Tag Archives: kids

Kids Make Me Feel Stupid

KidsMakeMeFeelStudpiOriginally posted July 16, 2013

Kids make me feel stupid. My stupidity is at an all time high during the school year. That’s a long time to feel stupid.

As smart as I think I am, which as it turns out, is not very smart, the kids have an incredible knack for reducing me to stuttering answers to questions that I have only a vague understanding of. I’m often googling on my phone, searching for what revolves around what in the solar system, for the umpteenth time. It usually leaves me feeling like a ten year old idiot.

Growing up, my parents thought I knew more that I actually did. As a result, I spent most of my childhood playing catch up, dancing as fast as I could, trying not to fall short of their expectations, (and mine).

Fear drove me to study. Fear that my intellectual shame would be discovered and everyone would soon learn that I was just an average student.

What is smart anyway? I had street smarts. Once, I talked my way out of a knife fight when I was eight years old. Word.

It’s friggin’ ridiculous how much the kids make me see all that I don’t know, and probably never knew. They catch me in my deceit left and right. It’s annoying.

I was going through some comments on a post that I wrote the other day, about letting your child have a sleepover with his /or her boyfriend or girlfriend in your house. I read one out loud to the my boyfriend’s daughter.

I read, “Tell me where in the Bible does it say that sex before marriage is ok?”

She said, “Yeah, if you took the Bible literally, then you wouldn’t exist.” I smiled. What the hell was she talking about? Was she saying that Jews (of which I am one) don’t believe in the Bible? Or that they don’t exist in the bible? I felt dizzy.

Was this an Old Testament versus New Testament question? Is Old and New capitalized? How had I come this far, knowing so little? How far did I have to go back? The Big Bang? Dinosaurs? Apes? Damn you kids. It was inexcusable. I was inexcusable. I lacked basic knowledge about Jews and their relationship to the Bible: Testaments, Torah, Moses, the whole lot of them, including Abraham’s nephew Lot.

Either way, I was ashamed, and just a little embarrassed. Was she right? Why didn’t I have a response? All I had was a silly look on my face that screamed, “Dumb-ass.”

PhotoCredit:bcm.bc.edu

PhotoCredit:bcm.bc.edu

At this stage in my life, I should know things but I don’t. And that sucks for me.

Instead of delving further into her comment, as to ascertain what she meant, I said nothing, which only made me feel complicit in the potential inaccuracy, thus validating my ignorance, as if my ignorance needed further validation.

I had gone my whole life not knowing things and covering it up with a laugh or a smile, or embarrassing myself in public. However, there is something about exposing myself to the kids that has been the most mortifying and harrowing.

Why can’t they ask me questions about show business, comedy, or Pilates? Shit, at least give me a fighting a chance. Thank god it’s summertime.

Because The Captain n’ Tenille Said So, Love Will Keep Us Together, Dammit!

Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Photo Credit: Shutterstock

It’s taken me fifteen weeks to write this post. I needed time to figure out how I was going to tell my adoring fans that The Girlfriend Mom is no longer a girlfriend. Well, that’s one way of doing it.

Life is funny. Not funny like watching someone trip over their own feet and then trying to save themselves from face planting. Funny as in curious and ever so surprising. For all of my protestations about not wanting kids, coupled with hesitations about being in a relationship with a divorced father, I now find myself feeling grateful for having the Girlfriend Mom kids in my life. As it turns out, the kids are one of the most beautiful results of my relationship with their father.

My ex-boyfriend (wow, that doesn’t flow fluidly off the keyboard) and I did not have a plan for how we were going to tell the kids, or what we were going to tell them. For my part, I will cop to denial and hoping that dad would take the lead. For his part, I think it was more comfortable for him to simply say that, “we were taking a break,” and let the chips fall where they may. Neither approach dealt with the issue and as a result I felt off balance and alone.

Maintaining a relationship with them was paramount for me, so I forged ahead and started a dialogue independent of their father. After seven and a half years (save a year and a half due to our first breakup) I wasn’t prepared to walk away or fade to black. I didn’t want the kids to feel abandoned. They had already gone through one divorce and I didn’t want to make things difficult or uncomfortable for them. Perhaps it was I who didn’t want to feel abandoned.

I questioned what rights I had as a Girlfriend Mom. What demands could I make on their time? There isn’t a list in a ‘how to’ book on the topic. I debated with myself, and cried. A lot. Everything was falling apart. The life that I had been building for so many years was quickly slipping through my fingers, so I grabbed the kids and held on.

Throughout the relationship, I had many fears and doubts, as evidenced by my many posts. But in the face of those fears and doubts, I planted seeds, I nurtured the relationships and I watched us grow into a pretty high functioning blended family. Not always easy.

I was nervous to reach out to them. Would they care if we stayed in touch? Did they even notice that I was gone? Was I being dramatical? Besides, they had their own lives, friends, school, jobs, and they were still kids.

I had lost their father. I didn’t think that I could’ve handled losing them as well. When I did reach out, their response warmed my soul. I told them that I would always be there for them and that I hoped to always be in their lives.

I was so scared and anxious when I first met the kids. How could I go from childless by choice, to having two small kids in my life? Over the years I saw parts of myself that I never knew existed. Unattractive parts. Who needs that? And yet, something made me want to stay. Something told me to hang on and push through because something wonderful was waiting for me on the other side. Something. Something that looked a lot like love.

The first time I experienced the kind of love that practically rips your heart out of your chest, was when I was leaving for Dubai, two summers ago, to teach Pilates. I bent down to say good-bye to my Girlfriend Mom son, who was dozing off on the couch. He put his little boy hands around my neck and pulled my face down close to his and he cried. I didn’t know that it was possible to feel such pain and love simultaneously.

I had been so worried that we weren’t going to bond, let alone love someone else’s kids. I was never the same after that.

Now what? Is this the next chapter of The Girlfriend Mom- or is it The Ex-Girlfriend Mom now? Ours is not a conventional, traditional, or clear situation. I see challenges ahead, with messy moments thrown in. I also know that no one knows anything about anything, especially about the future. So bring it.

Yesterday I thanked my Girlfriend Mom daughter for allowing me the privilege to experience the joy of having kids in my life. “You’re welcome,” she said. In a million years, I never would’ve dreamed of having that exchange. Isn’t life funny.

Everyone Keep Your Pants On. Please.

A follow up to my Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner post.

I went out to dinner with my boyfriend’s daughter a few nights ago. He was in the city working, and I hadn’t left the house all day. That’s not entirely true. I walked to the beach (a block away- don’t hate me- it’s still Jersey-ooh, Jersey just took a hit) excited at the prospect of clearing my head and pumping some much needed blood to my ass. I had been sitting at my desk for hours!

However, I misjudged the weather, and I was cold. My long and luxurious walk turned into a stroll around the block, and bringing the garbage pail in from the curb.

We went to a terrific Vegan restaurant in the neighborhood and had an enlightening (for me anyway) conversation. As a G.M. (Girlfriend Mom) Wait, I’m totally patenting, copyrighting, licensing, branding, or some such shit, this G.M. thing. Don’t even think about hijacking it. I know people who will hurt you.

About a week ago, I almost hurled myself off our third floor deck. From what I could gather, (and I wasn’t actually in the room, so I can’t swear to it) my boyfriend stepped into the shower while his daughter sifted through the movie shelf in our bedroom. We don’t have a door separating the bedroom from the bathroom, don’t ask.

I flipped out. I mean biting my fingers, on the verge of tears from total helplessness, flipped out. I clenched my fists so as to hold in my anger (?). I looked up to the sky (well, ceiling) as if to say, “Did you see that? What the f?” I walked in circles for a few moments, hoping to shake the image from my brain. I couldn’t. It would forever live on in my memory bank.

I tried to calm down and understand why no one else was flipping out. Or walking out of the room, so her father could hop in the shower. Or why her father didn’t ask his daughter to leave so he could take a shower. Has everyone gone mad? Do I have to play hall monitor for the rest of my life?!

This brings me to the topic of two types of homes. Naked and clothed. I grew up in a half-naked home. Which goes hand in hand with the double-edged sword, and mixed messages that I also grew up with. My parents weren’t as modest as I would’ve liked them to have been. I only had to see my dad in his red, nut-hugger bikini’s, once, to know that I did not want to EVER see that again.

Perhaps I overreacted but I was caught off guard. I was miles from my comfort zone. I let my reactivity subside and did some think talking about why I got so bent out of shape (nut-huggers). I wasn’t able to entertain the idea that maybe this was acceptable behavior in my boyfriend’s pre-divorce family. I was only thinking about how uncomfortable I felt.

I didn’t just fall off the banana boat. I’m well aware of the cultural (he’s Portuguese) component. And I’m also aware of society’s influence. I probably shouldn’t judge, and to each his own and whose to say what’s right or wrong. I mean what about those women who breastfeed their kids until they go off to college! I like to think that I’m an open minded, offspring of hippies, free to be you and me, kinda of G.M. But as it turns out, I’m NOT. Bring on the boundaries, clear, delineated lines, modesty and clothes!

The topic of inappropriateness and boundaries came up organically at dinner with my boyfriend’s daughter. I was elated. She told me that she grew up in a naked household, and I told her that in some ways, so did I (nut-huggers). But I also tried to explain that it’s a different dynamic with the four of us now, because the reality is, I’m not her mother and it does affect how we all behave.

I couldn’t articulate the feelings as well as I wanted to, but she was in total agreement. Now that she opened Pandora’s box, I continued.

I told her that I needed her and her brother to respect those things that made me uncomfortable. Again, she smiled and nodded in agreement. I felt a thousand pounds lighter. And when I started to back pedal on the word inappropriate, because I didn’t want to dramatize, traumatize or cause any shame or embarrassment, without missing a beat she said, “Oh, no, it’s inappropriate.”

I expressed myself without defending myself. Then my boyfriend’s daughter told me that she and the rest of the clan think it’s funny when they hint at something they know I think is inappropriate, because they enjoy seeing my feathers ruffled. Yay.

She knows what it is to respect one’s feelings, and I couldn’t be happier. I took the bull by the horns and was surprisingly comfortable standing up for myself. It wasn’t okay for the G.M. and she does have a say in the matter. I matter! Whoopee!

Okay, relax, G.M., relax.

Bongs & Sensimilla & One-Hitters, Oh, My!

In my continued struggle with boundaries and appropriate parenting, I found myself at dinner last night with my boyfriend, his daughter and her boyfriend, talking about bongs, sensimilla and one hitters, oh my.

We began our family discussion with a summary of the television show, Breaking Bad, a show which I haven’t seen, but of which I learned was about a high school chemistry teacher, diagnosed with lung cancer, who turns to producing and selling methamphetamine so his family is taken care of when he dies. How noble.

This wasn’t the first time meth came up in a family discussion. I know, how lucky can I get. My boyfriend’s thirteen year old son plays an X-Box game called, Saints Row, that allows him to own shares in a crystal meth lab. We are so proud. What the F’ is going on out there? Whatever happened to Pac-Man, Centipede or the Super Mario Brothers?

I know this is naive of me and the times they have a changed but teaching kids how to invest in a meth lab?! Why not a brothel? A BDSM Dungeon? Crack House? Abortion clinic? Too far? The point is, what the F? But let’s return to last night’s dinner.

After my boyfriend and I were schooled on the profitability of a meth lab, we got on the topic of smoking pot, or as my parents liked to call it, grass. Adorable. My boyfriend’s daughter asked her father if he had ever smoked pot. I sat frozen in anticipation. Was he going to tell her the truth? And if he did, how much was he going to divulge? Oh, he went for it all right.

He told them how he used to smoke a lot before he got married, and how pot back then was so much better than it is today, and how he had a bad trip the last time he smoked, a few years ago. I threw up my hands. After all, if he didn’t have a problem with the subject matter, then why should I?

I regaled the kids with memories of the last time my boyfriend and I got stoned. “We were playing scrabble and then the ‘grass’ kicked in, and we had to stop. (Picture me gesticulating widely and smiling like a mental patient) So then we started eating! Ha! We couldn’t stop laughing. I think we got the pot from my brother’s friend. Oh, we laughed.” I’m not sure how I had the good sense to leave out the part where we hopped into bed and sucked face (and other body parts) until we passed out, but I did. See, boundaries.

Holy shit nuggets, I sounded like a complete ass. I was that 40-year old frat guy who’s still bragging about the time he got so wasted that he fell asleep on a neighbor’s driveway and it poured but he was so wasted that he didn’t even wake up.

I wanted to hurl myself into the french doors. Why were we talking about this with the kids? It wasn’t right. It felt weird. But in some perverse and messed up way, I wanted to share. Maybe it was the moment. Maybe it was the attention. Maybe I wanted to show them that dad and I were way cooler than her mom and her boyfriend. Real mature Girlfriend Mom.

Or maybe I still don’t know what I’m doing.

Why Did You Tell Dad That I Got My Period?

PhotoCredit:Feminspire.com

PhotoCredit:Feminspire.com

My Lover and I were talking the other day about his twelve year old son having his first girlfriend. I’m not sure that I can remember what girlfriend and boyfriend meant in seventh grade. I do know that I went to my first co-ed party, played spin the bottle, and prayed that it would get too late in the evening to play seven minutes in the closet. I was quite shy in the romance department back then.

In any case, I asked my Lover if he was going to have a father-son talk, including favorites like, “It’s perfectly normal to masturbate, but class it up a bit and don’t use a friggin’ sock.” My Lover said that it wasn’t necessary. Huh? Not being a full time parent, I was confused.

My parents had talks with me. Or were those my TV parents? Parents are supposed to talk to their kids about sex and, more often that not, how to avoid it, right? Don’t they say things like, “I’m here for you, if you ever want or need to talk.” Mine did.

Apparently, my Lover (I want to see how long it takes before you get nauseated by the word) didn’t think so. He’s the youngest of five, from a working class family in Portugal. There weren’t a lot of sit-downs with his parents, unlike my hippy dippy- consciousness raising- pot smoking- macrame plant holder making- denim cap wearing- Three Dog Night listening- free to be you and me- parents. He never talked about sex, bodily functions or anything too personal, with his parents, unlike my parents. I wish I’d been from Portugal.

Most of the time I didn’t want to tell my parents anything, but in some perverse and distorted way, I felt compelled to talk because they said that I could, and I didn’t want to hurt their feelings. I wanted it to be like the families on TV. I wanted to be on the receiving end of that glorious undivided parental attention. I soon learned that it was best to get that attention from an anonymous audience, while singing and dancing on stage.

Flashback to 1980.

I was in eighth grade and babysitting at a neighbor’s house. I hated babysitting for that family. There was never anything good to eat, the kids were dorks (and that’s coming from a dork) and the husband creeped the crap out of me. I remember him driving me home one night, and when he pulled into my driveway, he said, “Okay, pussy, thank you for your help.” Ew on every f’in level. I convinced myself that he didn’t mean it in a vaginal way, and that it was a throw back to his generation when pussy actually meant pussycat.

Even at 13, it sounded gross and inappropriate. If it happened today, and I’m not sure why I’d be babysitting and getting rides home, since I have a car, I’d report him to the authorities and see if his name was on any public sex offender’s lists.

I got my menses (gotta love the word) for the first time that night. My mother was beside herself. She didn’t know what to do first. Um, how about finding me something so I don’t soil my Carter’s. It would be a few more years until I discovered thongs!

And what she came up with- wait for it – wait for it – was a goddam belt, which was like suspenders for a sanitary napkin. What the f? What is this 1870? It’s 19 fargin 80! My mom told me that I was too young for tampons, and wanted to ask the doctor first just to make sure that it was okay to shove something up inside of me. That was thoughtful of her.

I begged and pleaded with my mom not to tell my dad. She promised and I went into my bedroom. Not ten minutes later, there was a knock on my door. It was my dad. He sat down on the edge of my bed, and I swear, I think he had tears in his eyes.

“Congratulations. I’m so proud of you. You’re a young woman.” Okay, first of all, thanks mom, I hate you, and I’m never ever going to tell you anything ever again, ever, as long as I live!

And secondly, really, dad, congratulations? For what? I had no control over this. It wasn’t like I studied hard for a test and got an A! I didn’t see this happening as an accomplishment or something to tick off of my To Do list. And I wished that he didn’t say woman, because at that age, certain words, like woman, sounded icky to me and made me uncomfortable. Don’t try to figure that one out. Suffice to say, the whole ordeal was embarrassing.

A few years later, even after all of the menses drama, I trotted my ass back to the mommy well, after losing my virginity, because, “You can tell me anything,” and I’m an idiot and I wanted to share. Again.

My mom wigged out. It wasn’t in a, ‘I’m so disappointed in you. How could you have done such a thing? I’m not taking care of it, if you get pregnant’ sort of way, but rather in a, ‘I’m not ready for this’ sort of way.

CUT TO: The Present

This is a cautionary tale, kids. Think twice before you believe your parent’s supposed openness. My belief is that parents really don’t want you to tell them shit because it only re-enforces how ill equipped, ill-prepared, and utterly clueless they are. There’s no need to shove their faces in it. Go tell your grandparents instead.

Leaving the Girlfriend Kids for Dubai, UAE

I left America almost a week ago, and am currently in Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates. I’m clarifying the United Arab Emirates part, in case some of you were confused by the title of this entry and thought Dubai was a man, who I left the girlfriend kids for.
Saying good-bye to my boyfriend’s daughter the night before I left was all very normal and without tears. Just a promise that I’d bring back something really cool that a 17 year old fashion junky would like. However, my boyfriend’s son was a whole other story.
I had an early flight, so we had to leave the house at the butt crack of dawn. It was decided that his son would stay asleep, while my boyfriend drove me to the airport. If all went well and there wasn’t any traffic, he’d be back in less than two hours. I said a preliminary good-bye the night before and my boyfriend’s son said that he’d be up to say good-bye in the morning. 
It was a restless sleep, full of nerves, excitement and, “Don’t forget to pack the hard boiled eggs” reminders. I never travel without my eggs. I shot out of bed as soon as the alarm went off and went into final preparation mode. Passport, check. Visa, check. Money, license, boarding pass, protein bars, phone, camera, eggs. CHECK! I was ready.
While my boyfriend was kind enough to drag my, “I know this is going to be over the limited weight” suitcase to the car, I walked over to his son, who was still sleeping on the couch. I bent down over him, whispered his name and told him that I was leaving, and wanted to say good-bye.
He extended his 12 year old arms out and threw them around my neck in a tight hug, bringing us cheek to cheek. He started to cry. Oh, shit. I felt sad, lost, found, mushy and more like a girlfriend mom than I ever had. He said he didn’t want me to go and that he was going to miss me. Oh, double shit. I was hit in the gut in the most beautiful of ways.
I assured him that two months was going to fly by and that I’d miss him as well. I told him to do lots of things over the summer so he could tell me about them when I got back. I said that I’d bring back presents. Parents say that all the time, right? I tried to lighten it up by promising to follow him on Facebook, so he’d better be good.
I kissed his cheek and the top of his head, as I brushed his hair back behind his ear (like my parents did when I was sad) trying to comfort him. I let myself fall hard and heavy into this little person’s emotions. And although I’ve always felt deep in my soul, that I’d be a natural at this parent thing, nothing felt more authentic in that moment, than soothing this sensitive little boy, who was expressing himself in his half sleep state.