humor, motherhood

Who Runs This Town?

Every week Mad Dog and I get a phone message from the boys’ school principals. Inevitably, valuable information will be disseminated and Mad Dog will then share what is said. Full Speed will hear him but not actually listen. He will be there, physically present, nodding and agreeing, but mentally be somewhere else entirely.

He does not like to follow up on anything Mad Dog tells him to do.


Even if the principal left us a message that leftover pots of gold from St. Patrick’s Day were available for pick up at the school office, Full Speed would hear this and then never, ever, ever follow-up. All his school friends could be throwing gold coins around like confetti and he would still never, ever, ever stop by to get his.

Mad Dog, ever the problem solver, is hopeful to add Full Speed to the principal’s call list. This way at least there is a chance, albeit slight, that Full Speed will do what is asked of him.

Trust me, the leprechauns aren’t worried.

Nora also does not like to listen to Mad Dog.

However, this blatant disregard for his authority

is rewarded with treats, verbal affirmations, and let’s not forget,…

unlimited belly rubs.

She runs this town.


Beast Mode

Somewhere along the way in the past few months, I noticed that T.Puzzle was on his phone a lot. I decided to talk to him about it and we came up with some new rules for him to follow. This leaves a big chunk of free time for him because he never has homework. It’s weird. Since we’ve moved he has maybe had two assignments that spilled over to home. Even with studying for the upcoming state spelling bee, he has loads of free time.

I can’t remember when exactly, but I took it upon myself to make sure T.Puzzle learned the skill of typing. Full Speed had a dedicated class in 7th grade that made him proficient and now, as a sophomore and countless typewritten assignments later, he is a solid typist. With all our moving around these past few years, T.Puzzle didn’t have this same opportunity. Therefore, in order for him to earn video game time on the weekends or vacations, he had to dedicate time to learning to type. There is a typing game that is competitive so it all worked out. While I remained diligent in making him stick with it, I kind of forgot about it over time. One day I realized he had been practicing for months and months and told him he could stop (finally!).

In the last week or so, when he got home from school and since he now has limits on his phone time, he has been doing the typing game. In his mind it’s considered ‘educational’ so this is how he bypasses the ‘no video games’ during the week rule.

It’s a slippery slope for sure.

One day I came downstairs to see what he was up to and found him furiously typing away with this creepy look on his face as if he was trying to murder the keyboard.

I’ve never seen anything like it. His lips moved in undulating curling snarls and it was one of the craziest, funniest, things I have witnessed in a long while.

Turns out he is a literal and figurative beast on the keyboard.

Leave it to the son of Mad Dog to turn typing into a competitive sport (who by the way uses temperature checks as a contest which he never fails to ‘win’ because his temp is always the lowest).

At this rate, T.Puzzle will be typing a thousand words a minute.

Mad Dog won’t care though as his temp will still be running a cool 97.2.


How Do You Spell Champion?

I had no expectations as I signed T. Puzzle out from school. His nervous energy permeated the air as we made our way to the car. Soon he would be facing the other school winners in a spelling showdown for the district title.

T.Puzzle was not new to this level of competion. Both boys had competed at district when they were fifth graders. Let’s just say nightingale and futon are words you may never want to speak out loud around them.

Full Speed made it to the final two (check out his cool trophy below) and T.Puzzle placed ninth out of the thirty-six district-wide competitors.

Our new district is smaller with only eleven competitors total. I wasn’t fooled by their (mostly) diminutive size. After all, my boys weren’t exactly giants when they competed before.

Last year’s victor was competing again and he oozed confidence. His ease suggested he was well- studied. I imagined if T. Puzzle made the final two with this kid, victory may not be his.

As the practice round concluded I found myself to be relatively calm. I had a dash more adrenaline pumping through me than normal, but overall, I was okay. My biggest concern was T.Puzzle would be the first one out.

No one wants to be that kid.

Once it was clear he was safe for a few rounds, I sat back and let it all unfold feeling proud to be in this moment.

The selected words made quick work of the competitors. By round seven it was already down to T. Puzzle and the previous champ.

As the former champ sauntered to the mike I thought we were set for a battle. As quickly as this thought formed a word was given and you could see the kid freeze. Panic washed over his face and his shoulders slumped.

He didn’t know it.

He didn’t know it!

He struggled through it, piecing it together as best he could and just like that, the bell dinged.

Then, it was T. Puzzle’s turn. He had to spell the next word correctly to win.

Inexorably he did.

Inexorably he won.

Inexorably is his new favorite word.

We were lucky to have us all together to celebrate this awesome achievement. My heart was happy to see his joy.

Yes, moms, teenage boys do have souls. However, his happiness was soon replaced by dismay at the realization he will have to continue to study for the regionals set in March.

You can’t win them all but it helps to prepare to increase your odds.

Inexorably, this is the way of the world.

Congrats, T. Puzzle!


From Here on Out

The worst part about having teenagers isn’t the unpredictable moods (mainly my own), its the damaged self-esteem having become the shortest member of my household.

I hate being the shortest.

However, this was what I prepared for, this moment in time when I could no longer intimidate them by being bigger.  I did all I could to earn their respect.  I carved rules into stone and quashed revolt to the best of my ability.  It’s all led to this…I genuinely enjoy them as humans.  

This has pushed me into a new precipice of parenting. While I am still a quiet, constant support in their lives, what they do with them is no longer up to me. I will serve them best if I keep my opinions to myself.  I’ve had my shot at being a teenager. I gave it my all and it’s not up to my boys to fulfill any of my unlived dreams.  And, anyway, I feel like I’m just getting started. 

I plan to appreciate wherever my one, wild, and precious life takes me.

The point of all this, and yes, there is actually a point, is that I want to declare that my boys are in charge of their destiny from here on out.

I want Full Speed to choose his college (if college suits him) and career path based on his own criteria.

No limits.

From what I can see, he is thoughtful in his musings about his future. I trust him and I trust life to take him wherever he needs to go. As long as he is following his curiosity, the answers will come.

As for T. Puzzle, who at this stage remains committed to verbalizing the least amount of words possible on any given day, I support this endeavor. Who I am I to know what he needs? Maybe my penchant for feeling-based talks aren’t the answer to everyone’s problems. What works for me may not work for him. I did recently ask him to at least alter the inflection when he says “good” or “ok” just to give me some auditory variance.  If he decides not to, that’s fine by me, too.

The greatest superpower a parent has is their ability to witness the incredible, pure essence of what makes each of their children awesome. This will help see you through the conflict particular to raising teenagers.  

And remember, the best way to get them to listen to you is to say as little as possible.

I think T. Puzzle is really on to something there.

inspiration, motherhood

Maple Syrup Mountain

Somehow, after years of trudging my way through the trenches of motherhood, I have reached the ultimate pinnacle of triumph.  T.Puzzle and Full Speed make me breakfast once a week!  And not a sad, soggy, partially frozen waffle sort of deal, but a glorious, made-from-scratch, giant golden, fills-your-whole-plate kind of waffle situation.


To be fair, they learned from the best.

Mad Dog used to frequently make us homemade waffles on the weekend.  Then, life got way too busy until everything came to a quarantined halt.  He took this pause in time to resurrect this beloved tradition and managed to teach the boys how to do it from start to finish. T.Puzzle runs point and Full Speed is the technical support (readies supplies, melts butter, perfectly times the bacon preparation).  Whatever they are doing is working.  The waffles turn out amazing and then the whole house smells delicious for hours afterwards.  

And then,…they clean it all up afterwards!  Sure, there are times that the waffle iron gets left on and the batter mix floats over my kitchen in an apocalyptic-sized cloud, but I’ll take it.

Now that I am at the summit of motherhood freedom, I’m sure T.Puzzle will tell you it’s a swift dive downhill for me into creaking old age.  And this may be so, but while I’m here taking in this fabulous view, I plan to party like a rock star and eat as many waffles as humanly possible.