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Dear Karma,

Sometimes I don’t think you really are a bitch. But then there will be an experience that renews my faith in you.

I had one of those experiences this week.

Or rather, the troublesome 14 year old in my life did.

We shipped Dominic off to stay with cruise friends Patrick, Petra, Ryder and Mia so that Ryder and Dominic could be counselors at a summer camp together.

I didn’t hear from Dominic all week, so I checked in.

So I asked the head camp lady if he could come back in two weeks. She said she would love to have him, but didn’t have anything for him to do. No room on the schedule for him.

I’ve raised a resilient, motivated, intelligent child, right?

Not so fast.

He still has trouble following directions. When to get off the bus, for example.

Also, look at what he did to himself in a bike accident:

How? He was rooting around in his backpack while driving the bike instead of paying attention. The speed bump won.

Anyway, thank you, Karma, for avenging me. For all those times he drove/drives me crazy, thank you for sending a plague of toddlers.

You’re the best.

Back to believing,
Beth

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That’s right, readers: We are still living in the apartment complex. We decided we liked not having to maintain a house and its landscape. Something’s broken? Call maintenance. It’s great.

So that means we’re here for another summer, which means the return of “Dispatches from the pool.” Here are links to the starts of Seasons 1 and 2, if you need a recap. Enjoy!

 

EPISODE 1: You’re not melting, I promise
Rated G for gentle sprinkles

EXT. APARTMENT COMPLEX POOL – LATE SUNDAY AFTERNOON

ENTER WOMAN (usually referred to as “MOTHER,” but this time she is blissfully alone, having had the house to herself for two days while the others were traveling)

Seven TWENTYSOMETHINGS are scattered around the pool area sunning themselves like alligators on a riverbank.

WOMAN settles into a lounge chair with her trashy magazine (People, of course) and adult sippy cup.

WOMAN sees the girls taking pics she assumes are for Insta.

WOMAN feels the need to do a meta photo. A pretend Instagram photo of her legs, in typical Insta style, that includes the girls posting to Instagram. (Pretend Instagram because her actual Instagram features the adventures of a taxidermied raccoon paw.)

(Note: This photo would never have happened 50 pounds ago. Remember how whaley and uncomfortable WOMAN was in Season 1? That’s right.)

 

WOMAN’S phone BUZZES with a response to an earlier text

 

 

Raindrops FALL.

Every one of the TWENTYSOMETHINGS immediately scuttles away.

 

WOMAN, an actual meteorologist, looks at the clouds and knows the rain will pass.

WOMAN (under her breath)
Oh please. It’s just sprinkling. You’re not going to melt.

WOMAN continues reading her now slightly damp magazine. She is now completely alone at the pool, but not for long.

FATHER and ONE KID — GIDEON — appear in the pool area.

FATHER
You run everyone off?

MOTHER (no longer WOMAN as she is not alone)
(Shrugs)

GIDEON
Hey, Mama!

MOTHER
Hey, Baby. You have a good time in Savannah?

GIDEON
Yeah.

That’s it. No further conversation from that one. He’s 13.

General discussion ensues between FATHER and MOTHER regarding a friend’s golfing and early-bedtime habits.

GIDEON
Watch me skip my sandal!

MOTHER discovers she has reached the end of the beverage in her water bottle.

MOTHER
Right. Time to go.

FATHER (who also has reached the end of his)
Yeah.

END SCENE

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Dear Parents of Older, Non-teenage Boys (i.e., Survivors):

I need your advice. As you may know, I have a 14 year old who tests my patience.

But I just spent a week on a cruise with him. It was … interesting.

It started out in typical fashion. He was cranky:Once on the boat, it seemed like he would fall into last year’s freak-flag-flying habit of making a face in every photo:

But then he got sick:

And kept everyone up three nights in a row by coughing. So I got back at him in my own special way: by harassing him mercilessly:

You can tell he isn’t feeling well:

And here he is being nice to his “cousin” Mia:

But we Lysoled the place every day to reduce germs:

And soon he was back to normal, making sure the stingray was a girl before he would kiss it:

And harassing his father:

And Ryder:

And telling me he planned to troll the hot tubs to score numbers (in this getup and baby glasses he found, no less):

So my question for you is this:

How do I keep the funny, silly Dominic and get rid of the one who is such a pain on the reg?

Not fix his phone so he’s forced to communicate with us? (He’s shattered two.)

Or just accept that he is 14, hormonal, and PERHAPS too much like me?

Thanks in advance for words of wisdom.

Gratefully,
Beth, Mother of a Dragon

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Dear Apartment:

I’m going to miss all the quality alone time you and I had while the guys were out of town getting my mother-in-law’s house in Puerto Rico ready to rent out.

Don’t get me wrong: I do love them. But when I cleaned you the day after they left, you stayed clean.

You and I had so much fun together. I got to watch whatever I wanted to watch on TV. I could roam around in my underwear without embarrassing any teenagers. I didn’t have to worry about your front door being left unlocked or coming home to random friends of aforementioned teenagers inside you.

What’s more — and this probably made Charlotte next door very happy — you and I were peaceful together. So peaceful.

The communication styles of my family members are just so different.

The quietest one missed me. He texted me almost every day.

The medium-loud one texted me informative tidbits regarding house progress, interesting videos, and photos engineered to make me wish I had left you.

The loudest and grouchiest one did not talk to me at all until he wanted something the day before he came back to us.

It figures.

In an interesting twist, Dominic the Loud immediately stripped upon arriving back to you and charged around eating chicken wings.

I guess Eddie’s right: He and I are alike.

Anyway, I’m going to miss you, my fortress.

Love always,
Beth

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Dear God:

I just want to thank you for all the times that speaking your name and that of your son has helped me not to murder MY son.

You know which one. Dominic. It’s always Dominic.

This child tests me every damn day.

  • He has barely turned in any school work this whole year but won’t take responsibility.
  • He asks questions but won’t listen to the answers. (Then gets mad because he doesn’t know what is going on.)
  • He refuses to do what he is told but wants rewards.

Dominic is supposed to be putting together the shelves he is using as a pillow. (Meanwhile, his brother put together an entire bed by himself.) Then this slacker had the nerve to ask to be paid. He wanted $30!

He is about to go out of town with his father, brother, aunt and uncle. I secured the tickets a month ago based on his aunt’s instructions. He didn’t pay any attention, of course. So when I reminded him this week, he lost his mind.

My reaction?

This line really gets me:

He genuinely thinks this is my fault, not his. Does not understand cause and effect, actions and consequences.

What’s worse is that his teacher is the wife of one of my colleagues. So his poor performance — in language arts no less — is a smidge embarrassing for me.

He wasn’t done. But I was.

You know what else I don’t like? His Gen Z abbreviations. No wonder he is sucking so hard in language arts.

Perhaps it is Dominic who should be calling on you for assistance.

Your Obedient Servant,
Beth

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Dear Fellow Moms:

Today I celebrate you. Actually, I celebrate you year-round. After all, you and I work our asses off every day, not just one Hallmark holiday.

I’m also celebrating you because, chances are, your family is not. If you are like me, you are the one in your house who plans the events, gets the cards and gifts, wraps them, and makes sure they get where they need to go.

Also, if you are like me, you recognize that no one is going to step up and do it for you for any holiday.

So, like me, you have to take care of yourself.

This is why I go to New York every year for my birthday. Alone.

Eddie doesn’t have to worry about planning or buying anything. He’s happy.

I get to be by myself, eat what and when I want to, go where I want to go, and have peace. I’m happy.

Last year, I stayed in bed for half of one day, drinking red wine and watching a “Friends” marathon. It was fanfreakintastic. (Could it BE any better?)

I return with patience restored. (And shopping bags, but that’s another story.)

Everyone wins.

My family “celebrated” Mother’s Day last Sunday because they forgot when it actually was. I came home to this:

It’s thoughtful, yes, but let’s take a closer look.

Do any of you really want to be called the “boss?”

That aside, let’s take a peek inside the card.

That’s Gideon, who usually is the nice one.

Here’s the other weighing in:

Perfect sentiment, even down to the signature. Dominic actually does have some self awareness after all!

Anyway, Happy Mother’s Day from one beleaguered mom to another.

I’ll raise a glass (or seven) to you.

Love,
Beth

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Dear Dominic,

Yes, I’m writing to you again. Yes, it’s because you are driving me crazy. Again.

Want me to stop writing about you? Stop being a buffoon.

You had your new retainer for exactly a week. Then you threw it away with trash on your lunch tray.

No big deal, right? Call the orthodontist and ask for a replacement.

Oh, it IS a big deal. Here’s a timeline of why:

Friday, April 19: Braces off. There is much rejoicing.

Friday, April 26: The incident. (What were you thinking? Expensive retainer? Who needs that old thing?)

Monday, April 29: I call the orthodontist in Savannah — four hours away — where you completed your braces plan. “Oh, we don’t keep those molds. We need him to come in to get a new impression.” Not happening.

So I call the orthodontist on our health plan in Atlanta at the location that is closest to us. There is no answer. All day.

Tuesday, April 30: Resume calling. Finally get a voice mailbox. Leave message.

Wednesday, May 1: Call again. Get human who says the orthodontist is only in that location on Tuesdays and every other Thursday. What the flock? Human says we can take our chances during walk-in hours early Thursday morning in a different part of Atlanta.

Side note: Shall I remind you that Atlanta traffic is so bad that a five-mile journey might require us to tune up our car and pack a lunch?

Thursday, May 2: Wake up before dawn to make it to the walk-in appointment first. Beg the people to get you in and out quickly so you can make it to school. Your grades are not good enough for a day away from instruction. They make an impression — of your lower teeth. Why didn’t you tell them you needed the top instead? I had to tell them. Come on, Dominic!

They tell me to come back in the afternoon to pick up the finished product. So I battle rush-hour traffic to get there. Yet, they will not give me the retainer. They need to try it out on you.

For the love of God.

Couldn’t someone have told us this during the morning visit? I wasted 1.5 hours driving. Yay for the My Favorite Murder podcast. (Stay sexy, and chain your kid’s retainer to his body.)

Friday, May 3: Wake up before dawn to meet “Zane” at the orthodontist location closest to us. How dare you be cranky because I rushed you to get out the door on time! Don’t make me use what I learned via MFM.

Here you are with your new $200 retainer on your $3,000 smile. The sign indicates my feeling about all this business.

Don’t ever doubt my love for you. The fact that you are still breathing after all this should be proof enough.

If you lose this retainer, I’m going to make you earn the money to replace it by cleaning my car with your toothbrush.

I’m serious.

Try me.

Love and kisses,
Your out-of-patience mother

 

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