Subourbon Mom


Venmo – A College Freshman’s (Unintended) First-Year Diary
March 26, 2020, 9:00 am
Filed under: Middle Age, Parenting | Tags: , , , , , , ,

As a parent, you know when your kid goes off to college to live in the petri dish they call a dorm, there will be times when they have to “adult,” like making doctor’s appointments or figuring out how to get to Target because because, God forbid, they can’t have a car on campus Freshman year.  What we didn’t realize was that all of these things would be documented in Venmo, the payment app.

You can parent your college kids however you want to, but one of our decisions was to let both of our kids charge Uber and Safety rides to our cards, so that they never felt like they had to get in a car with someone who’d been drinking so they could get home.

They used it.  A LOT.

(And we were glad.)

We also allowed them to ASK for help when they needed it, like for doctor’s appointments and things that normally wouldn’t be in their budgets. But what we didn’t count on, but were happy to pay for (mostly), were the MANY charges from multiple trips to urgent care, Target and CVS for medicines….and many other “necessary” items.

Since her year got cut short, I thought i would share this little financial diary.  For so many reasons I’m sad that her and her sister’s years were cut short…and one reason is because I will miss these entertaining requests:

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And then there are the requests for daily living, because adulting is expensive:

 

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Welcome to adulthood, young lady.

And welcome home.  🙂

 

 



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.

 



Myth: Fake Christmas Trees Are Like Fake Boobs – You Can’t Tell the Difference

This year I made it my mission to convince our office manager Lacy that she should get a real Christmas tree instead of using the same old plastic one she’s been using for the last few years. After an hour of nagging and convincing her that a real tree smelled better and was a better way to enjoy Christmas, Lacy gave in and got one. When she explained to the folks at Lowes (she went to a store, not even a place outside – mistake #1) that she had never picked a live tree before, and asked who had the most experience with picking out live trees, a German man said “I don’t” and immediately walked away. I don’t think he got the irony that the live Christmas-Tree-in-the-House tradition comes from Germany.

What I didn’t realize was the amount of basic Christmas Tree Knowledge I have accumulated over the years, and that I probably should have passed on:

PICKING OUT A TREE:

Size Matters:   Decide what room you’re going to put it in BEFORE you go shopping.  A fat tree in a little room is like Donald Trump’s ego in an election – there isn’t room for anything else.image001

Trees are not naturally symmetrical.  Even the trees trimmed to look like perfect cones will never be perfect. The fun part is finding the most perfect one you can. This can be difficult at the places where the trees are wrapped and leaning against the wall, like, say, your local grocery store. To get the full experience of arguing for 30 minutes in the cold over which tree to get, you must suck up the cost and go to a place where the trees are set up on stands, as if they are ready to decorate, or better yet, in the field where you must cut them down.

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Trees Get Bad Haircuts Too – Sadly, the two-week rule doesn’t apply. Most live trees come with a bad side – that side where the branches don’t fall right and there’s a hole.image005

This is the side you turn toward the wall when you put it up, or if it isn’t going against the wall, you find your fattest, heaviest ornaments to make the branches dangle over the hole. (These ornaments, along with the most fragile ones, will be the ones the cat goes after.)

What About Bugs? Some tree vendors will do the Tree Shake, which entails putting the tree on a spike attached to a generator that shakes the tree so hard that it looks like Beyonce twerking, until all the loose needles and bugs fall out – of the tree, not Beyonce. If your vendor doesn’t do that, you can console yourself with the fact that the fallen needles will make your vacuum cleaner smell good for months.

image004Net or No Net?  I recommend getting one, even though it might ruin your Norman Rockwell vision of a Christmas tree strapped to the roof of your car. The net is crucial to getting the tree through the door and easily sitting in its stand. Trying to get a tree through the door without the net is like trying to thread a needle with a sausage.

SETTING UP YOUR TREE

Size matters – again.  Tree trunks come in varying sizes and diameters, and they often come with branches sticking out of the bottom. Trim the branches at the bottom – you’ve heard the adage, “trim the bushes to make the deck look bigger“ – well, we don’t need the stand to look bigger, but we do need the tree to glide into the hole smoothly.

image001Getting the tree to stand up straight in the stand is usually a deal breaker – worse than hanging pictures on a wall. This task is for the patient and determined. If you’re like me and not allowed to go into the car dealership because you get too impatient to sit through the deal-making process, sighing and rolling your eyes for the entire three hours, this may not be the task for you. Some tips:

Wear gloves! Christmas trees look and smell great, but their trunks are covered in sap that is harder to remove from your hands than the image of Miley Cyrus twerking from your memory.

 

image004When you’ve given up and decided that tree that leans is now “charming,” make sure the tree doesn’t fall by tying some part of it to the wall. If you have cats or dogs, this is a must – they will find a way to bring that big green monster to the ground, and then skitter your breakable ornaments over the floor for the next two days.

FEEDING YOUR TREE

To determine if the tree needs water, you have to see how much water is left in the stand each morning and evening. Checking the water level for a live tree requires freakishly long arms and a relationship with your tree. As Lacy said, “I feel like I’m feeling up my tree.” Would that be second base? IMG_0171

Watering the tree requires the ability to slither along the floor and pour a pitcher of water into the stand without spilling any. I recommend placing a piece of plastic under the stand, hidden by your tree skirt to prevent any stains on the carpet from water spills. image005I also recommend getting one of the tree watering tubes that blend in with the branches, the top of which sticks out for easy access.

Check your tree for tree food – some vendors provide it. The tree food is the little white thing on a random branch that you thought was the price tag.

If all of this seems like too much of a hassle, and you want to go back to taking your tree bits and pieces out of a box each year, and putting it together like a Tinker Toy that’s fine. I totally understand. Nothing says Christmas like a plastic tree with “Sensicles” hanging discreetly among the branches so that the whole house smells like fake Christmas.

Perhaps Lacy said it best when she was describing the experience of getting a live tree vs. setting up a plastic one: “It’s like trying to pick an animal out from the pound, but it’s such a pain in the ass I want to give it back.”

Well, I’ll take my temporary, evergreen mutt with its holes, dropping needles and intimate watering/groping sessions. Just as people today decorate their homes during the festive season with pine, spruce, and fir trees, ancient peoples hung evergreen boughs over their doors and windows. Your plastic tree may make your house look like it was decorated by Southern Living, but my tree reminds me that life goes on, even in winter.

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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.”

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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!

 



Big Girl Bathrooms

Working at my Big Girl’s job has brought to my attention the fact that preschool bathroom rules are not the same as Grown-Up Office Bathroom rules. While we recently moved offices and now have private bathrooms, our previously public bathrooms illuminated several differences (and some creepy similarities):

  1. In a Grown-Up Office Bathroom, you don’t need to worry about someone who is 3-feet-high squatting down, looking under the stall door and talking to you about her Hello Kitty Halloween costume.images-3
  2. Grown-Up Office Bathrooms do not have step stools tucked under the sinks so you can reach the soap.
  3. It’s not cool in Grown-Up Office Bathrooms to chat with your co-workers while you pee; in preschool bathrooms, this is usually the ONLY time you can chat with your co-workers about what’s going on.images-1
  4. Grown-Up Office Bathrooms do not have signs reminding you to sing the Happy Birthday Song the entire time you wash your hands—weirdly (and often incorrectly), it’s assumed people will wash their hands without reminders.
  5. In Grown-Up Office Bathrooms, it is assumed that everyone knows what the little wastebaskets on the side of womens’ stalls are for. In preschool bathrooms, many things can be found in these baskets: Legos, Tinker Toys, Barbie heads, and pretend cell phones, to name a few)…
  6. In Grown-Up Office Bathrooms, no one will ask you to help them wipe—if they do, it’s definitely time to get to know your HR Department.
  7. In Grown-Up Office Bathrooms it’s also not cool to take the stall immediately next door to the person who’s already in there—apparently not everyone is comfortable with the knowledge that the person next to them is probably evaluating how badly they had to go. (You can’t un-think it, can you? You’re always going to wonder now if that’s what they’re thinking as you let it go.) In preschool bathrooms, you rarely get to leave the room, so when you pee like you’re a miniature Niagra Falls, everybody knows why.
  8. Which leads me to similarities: all public bathrooms have the thinnest toilet paper on the planet, that breaks off square by square. After several frustrating tugs, you’re left holding what looks like handful of lottery tickets with the consistency of peeled skin, instead of a satisfying and reassuring wad of toilet paper.images-4
  9. Sometimes, your body is kind enough to forewarn you that things are about to get pretty nasty. Most workplaces, whether it’s for adults or children, have at least one bathroom that is far enough away from the others that you can go (run) to when that unfortunate day happens; however, re-entering the world often involves a walk-of-shame, especially if the hidden bathroom had someone else waiting to use it.
  10. All women’s public bathrooms, no matter what the median age of the users, seem to have at least one toilet that all of the women use who can’t aim when they squat.

Whether you’re five or fifty-five, bathroom rules are simple:

Clean up your own mess (that includes the seat);

Give others their space; and

Provide and/or properly use the right tools for the job.

If we all do this, no one will have to put up signs like these:

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