Posts Tagged ‘parenting’

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Planes, trains and boats (and I’m not on any of them)

July 28, 2013

This past week, I put my Emma on a plane.  Ballsy of me, ballsy of her; the whole trip is quite ballsy:

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She is now in Paris.  Navigating the Metro, the Eiffel Tower, figuring out which museums to see.  She’s not with a group or on an organized trip.  It’s just her and a friend, making their way.

I’m not surprised that when she called today, she seemed a bit subdued.  Or that she expressed some concern about finding their way outside of Paris to Versailles “on their own.”  (her words.)

They’re staying with family friends, so they aren’t completely adrift, but I think that having this time to plan, to execute, to budget – on their own – is an interesting wake up call.  It responds nicely to the exclamations of “I am an adult!  I can make my own decisions!” that were creeping into her arguments before she left.  Arguments for a later curfew, mostly.

She’s not an adult.  One more year of high school, and lots more years to mature.

Yet, I’m happy that we can provide for her an experience that will help her to grow into an adult.

She’s spending a week in Paris, and then a week in the countryside, staying with her friends’ parents’ in-laws.  There, they will hike, they will swim in a lake, they will milk some cows.  And I will be checking my phone, my emails, my growing number of grey hairs, much less.

Meanwhile, the 15 year old is safely ensconced in her remote overnight camp for a month.  Well supervised, well sunscreened, and beautifully cut off from internet and television:

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Last year, David and I fell down on our job of sending her letters from home.  At her camp, each “session” is two weeks, and we are allowed to visit on the mid-point day.  Before I knew it, the first session was almost over, and I hadn’t sent her a SINGLE letter.  This was horrible.  Wretched.  Terrible.  Bad.  We started getting letters that said “why haven’t you written me?” and “I can’t believe I haven’t gotten even ONE letter?  Is everything okay?” We did better after that, but it didn’t reduce the scarring.  (Fortunately, she was having a fabulous time, and this didn’t impact her experience … but it gave her a LOT of ammunition to complain.)

This year, we’re working to fix it.  We sent her postcards from the town right outside the camp on the day we dropped her off, and we’ve been alternating letters and packages EVERY DAY since.  And we EACH send something every day.  I’m hoping I can erase her memories of last year.  I’ve sent her, so far, temporary tattoos, a purple pen, nailpolish, stickers for her nails, and 2 letters.  David has sent her books.  I have some other little trinkets to send over the next few weeks.

As I’ve said here before, my kids are theatrically inclined.  They do musicals and plays, and Emma is now in the high school’s [very competitive, not that I’d brag] Improv Troupe.  Julez’s camp does a musical, too.  They work on it for the full month, and perform during the last week.  Last year, the musical was Seussical, and she was the Cat in the Hat.  This year, it’s The Little Mermaid, and she wrote to say she is Sebastian, the …. lobster?  Sadly, because her camp is 3 hours away, and on an island that can only be accessed by a boat; and because parents simply aren’t invited – we can’t see this musical.  But I take solace in knowing that I will hear the songs for months, during Juliette’s showers.  So I’ll have some sense.

David and I are enjoying our temporarily empty nest.  I’m on the verge of very intense trial prep, but so far things are under control enough that my weekends are untouched.  Yesterday we went and saw TWO movies, and then had some quick, cheap, delicious tacos for dinner out, and then came home and watched West Wing for a few hours.  Wild and sexy, us two.  Today I’m thinking of organizing my home office, so that perhaps one day it will be at the point where I don’t feel that I need to close the door and hide it from all visitors.  We’ll see how that goes.

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Christening

March 17, 2013

“Oh having teenagers has been so EASY lately.  I haven’t had any trouble with them at ALL.  They’re so well-behaved, and respectful and WHOLESOME.”

Ha ha ha.  Joke’s on me.

We had a kerfuffle last weekend.  Oh yes, we did.

I suppose it’s not something I should post onto the internets, especially since I told my daughter* that she should keep her own mouth shut about it, and explained to her that I haven’t told my friends (who are parents of her fellow students) the details of what happened, lest they decide that their kids shouldn’t hang out with my kid anymore.  So now I will be cagey.

Except to say — I haven’t talked to a single adult about her lapse in judgement who hasn’t chuckled, remembering their own, very similar, story.  And also to say – no one was harmed, in any way, during this little dalliance of my daughter’s.

Oh!  Total subject change, not at all related to anything that happened in this house:

When I was a Junior in high school, my parents were pretty strict.  I didn’t go out that often, but every now and then, I managed to convince my parents I should be allowed to have a social life.  One particular weekend night, I told my mom I was going to my friend Missy’s house.  Instead, a group of us went to a party at someone’s house whose parents weren’t home.  We were having a lot of fun (in my memory, I wasn’t drinking).  I didn’t want to stop having fun to get home in time for my  11 p.m. curfew.  So I called my mom to “tell” her that I was sleeping over at Missy’s house.  My mom — clearly not a stupid person — said “the hell you are” and insisted that she was coming to pick me up – right now – at Missy’s house.

Oops.

So I got someone to quick drive me to Missy’s house, which was not even in the same TOWN that I had called my mom from.  I was very nervous, thinking I wouldn’t make it there in time.

I got to Missy’s house before my mom.  Of course, Missy wasn’t there.  She was still at the party.  But Missy – like most of us – had a relatively long driveway that went down a hill to her house.  So I stood at the top of it to wait for my mom, hopefully keeping all of this out of Missy’s parents’ view.  She showed up, kind of angry, I got in the car, and we went home.  She didn’t ask to talk to Missy’s parents, and Missy’s parents didn’t know that she was there at all. Also – (key point here) – my parents didn’t socialize with my friends’ parents.

 

Advice to those of you with younger children:  socialize with your kids’ parents.

 

 

* The older one, thank God.  I don’t know why it feels so appropriate for a Junior in high school to be fucking up in the particular way that she did, whereas if it was my Freshman, I’d be looking into military school or something else equally extreme.  Those two years make a big difference, in turns out.  When they’re Juniors, you can’t help but to acknowledge that these follies are only a foreshadowing of the college years, which are not far away at all.

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Those Dreaded Teen Years

October 23, 2012

When my girls found out that they made the musical, they both called me.

Em is 16.  Jules is 14.

And I was their first phone call.

This makes me so happy.

When I tell people that I have a 14 and 16 year old, they wince.  They recoil.  “Oh, you poor thing,” they say.  And I always say, “no, it’s good!”

And it really is so good.

There’s no doubt that they’re more independent than they were when they were smaller.  Our relationship is definitely different.  But they do not have an attitude with me.  They are not rebellious.  Both of them still cuddle up with me, and they tell me about their days.  They talk and talk and talk about things that happened in class, what went on in volleyball, how things are going in crew.  They talk to me about decisions they need to make, challenges they face.

They don’t talk to me so much about their social lives.  They don’t tell me kid-gossip (except occasional HUGE things).  Which is fine.  I’m not a teenager.  I don’t need to know who is dating who and who yelled at who, etc.

And it’s not just me.  They are this way with David, and they are this way with each other.  Emma was so happy to tell her sister the news about the musical, and they are both so happy to be in it together.

The other day, Em’s class went on a field trip, and ended up in a cannoli shop (very educational, I know).  I knew that cannolis are one of J’s favorite desserts, but when Em texted me to say “guess what I’m doing!”  I was in the middle of something, so responded with a “that’s so cool!” or something like that, but didn’t go on to remind her about her sister.  But a minute later, Em texted me a picture of the cannoli to-go box with the note, “I got some for J!”  And then she carried that damned box around for the next hour or so, just so that her sister could have her favorite treat.

This school year has been pretty intense for both girls, which has contributed to the time we all spend together and at home.  When Em was a freshman, it was a big transition, but the school work was just so-so.  For J, the school work has been a HUGE step up  from 8th grade (a welcome huge step up, in my opinion).  And Em has AP classes, and they both have sports.  The result has been a lot less social time on weekends.  In fact, a couple weekends ago, J came to me very upset because she kept telling a close friend “no” to requests to hang out, and she felt bad.  But she had homework, and tests to study for and auditions to prep for, and she really didn’t feel that she could hang out.

I know I still have years to go, and things may fall apart.  But every day I am grateful that my girls are going through these teen years without some of the issues that I know are out there.  Issues I had as a teen.

Geez, when I was a teen . . . I honestly used to bait my mother with my attitude and my snarling remarks to try and force her to blow up at me.  I liked having that control.  Now – to be fair – my mother and I were locked in power struggles over freedom and other issues in a way that my girls and I have not been.  I didn’t do just for fun.  I did it in response to being forcefully limited in friendships and associations based on religion.

And even without that kind of extreme (or something even more extreme), I know there are a lot of teens who are just basically disengaged.

And I’m very grateful.

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Drama on the Home Front

October 22, 2012

In some ways, I feel like I would have used this as a post title in the past.  I know I’ve used similar.

The nutshell:  In elementary/middle school (my girls were in a K-8 school), my kids were in plays.  And they were successful.  They had lead roles.  Because they enjoyed it and did well, I decided that it would be the way I gave back to the school.  So in my last year of law school, I offered to be a “parent volunteer coordinator.”  By the end of that year, I was a producer.

One of the best experiences of my life.

And I did that, and got to know kids and parents and processes.   I felt like what I learned as a producer informed my experiences as a lawyer.  I learned how to deal with people, how to deal with my own failings, how to rein myself in, how to deal with people, how to convince people to do things they *really* didn’t want to do.

And my girls kept thriving.  They got great roles, they enjoyed the social aspect, they had self-confidence.

Then Emma got to the high school and … well.  They didn’t cast her in any shows.  She did other things, she was resilient.  her sister – still back in the K-8 school – kept getting lead roles.

Then it was Juliette’s turn to go to the high school.  She ended her 8th grade year as the lead in Anything Goes, and she was strong in that role.

I was worried.   It might be bad to admit that I was worried that after Em was rejected for 2 years that Jules would get in to the show, and Em would feel deflated.  Now, Emma has been just — amazing.  She hasn’t been shattered by the decisions not to let her in.  She’s shrugged and said, “I just wasn’t a good fit.”  Last year, she was sad. But she spent the summer doing different acting things, and she has been really strong with crew, and she’s been fine.

But as auditions came up, it was clear that Emma wanted in.  Juliette also wanted in, but after having seen her sister struggle to get in for 2 years, she wasn’t so confident.  She was looking at the Freshman Play as her better chance.

I was really unhappy that auditions took place during my week of travel.  I stayed in touch via phone and text, but I hated being gone.  With auditions on top of sports, the girls were out of the house until 8 and 8:30 p.m., and then got home to eat dinner and do homework.  One one of the audition days, David told me that J was up until 12:30, and E until 2 a.m.

After Freshman Play auditions, J found out pretty quickly that she got a callback.  She was so very excited, and really energized.

A couple days after musical auditions, both girls found out they did NOT get call backs.  Jules wasn’t too surprised, Emma was looking at the bright side (“now I can focus on crew!”).  Emma also said, “well, the policy is that no callback doesn’t necessarily mean you won’t get a part.”  But I said that to her last year when she didn’t get a call back, and she told me I didn’t know what I was talking about.  (Hmpf.)

Then Jules went to the Freshman play callback, and felt like it went really well.

I got home Friday night, and Jules was a ball of nerves starting then and through the weekend.  “What if I don’t get in?  I really want to do the play! What if I don’t get in?  I might not get in.”

I was encouraging.  Reminded her of her past successes.  Told her I really thought she’d get in.

Monday rolled around.

Mouse didn’t get in.  She texted me, and said she was really sad.  Friends of hers did get in, and she didn’t, and the musical callbacks were the following day, and everyone was a buzz, and she had nothing.

When we were all home that evening, she just dissolved.  She cried (she doesn’t do that so often).  She was very, very sad.  I gave her hugs and let her sit on my lap (which is hard, considering I’m 5’6″ and she’s 5’8.5″).  I wiped her tears, and held my tongue when I thought things like, “it’s good to learn how to do deal with disappointment.” and “well, we still really don’t know about the musical.”  I just let her cry and told her I knew that she was very, very sad.

That was Monday night.

Tuesday a.m., she had the puffiest eyes in the world.  She went to school, still a little glum.

I started to get nervous on Wednesday because she was still glum, even a little snippy.  I didn’t want to see her get into a funk.  We started talking about her doing Volleyball on a private “club” team this winter, since she didn’t have a sport or drama.  She was game, and I thought we’d be okay.

Thursday was my big arbitration, as I mentioned.  I debriefed with colleagues, and made my way to the T station with a friend.  As I was descending the escalator at 6:15, my phone rang.  It was Emma.  She never calls, always texts.  A friend of mine recently told me that HER daughter was crossing the street and got HIT BY A CAR.  So I freaked out.  I answered the phone with “are you okay?!”  First there was nothing on the other end.  Then some yelling.  I got even more nervous, and said again, “are you okay??”  My friend was getting nervous.

“O MY GOD, MOM! THE CAST LIST IS UP AND ALKJKLJHOUWINBEOJN”

“Wait, Emma, what?!?”

“The cast list!  For the musical!  It’s up, and Juliette and I are BOTH ON IT!!!”

I then came back with “ARE YOU KIDDING ME!?” and then had to give my friend a thumb’s up, and she was very nervous that my daughter was dying or something.

So I asked Em if she knew if Jules knew, and she said no – Jules was at Volleyball. It was 6:35 then, and we thought Juliette was a volleyball practice, there at the school.  So Emma decided to stay at the school and be there when volleyball ended so she could be the one to tell her sister the news.

I went underground, and chatted with my friend, grinning like mad.  This was such great news for my girls.  It was so great for Em, after years of trying and being told no, and it was great for Jules to be so happy and so rewarded after such a low thinking she hadn’t made either show.

I got back above ground at 6:50, and my phone INSTANTLY rang.

“MOMMYMOMMYMOMMYMOMMY!!!”  It was Jules. But it wasn’t 7, so I didn’t know if Em had gone into the practice and interrupted, or what?

No.  Jules was at an away game.  Poor Emma was sitting there outside the gym waiting and doing her homework on the floor for NO REASON.  Juliette was on the bus, and a friend texted and told her “The cast list is out!  You are on it!”  And she [again] cried with happiness.  Then she called me.

I ended up texting Em to tell her that J found out.  She knew already, but asked, “please don’t tell Davey?”  So I quick texted David and said, “can you please play dumb with Emma?”  Because OF COURSE I told him the moment I found out!  But she was bummed that she missed telling her sister.

So I got home that night to 2 girls that were just exploding with happiness, and me on a huge high after the positive arbitration, and . . . wow.

Such a happy house.

 

 

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Major Shift in Household Duties

July 2, 2012

Gulp.


David started a new job today.


Guess what I have to do tonight?  I have to cook dinner.*

I make much of the fact that I don’t cook, and that David does.  My girls make much of that fact; David makes much of that fact; my parents make much of that fact.  My home-friends roll their eyes at me (in jealousy).  My work friends either do the same as my home-friends, OR they are in the same boat.  (It’s not as unusual as you’d think for female attorneys to have partners who either work from home, work part-time, or stay at home caring for kids, etc.)

I know for most people, needing to cook about 50% of the dinners in their house wouldn’t be a big deal, or it would be, because they would get to STOP cooking the other 50% of the time.

Before David was in my life, I cooked all the time.  I cooked all the time while I was a stay-at-home mom to babies and toddlers; I cooked all the time when I was a working single mother.  The shift from being an at-home mom to a working single mom came with a shift in meals.  The girls’ memories tell them that we had Amy’s Mac & Cheese for dinner every night.  The reality is that it was our Friday night meal.  But I did definitely get into ruts.  I had several meals that I cooked often, if not once a week.  But they were years where the girls were pickier eaters.  When I did try something new, rebellion ensued.  I remember a certain eggplant dish in particular …  (although, to be fair, I also found that dish to be inedible).

When David and I were dating, back in California, he would come over and cook dinner for us a couple of times a week.  We were all Very Impressed.  They were great nights.

When David and I took the plunge and moved across the country together, we shared cooking duties and grocery shopping duties.  For a while.  I think I wheedled my way out of my turns shopping sooner into the cohabitation than I managed to get out of cooking — but eventually he was doing it all.  And at the time, he was working full time, and I was in law school.

When we were sharing the cooking, the deal was that he would cook and I would clean.  I don’t remember when even THAT stopped.  But it did.

At one point, when he was doing all the cooking and shopping, but I think I was still pretending to clean up after dinner, I started doing his laundry.  He had been doing his own, and I would do mine and the girls’.  But I saw that he was getting the very short end of the stick, and so I said I would do his laundry, in an attempt to even things out.

But then, I stopped doing that.  He does his own laundry now.

All this to say — This change is happening now that he is going back to full-time work, but it really has been long overdue.

Now I’m back to perusing recipes, looking for inspiration.  I need inspiration that is quick, simple, and healthy.  Not easy to come by.  But I think I can do it.  I’m going to have to acclimate myself to our grill — I’ve used it a few times, but I don’t know it well.  I’m also going to force David to eat a lot more fish than he prefers.  Because Mouse is a vegetarian, and I’m not really down with the “cooking two versions of everything” method that David has adopted.

Tonight, I’m making tilapia with garlic and lemons, and roasting some broccoli.  Because I am doing a low (or no) carb thing right now, and because they really ought to be contributing to the household, especially since they’re home all day lazing about, AND because they’re picky as all get-out, the girls are making their own sides.  Mouse is baking a potato, and Lemon is making herself a vat of rice.

And while I’m trying – really I’m trying – to get back into work-mode, I’m instead perusing more recipes. Would love to hear about any that are quick, simple and healthy.  Cheap doesn’t hurt, either.  (I know, I want everything!)

* Drafted this post at work, just now posting.  First dinner was a HUGE success.  Girls loved the fish and broccoli – Mouse made herself a baked potato, Lemon made some steamed rice, David and I had double portions of broccoli.  All plates were clean.  Hooray!

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Our Final Days on Vacation.

July 1, 2012

Yeah, I missed out posting Days 5 and 6.  I have less photos, because the days were a little less cooperative.

Day 5:  We planned another field trip day, and the weather was hot hot hot.  We had been lucky all week with temps in the low 80s, and on our first field trip day, mid 70s.  But then on Thursday, it shot up into the 90s, and we all wilted.  The hurricane in the atlantic (Debby) had caused some rip currents, so we weren’t too upset about not being on the beach.  The thing Lemon really wanted to do was to go and see the site of the Wright Brothers’ first flight:

“It’s only a model.”

“Da Plane!  Da Plane!”

(As if someone else wouldn’t have come up with it if they didn’t.)

The markers indicate the first 4 successful flights.  The 4th is pretty far out into the sweltering field.  We did not visit the markers.

This was on a hill.  The hill was higher than it looked.  And it was HOT.

Monument, with a Wright Head.

Mouse, however, was miserable.  “This is all the things I hate!  Museums and airplanes!”  I gave her permission to give the Wright brothers (and the first planes) the finger, but she just glared at me. Like this:

Oscar the Mouse.

“Stop taking my picture!  I am miserable! I am sweaty! I am bored! Stop!”

So, we went to Five Guys and gorged ourselves on fries.  Then we went home, and the girls played games while David and I read books.  It was nice.

Our last day at the beach was also a bit lackluster.  It was due to be another scorcher, so we planned to get up & out earlier than usual, by 10 a.m.  (Oh, the torture that represents for a nearly-16 year old!)  But when we got to the beach, very soon after our planned time, we were greeted with a very rough sea, high winds, and pelting sand:

We went in the ocean for a bit, anyway, but it lacked the serenity of days past.  So we tried to take advantage of the wind, and fly some kites:

Lemon had some success, but Mouse’s broke.  So we tried to read for a while, but the sand was pretty sharp.

So we packed up by noon, and went and watched Brave.

Seriously, I started tearing up at the opening scene!  The opening scene!  When the mom was chasing her little girl around to tickle her, and they were so sweet.  I was all, “my girls used to be that little, and we used to chase around to tickle, and they used to giggle like that!”  And then later,  I cried more.  Then, when it ended, I sobbed.

Mouse laughed at me, but Lemon also had some heart-wrenching.  (I can’t say when, because it’s kind of a spoiler.)  But then, in perfect Lemon form, she picked on the premise afterward.  God, cartoon characters are so illogical!

Then we went home and packed, and we ate yummy foods, and we packed some more.  I found myself pretty sad about leaving.  Even though I was also ready to go.  I was sad to go.

I soothed myself by choosing next year’s house in between loads of laundry.

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Cost-Sharing

April 6, 2012

A dilemma!  I will ask the internets!

When both my girls hit 6th grade, I bought them a laptop.  David and I are laptop people, and we don’t have a central place in the house for a desk top.  It seemed like the right option, and theoretically, I haven’t really regretted that choice.

But being a Mac family, it was no small investment.

Lemon has now had hers since 2007, and Mouse since 2009.

Lemon’s shows some wear.  It’s clunky, it keeps running out of space.  It’s not that much newer than mine, which I just replaced this year.

Mouse’s, however, still seems so new.  It’s a white one, but the smaller, sleeker shape.  It always seemed faster, lighter, smoother.

A couple of months ago, Mouse had some friends over.  They were in her room, hanging out – every now and then you’d hear uproarious laughter – as per usual – no big deal.

But after they went home and she dug into her homework, she called me in — “Moooooommmmmm?  Something’s wrong with my computer.”

In the top right corner of her screen, there was a big smear, and a couple of lines coming out of it, running down to the bottom of the screen.  My first thought – “Did you spill nail polish remover on it??” (she’s addicted to doing her nails)  “No!!!”  I looked again, and couldn’t tell it wasn’t a surface issue, it was something else.  “Did you step on it?”  No.  “Did you drop it?”  No.

“Well, I guess your screen is messed up.  You’ll live.”

Yes, I am a very sympathetic soul.

But over the next few weeks, the computer revealed a few other problems.  The trackpad wasn’t working so well — hers is the kind where the whole trackpad is smooth, and you’re supposed to be able to click anywhere on it.  But she couldn’t.  There was only one spot where she could click that it would work.

Then, it seemed like the screen casing had come apart (on the opposite side of the smear on the screen).  The screen would go white, unless you pinched the screen at a certain spot.

Then, nothing would work unless you pinched the screen – not the trackpad, not the keyboard – nothing.

Then, the trackpad wouldn’t click at all.  This development happened during my first week of the new job, and it was the first time that the computer seemed to have been rendered useless.  My solution at the time, so that the computer was not useless while she was working on a large school project, was to go to the Apple Store and buy a mouse.  We then used the mouse to navigate to the settings, where we made the touchpad tap sensitive, rather than needing to click down on it.  Then we didn’t need the mouse anymore.

My intention was to return the mouse within 14 days for a no-questions-asked refund.  However, it is sitting on the shelf in my living room, laughing at me.  (Through the box.)

Well, this week, the screen-pinching became ineffective.  The computer was again rendered useless.

Throughout these months of the decline of the computer, David and I have been pretty unsympathetic to Mouse’s plight.  We KNOW she dropped or stepped on the computer.  She can swear up and down as much as she wants that she did NOT!  It was safe, she took care of it!  But we don’t believe her.  We’ve had too many computers over too many years to believe that a computer was sitting happily and protectedly on its desk and all of a sudden – BAM!! – a giant BLOT appeared on the screen, and all of the internal parts seemed to stop working AT THE SAME TIME.  No.  The computer was dropped or stepped on.

Her room is a mess.  She has clean and dirty clothes all over her floor.  Even though she has a desk and a beanbag chair, she does everything on her bed.  Her nails, her homework, her internet surfing, and despite the rules, snacking.  So she finishes her homework or her surfing, and she shoves her computer aside.  Her friends come over, they sit with her on the bed, they chatter and do their nails on her bed, and someone shifts to the right, and BOOM – the computer’s on the floor, on the corner, creating a blot.

OR — she puts her computer on the floor, and then takes off a shirt.  She throws the shirt.  It lands on the computer.  She cannot see the computer.  She steps on the shirt — “what’s that cracking noise???”

These behaviors are things that we work all the time to curb.  It’s like talking to a concrete post.  Seriously.  She has to spend at least 30 minutes a day cleaning her room, and I go check on her room, and it looks fine, and then 30 minutes later — the place exploded again.  David likens her room to the Charlie Brown character PigPen.  It’s like a dirt magnet.

Anyway.  David took the computer to the Apple Store.  They took one look at the blot on the screen and said, “Oh, that’s an impact point.  This has been dropped.”

An aside:  They also thought the trackpad issue was related to consistent overheating of the computer, causing “bulging” that pressed against the trackpad and kept it from working.  That annoyed me.  David said, “we need to make sure she doesn’t watch videos on the computer, because it’s overheating it.”  Look, she shouldn’t be watching videos on her computer. It’s not why she has a computer, and when they watch t.v. on their computers, I get VERY ANGRY, because we have t.v. rules in this house, and you don’t just get around them by watching whatever you want whenever you want on your computer.  HOWEVER – she should not avoid watching videos because otherwise her computer will overheat and bulge.  Isn’t that Apple’s problem?  Isn’t that — wrong?  I mean, everybody buys computers these days assuming they can watch videos – whether t.v. shows, movies or youtube videos – on their computers.  What the hell?

Okay – enough of that aside – let’s get back to blaming Jules.

Total estimate?  $530.

$530.

Before David went in, we decided that we would fix the computer if it came in between $300 and $500.  To me, $530 fits into that range.  Which is weird, right?  Why make the range if you’re going to just say “well, close enough.”  But it was how I felt.

But one of the items on the list was to replace her keyboard.  Because she’s picked a few keys off.  I said NO WAY.  We aren’t paying for that.  She PICKED THE KEYS OFF.  She can keep them off.

So, great.  $440 is the new estimate.  (At least now we’re really within our range.)

We left the computer behind, and hope to see it again soon.

But now what do we do?

The child is 13.  She does not have a job.  She does not babysit.  She gets an allowance – when I remember – of $40/month.  She doesn’t spend it well, and never has enough money.  We’ve been working with her on the fact that she wastes her money on candy at CVS (amazing that the child is as ridiculously thin as she is), and then wants to go to the movies with her friends and comes to us with her hand out.  Or they’re all going out to lunch, and she doesn’t have money.  I am a sap.  I will hand over the 4 $1 bills in my wallet.  David is not a sap, and will not.  I am (pre computer) increasingly less of a sap, especially with Ye Olde Pay Cut.  (Goddammit.)  I’ve been a bit more intentional about the allowance situation.

So what do we do about the $440?  If we make her pay it from her allowance, she won’t get allowance again until April of next year.  That isn’t going to work.  If we keep half of her allowance, all of the above issues are just exacerbated.

Do I make her do chores?

What we already did was to set some stricter rules with the computer.  It stays on her desk at all times.  No more using it in the bed.  Desk, plugged in, at all times.  David thinks we should also say her friends can’t touch it, but I disagree.  That’s just an annoying rule with annoying policing requirements put on both her and us.  I think keeping it on the desk will be sufficient.

A friend thinks we should just let this be a wake up call.  Let her know this is her one-time fix, and next time, she’ll need to work something else out.

I find myself wishing we didn’t fix it.  I wish that I took my old macbook from 2006 that was about to explode when I bought my new PowerBook with my severance money, and brought it back to factory settings, and made her use that until the imminent explosion takes place.  But I guess I can hold onto that option in case she breaks it again.

This is what I am thinking about doing:  Telling her that part of why it happened was because of the chaos in her room.  Make her give up this weekend to SERIOUSLY taking care of her room.  I’m talking cleaning out shelves and baskets, cleaning out the closet, going through clothes, shoes, etc.  Making drawers neat and organized.  Getting rid of the crap that this pack-rat child won’t typically get rid of.  And put it on her to keep it that way.  And if she does not, THEN withhold part of her allowance on the weeks that she doesn’t.

This way, we are kind of looking at a solution – forward-looking – giving her an opportunity to earn the repair, but will have set repercussions if she doesn’t do it.

The downside to my plan?

She’ll never do this without me.  I will have to do this project with her.  It will be MY weekend, too.

The upside?

I’ve been planning to do it for months, but just haven’t gotten to it.  Now I can force her to be more engaged in it, and get it really taken care of, and hopefully give her the motivation to keep up with things, through her precious allowance.

David is not going to like it.  He thinks we are spending the $$, she needs to contribute $$.  That she either needs to start babysitting, or cat sitting, or something-sitting to earn money, or she needs to give up at least half of her allowance.  He wouldn’t insist on the entire thing being paid by her, but maybe half.

In the meantime – today is Good Friday, and the kids don’t have school.  I think this is weird.  Even when I went to Liberty Freaking University, I had classes on Good Friday.  I think that the reason is because in my corner of New England, we have a large Jewish population, and we end up with days off from school for a few of the Jewish High Holidays, and to do that and NOT do Good Friday would be … inequitable?  Or maybe it’s because Boston has a large Catholic population, and we just follow their school calendar?  I don’t know.

But the kids have the day off.  Mouse and her friends decided last night to see Titanic 3D.  No one was thinking about the computer (David brought it to the Apple Store on Wednesday) when this plan came up.  I thought to say “Mouse, you don’t have any money, and I don’t have cash on me.”  But then I had the brilliant idea of buying her ticket on line, with her allowance that is due today (payday).  So I did.  David knew about it, said nothing (except, “don’t forget to buy her ticket!”)  They went to the 9:30 show, and David picked them up at 12:30.  When he got home, I’d been asleep for almost 2 hours, and so he emailed me.  I found the email at 5:30 when I got up for my morning run.  “So, wait — she gets to pre spend allowance on a movie — allowance that’s supposed to go toward her computer??”

But but but!!  He didn’t think of it last night!  And we never came up with a PLAN!!

So now we’re working on figuring out a plan.