Category: kids

Unsolicited Professional Parenting Tip: Waking the kids for school.

lil sebastian photo

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If you have a guitar, and can learn a few easy chords, teach yourself to play 5000 Candles in the Wind by Mouse Rat. This will take you approximately four seconds to learn. Then, on a random school day morning, wake your children by quietly wandering into their rooms and playing it with a gradual crescendo until your children are standing on their beds with lighters** in hand, swaying and singing along with the chorus. This will start their morning off right. Offer them sugary cereal immediately after.

You will be the best mom ever.

Also, if your kids walk to school as mine do, you can wait until they are about a block and a half away, stand in the middle of the street, and belt out a 5000CITW chorus-only reprise. They will pee their pants laughing (sneak extra pants into their backpacks ahead of time), and the entire neighborhood will undoubtedly love you for it.

(This also counts as an Unsolicited Professional Neighbor Tip.)

** If you don’t provide your kids with personalized lighters, kitchen matches will work fine. If your kids have smart phones and wish to use them as the source of audience participation illumination, you are an awful fucking parent. What are they, like seven? Seven years old and you gave the little jerks a smart phone? You don’t deserve to sing about Li’l Sebastian. You probably don’t even deserve to live.

Have a great day, errbody.


ADVICE: Conflicted Mom (Caught in the Mommy Wars crossfire.)


My daughter is one, and we’ve been going to our community center a couple times a week for a toddler playgroup. I’ve become good friends with some other moms there, and I like that the center is close to my house and the playroom is clean. We have coffee and talk while we watch the kids play. It’s been nice because I don’t get much time to talk to adults these days. Now I’m feeling uncomfortable because one of the moms in our group recently went back to work, so she’s not there. After she went back to work the other women in the group started talking about her. They talk about how they can’t believe she went back to work, and that her daughter will suffer because she’s in daycare. One of them said that she shouldn’t have had a baby if she wasn’t going to be around to raise it. I feel so uncomfortable talking with them, but I do think that staying at home with my child is important, and I wouldn’t have gone back to work either. That’s the problem. I think that being a stay at home mom is best, but I don’t want to talk about someone that I like to hang out with behind her back. How can I tell them that even though I pretty much agree with them I don’t want to talk about her like that? I don’t want them to start talking about me and I know that some of them would disagree with some of the things I do as a parent. I want be able to go there without feeling uncomfortable, but I’m not sure I’m ok with the whole thing.

– Conflicted Mom


Hey Mom,

Ah yes, the Mommy Wars shit-talk strikes again. Whether it’s breastfeeding or formula, daycare or stay-at-home, disposable diapers or cloth, attachment parenting and whatever you call other types of parenting, mothers with strong opinions wage war on other mothers with strong opinions, and they fight for the right to feel superior over the other. What a crock of shit. While everyone has an opinion on these parenting choices, and everyone has the right to voice their opinions regarding them, somewhere in there, a number of women have decided that their opinions are the correct opinions and have commenced a full on attack of those who disagree.

If the women in your playgroup wish to voice their opinions in front of you, that’s ok. They are entitled to do so. In that case, you could choose to share or not share your opinion as well, and get back to blah blah blah and suck down your Starbucks. All is well. However, nasty remarks that accuse other mothers of bad parenting, such as the comment that the absent friend shouldn’t have had a baby if she wasn’t going to be around to raise it is, quite simply, someone being a straight bitch. I don’t think you’re upset with the nature of the conversation, but with the realization that you have been spending your mornings with assholes.

The situation you’re in really isn’t about this particular parenting topic. It’s about women talking shit about another woman behind her back. If there’s one thing I know for sure, it’s that you can bet your ass they’d do the same to you. You have to ask yourself whether or not you want to spend your time with people like that. Maybe you do. Maybe your daughter’s playgroup setting is worth putting up with them for a few hours a week. Only you can make that call. If you do, you probably want to keep in mind that these women will probably continue to say things that you don’t like. You have to choose whether or not you want to tell them that you’d prefer that they not talk about your absent friend. Just remember this, if you sit there quietly, not saying anything, then you’re being a shitty friend, too. Since it’s bothering you enough to write me, I’d guess that you probably aren’t a shitty friend. So, since you’re a grown-up and value friendship, let the bullies know that their shit talking isn’t welcome when you’re sitting at the table. Yes, they’ll probably turn their fangs on you later, but at least you stood your ground. If you’re scared to rock the boat (as many people are), look over at your daughter. Someday, someone’s going to bully her behind her back. Wouldn’t you want someone to stand up for her?

Like I said, I think your issue is really about how these women are behaving, and not so much the topic they chose. They happened to have chosen a very emotionally charged topic, one that brings out some seriously judgmental attitudes. But, no matter the topic, slamming someone who disagrees with you behind their back is just a dick move.

Good luck, and I hope for better coffee conversation in your near future.

Sara xo

Extra Credit:

I will briefly remark on this whole ugly issue of parents attacking other parents for having opinions that differ from their own, because this is my column and I can do whatever the hell I want. A note to the parents that know what’s best for everybody else:

Dear Judgy McShutyourface,

Don’t approve of another parent’s parenting choices? Feel the need to pass judgement on them because your choices are the correct choices, and anyone who disagrees with you is obviously a bad parent? That can really suck time out of your already busy day. I’m here to help, and I’ve got great news for you! It will free you of your self-imposed duty to inform other parents that they are (clearly) doing it wrong. Here it is…

It’s none of your fucking business. Period. Go spend your energy being the best parent you can be to your own child. You could start by setting an example for your child by not disrespecting others and/or saying shitty things about them behind their backs. Be a good role model and show your kid that Mommy’s not an asshole. That just might be the best parenting advice you’ll ever get. You’re welcome.

Joe’s Crossing.

A couple weeks ago, Nora came in the house after school in tears. Joe, our adored school crossing guard, passed away the Thursday night before. Until we became a Clement Elementary family (#ClementAve4life), I had never seen an entire student body have so much love and respect for a crossing guard. No one, and I mean NO ONE, ever crossed that walk without a, “Thanks!” Or more often, “Thanks, Joe!” And he knew these kids’ names. I don’t know how he kept up all of the crosswalk conversations, firing from east to west and west to east, but he did.

Of course, the Santiagos loved him, too. He was good man, a neighborhood icon, and the only person I’d ever seen unlock the old police call box on our corner and actually use the phone. (Seriously, my mind was blown — he had the key to a TARDIS?!)

Joe was the guy in the neighborhood who had been 90 years old for 25 years. He was a man of few words, unless he was talking about college basketball, football, or talking to one of the Clement kids. Any other time, you might get a “Have a nice day.”, or more often, his trademark answer to a question or response to a salutation, “Okay.”

I *lived* for that okay. We adopted that okay in our daily vernacular. Never in a mocking spirit, but because it made us happy. We loved Joe like a mo’fo’. Joe was a-o-kay.

For the last five years, I was determined to get more than my daily “Okay.” from Joe. When I finally did, it was more than I could have hoped for. It was at the very end of after school pickup, and I was the lone person waiting to cross the street. As I stood at the corner of Wilbur and Clement, waiting for Joe to blow his whistle and give me the signal to cross to the east, a car made a last minute right turn right in front of my feet. Joe looked pissed, y’all. I looked at the driver and, in my best Bronxish accent, yelled, “Hey! I’m walkin’ here!” She proceeded to park with the back half of her car in the crosswalk. Joe began his best pissed off shufflestrut towards her. When she got out of her car, before he even had to say a word, I said to her, “No problem, Cupcake. Just park right in the crosswalk. Where the kids walk. Way to not give a shit.” After she shot my her very best bitchface and began to cross the street, outside of the crosswalk, I called to her, “Hey! We’ve got a crosswalk here, just for you! Okay then, you keep being awesome!” I began to cross the crosswalk, smiling at Joe. That’s when it happened.

Joe laughed. A quiet chuckle turned into a full-on laugh. (I made Joe laugh!) Afterward, I called Augie at work to tell him. I’m totally serious. From that day on, my daily “Okay” always came with a big smile and a knowing nod. One day, for about 30 seconds, we were a team. It was like I got to be Joe’s companion.

Later that year, Augie and I were invited to a special coffee and cake event for the school’s dedicated volunteers. I was seated right next to Joe. We actually got a chance to have a nice chat. I confessed my sheer joy at making him laugh. He laughed (score!), and gave me a hard time about it. Met his wife. Forgot to ask about the TARDIS. I’m not proud of that.

Joe was laid to rest at Holy Trinity Cemetary. We were honored to know him. He was a nice man, a dedicated volunteer in many capacities, and he made sure our kids got to and from school safely. His wife wrote to the students after the funeral. She told them, that during his brief stay in the hospital, all of the cards (hundreds) that the kids sent to Joe were read, cherished, and hung up in Joe’s room. Every wall was filled with love letters made of loose leaf and heart shaped construction paper cards, all smeared with glitter and paste and crayon and fond get well wishes. She further told the kids that Joe wanted them all to know that it gave him a lot of joy to se them every day, that he loved them all, and that he knew he would pass away surrounded by their love.

The other day, Nora came home from school in tears, again. She said that some of the kids built a big mound of snow with a cross that said, “We miss you Joe”. The junior crosswalk assistants hung their reflective sashes on it. Nora went on to say that she started feeling really sad when she saw it, but when she was looking at it, the new crossing guard told her to hurry up and get across the street. That’s what really made her cry. “Joe would never do that, mom.” I know, honey, I know.

And, perhaps one of the most important things to know about Joe… We have decided that he was a time lord. It all adds up. And, in this house, we love us some time lords.

Thanks, Joe.

Nine: “Before I go I just want to say you were fantastic, absolutely fantastic. And do you know what? So was I.”

Ten: “I don’t want to go.”

Eleven: “I will not forget one line of this. Not one day, I swear. I will always remember when the Doctor was me.”

Joe: “Okay.”


Scars or Stripes?

This morning I stood in front of the bathroom mirror after my shower, as I tend to do when my birthday is coming up. Which is probably weird. Whatever.

This time, as I looked at my two c-section scars, that little pouch of saggy, fatty skin just above the long scar (the one that shrinks over time, but always seems to hang around), and the stretch marks (turned mini craters) that appeared each time my abdomen had expanded, I was kind of glad they were there. A few years ago I wouldn’t have looked at them that way. So it’s something kind of new for me.

Instead of the “Ugh, gross.” I’d have normally sighed, I kind of, sort of, smiled a little.

(Fucking *smiled*. Where the hell did that come from? Such a weirdo.)

Ok, but the “imperfections” seem pretty perfect now. They’re reminders of what this body was once capable of. Those marks are part of what it took to get my girls here.

So, they’re perfect scars, perfect, saggy little marks peppered across my belly.

With my birthday coming up, I’m happy to be at a place in my life that I am able to admire my body for what it has created. I’ve decided not disrespect it by wishing those imperfections away.

Besides, it’s like having a few extra guests at my birthday party. Gross. Just kidding. Probably kidding.


You’re welcome.