First Day of School Rules For Parents

Screen Shot 2015-08-16 at 12.44.44 PMPrayers have been answered! The first day of school is here. Praise the glory that is the number 2 pencil and all hail the college ruled notebook and three-ring binder.

I will admit that starting school in August seems really, really early and I have some guilt issues that I’m this excited to see my daughter go bye-bye for seven, long, beautiful hours a day. But then I remind myself that school ended for us before Memorial Day and presto I’m no longer feeling bad about doing the back-to-school happy dance.

For those of you curious about what my happy dance looks like it’s a combination of a jig with a little Polka influence, then I throw in some Bee Gee’s Saturday Night Fever disco with a hip hop influence that says, “This girl still got it” and if I’m really feeling it, like my back doesn’t hurt and my knees are making that weird clicking sound (what’s up with that?), I bust out a cartwheel.

I think I look cool doing it. My husband disagrees and says my “dance” is not only incredibly painful for him to watch, but also scares the dogs and rattles the house’s foundation. Whatever. I think he’s just jealous because really who wouldn’t be? When I do my hip hop inspired Running Man move it’s, it’s . . . well, it’s something else that’s for sure.

The only thing that has the power to kill my happy dance is parents who on day one break some very basic back-to-school rules. This is why I, (whose hip now hurts from landing my cartwheel on my butt) in the spirit on continuing education, will now share with you my top four back-to-school rules.

Rule #1 Do not bring the teacher a gift on the first day. I see this happening every year and it’s in a word – awkward. I don’t care if it’s a Starbucks skim mocha latte with extra foam or a cookie cake. (In the yes this really happened department. One year a mom brought a cookie cake to a teacher and the icing was a picture of the teacher’s face. Yikes!)

The whole gifting the teacher on the first day of school says way too many things about the parent doing it. Who’s ready for a pop quiz?

Does gifting the teacher mean:

A) That you’re the worst kind of suck up. 

B) You’re letting the teachers know you’re willing to reward them for favors.

C) You’re a show off and are using the first day as a way to signal to all the other parents that you’re a Super Mom.

D) All of the above

If you picked D go to the head of the class because you just got an A+.

Rule #2 Do not turn the first day of school into a photo shoot featuring your child. I get it some parents want to publish a coffee table book on their kid’s first day of second grade. But don’t be the parent that asks the teacher to participate in your pictorial to such an extent that it’s creating chaos.

When my son was in the fourth grade there was a dad with two cameras (each with a telephoto lens) around his neck directing the teacher as he clicked away. It was all, “Mrs. Williams can you lean in closer to Katie so I can get another angle? “Okay, now I need you to move your head to the right, pick up a textbook and pretend you’re showing it to Katie.” On and on it went until I stood in front of his cameras. (Someone had to do it.)

 Rule #3 Do not have your mom sorority, clique, gossip girl group, whatever you want to call it, block the forward motion of other families walking into the school because your collection of awesome friends have decided to have a “I haven’t seen you since Bar Method class yesterday” reunion in the foyer of the building.

Ladies, please take all that love to the parking lot or cafeteria and let other parents and their children proceed into the school without having to leap over you or accidentally on purpose hitting your Lululemon Hotty Hot shorts (actual name of a Lulu short BTW) with a Marvel Superhero’s backpack.

Rule #4 If you have a position in PTO/PTA or are a room parent that requires the help of volunteers please (and I’m begging you to take medication if you have to) resist the urge to begin your campaign of volunteer shaming on the very first day. Go ahead and put a flyer in kids backpacks heralding “exciting volunteer opportunities for the school year” but for the love of all that is holy DO NOT start guilt tripping or doing any subtle brow beating as in: “Wow, it seems like I never saw you last year? Did you do any volunteering at all?”  OR “Do you think you can make time for (insert your child’s name here) this year.”  But wait there’s more with this goodie – “It would be nice to know if we can finally count on you.” And last, but not least the classic – “Don’t you care about education?”

Now parents let’s follow these rules and make it a great first day!

*Attencover_1.3-2tion Snarky Friends, I have a new book out and for a limited time only it’s just 99 cents for a heaping helping of Snark! You are now gazing at the second book 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 – What Should I do About a Mother Who Cheated to Get Her Kid a Citizenship Award?

dear_snarky_logo-1Dear Snarky,

I know it’s summer but I’m still angry about something that happened the last day of school. My son is in elementary school and every year they have an awards ceremony. This year the same girl got almost every award including a citizenship award that you have to be nominated for by a school employee and a student.

Well come to find out the school nurse and the kid that did the nominating BOTH have family members that work for the winning kid’s dad. The mother of the student that wrote the nomination letter even said she was approached by the kid’s mom and was more told than asked to have her child write a nomination letter for this girl. She, of course, made her kid do it because she didn’t want any work repercussions.

I want to write my own letter to the school and point out the hypocrisy of their awards ceremony that they let a mom micromanage so her kid wins everything. My husband says to just let it go. What do you think? Shouldn’t I take a stand?

Signed, Still Angry

Dear Angry,

I’ve got to agree with your husband on this one. Move on sister and enjoy what’s left of your summer. This battle is not worth your time. The hyper controlling, manipulating, so her kid gets everything mom is a dime a dozen these days. You might as well be playing Whac-A-Mole. Once you take down one, another pops up.

In fact, by the time your kid gets into high school any award that is not validated by a third-party and is in no way connected to the school are the only ones anyone pays any attention to. For example, a National Merit Award based on scores for a test taken outside the school and tabulated by strangers in state far, far, away – that’s one you’ll be impressed by.

Yes, it’s sad this is the way things are now, but until parents quit placing their own self-worth and validation on the back of their kids I fear nothing is going to change anytime soon.

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

 

For All The Moms Who Have Completed Their Elementary School Tour of Duty

Screen Shot 2015-05-29 at 11.13.12 AMI have my fair share of personality quirks. One of them is that I’m not very sentimental. For example, I didn’t need a box of Kleenex and waterproof mascara when my youngest child completed her elementary school career. It’s actually surprising to me the number of mothers that get all choked up about this “milestone.”

Listen up moms, instead of boo hoo you should be going yahoo! Because not having a child in elementary is a cornucopia of awesome. Yes, there’s still a whole lot of stuff to deal with parenting an older child, like teen angst, having a kid drive and all that college prep stress. But there’s also freedom for you, as in you no longer have to be involved in the day-to-day management of your kid’s classroom life.

Just in case you doubt me on this I have compiled the top four reasons to be elated that you are no longer an elementary school mom.

No More Dioramas – This alone should be reason enough for a party. You can now actually look at a shoebox without experiencing harrowing flashbacks to various diorama dramas. I’m still haunted by my daughter’s second grade diorama project that featured the planet Saturn. Do you know how hard it is to get the rings of Saturn not just around a shoebox, but to stay affixed? Let me help you out with that answer. It’s four glasses of wine hard.

No More Homework Help – Yeah, your kid may still need help with their homework in high school, but you won’t be smart enough to do it. I don’t care if you’re right now doing the math for a manned mission to Mars high school algebra will still be beyond your capability. The reason is because the way you were taught to do algebra back in the day is all wrong. Sure, the answers will be the same, but the show your work part will not be up to the 21st century spread sheet that is now high school math.

No More Room Moms – I can say this because I have a long history of being a room mom, so here goes – room moms can suck. In my experience they come in four varieties:

1) They’re either laid back and focused on fun for the kids.

2) Super anal and controlling to the point that you get 20 emails and 32 texts reminding you that you signed up to bring napkins to the winter party.

3) They volunteered for the gig so they could attempt to be the teacher’s bestie and could care less about actually getting things done.

4) Put the B in the bitch and are using their “room mom” status as phase one in their goal for global domination.

To experience a school year without a room mom or home room party obligation is a most joyous thing.

No More Book Report Projects – My children’s book report projects almost killed MY love of reading. You might as well have signed me up for electroshock therapy whenever one of them announced they had a book project due.

I thought I was an emotionally strong woman until my son had an assignment that involved him making a puppet. I’m not ashamed to admit that a puppet of George Washington broke me – not just a little bit, but on my knees in the kitchen doing the ugly cry broke me.

It felt all kinds of wrong hating the father of our country, but hate him I did because I had to construct a freaking marionette puppet of G.W. in all his breeches, pilgrim shoe and tricorn hat glory.

Oh, and just in case you’re thinking big deal you had to draw and color puppet let me clue you in to the fact that the puppet had to be wearing clothes. That’s right, I had to sew a teeny, tiny presidential outfit.

Finally, I got smart about the project and just gave up on the whole marionette thing of attaching strings. I also abandon ship on sewing. In a final act of desperation I raided my daughter’s Barbie Princess Castle, stripped the Prince Charming doll of his pants and shirt and called it a day.

The next morning as I walked my son into his classroom I was feeling okay about the puppet. It wasn’t great, but it looked like an 8 year-old-had done it (or an emotionally fragile mom at 2 a.m). Then I saw the rest of the kids’ puppets. God Bless America, one girl had a George Washington puppet that was three feet tall, outfitted in satin breeches with a cutaway jacket, a cravat and hair! The puppet had a wig. Who does that? It was also outfitted with a voice box.

The puppet, I kid you not, sang the Star Spangled Banner. It may have been highly immature of me to point out to the girl’s mother the historical inaccuracy of George Washington singing the Star Spangled Banner, but how could I not? You don’t just bring a wig-wearing puppet into a classroom and not expect some blowback.

So for all you moms who are no longer parenting an elementary school child rejoice for you are free or at least free from show off mothers who have puppeteering skills.

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

 

Undercover Snarky

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Part 2

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Rantober

In a shock to no one I’m ranting again.  My Halloween candy stash has been forcibly removed from my home.  At first I thought it would be a good idea.  A Pre-Halloween cleanse, if you will.  Like most of my ideas it sounded excellent in theory, but was a disaster played out in real-time.  During a P.M.S. sugar craze I went for the bottle of children’s Gummy Bear vitamins.  One word – yummy. Two words – over dose.  I didn’t know until I shared my secret shame on Facebook that all the extra iron and vitamin A are not a good thing. Think death or at least a case of chronic constipation, Now I’m back on my cleanse with a fiber chaser. It’s made me very crabby and given me a level of gas that is so intense I fear leaving my home.  I have no other recourse, but to vent.  So, here goes.

Facebook  I thought I had seen almost every instance of T.M.I. imaginable on Facebook from a pregnant women’s comment that her “cervix is mushy and dilated to a 6.” To a dude’s “tripod” Viagra story, but nothing tops this: (Please note what I’m about to reveal is a word for word status update.)

“This morning my beautiful 13-year-old daughter’s journey to become a woman has begun.  She finally started her period!  When I heard her call me into the bathroom I just knew it had happened”

Yes, a mother, who I know and until now didn’t think was insane, put that on FB.  What kind of mom shares that kind of personal, private information with the general public?  (I feel justified in using the term general public because the mother has almost 1,000 FB friends.)  This question so haunted my every waking minute that I had to message her and ask, “Aren’t you afraid your daughter is going to kill you?”  She replied, “I can’t imagine she would care.  We’re going shopping after school to celebrate.”   Really, shopping? Is it going to be a mad cap adventure at Target for maxi pads and panty liners?  Maybe even worse than the mother’s over share were her “friends” responses.    Her status update received 59 likes (Why would you “like” that? What’s to like?  “Yeah, you get to enjoy PMS, cramps, and basically being on restroom alert 5 to 7 days out of every month.  Yippee!”) and 24 comments These were my favorite. (Once again, word for word here)

“The Lord has smiled and another girl has flowered into a beautiful woman.”

Okay, that totally creeps me out. The whole God grinning, flowering woman thing sounds beyond disturbing.

“OMG Your daughter just got her period? My Ava started hers at 11.”

Read it and weep mothers are now competitive about when their girls start menstruating?  It’s the Period Olympiad folks. What does that say about us as a society?  I’ll give you a hint. It says we’re, most if not all, bat shit crazy.

Do not let her use Tampons for at least 6 months it will ruin her hymen.

WTH?  How can a Tampon ruin your hymen and how does 6 months play into the ruination schedule? More importantly why should we be obsessed about hymens in general?  Inquiring minds what to know.  I felt compelled to comment on this comment and asked those 3 questions.  I got this response. “The hymen is at its most sensitive the first 6 months of a girl’s period and you want to be sure not to break it.” I commented back, “You really need to read some basic biology books and not rely solely on your “Great Granny’s Guide to the Care and Upkeep of Your Virginal Plug.” Can you believe someone deleted my comment to her comment?   Jerks.

The one thing I’m certain of is this T.M.I. Mom better watch her back. I don’t know how and I don’t know when, but I’m very, very sure her daughter will seek revenge and it will be painful.  At least I’m hoping it will be painful and that her daughter will share all the gory details on Facebook.  In gleeful anticipation I’ve already sent her a friend request.

Kid’s names  I know it’s none of my business what anyone chooses to name their child.  But for all you pregnant or soon to be pregnant woman out there let me offer this advice.  When thinking of a perfect moniker for your someday baby ask yourself this question: Is there anyway it will make him or her a serial killer?  Remember your kids grow up and if you give them a goofy name they’ll solicit some degree of payback.

I feel the need to offer this advice because today when I was at the park walking my dogs I stopped to talk to a mom and comment on her adorable son.  She told me her son’s name is “Awesome.”  I replied, “Of course he’s awesome.” She corrected me.  “No, he’s not just awesome that’s his name.”  I said, “Really his name is Awesome?  Is that a family name?” (Yeah, I said something that stupid. I was flustered.) She politely said, “No, no one else in the family is an Awesome.”  I asked her how they came up “such an original name.”  She smiled and said, “When he was born my husband and I both looked at him and the first word that came out of your mouths was awesome.”  “Oh what a great story,” I happily replied and bid my farewell.  It took everything I had to not turn around and go back to the woman and talk some sense into her.  I wanted to scream, “Awesome, you named your kid Awesome!”  Doesn’t she know what’s she done.  One of two things is going to happen here. The kid will either grow up to indeed be Awesome (doubtful) or he’ll become the nation’s worst serial killer.  F.B.I. profilers will trace back his mental unhinging and proclaim that it all begin in elementary school when Awesome was teased for being not so awesome.  I can see the news headlines “Awesome Serial Killer Claims Another Victim.”  I’m seriously worried for this child.

Sometimes you just have to talk yourself (or family members) out of name.  My dad (the accountant) wanted me to name my son Cash.  I told my Dad that unless he wanted to pay me lots of cash for naming rights there was no way that was going to happen.  I also have always loved the name Grace.  But, me Klutzy Cankle Doofus couldn’t name my daughter that.  What if she inherited my total lack of coordination?  How grossly unfair to be named Grace when you have problems walking and talking on your cell phone. Never mind that it took me years to master climbing stairs in flip-flops.  It was imperative that I select another name.  The good news here is that my daughter turned out to be very graceful, but I’m certain that if I had tempted fate and named her Grace she’d be a mini-me still learning how to keep clogs on her feet. (It’s all in the toes.) Trust me no one wants that for any child.

Adult Halloween Costumes  My number one Halloween rule is I will not wear any costume that requires Spanx or a bra that through an intricate system of ropes, pulleys and under-wire elevates my breast to the higher altitude of my clavicle.  When did Halloween leave Scary Town and relocated to Slutburbs? Have you been to a Halloween costume store?  They should rename them Skanks R Us.  It’s all thigh high tights, garters, cleavage and stripper shoes.  The worst is they’ve taken sweet, innocent children’s characters like Minnie Mouse and Alice in Wonderland and turned them into (non Magic Kingdom licensed, of course) hooker outfits.  What happened did Minnie cheat on Mickey with Goofy? (Bad choice Minnie. I would have picked Scrooge McDuck over Goofy.  Sure, Scrooge is old, but he’s loaded and I think he looks cute in his top hat.) Did Mickey throw her out of the House of Mouse?  Did Minnie find herself short on cash? Was she forced to relocate to Tramp Toon Town and work the pole at Donald Duck’s Gentleman’s Club “A quack establishment featuring the no pants dance”?  I’m pretty sure that’s what went down because Minnie’s outfit doesn’t say Disney it says Do Me.

While I’ve got your attention I’d like to add that few things are more pathetic than middle-aged women using Halloween as an opportunity to strut around in honeymoon lingerie masquerading as a costume.  I went to a Halloween party last weekend and I hadn’t seen that many almost exposed boobs since I attended a La Leche League breast-feeding class 15 years ago.  There was the sexy sailor, the foxy firefighter, the slutty Cinderella, the voluptuous vampire all way past their nublie years .  I hope they all caught a horrible chest cold or at the very least extreme chapped nipples.

Nerd/Geek Days During the week before Halloween many schools have spirit days that consist of kids dressing up in a different outfits each day.  For example, there’s a Western Day, Pajama Day etc.  Some schools even have a Nerd and/or Geek days where kids come to school with goofy glasses with tape on them, too short pants pulled way past their belly button, pocket protectors – you get the picture.  I’m a one woman wrecking ball when it comes to Nerd/Geek days sanctioned by schools, places that allegedly celebrate knowledge.  Why don’t the schools just have a day that proclaims “We Hate Math and Science!” or “We Never Want to Find A Cure for Cancer!”

A Geek is many splendor thing and these kids need some love.  They’ve been picked on post womb. As the proud mother of a super geek I was appalled several years ago when my son’s school had a Nerd/Geek day.  I had him embrace his geek by dressing up for school in a coat and tie.  I then took those fake $1,000 bills you can find at the Dollar Store and stuffed them in his suit coat pocket and put one of those “Hello My Name is” labels on him that read, “Hello, I’m your boss in 20 years.”   Well, guess what happened next? I got a call from the principal expressing “concern” about my son’s costume.  He felt it was “uppity.” I was up at that school faster than you can say, “Stanford Graduating Class of 2018.”I ever so politely pointed out to the principal that the Geek day was a form of bullying. (Yes, many years ago I learned any variation of the word bully is a parental trump card.)  I then gently suggested that instead of mocking geeks the school embrace their thirst for educational enrichment or at the very least get the costume right.  Goofy glasses and high water pants – please.  I don’t think Steve Jobs, the Google Guys, or any Nobel prize-winning scientist I’ve ever seen looks (looked) like that, especially not the girl geeks.  The principal attempted to blow me off, pat me on the head or whatever by saying, “You need to take off your mom hat.  You’re over thinking this.”  Oh my, that poor, poor man.  I hope someday soon a Dr. Geek/Nerd will invent a 3 part  robotic prosthesis for male genitalia because there’s an elementary school principal in Texas walking around without any of his manhood left.  I ripped it right off, stomped on it and then tossed it the trash on my way out of his office.  Screw “Don’t Mess With Texas” what you really need to do is “Don’t Mess With a Mom of a Super Geek.”  We’re lethal and our kids know how to crash your computer system.

Lord, that felt good to rant.  I’m not even craving high fructose corn syrup.  Now, there’s a Halloween miracle for you.  Well, off I go to venture forth and find something else to irritate me.  I’m sure it won’t take long.

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

Liars – All of Them!

1176265_10151814829998130_806107146_nLeave it to the first day of school to bring out the filthy liars in the motherhood community. I guess the scent of newly sharpened number two pencils, the aroma of brand new nylon Jansport backpacks and the essence of Johnson & Johnson Strawberry Sensation Detangling spray somehow manifests itself into a chemical cloud that permeates the nasal passages of all moms with school age children. The potent chemical combo must then travel to the brain cortex and trigger a nervous system response that manifests itself in grown, should know better females, telling great big whooping fibs for a 12 hour period.

We all know what the biggest back-to-school is fib is don’t we? It’s the mother of all fibs. It’s when we share to anyone who will listen, but most especially other moms that our guts are being ripped out, our souls are being shattered, we’re grieving, we are in the deepest, darkest pit of despair because school is starting and we’re bereft imagining a world in which we can not spend every waking hour with the magnificent beings that shoved their way of out of our loins.

Yeah, I get it. The first day of school is emotional. Every year is a milestone. Your kids are getting older. You’re getting older. You’re anxious and maybe a little worried because you want your children to have the most wonderful first day. I’m right there with you. What irritates me is the mompocrisy of women who use this day to over-share that they are “just dying inside” because they’ll miss their kids so much. It’s like a contest and the winner to Best Mom goes to whoever is wailing the most about school starting.

I admit I’m on the other side of that statement. Way on the other side. When my alarm goes off on the first day of school I spring out of bed and do, at the very least, a 60 second happy dance that is so exuberant it scares the dogs and causes the dining room chandelier to swing violently to and fro. I then skip to each child’s room and wake them up with this little song (loosely sung to the tune of Camp Town Races)

“Get up, Get up, Right Away cause Mommy’s happy school starts today.  

 Hurry, hurry and get dressed Lord knows I crave an empty nest.

 Don’t worry about me, be sure to sign up for loads of free extra curricular activities.”

After I see them off to their respective schools. I get back in my mercifully empty car, bow my head in silence and thank the gods of parenting that I made it through another summer with my sanity, somewhat, in tact. I then do a deep cleansing breath, roll down all my windows, crank up the NPR, scream “yahoo” while doing multiple air high fives, and toast the new school year by sacrificing a virgin Diet Coke.

Sadly, I have found over the years that I have to hide my joy or at the very least downplay it. It seems it is bad form to celebrate your liberation from your children. To do so makes one seem (gasp!) less than mother-of -the-year material. I started out this first day of school by being very well-behaved. Inside the privacy of my own home I didn’t conceal my back-to-school bliss. I figured my kids were used to it but I was respectful of their need for some summer closure.

I gave my son a moment alone with two besties – iPad and X-Box. He had a tearful farewell. I told him not to worry about leaving his “friends” unattended for 7 plus hours each day. I promised to go in and dust them every morning and to throw his video game controllers on the floor at least twice around lunchtime so they would still feel right at home. My daughter got choked up when she blew a kiss to the TV remote and thanked it for an amazing summer. I promised her I would light a candle in honor of the Disney Channel. With that done I loaded up and did the drop off and bye-bye.

So far, so good, until I attended a “Mom Coffee” comprised of moms from a wide swath of the neighborhood. Some I knew, others I had never seen before. Unfortunately the mom meet and greet sat me off from the get go. I tried, I swear I did. I smiled, I nodded, I made my “you are so right” parent face, but after 20 minutes I snapped.

I couldn’t take another mother blabbing and using a kleenex as her must have back-to-school accessory to emphasis how sad she was summer was over and her “little munchkins” wouldn’t be with her. Because here’s the deal – the mom doing the most award-winning interruption of “I love my kids more than you because I miss them already” was a total fake.  Her two kids when not enjoying back-to-back sessions of two-week sleep away summer camp or at their grandparents for an extended stay were at my house driving me crazy and I don’t even have children their age. Trust me, I think I saw her kids more than she did.

This is when I trumped the weepy moms fibs with a bigger, better one of my own. I told this group that it was really too bad they were so upset that school had begun because I had seen a recent study, somewhere, that had shown that moms who are the most sad about school starting are the ones that didn’t spend enough quality time in meaningful engagement with their children over the summer and thus their guilt manifests itself into a debilitating, chronic back-to-school remorse.

Oops!

Cue the crap storm. Moms got enraged! Kleenex were flung to the floor and women began to defend their summer schedules and suggest “how dare I question their parenting.”

“Goodness,” I said, (in my best Barney Fife married Miss Goodie Two Shoes voice), “calm down I didn’t write the study, I just saw it and to be perfectly honest I loved it. It validated my parenting philosophy because every year I’m thrilled when school starts.” (And now to toss some hand grenades into the crap storm I add this zinger.) “I’m glad to know it’s because according to scientific research I’m doing an incredible job as a parent.”

Oh-My-God I committed the cardinal Mom Sin I proclaimed that I was better than all these ticked off moms. Even worse, I credited science for the shout out. (So it was made up science, big deal and who’s to say someone out there isn’t really doing a study like that?) Every mom knows that you can’t just announce that you’re kicking butt in the Olympic sport of momdom.

You and a group of friends can boast amongst yourselves how superior you are to other moms but under no circumstances can you proclaim to the world-at-large that you’re a better mom than the mom or moms standing right in front in you. These weepy women, in no way, wanted someone like me to “out mom” them. In their world I wasn’t even a contender.  But, thanks to the Gift of Fib” I had yanked their chain, hard. Score! (Not that I thought I was a better mom. Maybe a mom whose head wasn’t up her ass, but better – well, who really knows?)

As I was enjoying their somewhat suppressed fury the “discussion” took a turn for the worse when one mom wanted to know where I saw the study. “I don’t remember,” I said thoughtfully. “It was some on-line science journal my husband reads.”

Good save, I’m thinking. People will believe my husband reads heavy-duty science stuff, but no one could see me devoting hours to bettering my brain with esoteric journals. To make it sound even more credible I added, “I’ll text him and try to find the link for you.”

One Rhodes scholar piped up, “Are you sure it wasn’t junk science?”

“No,” I quickly replied. “ It was an International Pediatric Educational thing.”

I knew it was time to make my get away before someone took me up on texting my husband for additional information. I thanked my hostess, grabbed another muffin (well really one-third of a muffin since they were of the mini variety) and then went back to the cluster of moms still debating the “study” and said goodbye. I told them I had to run.  I was so busy putting the finishing touches on my family’s “Our summer was so awesome were excited about school party.” 

“Yeah, it’s going to be an amazing evening,” I said.

“Where did you get the idea?” one mom asked like I was incapable of thinking up one of my own.

“Oh,” I get “The Gifted and Talented Mom magazine, don’t you? It’s part of the national G.T. curriculum. You should really check it out.”

(Note: I don’t have a child in G.T.) And with that I sashayed right out the door, really working it, like I thought I was something. In truth my family would be celebrating the first day of school with pizza and cupcakes and complaining, lots of complaining about the teachers that dared to give homework their first day back but really was that any of their business? I think not.

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

10 Steps to a Successful School Drop Off

W1426Well, you asked for it. So here it is – An Idiot’s Guide to Dropping Your Kids Off at School.

1) If you feel the need to “make out” with your children before letting them out of your car please do not enter the drop off zone and proceed to the nearest parking space where you can smooch, snuggle, family group hug and high-five your way to a kinder and gentler morning without holding up the line for 5 minutes.

2) If your children are shoeless, half-dressed or require some final grooming tips before being allowed to disembark from your vehicle please do not enter the drop off-line. All children should be “mission ready” for their school day before you reach the drop zone. This also applies to the parent that feels the need to get out of their car, unbuckle each kid and then place their backpacks on their backs. Rest assured parent if your child can use scissors at school and go to the bathroom independently I can guarantee they have long ago figured out how to master a seat belt and know that the straps to their backpack do indeed go on their back. All you’re doing is holding up the line and sabotaging your children’s fine motor skills.

3) If you have a child that had a melt down en route to school please pull over somewhere private and address the issue. The drop off-line is not a hospitable place to conduct any kind of family therapy. Studies show that a teary, unhappy child is further distressed by the act of having to get out of the car.

4) In the interest of public safety do not attempt the triple play of talking on your phone, putting on makeup and driving while negotiating school drop off.  Because when you hit the back of my car it won’t be because I stopped short it will because you were distracted by the superb magnifying qualities of your new lash boosting mascara.

5) Do not, I repeat, do not, get out of your car to “visit” with another mother. Nothing you have to share, no gossipy tidbit, even high value teacher gossip or spousal cheating updates, are valid enough for you to leave your vehicle. All parents doing transportation duties should keep their butts firmly affixed to the driver seat.

6) If your child is having to “pack mule” anything that is either half their body weight, bigger than their arm span or is fragile such as:  An Invention/Science Fair project, diorama or worse the dreaded Puppet Stage book report please make arrangements to help them unload and transport said items to school from the safety of the parking lot.

7) If you are in a hurry because you are so much busier and more important than any other parent in line please leave for school 10 minutes earlier so we don’t have to listen to you honk your horn or attempt to squeeze into a line opening that is not big enough to accommodate your vehicle or your ego.

8) If your child’s teacher is the assigned school professional working the drop off zone please resist the urge to address a concern about your child, ask a question about homework or engage in any “sucking up” chit chat. This will only result in you holding up the line and irritating the teacher.

9) Never, ever, park in the drop off-line. I know you think that you’re just going to run into school for less than 60 seconds and what could it hurt to leave your car for a moment but in the time space continuum that is the drop off zone that 60 seconds stretches into at least 10 minutes. It’s not your fault. It’s never your fault. You’re a popular mom and you ran into another mom you needed to talk to or you got waylaid by someone wanting you (of course) to volunteer for the latest fundraiser. Meanwhile, your car is causing not only a traffic stoppage but a disaster is in the making as other cars have to go around your parked vehicle compromising the safety of children.

10) Please be aware that the interior of your car does not make you invisible nor is it totally sound proof. I can see you squeeze that chin zit, pick your nose, do the “what if I got a facelift “ maneuver with your hands as you pull your forehead skin up into your hairline and I can hear you scream at your kids. This, while not always holding up the line, does turn me right off my morning Diet Coke.

In review, the perfect drop off scenario should be as follows: Kids are dressed, backpacks are at the ready. You approach the drop off zone in full alert, hands on steering wheel, preferably in the 10 & 2 position, and eyes forward. One of your child’s teachers is doing drop off duty but you valiantly fight your desire to speak to her about the book report due next week or comment on her “super cute skirt.” When it’s your turn for car unloading you initiate the “bye bye, have a great day” sequence, as children unload swiftly and with all of their belongings. You then ease away from the curb and drive away from the school secure in the knowledge that you are a master of the drop off. Take pride in that fact. It’s not an accomplishment a majority of parents can claim.

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! 🙂