Tag Archives: parenting

Tripping with My Ex-Boyfriend’s Daughter

Tripping with my ex-boufriend's daughter

Tripping

Does a stepparent relinquish their title, and the unspoken rights, responsibilities, support, care and concern, (often included in the character description) if the relationship ends in divorce?

And what the hell happens in a Girlfriend Mom situation… I don’t know either.

I no longer wear the sash and crown, but there are certain habits and emotional bonds that were formed during my halcyon days as the reining Girlfriend Mom, that have stayed with me nearly three years after the so-called divorce. The role will forever remain in my heart as the most unexpected, and enlightening that I have had the privaledge of playing. And I played Leper #2 in the musical, Jesus Christ Superstar in theater camp.

It was because of these unique relationships, (that seem to be defined, and then redefined every few months) that I took SN (the daughter) on a road trip last Fall from Portland, Oregon to La Jolla, California for her college graduation gift.

A few family members and friends thought it was strange that I was taking a trip with my ex-boyfriend’s daughter. These were some of the same people who thought that it was weird that I still saw the kids. SN’s mother thought it was a wonderful opportunity for her daughter and thanked me. I didn’t need to be thanked because it was my absolute pleasure and joy.

I wanted to make the trip more than SN. I knew firsthand how life affirming such an experience could be. I made the same excursion when I was her age, after my college graduation. After four years in Manhattan, side-stepping dog poop on the sidewalks on my way to class, knocking into Wall Streeter’s as they hustled to the subway, I  hit the road and drove across the country over the summer.

Ever since I was in high school, I wanted to drive across America. I read Kerouac’s, On The Road, watched both Easy Rider, and Lost in America, and the idea of living moment to moment; no plans or schedule was alluring and sexy.

I imagined driving through towns with populations under a hundred. I fantasized about having to get a waitress job in a honkey tonk (even though I’d never waited tables before) because I ran out of money. Perhaps I’d get hired to wax surf boards in a shop along the California coast, even though I’d never set foot on a board. I romanticized the road because I’d been dodging crack dealers on my way to my dorm. Anything would be better than that.

I’d learn how to ride a motorcycle. I’d pick up hitchhikers bumming for lifts. They’d teach me about the world; sharing their wisdom gleaned from years living according to their chakras and not in the chokehold of societal expectations, norms and conventions. These free spirits would regale me with pearls from the backseat of my car, while chewing tobacco, and using an empty Coke bottle as their spittoon.

To be twenty-two.

I used the money that I’d saved over the years in a giant pink piggy bank that my parent’s had bought me when I was nine years old, to fund my trip.

The bank lived on the bottom shelf of my bookcase in my childhood bedroom. It was so big that I doubted that it would ever be full, but I dropped coins into the slit on its back every chance I got.

My parents told me (although it was couched as a suggestion) to wait until the pig was full before I uncorked its underbelly. They assured me that it would be more exciting and gratifying than if I withdrew money every time I wanted another Bonne Bell 7-Up Lip Smacker, which was often.

What ten-year-old girl is going to understand the concept of saving, patience and restriction? It was friggin’ Bonne Bell. Yes, I dipped into the bank on more than one occasion.

As I got older and more disciplined, it became easier to resist the urge to crack open the swine before she was up to her snout in metal and couldn’t take one more thin dime. She did taunt me, especially when my babysitting jobs dried up in the winter of ’83 but I stayed the course.

By the time I graduated college, the bank had been full for several months. I suspect that my parents dropped a few shekels in while I was away at school.

Soon after graduation, I went into my bedroom, closed the door and pulled the weighty bank off of the shelf. I plucked the stopper, emptied the contents onto my medium pile chocolate brown shag rug, and began the laborious task of rolling the coins into their respective denomination wrappers. This was long before the coin machines in local supermarkets. I rolled until I lost feeling in my fingers.

It was mind-numbing and it required a gross amount of concentration and counting. Anyone who knows me, knows that I find counting mentally exhausting.

As I sat with my legs crossed hunched over mounds of coins (as a Pilates instructor I shudder at the visual) I kept having to remind myself of how many nickels were in a two-dollar wrapper. The whole ordeal made me dizzy.

As the rolls piled high, forming miniature pyramids on my rug, my anticipation increased—How far would the money take me? Would I have to get a job bartending? 

When the wrapping was complete, I went to the bank and cashed out. If memory serves, I had over six hundred dollars in dusty and sticky pennies, nickels, dimes and quarters. I found several half dollars and a handful of silver dollars. I vaguely remember getting those as birthday presents from my grandfather. At the time, I couldn’t get over the fact that a dollar could be a coin.

I also found a peso or two in the mix, which was odd because I hadn’t been to a country where the local currency was a Pesos. Dad?

I had money to make a childhood dream come true and nothing felt sweeter. I was rich!

Once I climbed behind the wheel and was on the road, I tossed my shoes into the backseat of my Honda Accord and crossed over the first of many state lines. I felt as if I’d been infused with a dose of freedom. I hadn’t done a lot of traveling up to that cross country point and I was captivated by the enormity of the country, and awed by the vastness and the quiet. It was eye opening in ways that I had only read about or seen in the movies.

I imagined my foot glued to the gas pedal, never to return to New York. I’d only driven 700 miles from home, but I was convinced that I belonged on the road, and that I would be happy wandering for the rest of my life.

To be twenty-two.

Decades later, I hoped that SN’s experience would be as thrilling as my first time was. I’d play the part of the wise hitchhiker, imparting sage advice, only without the tobacco. I was anxious to see the roads of my youth, and to be seeing them through SN’s youthful eyes.

To be continued…

Parents Would Rather Their Child NOT Get Arrested

DaniAlpert

DaniAlpert

We all crave attention. Some crave it more than others. Perhaps they suffer from low self-esteem, they’re the youngest sibling, or because they’re an only child. I too sought my share of attention growing up. Aw, let’s be honest, I still like attention, only now I’m not as obnoxious about it as I used to be. At least I don’t think I am.

However, getting arrested on a sunny but brisk Monday afternoon on December 26th in 1983, the day after Christians celebrated the birth of that sweet baby Jesus, was not the kind of attention that I was looking for.

I was charged with tagging. That’s street lingo for defacing property with spray paint. When I was seventeen years old, my friend Laura and I sat in her bedroom, in her parent’s house, suffering from an acute case of suburban boredom. We didn’t have i-devices or 300 television channels to occupy ourselves. Laura didn’t even have cable, so MTV wasn’t an option. What to do? We had to get creative. We had to think outside of the mall. After an hour of drinking Tab and potato chips, I blurted out, “Let’s graffiti something.”

I didn’t know that graffiti was illegal. I saw it on buildings and on street signs in Manhattan every time we ventured in for dinner and Broadway show. I thought it was normal. I thought that it was okay because I hadn’t heard of anyone getting arrested for it. Of course at that age, I wasn’t watching much news or reading the paper either. Shit, people may have been getting arrested left and right and I wouldn’t have known about it.

I instinctively knew that public places were out of play but that anything dilapidated or hidden from view (for the most part) from the public, was fair game. And yes, my parents failed me somewhere along the line. I considered giving an otherwise dreary wall a splash of color. I was performing a community service and I was giving the graffiti artist inside a chance to be immortalized.

Laura and I drove to the local hardware store and bought cans of spray paint. We decided on an overpass that was far enough away from the middle of town but close enough to be seen when people exited, or entered, the parkway. It also provided us with a large blank canvas. What a wonderful space to be able to express our seventeen year old selves.

I was madly in love with my boyfriend (hello handcuffs) and I thought, what better way to show my love than to spray paint our initials on a concrete wall. Laura was dating someone as well, so she decided to do the same. As I was putting the finishing touches on the enormous red heart around the D.A. + P.S., I heard the dulcet tones of a police siren.

I looked around expecting to see a pack of spoiled, preppy hooligans, that were drunk and had just been caught vandalizing someone’s front yard with toilet paper. That happened a lot in my town. Instead, the black and white pulled up alongside two naive and misguided teenagers. I was oblivious to what was happening, until I wasn’t.

Laura and I threw our cans into a snowbank, trying to hide the evidence. Never mind the fact that I had paint droppings all over my pants and hands. I wanted to scream, Run! Run like the wind! Then I realized that this wasn’t an episode of The Mod Squad. An officer, who looked like he had just gotten out of the boy scouts (I was a kid and even I thought he looked young) approached. “Get in girls, we’re going downtown.”

“You’re taking us into Manhattan?”

“You’re going to the police station in town, funny girl.” Even then I couldn’t hide the funny. I never knew that my town had a police station. This is how clueless I was. I wasn’t trying to be funny. Rare. My family always called New York City, downtown. It’s what I knew.

Laura started singing like a canary. “She made me do it. I didn’t want to go. I begged her to go to the Chess King and get our boyfriend’s sweaters.” I wanted to back hand her across her Bonne Bell glossed smacker. We slid into the back seat of the police car. I tried to roll down my window but I couldn’t find a handle. Something else that I didn’t know. Police cars don’t have any way for perps to escape. Now how would I have known that adorable fact?

It was probably around this time, when I started to feel that this whole scared straight charade might not be a charade after all. I was getting a touch scared.

The police station in my town was also the library and deli. No wonder I didn’t know that there was a jail in the back. When Laura and I were escorted into the building, the smell of pastrami and tongue almost knocked me over. Baretta took us into a back room and fingerprinted us. What? Was this happening? I cooperated but I was still in disbelief that all of this rigmarole was because I sprayed some cruddy looking underpass. Weren’t there shoplifters to bust?

I was handed a paper towel and I made a feeble attempt to clean my fingers, but they were stained. It was like my scarlet letter. Baretta thought he was hot shit. I’d bet my freedom that Laura and I were his first arrests.

He handed me a piece of wood that had numbers on it, that looked like they were drawn with black Sharpies. I was instructed to hang the wood around my neck. That seemed archaic. Doesn’t the criminal hold the block of wood below the chin for their mug shot? Bat balls! I was getting a mug shot! Who would think that this could be going on alongside meat cleavers and the Dewy Decimal system?

I asked Baretta if I should smile for my photo. As a budding performer, I was always thinking, “Hmm, possible headshot?” I talk stupid and inappropriate when I’m nervous. He shot me a look that sent an internal heat missile to my sphincter. How could I, the most responsible person that ever lived, and my town’s designated driver, have gotten pinched, especially when my motivation for tagging came from passion and innocent love.

An hour later, my attorney, otherwise known as Dad, bailed me out. When I got home, my brother and his friends were sitting around our kitchen table. They had just gotten back from Ft. Lauderdale and had decided to try Sun In hair lightener, so they all had the same orange tinted hair color. They looked ridiculous. They smiled at me as if I were the coolest or dumbest, (it was hard to tell) kid on the planet. I followed my father into the living room to have a talk.

It was more like he yelled and I listened. The details of the conversation are foggy at best but I do remember his panic over the fact that I was applying to colleges and that he didn’t want this little speed bump to go on my permanent record, and hinder my chances of getting into school. I had a record? I was learning so much that day. Perhaps I needed to pay more attention to my surroundings, and what was real, and a little less Marcus Welby, M.D reenactments in my bed at night.

A week later, my father and I trekked back to the courthouse/library/deli, where he was able to plea with the judge. This is legalese for, how much is it going to cost me to get her records expunged? Wouldn’t you know that this was the same day that a Constitutional Law class, from my high school, was on a field trip and sitting in the courtroom. As I faced the audience of my peers, as I walked out, the entire class looked up at me as if I were the coolest or dumbest, (again, hard to tell) kid on the planet.

Laura and I got off with several hundred thousand hours of community service. It felt like that many anyway. The envelope licking and the paper cuts were child’s play compared to removing our artwork from the cement wall. We tried everything; Brillo Pads, bleach, every household cleaning supply known to man, to no avail. It was clear that nothing short of sand blasting was going to get that shit off.

A decade later, while I was visiting my parents, I decided to revisit the scene of the crime. I know (now) that what I did was illegal and wrong, but there was a medium sized part of me that felt proud when I saw the outline of the enormous red heart. It had faded almost beyond recognition. Almost. For me it was a symbol of lost innocence and profound ignorance.

Permitting Teenage Sleepovers: PART II

images-1I love when people comment on my posts. And this one seemed to have hit a nerve, which I also love. I didn’t think that there would be such a wide array of opinions on the question; “Would you allow your teenage daughter, or son, to sleep in the same room as their boyfriend or girlfriend, in your home?”

The comments that surprised me the most were those that through my living situation up in my face. I live with my boyfriend (in sin) so why shouldn’t the same hold true for the Girlfriend Mom teenager? Really? This is the same? Not to me. To me, there is a huge ass difference between a 40-year old adult and an 18-year old teenager. Parent. Child. My house. My rules.

But as I thought more about it, an interesting question arose. What is the cut-off? When do parents consider their teenagers adults? And when do parents start treating their teenagers like an adult? When do parents allow their child and his or her significant other to sleep in the same bedroom, if ever? I wondered how much of it came down to values, morals, rules, or good old personal preference.

When I took on the role of Girlfriend Mom, I came to the party knowing absolutely nothing about parenting, and I had absolutely nothing to compare it to. I have been flying by the seat of my Athleta yoga pants since day one. The above situation is no different. I listen to my gut, as it’s all that I have, and for the most part, it has served me well. I believe that there will come a day when I’ll be comfortable with my Girlfriend Mom daughter sleeping in the same room with her boyfriend (or girlfriend) but it won’t be for any other reason than, time has done its job.

Read original post here with the interesting comments

 

 

 

Do You Let Your Teenage Daughter Have Sleepovers with Her Boyfriend?

imagesWould you let your teenage daughter, and her boyfriend, share a bed if he slept over your house? Do you let your daughter’s boyfriend sleep over your house?

About a year ago, my boyfriend’s daughter asked us if her boyfriend, whom we like, could spend the night. We were going skiing the following morning and it would be saving him a trip. My boyfriend knew where I stood on the subject.  NO FUCKING WAY!

After a some cajoling and guilt, I caved. We put him in the basement on a futon. We made it perfectly clear that this was not to become a habit. For me, this falls under the broad category of boundaries (mine), respect, and good old fashioned values. We’re not running a brothel here people.

When I was a senior in high school, I asked my pot-smoking, Kerouac reading, and consciousness raising attendee parents if my boyfriend could sleep over. It was after nine o’clock and he only had his permit at the time. They agreed but they weren’t excited about the idea.

He slept in the guest room down the hall. And in the middle of the night, he tiptoed 50 feet down to my bedroom, and we had sex. We thought we’d pulled one over on my parents. 

The next morning, we sat at the kitchen table with my parents and had breakfast. I looked over at my mother’s face, and her clenched jaw. Something was wrong.

My mother turned to me, her eyes like daggers, pierced through to my very soul. She uttered three little words that would affect me for the rest of my life.

“How dare you.”

There was nowhere to hide. There wasn’t any point in acting like I didn’t know what she was talking about or coming up with some  lame excuse.

“What do you mean? He had a hang nail, and was looking for nail clippers and then he accidentally feel on top of me and. 

I was royally embarrassed. I had disappointed her, and I had disrespected she and my dad (who never heard a thing, thank god) I had betrayed their trust in the most sordid and humiliating way. 

Now, with my boyfriend’s kids, I must see to it that I will never be put in the same position as I’d put my mother in. I have my mothers steely look seared into my brain, to ensure that there won’t be any  co-ed sleepovers on my watch.
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