Subourbon Mom

Small Talk vs. Verbal Incontinence
September 7, 2018, 5:00 pm
Filed under: Middle Age, Parenting | Tags: , , , ,


I used to be able to attend adult functions and make the necessary small talk society requires. I could talk with a complete wallflower, as long as I followed my mother’s advice:  “Just ask questions. People love to talk about themselves.”

Now? Not so much.

I don’t know if it’s an age thing or sheer laziness, but mostly I think it’s because I just don’t have the energy to care anymore.

Some of the worst small talk functions are school parental gatherings.  Sometimes I’m genuinely interested, if it’s a family I like or friends of my kids, but mostly I end up pasting a smile on face and listening to what the other children did over the summer, the awards they won and what teachers are currently on the collective parental shit list.  I do all of this while making snarky comments in my head.

These events do not bring out the best in me. And I think after what I said at the last couple of gatherings, I should probably stay home.

I recently went to a “Meet the New High School Director” coffee.  I showed up, along with the other parents of kids whose parents really don’t need to be there (trust me, he’ll meet the parents of the kids who need a little extra “guidance” soon enough).  I hung out with my mom friends until it was almost time to leave, and finally decided I should actually go meet the guy.

I waltzed up to a group of moms (I knew a couple) and introduced myself. “Hi, I’m so-and-so’s mom, it’s so good to have you here blah, blah, blah…”

Awkward silence…which, of course, I had to fill.

“Well, I’m sure I’ll be in your office at some point this year!” I chirped.

“For good reasons, I hope?” he asked, looking at me oddly.

I panicked.  “We’ll see!” I said. I gave a little wave and practically ran out the door.

When I told Daughter #2 about it, she said, “Great Mom – now he thinks I’m a delinquent.”

“So do you want me to say anything to him at Back to School Night?”

“Maybe tell him I’m not a delinquent?”

“Hmmmm…nope.  I think we’re going to set the bar low and let him be pleasantly surprised.”

“You’re the worst mom ever.”

small talk1

So that was the first event.

The second, awkward, “please-let-me-suck-those-words-back-in” moment happened a few days later. Hubby and I were standing with the mother of a younger child at a school function.  She was stunning – the kind of mom that I’m secretly jealous of because she looks sophisticated and sleek.  This beautiful mom had makeup on, like most grownup women do, and I’m pretty sure she used primer (apparently it’s a thing now), too, because her face was perfectly smooth, and her makeup was flawless. Like my daughters, she has learned how to apply it and look gorgeous – I put on makeup and look like I fell onto a Kardashian’s face in a bar at 2:00am.

So, there we were, and I was talking about how my girls where more makeup than I ever learned how to use.  “Oh my God, I mean, they put on ‘primer,’ which I think is just ridiculous, because a face is not a wall in your house!”

I couldn’t stop it, even after it dawned on me that I was probably insulting her.  When the event was over, Hubby looked at me and said, “You know she wears makeup, right?”

“I know.” I sighed.  “And she’s beautiful.”

“And you know you were just going on and on about how too much makeup is bad, right?”

“Yes! I know! I could hear the words come out and I couldn’t stop it!”

“Just checking.”

Ugh. I really just should have listened to my mother’s advice and only asked questions.  Not once during either of these encounters did I do that – I simply filled any void with my verbal diarrhea.

Tonight is Back to School Night. God help me if any of the teachers address me directly. I’ll probably blurt out a question like “Was teaching your first choice as a profession?”  So to all of Daughter #2’s teachers, here is my blanket apology in advance:

You will never be paid enough or honored enough for the work you do.  Please keep trying to educate our children and fill in the gaps that we have left yawning open in their character.  Every day you rise above pettiness, exhaustion and frustration to embrace these young people as they try to make sense of a senseless world, and for that you should be shown the respect and encouragement you deserve. 

Plus, you look pretty.  And your tie goes with your pants….

My “Senior Project”

yougotthisAs the end of Daughter #1’s Senior Year approaches, the final sprint towards final exams, AP tests, and Senior Project has begun. Not to mention prom, graduation, college selection, and the never-ending game of Senior Assassin (more on this later). For Seniors this means tearing themselves away from watching vines and shopping for prom dresses and studying for exams, throwing together last-minute power point presentations and agonizing over roommate selection. ugly prom dress For parents this means panicking when you realize you never ordered graduation announcements, approving and paying for the last prom and graduation dresses, and deciding how to celebrate this momentous of times – do we have a keg at the party for the adults or not?

It also means attending the Senior project presentations. At our school, Senior Project is a year-long process involving learning a new skill or challenging yourself in a new way (like learning to make cheese, hatching and raising chickens, trying to understand the lyrics to Rhianna’s songs, etc.), documenting it, doing a research paper, and presenting the whole thing in front of a small group of parents and teachers.

As I sat there watching these impressive young adults show how they started their own yoga classes, created scholarships, ran half-marathons, published their own international blog on Russian politics and even learned how to fly fish, I wondered What the hell have I been doing with my life?

I was impressed and depressed all at the same time. These young people were avidly exploring new ideas, challenging themselves and getting out of their comfort zones in ways that many adults never will.

Thank goodness these kids will be in charge of me when I finally become an adult.

I was depressed because I took an inventory of my recent years and realized I haven’t done much in the way of challenging myself other than to start a new job. Somehow I don’t think trying new food at the local Iranian restaurant counts.

And then I realized that my Senior Project isn’t done yet. I’m still researching how to raise successful women on a daily basis. I’m nearly always out of my comfort zone. My PowerPoint presentation is currently still housed in my laptop under “Pictures” and in the copies of report cards and assignments I’ve kept over the years. And, I present my project in front of my parents every time they visit or call.

I don’t know what my final grade will be, but I’m no longer depressed. I’m more and more impressed with my project every day.

Now if I could just figure out how to cite all those parenting how-to websites I’ve visited over the years.


Three Juans Don’t Make a Right

collegeThere are times when every parent worries about their kids—not because of grades, or because they play a sport, but because sometimes they say things that just make you shake your head and wonder how they managed to live this long.

Daughter #1 and I were sitting at the kitchen table the other night, pouring over the stack of college brochures she’d brought home. We finally got down to the last three. She was leaning in close, looking at the brochure for a big university down South—which I encouraged because neither she nor I have any interest in going father north than where we are right now.

I asked her, “So what is it about that school that makes you want to go there?’

Daughter #1 glanced up at me, leaving her finger on the picture of a girl sitting on a green lawn with a book in her lap. “Look Mom, I’d wear that outfit. She looks like me.”

Seriously, that was her answer.

Not to be deterred by her answer, I asked why she was looking at another southern school.

“I like red.” she answered.

Sigh….and that’s how a teenager with a 4.5 GPA decides how to spend thousands of dollars on their education.

But I don’t know what we’ll do when they’re out of the house. How will I survive without conversations like the following?

Daughter #2, Daughter #1 and I were all sitting at said kitchen table, when Daughter #1 started making fun of how Daughter #2 says some words. “Milk” is pronounced melk, and she says I Juan instead of “I won.”

Daughter #1: “You do too say it that way. Juan is a Hispanic boy’s name.”

Daughter #2: “No I don’t.”

Me: “Actually, you do.”

Daughter #2: “Mom!”

Me: “But I think you’re not saying Juan, you’re saying wan, which actually means looking all washed out.” I tried an example: “You look wan today.”

Daughter #1 and Daughter #2 just stared at me, used to my random insertion of pointless facts into conversations. Sometimes they’re even true.

Daughter #2 thought about it for a second.  “That’s one of those words that sounds like what it means.”

Daughter #1: “Yeah, like faaaaaat. Or thin.”


Daughter #2: “It’s an onomatopoeia.”

Me: “No, onomatopoeia is a word that is a sound, like Bang. ‘Wan’ isn’t a sound.”

Daughter #2 looked deflated.

Daughter #1: “C’mon, Mom, let her have it.” She looked at her sister. “Good job! You Juan!


Prom–The New Wedding

Ahhhh…spring. Cheers and whistles ripple across athletic fields as the sports season winds down. Pollen hangs in the air like a miasma, and prom dresses fly off the racks at all of the local stores faster than the NBA punished Mr. Sterling.

Looking at prom through parent goggles is a strange odyssey.

images-6Let’s start with dresses. Our newspaper listed some numbers associated with prom. Apparently, the amount spent on average for prom dresses: $250 to $500. I was floored—until I went prom dress shopping. (Word to the wise—waiting until three weeks before prom is not a good idea. There are only size 00 and size 16 left.)

For a mere $100-$200, you too can own a cheaply-made dress with plunging neck- or backlines that would make Christina Aguilera blush, and enough fake jewels sewn on to make Cher look like a Quaker. God help you if you want something else—which is (thankfully) what Daughter #1 wanted: something less flashy but still long, and in a regular size.

We found a great resource, “Rent the Runway,” where you pay a minimal amount ($25-$150) to rent a brand-name runway dress for a week. While none of those dresses appealed to Daughter #1, I’m keeping it in my back pocket for the next event I have to go to. (If anybody ends up using this catalog, let me know how it works out!) In the end, we bought a beautiful dress (for you women who care, it’s a glorified maxi) that she will be able to wear a dozen times, and not get stuffed into the closet as a precursor to all the bridesmaids dresses she will be wearing in her twenties.

The average amount guys spend on a tux these days? $120.

As for transportation, I don’t think many of my friends took limos to prom. These days, the amount many teens (i.e. their parents) spend on transportation: $400.

Seriously? What’s left for the wedding?

My generation was the first (I think) to instill the school-sponsored after-prom party, which we attended for the least amount of time required before going out on our own to a party at someone’s house, and usually with a fair supply of “social enhancers” to go with us. Lately, I’ve heard some parents talking about what their kids are doing after the prom, and a couple of them mentioned the kids might be getting hotel rooms.

Um, maybe I’m out on a limb here, but I’m pretty sure nothing good ever came from a bunch of (or two) teenagers renting hotel rooms.

And of course, there’s the increasingly popular “asks” to prom: signs on overpasses, messages on car windows, and a bedroom filled with balloons, just to name a few. It sure makes my wedding proposal, which was perfectly romantic and in no way public, seem like we were Ward and June Cleaver. I would hate to be a guy and have to ask someone to prom these days—talk about pressure! It seems that if you don’t do something spectacular to ask your date, you’re just not really trying. And, if you do something spectacular, God forbid she says no. Talk about humiliation! I don’t know if I’d ever recover.





As long as we’re skirting the prom/wedding border, why don’t jewelers come up with a “prom ring?” For a mere $100 or so, you can rent a specially-designed ring for your date, which indicates she has been asked and accepted—it would help eliminate any questions or guesswork. Plus, it’s just anther step closer to an actual engagement ring.


Or why stop there? Why not just schedule spring break right after prom? Since so many kids go to the beaches or other exotic places on spring break, why not just make it a practice honeymoon? It would probably be cheaper than an actual spring break trip, since many of the Caribbean locales are just starting their off-season in May.

So again, I ask, what’s left for the wedding? Just sayin’….


Oh, and no, I didn’t forget that I promised the underwear post this time…it just had to take a backseat to prom–some rituals just need to be commented upon.

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