Category Archives: Parenting

A Safe Place

It should be pretty clear to anyone who has even a passing familiarity with me that a major purpose in my life is to help others, especially teenagers, wherever I can.  I grew up in a wholly unstable household; I know what it means to be frightened and alone and bordering on desperate.  If there’s anything I can do to make even one person’s journey even a little easier, then I’m going to do that.

Apparently, my children have picked up on this energy.  Yesterday, as we were driving to meet Daddy for lunch, Punk told me about a friend of hers at school who’s been having a really rough time at home.  It seems that this boy’s situation is similar to what Punk knows about my own upbringing (though I haven’t told my children any of the gory details, they know enough to know that it was bad).  He’s been threatened with expulsion from his home more than once, and Punk is worried that conditions are deteriorating to the point where the parents are eventually going to follow through with that threat.

“I hope it’s okay, Mummy, but I told him that if that happens, he needs to call me.  I told him that he can stay with us.  I know you say that no one should ever spend a night alone and scared, so I thought you’d be okay with taking him in for however long it would take him to find another safe place to be.”

As I drove down the road, listening to my 16-year-old in the passenger seat telling me about the assurances she gave to her friend, I found myself feeling a swirl of different emotions.  My first was rage; who threatens a 16-year-old like that?  What could they possibly hope to gain with that behavior?  Punk assures me that the boy is a good kid; quiet, studious, doesn’t get into trouble with the law, doesn’t hang with the rough kids, has no involvement in the drug culture (just like me when I was that age).  I didn’t ask if the boy is gay – that’s often an excuse for parents to distance themselves from their children – but none of that matters; unless the kid poses a real and direct threat to the family, there’s no excuse for adults to threaten to kick their kids out of the house.  It’s not hard for me to imagine it actually happening, though, because it happened to me.  I can recall, with startling clarity, the threats my own parents made: “The only reason your shit isn’t on the front lawn right now, Young Lady, is that it would be illegal for us to throw you out.  Rest assured, though, that you’ll come home from school on your 18th birthday to find everything thrown out and all the locks changed.”

They never got the satisfaction; I hired a lawyer and got myself emancipated 6 months before my 18th birthday.

When I managed to get past the seething rage (and the PTSD flashbacks), I felt pride, both in my daughter for making the offer and in myself for being the kind of example that would lead her to do it.  Of course, I assured her, we would take the boy in (though I told her on no uncertain terms that, were that to happen, the first thing we’ll do after making sure he was healthy and safe will be to call social services and make sure that he’s being cared for by people whose job it is to see to the safety and welfare of minor children in untenable situations.  I’m good at loving kids, but I’m not willing to put myself in a situation where I might get sued doing it).  As long as I draw breath, I will stand up to help anyone who needs something I can give them.  I know how to love hurting teenagers.  I know how to mother, and I welcome any opportunity I encounter that lets me give some of that good energy to someone who needs it.

I hope, for the boy’s sake, that he never has to take Punk up on her offer.  I hope that he can manage to make it through the next year or so without having to resort to the kinds of measures I did at that age (and I hope that the adults in his life stop abusing their power and control and don’t make good on their threats to throw him out).  I stand at the ready if it all goes to hell, though; I may not be able to save all the unloved kids in the world, but I will damned sure save the ones I can.

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Filed under compassion and connection, concerns, critical thinking, doing my duty, dumbassery, family matters, frustrations, Home and Family, messages from the Universe, Parenting, ruminating, strange but true, this is NOT a drill, Worries and Anxieties, WTF?!

Quick Hit: Parenting; You’re Doing it Wrong

Un-fucking-believable.

So, Punk’s having a big sweet 16 party in a couple of weeks, right?   It’s a catered affair with an ice cream and candy buffet being held in one of Local U’s nice reception halls.  The mother of one of the girls she invited just called to ask if she could… get this… chaperone.

REALLY?!

First of all, how STUNNINGLY disrespectful of both us and our daughter that she doesn’t think her kid would be safe at our party. Second, how incredibly disrespectful of her own kid (who is, herself, 16) that she doesn’t think she can be trusted at such a birthday party. Finally, how sad for her that she doesn’t trust her own parenting; if you feel you have to chaperone a 16-year-old to a birthday party, you clearly haven’t done your job.

I’m willing to play (marginally) nice for Punk’s sake, but I’m not going to go out of my way to engage this woman during the evening.  I plan on having a good time and celebrating my kid, not entertaining an uptight, mistrustful mother.

The thing that REALLY pisses me off, though?  We fucking RESCHEDULED the party for this girl.  Our original date was in June,  but her parents made a stink about having a birthday party on Father’s day evening.
Ugh.

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Quick Hit: Maybe We Should Change His Name to Wormtail

Poor Toeses.

He’s been gimpy for a while now.  I mean, he turned 20 years old in April – in cat years, that’s equivalent to about 96 – and we long suspected that he had a touch of arthritis.  When we bid him good morning today, though, he was moving around even more slowly and carefully than usual – and that could be accounted for by the heat – so I had a closer look.

I found a splot of blood on his right rear foot, and it occurred to me that maybe it should be looked at by a professional.  We have a LOT of experience with catfight injuries, and I broke up a doozie between Toeses and Galaxy, the neighbor’s cat, earlier in the week.  I suspected that Toeses had an infection, so we called the vet, parked Toeses in his carrier, and bundled him off to the doctors’ office.

When we got there, we were encouraged by both the techs and the doctors who commented on how generally healthy my old man is.  He’s actually gained a little weight since they last saw him in February (he was 8.11 pounds then; he’s 8.14 today), his coat is healthy, his eyes are clear (though his ears are purely decorative at this point; poor baby is stone deaf), and he wasn’t running a temperature, which indicated that he did not, as I’d feared, have an infection.  The doc wanted a closer look at his piggies, though, so she had us leave him with her so she could shave the foot and find out what was really going on.  We were sent home with instructions to come back in a couple of hours to pick the little man up.

An hour later, though, Amy called from the office to tell us that the doctor discovered some more damage than she was anticipating, and that she was recommending removing a part of one of his toes.  From what we can piece together, he injured himself in some sort of defensive maneuver and tore off his claw.  The resulting injury was sufficient that removal of that knuckle was recommended.

We’ve already started calling him “Toes-less.”  I don’t think he’s amused.

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As of this writing, he’s resting (though I can’t speak to how “comfortably,” he doesn’t seem to be suffering too badly).  We took his Cone of Shame off for a few hours tonight so he could eat and have a good nap; we’ll put it back on before we sequester him in the downstairs bathroom for the night.

Poor Baby.

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Filed under compassion and connection, concerns, doing my duty, health, Home and Family, Parenting, pets, strange but true, technical difficulties, this is NOT a drill

Wordy Wednesday: Patting Myself on the Back

Punkin’ Pie is 16.  The other day, she and I were driving somewhere – the destination isn’t important to the story – and we were having a wonderful time together in the car.  My older daughter is smart and riotously funny, and she was in rare form that afternoon.  At one point, I feared I’d have to pull over because I was laughing so much I questioned my fitness behind the wheel.

It was one of many moments of amiable companionship and loving ease that I share with my daughters, and it was glorious.

It occurred to me then, and solidified into a much more substantial realization not too long after, that I’ve won.  I did it.  I’ve succeeded in the one thing that I swore to the Universe that I would do.

I’ve been a good mother.

When I was Punk’s age, I had just about reached the edge of the cliff that my parents had been driving me toward my whole life.  When I was just a few months older than Punk is now, I found myself standing in front of the bathroom mirror with a full bottle of my father’s Valium, doing the calculations for how to stagger the ingestion of the pills for maximum effect and minimum discomfort.

I didn’t choose that path for a couple of reasons; chief among them were that a.) I didn’t want the bastards to win and b.) I would disappoint the people in my life – namely my adopted mother and grandmother – who genuinely loved me.  That kind of love was entirely absent from my household, though, and I understood that evening that it was either them or me, and it wasn’t going to be them.  The next morning, I began a hunt for an attorney who could execute an emancipation order to get me out of that house.  It was the best thing I had ever done in my life to that point, and I regret nothing.

Despite the fact that I had terrible models for parenting, I think the experience of growing up in the environment I did helped to make me the kind of mother I’ve become.  I knew exactly what I DIDN’T want to be, how I WOULDN’T speak to or treat my children, and what I REFUSED to allow in my relationships with my kids.

The end result?  I’ve got two healthy, beautiful, self-confident, funny, brilliant daughters.  I enjoy spending time with them, and they with me (most of the time; they are teenagers, after all).  We talk openly and honestly – and often.  They know they can confide anything in me and that I will help them in whatever way I can.  I am warm and affectionate to them, I praise them every chance I get, I ask their opinions, and I respect them for the people they are.  I’m doing everything my own parents didn’t, and I’m happier at home than they ever were.  What’s more, I’m going to enjoy a long and healthy relationship with my kids for the rest of our lives.

Parenting.  I’m doing it right.

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Filed under celebration, critical thinking, doing my duty, family matters, general kid stuff, Home and Family, messages from the Universe, Parenting, remembering, ruminating, this is NOT a drill

Happy Father’s Day

My husband turned out to be a far better father than I was expecting, and I was expecting a lot.

photo

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Quick Hit: Punk is FUNNY

My older daughter isn’t exactly a stellar student.

It’s not that she’s not frickin’ brilliant; she is. She’s just unskilled at summoning the focus and motivation to do well in school. She falls into the category of my biggest complaint about most of my students; they were (and will be) perfectly capable of acing my classes if they’d only do the frickin’ work so I can PROVE that they’re brilliant.

Anyway, this happened today:

We got a letter addressed to “the parents of Punkin Chili” from the high school. I announce this as I’m going through the pile, and Punk says, “shit.”

Clearly, she has an unpleasant expectation of what the letter contains.

I open the letter, and the first word I see is “Congratulations!” It seems our kid “has been selected by the faculty to receive an award for academic achievement for the 2012/2013 school year.”

Punk’s response?

What?! There’s GOT to be a mistake…”

I nearly peed myself.

We find out what the award is on Friday at 1:00. Clear your calendar.

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Filed under funniness, general kid stuff, Home and Family, kid cuteness, Parenting

Birthday Love: Sweet Sixteen Edition

Punkin’ Pie turns 16 today.

Auntie and newborn PunkinAuntie with baby Punk, 16 years ago.

My older daughter is a force of nature.

She is brilliant.  Though her grades don’t always reflect it, she is sharp and observant and able to draw complex conclusions.  I’m often impressed by her insight.

Punk is a riot.  She makes me laugh all the time (even over text messages); her timing and her sense of the ironic are impeccable.

My daughter is stunningly beautiful.  I know all mothers are supposed to think that their daughters are pretty, but anyone who knows Punk in real life will tell you that I’m not exaggerating when I say that she’s a knockout.  She’s coming into her own style, too, and though I don’t always love everything she wears, more often than not, I’m complimenting rather than criticizing.

Punkin is loving and sensitive.  She’s got a keen sense of justice (I wonder where she got that!) and is able to read the mood of a situation with a kind of empathic skill.  She’s a good friend and she loves with her whole being.

I am so deeply proud of this amazing young woman, and am incredibly grateful that we can share the kind of relationship that I was unable to have with my own mother.  That, perhaps more than anything else, is what I celebrate with each passing year; she and I continue to love one another with a kind of dynamic and flexible energy that accommodates both our needs.  Punk vibrates at a frequency compatible with mine, and I’m grateful, every day, for being able to share in her life.

IMG_2497Baby Punk, +/- 1 week.  Note the creases above her nose; she looked EXACTLY like Mr. Chili when she was born, so much so that the nurse tending her looked at the baby, looked at my husband, looked back at the baby, looked back at my husband and said, simply, “Wow.”

Happy birthday, Punkin’ Pie.  I love you, love you.

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Filed under admiration, celebration, family matters, general kid stuff, holiday, Home and Family, kid cuteness, love notes, Parenting, ruminating, this is NOT a drill