Tag Archives: teenager

Midnight Madness

Let me tell you about Friday morning. Hubby wakes at midnight after hearing a crash. I sleep with earplugs, and a face-mask softly blowing air at me, so I don’t hear anything, including him jumping out of bed like I did something obscene to him.

He quietly listens to the house for signs of trouble or an intruder. Nothing.

Nimoy is immediately suspect, but she’s groggily looking at him from her place between our knees. For the moment, the kitten is off the hook.

Analyzing his memory of the sound, he thinks it sounds like glass breaking plus something else. Some sort of impact. And he can’t tell if it came from inside or outside. It’s a beautiful and cool night so our bedroom windows are open. He looks and doesn’t see anything.

Getting what passes for dressed at midnight, Hubby checks on both kids, they’re asleep. Jingles is awake but on the foot of The Girl’s bed where she frequently is when home at night. She always wakes when we check on the kids.

He wanders the house: checking all windows, doors, and closets – just because. Nothing.

Hubby goes outside and walks around the house. Nothing. He looks over neighbor’s fences – nothing.

Giving it up as a hallucination, Hubby comes back to bed.

Fast forward to four in the morning. The Boy tiptoes into our room, wakes Hubby, and informs him of some problem. He sits up.

Now I didn’t wake before with all Hubby’s activity, but the Motherhood-sense that something is amiss jars me fully awake. We follow The Boy back to his room. He woke to play an early round of video gaming with friends and discovered the splintered shards of a Corelle plate scattered about his room. They’re tough table settings, but when they do break, it’s like a war zone.

Hubby recognized the incident immediately. When he checked on The Boy, he left the bedroom and hall light off, and had to walk in to the darkened room to make sure the lanky teen was in fact in his bed. He’s so skinny he kind of blends into the sheets and pillows. It’s a miracle Hubby didn’t step on any of the microscopic (or larger) glass shards between the door and the bed.

So we figured Jingles, who likes to sleep on The Boy’s top bunk – in fact it’s hers, must have either used the freestanding shelves that are part of The Boy’s desk to jump to or from her top bunk perch and knocked the plate off that The Boy shouldn’t have had in there in the first place and it broke upon hitting the main desk surface in almost the exact center of the room. Thankfully the plate was empty. Unfortunately he had a box fan on in his corner so the smaller particles got widely distributed. I found tiny bits of Corelle from the wall behind his door to his closet doors, bed to the bookshelves under his window – in short, everywhere.

Yes, I vacuumed my son’s room at four am. Then he got out an edge vacuum and crawled around on his knees to cover the perimeter of the room. Hubby collected the big pieces, then had a handheld vacuum and sucked sparkling Corelle confetti from The Boy’s keyboard and behind his monitors. Thanks to the fan for that one we think.

The Boy really likes darkness when he sleeps, so he has a blanket hung from the top bunk to seal in his bottom bunk. We had to vacuum that then pull it down, but it meant his bed was protected. Like it matters, I need to change his sheets anyway.

Meanwhile The Girl gets up to see what all the activity is about. She insists it couldn’t have been Jingles (still snuggled at the foot of her bed) because she’d been in her room all night. Ah hem, not all night. No, Jingles started with The Boy. We guessed the broken plate startled the cat and she took off for safer sleeping places.

The really interesting part is the breaking plate woke Hubby, two rooms away with a gentle breeze upsetting our blinds and faint noises of the neighborhood outside to provide ambient cover, but failed to wake The Boy sleeping four feet away. It’s not surprising, the kid can sleep through anything (fire alarm going off two feet from his head when he was little and had the top bunk – not kidding; plus his alarm clock every single school day) but it is interesting. It means I’m going to have to continue getting him up for school this year. Oh, goodie.

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Sea Kittens and Snuggle Sharks


I woke this morning, like I do on many weekend mornings, to the cat being tossed on the bed and The Girl scampering away before Darth Jingles could gather herself to give chase. As usual, by the time I rise to see what’s up (as if I didn’t know) all I see is a splay-legged black cat in the middle of the bed and the retreating backside of my eldest offspring.

Jingles looks at me, a look of complete disgust with the situation. Hubby snores and she grants him a passing glare. I check the time: 8:45 am. All right, I got to sleep in a bit. Everyone in the house has a cold, and I’m starting to feel the effects myself, so I wasn’t really ready to get up.

I look at Jingles and try to decide if she’s going to let me roll over and go back to sleep. I decided it was worth a shot. Long story short – I was wrong. She was willing to let me go back to sleep, but not able to. She prowled around the foot of the bed for a moment, which I expected. I figured she’d find a nice place on the down comforter – her blanket because it smells (I imagine) like baby ducks = prey – and then settle down. It’s her spot, therefore she should like it. No. She circled like a restless tiger. Then she found my feet, but didn’t attack them amazingly enough, and followed my leg upward. All right, so she was heading for another favorite spot – the back of my knees.

She landed there and perched for a while, long enough for me to almost fall back to sleep. Then she decided to move up to the small of my back. Fine. Almost asleep again, she turns on the purr motor. What? Why? Whatever, fine. Concentrate on going back to sleep. Now. No, wait, she’s moving again – and takes up position on the pillow beside my head.

Okay, just no. Sweetheart, I love you, but no purring in mommy’s ear. I pick her up and pull her in front of me, snuggling her in my arms. Right, back to sleep. Scratch the cat behind the ears, then back to sleep. Let her get in a better position. There you go. Right there, with her nose tucked up under my chin. Jingles, I’m trimming your whiskers when I get up. And knock off the purring. Right, scratch behind the ear – no, sweetie, I can’t scratch under your chin, it’s under my chin. There’s a logistical problem with my arm doesn’t move that – oh, you’re going to move again to make it easier. Thanks.

And so on.

Somewhere in this long, drawn out, not-being-able-to-go-back-to-sleep process, I decided Jingles could be classified as a snuggle shark. This shows you how my sleep-deprived mind works. That naturally made me remember years ago when PETA decided they could get people to stop eating fish if they made over their image. The fish, not PETA. They devoted a website to this venture, and it was so absurd of course the news picked it up and helped them along. They proposed rebranding fish to be called “sea kittens.” True.

This flitted through my mind as my own little snuggle shark decided to start attacking my feet after all. I mean, I doubt Jingles would really care about it either way if her tuna were labeled sea kitten, she’d still find it a tasty treat and beg for it on a regular basis. And I vaguely remember mentioning this ill-conceived idea to the kids in a moment of weakness, to produce the expected outcome: The Boy asking for sea-kitten sandwiches and The Girl giggling while she took a marker and crossed out “tuna” on the cans in the pantry and wrote in “sea kitten” instead. Eventually that blew over and things returned to normal, just as my morning settled down as soon as I let snuggle shark outside to search for more suitable prey. And now I’m up, so I may as well get some things done.

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I Survived Christmas 2014

2014-12-25 09.22.36I Survived Christmas 2014 – I think I could write a novella and name it that. Between out of town relatives that my moody teens barely spoke to, unexpected snowfalls, burst pipes, and cat angst and relocation, I think this holiday has been memorable. Let’s talk about cats because no one really cares about moody teenagers. It’s what they are. Especially when you’re down a cat.

Remember how, many moons ago, we added Princess to the family to solve the problem of the teens fighting over possession of Darth Jingles? Then the cats didn’t get along. I figured these things take time. Yeah, well, the cats decided otherwise. Hubby broke up a lot of cat fights, so that made him extra unpopular with Princess. She was The Girl’s Siamese and would only lower herself to mingle with the other household peons if we had food. Although, honestly, the cat weighed a ton. Food was the last thing she really needed.

In her little kitty mind, Hubby threw down the gauntlet – he didn’t share his morning bowl of cereal. Not that he didn’t let her have the milk after he’d eaten the cereal, because that was an established routine. Princess upped her demands and wanted his Cheerios. Hubby refused. That sort of uppity behavior was not to be tolerated. She stared right at him, and peed on his socks. It went downhill from there. Princess targeted Hubby for a week for her revenge potty warfare and probably didn’t know she was in danger of becoming an outdoor – only cat with snowfall looming on the horizon.

What saved her? Well oddly, in an attempt to cut down cat fights at night, we’ve been tossing both feline arses outside all day to work off some energy. Little did we know Princess went from our house straight to Mr. & Mrs. Patience’s house and hung out with their dog. (Mr. & Mrs. Patience have four teens of their own and all of their kids’ friends and neighborhood teens hang out at their house. They even feed them. What would you call them?) When Mr. Patience opened the back door to let their dog in, Princess went in too. She jumped up on their sofa beside the dog, curled up, and slept all day. We’d wondered why she still had energy to prowl and cause mischief all night after being outside all day.

Hubby dropped in on Mr. Patience to ask about – I really don’t remember or care – and found our cat on his sofa! He called me and I came over to see. I was mortified. Mr. Patience laughed, he didn’t mind cat sitting our little hellion. In fact, he had a friend over the other day sitting there on his sofa, petting our cat, and commenting she was going to steal this cat because it was so soft and docile. Really? Well actually…

So Princess found a new home (with three other cats, two dogs, and some birds) on a trial basis. She fit in well and they kept her. The Girl was a little put out, but understanding. Darth Jingles is like a new cat. She is extra lovey and purring all the time. It’s like she’s either really grateful we got rid of the interloper, or she’s trying to prove she is cat enough for the family and we don’t need another one. Either way it works.

Okay, it did work – until we left her alone Christmas Eve and went to Hubby’s parent’s house. Jingles has been alone all day before without trouble, but apparently doesn’t like being left alone at night. That or she knew it was Christmas and the last two years we’d taken her with us to see the Grandma who likes little black cats. She likes to play hard to get, which isn’t hard when you’re playing with a frail woman over eighty. Anyway, we came home to find paper and ribbons all over the living room, a lamp knocked over and chipped, and ornaments knocked off the trees. Yes plural on the trees, each kid had their own to decorate.

Whatever, I didn’t even scold her because we did leave her home on the holiday. Our fault, moving on. She wouldn’t have enjoyed it. We spent most of Christmas day trying to soak up water from the downstairs bathroom after a hose came loose under the sink and gallons of hot water flooded the bathroom, hall, and utility room. They’re getting a Shop-Vac for Christmas next year. Hubby’s parents are impossible to shop for, and now I know what they don’t have. Using a Green Machine to suck up gallons of water was, well, it was inefficient. They also don’t have a box fan, so there’s one birthday down.

On the plus side, The Girl wanted a white Christmas and she got it. The winter storm warnings indicated we wouldn’t get snow where we were, but they were a little off. Only off by about eight inches or so, no big deal. Enough for her to play in and it’s kept the cat mostly house bound. It’s okay though. Since we relocated Princess, Jingles has been much nicer, even to Hubby. Smart cat.

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Sweetheart vs Plague, Inc.


I hinted at dual events on our Memorial Day BBQ with the Friend family. Of course I already wrote about The Girl and ‘soon to be a boyfriend in another high school.’ Now let’s discuss his little sister.

Mr. Friend and I both did the military thing. He’s also a cop and has been for many years. Hubby did ROTC before deciding against military service, and he did the Cop thing for a while, which is how our families came to be friends. Mrs. Friend is a bit out of her depth with the three of us. She’s the nice one: the one that doesn’t think tactically or strategically — ever. It drives her nuts to watch movies with a firefight with us – we count bullets and argue about the realism of just about everything. It’s not that she has patience (she rolls her eyes and glares) she just recognizes a lost battle. And I’ll back her up when she’s had enough because that’s what friends do.

So that’s back story. When the dear little 11-year-old baby of the family, we’ll call her Sweetheart, came to join the adults because the teenagers were boring and she didn’t want to be alone, Hubby handed her an Android Tablet and set her up on Minecraft. Sweetheart was delighted. Then she discovered another game. And another. It just kept getting better.

The menfolk went off to discuss something Y-chromosomes were drawn to, and Mrs. Friend and I chatted about I can’t remember what. Sweetheart found a game called “Plague Inc.”

Now, for those not familiar with Plague Inc by Miniclip.com, it’s a game where you put in the parameters of a plague (vector, symptoms, abilities, etc) and try to wipe out humanity. It’s a little dark. This post is sort of timely with my summer cold, and the ebola outbreak in Africa. I’m really whining about one and intensely interested in the other.

Having known Mrs. Friend as long as I have, and knowing her teenage son and husband, I don’t know whether to be surprised it took as long as it did for her to notice what Sweetheart was playing, or that it didn’t take longer. The darling little kitten and pony-loving girl was out to kill humanity via a plague, and she kept asking me my opinion on symptoms, transmission vectors, and which immunities to build up.

Eventually Mrs. Friend perked up and asked “What are you playing?”

“Plague,” Sweetheart answered innocently as she cheered on the invasion of Greenland.


“Yup. Just got Greenland. That’s important.”


“Greenland,” I explained. “You have to infect Greenland before the world clues in that your plague is too deadly and infectious. If they close their borders before anyone there is infected, you can’t wipe out all of humanity.”

Wipe out humanity?” she asked, looking more alarmed than I expected considering her background. She really should be used to this sort of thing.

“That’s the point of the game. To kill off everyone,” Sweetheart told her. “I’m a virus.”

Mrs. Friend looked at me. I shrugged. “It’s actually pretty realistic, so she’s learning something.”

“Yeah, how to be an evil genius!” Sweetheart laughed. That wasn’t helpful.

“I meant about how diseases spread. And I told her to start it in China or India, and the map doesn’t show country names or even borders, so you have to know geography,” I explained, trying to soften the blow to Mrs. Friend that her daughter was learning things, but in perhaps a more interesting way than she expected.

“Except I missed China and started in Russia,” Sweetheart said.

“Except for that. Learn your geography. China’s pretty big, kiddo.”

“So, it’s how realistic?” Mrs. Friend asked, probably thinking of graphics of corpses piling up and people bleeding from their eyes.

I should probably take a moment to say my bachelor’s degree is in biology. So we had a chat about past plagues and how epidemics work and so on.

The boys came back, and for some reason our discussion on epidemics turned into a case of ‘when the zombie apocalypse strikes’ and it all went downhill from there. It usually does when zombies get involved.

Sweetheart played a new round and named the virus ‘Zombies’ so messages kept popping up like: “Zombies has killed more people than smallpox” and so on. She got a giggle out of that. Mrs. Friend decided in the end the game was mildly educational, probably more so than Halo. Especially when I started saying things like: “Start in North Korea.”

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Of Wookiees and Tribbles


The Girl took Darth Jingles, AKA The Cat, for a walk on Saturday. It wasn’t a nice day for it, but she needed time to think. When a newly minted sixteen-year-old says she needs time to think, it’s never good. I didn’t realize my particular newly minted sixteen-year-old was quite so damaged until she got back.

Plopping down beside me as soon as she returned, she announced that she’s pretty sure Wookiees and Tribbles are somehow related. They’re both furry and make similar noises, if you take into account their relative size.

This is what comes of teaching teenage geeks evolutionary science. Fine. I can play that game.

“That’s a great observation, honey, but they’re from different universes.”

She paused and I heard the steampunk wheels turning: Star Wars – Star Trek. Yes, different universes.

“Crossovers happen. Doctor Who has a comic book series with Star Trek Next Generation. This isn’t any weirder than that.”

A fair point. Deep breath. “Time line.”

Again wheels turn. I thought I even smelled a faint whiff of steam this time. Coffee-scented, which was curious.

“Star Trek is in the future, Star Wars is in the past. Clearly Wookiees de-evolved over time to become Tribbles. What’s more, given their ancestry, it’s not so surprising that Tribbles can decapacitate their enemies in such a short time. It’s the only thing that makes sense when you consider the Klingons considered them such a dangerous creature in The Original Series. The Klingons? Tribbles? They have to be Wookiee descendants.”

Face it, she wins.

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Homecoming: Part Two (The Revenge of the Shoes!)

ImageSigh. Homecoming (the first) is over. The Girl survived the dance, the social activity, the . . . heels.  The drama can safely be set aside, but only for two weeks. Remember, she didn’t go to Homecoming at her own school.

Let’s get take a step back to those heels. I’ve mentioned she’s petite. She wears a size four shoe. Kids. There aren’t a lot of dress shoe options there. A helpful saleswoman once told us a kids’ size four is the same as a women’s size six. We picked out a pair of wedges, she tried them, walked in them, life is good. Until later when I caught her stuffing tissue in the toe because they were a size too big.

And why was this not mentioned at the shoe store? Teenage girl. Enough said.

With this in mind, we went shoe shopping again on Thursday. I couldn’t reasonably continue putting it off, even though I really dreaded this activity. Black shoes. That’s all I wanted. Black shoes that fit. Looking. Okay, black shoes that fit and look like they belong with a semi-formal dress not on a five-year-old.

We said a lot of things like “OMG, what were they thinking when they put that bow there?” and “Is that a flower? Why in the name of all that’s holy are there dead flowers on that shoe and why do they look like pom-poms?”

In desperation, I eyed the size sixes. They were largely stilettos and The Girl had only graduated as far as a two inch wedge with tissue in the toe to make it fit. Oh dear. There wasn’t even a simple paten leather black flat or kitten heel. Really? How basic is that? They did have some matte black pumps, but she hated them. And they weren’t dressy at all.

I handed her a shiny black spike heeled shoe. It was still two and a half inches, but hey, I was desperate. And a bad mother.

She glared at me.

“Try it.”

Still glaring, she slid one on, and threatened to fall over. Drama Princess.

“Put the other one on, you’ll balance better.”

She put the other one on, and I coaxed her into tottering down the aisle and back. It wasn’t pretty. We returned to looking at the size fours, then the three and a halves.

The Girl saw a pair of fancy stilettos  – in a size six. Strappy with rhinestones. Suddenly she was willing to give it another shot. Three inch heel. She was near tears.

“Honey, it’s just like walking, only your heel is focused on this little point. The ball of your foot is the same as in a sandal.” It’s pretty true. “Women have been doing this for a long time. You can do it if you put your mind to it. It’s kind of like walking on tip-toes, except you have somewhere to put your heel, so it’s really a lot easier.”  She can tip-toe, any three-year-old can do that!

The pep talk worked. She slid them on and gave it another go. We practiced in the store, then at home. Apparently she’s a kids’ size four or a women’s selective size six. Yeah, I toggle between two sizes too.

The Girl she was very excited because all of a sudden, she could look me in the eye! (I’m three inches taller than her.) She was taller, she had pretty ‘big girl’ shoes. Homecoming wasn’t so bad.

Except of course you have to dance in them. For hours.

She survived. Now let’s get back to that ‘this was at another school’ issue. Now she wants to dress up again and ‘drop in’ on a ‘friend’ who has to work during Homecoming at their school. The girl was quick to explain it wasn’t a date. She’s fifteen and can’t date yet. She’s just dropping by so he can say that he did Homecoming and wouldn’t that be fun?

Fun. Hubby, grab your shotgun, we’ve created a monster.

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Homecoming: Part One


How many times have I asked for someone to just shoot me? And yet I’m still here. Fat lot of good you guys are.

I’ve spent three days explaining to The Girl that she’s a girl. I know this may seem self evident, but allow me to explain.

Homecoming. It’s coming up and she doesn’t see the point. I explained the game, the tradition, the dance, but to no avail. Okay . . .  dancing, girls like dancing. Not this one. Fine. Girls like getting all prettied up and making boys’ brains turn to mush. Not this one. Are you sure you’re my daughter? I got glared at for that one and told “You were there!”

I explained the ‘no dating until you’re sixteen’ rule can be put on hiatus in specific cases. I got a shrug. We have a specific case. We’re on the boundary between three high schools (so close that we chose which one she went to because all of them have a bus stop within two blocks). Two doors down, the eldest daughter of Mr. & Mrs. Patience is going to a different high school and has a friend who needs a date, and eyed The Girl appraisingly. Mrs. Patience is chaperoning that dance. The Girl is going whether she wants to or not. For the record, her opinion is not.

Mrs. Patience is living vicariously through her daughters, which she freely admits. I had a social life in high school and college; I don’t need to live through The Girl. I suspect she might have regrets later if she goes through with her ‘forgo all social activities because boys are stupid’ plan. Yes, boys can be stupid, especially the teen variety. She’s desperately looking forward to college. Unfortunately, she’s going to need practice for dating in college, which you get by dating in high school.

So a group date with a neighbor chaperoning? Hell yes she’s going. Besides, she’s got a list of boys already for when she turns sixteen so this will give her a little confidence boost. And Hubby isn’t even reaching for a shotgun or going out of his mind.

This is a win. I hope. I’ll get back to you.


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The Girl is a Terrible Teenager

ImageThe Girl is a terrible teenager. “Why?” you ask? Well, let me tell you a story about a brand new sophomore in a brand new high school (just built new not just new to her).

Things never go smoothly the first week of school anyway, even if the school isn’t new. Not completely. And no one really expects it to. At least not anyone with kids. So when we got a call the second day of school informing us our nearly perfect daughter (true, it’s sickening) missed first period, it was a surprise. 

She denied it.

We told her to go to the teacher the next time she had his class (every other day) and straighten it out. The next day, we got a call saying she again missed first period. Surprised? Yes, but also mildly suspicious. Not of The Girl; as I said, she’s nearly perfect. The school was more likely to be the culprit.

Again she denied skipping first period. Again we told her to go to the teacher and straighten it out.

Third day of school, guess what? You got it, another call. The teachers both claim they marked her as there. Okay, so the school computer has a bug and everyone’s being marked absent? No. The parents of teens who do miss are not getting calls but, for reasons they can’t pinpoint, a bunch of others are getting the calls on their behalf. They’re sorry and have no idea when it will be fixed.

Hubby has the number memorized and sighs when his phone rings now at right about dinner time. So . . . 3 . . . 2 . . . 1 . . . and he’s carrying his phone waiting for it to ring – oh, there it goes.

So, why does this make my nearly perfect daughter a terrible teenager? Because she just realized she could have been skipping first period every day for the past four days, knowing full well that WE WOULD NOT BE TOLD.

I pointed out the school would still have the correct information.

Never reason with a teenager, okay? Not even nearly perfect ones. You can’t win. Reason exists as an abstract concept to them.

The Girl’s answer was it’s okay if her teachers and the school knew if she was skipping a class, as long as Hubby and I didn’t. What? Then she balled up her tiny fists (she’s petite), declared herself to be the worst teenager ever, flung her thick, waist-length waves that I would kill for over her shoulder, and stalked out of the room.

Well, she got that last part just about perfect.

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Video Game Detox (Pending)


The Boy is thirteen and just starting eighth grade. He’s pretty typical for a teenage boy, more’s the pity. His life’s all about video games and putting off his few chores until ‘later.’ It’s a vague time reference that never seems to arrive unless his video games are threatened.


Now that school is on the horizon, I’m starting to wake him a bit earlier each morning because I’m sadistic. I mean because I’m a caring mother who doesn’t want him to fall asleep in class the way he falls asleep at the kitchen table at breakfast. Then lies down and falls asleep on the way up the stairs afterward. And in the bathroom.


So I’m reading parenting teenage boys books. It’s a big to hit my self-esteem. Pass the rum-filled chocolates, please. 


Occasionally something just jumps out at me. In Everything Bad Is Good For You, by Steven Johnson, the author references research done on the brains of young video gamers when he suggests the games stimulate a particular part of the brain in much the same way that crack cocaine affects the same area.


Hmm. Then I look at my thirteen-year-old happily driving off an overpass in Grand Theft Auto. Why he wants to drive off an overpass over and over again in different cars to see how each lands is beyond me. I think it serves to prove I’m not a thirteen-year-old boy.


So playing video games stimulates a child’s brain like drugs. It explains The Boy’s behavior. He loves his Methcraft.  I mean Minecrack. I mean Minecraft. I guess that means I need to detox him. This is not going to be pleasant.


Actually I think I’ll take a page from The Boy’s book and finish my current reading list first. Maybe they have tips. Besides, I’ll need more rum-filled chocolates. Depending on what it says, and The Boy’s reaction, I might need to upgrade to rum-filled Coke.

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