Bear Aware

So it appears every vacation I take must be fraught with peril. Peril in the form of large mammal danger. Some of you may remember that a couple of months ago I shared my near death experience with a gray whale.  Now I can add surviving a black bear to that list.

Let’s start with a big ole WTH on bears in March? Shouldn’t they still be hibernating? The answer is no, because apparently hibernation is a myth.

That’s right, we were all sold a great big pack of lies in elementary school. According to the Lake Tahoe, California branch of the U.S. Forest Service bears don’t go stuff themselves silly in the fall and then pass out until the sun shiny days of spring beckon. Instead they take “long naps and wake up for an occasional snack and stroll.” Good Lord, they make it sound as innocuous as a teenager during the weekend.

All this is why when my family and I checked into our Lake Tahoe accommodations we were greeted with a sign that began with “Due to recent bear break-ins…” Say what? I immediately checked in with the caretaker and she shared that there wasn’t “a lot to worry” about because the bears were being “very polite.”

In fact, she added, “Just the other day a bear opened my kitchen window, got an ox tail out my freezer, unwrapped it, not making a mess at all, and then left through the front door. I think the bear may have even gotten into my recliner because when I got home I noticed the seat seemed a little greasy and after that I could never find my TV clicker.

Holy hell.

There’s so much to process from that statement. First, bear. Second, oxtail (gag). Third, the visual image of a bear in a Lazy Boy kicking back and eating a frozen snack while possibly watching ESPN. And lastly, B-E-A-R!

Getting up close and personal with a 500 plus pound bear comes in at number eight on my top ten list of things that freak me out. Snakes, sinkholes, crocodiles and alligators comprise my top four which is why I never ever go to Florida. All you Florida spring breakers out there watch your back because Florida is the only place in the world where both crocs and gators coexist and a sinkhole is the state symbol.

Of course, I wanted to change accommodations ASAP, but alas I was told the bears are everywhere. My family tried to calm me down by making fun of me and shouting, “bear” every few minutes because they’re nice like that. (Jerks.) I decided I had no choice but to be “bear aware” and suck it up.

All was well until I found myself alone in the wilderness, on top of a snow-covered mountain with only the swirling winds and a smattering of Jeffrey pine trees to keep my company. I had gone with the rest of my family to go skiing and, as so often happens, after a few runs I was dumped.

Here’s the deal. I believe in skiing very cautiously because I don’t want to risk an injury that would require me asking my husband or kids to help get me on and off the toilet for six months.

Can you even imagine?

This all lead to me being solo on a mountain with a bear. I only saw a brownish image moving quickly, but that’s all it took for me to be peed my ski pants scared as I tried to remember if the bear protocol was play dead or flee for your life. I quickly went with fleeing.

I skied like I’ve never skied before. (Winter Olympics 2018 I’m coming for you.) When I finally got to an area with other humans (i.e. more bear lunch options) I allowed myself to look back and there was nothing. Did I even see a bear or was it an extra-large pine cone flapping in the wind?

Whatever, in the version of this story to my family, it will always and forever more be a bear, a really big bear.

 

 

Dear Snarky – I Posted A Mug Shot of My Sister-in-Law on Facebook

Dear Snarkydear_snarky_logo-1

I might have caused a forever-family rift and I need your help. We did a huge family spring break trip to the beach and because we were just with family some of the moms, including myself, wore swimsuits that we would never wear back home.  We looked horrible and super fat, but didn’t care because we were with people who shouldn’t judge us about how we look.

Well, a week after the vacation my super skinny sister-in-law, posted our fat ass bikini pics on her Facebook page! We were all furious. So, a couple of days later I posted a mug shot, from probably 5 years ago, on my page of my sister-in-law when she was arrested for a drunk and disorderly with the tag “throwbackthursday.”

Now, everyone, except the other moms in the bikini pic, hates me and my father told me that because of me all of our “family vacations” are in jeopardy. I already apologized and took the picture down. Is there really anything else I can do? Oh and my sister-in-law still has that bikini picture up on Facebook.

Signed, Sort of Sorry 

Dear Sorry,

I’m not going to say your sister-in-law didn’t deserve a little payback but the mug shot was probably going to far. I think a social media sharing of an arrest trumps a stomach flab status update any way you look at. So, my suggestion is why don’t you and maybe your entire family take a break from kinfolk vacations for a long while. Let feelings simmer down and allow sometime for everyone to get over it or until a messy divorce takes center stage.

I would also suggest no more family beach vacations and next spring break opt for a ski trip where everyone is wearing puffy clothes. Plus, always and I mean always, beware of your sister-in-law. Trust me eventually she’s going to exact revenge.

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

So It’s Come to This – The Butt Selfie

ec94fa2ed4efb220cf5761f7f50a765556e7932611342c5b1cba10e542bcb037The good and bad thing about writing  is that people are always suggesting story ideas. These suggestions are usually termed like this, “Hey, I’ve got something new for you to complain about . . .”

Okay, I get it. I complain – a lot. I’d like to think I’m complaining for the greater good of mankind, but my thought process on that hypothesis could be a tad misguided.

Recently, I’ve had a lot of mothers (and by that I mean more than three) have asked me to write/grouse about the skimpy Sports Illustrated magazine swimsuit edition cover. For those of you without the benefit of sight the magazine features a woman wearing a bikini bottom that would be snug on an American Girl doll and provides minimal coverage of only the most basic parts of the female anatomy.

Here’s my problem with the photo. I don’t have one. Yep, I have zero issues with it. The model is an adult and I’m fairly certain she didn’t have regrets posing semi nude or was in any way surprised that a Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue would involve stripping down to almost your birthday suit.

In fact, I think the magazine cover is actually a duel ode to the art form known as Photoshopping and the waxing industry. Can you imagine a cover like that before having bald nether regions were in vogue? Just no on that visual. Right?

What I want to say to women who were offended by the cover is that if they really want to be horrified they need to check out the Instagram accounts of 14 year-old-girls on Spring break. There you can behold picture after picture of girls in their bikinis who have taken what I would classify as burgeoning soft-core pornography shots. Close ups of their breasts in their swimsuit tops and butt photos all abound on social media. One girl even attempted to get artisty and have a cheek shot on the beach with the sun setting behind her behind.

Tragically, that’s not the worst part. The comments and “likes” the photos elicit are. This is where friends, classmates and God forbid strangers take to leaving remarks about the sexy photo a child has posted of themselves. It’s creepy and crass.

It also makes me very sad and scared. What has happened to this generation of entry-level young women that they feel the need, the desire, to objectify themselves on a very public stage and then eagerly wait for comments?

I know it’s nothing new to strut your stuff. But back in the day we did it at the local pool and our Sears Lemon Frog swim wear was no Victoria’s Secret cheekster bikini.

Sure, we can take the easy way out and blame the Kardashians. If you’re parenting a girl over the age of 11 the reality TV, social media savvy family can be used as an excuse for almost any questionable behavior your daughter maybe exhibiting. For example, wanting to wear a rainbow thong in the 6th grade – so Kardashian. Wanting to post a picture of yourself in a thong in the 8th grade – so Kim Kardashian.

Iffy role models aside what’s really going on here? Are teenage girls so lacking in self-esteem that they feel the need to go full boob on Instagram just so someone can leave a comment that they are “hot”?

Now, please note I’m not picking on just girls. I know teenage boys way overshare and there’s a reason local middle schools have assemblies about why you “shouldn’t post nudes online.”

But, and this is what was keeping me at night, why aren’t the kids afraid of their parents bringing down a mega load of wrath if and when they discover these photos? To get this question answered I went straight to the source – 13 and 14-year-old girls.

Umm, there’s no easy way for me to break this to you, but a lot of the Spring break pictures, most especially the ones featuring fannies, were taken by mothers!

The sun setting rear end shot I mentioned early that highlighted a 14-year-old’s back end spilling out of what I would graciously describe as less of a swimsuit bottom and more of a piece of lycra supplying crack camo was photographed by a M-O-M!

This makes me want so many things to happen like a national holiday celebrating the full coverage panty. But mainly I want to urge parents to teach, preach, shout it from the rooftops, do a yard sign, and maybe some kind of decal for the car (I mean seriously, who cares that you ran 22.2 miles? Wouldn’t a sticker that says my daughter is in training to run the universe be even better?) that our daughters have so much more to offer humankind than a selfie of their butt.

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! 🙂

 

 

Spring Break(less)

collegehumor.ade66de5c31bd858e8fdf376122eb79dCan we talk about Spring Break? The whole concept sounds lovely right? And I’m sure it is unless you’re traveling with my family to go on a ski vacation. Then it won’t be a break at all it. It will be me doing everything I do at home just in a different location. Why? Because we stay at a condo.

Not just any condo but one with a washer, dryer, dishwasher and oh goodie cleaning supplies and a vacuum. Thus ensuring I get to cook and scour all while gazing on a snow-capped mountain vista. That’s what’s it all about right – chores with a view? Because it’s totally different to scrub a toilet if you can get a glimpse of the Rockies while you’re elbow deep in Pine Sol.

The kitchen is the kill joy of the trip. It’s there staring at you, mocking you, almost daring you to waste money on eating out. My husband’s favorite vacation mantra is, “Why go to a restaurant when we’ve got a kitchen? Think of all the money we’re saving. This way the condo pays for itself.” Ugh.

Oh sure, I get to ski and I know I sound like an ungrateful whiner and I acknowledge that my complaining is annoying but sorry I can’t seem to stop myself. Maybe it’s because by March I’m just not that giddy about experiencing more ice, snow and frozen extremities. In fact, that nifty Polar Vortex and it’s long time companion Sub Zero provided me with about all the frosty fun I can handle. I’m a wrong that a spring vacation shouldn’t include pulling on long underwear, three pairs of socks, and shoving bags of thermal toe warmers into your boots and bra?

Then there’s the excitement of careening down a mountain and hitting what the ski resort calls “isolated icy patches”(but in reality is like hydro planning on a land mass the size of the Planet Hoth from Star Wars) because the spring thaw has started. While I’m struggling to stay upright I”ll see many Beware of Bears signs posted all over slopes. Oh yeah, it’s spring and the bears are rested, rejuvenated and ravenous! Bonus, a bear’s nose is super charged. It could be miles away and still get a whiff of my stress sweat and maybe just maybe jog over at an average speed of 35 miles per hour and say, “Howdy stranger.” This will freak me out so badly that I’ll probably forget about focusing on not falling and wipe out so hard I bounce like a basketball being dribbled by a group of third graders during a P.E. skills drill.

Falling is the worst thing that can happen because it means I have to, Screen Shot 2014-03-05 at 9.19.27 PMeventually, get up. If you’ve never tried to stand on a slippery, snow encrusted slope with a vertical drop of 6,000 feet while standing on what amounts to a couple of fiberglass Swiffer Wet Jets strapped to your feet than you haven’t really lived. Because nothing says FUN like multiple attempts to hoist your body into a standing position using your ski poles – which are basically the size of two car antennas ripped off a fleet of 1979 AMC Pacers – as your only form of leverage. God help you if you lose a ski. Seriously, start praying because if you have to walk any distance in ski boots you’re doomed. A Sasquatch in six-inch stilettos has more grace and agility than a human being trying to traverse across a frozen tundra in ski boots. You might as well be wearing a toaster oven on each foot.

Once I’m finally up for good, have run out of curse words and I’ve chiseled the frozen tears and ice encrusted snot off my face I’ll head down the mountain because it will be time to make lunch and I’m sure I’ll have a load, or two, of laundry to do.

***For all things wonderfully Snarky go to www.snarkygear.com where you can find the new winter Snarky line of clothing and accessories. (Flannel Snarky P.J.’s anyone?) 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.

Skied To Death

novice_ski_schoolSkiing is a not so very coordinated big girl’s friend. What’s not to love about an activity where you’ve got gravity doing most of the work for you.You point those skis and down you go where you’re rewarded with sitting, for at least a couple of minutes, in a chairlift. The ski apparel is also big girl friendly. You’ve got ski boots that can camouflage any variety of cankle affliction. Puffy pants and jackets that make everyone look they’re trapped in day 3 of a bad water retaining PMS episode and a helmet and goggles that render you faceless. Because of all those perks I have come to enjoy skiing. Which is not to say I’m very good at it. Now, even my children won’t ski with me. Sure, they’ll do a couple of “courtesy” treks down the mountain and then they take off to higher and harder terrain with my husband. That means I’m left alone to enjoy the less challenging terrain. I’m fine with that. I explained to my husband years ago as he tried to cajole me to experience the adrenaline rush of a black diamond run that the family couldn’t afford for it’s maid, cook, chauffeur, social planner, etc to be down and out for a month minimum while I recovered from a ski accident. Really, I asked him, “Do you want to help me get on and off the toilet for 6 weeks and have to blow dry my hair?” Put like that he had no choice, but to agree. So, this Spring Break off my family goes while I hitch a ride on the “baby” chairlift. I was okay with it, really, but a part of me thought I was doing myself a disservice, maybe I did need to push myself just a bit and get out of my comfort zone. Which is how I almost died.

Dateline: Friday, March 18  – 3:30 p.m. p.s.t. elevation 8,833 feet. The chair lifts stopped running at 4 p.m. that meant I had time for one more run. I gave myself a pep talk that I could/should ski a harder terrain. So, I got on a chairlift that would take me up, up and away to the land where “real skiers” hung out. I felt pumped. I was no longer the mom skier, the girl who got picked last for every sport in elementary school. I was an athlete, dammit. I got off the chairlift and looked down the mountain. The weather had changed during the ride up the chairlift. Curse you, mountain micro climates! The sky had darkened and snow was falling fast. My goggles needed windshield wipers and a defroster. I could barely see and maybe that wasn’t a bad thing. The more I looked down the mountain the more I lost my bravado but right before I chickened out someone started whispering into my ear. At first I thought it was the wind picking up, but praise be to the lord it was the patron saint of middle-aged mothers everywhere – the voice of Oprah Winfrey. She was listing off the title of every self-help book manufactured to prey on a woman’s fragile mental health and well-being. I could hear her chanting  Do Something that Scares You Everyday, How to be Your Best Self, The Confidence Course, You Can’t Afford the Luxury of a Negative Thought over and over in my head. That did it. A higher power was telling me to push-off and go down that mountain and so that’s exactly what I did.

Wow, what a feeling! I was doing it and,I thought, looking good. I felt like I was flying and for a person with my body mass index let me just tell ya you don’t have the whole body in flight experience very often. It was so exhilarating that I started singing, Super Girl over and over at the top of my lungs. Okay, so I only knew one verse – “I’m Super Girl and I’m here to save the world and I wanna know who’s gonna save me.” After about 5 minutes of this combo of my stunning vocal skills and world-class skiing  disaster struck. I wiped out, hard. Thankfully, my butt took the brunt of the fall and my head never hit the snow. I did a cursory examination starting with my toes and worked my way up. Every body part seemed to be able to do its thing and, in what was a first for me, I gave thanks for my body’s extra layer of padding. I’m absolutely sure my flab acted as protective bubble wrap for my internal organs. Now, I just had to get up and find my skis which had taken flight when I fell and were waiting for me up the mountain. That was going to be a problem, the whole getting up thing. If you’ve never walked in ski boots let me share with you that the robot from Lost In Space and Frankenstein have more grace and agility then a human walking in ski boots, especially one trying to walk up a snow slicked mountain. It’s not only the walking, it’s the getting up. The boots make it difficult to dig in and pull yourself up. After 4 attempts of trying to push myself upright I was finally standing and started my slow climb up the mountain to get my skis. My upright climb lasted about 30 seconds until I fell again. Crap – I was just going to have to crawl up to my skis. Many minutes and much swearing later I had retrieved both skis and then I slid on my butt down to get my poles. At last I had all my equipment. I got my skis back on, brushed the snow off me, adjusted my goggles, and went to my panic mode standby – The Little Engine that Could – and started saying over and over to myself, I think I can, I think I can and again started my journey down.

All was well for another couple of minutes. Slowly, very slowly, I went not down, but across the mountain. Traversing with lazy S’s to keep my speed as snail-like as possible. I could barely see because the snow was blowing so hard. It was like it was having a hissy fit in front of my face but I was making progress and that gave me confidence.  Then I hit a mogul. Moguls are bumps formed when skiers push the snow into mounds as they turn. Basically, it looks like the mountain has gotten a series of double Z breast augmentations from the Devil. If you’re a good skier you can jump them or maneuver around them. If you’re me you fall – again.This time I didn’t think I was getting up. I had decided I was just going to lay there until some super skier or too cool for school snow boarder came by to either help me up or alert the ski patrol. I had my cell phone in a pocket in my ski pants, but I was in a no bar zone. Oh, how I longed to be pulled down the mountain in a sled, wrapped in blankets behind a snowmobile. So, I laid there and waited for rescue. Nothing happened. Not a soul skied by. By this time I was waiting for the sweet release of hypothermia to kill me before the bears got me. Yes, bears. It’s a dirty lie they tell you in school. Bears do not hibernate all winter. They get up, take a stroll and maybe snack on a skier or two. There are even signs posted about being bear aware. I was imagining my bear scenario. I’m sure upon finding my frosty body the bears would clap their paws, rejoice and thank Mother Nature for the bountiful feast. I can see the bears salivating and fighting over which part of me to eat first. Finally after much discussion they would settle on my juicy, plump thighs – the other white meat.

As I scanned the mountain for black bears I also began to imagine how my mountain demise would be immortalized. I knew my death by skiing would at the very least make an episode of the Travel Channel’s “When Vacations Attack” or the Weather Channel’s “Storm Stories.” But, I was hoping for a Lifetime Movie. Maybe Brooke Shields could play me. Once in a dark bar about 18 years ago someone told me I looked like her.  If there was any justice my cruel, tragic end would rate a feature film starring Angeline Jolie.  Yes, we have a lot in common. We’re both human.

So, there I laid prostrate on the side of a mountain. My body barely visible now, as the rapidly falling snow covers me in a white coffin. I keep alert thinking about how I will be remembered Hollywood style. Then reality sets in and I start thinking about my family.  Not how sad they would be for me to be gone or even my husband finding comfort in the supple, tan, toned arms of women 20 years my junior, but of the gianormous To Do list that awaits me when I get home. Both kids has birthdays next month. There are school projects, home improvements, and another hundred things that have to be accomplished. I have to get up and get down the mountain!

Using the one thing that has sustained me in hard times, no, not the love of my family, but of food. I visualize myself eating a Krispy Kreme doughnut. It comes to me hot off the conveyor belt. It’s sugary glaze dripping down my chin as I take bite after bite and that gives me fuel to use every muscle, I didn’t know I had, to haul myself upright. At last, I’m standing. I grab my poles, say a prayer and go, slowly over and around the moguls. My legs are burning. I can’t feel my fingers and the snow keeps slapping me in the face. It feels like I’m getting a really bad brow wax from a beauty school student. Like tiny pieces of wax are getting yanked off my face over and over again. I can’t handle it. I can’t keep on slowly going across the mountain and around the moguls. My body won’t last much longer. I have no choice but to assume the position. The tuck. I squat, put the poles behind me, and take off straight down the mountain. To keep the fear at bay I mentally go over my calendar for the next week. There’s school, dance  practice, volleyball, SAT prep class, dog to vet, volunteer work, order birthday supplies and on and on. I’m struggling to stay upright. My feet feel like they’re going to come straight out of my ski boots every time I go over a mogul. Yahoo! The ski run smooths out. I’m on familiar territory. I’ve merged into a green (beginner) run. I’m almost down the mountain and to the heavenly salvation of a ski lodge. Thank you, oh thank you, God! Minutes later I’m taking off my skies, kissing them and putting them up in the rack outside the lodge. I lumber in. The first thing I notice is a clock. It felt like I had been stranded on the mountain for days. In actuality it had only been 47 minutes. I then see my family. The kids are fighting over french fries and my husband is drinking a beer.  Everything is status quo. They look up and see me.  I’m covered head to toe in white. Frozen chunks of snow and ice are clinging to my ski pants and jacket, hanging off my goggles and helmet. My ski boots resemble two blocks of ice, dipped in marshmallow fluff. I look like I was the “featured entertainer” at an outdoor orgy hosted by Frosty the Snowman. They all start laughing. No, make that howling and I have never felt happier.

***For all things wonderfully Snarky go to www.snarkygear.com where you can find the new winter Snarky line of clothing and accessories. (Flannel Snarky P.J.’s anyone?) 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.

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

wooden_beach_umbrella-1(In honor of Spring Break I’m  re-posting this blog I wrote  about one of my last “break” experiences.)

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.

*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! 🙂

Trouble in Texas