Fortune cookie wisdom #17

The squeaky wheel gets the grease.

Let’s talk about wheels a bit today…shall we?

You may remember a couple of months back when I told the story of my son’s new set of wheels…The very night, less than several hours after we got him the car, some small town criminals decided to chase him down because he was squealing his tires. They smashed the front end of his car and took a tire iron to the back of it.

Shortly thereafter, he hit a deer which smashed his headlight. The car was also leaking oil everywhere in big pools. We decided to make an appointment with someone that would fix foreign cars. It took a couple of weeks to get in.

Once the mechanic opened the hood, he took one look and said he wouldn’t work on it. He said that someone spent a whole lot of money to make the car completely worthless. In essence, we bought a lemon. It was their policy that they do not work on modified cars. So here we were stuck with a 17 year old foreign modified car that no one would fix. He did say that it would probably cost thousands to fix the oil leak.

Then we got the estimate for the damages incurred. The damage from the deer cost $2500 and the damage from the hoodlums was $3500. So, technically, the first few hours after my son got the car it was already totaled.

The two offenders are middle aged men. One man was charged with disorderly conduct and criminal damage to property. The other was charged with disorderly conduct and criminal trespass to property when he chased my son and his friend into the friend’s house threatening to kill them. We are hoping to get restitution for the damage to the car.

Now apparently the nephew of one of those hoodlums goes to school with my son Alex. We have had problems with this kid before. In middle school, Alex and this kid wrestled in the same weight class. He was first, Alex was second. One year Alex decided he wanted to try harder. He went to summer wrestling camps and signed up for preseason lessons. He got to be really good at wrestling. He was so good at wrestling that he challenged this kid who was first and beat him several times.

This did not bode well with the other kid who was the son of a son of a son of a wrestler whose ancestors have been going to the school probably since the school first opened its doors. This kid got a group of other wrestlers together and started bullying Alex because he threatened his position. The coach did nothing and finally my husband took the situation into his own hands and contacted the parents directly. That was the year my son quit wrestling after doing it for 8 years, the year he wrestled his best.

Now this kid is talking bad about my son to my son’s girlfriend over what happened with the car. My son said that if this kid disrespects him to his face then he will fight him. He said that if he does that, he would probably get kicked out of school. Yeah, that will show them all! Fighting will surely fix the car and all of the other problems. NOT!

The strange thing is that I understand. When I heard about the hoodlums that damaged his car, I was so angry that I wanted to go over there and kick the crap out of those guys myself. I think I have so much pent up anger and rage that I have one good fight in me. Is that bad?? I would never act on it, but that is how I felt.

So, yeah, the squeaky wheel gets the oil.. I talk about my son a lot on this blog. I probably talk about him a lot more than my honor student daughters.

perspective

This morning I paced the floor. I felt anxious and stressed. Only 8 1/2 months to go. But who’s counting?

He overslept. Things were going so well the whole two days since school started, until today that is. He left at the time he should’ve been at school which is problematic since we moved further away. He had over a half an hour drive before picking up two friends on the way.

My son will be the death of me. If I disappear from the bloggosphere someday, you’ll know why.

Being late stresses me out. But since I am not one to be late, I am stressed out vicariously through my kids.

It put me in a really negative and anxious mood. I know I shouldn’t let my kid’s tardiness affect my day. But it is hard to just let it go sometimes.

Then I opened up Facebook this morning and saw a memory from a race I ran several years back with Lisa and her teen daughter that recently passed away in a car accident. We all placed in the small town race and were showing off our medals. Lisa’s daughter won’t be going to school today. She won’t be graduating, going to college, having a family…any of that. Maybe if she overslept she would still be alive, instead of falling asleep behind the wheel.

It really puts things into perspective.

Will my son’s tardiness be something that I will think about next year? It is incredibly frustrating today. Sometimes I need the little reminders to be thankful for the days we have together. I only have a few months left with him under my roof.

I’m trying to let go and not let his mistakes ruin my day.

 

siphon

Last week my son was supposed to have his senior pictures taken. Supposed to is the key word…A couple of hours before the scheduled appointment, I noticed that my son had a black eye. Seriously??!? How did that happen? He said that he was boxing with his friend. That is just how things go with him. Some day I will look back in laughter, but today is not one of those days.

Last summer Alex had a full time job doing demo work for a flooring company. It was tough work and it paid well. This summer my son is unemployed. One of the main reasons for this was that he went on a school trip to Europe and was gone 3 weeks in the middle of summer break. That makes getting a summer seasonal job rather difficult.

My son also wants to hang out with his friends. He said this will be the last summer before they graduate from high school and go off into the real world. I get that, really I do. We have been very generous with our adult children. We pay for their cell phones, insurance, and gas for the cars we’ve given them to drive. I really don’t mind doing this as long as they are in school and are responsible.

But lately it has become too much. We feel taken advantage of. Paul said that we are no longer going to give Alex gas money just to run around with his friends. He is the only friend that has a car, so he is the taxi service to run around his friends on our dime. They never chip in for gas. They go to parties and have fun. They even went camping in Upper Michigan.

Maybe if he appreciated us or even kept his room clean, it probably wouldn’t be a huge deal. Yesterday he decided that he wanted to siphon gas from his car that wasn’t working to the car that was. I was totally against this idea.

We had another couple over at the time. They are newer friends, but have the potential to be really good friends since we have a lot in common. My friend asked about my hobbies and I mentioned that I like to write. She wants to write a book and also has a blog on WP. Most people reply ‘that’s nice’ when I say that I like to write, but she asked so many questions that I ended up telling her I have this blog. This is where things got a little awkward. Sorry, I only share very personal things about my life with total strangers and not friends.

She said that when I was ready, she would love to read my blog. I want to share my life with the people I care about, yet I don’t. It has been a real struggle over the years. The more followers I get, the harder it is to keep this hush hush and private. Maybe some day I will tell friends and family, but right now I’m too afraid. You see the things I write about! Why do I feel so guarded, so private about my life? It doesn’t feel safe to share these things. Sometimes I feel conflicted about sharing anything with anyone at all.

Anyway, they were over and my son’s friend comes over to help him siphon gas. I told him that I really had a problem with him doing that but still refused to give him money. I took time away from my friends to deal with the situation which immediately threw me into a bad mood. It ended with one of Alex’s friends saying that he could borrow some money for gas.

Our friends were joking around about the situation, which was fine. They said that if he tries to siphon gas and then smokes, part of his face would be blown off. I never thought of that! My anxiety went through the roof! A black eye and part of his face blown off really wouldn’t look good for the senior pictures.

Some day this better be good for a few laughs…But as of right now, I’m going crazy!

Bashed

I thought that I would finally be able to get some sleep last night…

It was 10 PM and my son wasn’t home. It didn’t seem right given the circumstances. My husband said that I worry too much and went off to bed.

Earlier in the evening, we bought our son a car. My husband made a bet with our kids when they were very little. If you beat me at chess, I’ll buy you a car. My son ate and breathed chess, even joined the chess club just to beat his dad. Paul is great at chess and I’ve never once since we were together saw anyone beat him in real life…until the day my son did. Immediately I went out and bought him a match box car and put a little bow on it.

That’s when the arguments started. My son wanted a souped up sports car and my husband wanted something practical for him. Finally they were able to find something they could agree on, a 2001 Audi with a stick shift and turbo boost. It is a beautiful car with a sporty look.

After we bought the car, he wanted to drive it over to his friends to show them. We really didn’t have a problem with this. But several hours passed and he still wasn’t home which seemed odd to me for swinging by and showing his friends.

I texted my son and he said he got into a bit of a mess with the car. WTH!!?! CALL ME!!

Alex said he picked up his friends and was driving through the old neighborhood. He was showing off his turbo boost and squealed the tires near several older guys that were outside partying. They were drunk and this pissed them off. (Yes, apparently some people get drunk and crazy on a Monday night in Wisconsin).

One guy got on his 4-wheeler and chased Alex down. He cut Alex off on the road. Alex slammed on his breaks and hit the guy smashing up the 4-wheeler and the front end of his car. The guy climbed off the 4-wheeler onto the hood of the car and tried to smash the windshield with his arm. The whole time the guy was screaming that he was going to kill Alex and his friends.

To put things in perspective, there were around 4 very intoxicated middle aged men chasing 3 teenage boys that squealed their tires near where they were partying. What??!? Who does that?

Meanwhile, a couple other guys got into a pick up truck with a lead pipe. Alex and his friends got away from the 4-wheeler only to be followed to his friend’s house by the guys in a truck that were a part of this group.

One of the men in the truck hit Alex’s car with the lead pipe. He also threatened to kill the boys and chased them into his friend Jay’s house. Thankfully, Jay’s dad was home. He pushed the guy with the lead pipe out of his house while the other guy got in. Jay’s dad threatened to call the cops. The man in Jay’s house said that if he called the cops, Alex would get in trouble for hitting the 4-wheeler.

Jay’s dad called the police and the men fled. Thankfully, Alex knew where the guys lived. Apparently the guy with the lead pipe was a convicted felon. They are facing criminal charges. My son ended up with almost as much damage to his new car as what we paid for it.

Seriously, we just got him the car and in less than a few hours it is bashed in already!!!!! Thankfully, no one got hurt with the exception of the guy that tried to smash the windshield with his arm.

Needless to say, we didn’t end up going to bed until after midnight.

 

Vegas, part 1

I am always filled with worry the first day…being so far from home and feeling less in control of the things I am not in control of anyway…

It was rough leaving. Paul had to slam on his brakes for a motorcycle in his blind spot after I screamed STOP on our way to the airport. It was stressful because at that point we were already running late in my book.

My youngest daughter Arabella blindsided me on the way out. She was starting a new job that same day and apparently didn’t fill out the online paperwork right. Mom, please help me… But I couldn’t miss the flight.

I was going to LV with my daughter Angel for a national singing competition. I didn’t want her to go alone…but to be honest, I always want to go somewhere I’ve never been.

On Friday morning, Angel and two of her college classmates competed against some of the best singers in the country. We had plans to meet up together at the swimming pool once everyone was done to celebrate their hard work and relax. Her friend did not pack a swimming suit so they were going to buy one and meet us at the pool later.

Angel and I were poolside for 2 seconds when my phone rang. It seemed odd that Cori would be calling me out of the blue in the middle of the day. Immediately Jen came to mind, our mutual friend that was recently diagnosed with terminal cancer. It couldn’t be a good call and it wasn’t.

Cori called to tell me that the daughter of a best friend of ours was in a car accident and didn’t make it. What?? It couldn’t be true! I cried the words in disbelief into the phone as the people surrounding me were smiling and having fun playing in the sunshine.

Lisa’s daughter just turned 16 a couple months ago and recently got her driver’s license. She was driving with a friend to work that morning when she missed the curve. She hit a tree and her car became engulfed in the flames that killed them.

Death! How unfair you are!

The police came to the house that morning to tell Lisa something that no parent ever wants to hear.

I couldn’t believe it was real. I still can’t believe that it is real. Maybe Cori was mistaken. These kind of things just don’t happen.

I checked the Facebook page of Lisa’s daughter. Nothing. Just a new profile picture of her looking away, staring out beyond the wooded hills. Prom pictures. Quotes about love, how fast teenagers become adults, and future dreams…

I thought of the fun times we shared…Sitting next to her on the roller coaster when I was so frightened I screamed the whole time, she was so brave…Sharing a passion for running and going to races with her mother and her. Her bright smiles and warm hugs..

Gone. She’s gone and it is so unfair. She was a beautiful young adult with a bright future. She truly was a good person. I wish I could take away Tom and Lisa’s pain. I couldn’t get it out of my mind..

It wasn’t long before Angel’s friends met us at the pool. I felt like I had to keep things together. It was a happy and exciting day for them. I had to try my best to keep it that way, but inside I was a mess. You just can’t be fine when you hear the news of a close friend’s child dying unexpectedly in a horrible way even if you are sitting poolside in the sunshine.

Ten minutes after Angel’s friends arrived, a kid puked in the pool and it was closed…

 

 

Moral dilemma 1

My daughter Angel has a new love interest who I am going to call Dan. Now Dan is also a friend of my son Alex. Alex and Dan ride motorcycles together. Maybe you can see where this one is going…

Angel thought that it would be fun to ride on the back of Dan’s motorcycle for her first motorcycle ride..

Here comes the dilemma…Alex, Dan, and Angel wanted to go for a ride but only had 2 helmets. So my son decided to sacrifice his helmet for his sister. Sacrifice is probably pushing it quite a bit since I think he wanted to have a good reason for us not to be angry that he was riding without a helmet.

I don’t think the ride went all that well. It rained a bit. Alex bought a piece of junk motorcycle with his tax return money from working all last summer. While they were riding, a piece of Alex’s motorcycle flew off and hit Dan in the leg. Dan has a huge welt on his leg but kept control of the bike. But Angel loved it and has been riding ever since.

Alex and Angel have been exchanging the helmet and apparently now the current status of the helmet is lost. Wonderful! Now what should I do?

And I thought worrying about one kid on a motorcycle was bad!

 

Fine!

It happened after midnight early Saturday morning on a dark country road near his friend’s house.

I didn’t find out about it right away.

I found out a couple of days before the fine was due.

Operating left of the center line. It sounds pretty petty, but it cost over $200 and 4 points.

Were you sober? Yes

Were you wearing your seat belt? Yes

Were you going the speed limit? Yes

I was a pretty happy mom.

I don’t know what I did wrong.

You need to fight it in court. They were probably scouting the back roads for drunk drivers and found you instead. Lucky you! The fine is steep and you will be losing a lot of points for a minor offense.

The court date was the same date and time as the ACT test.

The fine was due. It was too late.

I paid the fine online. The site asked if I wanted to sign up for an account. What? No! This will never happen again. Then I remembered the fine from the previous month when my son was caught doing donuts in the parking lot.

Are these minor traffic offenses building me up for something bigger that I need to get a future account for?? Do hardened criminals start out with minor traffic offenses? Is it the gateway crime? My heart fluttered in fear. Is this where it all begins?

The irrational part of my mind calmed the butterflies stirring in my heart. I’m sure everything will be fine. MY child would never do something like that.

No escape??

And just like that Angel’s college break is over…she is on her way home(?) even as we speak..

I felt bad since she was sick the whole time she was home. We did get a lot of appointments checked off our list, but we didn’t have a whole lot of fun things planned.

That is why I booked a family outing to the escape room on Friday night. Alex’s girlfriend Baylee joined us too. It has been on my bucket list for awhile. As the event drew closer, I admit I was a little nervous. I had to sign a waiver saying that I wouldn’t hold them liable in case of death, domestic disputes, panic attacks, etc… Wait? What? Panic attacks?? I briefly remembered my extreme fear of being trapped…my panic on airplanes..What did I get my(self) whole family into??

My mind was put at ease the minute I entered the room. They did have an escape emergency release button in case of a fire, natural disaster, or bathroom necessity. Of course, the fire code! Now why didn’t my worried mind think of that?? Must be because I gave up worry for Lent. Ha ha..

We were given an hour to figure out puzzles and riddles to escape. We were in a dimly lit room. It was hard to see with my old eyes to put the codes on the locks. I found myself good at holding up a lantern. But as for solving the clues, I don’t think I think that way. My son Alex was a genius at it. When we finished, they offered him a job which would be a perfect fit for him.

They were really excited to hear that he has some work experience in the field. A few years ago he worked as a zombie for a paint ball place at Halloween time. He got paint in his eyes and mouth, welts all over his body, frostbite, shot at close range by drunk guys, almost got hit by a vehicle because he couldn’t see out of his mask, and I had to pick him up after midnight..He did all this for $30. I don’t even think that Darryl would do that. (Last time I mentioned my step-father-in-law was picking up bodies for $50).

We were successful in escaping the room with 3 minutes to spare.

My friend and her family were not able to escape a different escape room and her kids are all geniuses. Is it bad that I am so competitive?? Challenge accepted.

Afterwards, we went out to eat. When we got home, I was so exhausted that I went to bed right away. I had Paul wait up until Alex got back from taking Baylee home. I was drifting off to sleep when I heard the phone ring. Alex hit a deer with his car. The deer landed dead in the middle of the road and did some damage to the car. Alex had to drag the deer off into the ditch and drove home with one headlight.

I told my mother what happened. She was worried that Alex was crawling with deer ticks. Did I check him?? Well, no.. It’s cute, my mom thinks I don’t get my worrying from her.

It was sad to see Angel off, but things have been better since my last post..

Parenting from my horse and buggy

A few weeks ago, I received a text from another parent regarding my son.

Surprisingly, it was not a late Friday night knock on the door.

She told me that my son was driving 15 mph over the speed limit on the highway with her son in the car. She knew this from an app and suggested that I get the app too.

I decided not to.

When I confronted my son about his driving, he became upset.

His friend got a ride with him to the band concert because his parents didn’t want to attend. No one bothered to show up on his behalf. But they complained about my son’s driving.

My son said that if they have a problem with the way he drives, then maybe they should take their son and be involved in his life.

I don’t want my son to speed on the highway, but I have to agree with him. What good is constant nagging without being an involved parent??

I already have the app that tracks my children. I know where they are at all times.

I have the app that tracks their grades. I know about every missing assignment, every time they were a few minutes late to class, and every bad grade.

Every night could be a nag fest.

Did you turn in that assignment yet??

How is it going to make them responsible for their own lives if they constantly have mom and dad telling them what they need to do?? How can they think for themselves if we already have a solution for every problem??

Sometimes I think parenting was a lot easier when parents didn’t know so much.

I remember bringing my report cards home and the screaming and threatening only lasted a day or two. Sometimes I was even surprised by my grades.

I remember going to the library (where people smoked cigarettes) if I needed answers to questions. Shocking, I know. This comment should almost give my blog an R rating. The librarians had all the answers or knew where to find them, kind of like Siri.

I remember my parents saying that I had it made in my day because a bus picked us up for school. They had to walk uphill both ways to a one room schoolhouse that didn’t have indoor plumbing.

Every generation seems to think that the next generation has it so much easier. But is it really true with this generation?

When I was a kid, I spent my summers riding my bike around town from morning to night. Sometimes the chain fell off or I got a flat tire. Sometimes there was a storm.

I didn’t have a phone to call someone to pick me up. I had to solve my own problems.

I feel like some of that is missing in today’s world.

I wonder when we convinced ourselves that it wasn’t safe for our kids to ride their bikes around all day.

Parents worry about sexual predators, but somehow we convince ourselves that having our kids inside on the internet is safer than riding a bike around town.

To think we didn’t even wear helmets. That would be considered bad parenting today.

Now my kids can’t live without their phones. My daughter called me from her friend’s phone this morning saying that she forgot her phone at home and asked if I could bring it to school for her. I said ‘no’. I told her that I lived my first 18 years without a phone. I’m certain that she could survive for one day.

The kids of today have phone separation anxiety. They are bored or antsy when they have to be without the internet or their phones for more than a few minutes. They run up huge amounts of data on long car rides. They don’t know how to get anywhere because they never look out the window, yet they are lost without their phones.

What kind of life is that?

I think that my kids are wasting their young years watching everyone else live online. But yet they need to stay up to date on technology if they want to have a good career. We’re damned if we do. We’re damned if we don’t. We struggle with them and ourselves over limits.

We don’t know what to do. We can’t relate. We never had this. More often then not, we need our kids help to make technology work. It can be very frustrating.

There is such a huge technology gap between what I know and what my kids know. I would need them to set up the parental controls. Why bother? They are always 10 steps ahead of me. How can I adequately monitor them?

It will be interesting to see how the next generation of parents respond to these issues. I think it will be much easier for them since there won’t be as much of a technology gap between the generations.

Forget helicopter parenting! I feel like I am parenting from my horse and buggy. Meanwhile, my kids are driving the fast snazzy automobile of technology. I can never keep up.

For the first time in history, I think that our children are teaching us more than they are learning from us. This scares me..

 

The boy in the trunk

I received my first call from the principal’s office the beginning of the school year.

I really wasn’t expecting it because for the first month of school their automated lunch reminder was on the fritz. I was used to getting calls every day telling me that my lunch account had a remainder of $0.99. Payment will be necessary or service will be denied. Good thing I didn’t hang up right away expecting the automated message. Otherwise I probably would’ve had my picture on the bad parent bulletin board that I suspect administrators, teachers, and staff have to throw darts at when they really get pissed off at our kids.

It started back in grade school, the first call from the principal’s office. Back in those days, my son and a few of his buddies decided to moon the kids on the playground. They all got suspended for a few days.

Most of the calls I received over the years were for similar mischievous pranks. This time was no different than many of the others.

It was the Friday of homecoming when my son decided to leave the school at lunch with a group of friends (against school rules for sophomores). There were so many friends in his (my) car that there really wasn’t enough room for them all (probationary license violation). So his friend Jay decided that he wanted to be transported to the local fast food dive in the trunk (wrong on so many levels). Seriously, what if my son got rear ended?

Not long after that, I received a visitor that came calling to my door late on a Friday night.

Just a little recap of other visitors that came calling to my door late on a Friday night.

There was a boy named Jake, his mom came to my door to say he ran away. (We found out later that Jake was hiding out at Isaac’s house). In the meantime, his dad flew in from the east coast. We scoured the corn fields, pinpointed stops along railroad track maps, printed out posters with his picture, and searched abandoned buildings, new construction, and storage sheds all while his grandmother cried. Not a good knock on the door.

There was another Friday night door knock from another parent regarding bullying that Isaac did to another boy. That was the first warning bell that went off that something wasn’t right about his friend Isaac. Eventually he got expelled from school for selling drugs. His mother said that he had aspirations of being a pharmacist. Wow, while in middle school. **((*^&*%%$&^$!!!!!

We received another late Friday night knock saying that Isaac ran away.  A few months ago, Isaac moved away. This will (hopefully) be the last time that I mention his name.

The latest Friday night knock on the door was from Jay’s mom. She stopped by to scream at me. Apparently, my son had an agreement with Jay that he would give him unlimited rides this year if Jay does it next year. Jay’s mom was pissed off that she had to pick up her son. Don’t I know that she works third shift?? She screamed at me and before I could say a word, she sped off squealing tires.

I could understand completely if she was mad that my son drove around with her son in the trunk of the car. I just don’t get some of these parents! Really?

Then a miracle happened…. My son said that he wanted to get into a good college. He said that his goal was to be on the honor roll. I almost passed out. For the past three years he failed so many classes that he was on the edge of having to take summer remedial classes.

What happened?? Did he want to prove to his new girlfriend that he was smart? Was it because the bad kid moved away? Was it all of grandma’s extra prayers?? Or is he just finally growing up?? This past quarter he almost made the honor roll. To me it is not achieving being on the honor roll that matters as much as the striving for it. He cares enough now to try for it.

And to think that I thought my best option was to avoid being home on a Friday night!