her about taking our boys out and doing Pokemon Go. She told me that she was already doing Pokemon as a family “team building” activity which I thought sounded weird, but whatever. THEN when I’m out with my son I see her with some other moms from school and their boys playing Pokemon. I parked my car to join them and I heard the mom, that I thought was my friend, whisper stalker.

I’m hurt and angry for my son that he was left out of Pokemon Go and furious that I was called a stalker. Should I confront my friend about it?

Signed, Pokemom

Dear Pokemom,

First, I’m going to tell you what you want to hear. The mom who called you a stalker is a jerk. Now get ready for some hard truths. I’m afraid the problem might not be all  the other mom’s fault. I could be wrong here, but you seem awfully needy and I’m going to guess that possibly you’re more upset that you weren’t included than the fact that your son was left out. So ask yourself why did you feel the need to join up with a group when your friend had fibbed to keep you away? Why didn’t you just keep on driving and have a blast playing Pokemon Go with your son and be done with it?

Attention mothers everywhere you don’t have to do everything in groups. It’s okay and a lot of times preferable to enjoy your child’s company without a gaggle of other moms around. Think back to your childhood did your mom coordinate everything you did to such an extent that each outing was a like a mother/child mixer?

My advice is to get over being called a stalker. Yes it was mean, but who cares. This woman doesn’t sound worth you expending anymore energy on. The fact that you now know this is a blessing. You need to focus on appreciating the things you can control like spending one-on-one time with your kids and not worrying about what everyone else is doing.

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

Excuse Me But I Can’t See Through Your Kid

Screen Shot 2015-04-22 at 8.39.15 PM Screen Shot 2015-06-26 at 10.19.28 AMMost parents think their kids have super powers as in super smart, super athletic and well just to save time on this list take pretty much any adjective that would look good on a college application and put super in front of it. Bam, list done. The one super power I’m not buying is the whole invisible thing. No one’s child was born with a cloak of invisibility and yet many parents act like their kids are see through at events like theatre and musical performances.

I understand that parents want their children to experience something like the symphony, but there are common courtesies that still are in place no matter what the age. For example, no child should be allowed to stand up the whole time or do what I call the wander hike.

This is when a kid uses a venue for exploration purposes. It begins with what might, at first, glance seem like an innocent aisle saunter and then grows to include roaming the stairs next to the row of seats their parents are inhabiting. Once that trail is well-worn the intrepid adventurer starts a parade of bathroom visits so robust you begin to question the integrity of the child’s bladder.

Now while all this is happening the kid’s parents seem oblivious to the disruption of their fellow audience members’ enjoyment of the event. They act as if their progeny shares the same transparency as say Casper the Ghost. The very best you can hope for is for the child to get bored and proceed to play games on an iPhone with a screen bright enough to make the sun feel impotent.

When this happens I always feel I have only three choices: One is tamping down my irritation and pretending that it’s no big deal. Two, attempting to ever so discreetly get the parents attention with perhaps just the tiniest of hand waves (and I’m talking the complete hand no single fingers) and gesture that their kid needs to be corralled or three actually saying something. And by this I mean using your words via your vocal cords not coming home and going all cray on social media. Yes, Facebook is an all you can eat buffet for complainers, but more often than not moaning and groaning as a status update is not really accomplishing much.

Last week, I was attending an indoor musical and the aforementioned three choices were all swirling in the head as I was feeling crabby towards a family sitting in front of me. Two parents with a preschooler were allowing their child to not only do the wander hike, but also stand up in his chair and stare at me.

I gave it ten minutes to see if the parents would harness their collective brainpower and have an “ah ha” moment that their child was not made of glass.  After that I felt, based on my rising blood pressure, that my health mandated I do a little hand wave thingy indicating their precious gumdrop needed to attach his fanny to the seat.

Well, if that had worked I wouldn’t now be writing this so we all know the hand wave was a fail. This lead to me ever so gently leaning forward and sweetly whispering, “Pardon me, but I can’t see through your son.”  That earned me a searing look and then the mother told her son, “Honey you need to sit down because there’s a mean lady behind you.”

Whatever. All I cared about is that I could now see the stage. It was all-good until intermission when the dad saw me and began a beration oration for “interrupting them during the show.”  This stumped me to such a degree I was rendered mute until the mom piped up with, “We also didn’t appreciate you making our son feel bad.”

Okay, by now I was experiencing two emotions. The most important one was relief. Finally, I had something to write about for my column. Yeah, go ahead and roll your eyes at that, but hey it’s not easy finding something to blab about every week.

I was also feeling generous. I was going to use this as a teachable moment and reach out to these young parents. So, I replied, “I am so sorry I wasn’t trying to make your son feel bad. I was only attempting to awaken what must be very dormant parenting instincts.”

The dad looked at me like he wasn’t quite sure if I was insulting them. I took that as my cue to exit their range of vision. When the musical started up again the family was no longer inhabiting their seats. I guess they had figured out what I was talking about after all.

*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! 🙂

 

Dear Snarky – Help, I Threw My Husband’s Family Overboard

Dear Sndear_snarky_logo-1arky,

 I’m about to be disowned by my extended family. Yesterday, I anonymously called the cops on my husband’s relatives. They go out in their ski boats and NEVER have any of the kids in life jackets. It’s so dangerous I won’t let my two children ride in the boats with them.

 We were all at the lake for a Memorial Day family thing and I just got sick of seeing my in-laws – mother, father, brothers, sisters just let all the kids ride in very fast boats that don’t even have one F’ing life jacket. So, I called 911 and reported them. Fast forward 2 hours later and they come back to the dock after being given multiple tickets by the boat cops and they’re facing a fine.

 My brother-in-law might even have to do jail time because the police, when they got on the boat, found an unregistered gun “hidden” under some ski tow lines.

 I said nothing about my part in this until my sister-in-law got a hold of my cell phone (without me knowing BTW) and went through my call history for the day which was only one number – 911 and figured out that I had called the cops on them.

 Now no one is speaking to me (after cussing me out) AND they think I should pay the fine since I’m the one who “narced on the them.”

 Do I pay the money to keep peace in the family or do I stand up to them and not care if they’re super pissed?

 Signed, Life jacket Mom

 Dear Life jacket, 

 There’s a lot going on here so let’s break this down:

 1)You are right kids should wear life jackets. It’s the law. In fact, as a former lifeguard, I think everyone should wear a life jacket on a boat

2)You’re relatives are idiots/lazy/cheap for not having any life jackets on their ski boats.

3)I love that you called the police!

 Yep, family harmony be damned if you repeatedly told this collection of nitwits to get some flipping life jackets on their boats and if they just kept on blowing you off then I see what you did as an act of love. You just wanted to keep them safe. It was a hug disguised as a phone call to the cops.

 So, that’s a great big no on paying any fine and as for your BIL with the unregistered gun, well there’s a juicy Facebook status update. Maybe he’s a hit man who shoots people on his boat and them dumps their bodies in the lake. (Where’s a CSI team when you need them?) Seriously, keep me posted on how this plays out. 

If you have a question for Dear Snarky – 21st Century Advice with an Attitude – please email me at snarkyinthesuburbs@gmail.com or send me a private message on my Snarky FB page.

 

I Got An F In Homeschooling

Screen Shot 2015-05-04 at 10.30.18 AMSomeone please explain to me how several weeks ago it was “breaking news” that a 22-year-old woman is pregnant, especially a young woman with no job, no formal education, who lives in the Ozarks and is married to a teenage boy. Wouldn’t it be breaking news if she weren’t pregnant?

Okay, I’ll admit that Jessa Dugger (the expectant mother), whose sole claim to fame is that her mom, Michelle, has a very sturdy uterus and has birthed more than a dozen and half children, is a little bit of reality “star” from the TLC network show “19 Kids and Counting”. But come on, “breaking news” that she’s expecting a baby?

I get why people watch the Duggar’s TV show. I gave it a lookie loo primarily to witness a mother who has that many kids and chooses to homeschool them. I can’t imagine not wanting the euphoric relief of putting at least half of them on the school bus five days a week. If I were that mom the sweetest sound in the world would be the squeal of the school bus brakes as it stopped in front of my house.

Not that homeschooling doesn’t have its appeal. In the TV world homeschooling mamas attract viewers. You’ve got the Duggar Mom on TLC and that Pioneer lady on the Food Network.

In fact, it was fellow homeschooling mothers that helped propel the Pioneer Woman onto the radar of the Food Network. When I discovered that maybe one of the reasons she got a cooking show I felt better about the tastebuds of the world-at-large.

I have nothing against the Pioneer Woman. She seems delightful, but when your cooking show is so void of actual cooking (my theory is because everything she make seems to be based on an eight ounce jar of Ragu or a sleeve of Oreos) that the most consistent and oft-repeated camera shot is a close up of you washing your hands, well, you know you’re not really killing it in the kitchen.

I even feel a little bit guilty right now not having these two legendary homeschooling mothers’ backs. For you see, I was a homeschool mom. I’ll wait a second for you to stop laughing.

Here’s the quick back-story. My husband and I knew, sort of, that we would be moving soon and decided to not subject our then 12-year-old son to a junior high that had more lock downs than school assemblies. I was fully ready to assume the mantel of educator until my son empathetically told me, “I don’t want to get dumb so you better let me handle this.”

Homeschooling is not for the faint of heart. Forget about the pressure of making sure your kid isn’t an idiot the real drama is some of those homeschool moms. Talk about cliquey – yikes!

There’s the super holy “Jesus is the reason” group, and then there’s the “toxins in the classroom are killing our kids” group which overlaps the anti-vaxxers which has nothing on the “my kids are too smart to go to school because they were reading chapter books and I mean real ones not that Magic Tree House claptrap 11 weeks post womb.”

Once moms found out I was homeschooling it was like I was being rushed for a sorority. You know, until they found out I was the “our local junior high kind of stinks so we’re giving this a try until we move in a couple of months” mother.

The one thing all the moms did share were very intense emotions regarding homeschooling. A lot of them felt like it was their calling (and I love this and it means these women are far superior to me) which explains why they’ve rallied around and I’m guessing had a hand, due to sheer numbers, of propelling the “19 Kids and Counting” Mom and the “Pioneer Woman” to fame. This all leaves me a little disappointed in myself.

What if I had embraced homeschooling and instead of Snarky in the Suburbs was Harried & Homeschooling. Maybe I would have legions of followers or dare I dream my own cooking show. (I can see the camera close-ups of my hands already)

Maybe it’s not too late for me. I still have one kid in school, my 14-year-old daughter. What if I yanked her out of 9th grade and began a most wondrous mother and child journey of educational awakening and enrichment? I’m getting serious butterflies of excitement just thinking about it.

Wait, no scratch that, butterflies are gone, way gone.

Trapped 24/7 with a hormonal teenager whose mood swings are so turbulent some days I feel like I’m on riding shotgun on a tsunami. Yeah, that’s a great big no can do.

Not any amount of fame would be worth it for either of us. The only reality show that would come out of that would be When Mothers Go Cray – The True Life Tale of a “Yeah, I Thought Homeschooling Would Be Parenting Bliss” Mom.

Not that it wouldn’t be ratings gold.

*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! 🙂