Category Archives: Kid Issues

Hanging with my son

The Taz and I at a Giants game over the summer.
The Taz and I at a Giants game over the summer.

The Taz has been a different kid this week.  This would be the very first week he’s been home without his sister here.  They both left for their dad’s house two weeks ago, but Taz was the only one who came back.  DQ has been adjusting up in Grass Valley, going to a new school and meeting new friends.  We’ve all been adjusting to life here with one less person in the house, cautiously paying attention to what that feels like.

When I had brought Taz home last weekend, I asked him what he thought about his sister not being here.  He admitted to feeling a little jealous that she got to stay and he didn’t.  But he also said that it might be good if his sister was gone.

“You guys were always hanging out,” he told me.  “Maybe now we’ll be able to hang out more too.”

And it’s true.  DQ and I had a lot in common.  Hanging out with her was easy.  We like the same shows, liked doing the same things, and could easily chat about anything.  Taz, on the other hand, had two interests – playing video games, and talking about video games.  I have no interest in either one of those, just like he has no interest in any of the things I like to do.  Sometimes I’ll come in his room and sit on his bed while he plays, and I’ll let him teach me about the game.  But honestly, for the most part he would lock himself in his room and we’d hardly see each other at all.

One of the things I decided upon when the decision was made for DQ to move was that I was going to change all that with Taz.  Rather than dive into being sad about my oldest leaving the house, I was going to take advantage of being one kid down and focus on the Taz a lot more.  At first it wasn’t easy.  Taz and I are notorious for not seeing eye to eye, and many times this turns into a huge fight.  He has an excuse for everything.  I want things done a certain way.  He just wants to have fun.  I can’t understand why he doesn’t just do what he’s told and get it out of the way.

The first two days together were a disaster.

Then the Taz decided to play videogames at 4am.  Mr. W caught him and told him to turn them off, and we’d deal with it in the morning.  I was fuming mad, but managed to get back to sleep.  Time has a funny way of making things a bit more calm, however.  Rather than flying off the handle in the morning, I calmly asked him what happened the night before.  When he told me, I asked him what he thought his punishment should be.

“Take away my videogames for a day?” he asked meekly.

“I want to take them away for a week,” I told him.  He hung his head in defeat, and didn’t argue with me.  “But I’ll just take them away for two days,” I conceded.

We spent the next two days together.  We played countless games of Apples to Apples, just the two of us (even though it’s really a 4 or more player game).  We watched shows together, including The Biggest Loser, and did exercises at commercials.  And we just hung out.  When he got his videogames back, he was smarter about his time with them.  He finished up his chores and homework early so he could play.  And most evenings they were turned off after dinner so he could spend time with us before bed.

And there’s more. I’ve been making his breakfast and lunch every day, something I used to just leave for him to do.  He used to pack lazy lunches and skip breakfast, ending up way too hungry after school and snacking on everything in sight.  Now he’s getting enough to eat, and has been laying off the snacks.  He’s more willing to work at eating better, and doesn’t argue when I tell him he can’t have seconds at dinner.

He calls me every day after school, and shares with me what happened that day.  Instead of talking about how school sucks or that he has no friends, he’ll tell me the exciting stuff that happened – how he saw a lizard that looked like a snake, how his essay was chosen to be read in front of the whole school, how his teacher loved the artifact he made for his report on ancient Greece, how he really loved his sandwich that day…

He’s a happier kid.  I don’t think it’s because his sister isn’t here (though he did tell me he’s glad she’s not here to tell him he’s not funny when he makes a joke).  But I think it’s because he suddenly has the spotlight.  He’s been in the seat of the second child for all his life, moving into the seat of the third child when he gained an older stepbrother.  Being the youngest, it’s easy to be left out.  Now, he has a chance to be noticed.  And I’m making sure to give him that.  It’s only been a week, and the difference in him is noticeable.

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Why I let my teen move out

I know I already wrote about this.  In fact, she has already moved.  But after much thought, I decided to also write a newspaper article about what’s going on in our home.  I figure plenty of divorced families are going through the same thing as their child decides which parent to live with full time.  So I am sharing my own personal story.

Note: I am doing ok.  DQ is too.  It’s still a transition, and a lot to get used to.  But so far, everything seems to be going smoothly.

This article will print on January 11, 2013 in the Press Democrat.

LETTING GO

My 14-year-old daughter, DQ, is moving out.

It’s weird, I never thought I’d type these words before she turned 18. But here I am, standing by as she packs up her bags and prepares to leave the nest. My nest. The one I have padded with protection and comfort since the day she was born, through a messy divorce, during financially tight times, and in her tumultuous teen years. She is flying the coop with my assistance when I drive her a full three hours away to live with her father.

And this might just be the hardest thing I have ever done in my life.

For 14 years, I have been her primary caregiver, the one who is responsible for every aspect of her life. I am the one who has filled out her school forms, checked her homework (till her homework got too smart for me), packed her lunches, and made her doctor’s appointments. I was the parent she told about her first love, and the parent who picked up the pieces when her heart was broken a few weeks later. I am her chauffeur, her personal chef, her nurse, her cheerleader, her everything she needed me to be so she can be a happy kid. I’ve gone to every one of her soccer games. I volunteer at the camp she attends every year. And I have done all this on my own. So to hand over the reins to her dad, allowing her to move three hours away and out of my realm of parenting, was way beyond my comfort level.

My first impulse was to say no, absolutely not. But she asked me to at least think about it. So I agreed to mull it over before I ultimately said no.

I was at war with what was the right thing to do in this situation. Of her two parents, I had proven to be the more responsible. Our two children, DQ and Taz, live with me full time, and I have fit my whole entire life within their schedule and comfort. Their father, who moved several counties away a few years ago, has never had the privilege of moving heaven and earth to make it to a parent-teacher conference at the same time as a mandatory meeting at work. I’ve been the parent while he’s been the one they visit occasionally. I’ve accepted that this is what works for raising the kids, and hold no bitterness over this. It’s just the way it is. But to give up my place as my daughter’s primary parent was rocking a boat I didn’t want rocked.

During the time when I was to be thinking this over (even though my mind was still set on NO), DQ took the time to patiently discuss all the perks of her living with her father. She talked about her new baby brother over there, how she would get a chance to know him and help take care of him. She took me on a virtual tour of her new town through Google Maps, pointing the cursor towards all of her favorite hangouts a few blocks from her home. She told me about the friends she had there, helping me to get to know them though her description. She handled the whole situation like she was the adult and I was the child. She was patient and kind, helping me with a hard transition. I was stubborn and tearful, refusing to budge.

Then a funny thing happened – my eyes were suddenly opened.

It didn’t happen on my own, but through a lot of help. I talked with my husband at great lengths about the whole decision. I discussed it with a counselor. And eventually, I called my ex-husband himself and talked about the possibility of our daughter moving in with him. After much deliberation and thought, I realized I had much less reasons to say no, and many more reasons to say yes.

So I let her go.

DQI know in my heart that I’ve made the best decision I could for her. DQ gets a chance to get to know her other side of her family, the part that makes up the other half of her. I, in turn, get to feel what it’s like on the other side of the coin – the one where I merely get to visit her instead of seeing her every single day. This still feels like a bad dream. I keep waiting for DQ to tell me she’s changed her mind. Of course, she hasn’t and likely won’t.

But I’ve realized something. Loving a child isn’t just about holding on to them and protecting them. It isn’t just about being there every step of the way.

Sometimes love is knowing when to let go.

One more day

DQ leaves tomorrow for her dad’s. I’ve distanced myself from this reality, treating it like one long vacation. And for the most part, I’ve been blissful in my little world of denial. She’s been busy packing up her room, taking over the washer machine and boxing up anything she thinks will fit into my car for her last trip away from our home. I took her shopping for warmer clothes, since she is leaving the warmer winters of the Bay Area for the snowy weather of the mountains. And I’ve forbid myself from dwelling too hard in “lasts”.

Like, last time we watch cheesy sitcoms together. Last time we trade movie quotes. Last time we bake snickerdoodles. Last time we wrestle over my Spotify account. Last time I treat her to a cupcake. Last time she confides in me over matters of the heart. Last time the two females overpower our house of boys.

It hasn’t been all wine and roses, though. She’s a typical teenager, which of course means she’s been pleasant as pie. That’s sarcasm, if you can’t read between the lines. She’s totally checked out of our house, and counting down the moments when she is out of our evil clutches and living in the wonderful home of her father. It’s funny, a year ago when Frizz was going through his own annoying adolescence of treating adults like gum on the bottom of his shoe, DQ told me she would NEVER be like that. At the time, I was actually dumb enough to believe her. And then she entered high school, and Shawn and I became the stupidest people on the planet. Shawn has received the brunt of this title from her. There is a very small percent of me that wonders how much more peaceful life will be after she moves from here, moves into a home that offers much less in just about everything, and finally sees all we do for her on a daily basis.

Of course, if I think too hard about where she is going to live, I can’t help but freak out a little.

The Ex is barely making it financially. He has a job now, but he’s not known for keeping jobs. Half the time he is working under the table to avoid paying child support. He’s struggling with his addictions, still unable to get a full year of sobriety under his belt. I never know when the guy is telling the truth or pulling my leg. Sometimes he’s lying to hide stuff he’s ashamed of, sometimes he lies to keep himself out of trouble, and sometimes he just lies to amuse himself. He lives in a tiny one-bedroom apartment that he shares with his ex-girlfriend’s female cousin and her two kids. He has his infant son several days a week. And DQ will be sleeping in a closet that’s been turned into a cramped mini bedroom. He doesn’t have a car, and it’s unclear how she is going to get to school every day. His roommate has a car, but knowing the Ex, he’ll burn that bridge soon and will be left with no transportation whatsoever. He can’t even pick up the kids tomorrow as planned, since he failed to secure a car before then, despite the fact that we planned this trip a month ago. He has never been the primary parent of DQ and Taz – that job has always been left to me. And I worry about what he really has to offer her as a parent. Does he have it in him? Can he do this? Am I sending DQ to the sharks, and will she come out worse on the other side?

This is a man who used to abuse me, who chose drugs as his answer to handling life, who took my paycheck and left me to starve, who made my life a living hell until I finally walked out. This is the man who gave me nightmares for years after until I was finally able to let it all go and move beyond the thought of him, leaving all those demons in the past. I no longer hate him. I am no longer angry. But I also no longer have faith in him.

But I know I have to let her go. I feel like this is a God thing, like God is telling me to just trust that everything will be ok. She has friends up there, the kind of friends I wish she could have made down here. She has a chance to really start over fresh, having realized the mistakes she’s made here. I have people all around me who are angry with this decision, questioning me and DQ about this decision. And honestly, I don’t have an answer that will appease everyone about why I am letting this happen. DQ would hate me forever if I forbid this. I have to let her see what it’s like on her own for her to understand. I am running the risk of her deciding she loves it there, and never coming back. I know this, even though my denial is telling me she will most definitely be back when the school year is over. How could she not? What is there over there for her that is so much better than here?

“You’re in denial,” my cousin told me when I let her know for the first time that DQ was moving away, and who she moving in with.  She said it because I was so calm, treating this as if it were a normal case of a teenage girl living with her father.  But it isn’t.  I know that.  It hasn’t been normal since I met the man almost 20 years ago.  But I’m powerless in this decision.  And I hate it more than anyone knows.  And the only way to cope with it is to remain in denial.

One more day.  And then the whole world will be changed.

Teaching kids thankfulness

This article also appears in the Press Democrat on Friday, November 16.

The month of Thanksgiving is one of my favorite times of year. It’s the season when everyone stops what they’re doing and counts all the things they have to be thankful for. I’m a huge believer in the power of positive thinking, and I’ve noticed that when I steer my focus towards what I have that is good instead of all the things I wish were different, the good stuff just keeps on coming into my life.

While thankfulness is a virtue that can be practiced all year round (and should!), I try to incorporate more activities in the month of November that promote a sense of gratitude. Here are a few ideas to help your own family practice acts of thankfulness throughout the rest of the month, and hopefully long after Thanksgiving has passed.

Create a thankful tree. Choose a plant already in your home, or buy one especially for this practice. Every day, have everyone write something they’re grateful for on a slip of paper shaped like a leaf and hang it on the tree. On Thanksgiving Day, collect the thankful leaves and read them out loud as a family. You can even make it an annual tradition to plant your thankful tree in the yard after Thanksgiving to serve as an every day reminder of all you have to be grateful for.

Have a daily “Thankful Three” recap. Last year our family actually tried this exercise. It seemed hard at first to come up with three things to be thankful for every day, but the practice became easier as time went on. Every day we were to come up with three things we were grateful for – anything from having clean water to drink to describing something awesome that happened that day. At dinnertime, we went around the table and listed off these three things to the family. We had some of our best dinner conversations during this time!

Remember the people you’re thankful for. Email, text messages, and social media have taken the place of good old-fashioned letter writing. And yet, there is something so special about receiving a personal letter in the mail amidst the piles of bills and mail fliers. Sit down with the kids and make a list of all the people you are grateful for. Then write a letter to each one of them telling why they mean so much to you.

Help others. Pick a day to serve at a local mission or food bank. Adopt a family at Thanksgiving. Donate a turkey at one of the turkey drives. Do something, anything, for someone who has no way to pay you back. Nothing teaches more about how much we truly have than when we are helping those who have much less then we do. What a powerful message to kids and adults alike to take time out of a busy schedule and give it to those who have suffered life’s hard breaks. What you give will be received back many times over in the way your heart will expand in your chest while making a difference in someone else’s life.

Give a basket of goodies to a neighbor – just because. I’ll never forget the time when our family heard our doorbell ring, but no one was at the door. Instead, a basket full of wonderful gifts of food and trinkets graced our doorstep, a note attached signed by “anonymous” with instructions to pass the gesture along to another neighbor, and so on. There was magic in that basket of goodies, simple things that held so much meaning just in the way it was given. The kids and I glowed over this gift for weeks, even more so when we were able to give someone else the pleasure of discovering a gift on their doorstep. As we hid and giggled while the new gift receiver exclaimed over the basket of goodies, we were making a memory that will surely last forever.

Be an example of thanks. Take notice of anything your child is doing, and then thank them for it. When you go out to eat, thank everyone who assists you at your table, even the person filling your water glass. Notice anyone going out of their way, and offer them a simple word of thanks.

As for me, this year I have much to be thankful for – my family, my husband, a life that is filled with blessings every single day.

And I am thankful for you, the one reading these words right now.

I am thankful each time one of you sends me a personal note telling me how my words have touched you, or that you are sending my words to someone across the country. I read every letter you send me, sometimes more than once.

Thank you.

I hope each and every one of you experiences a wonderful season of thankfulness.

Distractions, determinations, and that magical fruit.

I’ve been making a lot of progress in the novel I’m writing, about to hit the 10,000 word mark (woohoo!).  It’s starting to not be so much of a challenge to write, as I have finally reached the point in the story where something happens to change everything, and the main character will now spend the rest of the novel coping with this new reality.

I am really giving my main character a run for her money.

However, I keep getting distracted.  I’ll go to find another word for ‘noise’ or ‘crash’ or ‘whisper’ (seriously, what would I do without Thesaurus.com???), and get stuck in the vortex of finding just the right word to convey the image in my head.  And all that thinking makes me hungry so I grab the box of Mini Wheats and start eating them, so amazed at how bad they taste I have to keep eating them to make sure I’m right.  I totally am every time.  Of course, eating always brings me to Facebook, since Facebook is the perfect place to post photos of what you’re eating.  But before I can snap a photo of the crumbled up wheat at the bottom of the box, someone will post something about Honey Boo Boo, and I have to give my two cents about why our civilization is going backwards when families like that get their own TV Show.  But before I can think of something truly witty, someone posts a video like this:

And seriously, how can you not watch a video like that at least a dozen times without smiling?  I can only do one thing about that.

Blog it.

So here I am, writing about my procrastination on writing my super fun and interesting novel while it’s still stuck under 10,000 words.  That’s ok though.  I think I needed a break after those first really thoughtful 10 minutes of writing it.

P.S. on that thought:  My friend Bert gave me a serious form of inspiration regarding publishing through this article, an argument for self-publishing that is pretty convincing.  I’d toyed with the idea, and even had several people mention it to me.  But I think this was the straw that broke the typewriter’s ribbon when it comes to a multitude of rejection letters vs. having a book published as soon as I deem it finished.  It makes the finish line suddenly a million times closer.  And getting a finished product out there suddenly doesn’t seem like that daunting of a task.

In other news, today is the last day of eating beans and rice.  YAY!  (You can read about why I’m eating beans and rice HERE)  To celebrate, I ate a veggie Marsala burger that has beans in it with a fried egg on top.  It’s actually really delicious.  But I don’t think I’m going to eat beans again for a couple of weeks at least.  I had to spend all day today tight-cheeked – not because I was smiling too much, but because if I didn’t, I was going to kill someone with an odor that really shouldn’t come out of any human being.  It was probably the Mexican casserole that we had last night, a mixture of beef and several different kinds of beans and topped with cheese – the lethal combination for making a really potent stink bomb.  I managed to hold it together all day long, just taking lots of breaks to spare my neighbors.  But this evening I had to stop at the store and had no choice but to find a vacant aisle and drop a bomb.  I then hightailed it to several aisles away.  But I swear I heard someone fall to the ground gagging in the same vicinity as a mysterious mushroom cloud that appeared out of nowhere.

This week we ate bean tacos, curried lentil and yam soup (seriously delicious), eggs and beans, chicken and rice, and I even ordered a side of beans to go with my Rubio’s street tacos. 🙂  Today we had so many leftovers that I told Mr. W to take the night off cooking and we’d just finish off the remains in stinky bliss.

I wouldn’t say we suffered this week, not like 3rd world countries who are forced to eat nothing but beans and rice all day every day in severely small portions.  No, we ate some pretty good meals.  However, that first day when we started this challenge, I got a small taste of what it was like to eat so little.  I couldn’t think, speak, and had no energy.  We really have it good and honestly have nothing to complain about.

And in even more news, Taz is on the path to a healthier lifestyle.  Last night we came to an agreement that we’d work together to get him to eat healthier and get more exercise.  Moving around is the most important part, so I am attaching video game privileges to the deal as motivation.  If he doesn’t exercise, he only gets one hour of video games.  If he does a 30 minute exercise routine or a one-mile run/walk, he can have 3 hours.  It’s a decent compromise – especially since he’s been known to spend 14 hours in his room playing video games and all I’ve been doing about it is nagging to deaf ears.

Last night we worked out in the living room, doing a series of one-minute exercises from an app that’s on my phone.  Those exercises are seriously kickbutt.  He worked up a serious sweat by about 10 minutes in.  But he looked at me like I was crazy when the girl went into a side plank.  Tonight we did our mile.  He ran almost half of it through a series of running and walking.  I gave him short running goals, like running to a certain tree, then walking to a mailbox, then running to the fire hydrant, etc.  There were a little bit of tears by the end of it, but he made it.  Our goal is to run every other day, and do the exercise app on non-running days.  My goal is to continue supporting him and not leave him to his own devices – especially since I promised him he’d see some serious results in only a couple of months if he kept this up.

At any rate, it’s time to get back to that book.  My other goal is to make it to 15,000 words by the end of this 3-day weekend.  And if I keep at it, I know I can get there…and maybe a little beyond.

Here’s to being determined to anything we set our minds to.  And to know when it’s time to lay off the beans.  Whewie!

Feeling lost

The whole family went out to dinner last night, including my parents and uncle. The celebration behind the occasion was to get together before my dad went on a cross country excursion, and my kids left for another 10 days at their dad’s house. So we all met up at La Vera’s restaurant in Santa Rosa during the Wednesday night market.

Following the dinner, Taz and I went to the bathroom before he left, except he took a really long time to come back out. So we came up with the brilliant plan to disappear around the corner and hide from him as a joke.

Except there’s nothing funny about an 11-year old who comes out to an empty table and thinks that his whole family has abandoned him.

Vintage Taz (circa 2011)

At first we thought it was hilarious, and we stood silently giggling as his back was to us and he surveyed the area. But when he turned at us with a shocked look on his face, quickly replacing it with a wide smile when he saw our familiar faces, I could see the thoughts racing through his head. Behind that smile was a valiant effort to keep the tears at bay. And any humor I found in this was instantly replaced with feelings of shame. I had placed my son in a position of facing his biggest fear – of being forgotten. Beneath all his bravado, silliness, and attention seeking behavior is an effort to make himself noticed and remembered. And it’s possible that it’s all an act to ensure he won’t be overlooked. And here he was, shaken up by a mere 10 seconds when he felt the most alone at the expense of his family’s amusement.

Needless to say, I feel like a horrible mom.

The poor guy kept his smile plastered on his face, doing his best to not even let on the appearance of tears. But I wasn’t fooled. I’m not sure anyone else in the family besides me even knew just how hard he had taken it. I tried not to make a huge deal out of it so he wouldn’t feel embarrassed or start to really cry. But I couldn’t help but apologize profusely and then insist on holding his hand for most of the walk back to the car. I overcompensated by acting ultra silly until he was finally past the point of wanting to cry and no longer wanted to hold my hand.

Ok, practical jokes are normal in families, and our family is no exception. It’s a rare day when a sarcastic quip or humorous tease doesn’t occur. But that still hasn’t stopped me from reliving that moment, and then mentally bear hugging my still-so-young son in protection against his horrible family.

The kids leave today for their dad’s house, and this time I’m not ready. The first excursion I couldn’t kick them out fast enough. I just needed a break from being a mom, and welcomed the quiet a kid-free house would bring. During that time, I heard from my daughter several times about how she couldn’t get along with her dad, begging me to come home. And I even got a call from their dad who was at a loss about how to deal with a hormonal teenage girl. Naturally I wanted to fix it all. I encouraged my daughter to talk with her dad when they weren’t on speaking terms, and I gave my ex pointers on how to handle the emotions of a stubborn and delicate daughter. But I eventually took a step back and stopped absorbing their problems. It wasn’t mine, it was theirs. And it was up to them to make it better. By the time they came back, they had wordlessly patched things up, and they also had a new brother (their stepmom had her baby the day before they were to leave). I had thought they were going to fight me on going back, but both kids were enthusiastic about returning in 5 days time.

And here we are, 5 days later, and it’s time for them to leave again.

Vintage Wine Country Mom and kids (circa August 2010 in San Diego)

During the last few days I have felt the need to soak up as much time with the kids as I could. It seemed like both the kids were too. They each had their own separate times of spending quality time with me. DQ hung with me at the kitchen table, both of us perusing catalogs and gabbing about this and that. Taz took time away from his video games each night to hang out and watch the Olympics with us. He kept prodding me to play a board game with him during this time, but time just got away from us. Now I wish I had.

They’re only going to be gone for 10 days. When they’re back, they probably won’t see their dad for a few months. I’m starting to see a tiny portion of what he goes through when he says goodbye, because I’m really, really going to miss them. And it’s possible that for the first few days, I might feel just as lost as a forgotten 11-year old kid.

My Week Without Kids

This article publishes in the Press Democrat on August 10th.

The kids are visiting their dad this week. As a result, the house is strangely quiet. The TV, which is usually blaring with bright pictures and loud voices from attention seeking sitcoms, has been off for days. And the Internet speed is curiously faster without video games tying up the bandwidth. The living room is free of clutter, and the food in the kitchen is intact for much longer than usual. In fact, our food bill this week was much lower than usual, and it’s been really nice to cook for two rather than five. Our calendar is looking pretty bare this week, and the cash in my wallet is staying put instead of being handed over to kids who need new clothing, a soda from the store, money for half-done chores, or whatever their fancy of the moment happens to be.

I was asked recently if I missed my kids. Without hesitating, I said absolutely not. It was only after I said it that I realized maybe I shouldn’t have been so enthusiastically quick in my response. I love my kids. I love that I have them with me the majority of the time. But after a long summer of bored teenagers taking over the house, I love that they are at their other parent’s house for 7 glorious days.

It’s been a really long summer. My son, Taz, has taken to video game marathons while I’m away at work. Despite the sunshine outside, his comfort level takes place in his darkened bedroom, chatting away with friends on his headset. When he’s not doing that, his butt is planted on the couch watching TV. Dirty dishes are piling up in his room even though he’s been told food doesn’t belong anywhere but in the kitchen. When I come home from work, he’s usually back upstairs in his room, talking loudly into his headset while his friends shout back through the television. Meanwhile, the downstairs TV is still on with whatever kids show he was watching earlier, the living room totally destroyed and the kitchen showing blatant signs of whatever he ate that day through the food on the counter and the garbage on the floor.

But the noise from my son is overruled by the pounding beat coming from upstairs. Frizz, my stepson, has taken to listening to club music at extremely loud levels at all hours of the day. From the moment he wakes up at 2 pm till late in the evening, all that can be heard throughout the house is bump, bump, bump, bump. I’d like to strangle whoever thought it was an excellent idea to buy a teenager a sub woofer for his tiny room. While we are at work, Taz and Frizz compete with each other as they try to hear their own sounds above the others. The other day, Taz’s TV was on full blast, as was Frizz’s pounding music. This was what I got to come home to. The kicker was that Frizz was also wearing earplugs to drown out the noise. Tired of sounding like an ancient broken record about keeping the noise at a level that is respectful towards everyone living there (just writing that out makes me realize what an old fogey I’ve become), I fought the noise in the most mature way I could muster. I figured out just how loudly the downstairs surround sound could play my personal mix of Coldplay music. Apparently pretty loud – at least loud enough to drown out all the other music.

In the midst of all this is my daughter DQ, who is suddenly very much in puppy love with a boy who lives near us, and wants to spend every waking moment with him. Take a hormonal 14-year old girl, add in a 14-year old hormonal boy, factor in the summer break right before entering high school when both have a lot of free time on their hands, and mix it all together. The sum of this equation supersedes any stress that videogame marathons and subwoofer competitions can induce by about a million.

So when it came time to drive my kids several hours away to stay with their father for 7 whole days, I couldn’t throw their stuff in my car fast enough.

In the time they have been gone, I have enjoyed a few lazy days by the pool with a magazine in my lap and a cold drink within arm’s reach. I have gone to bed early every night, and woken up refreshingly early every morning. Mr. W and I have even enjoyed a couple nights out on the town.

In a few days, my kid-free staycation will be over. By then, I will be ready to take back the reins. But until then, I think I will enjoy this brief interlude from motherhood while it lasts.