Failing 4th grade

There are pictures abound in FB about clever virtual school tricks and tips. This will not be one of those.

Since the crisis has begun I’ve been leaving for work at 5:30a and getting home well after 6:30p.

“School” has fallen heavily on the shoulders of my 17 year old. My 17 year old who has hours and hours of work herself.

Teachers have graciously stepped in to google time and face hangout…or whatever it’s called.

But we are already behind. How we can be 3 weeks behind on the 2nd week of homeschooling is beyond me. But here we are.

Tonight, I decided I would help get her caught up.

We got her computer on–as in powered up. Yeah. We sort of peaked there.

We have a chart that a special teacher made to help keep her on track. Bless her! Tonight I ran down MONDAYS assignments. I thought it would be a quick recap. The blank look she gave me told me all I needed to know.

“Did you do any of the work?” I asked. I’d settle for one completed assignment. One.

“Did you even TRY??” I asked when it was evident she hadn’t completed anything.

Her sister poked her head down thru the spindles on the stairs. “I told you it was a bad day,” she reminded me.

Did I mention my youngest has ADHD? Did I mention my youngest doesn’t do well with change? Did I mention that school—NORMAL SCHOOL–is a struggle for her? Did I mention her impulsivity? Her temper when she’s frustrated?

Face masks and memory game becauSe we both needed a stress reliever….that’s the next text I got today.

So we have a child who can’t focus, completely out of her routine and are asking her to self motivate and semi self teach at her own pace. Couple that with an academically competitive, self-starter taking advanced classes who is covered up in school work and stress. Add a dash of mom who’s working non-stop and offering little help. What could possibly go wrong????

Tonight I was determined to fix the absentee mom part of the equation.

10 minutes. That’s how long we lasted before one of us was cussing and one of us was crying. I am not telling you which of us were doing what.

After 10 attempts I found the video in mythology that she was supposed to watch. Mythology. My black and white thinker has to study mythology. Better yet she has to comprehend mythology. And yet I can barely navigate the tools to her her started in the video.

“Hey. She’s in Greece. That’s where YOU were supposed to go. Not me. Just you.” She’s bitter that we had a trip to Greece and Italy planned…without her…this summer. She doesn’t pass a chance to comment on it.

The video played. I breathed a sigh of relief.

“Why does she have snakes in her hair?” She asked me. It’s been 100 years since I studied mythology. I can’t remember.

“Shouldn’t the video explain that?” I hedged while I googled.

“It doesn’t.” She said matter of factly. What’s the point of the damn video? I asked myself. Luckily I didn’t say it out loud. She spun the computer around as if to show me the lack of answers.

“It also says 5 minutes and 18 seconds,” I challenged. She’s spent approximately 90 seconds listening.

She can’t figure out where to find the assignment but she can figure out how to fast forward through the assignment? One little fat finger and she’s missed the entire lesson. I used my own fat finger to drag the cursor right back to that start.

129 seconds in and she says,”…still don’t know why she has snakes”

Brrrppppp…I drag the cursor Right back.

201 seconds,”…whelp…still don’t know”

Back in I go to move the cursor right back to the start.

330 seconds. “I am never going to know why she has snakes!” She cries.

“BECAUSE YOU KEEP FAST FORWARDING TO THE END!” I yell.

Tears followed. Again–not admitting who was dissolved to tears. It may or may not have been the little one.

We move to the couch. I’ve spent 11.5 hours on my feet today. I can’t handle the kitchen table any longer.

We start the video over…AGAIN.

It last about 60 seconds before her attention gets pulled away by something important–the backspace button. You’d think she’d never seen it before.

Now we’ve discovered if you press and hold down one of the buttons it makes the computer skip and cut on and out….like that video is experiencing technical difficulties. Took her 3 seconds to figure that out and me about 10 minutes to figure out nothing was wrong.

It’s been an hour. AN HOUR and we aren’t finished with a single assignment. Not one. And she has 3 assignments in each class. I started with the easy class. No way in hell are we going to be able to tackle math!

Forget the assignment…we haven’t answered the single question if why medusa has snakes for hair.

And we can’t agree that Athena made Medusa that way because we are too busy arguing that Athena and Medusa aren’t pretty names so we should be calling them Angelina and Meddy.

I. Can’t.even.

River nymph, shape shifters, affairs, gods….we haven’t even gotten to the part where she asks me to explain those! She did manage to hrrrmmmpphh like and old school marm and say,”I don’t think THATS very appropriate!” When the narrator mentioned Zeus impregnating someone.

One assignment. We didn’t make it thru one assignment.

Because I am failing this homeschooling thing she is sure that fail the 4th grade.

I may have a problem

When the announcement came out about sheltering in place most people ran to the store and hoarded toilet paper.

Me?

I jumped on amazon and ordered glitter paint.

Hey…they said to get the necessities!

In the days since this Cvoid crisis has started I’ve glittered more then my fair share of things.

We’ve done pour paint projects and accented them with glitter.

When I wanted to let someone in the front lines know that they were amazing, I painted them a picture. Silly? Yes. But I didn’t know what else to do. Colors and glitter make me feel better so o took a chance it might make someone else feel better too.

There is glitter on my front porch, glitter on the garage floor and glitter on me. Now, I’ve got iridescent glitter accent walls.

I may have a problem.

No, I am sure I have a problem.

A glitter problem. O no

Like most of the world the concept of a pandemic didn’t really register with me. The idea that schools would close, businesses would lock their doors and Americans would empty the shelves of toilet paper seemed like something off a Netflix original— not real life.

But it was happening.

The idea is being at home for a few weeks inspired projects at first. Not fear. So glitter and pour paints went into my amazon cart.

I work on the fringe of healthcare. Soon I realized I wouldn’t be at home. My children would but I wouldn’t be. While they are spending hours on computers and in virtual classrooms I am in meetings about crisis measures and quarantines.

My glitter paint seems frivolous when we are talking about PPE (personal protection equipment) shortages.

Being a working mom has always been hard. Being a working mom in this season has been even harder. My children have been thrown into a world they don’t understand. They, on the fly, are having to learn to navigate social distancing and virtual hangouts. They are dealing with canceled graduations and proms that aren’t going to happen. They miss their friends and their way of life. And I am not with them to navigate most of that.

Because my work is affiliated with a hospital I am supporting front line medical staff. They need me. But so do my kids.

I am considered essential at work.

My little ones probably think I am essential too. Trying to explain why I am not here while they are cooped up is hard.

Getting 20 emails a day from teachers and the schools about on line projects and assignments and ideas for navigation of quarantines only fuels the mommy guilt.

Seeing number of confirmed cases and patients being tested while I worry about social studies and math fuels my working guilt.

If I am here I worry about being there. When I am there I worry about being here.

Moms are worrying about how to fill the days while sheltering at home. Amazing things like virtual museum tours and sidewalk chalk inspirations are popping up everywhere.

Families are doing karaoke battles and indoor obstacle courses. They are making new recipes and taking online are classes.

We aren’t doing that at my house.

My girls are rallying and navigating a new world without me.

I am proud of them.

I am thankful to them for being brave and resourceful and for being supportive.

And as silly as glitter pant sounds I am grateful I bought it. Glitter makes up happy. Glitter is normal in our lives. (I told you I had a problem!) As I type this I glance at my side table and laugh because it’s full of glitter…

Leftover from some project no doubt.

Having a glitter accent wall is probably ridiculous. Or maybe not. It will make the 3 of us happy. It’s frivolous, yes. But it’s also magical and fun and unexpected. Glitter makes us smile–So why not? When a little sparkle catches their eyes when they log into google chat tomorrow they will smile. They will think of me and my love of glitter and even though I am not home with them they won’t feel so alone.

Here’s a close up of the wall. Taking a picture of a iridescent glitter wall isn’t easy!

No, glitter paint didn’t make the must have list for 99.9% of Americans. But it made mine.

The world doesn’t make a lot of sense right now so we are all clinging to things that feel normal and safe; things that offer comfort. In this house that’s glitter.

Yep, I have a problem. Wonder of there is a support group for glitter addicts?

Me, my daughter and a fork

Project time.

As is my usual style I woke up on Saturday morning with a desire to change something. I needed a win. I needed to accomplish something.

With a fork…yes a FORK…and a willing sidekick I set about project “it’s her turn”.

Backstory. My 3 kiddos shared a bonus room. A few years ago my dad built my son a wall and a door. He essentially walled in a closet sized area. But it worked. My fella had his own room! The girls shared the bigger, open space.

Boy leaves for college. Boy leaves college. Boy moves to his grandparents and starts a big boy job. He meanders home every once in awhile.

Meanwhile big girl is up past midnight most nights doing homework. Baby girl complains about the light in her eyes, her sisters squeaking loft bed that she sleeps under all while big sister whines about not having her own space.

And they are both slobs. Little has learned from big. Every-night I go up to tuck in baby girl and I just get mad and irritated. A few days ago I opened the boys door and thought “ahhh hell no.”

So here we are.

Between the previous untrained dogs and former tenant the carpets are wrecked. Replacing them will have to wait until after our trip of a lifetime this May. For the big room anyway.

Armed with a fork I found in the boys room…yes, a fork, we set about ripping up the carpet.

We’d semi painted the room a few months ago but we ran out of paint before it was finished. Not great planning on my part but that’s par for the course when it comes to projects. This one is sure to be no different. We had a red wall, a gray wall and a red/gray wall. Hot mess. The boy didn’t care but I wished he would have. The girl might not have noticed but I couldn’t move her into a mismatched space.

Luckily I had some oppps paint left. The swim ribbons came down and the turquoise paint went up.

The loft bed my dad built stayed. Not that my little one is brave enough to sleep up there yet. But maybe one day. Meanwhile we slapped some paint on the ladder then led to the top bunk. The bottom bunk we made into a fort. Her mattress went on the floor. We piled it high with her pillows and oversized stuffed animals and layered it with blankets. Sheer curtains and a staple gun made the set up dreamy and magical.

Keep in mind this is a closet sized space. Paint and curtains can’t change that.

We broke every design rule in this little space but I wanted her to have all her things in there. So we pulled a Tim Gunn and made it work. Even if it meant mixing gold and silver decor. Guess what…the 9 year old doesn’t care! She loves it.

The room is hers. She can hide in her fort. Big girl can study and face time to her hearts content now.

And low and behold the constant bickering and arguing and fighting slowed down. It didn’t stop but praise God it does seem better.

The phrase adding insult to injury came to life as I had to ask the big boy to move his stuff out and his little sisters stuff in.

“I’ve been kicked to a common area,” he complained as he moved his futon out into the big area. He wasn’t happy until he realized in the “common room” he could at least unfold the futon. He couldn’t do that in his closet. Okay he wasn’t exactly happy even after he figured out that he could sleep like a normal person but it did ease an ounce of his angst. He’s home maybe 5 weekend days a month. 1/2 those weekend days baby girl isn’t home. Both girls are home and using the space 6 days a week, 52 weeks a year. I didn’t do it to punish him–though I doubt he sees it that way.

Saturday we made do with what we had…a little space and a fork and we managed to her something done. And it made 3/4 of us happy. The other 4 keeps laughing about his eviction to the common area”. But he smiles when he says it so I hope his wolf poster, his tv and his Big Brothers are the real Super Hero’s painting make the common area a little less insulting.

And if not…well he just needs to be patient…another trip to the oops paint counter and I am apt to change it all up again.

I got to say goodbye

I got to say goodbye.

I’ve been blessed with some incredible uncles in my life.  All have had a unique place in my heart.  Their support and love have shaped and molded me into who I’ve become.  I hope I make them proud.

Recently I lost an uncle.

He was larger then life. Everything he did he did BIG.  He loved big, he talked big, he dreamt big and he lived BIG.  His heart was as big as his sense of humor.  You never knew what he was going to say but you did know that when he said it, whatever it was, it was true.  He was interesting. He had story, after story, after story about anything and everything. And you could be assured that there was a vein of humor in any story he told.

He was my godfather, a fact I didn’t remember until my mom reminded me after he was gone.

I remember boats (he was a boat dealer), rides through orange groves (he owned some of those at one time), looking at cattle and air boat rides.  He built and ran a bar, a hotel and a campground.  We swam in his pool and fished on his river.  He always drove shiny, new, fancy cars or had cool golf carts.  And I can’t think of him without seeing that BIG, fancy watch that he wore.  He was a grill master so holidays always meant lots of food-smoked, grilled, you name it!  My memories are made up of lots of little snippets like these.

When I was little I was sad because he didn’t have a nickname for me.  He called my sister June-bug her entire life.  Seems as if he had a nickname for everyone, everyone but me.  I was shy, not very outgoing and was awkward.  I remember watching him and wanting him to notice me, to love me, to joke and kid and tease me.

As an adult I had the opportunity to tell him that.  He was the type of man that told it like it was. So…one day I told.  It was at the after party of my sister’s wedding as a matter of fact.  In the downstairs kitchen at the lake house. The memory stands out very vividly to me.  I am not blessed with a good memory. I don’t remember exact words or sentences.  But I do remember context.  And the context of that conversation sticks with me.

When I laughed about my awkwardness he countered with, “I always saw you as strong.” When I joked about my shyness he argued, “I just watched you take it all in and try to figure everything out.”  Yes, he agreed, I didn’t talk a lot. No, he said, he didn’t NOT notice me.  At some point he said something like, “You didn’t need a nickname. You were Libby.” I believe he meant it as a compliment and that was the way I took it.

He loved me.

As a child and, I think, as an adult, he loved me.

And he loved my kids.

Colton made him laugh.  My uncle loved to hear Colton’s swim stories.  He appreciated that Kinsley was intelligent and sassy.  He called Sadie bug Janice Joplin.  The name started when I dressed her in multi-patterned, bohemian outfits.  The name stuck because my Sadie, like Janice Joplin, walks her own path in life.  He noticed that. And, I think, he delighted a little bit in her oddness.

He never didn’t ask about them.  

He never didn’t have an interest in what they were doing.  He asked about swim meets and state competitions.  He asked about cheerleading and boyfriends and grades…well, he didn’t need to ask about grades because my girl is always quick to announce her GPA.  But he listened when she announced it. He worked to make Sadie talk to him.  Not an easy task.

At a low point in my life he and his wife made it possible for Colton and Kinsley to swim during summer league.

We gifted my daughter her first car at his house.  Her grandparent made it possible for her to have it but he was part of the surprise.  And he laughed at the multitude of stories that the little car has provided.

He let my son take his jeep on joy rides.

My babies got to experience a different way of life at Camp Mack-a camp from this childhood that my uncle bought and transformed into one of my children’s favorite places. My son learned to ride a bike at Camp Mack.  My daughter and my niece also had a physical, knock-down-drag-out fight at his house on a New Years Eve.  I am still appalled but my uncle saw humor in the story and managed to tell it in a way that diminished my embarrassment.  He did that a lot…found humor in the honest truth.

My mom called him the Energizer Bunny because he kept going despite many, many health obstacles.  No matter how major the crisis he seemed to keep going.

Until he couldn’t.

My uncle lived hard and fought hard.

Cancer.

His diagnoses were many and all of them were bad. But he kept fighting.

We lost him once but he fought his way back.

But the fight kept getting bigger and harder.

It wasn’t long before his situation became dire.  He was in a hospital in the town where I live.  One Friday I took food for my aunt and my parents who were staying by his side.  While they were eating I got the opportunity to sit with him a bit.  Just he and I.

I am not one for visiting the sick. I always worry that people don’t want visitors when they are sick, tired and at their lowest.  I worried that he, with is BIG personality, always wore himself out entertaining his guests instead of saving his strength. Plus, to be honest, I am just not good at it.  I don’t know what to say.  I am awful at making random conversation and I am just downright awkward.
But on this night while they ate I went to sit with him.

As sick as he was he was alert and talkative.

I don’t know what made me do it.  Maybe I knew?

I leaned in close and said, “I know that you love me.” He nodded.  “I know I am awkward and not everyone’s cup of tea,” I admitted, “I know that.”  I went on, “I used to wish you had a nickname for me.  I used to think you didn’t because I was shy and weird and awkward,” this was hard but I kept going, “but I think you see past all that.  I think you like me.”  He nodded.  “Somehow I think you might even be proud of me,” I choked up.  He teared up. “I’ve never told you that it matters to me. I’ve never told you how much that means to me.  I’ve never told you how much I appreciate that you love me,” he nodded again.  “I love you.  I just wanted you to know that.  And I am glad you love me.”

“I love your kids too,” he said over the rush of his oxygen.  He had tears in his eyes and I did too.

There was so much more I could have said.  So much more I wish I’d said.  But I didn’t know it would be our last conversation. Even if I had I wouldn’t have wanted him to think that I thought it was the end.  And, even with things left unsaid, I had peace that he knew that he mattered to me.

His teary eyes broke my heart.

So…I did what I do best…I started telling him about Kinsley and her recent transgressions that were going to get her grounded. He smiled at my re-telling of events.  As always, he didn’t miss a detail.  He soaked it all in.  I think he loved my stories about my babies.  He found humor in them I think.   His eyes crinkled at the corners as he smiled at my re-telling of events.  He even chuckled when I described the way I suspected she would respond to the punishment.

That was Friday night.

Sunday night we said goodbye.
I got to tell him I loved him.
Often in life we don’t get the chance to tell someone what they mean to us. It goes unsaid.

As sad as I am I am grateful that I got to tell him I loved him. Grateful I got to tell him that he mattered.

These past few days have tested my resolve to embrace (my world of the year) life. But, I am proud to report, I’ve managed a win or two.

  1. I got a haircut! And I feel so much better. It’s sassy and shorter and makes me feel like me. Thank you Susan Massie for making me feel so much better! How is this embracing? I embraced what makes me feel better and I made time I make it happen.
  2. I spoke out today…more than once. Once was for me and the other was for my girl. For myself I asked for an assignment that gets me out of my comfort zone and into the center of things. For my girl I spoke out about something that really irks me. Everyday I pick her up at after school. Other than one counselor-no one says goodbye or acknowledges she’s leaving. And no, I am not taking about those days when she’s the last one there and they are waiting on the bench. I am talking regular days. It’s rude and it hurts my feelings for her. Yesterday I was a little (lot) snarky and said, loudly, “I can’t believe not one person is going to tell you goodbye.” There were at least 5 counselors there at the time. Nothing. Maybe I should have texted my complaint since all their attention was on their phones. I almost said,”…and we are paying them to be here…” but I didn’t. Today I thought, “hike up those big girl panties” and handle it like an adult. So I did. I told the director that I was a twerp the day before and that I should have expressed by concerns the right way. Which I then proceeded to do. How is this embracing? I embraced that I have the right to speak up when I don’t agree with something. I embraced my voice and my ability to champion myself and my baby girl.
  3. I stuck to my guns. Baby girl is grounded…again. It’s only for a day this time. (Thank God) let me explain…She jacks around in the morning like she’s got nowhere to be and plenty of time to get there. Wrong. Example: She sat naked in front of the fireplace for 10+ minutes this morning. I yelled. I begged. I tried bribery. I asked. Nothing. At one point she was singing and naked. That’s about the time I lost it, “That’s it! No electronics tonight. And if you don’t get dressed I am going to put you on the bus is just what you have on,” which I remind you, was nothing. I opened the door to make my point. Don’t worry-she wasn’t visible. Her naked self was tucked in the corner warming her tooshy by that faux flames. Fast forward to this evening…she didn’t get her beloved electronics. Let’s see if that helps get her in gear tomorrow morning. Naked people. She was naked. And I keep our house at 57degrees so she was cold and naked! And sllllllooooowwww. I’d almost forgotten the punishment. After her bootleg shower (more to come on that) I got her home and got her fed. “Since I can’t have the iPad can I watch tv with you?? We can cuddle.” Slick little thing she is. “Nope. Tv is electronic. None of that for you tonight!” I didn’t tell her thanks for reminding me! No need to add insult to injury. So I am writing and she’s playing school. It’s very, very quiet around here. How is that embracing? It’s not. I refuse to embrace the fact that my 9 year old isn’t capable or willing to her herself ready in a timely fashion in the morning!
  4. I said thank you to a compliment. Simply thank you. No hemhawing or telling them they were crazy for thinking I did something well or right. Nope. None of that. I just said,”thank you.” I am embracing that I can do things well. I can make a difference. And I can accept it gracefully when someone acknowledges my abilities.
  5. I signed up for a class. Something for me–and on a school night nonetheless. I even asked someone to go. Gulp. And I didn’t cancel when she couldn’t get a seat. Gulp. Gulp. That’s like a 3 for 1 win! I am embracing that that I like to be creative. I feel better when I am creating. And I embracing that one day a week my girls will not kill each if left alone for a few hours. I am also embracing that it’s okay to do something for me every once in awhile.
  6. I didn’t freak out. Well, after I stuck my foot into frigid water while in our 57 degree house, I did freak out a little. The lack of hot water could only mean one thing. I was tempted to freak out when I realized that I now had to call a plumber,arrange to be home and then buy a hot water heater. Did you know it cost more to put one in then to buy one??? Not what I wanted to do the week the final payment in my once in a lifetime trip was due. But I took it in stride. Course that’s easy to do until it comes time to pay for the new tank. And the expert to install it. I will not freak. I will not. I am embracing…I am not embracing anything. I just need hot water and I need to figure out how to recoup that money for my trip!
  7. I embraced my limitations. I’ll admit I did look at YouTube for how to install a hot water heater. Could I do it? Probably. Should I do it? Most certainly not.
  8. Now the bootleg shower comment will make more sense. The hot water ended Sunday night. It’s Tuesday. I have a stinky little girl that can’t wait another day to bathe. So I snuck her into the pool where my daughter works and let her take a quickie. She kept saying, “This feels really weird momma!” But hey-a moms gotta do what a moms gotta do. The dry shampoo was not going to be able to do the trick one more day. It was dire. I am embracing that 4th grade girls and hormones make a bath a mandatory situation.
  9. I made my bed. Day 28. Again–stupid and simple but I’d gotten out of the habit. It’s a small thing but a win is a win is a win. Embracing the idea that small habits can lead to bigger ones is easy once you’ve gotten a small one under your belt.
  10. I drank water. Like several cups a day. I hate water. I don’t have time to spend in the bathroom as a result of drinking my daily allotted ounces of water…that’s the excuse I tell myself anyway…but Monday I just did. No pre-plan. Again….such a little thing but it’s a small step in the right direction. I need to embrace that I am old and that water is no longer a suggestion. It’s a must.
  11. I embraced that I still need that budget and that I’ll get to it.
  12. I’ve embraced that my trip of a lifetime isn’t something I should feel guilty about. I work hard. I’ve saved–vacation time, money—I’ve saved both to make this trip possible. Damn hot water heater—
  13. We ate veggies this week. Yes, both days. Sad that I count that as an accomplishment, isn’t it?
  14. I raised a son who knows the words to ‘one day more’ from les mes! And he admits it!
  15. I said no when my baby girl said, “I know! I’ll just sleep in the clothes I am going to wear to school so when I wake up I am already ready! I won’t get grounded ever again!!” It was tempting–not going to lie– but in the end I said no. I’ll just embrace that mornings will forever be hell around here.

A week of give and take–and it’s only Tuesday!

Staying up late and getting up early

I am in the season of parenting that has me staying up late waiting on one to get home from a date only to get roused early by a little one who is ready to be entertained.

My little girl cries a lot because she’s not a big girl with all the rewards she sees a big girl getting. She longs for things like dates, make-up and big girl vacations. She’s rushing to grow up and I want her to stay little.

My big girl just got word that all her college aspirations are in reach. She’s gearing up for a fast track! I just want her to slow down a little. Instead I hear words like Mississippi, more extracurricular and more AP CLASSES. All things that take her away from me. She’s getting ready to spread her wings but I just want her cozy in the nest a little longer.

These days of staying up late only to get up early are exhausting. But these days of hurry up and grow up are heartbreaking. Well…heartbreaking is a strong word. I’ve raised them to be confident girls who go after their dreams. I can’t be heartbroken when they are being successful at what I’ve prepared them to be…

One is coloring at the table. The other is sleeping late.

One will go out tonight while the other will sit here with me-bored and hurt because she can’t be on a date. And, I’ve learned, hurt because she thinks her sister would rather be on a date then with her. She’s not wrong. But big girl isn’t wrong either.

It’s the season of parenting that has me up late at night only to be awakened early in the morning.

It’s the season of parenting that has me feeling more life referee then mom. Little girl only wants to be with and be like her big, successful sister. When they are together she’s sassy mouthed, argumentative and bratty. It’s a way of getting attention. Too bad it’s the wrong attention.

And it’s a vicious cycle. Little wants to be with big. When big is with us the little one acts out so much that big girl only wants to get away. She goes away and little girl is sad and counting the minutes until she can see her big sister again. And round and round and round we go.

Big girl is living her best life. Little girl feels like she’s living her life in pause. And smack down in the middle…that’s me.

Fighting over the front seat, sneaking into big sister clothes only to have big sister freak out when she finds out, sharing a room to the delight of the little and the disgust of the big, one smiling happily when we are all together while the other one sleeps to pass the time…that’s the constant push and pull I am in.

Staying up late and getting up early. It’s an awkward stage of parenting.

I am trying to keep the little one little. She fights me every step of the way.

I want to support the big one as she blossoms. Only problem is that as she blossoms she needs me less and less.

Prom dress shopping and checking for slime classes in between try ons.

Coloring on the couch with the little one while the big girl watches out the window for her date to arrive.

Congratulating the big girl on her 3.95 gpa while consoling they little one who just failed a test.

Buying one a kids smart watch (a toy) so she feels cool like her sister who has airpods.

Being in the middle of a big one and a little one isn’t always easy. But it’s also not always bad. Snuggled between the two is the happiest place to be. Those special moments just before a fight breaks out…pure bliss. It’s often fleeting and often elusive but it does happen. And when it does my world is complete.

Staying up late means I get to hear about dates and the details of a big girls life.

Getting up early means cuddles with a squishy little girl who likes to put her cold, little feet up against me as she scooches up closer to me.

Staying up late and getting up early is an awkward stage of parenting but it’s also special time as a parent.

Grounding #2

Just when I thought I’d survived grounding #1 life looked me dead in the eye and said “hold my beer and watch this.”

Middle child messed up. No, it’s not a felony kind of mess up. More like a minor infraction but it was an infraction and she did make a bad decision.

Bad decisions have consequences. And some minor infractions can lead to bigger infractions done the road if not addressed.

So I addressed.

Sometimes you have to remind your litter who the alpha dog is. As the mom and the sole disciplinarian the alpha dog is me.

I don’t expect a,”thanks mom for teaching me this lesson to insure I become a person that strives to do the right thing so I can become a person I can be proud of.”

I didn’t even expect a, “you are right mom.”

But I also didn’t expect that the Grounding #2 this week would have introduced to to an entirely new level of hell.

Taking the phone of a 17 year old girl is not for the faint of heart. Keeping that phone on a Saturday requires nerves of steel. Keeping the phone on the Saturday of a swim meet…sweet mother of all that is holy…requires a strength that I didn’t know I possessed.

For those of you unfamiliar with the swim world…. we have a meet today with 32 teams. She warms up at 11a, first swim about 1 and then not again until 6ish. Meet is over around 8. Between? Nothing to do but wait. And be on phone.

I suggested a book would do the trick.

That went over well.

I suggested it was a good time to catch up on the homework that was the cause is her being so stressed during the week.

That went over even better.

Actual conversation with friends…

How stupid could I be?

I then suggested I didn’t care how she amused herself but that it wouldn’t be electronically.

Even I was not prepared for the fallout.

Girl is good. I’ll give her that. Her argument covered things like social ruin, disregard for her safety, overreaction to a misunderstanding, alienation and her “rights”.

With time and maturity and much less teen angst she’ll be a worthy advisory.

Luckily for me she’s not quite there yet.

“A phone is a privilege, not a right and being grounded is a loss of privilege.” That was my answer and I was resolute in my decision.

There were sobs, hyperventilating and more arguments.

Damn her. She made me use the phrase I am the mom–that’s why. Yep: that phrase I swore I would never use before I had children. I also used all of the following:

This is not a debate….

You don’t have to understand…

I don’t care if you agree…

Stop.

You are making it worse…

The more you argue the longer this will last…

I am finished discussing this….

The level of ridiculousness right now…

Punishments aren’t supposed to be pleasant…

I didn’t say you were a bad kid-I said you made a bad decision…

Yes, you could have done much worse things but that doesn’t negate this thing…

ENOUGH!

And on and on and on and on.

On a scale of 1-10 the level of drama surpassed a 20 this morning. All on 1 cup of coffee. Non-spiked. I am not one to use alcohol as a crutch but this morning I would have been tempted to try it.

There is no reasoning with a 17 year old who is convinced you’ve ruined their life. I know that. The more I didn’t try to reason the more she pushed. The more she pushed to more determined I became that I was doing the right thing. Immovable object meet immovable force. I am sure there is a science equation for that somewhere.

So now we sit…bleachers apart. She’s not making eye contact or acknowledging I am here. This ought to be a fun 7 hours. I can think of much better ways to spend an afternoon then sitting on bleachers cheering on someone who refuses to admit I am present.

But that’s the gig I signed up for. It’s my job to punish in order to teach right from wrong just like it’s my job to cheer loudly whether it’s for first place or for last. I’ll do my job.

Guess it’s her job to question punishment and my methods. It’s her job to sulk and play victim. If that’s the case then she is up for employee of the month!

Hours of this fun game await me. From the side glances of her posse I imagine I’ve been the topic of more than one conversations this morning. I am not a candidate for cool mom today-that’s for sure.

Hope I don’t lose sleep tonight over it.

Yep…hours of fun await me.

But I took my own advice…I brought a book. And my phone. I won’t be bored. Ignored-yes. Bored-no.