Being a mother means being a Jacqueline of All Trades . . . whether we want to be or not. But we will have none of that gobbledygook about “competent at many, but master of none” because we rock just about everything. We’re moms, it’s what we do . . . buuuuttttttt . . . do we really have to rock them all by ourselves? Clearing the sink of dishes or scooping the litter box is not high level functioning.
And sure we support the hard party line of giving our kids responsibilities, but you know when the chips are down, the laundry is piling up, and the lunches still need to be packed, mom is the last line of defense.
So what’s a mom to do? Take a deep breath, repeat the mantra “it’s lovely to be needed,” and have a laugh at your own expense. Here, we’ll help you with thirteen spot-on-laughing-through-the-tears mom jobs we all can relate to.
You know when you get treated wrongly and you think of the perfect thing to say or do to give the bullies their comeuppance?
Me neither. At least not 99.87% of the time.
But no matter because you know what happened in that 0.13% sliver of chance? Not a thing except the opportunity to serve up the biggest heaping dose of karma EVER. If you’ve never had the chance to bury your own hatchet, by all means, live vicariously through me. Underdogs of the world unite!
My tale of triumph took place during my internship on Labor and Delivery. To be more specific, it was 2:00 am and I was on call at the private hospital where we did rotations. Working in this hospital was a little different than when we were at the university one. Here, very few patients were “ours.” These women had private doctors whom they had lovingly and thoroughly researched, interviewed, and selected. Exhaustively and with extreme commitment. All of this research was frequently laminated and saved in binders as prologues to their twenty-five page birth plans.
Unfortunately for them–and really me–these ladies often had not read the fine print:
Your doctor has a sweet deal at a teaching hospital. This means he has residents as his scut monkeys to do the majority of his labor (pun intended and reveled in). The resident’s job is to stay up for ungodly stretches of time caring for you while absorbing your ire. Your physician will glide in just minutes before your baby crowns. He is NOT coming in to triage or to supervise your labor because let’s be honest, he’s just not that into you.
Yeah, no one was ever pleased about not seeing THEIR doctor “right now!” so I thought my new preterm labor patient in triage was just having the typical indignant reaction when she saw me pop through the curtain. The indignation always amused me because in triage, I reigned as judge and jury, deciding who got to stay and who shouldn’t let the door hit her on the way out. Staying was a good thing when you wanted your spawn out yesterday, not so good when you were preterm.
As I strode into the room, the patient jerked up in bed and practically levitated. She was twenty-seven weeks pregnant, so preterm labor was a scary situation. My eyes flew to the fetal monitor, but no contractions were registering. In the blink of an eye, I introduced myself, asked the patient if she was in pain, and moved to adjust the monitor on her belly.
“Are you having contractions?” I asked as I moved the monitor around, reassured to see the strong and responsive fetal heart rate.
“No,” she squeaked.
I was scanning her chart to see if she was a preterm labor risk, but her strangled response tore my eyes away from the chart.
“You seem to be in a lot of distress. What’s going on?” I asked.
“I had a little spotting and some pressure so Dr. Busyonhisyacht wanted me to come in and be monitored.”
“Do you feel any contractions now?”
“No,” she stammered.
“Well that is excellent, but I’m going to need to do an exam with the speculum to see if you are dilated or have any rupturing of your membranes.”
“Where is my doctor!?!!” The squeak was now so shrill it could have cracked a wine glass. Or my nerves.
I replied, “It’s standard procedure here for a resident to exam you and report to your doctor what is going on. Using this information he will make decisions about your care.” Implied but not stated: On a side note, I would not piss me off because I will have my hand up your vagina in about five minutes. Just sayin’.
“But won’t he come in for ME?”
Poor delusional thing. “No, Sweetie, I’m sorry. And besides, we need to know now if your cervix is changing for the safety of the baby. We can’t wait for him to drive in.”
“You don’t remember me do you?”
Mental Rolodex whirred furiously. I am abysmal at remembering people on a good day. I had been working for twenty hours, so I had no hope .
“We were in the same suite in college,” she whispered. She at least had the decency to look ashamed.
Insert screeching brakes and a twelve car pile up in my head. This was the girl who had tag-teamed with my other suite-mates to inflict misery upon me for five months of my junior year. Sleep deprivation was not the culprit here. My brain was functioning under the protection of denial and repression.
At my college, getting into the fabulous upperclassmen suites was an exercise in backroom politics. It was all about who you knew. People already living in the suites got to pull other people in. At housing lottery time, the schemes, bribery and treachery flew around like glitter during a pole dance.
After countless hours of wheeling and dealing, I thought I got pulled into the Nirvana of all suites. It was two stories with five bedrooms, a kitchen, and a living room. I pulled my good friend into my room with me. We even had our own bathroom.
Well, to put it simply, things went to hell when the girl who pulled me in unexpectedly moved off campus and we ended up in this suite with four rooms of the cliquiest Mean Girls whom we enraged with our very existence. We had blocked the final members of their Axis of Evil from moving in and they were bent on making us pay.
They were pros at tormenting us. Some of their attacks were blitzkreig-esque like when they threw our pots and pans away or when they dumped our possessions out into the stairwell. Sometimes the torture had more of a prisoner of war flavor when they would place speakers up against our door or they would jack up the thermostat. We counted ourselves lucky when they were just calling us names.
My friend and I lived like hermits behind our locked bedroom door until we could be liberated at the end of the semester. We tried to have as little contact as possible with the other girls.
But here SHE was . . . about to have a lot of contact with me. Can you imagine? Regret served up on a speculum. Sounds like the worst country western song ever.
I treated her professionally, and thank goodness she was not in preterm labor. But in those wee hours of the morning, as I snapped on my gloves, I like to think that I not only served up great patient care, but I delivered the most epic dose of karma a Mean Girl has ever had to swallow.
Even though it’s March, my high school senior is still receiving mailings from colleges.
To quote my youngest daughter, “Who was the marketing genius behind this?!”
But for her, the “where to apply” question has been answered, her die has been cast, that ship has sailed and whatever other cliché can cover NO MORE APPLICATIONS. However, “where will she go?” is the question on everyone’s lips from her grandparents to her dentist, and the one that has me perching expectantly on the edge of my seat.
As is often the way with Facebook, College Admissions: How to Survive While Your Kid Waits came through my feed at exactly the time I needed it. Full of commiseration and tongue-in-cheek chuckles, it got me to thinking about what this waiting period really is like. Before the calendar flipped to March, I just used that age-old coping strategy employed by horror film damsels and political candidates alike–I denied/ignored/squashed my apprehension. But as the trees start to bloom, so does my perturbation. Wait, back that up, I’m not really perturbed or filled with dread so much as the suspense is killing me. It’s a lot like waiting for Christmas morning.
Yes! It’s like Christmas morning: the wiggly ants in your pants anticipation, that giddy feeling that makes it hard to fall asleep, the wondering what you’re going to get and when you can show it to your friends. Except St. Nick ends the torture on the same day every year. There’s no “is this the day?!” Yeah, and no one gets their presents four months ahead of everyone else just for making a short list and turning it in early. (I’m looking at you early decision-ers.) Hey, but Santa does make parents foot the bill so this analogy still works on some levels.
Maybe it’s more like sitting by the phone waiting to get asked to prom. The whole “will he or won’t he?” layered over “will today be the day?” Calm down, I’m talking back in the era of landlines and bad perms because of course modern young women don’t have to wait to be asked. I’m just trying to channel the fluttery hope, the endless dissection of what might happen, but this probably isn’t right, either. One rejection letter could transform this “High School Musical” into the blood bath from “Carrie.” Also, I’ve tweaked my own feminism with this example, so let’s just agree there was more wrong with the 80s than just the sky-high bangs, and move on.
Maybe it’s more like winning The Publishers Clearing House Sweepstakes! (Oh yes I just googled to see if it’s still a thing, and it is!) That Prize Patrol captures the manna from heaven, out of the blue, gift of it all excitement. I would totally not be against dumping the contents of the paper shredder over my girl to celebrate the moment. But you know what? This isn’t right either. Even though admissions are tough, my daughter has better odds of getting an acceptance than 1 in 200,000,000 because it’s not just up to chance. My girl has worked hard, tested well, and thoughtfully chosen schools. While there are so many wonky factors that go into admissions and fabulous candidates have to be in the rejection pile, too, this isn’t a game of roulette. Also, we’ll be the ones handing over the check so “womp, womp.”
You know what this is like exactly? A continuation of the wild ride that is motherhood: never knowing exactly what is around the corner and meeting that unknown with high hopes seasoned liberally with apprehension. I’m a mother who has loved her daughter with all of her heart since the moment I laid eyes on her. The loving was easy, but navigating motherhood? Not so much. I was so completely overwhelmed and floored by all it took to mother my daughter through childhood, and now here she teeters on the brink of adulthood waiting to see where she can take that next step and I am electric with excitement. All I can do is continue to love her, trust in God that she will end up where she belongs . . . and totally and completely keep ALL of my nervous trepidation to myself. Shhhhh!
So you decided one fine December that it would be super swell to make photo books as holiday gifts for the grandparents, siblings, and aunts. And it was . . . but it was so much work. So. Much. Work.
But they loved them, and they fawned over you, and now it’s your thing. Your stressful, time-sucking thing. But you know in your heart it doesn’t have to be that hard. If you just knocked them out earlier in the year it wouldn’t be so bad. Right? RIGHT?! New Year’s resolution time: jump on Shutterfly in January and BOOM, Christmas shopping will be done before the calendar even flips a page.
But things come up, time gets away from you, and then suddenly . . .
It’s dawn on December 5th when you realize the 50% discount–THE BEST OFFER OF THE YEAR–ends at midnight.
Procrastination be damned and with Shutterfly as your witness, you will get the photo books done today!
But first Facebook.
NO! FOCUS! Must start culling through 30 bajillion photos. Because digital.
Declare Part B of your new New Year’s resolution is to delete bad photos as you go along.
(No, you won’t.)
Figure out that NOT ONE of the 50 pictures you shot on burst for the family portrait has everyone looking good (or at least looking at the camera) at the same time.
Spend an hour on PicMonkey frankensteining a photo that is album cover worthy.
Hell, while you’re at it, touch up your roots and whiten your teeth in that one fab picture of yourself in front of the tree.
Crap, you need to get the kids to school.
Okay, focus. Just pick some pictures so a book can actually happen.
Start upload of 331 photos.
Celebrate with your 4th cup of coffee before 10:00 AM because now you can begin the fun stuff of designing your book.
Come back with your 5th mug of coffee and realize not all of the photos are on the site because your internet connection glitched in the middle of your upload.
Go through the tiny thumbnails and figure out what’s missing.
Schedule an appointment with the eye doctor to see if you need glasses.
Start another upload.
Swear you’ll upload your pictures immediately after Christmas this year.
(No you won’t.)
While upload is completing (you won’t dare walk away this time because your broken spirit is too heavy to drag along), pick out the perfect theme.
Treat yourself to a 6th cup of coffee because you picked out the perfect theme in three minutes.
Oh nardbolts, it is one that costs extra.
Go back and settle on a different theme. Convince yourself that your basic family will like the basic theme.
Check on the upload.
Accidentally pause upload because your hands are shaking.
Make yourself a sandwich to soak up the caffeine.
Start the book.
Forty minutes later panic–because while they are PERFECTLY placed–you only have three pictures in your album and it’s now time to pick the kids up from school.
Grind on the homework/dinner/practice/bedtime hamster wheel.
Grab a latte to get you through.
Four hours later get back on Shutterfly.
Add a shot of Bailey’s to your coffee because you realize you only have 45% of one page created.
Pass out on the keyboard because you are EXHAUSTED.
Wake up at 4:00 AM. Succumb to gnashing of teeth and rending of garments BECAUSE YOU MISSED THE DEADLINE!
Start Google search to see how much you could get for a kidney to pay for full price photo books.
Check email and see–can it be true??–the 50% deal has been extended by ONE DAY.
Fall to your knees weeping the praises of Shutterfly and promising to use this second chance to end your procrastinating ways once and for all.
(No you won’t.)
Get the kids to school and crank up that Keurig because momma’s got a photo book to complete.
Bust through 30 pages like a woman possessed by ignoring your family and squashing all semblances of holiday cheer. Hit submit at 11:52 PM.
Revel in those eight minutes to spare.
Be stricken with complete amnesia when those glorious orange boxes show up on your doorstep.
Laundry threatens to chew us up and spit us out. How about you? Speak up! You’re all muffled from that mountain of dirty socks you’re buried in.
But seriously, with kids like these:
Don’t worry, they’re not all ours.
Doing things like this:
You need some tricks up your sleeve to tame the laundry beast.
That’s why we’re so pleased to be teaming up with some great brands and bloggers to share some of our favorite laundry hacks, plus a chance to win a Little Laundry Lifehacks Giveaway (including a $150 Walmart gift card!)
Four Fabulous Laundry Hacks
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We’ll get right to our two points since we know we only have five seconds before you flip over to Vine: “Suck it up” and “We apologize.” These need some explanation—especially since we blasted any budding intuition out of you with our confetti cannons—but if your thumbs are already twitching to scroll, we bid you adieu with these words: “FOR THE LOVE OF FUTURE GENERATIONS GET YOUR HEADS OUT OF YOUR BUTTS, DO YOUR JOBS, AND STOP WITH ALL OF THE EXCUSES!”
For those of you sticking around out of indignation (you may lack in intuition, but indignation you got), allow us to switch gears. We’ve been told that precious snowflakes like yourselves need to be handled gently because you’re doing your best and you deserve respect, dammit; human rights and all that. You saw part of a YouTube video on it over the shoulder of some guy on the train. You know what you’re talking about.
But that uncomfortable feeling you’re blaming us for because we’re bitches or at the very least unreasonable, is really the weight of expectations. We expect you to do the jobs you’re cashing in paychecks for every week. That’s not a reward for being cute, or showing up, that is money you EARN by fulfilling your job description.
Here’s the other thing, we don’t need to know the ins and outs of how you fulfill your job. We just need a time frame for when the job will be done and affirmation that it will be done.
Let’s have an example. Examples are good for learning.
Say for instance you receive this call: “Hello Crofton, I really need the projected costs of printing that I asked you for two weeks ago so that we can finalize the contract.”
Here is how not to answer: “Yeah, I don’t have them because I’m new at my job/my cat died/I’m moving/the website is being redesigned/I have a dog christening to go to . . .” Actually this example could go on forever so to summarize: DO NOT USE ANY DETAIL OF YOUR PERSONAL LIFE AS AN EXCUSE.” It does not make us feel sorry for you. In fact, it makes a majority of us want to throttle you while screaming #SORRYNOTSORRY.
Here’s the professional way to answer: “There have been a few circumstances making the collection of those numbers challenging. However, this is now at the top of my list and I will have answers for you by tomorrow morning.” But here’s the key: You now have to ACTUALLY follow through on the work. It’s sad that does not go without saying, but really, it’s not completely your fault.
So this leads into what you will appreciate: an apology. We’re sorry, not for having expectations of you, but for not having expectations of you from an early age. How can we expect you to keep your eye on the prize of completing a job when you’ve always gotten an “A for Effort!” For people who have gotten stickers for everything from acknowledging our nagging to feed the hamster to wiping your own butts; it’s probably a eureka moment to realize performance matters.
Shame on us for doling out participation trophies, turning around scoreboards when the point gap widens too much, and for celebrating bringing up D pluses to C minuses. Guess we didn’t have the forethought to realize you’d be our employees of tomorrow and that your precious “I tried” ways would motivate us to Instagram inspirational quotes about professionalism.
So we effed up and now we’re paying for it in spades. But realizing there’s a problem is half the battle, and now that you know, we believe you can turn this around. We didn’t label 87.2% of you as “gifted” for nothing. But if you can’t, we’ve realized that it’s never too late for a little tough love. There will be some lovely pink slips waiting for you. Bright side? You’re free to make them into all the confetti you desire.
Is there anything more jarring than late night wake-ups?
You know that moment. You’re snug in your bed sleeping–because it’s the middle of the night–when you feel a tap, tap, tap . . .
It was 2:08 am when I reluctantly peeled an eyelid open to see my eldest daughter at my bedside. She was in kindergarten at the time, so from the vantage point of my pillow I could just see her eyes peeking over the edge of the mattress of my high pencil post bed.
She calmly reported, “There is a bat in my room.”
My foggy brain said, “Does not compute.”
I translated for my brain saying, “Do you feel sick?”
She said, “No, but there is a bat doing a jig at the end of my bed.”
My brain chortled, “Your precious dumpling has quite the imagination. Plus, look at her using her vocabulary words at the crack ass middle of the night.”
No one works “jig” into sentences quite as much as a kindergarten curriculum.
Regardless, I was going to have to walk her back to bed.
It was only with the mildest of trepidation that I opened her door and flipped on the light . . .
“Holy @&%$#@&*#^#@#! There’s a bat!!!!
Shriek. Slam. Shriek some more.
Luckily, the linen closet is right by her room. I started shoving towels under her door like I was a beaver building a dam . . . a dam against monsters attacking my babies.
Needless to say I startled my husband and my three year old daughter awake–then the hysteria really kicked up a notch. Well, to be more accurate, my husband joined me in my hysteria. The girls were dancing around like it was the best night ever. Ah, blessed innocence . . . because for crying out loud there was a bat. IN. THE. HOUSE.
The rest of the night unfolded like a strobe lit horror movie.
Husband: “I’m going to get that bat!”
Me: “Really?1 Doesn’t really seem like your skill set.”
Husband: “Of course it is! ::indignant pause:: Um, what should I use to catch a bat?”
Me: “Just figure it out. I’m getting the girls into our bed.”
Yeah, because if 80s horror films taught me anything, the bed is sooooo the safest place to be. I’d be ashamed except I tucked the covers in extra tight around them (completely proven to protect against all evil: Mothering Handbook pg. 735, section 99). But for good measure, I unloaded the other half of the linen closet to seal off the crack under my bedroom door, thus sealing out the bat AND my husband.
::Knock, knock, knock::
Husband: “Let me in.”
Me: “Good try, Mr. Bat. I’m not that easily fooled.”
Husband: “I need you to open the door.”
Once again, going against every ounce of my Freddy Krueger tutelage, I opened the door to see my husband standing there in a full ski ensemble: goggles, hat, scarf, gloves, jacket, snow pants . . . and a crab net. It was May.
He needed my help because ski gloves and doorknobs don’t mix, and no adventure is complete without someone there to witness it. So I opened my daughter’s bedroom door to let him dash in, slamming it so hard behind him that the whole house shook. I didn’t even get my hand off of the knob before he yanked the door open again and dashed out. Somehow he managed that with ski gloves on.
Husband: “I can’t do it! I caught it in the net and it SQUEEZED OUT ONE OF THE HOLES!”
So we hunkered down with the girls in our bed, waiting out the few minutes until dawn broke.
At 8:00 am, I started frantically dialing the exterminator. Somehow, from my hysterical gobbledygook and more than likely with the help of Caller ID, they had a technician at my house by 8:30 am. He walked right into my daughter’s bedroom protected only by a short-sleeved shirt and khakis and emerged two minutes later with a bat stuck to a glue trap.
“It was easy to find under the pillow,” said the technician.
I’ll wait now as you scream in disgust and horror. Go ahead, let it all out. It does no good to keep these things bottled up inside.
As I’m setting fire to her bedding in the driveway, he informs me that the “bat specialist” will be there by one o’clock because when he accessed the attic through my daughter’s closet, he counted at least fifteen bats.
And then I set a match to my house.
Just kidding. I gathered up my youngest, picked up my oldest from kindergarten and hunkered down at the McDonald’s PlayPlace until the appointment time. Desperate times call for desperate measures.
My hero arrived on time at my house, promptly shed his shirt, tied a bandana around his forehead and climbed up on the roof of my two-story home. Apparently, my house was missing a piece of trim where the bricks meet the roof, leaving a two inch gap perfect for bats.
He hung his half-naked self precariously over the edge of the roof and sprayed something in that gap. Bat after bat came tearing out of my house—like bats out of hell—until they plummeted to the earth twenty-five feet out.
Bats are mammals. Humans are mammals. I’m thinking my hero should have been wearing some protective gear for that fresh toxic hell he was spraying.
The bats were gathered and bagged (eventually testing negative for rabies) and the gaps were filled. Even though we have been bat-free for over a decade, I cannot shake my aversion to bats. I don’t like them outside, in the zoo, on TV, and even Batman is not my favorite.
But I do have to thank bats for the perspective they gave me: “I threw up!” is not that bad of a wake-up call after all.
Ah, sweet family memories are the golden egg we’re all chasing, no? Fess up, we’ve seen your Pinterest boards. Wanna make certain that this year’s bunny bonanza is forever imprinted on your family’s memory? Well, peel back the foil on that Cadbury and get comfy because we have one simple step to creating a lasting Easter memory. This is one from the Dymowski family vault.
Spring Break may look a little different once you’ve traded bikinis for, well, Pittsburgh, but we had high expectations for album-worthy memories despite the less than exotic locale. My sister had a new job, a new baby, and a new town, and we were descending upon her young family and new abode en masse for some hard-core sight-seeing and family bonding. I was already mentally planning the page layouts for my Shutterfly album before we had even unloaded. Fate laughs in the face of such hubris. All of this enthusiastic anticipation could only mean one thing: this minivan was about to go down in flames and spectacularly so.
Ahh, the pretty pictures before the hammer of fate cracked this trip wide open.
We had exactly one picture-perfect day before trouble started brewing on Friday night. The youngest started vomiting like it was his job. There is no faster way to become persona non grata in someone’s home than to start chewing through their linens. It’s all fun and games until someone needs a bucket. Or three.
My sister looked torn. On the one hand, my sister was super-excited to have us visit. Furthermore, she was deeply worried about my youngest boy who currently seemed possessed by some horrible demon. On the other hand, we had just dropped Patient Zero in the middle of her lovely new home and he was spewing viral missiles far and wide. I could see her mind click through her options: Grab her own child à la Sally Field in “Not Without My Daughter,” kick mine to the curb, or re-create a scene from Outbreak complete with isolation tents and masks.
Too much? You weren’t there. It wasn’t much of a stretch.
Um, we started packing.
In the beginning, I was harboring a fantasy that the exorcism coming from my child really was the result of his excitement and high fructose red no. 49 jellybeans. In fact, I was packaging this spin for my sister and her husband, Dan, when Victim 2 fell. And hard. The siege was underway, but we did what any good soldiers would do, we left to protect the others.
Pittsburgh is about five horrible, evil, ugly hours from home when you’re under attack. Within a mere 12 hours, the viral marauders had taken down three family members and cut a swath of destruction along the Pennsylvania turnpike and its rest stops that inspired awe, panic, and a desperate yearning for bleach and hand sanitizer. I’m going to spare you the details, but leave you with this image: Steve pulled the car into the driveway after a looooooooong drive on the Puking Parkway from Pittsburgh and promptly tossed his cookies on the front lawn. This was Saturday night. Easter morning was less than a day away. We were already in the midst of an unholy mess when the other three kids started dropping like flies.
What’s a woman to do in the face of an outbreak that might make an epidemiologist’s palms sweat? Don a Hazmat suit? Grab a quarantine sign and some yellow tape? Wave a white flag? Hellz no, I started wrapping and assembling Easter baskets. It was me against the clock. Just as I nestled that last chocolate egg into its basket, I succumbed too.
Dawn rose that Easter morning with two parents completely incapacitated, but with kids who still believed in a candy-toting Bunny who would brave our viral hell to deliver the goods. In between prayers to the porcelain god, we were sending up hopes for an Easter miracle. We got one.
Ace (12), who not 6 hours earlier had been wrapped around a toilet bowl, had regained his usual pep. This meant one thing: he was getting a huge promotion complete with bunny ears, baskets full of candy, and full-on bragging rights. I felt a little like a stage mom pushing my baby into the spotlight, “You can do it, honey! Just think positive thoughts” but frankly, I was too sick to move so it was probably more like gesturing and mumbling.
No childhood innocence was lost in the making of this memory. At least, I hope not. I actually have no recollection of that day, but Ace even took pictures. It happened.
Is this not the most pathetic looking child you have ever seen?
The virus took down my sister’s whole family viciously within hours of our hasty retreat. Dan still uses The Great Pittsburgh Easter Plague as the yardstick to measure all other illnesses. In fact, he was completely unsympathetic when another virus took us all down the next year.
But I did get my fond family Easter memory after all even if it was not Pinterest album-worthy. Mostly because Dan won’t let me forget it.
Oh yeah, that did stir the pot, but that was awhile ago.
No, our fine friends, we are currently being lambasted for OUR GIFT GUIDES.
See, our gift guides were featured on CNN.com We even got two slides! But it was our board game suggestions that made BoardGameGeek.com lash out like Munchkins with battleaxes.
We are being called antiquated sexists because Would You Rather was listed on the Teen Girl Guide and The Settlers of Catan was listed on the Teen Guy Guide. The comments are fairly vehement, but most didn’t feel strongly enough to leave anything but fake names like “Shame on you” and “Mrs. Mystery Bob.”
“Shame on you for maintaining sterotypes [sic] and suggesting that great boatdgames [sic] are for “boys only”. My daughters love Pandemic, Catan, and Munchkin. It shocks me to see such sexism on this website. You should be ashamed of yourselves.”
“The boys get Catan & Pandemic, and the girls get Would you Rather? I guess my mom is more sensible than you claim to be. Did you know it’s 2014?”
“Would You Rather is a terrible choice for a board game. There is no reason why teen boys would enjoy more serious fare, while teen girls are stuck playing a game with no thinking involved. Poor, sexist choice. I expected better from this site.”
Yeah, it’s just awful when games and activities are fun. You’re right. Ellen’s daughter should definitely not have a choice to relax with some silliness after studying for AP calculus and biology all week long.
And then there was this:
“I find this list strange and a bit sad. First of all, as a mom of a young teen, I know fully well what her interests and preferences are like and can assure you that nothing on this list would interest her. I know the books and subjects she enjoys, the music and movies she prefers, and the personal care items and clothing styles she likes. What kind of parent doesn’t know their child or take the trouble to get to know them and these details? Certainly not a sensible parent.
Secondly, as an avid gamer I can assure you that “Would you rather?” is an humorous activity and not really a game and that Eat Poop You Cat or Werewolf are miles better fun activities than that title.
My daughter loves games and they include Hive, YINSH, TZAAR, Morels, The Little Prince: Make me a Planet, K2, Hoppladi Hopplada, Lakota, Dixit, and Ticket to Ride. I did buy her a boardgame for the holidays. I bought her 1911 Amundsen vs Scott (because she saw the video of it and was very interested).
This list is offense to independent females everywhere and only serves to perpetuate stereotypes of “Girls like XYZ” and Boys like ABC” and never the two shall meet.
Would you honestly rather ask lame questions of each other or sit down to race to the South Pole?
These lists do more harm than good, IMHO.
And moms, if you don’t know anything about your daughter, don’t buy a gift off of a “Best gifts for my daughter” list, chances are the gift will fail as children are not “one size fits all”. Take the opportunity to speak and share with her and discover what makes her tick, what excites her, what she fears, and what she dreams. That will be a win-win for you both. If not………buy her a gift card which is ALWAYS a welcome gift. [spelling and grammar their own]”
We are sad and doing harm. With gift guides. But the real message is either know your teens really well . . . or just get them gift cards.
And they’re serious about this. They are now tweeting the message forum thread link at us. Yeah, we know there’s a thread with over a hundred posts bashing us or discussing various gender issues. We saw it already because we know how Google and IP addresses work.
There were great comments like this on the thread:
“Really annoyed me to see this kind of sexism being perpetuated STILL. Shame on you Sensible Soccer Moms. Girls like Pandemic, Settlers of Catan, and Munchkin, too. Boo.”
Because apparently making gift guides for girls is bad, but stereotyping us as Soccer Moms and implying it is an insult is okay? So what’s the cut-off age for championing females? We’re not sure, but we’re going to assume it is way before 40.
And then there was this one:
“You know what’s not sensible? A ridiculous URL like that.”
Ouch. Ellen hasn’t encountered that brand of hate since she first started dating her to-be-husband and his ex-girlfriend told her she had an ugly name. To quote T Swift, “Haters gonna hate, hate, hate, hate, hate.”
So here are the six diabolical steps behind these polarizing gift guides.
A blogger friend told us gift guides are huge around the holidays.
We thought, “We have kids that like stuff. We could do gift guides.”
We picked things at varying, reasonable price points that were easy to order online.
All the gifts on the lists are things that our teens own that they have enjoyed.
Lists were shared with CNN.
And then we watched the world burn. Mwahahahaha!
So how did we decide to do two lists? Why would we do that? WHY WOULD WE DO THAT?!?!
Well, it all boils down to division of labor. There are two of us running this blog, so we made two lists. We worked on them separately, because that is how two people can get tasks done in half the time. Duh. What was REALLY important to us was that the items were things we authentically loved. We didn’t just pick random gifts off of Amazon. Ellen only has teen daughters so with this criteria, she was only qualified to recommend gifts for girls. Erin has a teen daughter and teen boys, but she took on the gift guide for boys. Because division of labor.
So if the Geeks had bothered to read Erin’s intro, she states:
“With four sons between the ages of 7 and 17, my house is a living laboratory of the modern American young man. With the holidays looming, people ask me often what might make a great gift for their favorite nephew/cousin/brother/godson. Of course, I have a teen daughter too and she loves a lot of this stuff too.”
So here are five truths, and three confessions that might further put this all in perspective. Perspective is so important . . . or so we’ve been told.
1. These are gift guides, not shopping lists. We are not commanding you to go out to the store and buy, Buy, BUY! If you find one item you like, SUCCESS! If you think the items are stupid, move onto the next gift guide. We wish you luck!
2. Ellen was pretty psyched about Erin’s list because it introduced her to “Pandemic.” It truly made her geeky M.D. senses tingle . Plus, she had the added smug satisfaction of picking it off of the boys list and smashing stereotypes! Winning!
3. Our kids have other things and interests beyond what is on those lists. In fact, they have such varied and expansive interests that no gift guide can contain them! Go figure.
For example, Ellen’s STEM track, robotics competing, fiction writing, Science Olympiad participating, Destination Imagination winning, musician daughters build Star Wars Legos, play basketball, volleyball, and tennis, and have a Nerf gun arsenal. Erin’s honor roll daughter is a story spinning, cross country running, marching band maestro who enjoys camping, Comic Con, and Settlers of Catan.
Ellen would never be so jerky as to recommend a $300 Legos Death Star that her daughter received from a benevolent uncle, and quite frankly, she doesn’t love the basketball net enough to endorse it.
And to the person who left this comment:
“Why are there no books listed for teenage boys? Is it “sensible” for moms to want their boys to grow up to be uneducated and illiterate? According to this list, all mom’s should strive to have dumb jocks for sons.”
Erins’s sons are busy being Boy Scouts, achieving the honor of Eagle Scout, serving as legislative pages, putting on plays for elementary school kids, performing in band . . . and reading.
All of our kids have read books from this list. But calm down because these are not the only books they have read. By far.
4. This was not a gift guide for younger children, it was for teens. Much of the ranting was how wrong it is that toys for young kids are separated by gender. We agree. But please note, Ellen is still going to stand by her choice that, in general, the curling iron she recommended is going to please a teenage girl–who likes that sort of thing–more than a fifteen year old guy.
5. This was not a comprehensive gift guide for board games. Not all games owned and loved were represented. Board Game Geek flaming us for not including all the games on our general gift guides is like us criticizing a board game guide for not including Nike Elite Socks.
Which leads us to The Confessions:
1. When Ellen first saw the comments coming in, she thought, “Huh, well this is silly because we have an ENTIRE cabinet full of games. I’ll just post a couple more “serious” games that we all enjoy. Well, apparently those choices weren’t good enough either. There must be secret, extra-judgy criteria for having fun that we don’t know about. But as a side note, if you wanted to brandish pitchforks for Chutes and Ladders, future generations might thank you.
“Was there a change in the matrix? Because right now the list also includes clue and risk.”
“Apparently there was. Since those definitely weren’t there to begin with. Although I think they’ve just gone for a bit of a cop out from the feedback and threw two of the most obvious ones there with some filler text and called it a day. Doesn’t address the original premise of the questions raised here, but I guess it’s a start.”
And as far as “ethics in journalism” being violated, we are constantly updating the guides as new gifts and items come into our lives. And once again, they are only GIFT GUIDES, not Congressional transcripts. But it’s a great idea to let people know we are periodically updating them so that they can come back. Thanks!
2. Ellen doesn’t really like games that take over 20 minutes to play. Gasp! Her favorites that violate this time limit are Clue and Parcheesi, but NEVER ask her how she feels about Monopoly. Trust us. Her personal preferences may have influenced how many games she included on her list. (How dare she!)
3. Erin makes up for Ellen’s ambivalence with her complete and utter LOVE of games! When she has to shoe horn seven people into a van for a seven hour drive to a week long vacation in the Outer Banks, she enthusiastically dedicates precious packing real estate to ALL of these.
Ellen’s daughter, who is currently reading The Crucible, put all this in perspective: “At least you aren’t being falsely accused of and persecuted for witchcraft.” Good point. With a tip of our hats to a famously maligned magical ice queen, we were going to just “Let it go” . . . but it didn’t feel right. Ellen is a strong believer that if you accept praise, you also have to accept criticism. We just did not want to publish the comments under the gift guides because they seemed unbalanced–with a non sequitur vibe– from people who did not read the text of the posts.
But there was something that really struck the match to our Bunsen burner. THIS:
“Oh dear. No matter which gender you are there appears to be socks on the list. What teen wants socks?!? (Yes, I’m being a bit of an age-ist… but as a teen and as an adult I never have had a more disappointing gift than a pair of sock – even my mom’s usual gift of a sock filled with fruit and nuts was more appreciated and desired.)”
Them’s fightin’ words! Someone clearly doesn’t know any adolescents well. We have teens. Who have teenage friends. And teens love socks. THE. END.