Excuse Me But I Can’t See Through Your Kid

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Dear Snarky – 4 Ways to Mother-In-Law Proof Your Kids

40d640b17d33c77824444cb08e1d270eI get a lot of letters from women asking for help in dealing with difficult mother-in-laws. The letters run the gamut from mothers who still smother their adult children to what I would refer to as the interfering, insufferable witch. My initial reaction when I get these letters is to think, “Wow, you don’t have a mother-in-law problem you have a husband problem. He needs to man the hell up.”

All of these letters and the “man up” issue got me thinking that perhaps the best way to improve the mother-in-law experience is for parents to raise better kids.

Yeah, that’s right I said to raise better kids and by that I mean as mothers we need to make sure we’re raising strong children so when they become adults and marry they’ll be able to stand up to the most formidable of live forces – their mothers.

So that said, here’s my list of 4 Ways to Mother-In-Law Proof Your Kids.

1) Don’t use the guilt trip as your primary parenting tool. When your go to is guilt you’re raising kids who as adults will be susceptible to any and all forms of emotional terrorism. Long-term exposure to guilt makes people weak, fragile and oh so very manipulatable. No parent can possibly want that for their child.

2) Teach your child to be independent, that’s it’s okay for them to slowly learn to separate from you and become their own fully functioning human. I know many mothers like the fact that their kids are clingy and some take it as a compliment as in, “Look my 11-year-old loves me so much she can’t let go.” Fast forward 20 years and it’s not so cute when your 31-year-old is living in your basement with three kids and on her second failed marriage.

3) It’s okay to say no to family. Be a role model, have your children see you putting your immediate family first and not being bullied into doing something just because “it’s always been done that way” or because your husband’s mom’s grandma will get angry if you don’t have Christmas at her house every single freaking year.

4) Know that your long-term parenting goals is to raise an adult who no longer needs you. Sure, they love you, but they don’t need you involved in the day-to-day  minutiae of their lives.

In fact, I believe the best marital advice I can give is when you get married your spouse occupies the number one spot on your “List of Awesome”. When you have kids they start filling up the number 2,3 (and so forth) spots. You, as a mother of an adult child, have to not only be prepared to be bumped from that number one spot, but to be joyous about it for it means you have done your job well.

If you have questions 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.

Dear Snarky – Unwanted Parenting Advice

dear_snarky_logoDear Snarky,

I am this close to punching my sister-in-law! We just got back from a family reunion and all she did was correct every child’s behavior but her own. She even went so far as to pull up parenting books from Amazon on her phone telling us we should read them to “get our kids under control.” Meanwhile her 3 less than perfect children, when they weren’t bullying their cousins, were fighting with their parents.

It was awful. Please help me get this woman under control.

Signed, Family Feud

Dear Family,

 The only way to deal with someone who loves to dispense advice is to fight fire with fire. Sure, you could do the whole turn the other cheek thing, but all that will do is give your sister-in-law permission to keep on being the family authority of child rearing and who wants that?

 So, I suggest at the next family get together you come locked and loaded with your own advice. And just don’t resort to pulling up parenting books on your iPhone. That’s for amateurs. What you want to do is up the visual aid ante and come with handouts.

 That’s right girlfriend, load up your purse with print outs from the Internet on how to deal with kids who bully and parents who allow it. When your sister-in-law starts pointing out your kids’ faults you reach into your purse and say, “Hey I saw this and thought of you.”

 I can’t guarantee this will shut her down, but it will serve notice that two can play this game and you’re going to play it better.

If you have a question for Dear Snarky email me at snarkyinthesuburbs@gmail.com

Your K-12 Cheat Sheet

Screen Shot 2014-05-16 at 12.42.20 PMTomorrow I will be the mother of a high school graduate. (Excuse me while I wipe away the tears.)This means that I have done a complete maternal tour of duty of the K thru 12 experience. Like any mother who has reached this milestone I have emotional and physical school project scars from poster boards, glue guns, and dioramas. I still experience lingering episodes of homework related rage and two words can trigger an episode of PTSD – field trip. I’m sure I’m not the only mom who has cried herself to sleep on more than one occasion because she knew in the morning she was chaperoning an all day field trip that required three hours of travel time on a school bus.  

Because I’m a giver, I feel it is only right that I share some of the wisdom I have gleaned from this parenting journey. As always, feel free to take notes.  

Tip 1: Volunteer Early and Often  

Get your foot in the classroom door early. Sure, you don’t want to be THAT mom who lives at the school but you want to make sure you’re getting a peek into the inner workings of the classroom. Yes, you want to help the teacher and your kid thinks it’s awesome to have his mom at school. Who care’s about that, (okay, you should sort of care about that) the real reason you want to be in that classroom is to do your own little FBI profile on each kid. Because here’s the deal, the girl who is mean in second grade is usually still mean in 11th grade. Argue this point with me all you want but I stand by this statement.  

Tip 2: Force Yourself to Go on a Field Trip

Get a sitter for you little one that’s still at home, take the day off work, just make it happen because spending seven hours on the road with your kid’s class is like putting everyone’s personality under a microscope. You find what cliques kid’s separate into, who has severe motions sickness (don’t discount the value of this knowledge), whose parents pack them crappy lunches (trust me every lunch tells a story) and if your kid’s teacher is a screamer. You really don’t know a teacher until you see him or her in a free range environment.  

Tip 3: Don’t Bounce a $10 check to the PTO

Long story but it’s goes something like this; I changed banks and accidentally used the “discontinued” check book. This resulted in an embarrassing phone call about my bounced check and the “service” fee the PTO was charging me (which was much more than the $10 check). For years, I felt like I was being financially tracked and monitored by the PTO. Seriously, I don’t think I was imagining all the side eye I was getting.  

Tip 4: Attend Field Day 

This is your opportunity to bear witnesses to all the parents who think they’re cool. Pay close attention to when the aggressive, sporty dads show up to turn a simple field day activity into the X Games elementary school edition. Also be on high alert for the moms who take 15 hours of “muscle confusion” classes a week displaying their charms. This is when you need to get out your phone and pull up your list maker app. Any dad who is yelling at first graders to hit the bean bag target harder and to really kill it at the Frisbee toss should go on your “Do Not Want this Dad Ever as a Coach” list. As for those hot moms they go another list and I’ll let you figure out what to call it.  

Tip #5: Beware of the School Drop Off & Pick Up Jerks

If there is a parent who still hasn’t mastered the school pick up and drop off lane by the end of the school year the most prudent decision you can make is to severely limited your exposure to them for the duration of your parenting journey. Why? Because they are either idiots of the highest order or they are huge a holes. I’m talking the worst kind of a holes. The ones that think they are so special and so important that even rules made to protect children don’t apply to them. Cutting in line with their SUV, jumping the curb, going the wrong way – they don’t care because it is always and always will be all about them.

Tip 6: It’s a Marathon So Pace Yourself

Pick and choose your battles carefully. The squeaky wheel may get the grease but after a while the principal and school staff will stop hearing the squeak. If you have more than one kid you have to be extremely particular about your complaining quota. You really can’t go full crazy until your last child is in their last year at a school. And yes, in case you’re wondering, to date, I have had two full crazy episodes. Not that I’m bragging or anything.  

Now, there are times when I think that I may not be following my own advice. I just found out the counselor that shepherded my son through four years of high school and would be doing the same for my daughter, a soon to be incoming freshman, is not just leaving the school but she’s transferring to another district. You don’t think she’s running away from me do you?

**For more Snarky check out my book  Snarky in the Suburbs Back to School. 

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.

Five Ways to Get Out of Volunteering At Your Kid’s School

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It starts in late summer with emails from the PTO alerting you to various “fulfilling” volunteer opportunities awaiting you at your kid’s school. On the first day of your school your child’s backpack is stuffed with sheets of colorful copy paper – each one proselytizing a “fun” volunteer gig. By the second week of school you’re being solicited as you wait in your car in the after school pick up line. Week three of the new school year the gloves are off and you feel a little like you’re being bullied into chairing the school spirit wear sale. When week four hits you give in from equal parts sheer exhaustion and because you get the feeling some of the other moms are talking about you and not in a good way.

Now, before you tape this list to your refrigerator please be advised that I have loved volunteering at my children’s schools. In fact, I have met my best mom friends from doing my volunteer due diligence. But there are times in one’s life when you need a pass from tallying up the school gift wrap orders which is why this handy list was created.

1) Have another baby. A newborn will get out of any volunteer duty. Just showing up at school with your bundle of joy is akin to wearing a sign that says “Leave Me the Hell Alone!” But beware by the time that baby celebrates it’s second birthday you will be considered back on the market and hit up with a vengeance. After all, you’ve had  a “two year break”.

2) Volunteer Outside the School. This one will buy you a year max. But it has to be a substantial volunteer opportunity with not just any organization. It should be high-profile – say Junior League president or chairing the Symphony Guild. Being a Cub Scout Den mother won’t do anything for you. In fact, it could hurt you as in – “Well since you’re already doing the popcorn sale for the Cub Scouts it would be sooo easy for you to just tack on chairing the school’s cookie dough fundraiser. I mean they’re like pretty much the same thing – right?”

3) Start a New Job. Tread carefully when using this one and make sure the words part-time job don’t enter into your career description. Which means even if it is part-time or a home based business as far as anyone on any committee at your kid’s school is concerned you’re putting in 40 plus hours a week.

But be warned this is not a “forever” excuse. It’s simply a single “get out of being a committee chair” voucher. The whole job thing in the school volunteer lexicon is meaningless because there’s always a mom who is a cardiovascular surgeon and is piloting her own jet to Syria two days a week to perform life saving medical treatment with the International Committee of the Red Cross AND is treasurer of the PTO.

4) Get New Agey. Share that you are restructuring your life and prioritizing your family’s goals to enhance pivotal bonding moments and increase your spiritual connection to the Sun Goddess Shemesh therefore leaving you with zero time for “other world” commitments. Sure, there will be talk that you’ve booked first class passage on the Space Shuttle Cra Cra with non stop service to WTF but I can guarantee not only will you be left alone but people will be wary of making eye contact with you.

5) Volunteer for the Big One. By this I mean agree to chair your school’s biggest fundraiser. Oh, I know it sounds counter intuitive, but trust me one big volunteer commitment is your get out of jail free card for YEARS. Here’s how I suggest playing this for optimum long-term impact. When your eldest child is in third grade bite the bullet and say an enthusiastic yes to the fundraiser. While chairing the fundraiser let it be known about all the hard work you’re putting in, the hours it’s stealing away from your precious family, and for extra measure I always like to throw in that it’s causing just the tiniest bit of marital discord. All of this is excellent info to share at any PTO meeting when you’re asked to do an update.

After the fundraiser is done and has exceeded expectations, because who are we kidding you were in charge and of course that means fundraising records were set, you then ride off into the school volunteer sunset. What all this means is for the rest of your tenure as a parent with school aged children you can use the excuse that you Chaired the (insert name of fundraiser here) back in (insert year here) and you really are still recovering. No one will dare challenge that statement and instead will look at you with awe and in some cases eyes aglow with reverence and thank you for your service. Sure, it’s was months of hard work, but if you do the math and extrapolate that over the years your kids are in school you’ll find that it’s a cost benefit analysis winner!

***For all things wonderfully Snarky go to www.snarkygear.com where you can find the new fall 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.