more from the breaking news desk: Family's cereal collecton eligible for its own zip code
Half an hour at the spa seems a little rushed and there is no way I am vacuuming at 8:15 in the morning, but otherwise, I feel like this could be a significant improvement over the schedule we are currently using in the Kamikaze household.
Our system would look just like this if you took all the strips of paper out, scattered half of them around the room and lined up the rest horizontally so they were all scheduled at exactly the same time, but with each activity taking twice as long as planned.
Photo courtesy of our Palm Beach area correspondent
SCENE: Friday morning school commute with the world's most expensive middle schooler and her mother, who is addressing her daughter, and later, talking to herself; a distinction we draw here solely for dramatic context and not because there is any actual difference.
MOTHER: You have got to be kidding. You took four brand-new blank CDs to use as car wheels on a shoebox car for a school assignment?
Do we not have dozens of scratched, abandoned, unused, forgotten and one-use only CDs floating around the house, gathering dust and taking up space under the beds, between the couch cushions and at the bottom of backpacks? Do you have any idea how much those cost?
When you get home from school today, I want you to take a close look at your surroundings. Pull up a couch cushion or two, peek under the furniture. Write down the number of cash piles you come across. Now write down the number of old CDs.
What conclusions can you draw from this exercise?
Speaking of exercises, what kind of eighth grade school assignment requires you to make a shoebox car anyway? What are they even teaching?
BONUS PARENTING PERSPECTIVE: Take a breath. Surrender. You are freaking out over one cubic centimeter of chilled air hanging just over the colder air hovering above the space where the tip of the iceberg begins. Chill-ax.
from the world's most expensive archives: It's not the economy so much as the pull-up bar
I don't know what kind of teenagers you are familiar with, but the 14-17 year-olds who live in my house would need a really long nap before they could even begin to contemplate taking on a task like making a list.
"OMG!" they would say. "How are we supposed to make a list when the paper is nowhere near the couch? Why don't you just ask us to go cut down a tree and make our own paper? I guess Seasons One through 17 of the Vampire Diaries and/or South Park will just watch themselves?"
On and on it would go, until every last possible objection that could be made without rising from the couch or changing the channel had been exhausted.
So when the photographic dispatch below arrived via our Atlanta correspondent, we could not disguise our envy.
How had she managed to inspire the kind of initiative that led her 15-year-old son to create a summer action plan? Pop-Tarts? Cash? Breast milk? Was it French parenting? Tiger parenting? Some combination of French parenting and Pop-Tarts?
Photo: Atlanta teen's Summer Action Plan.
from the archives of teen ambition: Bonnie and Clyde, PTA members
I am at a gathering of the Suburban Women's Wine Drinking Association when I am asked for an advisory opinion in a case of Spousal Stupidity.
It is a straightforward case of Wrong Answer, Douchebag but with a particularly douchey touch.
A woman had complained to her husband of unexplained moodiness. His diagnosis: "It's because you're fat and the pool is opening next week."
Some of the women are familiar with my eventually bestselling relationship manual, "Men are From Mars but That's No Excuse" and believe the situation calls for a grownup time-out.
"No sex for two weeks, right?" they ask me. But you can tell by their faces that no one thinks this is really going to drive the point home. And neither do I.
"No," I say. "Two weeks of sex with someone else."
Which, in a happy coincidence, is also a great way to get in shape for bikini season.
You're welcome. And you look marvelous.
Photo: Men are from Mars, but can be found almost anywhere.
from the marriage archives: The Ring of Truth and other so-called tales of Domestic Bliss
The teenagers are manning the barricades in our house this week. Can you blame them? So much is wrong in the world. Let's just start with the snack situation and go from there:
1. There are never enough snacks in the house. And let's be clear about this: "Salad is not a a snack." Ditto for olives.
2. There is Too Much Singing: The 14-year old must be made to stop singing. It is driving her brother crazy.
3. No one should have to stop singing. He can just go to another room.
4. The parenting is incompetent. What kind of a mother can't even make a 14-year-old girl stop singing? Or tells a 14-year-old girl to stop singing? Either way, it is cause for complaint.
5. Shipping and handling should not count as part of an Internet shopping spending limit.
6. We are tired of being blamed for things we don't admit doing.
7. There are never enough clean towels. Even counting the ones from the guest bathroom.
8. We should be allowed to use the towels in the guest bathroom.
9. Stop blaming us for taking towels from the guest bathroom. We have no idea how they ended up on the floor of our rooms.
10. We are sick and tired of all of the rules we don't even follow.
Photo: A spokeswoman for the group plots her next super-cute dress purchase and chafes under unreasonable spending limits. "Can you just let me live for once?"
in related news: A critique of household rules by its teenage members
So there I was, last Christmas, presenting Mr. Kamikaze with the usual pile of thoughtless socks and underwear, when in walks the Executive Suburbanite with only the most amazing and thoughtful gift in the entire world.
It was a first edition of All the President's Men, and Mr. Kamikaze looked at it the way The New York Times national editor must have looked after somebody handed him the Pentagon Papers. Mr. Kamikaze loves that book the way Ben Bradlee loved sticking it to The New York Times.
"Look," I said more than once over the holidays, "these are exactly the kind of socks you wanted." But I knew I'd been upstaged, even accounting for the years of Watergate-themed sex games.
So when I saw an opportunity to poach a little bit of the credit, I went for it. Bob Woodward was scheduled to speak in the Chicago area and I was determined to get him to sign Mr. Kamikaze's book.
It wasn't going to be easy. It was a standing-room only crowd and we only just managed to wedge ourselves in at the back. But I was not going to be denied my Christmas redemption. I left Mr. K in the back and made my way to the front of the room, inch by inch, over the course of two hours.
It is not true, however, that I crawled on my hands and knees or snaked my way through the air vents.
I caught up with the most famous journalist in America as he was leaving the stage. When I explained to him why it was his fault that I could not afford to send my kids to college, he graciously accepted responsibility for our finances and signed the book.
It was the least he could do.
Photo: Bob Woodward's left cheek is visible at center. Journalism triumph, maybe, but definitely a photojournalism fail.
from the archives: Get out your notebook, there's more.
If you have served any time at all as sidekick to a teenage girl, you will like, totally, relate to this perfectly captured conversational highlight reel from one of my all-time favorite bloggers.
Photo: One of my all-time favorite teen girl conversationalists and creator of the "Never-ending Anecdote" series.
from the girltalk archives: Veruca Salt, Birthday Girl
from the Bossy archives: Bossy: The Whole Thing was a Haldeman Operation
That way they know they have already disappointed me and we can just move on without all the compulsory vacuuming and fake appreciation. And vice versa.
Not that we don't appreciate it.
But it's not really necessary. When you are the mother of two teenagers, every day is like Mother's Day.
Exactly like Mother's Day: They want money, they complain about the food, they have last minute school assignments that require your assistance.
They tell you to chill-ax.
The only difference is that on Mother's Day you can try to make them feel bad about it.
Or you can just chill-ax. Whatever you do, don't send them out to buy you "a bottle."
Unless you have a younger child and a liquor store within bicycle range, that is a job for daddy. Teenagers have terrible taste in liquor and they never bring back the change.
Happy Mother's Day. -SK
Photo, courtesy of our Atlanta correspondent, Mary.
from the Something about Mary archives: Trash talk from a woman wearing an apron
The shocking success of E.L. James’ bondage and e-mail trilogy has the publishing world embracing a new genre that has come to be known as “mommy porn.” Which is strange because Fifty Shades of Grey is mostly a story of uninterrupted passion that takes place on freshly laundered sheets.
Authentic mommy porn is so much dirtier...
I scowl with frustration at the mess those two kids have made. Holy crap. Is that an open jar of salsa on the couch? I am going to kill somebody.
I should be at work by now, but I am stuck waiting for the incredibly handsome, enigmatic CEO of Dirty Job Enterprises Holdings Inc. He is coming to fix the washing machine, which has been making the weirdest noise.
I am searching for my calendar to reschedule when I see the forgotten lunch and the overdue library books. Double crap.
I look at my watch, scrawl a fresh appointment date on the back of my hand and pull open the front door, tripping over my own feet and falling headfirst over the threshold. Me and my two left shoes! I got dressed in such a hurry.
I am so embarrassed. I look up to see the repair guy staring at me intently. Holy cow. He’s on time!
He’s of average height, dressed in a pair of badly fitting jeans and a dirty white shirt. A patch under his collar says “Mr. Grey.” My heart begins to thump like a dryer full of tennis balls. I have never needed anybody so much in my life. There must be three weeks worth of laundry in the basement.
He extends a roughly-calloused hand and pulls me to my feet. “Are you all right?” he says. “Would you like to sit?”
“I’d like to go back to bed,” I think. Crap. I may have said that out loud.
“Why don’t you show me where the laundry room is?” he says. I am practically swooning by the time we get there. The smell is overpowering. It takes him about 30 seconds to diagnose the problem.
“Middle schoolers,” he says. “They’ve been planking in the washing machine.”
I think back to last weekend’s Justin Bieber dance party. Holy Moses. “How is that even possible?"
“Check her Facebook status,” he says with authority. “You’ll find the answers there.”
He finishes his repairs and turns to look at me with an unwavering gaze. “I'm going to start a load of laundry now," he says. "Is there anything else I can do for you?”
His voice is like melted chocolate fudge caramel, but without all the mess.
An image of him standing over my vacuum cleaner pops into my head and I’m blushing 50 shades of red. "Do you have some sort of contract I could sign?" I say.
I am not even going to read it.
from the mommy porn archives: Christian Grey strikes out
Posted at 05:38 AM in The Underachiever's Guide to Everything Worth Doing (Halfway) | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
While adults may be fascinated to learn that fluorite was established as the official state mineral by a vote of the Illinois General Assembly in 1965 or that citizens went to the polls to vote the eastern tiger salamander into office in 2004, middle schoolers react to this information by immediately texting "SOOOOOO BORED" to the 613 members of their immediate circle.
Because what does any of this have to do with vampires?
Which is why it seems odd when my eighth grader, Veruca Salt Kamikaze, informs me that the White Oak, one of approximately 20 oak trees native to Illinois, and which grows to a height of between 80 and 100 feet, is the state tree. Her social studies teacher had outlined the facts in a lecture that she recounted like this:
"The White Oak is the official state tree of Illinois. It grows to a height of up to 100 feet, has a whitish-grey bark, and a sharpened stake made from its wood is the only known method of killing an Original vampire."
Which, as pretty much any eighth grade girl on the planet can tell you, is 100 percent true, according to The Vampire Diaries, where the characters have spent pretty much the entire season trying to locate a white oak for exactly that reason.
Apparently their search has not yet taken them to the Prairie State, where at least one eighth grade class could tell them what they need to know.
Photo courtesy of the Justin Bieber Junior High yearbook committee.
from the SK Vampire Diaries: What to Expect: The Vampire Years
I walk into the kitchen to find Boy, Esq., 17, standing in front of the refrigerator drinking directly from the milk jug. Again.
"Sorry," he says. "I forgot. That you were there."
from the archives of insincere apologies: We have ways of making you talk