Can’t do the time-don’t do the crime

What’s that saying,’if you can’t do that time don’t do that crime?’

My teen got in trouble. The best punishments hit them where they live. I admit to being proud of my own creativeness when I declared her punishment to be that I wouldn’t pay for her to get her nails done, her hair “did” for prom Or her makeup done. She’d have to do it on her own.

For once she just said,”yes ma’am,” without a single eye roll, side to side head movement or deep sigh: that’s when I know I had her.

Too late it dawned on me that I hadn’t done the crime but I was sure going to do the time! By not letting her get her hair done I was actually the one paying the price because that meant I HAD TO DO IT!

Guess that’s what I get for being proud of my own creativity.

She began scouring you tube the week of prom. Thursday she began in earnest.

Getting her hair done professionally would have been cheaper. Thursday we bought texturing spray, mousse, bunny pins, fancy pins, hair spray and other paraphernalia. Problem: I didn’t know what in the hell to do with any of it.

Friday after school I get a text. Hair is stupid and this is impossible.

I broke out into a cold sweat.

Friday night we practiced. Hot rollers, curling wands and irons. We had it all. Too bad we didn’t have a clue.

On a scale of 1-10 my girl was at about 110 on the stressed out scale. You know the way you have to talk slowly and quietly to a rapid animal? I did a lot of that Friday night.

At one point I called her brother and said,”I am transferring money into your account…BRING ICE CREAM!!”

6 iterations later I got,”it’s not horrible.”

At version 8 she was decidedly more positive. Until I made the mistake of asking why in hell she was meeting her girlfriend at 7am the next morning to get makeup done. The question sent her to 116 on the stressed out scale. I had no feelings left in my fingers after all the braiding and Bobby pining I’d done.

It was time to part ways.

She went to her bed and I went to mine.

At 8a she quietly left the house to head to her girlfriends.

At noon she made her way back home very excited with her dramatic eye make up and her $2.99 false eyelashes.

I was up.

“I’ve decided I am not going to stress. It’s going to be fine. My hair will be fine. It will all be fine,” I checked to be sure it was MY DAUGHTER sitting in the chair. It was.

I took a deep breath, said a silent prayer and started brushing.

OMG she has a lot of hair.

The first version was okay. But not perfect. So we tried again.

The 3rd time was the charm!!! She actually said,”I love it!” I got a hug and a high five and a,”I have to admit-I am impressed mom.”

Hot damn.

I am not a hair person. At all. The punishment was meant to get her attention. In the end it put ME IN THE HOT SEAT. Friday I was ready to throw in the towel and pay someone to do it. But today I am happy I didn’t. My girl and I bonded over a hair do. She took her punishment like a champ and was a darn good sport about the whole thing. She was even happy with me. Wahoo! That doesn’t happen too often.

In the end it didn’t turn out so bad.

My girl looked stunning tonight.

And I got to help.

It started as punishment but it ended up being a reward. I’ll forever be a part of her first prom memories. And it will be because we accomplished something together.

There is also a saying, “you can dress ’em up but you can’t take ’em out.”

Turns out that one applies to us as well.

She looked like a dream. Statuesque. Classic. Graceful.

But her pictures showed her goofing off, jacking around and, at one point, airing out so her ‘booty sweat didn’t leave marks on her dress.’ That’s almost a direct quote.

We were about to leave and I asked her if she’d brushed her teeth. I was having flashbacks of her at her perfectly polished dance with Cheeto powder all over her teeth.

Good thing I asked. To get upstairs she, in her 3 inch heels, had to hop up…one at a time. “It this handle breaks off I am a goner,” she quipped as she gripped the handrail and hooped up one more.

When we got to the location where the others awaited I heard someone tell her that her dress was gorgeous. She immediately said,”I know, right, and it was only $50!”

My girl and I love a bargain.

I am pretty sure she said that same thing every time someone told her she looked pretty.

I love my authentic, witty and beautiful girl. And I love that she takes lemons and makes lemonade with a wisecrack and a retort while doing it.

She a stunner, my girl, inside and out.


Let it hurt

At some point my role as mom shifted. I am not sure when. I am not sure I’ve successfully made the adjustment. This change is against my very nature as a mom.

They are babies. We hold them.

They toddle. We, as mothers, protect them.

The run. We tell them not to do it with scissors. Not to do it in the House. Not to go to fast.

We protect them.

It’s instinctual. No one has to teach you how to do it. The second they are born you immediately gift the gift if the mom look, a mothers instincts and a fierce desire to protect from any and all harm.

Shirts emblazoned with MAMA BEAR are everywhere. It’s a warning. Don’t mess with them or you’ll deal with me! It’s a reminder….they are ours to keep safe.

And so we spend years doing that. Fighting their fights. Sheltering and shielding then from all we can. We baby proof our houses. We buckle into car seats. We slather them in sunscreen. We spend an hour dressing them for a 5 minute romp in the snow.

Who remembers bread bags covering their feet? Or getting all dressed only to hear I have to go to the bathroom! Or bundling them so tightly they couldn’t straighten their arms?

And just when we get the hang of protecting our job changes. There aren’t any warnings. No hints. No instructions. It just happens. And often the need to change happens before we as moms are ready.

At some mystical, elusive point they no longer need us to protect them. A shift occurs.

At some point we have to let them fall.

At some point we have to let it hurt.

At some point our job becomes less about protecting and more about helping them recover from the fall.

The secret is knowing when…

I can’t do it for you,” you admonish the night before the big project is due. And then…yep…you do it for them. Or you finish it up or just add a little bit.

But there comes a time when you say,”I can’t do it for you,” and you don’t. So they fail. Or they don’t win or they don’t get it.

And it’s no longer our job to fix that.

Somewhere along the line you don’t warn…”if you do that then I’ll do this” or “one more time and I’ll…” Instead they do something wrong or against the rules and the consequences are immediate and sometimes harsh. Who is more surprised when that happens…then or us?

Without warning you quit kissing boo-boos and buying fun bandaids. Instead you let them fall. And you let it hurt because if it doesn’t hurt they don’t learn.

In a moment you go from kissing away their tears to walking away from their crying. Not saying it’s easy but at some point it is necessary.

We quit fighting their fights and ask,”what are you going to do about it?” And then we quit talking! We don’t give the answer. We wait for them to discover it on their own.

“I told you so,” isn’t said out of anger but to make a point.

“That’s on you,” we say when they’ve made a mistake OR A CHOICE THAT IS WRONG.

We let consequences fall where they may.

I don’t know when it happens. I don’t know how it happens. But it does…this shift—This change in the tide of parenting.

Sitting. Just sitting.

See all these girls? These are typical 9 year olds. They want to learn a sport, they ask their parents to sign them up, they arrive and even though they are nervous they join the group and give it a go.

See this one? This atypical 9 year old sitting alone, in the bench? Yep. That’s mine .

Just sitting.

While everyone else plays.

While everyone else meets each other.

She’s 9 now. When she was 5 coaches coaxed and pleaded and enticed her to join. At 9 it’s not cute. She joins or she doesn’t. At 9 it’s not adorable. The other kids are surely wondering what’s wrong with the girl on the bench.

I was/am shy. I feel part of her pain. I remember how t felt to walk into a classroom or into a dance studio and being terrified. I hate that for her. I do.

We tried tee ball. Disaster. She spend the entire season in the dug out-ALONE because she wouldn’t play once people showed up for games. I didn’t allow her to get a team treat at the end of the games because those were for people who played. It broke my heart. I thought the treat would be enough to encourage her to go out there. It wasn’t.

I don’t care if she’s an athlete. I don’t care if she’s a musician. An artist? A chorus member? An actress? A dancer? I. don’t. Care. But DO something.

I don’t want her sitting on the bench while life passes by. Being part of a team will give her identity. Being involved provides confidence and security. Having “people” will make middle school and high school so much easier.

So I keep pushing.

Know this. I only pushed because she asked to play. That’s the worst part. She wants to do something. She wants to participate. She just won’t.

So I will sit here-in these bleachers- for an hour. She will sit there-in the those bleachers-for an hour. And we will come back every Tuesday and Thursday until it’s over. Even if we come here and sit on the bench.

She can’t quit. I won’t let her.

If she won’t play then she won’t play. But by golly she’ll be here. Honoring a commitment she made when she asked me to sign her up.

This time I am mad. Mad. I am embarrassed. And I am disappointed. It breaks my heart that she’s so afraid. It crushes me that she’s so terrified that she won’t even try. But I am mad because she’s going to face so many tougher challenges. How will she get through those if she never gets off the bench????

And I am helpless. There isn’t a damn thing I can do. I gave her a pep talk all that way here. I was firm. I was supportive. I didn’t baby her. I didn’t hold her or hug her or shelter her. I encouraged her.

I also made mean eyes at her.

I mouthed “GET OUT THERE” when she made eye contact.

I smiled and whispered,”you can do this” and “you’ve got this!”

And she’s still on the bench.

And I am here on my bench. Not making eye contact. I am bouncing between tears and anger and am unsure which will win.

And I have no idea what to do.

I have no idea what to say when we get to the car.

I can’t fix this for her.

I can’t make it better.

I can sit here and watch her sit there.

Update: she went in! 45 minutes into an hour practice she touched her toe on the court. 50 minutes in she actually made her way into the court. That’s her in the pink. Hallelujah!

52 minutes in and she’s back on the bench.

But for a glorious 7 minutes she tried! For 7 minutes she got off the bench.

At 54 minutes she’s back in. I know how much it took for her to step out there. My own heart hurts knowing how hard hers must be beating.

Life doesn’t happen on the bench. As her mom I am terrified that she’ll stay there-sitting-while life passes her by. Today-for 7 minutes I have hope that she’s got the courage it will take to stand up and take life on. Even if it’s 7 minutes at a time.

A perfect 9

My bug turned 9! She won’t forget her 9th birthday…and we won’t either!

1) As the third child she doesn’t get grand parties. Her birthday fell on a school day so it was a normal day but we made sure she felt some love!

2) No party. No problem. I love giving memories so that’s what we did. At 5:30am my birthday girl, her sister and I took off in the dark for a grand adventure! To celebrate the birthday she had a gift every hour. It was two-fold…I wanted her to feel special and it gave her something to entertain her. Little did I know how painful the 58 minutes between gifts would be. Patience isn’t a virtue my doodle bug possesses. It was fun to watch her little face light up at the little gifts. A bathing suit for our adventure. Flamingo pj pants. Sunglasses. Fingernail polish. A notebook to write all about it. Her big sister was delighted to get similar gifts. Having all of us with matching flamingo pjs made my girl belly laugh. How I love that sound!

3) The first surprise was a stop in Williston, Florida at Two Tails Ranch. Elephants are our favorite animal. Imagine her surprise when we pulled up at a normal looking Home to see real, live elephants right in the backyard! It was amazing. The owner is a 9th generation exotic animal owner. She’s passionate about animal welfare. Part of her tour is to educate patrons on the difference between animal welfare and animal “rights”. It’s not the same. In fact, animal rights groups are hampering the welfare of majestic beasts like the Asian elephant.

Asian elephants have smaller ears then the African elephant. Another difference is the freckled skin of the Asian. There in the paddock Luke stood there and danced from foot to foot. Turns out they have to shift their weight constantly so the weight of their organs doesn’t settle. Despite their size the ranch was so quiet you could hear a pin drop. Elephants are actually very quiet animals.

My girls were amazed–I was too. The tour was educational and fascinating and very precise. We watched Luke paint pictures. We listened to the owner tell us all there was to tell about her animals. Then we fed Roxbury, a smaller, Asian elephant. Others stayed for the full adventure which included a ride and getting to lather down Roxey in a bath. She laid down on her side and let those lucky enough to have the experience, hose her down and then use there hands to suds her up in big, soapy lather. I swear the elephant was smiling in delight.

Spending a sunny afternoon in Florida just feet away from elephants was something none of us will ever, ever forget.

4) From Williston we made our way to the Plantation at Crystal River. At 5:45 am we made our way to the adventure center where we donned wet suits, boarded a boat and went in search of manatees. It wasn’t a long trip.

The snorkeling wasn’t as easy as it looked. Sadie tried but then gave up and climbed back up in the boat. I swam on. Not 5 feet away I heard “incoming” and oomph was tossed over onto my back. Turned out a manatee wanted to play. Being tossled by a manatee isn’t something I expected. I was terrified and exhilarated all at the same tome. I couldn’t quit laughing even after the mamooth beast swam away. I was glad, at that moment, my little one had stayed in the boat with one of the captains. She got to enjoy the manatees swimming under the boat without being nudged around by a 2000 pound sea potato. Kinsley proved to be irresistible to the sea cows as well. It wasn’t long before they were nuzzling her neck, chomping on her hair and literally smooching her on the cheek.

After that encounter we were taking to 3 sisters springs. Crystal clear springs where manatee liked to lounge. This time my brave girl, scared bit willing, got in and allowed the captain to pull her around. It didn’t take long before that precious little face was in the water. She got to witness a mom and baby manatee swim right under her!

On a scale of 1-10 this adventure was a 20. The captains were amazed at our encounter. They said the manatees aren’t normally that playful and curious. How lucky were we to be there when they decided to play.

Have your own adventure!

5) From the river we made our way to the pool and then the beach. It wasn’t much of a beach but it had sand and surf; kites and seagulls and shaved ice served in real pineapples! What’s not to love?! We took food and had a picnic right there on the sand. No one was in a hurry to get anywhere. We just laid there and soaked up some vitamin d. It was relaxing. It was warm and salty and sandy and just simply delightful.

Relaxing, smiling and soaking in the sun. No rush. No hurry. No distractions.

6) After the beach we meandered to the pool. Where, much to the delight of the birthday girl, her sister got in the water and played with her! They swam and laughed. I treated them to virgin daiquiris while I sipped on a mojito. A wedding took place in the pavilion overlooking the river. We got to watch. Oversized games dotted the yard. We played connect 4 with lifesized pieces. Checkers too.

7) Having started every day of our adventure before the sun we settled in each night early. Pizza was delivered and we binge watched Say yes to the dress. Sadie wrote about her adventures in her little notebook. I granted big girl screen time. We were together. We were happy.

8) Sunday morning we woke up and decided to add a mouse to our adventure. Off the Disney we went. We didn’t tell the bug. A few miles away from the park she said,”I see mouse ears!”

The Disney stop wasn’t set on stone. I called and audible on that one. Not my smartest decision but it was my big girl who made it happen. I mentioned it and the sheer joy on her face at the very suggestion made me decide. I am not sorry I did. Both girls loved it but it was Kinsley that was the most enamored. We rode rides…even those with an hour and 20 minute wait!

Sadie had a “birthday girl” button on. Each and every cast member said,”Happy Birthday Princess!” They even made her the star of the monsters, inc comedy show…much to her absolute horror.

The highlight for both girls was meeting a real life Belle in the Beauty and the Beast exhibit.

It was worth every single penny…and there were considerable pennies spent…to know that I’d given them those joyful smiles. I don’t get to say yes all the time. But on this adventure I was able to a little more than normal.

A dear friend had given Sadie 9 $1 bills for her birthday. She felt so rich. She spent that $9 at least 10 times. Spending her money made her feel like a big girl. Seeing her and her sister smile made me feel like a super hero. A broke super hero but a hero nonetheless.

Yes to a $7.00 sucker. Yes to a $4.96 mouse shaped Rice Krispie treat covered in m&m’s. And yes to a mouse shaped pretzel for momma.

I did say no. A little. No yo mouse ears. No to the 2 hour wait at space mountain.

A poor mans mouse ears!

The day just kept going and going! We saw characters.

And, at the end, we witnessed the most amazing fireworks show I’ve ever experienced. The iconic castle lit up. It morphed from castle to castle as Disney songs played. I was spellbound. Kinsley was mesmerized. Sadie was ecstatic. I could write an entire blog about those fireworks alone!

The day ended with each girl selecting a “treat”. They spent their “own” money for that. In theory anyway.

9) To top it all off my girls got my fill, undivided attention. I didn’t get distracted by work. My phone stayed put away. I didn’t blog or Facebook too often. I wanted to be THERE. I wanted to be present.

It was a perfect 9. We made memories that none of us will ever forget. 10 may be a perfect score in some people’s mind but not for me. For me 9 is perfect.

I made it

I made it.

This weekend big girl had plans. She’d sacrificed plans with her beau to babysit (for free) because I’d volun-told her time as part of a silent auction basket. The winner got a craft basket and 4 hours of babysitting. She did so willingly. With a smile. She gave up a day with her boyfriend at a motor cross event because she understood an obligation was important. She understood that the time she was giving up went to pay her swim dues.

I made that.

Somewhere in her upbringing I’d instilled a work ethic. I’d given her a sense of duty.

Baby girl was with her daddy. Big boy was headed to FSU for a club swim meet. I was going to be alone.

Rather than sit at home with Netflix I decided to do something. So I signed up for a class. A local sewing studio, Sew-Sew Studio was offering a free form quilting pillow class. Before I could second guess myself I reserved a spot. I didn’t second guess my abilities. I didn’t second guess if I belonged. I wanted to be productive, I wanted to create and I wanted to be busy. So I went.

I can’t lie. I was terrified. I hadn’t touched a sewing machine since the costume shop at JSU.

But I channeled my inner Helen (my talented, seamstress grandmother) and bravely went.

And I went in style. Me and Beatrice. My girls bug convertible…aptly named Beatrice which was my grandmothers middle name. It was fun. Even with the duck tape holding the doors together.

At the studio we were instructed to pick fabric scarps in whatever pattern we desired. No rules. No instructions. Even the technique was totally up to us. A little intense for my first venture.

In the piles of fabric I found one little snippet of fabric with words. It reminded me of being a writer. Inscribed in the paragraph was the phrase diving board. It was the only piece in the bunch. It quickly became my inspiration piece.

This technique required you to lay scraps however you wished and top stitch to create a quilting look. You used the pieces to create whatever shape you wanted. It wasn’t as easy as it first appeared. A time or two I got myself in a bind and struggled to make the pieces work.

3 hours and a little angst later I finished. I had a pillow. It didn’t look like I thought it would when I first started. But I didn’t hate it. Sure-now that I know there are a few places I would handle differently-a few patterns I would alter. But in the end I’d started and finished a project. And it felt good.

I made that!

Late Saturday I got a video of my boy swimming!!!! It had been more then a year since I’d had that pleasure. And he did great! He was winning in the snippet I saw. Check out the second lane from the bottom.

My fellas has his own little life now. But he shared part of it with me this weekend. A part he knew I desperately wanted to see.

I made that. I made this sweet little guy who thinks of his momma every once in awhile.

Sunday rolled around. My big girl had been wanting to paint her room. I can’t imagine why. Sage green, gray Sheetrock and white Sheetrock mud. What’s not to love?

It was a project that needed doing but one I hadn’t had the energy to take on. But my girl wanted it done. I told her, “I’ll buy the paint if you do the work.”

So she did.

Good natured she took a paintbrush and went to work.

She hoped she and her beau could see each other since she’d missed him while she babysat.

“You can’t only 1/2 paint. You’ve got to finish before you do anything else,” I told her.

In the end he came over and the 3 of us painted the afternoon away. At one point I was in what we pass off as my fellas “room” when I heard them giggle. I stuck my head out and saw them quite creatively solving a problem. He’s 6’2. When he put her on his shoulders she could reach the top of the wall. So there she sat, atop his shoulders, saying, “a little the the right,” as she cut in the walls edge. Both of them laughing the whole time.

I made that.

I’d made it comfortable for my girl to have her beau over. I’d made it possible for them to have fun, while working, with me right along side. That felt good.

Baby girl turns 9 this week. I don’t do parties any longer. Too much drama, stress and unknowns. But I love experiences. I had an idea. Normally I’d overthink and second guess and let my big ideas go to the wayside. But not this year.

I booked and adventure for my girls and I. On Friday I’ll be whisking my girls away for a bucket list kind of treat.

I made it happen! We are going to be swimming my manatees for my girls big day!

So I am ending the weekend feeling a little accomplished. I made it…great children, projects and plans.

Ruffles and fuzz

I came out of my office today and a visitor stood there. I smiled and spoke. She smiled and then pointed at me.

“I recognize you!” She said. “I saw you on Monday.”

I continued around the counter into an open area.

“Oh girl I love your pants!!!” I had on my favorite pair of pants. A sleek black pair of slacks with a chiffon ruffle on the side. (Thanks june!) I thanked her and told her I loved them.

“I thought to myself on Monday…it takes a brave woman to wear that!”

I laughed along with her. “Was it my ruffle pants? I suppose you thought at my age I shouldn’t wear ruffles on my pants. But I love them!”

Let’s pause here. I will confess that, Yes, I own pants with ruffles. As a matter of fact I own 5 pair of pants with ruffles. 5. I shocked myself just now when I tallied them up. At one point does it become an obsession?

Back to my story….

“…or my fuzzy vest?” I’d worn a pale pink furry vest with my ruffle pants.

“The whole thing! I didn’t even think about your age. I just thought about that outfit.” Her face was very expressive leaving no doubt as to how impactful my outfit was. “I thought it then and I thought it now when I saw you. Yep. It takes a brave woman to dress like that! A brave woman,” She emphasized brave. Twice.

“I like to keep things interesting,” I said. She took her hand and waved it back in forth from my head to my toe.

“Interesting. I like that! And you do. Oh you do!” She cackled. I laughed along and went on my way.

It’s one of those conversations that you step away from only to go….wait a minute…a few seconds later.

I replayed the conversation in my head. Even on the replay I could discern if I should be flattered or insulted.

For a second I was tempted to be embarrassed. Embarrassed to be remembered for an outfit. An outfit I thought was cute.

But that was just for a second.

Instead I smiled. A big, bold smile that happens just before a laugh erupts.

Brave. She called me brave. Brave.

  1. endure or face (unpleasant conditions or behavior) without showing fear
I decided to look up brave. This made me my smile erupt into a full out laugh.
Was my outfit an unpleasant condition?
There are lots of variations of brave. There is big brave and small brave; everyday brave and extraordinary brave. Heroic bravery. Bravery that requires sacrifice. Soldiers are brave. Parents caring for children with cancer are brave. Single mothers working full time, caring for children while going back to school to create a better life…that’s brave.
It’s brave to leave a job without a plan because you know you are meant to do something different. I have friends that are that brave.
It’s brave to change your circumstances when those circumstances make you unhappy.
Bravery means different things to different people.
And this stranger found me brave. For wearing something she obviously wouldn’t wear.
Frivolous? Maybe.
But she’d still used the word brave.
I am not brave about a lot of things.
But I do own 5 pair of ruffled pants. I have 4 fuzzy vest. Shawls with fringe. Bright, shiny, Red cowboy boots. Jackets made out of a chenille bedspread. I own shoes with pineapples. Hell…I own and love shoes with cloth flowers and a stuffed strawberry!
Not your average old lady shoes
And I wear it all.
It’s not brave to me. To me it’s just me being me.
I am a little quirky. A touch whimsical. A smidge unique and wholly authentic.
But brave?
Not how I would describe me.
But it’s how she described me.
Maybe it’s even how she saw me. Or maybe she saw me as kooky. Or odd. Or weird, strange or off kilter.
But she’d used the word brave.
So I replayed the conversation again. I had a choice-be insulted or take the word brave.
In a long day in a hard week I decided to take the moment and appreciate the smile it provided. And to accept the word brave. She’d used it. I’d accept it.
Who knows…maybe she’ll go out and treat herself to ruffles pants or fuzzy vest.

The damage a dash can do

That’s 10 minutes of my life I’ll never get back.

In a recent parent conference I had my hand popped a little.

10 minutes of fact practice, 20 minutes of reading and a math sheet are the standard homework for my 3rd grader. It takes 1 1/2 hour, 3 meltdowns (1 of them hers) and at least 2 curse words to get it done. Her meds are wearing off, she’s HANGRY and just D.O.N.E.

And she’s not the only one.

I mentioned our struggles. Her daddy doesn’t have any issues with homework. She likes doing it for him. They get it all done while he makes her dinner. I felt like a worthless excuse for a parent after voicing my concerns only to hear, in front of her teacher, the assistant principal and the special education liaison that I am the only adult in her life that struggles with the nightly requirements.

Yep, that stings the ego.

Added to that is the fact that I just plain don’t understand her math. She doesn’t understand my math. Yep. I said that aloud. Again. Me. Only me experiencing this. Now I felt worthless AND stupid.

So we’ve gotten bad about completing the homework every night.

Hey…we made homemade valentines. That should count for something. I made her write something nice-ish about most of her classmates.

Okay. Maybe in a moment of I don’t have 4 months to finish these! I helped. Hey. It took an hour, a tantrum and a pen being hurled across the room to finish one totally by herself.

Don’t judge.

We stuck to it. I helped a little. We did one at a time and then took a break. She got to “mark off” the ones she finished. It wasn’t pretty, fast or pleasant but we got there.

My 15 year streak of handmade valentines is alive!

If we can do that we can do homework. That’s my theory anyway.


After the conference I had made a conscious effort to make the homework happen. I’d had enough shame for one year.

I even created a “chart” because my girl loves to mark things off. Let her put a check mark my something and she’s 100% more likely to do it.

Chart. Check.

Rewards. Check. Don’t judge me for these either. The rewards have to matter to her or what good are they????

Alcohol. Check, check. (Sort of kidding).

Today was digital learning day. Our school district is a little extra (to quote my teen). They didn’t have to go to school on Presidents’ Day. But they did have to complete online assignments. No breaks for our little overachievers!

So she’d had math today. Her daddy fell on that sword.

I was in charge of reading.

I read to her in the bathtub. She snuggled up to me on my bed to read to me after her bath.

So. Stinking. Sweet.

We read about the candy fairies. She read a page and I read a page. Between we quizzed each other. Recall is an area my girl struggles with. She can read but retaining…well that’s harder for her. By frequent “quizzes” we are trying to help that retention skill.

Things were going well. She was engaged. I was engaged.

And then….

Chocolate. On a single line she knows exactly how to say it and what it means.

Hyphenate that bad boy and holy hell.

“It’s the same word baby,” I told her as she stumbled over the word.

“No it’s not,” she said still trying to get something pronounced.

“Yes it is,” that should have been my sign. The fact that I had to and was arguing about the word chocolate with my 8 year old. “It is. It’s just hyphenated because it wouldn’t fit.”

“It fit up there!” She points higher on the page where the whole word fits.

“It does fit there but it doesn’t fit here,”I point,”so they had to break it up.”

“It’s not the same. Choco. Late (pronounced late). It’s not the same as choco-late (pronounced lot). Choco-LATE is not the same as choco-LOT.”

“Baby. It’s the same word!”

“It doesn’t even look the same. This one,” she points to the hyphenated word,”has a dash. This one,” she points to the single word, “doesn’t.” She says again: chocoLATE and chocoLOT.

Count to 10. Count to 10. Count to 10. Deep breath. “It’s. The. Same. Word. Baby.”

She rolls her eyes behind her glasses. “Sure mom.”

She is 8. I am 48. She is in 3rd grade. I have a college degree. But we went at it. Neither of us giving an inch.

We didn’t make it past chapter 5. I have no idea who stole the chocolate eggs.

We didn’t get past chocoLOT vs choco-LATE.

I will never, ever get those 10 minutes of my life back.

I will also never, ever admit ALOUD that I failed to convince my 8 year old that chocolate and choco-late are the same word.

I’ve lost points in my mom card.

I even pulled out the because I said so argument. It didn’t work. “Sure mom,” she said her voice dripping with disdain. I thought at 8 they still thought you knew everything!

I wanted to weep for joy when 8:15 rolled around. Bedtime. She must have felt the same because she didn’t even try and convince me for 5 more minutes. 8:15 arrived, she jumped up and asked me to tuck her in. The Choco-late vs chocoLOT debate has worn us both out!