Dear Parents of College Students

The Clown Motel

The Clown Motel (Photo credit: Great Beyond)

TO MY CHILDREN: THIS IS KNOWN AS SATIRE. DON’T GIVE ME “THE FACE.”

Dear Moms and Dads of College Students,

It’s been a long summer so I need to start this letter with an apology, I feel so badly for all of you.  Believe me, I am going through the same thing with my two, you are not alone. We are all here in solidarity. I’m writing to you today, on behalf of those of us parents who have been through this for a few years already and we want to forewarn you on the things that might be coming around the corner. We had no one to tell us, and believe us, we wish we had, so here is some helpful information, a guide, as you will, for YOU to get adjusted to college life. Let me put it bluntly: This is a phase after freshmen year usually called: YOU CAN DO NOTHING RIGHT.

After that as your child gets older you will all be; ” AS STUPID AS F**K.  Usually it’s the condescending tone of voice, the eye roles, the groans of disgust and the stony faces that will give you a clue. Now? You see them huddled over their computer screens not even acknowledging your presence. “Huh, what, did you say something.” The only question I get asked (think back to grade school) is “What’s for dinner?” What happened to manners? What happened to “NO TEXTING AT THE TABLE?” What happened to “can I help?”

We know nothing, our advice (unwanted) is not listened to and who asked us anyway? Face it people WE JUST DON’T GET IT.  The kids are not “home” they are here to stay as if they were staying at a MOTEL and you, mom and dad are the full-time, 24/7 concierge. What? You didn’t get that message from the college newsletters? Oh, well, right, it’s ASSUMED. Duh.

College students know much more ABOUT EVERYTHING than we do because basically WE KNOW. NOTHING. We are the “older generation” and people like us, well, we just don’t know the same things that they which they have practically learned in training pants. “Sigh (in a condescending tone)  I’ve shown you this on the computer three times already” “I know, I say sheepishly but I forgot, it’s not my fault. I have NO short-term memory.” I beg pathetically.  Deep heaving and annoying sigh, “Oh fine, mom, I’ll show it to you ONCE more but write it down.” At this point, embarrassed and demeaned you say, “Never mind, I’ll google it.” which is what you should do in the first place or called Apple even if you are on hold for two hours. Some things WE need to learn, this is one of them.

Who are these strange grown-ups dropping in at our home? I don’t recognize them this time, I don’t even know their friends who are sleeping in our family room. We want to make our kids happy so of course we say yes to their grown-up sleepovers. My gosh, we are not living in our home anymore, we have become a bed and breakfast, lunch or dinner. More likely, we have become a free-motel. Our warm, compassionate kids have become distant and aloof and self-involved while they haven’t stopped for a second to think about us. Why? Because we don’t exist except to pay the bills and welcome their friends with a smile.

The question begs to ask “who are we?” We are just the same old Mom and Dad that haven’t really changed much compared to their quick minds and independent thoughts. We’re stuck in the mud, while they zoom off to have fun with their new friends, to study what they want and to pop back here to see their old friends when it is convenient for them. We are no longer part of the equation, well, ok, maybe at Thanksgiving and Christmas. Once you accept it, it gets SO much easier.

It’s almost time for them to leave, for them to go back “home” to their suites and apartments in college. They have their own cars now. We don’t have to drive them up like the princes and princesses they are. They can unpack by themselves with the help of their suite mates. They will call once a week, maybe more. And, knowing us, we will be there for them at any and every time because that is what parenting children is about, UNCONDITIONAL LOVE.

Enhanced by Zemanta
Advertisements

Swedish Fish Are Mood Elevators

2.28.09

Image by absenthero via Flickr

Sometimes all we need is a change of attitude. Or a good night’s sleep or the morning light that makes evening’s horrific problems seem not so bad after all. It’s hard to wake up grumpy after nine hours of sleep. My back is a little better so that’s an improvement and I  hear the cardinals tweet their beautiful songs right outside my window. It’s raining but the light gray skies look hopeful, almost as if they were encouraging the sun to come out and play.

I found a diner that serves carrot cake by the slice but ever since I saw it I haven’t been back to buy it. Just knowing its available is good enough, well, until tomorrow when I go back, hand them my cash and run.

Writing about my narrow angled glaucoma last night made me feel relieved. It had never occurred to me to write about it before and I find that strange. I can post about Fibromyalgia but this horror, this reality, had subconsciously become my scary secret.  It’s as if before I had avoided a part of my own reality: I’m scared to death of going blind and the procedures themselves are excruciating. Help me. Please.

Tonight I will break apart the multi-grain French loaf that I bought at the store yesterday, warm it up and eat it with olive oil or butter and a chunk of sharp white cheddar cheese, and honey and that will be my dinner. I will drink diet vanilla Coke out of  a wine glass and celebrate being alive, celebrate yesterday being over.

My headache throbs incessantly and will not go away. Weather? Stress? Fibromyalgia? Life? These days I’m a single mother of two active and self-involved teenagers that dance around me. There is no real communication or help, because they are only concerned about themselves and their private worlds of friends.  I lost it today, saying I was not “their maid” and they need to help out. At 16 and a half and almost 18 and a half they should really know better but they don’t. Age appropriate? Probably. Annoying? Definitely.

I am looking forward to watching Modern Family tonight on television while eating Swedish Fish. Yesterday was the first time I ever had a Swedish fish, I took a few out of the bags I had bought my children and tried them. I now know why they love them. The texture is smooth, slimy, sugary sweet and strawberry? I eat them gingerly not wanting to tempt the pain of TMJ. Even so, Swedish Fish (and no, they are not paying me) truly are a delicacy, because other than ginger-lemon cookies, they are all I’ve got.  Sugar therapy. Works for me.

Cheeseburger On The Lam–The Aftermath

I was feeling so proud of my blog last night, the 104 entries, the fact that I stuck to it, it was my  challenge and it was my accomplishment. It was my biggest accomplishment after, of course, the births of my son and daughter. Last night however, things changed and I have the painful stomach ache to prove it.

After hearing a lecture in school on Internet safety during Seminar Day, both of my children were made aware of the dangers of their  photos, ANYTHING on the internet with their names attached to it.  Inconveniently that same day I wrote a blog about my two teenagers because both my husband and I were in bad moods and felt incredibly cranky. First mistake.

To those of you who read my blog called “Cheeseburger On The Lam” aka “The Teenagers” let me tell you that I shouldn’t have written it. I want to apologize to my children for publishing something that they took offense to. I have been feeling sick, really sick and stressed out all day because of it. Honestly? I didn’t think it was that bad, just cranky parents needing to let off some steam. But, my children took offense to it and I deeply apologize for that.

It was a mistake, I now know, to publish it, because they were very angry, defiant and upset about it. I was hoping the audience were parents of teenagers that could possibly relate and to those people who are also unemployed and tense. Unfortunately, the audience of two that mattered the most to me, were my children. Thanks Seminar Dude. You ruined our evening and I do not, repeat not, think you were referring to vague references of sons and daughters written by a cranky parent!

It started a prosecutor extravaganza which was no fun for anyone that lasted a good hour. Before I even published it I even sent the blog to my husband asking him if he thought it was okay to publish, he said it was “Excellent!”  So, I published it but what I really should have done was just thought about it a little longer. If I copied my husband and asked if it was okay, then maybe I was ignoring my own, deeply hidden thoughts or questions of judgment. I  really don’t know.

So, here in print, I would like to apologize to my children for offending them. NOTHING is more important to me than these two amazing children. Children who bring such utter joy to my life. I would do nothing to hurt their feelings on purpose and if I did than I am deeply ashamed. The buck stops here.

I always tell my children, to be honest with me; I am now being honest with you. Yes, your dad and I did feel frustrated yesterday, the climate in the house had reached a point that we were very high-strung, over sensitive and uptight. So, I did what I do best and wrote about it, never thinking you would take offense. From now on, I promise you, I will think before I write and certainly before I click “Publish.”

I love you both more than my life. The thought of upsetting you made me feel horrible all day; yesterday’s meeting was not fun for anyone. I hope you accept my apology and now we can move on. Parents make mistakes, just like every person. As I’ve always taught you, if you have done something wrong, just be honest and apologize. Back at you.

Love, Mom

*******P.S. SORRY DAUGHTER FOR THE “OTHER ONE” TOO!

*FML. No, Wait. Don’t.

I’m in a quiet mood tonight. The rain is dripping outside, the humidity is high, spirits are low but even. I am not happy in a joyful way yet not depressed in a hide- under -the- blanket- way either. I’m coping. Coping is a good thing I think, it beats hysteria by a mile and clinical depression by tens of thousands of kilometers.

There are times in our lives when coping has to do. This is that time for me and my family.  When life has piled an extraordinary amount of pressure and stress upon you all you can do is try to go with the flow or basically moan and groan and give up. Moaning and groaning is  not an option. Anymore. We all know the drill, sometimes up, then down, down, down and hopefully up again. You need to believe in the “up again” because EVENTUALLY things will be better someday. It’s just hard to see at the moment or the last two years. Believe me, I know.

A very long period of unemployment, a longer period of sickness, stress for the teenagers and from them, stress from the relatives, stress from our stressful selves. Take a deep breath. Now breathe. I feel like I should have a cup of Sleepy Time tea right next to me. With milk and honey added to it. And, perhaps an English biscuit or two.

I need to take a vacation in my mind. Where to go, what to do? Climate? Sunny, of course. I see the rolling green hills of Spring and red, yellow and pink tulips blossoming everywhere. Birds chirp happily singing their sweet songs. I listen, lying on my back, head on my crossed arms, feeling the soft grass as my cushion and the sunlight warming my eyelids. It’s 75 degrees and life is sweet.  At least in my mind and my lofty imagination that is.

I went to my Dr.’s office today and when he asked me how I was doing I said I was “coping.” But, after addressing what was happening, and describing the actual events I found myself going from “coping” to “miserable.” Literally, within one minute of each other, sitting in the same, plaid, uncomfortable bumpy chair my status changed to “miserable.”  I even asked for platitudes, I asked for rainbow idioms but I got nothing, no advice from him except his comment: “Try not to fall.”  Huh? Is that the best you can do? Couldn’t you even come up with there’s a silver lining in every thunderstorm, cloud formation or tsunami? Apparently not.

It gave me pause to think. If I am complaining and recounting all the bad stuff to myself or anyone else, what good does it do? It just seems to focus on the misery and the past and not leave room for the possibility of a better time, a different time, a good time.

So for the next few months, I will be focusing on the positive, wherever and whenever I find it. It started tonight with a Weight Watcher’s dessert that I added whipped cream and rainbow sprinkles to. It was in the People Magazine that I bought for myself  with a smiling Sandra Bullock and her beautiful baby on the cover. It was reading Confections Of A Closet Master Baker by Gesine Bullock Prado that had me smiling warmly with nostalgia: marzipan, chocolate treats, plum cake or as we called it “Kvetchekuchen.”

So, here’s to the Bullock sisters and to HOPE, to dreams and most importantly, here’s to positive energy. Energy that I have to control, and I will; I will definitely try.

*FML stands for F-ck My Life, thanks to the FML website.

Dancing With Daughters

Last night I committed a sin, a major sin, according to my 15 and a half-year old daughter. She didn’t tell me in words; she didn’t have to. I was in the bedroom listening to music that I like, feeling happy and I started to dance. Alone. It was just one of those moments when I felt energetic enough to do some minor dancing by myself, Ellen Degeneres style.  Having Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, an auto-immune disease, and Fibromyalgia, I don’t feel this way all too often. Methotrexate, one of the drugs I am taking twice a week is also a total kill joy. That night, however, I was given a break and I celebrated. I felt good!

On the way out of my daughter’s room she passed me, stopped, and gave me the dirtiest look I have received to date, complete with the eye roll upwards and “the look.” You know which look I mean, moms and dads, the look of hate and utter disgust.  Why? I guess because I am a “mom” and  I embarrassed her. To quote my daughter:” it was weird.” Why?  It’s NOT as if all my daughter’s friends were over or that we were in public. I was in my soft, pretty white nightgown that had petite fir- green flowers printed on it (probably the first major mistake) and happily swaying to the music from The Black Eyed Peas. I wasn’t EVEN listening to John Denver or Josh Groban, this was a bona fide group that she likes.

Yet this afternoon when my daughter was asked to go to a movie this evening with her friend, she trudged into my room asking me to give her a few reasons (hint, hint, I don’t want to go) why I wouldn’t “allow” her to go. I suggested a few things which did not suit her, and then she suddenly looks happier and says “I know! I’ll tell her you’re really annoying and that you are freaking out about all the snow we are getting.”  Mission accomplished, glad I could be of help, dear. “You’re welcome” I shouted and she glanced back at me all golden blonde hair swinging down her back, brilliant blue eyes and Forever 21 outfit and replies somewhat sheepishly: “thanks.” No problem.

I know, I know, hormones mixed with the emotional turmoil of having an embarrassing mom (didn’t we all have one of those?”) combined with the separation process. I get it. I understand it on a rational and psychological level. It doesn’t mean I have to like it  but I accept it (face it, what choice do I have?).

The next time my illness or the dreaded Methotrexate medicine gives me a reprieve, I will continue to dance to the music that makes me happy. And when I do, I will wear my 1970’s  faded neon orange T-shirt that my husband gave me and my flannel pink and rose flowered pajama pants. My door will be wide open and my voice will be loud and clear and strong.

What Do Words Really Mean?

As parents we teach our children, from a very young age, to see please, and thank-you. We teach our children to respect their elders, to give up there seats on trains or buses for the elderly or the handicapped or women who are pregnant. We drill, over and over that “there is a word missing……”  We hope that they will eventually do this on their own. It’s what we expect from them but recently I’ve realized it doesn’t always work out the way we think it should. Maybe our expectations are too high? Maybe we are totally wrong. It could go either way.

We even prompt them sometimes and my children are not children anymore, they are 15 and 17. Something you would like to say we ask lightly? Did you forget anything? It’s really nothing more than a step up from “what’s the missing word little Susie?”

My husband and I took our teenagers to Aruba over Christmas holiday. We barely saw our son much less heard from him. He was safely ensconced in his “bachelor pad” pool house of his best friend’s grandmother’s mansion. Our daughter, being stuck with us in our room and without the amusement of fighting with her brother non-stop, tended to be sullen, and critical. When my daughter was 2, it was all about her. She is now 15 and everything still has to revolve around her. She has a lot of compassion for animals, I hope she will learn compassion for people, other than her friends, too.

We try and lead by example, my husband and I are both very polite individuals; both of us having grown up with European parents. We tended to be stricter than any of our friends who have children. Even my niece and my nephew never had curfews and their parents hardly ever knew where they were. This is not acceptable in our house. There are a lot of things we DON’T know and many things we have already have conceded, but we still feel children still need some structure.  Is that too old fashioned or being sensible?

My husband and I are betting if the children will thank us for this vacation. He thinks they will not. I think my son might and then my daughter will murmur her agreement.  So far, we haven’t heard any “Thank you’s” for meals, expenses, the trip…..Do the words replace actions?   I don’t think so. It’s something, but it certainly is not enough, not nearly enough. I know I have to give them slack, a lot of slack because they are teenagers and their worlds do revolve around themselves….

Am I being too harsh?  Is it wrong to expect teenagers to have manners? Am I fooling myself?  Honestly? I really don’t know.  Our son spent the entire time with his friend in Aruba without so much as an e-mail much less a phone-call  to us.  He only came to visit here when he and his friend wanted to use the gym OR when his friend’s father made them visit for a little while on Christmas Day.

This is our first encounter with teenagers at this age and we’re lost. Both my husband and I were not typical teens (whatever that really is). We were highly respectful and gracious and always had good manners. Call us boring but that’s what we were.  In the soon to be near future, my husband and I plan to go away on vacation sans teenagers and enjoy each other all the more.