I no make words good

It’s 8 a.m. and I’ve already embarrassed myself, so I’m right on track for a Wednesday.

Emerson begged for Chick-fil-A for breakfast and I caved pretty quickly because she almost never wants breakfast of any kind. We’re at the counter and she finishes ordering.

“Anything for you, ma’am?” the employee asks.

Narrator: What she meant to say was “I’m good, thank you.” Or maybe “Thanks, but I’m good.” But that is not what came out of her pie hole.

I respond, brightly: “Oh, that’s good. I’m thank you.”

I’m what? Oh, good god. I stammer for a moment and then just walk away. I wait for Emerson by the condiment station because condiments don’t talk, so I don’t have to respond. Also, I may have had a stroke.

Emerson gets her drink and walks over to pick up some honey. She sees me and immediately starts giggling. I laugh, too.

“I’m thank you!” I laugh.

“You are,” she grins.

Ugh. I’m really not at my best on any day of the week that ends in “day.”

We are not good at fighting with each other

Emerson had A-FREAKING-DAY at school, and actually called me crying. She was angry and upset and slightly insane because she is 14 years old and that is just how kids are at that age.

We were both exhausted from big, stressful weeks so I played two free burrito cards at Moe’s for dinner and we took a much-needed break to eat dinner and talk.

But Emerson would not talk. She would only give curt responses and refuse to look at me.

“Okay, what’s going on, Emerson? Why are you being rude?”

“I’m not trying to be rude. I’m just mad at you. This is how I am when I’m mad,” she snipped and shrugged.


“Well, honey, I’m a little mad at you, too, but I don’t want to be rude and make it worse. Why don’t you tell me what’s bothering you, and then we can try to work out a solution?”

She rolled her eyes and sighed heavily, and I bit back my instinct to snap at her. I gave her a few minutes of calm silence. Then she began telling me why she was angry with me. And while I can’t share the specifics because someone’s feelings would be hurt… honestly? I could totally understand her perspective. Her response was on the teenage/slightly selfish side, but she had a strong argument, and she made it respectfully.

“Hmm… okay, I can see your point.”

“Yeah, well, that’s why I’m angry with you.”

“Well, I support you being angry with me. My handling of the situation didn’t involve you as much as you like to be involved because I didn’t have much time to make a decision. I can see how it feels like I was insensitive to you.”

What do you mean you support me being angry with you?!” she threw up her hands, knocking a tortilla chip off the table and looking exasperated. I started giggling. I couldn’t help it. She swiped the chip back up off the floor with as much fury as she could muster.

“I just mean that anger is a normal human response to what feels like me making decisions FOR you instead of WITH you. It’s not the feeling that is a problem. Anger often lets us know when we need to set or reinforce a boundary with someone. How you handle that feeling – that’s where you can run into issues.”

She took a very angry swig of her soda and glared at me. Oh, you didn’t know soda can be swigged angrily? Well, you don’t have a teenager.

“God, you make it really hard for me to be mad at you, you know?” she started laughing, and I joined in.

“I’m not trying to make you NOT angry,” I explained. “I’m just trying to find a place where we understand each other.”

“That’s what I mean! You’re so NICE!” she laughed. “Ehhhh, I support your anger...” she mocked me with an exaggerated Mom Voice and flighty hand movements. It was hilarious and I cackled so hard it echoed around Moe’s and I had to put my head down and cover my mouth. We’ve all mocked our parents. She is very good at it.

“I do support your feelings! And I’m glad you told me why you’re angry. Let me see what I can do about the situation, but I can’t make any promises. It’s possible this might be MY mistake that YOU then have to live with,” I explained. (It’s a complicated situation, involving family and relationships and …. UGH!)

“Well, I don’t even know if I can do this, but… I refuse to go!” she said, with an endearing mix of bravery and caution. She glared at me… with apprehension.

“Okay… I’ll… give that some thought,” I said. I didn’t want to get into a power struggle at Moe’s, for crying out loud. And I also knew she was tired. “I just would like to revisit this in the morning. Things can look very different after a good night’s sleep.”

“Whatever,” she sighed irritably, then softened. “Just… for the record, my answer if you had asked me would have been no. And it is probably always going to be no.”

“Yes, ma’am. Noted.”

If I could solve for x, I’d have found pirate treasure by now

Emerson turns slowly from her desk and looks at me with dead eyes.

Me: “What’s up?”

Em: “I’ve done five math problems and I’ve gotten them all wrong. I’m really mad at myself.”

Me: “Noooo, pookie. Don’t be mad at yourself. Problem solve!”

Em: “Problem solve… my math… problems?”

Me: (durrrrrrhhhh) “Um… Yeah, that’s terrible advice.”

Em: “It really was.”

God bless her math teacher because I am zero help.

Halloween fail

Emerson last-minute-ed her costume enough to drive us crazy, but finally she is ready. We’re getting out of the car to trick-or-treat with friends, and I realize that with my frantic workload – job and home and dummy cat in heat, etc. – I forgot one of our annual traditions.

Me: Shoot, I didn’t bring glow necklaces!

Emerson (sarcastically): Oh, no, we’re all going to get lost forever.

Me: Well, thanks, now you get a leash.

Emerson (dramatically): Theee neeeecklaceeeesssss…!

Me (smirking): And now Halloween is canceled.

Emerson: Nooo, I’m just kidding!

We laugh.

Emerson: So, where’s the bag?

Me: What bag?

Emerson: The bag for candy?

Me: .Uhhhh… crap.

Emerson: MOM!

Me: There’s a Lidl shopping bag in the back, it’s fine.

Emerson: Just what I always wanted.

Teenagers are fun.

Never underestimate the Mom Purse

Emerson is going through my purse looking for my phone after a long day at work.

Em: “Mints… makeup bag… extra glasses… BAGEL seasoning?!” Emerson bursts out laughing. “Why do you have bagel seasoning in your purse?!”

I laugh: “Everything Bagel Seasoning is awesome on -”

“An AVOCADO?!” Emerson cackles. “WHY do you have an avocado in your purse?!”

“To go with the bagel seasoning!” I laugh.

“Oh, my god, your purse is insane,” she laughs.

Me: “Yeah, well, it wasn’t insane when you needed a pen or a jump drive or a hair tie, was it? Or that time you sprained your ankle and your dad didn’t have an ace bandage and I had one in my purse?”

Em: “Yeah, I guess so. When I’m your age, I guess I’ll have a mom purse, too.”

Me: “I like to think of it as a Mary Poppins bag.”

Em: “What’s that?”

Me: “…Well, SOMEONE is watching a movie when we get home!”

Em: “Oh, god…”


Sorry, educators, but my child and her friends are those kids.

Em: “So Amari (her BFF) and I were in the vice-principal’s office -”

Me (concerned): “Wait, why were you in the vice-principal’s office?”

Em: (annoyed) “To print out our projects.”

Me: “Okay, sorry, I didn’t realize the vice-principal was in charge of printing. Carry on.”

Em: “So he had some Starburst in a bowl and she said, ‘Hey, Mr. W., can I finesse some of those Starburst?’ And he said (feigns exhaustion), ‘Please just get out of my office.'”

Me (cackling my head off): “I like this guy.”

Em (also cackling): “Yeah…”

Me: (mom face): “But, seriously, why were you in the vice-principal’s office?”

Em (rolls her eyes, walks towards her bedroom): “Goodnight.”

Me: “Love you!”

Em (faintly): “Love you, too…”

Mr. W., just know that parents feel your exhaustion. We’re grateful for the work you do.

But you’re going to need a lot of Starburst this year.



My dream is to have a ranch where I herd cats all day

I’m babysitting some kids who are so active and hilarious that they keep me running like Usain Bolt. They’re smart and curious and so loving and appreciative. Still, sometimes I feel like I can’t keep up with one request or disciplinary moment before another one piles on top.

So I was happy to pick them up from swimming lessons, take them home, and cook dinner.

“Ah-ha!” I thought. “They’ll have worked off all their extra energy.”

Um… noooooo. Remember those old motorcycle toys, before battery-operated-everything, that you hooked into a kickstand and then cranked up to let it go?



Okay. NOW imagine that you have three of those toys, fully cranked. They’re sentient, verbal, and very hungry. You have my evening in a nutshell.

I hadn’t even gotten them into the car and they went in three different directions. Thank you, Jesus, for giving me the wisdom to get Emerson certified in babysitting two years ago so that she would be qualified to help. She was putting the booster seat into the back seat for the youngest while I gathered the three of them. Child 1 wanted to play basketball in the parking lot. Child 2 had to go to the bathroom. Child 3 was running back and forth between the pool and the car doing god knows what. A fourth child was on his way home and I did not want him to be alone for long.

“Emerson, please help me get them in the car.”

Here’s the thing. Emerson is certified to babysit. She knows, intellectually, what to do. But being an only child, she does not actually know the first thing about corralling little kids in real life. She whipped around, running in two directions, as I piled towels and goggles into the back.

“Just start telling them it’s time to go.”

She trotted over to the youngest child, Child 3, who hopped towards the car like a bunny. I went after the Child 2 in the bathroom as Emerson headed towards Child 1. I returned from the bathroom with Child 2 only to find Child 3 hopping away from the car again – and then Child 2 who I had just corralled ran to join the basketball game. Dude…

“Em, just be funny and sling her over your shoulder, if necessary,” I nodded towards the youngest, and motioned to the other two to get in the car. They reluctantly trudged towards me.

Emerson gently told Child 3 to head towards the car. She hopped in a circle around Emerson. The other two, seeing that the youngest was going nowhere, abandoned their walk to the car and skipped back towards the basketball game. Gah!

I worried that Child 4 was going to be scared if he had to wait long.

“Come on, y’all, in the car,” I called, and Emerson gently (she really needs to learn to be firmer) shooed them like ducklings. Hop hop hop. Bounce bounce bounce. It was as though Emerson and I were ghosts playing out scenes from our living years with humans who could no longer see nor hear us.

“GUYS! IN THE CAR. NOW,” I drill-sergeant-ed them, but not unkindly. I was firm, but not angry. They scrambled to the car and I grinned at Emerson, who followed behind looking wary and tired. She loves these kids, but having always been a mostly obedient child (knock on wood), she does not understand their behavior. I find them wildly amusing, even when I’m being pulled in 10 different directions. I always wanted more kids and I love navigating the chaos.

I had the three in the back seat, finally. I stuck my head in the passenger door.

“Thanks, y’all. Put on your seatbelts, please.”

“I don’t know how.” “I don’t have a seatbelt in the middle.” “This seatbelt is too tight.”

Emerson rolled her eyes at me from outside the window and I grinned.

I loosened Child 1’s seatbelt, only to have him throw himself against it so it locked up. “See?!” he said. “It’s too tight!”

“Well, honey, don’t throw yourself forward and it won’t lock up like that.” I adjusted it again and he threw himself forward again. “Ugh, well, that’s just how it’s going to stay,” I said.

“But I can’t breathe!” He thrashed dramatically in his seat. I suppressed a laugh. His eyes told me he knew exactly what he was doing. I loosened it again, but paused…

“Okay, that’s enough playing, because we need to get home. If you do that again, it stays that way all the way home, okay?” I clicked the seatbelt again. He threw himself forward again and grinned. I shrugged. “Okay, enjoy the ride.” His face was priceless. Oh, well. Boundaries, kid. They’re real.

In the meantime, Child 2 found his seatbelt and got it on.

“Hey, good job!” I said.

“IT’S HOT!” he yelled, blasting my ear drum just as I leaned down to adjust and secure the seat belt for the youngest. “THIS CAR IS MESSY!”

“It is. We’re leaving in a sec. Hang on.”

Emerson leaned against the passenger window of the car, her face like thunder and pointed at Child 2. I shook my head at her with a smile. He didn’t mean to hurt my ear, he just yelled on impulse without seeing the consequences ahead. He’s only in like fourth grade.

Child 3 sat primly in her seat as I situated the seatbelt and secured it. “There you go, sweetie.”

“Thank you,” she said. Whew!

I leaned down to pick up a paper bag from the floorboard.

“Hey, why you got grey hairs?” Child 1 said. I grinned. Don’t be around kids if you can’t handle honesty.

“I guess it’s just my age,” I said.

“I think you got too much stress,” he said.

Emerson threw her hands up in the air and walked away from the car.

I giggled. “Yes. Yes, I do.”

World class medical care, woohoo!

AUGUSTA, GA. – I hurt my ankle months ago and it hasn’t healed so I went to my doctor. She told me to get a cam boot and sent me for an x-ray.

Side story: A cam boot was $80 at a medical supply company and would have taken a week to get. I ordered the same boot off Amazon for $40 and it was here in less than 48 hours.

Two days later, the doctor’s office called. The nurse who called could not have been less interested in our conversation.

Nurse: “She read the x-ray and you have some (gibberish begins) mediodiscular flarbification along with some mild tubular granuclidation (end gibberish), but overall she wasn’t concerned.”

Me: “Uh… what?”

She started to repeat herself.

Me: “No, sorry, I didn’t understand any of that. Can you put it in plain English?”

Nurse: “Nothing is fractured. You have some mild swelling and a small growth on your heel, but nothing to worry about.”

Me: “Then why does it hurt so much? What about the tendon? …Wait, I have a growth on my heel?”

Nurse: “Yes.”

Me: “So… what is it?”

Nurse: “I don’t know, that’s just what the doctor told me. I mean, it could have been there since you were born.”

Me: “Uh… but…””

Nurse: “If it doesn’t get better, we can refer you to orthopedics.”

Me: “Thanks, she already did that. So, basically, she didn’t see anything, and you don’t have any answers. I should stop asking questions and wait for the orthopedist to call.”

Nurse: “Right.”

Me: “Okay, have a nice day.”

(Doctor Google tells me that I could have Achilles tendonitis made worse by Haglund’s Deformity. Play along with me and let’s see what the final diagnosis is!)