Cheez-It Parenting in an Extreme Parenting World

Help, I’ve fallen down a rabbit hole and I can’t get out. Worse, I don’t even know if I want to get out which is quite frankly embarrassing because I feel like I’m in the  ”Real Housewives” of rabbit holes. By that I mean I’m staying in it because on some level it makes me feel a smidge superior.

You know just like when you watch an episode of the “Real Housewives of New York” and you think to yourself, “Well, here I am sitting on my sofa stuffing my face with handfuls of Toasty Cheez-Its while trying not to get orange Cheez-It residue on the seven loads of laundry I’m folding and also hoping that I can soon garner the strength to investigate an iffy smell in my  basement. But hey, at least I’ve never done something as vulgar as throw a drink in someone’s face while riding in a limo.”

Drawing me in deeper is that this rabbit hole has some stellar parental humble bragging. Go ahead and judge but I love to witness a good humble brag in all its audacity, shamelessness, and over the top glory.

The rabbit hole also features another one of my favorite things – the know it all parent. This fusion of pomposity teamed with humble bragging is like a value size box of Toasty Cheez-It – I can’t not partake.

Please note this hole I find myself unable/unwilling to extricate myself from I didn’t even seek out. A friend, without my permission mind you, added me to a Facebook group and down, down I went. I’m currently daily gobsmacked by the postings on the “Unofficial University Parent Collective” for my daughter’s college.

To confuse you further I’m a late bloomer to this group. My daughter will be a junior in college and I’ve just been introduced to this gem. I don’t know whether to be sad or glad about that. A part of me is a bit bereft that I spent the last two years without being able to wallow in the wonder of this forum.

The current hot topic is parents asking other parents about what classes and professors their kids should take. The parents in the know are responding with in-depth missives combined with assorted humble brags on their child’s genius by stating that the information that is being offered is based on their kid’s “need for exceptional academic rigor.”

This leaves me with so many questions. Topping the list is are these parents going to class with their adult children because how else could they know so much about the inner workings of a certain professor’s teaching style, homework, grading scale and exam schedule?

To be honest I didn’t know that much about my children’s middle school classes. At some point you have to let the micromanaging go. But the bigger head scratcher is what kid at 18 plus years old would allow his parents that much access into the inner workings of his or her college existence?

Should I be jealous, impressed or mystified? I’m choosing to be mystified because I don’t think I want to live in a world where I know my 20 year old’s homework schedule.

Scenarios like this are what’s keeping me firmly entrenched in the Facebook group. I can’t stop reading the posts. It’s a journey to a land of extreme uber parenting. Meanwhile, I’m the Cheez-It parent just along for the spectacle of it all.

I know I need to stop but someone just posted asking what professors are open to communicating directly with parents and sorry but I’m going back in. I have a feeling some epic humble brag bombs about to be dropped.

Dear Snarky – When a Grad Party Cancellation Gets F-Bomby

Dear Snarky,

I’m so angry at my family! My daughter’s very small high school graduation party was scheduled for this weekend and now I’ve had to cancel it because so many of my family members are idiots. They’re not following any of the coronavirus rules and my brother and his girlfriend were at that packed Lake of the Ozarks pool party.

I sent out an email telling them that “due to their behavior” the grad party was off for the foreseeable future. O.M.G. the responses I got back were ridiculous. My brother even cursed at me, like the F word cursing.

I need your help because right now I hate my family. How come they just couldn’t say something like, “Okay, can’t wait till it’s rescheduled?” Or, “Keep us posted.” But instead I get pot shots at my intelligence, and F bombs.

I plan on emailing them back and letting them all know I didn’t appreciate their reaction. What is the best thing to say to get my point across?

Signed, Still in Shock

Dear Shock,

It times like this that we have to look inward at our own actions and think, “Hmm, is there a different way I could have worded that party cancellation email? And as I’m sure you already know the answer to that question is yes.

Because you seem like a smart person I’m going to conjecture that you took great delight in calling your family out on their actions. You had to know that by sending that email that cast aspersions on their behavior you were going to stir up some drama.

Come on, you can’t act all innocent and hurt feelings now when you knew something like this was bound to happen. That said, you have every right to cancel the grad party and based on what you told me it was probably in the best interest of public health to do so.

But you could have channeled your inner Miss Manners and said that due to ever present current Covid-19 concerns you have decided to postpone the party for a later date.

As for emailing family members back that were jerks – just don’t. It’s not worth your time and since emotions seem to be running very high I fear it might result in more cursing and name calling. I will suggest that when you do have the grad party that you take the road less traveled – the high road – and show your family the type of gracious behavior you wish they would emulate.

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

 

Dear Snarky – My Mom Favors and is Enabling Our Older Sister

Dear Snarky,

We’re two sisters who are sick and tired of our mother enabling our oldest sister. We’re both college students that have been working doing instacart during the coronavirus to make extra money. Meanwhile, our oldest sister, who flunked out of school, thinks she is too good to actually work and has been living off of our mom.

We were both amazed when my mom told us our sister got a job. Turns out her job is being part of a pyramid scheme selling make up and my mom gave my sister $500 for her “selling starter kit.”

If this isn’t bad enough my mom told us that we need to buy $200 each worth of product from our sister to help her meet her sales quota. We’ve also been told that we should each host a Zoom cosmetics party for our sister. Really?

How do we get our mom to wake up and quit throwing money away? It’s hurtful that our mom repeatedly seems to favor one daughter more. I think we’re at our breaking point where our relationship with our mom is going to be damaged forever.

Signed, Two Sad Sisters

Dear Sisters,

Let’s start with the bad news first. You can’t control your mom. If she wants to keep on propping up your sister and financially supporting her that’s her business. I’m not making excuses for your mom but sometimes parents will laser focus their attention on the child that is struggling and pretty much throw everything they’ve got to rescue that kid.

The downside is the rest of the family suffers and the struggling child is artificially being bolstered which in most cases doesn’t solve their problems it just postpones them for a little while.

The good news is you both are hardworking college students and I think you need to sit down with your mother and tell her how you feel. You have nothing to lose by being honest and even if your mom continues to have blinders on when it comes to your older sister at least you’ve made your feelings known and that’s important because you’ve empowered yourself.

You also can take a hard pass on buying make up from your sister or hustling your friends to buy makeup. It’s your money, you earned it and it’s yours to decide how to spend it or save it.

This journey your sister is on maybe a long one so you both need to set boundaries with your mother and sister and repeatedly remind yourself  that you have zero control over what both of them do.

I urge you to stay centered on your own goals and not let the current family dynamic drag you down. Put one foot in front of the other and do the next right thing which is continuing to work hard and get your degree. Just in case your mom isn’t saying this I will. I’m proud of both of you.

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

 

 

 

Dear Snarky – My Sister-in-Law is Lying About Where My Niece is Going to College

Dear Snarky,

 I’m ready to punch my sister-in-law right in the face. She is outright lying about where her daughter is going to college and scamming people.

 This woman posted on Facebook and Instagram that her daughter has been accepted to a college that I know my niece did not get into. I’m sure she didn’t even apply. This college is super competitive. Basically, you have to have a perfect GPA and ACT score to even have a chance of getting in. I looked up the college’s acceptance rate and it’s 4.7 percent!

 My niece is not smart. She’s never even taken an AP class in high school and had to take remedial algebra. (She also gets their, they’re and there mixed up.) 

 Here’s where the scam part comes in – my sister-in-law has started at Go Fund Me page for her daughter to help pay for her tuition. You should see the comments, “so honored to help such a brilliant girl” etc. Barf!

 To cover her ass, she posted that her daughter will be delaying starting school by at least a semester because of the coronavirus. Pluh-ese, this kid is never going to this college or probably any school. They just want money.

 I want to let every know that they are being conned. Is there a way I can do that anonymously? Also, I don’t even have kids so it’s not like I’m competitive with my sister-in-law. I just hate liars.

 Signed, This is so wrong,

Dear Wrong,

Wow, that’s a lot to unpack. If your niece did indeed NOT get into this college that means she and her mom are both involved in the subterfuge. That’s a crap ton of lying. Basically, it’s a long con because you have to write thank you notes for the money and then keep answering questions about when you’re going to go college and give college updates for months. There are a lot of  balls to juggle to keep this scam in play. 

This is why my advice is to keep your mouth shut. I predict the truth is out there and things will fall apart sooner than later. I know 18-year-old girls very well and they like to talk and share confidences. Your niece will not be able to keep this a secret for very long. Plus, although you say you’re not competitive other parents of graduating seniors are. Some ticked off parent(s) will ferret out the truth and/or ask some hard questions.

Of course, I understand your overwhelmingly desire to throw some shade right this very second. But control those impulses. A comeuppance is a coming. Get your popcorn ready for the show.

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

 

 

 

 

Dear Snarky – My Mom is Trying to Buy Her Way Into My Labor and Delivery Room

Dear Snarky,

I’m nine months pregnant with my first child and at this point in the lock down I’m only allowed to have one person in the delivery room with me when I give birth. Of course, that person is going to be my husband. My problem is that my mom at first was  “heartbroken” that she can’t be in the delivery room.

Heartbroken quickly turned to furious because she has been in the delivery room for the birth of all her grandchildren. She’s refusing to understand why my husband would be my first choice to be in the delivery room. My mom even said that, “men are totally worthless and just stand there looking embarrassed and confused.”

Then she offered to pay my husband her entire stimulus check of $1,500 if he would give up his right to be there and let her go instead. Hold on because it gets worse. My husband told her he would think about if she upped it to $3,000.

I almost wanted to kill him. He said he was kidding and just messing with my mother because she deserved it due to her bullying us. But then my mom  came up with the three grand so she definitely thinks she’s going to the delivery room.

How do I stop this madness? Honestly, at this point I think I would rather just go alone.

Signed, Ready to Pop

Dear Ready,

Let’s start with your husband. You’re going to have to cut him some slack. I think he was just enjoying toying with your mom because she was being so ridiculous. Come on, did your mom seriously think that a father would basically sell the rights to see his child being born? That said, no man should ever contribute to the stress levels of a very pregnant woman. So, yes he was being very stupid. That I’ll give you.

As for your mom I have one word – YIKES . The hubris alone is mind boggling. So, your mom thinks she’s more important than your husband, the baby’s father? To that I say, “Okay crazy grandma, you need to get some help.”

On top of that your mom is just a brat. What she’s doing is throwing a temper tantrum because she’s not getting her own way. Granted she’s also throwing money around but it’s still a tantrum.

My advice is I wouldn’t tell your mother anything about the birth until you’re safely ensconced at the hospital with your husband. You would be a fool to let her know that you’re going into labor or are on your way to the hospital because girlfriend the odds are she would meet you there.

Letting her know later takes care of the issue because you will already be at the hospital with your plus one and security will take care of the problem if she shows up in an attempt to take your husband’s place.

Congrats on the baby and please keep me posted on how this turns out.

 

Dear Snarky – My MIL Has Gone Quarantine Crazy and is Planning a Party That I Don’t Want

Dear Snarky,

 My mother-in-law is driving me crazy. I had a baby in February and since the lock down went into place she has been blasting me with texts, phone calls and emails about how when the shelter in place is lifted we’re going to have the “most amazing baby christening party of all times.”

 It’s gotten pretty bad. She even has a Pinterest board of party ideas and from everything I’ve seen and what she’s told me this woman thinks my husband and I are going to be hosting a party for like a hundred people.

 I have so many problems with this. The first one being I don’t want a huge christening party and second we can’t afford to basically throw what from the Pinterest board I’m seeing looks like a wedding for our baby. I’m on maternity leave and my husband was furloughed from his job so we’re cash strapped and the last thing we want to do with any money we have is blow it on a party as soon as the quarantine is lifted. #mortgage

 How can I get my mother-in-law to understand this is not what my husband and I want and that it’s not going to happen?

 Signed, Trapped

Dear Trapped,

 Let’s start with the positives. It’s wonderful that your mother-in-law is so invested and excited about her new granddaughter. I’m sure it’s hard on her that she hasn’t been able to see the baby as much as she would like. I also think all the party planning is a way for her to channel that frustration and a quarantine distraction.

 That said, it’s never too early to start setting boundaries with your MIL. You need to explicitly, and girlfriend I mean in writing, share that you and your husband will not be hosting a large christening party for your baby girl.

You also need to give a quantitative figure of how many people you will be up for inviting to the party. This is because words like “small” or open to interpretation. One person’s small party may mean 5. Another person’s may mean 500. I suggest sending a very kind email where you share that, you will be drawing the line at (insert number here) people.

 Again, be gentle with your mother-in-law. She probably means well. But to protect her feelings and your wallet now is the time to send that email about what your plans are so when all this is over no one can utter those two phrases that have doomed many, many, family relationships, “I never knew” and “You didn’t tell me.”

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

 

Dear Snarky – I’m Getting Attitude For Taking a Pass On Our Family Easter Dinner

Dear Snarky,

 My parents and sister are acting like spoiled brats and being totally clueless about social distancing.

 Not only are my parents, who are in their late 60s, still going to the grocery store almost every day like they don’t have a care in the world but my sister and her six kids are hanging out with my parents.

She’s even dropping her kids off at their house so they can babysit because she needs “a break” and her Bunko group still got together last week. 

 It’s like the coronavirus is happening to other people. My sister had the nerve to actually call me “selfish” for saying there was no way I was going to attend a family Easter dinner. She also said that I was ignoring my parents.

 I’m not ignoring anyone on purpose I’m following the rules. I also have a child with asthma so you can bet we’re hunkered down at home.

 Why am I being made to feel like the bad guy for sheltering in place? Shouldn’t it be the other way around?

 Signed, Ticked Off

Dear Ticked,

 I don’t really have any words of comfort for dealing with idiot family members except know that you are not alone AND that this is the time where you need to unapologetically stick to the rules.

 I would also, and I’m sure you have already done this, explain to your parents and sister why these stay home mandates are so important. Perhaps graphs or a pie chart might help or pictures of overwhelmed hospitals.

 Sadly, the bottom line is it’s hard to herd idiots. Some humans are just predisposed to be morons who thrive at picking and choosing what they want to believe like they’re at an all you can eat buffet of stupidity.

 You can only control your own situation and I applaud you for following the rules. Stay strong and don’t let your family bully or manipulate you into doing anything else. Lives depend on us staying home. You’re doing the right thing.

 P.S. Your sister sounds like a total tool.

Dear Snarky – I Tried to Give a New Mom at School the Inside Scoop and it Backfired

Dear Snarky,

A new family has moved into our neighborhood. One of the kid’s is in my daughter’s class. I met her mother and she seemed really nice. The problem is there’s a mom at the school who tricks  other parents into watching her kids.

It goes something like this: The mom suggests you start a carpool. You agree. Then before you know it you’re doing all the driving and the mom starts sending you texts asking if her kids can go home with you and she’ll pick them later and by later it turns out she means like way after dinner.

I saw this mom being really nice to the new mom and I knew what was up. She was going to start using the new mom as her latest free childcare.

I, being a really nice person, decided to warn the new mom about this woman. The new mom then told the other mom about what I said and now they’re both saying means things about me.

I’m really angry because all I did was give the new mom a head’s up, which by the way I wish someone had done for me, and now I’m the horrible mom. It’s really pissing me off.

Is there any way I can turn this around? It’s getting to me. I’m not going to lie the Valentine’s Day party at school was rough.

Signed, Just trying to help out

Dear Just Trying,

File this under no good deed goes unpunished and mind your own business. The problem here is that while trying to do what you thought was a kind thing (and I’m hoping that was your motivation) with your heads up to the new mom you entered into unknown territory.

 And by that, I mean you didn’t know the new mom well enough to judge how she would handle what you told her. Some mothers, for example – me, would be most appreciative of being told a little inside info. Other mothers are going to think that what you shared was mean spirited and perhaps gossipy. And there’s the third unknown that maybe this new mom is a pot stirrer and she’s going make her mark by really living large on what you shared.

 I think we all know which way this turned out. That said, there is really nothing you can do. I would ignore it. Keep your mouth firmly shut. To say anything else is just going to extend the life span of this drama.

I enthusiastically suggest in the future you need to be a little more circumspect about what you share with strangers and yes, this woman was essentially a stranger. What did you really know about her besides the fact that your kids attend the same school?

 Also, you can take some satisfaction from knowing that the new mom will most likely become the de facto childcare are provider for this woman. When this happens fight the urge to say, “I told you so.”

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

 

Writing Can Get Pretty Ugly

*Note:  I write a weekly opinion column for the Kansas City Star. Some of the stuff I muse about is a little more political in nature than I what share on this blog and by that I mean in the past I have written about education reform, health care etc. Because of this I get emails where people disagree with me, which is totally appropriate and welcome. This recent column was in regards to people who feel free to write to me about my looks – because that’s how you disagree with a woman right – by disparaging her appearance? Ugh. I’m sharing this column on my blog because I believe it has a message that will resonate with a lot of you.

 

I don’t get a ton of emails from readers of my Kansas City Star column hating on me but I get enough that I’ve been able to classify them into categories.

There’s the people that can’t grasp the concept of self-deprecating humor and therefore think I’m an idiot. There are the people that like to write me six paragraph emails on an almost weekly basis with the theme of, yep you guessed it, that I’m an idiot. There’s the people who disagree with me on a topic and use this as an excuse to take out all their life frustrations on me and then there’s my favorite – the people (all male based on their email signatures) that like to tell me an idiot AND that I’m unattractive.

These brings me a special joy because I’m in awe of how any man could have the hubris to believe that I care about their opinion in regards to my looks. As an advanced middle-aged female giving a hoot and holler about what any man thinks about my appearance ended about four decades ago.

How some dudes could conceive that telling me I’m unattractive or fat is going to be the coup de grace of my existence makes me laugh. Also, what makes these men presume womankind cares about their opinion on our looks?

Haven’t we as a society gotten past that just a wee bit? Sure, based on social media you could think that that answer to that question is a great big NO.

But don’t be fooled by all those filters and sexy posts by women on Instagram who are living the “like my post and link in bio” lifestyle. Most females today care more about than own judgment way more than what any guy thinks. Plus I think we’re raising girls today to have what I call self esteem swagger.

I’d like to believe that my father was a pioneer in this trend. Almost every day of my life he told me I was smart, beautiful and strong.

When I was in high school he drove me to school in the mornings and the entire seven-minute drive consisted of my dad telling me how amazing I was. It became a running joke between us. I called it “Dad’s morning pep talk.” He called it “telling it like it is.”

I would greet his soliloquy with rolled eyes and share that he was “full of it” but the man knew what he was doing. To this day if I’m having a crisis, large or small, I go back to what he told me on those drives to school.

This is why when men send me disparaging emails I feel sorrow and it’s not because they think I’m a “fatty” or “could use some work” but because based on my father and role model they’re failures as human beings.

I worry about any man who could write me, an aging female with no illusions about becoming an AARP super model, to call me out on my looks. What kind of man, husband, father are you that you can email a woman and attempt to tear her down by commenting on her appearance?

If you’re doing this to me, a total stranger, than how must you treat the women in your lives and what kind of damage are you doing to their mental health?

My dad’s name was Bob. I’d like to suggest that before you hit send on that next hate filled email you think about your legacy or as my husband likes to say during any big family decision ask yourself, “What would Bob do?”

 

 

 

Dear Snarky – I’m Being Shunned For Bringing Cupcakes to a School Party

Dear Snarky,

 I’m being shunned at my son’s elementary school due to having the “audacity” to bring mini chocolate cupcakes to the first grade Halloween party. I never received the link to the online sign up sheet for food and didn’t know that sweets were not allowed at the party. I only brought cupcakes because I didn’t want to show up empty handed.

 Now, the anti sugar Nazis are furious and suggesting that I’m a bad mother because I dared to bring a dessert to a Halloween party. Correct me if I’m wrong but isn’t Halloween all about the sugar? Now, I’ve been told by the two room moms that I’m not allowed to volunteer or sign up for any party duties for the reminder of the school year.

 I cannot express how angry this makes me. What course of action do you think I should take because this is total bull shit?

 Signed, Cupcake Mom

Dear Cupcake,

You have to pick your battles. Ask yourself are cupcakes the hill you want to die on? If your child is only in the first grade you have a L-O-N-G time to spend with these mothers.

This means you can do two things. One, not volunteer at the rest of the parties but absolutely show up for your son or two take a stand so these moms know not to mess with you for the next 12 years and lord help me but I’m leaning towards this one because these moms need to simmer the hell down and learn to reign in their control issues. Their kid’s elementary school is not their personal fiefdom. #getalife.

Admittedly you should make sure moving forward that you’re up-to-date on your emails, apps, etc related to school events but you shouldn’t have to cower in fear around these mothers or kiss up to them because you dared to walk into the school bearing cupcakes. This means one thing – go over their heads. Yep, talk to the teacher the real boss of the classroom.

Explain what happened, express your desire to help out and ask if there is anything the teacher needs assistance with. Then resist the urge to tell the two room moms where they can shove their “no volunteer” edict and focus on making your child’s first grade year wonderful.

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