Girl drama

My daughter is going into 6th grade this year, which means I will have two—TWO—kids in middle school at the same time.  What a fabulous time to be alive.  I’m putting my therapist is on speed dial.

I remember being that age and how hard it was.  Everything is changing, and it’s scary, embarrassing, confusing, exciting,  weird, all of it.  It is all of the emotions all of the time.  It is angst.  It is change—good and not so good; physical, emotional, circumstantial, social.  Side note:  my mom talked with us very openly about puberty changes from a young age, so though I was mortified by what was happening to my body, I wasn’t surprised.  My mom used to always say, “You’re developing“.  Over and over, I kept hearing that I was developing.  God, I hated that word.  I still do—there’s just something about it, the way it sounds in my ears.  Probably because of the subject matter attached to it.  I guess it’s better than blossoming, or flourishing.  Blech.  I have trouble even using it in other contexts, like a developing news story a developing idea, a developing country.  Anyhow, I think I have mostly been using the words “growing” and “changing” in our little girl talks, but my girl has made it clear that she DOES NOT WANT TO TALK ABOUT IT.   She does this by covering her ears and running away, or sliding down in her chair and escaping under the kitchen table at any mention of the subject.  It’s going well.

Side note number two: Why isn’t anyone around me telling me about what’s happening to my 40-something year old body?  It’s equally weird and alarming. I think I’m developing again.  Or maybe un-developing.  Something like that.

Anyhow, as a parent, I knew that once we crossed the middle school threshold that we were in for a bumpy ride.  I was ready for the fact that there would be girl drama.  We girls know all about it, unfortunately.  What I wasn’t prepared for was that it would start so much earlier than I was anticipating.

Right around the middle of the school year in fifth grade, it began.  Tears as she ran off the bus, telling me about how this friend did that, and then that friend told the other friend about it, and on and on, round and round.  The players changed almost every week; I could hardly keep up.  My emotions would flare as she recounted the details, and I wanted to just go over there and give those girls a piece of my mind….

But wait—she was telling me things that did not compute in my brain.  These interactions were happening with her little group of sweet girls that she had been friends with since early elementary.  I have known them all for years.  They come to my house for sleepovers, birthday parties, and playdates.  They wave happily to me in the hallway whenever I happen to be at school.  I love them.

And yet, she is telling me that sweet little so-and so, who I would have thought could never hurt a fly, is pulling these power plays at school.  Or sometimes it’s not that so-and-so, it’s some other what’s-her-name, and I’m just….horrified. Confused.  Starting to relive my own repressed middle school trauma.  I started to check myself (before I wrecked myself, ’cause I’m bad for your health, I come real stealth, dropping bombs on your moms…).  Sorry Ice Cube, I’ll stop now.

I coach Girls on the Run every spring, and I had an opportunity to watch these situations play out first hand.  It was awful.  These girls that I have coached for years suddenly seemed to have zero interest in participating in the running and character building activities, choosing instead to dissociate themselves from the girls not in their social group and divert their attention to whatever social drama had been playing out during the rest of the school day.  I started to see patterns—one girl showing up as the leader of the pack and the others following.  I didn’t know what to do.  Was I supposed to do something?  Would that even interrupt this emerging (developing!) social order?

So I did what I always do.  I bought a book.  A very brilliant book called Queen Bees and Wannabees by Rosalind Wiseman.  Anyone who remembers the movie Mean Girls from 2004 might be interested to know that the movie was based on this book.  With great insight, the author details the sophisticated nature of cliques that emerge (develop!) during the teen and preteen years, with girls falling into very predictable roles:

The Queen Bee:  As the name suggests, the Queen Bee is the leader of the pack.  The popular one. Not only do the other girls follow her, the Queen continually exerts her power over the other girls to maintain her status and keep the others in line.

The Sidekick:  The second in command and the Queen’s loyal subject.  Though she is the Queen’s bestie, she does not have quite as much power as the Queen, and is still subject to the Queen’s authority.  However, together the Queen and the Sidekick appear to rule the social world.

The Banker:  This girl is a clever one.  She manipulates other girls in a way that gets them to confide in her, and then she uses that information in order to strengthen her own social status and embarrass, cause conflict, or kick other girls down the popularity totem pole.

The Floater:  She seems to be friends with everyone, often floating around to several social groups.  Floaters tend not to engage in the power plays going on in a particular group, but they are well-liked, confident, nice to everyone, and sometimes will stand up to the Queen Bee if needed.

The Torn Bystander:  As the name indicates, this girl wants the social status afforded to her by being in the clique and in the Queen’s good graces, but at the same time has internal conflict about doing the right thing.  She will often get caught in the middle of conflict but is too scared to stand up to the Queen, choosing instead to try to accommodate everyone and try to get everyone to get along.

The Pleaser/Wannabee/Messenger:  Wiseman says that most every girl will fall into this role at some point.  Sometimes she’s in the clique, and sometimes she’s not.  The Queen and the Sidekick will often use her in their power plays, getting her to do things like spread gossip.  She is ever loyal to the Queen in an effort to remain in the clique, but she is easily dropped from the social group, which keeps her motivated to do things that will maintain her social status.

The Target:  The one chosen by the queen to be mocked, excluded, and set up to be the victim.  Targets outside of the clique are what the group considers to be “losers”.  They are the Marty McFlys (McFlies?  McFly’s?  Grammar girl, help me!), the Ronald Millers (oh Patrick Dempsey, you were so super cute in the 80’s!), and the Napoleon Dynamites of the social order.  Targets can also be a girl inside of the clique if it is felt that she needs to be knocked down a peg.

As I read Wiseman’s theory about teenage social order and the different roles that girls play within it, I started to see my daughter’s world with new eyes. The next GOTR practice, I watched.  I saw it.  It was painful.  I began to see who was who.  As tearful stories continued to come home from school, I was able to see them through a different lens. And I started to wonder:

“Where do these girls learn this stuff??”  Not from me.  I hardly even have any friends, let alone enough to form this kind of a complicated social structure.  I also wondered, “What is my daughter’s role in her social group, and what is she doing to others to maintain it?”  She can’t be innocent.  Can’t be.  If all of these not-so-little girls that I have watched grow up are capable of these things, surely so is she.  I mean, she is a delightful cherub and all, but still.

My next questions are:  What do I do??  Can I stop this cycle that has been going on in the world of middle and high school girls since the beginning of time?  How do I know what is really going on when I only hear one side of the story?  When do I intervene, and how?  How do I help her?  What do I say?

I don’t know any of it.  I’m only part way through the book because I started reading it in May, which is the worst time of year to try to read a book because of all the end of school year activities, and then I got distracted by another book.  I am sure that there is no easy answer though.  If there were it wouldn’t keep happening, because none of us want our girls to endure such things.

What I do know is something that I could have never known when it was happening to me.  It is all motivated by fear.  Fear of being an outcast, not fitting in, being ostracized, not having anyone to sit with at lunch or hang out with on the weekends.  Fear of sticking out.  Fear of being different.  Fear of setting boundaries.  Fear of what will happen to their own social status if they stick up for someone else.  Fear of the next move in this crazy chess game disguised as a popularity contest.

I can’t make that fear go away.  The desire for belonging and acceptance in a peer group is a developmental need in this age group, just as urgent as the need for parental connection during infancy and, later, the need for exploration, autonomy, and mastering new skills.

If I hadn’t known them since kindergarten, it would be easy for me to dehumanize these girls and say things like, “Never mind her, she is a b*tch and you should stay away from her”.  But remember, we are talking about sweet little so-and-so or adorable what’s-her-face, girls that I know and love and care about.  So I can’t say that, nor should I.  That’s someone else’s little girl and, just like I would want another parent to be able to see the sweet kid behind the newly estrogenized creature that is my daughter were she to do something mean, I have to try to do the same for her friends, enemies, and frenemies.  As to how successfully I am carrying this out, all I can say is that I’m trying.

A parting thought, from the wise Glennon Doyle (you guys all know she is my favorite):

“Horseshoes are better than circles.  Leave space.  Always leave space.  Horseshoes of friends > circles of friends.  Life can be lonely.  Stand in horseshoes.

I think it can take years for us to unlearn the social hierarchy we find ourselves caught up in during our teen years.   I think some people never unlearn it, and continue to create drama and circles, gossip and outcasts.  If I am to be honest, I think that one of the reasons that I self-identify as an introverted, slightly awkward, party-averse kind of gal is because of some of my own baggage that I carry from growing up and coming of age.  I can tell you that I am all of those things about myself and it protectively excludes me from being subject to any pecking order that some person or group may try to impose on me.

But I like the idea of horseshoes instead of circles, and I am trying to teach this concept to my daughter.  I would join a horseshoe. Maybe not if it was a big horseshoe party because, you know, baby steps.

I don’t know if hearing this message from me will be as powerful as the need to fit in within her peer group, but it’s worth a try.  And maybe, just maybe, if we all do it, do you think it is possible for us to raise a kinder, more inclusive generation of girls?

Maybe. Maybe not. But I’m going to try.

 

 

 

 

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May madness

Is is possible to die from parenting during the months of May and June? Because I think I’m on my deathbed.  You will soon see my obituary:  Tracy W., 1975-2019.  Died from an accumulation of band concerts, field trips, doctor’s appointments, laundry, and yard work.  Survived by her equally haggard husband and two cranky, overstimulated children.

I am a zombie.  A mombie.  I am the walking dead.  I am broke.  I am a victim of noise pollution.  My body hurts.  I fall asleep the moment I am horizontal.  I want to eat things but I don’t want to have to make things to eat.  People keep saying words to me and it’s just too much.  I can’t be expected to listen to all the words.  All talking should cease after 7 pm so that the swelling in my brain can recede before morning.

My mind is a swirling tornado of information, mental to-do’s, plans for tomorrow/next week/next month, shopping lists, and fantasies of spending a whole day on the couch doing nothing.  I am physically unable to be in all of the places that I am required to be.

Last week my husband had to go to a training on Wednesday night.  Now, Wednesday night is our run-around night.  My daughter has dance from 6:30-7:30 pm, and my son has karate from 5:30-7:30 pm.  Usually the hubs and I divide and conquer, but last week I was on my own.  So, no biggie, it’s just one week, I got this.  Jeff was able to take Nate to karate on the way to his training, so I took Leah to dance, and my plan was to hang around during her lesson and then swing around and pick Nate up on our way home.  WELL.  They put a new Home Goods store right next door to the dance studio!  I had brought my computer and planned to get some bills and banking done, but then I said to myself, “Self, here is an opportunity for self care.  Let us go browse in Home Goods and we will declare this activity to be self care“.

So I had just passed the ottomans and was looking at the drapes when my phone rang.  It was Nate.

“Mom, my blue belt graduation ceremony is happening right now.

“What??  I had that on the calendar for tomorrow!”

“No, it’s happening NOW!”

“Oh, ok, well……let me check to see if one of the other moms can bring Leah home or, I don’t know…ummm, gahh….”

“Mom, it’s OK.  It’s OK if you can’t come.” (this was sweet of him, but that almost made me feel worse about potentially missing it)

“I’ll see what I can do.  I’ll try my best to get there!”

So I sent a few texts to my fellow moms, but finding a last minute ride for Leah wasn’t happening.  There I sat in the parking lot, feeling terrible, frustrated with myself for writing down the wrong date, impatient for Leah’s class to be over so we could zip over and maybe catch the end of the ceremony.

We blew into the dojo at 7:45 pm.  My heart sank when I saw the almost empty parking lot–we most definitely had missed it.  We ran in the door, and there sat Nate, looking calm, cool, and collected.

“We’re so sorry honey!  I tried so hard to get here but…”

“Oh, it’s OK mom, you were right, it is tomorrow.  Sorry.”  He shrugged nonchalantly, completely oblivious to the stomach ulcer that had been forming within me for the past 45 minutes.

My face is still clenchy from that.  Or maybe it’s not from that, specifically.  Who can know these things, really?  I looked at my calendar, and during May and June we have:

  • 11 Girls on the Run practices
  • 7 dance practices
  • 1 dance rehearsal
  • 1 dance recital
  • 1 DARE graduation (we asked Leah, “What did you learn in DARE?” and she said, “um, I don’t know, I think be nice to people.”  “Didn’t you learn anything about drugs?”  we inquired.  “Oh, yeah, don’t do drugs!”)
  • 1 parade in which all of the DARE graduates wave at the crowd from a float, even though most of them can’t remember what they learned or what DARE stands for
  • 1 moving up ceremony
  • 2 5K runs
  • 2 plays
  • 2 band concerts
  • 3 field trips
  • 2 orthodontist appointments
  • 1 dentist appointment
  • 2 eye doctor appointments
  • 3 haircuts
  • 1 bikini wax (self care!)
  • 3 graduation parties
  • 1 van repair after the automatic door blew a gasket
  • 1 central A/C replacement after the old unit crapped the bed (preceded by 2 appointments for estimates)
  • 1 driveway sealing appointment
  • 1 roof tear-off/replacement
  • one husband who is going back to school full time and has a full summer course load
  • Our 20th anniversary (Honey, I got you a new van door, a central A/C unit, and a roof! You’re welcome!)

And a partridge in a pear tree.

The end.

If you need me, I will be in a padded room.

 

American Eagle, Steve Jobs, and the denim belt

I went spring shopping with my tween son the other week.  I still call him a tween, but in reality he is just a few months away from stepping over the threshold and becoming a full-fledged teen.  He kindly reminds me of this on the regular, and every single time all I can see is a picture in my mind’s eye of his sweet little baby face staring at his mommy in complete adoration.  It makes me want to weep.  Also I am pretty sure I can actually hear my ovaries drying up on their slow journey toward becoming shriveled little raisins.

One of the great things about babies is that you can dress them however you want.  I used to dress my son so cute when he was small.  Most people seem to think that all of the frilly baby girl clothes are the most fun to buy, but after a while the closet just looks like someone vomited Pepto-Bismol onto a bunch of plastic hangers.   Moms of little boys,  I’m here to tell you that shopping for baby boy’s clothes is where it’s at.

Shopping for big boy clothes is decidedly much more complicated.  First of all, there are all these rules.  Probably every boy has a different set of rules, but there is always some kind of code or formula that turns the whole thing into some sort of scavenger hunt.  In order to pass the test when shopping for my son, all clothing must adhere to the following guidelines:

-must be quick dry fabric.  But not the scratchy quick dry fabric, the smooth kind.

-no itchy tags. Even better–no tags at all.

-funeral colors only.  Black, dark black, light black, grey, or a mixture of these are permitted.  Blue is sometimes acceptable.  Neon yellow was acceptable last year but now is eschewed.  Please keep up.

-if there is some kind of visible athletic logo, only Nike is acceptable.  Under Armor–NO.  Adidas–that would be a hard no.

-pants must not have ankle cuffs of any kind.  It doesn’t matter that those cute jogger pants are everywhere and it is difficult to even find pants without ankle cuffs.  No. Cuffs.

Me:  What do you have against jogger pants with cuffs?

Son:  I don’t like them.

Me:  Well, obviously.  But what is it about them that you don’t you like?

Son:  They make me feel trapped.

Me:  They make you feel trapped?

Son:  Yes.

Me:  Trapped….in your pants?

Son:  Yes.

Me:

Son:

With that all sorted out, we set off on our quest to find quick-dry athletic clothing with no tags and no cuffs in drab colors, that would also somehow fit a man-sized boy who is all arms and legs and sharp angles with a waist size that would make a Victorian woman in a double corset jealous.

Shopping this year turned out to be even more challenging than usual, because the boy is in this awkward in-between phase where he’s too tall for the boys section, but hasn’t filled out enough for the men’s section.  Glorious.  I sat in the fitting room waiting area as my son paraded out before me about four different styles of black and grey hoodies, despite the fact that our original intent was to find clothes for spring and summer.  I suppose the black and grey hoodie that he has been wearing every single day since the beginning of the school year needed a refresh.  (Side note to say that if you are one of my son’s teachers or one of his friend’s moms, I promise you I wash the sweatshirt in question regularly, and he has a few different pairs of the same/similar black pants.  So I know it looks like he never changes his clothes, but it’s not so much of a poor hygiene situation as it is a Steve Jobs situation).

Anyhow, during the American Eagle parade of hoodies, one of the other dressing room doors opened and out walked an adorable teenage girl with long, colt-like arms and legs.  She turned to her (very youthful looking) grandma and said, “Do you think this looks too big?”

If I were a cartoon character, my eyeballs would have fallen out of their sockets at that point and I would be groping around uselessly trying to retrieve them so I could pop them back in.  I am telling you:  if the denim miniskirt this girl was trying on were any smaller, it would be a belt.  You could tell this wasn’t grandma’s first go-round with a teenage girl because, instead of answering the question, she very cautiously said, “You’re going to wear shorts underneath that, right?”  Like she knew that the inevitability of an automatic sale would shoot up if she were to respond by saying, “That is ridiculously short.  There is no way you’re wearing that!” The girl didn’t answer grandma’s question about the shorts either, crafty as she was,  but instead surveyed her reflection wearing the tiny little skirt from all angles before disappearing again into the dressing room.

This is where grandma and I locked eyes and, without a word spoken, had a moment of sisterhood.  I could see how she had blazed the path that lay before me, come out the other side, and had now brought the wisdom of our foremothers to this moment.  As my boy came out in another black hoodie, she gave an almost imperceptible nod that seemed to say, “I know.  He wears the same thing all the time.  Boys are like that. Don’t worry.”  I, in turn, lifted up a quick prayer asking for strength for the girl’s mother, who I am certain would rue the day she allowed grandma to take her daughter shopping for spring clothes, only to find that she came home with a denim belt.

 

Middle school: The purgatory of parenting

January is really the most un-wonderful time of the year.  The weather stinks, I’m still tired from the holidays, AND it’s that very awkward and terrible time when all of the Reese’s peanut butter trees are no longer in the store, but it’s too early for the Reese’s peanut butter eggs to come out.  I sat in the parking lot outside of a Five Below last week and wondered–where do all the trees go?  Because all of my local chocolate peanut butter tree selling retailers seemed like they had an abundant supply of them the week before Christmas.  Now there are none.  I can’t figure out the math on that.  Why no leftovers, Five Below?  You didn’t put them back in the stock room for next Christmas, did you?  ‘Cause that’s not fair.  I’m not sure how I will live until the retail stores decide it’s almost Easter.

Speaking of things I may not live through, it occurred to me just this week that in approximately 8 months, I will have two middle schoolers in my home.  TWO MIDDLE SCHOOLERS.  Can’t. Breathe. Must. Eat. Reese’s. Peanut. Butter. Chocolate. Trees.

I know some of you have younger kids, and aren’t there yet.  You are still in the thick of diapers and preschool and early morning wake up calls, and can’t imagine a day when you will sleep past 6 am on a weekend.  Or some of you more experienced parents are far enough away from it that you forget what it’s like, and the pain has dulled with time.  Some things are difficult to fully convey in words, but let me see if I can paint you a picture of these special, special years.

Having a middle schooler is like picking up your mail, casually opening it just like every other day, and then realizing that one of the envelopes had white powder with anthrax in it and now you have a huge crisis on your hands and also probably you are going to die.  And then 10 minutes later everything’s “fine” and the person who laced the envelope with anthrax is sitting on your couch with a headset on, happily playing a video game, while you continue working on your newest hobby which happens to be deep breathing and growing new grey hairs.

Having a middle schooler means that there are lots of tall-ish people with long limbs, big shoes, and questionable hygiene in your house, and you have to feed them pancakes a lot.  And they eat your pancakes but they don’t make eye contact with you.  And they wear a hood for extra protection indoors in case of leaking ceilings or splattering pancake syrup, I am assuming.

Having a middle schooler means that you are no longer funny.  You used to be very funny, maybe let’s say, just last year or the year before.   In fact, you used to be able to make certain people laugh hysterically just by playing peek-a-boo!  But now you’re not funny.  And every time you try to use any humor of any kind, someone in a hoodie yells, “STOP!”.

Having a middle schooler means that you question the very foundations of your education, as you stare mutely at your 7th-grader’s homework on algebraic expressions or some such, hoping to forestall the meltdown that will inevitably ensue should you be unable to not only figure out how to do it, but also figure out how to show your work using a simple 13 step process that, in your day, was a two step process.

Having a middle schooler means that you will sometimes have your sweet baby, who now weighs 100+ lbs instead of 10 lbs, come over to snuggle with you like a fully grown St. Bernard who thinks he is a lap dog.  And you love every second of it, even if his knee is in your spleen.  You don’t even care about your spleen right now, because you know that once the magic passes, your sweet, oversized baby will disappear underneath his hoodie for an indeterminate amount of time.

Having a middle schooler means that you have lots of toys, but no one plays with them.  But they also won’t let you get rid of them yet.  And they are unfortunately old enough that they notice when you try to sneak the toys out of the house to take to Goodwill.  Ah, how you miss the days when they didn’t have object permanence, or even those good times when you could trick them into thinking that if they couldn’t find a certain toy it was because they probably lost it, so maybe they should take better care of their stuff next time.

Having a middle schooler means that instead of dealing with diapers, field trips, potty training, preschool, and playdates, you now must face “crushes”, sex talks, friend drama, eye rolling, snarky comments, and poorly developed sarcasm skills.  You may really want to help them with this sarcasm piece since you know that you are so much better at it, but this is not advisable.

Having a middle schooler means that all important problems, questions, and/or feelings will absolutely need to be discussed at 9:30 PM, when you really thought you were crossing the finish line for the day.

Having a middle schooler means that your child will come home and tell you the things that happened at school, and you realize you have to relive all of the horrible things that happened to you in middle school.  Except now it’s worse, because it is happening to your tall-ish, constantly hungry, hoodie-clad baby.

Having a middle schooler means that you kind of want to call your mom and dad to complain, but you don’t because you’re pretty sure that they will laugh maniacally at you.

Having a middle schooler means that all of the above can happen to you in the span of one day, and just when you feel completely beaten down, you still get to be the soft place to land.

Having a middle schooler means that as bad as it seems for you, you know it’s worse for them.

Having a middle schooler means that you will need lots of Reese’s chocolate peanut butter trees.

 

 

A Midsummer Maternal Airing of Grievances

It’s getting kinda crazy up in here, people.  My children have been out of school for exactly a month now.  We have about 6.5 weeks left to go.  Holy crap, I just looked that up to be sure.  That’s longer than I thought!

I’m trying to enjoy summer with the kids, really I am.  We made our summer “bucket list” in June, and everyone contributed all of their very excellent and creative and expensive ideas about how we, as a family, can squeeze every ounce of fun out of our short Upstate New York summer.  Never mind the fact that in order to execute all of these fun things on the bucket list, both the hubby and I would need to get second jobs to have the money to pay for all the amusement park fees and movie tickets and road trip expenses, and then NOT ACTUALLY SHOW UP TO WORK AT ALL for 4 straight weeks so that we have the time to have all the fun.  Who’s stupid idea was a summer bucket list anyway?  My kids learned about this from school.  They actually came home with a drawing of a bucket that they had colored and cut out, and there was lined paper on the front to write out all the ways that they hoped that their parents would disappoint them over the summer.

Let me give you an example to illustrate how well our family activities are going so far this summer.  This is an actual conversation that occurred in the car today:

Kid:  You know what we should do?  We should go play glow golf!  It’s so fun!  I played it at a birthday party last year!

Other kid:  Yeah!  Glow golf!

Me:  Glow golf?  That sound fu–

Husband (interrupts):  Are you kidding me?  You guys are the WORST to play golf with!  Every time we go golfing you fight over who’s going to go first, and cry if your ball goes in the water, and someone has a meltdown before we even get to the second hole.  NO WAY am I golfing with you guys.

–silence–

So, yeah.

When it comes to parenting and family life, I usually look for the path of least resistance.  Typically, I’m all about keeping things simple, planning in down-time, and not over-scheduling our lives.  Everything with parenting has been feeling really hard and sticky and overly busy and difficult since summer started, and I haven’t been able to get a grip on why that is. Where are you, path of least resistance?  And that’s when it occurred to me.  THERE IS NO PATH.  There may be a path from September through May, but in the summer, the path is hidden under piles of Goldfish crackers (also lovingly referred to as lunch), popsicle wrappers, summer camp schedules, wet bathing suits, and a huge pile of laundry that multiplies exponentially every hour because everyone changes their clothes four times a day.

Let’s talk about the fighting.  Good Lord, please make it stop.  I know my mother is laughing right now and you can just stop it, mom.

And bedtime. Disastrous.  Every night.  I never told them they were exempt from bedtime in the summer.  But they seem to think that bedtime should be optional when school is not in session, so every night is like trying to herd wandering cats.  Listen kids, if you want me to like you in the morning, you need to be in bed by 9 pm.  End of story. Feel free to go at 8:30 pm for bonus points.

Don’t get me started on the mess.  No one can “remember” to hang up their wet towel, or put their dishes in the dishwasher, or put things away.    I told the kids I felt like a broken record, and they were all like, “What’s a record?”

I don’t mean to be melodramatic, but some days it feels a little bit like a house arrest situation.  My guards are short, demanding, prone to mood swings, and hungry all the time.  They do not allow me to have showers or bathroom breaks without supervision.  They follow me everywhere. They interrogate me multiple times per day, often until I am close to tears.  Their main tactics to break my spirit are constant interruptions, talking to me before my morning caffeine load, and repeating my name over and over.  Sometimes I am allowed out of the house to drive them places or to gather additional rations.  Sometimes they bring their friends over to help them make large amounts of noise.

In addition to driving everyone to and fro, the extra laundry, refereeing the fights, getting harassed poolside, and reading the same sentence in my book over and over (see constant interruptions in the previous paragraph!), I also have to make time to prevent summer slide.  I usually don’t even think about summer slide until it is the end of the day, and then it’s too late!  They have already slid.  They are sliding, a little each day, and it’s all my fault.  Today I broke our screen time rule and let them play video games for 2 hours straight because I just needed some peace and quiet and yes, it was glorious for me.

Moms and dads, fess up.  Tell me what your summer looks like.  Not your Instagram version, but the real stuff.  The messy stuff.  We need to talk about it.  I can’t be the only one.