Tag Archives: Parenting

4 #SoWrong Moments by Steve Warner

SoWrong

Click on the eyeball to be directed to other writers who are participating in this series!

I stumbled on Steve from Brown Road Chronicles nearly 2 years ago when I saw a funny comment he’d left on someone else’s blog. I decided to click over and, well… that was the day I found the man I call “Cowboy.” You guys, he was singing a love song to his wife. {Or maybe it was to one of his goats. I actually can’t remember. But it was good.} I read a bunch of his essays, and I caught myself adoring this doting father and devoted husband from Michigan who tells stories about country living, old houses and dirt roads.

• • •

4 #SoWrong Moments by Steve Warner

My wife Kim and I are relatively experienced parents. We have two children, a soon-to-be 16-year-old daughter and a soon-to-be 13-year-old son. In parenting years, if the average kid moves away around 22-23 years old, I guess you could say we’ve been at it awhile. Parenting is not easy, but it’s not as hard as lots of people would have led us to believe when we started this journey.

On the other hand, we’ve had our share of mishaps and like most parents we’ve had a few #SoWrong moments along the way. We laugh about them now. Here are a few.

#1: SCARLET FEVER IS A THING.

My daughter and son have had their share of strep throat episodes. Kim has gotten so good, she can now diagnose strep throat approximately six weeks before they actually become infected. That wasn’t always the case.

It’s just Scarlet Fever. These antibiotics should help.

One of the first times our daughter had strep, being inexperienced with the whole “diagnosing your kid’s signs” thing, we kept putting off seeing a doctor, thinking “it’s just a little sore throat, it will clear up in a few days”. Eventually, our daughter developed this nasty rash all over her body and Kim took her to the pediatrician.

Later that day.

Her: Doctor says she has Scarlet Fever.

Me: SCARLET FEVER?! ISN’T THAT LIKE SOME DISEASE FROM THE MIDDLE AGES OR SOMETHING? LIKE THE BLACK PLAGUE? WE DON’T NEED TO PUT LEECHES ON HER LEGS OR ANYTHING, DO WE?

Her: Doctor says antibiotics should clear it right up… but next time to please bring her in a little sooner.

#2: KIDS ARE LIKE PARROTS

parrot

“STUPID BITS!”

When my son was a toddler, we noticed when he’d get angry with something he’d say “STUPID BITS!” When he’d try to fit the square peg in the round hole: “STUPID BITS!” When Thomas the Train went too fast around the wooden tracks and his Caboose derailed and tipped over the whole train: “STUPID BITS!” Like much of the undecipherable shit that comes out of your kid’s mouth at that age, we didn’t really think anything of it.

Until one day my wife figured it out.

Her: You know what he’s saying, don’t you? When you get mad, you say “STUPID BITCH!”

Me: C’mon, I do not.

Her: Yes, you do!

Me: Next time the mower breaks down in the middle of the yard: “STUPID BITCH!” Next time I smash my thumb with a hammer: “STUPID BITCH!

Me: Accepting Father of the Year Award…

#3: FATHERS AREN’T SUPPOSED TO SLEEP UNTIL 3:00 PM.

3pmYou know that thing… where you’re at a party and you’ve had a few drinks and someone offers you a shot? Yeah that.

You know that thing… where someone offers you another shot. Yeah that.

A few years back, this happened and I ended up throwing up all over the place in the passenger seat of my wife’s car on the ride home — with my son sitting in the back seat “taking notes.” Thankfully he was young enough to not really understand the whole episode. But the next day I was sicker than I’d felt since my college days. I woke up around 8:00 a.m. New Year’s Day, somehow managed to hose off the car mats and clean out the car, then went back to bed.

I’ve blocked out many of the memories of this night but I will always remember hearing my son from downstairs, while I was lying in bed upstairs, ask: “It’s 3:00. Why isn’t Dad up yet?!”

#4: SOMETIMES SANTA CLAUS BRINGS BOOKS ABOUT SEX.

One Christmas morning, Kim and I sat around drinking Mimosas while the kids alternated between playing with their new toys and eating candy out of their stockings.

pocketscientist

Should come with Parental Warnings

This particular year, Kim had purchased books for our kids called “Pocket Scientist.” She hadn’t read through the books; she’d glanced at them and thought they looked like good, educational, stocking stuffers. There was a Blue Book and a Red Book and they explored all kinds of stuff: dinosaurs and animals and fossils and caves and climate and rainbows and the water cycle and trash and the environment and machines and rocks.

As we still had at least one “believer,” we labeled them “FROM SANTA.”

It was quite a surprise when we learned there was a section on how babies are made! Our children giggled aloud as they read how “the mother and father cuddle each other very close and the father’s penis gets stiffer so it fits comfortably inside the mother’s vagina.” Who could’ve guessed we’d have a conversation about erections on Christmas?

Believe me, I’ve got plenty more stories like these, but I don’t want to overstay my welcome  and, frankly, I have two teenagers: another #SoWrong moment is surely just around the corner!

What #SoWrong parenting moment do you most want to forget?

tweet us at @stevetwarner & @rasjacobson

Wanna Watch Me Chat?

Screen shot 2013-06-11 at 9.33.06 PM

Image courtesy of Gigi Ross aka @KludgyMom!

Today, I participated in a Google+ Hangout with several other mommy bloggers where we discussed how we help our kids follow their bliss while managing a sane schedule for ourselves.

Gigi Ross of KludgyMom was our moderator.

If you spend eleventy-twenty skillion hours shlepping your kids around, or if you struggle with other issues around managing your children’s extracurricular activities, you’ll want to listen to the conversation.

We broadcasted live at 1 pm EST/10 am PST.

But you can watch it here:

How do YOU balance extracurricular activities in your house? Which is more important: school or extracurricular activities? How do you teach your kids to enjoy the thrill of victory but press on despite the agony of defeat? How do you gauge the right activity level for your kids? And seriously, how do you get everyone everywhere and still make dinner? 

tweet me @rasjacobson

NOTE: If you haven’t entered to win a 9-pack sampler of GoGoSqueeZ, there’s still time. Click HERE for details!

Don’t Lick The Minivan: A Review and #Giveaway

Screen Shot 2013-05-01 at 1.14.19 PM

When my son was an infant, I knew I was doing everything wrong.

I was sure of it.

Looking around, I saw smiling mommies bouncing quiet babies on their knees.

Meanwhile, I had The Screaming One.

I was failing Motherhood-101, and I had no one to confide in.

Leanne Shirtliffe’s book Don’t Lick The Minivan: And Other Things I Never Thought I’d Say To My Kids has hit the stores, and — boy oh boy — do I wish I had it 13 years ago.

While living abroad in Thailand, Leanne gave birth to twins, William and Vivian. After a bit of a rocky start, Leanne found the babies (she lost them on the way home from the hospital), the right nursing bra (not so easy in a country where boobies are slightly less bodacious than ripe Canadian ta-tas), and she started to find funny everywhere.

You know those days when you’re feeling like you’re the world’s suckiest parent with rotten-good-for-nothing kids?

Leanne teaches us to find humor in those low moments.

She tells us how:

  • Her husband left the babies with drunken strangers. (Sorry to throw you under the tuk-tuk, Chris.)
  • William liked to pee. Everywhere. On everything.
  • Vivian drew on the dining room table. Using a Sharpie. (The permanent kind.)
  • The twins carved their names into her minivan’s paint…with rocks.

She sucks at crafts.

She’s anti-glitter.

She let her son sleep next to a turd.

Leanne has this way of making us see the humor in the exchanges we have with our kids. When you are suffering through life’s most unfunny moments, remember we are all partners in this ordinary, extraordinary thing: raising tiny humans. And Leanne? She reminds us it’s okay to laugh with them – as well as at them.

Because Leanne is yummypickles, one person is going to be able to win a copy of Don’t Lick The Minivan.

What do you have to do to win?

Leave me a comment telling me a naughty thing you did as a child that you thought was hilarious OR tell me something naughty that one (or more) of your kids did that was heinous at the time, but you can look back at now and laugh. Kind of.

Can’t wait to win a contest? Buy Don’t Lick the Minivan on Amazon.

Buy Don’t Lick the Minivan at Barnes & Noble 

They even have an audible version. Listen to the sample.

tweet us @rasjacobson & @lshirtliffe

NOTE: This contest is open to residents of the US and Canada only. Random Number Generator will be helping me on this one. One winner will be announced on my blog on May 27th. If that person doesn’t contact me within 24 hours, I’ll select another winner. Don’t be that turd.

• • •

Ain't she cute?

Ain’t she cute?

Leanne Shirtliffe’s book, Don’t Lick the Minivan: And Other Things I Never Thought I’d Say to my Kids, has received glowing endorsements from Jenny Lawson (The Bloggess), Jill Smokler (Scary Mommy), Kirkus Review, and others. When she’s not stopping her eight-year-old twins from licking frozen flagpoles, Leanne keeps a blog at ironicmom.com and teaches English to teenagers who are slightly less hormonal than she is. Follow her on Twitter at @lshirtliffe.

NOTE: Michelle from Steadily Skipping Stones recorded a fun interview video with Leanne on her blog! When you are done reading this post, click HERE to hear Leanne answer silly and serious questions from her fans.

My Mother Was Hot Stuff

pink&yellow

My mom & I circa 1970.

My mom was hot stuff when I was little.

She was pretty and had straight teeth.

She wore pink hoop earrings and wore floppy hats.

She did cartwheels with the girls who lived in the white house across the street.

My mother is in nearly all of my earliest childhood memories. She encouraged me to paint, explore calligraphy, and use pipe cleaners to make frogs and ladybugs. She loved when I sang and danced and rode horses and did backflips off the diving board. 

When I was sick, my mother brought the black-and-white television into my bedroom along with a little bell, which she told me to ring if I needed anything. On those miserable days, I watched My Three Sons and The Don Ho Show until my mother emerged with green medicine and Campbell’s Chicken Noodle Soup served on a swirly green and blue plastic tray.

One day, I didn’t want to be my mother’s twin anymore.

Pink and yellow were not my colors.

I remember shouting and slamming doors: the tears.

I saw my mother throw her hands up, exhausted, not knowing what else to do.

I felt powerful then. Driving her to pain and chaos was fun.

Now that I have a teenager in the house, I want to tell my mother, I’m sorry. Because I see how precious it is, that time when our children are young. And what a gift it is, to let a mother hold on to the little things for another day, another year.

Because it hurts when our children reject our cuddles.

Because it was cruel to play with her heart.

Even when I didn’t give her any credit, my mother has remained steadfast, guiding me with an invisible hand.

She still is.

I suspect she always will be.

Happy Mother’s Day, Mom.

Hey mom, you have two good hands. And from the looks of this photo, you knew how to style your own hair. Do you think you could have done something with mine? Seriously. Also, if you still have that hat, can I have borrow it? xoxoRASJ

Tell me something you remember about your mother.

tweet me @rasjacobson

When Your Kid Is Smarter Than You Are

Photo 43

Many summers ago, our family went to a local art festival, and while I visited another booth, my son found a turquoise and green glass pendant and, though he only had eight dollars in his pocket, he convinced the vendor to sell it to him.

We coined the piece of jewelry my “compliment necklace” because every time I wore it, I received kind words from strangers who gushed over the glass that glowed in the sun.

I loved my necklace like nobody’s business, and I wore it every day.

Recently, while we were vacationing in Florida, the glass pendant slipped off its silver chain and smashed on the bathroom tile.

Screen shot 2013-04-14 at 9.47.15 PM

“NoooOooooo!” I wailed, falling to my knees. “NoOoo! No! NoooOooo!”

Carrying the jagged shards in my open palm, I showed the pieces to my son who happened to be sitting in his brand new rocking chair, reading a book, and eating a slice of pie.

Standing, my boy put one hand on my shoulder. He’s taller than I am now, so he looked down at me a little. Stepping aside, he pointed to his new rocker, not 24-hours old.

“Come. Sit down. Have a little pie. You’ll feel better.” He offered me his plate.

I shook my head. Because I didn’t want any pie.

I wanted my glass pendant back.

“You bought it for me when you were 7,” I complained. “Every time I wore it, I thought of you.”

My son settled back down in his rocking chair. “If we didn’t lose people and things we love, we wouldn’t know how important they are to us.” My son shoveled some pie into his mouth and pointed to his chest. “Anyway, you don’t need a necklace to think of me. I’m right here.”

At home, TechSupport doesn’t let me tuck him into bed anymore. But, the night my pendant smashed, my son let me cuddle with him for a few minutes. As I stroked his spiky crew cut, I saw a silver thread in his hair.

I tried to pick it out, but it was attached.

Turns out, my 13-year-old has a gray hair.

My husband and I have said our son is an old soul. To us, he’s always possessed the understanding, empathy, and kindness of someone with more life experience.

As a youngster he always shared his toys. He was comfortable with rules, and sometimes, as I explained things to him, he eyed me suspiciously, as if to say: Of course we don’t write on walls, or touch hot pots on the stove, or stick fingers in electrical sockets. Of course, we don’t bite our friends. Or push them. Duh.

Over the years, I’ve complained when he’s been overlooked for awards. It kills me each Friday when his middle school publishes its list of “Great Kids of the Week,” and his name never makes the list. Meanwhile, he doesn’t care. He tells me he doesn’t need his name announced over the loudspeaker or his picture posted in the hallway. He knows about his good deeds, and that’s enough. A stellar student, he doesn’t like me to mention his grades. When he was bullied in elementary school, he refused to retaliate. Even when his father and I gave him permission to kick the bastard who was bugging him in his cahones, our son told us he believed in nonviolence. Like Gandhi. How did he even know about Gandhi in 5th grade? Though middle school can be an unhappy time as teens jockey for popularity, Tech has maintained a core group of smart, kind people who are loyal to each other.

Our son has never been interested in material things.

He has simple requests.

A bed.

A book.

A rocking chair.

A slice of pie.

That one single silver strand of hair on his head confirmed it for me: proof positive that my kid is an old soul — unusually understanding, wise and empathetic beyond his years.

Don’t get me wrong: he’s a teenager, too. He eats constantly, hates putting away his laundry, and making his bed. He laughs at dumb YouTube videos and would play Minecraft all day, if we let him.

But he knows how to talk me down when ants are crawling across the kitchen floor. Or tonight, while I held my stomach as I listened to the news, crammed with voices, the President talking about justice and violence and terror — again.

This is the world I brought you into, my son. A world where things are always breaking. And nothing is solid.

But he has the right words. Reminds me that most people are good people. That G-d hears prayers and love transcends zip codes and time zones.

“Kinda makes you realize your necklace wasn’t such a big deal,” he said.

What will I ever do without him?

Have you ever lost a sentimental something? Do you put on a strong front for your children? Or do you let them see you cry?

tweet me @rasjacobson

Not a Tale for Children

Recently, I had to make a decision about whether or not to call Child Protective Services. The boy involved is a smart boy. He is not a troublemaker. The people who needed to be reported were the boy’s parents who left him, alone, without any organized adult supervision for several days. In the end, I decided not to do it, but I have fretted over this decision every day since. This is my way of working it out a little.

angel

Not a Tale for Children

His face is not a face. It is an onion to be peeled, a puzzle to be pieced together. His pain is so deep under the surface even he cannot find the center, the source. He remembers very little, but he recalls two sets of hands. The woman’s hands first: long, slender fingers pointing to her chest, and a heart beating there. These hands lifted him when he was tired and could walk no further; these hands ruffled his locks even when he hadn’t bathed; these hands felt like sunshine warming his knee.

The other hands were different. Those hands had fingernails sharpened to claws. Those hands had scarred knuckles. Those hands smelled metallic and gripped a gun with a feeling that he imagines is something close to love. He remembers bruises and fists and, finally, he remembers no hands at all.

He remembers the smell of grass vaguely, but then he is not sure. Maybe he is recalling warm bread with apricot jam, or the scent behind a baby’s knees, or the memory of a thick yellow comforter on a soft bed. A real bed. A place to rest a body or a head.

He remembers he used to have wings, feathers that extended from the center of his back, in the place where his shoulder blades met. His wings were eggshell-colored and silky, too — of this he is certain.

He remembers the day his wings caught fire.

It was the twenty-seventh day after they noticed the wind had stopped moving across the land. Twenty-seven days since the last orange butterfly visited the blue flowers that puffed out purple tongues. On that day, he felt a fist of fire cracking its way up his back and then his wings — which he had always been taught to believe could fly him away from the cracking cement and the muffled rumbling in the distance, the rubble — his beautiful wings turned brown and curled into wispy tendrils of dust.

It had not been a slow burning. His wings exploded into flame and the air around him turned brown and green. He remembers the smell of burning flesh.

Because he was ashamed of his loss, he hid for five days, coming out only at night to scavenge amidst the wreckage, searching for marshmallows and sunflower seeds and bits of cheese. After a while, he forgot what he was hiding for and emerged, small and pigeon-toed. Amazingly, no-one seemed to notice that his wings were gone. Tall, crooked shadows curved over his tiny frame and then rushed past, leaving him questioning if he had ever had them in the first place.

tweet me @rasjacobson

Teenage Resistance To The Teachable Moment

Dr Brown's Cream Soda

Dr Brown’s Cream Soda (Photo credit: stevegarfield)

TechSupport was relaxing, drawing in his notebook to complete an assignment for his art class.

“Can I show you something?” my husband interjected. He used to be a pretty good artist back in the day. “I want to show you how to look at that can of soda and really see it.”

“I kind of just want to draw,” Tech said.

My husband pulled a chair over to the kitchen table where our son was sitting. “I just want to show you something,” he said. “Will you just look?”

Tech kept his eyes on his notebook. “I will.” His hands gripped his pencil tightly. “In a little while.”

I addressed my husband. “Not every moment has to be a teachable moment…”

My husband glared at me. “Don’t do that.” He held up one hand. “You’re always undermining me. I just want to show him something.”

Insulted, my husband pushed back from the table, scraped the chair’s legs against the hardwood floors, and he stormed off into another room.

Tech’s hand continued to move. He wasn’t really looking at his can of soda. He was just coloring.

“You know,” I said. “Instead of making a big stink, you could’ve just listened to what he wanted to say.”

Tech bit his lip and continued drawing.

After a while, Hubby reappeared. “Now can I show you something?”

I could feel how much my husband wanted to show our son what he knew. How he wanted our child to see the world differently. How he wanted him to see shadows and light. How he wanted him to see a different perspective.

Tech looked at me, then at his father. I could see he was biting the inside of his cheek.

I imagine he felt outnumbered.

There are always two of us, and only one of him. He tries so hard to please.

My husband started again. He showed our son how the eye can lie. How colors can be different, not uniform. How a brown can of soda isn’t really brown when you are drawing it. If you look, it is gray and maroon. Even orange in places.

“That’s all I wanted to show you,” my husband said with some degree of satisfaction.

After all, he got what he wanted.

“Thanks,” Tech said with a blend of gratitude and sarcasm in his voice.

My husband’s cell phone rang and he answered it.

And Tech continued to draw with his brown pencil.

Not gray, no maroon, no orange. He only used brown: a Good Son’s quiet act of defiance.

Tech’s completed drawing

What my husband didn’t know was that Tech and I had plans. We’d said that while he drew his picture of Dr. Brown’s Cream Soda, that I would write about the same topic.

I guess it didn’t go quite as planned.

Or maybe we all got it done in our own way.

Michel Foucault once wrote: “Where there is power there is also resistance.” Anyone experiencing any resistance lately?

When a Walk in the Park is Not a Walk in the Park

“A girl from school wrote that she was going to kill herself on Facebook.”

Up until then, the leaves under our feet made swishy, dry sounds. But I stopped moving.

I needed to sit down, but he didn’t want to so I had to keep walking.

“She said goodbye and everything. I didn’t find out about it until after it happened.”

I held my breath as we passed the trees that had turned gold.

Tinker Park. Henrietta, New York. Fall 2012

“Is she okay?” I asked, praying hard for this girl who was suddenly with us like the wind in the trees.

“Her friends contacted her mother or something. She’s in the hospital.”

“Do you know her?” I shoved my hands in my pockets.

“Not really. I found out from a friend.”

We stopped at the water’s edge and found each other’s eyes.

“I want you to promise me something.”

My son looked at me. He knew what I was going to say. But I said it anyway.

“If someone threatens to hurt themselves or someone else on Facebook or in a text or in real life, you have to promise me that you will take it seriously.”

“I will.”

“No matter where I am. You have to contact me. I’ll help you do whatever we need to do.”

My son tilted his chin. “Sometimes you can’t answer your phone.”

He had me there. Because when I am teaching, I can’t take calls. Or answer texts.

The wind blew cool air though my sweater.

“You know what I mean. You can leave me a message. I can check messages. If there is an emergency, I can always make time.”

My son nodded.

The sun was going down as we turned down the mossy path.

As my feet moved, I thought about the girl’s mother. How terrified she had to be.

I thought of a car accident that occurred just a few miles down the road: how a young driver had been speeding through a residential neighborhood and smashed into a bus. They could have all been killed, but they weren’t.

I thought of my son who has been quiet lately. How we don’t connect the way we used to. How I don’t know what he does for most of his day. How he is going on a trip to New York City on a school field-trip in a few weeks.

I won’t be there.

And what if he needs me?

“Mom,” Tech called. He’d stopped to inspect something on the ground. “Come check out this bug carcass.”

I looked at my son. I thought he was going to say thank you. Or run over and hug me. Or tell me how glad he was that we had talked. I thought a lot of things. But he didn’t do or say any of the things he used to do and say so readily.

“Let me take a picture of you,” he said, holding out his hand for the camera.

So I posed for him.

“You okay?” he asked, a line creased his forehead.

I told him that I was fine, but it was a lie.

Because 8th graders shouldn’t be thinking about killing themselves.

They shouldn’t be thinking about dying.

Back at the car, we noticed our shadows.

“My shadow is taller than yours,” my son smiled. “I’m catching up to you.”

I looked at the red and the yellow and the green around me. I looked at my son in his maroon hoodie which will soon be too small for him. A gust blew some leaves off the trees. They soared over our heads and then fell on the grass, quivering.

I know time is passing, but is it so wrong to want things to stay like this for a little while longer?

I’m not ready for winter.

When is the last time you slowed down, unplugged and took a walk with someone you care about? Do me a favor, call someone you haven’t talked to in a while. Or write that person a letter. Do something to show someone you care about them today. What is one beautiful thing you can do to show someone they are important to you? Or (conversely), what do you wish someone would do or say to you today. Let me be that person.

tweet me @rasjacobson

“Daddy, I Want a Vodka Tonic Nooooooow!”: When Underage Kids Demand Alcohol

Click to see more from Dave R. Farmer via WANA Commons

While attending a fancy-schmancy cocktail party before a big party, a gaggle of women wearing our prettiest dresses formed a loose circle to catch up. I stood closest to four women. We talked about apple picking and how a Trader Joe’s would soon be opening next door to our local TJ Maxx. We admired each other’s shoes and accessories, smiled and posed for pictures.

A stranger in a tight purple dress broke into our circle, and turned to one of the women I knew.

“Will you get me a drink?” Tight Purple Dress requested.

I wondered why she didn’t get her own drink.

And then I realized Tight Purple dress was Apple,* the 10th grade daughter of the woman she was addressing.

Let me tell you, Apple did not look like a fifteen-year-old girl.

Rather, she didn’t look like me when I was fifteen. When I was fifteen, I had frizzy hair and no boobs.

Apple had it goin’ on.

Apple’s mother shooed her away.

Because I am clueless, I didn’t know what the big deal was.

I figured if Apple was thirsty she could have a sip of my drink.

As I handed her my glass, Apple shot her mother a smug look. But after a quick swig, she pulled her mouth away from my drink with a frown.

“What is this?” Apple wrinkled up her face. “Sprite?”

“Ginger ale with lime.” I smiled, taking the glass back in my hands and jiggling it. “My signature drink.”

“I wanted…like, a vodka tonic or something.”

I shrugged and wiped her lipstick off the rim of my glass with a napkin.

Apple turned to her mother again.

“C’mon, mom. It’s a party.”

Apple’s mother turned her back to her daughter.

Good for her, I thought. She’s standing firm.

Meanwhile, Apple inserted herself into every conversation, asking every woman in the vicinity to please get her a drink from the bar.

The proposition was not enticing.

Photo from Sacks08 @ flickr.com

When Apple interrupted my conversation for the third time, I was pissed. Honestly, in that moment, I didn’t care if I made her feel less than.

I batted her away like an annoying little gnat. “Why don’t you go in the room with the DJ?” I suggested. “This is the adult cocktail hour.”

Undeterred, Apple flitted across the room where she found her father. I watched as he chatted it up with his buddies and, absently, handed his daughter his stubby glass filled with something.

I watched Apple polish off her father’s drink, and I tracked her as she made her way back toward her mother.

I figured she was sated.

Sucking on a piece of ice, Apple was relentless and started to beg again: “Mommy, will you get me a drink, now?”

Apple’s mother thrust her glass into her daughter’s manicured hand. “Take this and go!”

Women looked at their rings and adjusted their bracelets.

One woman caught Apple’s mother’s elbow. “What are you doing?”

“I’m doing what I need to do, so my kid will leave me alone and I can have a little fun.”

The circle broke apart then. Some women went to try the hors d’oeuvres that had been brought out; others went to find spouses. Some wandered toward the bathroom, ostensibly to check makeup.

And probably to chat about what had transpired.

I leaned against a wall, processing things.

When it comes to parenting, we do the best we can.

And raising children is not easy.

We all make decisions we wish that we could take back.

Meanwhile, I have watched this dance between Apple and her mother for a decade.

Photo from Roni Loren via WANA Commons

So where does this leave Apple?

Will she be a good Apple? Or rotten to the core?

Kids are programmed to test the limits set by the adults around them.

It’s their job.

But that’s when the adults in their lives are supposed to push them back and remind them where the boundaries are. You know, when they overstep.

So why do parents get stuck on the reminding about the limits part?

Because it’s not cool? Because it’s not fun? Because it’s exhausting?

Whatever.

Who cares if your kid hates you for a little while?

I don’t.

And Tech, if you are reading this if you suddenly feel the urge to drink something alcoholic while under the legal age, you probably shouldn’t come looking to your father. Or me.

But.

You can have as much ginger ale as you like. Bring your friends.

How would you react if your child asked you for alcohol in a public venue? Do you believe it is better to provide alcohol for your child (so you can oversee things) or that it is more important to uphold the law? Do you think Apple’s behavior is indicative of an emerging drinking problem or just harmless adolescent attention seeking? Am I over-reacting?

Tweet Me @rasjacobson

TechSupport Answers, Part Tres

This is the final installment in a series of answers that my 13-year old son has provided to all the faboo readers & bloggers who responded to my request to give him the gift of questions for his 13th birthday. Because nothing screams happy birthday like the prospect of being a guest writer on your mother’s blog. I know you are all devastated. He is riveting. But he needs to go back to school. And hopefully this little exercise got him back into the mood. Either that or he’s now burned out before school has even started. Click on the links if you’s like to read Part Uno or Part Dos.

Tech Support 2012

We’re jumping right in again.

pattisj said:

I love the Big Bang Theory. Do you have a favorite character?

TS: I love Sheldon because his reactions to things make me laugh. Like how he over-reacts to everything. I also love his roommate contract Part C, Section IV. I intend to get a full copy of the agreement and use it in my real life.

• • •

Jami Gold asked:

What are some of your favorite book series?

TS: I like the Gone Series, The Hunger Games, and The Maze Runner.

• • •

e. rumsey asked:

What is your favorite fiction genre? What are some of your favorite movies? Do you think you’ll like playing with LEGOs your whole life, like I do? Have you been to a show on Broadway, if so, which one and did you like it?

My favorite fiction genre is science fiction. I loved the Hunger Games movie, Iron Man, Captain America, and I really want to see The Avengers. I don’t play with LEGOs very much anymore, but I have a strange urge to play with them now.

• • •

Jay Donovan @ jaytechdad

Here’s a math problem: Using only 3s & any operators you want to use, write a math equation that equals 100. If TechSupport wants some real homework, tell him to install VMWare Player on his computer, install Linux, and figure out how to build a web server or get his own Minecraft server running. Afterward, he can enter minion training. We can always use another minion.

TS: Hi Jay.

Here is my best attempt:

33 x 3 = 99.

99+3 = 102.

102 x 3 = 306

306 – 3 – 3 = 300

300/3=100. ;-)

I didn’t use any help to figure that out.

But now I have a riddle for you.

You have 8 potatoes. You need to feed 20,000 people in a village of starving people, none of whom are willing to eat potatoes. How do you feed them?

I just got my own computer, and I am planning to host my own Minecraft server. I’ll send you the IP address, if you are interested. Are you interested?

• • •

Coleen Patrick asked:

What was your favorite part of your bar mitzvah (and least favorite)?

TS: My favorite part was at the after party, dancing with all of my friends. My least favorite part was when I had to light invite people up to light the candles because I don’t like being alone on stage. I get nervous when I am the center of attention.

• • •

Go Jules Go asked:

Your mom told us about the books that you collected, organized & donated for your bar mitzvah. Do you have any other projects like that that you’d like to do or are already working on? Do you have someone you look up to when it comes to doing charitable acts (someone famous or someone you know personally)?

TS: Hi Jules. I feel like I can call you Jules because my mom talks about you all the time. Plus I know you were on the phone together when I was at fencing once, and you guys talked so long that her car battery died. I don’t have any mitzvah projects in the works right now, but I’m always involved in some sort of project.

I don’t really have someone who I look up to with regard to charitable giving. {RASJ’s note: Really dude, really?!} The book thing was natural because I love books. I started it with my own initiative. I’m sure I’ll stumble into something else at some point.

• • •

JM Randolph asked:

If you had a blog, what nickname would you give your mom? And what was the single biggest thing that helped you prepare for your Bar Mitzvah?

TS: I would probably call her Super Writer. Wow, that’s pretty lame. I guess that’s why I don’t have a blog.

I think the biggest thing that helped me prepare for my bar mitzvah was starting to study for it long before I had to.

• • •

Larisa asked:

Take one of the questions that your mom answered over at The Byronic Man’s page and answer it yourself.

I chose #13. “Which superpower would you choose if you could: the ability to fly, or to turn invisible at will?”

Neither and yet both. I would like to possess the ability to use other people’s strengths. By this I mean, I’d like to be able to think of another person or thing and utilize their abilities as my own. They wouldn’t lose their powers or anything. I would just stay looking like myself – a mild, mannered boy — but I would secretly have any power that I desired at any time I desired it. Basically, I want everyone’s power. Is that creepy?

• • •

Rivki from Life in The Married Lane asked:

What’s the most difficult task you’ve tackled, and how did you feel about it before, during and after?

TS: If I had to say there was one challenge I had to overcome it would be my 7th grade social studies experience. My teacher was…um…he…um…let’s just say I had to do a lot of independent learning. Which meant a lot of boring textbook reading and Internet quizzes. My parents kept saying, “One day, you’ll see that this class has helped you understand how to be a better learner.”

I don’t think so.

• • •

Diana asked:

[My son] is almost ten and dying to be a tween. He loves computers and reading and writing. Can you suggest a few books or series for him to read, and any cool web games/programs. (He’s currently into Minecraft and making videos with Adobe Aftereffects.)

TS: Have him read The Hunger Games, The Maze Runner and Gone Series. I loved all 3 of them. If you’re on a Mac, try Dimp Animator and if you’re on a PC try Pivot. They are stick figure animators that I think are pretty cool. I really want the whole CS6 Suite, but my mom says it is too expensive. {RASJ’s note: I said he has to pay for it himself.} I guess I’m stuck with freeware right now. Hey, maybe I could come live with you for a while. I mean, you have Adobe Aftereffects. So you probably have the CS6 Suite, right? That would be cool. {RASJ’s note: Oh yes. Go live with people you don’t know. Whaaat?}

• • •

Nathan Young asked:

What are your favorite TV shows other than Big Bang Theory? Many geeks love animation so what are your favorite cartoons and comic books?

TS: Hi Nathan. I love MAD Magazine. It’s hilarious. When I get it, I lock myself in my room and read if from cover to cover. I also get Mac Life, but that’s not a comic book, obviously. I like a few weird TV shows like Adventure Time, which is totally wacky — but very entertaining.

I am so tired. I’m sorry you are the last person, but I have to stop now. Right now.

Here is a little bit of Adventure Time to enjoy while I am playing on my iPod resting.

So there you have it, ladies and gentlemen. That brings Tech’s riveting answers to your questions to a close. I think this assignment took him more hours than all of his 7th grade English assignments combined. Maybe I should make a suggestion to his soon-to-be 8th grade English teacher to have the kids start blogs. Or maybe I should just shut up and stay out of things. Which do you think I’m better at? What Tech? No, I’m just kidding. No, I’m not going to contact your teacher. Sheesh, son, can’t you take a joke?

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