education, faith, parenting, Uncategorized

College Admissions: Some Parents’ Guilty Pleasure

Most of you have probably heard about the bribery to college admissions that’s got people like Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin facing prison time. I’m already waiting for the Shameless and Fuller House Memes to surface.

Oh wait, here’s one!

sss

On one hand, my stomach dropped when I heard the news. It’s so unfair to the kids who really do work their butts off to get into these top schools.

On the other hand, I don’t really care. I’m one of those moms who doesn’t buy into the whole college application freak out thing. The truth: My son is a Sophomore and we have not researched one school (though we said we would). I don’t know how or where he’ll take an SAT and I’m not overly worried about him getting a coach for it. We’ll start researching in a few months, look at JC’s and go from there. I have enough faith in my kid to know he’ll land somewhere! (Mom brag: He went from not amazing grades last year to straight A’s, 1 B+ and he’s taking Japanese this summer. This GPA did not happen with me bugging him. I literally have zero idea what he’s learning in school. The hard work was last year when, after letting him fail, I made him meet with me every day at 4PM to go over his organization. I knew it would be a pain for me, but it would ultimately put him in the driver’s seat. These same tools are what will get him on the road to college one way or another.) So, back to that:

Why Don’t I Care About College – And a Caveat

I want my kids to do the best they can with their lives. But I’ve seen enough A-Personality neurotic kids to know that if a kid doesn’t learn to appreciate the success of who they are, no school is going to make a difference. They will just get there, not be happy, and anxiously climb up to the next thing. And then they’ll graduate and anxiously work toward a job, and then a promotion, and then a mate, and kids, all the while not really knowing why they are striving so hard.

No, that’s not what life is about. Beyond a shadow of a doubt I believe the best thing I can do is guide them toward their path and let them be self-confident people who are content with what is, not what is not.

Don’t You Care At All, Andrea?

Of course I care. Ask Tuskany. I stress about my decision to let go. But in the end, I will always choose to let go. I do so, sometimes with fists clenched onto the last bit of rope, because I’m raising them to be adults that make their own decisions, not little puppets I write checks for to look good for the world. (Look where that landed the culprits in this latest scandal?)

I feel so strongly about this topic because I was that go get ’em kid. I got the straight A’s. The college. The TV job. The house. The marriage. The kids. My outsides were great. But inside I was a wreck. It wasn’t until I broke down the construct of what I thought I needed to be happy that I was able to be, truly, happy.

Tonight I’m going to go downstairs and eat some soup. I’m going to remind my son to get off the video games. I’m going to compliment my daughter for all the auditions she went on. She’ll tell me about the groups she landed, the ones she did not. And then we’ll go to bed. Life these days is busy busy busy… but it’s simple. It comes down to, “Are who you are in your soul enough?” When the answer is yes – and it always is – there isn’t a thing to worry about.

Zero fucks given. It’s a model for livin’.

(Hey, I think I just wrote a country song! Maybe I can make a million dollars and bribe Harvard to take my kids!)

Happily Ticked Off Tip #25: When we teach our kids that who they are is more important than where they go to college, we are giving them the best education they can get: To be learn to be happy with what they have, not what they do not.

My book is available on Amazon. (Note: It’s a special ed journey… your kid doesn’t need to have Tourettes to relate!) Follow me on Twitter@AndreaFrazerWrites or on Facebook. 

books

Advertisements
parenting, writing

The Best Advice I Forget to Take

sss

I am lucky that I am really close to my teenagers. Part of it is that we are huge people, so we are literally close.  (I’m not kidding. Stink is on his way to being 7 feet. We live in a 1950’s starter with low ceilings. We might have to move in a few years. To a yurt. Or a circus tent.)

The thing is that I’ve learned one powerful tool over the past few years. I mentioned it a while back, but it’s such a bootie saver that I’m repeating it. It goes like this:

#1 Parenting Tool to Save Your Relationship (And head from spinning off its axis like Linda Blair after smelling too much High School Axe)

sss

“Do you want my opinion or do you just want me to listen?”

Then just follow their lead.

Even if you are dying to say something.

Even if you have to super glue your mouth. And then cover that with tape. And cut off your tongue. (Don’t do that last part. You’d never get to enjoy coffee again. That would suck.)

I am telling you, this parental response is like crack for an addict. It just calms everything down.

Still not sure? Think about it: When you’re upset, do you want someone just spouting off their opinion? No, you don’t. If they did, you’d want to punch them in the throat.

Or wash down a Chipolte plate with a large Diet Coke and silently resent them (and hate yourself for being such a wussy).

No, asking before breaking and entering a teenager’s vulnerable emotions is the best course. Every. Single. Time.

Which is why tonight I am typing this a bit defeated. Because not only do I not like listening to other people’s unwelcomed advice, I don’t even take my own.

Come to think about it, you’re not asking for my opinion either, readers! But you’re reading, so I will, unlike how I ever want a date to end with my teenagers, assume consent is implied. (Thanks to Tuskany’s lightning speed text “Is everything okay?” I will clarify the consent reference. It’s from watching One Day at a Time. Such a remarkable series that covers so many issues our teens face – sexual consent notwithstanding. My kids are fine… they are not into dating yet. Thank God.)

sss

Oh, man, being a parent is hard sometimes. Why couldn’t I just be a crystal gem, like my kids’ favorite show of late, and fight virtual demons while morphing with other dysfunctional beings to create life?

Actually, I think that last part is how I ended up with my kids in the first place.

Happily Ticked Off Tip #19:  When your teen is upset, try asking “Do you want my opinion or do you just want me to listen?” It’s a game changer and keeps you a safe space for future conversation.

My book is available on Amazon. (Note: It’s a special ed journey… your kid doesn’t need to have Tourettes to relate!) Follow me on Twitter@AndreaFrazerWrites or on Facebook. 

books

 

Uncategorized

Waving Through a Window (And the Feeling of Connection)

1

It’s my second day subbing in North Hollywood for an art teacher who has been gone quite a while. This scenario is a lot like my own ruminating brain: Too much free time = feral behavior. 

With no prepared art lesson, I went into sub ninja mode in a hurry.

Me: “Who here knows the musical Hamilton?”

1/4 of the kids raise their hands.

Me: “Who here knows the musical Dear Evan Hansen?

5 kids out of 40 wave. 3 out of the 5 have dyed hair, more than a few piercings and outfits that look like soldiers who had a knife fight with anime characters.

Me:”Dear Evan Hansen is a story about a kid named Evan Hansen who fakes the friendship of another high school senior, Conner Murphy, who has recently killed himself. He writes letters to Connor, and vice versa back to him, to pretend he had a huge friendship with this troubled boy. The sole purpose for this ruse is to date the dead kid’s sister.”

Student #1: “What’s a ruse?”

Student #2: “It means, ‘You’re a dumbshit,’ Carlos.”

Me: “It means ‘fake game’ and it also means if you call out profanity again without raising your hand I will be sending you to the office. And that’s no ruse.”

Ooohs and ‘That is cold, man'”erupt, along with a few, “Roasted!!!!!!!!”

Me: “Back to Evan Hansen’s lie: It’s not a great scenario, but in the process of dissecting this kid’s past we learn that Connor was bullied and felt alone. Connor felt like he had no other choice but to end his life. Dear Evan Hansen is about what can happen when people feel connected. Like they matter.”

All eyes are now on me. (Except for this one female couple who have their hands intertwined and are drawing happy hearts up and down each other’s forearms. You can’t win them all with your . Moving on.)

Me: “In the beginning of the show, Evan sings a song about what it’s like to wave through a window at a scene he can’t be a part of. We are going to listen to this song and then create a drawing based on the emotion it draws out of you.”

Grumbles and mumbling.

Me: “Oh, you don’t want to that?”

Epic shouts of protest.

Me: “Why don’t you ask me if you really have to participate?”

Them: “Do we really have to participate, Ms. Frizzle?”

Me: (Stonefaced) Yup. Now listen.

And they did.

And while some of them created something akin to stick figures on crack, some of them did masterpieces this.

this one

And that made it all worth it.

Happily Ticked Off Tip #8: Push through and teach a lesson in the classroom of your choice, even if at first it seems like no one is listening. They just might be and you’ll be glad for the connection. 

Leave a Comment

Who did you make a connection with today?

  • Note: Artwork granted with permission from amazing student.
  • My book is available on Amazon. (Note: It’s a special ed journey… your kid doesn’t need to have Tourettes to relate!) Follow me on Twitter@AndreaFrazerWrites or on Facebook. books
Coaching and Wellness

10 Ways to Jump Start your Dark Mood, Essential Oils and Tic Coaches. It’s a Thing!

blog

Okay, so my last post wasn’t all that encouraging. I was down and out over the sounds of these tics over and over (and over and over… and over and over) and I was ashamed that I was so angry. Shame comes in many levels, and here’s what my inner voice yelled at me:

  • “Again? The same complaint again?”
  • “How can you have published a book about being Happily Ticked Off and still feel so mad?
  • “Why can’t you concentrate on the great things that are going right?”

Here’s the answer I got back

  • “Because you’re human. Duh.”

This voice of reason (which I call the Holy Spirit… he’s a cheeky fellow) was quickly followed by another revelation… one that used to take me months, years, therapists, wine and meds to figure out: I can start over.

So… 8 hours later (and one trip to Wood Ranch BBQ thanks to a very patient husband who listened to me fret over my life, career, tics, worries about holidays, money and wrinkles while stuffing myself silly with overpriced but delicious chopped salad and more bread than the Pillsbury doughboy) I did.

I started over.

dpg.jpg

(Oh, wait, that’s not my husband. That’s my spoiled pit bull who is not allowed on the bed no way needed some love just like me.)

Solution

Thanks to years of getting better tools in my tool belt, I did indeed begin anew the next day. Why? It’s the only way. I refuse to play the victim. As someone in my Sunday group likes to say, “Blame, Shame, Explain… it’s a nasty cycle.”

And so with that in mind, I reminded myself once again of a few things that maybe you need reminders of today.

A) No one is in charge of my feelings.

B) I can grieve, but self-pity has to go. It’s not productive.

Inability to Move Forward 

“But I’m sad! I can’t move on!” you might moan. I was like that, too – for more time than I’d like to admit. I remember the feelings of frustration and the well of despair that the sounds of tics brought on. (Heck, I lived in that space for eight hours the other night!) But I have done enough mental and spiritual work to know that tics aren’t truly my problem. Tics are simply a trigger for deep rooted beliefs that who I am is not enough.

And that, my friends, is a big fat, hairy lie.

Would I like less tics? Of course. But that’s not what I really need. What I really need is to get out of self, let my son be who he wants to be, so I can become the woman God intended me to be.

Who Am I?

These days I am substitute teaching, writing a pilot for a producer I truly adore, and considering getting a Masters/teaching full time next year if said pilot is not sold. (I am not trying to be negative… just realistic. I love teaching. I need income. And I’m almost 50. I need to go where God – and a paycheck – would have me be. That destination is not one of confusion but of peace.) And so there’s no point spinning in a bad mood now. Instead, I have options! And here’s what a few of them were that I took the day after my emotional 8 hour self-pity fest.

10 Ways I Jumpstarted My Attitude (Perhaps these will help you, too!)

1

  1. Acceptance: I once again reminded myself that my son has Tourette Syndrome. There’s not a damn thing I can do about it in the moment the sounds are happening.

2

2. Let Go: While there are solutions to some of the sounds that my son could employ (Acupuncture, Brain Balance classes, meditation, supplements, testing for leaky gut, CBD oil and more) he’s not willing to do embark on this journey at this time. I once again chose relationship over pushing my point. As my mentor likes to remind me, at this stage of my particular dance with tics, it’s like dealing with a chronic alcoholic where you think there’s maybe “Just one more thing” you could have done to keep them from going on a bender. Instead, I reminded myself,”There is no ‘One more thing to try. There is only acceptance. Let go.”

3

3. Powerlessness: This is such a tough thing, but #1 and #2 drive me to my knees every time. I am powerless over the tics right now. I just am. There is no “one more fix.” I reminded myself, for this moment in time, “I am powerless.” That might sound like defeat, but it’s actually victory, because when I realize I have no control, I don’t have the burden of fixing it. It’s such a relief.

5

4. Service: Thanksgiving was coming up. I could either ruin the holiday with my frustration or I could pour myself into making it a beautiful night. I chose the second and I am forever grateful. (High lite: Getting Western Bagels with my daughter and playing Christmas music in the kitchen while she baked and I cleaned the dishes. It’s a combo that works for us every time!)

4

5. God: I remembered, once again, that I am not God. If I could fix the tics, and my frustration with them, I would. As of today, I don’t need a human fix. I need a supernatural fix – one that reminds me that there is something far bigger at play than what I see on the surface. When I can surrender to the fact that God has a plan for my life, and my sweet son’s, my entire mindset switches and I can get into #6…

6

6. Gratitude: Gratitude is not something that comes naturally to me. Naturally I am a whiny, self-centered, give me comfort/instant gratification kind of gal. But when I remember all my blessings, and then thank God and everyone around me for them, I am immediately catapulted into a new dimension: one of peace and contentment. There is always, always, did I mention ALWAYS something to be grateful for. The lie: I think I can only be grateful when the tics go away or the house is clean. The truth: Happiness is an inside job. I get happy first and the tics bug me far less, never the other way around. Never.

6

7. Friendship: I called a good friend and had an ugly cry. Instead of trying to find instant solution, I grieved what I had hoped would be a relaxing vacation without noises. She promptly reminded me of #8. (Personal shout out to Tuskany, Barbs, my sister, Susan, my 12-step homies, Ria, Linda, Rose, Karen, Lavender, PrairieMom, Jodee and so many other women in my tribe who I just couldn’t imagine life without. You ground me. You let me be me. And I am so grateful.

8

8. Self care: I’m often the last person my list, and then I blame and shame other people for not meeting my needs. Um, not such a great dynamic. Instead, I took my friends advice and employed radical self care. I took 2 baths/day for a few days and didn’t obsess over people who had no water in Africa while I relaxed in an amazing tub

(Note: my tub does not look like this photo. I did use a candle, but it had half its wax missing. Brown stuff lined the shower grout… if the grout that was not missing… and my legs are so long they practically smash me in the face when I soak, but this picture is so much more alluring. And she has amazing legs!) I had that extra cup of coffee. I bought myself some amazing MAC Ruby Woo lipstick. I did some glorious window shopping at the mall and whenever negative thoughts came into my head, I told them, “Thank you, you are no longer welcome here. Now go piss off.”

9

9. Exercise: I walked every day this vacation. Just 20 minutes. I did not lose 20 pounds, but I did get into gratitude for how lucky I am to live on a beautiful street, to walk as a woman without feeling fear for my life, and enjoy a wave hello or goodbye with a neighbor. (When negative thoughts about world politics entered my mind, I refused to feel guilty. I voted. I did what I could. But negative news does not negate my obligation to have joy regardless. It’s a must.)

10

10. Organization/Decoration: I cleaned my house and decorated for Christmas. (See that tree? My daughter and hubby surprised me with it on Saturday. And by “surprise” I mean I put it on my Christmas list. I didn’t wait to get nothing while I shopped for everyone and then felt angry that I had nothing for me. Nope! I have always wanted a white tree and this is what they found. Perfect! It looks like candy on taffy. I truly could eat it. If I had a design company, I’d call it “Lickable Designs: Products So Amazing You Could Lick Them!” (Don’t judge.)

I hope this list helped you! I know that it helped me writing it out. Until next time,

May God grant you the serenity to accept the tics you cannot change, the courage to change the tics you can, and the wisdom to know the difference.

My book is available on Amazon. Follow me on Twitter@AndreaFrazerWrites or on Facebook

bookcover profile pic

 

Uncategorized

Freedom to Suck

I’ve been up since 430 am. I’ve had 5 hours of sleep. In addition to driving my daughter to Simi Valley to board a bus to Disneyland for a music field trip, I shot across the Valley to work as a P.E. teacher at a new school. It was a long day on the blacktop, pushing a cart of balls in the hot sun and reminding Middle Schoolers to “Sit Down!” “Be Quiet!” “Get your hands off your phone and pay attention!” I go back to my  homeschool for two days tomorrow and Wednesday, this time as a music and math teacher.

I am starting to get the hang of this sub job – mostly the part about not taking everything so seriously. Some days the kids are amazing. Other days they tell me I look old and wonder why I’m wearing my Del Taco on my shirt.

It’s not what I’m doing, however, that matters as much as my attitude. When I stay in gratitude, I’m excited about the possibility of making my quota for health insurance… grateful I can do this while still being there for my kids after school. Not every day is going to be a winner, but the overall prize is waiting for me.

sss

The same goes with my writing. When I obsess over every single bad joke in my spec script, it’s easy for me to think, “Oh, man, you suck. Stop now. Why bother.” But when I remember it’s okay to fail… that just getting something on paper is a win… it’s quite exciting.

Last night, Stink told me, “Mom, I’m shutting down the Pokemon Club.”

Me: “Why? Not enough people interested?”

Him: “No. Just not interested anymore.”

I just looked at him, all 6’5 of him leaning against the door frame like a teenage giraffe. He wasn’t wanting to fight me. I could tell he needed to be convinced. So, in a non-Andrea move (I’m usually pretty hands – off) I said, “Dude, you owe it to the club to stay. It’s hard, but I can help you. You aren’t in this alone. And no matter what, you’re not quitting.”

And he said, much to my delight, “Okay.”

Later that night, when I had a good cry over what the heck I’m doing with my life, my husband just looked at me and said the same thing about my writing, “Andrea, you owe it to yourself to stay. It’s hard, but I can help you. You aren’t in this alone. And no matter what, you’re not quitting.”

It’s times like this I know that all the fighting and praying and therapy to keep this family together has been so worth it. We just had to give ourselves permission to not be afraid to fail, to make mistakes, and never give up.

sss

For you writers out there, here is a great article I found on Pixar’s writing process. I have a movie script a la Pixar style I’m going to write in March and this is going on my desktop.

Until next time…

May God grant you the serenity to accept the tics you cannot change, the courage to change the tics you can, and the wisdom to know the difference.

My book is available on Amazon. Follow me on Twitter@AndreaFrazerWrites or on Facebook. (Yes, I’m back on Facebook for work mainly!)

bookcover profile pic

Uncategorized

My Teenagers and Their Video Games: How I’m Playing the Game, Too

I get it: We live in a world where if we’re not careful, video games will suck our kids right in.

I get that our kids need to get outside and play.

I get that our teens need to think for themselves and not just be online all the time.

At the same time, I’m going to go out on a limb and say that I think my kids are pretty kind and smart people. Yeah, they play too many video games. But they are also the first ones to say ‘please’, ‘thank you’ and laugh their butts off while they do the nightly dinner dishes. They volunteer every other week at church to hang out with the little kids. (My son is a favorite leader. Why? He leads a pretty mean Super Mario Brothers Smash session before worship. Jesus meets A Crazy Plumber on Warp Speed. It works.)

dom video games church

With everything happening in the world politically, it can be a fine line for this mama in terms of keeping them in the know but also letting them be kids and escape a bit with their games. What’s the balance?

For me, it starts with staying away from fear. I am not sure about you, but my fears look like this:

BIG FAT UGLY FEAR

“My kid is never going to go to college because instead of learning French and playing Piano like a champ he’s hanging out with other teenage cave boys,  diddling joysticks and stuffing down Cheetos like Pro Wrestlers!”

Luckily I’ve learned to “Pause When Agitated.” This P.W.A. technique allows a little bit of light to come in. Some call it grace, I call it sanity. It’s the reminder of what’s important.

Note #1: Screaming, nagging and being a buzz kill about them “not getting more important things done!” when I consistently forget to sign them up for important school trips, order yearbooks, turn in high school registration forms and order them much needed sneakers is not helpful.

Note #2: Keeping things light and airy with my kids and always letting them know they are loved is far more important than being a perfectionistic dictator.

With that in mind, here is where reality lives!

REALITY

  • Are they keeping up with homework?
  • Are they exercising?
  • Are they happy?
  • Are they kind?

If so, I can look at this video game thing with more rationality. And for me, it looks like this.

VIDEO GAME RULES

I am okay with letting them play a bit after school. I’m okay with them playing some extra on weekends. But I do have a few new rules:

  1. No electronics in the car unless I say so. It’s my only time to interact with them. I’m tired of dragging around zombies with ear buds. (I’ll let you know how this works out when I give them the sad news.)
  2. They can have extra time on weekends, but they need to read something educational.

As I type this, they are holed up in Stink’s room with Miss L who is spending the night. (Fear: “They are going to gain 100 pounds and never leave my house and I will go down as the worst mother in the history of time because I’m avoiding them rather than interacting with their stinky teenage selves!” Reality: “We spent the day at the beach. My 70-year-old friend Weird Joie joined us. In the process of getting lost we found a new beach spot, watched Joie blow bubbles – causing a hoard of four year olds to surround us more than sea gulls on a bag of chips-  ate packed lunches and cracked up while the girls got buried alive in the sand. (And guess what – no electronics!)

dom-2.jpg

Get Educated for Extra Video Game Time!

Keeping balance in mind, here’s here’s a text I sent them all:

“Electronic time is over at 8:30. Read this, tell me what you think, and you can play until 930. Thanks. Mom” https://midcenturymodernmag.com/these-magic-kids-1aefbbeb81cd

Am I being controlling? Maybe a little. But I look at those Parkland kids who are taking the future into their own hands. They are organizing rallies and forcing us to look at long held beliefs about who their generation is. They aren’t doing it by playing video games. They are using social media to spread awareness. Sadly, it took a shooter to rampage their classroom to do so. And while I’m far from an active shooter, I aim to be an active mama for the last few years they have in my home. It’s not easy, and I’m a little nervous to try this new regime, but it’s not my job to be loved. It’s my job to raise kids with character and insight and I won’t have those computers stealing their soul.

I’d love to know what you think about electronics and kids. Where is your balance?

Until next time,

May God grant you the serenity to accept the things you cannot change (about teenagers) change the things you can (about teenagers) and have the wisdom to know the difference.

Andrea

My book is available on Amazon. Follow me on Twitter@AndreaFrazerWrites or on FB.

book front and back

 

Uncategorized

What Is Your Why? And Other Questions

If you’ve read this blog for any period of time (or not for a very long time given my lazy blogging skills as of lately) you’ll know that I’m a big fan of seeking. Perhaps you, too, fall into the Who What Where When and Why category, thus you seek, too:

  • Who are you?
  • What do you love most?
  • Who do you love spending most time with?
  • When do you find enough hours in the day?

And by far, the most important question:

  • Why do you even care?

I ask that last question because, at almost 48, it’s become crystal clear to me that if I don’t know why I am doing something, I won’t be able to adequately answer when I should allocate time for it, who I should do it with (or for), what I should be doing, and who I am most… that spirit within my bones… that seeks with a hunger to be someone of purpose… to carry out meaning in my every day life… to find joy and calm among the clanging and chaos of daily living.

On Friday night I had my first Sabbath dinner for my kids and their friends. As a Christian, this didn’t mean pulling out the Torah and reading Hebrew prayers over lit candles, though that does sound amazing. Especially with Neil Diamond singing “Hello” to me.

sss

No, my husband and I decided to do it because Friday is, in the Jewish tradition, a day of rest. We are intentionally slowing down and connecting more this year. This extends to our teenagers and their friends. We figure if we don’t offer them a place of comfort and warmth when they still want to spend time with us, they might just find some other place to go.  We don’t say this out of fear. It’s out of selfishness – we kind of still adore them.

And so, on Friday night, we had a little Shalom in our home. With the Christmas houses still on the piano (yes, we’re that family who has not yet put away our decorations) we taught six kids how to make lasagna with four ingredients. In teams of two, they made one dish gluten free (for my sweet ticker) and one with long curly strips. Cell phones went off, stove flames went on, and the table was set.

s

One might ask if I really felt like doing this after a long week of work. The answer was, without a doubt, YES. It was because, despite still not knowing a lot of things about where my career is headed, when I want to bring in new job opportunities and say goodbye to old ones, who I might be transforming into as a writer/teacher/human or what this future is going to look like, I do know why I’m open to life – and that life is my kids.

What do To When You Love Your Why

For me, when I know my why, it never feels like work. God has my back, so I can let the stuff I can’t control go and just enjoy the things I can change. For me, that looks like a lot of humor and, when I’m not being rigid and controlling, forgiveness of myself and others. It especially means light heartedness and forgiveness over what I thought I would be able to provide my kids and enjoying what I can. Ex: I might not be able to send them to fancy private school or Italy for vacations, but there’s no reason I can’t school them on how to have conversations with friends outside of video gaming and teach them to cook lasagna in a 1958 styled kitchen. Perfection be damned – if I waited until the house was perfectly clean or I wasn’t ready to pass out from the day job it would never happen.

At one point in the evening, one of the kids put out a bag of Trader Joes Salt and Pepper chips on the dining room table (chips being each kid’s entry fee to the Frazer Sabbath.) Stink’s friend got so excited about the possibility of junk food he did a giant leap over the couch, landed on his feet and started sprinting out the room.

“Beep beep beep!” I muttered, signaling him back. “Rewind!”

He did just that – in zombie-like,slow-mo style. He ended the scene by jumping back over the couch again and landing back on his feet. (Impressive, I must say.)

“Dude, you can’t hurdle over my couch,” I told him. “It’s not great manners.” (The fact that this couch was a roadside find a few years back is not the point. And hey, don’t judge. It’s NICE.)

He looked at his friends sheepishly, who were all laughing at his goofy performance. “I am saying it out loud, in front of your buddies, because you all don’t want to be doing this at some girl’s house in a few years.” I remarked, waiting a moment, before adding, “Where are your ‘thank you’s!’ This is priceless advice!”

He responded in the way this shaggy hair boy normally responds. He grunted.

I continued. “Do you know why I’m even having these dinners?” I asked. And then he said the only two words I heard from him for the rest of night.

“Life skills?”

“Ding ding ding!” I shouted, pretending to be a game show host. “Thank you for playing!”

And with that, he walked around my sofa, entered the kitchen and stuffed down enough chips to clog 90% of his arteries.

Connection, table manners and cooking skills – for my own kids and the greater good. That’s a pretty good why in my book.

What is your why?

My book is available on Amazon. Follow me on Twitter@AndreaFrazerWrites or on FB.

book front and back

Uncategorized

“Huh.” It’s a Complete Sentence and Will Revolutionize Your Relationship With Your Teen. (I Swear.)

For me, having my children become teenagers was like having a cherished family pet die. I had been so accustomed to the presence of sweet, happy go-lucky kids that the intrusion of unexpected and prolonged silence was unexpected. No more jumping up to see me when I came home from work. No more following me around the house. Granted, there was less whining, but a lot less sprinting for joy at the site of my mediocre cooking.

With teenagers came aloofness and quiet.

The change felt jarring.

And sad.

And for this mama who – despite trying really hard not to be a helicopter mama – still swelled with joy at every little milestone, it felt terribly lonely.

All the prep in the world couldn’t have prepared me for my 13-year-old / size 13 shoe wearing boy turning me down for In and Out Burger this summer. “Sorry, Mom. I’ve got a Minecraft hangout scheduled with the guys.”

All the chats with moms of girls older than mine didn’t ease the blow when my curvy hipped 13-year-old this year started declining watching Mama movies with me. (Apparently Youtube is more exciting than classics like The Breakfast Club or kitshy Brady Bunch re-runs. Who knew?)

While I figured I would make it through the moody “Leave me alone” stage, I wasn’t expecting the “everything you say sucks, Mom” stage. Sure, I’ve read in all those fancy journals about how kids practice on Mom to learn to set boundaries elsewhere, but it still hurt.

And, despite my best efforts to let it roll off my back, I sometimes hurt them right back. Door slam for door slam, verbal insult for verbal insult, the three of us had some pretty exciting car rides. The most fulfilling were always on the way to church. On route to being holy, we held each other hostage within locked doors, each one-upping the other’s statements in a vicious attempt to win an argument over who made who late.

If I had to put it simply, all that “relationship over being right” theory sounded good until they developed body hair. And then it all went to crap, along with my hopes of ever being close to them again.

Until last month, when my daughter locked herself in the bathroom on Halloween, and my world forever changed. While I hadn’t tried to cajole her out the door to trick or treat with her brother and bestie, I did attempt to insert my opinion when the whole ordeal was over.

“What’s your part?” I asked her, after listening to every painstaking detail about why things just didn’t “go her way” and how “unfair it was.”

I didn’t see a thing wrong with my words. After all, I didn’t interrupt her once. I was a good listener. Now was her time to listen so she wouldn’t lose out on future opportunities to have fun. Right?

Wrong.

Pip: “Mom, to be honest, I just wanted you to listen and not say anything.”

For whatever reason, instead of defending my statements (which, come on, were totally amazing points and great advice… saving her thousands of dollars in future therapy) I asked her the simple question, “You mean, not say anything? At all?”

Pip: “Yeah. Nothing.”

Me: “Huh.”

People, did you know “Huh” is a complete sentence? With that very caveman response, I unintentionally broke through the teenage time space contingency and found an oasis of understanding, hearing and safety. Unexpectedly, I heard something that could have blown me over with a feather:

Pip: “Yeah. I would have been open maybe tomorrow, but today I just wanted to be heard.”

And with that last statement, as if by some magical alien implanting a chip, everything flashed before my eyes, including a resolution:

  1. If I just stay silent, she’ll tell me more.
  2. If I ask if I can give an opinion first, she’ll feel more respected
  3. If I don’t ask and just give the opinion, she might not be listening anyway
  4. Unless what she is saying to me is directly affecting me, my schedule or my life in a negative way, there’s no need to say anything at all.

NOTE: Pay most attention to #4 – it helps in the heat of battle to know when to lobby a missle or flee.

As if to hit the nail on the head even more, my son asked his sister the very next day, “Hey, Pip, do you mind telling me what happened? Only if you want to?”

She did. In the same painstaking, blow by blow, OH MY GOD MAKE IT STOP detail.

His response, “Ahhh. That must have been hard.”

Her response: “Yeah.”

His followup: “Want to play Minecraft?”

Her response: “Let’s do it.”

Done.

The End.

The real takeaway: Saying less really does mean more in the life of a teen. 

2 more things

  1. Since Halloween, I’ve used the word “Huh” more times than I can count. And it’s been more peaceful in this house than it’s been in a year.
  2. My son will be 15 next month. He’s 6’3, wears a size 14 shoe, and eats more than large farm animal. (Oh, he hasn’t eaten animals in a year, either. In addition to being psychologically more in tune than me, he’s also a vegetarian.)

Ask me how little Stink is now bigger than my fridge? You’ll only get one response so I don’t cry.

“Huh.”

 

s.jpg

My book is available on Amazon. Follow me on Twitter@AndreaFrazerWrites or on FB.

book front and back

Uncategorized

10 Ways I’m Surviving the Teens

I’m not really sure what everyone is complaining about when it comes to having teens in the house. They are joys and help me learn and grow and become a better person in Jesus. I just turn on the Holy Spirit and it’s like Joyce Meyers on steroids round here. 

I’ve decided that having teenagers is akin to turning on one of those giant car vacuums. Except instead of using it to clean out your car, it gets attached to your body, and all your insides get sucked out.

sss

Until you’re left starting the morning feeling like this:

ssa

And you end the afternoon looking like this:

aaa

And then you get ready for bed with this tape playing in your brain:

sssssss

I’m fully aware that it’s not my job to make my kids happy. In fact, the more I give, the more unhappy they are. Too much does not breed contentment. It breeds entitlement. And while I aim to listen to my kids and not judge, the truth is that often I hear them complain about all the things they are not getting compared to some of their friends and family members (trips to Europe, extra curricular classes, new clothes, park passes).  I am getting to the point where it’s time to put the hammer down. They don’t need more stuff. They need more chores. (Yup, I’m going there.)

The trick for me, when it comes to getting off the rat wheel of, “Am I doing an adequate job with these kids?” is to engage in the following. It’s helps me so much. I’d love to hear your tips, too!

10 Ways to Be Around Teens Without Wanting to Stab Your Eyes Out

  1. Building Adults: I remind myself it’s not my job to give them everything. It’s my job to teach them how to be self-sufficient people so they can take care of themselves. (Yes, you have to do the laundry every Monday. Yes, you have to take the trash out every Tuesday. No, I’m not giving you an award for your mediocrity. Thank you have a nice day buh bye.)
  2. Talk to Others: When I share with others my insecurities about not providing enough “fun” for my kids, I feel better. “Oh, you can’t give your daughter a 24,000 dollar education at a private hippy school either? Phewww! Let’s slum it together at public school in a nice zipcode like inner city mall rats!” (I am very lucky. I know it. My kids don’t yet.)
  3. Stay in Gratitude: When I remind myself of all the amazing things they do do for others – when they are not being self-centered and pestering me for cash to get our ridiculously entitled pitbull fancy dog training to keep from massacring small rodents and cats- I stop being so hard on both them and me.
  4. Give Myself a Break: Every day I spend $3.00 on a Starbucks Americano for myself. Yes, that’s $80 a month. It’s a lot. But it’s mental health. I don’t buy fancy clothes, haircuts or even skincare. I’m worth this luxury. It’s not about the taste alone. The cup, subconsciously, shows my kids that I feel I’m worth spending some cash on when they don’t often see that.
  5. Remember I’m Important! Along the lines of #4, I need to remember that I matter. It’s not just about serving my kids. If mama ain’t happy, ain’t no one happy.
  6. Model Good Behavior: It’s not all about me all the time (who knew?). I make sure to reach out to others every day and ask how they are. It takes me out of myself and gives my world perspective.
  7. Get Comfy with Change: Kids change. Life changes. It’s supposed to be this way. I can hold onto the past forever, but it’s not going to make a very fun present, and certainly not pave the way toward a new future.
  8. Take Time for Myself: Every day I take some time away and read. I’m actually starting to journal again, too. Sure, most people might not take Donald Miller’s “Blue Like Jazz” to Loews and sit in the patio section. But for me, it’s a break from my house. It’s a way to stay cool. And it’s a place full of beautiful lights, plants and furniture. It makes my “everything is perfect” portion of my brain light up. (Especially when life is far from perfect.)
  9. Let Go: I start every day with a list of things I can’t control. It sounds like I’m in victimhood, but I assure you, it’s to remember that there’s only so much I can do. I can’t change my son’s tics sometimes, or my daughter’s attitude, but I can write it on the list and then give it to God to handle for me. PS: This works out well because not only does my son not want me to care about his tics, but my daughter also doesn’t need me bowing down to her hormones. Just like my willingness to give my problems to a God bigger than me, I am not my daughter’s God. She needs to learn to self-soothe on her own sometimes. (And so do I.)
  10. Pray: This is the most important thing on my list. If I don’t pray, I’m a mess. I have seen over and over that God can heal what I can’t change. He might not heal the circumstances, but he can change my perspective on how to handle them. God is my rock (and my salvation) and someone who I know loves me no matter what. “Yes, Jesus loves me. The Bible tells me so.”

And God loves you, too. (Even if your teenagers do not.)

What Would You Add to the List?

How’s teen life in your home? If you don’t have teens yet, what do you think of my list? If you’ve had them, I’d love your input!

Until next time…

Andrea

My book is available on Amazon. Follow me on Twitter@AndreaFrazerWrites or on FB

book front and back

 

 

Uncategorized

Can You Admit a Mistake to Your Teens? I’m About To.

ssss

You know, I always kind of thought I knew what I was doing with this parenting thing. And then I had teenagers. And it went out the window.

It’s been a week since “The 24-hour/Sit on the Couch/ My Mother is a Horrible Human Being/Laundry Boycott/Summer 2017 Manifesto.”  Since that time, a LOT has changed. And much of it has to do with my thinking. What I’ve learned is that sometimes, as parents, the hardest thing to do is realize that we’ve made a mistake – and one in particular in our home is so gigantic that it’s turning our family dynamic completely upside down.

Post Recently Revised

When I first posted this, I went into specifics about what those dynamics were. I will again, but for now, it’s not really appropriate. (Annoying fact: My kids never read this blog – heck, they haven’t even read my book all the way through – why should I care? Plain and simple – because they aren’t babies anymore. I can’t just write what I want and post embarrassing photos and changes they aren’t even aware of. All parties need to be talked to first. On one hand, this is very annoying. On another, it’s called respect. I owe them that.)

 

The Power Struggle is Real

Someone I trust called me out on my dilema a few days back. I had mentioned to him that I was going to sleep at the neighbor’s house one night a week just to get 8 hours of sleep based on current living arrangements. To me, this seemed brilliant. To him? Not so much. Forgive me, Christian readers, for quoting my friend exactly. when he responded, “Are you FUCKING insane?”

To which I replied, “I’m not aware of that. No.”

To which he went on to prove wrong.

“You’re so used to giving away your power you don’t even realize that you’re living like a trapped animal. Tell the kids you made a mistake. That the way things are set up in the home currently causes too much discord. That there is no room for peace, love and tolerance.”

Me: (horribly guilt ridden)”They are going to Freak. Out.”

Him: “They will get over it. And when they see you and your husband calmer and more of a team they will, on the inside, jump up and down for joy. For you, my friend, will be stepping up as a parent – a parent who does the hard thing in the long run even when it hurts in the short term.

We Are Not the World’s Perfect Couple

sss

I admit it. We struggle like everyone else (sometimes more – sometimes less). But one thing we do not struggle on is giving our kids a solid place in a home that is structured fairly. I’m grateful that Rex and I are willing to team up on this, bring our lives back in balance, and love our kids enough to rip their delusions from them  admit we made an error in judgement last year with one decision.

I’ll let you know what we decide. Wish us luck.

Do Your Kids Have Too Much Power?

I really want to know. Do you do over indulge your kids without realizing? (Note: I really want to give my kids better enrichment classes. I’m not talking about education – I’m talking about arrangements in your family dynamics that put them above you or your partnership which could, potentially, harm them long term.)

My book is available on Amazon. Follow me on Twitter@AndreaFrazerWrites or on FB

book front and back