Advice. I’ve Got It. Who Needs It?

A friend recently asked me what advice I gave my daughter right before she graduated high school. I laughed and said she wasn’t exactly into taking advice during that time period. She  had just turned 18 and was  battling the dreaded “know it all” disease. Basically, there’s no one dumber than the parent of an 18-year-old in the four months before they leave for college. My parenting style for last summer was the terminal eye roll.

I experienced this same thing with my son before he departed for his freshman year.  I call this period the “summer of hubris.” It’s the sweet spot when your kids are still being coddled by your tender loving care and yet think that because they’re on the brink of leaving the nest they’re geniuses about how the world works. (Never mind that they still lose their phone at least once a day. Sigh.)

This advice thing though did get me thinking about imparting some real-world wisdom. The kind that you won’t find in any book because it’s not that magical or even uplifting. It’s just hum drum common sense that every grown up should embrace. So, here’s five things that make my short list of “Hey, you’re legally an adult now so don’t be an idiot.”

  1. While waiting in line for 15 minutes to order food do be prepared to place your order when you get to the front and not act like you’ve never been to Panera (or a drive thru) before. Also, commit this to memory – a cup a soup is about half the size of a bowl.

2. Never ask a woman when her baby is due. I don’t care if it looks like she has a trio of beach balls stuffed under her shirt. Under no circumstances should you assume any woman is pregnant unless she readily volunteers the information. (Don’t ask me how I know, but I know, like really know.)

3. Be spatially aware. This seems to be a growing affliction where people assume that they are the single carbon life form inhabiting the planet and therefore have no compunction about physical space. Are the rest of us ghosts, phantom apparitions that you can walk through with no consequences? Short answer – no. Also, beware points of egress. A door or any entry way is not a place to park your personhood as you stare at your phone.

4. If you’re returning what amounts to wheelbarrow full of items you ordered on-line to a brick and mortar store on the weekend before December 25 for the love of Saint Nick have your receipt so the sales associate doesn’t have to physically enter, by hand, every piece of merchandise into the computer system thus ensuring your return takes about an hour (which in the Christmas time continuum feels like an entire day to the person behind you in line).

5. You’re not that special as in you’re not that special that anyone, not even your mother, wants to hear you’re one sided, long-winded cell phone convo in a public space. This is why texting was invented to keep people from having to hear you talk. Also, if any of my children ever has a conversation with their phone on speaker at an airport, grocery story or doctor’s office they should officially consider themselves disowned.

Of course, this list could go on and on, but if there’s one thing I’ve learned by being a parent for 22 years is that advice is best given in bite size chunks. Too much at one time tends to get ignored or forgotten and these five pearls of knowledge need to be committed to memory. 

Dear Snarky – Swim Team Drop Out Drama

dear_snarky_logoDear Snarky,

I recently let my 12-year son quit our huge neighborhood summer swim team. He’s a decent swimmer but he told me he hated waking up for 7 am practice and that it was “ruining his summer.” He quit a week before the first meet and I thought no big deal. It’s not like he was letting his team down by having one less “B” swimmer.

My problem is a couple of moms, with kids on the team, gave me serious crap about my son quitting. One even said he “needed to come to practice and apologize to his team.” WTH? Kids come and go all the time for vacations, summer camp, you name it.

What would you do to get these moms to back off?

Signed, Drowning

Dear Drowning,

These poor women must be bored beyond belief or high on chlorine fumes to insert themselves so forcefully into your business. Other sports parents may disagree with me BUT due to the volume of kids on the team and the fact that you quit before the first meet I’m going to have to say no harm, no foul. Plus, as a general rule, we don’t want our kids to be miserable all summer.

As for the mom who told you your kid needed to apologize to his teammates I would let her know in no uncertain terms that you require an apology from her. When she, visibly shocked, asks why, reply, “For involving yourself in my parenting choices and personal life.”

After delivering this line proudly walk away. Do not engage yourself in any kind of conversation or let this mom have a chance for a rebuttal.

Hopefully, your set down will start out as juicy poolside gossip and then grow into the stuff of legends. God, I love it when that happens.

If you have a question for Dear Snarky email me at



The Talk

No mother looks forward to having “the talk” with her daughter, but alas, it’s something that can’t be put off or avoided forever.  So this past weekend I sat my almost 11-year-old down for that time-honored tradition of motherly wisdom about all things womanly.  I began the talk by starting with the miracle of the female body. I figured it was best to get the hardest stuff out-of-the-way first. I won’t lie I was nervous.  I didn’t want to mess up.  So, I knocked on her bedroom door, took a deep breath and got ready to share my wisdom.

“Hi, honey.  No, I’m not here to tell you to clean your room. Although, it better be done by the time dinner is ready.  I’m here to talk with you about growing up.  Yes, yes, I know that you already know the biology of your reproductive system.  This is different stuff.  Not more important than the science of the human body, but let’s just call it “news you can us.”  I thought I would start first with breasts.  Primarily because this summer when I was watching A Real Housewives and you saw all those women – Well, there’s something you need to know about them, besides the fact that most of them suffer from some sort of personality disorder, swear too much, have bad marriages and oh yeah, drink way too much, but that could be because they have bad marriages.  Okay, I’m getting side tracked here.  This is what I really want to tell you:  A super skinny woman can not have big breasts.  If she has big boobs they aren’t real.  God in his/her infinite wisdom likes to share the wealth and that’s why the skinny girls don’t get large breasts.  They’ve been blessed with the anti thunder thigh DNA and with that DNA comes a small to average bosom.  Now, a larger girl because she has, say, more hips to work with is gifted with bigger boobs.  It’s all part of God’s Plan and you have to learn to respect that.  There are very rare instances where a skinny girl will have real, large breasts.  She is not to be envied, but pitied because this means her mother, while pregnant, sold her soul to the devil so her daughter would get the top-of-line genetic code.  Pray for her and her mother’s immortal soul because while things look all shiny and pretty now their afterlife will be dismal and hot, very, very hot.  I, being a God-fearing woman did not sell my soul to Satan and therefore you will have some body parts that well, let’s just say, will not make your top 10 list of favorite things.  Big deal.  It’s better then me spending eternity in hell.

While we’re on the topic of breasts If you are every unsure if someone’s breasts or real or fake all  you have to do is take an exercise class with them.  Preferably mat pilates or an ab blaster.  Now when the class is flat on their back doing crunches or leg lifts take careful notice of the breasts that stay upright in the perfect cone shape.  All those twin sisters are as fake as that jewelry your Nana tried to pass off to me as the real deal the Christmas of 2004.   Any breast that features a gentle side droop to the armpit zone are, in fact, original to the owner.  If this confuses you in any way I will be more than happy to lay down on the floor and give you a visual of what happens to real breast tissue when one is completely horizontal.  Please note my real breasts are in the autumn of the their mammary life span and therefore will be aggressively sliding towards my armpits or depending on the tensile strength of my bra – cradled completely by my underarm.

As you progress into your teen years let me give you fair warning that you’ll need to be ready to take a gigantic leap over the pit of doom known as “Hating Your Body.”   Save it for your nursing home years when you really will have something to moan about.  In fact, I think every girl on her 14th birthday should be required to see a 70-year-old woman stark naked.  It would make you appreciate the inherent beauty in the young female form.  Cherish it, respect it because 30 years from now you’ll know that you wasted a lot of time thinking you were fat when in reality you were perfect.  What I wouldn’t give right now to be “that fat” again.  To paraphrase your Dad’s favorite Teddy Roosevelt quote: “ Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.”  Which in beauty terms translates to: “Wear sunscreen, moisturize and rock what you’ve got.”

This is as good of time as any, I guess to talk about boys.  For now, I’m thrilled, more thrilled than you could ever know, that you show zero interest in them.  But, someday that will change and I urge you to remember this piece of sage wisdom that your grandmother told me and her mother told her.  Any boy/man that makes you feel like you still have to suck in your stomach and only order a side salad and water with lemon for dinner after date #4 should be dumped post-haste.  I’m not saying you should eat an entire sleeve of Chips Ahoy or a super size bag of ranch flavored Doritios in front of him (save that for the honeymoon), but by this time if you haven’t felt comfortable consuming a bowl of pasta and exhaling in his presence then it’s time to move on.  True love means never having to suck in your stomach.  I’d also like to add that any guy who frowns or expresses displeasure in you eating popcorn at a movie should also be disposed of immediately.  It’s code for “I’m a killjoy.”  This is the guy who will also forget your birthday and then wonder why you’re “making such a big deal about it.”

As a girl that’s growing up I feel I need to make sure that you have an appreciation and fiscal knowledge about shopping. I hope I’ve been a good example for you and that you’ve learned to appreciate the adrenaline rush of a discount purchase.  Although always beware of the buy 2 get one free sale or any Bath & Body Works promotional event. They have a sale every other day.  Do not fall victim to their sales ploy of buying 3 body washes to get one free or you’ll find yourself with a bathroom full of smell goods you’ll never live long enough to use.  And no, you are not going to give the lotions etc as gifts because all your friends will have their own stockpile of Signature collection crap.   Also, I like to take this opportunity to remind you once again that you dad and I will never, ever spend $15,000 on your wedding gown.  So if you insist on watching Say Yes to Dress keep that in mind.  Most importantly my little one, if you ever in your life decide you don’t like Target I beg you to keep it to yourself.  It might just kill me because that’s when I’ll know I’ve truly failed you as a mother.

While we’re on the topic of shopping I’d like to talk about 2 shopping sub categories:  Shoes and makeup.  I’ll start first with footwear. This is where a lot of young ladies get into trouble.  They go literally shoe crazy.  It’s an awful disease that leaves smart woman, who you would think could do math, penniless and forces them to move home and live in their parent’s basement. Just remember this rule when shopping for shoes: Never spend more than it cost to fill up your car with gas on a pair of everyday shoes and once a year you may splurge and purchase a pair of shoe that don’t exceed the price of a college textbook.  Yes, I know you don’t know how much a college textbook costs, but you will and it’s never to early to memorize this winning formula.  I’ve just got to add this in, although I’m hoping you got it down already. When it comes to flip-flops and sandals please remember that rough heels, chipped polish or dirty toenails tell the world that your either unforgivably lazy or severely hygiene impaired.  All of it, no matter what your age, reflects badly on me.  You had good home training by God, make sure you remember it.

Now, I know some girls in your school are already wearing make-up and you know what that says don’t you?  It says, “I will get zits early and my mother doesn’t love me” Okay, it doesn’t really say the mother part, but just watch their complexions when they hit junior high. Zits R Us brought on my wearing make-up when they still haven’t mastered the cleansing and healing properties of a good facial scrub.  That said, when I finally decree that you may wear make up please follow this advice.  Beware of glitter, blue eye shadow and black eyeliner. Sure, they look great on the models in the magazines.  But, it takes a special occasion and a very light touch to pull off this holy trinity of cosmetics.  It usually just equals a hot mess.  The glitter rubs off your clothes, the blue eye shadow makes girls look like Flight Attendant Barbie and as far as that black eyeliner is concerned I don’t feed you home cooked meals, hormone free milk and insist you get enough sleep every night so you can go around looking like a raccoon who has a night job working in the ring at the World Wide Wrestling Federation. Remember less is always more unless we’re talking about clothes and then much more is always much better.

Okay, that’s enough for now.  I don’t want to overload you with too much to remember.  I do want to leave you with this one thought for the day.  The older you get the smarter I’ll seem.  So go ahead roll your eyes when I leave your room.  I know that for the rest of your life, on occasion, you’ll think to yourself “Oh my God, my mom was right!””

**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 – (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!