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Dear Judging Community:

My son (15) has few responsibilities around the place he shares with me, his father and brother (13):

  1. Keep up with schoolwork.
  2. Take out the trash and recycling.
  3. Keep his room clean.

In return, we don’t harass him, and we give him an allowance.

As he is a 15-year-old boy, you can imagine he is not holding up his end of the bargain.

It’s No. 3 that’s really bothering me at the moment.

Y’all, look:

Those are clean clothes that have been on the floor for more than two weeks.

Well, they aren’t clean anymore, of course.

I know they WERE clean because I dried and folded them.

Lest you thing I regularly do his laundry, let me explain: He put his clothes in the wash, then “forgot” about them. I needed to do laundry, so I finished them up.

I see now I should have just put them in the trash.

We’ve had numerous arguments about this.

He says it’s his room, and he will clean it up when he’s ready.

I say it’s slovenly behavior, and he never should have let it get like this. But as he did, he should clean it up. Now.

So Community, AITA for expecting him to keep his room clean?

Before you answer, one more thing I need to tell you.

He asked for a few of my Oreos, then ate the entire package without a word to me. I found the empty package in the trash.

So. AITA?

Thanks for weighing in,
Beth

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Dear Boys of Mine (all three),

Thank you for making this Mother’s Day the best ever. For real.

You know last year I wasn’t happy at all. It was not because you didn’t do the “right” thing. It was because you didn’t do anything on the day at all.

But this year, you made it right, and then some.

First, breakfast in bed with a side of “Hoarders” on the TV (you know how I feel about that show).

Then a treasure hunt with gifts, including my new food obsession: Flamin’ hot popcorn. (No surprise there, I’m sure.)

The hunt culminated in a homemade movie that made me cry. Twice.

Finally? Lunch based on a tomato soup commercial I saw yesterday. (You know the one: It features grilled cheese.)

So thank you for making me feel loved.

I love you too.
Mama

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Dear Readers,
Julia and I have been friends since we were kids. We had a shared interest in harassing our other friends. (Like the time we wore togas down a busy road to bother visit Taft, Cindy and Carleton.) Our mothers’ curses came true: We ended up with children just like us. Here are some stories about her middle child, Ainsley.
Enjoy!
Beth

Happy times for Julia and Ainsley

Dear Beth,
As one of your oldest and dearest friends, I have thoroughly enjoyed your stories about parenting your two amazing and handsome boys. But having two boys myself, I would like to introduce you to the unique joys of parenting a girl – particularly my girl – Ainsley Nora.
After coming into the world with severe colic (which I had no idea could fully re-emerge from age 11 -17!), she has kept us on our toes. I am not half the writer you are (sorry, Mrs. Reagan and Mrs. Wise) so I’ve decided to offer you the best Ainsley Nora stories in Top 10 format.
  1. The time she insulted a friend. When Ainsley was 2 or 3, my dear friend Diane came to visit from San Diego. While Diane and I were enjoying a glass of wine and a chat, Ainsley came over and in her best stage (aka “Irish”) whisper announced, “I don’t like that girl!” She then proceeded to fly upstairs and rifle through Diane’s luggage. Diane subsequently discovered that her book was missing. We went into Ainsley’s room and discovered her lounging in bed, legs crossed, immersed in “Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus” even though it was upside down.
  2. The second time she insulted a friend. When Ainsley was 3 or 4, I invited over Jennifer, my new friend from work. Ainsley had recently received a large makeup case as a gift. She proceeded to wander by Jennifer multiple times with her makeup case as if she were a “Price is Right” model showcasing her wares. At the point Jennifer expressed interest, Ainsley snapped the case shut practically amputating Jennifer’s hand in the process and then stormed off in a huff.
  3. The third time she insulted a friend. When Ainsley was 5 or 6, my friend brought her daughter Mia over. Mia, who was around 2, was playing on the front porch, while Ann and I enjoyed a cocktail (seeing a theme here) while watching her from the front window. Ainsley came in the house from playing with friends, and, nodding her head toward the front porch, said “Hello! Stolen???” as if we were the most inept adults in the world.
  4. ONE of the times she insulted her brothers. The first time I let my youngest son Elias (our favorite per Ainsley) take a shower, I was downstairs and heard a huge clu-clunk and crying. I rushed upstairs to find him lying face down on the shower floor with Ainsley (and Cullen, my oldest) observing, “Look how hairy his back is – so gross.” Note that she also had a history of yelling, “Bring it on freckle face!” when she is the most freckled of the three.
  5. The time she got in a fight with her cousin. Ainsley and her cousin Mairead are the same age. One day after preschool, I had them at a little play table eating lunch. I don’t know what Mairead said to Ains, but I see Ainsley get up, walk around the play table and say, “You don’t want to be my best friend, Mairead? You don’t want to be my best cousin? YOU’RE GOING DOWN, MAIREAD!”
  6. The time she insulted a civic group. This is partly my husband’s fault as his family’s motto is “Nobody standing still is up to any good.” My kids are not allowed to loiter anywhere. On the way home from school, Ainsley sees a gang of no-gooders and screams, “Look at that bunch of vagrants!” It was a group of Boy Scouts standing on the church lawn.
  7. The time she insulted the elderly. OK, this one is actually funny. One time we were driving past an old-folks home, and Ainsley announced to her friends, “Look, that’s where they keep all the grandmas!”
  8. The time Ainsley threw me under the bus. As a working mom, I never felt like I did my share but I always tried to volunteer for at least one or two events a year to keep the guilt at bay. After several sucky assignments, they were looking for yoga teachers for fitness day. Sign me up! Unfortunately all the other moms had signed up for yoga, so I was asked to do the neighborhood walk with Ainsley’s class, a bunch of dads and the teacher, Mrs. Marshalka. Unfortunately the walk went right by our house, so Mrs. Marshalka paused and said, “And this is Ainsley Nora’s house!” With the entire crowd looking at her, Ainsley decided to deflect with, “My mom cries when she doesn’t get her way.” Those who know me know I DO NOT CRY!
  9. The time she “accidentally” swallowed a quarter. The school nurse called to tell me that Ainsley swallowed a quarter during class. “Mom, I really had to cough, and I was trying to be polite and cover my mouth and forgot I had a quarter in my hand,” she told me. After my husband took her to the ER, our babysitter, Danielle, told us that Ainsley had been asking her for weeks what would happen if she swallowed a quarter and would she get an X-ray (she did). (She and Mairead were also known to crank call 911. Why Danielle stayed with us all those years is beyond me!)
  10. The time she said she would rather have Coronavirus than be stuck “in this house with you people!” Also, “Mom, can I take a gap year if I get on ‘Survivor?'” Yes, yes you can, Ainsley.

She reminds me of you in all the best ways.
Julia

 

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Dear ‘Rona:

One of the things you have forced us all to do is to spend more time with the people in our house — for better or worse. I like to look on the bright side, so I’m trying to focus on the things I’ve enjoyed.

1. Playing board games with the family. Even the arguments have been fun.

We played Payday. The miser (aka Gideon) climbed to the top of the paper-money ladder.

Dominic played Monopoly for the first time and landed on Park Place his first trip around the board. Then he rolled snake eyes. Before long I was out on a corner with a cardboard sign (virtually, of course).

2. Playing video games with the family.

Mortal Kombat 10 doesn’t have Sindel? I’m out.

3. Playing games with friends via Houseparty.

This is (supposedly) a jaguar. Look: I know. Take it up with Royce. He drew it.

4. Harassing Dominic regularly.

“Lord, MAN! Please sit up straight. You are KILLING me.”

“Stop guzzling the orange juice. And shut the refrigerator door!”

5. Watching trashy reality shows with Gideon. (He’s my regular TV buddy.)

I like Jersey Shore Family Vacation this time of yee-ah!

6. Recreating trashy reality shows in the privacy of our own home.

Eddie set up “Love is Blind” in the garage as a fun treat for me.

7. Taking a road trip with Gideon, as he also is going crazy.

We went to Athens to visit the tree that owns itself. That’s right.

Look how happy we are to be outside!

8. Riding our bikes to the store.

My thighs were BURNING. That’s why we are walking the bikes. Y’all: I miss my Biddy Boot Camp at the Y.

9. Having time to color hair if asked.

Gideon wanted red hair.

So he got red hair.

10. Being ecstatic when someone else shaves his.

Doesn’t he look great?

11. Obeying social distancing rules with friend-who-is-nearly-family Kalen.

We are both rule followers.

12. Taking up new hobbies.

Hand knitting with chunky blanket yarn!

Two different blankets, two different stitches. When I take on a hobby, I TAKE ON A HOBBY!

See! I’m trying to stay positive in these trying times you caused.

But I can’t remain optimistic forever.

So please go away.

Thanks!
Beth

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Dear Reckitt Benckiser:

I really wish I had Loefflered up and bought your stock before Coronavirus came calling.

But I never felt the need to bathe in Lysol before.

Look. Listen. You can’t be too careful.

I’ve created an airlock downstairs. Everything coming into the house gets wiped down or sprayed.

The mail too.

Everything.

Even people.

Dominic came in after work. (Yes, he has a job at Publix. No, I’m not thrilled he is going. He informed me he needs the money to hang out “wit da boys.” He means online via Doom.)

Me (from the couch): Did you spray yourself?
Him (sighing): Yes.
Me: Even your back?
(Sound of a little baby spray)

So we are going through plenty of your product. And there is a shortage. You are aware. We all are aware.

I’m waiting patiently, but my supply can’t last forever, even though it seems like this pandemic will.

Wishing you a speedy resupplying process.

Your sanitizing sentry,
Beth

 

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Dear Dominic,

If spending more time with you has shown me anything, it’s that you are incredibly resourceful — when you really want something. Specifically something you are not supposed to have.

If you don’t? You’re as helpless as Mr. Krabs molting.

Por ejemplo:

Your regular schoolwork dipshittery earned you a week without Wi-Fi for your various apparatus.

Though you pretend to be a Luddite, you certainly MacGyvered your way into connectivity. (I didn’t even know you knew what an Ethernet cable was or that we had one.)

But then you called for backup to find the lunch meat.

Lunch meat, Dominic.

Remember this conversation?

You (banging around in the refrigerator): There’s no meat!
Me: Yes, there is.
You (getting loud): No, there’s not!
Me (shockingly calm in the face of teenage attitude): Look in the drawer on the bottom left.
You (louder): I’m looking! All I see is a cabbage.
Me (sighing): Move the cabbage.
You: Oh.

“Move the cabbage.” It’s like the Coronacation version of “Who Moved My Cheese.”

I really hope this is just typical teenager behavior, and you’ll grow out of it. I am not a helicopter parent. I don’t plan to have you live with me forever.

You must learn to move the cabbage on your own.

Love,
Mama

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Dear Dominic,

Please go outside, even if it is just on the porch. Or open your window. You need fresh air.

Your room is hot and smells like a hamster cage.

You haven’t worn a shirt in days.

Your posture is so awful that you look like a question mark.

You eat like a wild animal — a wild animal who only eats Pop-Tarts.

What’s worse is that you want to eat like this on my new desk: the kitchen table.

If this is what you’ve become in just a couple of weeks into confinement, I shudder to think what you will look like in a couple of months.

Please don’t turn feral.

I love you,
Mama

* Thanks, Nirvana.

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