Fail!, Life with Kids

Tales of a Fifth-Grade Nothing (with Apologies to Judy Blume)

I knew it would happen eventually. I knew that the day was going to come when my son’s math homework would render me stupid. Alas, that day has come. A couple of weeks ago Jack’s homework assignment for math was to complete a sheet of Egyptian fraction problems. Let me preface this by saying that my son is quite good at math. He enjoys it and has had no problems understanding even the ridiculousness that is “new math.” This assignment, however, had us both stumped. In the end, despite our greatest efforts, we accepted defeat and left one side of his homework undone. I wrote the following note to his teacher to explain the incomplete assignment.

Dear Ms. Alexander,

You may have noticed by now that only one side of Jack’s math homework was completed last night. After trying for several hours to figure out the Egyptian fractions I have only this to say: the ancient Egyptians are extinct for a reason. I am a writer and editor and my husband is an attorney; neither of us has the “math” gene. (Full disclosure: I only passed high school math after making a solemn promise to my very flustered senior-year math teacher that I would never again bring shame to the subject by ever taking another math class for the rest of my life.) However, our desire to help our son with his homework–and eventually our own determination to not fail at FIFTH GRADE math–had us on our respective computers last night looking for the Jedi secret to figuring how the people who brought us the Great Pyramids added their fractions. Alas, to no avail. We even went so far as to call my sister-in-law, who happens to be a fifth-grade teacher in a neighboring town. She calmly tried to walk us through it as we sat on the other end of the speaker phone, staring blankly into the ether, grunting occasionally to let her know we were still conscious.

And so, the challenge side of young Jack’s homework remains woefully blank, and we ultimately hung our heads in shame around midnight last night as we admitted defeat. And at the tender age of 10, Jack has finally learned the sad truth of it all: his parents do not, in fact, know everything about everything. Sigh.

I’m handing in my adult card today. If you need me you’ll find me in the corner, in my pajamas, nursing a cup of tea, eyes glazed over, wallowing in my own stupidity.

With respect and gratitude,

Michelle S.

Blessings, Fail!, Life with Kids

The One with the Generation Gap

I’m 44 years old, but I like to think I keep up with the times. I consider myself a cool Mom. I play loud music in the kitchen while I’m cleaning and make my kiddo dance with me. He enjoys this more than he lets on, I’m quite certain. I took my boy to see Star Wars opening weekend. I go to Comic Con. (Trust me, those things are cool). And while my generation is the last to have used telephones with cords and remember television before cable, I have kept up with and embrace modern technology. I use Facebook, I tweet, I have an Instagram account (well I downloaded the app, though I’ve not posted a single thing on it yet), I blog, I have an interest in Pinterest (see what I did there?), I’ve used Periscope, and I certainly try to keep up with the lexicon of my son’s generation. I still write and speak in full sentences, using actual words and not just letters (OMG SMH! LMAO), but I understand most text-speak. Admittedly this is a necessity at times if I want to talk to my son about how his day was. We’ve had full-on conversations using just random letters. It’s like verbal hieroglyphics. It’s bad enough when it’s text messages or email, but these kids speak in abbreviations. What the actual hell?

Anyway, in an attempt to appear cool the other day, I handed my son his snack and announced, “Here you go, bae.”

My son looked up at me in horror.

Jack: Did you just call me bae?

Me: Yes, bae.

Jack: Yeah, don’t do that.

Mom: What? It’s hip, I’m cool. That’s a hip word. (Important note: If you have to say it’s cool, it probably isn’t. Also? Saying “hip” is not cool).

Jack: Do you even know what it means?


Jack: It means baby.

Me: Well, you’re my baby, so that’s appropriate.

Jack: No, baby, like baby, sweetie…like a boyfriend/girlfriend thing.

Me: Um. You’re 9. How do even… You know what? Never mind. So, I shouldn’t use that term with you?

Aaaannnnddd cue the eye roll.

Jack: Not so much. Cool parenting fail, Mom.


The lesson here is to do a quick search on Urban Dictionary before using a new term with my son or his friends. Or, keep reaching for the stars as far looking cool in my son’s eyes and just enjoy the humiliation it brings him when my attempts result in epic fails.

Fail!, Life with Kids, Pick Your Battles

Calgon, Take Me Away!

Aaron and I are sitting contentedly on the couch watching educational programming on PBS some reality show on Bravo, probably of the Real Housewives variety. We hear a noise in the kitchen.
“Jack? What are you doing?” I ask, turning to see what our 4-year-old is up to.
“I’m getting a wipe to wash my hands,” he answers.
“Because I held my handle.”
Yes, my son calls his little willie his handle. Yes, I just called it his little willie. Are you done laughing? May I continue?
“Um. OK. Uh, why were you holding your handle exactly?” The things you find yourself asking your kids.
“Because I peed,” he says, a bit exasperated.
“Oh. OK.”
Wait a minute. I don’t remember hearing a flush or hearing him singing to himself (as he generally does while he pees. He hums the alphabet and starts peeing once he reaches the letter…wait for it….”P.” Commence laughing once again. Done?)
“Jack, I didn’t hear you go into the bathroom.”
“I didn’t go into the bathroom.”
“But you just said you peed.”
“I did.”
Mommy Sense Red Alert!
“WHERE did you pee?” I ask, panic in my voice.
“In my playroom.”
“You… Ja–wait–what?”
Exasperated sigh from Jack.
“I peed in my playroom.”
“What do you mean you peed in your playroom??”
Yet another sigh. Clearly I’m keeping him from a pressing engagement.
“I pulled down my pants, held my handle, and peed on the floor.”
As I leap over the couch to inspect, I’m thinking, Surely my 4-year-old did not just drop trou and fire-hose his playroom! I was thinking it. But I was wrong. That, in fact, is exactly what he’d done.
“JACK! Why did you pee in your playroom? You know better than that!”
He stares at me like I have two heads and lets out another sigh. “I didn’t want to miss Wonder Pets.”
Oh. No. He. Didn’t!
Yes. Yes, he did.
What I was thinking: “Dude! Your TV has a DVR…pause the f*cker!”
What I said: “Sweetie, it is not OK to pee ANYWHERE but in the potty. Ever.”
Again, the things you find yourself telling your kids…
Calgon, take me away.

Diva Dog

Dear Molly,

While the kitchen rug lying in front of the sink IS in fact green and MAY — with your blurred puppy vision — look like turf, I assure you it is NOT a small piece of the great outdoors brought inside so you can do your business in the warmth of your happy home. You sleep in our bed, have your own designated spot on the couch, and have clawed out a nice little space for yourself on the carpet under the desk in my office. But for this ONE activity I’m going to have to insist that you channel your inner dog and actually go outside when nature calls. I understand that it’s cold outside. Be the dog, Molly. Be the dog. #divadog