Why I Let My Preteen Wear Makeup

You know when you’re staring down at your fresh faced newborn baby (or even before you HAVE a baby and you know everything there is to know about parenting…) and you swear up and down on a Bible the list of things you’ll NEVER do. “I’ll never let MY baby out of my sight before they’re in preschool”, “I’ll never let MY kids have sugary cereal”, “I’ll never let my child watch 6 hours straight of Dora the Explorer”…you know, those things that you inevitably do because…well…because parenting is a “pick your battles” sort of thing.
I picked one of those battles this weekend. When my baby girl was little, I swore I wouldn’t let her wear makeup till she was 13. Well tonight, I broke that promise and let her spend an ungodly amount of money in the e.l.f. makeup store…for makeup.
Let me explain my reasons for NOT wanting her to wear makeup before I explain WHY I did let her wear it.
I don’t think she needs it because I personally don’t really wear much makeup (and I’m a hell of a lot more wrinkled than she is). When I remember to put it on, I usually wear blush and eyeliner…foundation just to even out my skin tone and attempt to cover up some wrinkles. If I’m feeling feisty I might throw on some eyeshadow. Mascara is a very rare occurrence and only if I know there’s NO WAY I’m going to cry. As far as lipstick goes…well, I actually wore chapstick to my wedding after wiping off the lipstick that my makeup artist lady put on me.
I don’t wear too much makeup because A.it’s a hassle. I quite honestly would prefer the extra 20 minutes of sleep in the morning as opposed to spending 20 minutes every morning making myself look like (in the words of my teenage son) “a powdered donut”. B. I really don’t think makeup does much for me anyway. You can barely tell I have it on. C. It’s friggin’ expensive as hell. I’d much rather get a pedicure than buy a $20 brush to blend my cheekbones. D. I hate taking it off at night. I’m not too ashamed to admit there’s been a time or (twenty)two when I haven’t.
So basically, makeup isn’t really important to me. Sure I wear it to weddings and parties and anytime I might run into Channing Tatum. In those situations, I want to look my best. Overall though, my self worth isn’t in what I look like and I have confidence without it. However, if I think back, it took quite a few years to get to that point in time. When I was 12 and 13, I didn’t feel so confidant about my looks. Or myself for that matter. When I was her age, I thought what you looked like (and more importantly what people thought of you) was the most important thing in the world. The middle school girls I work with everyday are a mix as far as how they feel about their looks and subsequently, how confidant they are. I see plenty who, thank goodness, don’t seem to care how they look, but still are clean and neat and presentable. And I see others that I just want to hug and say “Honey, you don’t need all that crap on your face to be beautiful…have confidence to believe you’re beautiful without it.” Because after all, makeup may help you boost your self esteem, but it does nothing for your feelings of self worth.
I never want my daughter’s self worth to be based on looks. I want her to realize she’s smart and funny and a good friend…I want her to realize those are the things that are important. I want her to like what she sees in the mirror without a need to “fix” or “Cover up” anything. At 11 years old, her face is fresh and blemish free…as far as I’m concerned, she needs nothing to make herself look better (except maybe to comb her hair on a daily basis but that’s a battle for another day). I don’t want her to ever think she needs makeup to face the world. I know MANY women who won’t even leave the house without makeup on, not wanting anyone to see their flaws. I don’t want my daughter to ever feel this way. I want my daughter to know that she can run to the local grocery store in sweats, hair piled on top of her head, sans makeup…and nobody will think less of her. But she’s got to get there herself. I can’t make that journey for her.
She has to figure out how she wants to present herself to the world.
Currently, she makes little to no effort to look like a presentable human being on a daily basis. Getting her out of bed for school should actually be a method of torture. There are days she’s still in bed when we need to leave…forget brushing her hair…I’m lucky if she changes out of her pjs.
For the last couple days, since she’s been asking to wear makeup, she’s been brushing her hair and actually making a slight effort to not look like she rolled out of bed 7 minutes before. Therefore I decided, what the hell. Let her wear some makeup if it gives her incentive to get out of bed, if it gives her a little boost of self esteem, if it makes her feel a little more normal. Most likely her interest in makeup will peter out, much like my own did after fighting my mom to wear it. And even if it doesn’t, maybe it won’t be as bad as I’m thinking it will be. I just hope to God the look she’s going for is “understated” and not “rodeo clown”. But even if she goes for “rodeo clown”, she’ll still be my beautiful rodeo clown.

Food War Tactics

I’ve come to the conclusion that the worst thing about parenting isn’t what you think it’s going to be when you sign up for the gig. Oh sure, we’ve all heard the horror stories about not sleeping for 18 years and never being able to pee alone again. On some level, we’re all aware about the lack of time and the utter ridiculousness of racing from school to work to home to activities. We quickly find out about sibling rivalry and never being able to speak in tone under a yell once your kid can actually walk (hell, once they can crawl). But what takes a while to realize is the fact that for the next 18 years (or how ever long your darling spawn decides to inhabit your home), you will not have anything to yourself again. I’m not talking about time or quiet. I’m talking about STUFF. Nothing belongs to you anymore when you have kids. Children, from a young age, will seek out and destroy anything that’s YOURS. Your phone becomes their plaything at 10 months to distract them in a restaurant…yup, you’re never seeing that again. Your charger has suddenly been relocated to their bedroom, and you see your son with your headphones on. No, you don’t want those back…you’re pretty sure he might literally have those famed carrots growing out of his ears. Your daughter has absconded with your sneakers and anything else from your closet that she deems cool enough for her.
But the worst is the food—any food you buy seems to be fair game. With a 15 year old male in the house (and a very bored-during-the-day-when-nobody-else-is-home hubby), we go through food at a breakneck pace in this house. There’s simply no such thing as buying ice cream, cookies, chips or even Triscuits (for God’s sake) on Monday and expecting it to be there Tuesday. There’s nothing more disappointing than coming home from a bad day and hoping for a bowl of ice cream, only to find the empty container in the freezer. (Ironically if I want an apple or an orange I have no problem finding one rotting away in the fruit bowl.) I mean, it’s not like I want cookies every day…but it would be nice if they were there when I DID want them. After all, I do pay the bills around here.
Because of this, I’ve taken to hiding food from the people in my house. I’m sure I’m not alone in this plight and you all are looking for hiding spots too. This is WAR after all.
To help you all out, I’ve compiled a list of hiding places I’ve used for food in the past:
-The dryer—make sure you remove the cookies before turning on the dryer (You thought getting chap stick all over your clothes was bad? Try getting Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups off your kid’s underwear.)
-Inside a box of tampons—absolutely fool proof for moms with all boys.
-Underneath the frozen veggies in the freezer—this is a great place for ice cream since its hiding spots are limited; also a Thin Mint favorite.
-Substituting containers—this is my favorite. Just shake out that Special K into the trash and you could put ANYTHING (except ice cream) in that box.
-Underwear/sock drawer—great for Halloween candy you’ve swiped from them.
-Your car—be aware of temperature changes though…nothing like cleaning melted Lindt truffles out of the glove box.

With kids (and husbands), this sort of thing is trial and error. Let me save you from making the mistakes that I made.
Bad Places to Hide Food:
-Linen closet—once in a blue moon they use clean towels and change their sheets.
-The cookie jar—this was brilliant for hiding cookies from my husband since he goes grocery shopping and automatically assumes if he didn’t buy cookies, there are NO cookies in the house. Unfortunately, my son checks the cookie jar on days hubby does go shopping…just in case.
-The oven/microwave—enough said.
-Your husband’s golf bag—he uses it more than you think.
-Inside the dog food bin—while this is pretty foolproof since no one else even remembers we have a dog, let alone feed him, dog food lends an unsavory taste to chips.

As always, I hope to have made parenting a bit easier for you…happy hiding!

Why My Daughter Won’t Have a Sweet Sixteen

My daughter will not have a Sweet Sixteen party. Okay, so maybe I’m jumping the gun with this proclamation here considering my daughter is only eleven. I have a good four plus years to get beaten down on this topic by her—right now she doesn’t want one, but then again, her friends are also ELEVEN. At this point in time, all she cares about is Legos and watching You Tube videos of people building Legos. And videos of people opening packages of Legos. And girls doing handstands on their beds. She doesn’t care about tiaras and cakes and good forbid you even look sideway at a poofy dress in a store. Her idea of “dressed up” is combing her hair. She doesn’t wear make-up and she doesn’t even carry a purse. She’s as un-girlie as they get.
I know a lot can change in the next four and a half years. In fact, I know a lot will change. But what won’t change is my resolve…there will be NO SWEET SIXTEEN PARTY…erm…GALA. Because what I’ve seen in my Facebook feed over the last couple years are not PARTIES. They’re GALAS…fit for Princesses and Presidents.
Do not for a second think that I don’t adore her and she’s not my princess (she’s got the market cornered on sweatpants wearin’, Lego buildin’, pancake cookin’ nerd princess…in fact, she’s their Queen). However, I do not think that the mere accomplishment of sixteen trips around the sun should require me to celebrate by taking out a second mortgage on my house. And yes, I do know people who have taken out loans and second mortgages just to finance their princess’s birthday party. Because that’s all it is…a birthday party for overindulgent parents.

Maybe it’s moms living vicariously through their daughters or something, but it boggles my mind how Sweet Sixteen parties have gotten so out of hand. Years ago if you had a Sweet Sixteen you had a few friends over for cake. If you were really lucky, your parents might have taken you for a fancy dinner or hired a DJ for your backyard pool party (usually local stoner with a lot of stereo equipment…not a professional one).  Are the moms of my generation so bitter about this experience that they have been dreaming of tulle gowns and ice sculptures since the late 80s???? How has it gone from the parties of yesteryear to horse drawn carriages, attendants (are you frickin’ kidding me????) and more guests than I had at my wedding??? How do these sixteen year olds even KNOW that many people??? This is not a roller skating party celebrating a birthday. It’s a financial nightmare—a strain on society. Not just the family of the birthday girl but anyone invited or asked to be involved. I mean, what’s the going rate for a Sweet Sixteen party gift? I know weddings are now in the neighborhood of two to three hundred dollars. Am I supposed to shell out that kind of cash if I have the unfortunate luck of being invited to one of these monstrosities?

This is part of what’s wrong with this generation coming up…this iPhone, materialistic, Look at Me Me Me generation. They want, want, want and parents give, give, give. There is no saying “No” to them. This is spoiling, pure and simple…and setting them up for failure and disappointment later on in life. Life isn’t going to give you a sparkly tiara every time you hit a “milestone”. A Sweet Sixteen party (by today’s standards) is the ultimate “participation trophy”. Don’t feed me that antiquated crap about “coming out in society” or it’s a “rite of passage”. That was in the nineteenth century. These are the same girls and women that are screaming about equality. Well here ya go…what sixteen year old boy gets a Sweet Sixteen? None. And lucky them because maybe their parents won’t be in financial stress when it comes time for them to drive and maybe, just maybe, those parents can give them some money toward a car or college…something necessary and valuable, something that lasts well beyond one magical night of attention. That’s why my daughter’s not having a GALA. She can have a party with a few friends or a nice dinner out or even a pool party…just like the Sweet Sixteen parties of my youth. She won’t have that night of unbridled spoiling, but maybe, just maybe, she’ll be better off for it.

Monday Morning Moms: Girls’ Life vs. Boys’ Life

A few weeks ago there was an article in the Daily News about Amy Schumer and Blake Lively calling out two magazines on their covers. The magazines were Girls Life and Boys Life and their covers were dramatically different. The cover aimed toward girls focused on beauty secrets and looking good, while the cover for the boys magazine was focused on careers. Here’s the full article if you’d like to read: http://l.facebook.com/l.php?u=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.nydailynews.com%2Fentertainment%2Fgossip%2Famy-schumer-blake-lively-outraged-girls-life-mag-cover-article-1.2801192&h=HAQH564GMAQF-V1SGiSvrsSLMEqXuSvvq13DsYwVOr8YLPA

After reader reading this article, I started wondering what my fellow Monday Morning Moms thought. I personally wasn’t sure what to think. I’m not big on Women’s Lib and I definitely don’t consider myself a feminist. I am pretty certain I was born in the wrong decade and would have been perfectly content as a housewife in 1950s suburbia. I want tips to make my neck flab tighter and how to blow dry my hair is 60 seconds or less. Girls are obsessed with how they look. It’s a fact of life that is going to take a massive amount of work to change in people’s minds. So most girls probably do want to read these tips…it’s a big part of their lives. But I can see where people are upset. Even though girls are looking for beauty tips and we would be delusional if we thought an astronaut magazine would sell better than a fashion one, we need to make them more well rounded. Maybe put in exercise tips, how to read food labels, or how to eat healthy. How to save a choking child if you’re babysitting or an interview with a writer. How about a step by step guide to decorating your bedroom, building a bookcase, or updating your wardrobe on a budget? If we are constantly telling our kids looks aren’t all that matters, why are the covers of magazines telling them that it does?

Monique’s Thoughts:

I’m going to put it out there that I enjoy a fashion magazine as much as the next person. I love an In Style or a Glamour, I’m not going to lie. (I also love O magazine although since the show folded it is more about fashion and shoes than empowerment and your best life, but I’m loyal.) And I seriously never leave the house without mascara and lipstick just so you know.

This is what Monique thought:

I’m going to put it out there that I enjoy a fashion magazine as much as the next person. I love an In Style or a Glamour, I’m not going to lie. (I also love O magazine although since the show folded it is more about fashion and shoes than empowerment and your best life, but I’m loyal.) And I seriously never leave the house without mascara and lipstick just so you know.
So I can see that the editor of Girl’s Life, Karen Bokram makes a point when she replied to the outrage by saying it doesn’t have to be either or.
“It’s OK to like lip gloss or be interested in fashion … I don’t know how (the problem) became either you like lip gloss and clothes or you like being an astronaut.”
She’s right. No it doesn’t. So why is she only promoting either or on that magazine cover.
“Waking up pretty” and “How to Slay on a First Date” are things a girl might want to know, I mean I would quite like to wake up pretty every now and again.
However, she might also like to know “How to Ace the SATs” or even “How to Wake Up pretty when you left your AP chemistry assignment to the last minute so you got no sleep and you have a date this afternoon with your lab partner.” I agree that’s too long for a tagline but I think it makes a clear point. That would be having it both ways.
What about the teaser – “What’s the best mascara to wear while building a house for Habitat for Humanity?” Or “Your mom wants you to be a nurse but you have your eyes set on Broadway – how to talk your way through it – or what’s the best deodorant for the difficult days?”
Or if we’re referencing astronauts – “Let’s meet five female astronauts you’ve never heard of.”
The problem with the “you don’t have to choose” argument is that most of the time girls don’t even know they have a choice. You can like lipstick and you can date yeah that they know. They’ve got an entire world of people giving them that information. It’s the other information that’s lacking. What about if you don’t like lipstick and actually you haven’t met anyone date-worthy, where is that information?
I’m not a teenage girl anymore, but I am the mother of one. I remember how it was and I see it in action every day. Information about fake tans, boob tape and avoiding VPL is everywhere. Information about the best subjects to take in high school if you think you might want to be an English teacher or a surgeon or maybe a zoo keeper is harder to find.
It’s not the job of Girl’s Life to be the only provider of this information, certainly. (And I wouldn’t hate it if Boy’s Life had articles on “How to Respect Your Date”, “No Always Means No” or “When is Enough Aftershave Enough” if I’m honest.)  Maybe articles about astronauts and female police officers don’t sell magazines and  those about mascara and denim do, although my guess is it hasn’t been tried too often. That doesn’t mean they can’t be in there as well, even if they’re not the headline?
The big question is why do we still in the 21st century treat boys and girls so differently? Why do we expect such different things from them? Why does a girl’s appearance matter so much and a boy’s so little?  Why do we give our girls pink toys and our boys blue? Why do act as if women should be grateful for dates (sorry boys but you’re lucky to be out with that girl smart girl with the perfect lipgloss). Why do we expect girls to conform so much to stereotypes, especially teenage girls?
The Plastics, The Chanels – those chicks are real and they didn’t create themselves (not literally of course). We created them. We perpetuate that as an ideal.  Why do we do that? We’re the adults right?
Girl’s Life needs to pull up their socks  for sure, but maybe we all do. Maybe we need to have more conversations about smart women, inspiring women, interesting women not just with our daughters but with our sons. Maybe we should start sending messages that it’s great to be beautiful but it’s better to be kind, quirky, smart and interesting.
In fact that’s how you Slay on Your Date – be kind, quirky, smart and interesting. Maybe I should write that article.

 

Hilary’s Thoughts:

One of my friends has the most beautiful daughter imaginable, and I am not exaggerating. She has bright turquoise eyes, blond curls, and a killer smile. The first time I saw her she was about four years old. I did a double take. She looked like a living doll.
“You are so pretty!” I gushed as I smiled at the child.
Her mother gave me the stink eye. “Please don’t comment on her appearance,” she scolded. “We try really hard not to focus on her looks. We don’t want her complemented on them, especially since she has no control over her features. We want her to be praised for her accomplishments. You know like how smart she is, how well behaved she is, or even how funny she is…”
I was shocked by my friend’s comments, but they did make sense to me. Her daughter is now ten years old, and she is one of the smartest and most well rounded children I have ever met. I truly believe her accomplishments relate to the positive reinforcement her parents gave her on the important aspects in life.
It’s sad. So many people value the wrong things. Amy Schumer, Blake Lively, and Katie Holmes took to Instagram to share side-by-side comparisons of the covers of recent issues of Girls’ Life magazine and Boys’ Life magazine. The girl’s magazine focused on beauty – dream hair and fall fashions, while the boys magazine focused on careers – urging boys to explore their future. Could the messages be more mixed?
In this day and age girls have the same opportunities as boys with respect to careers. Why shouldn’t a publication dedicated to them focus on their futures instead of the superficial aspects of their life? But more importantly, why do girls still have to be made to feel like if they don’t look perfect there is something wrong with them. By only focusing on hair, fashion and getting boy’s attention I truly fear we are only teaching the women of tomorrow to be insecure. Lets face it, how many girls really look like those in the magazine? And while girls may have the same opportunities as boys in the workplace, if they don’t feel confident in their own skin they won’t succeed. Their insecurities can cripple them.

Nicole’s Thoughts:

 

 
People are too sensitive. People are just looking for something to rant about.
While most of the time I do happen to believe in those two statements, there are certain times I have to disagree. There are certain times where being ‘too sensitive’ are exactly how we should be.
This morning I was at the grocery store with my four year old and at the checkout counter, I browsed the magazines. I saw the headline in one popular young woman’s magazine, ‘Get the right hair for your face type.’ Okay that I get. Women like to look their best, getting haircuts can be a relaxing and rewarding experience. Yet underneath that headline, written in red so as to stand out was, ‘The Best Pick Up Lines For Your Zodiac Sign.’
What???
Look, I’m all for astrology. I don’t take it seriously, and I think it’s fun!
But, The Best Pick Up Lines For Your Zodiac Sign? Like, come on. Seriously, come on.
This is a magazine geared towards high schoolers in Canada. These are girls on the verge of deciding whether they want to go College or University, whether they should invest in their first car or save the money for first and last after graduation.
So why not, The Best Colleges For Your Zodiac Sign? Or, The Best Types of Investments For Your Zodiac Sign?
I’m not saying anyone anywhere should make a decision based on the stars, I’m saying if you’re going to use the Zodiac as a selling point, why not put another engaging thought into the minds of the teenagers? Like college? Savings plans?
Sure to a sixteen year old it sounds boring, but written in the right way; the healthy kind of thoughts could pour into their minds.  The thoughts that could make your daughter or niece into the next CEO of a network company, the next Chief of Surgery or owner of her own company.
It literally starts with ONE tiny thought, and can snowball into a fantastic future.  Imagine a girl picking up an issue of that magazine, searching for the paragraph about being a Leo and reading a list of careers that would be ‘suited’ for her. Who cares about any connection to the Zodiac at this point? Because she could see Teacher in bold, or Game Developer and her mind begins to turn. What a cool thought!
So why are our magazines still missing the point?
Especially in a time were millions of women are voicing their opinion to be taken more serious.
I’m not saying to remove all the fun from your issues, I’m saying put a bit more focus on what is truly more important for any woman, anywhere to know. Is it really how to curl her hair the right way or could it be how to write the perfect resume?
We can find a balance in the way we sell magazines to women, it is possible.
Someone, somewhere just has to take the first step.

Monday Morning Moms: Homework?

It’s back to school time in the US and back to school means back to hitting the books and back to homework. I can hear a collective groan from all of you. Because I know as well as you do, homework isn’t just for the kids. Homework nowadays is an entire family affair. And for many families, that includes kicking and screaming and tears (and that’s just from the parents). The Monday Morning Moms explore the topic of homework in this post. I, for one am quite conflicted in my views about homework, both as a parent and as someone who works in a school with students. What do my fellow Monday Morning Moms think?

Monique:

Who’s behind the wheel as we negotiate our way along the homework highway? Writing this piece felt a little bit like doing homework – I may have procrastinated and I may be doing it at the last minute and I may have sighed a bit as I sat down to start (Not that I shared that with my teen because I’m an excellent role-model. That’s not true, I’m more of a no-need-to-repeat-my-mistakes model).

Meanwhile I just proofread my daughter’s essay on the Taming of the Shrew (every woman’s most hated Shakespearean play) listened to her read a speech for her Japanese test tomorrow ( and no I don’t know what she said) oh yeah and she’s playing her clarinet pieces in my ear right now and the dog is singing along.

You guessed it – I’m writing this on Sunday night and twilight depression is descending all over the house.  The joy of the weekend is evaporating  because – homework.

Primary school homework drove me crazy for the sheer mind- numbing monotony of it. The repetitiveness and lack of imagination some of the teachers showed did my head in. If writing your times tables out didn’t help you learn them in year three or four chances are writing them in year five was a big-fat waste of time. That didn’t suit your learning style and it was pointless. And if you already knew them it was a total snooze-fest. At one parent-teacher my daughter suggested to the teacher that there had to be a more fun way to do times tables…nothing changed. (Well  actually I taught her in the car and bribed her with a trip to a water-park and she knew them inside out and back to front in under a week and then I let her just copy them without reading from then on.)

And don’t get me started on books – when the kid in your in-class reading group can literally read the books upside down at age seven, more needs to be done for those kids. Just like the kids who struggle all day don’t need to go home and struggle all night.

Still worse than the homework were the projects. I remember as a kid being incensed when my peers got good marks on projects we all knew their mothers had done and fast-forward thirty years and nothing much changed.

My own mother was an infants and primary teacher for over fifty years and never did my projects. She did give me a wonderful insight though when I was incensed again on my own daughter’s behalf.

“Mon, you can always tell if the parent did the project of if the kid did it – if the kid isn’t allowed to carry their own diorama in the door you know it is because the mother (or father or grandma) is worried he’ll drop all her hard work.”

I’ve since sat watching kids carry their work in with great amusement and even shared this tip with several teachers I know who all now do the same.

High school homework is a whole different issue. It’s all about time management and juggling the conflicting needs of a whole bunch of teachers. As a parent you have to be hands-off. Step away from the schedule people because the little Prince or Princess has to work that out for themselves. You can’t stand over a sixteen year old and make them do their homework, or practice their clarinet or get their assignment done early.

Still there are ways you can be supportive and help them get through it. You can ask them what they have coming up? You can remind them that sure that’s not due until next week but they have  a music festival, a slumber party, three other projects and grandma’s birthday between now and then. You can listen to them when they read their Japanese speech out or quiz them from their notes (if they’re open to that) but they’ve got to be driving it, not you.

The truth is by high school they’re the driver and you’re the pit crew.

And you can do the practical stuff to help them but they’ve got the wheel – keep them fed on green veggies and protein, encourage sleep and make sure you NEVER run out of printer ink.

Hilary:

What do I know about homework was my first thought when the Monday Morning Mom’s came up with this topic. I don’t have any children; so dealing with the drama associated with it is so far off my radar.  And since my life has been so crazy lately I barely remember yesterday, yet alone my school days when I was bombarded with homework myself.

So for weeks I have been wracking my brain obsessing about a subject I thought was a thing of my past.  But the more I thought about it, the more I realized while I don’t remember the assignments, the lessons I learned from homework, shaped my present.

I remember being in third grade. I was so jealous of my best friend.  Every day her mother would sit with her and they’d do homework together. Well, maybe the together part was an exaggeration. Her mother actually did the majority of the work while my friend sat idly by and reaped the benefits of a freshly filled notebook. After spending a night at her house I whined to my mom, because unlike my friend’s mom, she made me do my own homework. Very seriously she looked at me and said, “Why should I do your homework? It’s yours, not mine. I already did mine when I was in school. Now if you have a question, that’s another story.  But you have to do the work.”

I wasn’t happy at the time, but I grabbed my notebook, my pencil, and sat down. I didn’t have any questions. I just worked until I was finished. And as I look back now, I realized the lesson my mom taught me that night was one of the most important I would ever learn.  To succeed for yourself you have to do the work yourself!

I’ve pretty much have always been a classic overachiever. I’ve never shied away from working hard, or doing any task that is required at the time. When I mentor recent college graduates I give them the same advice.  Work not at the job you have, work as if you have the job you want.

Me:

When I was in school, homework was solely for the student to do. MAYBE in the lower grades you occasionally asked your parent or older sibling for help with a math problem or something, but back then, the point of homework was so that you could review the day’s lesson the teacher could see that you learned something that day (or if you needed to go over a concept again). Homework wasn’t meant to take you all night (although with my crippling need for perfection, homework would often take me twice as long as a normal person because I would redo it if I thought my handwriting was sloppy). Other than a few times where I was stumped in math (I still hate math), I do not recall my parents ever  helping me with it or even asking me if I had it. It was my responsibility and it’s what made me a responsible adult. But homework back then was simple.

Homework in recent years has gotten a little ridiculous. It’s somehow evolved from a review process to all out “Lets get the whole family involved” process. Why is that? Is it because it’s become too challenging for the students? Are we expecting too much out of them? Homework isn’t just a few sheets of math problems anymore…it’s projects and dioramas and Power Point presentations. And that’s just for elementary school kids.

I stay away from the homework with my kids . I’ll ask them if they have it and get on their case if I go online to their grades and see things missing, but otherwise, I feel it’s their responsibility. While I am very lucky because my kids do their homework without constant reminder and I probably couldn’t help the little smartie pants if I tried, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been told by my kids that their homework consisted of family “involvement”. For example, one of my son’s English teachers wanted the parents to read their kid’s essays and then edit and critique it. Um, isn’t that what you’re paid for? I already did seventh grade, thank you very much. I’ve had to go to craft stores and spend big bucks on styrafoam balls (who knew they were so expensive?) for science projects. I’ve had to construct bridges out of wood and chain link fences (okay, my husband did that). What happened to kids putting together stuff from around the house?

I get that maybe the teachers do this so that parents know what’s going on in their kid’s scholastic life, but let’s be honest…the parents that are involved are involved and the ones that aren’t, won’t be no matter what the assignment. And besides, that’s not the purpose of homework. Giving ME homework doesn’t help my kid. It’s certainly taking some of the responsibility off of them and putting it on me. And hell, I’ve got enough responsibility. You know, keeping them alive and all that.

So I welcome back the homework for the kids…if it’s fair and has it’s merits. But if it’s just busy work? Well, that’s kind of pointless, isn’t it? That’s like your boss telling you to line up his bottle cap collection in alphabetical order—just to give you something to do. If there’s no reason for homework, don’t just assign it. Or assign what kids don’t complete in class. Oh, and leave me out of it. I don’t do homework anymore.

#WhyIDrink Wednesday: Because My Kids Refuse to Get Along

My kids fight. I know, I know, all siblings fight. I’m sure I probably even dropped my halo every once in a while when I was a kid and fought with my own siblings. But my kids do more than just fight…they just NEVER get along. It seems whenever they are together, there are tears (and sometimes blood) shed.

The sad part is, my kids aren’t even together too much anymore. The older one has ninety-seven hours of football practice a day, so his contact with his sister is somewhat limited. Most of the time, there is peace in our household. The other percent of the time is fraught with screeching that can make glass shatter.

You see, my son is a typical brother and nothing gives him more pleasure than the fact he can make his sister have a melt down literally in less time it takes for a bullet to leave the chamber of a gun and lodge between your eyeballs. Oh, by the way, that’s what her screeching actually makes my head feel like…like someone has shot me right between the eyes. I’m thinking the headache that might accompany that sort of thing might actually be less painful.

He’s got a whole repertoire of “digs” that’ll make her go ballistic, ranging from “you smell” to his new favorite “you’re fat.” You wouldn’t think such stupidly constructed statements would cause such disruption, but unfortunately, the insultee in question is an eleven year old girl who is quite easy to insult. (I apparently do it without meaning to about seventeen times a day, usually by just glancing in her general direction. That’s enough to send her wailing and crying into her pillow for at least ten minutes.)

I don’t do it on purpose, by my son LOVES to poke the bear. The bear usually retaliates…she’s the one who’s usually causing the blood shed. She’ll start with  a screech, which usually progresses into a slap…and in the case of today’s incident…a plateful of french fries flung at him in a restaurant. And he laughs and dodges the fries, egging her on more, not realizing how much stress this causes me. Why can’t they just play nice with each other? Why can’t they build each other up instead of break each other down with their constant barbs? And what is taking the waiter so long with my wine????

Maybe one day they’ll get along…I can only hope that at some point in time, there will be many more peaceful moments and they’ll actually be more like they are in this picture:

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(You can see how surprised I was to catch this rather tender moment…shocked actually, if you judge by the shakiness of the camera). This picture was taken THREE years ago…I’m still waiting. Meanwhile, waiter, I’d like a refill on my wine because this is #whyIdrink.

 

#WhyIDrink Wednesday: Because I’m a Bad Mom

Today, I was a bad mom. I did everything wrong. Even the things I started out doing right, I screwed up.

I let them sleep as late as they wanted, despite my resolution the night before that we were going to get up early and get something done today. I just didn’t want to start the day with a fight.

I made the 11 year old get dressed when she didn’t want to. I didn’t sit on her bed and stroke her hair and lovingly ask Why she didn’t want to get dressed. I just yelled myself hoarse for an hour before I threatened to take stuff away while cursing loudly.

I didn’t go to my son’s football scrimmage that he MIGHT have gotten in for one play…I went to the grocery store instead because he’s going to want food when he’s done…more than he wants his mommy to watch him play football.

I made them read their summer reading books. I didn’t try to negotiate…three pages and you can stop. Five pages and you can go out and play. I made them sit there and FINISH the &*$@ summer reading books before they were allowed to do anything. I yelled. A lot. They both gave me the finger when they thought I wasn’t looking.

I made the 11 year old pick up her Legos. I didn’t help her. I took her phone away when she refused. I took the iPad away when she refused. She threw her Legos at me. I shut the door and let her scream. The Legos are still all over her room. I’ll probably pick them up when she’s in bed.

I didn’t make my son another dinner after our late lunch and milkshakes for dinner. I didn’t let him have a bowl of cereal after he made a pound of buttered pasta. I yelled that he was eating me out of house and home. He yelled back that he was a growing boy. I gave in.

I asked the 11 year old to empty the dishwasher. She cried that she just emptied it this morning…I told her to take it up with her brother—he’s the one who makes all the dishes. They yelled, they slapped each other. I yelled at them to stop, but I was too tired to punish anyone.

I think I said goodnight when they went to bed. They don’t come down looking for a hug and a kiss anymore. I don’t bother to remind them to brush their teeth or wash their face. They don’t listen anyway. I kiss their heads when they’re asleep…and silently apologize for not doing it by the books, not being a better mom for them.  I beat myself up for a little while after they’re asleep, hating the way I handled things. A glass of Shiraz later, I promise myself I’ll do a better job tomorrow. And maybe this time I will.