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April 1, 2020

A haircut that resembles, well . . . (plus retro bonus pics of my littles for some feel good fun)


Welcome to my workshop.
First off, I want to point out that I gave Tank, Reg, Coach, and Ed haircuts about 30 minutes AFTER we realized that Lad had darted off to the airport using our funds.  To fly to New York.  Against our wishes.  I think I should be commended for not accidentally-on-purpose giving anyone a mohawk. 

I was given poor marks for Reggie's cut.  I am sorry I don't have any photos of it, but I fixed it yesterday.  He was fine with the original cut but felt one side was a tad longer than the other.  I am used to SHORT cuts.  That was never an issue back in the day.  The boys WANTED their hair kept very short.  Now the boys want to grow their hair longer or a little longer or longer on top or whatever.  This is not an easy adjustment for a woman with a clippers, mind you.  

Retro:  Tank when I let it
 grow and loved it!  While we were
eating at Cinderella's castle in Disney,
the waiter took Tank's order by asking,
 "And for the princess?"
 The cousins roared with laughter.
 Coach looked at me and mouthed the
 words from across the table:
 You are cutting his hair
when we get home.
Reggie had not had a haircut in close to forever.  The last time I cut his hair I thought I was repeating everything I had done at the prior haircut aka 'the time before', but I am officially old and my mind cannot be trusted.  For the 'time before' haircut I apparently did not utilize the clippers on the top part at all.  Just scissors.  Oops.  He was not happy that I used the clippers on the top of his hair, so this time I followed his instructions closely.  

Coach, who I am making out lately to be an old fart what with his pillow fear and his forbidden movie issues, is not on board with long haired boys.  "He needs a haircut.  Who cares what he wants?  Cut it short."  Is my husband starting to remind you of those people in the commercials where they start to act like their parents . . . fiddling with the thermostat or needing a cardigan?  No comment.  
Retro:  Ed on the beach downtown Chicago. 
Probably my favorite photo of him.
 His hair is NOT that color anymore. 
 

I get that times they do-a-change, so I am OK with them having input on their hair, so I felt really bad when I screwed up Reggie's hair last time by using the clippers and making the top slightly shorter than what he wanted.  It didn't look bad but the top length was not what he anticipated. 

Retro Lad:  age 7 -
when haircuts
 were handled by clippers
 and super easy!
As a result, it got really bushy - like out of control bushy.  He was begging me for a haircut.  I prefer outdoor haircuts because the cleanup is so much simpler.  I looked at the forecast and agreed to 'Thursday'- not knowing haircuts would pop up on a Thursday when I was ticked off as all get out.  

Tank would not let this recent nice-weather-Thursday-when-I-was-ticked-off-at-Lad haircut rest.  He kept pulling up photos of Hitler followers, claiming that I had turned Reg into a small Hitler disciple.  I cut Reg's hair short on the sides, per his request and then I tried to taper it off a bit while leaving the top longer, floppier, cooler.  You know, I am one hip lady-ee.  

I dragged him back out to the porch yesterday and fixed it - making the tapered parts more tapered so there wasn't so much division between his shorter sides and his floppiness.  

This is a screenshot of Reg
who was supposed
to be taking a video of Curly dancing to
send her teacher but he had it on selfie mode.
 Not a great angle to see the hair,
 but you get the idea.  
I must admit, it reminded me of my freshman year college roommate.  She wore her hair short on the sides but bushy on top, curled under but slightly feathered - the top kinda looked like a Dorothy Hamel on steroids.  She worked that top of her hair to be quite fluffy.  

This is the back of Tank's head -
Reg had a similar mop thing going on.
We got a message once on our answering machine.  A prank phone call from some boys at Notre Dame.  There was a thing called a Dog Book, don't ask.  Well, if you insist.  It had photos of all the freshman girls and boys at Saint Mary's and Notre Dame.  You could call people up and ask for a date to a dance - like blind dates.  Or you could ask your roommate to call for you and ask a certain cute someone from the Dog Book to a dance.  

As previously mentioned - I am old as time and so this was a century before Facebook.  Same concept, but just not digital and no arguing over the rights of the idea, so not worth making a movie about.  No one wondered if we should call it 'The Dog Book' or just 'Dog Book.'  
More old people evidence here:  we had an answering machine in our room hooked to a landline, imagine?  Anyway, the prank message went something like this:  "Hey we are looking for Corrine.  We are just wondering why you wear your hair to look like a penis? (sound of a roomful of guys busting out laughing in the background)."

Ouch.  I got to admit though, once they mentioned it I saw their point.  

March 30, 2020

odd things your spouse is afraid of, a sharing is caring post


When Lad refused to start the movie thru his laptop the other night because he was mad at Tank, I told him to move on and not punish everyone.  He had agreed to set up the movie JUST DO IT.  I wanted to ask him how he expected to be fed now that he was dependent on us, but I refrained.  Barely.  

Then our internet connection was so lousy that the movie kept buffering, so we watched Raising Arizona that I had taped from Direct TV because it was PG.  If this is a movie you enjoy, then I apologize in advance for hating on it.  We did NOT like it.  Maybe we just weren't in the right frame of mind.  There were funny bits, but trying to find a movie that is acceptable to the entire fam is a struggle.  Most movies are too racy and we don't let the younger kids watch that stuff.  Hell, Coach hates when the college kids watch that stuff.  Curly laughed more than anyone, but even she was like 'this is dumb.' 

I tend to be a little more lenient, or at the very least a little forgetful about the few 'need-to-fast forward' scenes.  Coach tends to be more like his folks.  People have I told you that while we were dating AFTER COLLEGE we told his folks that we saw the Lion King like 18 times.  No exaggeration.  

The movie was not quiet over, but the kids were begging us to put us out of their misery and turn it off.  Coach was asleep on the floor.  I fumbled around with the dishwasher and stumbled up to bed.  I had texted the kids from my prison sentence in the car on my way home from New York where my knees were in lock-down and asked them to all work together to just vacuum the upstairs.   

In addition, Ed had to clean up his and Lad's room and pack up stuff he someday wants to take with him but isn't interested in taking to college.  This is in case we change kids' bedrooms around at some point.

He misunderstood the point of the exercise and tossed stuff he didn't want on my bed.  So that was a fun reality to deal with.  His high school graduation mortar board and tassel and cords were on my bed.  There was also a random pillow.  It did not have a pillowcase on it. 

Initially I thought it was one of my pillows, that the case had just come off.  Wait for it:  COACH HAS A FEAR OF PILLOWCASE-LESS PILLOWS.  True. 

Eddie's high school cords and ribbons and
 stuff.  And on the left, you guessed
 it that horrifying pillow.
I sleep with 3 pillows.  Two under my head and one under my arm.  If, God forbid, one of my pillowcases or shams wiggles part way down on my pillow and my naked pillow threatens Coach's personal space, then he has a moment.  "Get this out of here!  Don't let it touch my pillow!" 

I do not wipe my ass with my pillow.  I just don't get it.  I assume that anything living on a pillow like bacteria, can find its way to the actual pillowcase eventually.  I wash pillowcases and sheets regularly.  Pillows less regularly, but guess what - the pillows are getting washed today.  I would prefer that Coach head up this initiative since he has the pillow phobia, but I think that is unlikely.  

So, this pillow (that it turns out was extra in Ed and Lad's room) was tossed HAPHAZARDLY on our bed.  Coach wigged out.  I shook the pillow at him along with some accompanying 'scary' sounds, thinking it was one of my pillows AND thinking he would laugh.  I do not have cooties and my pillows do not double as substitute toiletries items even during this time of toilet paper shortages.  

I was like WHAT THE HELL, IT IS JUST A PILLOW?! 

My aggressive action infuriated Coach.  He still isn't speaking to me right now -  the next morning.  I must apologize and I guess be more sensitive to his fear of pillows.  

I guess if things get really boring during this our close, unwelcome, family time, we can always revert to pillow fights.  I have a feeling I know who would lose. 

What have you got people?  Anything that sets your spouse off that you cannot wrap your brain around?  

March 27, 2020

managing various personalities with little success and IT IS STILL EARLY


The whole family crowded into the family room to watch a movie after the three possible germ carriers got home from our New York trip.  I collapsed on the couch and asked Curly to fill up my water bottle.  She did so while holding a paper towel around it, so as not to contaminate herself with my germs.  

Dear God, if Coach or Lad or I picked this thing up and brought it home, there will be hell to pay.  Let's not even go there.  

My knees, lord above - how my knees suffered from being cramped in a car for almost 24 hours.  The 6 hours when I sat in the backseat on the way home were tantamount to Chinese water torture.  At one point I HAD TO stretch my right leg with the refuse-to-heal knee.  I had to use my hands to force fold up my leg and pull my foot free from the packed stuff shoved in my foot space.  Coach swiveled around and helped me pull my foot over the pile-o-crap stuff near me to allow my heel to rest on his armrest in the passenger seat.

I couldn't sit like that forever and the other knee started screaming for some equal stretch out time, but I had nothing to offer.  No where to go.  It wouldn't stretch over to the passenger seat from its position up against the opposite door.  Add to that a water restriction for two days in order to limit stops, and my gut was begging for better treatment.  It was NOT PRETTY.

But what is an evening at home with everyone if we don't watch a movie?  The 5 youngest had been playing a rousing game of Apples to Apples when we arrived home from our road trip.  Poor Curly.  No one bought her 'definitions', so she had no winning cards, no points -as it were.  She is still too young to get that the siblings like the funny, obscure, twisted definitions and she still expects them to vote for the closest definition that she submits.  She was brave.  No tears or anything.  Still a change of entertainment was in order. 

Issue number one - the game board is very small. 
When I was a kid, we had a metal game that
was huge so people had enough personal
space to sit in front of their color.  Turns out
Mini doesn't like the way Reg breathes or sighs or
 gasps or talks to himself under his breath.  The
 set we had had little drawers that stored
 marbles around the edges of the board. But a
ticked off kid or even a clumsy kid could bump
 the board and all the marbles would go rolling
everywhere.  Game over. 
Issue number two:  I thought
 I was going to be able to school everyone
on this - my game.  Not so much. 
I ordered a Chinese checkers game when I first heard we would be at home A LOT and that has been a huge source of fun for the family.  Well, except for the first game . . .  a few nights before the New York torture, Coach and I played with the four youngest kids.  Tank sort of played, but he was not taking the game seriously.  He was just moving a few guys out of his triangle and back in again and leaving the rest alone.  

Never played?  Basically he messed up the game and some players couldn't get their guys moving because of him.  People.  I could not laugh it off.  I was irritated beyond words.  I could have won.  Instead Mini won.  Curly had a chance to block Mini's last move but she misunderstood my directions and Mini won.  I reverted to my younger-child-self and insisted that Tank never be allowed to play again.  In my defense, I did sleep 9 hours that night after the game, so I blame exhaustion.  I could not be that grossly competitive.  Right?  

Anyway, I figured a movie made sense seeing as I was really not well rested enough to try a family game.  We were thinking we would watch 'Ford vs Ferrari.'  Ed wanted to watch 'Knives Out' - a great movie, but we recently watched it while we was still away at college.  During 'normal' times.  

Lad has a way to play movies through his laptop - maybe it is Netflix, not sure.  We NEED to get rid of Direct TV, the biggest money dump of all time, but have yet to decide on a plan.  So we waited for Lad to set up the laptop, but he was in a huge huff because while we were gone Tank had inadvertently deleted Lad's entire game history on some cowboy game in the basement on some play station system that Lad bought with money I give him for food.  So, that isn't irritating at all.    

When Lad came out of the basement, he was steamed.  Tank is rarely sincere, so Lad was not accepting Tank's apology.  Lad set up the laptop and then unplugged it shouting:  "No.  I am not doing this.  He isn't sorry."  

So I'm thinking the next few months should be just swell.  

What are you and your family doing during this whether-you-like-them-or-not family time?  

March 25, 2020

3 not-so-blind mice, Mr. Connections and remotely dealing with an a-hole landlord

(this was written pre-EVERYONE must stay home and colleges are closing, but it has more info on Lad's apartment and Coach's inability to see well, which is quite humors, I think anyway - you let me know if you find the humor in it).

While I was in St. Louis (FOREVER AGO for volleyball) I got an email from a man who is an alum from the school Lad attends.  This guy, Mr. Connections, met Lad after giving a talk at the school a few years ago.  Realizing Lad was an ND fan, he told Lad, "Oh, you need to meet Rudy."  -as in the original Rudy the ND football movie was based on.  Lad had a conversation with Rudy over the phone and Rudy flew Lad and his buddies out to ND for a game.  

Mr. Connections had Lad come and stay with his family for Thanksgiving of '18.  He and his family love Laddie, and they have really taken him under their wing.  

Mr. Connections emailed me to say that he wanted to get involved, with my permission, to deal with Lad's landlord issues.  In short, Lad and his two roomies are living in a building infested with mice.  His fridge didn't work for months.  His oven wasn't working.  The front door to his apartment (that opens to the hallway) does not lock.  In a word:  frustrating.  

Have I mentioned that we pay $700/month for this pit?  Initially Lad thought it was a step up from the joint he lived in last year.  That's not saying much.  I couldn't send packages there for fear they would be stolen.  Instead, I mailed them to his friends' places.  

I called the landlord a few weeks ago.  She did not call me back.  Two days later I called again.  I left an irate message.  She called me back.  She tried to tell me that the guys had not set up a con ed account and that is why the fridge didn't work.  I was like, then why does the freezer work?  The lights?  


This is a photo of Lad's shower.  Total
rent is $2100/month divided by
 three students.  Outrageous.
She claimed the super had never been in the unit to service the appliances.  My initial complaint was 'Get these kids a fridge that works so they can stop eating out exclusively!'  I told the woman her thinking the super hadn't been there was a lie.  Lad later said that they begged the super to look at stuff but he hid from them.

The longer we spoke, the angrier I got.  This chick told me that I should not take that tone with her.  She was calling me back as a courtesy but that my name was not on the lease as a secondary.  I told her I signed the lease and she damn well better talk to me.  I told her I would let the college know about these issues so they would discourage students from renting there again.  

Oh, and she told me she hadn't called me back after the first message because she was sick that day.  I told her I really didn't give a shit, when you are out sick and someone calls with an urgent matter you have someone call them back.  Like, what the actual EF?  

Then the mice.  She explained that a letter had gone out to the entire building instructing them to choose a day when they would be around for the exterminator to come in.  She said the guys had yet to respond.  All I needed to hear was 'whole building'  - so the place is infested?!  Lad said all he did was clean and the mice just kept coming.  There were mouse poops everywhere.  

The super arrived soon after and cleaned the vent or something so that the fridge could start to cool again.  They fixed the oven.  Apparently over the weekend Lad found mouse poops on top of the laundry in his laundry basket.  

I am fuzzy on when he saw or spoke to Mr. Connections, but this guy is the bomb.  He talks the talk, sounds New York-ish.  I think people listen when he talks.  He asked me to call him.  I took a break from my Tank-tongue lashing on my drive home from St. Louis and we chatted.

Before I called him, I touched base with Lad.  Lad was not interested in moving in with Mr. and family (which Mr. offered) because they live on Long Island and he didn't want to be 40 minutes from school.  He was kinda back-pedaling.  His roommates didn't want to move out.  It was only four more months.  He could stick it out.  

Info on roomies:  They are both from Serbia.  Play b-ball at the school.  Full scholarship - their rent is paid for.  Their families are in Serbia.  One of them lost his father over the summer.  Remember when we bought all the gear Lad needed to furnish his kitchen?  They were overjoyed to have a microwave.  At one point they bought a cat (did I write about that here?  How I found this out because Lad spent some moola at Pet Smart - admitted it was a cage for the cat.  Found out yesterday they gave the cat away).  

Phone conversation with Mr. Connections:

Mr.:    I forget how young Lad is sometimes.  You know Lad, he changes his mind every 5 minutes.  This is nonsense.  I know people.  I say we get him out of there.  This lawyer is a friend, he works here for us.  This is what he does.  Lad's like, buy my roommates don't want to move out.  I'm like Lad - mice carry diseases!

Me:  I think Lad is worried he will lose his security deposit.

Mr.:  He's losing nothin.  He's getting it ALL back.  They can't be charging him to live like that.  No way.  Listen, you talk to your husband.  Talk to Lad.  Let me know what you want to do next.

Me:  OK, thanks.

Tank was in the car and he was covering his mouth trying to stifle a laugh while Mr. was spouting off about who he knows at the college.  His best friend from high school's dad is the major funding body for the newest expansion at the business building, etc.  

I called residence life at the college.  Dorm rooms?  Sure, there are some available for the rest of the year, but they have kids living in them.  It would look like this:  here's a double with a kid in it.  Here comes Lad, a senior.  

I told her that would be a hard sell and would never happen.  She also mentioned that there are apartments that can be rented month to month, but tend to be a bit pricier.  If we are getting money back from this place like Mr. says we are, then who cares?  

Lad was still hesitant.  He was out buying more traps yesterday.  Um, this kid needs to study.  Not sure if I have updated you, but a few weeks ago Lad called to say that he WILL be graduating on time in May.  There was one class they were going to make him take on campus this summer, but he met with them and convinced them to reconsider.  Maybe he is the next Mr. Connections?

This morning while I was eating my breakfast, Lad texted me a photo of a mouse trap with two mice in it.  And, yes I kept right on eating.  I roll that way.  (just don't ask me to give blood - then I pass out).

Coach was so confused.  He couldn't see both mice.  People, I am hesitant to share because I want us to stay friends (it is not gory at all, promise), but still.  Two little bodies are sticking out from opposite directions.  Reggie and I were howling to Coach, "How can you NOT see two bodies?"  It was on my phone so I magnified it big time.  Yum, oatmeal.   
OK, I wasn't going to share, but I colored in the part of the peanut butter palace that showed their heads.  There was no blood or anything.  But I must ask, HOW IN GOD'S NAME DID COACH NOT SEE TWO MICE HERE?  I was like, Do you think one is dead and the other one is just coming over to be a callous friend and lick the rest of the peanut butter out of the trap?  I'm telling you every morning should start out with this kind of entertainment.  OK, no - rethinking that -not really.  But it was funny!

It did not look like they were dead, it looked as if they had just met up at this new peanut butter bar and were enjoying a feast while their heads were inside the little white building ie the trap.  Reg and I exchanged a glance that screamed, "Wait, is Daddy experiencing early onset dementia that he cannot recognize this as what it is?"  I think it was a new fancier trap than what we have ever seen.  

After his morning class, Lad came back and had caught another mouse in the same re-set trap.  These three mice (are you humming 3 Blind Mice yet?)- all caught in his bedroom.  Not the kitchen.  

Lad is starting to embrace finding a new living arrangement.  Wish me luck as that has become today's mission.  But Tuesdays are for bathroom cleaning.  Guess I will be working double time here.  

This upcoming weekend is one of two weekends inside of 6 weekends that I am meant to be in town (b-ball, dancing, volleyball, college Mom's weekend, etc).  I am now wondering if a last minute flight out to New York might be necessary.  

March 23, 2020

Whatever works, "Look kids Big Ben!", & photos to prove we left our home


I packed the dinner Tank prepared
 the night before
 into our big Stanley thermos and
 Coach and I feasted
 on my luke warm portion of gluten
 free of Chicken Parmigiana.  
I was so happy to read a post Sunday morning from the More the Messier, that I urge you to check  out.  She is super funny, and blogs less frequently now that she works outside the home, but silver lining of our at-home time she has made time to post recently.  

Now my update, that I hope will make you chuckle a bit, you can let me know: 

Coach, Lad, and I survived our last minute, forced-march road-trip out east and back.  Coach and I left at noon Friday and we arrived home at 8:45 pm Saturday night.  I usually require time to mentally prepare for a long trip in a car. Deciding to go at midnight the night before was NOT sufficient mental prep time.  A few hours in I felt trapped.    

We only got out of the car to pee and get gas (combo stops) two times on the way there and two times on the way home.  I packed our food.  It is a 12 hour drive, but even with our quick stops we made it in 11 hours.  Both ways.

And that was with me driving conservatively because Coach was nit picking me about my speed for the entire 4 hours that I drove on the way there, except while he napped for less than an hour.  (sound familiar? remember this story from last spring break?) Trust me, I searched the dashboard for an eject button, but alas no.  Our minivan is not equipped.  He would grow agitated if I traveled over 80.  The speed limit was 70.  There wasn't much traffic.  His phone alerted us to speed traps.  I was like, LEAVE ME ALONE!  Not like I have ever had speeding tickets before.  Smirk.

At one point while I napped on the way home, guess who was going 90 - yeah, 9-0 when I woke up?  That's right, Mr. 'slow down' himself.  He claimed he was just trying to keep up with traffic.  Uh huh.  

We exited the car to stay at a Hampton Inn in Yonkers.  It is a challenge to stay at a hotel and not touch anything.  After every towel, and faucet, and flush, and knob we hand sanitized.  

We picked up Lad from his apartment at midnight on Friday (he stayed at the hotel with us so he could enjoy the hot breakfast) and arrived back at his apartment (I use the term loosely, because GROSS) after our 'free' breakfast at our hotel.

Tried to snap a pic of the downtown all lit up as Coach and I drove in at midnight Friday.  This felt like 'Look kids, Big Ben' from European Vacation.  It was just Coach and I in the car, but I was realizing how bummed I am that I never really pulled off a girls' weekend or saw a show while Lad was in New York.  Saw lots of water polo though, and made meatballs while SUFFERING with pink eye.  So there's that.
The breakfast didn't start till 8 am because of 'everything', and that bummed us out at first.  Seeing as it was 1 am by the time we got to bed, we realized that we weren't really in any position to pop out of bed and eat at 6 am in order to get on the road early anyway.  After about 6.5 hours of sleep, we were up and showering.  
Ghost town hotel breakfast
with hardly any food.

An Irish dancing mom that I met online once years ago (and who I have since met face to face and planned to see while we were supposed to be in Dublin) when I tried to buy her daughter's dress lives walking distance to Lad's apartment.  She offered to meet me at the park next to his place and chat from a safe distance of 6 feet.  I told her I would have to take a pass as I wanted to help carry stuff to the car and GET OUTTA DODGE!

She understood.  Besides, this was a hit-with-an-ugly-stick kind of trip for me.  I didn't dry hair or 'try' in any way shape or form.  I cringed in the bathroom mirrors during our 2 minute pit-stops, but there really wasn't anyone out on the road to bump into anyway.  In good road trip news, there was plenty of toilet paper, so I was able to return  home with my sweet, golden gem of a roll that I traveled with 'just in case.'  We passed signs every 30 minutes urging people to stay home.  If only!

Free breakfast in this environment consisted of coffee, hard boil eggs, yogurts, and muffins that were packaged.  No milk or anything that people could pick up, use, and set down.  Nothing to scoop up and put on a plate either.

I have debriefed the rest of my children that
if you are considering renting an apartment
 and you see a similar sign about pest
control posted near the elevator -
look elsewhere.
Thankfully I brought milk in a small milk chug in case we stayed somewhere that didn't offer a breakfast.  I always travel with my oatmeal.  Breakfast was a ghost town except for one elderly woman talking on the phone in the corner.  She was telling someone:  "Well he tested positive, but he feels fine.  He knows who gave it to him.  There was a woman at work who wouldn't stop coughing."

We heard this as we were leaving breakfast and walking a safe distance from her - the only other breakfast visitor - on our way back to our room to brush teeth and grab our stuff.  We decided to essentially shower in hand sanitizer too.  

Just before he came home, a big chunk of the
ceiling in the bathroom fell into his bathroom because
the tub above his bathroom overflowed.  There was
 leaking and plaster and the shower curtain apparatus
fell down.  Lad used some tools to get it back up.
We had initially planned to stay at the hotel that is one mile from Lad's college.  It was booked with first responders.  (In case you are unaware, Lad's school was in New Rochelle - the city that early on had the highest concentration of Covid 19 cases in the nation).  The hotel we ended up at worked out fine, and when we pulled into the lot LATE Friday night, I was comforted by the fact that there were homeland security trucks in the lot.  

We filled the minivan with Lad's stuff.  I keep thinking this is going to be a great time to organize the closets and the bedrooms, etc.  My organizational self mentally waved a small, defeated white flag after I saw the minivan stuffed to the brim of Lad's belongings.  Where is this all going to go?

Not sure you can tell but the door
 knob part is barely even attached
to the door.  After many attempts to
 contact the super, it was never fixed.
 This is in New York.  An apartment
 door that doesn't lock?  WTF?
I took a video of Lad demonstrating how the apt door doesn't lock or even really close properly.  He and his roommates once got locked inside because there is no functioning handle on the inside of the door.  Slightly hazardous.  Right or wrong, we are absconding and just planning to not pay the rest of his rent.  They can keep the security deposit.  The super was unresponsive.  Landlady an ass.  More later on this nightmare.  

Lad drove the last stretch home.  I sat in the backseat.  Coach piped up and discussed some of our concerns with Lad's behavior and issues that have been a problem at home.  Lad was fairly receptive.  It was a decent talk.  I mostly kept my mouth shut - Coach and I agreed to this tactic in advance.  Coach pointed out to Lad that saying things as he bolts to the airport like:  "I don't even want to live here."  and "You've had me in a choke hold my whole life" are unfair statements considering how much we have done for him.  

Another angle. Guessing the motto
 on this building is NOT 'safety first'.
Coach brought particular attention to the fact that I have gone to bat for Lad so much over the years.  Lad agreed he doesn't give me enough credit.  He admitted that he can here me remind him to read his papers out loud as a revising tool.  "If it doesn't sound right, then it probably isn't."

Lad apologized for the way he handled needing to meet with his Spanish teacher and admitted that he should have been more upfront about his concerns and should have visited the Spanish lab before he left town or any time during the first half of the semester.  Sigh.

Basically I learned that I need to LITERALLY sit in the backseat and let Coach broach difficult topics because my approach (too emotional and easily insulted or outraged when Lad talks out of his ass) almost always sets Lad off.  

I feel like it is a new take on Carpool Karaoke.  Our version:  Parental Input Road Trip.  

Whatever works.  

March 20, 2020

choke hold


(I apologize that this is so long.  Coach just texted that we are leaving earlier than planned so I have to get my self in gear here and don't have time to edit.  Besides it is just a long ass story.)

Lad came home on Wednesday the 11th.  His flight home for spring break was scheduled for the 13th, but when his school closed early we flew him home early.  He now says that I made him come home early even though he had stuff to accomplish like meeting with his professors.  Lad often has an interesting twist on reality, but I have all of our text exchanges.  I gave him many options regarding flights and told him to let me know what worked best for him, so his story doesn’t hold water.


There is loads of history here.  I love Lad.  He is our oldest.  He has tested us more than any of the other kids to date, and I would assume no other kid will give us such a run for our money.   Fingers crossed anyway.  He isn’t a bad kid.  I would say his biggest issue is that he does not own his behavior.  He is very immature and whatever happens, it is always someone else’s fault. 

Kids are all different, of course, but how odd when they experience the same parenting style and turn out so different.   Ed is very mature.  His fraternity brothers refer to him as ‘dad’.  I told them at mom’s weekend that Mini and Tank refer to him as ‘dad’ too- only they find his dad tendencies to be irritating.  Anyway, Ed owns his behavior.  If he messes up, he recognizes it and apologizes, etc.  I suppose it is just in Lad’s makeup and Ed’s makeup.  I cannot for the life of me figure out how you get kids who can approach ‘I did that, sorry’ and ‘It wasn’t my fault’ when they have been raised the same way. 

Lad’s attention deficit disorder impacted him more socially than academically, although academics were never easy for him.  He has always struggled with friendships.  As a young mother, it broke my heart.  Looking back, we should have bumped him from the Catholic school to the public school.  The Catholic school was small and there just weren’t enough fish in the sea.  He couldn’t find his group.  We didn’t know what we would encounter at the public school, so we left him at the same school with all of the other kids.  It was like the fear of the unknown.  At least at the Catholic school we knew what we were dealing with.  Most of the boys in Lad’s class were the oldest in their families.  They were seasoned and he was romper room. 

I could share countless examples.  Kids were mean.  Parents were stupid.  Lad was often left out.  There were triplet boys.  Their folks divorced when they were in kindergarten.  The boys were very aggressive.  I tried to have just one of the boys come over to play with Lad in 3rd grade.  Divide and conquer.  If one of them accepted him, who knows what would happen? 

He felt like this one brother was his buddy.  The mom always had an excuse.  She never reciprocated.  The boys never got together.  On a day off of school in November in 3rd grade, I called a bunch of boys- one after the other to see if someone could come and play.  No one could come.  Finally a mom told me that it was the triplets’ birthday party.  The triplet mom had invited every boy in the class of 22 boys to the party except for maybe 3 or 4.  Lad was one of the ones left out.

Since he got home from college Lad has been nervous about how he was going to get his stuff.  Long story, but we have not paid rent in a few months.  There have been many problems with the place.  Infested with mice, no working door handle (Lad said if there was a fire they would all die), fridge that didn’t work for months and was fixed recently, plaster from the upstairs bathroom collapsed into his bathroom making the bathroom unusable.  A lawyer was helping Lad work out a deal – get out of the lease, but he hasn’t returned Lad’s email in days.  We have decided to just get his stuff and let them keep the security deposit. 

It wasn’t until after he was home that Lad admitted that he wasn’t getting along with his two roommates and he was nervous that they were going to take his stuff.    He didn’t trust them.  Swell. 

His school does not send email blasts.  We have never gotten an email from them about ANYTHING.  We asked Lad what they were saying about the end of the school year.  Lad said he thought they would be going back since New Rochelle was so bad early on, it would clear up there and then school would be back on.  Huh?  Wednesday Coach looked at the school website and sure enough, school closed with online classes starting after break. 

Wednesday evening as we were about to go to bed, Lad told us that he thought he would fly out there and meet with a professor or two.  He’d like to stay a week to see the girlfriend.  Then we could drive out and get his stuff.  We had a flight for him to return from spring break that we could change, but we figured it made more sense to drive out there.  Better to avoid planes.  Plus it made more sense for Coach to drive out with Lad and share the driving.  Last we had heard, New Rochelle was a hotbed for the virus and people were supposed to avoid the area.  I said we needed better information.  We pointed out that we weren’t even sure when his professor would be at school since it was spring break.  Lad sent an email right then.  He didn’t like our plan, blurted out ‘I don’t even want to live here.’  Well.  Don’t get me started. 

He had already told me he didn’t care that much about missing the end of his senior year.  His school is more of a commuter school, so I think part of it is that it isn’t the same as other schools.  The other thing is that I don’t think he had many close friends.  He has a girlfriend, who I think has been very good for him.  I have never complained about her or told him he is too young to date seriously, BUT I do think he is way too immature to date seriously.  No idea what the future is there.  Don’t get me wrong, she is sweet and I have no problem with her.  I prefer he grow up though and then reconnect.  Not sure that is in the cards.

The whole reason he was in this crappy apartment is that the water polo team rented a house together and didn’t include him.  No matter how hard he is to get along with at times (bristles easily, doesn’t pick up on social cues, takes things personally and struggles to move on from there – probably his biggest issue), this broke my heart.  Even though I realize that it is probably him, I want to believe the stories he tells about his teammates.  A couple of jerks.  He is on the outs with them, so he is not invited to live in the house. 
Lad has a best friend from high school, Jim – a great kid at college out in Montana.  Ed always says, thank God for Jim.  Jim gets along with Lad great.  He gets him.  At the caddy shack in the summer, Ed told me that when Lad was spouting off Jim just turned to him and said, ‘Dude, I think you’re hangry.  You need a snickers or something?’  Then Lad laughed and got over whatever his issue was.  In these parts, Jim is a demigod. 

Coach and I went to bed Wednesday and agreed that Lad’s need to get out there asap made no sense.  Why couldn’t he just wait a few days to make a plan?  Be sure New Rochelle was accessible, etc. 
Thursday Coach worked early.  I was out walking with Mini at 9:30 am.  Lad called me to say that his professor had emailed him back at 6:00 in the morning.  “I wish someone had woke me up earlier.”  Um, what?  Here we are – it is someone else’s fault.  I didn’t even engage.
“He can meet with me today after 3:45 pm, so I need to fly out there soon.”
Me:  I do not think that was going to happen.  We need to make a plan.  Daddy needs you to drive out with him.  We are leaning towards NOT flying.  (At one point we discussed flying two people out and renting a truck to drive back).  I am finishing my walk.  We can talk when I get back.

He later told Coach that I hung up on him.  Untrue.

When I got home, he refused to listen to me say that this made no sense.  It was too much to ask Daddy to drive 12 hours to NY alone.  Does the teacher not skype?  How about a phone call?  In these times, teachers would have to be flexible.  Certainly. 

Lad:  He doesn’t do any of that.  What if I missed a handout?  I need to be sure I have all of the papers I need.  I suck at Spanish.  I don’t want to fail.  (Lad took 3 summer school classes over the summer.  He failed all of them – or got a D which he would not get credit for.  Spanish was one of them.  He has been very focused on trying to pass everything in the home stretch so he can graduate). 

Me:  If he has extra handouts and he doesn’t email then he will have to mail them to you.  This makes no sense.  We have to talk to Daddy.

Lad:  (racing back to his laptop):  Then I am going to buy a flight right now.  I am leaving.  I am not letting you do this again.

Me:  Again?  When has this situation ever arisen before?

Lad:  My whole life. My whole life you have had me in a choke hold.

I can’t even begin.  He wanted to play football in college against our wishes.  He wanted to go to St. Ambrose.  We thought Loras was a better fit, but off he went to St. Ambrose.  He played football freshman year till he hated it and then wanted to transfer to play water polo and pay an additional $14,000 over the next 3 years.  Off he went to play water polo.  Choke hold my ass. 

While I was walking, I had called Coach’s clinic.  They told me he was manually working on a patient and would call me back in a bit.  Now I called again.  I told the person who answered the phone:  This is now emergent.  I must speak with him now.  Please tell him.

She came back to the phone and said that Coach was going to call me on my cell phone.  He never called.  I took the free weights to the living room and continued to finish my workout.  I knew it was best if I not engage with Lad – stay in another room.  He was making no sense and I feared things would just escalate if I challenged him.  Ed woke up.  Before he went into the kitchen, I told him what was happening. 

Ed:  Danny, why is this an emergency?  Why can’t you wait and drive out with Daddy?

Lad:  Mom won’t let me be alone in New York because she thinks I am on drugs. 

Me:  WHAT?  No, not true.  If you leave, then Daddy has to drive out alone.  Why can’t you wait?  We aren’t even supposed to be flying anyway.  You are being irrational.

Lad:  Make Ed drive out with Dad.

Ed:  (laughing)

I called Coach AGAIN.  The woman said I could call his cell phone because he was driving home.  I called his cell. 

Coach:  I locked my keys in my car. 

Me:  Ed drive to Daddy’s work and give him the keys.  Lad, give me my credit card back.

Ed left with the keys.  I continued to speak to Coach on the phone from the front porch until I realized he wasn’t responding and my 3 minute tirade had been to no one.  I called him back.  I must’ve disconnected the phone when I juggled the phone and the door to the porch.  Repeated my tirade till Ed got there with the keys and Coach said he was on his way.

Curly brought my credit card into me a few minutes later and said Lad had just walked out the door.  Coach got home and it was too late.  Lad was gone.  Coach drove off to try to find him, but I told him he probably got an Uber to the airport. 

Me:  Just this once it would have been nice if we came before your patients.  I have called you several times.  You should have cancelled people.  At the very least, you should have taken my call.  I cannot always do this alone.

I realized I could see his bank account.  I pulled it up.  His account is tied to ours.  When he was nervous to leave town because of the chance of being evicted, I transferred enough money to his account to pay for the two months of rent.  I told him to pay it and then if the lawyer got the money back, great.  He walked to the bank, but the lawyer texted him and told him NOT to pay it.  I never bothered to pull the rent money out of his cash card account. 

Guess what?   He bought a ticket on United Airlines with his cash card just that morning while he was arguing with me.  I was so irritated that I had not thought to clear out his account.  So the flight I have for him that was for Monday that could be changed for next to nothing now becomes a voucher.  In his name.

Guess what else?  He got a money order for $700 for one month of rent and never paid it, so he probably still has that – he better.  The other $700 had dwindled to $230.  I transferred it back into my account.  Now he was flying to NY with nothing on his cash card.  I wouldn’t want him to feel the choke hold of being in debt to me. 

Coach called him and called him.  Lad finally answered.  Said his phone was almost dead.  OF COURSE.  Once it was charged – probably while he was sitting at the gate, he called.  It was all so ridiculous.  Coach told him that he would drive to O’Hare and pick him up. They could leave tomorrow, Friday (today).  He would move his patients. 

Lad told Coach I made him come home before he was ready.  Claimed I hung up on him while on my walk.  Said my walk was more important.  Said he misses his girlfriend.  He was upset he wasn’t able to finish his senior year (earlier it didn’t matter, and I do get that this is disappointing but racing off doesn’t solve that).  He really needed to talk to his professor face to face.  He was worried about his stuff, etc.  Coach offered to go next week.  He has fewer patients right now and he could juggle patients.  Nope.  Lad got on the plane.  I texted him to point out that I have all the texts about coming home and he should be apologizing for lying about me ‘MAKING’ him come home before he was ready.

I had agreed to cut all the boys’ hair, so I set my stuff up on the porch.  I was fit to be tied.  Coach was begging me to be more patient, to not be so mad, even though he was shaking by the time he got off the phone with Lad.  The whole thing is so upsetting. 

I later sent Coach a text.  I have been advocating and worrying and racing to Lad’s aid for years.  Game over.  I am done.  Most of that time, Coach was at work.  He would listen to all the stuff that went on later later.  I pointed out that it boggles the mind that Lad lashes out at me after all I have done for him.
I was the one who found him a therapist, organized play dates, pulled an all nighter to make him a 4 horsemen Halloween costume when the 3 other would-be horsemen dumped him right beforehand, argued with teachers who made him call his bad grades out in front of the whole class so she could record them in her grade book, made teachers learn what ADD meant, called a principal out for not reprimanding boys who she admitted had bullied Lad (People, his 7th grade classmates said ‘pussy lickers’ and when my romper room son didn’t laugh they made fun of him for not knowing the terminology), once I called a parent whose son was an ass to Lad and made fun of him at another kid’s house and  made him cry until he called me to come pick him up. 
Lad was so excited to be the four horsemen, when the other kids decided to do a costume that didn't include him I told him he could STILL be the four horsemen.  We just had to be creative.  Not the best picture because  of how tow of the heads are kind of leaning forward.  It was heavy as hell, but he was thrilled with it. 

At the high school hosted basketball camp, Lad went all the way to the final two kids of a shooting drill and the coach stupidly asked the rest of the camp attendees to stand next to the kid they thought would win.  It was a popularity contest.  No one stood next to Lad.  Everyone clambered to stand next to the other boy.  I always stayed at the gym.  It was too much effort to load the double stroller back in the car and return an hour or so later.  There were a few other moms who stayed, so I wasn’t a total freak.  Lad was little – like around 10 years old.  I grabbed Ed by the arm - told him to stand next to his brother and cheer for him.  Ed tried to argue that this wasn’t his camp.  He didn’t want to get in trouble.  When he heard my voice crack because I was crying, he hauled his little butt over and stood there alone cheering for Lad.  Really I don’t think Lad ever caught a break.  

Remember the negative things my dad wrote about Lad in his book?  How I went to bat for him there? 

Coach texted me back and said that there is a lot he forgets that I did for Laddie.  I think Laddie forgets too.

So now, after all that – Lad hates everything I say.  Twists my words. I am the bad guy.  I try to keep my distance and we do better when he is in New York.  I just don’t think I have it in me to let this one slide.  Funny, we pay for his phone.  His car insurance.  I am ready to give him the boot. 

Coach and I are leaving for New York in an hour and a half.  He was going to drive alone, but I worry that he will fall asleep.  Ed is here to manage the rest of the gang. 

Never saw this coming.   I guess I was too busy keeping my choke hold on him so tight.