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Dear Helicopter Parents:

I’m going to have to ask you to stand down. Before you get your knickers in a twist*, know that I know you: I too am a member of Gen X. Like you, I was raised by Baby Boomers who never knew where I was until the streetlights came on.

(Or when Chris Marosy’s dad rang the dinner bell in the Marosys’ front yard, whichever came first.)

Stop checking your child’s calendar, Snap and Insta for a hot second and listen to me.

What happened to you?

You know good and well that we didn’t have play dates or Pinterest-inspired birthday parties or gender-reveal parties or baby wipe warmers or organic food. (We ate Chef Boyardee ravioli out of the can, FFS!)

You know what else we didn’t have?

  • Car seats or (many times) seat belts. We just rolled around in the back of cars, putting on shows with our feet in the back window.
  • Hand sanitizer. We barely washed our hands.
  • Awards unless we came in first place. Not first? Loser.
  • Remote controls. We got up to change the channel on the TV. Only four channels; not much of a workout.
  • Cable, Netflix, Hulu, etc. See above.
  • A ride to the corner store. We walked our asses there to get our fix of Bubble Yum, Atomic Fire Balls, Bottle Caps and candy cigarettes.
  • A choice when it came to chores, the food on our plates, sitting quietly at events (no tablets or smartphones to keep us occupied).
  • Parental supervision. We were latchkey kids. We were babysitting by age 10 (sometimes earlier). The only goal was to keep the kids alive until their parents came home.
  • Words of encouragement. “Good job” not typically in a Boomer’s vocabulary.
  • Attention. Not even for injuries. That is, unless a bone was sticking out of the skin. Then we might get a Band-Aid.
  • Timeouts. We got the belt if we were acting up. Or, in my case, a whack with a flyswatter.

I’m not saying all this was great, but I am saying that we all turned out fine. We are suspicious of authority, skeptical of everything, but fine.

Our kids will be fine too. You DO NOT need to hover — I promise. We made mistakes, and we learned from them. You are making it harder for them to be adults by doing everything for them.

These are things you’ve said to me or around me (names changed to protect them like you want):

  • “Kyle is having trouble making his morning class. Can you go to his room in the mornings and wake him up?”
  • “Madison needs to learn to advocate for herself.” (Yet you come to every meeting and interrupt her when she tries to speak up.)
  • “Who will be doing Dylan’s laundry in the dorms?”

I heard a story about a dad who came to his son’s job interview. The kid did not get the job. Of course.

Poor kids.

It’s not their fault. You made them this way.

I would have DIED if my parents had talked to any of my professors or college staff. You would have too.

My parents showed up at college twice:

  • To move me in.
  • To see me graduate.

That’s it.

Times have changed. I get it. And I know there are positives to being more involved in your child’s life (like maybe fewer snatchings, less drug use, a feeling of being more connected — loved even).

I’m just asking you to back off — just a bit — when little Connor goes to college.

All of us who work at universities will thank you.

And that means you will have more free time to take up new hobbies like:

  • Finally watching “Game of Thrones.”
  • Exercising (that stomach isn’t going to flatten itself).
  • Day drinking.
  • Napping.
  • Both of the above in that order.

Thank you, from the bottom of my after-school-special-loving heart.
Beth

* I’m British now. Didn’t I tell you?

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STOP: If you haven’t read “Sentenced to Church, Part I, Part II and Part III,” do that now.

/\ Me

My coworker invited me to her Christian church where I felt like produce at the grocery store. Each “Welcome, sister” was accompanied by a handshake, hug, shoulder rub, full-body squeeze or some such contact. I needed to be hosed down with antibacterial gel after the two-hour service, during which the minister asked me to stand and say something to the congregation. “Uh … thanks for welcoming me” was my impromptu speech.

The day’s sermon concerned the way to heaven. According to the minister, the only way is to be baptized and join this particular church. That’s it. No other way. I wondered if you could still go on living a wicked life, but yet belong to the church and be OK.

This kind of information is important, because I think I’m pretty wicked in general. Plus, two of the tenets adhered to by the good folks at this church are “Women are to learn in silence” and “They are not to teach in any capacity over a man.” I’m serious. It was in their bulletin. As I am rather a chatty sort, and I am employed as a college professor teaching both women and men, I think this church is not for me.

Up next: “What a friend we have in Jesus”

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How healthy are you? How willing are you to do the things you need to do to be healthy? Let’s find out!

You are diabetic. It’s time for lunch. What do you eat?
a. A healthy meal featuring protein, fruits and vegetables.
b. Ice cream, baby!

But wait, you have a sore on your toe that won’t heal. The diabetes is obviously affecting your circulation. Now what do you eat for lunch?
a. A healthy meal featuring protein, fruits and vegetables, and then go for a brisk walk around the block.
b. Still ice cream. And also onion rings. (Get off your back!)

You go to the doctor for a routine visit, and he tells you that you are now permanently blind in your left eye. You are:
a. Dismayed. You just thought it was a side effect of one of your many medications.
b. Surprised. You had no idea you couldn’t see out of your left eye.

You have to go to the bathroom. You just had a mini stroke, so you need a little help. What do you do?
a. Wait until someone brings the pee jug to you.
b. Open up your gown and let it go like you are Manneken-Pis.

You are (clearly) having issues with your bladder. The doctor installs a catheter. When do you ask for it to be removed?
a. As soon as possible because CATHETER!
b. Never. It just makes peeing easier.

Your leg is wet. Your catheter tube has come unattached. Do you notice?
a. Yes. Um … pee!
b. No.

Despite physical therapy at the nursing home after your mini stroke, you can’t walk without assistance. To be honest, you have trouble doing anything without help. When do you ask to be released from the nursing home?
a. Not until you can walk and manage tasks on your own.
b. Immediately. Watching TV all day is better from the lift chair. Who cares about the risk of falling?

Once home, your physical therapist tells you not to use the lift chair to help sit and stand. You need to build strength in your legs. What do you do?
a. Listen to her. She knows what she is doing.
b. Tell everyone that she changed her mind. The lift chair is totally fine.

Scoring:
Mostly or all As: Congratulations! You are doing what you need to do to be as healthy as possible. Your family must be so happy!
Mostly Bs: You need to take better care of yourself. Think about how your health issues are affecting your family.
All Bs: Dad?

 

 

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What’s this? An alien life form?

Dear Fall,

So I noticed that we haven’t seen you yet this year. I don’t want to make you feel guilty or anything, but some of us rely on you for relief from that asshat Summer.

Summer always overstays his welcome, as far as I’m concerned. He makes me sweat. He likes girls in those gross high-waisted booty shorts. He’s great with the kids, but is a bore when they go back to school.

It’s November. You were supposed to be here Sept. 23. Winter has already booked his visit for Dec. 22. If you are running late, though, I guess Winter is too. I don’t really care about Winter. Sorry, not sorry.

Fall, it’s your visit I look forward to every year. When you come, I get to wear sweaters, boots and maybe even a jaunty scarf. I get to make soups, stews and hearty pies. I get to stock up on bocks, stouts and porters. I can’t do that with Summer hanging around in his half-shirt yelling, “More Bud Light!”

Summer goes shopping.

Summer goes shopping.

So Fall, please get your act together. I hear you may show up Sunday. Let’s hope so. Summer just cranked up Nelly’s “Hot in Herre” … again.

Wish you were here,
Beth

*Apologies to Fall Out Boy

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Dear Del Taco,

One of the best things about traveling to the West Coast is that I get to hang out with you for every meal. Yes, every meal. I love you that much. I love you so much that I wrote you a song. Well, Lady Antebellum wrote the song and I bastardized it.

Need You Now
Perfect little packets scattered all around the store.
Heading to the counter ’cause I can’t fight it anymore.

Does Del Taco cross anyone else’s mind?
For me it happens all the time.

[Chorus]
It’s a quarter after one, I’m super starved and I need you now.
Said I wouldn’t go but I’ve lost all control and I need you now.
And I don’t know how I can do without.
I just need you now.

Another shot of hot sauce, can’t stop looking at the spread.
Just one more burrito, doesn’t matter green or red.

Does Del Taco cross anyone else’s mind?
For me it happens all the time.

[Chorus]
It’s a quarter after two, I’m really hungry and I need you now.
Said I wouldn’t go but I’ve lost all control and I need you now.
And I don’t know how I can do without.
I just need you now.

Oh, no!
Why is there no store in Savannah at all?

[Chorus]
It’s a quarter after three, I’m starved again and I need you now.
And I said I wouldn’t go but I’m trying to get my fix and I need you now.
And I don’t know how I can do without.
I just need you now
I just need you now.
Oh, Del Taco, I need you now.

Please consider expanding to Southeast Georgia. Make a loyal customer happy.

Yours in Fiesta Pack Pride,

Beth

thumb_12lbbeancheeseburrito

This.

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1280px-IHOP_Restaurant_logo.svgDear IHOP:

To borrow from Taylor Swift, “Why you gotta be so mean?

Let me explain.

My family and I recently visited the newly open restaurant in Pooler. We walked in and immediately were struck by the fact that servers outnumbered diners four to one. When I asked for a booth, the hostess gave me such a dirty look that I backed down and meekly took the table.

It was our server’s second day on the job and about to be her last, she said. Why? The owners and corporate reps were in town — hence the reason there were about 24 servers on duty. She said servers weren’t making any money because they had just a couple of tables all day. (This explains why we had to sit at a certain table.)

I watched her carry our four drinks, spilling mine because she didn’t have a tray. “Why don’t you have a tray?,” I asked, remembering my days as a server at Western Sizzlin’. She said there were only a couple of trays in the whole restaurant, and they could only use them for certain purposes. Carrying drinks apparently was not one of them.

Um … what?!?

I’m a chatty sort, so chat we did. She told me all the servers had just been barked at by one of the suits because they had too many cutlery bundles on the tables. They had put four bundles out for a four-person table. That makes sense to me, but it is not OK in IHOPland. Four-tops get two bundles; six-tops get four. No wonder we always have to ask for silverware.

o

I happened to spot one of the suits. As I was riled up, I marched over to talk to him. Topics: excessive amount of servers, trays, silverware. This fellow, a vice president according to his business card, could not have been smarmier. He was incredibly dismissive of me and simply said that “corporate” has determined all of the policies so that all IHOPs are the same.

Here’s an excerpt from our conversation:

Me: “But not allowing trays makes it harder for servers to do their jobs.”

Him: “They can use trays.”

Me: “They can’t use trays to carry drinks.”

Him: “No, they can. They just can’t put the trays on the table.”

Me: “But no one is using trays here.”

Him: “Yes, they are.”

Our server: (overhearing conversation but out of the VP’s eye line, meets my eyes and shakes her head, “No.”)

I did not see anyone use a tray the entire time I was there.

Another excerpt:

Me: “It doesn’t seem logical that tables for four people would only have two bundles of silverware.”

Him: “Yes, it does. IHOP corporate wants all IHOPs to look the same when customers walk in.”

Me: “But they could look the same if they had the right amount of silverware on the tables as well. We always have to ask for silverware.”

Him: “The hostess should count the number of people and bring the amount needed.”

Me: “Well, first of all, that makes extra work for people, which doesn’t make sense. Second, our hostess didn’t bring two extra bundles for us.”

Him: “Yes, she did.”

Me: (Looking at him with my patented “Are you effing kidding me?” glare) OK. I give up.

Good job, IHOP, for selecting a person for a vice president role who has such a handle on (inane) IHOP policies yet a complete inability to grasp why policies exist: to help customers have an enjoyable dining experience and want to return.

So we are not going to return. Sorry, IHOP. You need to rethink your rules and leadership.

Came hungry, left unhappy,
Beth

 

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Photo by Eric Ray Davidson for EW

Photo by Eric Ray Davidson for EW

Dear Jason Bateman, Charlie Day and Jason Sudeikis,

I read with interest the piece Anthony Breznican wrote about you and “Horrible Bosses 2” for the Nov. 28 issue of Entertainment Weekly. Breznican apparently conducted the interview on the rooftop of the Beverly Hilton Hotel. I stayed at that remarkable hotel for one night in October. When I saw the location, I had four thoughts:

  1. I didn’t know the Beverly Hilton had a rooftop terrace.
  2. I still feel oily for taking a photo of the room number of the suite where Whitney Houston died.
  3. It would have been great to see you in the lobby when I was there instead of Fred Willard — not that he isn’t fantastic in his own right.
  4. It’s probably best I didn’t because I might have run over and dorkily asked you all over to my house for dinner and a round of Cards Against Humanity.

When I told Eddie about all that, he fixated on No. 4 and said:

Oooh … can we invite Pharrell and Shaq too?

In theory, this is a great idea: Hang out with celebrities at our house. In reality, if this were to happen, I might have a panic attack similar to the one I had when Eddie threatened to invite his buddy Bobby Deen for dinner. I like to cook, but I’m not sure I want to cook for a chef. (Just thinking about it makes me want to breathe into a paper bag.)

Also, my friend Ken Griner said it is usually a mistake to meet your idols because sometimes they turn out to be jerks.

I can’t imagine that would be the case with you three. I’m willing to take my chances, potential for panic notwithstanding.

If you are interested, have your people call my people. “My people” being me, of course. Nothing rarefied here.

We’ll have fun, I promise.

Awaiting your RSVP,
Beth

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