Subourbon Mom


2020 – An Ingrown Hair on Humanity
August 20, 2020, 5:00 pm
Filed under: Misc. Humor, Parenting, Travel | Tags: , , , , , ,

Over the last two weeks we have launched one of our birds out of the nest and into real adulthood, and gently booted the other one back into fake adulthood (a.k.a. college).

Launch

During this process I learned a few things:

  1. My kids have a lot of shit – that we helped them move around the country, put up on walls and launder.
  2. They have better decorating taste than I will ever have
  3. If you rent a scooter (think razor scooter) to tour a city, just know that if you sucked at Mario cart, you will also suck at riding one of those
  4. You can switch the way a refrigerator door swings – seriously, I didn’t know you could do that at all
  5. Nashville will either make you start to hate fried chicken or ruin it because whenever you have it anywhere else it just won’t be good enough

One of the funniest things I heard was on the 10-hour car ride to launch Daughter #1 into her new, adult life in Nashville. We had lots of time to talk about what it might be like and what had happened over the last 6 months.  But I think she put it best when describing how a lot of recent graduates must feel around this time as they get jobs or head to college:

Mom, my life has been like an ingrown hair.  For a while I was growing and then I got stuck, but I was still growing, and it got all irritated.  All of the sudden I sprang out and I’ve moved, and I’m free!

From the mouths of babes, people – 2020 has been an ingrown hair of a year.  First it was growing and happening, and then it got stuck, but things were still happening. The world got irritated, but we’re trying to treat it with a salve of Dr. Faucci, the CDC and governors trying their best; with first responders and hospital staff and caregivers; and most of all, with sympathy, empathy and patience.

We’re still waiting to spring out of this craziness, but when we do, the relief will probably feel the same.

(I tried to find a funny ingrown hair meme – please don’t ever do that.  You can’t un-see what comes up.)



College Orientation – You Had the Power All Along, My Dear

We recently attended college orientation for Daughter #2 at a large university, and to be honest, I was lucky it ended up on my calendar. Not because I don’t care but because, like everything with the not-the-first-kid, you are just a little more relaxed about it. Added to that, it’s very disconcerting to suddenly not have access to every detail of your child’s schedule after being in charge of it for eighteen years. I had to text her the night before and ask if there were any parking passes we had to print out, what the address was, or if there was anything else that needed to be done ahead of time – shockingly, there wasn’t. Daughter #2, like her older sister, had it all under control.

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I like to think it was good parenting that made it happen, but I’m pretty sure it had more to do with me accidentally leaving them at restaurants or school, trying and failing to explain simple math, and letting them believe that many of the phrases I use are common phrases until their friends asked what they meant. I was clearly not to be trusted (I never understood algebra and I said “Fooped” instead of “Sharted” because I didn’t want them implying the word Shit…it sounds stupid now, but it made sense when I was tired and they were little).

The orientation started with the usual official school cheer, and we stood and made arm motions over our heads and yelled the appropriate things, like a bunch of sadly sober, not-quite-caffeinated-Village People.

At Daughter #1’s orientation, I paid close attention to Dean Somethingaboutliberalartsandgraduatinginfouryears, and Associate Dean of WhatdidshesayIhavetopee.  The second time around? Nope. I was busy feeling superior and counting blonds vs. brunettes in each row to pass the time.

And then they took our sweet babies to meet with their advisors, or hang out with the cultish, singing and dancing university groupies to get them acclimated to campus life. Some parents looked scared and bereft.

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Others looked around like plane passengers do when they’re trying to decide who would be worth having aboard if there was a crash on a tiny Pacific island. There were a few that I would not have trusted with the exit aisle…just sayin’.

The Deans of Random Departments spoke about how great the school is (yeah, the choir knows – our kids applied and we are writing a substantial check for them to go here – we get it), followed by lunch in the Dining Hall. That hasn’t changed, except that we never got to pick from a pizza bar, Mexican, a grill menu, a vegan menu, and a Chinese buffet. My school had one of those things as a theme, and God help you if you didn’t like flat burgers.  I spent many a dinner standing at the cereal bar, picking the stupid strawberry things out of Captain Crunch because…seriously, who orders Crunchberries instead of plain Captain Crunch?

The parents’ Resource Fair was okay, but the table I really wanted to see would have been called “Crap You Still Have to Buy.” Since we don’t find out until August what dorm Daughter #2 is in, I’ve already decided I’m going to buy every variety of drawers and basket in Target and start playing Tetris as soon as we get there.

And finally, there was a speech by the Mental Health Professional on how our roles as parents and children transition when they go to school, what to say and not to say, and things to watch out for. For that one, I put down my Candy Crush game (sadly, I’m on level 800-and-something) and paid attention. It never hurts to hear how this momentous change is affecting your baby, and what you need to do to make the transition easier.

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I made notes about what local delivery services were available (every college town should have Insomnia Cookies) to send things on bad days. I felt guilty about not writing more letters to Daughter #1, but realized that probably wasn’t going to get any better for Daughter #2, so then I felt extra guilty – I suck as a parent for not doing that for the first one, and suck even more for knowing I probably won’t do it this time, either.

I was nervous and scared for my baby, until I remembered that I’d already had my chance to be an attentive mom…and I was. Aside from accidentally leaving them at restaurants or sports events (I swear, it was a mis-communication…OMG let it go!) and swearing a lot, I know I must have done something right because they’re ready. They are strong, independent young women, ready to try new things, accept new challenges, and let me know, “I got this, Mom.”

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Port-o-John Etiquette

potty1We live in a society governed in part by laws of decency. They separate us from the animals and White Supremacists, and people should follow them to keep human grossness down to a tolerable level.

Which brings me to Port-O-John (POJ) etiquette.

Look, I get it – nobody wants to be in the Abyss of Nastiness, much less touch anything. I can remember having to take my kids in them and shrieking “DON’T TOUCH ANYTHING!” This usually ended with me holding said kid by the armpits over the hole while they tried unsuccessfully to do their business in the most awkward way possible.

The other night I was at an outdoor concert, and bless her heart, somebody (I’ll call her Chicken Little – explanation below) just did not follow what I consider to be good POJ etiquette. After waiting in the ridiculously long line for the few POJs the women were using (the men were using a POJ trough that was infinitely faster), I finally got to the front of the line and opened the door.

Now Girls, I know our Mamas told us not to touch anything and to line the toilet seat with toilet paper so we wouldn’t get some God-awful disease, or worse, pregnant, but you can’t do that shit in a POJ in the dark.  First and foremost, nobody can tell if you were merely being cautious (hooray for you – Mama would be proud), or if you’re covering up something nasty. Nobody coming in after you can afford to make any assumptions, especially at a concert where there are copious amounts of drunk Millennials.

POtty2When I opened the POJ door, Chicken Little had spread a lot of toilet paper haphazardly about.  Maybe she had attempted to line the seat, and thought the seat was three feet around and crawled up the wall, but there was toilet paper on the floor, on the wall and stuck to the door handle. It looked like a bunch of used Civil War bandages had gotten caught in a time machine.

No way in Hell was I going to even attempt to hover near that mess.

When I brought this up to a couple of friends, there was a surprising variety of opinions about female POJ etiquette.

My friend, I’ll call her Laura, admitted to lining the seat, AND putting extra paper down the hole to prevent splash back.  That was something I hadn’t even thought of…nor have I ever been in a POJ where the contents were so full as to have that issue. So, I deem shoving TP down the hole for that reason is acceptable.  Note to self: don’t travel with Laura.

Another friend asked, “But what if you aren’t physically strong enough to squat?” Well, that’s why they make the Elvis Handles – you know, the places on the door in front of you where you grab on with your hands to help you balance. Note to self:  keep working on squats at the gym.

So here are my Rules for Using the POJ:

  1. NEVER retrieve anything that fell in the hole – seriously, no phone is worth it. Besides, how awesome would it be to call it whenever someone’s in there? Even better, get an old phone and put a funny voicemail message on it.
  2. Leave your phone/drink/purse outside with a friend.  You don’t want to use any of them after being in that Cave of Satan.
  3. If you forget and bring your beer in there with you, don’t leave the bottle/cup in the urinal.  Somebody’s job is to reach in and get it – do your best impression of a man cleaning up dog poo: leave it on the floor and walk away.
  4.  If you must line the seat because you can’t squat or you’re still scared your Mama will find out, it is up to you to put the toilet paper that lined it into the hole when you’re done.  Again, that’s somebody’s job.
  5. Toilet paper is not a sticky note – it has no place on a wall or door handle.
  6. Feminine products: wrap ‘em up like a bad burrito. Nobody wants to look at that.
  7. Banging on the POJ while a friend is in there to scare the crap out of them is perfectly acceptable.
  8. Banging on the POJ when a stranger is in there is still hilarious but you’d better be able to out run them.
  9. Tipping someone over in a POJ is NEVER okay.
  10. Check your shoes for toilet paper – or tell someone if it’s stuck to them (unless it’s your friend and you’re laughing to hard.


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.

 



Lily the Rescue Dog or, My Weird Dog Toy Fetish

We have a house full of cats, (by that I mean we have three, which makes any house smell like there’s a cat hoarding situation going on – call Animal Planet), cat hoarding and I’m not a fan. Hubby and the Daughters each have a cat that loves them – I am merely the House Staff that is tolerated. I have been relegated to taking care of Larry The Fish – who, let’s face it,  isn’t exactly stimulating company.

I wanted a dog.

So our latest acquisition, quickly falling under the “What were we thinking?” category, is our new “free” dog, Lily. Lily is a rescue, and she’s everything I said I didn’t want when we first decided to get a dog: she’s a puppy, not housebroken, and high-energy. I’ve since been informed that what I really wanted was a housebroken sloth.

We’re pretty sure Lily’s never been in a house before, walked on a leash, or hung out with people…ever. She’s terrified of just about everything except other dogs. In the 3 weeks we’ve had her she’s run away 3 times, decided that pooping inside is preferable to standing in the cold by the woodpile, and will only walk through the front door.

But we love her.

Ok, I love her. The rest of the jury is still out.

store displayWhich is why I found myself standing in the dog toy aisle in Wal-Mart, looking for something Lily might like to play with to get her mind off the Scary Box That Talks (the t.v.), the Scary Smaller Box That Talks (the radio), the Mean Cats, Scary Couch, Scary Pillows, Scary Kitchen, Scary Bathroom, etc. I’m a pretty firm believer that the same parental coping strategies can apply to dogs as to children – give them something to keep them busy so you can do the things you need to do.

So for the same reason I gave my kids questionable Mac-n-Cheese and off-brand Cheerios when they were little (they don’t know the difference and I’m cleaning up their poop anyway), I decided to go the cheap route and visit my local big-box store to get Lily some toys.

I stood in awe, looking at the range of wild animals and Muppet-like things that squeak, crackle, crinkle and smell like peanut butter. Some even looked disturbingly like sex toys. (My co-worker’s dag actually has this one, but she assures me it doesn’t come with batteries.)  Dog toy 1None of them were under $3.00, and none of them are any kind of off-brand, that I could tell. Um…just to be clear, this is something I’m buying for my dog to shake and chew on, right? What happened to just having your dog pull on an old sock?

So there I was, squeezing every toy like a toddler in one of those saucer things parents use to keep their child occupied while Mommy drinks her wine. I was obsessed. I couldn’t stop making those toys squeak and crackle over and over again, sending loud, annoying, fake mouse shrieks up and down the Pet section, and into Lighting and Paint. It was like scratching an itch – it was wrong, but it felt ooooh, soooo right.

In the end, I opted for a raccoon, a blue elephant and something that looks like a rat crossed with a parrot. Two days later, raccoon stuffing littered the dining room, and the elephant’s ear has gone missing – I’m pretty sure Lily ate it. I’m looking forward to seeing that on the dining room floor tomorrow morning.

But somehow Lily managed to worm her way quickly into my heart, and the Fam’s too.  She always manages to redeem herself by putting herself in her crate when she’s been “bad”, or lying next to us (only slightly under duress) on the couch while we watch the Scary Box That Talks.  But the next toy I buy will be a toy in the shape of a cat, with life-like meows…or I could go high-end, and just let her chase our actual cats.

Who’s the Staff now, little kitties?

(maniacal laughter fading….)




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