High School of Guns and Buns

Not surprisingly, the schools we are zoned for have terrible statistics. In short, they are probably the kind of institutions that churn out scrawny-pole-dancing-teen dad.

Mariachi quartets, solo guitar vocalists, A Capella Doo Wop groups, violinists, accordion players wheezing the theme song from The Godfather, these are just a few of the subway performers that bustle into crowded cars hoping to separate you from a dollar. Them – I can tolerate. It’s the candy peddlers, former drug-addicts and victims of abuse, religious pushers and especially, those horrible, pants-below-their-ass-idiot-pole dancers that really need to be shot.

Bothering people for money on a crowded train is one thing, but to ask riders to give up their seat or “move out of the way unless you gonna get kicked in the face,” is just Communist. So the last group of smelly teenagers who attempted this, I refused to move, to which the “leader”  – a scrawny 17-year-old with a wispy mustache that looked more like a mold growth replied, “Hey lady, I’m doing this to support my two-year-old kid.

I had to confirm that – did he just say he had a 2-year old kid? Yeah? With all the free education, information, housing, food and even condoms, this city gives to any moron who asks – we still have babies making babies?

If I were his mother, I’d slap him. If I were his baby mama’s mama, I’d crush his balls.

That experience was all I needed to start reviewing that big, fat High School Directory my son came home with at the end of 7th grade.

In the past four months, I’ve attended two workshops for parents, to fill out the application. Yes, you read that right, two workshops to fill this shit out. The day before school started, my son had to submit reviews for twenty – as in 5 x 4, or two entrees as Applebee’s – I kid you not – 20 high schools.

We got 14 – and even then, three of them are unrealistic for the commute.

The review asks us to judge the school according to safety (how many students in the school survey felt the school was safe), location, attendance and graduation percentage. Not surprisingly, the schools we are zoned for have terrible statistics. In short, they are probably the kind of institutions that churn out scrawny-pole-dancing-teen dad.

At one of the parent workshops, the speaker felt compelled to explain why the high school application process was like chasing a white rabbit. Apparently, New York, with over 400 high schools, 700 programs, processing about 80,000 applicants a year, has less than a 75% graduation rate. That’s why there’s only one Alice.

The high school programs, no doubt, are designed to wrestle the budding talent out of our kids, nurture it, hone it and hope that’ll keep them engaged to the end. The problem is kids like my son haven’t the faintest idea what a job is, much less their “calling.” When we were listing interesting school activities, he chose International Thespian Club, thinking it had something to do with Medieval times or dwarves for some reason. He crossed it off when he found out that thespians were actors, which he decided is not a career option, but being a lawyer is. If you ask me, they’re the same talent, different stage.

In any case, I told him it’s important to find something he likes to do and pursue it, because otherwise, life will suck. Sometimes, people know their purpose in life – like the dude who took his row boat to Texas to help the hurricane victims. He said, “I always knew it was my purpose in life to help people,” and thought, good for him – he found the purpose of having a row boat and included himself, too.

A high sense of purpose is what makes Alaska the happiest state, according to Weather.com. The saddest state is, get this, Hawaii. Yeah, you’d think, right?

I wondered what sense of purpose could possibly be that high, so I looked up which states had the highest rates of volunteers. Utah ranked the highest for volunteers between the ages of 18 and old folks, while Louisiana ranked the lowest. I was surprised to find that they ranked the opposite for unemployment because if you’re unemployed you kind of have time to volunteer but then I thought, duh, maybe they’re unemployed because they just don’t want to work.

That would be my son. He would do the research for an excuse not to do the work instead of doing the research to get work done. He would argue his case for an hour about not doing a job rather than spend 20 minutes just doing it. Technically, he’s working but it’s just like, the opposite. The undo key, if you will.

Which raised the question, why did we decide to have kids? I mean, is it really up to the parents whether our children become either an asset or a menace to society? Perhaps I’m taking this thing too seriously, but it is high school, and really – when can you not take education too seriously. Seriously.

At times, I can only hope that his luck will see him through – that Italian luck he seems to have inherited from his dad. Whether or not he gets into a high school of his choice is how much effort he puts into his auditions and interviews, because our zoned schools have unintentional programs in concealed weapons and how-to-get-away-with-zero-accountability. In the end, I’ll be happy so long as it’s not a school with more metal detectors than an airport and pregnant classmates in homeroom.

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To Medicate, or Not To Medicate: The Disorder of Corrupt Babies

Other articles addressing the rise in ADHD blame societal pressure: placing high demands on children. I tend to agree with that one. Did you know that Mayor DiBlasio of Halloween Town is planning Universal 3-K?

That’s right, full day school for fucking 3-year-olds, oh yeah, that sounds like a great idea.

Is it me, or are Demon children popping up everywhere?

The other day, I heard some sevenish-year-old girl say, “Mom! I told you to pack me the green swimsuit, NOT the pink one. You completely ruined my day!”

I was hoping to hear the mom retort with, “Don’t you talk to me like that, you little brat,” but no, she smiled lovingly and…apologized.

A-POLLO-gized!

I just wanted to slap her. The mother, the daughter – take your pick. But sadly, that wasn’t the first time I witnessed a Class A brat and their asshole-behavior-empowering-mother.  Another kid-asshole I witnessed was on the downtown subway. There was this 10-12 year-old kid yelling at his mother for looking over his shoulder while he was playing some video game on his iPhone. When they got to their stop, the mom told him to put away the phone and get up, to which he replied, “Shut up. Don’t tell me what to do.”

After they left, I joined all other riders, shaking my head and telepathically read their thoughts which said, bitch, smack that kid!

What, is there some special school for budding jerk-offs and princess-zillas that I don’t know about? These kids would take the honor roll in the subject of disrespect – they make Veruca Salt look like just a tough-gummy-bear. It’s disturbing.

Then, at the last visit to the neurologist (she renews my son’s Ritalin prescription – more on that later), I watched two grown women chasing around this one-year-old baby girl. It occurred to me that the baby was there to see the neurologist.

The baby.

Somebody must’ve convinced the mom that the baby has a disorder because it was fairly obvious that the baby literally hit the ground running. If she wore a pedometer, I bet the baby would average one million steps a day. The mother in tow – eight-hundred-thousand steps – easily.

Instead of teaching her to redirect her hyperactivity with a toy, a book or a security blanket they let her waddle from office to office while one, sometimes both of the women shuffled an arms length behind her.

The baby climbed on chairs next to strangers, walked into rooms and tested closed doors with no adult intervention. She even barged in the doctor’s office during the doctor’s consultation with another patient and all the mother did was spin the baby around to exit. She didn’t reprimand the child nor did she apologize to the doctor and the patient – she just smiled as if they walked into some television sitcom, waiting for the canned laughter.

So, this is where it begins, folks. These parents catering to their kids – their babies even, instead of disciplining them. As tempting as it would be to lump them into a group like say, Millennial parents, or victims of over-diagnosis, or digital dependency, the single answer is more likely “all of the above,” which makes them harder to kill.

No, I kid – of course we don’t want to kill them. We don’t.

The Millennial parents and the victims of over-diagnosis could be coincidental but I think it’s obvious they go hand in hand. In my day, only rich people could afford psychiatric counseling, everybody else just got high and neither were covered by health insurance. But Millennials grew into puberty just in time for peddlers of anti-anxiety drugs. It seems only natural that as parents, they’d seek a medication for a disorder of their kid just being a kid.

In The Psychopath Test, Jon Ronson goes into the rise in cases of ADHD and Autism as a result of DSM-5 (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders). Basically, DSM-5 is a book containing checklists for all known mental disorders. I know, sounds tempting, right?

So in The Psychopath Test, the DSM editor reveals that these parents usurp their parenting skills by attaching a label like ODD (oppositional defiance disorder) rather than admitting that their kid is a stubborn pain in the ass. All I know is that if there is a foolproof medication for ODD, I’d try to get some for my husband.

Other articles addressing the rise in ADHD blame societal pressure: placing high demands on children. I tend to agree with that one. Did you know that Mayor DiBlasio of Halloween Town is planning Universal 3-K?

That’s right, full day school for fucking 3-year-olds, oh yeah, that sounds like a great idea.

If I was a day care worker at 3-K, I’d be gnashing my teeth to be politically correct. “Your baby may not be an angel but he’s certainly corrupt! That’s the kind of full day we had, mom.”

I thought it was outrageous that Kindergarten parents were expecting their child to write three pages of content for homework. Now they’ll be expecting baby sister to finger paint Cubism. Well, okay maybe Surrealism but trust me, they will be maneuvering her into “gifted” classes when the kid is still shitting herself.

In another article, parenting policies were compared between the U.S. and France. Apparently, France doesn’t believe in Kid’s Menus. Children eat what adults eat because it’s probably balanced and proportionate. In other words, it’s not a quarter pound of fatty ground beef for dad and chicken nuggets with french fries for junior. Don’t like chicken? How about pizza and Cheez Doodles. And we wonder why they’re cranky. You know, Bloomberg had a lot of stupid ideas, but his attempt to ban large containers of sugary drinks actually made sense to me.

If anything should be banned, it should be those limousine-strollers on mass transit. And while we’re at it, how about a children’s fare, Mr. Mayor? To Hell with your 3-K, looking out for the working-class family, my ass.

I digress. After all this ranting, I promised to explain my son’s ADD label and clear the hypocrisy. Honestly, I don’t believe he has ADD – I think he hates math and he prefers siestas after lunch instead of crunching numbers. Who wouldn’t? However, teachers get evaluated and caffeine may stunt his growth, so that was my answer for “to medicate, or not to medicate…” – wait, what was the question?

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Today’s Tom Sawyer: The Summer of Teen Jobbers

Nurse Jill told me that California patients get their infusion port in their arm instead of their chest, you know, because they have to look good in a bikini. I don’t know what level of narcissism (or is it unwavering optimism) one needs to be at to worry about looking good in a bikini after half a year of chemo, but for me, the line would be way the Hell over there. I’m not wearing any swimsuit, not even Hijab swimwear, which to me is a total kill-joy anyway, until I get this thing out of me.

That said, I had to look forward to one whole summer with two boys and probably some tag-alongs, and no plans to frolic in water. How does a mom stave off heat violence without an aquatic oasis? Well, the answer is – give ’em somethin’ to do.

Had we a picket fence, they could spend the hot summer days white-washing the damn thing, but alas, we’re city dwellers – we have a rusting iron gate, badly in need of a new paint job. And so they came to be, my son and his friend, today’s Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn – sans the river and Injun Joe.

Things were working out beautifully. It was a sweltering 90-something degrees, the work was tedious and grueling – any hotter and the situation may have constituted as slavery. Before they thought to call the labor department, I served them ice cold Arnold Palmers after an hour’s work because no slave driver would ever do that. Although the strip job was spotty and probably caused more damage than good, I commended their efforts and told them to get back to work.

That’s when my son’s friend asked, “If this is work, aren’t we supposed to get paid?”

To which my son replied, “We get paid in food – we eat lunch!”

As a matter of fact, I make lunch everyday – so that statement is out of context. You see, at the beginning of this summer, my son and I volunteered at the Cub Scout Queens day camp at St. John’s University. We enjoyed a tasty buffet lunch everyday, which I told him qualified as payment – who knew he took it so seriously?

Now in comparison, the cuisine’s pay level between the camp and this iron-fence-paint-stripping job is like the difference between working for Google and Nubble Bubble Tea and Internet cafe. Luckily for me, his friend had no idea what the spread was at camp, and instant macaroni and cheese just happened to be one of his favorites, so there were no pay-rate disputes. Then again, they didn’t quite finish stripping the fence, much less get to paint it -which only proves, you get what you pay for.

All in all, it was about five hours of work, which is well within the confines of child labor laws. Might I add, the task was more grueling for me because I had to listen to their constant complaining and their shitty music the entire time. If they kept it up, I’d have been forced to bring out my laptop and show them pictures of real child-labor abuse.

Actually, I bring it up every time they moan about going to school. I’d say, “A hundred years ago, you’d be working in some depressing factory, or shining shoes, or risking your life in a coal mine for maybe forty-eight cents a day instead of going to school to spin a mini-fan blade between your fingers for “stress-relief” and dodging the lunch lady shoving free mystery-food. Would you rather work? Huh?!”

If it were a Wednesday morning, they’d give up the complaint – but Fridays – they might be inclined to say, yeah – I’d rather work. I think they’re curious about Happy Hour, which they’ve noticed starts hopping at 3 pm – at least in Sunnyside.

Now, they can only dream that they’d ever be served at Happy Hour – but even sadder, it’s just as much a dream that they’d ever find summer work. If you thought jobs were limited when we were teens, you have to think, what idiot would hire these greenies?

When I was fifteen my summer job was delivering airline tickets, my best friend was working at a candy store and my neighbor’s son delivered papers. According to the labor review, newspaper routes have been on the decline since the 1990’s. You’d think it’s because more people are receiving the news digitally but no – we print the same amount of newspapers today.

So what’s left – babysitting? Millennials working for Millennials, is that even possible? It would take them all night just to work out the pay rate.

My ten-year-old (which is not considered a Millennial) already got a taste for making real money performing with the American Ballet Theater. After he got paid, he wanted to “invest” that money into creating a Youtube channel. He’s convinced tens of thousands, maybe even a million subscribers will watch him open boxes of Pop figures and Rick and Morty paraphernalia he orders on Amazon.

Now you know why we call him Consumer Boy.

I honestly believe consumerism ruins work ethic. Consumers don’t care about what they do, they care about what they get for it. But I do admire their focus. Yes, maybe they’re entrepreneurs; maybe they’re innovators – they’re what my mom calls “hungry.”

But will they work for Mac n’ Cheese?

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A Parent’s Guide To Middle School

We need a new scapegoat. Our classic villains were once American Indians, then Nazi’s, the Russians, followed by Wall Street tycoons and finally, terrorists. But we can no longer target a particular race if we want to be politically correct. So I suggest we target politicians.

They’re the perfect villain. They lie, steal and generally ruin everything – even corruption.

Case in point – Middle School.

I knew the day would come when my child would be entering Middle School. I also knew, no matter what, there was going to be a tremendous suck factor.

The choices were, walk to our neighborhood middle school and hope to squeeze in with 2,000 other students in a building meant for half that – or go to school on the moon.

They must have a space shuttle that goes there, right?

Of course, I’m kidding – I know we euthanized all the astronauts. But I kid you not, my son’s commute to school is further than his father’s commute to work.

That’s the reality today – to get to sixth grade, kids will have to travel to Cuba because no one had the insight that Middle School would need a place to exist anywhere near their preceding school.

Did I mention they built a new elementary school smack in the middle of two other elementary schools and are in the process of building another elementary school nearby?

Let’s not even get into full day Pre-K. Like we need to send a four-year old to school all day only to offer him nothing when he passes the fifth grade.

Maybe because middle schoolers aren’t small and cute anymore, they’ve been banished to a place far, far away.

Out of sight, out of mind – and I get to take mine there.

We chose his Middle School because it’s a brand new building, the teachers are young and enthusiastic and so far he loves it. But every morning since he started, I’ve been religiously offering incense to our shrine. I figured if anybody’s going to look over my son, it’ll be my father’s spirit. My dad, the man who thought the best way to teach me how to swim was to strand me in the deep end of the beach.

I can imagine what he’d say about the situation, “Just let him go – if he gets lost, what’s the worst that could happen? He’ll crap his pants? Run into those topless women in Times Square? Better make sure he has some singles.”

And I want to just LET GO. But I know my son has a tendency to get “preoccupied.” It takes him ten minutes to put on a pair of socks, for crying out loud. He takes out a pair from the drawer and within a minute, he’ll forget where he left them. Then he’ll suddenly feel compelled to comment on baldness and completely forget to put on the other sock.

And I’m supposed to unleash this puppy on the subway?

So we’ll be giving him his own mobile phone to call us when there’s trouble. Some kids his age already had their own phone since fifth grade, but it wasn’t our intention to give him one until he grew underarm hair.

He’s got the odor – that’s close enough.

Maybe that was the plan all along – throw us to the wolves so we’d be forced to buy multiple phones and cars. Mind you, the cars we have already, have no place to park. The phones we’re trying to add are running out of available numbers – and we have five known area codes. By the time we figure it out, we’ll be buried in litter and dog poo and talking to the ghost of Christmas Future.

And I’ll bet he’s a politician.

 

 

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Need Some Help Here

I was searching for inspirational dinner music when my 10 year old requested Eminem.

Eminem?

Where did we go wrong?

It’s my husband’s fault.

He’s too forgiving when it comes to policing the quality of ethnically fused products that we don’t know much about like Rap music, Chi-Mex food, Keanu Reeves and Jello shots made by an adult-baby on Halloween.

Not only will he take Jello shots, he’ll insist – insist – that I do one or five of them, too.

Clearly, I should judge his parental judgements. After all, we had a 10 year old Wolverine and an eight year old Deadpool to bring home.

Ergo, I need some help here.

When the same 10 year old who requested Eminem dinner music, asked that I define the word “ergo,” my reply was that it was the same as therefore.

My example went, “The idiot wouldn’t stop his daredevil stunts, ergo, he wound up in the emergency room.”

Then he asked, “Does that mean he’s dead?”

“What? No – it means,”therefore, he’s in the emergency room!”

“Yeah, but is Ergo dead?”

Literally, my jaw dropped. As in, my mouth fell open – not as in, “Literally, I don’t know how to use the word literally.”

It occurred to me that one day – one of these days – I will take this boy of mine to Glasgow, Scotland. I’ll bet you, my bottom dollar, that he – full blooded Glaswegians – and my husband – will be in full fledged conversation.

They’ll completely understand each other.

Drink each other under the table, too.

And my head will (not) literally be spinning because I’m not Linda Blair, feeling I’ve spent the night with AWADDs (Aliens With A.D.D.) talking Scotch bubbles.

Ergo, this girl is still working on her career.

For the record, I did concede and told my 10 year old that Ergo was, indeed, dead.

His answer was, “Good. He sounds a lot like Samu.”

Need Some Help

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