Tag Archives: WC Mom stories

How Rebellion is Born

“Did you eat your breakfast?” I asked my son this morning as he turned on his video games before school.

“Uh, yeah,” he said.

“Alright, what did you eat?” I asked my little Tasmanian Devil.

“Oh yeah, I didn’t. But I’m not hungry,” he told me.

“Turn off the game. You’re not allowed to play until you have finished getting ready, and that includes eating breakfast and brushing your teeth,” I reminded him.

“Oh my gosh, Mom! You don’t care about me?” My son likes to go into dramatics when he isn’t getting his way, especially when it’s getting in the middle of his game playing time. “I told you I’m not hungry, and now you’re making me eat!”

“Turn off the game,” I told “the Taz” again. “Go eat your breakfast.” And grudgingly he did so. He ate as fast as he could, put his bowl in the sink, then went back to the games.

“Did you brush your teeth?” I asked him. He loudly groaned, then stomped upstairs to do a poor job of brushing the gunk off. 7:45, and he went back to the game. “We don’t have time for you to play. It’s time for us to leave for school,” I told him, totally aware of his reaction just as I was aware of the time.

“What?!? You mean I ate breakfast for nothing?!? You wasted all my time!” he yelled.

“No, you have to eat breakfast before school. You wasted your own time when it took you 20 minutes just to get out of bed this morning,” I pointed out to him. “You’re just going to have to play video games later when you have more time.” And while we all got ready to leave the house, he lay on the floor and sulked until we left.

I think my biggest pet peeve is the arguing that goes on over things that we have to do. Once a week I have to go grocery shopping. It never changes. If we want to eat, we have to have food. But tell that to my son and he moans and groans like I am extracting one of his teeth, and even produces a bit of tears. I have taken to scheduling my grocery shopping at times that aren’t that convenient for me (during lunch breaks or right before I pick them up after work) just because dealing with the inevitable tantrum is much more stressful. The house has to be clean. If I want peace of mind, the table needs to be cleared, the toys need to be put away, and their pigsty of a room needs to have a little bit of order so that I can get to their drawers and put their clean clothes away without killing myself on a Lego landmine. But it takes twice as long to get them to clean as I have to urge them both to keep going and not murder each other in the process. After breaking up fight after fight between them as they attempt a task they really don’t want to do, it’s hard not to succumb to just telling them they’re done and just finishing it myself. Or, more often than not, just living with the mess.

“Bedtime is at 9 pm.”

“Wash your hands after you eat.”

“For Pete’s sake, will you please tie your shoe?!”

“Homework is to be done BEFORE you play with your friends. Yes, all of it!”

“Do not eat your snack in the living room.”

“Your school lunch needs to have something more than a granola bar and a Capri-Sun.”

“You need to wear underwear if you are going to school.”

“Will you please stop doing somersaults in the grocery store aisle?”

“Stop sitting on your brother.”

“Can you please stop changing every word to the song on the radio to ‘poop’ or ‘butt’?”

“It’s after 11 am. Can you please wear something around the house besides your underwear and a blanket?”

“Why? Because I said so.”

Those are the words that used to make me cringe the most in my childhood days. “Because I said so.”

“Crissi, clean your room right now!” my mother would order as she surveyed clothes and books over what might have been a floor had it been visible.

“But why?” I would ask. “It’s my room! I’m the one who has to live in it!”

“Because I said so.”

And after that, I would take my sweet time cleaning, grumbling the whole time, doing a halfhearted job of it so that it looked like I had made a little progress, but also so it was clear that I wasn’t going to do a great job just because my mom wanted me to.

Arguing is ingrained in us. It’s part of our nature. Tell anyone to do something, and their immediate reaction is to rebel, to argue the point, to harbor resentment that someone is even trying to control our movements. Once a kid gets to the wonderful age of the terrible twos (or its even worse cousin – the tumultuous threes), they learn that they have an opinion, and it is usually opposite of yours. For the very short window of time before that, these precious little beings went along with everything their parent told them. As far as they are concerned, you hung the moon. They will follow you to the ends of the earth. After that, however, they come to the realization that they don’t have to go along with everything you say.

It all goes downhill from there.

At ages 2 & 3, kids are so into their newfound independence that they will say NO to anything you say just so that they can assert themselves. By age 4, they understand that they can make a choice based on what they want. Sometimes that goes inline with what you want. Sometimes it doesn’t. But the idea behind their decisions isn’t based on just defying your wishes, it’s an actual calculated decision that they are even willing to discuss with you. It’s a heavenly age for a child, and it continues for a couple of years. But right around age 8, they revert back in time and start questioning anything that gets in the way of their own freedom – the freedom to have scummy teeth, dirty hands, and time to play with their friends or their toys. And once they hit their teenage years, they are age 2 all over again, fighting anything that you say just because you said it. Except this time you’re an idiot and couldn’t possibly be wise enough to know what they are thinking about or doing or what goes on with them and their friends. And when the apple of your eye starts questioning your authority over and over and over again, sometimes the only thing your exasperated mind can think of to say is, “because I said so.”

(In case you missed it, a repeat of a classic example of “the Taz” arguing with me:

So how do you get through the constant arguing that occurs between a parent and a kid? I know for me, I am so exhausted from having to put up a fight to get anything done around here. It’s draining. Things would go so much easier if the kids didn’t fight me on every single task I lay in front of them, especially since it’s not like these required tasks have changed. And yet, I fully understand what it feels like to not want to do something just because it was ordered to me. Any other parents have ideas on how to change the arguing to actual agreement, or can even relate to the constant power struggles between adults and kids?


I moved into my own apartment a couple years after my divorce. It was a liberating move on my part, one I could barely afford. But I was determined to do so nonetheless. I had never had my own place before. The day after I graduated high school, I moved in with my future ex-husband. I was sure that living at my parents’ house another day would surely kill me, convinced that I had it so bad. I was sure that living on my own would free me from their domineering clutches and would allow me to finally be my own person.

Little did I know just how opposite from the truth that was.

For the next 2 years we lived in absolute poverty. When I had my daughter, my then husband and I changed the way we were living so that we were working as a team rather than against each other. It worked for a short time. But when two people aren’t right for each other, time has a funny way of disintegrating even the best intentions. Just before we were about to self destruct and bring our two children down with us, we finally parted ways and went through the rocky road of reassembling the pieces of our lives that lay shattered all around us. For me, that meant moving in with my parents and lying in a depressed heap on their couch for a year, letting them take over as mom and dad while I wallowed in my incomplete shell of self. Then it took building myself up for another year and a half, building up the realization that yes, I could make it on my own and take care of my kids as a single mother.

The move to my own place was a risky one. I was only working minimal hours at a job I loved too much to leave in pursuance for one that offered more hours and pay. But the pay I was receiving each week, by my calculations, would only allow me the barest of necessities. But with strategic planning, I figured that there were plenty of luxuries I could live without to be able to afford a home of our own. It was a fresh start, the move I needed to make to transform from a dependant child to a self-sufficient adult. And so we did it, eyes wide open, and we refused to look back.

I couldn’t have done it without help, however. We moved into our apartment with only the clothes on our backs. I had bought a kitchen table with some money I had saved, and besides our beds, that was the only furniture we owned. The living room stayed bare, besides the few boxes we still needed to unpack. There was no couch, no TV, just a table to eat our humble dinners. Some dear friends surprised me soon after moving in by furnishing my apartment with gently used items such as a couch set, a TV, a washer and dryer, a bookcase, a coffee table, and pictures and shelves for my wall. There were even lights adorning the railing outside to reveal a patio bench and table to sit and enjoy in the quiet evenings after the kids went to bed. For $2, I found a dish set of plates and bowls so we could eat dinners like a normal family. My empty apartment suddenly had the feeling of home wrapped inside and out.

Early on in my adventure as a single mom doing it on her own, I came across some plates at Cost Plus that I fell in love with. They were a deep blue with cherry blossoms splayed across them. They were fancier than the sky blue plates I owned with daisies decorating the center. I didn’t begrudge the plates I already had. But to me, these cherry blossom plates symbolized the life that I hoped to achieve. They were the plates of a woman who had succeeded in life, who had jumped the hurdles that everyone else said she couldn’t overcome. There was even a set of silverware there that would match them perfectly, a shiny metal with handles cut like bamboo. They were much nicer than the faded and scratched up metal set I had received from the hand-me-downs of my parents. These dishes and silverware were placed on my mental list of “someday”. Someday I’ll have a larger place to live. Someday I’ll write that book that has been playing on repeat in my mind for years. Someday I’ll travel the world and see sights I’ve only seen on TV. Someday I’ll find that one man who loves me and my children for who we are and who is everything I’ve hoped for all my life. Someday I’ll have enough money to not have to budget everything to a fault. Someday I’ll buy my own dishes at cost, the ones that I choose for myself and not because they are at an affordable price on a table of castaways from someone else’s garage.


The thing about “someday” is that, if not put into action, it becomes never. Every time I walked into Cost Plus, those plates called to me. I would pick them up, run my hand over the smooth enamel, imagining them on my table, and then place them back on the shelf. I’d have some money in my pocket, but I just couldn’t believe that it was time to buy them yet. Someday was not today. I told myself to be patient, but my patience was starting to tell me that maybe it was better just to say “never”. My plates at home were good enough. They held food. Only a couple had chips. They all matched. Why did I want plates like these when what they really weren’t a necessity, when we had costs such as daycare, groceries, braces, and rent – all bills that were way more important than making our table prettier for meals? I went into Cost Plus less and less, and stopped looking at those plates as something that might be mine – someday. Where I was at was good. If I never got any farther, I would still be just fine. I had already overcome so much, I should just be proud of where I was rather than looking at where I want to be.

Christmas came this year in a flurry of blessings wrapped with little red bows. Even after telling my family and Mr. Wonderful that we don’t need much, there were dozens of presents to open with gifts that we could definitely use. A new pair of tongs for my kitchen. A set of bath towels to replace the threadbare ones I’d been using for years. A new pair of running shoes so I could finally throw out the ones I’d been running in for 10 years now. And when all was said and done, Mr. Wonderful placed a large, heavy box in front of me. I jokingly guessed what it was, holding it up and judging by the weight.

“A breadbox!” I exclaimed without a clue as to what lay beneath the cardboard and beautiful wrapping. I finally pulled the wrapping away from the box, and opened the lid. Whatever was in there was hidden beneath white tissue paper. I pulled it away and saw more tissue wrapped around what was apparently a plate.

He had bought me the dishes.

I unwrapped one of the 6 plates that were in the box, running my hand over the smooth enamel as I had so many times in the store. It was mine.

“I couldn’t get you the whole set,” he apologized. “But I also know that you have wanted to get these for yourself. I figured I’d offer you a start.”

I threw my arms around his neck, tears in my eyes, thanking him for a gift that was so much more than dishes. What he had given me in between those dark blue plates with cherry blossoms splayed across them was my “someday”. Someday was today. Today I had my new plates. And for the past year I have had the love of a man who cares for me and the kids for everything we already are. Tomorrow it could be my book, the home, traveling the world….. Anything was possible. And someday didn’t need to be some far off fantasy place where I wanted to be but knew I’d never even visit.

Once home, I went through my cabinet and pulled out the old dinner plates. I placed them in the back of a cupboard I rarely used, promising that someday the rest of the plates would be there to join them so that someday my own children could benefit from my hand-me-downs. I left on vacation right after Christmas, and then came home to the plates that were gracing my cabinets. In my pocket was some leftover Christmas money that I had decided to spend on boring things like bills and groceries. But still, I knew that there was a little extra money in that amount.

Someday is today.

I went to Cost Plus and picked out 6 matching dessert plates. And then I pulled 4 sets of the coveted silverware from the bins. Surprisingly, it was a lot less than I expected to piece together the beginnings of my set. I didn’t need the whole lot at once – there was time enough for that. My kids laughed at me as I urged them each to go open the silverware drawer and check out their reflection in the knives, and to open the cabinets and look at the neatly stacked plates of dark blue.

On a final note, it is amazing what one new coveted item can do to your home. Seeing the richness that exists in my cabinets, the urge to simplify my home and create it how I want has manifested. Little by little I have been pulling apart my closets and placing unused items in bags meant for donation. I am eyeing the gently used items and thinking of ways I could replace them, giving the older items to others who are starting out for their first time on their own adventure. That new home I am dreaming about might even exist in this old faithful one. I just need to unbury it first and then make it my own.

Our Holiday Letter

Dear friends and family,

Season’s Greetings and a joyous New Year to all of you! I hope this last year has been one that holds wonderful memories and many things to be thankful for that you will bring into the new year. I know ours has.

This year was the year that my son decided that he would stop brushing his teeth. Trips to the dentist would result in menacing looks by our family dentist as he chiseled layers upon layers of plaque off my son’s teeth. And even after horror stories from the dentist about cavities and tooth loss, my son has stuck to his goals. Every morning and every evening I would ask my son if he had brushed his teeth, and he would promise that he had. And then he would smile, revealing teeth with orange and yellow gunk covering them, his toothbrush laying on the counter dry as a bone. Even though he is nearly 9 years old, I have now taken to standing over him while he brushes his teeth, even going so far as to take over the brushing. The result has been bleeding gums and lots of complaints and tears over a mouth that is not used to being so clean. I am thankful that while my son is growing like a weed in front of my eyes, that he has allowed me to reminisce about his young childhood as I hold him in a headlock and scrub his scummy teeth.

My son has also decided to be more generous to those who are in need. At the beginning of every school year, my family and I supply him with a dozen new sweatshirts that are sure to keep him warm. He wears these sweatshirts proudly to school each morning, clean after being freshly laundered. But when he comes home after school, the sweatshirt is missing. In only several week’s time, all of his best sweatshirts were gone and all he had left were some ugly sweaters. Those ones were never lost, and much to my dismay would come back home full of stains from that day’s activities. The only explanation I can come up with is that my son is contributing to his school’s lost and found collection, the same one that they take to the Salvation Army every couple of weeks. His best sweatshirts would find their way into the Lost and Found, and were only discovered missing after the school would donate all the clothes. The ratty sweaters would make their way home because they were too ugly for even the less fortunate to wear. Just this past week, I had to buy him a suit to wear to school. He looked so sharp in his suit that he couldn’t wait to put it on. We even found a perfect sports coat to go over his shirt and tie. When he came home, he had donated that jacket as well, even though he only wore it once. I am filled with pride over my generous son who has given away all the clothes I spent my hard earned cash on. No doubt my giving son will do the same with all the clothes he receives for Christmas as well. You cannot teach generosity, it must come from within. And my son is naturally generous.

Speaking of clothes, this was also the year that my son decided to become a professional, unpaid shoe tester. This past year has been incredibly harsh on his shoes. I bought him expensive shoes at the beginning of the school year to try and head off this issue. But in no time flat, the top of the shoes started to come away from the soles. We had to break out the duct tape, and my son became the proud owner of expensive silver tipped shoes until we were able to find him a new pair.

This has been an eventful year for my son. There was the golfball through his grandparents’ window, the bully situation, and the phase that proved that I am never, ever going to get my son to move out of my house.

My daughter, on the other hand, has decided to do her part in water conservation. In her almost teen years, she has gone from taking showers every other night to fighting me on a nightly basis. Because the tween years bring on the familiar stench of gym socks after soaking in swamp water and then running for three hours on a hot afternoon in insulated sneakers, I have been encouraging my daughter to take nightly showers before bed. As a result, the nights have been ended in heated arguments, and the shower remains unused. But it was one day in the last month or so that my daughter came to her senses. Or rather, her sense of smell started to work a little better than usual. And even she had to admit that a nightly shower was necessary in these hormonal times. Still, I cannot help but be proud of my conserving daughter who was only trying to conserve our precious water supply. But even she had to admit that air pollution was a much bigger concern than water conservation, and a worthy cause to fight for.

In these tween years of childhood, my daughter has also discovered how much she likes boys. No, “like” is too mild of a world. Obsession is more like it. She has taken to listening to the god-awful music of Justin Bieber, and taking part in puppy love romances like the rest of her peers. Recently she confessed that in her 11 years, she had already received her first kiss! Oh how the innocent times of childhood get whisked away in the blink of an eye!

With her boy crazy tendencies, this was also the year that my daughter’s heart got broken for the first time.  At first she wouldn’t speak to me, resorting to the grunts and clicks that are the natural language of tweens and teens. But over ice cream and hot chocolate, she poured out her carefully guarded heart and we swapped stories of stinky boys who don’t know a good thing when she’s looking him in the eye.

My daughter has become a victim of poor body image at such an early age, almost went to the ER for the 5th time in her 11 years, and has grunted hello to me on more than one occasion on her Moody Tween days.

And myself? I finally got rid of the Aerostar Van, the car that had the sliding door that fell off when we tried to open it and would leak black goop all over my hands when I touched the steering wheel. I found an awesome way to get rid of my chicken leftovers that my kids never grow tired of. And I admitted (sob!) to being the mother of a videogame junkie.

I am proud of my mediocre and troublemaking children who have placed many a gray hair on my head. 2009 has been a great year of lessons learned over and over again. I’m sure that 2010 will offer lessons of a different variety, and more stories that aren’t much fun to experience, but sure entertaining to write about afterwards.

Happy New Year to all of you, from my family to yours!

Love Crissi and family

Leaf Project Lasagna

I don’t think there is anything more heavenly than a full meal already made and frozen in my freezer. I have been inundated with doing school projects with my kids for the past week, plus fighting off a cold that is threatening to be nasty (what does it mean if my normal temperature is 95, and it is now 98? Is that considered a fever?). The last thing I wanted to do was cook tonight. So when I saw the lasagna we had made in the back of my freezer just begging to be heated up, I complied happily. Who cares if each bite holds a thousand calories? The most effort I had to exert was letting it thaw throughout the day and then cooking it to a crisp (uh, literally on the edges, unfortunately) until it was steaming before us on a break from the Leaf Project from hell.

Alright. I’ll admit it. My son’s Leaf Project isn’t really that bad. We have had a month to do it. In the beginning we were instructed to press the leaves in a heavy book so that each leaf would be ready to be mounted when it was time to put the project together. We went to my mother’s house and raided her garden for every interesting leaf we could find. And then, using my extremely large Vegetarian Cookbook by Deborah Madison, we proceeded to give it more use than it had seen in ages. We filled that book with leaves of every shape and size, complete with notes so that we knew where it came from (uh, grandma’s house. Duh.).

Since the leaves had to press for three weeks, the teacher encouraged his students to start on the pages they would be mounted on, create a cover, and to write an interesting introduction. Naturally, we waited till last week to do this, when the leaves were done being pressed. I mean, seriously. How long does a leaf project really take? I figured that one week was still giving us extra time to finish this project.

Boy was I wrong.

We have been spending every night on this project for the last week, coming up with facts about each leaf that wouldn’t bore the teacher to death (“This leaf is a maple leaf. It is green. I like it.” “This leaf is a fig leaf. It is green. I like it”). We also went through and made a poem for a couple, and included a recipe for the edible ones. We finally finished the leaf pages, and were closing in on the end when I re-read what else was required for this project. We had missed a very important part – telling about leaves and how they work.

You mean they have to learn something too? Sheesh.

So we went through the internet and learned about photosynthesis and the reason that leaves are flat. And we learned about chlorophyll, xanthophyll, and carotene, and why leaves change color. And we created rough drafts of drawings to give a visual for all these changes.

This is what that process looks like:

Working hard on the report.

You mean we’re not done yet?????  There’s more????

I can’t do this anymore!!!!!

“Uh, son, can you please turn off the movie and get back to work?”

All he has left to do is rewrite everything we put together, glue it into the report, create a table of contents and…….we are done.

I was stressing this morning because I thought this was due tomorrow. I had sent a bunch of pages for him to rewrite while he was at his dad’s house this weekend so that we would have very little left to do. Wouldn’t you know it, my little swindler hussled his dad and got him to believe that he only had to do half of it. And when I say half, I mean 2 pages out of 6 – 2 pages that he had to rewrite anyway because he did his best to make it as sloppy as possible. Looking at all the work we had still ahead, I couldn’t see how we could possibly finish this in enough time unless he stayed up till 10 pm. Thankfully, along with missing the part about needing to learn something, I also missed the part that said it was due on Thursday, not Tuesday. We are ultra busy in the next few days, but if we have to put off a piece or two until tomorrow night, it will still be ok.

Thank goodness for working on this ahead of time so that we aren’t killing ourselves in the final week (snark, snark). And thank goodness for frozen leftover lasagna.


What are some of the lessons you have learned as a mom (or a dad) that you are greatful for?  Share them over on the forums at SantaRosaMom.com!

Cabin Fever

My kid is on his second day home from school, thanks to a slight fever that renders him banned from school, but still well enough to not be sick.  It appears that I dodged the Swine Flu this time…..  But nevertheless, he still needed to stay home.  I have been sitting with him all day while he does his homework, making sure that he doesn’t sneak outside to play with his friends and give them the flu. We have spent a lot of time together today, just him and me. And there is only one sentiment that can truly describe today.

I’m going crazy!

It was a beautiful day outside, and I was stuck inside with a not sick, barely feverish kid who really needed to be running around but was stuck inside with me. Do you have any idea how hard it is to get any work done when you have a bored 8 year old hounding you about every little thing?

Son: “Mom, am I allowed to get my $5 allowance?”

WC Mom: “No. Now be quiet and do your homework. I need to finish what I’m writing.”

Son: “Ok.”

2 minutes later.

Son: “Mom, is Big Apfel a real person?”

WC Mom: “I don’t know. Why?”

Son: “He’s on my video games, and just has a cool name. Don’t you think he has a cool name?”

WC Mom: “Sure. Please do your homework.”

Pause for a bathroom break. When I return, he’s missing. I go back to writing instead of searching for him.

Son: “Mom! Guess what? Big Apfel IS a real person!”

WC Mom: “How do you know?”

Son: “I Googled it.”

WC Mom: “You’re supposed to be reading, not playing on the computer.”

Son: “But I was reading. I was reading about Big Apfel.”

WC Mom: “Doesn’t count. Turn off the computer and get out your reading book.”

Son: “Ok.”

1 minute later.

Son: “Mom?”

WC Mom: “What?!”

Son: “Can I have my $5 allowance?”

And so it went…..

Yesterday, my not sick kid with a slight fever started to raid his candy bag from Halloween.

WC Mom: “Get out of there. Sick kids are not supposed to eat candy.”
(sidenote: This is one of those facts that are passed down from our mothers that we infringe on our own children. Why can’t you eat candy when you are sick? I have no idea. I mean, it’s not like you’re going to get a worse fever from a bunch of M&M’s. But still, we feel like we would be bad parents NOT to keep the junk food away when they are sick.)

Son: “I have to have one.”

WC MOM: “You do not.”

Son: “Yes I do. My blood sugar is low. I need candy to get my blood sugar regular.”

I still didn’t give him the candy, though you’ve got to hand it to the kid for thinking on his feet.

While I’m stir crazy, I have to admit that it’s also been kind of nice to spend some one on one time with my son. We ate lunch together, and he gave me a hug in apology when he decided he wasn’t a fan of Thai Ginger. He read me some of his story that he was reading for class. We worked on his homework together. And because he wasn’t competing against his sister, he was mellow and calm for the whole entire day.

Still, I am more than ready for him to go back to school, especially since he has asked for his $5 allowance three more times while I was writing this. My hat is off to you stay-at-home moms with little munchkins under your feet all day long.


Wednesday, November 4th is the last day you can enter your Halloween photos to win tickets to see Charlotte’s Web at the Wells Fargo Center. Don’t miss your chance!

Tooth Pains

My daughter’s first dentist appointment included X-Rays of her teeth, and a positive affirmation that she indeed had an abscessed tooth that needed to come out. She was 3 years old. We had spent the day at the Bennett Valley Fire Station for their annual pancake breakfast. One of her childhood friends, a solid and energetic boy who was destined for success in football in later years, was holding her hand as they ran. My daughter, the more precarious of the two, slowed them up. But he was faster and more nimble, and kept going down the rocky driveway. As a result, my daughter took a tumble and landed right on her two front teeth, filling her mouth with blood. The dentist had told us to watch those teeth, and that if a white pimple-like bump appeared above the tooth, to bring her in immediately.  It did, and here we were, my tiny baby girl sitting so bravely in the dentist chair as some man she had never met before tinkered with her mouth. But this had been my dentist since childhood. My parents were friends with him. And I had even babysat his kids as a teen. So there was really no question about who I would trust to treat my daughter’s teeth.

An abscessed tooth is caused by several different things. Obviously, my daughter’s was caused by trauma. The trauma caused an opening to the tooth enamel, leaving room for bacteria to enter and infect the center of the tooth. If untreated, the infection can spread to the bones supporting the tooth.  Basically, the tooth needed to come out. So at 3 years old, my daughter got to experience her first visit to the dentist with a tooth extraction. But this dentist was so kind and gentle, my little girl sat there with her mouth wide open and trusted him to take the tooth right out of her mouth. Of course, the laughing gas and local anesthetic helped in a major way…..

For an extracted tooth, the Tooth Fairy paid up well, leaving her two gold coins, a little notebook, and some smelly pens. And for 3 years my daughter walked around with her adorable jack-o-lantern smile. Whenever classes did silly ice breaker games that involved asking who lost a tooth first, she always won. And when she lost the other tooth, my daughter’s toothless smile became irresistible.

Eventually the tooth did come in. And more teeth fell out and then grew back in. But two stubborn teeth refused to fall out, even though their predecessors were on their way in. The adult eye teeth came in over the baby teeth like vampire fangs. We originally thought that she had two pairs of eye teeth, not realizing that the baby teeth hadn’t fallen out yet. We figured that we would just get the upper teeth pulled when they came in more, and that would be that. But a trip to the dentist proved that the baby teeth were in fact there, and it would be those lower teeth that would have to be pulled out before the adult teeth could be moved into place. And he talked to us about Orthodontics. We set up the first of many appointments, and next Monday my 11 year old baby girl will be getting a mouth full of metal.

The thing that kills me is that, with exception to the wild eye teeth, my daughter’s bite is PERFECT. Not like mine as a kid, my teeth were awful with a gap in the middle PLUS the fangs, and snaggleteeth everywhere. My 8 year old son has teeth worse than mine ever were, and will be helping to fund our dentist’s retirement. But my daughter? If it weren’t for those two teeth she wouldn’t even need braces at all. As it is, she will only need to wear them for 12 – 18 months. All to the tune of several thousand dollars.

Yay me.

Teenage Angst

I was an awful teen. I can say that now that I’m in my 30’s, because I sure didn’t think so then. I thought my parents were idiots, completely clueless about anything in life. I was sassy (to put it nicely) and sullen. I would lock myself in my room all day long just to be on my own. And if they tried to ask me anything, it would most likely be met with a roll of the eyes. The rules they infringed on me were ridiculous. The expectations they had were ludicrous. There was nothing worse than doing things as a family. I’d save myself by plugging into my walkman and zoning out. In my defense, I wouldn’t say I was any different than any other teen. I had two sisters who were just as cheeky as me when I was a teen, but I was just louder about it. So I was always the one who got in trouble.

The result to my difficult teenage years was a rift in my relationship with my dad. He couldn’t relate with me, which made me unable to relate with him. Any conversation between us usually ended up with slammed doors or strong words. He had high expectations of me. I just wanted him to leave me alone. I think the hardest part to all of this was the fact that we had actually been really close before everything changed. To suddenly find ourselves in this canyon was shocking to both of us. I hurt on the inside (though I never let him know) because he was so disappointed in me. His approval meant everything. And because he didn’t approve of this cranky teenager I was becoming, I went out of my way to be worse. I acted like I didn’t care at all. I figured that by “not caring”, I wouldn’t hurt as much. I think I have a clear understanding that he was hurt too.

There was one thing, though, that brought us close together – coffee in the morning. We had a ritual. Every morning he woke up super early to get to work, but would start out with a cup of coffee in the morning over the newspaper. I would wake up early as well to get a cup of Joe. And together we would sip coffee, even occasionally sharing stories in the paper. In those few moments before the rest of the house woke up, it was like time had reversed. There was no rift. Occasionally there was even a mutual truce put up as we talked about the hard stuff. It was when we connected.

Yesterday was my dad’s birthday. Our family all sat around the table at Olive Garden in Rohnert Park, celebrating my dad’s 60+ years. It was amazing to see how full circle we’ve come in our own relationship. My dad is the man that I look to when I think of how a man should be. He’s a great dad, and an even better grandpa. He’s been my kids’ role model and father figure, as he was mine all along.

The reason I write this is because I know there are a lot of parents of teenagers out there that are at their wit’s end with children who have suddenly become something they don’t recognize anymore. It will pass, I promise. Someday you will be able to sit with your child, and know that they are your friend. And that might be hard to see right now. So find the one thing that you DO have in common, and hold on to it. For my dad and me, it was morning coffee. For you it might be something totally different. Whatever it is, let them meet you. If that one small thing is the only thing holding the two of you together for the next few years, so be it. They want you to care. They want you to listen. And they want you to be the constant in their lives. But they just can’t say it. At least not yet.