I Feel Sorry For My Daughter

My daughter Lexie takes a beattongueing sometimes, but I don’t think there’s anything I can do to help her.

Here’s the problem. She’s sixteen and has lots of wonderful friends who have boat loads of issues, troubles, stresses and concerns.  I’m not talking the garden variety  problems, these kids have to deal with so much bad stuff.  Some have moronic  moms who stay out at bars all night, then come home  falling down drunk. There are really mean step dads, jealous and greedy step moms and biological fathers who have been missing for years. A lot of times Lexie’s friends are the actual adults in these households. They constantly worry about their little brothers or sisters, they make sure mom gets up and goes to work. and these guys generally have to work and keep up their grades and take care of things at home.

Lexie’s life, our life, isn’t perfect…it’s not even in the same zip code as perfect. But it’s not terrible. She has a beat up car to drive around, clothes, food, a little spending money. Lexie knows how much we love her and how proud we are. She knows Alex and I will get up and go to work every morning and take care of her little brother. So, compared to her friends…she’s got nothing to bitch about.  Several of her buddies have said to me, “I’d give anything to have Lexie’s life.”

But Lexie’s life is absolutely not stress free. There are mammoth pressures on the kid. We expect excellent grades, an excellent attitude and we demand to know where she is all the time. Alex and I screw up constantly because we are human.
There’s a long history of crazy in our family that’s not always easy to deal with.The house is falling apart and there’s never enough money. She has a little brother who can be annoying because he’s a ten year old boy and she has puppy poop to clean up ALL THE TIME. I get stressed out, tense and mean, Alex gets worried about things and clams up. She doesn’t have a closet in her room and there’s only one bathroom for all of us.

But Lex can’t whine and complain to her friends because they just sigh and roll their eyes. They figure puppy poop, a stoic dad and a crappy car are nothing compared to their problems…and they are right….kind of.  Lexie never tells them what’s really upsetting or about the pressure she puts on herself. Because she know, in their eyes, she has no right to complain.

Thankfully she does have a big brother and sister she can talk to. They will listen to her bitch and moan and whine,sometimes.

I  really do feel sorry for Lex because whining about your life and parents is kind of a right of passage. Her friends think her life is shiny and flawless but they are wrong.

As a family we rarely sit around blowing bubbles and holding hands, though this morning, during breakfast we did turn off the lights and  chop open a bunch of glow sticks just to see what kind of shiny mess we could make.



The Power of A Crazy Mom

A cool crazy mom can be a beautiful and terrifying woman. An inspired moment of insanity can remind your children who’s really in charge and that’s a lovely thing. As parents, sometimes we work so hard at remaining sane we forget the importance and power of crazy. As a result four and five year old kids push us around like grocery carts.

We want our children to be happy and healthy and normal and we don’t want them to be spoiled or mean. So we try to be civil and kind and patient…all the time. Maybe that’s not a good thing.  Becaue we don’t want our kids to be nuts so we avoid doing anything that suggests crazy behaviour is ok.

My ex-husband used to call it “the rich glint of lunacy.” I still love that line.

Remember some of the most inspired and brilliant men and women of science, art and literature were toe sucking crazies. So, maybe we shouldn’t down play it’s importance too quickly. But before you start throwing crazy behaviour around like bird seed, remember a little bit goes a long way.  If you’re crazy all the time everyone, including your children, will just shrug, dismiss and avoid you.  They will be unfazed and unimpressed, no matter how off the wall your actions are.  A person who is constantly crazy becomes  boring and bothersome.  (Trust me I know this from first hand experience).

One day I took my children, Jack and Mary, to Burger King. I think Jack was five and Mary was four. We rolled through the drive-in and got two Happy Meals. Back then Happy Meals were a big deal because I was single and really broke. Both the kids were in the back seat. They ripped into the paper bags to check out their toy. ( Nobody opened the toy because I had a rule. They had to eat every bite before they could pull open the plastic bag with the toy inside.)

In the exact same instant, Jack and Mary both started whining and complaining. There was a chorus of “Oh man, what a rip off! We have this toy. This stinks. I hate Burger King.”  This was followed by much sighing and groaning that seemed to go on and on and on.

I could feel my throat constricting with annoynace, disapointment then anger. “Ok, put all the stuff back in the bag,” I said cheerfully. 

“Ok cool!” they started shoving their Happy Meals back together.

“Even the drink?”

“Yup, put it all in the bag,” I smiled into the rear view mirror. “Hand them up to me.”

They put the still warm bags of food into my hand, happy because I was going to return to Burger King and get new toys. A traffic light turned red and I stopped then  I rolled down my window and threw the bags out.

Jack and Mary both gasped but did not speak.

I rolled up the window. “Don’t ever act like that again. Don’t you dare whine about a Happy Meal toy. You understand?”

“Yes ma’am” was all they said and we drove in silence.  Once home, I fixed them peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.

They never whined or complained about a Happy Meal or fast food toy again.

Better still, they shared this story over and over and over  with their younger brother and sister, because it’s kind of scary and thrilling and dramatic. There was no yelling, no abuse, no threatening.. just unmitagated volatility.  And I can not remember a time when any of my children have ever complained or whined about a Happy Meal toy since that summer day nineteen years ago…

Sometimes, a single  act of insanity has lasting power and tells kids there is a line that should not be crossed. And if  they do cross that line, they might be surprised by the results.

Tell me what you think about the story or Happy Meals! Leave a comment or e-mail me at hampoland@gmail.com

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