Posts Tagged ‘teenagers’

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Intensity

April 21, 2013

Right now, the sky is very blue, and the trees are blooming with pink, yellow, purple flowers.  It’s still only 44 degrees outside, but it’s beautiful.  I was happy to have a respite from what we’ve been dealing with during the past week here in the Boston area, to take an hour (or so) for a walk through the hills in town.  Despite living here for almost 10 years, I got lost.  I saw parks I’d never seen, and streets I’d never heard of.  Then I saw them again, because those streets were all called “Circle” or “Crescent” or something else that meant “you are walking in circles.”

A week ago today, I had scrambled to meet the latest in a string of intense and nearly humanly impossible deadlines for work, and got in the car at 11 a.m. to pick Emma up from a race.  She didn’t row in that race, so she was able to leave early.  She got in the car and promptly fell asleep while I drove us to Western Mass., to the first in a string of college tours.

I felt bad leaving Jules behind.  We invited her, of course, but she really didn’t want to come.  She’d done one college tour with us, and said it was just so boring, it made her feel snarky about the school, and she LIKES the school (Wesleyan), so she doesn’t want to feel snarky about it, and she thinks doing college tours when she’s a Freshman will be detrimental to her own process, when she’s ready.  Seemed reasonable, and David was staying home, so she did, too.

However, for the 10 days prior to this trip, Jules had been at home alone a LOT.  Because 10 days before, she got beaned in the head by a softball.  That was awesome.  She called me after softball practice and complained that she had to just SIT there the whole time, because her coaches “freaked out,” and asked her all kinds of questions (what’s your name? what’s your address? what year is it?  who’s the president?), and made her go to the trainer to get some ice.  She said she felt fine.  She seemed fine, although she had a bump on her head.

But then, mid-day on Thursday, she called me to say she felt dizzy and nauseous and couldn’t focus in class.

Then I had a freak-out.  A working-parent freak out.  It was 11:30, my kid obviously had a concussion, and I had a major filing deadline and a court hearing.  I called David, but I couldn’t reach him.  I called the doctor, and they said, “she shouldn’t be home alone, if her symptoms continue to escalate, she could slip into a coma.”  So I promptly closed my office door, sat at my desk, and started to cry.*  David called me back, he left work, he took Jules to the doctor, and hung out with her for the rest of the day, and the next day as well.  And I met my deadlines.  Over the following week, she was able to escalate her activity, and by the time I left on Sunday with Emma, Jules was back to 100%.

So – Emma and I got on the road.  We did one college tour (Amherst College) that afternoon, and drove through 2 other campuses – UMass Amherst and Smith College.  Then we went to my parents’ house, and had steak and baked potatoes and broccoli, and Emma made cookies, and I drank my father’s wine.

Monday a.m., my mom made Emma and I breakfast, and we got back on the road.  First, a morning tour and info session at NYU.  Then, in the afternoon, a tour and info session at Barnard College.

And that’s where we were — on the lawn at Barnard College, standing right outside the library, listening to our tour guide talk about her creative writing class, when my phone vibrated.  I took a peek, and it was an NBC news alert.  “Reports of Explosions at the Boston Marathon Finish Line.”

There was quite a moment of disconnect.  I get news alerts all the time.  Shooting in Colorado, shooting in Newtown (the town next to where I grew up in CT, by the way), earthquakes, actor deaths.  Always somewhere else.  This time it was “somewhere else,” but “somewhere else” was home.  [not to say that Newtown didn’t have that kind of feeling, too.  It did, but still different.]  My brain made some very obvious “clicks.”  Like I could feel them.  Boston.  Home.  Juliette.  David.  I texted J immediately “you okay?”  She texted back “yes, I’m at home” and then instantly called me.  I pulled myself away from the tour to talk to her, and she was a little shaken up because (a) 2 bombs went off 3 miles away from our house, and (b) if her day had gone as she initially planned it, she would have been a block away from the explosions  – shopping on Newbury Street.  If she had been on Newbury Street, she wouldn’t have been injured, but she would have been in the midst of the chaos, and I think it would have been horrible for her.

I had determined not to tell Emma until after the Barnard tour/info session, so she could focus.  But then I blurted it out anyway.  It was a struggle for both of us to listen to the virtues of Columbia’s sister school, and we bickered during the info session when I made her put her phone away.  10 minutes later, though, a woman yelped and said, “I’m sorry to interrupt, but there was a bombing Boston, and I need to leave!” She ran out to call her family.

Emma and I had intended to stay in New York for a couple of hours after the tour, but we were in no frame of mind to wander the city.  We got back in the car and drove to my parents’ house, listening to the news the whole way, where we could watch the news, and try to piece together what was going on.  It was so surreal, and so horrible.

Nevertheless, we were able to focus on Tuesday’s 2 tours/college visits, and were very happy when we got home to be with David and Juliette, and to be back home.  Funny how despite the horror and pain that was taking place at home, we both wished we were there. You’d think we’d be relieved to be out of town, but we were not.

When i got back to work on Wednesday, it was to continued pressure of deadlines, deadlines, deadlines.  Things are so busy in our firm right now, and the vast majority of the 30+ lawyers are working at break-neck speed.  I’m personally not happy with this pace.  I like to be busy.  I like deadlines.  But this has been all-out for over a month.  It’s not ok.

I thought I’d have everything under  control in time for the weekend, though.  My Friday would be busy, and possibly long, but I’d be able to go to Emma’s regatta on Saturday, and I was thinking maybe – just maybe – I could take Sunday off, too.

On Thursday night, David had to work late.  He is managing a campus book store at a nearby college, and they were having a 7 p.m. event.  He left work at 9:15.  but then something happened, and he thought he was going to have to go back.  In the end, he did not. I was exhausted, and knew I had a long day in front of me on Friday, so at 10:30, I went to bed.

At 4 a.m., I woke up to pee.  I looked at my phone and saw 2 seemingly disconnected items (gotta love these NBC alerts):  (1) a campus police officer was shot, a mere HOUR after David left the exact address where it happened, and (2) there were gun shots in another town – the one where we go to Target.  “Weird” I thought, and went back to sleep.

At 5:30, my alarm went off, and then another NBC alert came through:  The T was shut down.  Then the pieces all came together – everything was related, and the world was GOING INSANE!!!  I woke David up, and we were trying to figure it all out – first the big picture, and then how it would impact our days – with sirens going off in the background, with new reports of police activity taking place at one of the neighborhoods that borders our town and Boston, and where I almost NEED to drive, bike, walk, commute through to get to work.  It was feeling very close to home.

How could this be real life?

And I had panic over the fact that one of the deadlines I was dealing with that day was some initial appeal filings in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit.  While federal and state courts in Boston were closing as quickly as the T and the cabs and the businesses, the court I was dealing with is in Philadelphia, and is known to be rather unforgiving when it comes to deadlines.  I was thinking that I would have to drive to work, since I couldn’t take the T.  At that point, my town was not on the list of areas being told to stay inside.  My firm had sent out a robo-call saying that while the office was open, everyone in the areas being told to stay inside should NOT come in, and anyone who takes the T to work was excused for the day.

Then my town was added to the list.

Our managing partner sent an email saying he really wanted everyone home.  Please let him know if you have critical deadlines.  I had to write back with a pretty lengthy email with my 3 critical deadlines.  While I was drafting it, my assistant called my cell, equally stressed about the Third Circuit filings.  Two of the partners (the managing partner and the partner who’s on the appeal with me) wrote me to say “call the third circuit, they’ll give you an extension.”  Then a client called me to say “I know things are crazy there, and you might not be able to get to work today, but what about meeeeeeeeeee?”  I gave him the finger while talking to him as if I gave a shit.

The Third Circuit gave me the extension without batting an eye.  Then they told me that if I’d missed the deadline without calling, the result would have been a letter, along with an extra 2 weeks to get my act together.  Huh.

I worked some for selfish-client yesterday, and again today – but it seems like Friday’s shut-down otherwise took place without the world ending.  I was a little frustrated that we were included in the lock-down zone, because we weren’t THAT close, but then I just reminded myself that they found a BOMB near a T Station that I go through twice a day.  And that’s why we were in the zone.  I thought it was possible that they were keeping us in our houses while they were sweeping the larger area for more bombs.  So I got over my frustration, and took a nap.

At 5:30, though, after a full day of constantly fluctuating news reports and stir-crazy teens, I said, “I’m going for a walk.”  David came, and we slowly strolled around the block.  We live about 2 blocks from the T tracks, and as we were walking toward it, David said, “it’s so weird not to have the train going by” – and then the train went by.  We were surprised, and I guessed they were staging to resume service.

We ran into a couple of dog-walking neighbors (one of which is married to a Cambridge Police Officer, and he was – at that moment – at the apartment where one of the bombers allegedly lived, and where they kept saying they’d be doing a “controlled explosion” – but never did), and another friend saw us out the window and came out to say hi.  While we were chatting with them, we could sense activity picking up; a bus went by, a pair of teens walked by, more people were on the sidewalks.  Then David got a text from work saying they’d be open on Saturday, and we knew the lock-down had been lifted.

It was kind of disappointing that we’d spent the day inside and the 2nd suspect still wasn’t caught.  But it was also nice to be able to leave the house.  A friend texted and invited us over for dinner, and we instantly accepted – happy to be with others, and happy to be out of the house – during this trying time.

And then – more news.  They found that boat, and there were gunshots, and I texted my friend to say “but I can’t leave the TV!”  She responded with “oh, please, it takes 5 minutes to get here!  Come watch with us!”

So we did.  We cooked together, and chatted, and nibbled first while the suspect was captured, and then while we watched Across the Universe (awesome movie) with the kids.

My hope is that this week, things start being calmer.  On all fronts.

*  Crying at work.  A working woman’s scarlet letter.  My tears are often family-related, not work-related.  I think the last time was when David was the one to take Jules to get her braces off.  I wanted to do it.

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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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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.

 

 

h1

Kids + Legal Mumbo Jumbo

March 28, 2012

Mouse’s braces came off today.  One of my favorite things about that was that Lemon was so excited for her.

At dinner, we were talking about Mouse’s arrival at the high school in the fall.  In the context of the girls’ similar appearances, I laughed and said, “Mouse, you should go into the high school as [Mouse] [Suz’s last name], and Lemon, you should stay [Lemon] [Ex’s last name].”  They got a kick of out that.  “Dude!  You look like Lemon!”  “Oh, yeah, we’re good friends, and she even slept over my house FOR THE PAST 15 YEARS!!”  HA HA HA!!  Say the girls.

But then Lemon said, “you know, now that your braces are off, you kinda do look more like me.”  Mouse agreed.

Other funny braces conversations:

Lemon:  “Was it wrong of me to think I looked WORSE when my braces came off?”

Mouse:  “I know!  I thought that, too!”

Me:  “Why?  Like you’re missing jewelry or something?”

[not saying “you know, you do look weird.” because she does.]

Lemon:  “No, it was like my teeth were too big.”

Mouse:  “YES!!! And [a boy] told me to ‘take off those creepy fake teeth’ – and I told him, ‘I got my braces off!'”

Then they were a bit wild, and during the wildness, decided it was the perfect night for a HOMEWORK PARTY!!!!  WOO HOO!!!

These things.  They melt my heart. I want these girls to be friends. And here we are.  It was not always the case.  The middle grade years were hard.  Hatred may not have been an exaggerated term.

But now?  Lemon is having friends over this weekend.  They’re having a Lord of the Rings Marathon.  Lemon and her friends thought, “Hey! It would be fun if Mouse watches with us!”  And they invited her. And she said yes. And they are all excited.

Big sigh.

_______________________

So — Work.

I’ve already made clear that this move from BigFirm to New Firm, which is a “Medium Sized Firm,” has been a great one.  But I just want to talk about it for a minute.  Another minute.  Because I have already talked about it.

In the Big Firms, filing deadlines are stressful events.  You have a senior associate, and a mid level associate, and maybe 3 junior associates.  They are working off a rough outline provided by a partner, or a Partner.  They got maybe 10 minutes of said partner’s time, and hoped against hope they were going in the right direction.  If not — they wouldn’t know until the eve of filing.  Deadlines loom, and still no feedback – but then 12 hours before— feedback!  Rewrite! Not good enough!!  Revise!!

My friends and I would say, over and over “It doesn’t have to be this way . . . ”  we know about deadlines 20-30 days in advance. Why does all the stress happen in the 12-24 hours before said deadline?

But now!  I am at a medium sized firm.  And I have better partner access.  I have more control.

Tomorrow is my second filing.  Last time and this time, I’m home by 6:30 the night before. The brief is DONE.  For real.  I will do a final proof in the morning, before a post-lunch filing goal.

We are golden.  It is remarkably stress-free.

Ahhhh.