How To Be a Better Parent

Now that my daughters are “adults,” I can start telling other people how to raise their children. I can be one of those women with opinions about EVERY aspect of parenting, especially the ones I really sucked at.

Group

(The tall ones are my daughters. The short ones are my grandkids. They’re all perfect. Like me.)

First, play with your kids. With my daughters, this meant playing Barbies every single day for 16 years. Of course, I was never Barbie, I was always Ken. And I never had clothes. And I was always at work.

Next, listen to your kids. Especially when they’re in the back seat of the car, and don’t realize you’re paying attention to the conversation. I learned LOTS of “secrets” by keeping my mouth shut in the driver’s seat.

Put the helicopter parenting techniques in the hangar. Nothing is more infuriating than dealing with a woman (or man) who does book reports, organizes science projects, accompanies their child to every play date, hides in the car in the parking lot during school hours to make sure kids play nice at recess, and who yells at the teacher when their child fails a subject. You are teaching your children NOTHING!

norma bates

(Norma Bates: ultimate helicopter mother. And we all know how Norman turned out.)

Allow your kids to fight. Allow your kids to be bored. You are not a cruise director. You do not need to organize, plan and entertain these creatures all. day. long. Kids who are bored are forced to use their imaginations. Of course, that often means you end up with disemboweled stuffed animals and missing spatulas. Still a mystery.

For every rule you set, your child will break it in many, creative ways. That’s all I have to say about that.

Be flexible with your schedule. Sometimes you just need to drop everything and spend the afternoon in the park. Other times, laundry can wait while you read “Brown Bear, Brown Bear” 634 times in a row.

brownbear

(If this doesn’t drive you to drink, nothing will.)

Spend time one-on-one with each of your children. Go for ice cream, watch a movie, walk through the dinosaur museum–do what they love. Also, spend one-on-one time with your spouse, your therapist, your bartender and your mom–who is now laughing at you as you maneuver the pathways of parenthood.

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Ask Me About My Temper

hulk

(“Peri angry!”)

I applied for a job recently, and was asked the strangest question: What can you tell me about your temper?

I wasn’t sure what he meant. Did he mean my temper when my dog eats the couch cushions, or my temper when my husband spends the weekend watching the Golf Channel? Was he talking about the time I yelled at my daughter for writing swear words on the floorboards? Or how about the time I lost it when a Walmartian pooped on aisle 12 (true story)?

It made me wonder if I had this inner Hulk raging inside my soul. I don’t feel angry. I don’t think I get mad often. I decided to ask my family.

“Do I have a temper?” I asked my husband.

“Is this a trick question?”

“What does that mean,” I asked, giving him my best pissed-off wife glare. I guess that answered that.

“Do I have a temper?” I asked my daughter.

“Will you yell at me if I say yes?”

“Probably.”

“Then, nope. No temper at all.”

I tried calling my other daughters and siblings, but they had been forewarned and didn’t answer the phone. Even my dog wouldn’t look me in the eye when I asked him the question.

I think I have a much calmer temper now then I did 20 years ago. I haven’t thrown a pizza at anyone lately, and I can’t recall the last time I swore during a PTA meeting. But maybe that’s just repression. Maybe one day I’ll wake up, turn a brilliant shade of green, throw off the remnants of my shredded jammies and stomp through the city, yelling, “Who ate the last donut?!”

Good thing I didn’t get the job.

ANGRY

(The angry bird catches the worm.)

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Top 5 Reasons to Avoid Parking Lots

When you’re 16 and handed a driver’s license, everything is fresh and lovely and exciting and free! You have no idea how much you’ll come to hate driving within a few years. No one tells you the real stress of driving doesn’t come from tailgaters, speed-demons or police lights in the rearview mirror.

Real driving stress comes in parking lots.

Here are my Top 5 Reasons to Avoid Parking Lots:

1–Big Trucks: The man driving this truck has body-image issues. The truck is a double-extended cab, making it twice as long, and the tires he stole from a nearby dump truck make it twice as tall. His side-view mirrors consist of full-size body mirrors attached to each side of the cab. To add a touch of class, he has mud flaps with the silver silhouette of an anorexic Barbie doll. There is no way you can see past this truck as you pull out of your parking space.

monster truck

(So, exactly how small are your male reproductive organs?)

2–Errant shopping carts: It doesn’t matter where you park, someone will crash their shopping cart into your car door. Or. Every parking stall has a cart left directly in the center, so you can’t pull in. The cart was left there by someone too freakin’ lazy to walk it back to the cart stall.

3–Going the wrong direction: There’s a reason arrows are painted in parking lots. These directional clues tell you which way the front of your car should face when looking for a place to park. It seems some people don’t understand arrowial instructions, and just drive willy-nilly up, down, diagonal, sideways–whatever route gets them to Walmart fast.

arrows

(Hmmm. See how following the arrows lets you park easier?)

4–People waiting for you: I found a prime spot to park, and you want it. That’s fine. Just stay back far enough so I can back my damn car out! There’s always that jerk idling right behind you, with his turn signal on, backing up traffic while you unload your groceries, strap your toddler into his seat, find your car keys and load the handgun under your seat. If they tap their horn (letting you know they are waiting), I move more slowly.

5–Pedestrians: Get the hell out of the way! Why do you insist on walking down the middle of the parking lot aisle? You amble toward the store’s entrance, not realizing (or caring) an entire caravan of cars is behind you, deciding if jail time is worth running you down.

Sometimes it’s just easier to walk, bike or crawl–and it has nothing to do with saving the environment. It’s saving my sanity.

 

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Things Driving Me Crazy Today

Ah, Tuesday. That day between Monday and Wednesday that is as obnoxious as a 2-year-old with a megaphone. Besides having to get out of bed this morning, here are several other things driving me crazy today:

  • Slobbering toothpaste onto my workout clothes. I’ve only been brushing my teeth for four decades. You’d think I’d figure it out.
  • Footnotes
  • The end of pomegranate season. NO!!!*
  • Eating TWO healthy meals in a row, and not losing any weight.
  • Logging off the computer, and then remembering what I was supposed to look up.
  • Having to flush the toilet more than once, and trying to flush it “quietly” the second time.
  • “Yolo!”

yolo

  • People with a positive outlook.
  • My favorite mascara being discontinued.
  • Disappointing novels.
  • That feeling you get right when you finish your fourth Twinkie and think, “I should have had an apple.”
  • People who want me to smile at the camera.

grumpy cat

(I am smiling.)

  • Not being independently wealthy.
  • TV shows with “seasons” only 10 episodes long. That’s not a “season,” it’s a “mini-series.”
  • Forgetting to buy Girl Scout cookies.
  • Realizing it’s April Fool’s Day halfway through the day, and thinking of a really funny blog that will have to wait until next year.

*I will gladly fork out $15 for the last pomegranate.

 

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Foods I’m Afraid to Eat

The American Academy of People Who Want To Scare the S*** Out Of Me (AAPWWSOM) frequently release lists of foods that will cause horrible pain and untimely death. These people need to get a different hobby because they have completely confused me when it comes to healthy eating.

Granted, I like cookies, candy, pie and other sugar-laden delicacies as much as the next person (if the next person is a sugar-addicted Orca), but I try to incorporate new-fangled ideas like “vegetables” and “fruits” into my diet when I think about it. (It’s usually on Monday after I weigh myself following a movie-theater-popcorn weekend.)

popcorn

(She’s scooping out a small bucket of popcorn. The rest is mine!)

So when I try to be healthy, and the AAPWWSOM tells me eating spinach could potentially kill me, I get a little frustrated. Spinach seems to frequently contain the bacteria Escherichia coli. (You might know it by it’s rapper name–E. coli.) So, should I eat spinach?

There are other dangerously healthy foods, whose side effect seems to be DEATH; like the mushroom. One mistake and your fungus could kill you. I don’t usually forage in the mountains for salad toppings, so I hope the little baskets of mushrooms in the super market aren’t laced with poison.

Also, Mr. Peanut is out to kill us. Behind that classy monocle, a peanut-sized brain attempts to wreak havoc by spreading peanut allergies through the land. By reading labels, I’ve learned that EVERYTHING is made in a facility that comes in contact with peanuts. Mr. Peanut is sneaky.

peanut

And while I’ve never eaten star fruit, I read a report that said this fruit’s juice can poison people with bad kidneys. People with healthy kidneys are safe. But how do you know?

And if you’re a fan of Casu marzu–you know, that cheese made from sheep’s milk that ferments outside and allows a certain fly to lay eggs in the cheese. Maggots then soften the cheese but you have to EAT the maggots to prevent poisoning. So I’ve crossed that food from my list.

Even non-exotic foods like strawberries (pesticides), salmon (mercury), corn (genetic modifications), canned tomatoes (BPA) and apples (have you seen Snow White) have warning labels, explaining these foods could cause a third eye to grow out of your belly button. And death.

On further review, I might have to give up healthy food. I think a strict sugar-only diet is the way to go.

 

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PR Things Driving Me Crazy

I tend to get lotsa, lotsa press releases sent to me, inviting me to everything from the AUTORAMA to the free pap smear clinic. (I declined both offers.) I get good media releases–and some really, really bad releases. If you send me a release, here are some good ways to make me hate you:

  • Press releases WRITTEN IN ALL CAPITAL LETTERS. I am lazy. If I can’t copy/paste–this gets fed to my parakeet. (Euphemism for trashed. I made it up. Do you think it will catch on?)

parakeet

(Chill out, PETA. It’s a photo.)

  • Press releases without the time, date or location of an event. Maybe it’s a scavenger hunt and I’ll get clues in subsequent media releases. Or maybe I ignore you.
  • Press releases with incomplete info. Don’t make me a) find a website, b) look up contact info, c) proofread your copy. Include everything (spelled correctly) in your release. Remember? I’m lazy.
  • Don’t use exclamation points!! Not everyone is as excited about this blood drive as you are!!!! All !!!! will be deleted immediately!!!! And I will add one more pin to my PR voodoo doll!!!!!!!!
  • Don’t send me quotes with no attribution. Am I supposed to guess who made this statement? If I have to guess, it will look like this, “Our staff is super, duper excited to sponsor this pie-eating contest,” said White House Correspondent Count von Count.

count

(You totally just laughed like the Count.)

  • Don’t assume spell check caught all your errors. I’ve been notified about too many pubic hearings. That’s disturbing.
  • Please use apostrophe’s correctly. Its damn irritating when its done in an erroneous’ manner. You’re copy looks bad. And your getting on my nerves.
  • Check all URLs before sending the release. Many, many times the URL is incorrect, and then I have to look it up. Or I don’t. And . . . . ignore.
  • Don’t use the word “literally.” It literally makes me want to hurt you.

I understand people make mistakes. I screw up on a regular basis. But please, please consider my laziness and ineptitude when contacting me about your next colon awareness 5K.

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Make Yourself at Home

I love staying in hotels, because (unless my house burned down) it usually means I’m out-of-town. And while I love staying in hotels, sometimes those hotels are . . . well . . . not exactly the best home-away-from-home. But that means I spend more time out of the hotel, enjoying new Mexican restaurants and local book stores.

Here are some things that get bad reviews on my hotel check-list:

  • Bathroom mirrors. When the lighting is terrible, it shows every pore, bump and flaw on my face. Plus, it highlights all the tiny hairs on my lip, cheeks, forehead and chin. Why didn’t anyone tell me I look like an Ewok?!??!

ewok

(Just putting the finishing touches on my make-up.)

  • Internet “speed.” I often work during my getaways, and find it SUPER-FRUSTRATING when the Internet speed is somewhere between sloth and road kill. I might as well use dial-up.
  • The hot tub. The temperature has been cranked up to Boiling Lava levels and melts the first three layers of skin. Plus, the hot tub is full of kids who think splashing around is a good idea.
  • Meeting rooms. These burlaped walls hold all the despair from former meetings, and are usually either freezing or thermonuclear.

meeting

(Snore)

  • The blow dryer. If I forget my blow dryer, I’m screwed. My hair is thick, and it takes three days to dry using that little wall plug-in blow dryer. It’s faster to shake my head like a puppy.
  • Do Not Disturb. I’m glad maids still knock, even when there’s a No Molestar sign on my door. But that Do Not Disturb instruction does not mean NEVER disturb. I hate returning to my room, after spending the morning listening to people drone on and on and on, only to find the maid service has quit for the day.

disturb

(Want.)

  • The exercise room. I’ve mentioned this 80s’-inspired torture chamber before, but it bears repeating. If you can’t keep your treadmills or ellipticals maintained–don’t say you have an “exercise room”! The last machine I used in a hotel kept shutting down every five minutes.
  • The HVAC. You wake up at 2 a.m. and realize you’ve melted to your pillow. The temperature in the room is right below center-of-the-earth hot. Or. You wake up at 2 a.m. because your  teeth are chattering, and the snot from your runny nose has frozen to the pillow.
  • The fridge. It’s always cool (so to speak) to have a fridge in a hotel room. Except. It’s temperature keeps things like milk, soda or juice slightly above the going-spoiled level. Just leave the liquids on your nightstand. It’s probably colder there.

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