Interview with a 12 Year Old

August 23rd, 2015 § Comments Off on Interview with a 12 Year Old § permalink

12 year oldMe: What’s today?

12 year old: My birthday

Me: How do you know?

12 year old: Because my calendar notification told me.

Me: How does it feel to be a twelve year old?

12 year old: Weird.

Me: Why?

12 year old: Because. I’m not eleven.

Me: How did you spend your birthday?

12 year old: I went to see Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation and then I played Laser Tag. I ate breakfast of donuts. And a dinner of steak.

Me: Did you like the movie?

12 year old: Yes.

Me: Favorite part?

12 year old: The ending.

Me: Was it a good birthday?

12 year old: Yeah.

Me: Can I get more than one word answers?

12 year old: No. Okay, yes.

Me: What do you like to do these days?

12 year old: I like to program in Unity and do math.

Me: What are your favorite books?

12 year old: The House of the Scorpion and Ready Player One.

Me: What are you listening to?

12 year old: Lo Normali by EZ.

Me: What are your favorite things to watch?

12 year old: Big Bang Theory. Simpsons. Silicon Valley.

Me: Those are the same shows you watched last year.

12 year old: Yeah.

Me: Haven’t you matured?

12 year old: No.

Me: What do you want to be when you grow up?

12 year old: Computer programmer. Game.

Me: What are you looking forward to in 7th grade?

12 year old: Math. 8th grade math.

Me: What are your goals as a 12 year old?

12 year old: Survive to be thirteen.

Me: Thirteen means bar mitzvah. Ready for that?

12 year old: Sure.

Me: Any grand pronouncements?

12 year old: Not really. I am amazing.

Me: What does “pronouncement” mean?

12 year old: Like [reaches for phone; I say no], um, something you want to say?

Me: Is this the last year we’ll do these interviews? Your answers are pretty boring.

12 year old: No. This is the not the last year we will be doing the interviews.

Me: Do you have anything interesting to say?

12 year old: No.

Me: So why should we keep doing this?

12 year old: Because maybe next year I will have something interesting to say.

Happy birthday, Doodles.

Actual Conversations at Our House

April 9th, 2015 § 4 comments § permalink

Boy is doing his English (ELA) project at the last minute:
Boy: Can you look at my ELA project?
Me: Adam, you do it. He doesn’t like what I have to say.
Adam: Looks super.
Boy: Thanks.
Adam: Why can’t your mom look at this?
Boy: Because she told me it looks half-assed.
Me: Well someone has to tell you the truth.
Boy: I have such a loving, caring, supportive mom, who will always say nice things to me.
Me: As if.

We put girl to bed. Recently the girl expressed surprise that women get their periods once a month.
Me: We need to read It’s Perfectly Normal. I think there are some concepts you’re unclear on.
Girl: No! I don’t want to read it before bed!
Me: Okay, we can do it after school tomorrow.
Girl: Nooooooo! It’s sooooo boring!
Me: But you need to learn about puberty.
Girl: I know about it!
Me: I think you’re rusty.
Girl: No, I’m not.
Me: What does the body do when a girl gets her period?
Girl: I don’t want to talk about it! I don’t want to know about puberty! Why do I need to know?
Me: Because it’s going to happen to you.
Girl: It’s so boring!
Me: When you get your period, your uterus sheds its lining and—
Girl: STOP! You’re making my butt hurt.
Me: Fine. We can talk about it another day. Go to sleep so Daddy and I can watch House of Cards.
Girl: Why do you ALWAYS have to watch House of Cards! This is the fifth night in a row!
Me: We like it.
Girl: But it’s the FIFTH night! Why? Why can’t you not watch it?
Me: Why is this upsetting you so much?
Girl (becoming very anxious): BECAUSE IT’S THE FIFTH NIGHT!
Boy: Look, would you rather have parents who watch House of Cards or parents who smoke meth?

Status of things in the house? Boy’s project is half-assed. Girl knows nothing about puberty. Adam and I are going to watch House of Cards.

Here Comes the Flower Girl

April 5th, 2015 § 2 comments § permalink

The torch has been passed. I have entered a new phase of my life. Apparently, I can now go to a family event and not be the drunkest one in the room. In fact, not only was I not the drunkest in the room, I was downright sober, watching the millennials have fun at the open bar at my first cousin’s wedding. At the morning-after brunch, my son went around telling folks that for $2 to $20, he’d tell them what they did the night before (the amount correlated to how drunk the person had been). My cousin, the groom, offered him $5 to not tell him what he did. I will say that the boy collected a decent amount of money before I realized what he was doing and I made him return it. Somehow, extortion at a family wedding didn’t feel right. In my family, extortion is reserved for the holidays.

The wedding weekend was not just lovely, but a bit surprising. At the cocktail hour before the rehearsal dinner, my notoriously “I hate all people” son asked if he could go sit by himself on the couches in a more secluded part of the balcony. I told him he could–I was proud he could recognize when he’d had enough and needed some alone time–so off he went, Shirley Temple in hand. But then, when we sat at the table, older couple came up to me and said, “Is that your son? He is absolutely wonderful! We had the most delightful conversation with him. Such a wonderful boy,” and the boy looked at me with a big grin, nodding his head. When they left, I asked, “Who were they talking about?”

“Me,” the boy said.

“How is that possible?”

He shrugged. “I sat on the couch. They came out and sat down next to me and started talking. I had to talk back.”

Progress, people! Progress!

And then what turned out even more surprising is that 1) my boy has some serious dance floor moves, 2) those millennial women can’t get enough of him, and 3) he totally didn’t mind one bit.


My girl was the flower girl and she reveled in it, to the point where, when I took her to hang with the (14!!) bridesmaids to get her hair and make-up done, she finally turned to me after about an hour and said, “Mom. You can go. NOW!” as she pushed me out the door. I’m sure it had nothing to do with the spread of food and candy she was hoping to get her hands on.


I decided to have my make-up professionally done. As someone who never wears make-up, the whole thing frightens me a bit, so when the opportunity presented itself, I took it. A woman spent a good while doing up my face (and it wasn’t cheap to have done), and the girl and I agreed that I looked pretty good. The boy begged to differ. “Wow, Mom,” he said with horror in his voice. “Your face looks weird!” The kid knows how to make a woman feel confident.

The wedding itself was lovely. My cousin’s then-fiancé seemed determined to marry into this family, despite my many warnings. And then, foolishly, no matter how I pleaded with her not to, she decided to change her name (does the world really need another Brown in it? That name has been a curse all my life), so she is now one of the Dr. Browns of Dr. and Dr. Brown. At least if we have a medical emergency we’ve just doubled the chance that a family member can solve it.

Oddly enough, my Houston born-and-bred cousin met his now-wife at school in Atlanta, yet she’s from Miami. And it turns out that her grandmother married the father of one of my high school friends (who is the sister of the Tweedle Twirp’s BFF), so not only was this a family wedding, but a mini-Beach High reunion, guaranteeing everyone had someone with whom to talk. Adam had my father. I had my high school friend. Tweeds had her high school friend. The girl had 14 bridesmaids. And apparently, so did the boy. A beautiful time was had by all. Even if I was sober.


The Delusions of a Middle Schooler

March 27th, 2015 § 2 comments § permalink

Boy: If self-driving cars become legal before I’m 16, will you buy me one?

Me: No. 

Boy: What if all human drivers become illegal?

Me: No. 

Boy: But how will I get around?

Me: You’ll take the self-driving bus. 

Boy: But you would have bought me a car when I learned how to drive.

Me: What?! 

Adam: This is where you make the woo-woo noise to signify this is a dream sequence because the boy is clearly not in reality. 

Me: You are NOT getting a car from us! What on earth made you think you’d get a car?

Boy: Well I just figured you would buy me one because when I learned to ride a bike, you bought me a bike. 

Conversations That Will Horrify the Grandparents

February 14th, 2015 § Comments Off on Conversations That Will Horrify the Grandparents § permalink

Me: My first check will be coming in soon for my novel. We have to start planning my tattoo.
Boy: No! Your next tattoo is supposed to be our matching tattoos when I’m 18! Our matching dragons!
Me: We’ll do that. But I always said if my novel got published I’d get another tattoo.
Boy: Well then tell them not to publish it for seven years.
Me: Are you crazy? Are you telling me you’re not going to get any other tattoos?
Boy: I’ll get other tattoos. But after we get our matching dragon tattoos.

Can’t wait for him to go to college and tell folks that his cool dragon tattoo across his chest matches the one on his mommy. He’s going to be a real lady killer, folks.

Truck You, Snow!

February 12th, 2015 § 1 comment § permalink

People here go stupid crazy over Truck Day and not only do I find that annoying, but I find it more annoying that when people say “Truck Day,” I know what it is. In fact, not only do I know what it is, but I know where those stupid trucks are going. (Truck Day is the day when the trucks are packed with the Red Sox *equipment* [Yes, the equipment. Not even the team] to head down to Ft. Myers for spring training. The only thing more exciting [not to me, thank you very much] is the day that pitchers and catchers report, which is February 20 AND WHY DO I KNOW THIS, PEOPLE? That is valuable brain space that could be spent on so many more important things, like how does Bruce Jenner feel about the fact that he is no longer referred to as “Olympian Bruce Jenner” but as “Reality TV Star Bruce Jenner”?)

Even my own husband, when I complained about my Facebook feed being taken over by Truck Day texted me, “I was just about to post on FB ‘TRUCK DAY!!!'” According to Adam, “It’s like the New England version of Groundhog Day, [but] the answer is always ‘It’s almost spring!'”

Bostonians are morons. Including the ones to whom I’m related. Or maybe especially the ones to whom I’m related.

I know I’ve been MIA, but I’m happy to report, I’m done with my manuscript revisions so I am now free to write again. It’s hard to write while I’m writing. But now that I’m not writing, I can write. So here I am.

As I imagine everyone knows, we’re going a little snow-crazy here in Eastern Massachusetts, and I’m going even more stir-crazy because on top of the six snow days we had in a three-week period, I got a bonus two days stuck inside as Pie had a nasty virus. Luckily, she’ll get in one day of school before the one-week February vacation during which another blizzard is coming. Fun, fun. (I’m ignoring the darkening skies that are occurring right now, and the flakes that seem to be fluttering from the sky.) The whole thing would be enough to drive a person to the bourbon cabinet, but I have it on good authority (hi, Peter!) that I have a cousin on the Left Coast (hi, SB!) who reads this blog and fears for the well being of my liver and my sobriety. I would like to assure Cousin SB that both are well intact, and in fact, I have embraced “clean living.” Since January 1, I’ve had only a couple of drinks and–gasp!–no gummy bears. And, I will say, that there is a distinct possibility that I talk about bourbon more than I actually have the opportunity to drink it. That is not the case for gummy bears. When I talk about eating gummy bears it is because I am actually eating gummy bears. Mmmmm, gummy bears.

I’m a little ramble-y today. Sorry about that. That’s what happens when you’re as cooped up as I am. (Coops. Chickens. Chickens go peep peep. Suddenly I crave Peeps. Where was I?) Seriously, the snow is horrific. I wanted an award for taking the compost out, but no one in my family acknowledge my great feat of environmental do-gooding. Heck, I wanted an award for finding the compost bins.

There are two compost bins in this photo. Can you spot them?

There are two compost bins in this photo. Can you spot them?

But we’ve had some fun. There’s been saucering with the boy (“Climbing back up the hill is soooo hard!”) and snowshoeing with the girl (“This is too tiring!”). There’s been excessive computer and iPad time while I yell from upstairs, “I said BE QUIET! I need to finish my revisions!” There’s been a few days of slow-simmered red beans and rice and soup bubbling on the stove. And now I’m done. I’m ready for this stupid winter to be over. Which is good. Because we’re only expecting, over the course of the next four days, 12 or more inches of snow. And on that note, I will type the final “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy” into my manuscript and send it off to my editor, and I’ll leave you with images from the snowy northeast.







December 23rd, 2014 § Comments Off on TMI* § permalink

*Too Much Information. In other words, this post is not for the faint of heart. If this is you, move along.



(Still here? Okay.)
Yesterday morning, the boy picked up a piece of mail from my gynecologist that was sitting on the counter. “What’s this?” he asked.

“It says my lady parts are good,” I told him.

He opened the paper. “What’s a pap smear?”

“It’s a test women get to make sure everything is doing okay down there,” I said.

“How do they do it?” he asked.

“Well,” I said, thinking about how one explains a pap smear. “The doctor takes this thing called a ‘speculum’ and she puts it inside the woman’s vaginal canal and she cranks it open.” I make eh-eh-eh cranking noises here. “And then she sticks a long Q-tip inside of me to reach my cervix so she can take a tissue sample to make sure there’s no cervical cancer.”

“A speculum?” he asked.

“I bet we can find a picture online,” I said, and in a few minutes, the boy and I were engrossed in an article from The Atlantic called “Why No One Can Design a Better Speculum.” We only got through the first page because we had to leave for school but the first page really gave all the info we needed.

Also yesterday morning. The girl is, um, backed up. I fed her an Ex Lax and sent her to school. When I picked her up today, there wasn’t much movement. So of course I told Adam. Because wouldn’t a father want to know about that stuff?

Me: Pie still hasn’t pooped.
Me: Oh, wait! She might be pooping. Not sure.
Adam: We have the best IM conversations.
Me: Listen. I can have IM conversations with someone else, if you don’t like it. I’m sure the Duchess would be fascinated to know about your daughter’s bowel movements.
Adam: \o/
Me: If the boy can handle speculums, you can handle poop!

Oddly, I didn’t hear from him again. Whatever.

And if anyone wants to I.M. about poop–or speculums–just give me a buzz.

Get Out of the House!

December 10th, 2014 § 2 comments § permalink

Remember those horror films and stories of old, in the days before Caller I.D. and cell phones? The babysitter/cheerleader/helpless pretty blonde girl of some sort is alone in the house and she’s receiving threatening phone calls? She calls the operator who researches the calls. The operator calls her back and yells, “Get out of the house. The calls are coming from INSIDE the house!” At this point, mayhem and death usually ensue.

While no one in my house is trying to kill me (at least not overtly–Pie is clearly playing the long-game here on driving me to madness and perhaps death), I did have my own experience with this.

I received one of those lovely Facebook messages recently:

Hi Jenny,
We detected a login into your account from a new device named “Firefox on Linux” on Sunday, November 30, 2014 at 7:38pm.

Operating System: Linux
Browser: Firefox
Location: Arlington, MA, US (IP=

Note: Location is based on internet service provider information.
If this was you, please disregard this email.
If this wasn’t you, please secure your account, as someone else may be accessing it.
The Facebook Security Team

“Huh,” I said to Adam. “That’s odd.”

“You should go change your password,” he said. “Just to make sure.”

I clicked on the link that read “secure your account.” And I received a message that read (I’m paraphrasing here), “The I.P. address is the one you are currently logged in on. Are you sure it wasn’t you?”

The calls were coming from inside the house.

I asked Adam, “Did you try to log in as me?”

He shook his head. “No, not me.”

I had my suspicions at this point. “Doodles!! What the hell are you doing to my accounts?”

“Me?” His poked out of his room with his customary “hey, I’m lying” wrinkle of his forehead. “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

Did I mention that just a week before this, he asked Adam, “What does [the password I use to log onto my computer] actually mean?” Adam warned him he shouldn’t be messing around my stuff.

I didn’t think much of it, because I knew he was doing something, I just didn’t know what. And then I found out (and he doesn’t know I know, unless he’s smart enough to read this blog occasionally just to find out what I DO know!) that the little bugger had taken one of Adam’s old laptops (and I mean old–think ten-year-old IBM ThinkPads, heavy as a sack of bricks), installed Linux on it, and is trying to infiltrate my accounts.

What does he think he’s going to do? Post a status that could embarrass me? Doesn’t he realize that 1) I embarrass myself so much that there’s really not much he could do to make it worse and 2) payback is a bitch.

I’m sort of torn about what to do. Do I confiscate the laptop? Or be impressed at his skill? I figure this is the story he’ll tell about how he got started, either when he’s the CEO of his own multi-billion dollar company or from a jail cell trying to explain how hacking led him to a life of crime.

And in the meantime, if there are any truly odd Facebook or Twitter posts from me, you’ll know I was hacked. By my own son. Freakin’ doofus.

Proof of Paternity

November 21st, 2014 § Comments Off on Proof of Paternity § permalink

The boy has a phone. One of the rules of the phone is that at any time I can look at the phone, read text messages, and use them to humiliate. Okay, maybe I never exactly spelled out the “humiliate” part, but I assume it was pretty much implied. I mean, the boy’s been living here for eleven years now. He knows how it goes.

Most of the texts were pretty boring, to tell the truth. But then I found one from Tab. And if ever anyone wanted proof that the boy is Adam’s son, this is it:


This boy has “software engineer” written all over him…. (And, note, there have been no more text messages to him from Tab.)

Goofus, No Gallant

October 30th, 2014 § 1 comment § permalink

I read somewhere that if you’re going to eat candy, you should let the wrappers pile up, because when you see how many you’ve eaten, you’ll stop.

Doesn’t work. I look at the pile and think, “Shit, I’ve gone this far. Might as well eat another five.”
Did I mention it’s only 9:12 a.m.?

Did I mention my tummy is starting to bother me?

Did I mention I just put another wrapper on the pile? (If you are one of my children and you are reading this, “Ha ha! Just kidding! That’s all garbage I picked up off the street on my way home from walking Pie to school. I would never eat like that. Especially not first thing in the morning. So bad for you. So bad!”)

My son has been a terror these days. He had a doctor’s appointment and we were running a few minutes late. Parking was going to be a bit of a pain, and I was stopped at a traffic light across the street from where he had to be, so I said to him, “Why don’t you get out here and walk to the appointment and I’ll park and meet you.”

“Okay,” he said, hopping out of the car. And then he completely bypassed the traffic light, walked up one the absolute busiest streets in our town, and proceeded to cross in the middle of the street, around the cars. I’m trying to yell at him from the car, “Doodles! You moron! Cross at the light. CROSS AT THE LIGHT!”

By the time I park and catch up with him, I’m furious. “What the hell! That was a complete lack of judgment! How can I trust you to walk yourself places when you do it like an f’ing idiot! Seriously! What were you thinking?”

“Sorry, sorry!” he said. “I didn’t know you wanted me to cross at the light!”

“How could you NOT know that? You are eleven years old and you don’t know how to cross a street? How do you have such a complete lack of judgment! Complete! How do you not know this! COMPLETE LACK OF JUDGMENT!”

Luckily, it was his turn to go in, so my tirade ended, though I silently cursed him throughout. And on the way out, still feeling really snippy, I walked him down to the corner and demonstrated how one crosses at the light. I looked at my kid, shivering in his t-shirt, and I said, “Put on your jacket.”

“I don’t have a jacket with me,” he said.

“It’s October. In the Northeast. Why the hell do you not have a jacket?”

The little twit looked at me and shrugged. “I dunno,” he said. “Complete lack of judgment?”

I. Wanted. To. Smack. Him.

Surprisingly, he has continued to live and thrive.

(Those of you not on Facebook–my dad!–don’t have the benefit of hearing conversations like this between my son and myself, but it pretty much wraps up where we stand these days:
Me: How is it you made it to 11 and you’re still alive?
Boy: Survival of the fittest.
Me: Boy, if there were ever an argument against natural selection, you’re it.
Boy: The sad thing is that I was Dad’s strongest sperm.)

Meanwhile he’s signed up for a hacking contest, and all he wants to do his hack. (And now I’m singing that in my head to the tune of Don Henley’s “All She Wants to Do Is Dance.”) Homework? If he can fit it in. Viola practice? Not so much. Sleep? Who needs sleep? There’s hacking to be done! My boy is clamoring to be a geeking cliche.

By the way, I solved the candy problem. I threw out the wrappers. Now to keep my girl from going through the garbage looking for them (I swear, she does it, always trying to catch me chocolate-handed!).

Milky Way, anyone? I can be forgiven, though. It’s fortification for the yelling I’ll need to do later when I discover the latest stupid thing that boy has done. Maybe I should have two.

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  • Who I Am

    I read, I write, I occasionally look to make sure my kids aren't playing with matches.

    My novel, MODERN GIRLS will be coming out from NAL in the spring of 2016.

    I mostly update the writing blog these days, so find me over there.

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