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The Parenting Games

You know you’ve played a drinking game at some point in your life.  Maybe you recently convinced everyone at a dinner party to play ‘I Never.’  (Hopefully not with a table full of co-workers, because the next morning your confession of streaking across your college campus and being thrown into the back of a police car wearing nothing but a thong tends to go from Will Ferrell-funny to Amanda Bynes-cuckoo.**)

Or maybe you were in a frat house living room, watching Dawson’s Creek, and taking a shot every time Joey pushed her hair behind her ear.  (Seriously, Joe?  It’s called a hair tie.  If your glam squad had invested in one, certain people might not have ended up breaking a front tooth after an unfortunate encounter with a coffee table and spending the night at an emergency Sears Dental clinic so that your parents wouldn’t notice when you went home for Thanksgiving the next day.***)

Unfortunately, once you are a fully-functioning adult and parent, it is frowned upon to watch reruns of 7th Heaven and shoot tequila every time Lucy or Mary is caught making out with a boy (oh, Ruthie, you tattling little scamp!).  But not to worry, there is a whole new array of activities that will make you want to pop 2 Excedrin and pray for tomorrow: The Parenting Games.  May the odds be ever in your favor.

THE LYING GAME

Kiddo: You got married in 2006?  But my birthday is in 2005.  Wait a minute… did Daddy only marry you because you had a baby in your belly?

Parent: NOOOOOOOO OF COURSE NOT.  WE WERE DEFINITELY IN LOVE.  IN LOVE, I SAY!  [Note: Clearly my 'tell' when I am lying is lapsing into a very loud, Shakespearean dialect]

THE HUNGER GAMES

Kiddo:  Can I have toast for lunch?

Parent:  No.  You had toast for breakfast.

Kiddo:  But I don’t like anything else.  Toast is my favorite food and I want to be happy and eat toast all day every day and parents should want their kids to be happy so I don’t understand why you would do this to me if you love me as much as you say you do.  Mommy, why don’t you love me?

Parent:  Would you like butter or margarine?

THE BRIBERY GAME (a.k.a. Indecent Proposal)

Kiddo:  Mommy, when you were on the phone with Grandma, I heard you say Aunt Judy was ‘a conniving, Edward Scissorhands-looking bitch.’  What does ‘conniving’ mean?

Parent:  Ohmygod.  I need you to pretend you never heard that.

Kiddo:  But that would be lying.  Why do you want me to lie?

Parent:  Because if you promise to never, ever repeat what I said about Aunt Judy, I will get you your own cell phone.

Kiddo:  Make sure it has unlimited data.  I will need to Google Edward Scissorhands.

Basically?  If you thought the side effects of an epic Hour of Power were bad, just wait until your kiddo finds a photo from the ’99 Phish concert and asks if that’s a cigarette in your hand.

**I imagine.

***See previous footnote.

© Calling All Cool Moms 2014

How To Get Divorced

Remain graceful.  Expect people to murmur when you enter a room, their mouths stuck in tiny O’s of pity, their heads shaking ever so slightly.  They are all thinking the same thing:  Can you believe it?  They seemed so happy. And: Thank God it’s not me.

Breathe.

Repeatedly touch your newly naked ring finger.  Something that was previously slipped off without a second thought – to wash dishes, or take a shower – now feels like a phantom limb.  Notice people flicking their eyes to that finger, flinching as though it is an assault on them, being unmarried.  Fight the urge to yell: I was like you once!  I made 2 cups of coffee in the morning!  I smiled and I laughed and I never had to kill a spider!

Divide your belongings.  Shatter a wine glass against the wall when he tells you he wants the tribal statue from your honeymoon.  You do not want this figurine, or the happy memories attached to it, but it is easier to scream about this inanimate object than your broken life.

Cry.

Buy new curtains.  Pour all of your energy into finding the perfect color, pattern, material.  Sit on the couch at night watching Letterman, wondering why these gorgeous new layers of silk are not enough to make you forget.

Call your friends.  Plan a night of drinks, fun, and dancing.  Remember who you were before your marriage, before you stopped eating tomatoes because he was allergic.  Before you wore your hair in a constant ponytail because he liked to see your neck.

Meet other divorced women.  There is a bond among people who once uttered vows of forever, who whispered secrets, who shared slivers of their soul until fully exposed.  These women will join you at dinner, eyes darting around the room, everyone unsure how to behave without the safety net of a marriage bed.

Pray.

Cut your hair.  You can almost smell him in the strands that fall across your face, a stain from your life ‘before.’  Stare at your new reflection and wonder if anyone else will love the scar above your eyebrow, the curve of your jaw, the freckle on your lip.  Remember yourself, this moment, this new life.

Smile.

© Calling All Cool Moms 2013

The Rules

My son is a rule-follower.  As in: would never sit in the big part of the shopping cart because of the teeny tiny Danger! sign that warns against it.  Won’t touch a board game if it says Ages 10 and Up. Wouldn’t let me take his picture on a non-moving luggage carousel at the airport because of “the potential police lurking around.”  The kid makes me look like an anarchist.

Even though I’ve done my share of Spring Break-ing (FYI, Tony at Tattoo Emporium is an absolute gem, and can change Frank Forever to Flirt Forever once the buzz wears off) and toilet papering (was making out with Brenda in front of my locker worth it when you were cleaning up all that wet TP, Matthew?  Was it?), as a parent I have to stick to a few basic rules:

No caffeine after 5 p.m.  Now, I typically pride myself on my son’s restaurant behavior.  There is nothing that will make me go all Amanda Bynes more than being next to a child at a restaurant who screams, shouts, and weaves in and out of the aisles, threatening total waitstaff collapse.  (Really, Moms?  Why don’t we band together against this madness?  I mean, we ALL want our well-deserved-fought-the-husband-wrestled-the-laundry-chased-the-dog-around-the-block-watched-Spongebob-all-day cocktails to arrive at our table with the kind of speed and precision reserved for bikini waxes.)  However, please take my word for it that one Pepsi makes my child go from a serene, polite bookworm to Charlie Sheen on a bender.

Use Your Manners.  When I remind my son to say Thank You, I get the same answer as when I ask him to ride a bike: “Is this really necessary in life?”  And while I agree that Please, Thank You, I’m Sorry, & Excuse Me can be annoying and tiresome, I would prefer to raise a Pierce Brosnan than a Gary Busey.

Pro tip: unless you are a blood relation, please do not attempt to correct my son’s manners.  I was once thrown out of a child’s miniature golf birthday party after some random dad wouldn’t let my son onto the next hole before he said “Excuse me.”  When my son cried, this jerkmonkey said: “He needs to learn better manners.”  Listen, I can’t help it if I once dated a weapons expert who taught me to use retractable batons (which strongly resemble golf clubs) when threatened.  No, I did not take out the guy’s kneecaps – that would be unmannerly.  But apparently a small-ish woman with flared nostrils and skinny jeans, flailing 2 tiny putters around her head like she’s a Ninja freakin’ Turtle is cause for removal from the course.

Keep it real.  Shocker alert: I don’t know how to sugarcoat things.  My son asks why I call our neighbor McCreeperson?  I tell him I’m being completely judgmental based on the suspicious mustache and lack of hubcaps.  He wants to know why he’s not allowed to interrupt a conversation with “I really don’t care, can we change the subject?”  I answer: “Because nobody likes a rude A-hole.”

As a result, my son is realistic and truthful to a fault.  Sure, he thinks that preceding any insult with ‘no offense’ makes it acceptable: “No offense, but this dinner is horrible.  No offense, but shouldn’t Moms be smarter than their kids?”  But I can only hope that this honesty and rule-following means he won’t end up sharing a jail cell with jerkmonkey’s kid one day.

Sidenote: I was in the checkout line at Target yesterday, and there was a tiny, pigtailed girl sitting in the cart in front of me.  Wouldn’t you know, Pigtails took one look at me and made the sign of the cross.  Her mother turned around and said “Ohhh my Baby Angel Mama, are you praying?  You’re such a gooooood girl!”  For one sick moment, I was jealous of that woman, for somehow raising a child who went around baptizing strangers.  But then my son said, “Mommy?  No offense, but please don’t wear those pants in public again.”  And all was right with the world.

Breakin' all the rules.

Breakin’ all the rules.

© Calling All Cool Moms 2013

Dear Future Daughter-In-Law

Dear Future Daughter-In-Law,

As I write this, you’re probably riding your bike, bopping along in your hot pink Justice leggings and bedazzled tank.**  Of course, there is always the chance that my son could pull an Ashton, and land himself a Demi.  In which case, please put down that cigarette (because smoking when you’re 18 equals Juvaderm when you’re 30) and start working on your college applications.

First off, if you have any priors on your record (including, but not limited to: stays in juvie, lower back tattoos, questionable choices in makeup/friends à la Gretchen Weiners/booty shorts), you best come clean with them up front.  I’m so nosy that I make Mr. Roeper and Marie Barone look like amateurs, so I will find out anyway.

Example?  I once believed a friend was having an affair, simply because I drove past her house and spotted an unfamiliar white pick-up truck.  Whereas a sane, normal individual would simply ask this friend who was visiting her at 10 p.m. on a Saturday (scandalous!), I decided to drive through the parking lot of her office to look for the offensive vehicle.  Imagine my surprise when I saw my friend get into the passenger seat of the white truck (heathens!) and drive off into the sunset.  Okay, so the sunset ended up being a Mexican restaurant, but still – imagine the look on my (sunglasses-covered, headscarf-wearing) face when I saw another WOMAN get out of the driver’s side!  Ohmygodmyfriendisalesbian!

Yes, that’s right.  I went straight to torrid love affair rather than believe my friend would have lunch with someone other than yours truly.  So.  Might as well hand over any old photos of you at a sorority rally before I brand you a Communist.

I know this may be shocking, but I’m kind of a lot to handle.  I’m like The Godfather Jane Fonda in StepMonster Kate Upton in anything, anywhere.  (What?  Maybe by the time you read this, I will have had enough surgeries to make my body as phantasmagoric as hers.  Because my current situation of “lay on the couch, chasing a bag of Doritos with a glass of Chardonnay and praying I wake up a Sports Illustrated swimsuit model,” really isn’t working out for me.)

And speaking of supermodels with rockin bods, there’s a slight chance you and I started out on the wrong foot simply because you have better thighs than I do.  I mean, I didn’t even have 24 year-old thighs when I had 24 year-old thighs.  (Sidenote: this may explain why, every time I have a glass*** of wine and catch a Beyoncé concert on Palladia, I end up with a massive case of thigh-envy and throw my back out trying to do a set of squats followed by the Single Ladies dance.  Trust me, ain’t NObody ready for that jelly.)

Here’s the deal: my son is amazing.  And I’m not just saying that because he can already name all 205 countries in the world, and is currently studying the conflict in North Korea.  He’s also sweet, considerate, and sensitive.  (No, I don’t know where he got these qualities.  It’s one of those things I don’t question, like how Mark Wahlberg gets hotter every year, or how J.Lo is still famous.)

So please take care of him.  Don’t get all feminist-y; I’ve put a lot of time into teaching him how to treat a woman.  Let him open the door.  Squeal with delight when he buys you flowers for no reason.  I need you to be the Amy Farrah Fowler to his Sheldon Cooper, only less harp & way cooler hair.  Basically?  I need you to be ME.

Best,

Julie

**And just because I may or may not be wearing the exact same outfit right now doesn’t mean you should bike your ass back to Justice for those broken-heart Best Friend necklaces.

***Or 3.

© Calling All Cool Moms 2013

Target, You Tricky Minx

My relationship with Target is like an affair: It starts with only 1 purpose, I’m blinded by euphoria, and I end up regretting every. single. time.

It sounds dramatic, but really?  I’m not the only one who bounces around that place like a kid who forgot to take his Ativan.  I have a friend who broke down in tears after a trip to the Red Mistress, saying “I only needed toilet paper!  It should have been easy!  But I left with *sniff* 3 purses, an iPad, a closet organizer, and *hic* new patio furniturrrrrrrre!”

Here is what happens:

The ONE SPOT!  Only a dollar?  Don’t mind if I do!  Is July too early to buy stocking stuffers?  Holiday protocol be damned, everyone is getting a red, white, and blue light-up headband this year!

Oooh, Cracker jacks!  What ever happened to people eating Cracker Jacks?  Oh wait, it’s not 1979.  But I’m sure I need a few boxes!  Think of how trendy my kid will be at daycare, eating out of one of these red and white striped boxes!  I can put him in a white V-neck tee with skinny jeans and his Ray-Bans and take his picture and submit it to a hipster mag and he will totally be the next Cracker Jack poster child!  I will be his Momager, just like Kris Jenner, only less sell out-y and with better morals and enough common sense to stop her family members from pulling their babies out of their own vaginas on national television.

Oh, snap, look at these post-its with funny sayings!  I should totally buy these for everyone at the office.  I mean, morale might really improve if we all had post-its that said “Reminder: You can’t stab people for being stupid,” hanging up everywhere.  Sure, the ethics committee might make us sit through another one of those “Top 5 Most Offensive Words in the Workplace” luncheons, but so what?  At least they give us free cookies.

Right, cookies.  I better move on to the groceries – OHMYGOD IS THAT A FEDORA?  I wonder if I could pull off that whole ‘fedora/scarf/leggings that showcase my perfectly-sculpted-by-my-personal-trainer-thighs’ look that all the celebrities in US Weekly have going on?  I know!  If I throw in this chunky necklace and messenger bag, I guarantee people will mistake me for Jessica Biel.  Or at least Jessica Biel’s slightly older, slightly less ass-tastic sister.

Sunscreen.  Sunscreen was definitely on my list.  But what about this microdermabrasion kit?  I think this is the one the dermatologist suggested back when she told me the cost of Botox and I called her a thieving pirate.  Which reminds me, I should pop over to the DVDs.  Nothing says Saturday night like watching Johnny Depp and his eyeliner wink at you while fighting off enemies… on the beach… drinking rum… clothing optional… wait, what do I need again?  Rum?

Ugh, why doesn’t this place sell alcohol?  I heard the one in Chicago does.  Maybe if I got enough people to sign a petition… or I could just pick up these totes adorbs polka-dotted stemless wine glasses to fill the void.  Hmm, this is making me thirsty.  I could really go for a super-skinny-venti-frappy-slappy-mocha-café-to-the-third-power.  How did those K-Cups get in my cart?  I don’t even have a Keurig!  But I’ve heard they are pretty great…

Is that my cell phone ringing?  Damn, it’s the babysitter.  Okay, I’m done anyway.  Just let me take a quick peek at that dress over there – if I wore it with my nude flats, I would totally be channeling my inner Princess Kate…

© Calling All Cool Moms 2013