Passenger Side

As much as it pains me to quote Wilco, I don’t like riding on the passenger side– particularly when a newly-permitted teen is in the driver’s seat.

When my sister was learning to drive, my mom always made me accompany them. It was awful. I curled up as small as possible in the back seat of the Escort and cranked up my Walkman, but it didn’t drown out them yelling at each other. Nor did it do anything to mask how bad my sister was at working a clutch.  I didn’t get my own license until I was 19, in no small part due to those driving lessons. Oh, and a botched lesson of my own wherein I was taking my mom to the doctor for a post-surgery follow up and she wasn’t supposed to drive and I stalled us out at a four-way stop and couldn’t get started again. That, too, was awful.

(I did eventually master the stick shift on a drive from Indiana to Key West; I had 24 hours to work it out).

I have to be honest, teen-permit-drive-time is the only time I wish we were dealing with visitations from the other parent on a regular basis. I would totally say, “You know, as merely your step parent, I feel unqualified to do this.”

As it is, I shove as much Driver’s Ed responsibility onto CC as possible. Inevitably though, there comes a time when the teen bounds up to me, permit in hand, batting her eyes and asking hopefully, “Can I drive?” I can only say no so many times before I feel like the complete a-hole that I am acting.

At a recent graduation dinner, #3 loudly asked CC to tell her grandparents what a good driver she was.

CC: Meh…you’re okay.

#3: Hey! I’m really good!

CC: How many times have I had to yell at you for rolling through stop signs?

#3: {waving away his comment} Please. There are no stop signs on the way to the mall.

Here’s my latest post on Family Circle’s Momster blog with the tips I’ve learned to make teaching teens to drive more bearable: Driver’s Ed 101:The Parent Edition.

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When Your Kid Isn’t Ready for College

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Have you ever heard the phrase “If you can spot it, you’ve got it”? Basically, it means that many of the thing that annoy us in other people are things that annoy us in ourselves. Things we’d rather not face.

Don’t believe me? Next time someone pisses you off, do a little soul-searching and see what you find.

I had a whole year of spotting things before I could write this post. The judgment I heard from other people, I had it in myself. The maddening, paralyzing fear in my kid- I had that, too. So I saw stuff, and I owned it and worked through it and blah blah blah… and now I have something to say.

Please go read my post on Family Circle’s Momster blog: When Your Kid Isn’t Ready for College.

If You Weren’t Sick Before…

Earlier this spring, both #4 and #5 went home sick from school on the same day. This type of thing happens only when CC is out of town, and then most often on a Wednesday, my longest work day (for the record, snow days work like this too).

I called my sub in to cover me and made it to the middle school in record time. We got home with no hurling, and when they felt up for it, I heated up some chicken soup, pulled out the saltines and ginger ale and joined them at the table.

The nurse had told me more than 25% of the kids were out sick with the bug that was going around.

Me: I like your nurse at the middle school.

#4: Same.

#5: Same.

Me: Whatever happened to “me too”?

[They stare at me blankly.]

#5: The middle school nurse is way nicer than the one at the elementary school.

Me: Yeah, that one scared me. She yelled at me.

#4: Wasn’t that because of me?

Me: Pretty much. You showed me this teeny-tiny spot on the top of your knee where you had poison ivy and I gave you Caladryl, but you neglected to mention that the back of your legs were completely covered with it and festering. Then you went to the nurse.

#4: Oh yeah, I remember that. I though they were bug bites.

Me: Yeah, well they weren’t. She screamed at me when she called. I kept expecting DYFS to show up on our doorstep for like a month.

#5: What’s festering?

Me: Festering is gross, that’s what.

#4: I remember I got poison ivy on my eye one time.

Me: When I was a kid, I got it on my whole face and my eyes swelled shut. It was awful. Though I wasn’t as bad off as my friends. They went to the bathroom in the woods and used poison ivy leaves to wipe.

[They look, horrified, in my direction.]

Me: Yes, I actually knew people that happened to.

[They look, horrified, at each other.]

Me: They got poison ivy really bad. In their … ah… nether regions.

[They both put their spoons down and scoot away from the table]

#5: Julie? Don’t ever say that again, okay?

Me: Which part?

#4: ANY OF IT!!!

*****

With my innate nurturing skills (feed a cold; starve a fever; gross out a bug) both #4 and #5 made full recoveries. #5 and I played an epic game of Monopoly in which we bent the rules and he beat me by ending up with every single piece of property. It was an entirely different win than the one the week before where we bent the rules and he beat me by ending up with every single dollar, and I had to then explain that we couldn’t just “make” new money because that’s how economies collapse.

Meanwhile, I have a couple posts up on Family Circle’s Momster blog.

When you’re a stepmom of teenagers, you have to expand your definition of parenting wins: Treasured Moments

Attempts to teach a reluctant worker the value of a job well done: Hey Kids, Guess What? Money Doesn’t Grow on Trees!

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So, ah… where’s the worst place you ever got poison ivy?