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Life At My House Sampler


Welcome to

Life At My House”


Bonnie Phelps


Copyright 3

They Pounce on the Groceries 4

Am I Pretty, Mom? 5

Norman Rockwell Dinners 6

Men’s & Women’s Spending Habits 8

Childhood Senility 10

Why Don’t They? 11

Good Thing Babies Are Cute 13

Busy Signals 15

Kids Don’t Take No For An Answer 17

Mom, I’m Going to be Sick 19

Hungry Washing Machine 20

Graduation Message 21

About the Author 23



Copyright © 2017 Bonnie Phelps

All Rights Reserved

No part of this book may be reproduced in written, electronic, recorded, or photocopied form without written permission of the author. The exception would be in the case of brief quotations embodied in the critical articles or reviews and pages where permission is specifically granted by the author.

Learn more about Bonnie and her books at her website: BonniePhelpsAuthor.com

Have a question or comment? Send Bonnie an email at: [email protected]

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About the Articles

The enclosed articles were originally written between 1988 and 1991 when I published the “Life At My House” column for several California newspapers. They are the musings of a busy woman, wife, and mother. Hey, it was cheaper than therapy. I hope you enjoy reading them as much as I did writing them!


[] They Pounce on the Groceries

They pounce on me as I carry the groceries into the house, sure that they are starving, deprived children. Five minutes later, the contents of the ten bags are strewn from one end of the kitchen to the other. They look at me reproachfully and mutter, “Why didn’t you get anything to eat?”

“What?” I splutter. “The amount I spend each month on groceries is equal to the per capita income of many people in this world. There’s plenty there to eat.” I (foolishly) suggest apples, crackers & peanut butter, popcorn and raw carrots or celery. I even brought home some hummus for them to dip those yummy vegetables in.

“But Mom,” they wail, “where are the chocolate do dongs, the sodas, the cookies, the ice cream, the potato chips? You never bring home anything good!” (For the uninformed, ‘good’ means at least 100 calories per bite.) “Jimmy always gets to eat super-sugared yo-yo’s for breakfast. You give us oatmeal with apples and honey or cold cereal with hardly any sugar, or worse, something with lots of fiber.”

Oh dear! How could I? Have I failed them as a mother by depriving, or at least limiting, these epicurean delights? How could I be so shallow and uncaring by providing them with three nourishing meals a day? I’m sure they’ll grow up psychologically damaged. They’ll be out there competing with all those junk-food addicts. Left behind in the caffeine and sugar induced-activity dust.

Will their systems be able to handle the overload when they reach the age of discretion (I’m not sure when that is, I just hope I’ve gotten there) and can eat as much of that stuff as they want? Perhaps I’m overreacting. For all the complaining that ‘there’s nothing to eat’ in the house, the food that I do bring home sure disappears in a hurry.

[] Am I Pretty, Mom?

“Am I pretty, Mom?” Questions like this usually come when I have 5 minutes left to get everyone, including myself, out of the house. Then. . . I am tempted to give the pat answer, “Of course you are, sweetheart,” smile at you and send you on your way.

Today you’re in luck. I’m not under pressure to be someplace else soon. Are you pretty? I pause, brush in hand, holding your abundance of soft, strawberry blonde hair. Any woman would love to have hair like this.

I glance at the mass of freckles peppering your nose, so often sure that there is dirt hidden amongst them. And you, all too readily assure me that, “No Mom, I washed my face. What’s left is freckles, nothing more.” Why am I so skeptical?

You’re tall and slender. At 9 there’s no promise yet of the woman you will become. If you take after your mother, you will have more than you want on your hips and bottom and not as much as you would like on the upper torso. So perhaps you won’t be as pretty as you’d like in the sense of today’s society. And yet, is there promise of the woman who will emerge?

Here is a child who cries when she discovers that her older sister has done something terribly wrong and knows that she must tell me of her sister’s transgression. She does not want her sister to get in trouble but knows that the mistake should not be hidden. Will you also be the child of mine who cries for the peoples trapped in the inequities of this world?

You are the child who lovingly cares for her handicapped sister, taking the time to entertain her. Will you also be the child of mine who shows compassion for those less fortunate than herself?

You are the one who strives so diligently for perfection. Crushed when you don’t achieve what you visualize for yourself. Will you learn to live with imperfection in yourself and transfer that desire for perfection to making the world a better place?

Are you pretty? Yes, my child. In the eyes of this beholder, you are beautiful indeed.

[] Norman Rockwell Dinners

Picture for a moment those Norman Rockwell scenes of a family gathered around their dinner table. Food stretches temptingly down the center of the table.

Pa takes his place at one end while Ma presides daintily at the other. Smiling children ring the sides, sniffing the fare appreciatively. I’m pretty sure this only happens in the frozen time of pictures where those same children sit patiently waiting for the signal to commence eating. What a wonderful concept!

However, as with many great ideas, something happened to it when put into real-world practice. I know ‘painting’ Norman didn’t stop by my house as he scouted the countryside for models for that famous dinner scene. Come to think of it, I’m not too sure whose house he did select. None of my acquaintances, for sure.

I figure Americans are at least two, possibly three, generations removed from those families who sat down and ate dinner together—as in all at the same time without a device in their face.

About the time children reach puberty, a weird virus strikes families. I like to refer to it as, “the pass-by eaters,” syndrome. In case you are uninitiated—puberty is best described as that time when your children’s social calendars have fewer blank spaces than yours. Scientists note this takes place at an earlier age with each generation.

From that day forward say goodbye to entrees from Bon Appetit and say hello to reheatables and pull-the-carton-out-of-the-refrigerator-ables. One fine day, after you’ve angrily stuffed the seventh half-eaten dinner in a row back into the refrigerator because no one was around to eat it, you realize dinner at six has hit a snag.

The snag comes in the form of scheduling conflicts. One child has sports, or choir, or drama practice 4:00 to 5:30. Another child has dance, or piano, or an extra-curricular activity from 5:30 to 7:00. Subsequent children have scouts, or other sports practice, or ‘something’ from 3:30 to 5:00. Notice a slight overlapping in the time sequence.

After-dinner meetings and activities generally begin around 7:30. About the time some of the masses arrive home for dinner, the first set is on its way out the door again. Amidst all this bustle, chief cook and bottle washer—namely you—is expected to pick-up, drop-off, and feed the multitude. Meanwhile, Hubby, having moved up the employment ladder to greater responsibility, shows up as soon as he can get home hoping for a warm meal or at least something he can heat up.

Whatever time each one appears on the doorstep, he or she is starved and will eat every bit of junk food in sight if you don’t put something nourishing in front of that person—immediately. Hence, most families have embraced what I call, “the nuke it and run,” method of food preparation.

Off limits are such things as soufflés, fish, baked chicken (unless your children will eat it cold or like the taste of rubber), steaks (which you probably can’t afford to feed growing kids anyway), and roasts (see note on chicken).

Casseroles (in all shapes and sizes), pizza (frozen or delivered), and anything obtained at an eating establishment boasting a drive-thru window or a phone-in, pick-up service are friends indeed. That is unless you’ve always harbored a secret desire to be a short order cook.

If this sounds familiar, take a moment to reflect upon what microwaves and T.V. dinners have brought to your life. Given that my formative years were before those marvelous inventions existed, it’s no wonder outside activities were limited and my mom insisted on dinner at 6:00 with each of us sitting politely around the table!

[] Men’s & Women’s Spending Habits

I think it’s interesting to observe the distinct ways in which men and women spend the extra cash that occasionally floats through the hands of most families like manna from heaven. You know—tax refunds, bonus checks, lottery winnings—money that isn’t part of the everyday family’s budget.

To get right to the heart of the matter, men and women view the world from slightly different vantage points. Their priorities are different and this is apparent in the way they react to a windfall.

Men like gadgets and expensive ‘big boy’ toys. If a man finds an unaccounted for sum at his disposal, he’ll come home with a classic car, an arcade game, a jukebox, tools he doesn’t have the time to use. I mean, how many women do you know who would walk into a general merchandise store with ‘fun money’ and come out with a garden tractor?

A woman has another set of chromosomal instructions. Give me cash and I’ll come back with gold, diamonds—or if feeling frivolous—a trip to some exotic locale where the order of the day would be rest and relaxation.

Men seem drawn to things they can tinker with, something they can manipulate and control. Men want to ‘do’ something.

Women, on the other hand, lean toward things that, while pretty, have intrinsic monetary value as well (except maybe for that great pair of shoes I just couldn’t pass up) or take them away from the everyday grind. Women figure they ‘do’ enough in the daily course of human events and want something that will ‘do’ something for them.

Even if both parties earmark the money for the same purpose, say a trip for instance, that’s usually where the similarity ends. The man wants to go fishing; the woman wants to head for the warm sands of the Caribbean. She’d rather wander down a quaint village street and poke her head into all the little shops and he’d prefer to raft down the white waters of the Colorado River.

Granted, I’m dealing in generalities and I don’t mean to imply that the female of the species doesn’t enjoy rugged pursuits. However, if it’s the only vacation she’s going to get, most women fancy an activity that means they don’t have to do what they do every other week of the year.

Camping and fishing and white-water rafting are fine, as long as you bring along someone else to do the cooking and cleaning. I want to dance until dawn and he says, “dancing?” I long to feel the sea breeze against my face as I lean against the rail of a cruise ship in the moonlight. His interest centers around the buffet table and the climbing rock.

John and Jane Doe decided to spend their tax refund on something for the house. She points to a new dining room set while she tries to drag him away from the newest technology in TV or stereo equipment.

“But look at all the function keys on this baby and have you ever seen woofers and tweeters like these before?” he protests as she lovingly fingers the fine patina of the table top. “But just think,” she exclaims, “we wouldn’t have to worry about the old, rickety chairs giving way under us if we had these sturdy, new ones.” He fondles the dancing lights of the graphic equalizer controls.

One chunk of money and two divergent opinions on how to spend it. People thrown together by choice in the battle of the sexes. And some people think God doesn’t have a sense of humor.

[] Childhood Senility

Childhood Senility. . . A strange new disease sweeping the country? No. It’s been around forever. I just decided it needed a name. The disease is no respecter of age—striking young and old(er) alike. But in each age group the disease manifests itself in a different way.

This scourge first appears in the young between the ages of 4 and 5, disabling them until they leave home. They may very well continue to be affected by this malady, but by then it’s their problem—not yours.

In the young you will observe selective memory loss. If asked, “Have you cleaned your room?” They immediately respond, “Oh yes. I’m sure I did.” Mom quickly queries, “You’re ‘sure’ you did. Don’t you remember? If I go and check, will ‘I’ think your room is clean?” Now comes the sweet smile and shifty eyes as the child replies, “Maybe I’d better take another look.”

If I promised them $2.00 a week as their allowance, come time to divvy up, the amount will suddenly have escalated to $3.00. “Don’t you remember, Mom?” they ask innocently. “You gave us extra chores.” You’re convinced you said $2.00 and those extra chores where part of the initial deal, but. . .

This is the other side of the ‘childhood senility’ coin. ‘You’ can’t always recall what you said, even if it was only 10 minutes ago. You also tend to forget why you entered a room, why you are standing in front of the refrigerator, or how you got to the grocery store when you really intended to go to the post office. (Force of habit?)

Don’t worry. There’s no cause for alarm. No matter how frightening, it’s perfectly normal behavior for an adult afflicted with Childhood Senility. For adults the onset begins in your child’s infancy and grows progressively worse until the children leave the nest at which time you’ll note definite improvement in this malady.

See there is hope—a light at the end of the tunnel. Your memory will return. I think I read that somewhere, or did someone tell me, or did I make it up? I don’t remember.

[] Why Don’t They?

Occasionally, I pause for a moment to consider the imponderable of my life. Not that these imponderables would be of any interest to anyone else—except that things that happen in my house usually happen to other people as well.

For instance a burning question that I’m sure causes many women to lose sleep at night is, why can’t kitchen towels stay in the kitchen? I find them draped all over the house or tucked into inconspicuous corners. Maybe people prefer to dry dishes in the living room, but I don’t think so. My family (husband included) would like me to think the thing sprouts legs and wanders about at will because—none of them put it there.

While I’m on the subject of activities with dubious reasoning behind them, who is the idiot who invented talking cars? Certainly couldn’t have been anyone’s mother. Mothers are smarter than that. They get enough negative response from their children without encouraging inanimate objects to start talking back.

Don’t you just cringe every time the thing beeps or starts that sing-song monologue? What did I do this time? I feel like I’m back home again with my mother nagging me to turn off the lights. (Okay, bad comparison.)

Granted, I may be grateful to learn I left my key in the ignition or my lights on, but there are other ways to keep me from making a fool of myself by locking my keys in the car or coming back to a dead battery. If the darn thing is so advanced that it can tell me the lights are on, why can’t it just turn them off? And why not set up the system so I lock my car without the key? (Note to readers: this was written when cars had actual keys instead of key fobs).

And don’t you wonder why your family always puts empty boxes of cereal and crackers back into the cupboard? I mean it takes a certain amount of energy to actually walk over and return the carton to its proper place. It just doesn’t make sense because they leave everything else on the counter.

Logic says their lives would be simpler if they just left it sitting on the counter so you—the one who goes to the grocery story—actually knows it needs to be restocked. But they don’t, so I must surmise there is an ulterior motive. I think they get a kick out of the poor me routine when they can look woefully at the empty box then up at you with that, “Mom must not love me or she would have gotten more” expression on their face.

A few other riddles that confound my dull gray matter. Why is mom the only one in the house who can turn out a light? It’s not a difficult process, just an impossible request. Would they fall over dead if they closed a cupboard door or put a dirty dish in the dishwasher?

And before I get down off my soapbox, why can’t someone make flour and sugar canisters big enough to accommodate a five pound sack without stuff spilling all over the counter the first time you try to scoop any out? Then my favorite imponderable—packaged hot dogs and bun combinations. Is it only the mothers of America who can count?

Pondering doesn’t mean I’ve come up with any solutions, but it’s more fun than cleaning the bathroom.

[] Good Thing Babies Are Cute

It’s a good thing the creator of the universe made the babies of most species so cute, especially those that wish to live inside the house. If you’re one of those who believe in the “everything just is—nobody made them that way” theory, then it was blind luck that infants look so angelic.

Anyway you look at it, the survival of the human race, and those other cuddly critters that reside with us, hinged on that one important attribute—an almost indefinable cuteness quotient. Why else would we put up with the antics of baby things? In a weak moment, I allowed a puppy into our home a few months ago, which explains my thought patterns at this point in time.

Babies, kittens, puppies, and possibly birds and hamster-like animals (these are the only creatures I’m considering in my cuteness quotient because these are the only ones I might allow in the house) have several things in common. Most folks want to scoop them up and love them the minute they see one. Baby creatures have a built-in irresistibility.

I deliberately left out spiders, snakes, rats, and the like. In my humble opinion—the only one that counts for the purposes of this piece—they are not cute no matter which way you look at them, therefore, they were not meant to live within the same four walls I occupy. I can resist these—baby or not—with no problem at all.

Animals with this cuteness quotient, ‘C.Q.’ for short, always have enchantingly round faces, with big, round eyes and an innocent look about them (I figure innocent needs a qualifier). There’s just something about round that tugs at heart strings. I mean have you ever seen an adorable square or a cuddly triangle? I don’t know why but those terms don’t align themselves with the words cuddly and cute, but they don’t.

Let’s face facts here. Without C.Q., would anyone allow these adorable little ones to do the unspeakable things they do to carpets, walls, and furniture and not strangle them forthwith? I doubt it. Even with C.Q., it’s tough sometimes.

How many have walked into the bathroom to find their toddler has dumped ten rolls of toilet paper into the toilet and used another twenty or so to unroll and drape over anything he could reach? And what’s your reaction when that innocent face glances up at you with sheer delight in discovery written all over his face and those big eyes filled with the wonder of the world? How mad can you get? I always settled for resignation and began the cleanup process.

Only adorable and precious stays my hand when puppies or kittens wreak havoc on my fingers, toes, and other body parts or when my infant spit up all over the front of me—just when I’ve changed my clothes from the last eruption. If it weren’t for angelic faces, their lives would be short indeed when I walk in to discover the newspaper I’d been planning to read in a quiet moment turned into bits of confetti and scattered all over the place.

C.Q. saves them from destruction when I find the trash can contents littering the kitchen floor or that my freshly folded laundry has been scattered hither and yon by a mini tornado. But C.Q. doesn’t last forever.

I’m not exactly sure when it disappears, but it does. Eventually, it’s nothing more than a photo of round face and eyes held in your arms that brings a fond smile to your lips. Goodbye C.Q., I miss you.

[] Busy Signals

(Note to Readers: This was written before the wide use of cell phones and families had land lines in their homes).

Bzzt…Bzzt…Bzzt…Bzzt…If you try to call my house before 8 a.m. or after 3 p.m. there’s a very good chance that aggravating sound will greet your ears. I’m the mother of teenagers. Worse, teenage ‘girls.’

Adolescent females treat the phone like another appendage. Matter of fact, if it weren’t for their school pictures, I might forget what they look like without one cradled next to their ears. I can as easily visualize them without noses.

Funny though, this love affair with the phone only goes so far. Why—in those rare moments when the phone isn’t in use and we actually receive an incoming call—do they always (almost) expect someone else to answer it? Unless, of course, it’s one they’d rather you didn’t know about. Then they’re johnny-on-the-spot. Otherwise, one of the kids can be sitting right beside the phone and they let it ring off the hook so to speak?

I wonder if ‘strange but true’ has ever investigated the phenomena surrounding kids and phones. Notice how kids always manage to get through to each other in that split second between calls. My husband, friends, and business associates seldom do.

I think kids operate on some sort of telepathic communication system. Over whatever medium this sixth sense travels, the message swirls out across time and space to the next person they plan to talk to. The subliminal message is, “I’m going to hang up now. I want to tell you everything Molly told me so call me or end your conversation so I can call you.”

Unfortunately, only ‘the I want to talk to you’ part of the message gets through. The rest of the conversation can only be relayed thanks to the courtesy of ATT. And, naturally—in the teenage mind—we’re talking highly important information here. If these young ladies and gentlemen were government agents, TOP SECRET would be stamped all over their dialog in big, red letters. Conversations that often contain classified information like:

“I’m eating a cookie now. What are you doing?”

“Do you think I should wear my boots or my high tops with my black pants?”

“The dog just jumped on the bed.”

“My foot itches. I wonder why.”

Definitely information the free world couldn’t get along without. Some calls, however, contain data bordering on earth-shattering.

“I saw Sally talking to Billy. Do you think he likes her? I know Molly likes him. I’ll call Billy and ask him. You call Sally,” said Sharon to Kim. Sharon calls Billy and Kim calls Sally. Then Sharon and Kim call each other back to compare notes.

Billy likes Sally but Sally likes Joe. Sally has to call Molly to say she doesn’t like Billy. Molly has to call Billy to tell him Sally only likes him as a friend. Billy tells Joe that Sally likes him and Joe tells Billy he likes Molly. Sharon calls Billy back to find out what is going on. Billy calls Joe to tell him Sharon knows Joe likes Molly and someone will probably tell Sally. Sharon calls Kim to spread the news. Kim calls Sally to make sure she knows. Sharon calls Molly and so on.

Anyway, I’m confused. And we wonder why phone circuits sometimes suffer from the occasional hiccup or temporary lapse of memory.

[] Kids Don’t Take No For An Answer

My children come to me with a request. I nix the idea. End of subject. Not quite. If life were that simple, I’d have nothing to write about.

Fortunately for my writing life, children seldom make things simple for parents. When I drop the gauntlet with that awful word, ‘no,’ do my kids meekly accept my decision. In a word—no they don’t. Instead, they try again and again and again, in the endless process of securing a positive response.

They act like I’m a beast with ten heads and each head must give the same answer before they accept defeat or at least move on to parent number two. I must admit I’m a little confused by their tenacity. Do they think head number nine or ten will change its mind thus nullifying the ones that went before? What ever happened to majority rules?

Has there ever been a parent in the history of the world who has given in just because their child was persistent? On second thought, don’t answer that one. I think we’re protected by the constitution on this, something about self-incrimination.

Perhaps they think if they ask long enough I’ll forget what I said and change my answer. Maybe they expect a siege mentality to work and wear me down—and yes, that approach sometimes works—reinforcing hope and their continued behavior. On the other hand, they may think their latest plan of attack sounds like a totally new proposition that will magically elicit that dreamed of, “sure, go ahead” response.

Whatever the cause of their persistence, I give them credit for ingenuity. Each tactic varies just enough to be interesting. Each time the argument comes from a different angle. Have you ever heard any of the following?

p<>{color:#000;}. “Mom, you don’t understand. This is what I mean.”

p<>{color:#000;}. “All the other kids get to (fill in the blank with the want they can’t live without). If you don’t let me, everyone will think you’re the worst mom in the world.”

p<>{color:#000;}. “I need to do (whatever) or I won’t be able to (fulfill some obligation of great importance, like clean their room, or go to college, accompanied by the reason why).”

p<>{color:#000;}. “Mom, if you don’t let me (fill in the blank), you’ll ruin my life (followed by sullen silence).”

p<>{color:#000;}. “If I do get to (same old tune), then I won’t bother you anymore.”

Let’s examine the arguments one by one.

I do understand what you want. I repeated your request in so many words and said, “No.” I even gave you reasons for the denial. Maybe that was the mistake. Giving you something to counter.

Granted, I don’t rank myself with the best moms in the world, those chosen few who allow their entire life to revolve around their children. On the other hand, neither do I think I’m among the worst. I’m part of that great middle ground of parents just trying to do the best I can. Set limits that need to be set, instill a little responsibility and try to steer you away from disastrous mistakes.

Contrary to what you may think, your life will go on. Unless, of course, you keep harping on this, then all bets are off. But the silent treatment is nice. Let me remind you that ‘not’ fulfilling an obligation could have been the main reason the denial was issued in the first place. Try again.

Your promise, “not to bother me anymore,” almost sways my decision. Luckily, I remember in the nick of time this promise only holds true until the next time I perversely stand in your way.

“But Mom,”

Okay, Okay, I give up. Here’s the positive reply you’ve been waiting for. Positively not!! You’re only making me mad with your wheedling. No, really does mean no.

Finally the pleading child wanders away, accepting defeat—until we meet again on the next field of battle.

[] Mom, I’m Going to be Sick

You know what your day will be like when about half way through your shower you hear, “Mom, I’m going to be sick.” You haven’t even had your first cup of coffee. The one that would begin clearing away the cobwebs. Although considering what’s ahead, spending the day in a haze may be a blessing in disguise.

Dripping wet, you stumble out of the shower, grab a towel for your head, a robe for your shivering body, and either clean up the mess or with luck, it’s an older child who was able to wait long enough to dispose of everything in a place requiring little cleaning. Gently you wipe the afflicted child’s face with a cool, damp cloth and comfortingly lead him or her back to bed, offering proper words of sympathy.

Too late to return to the warmth and solitude of the shower, you shrug resignedly and climb into your clothes. You hope your other children will either all come down with the bug together or will remain unaffected. More than likely the disease of the month will drag on forever. Your employer will not be impressed.

Bosses are not always very understanding when it comes to illness. When you are sick it’s bad enough. However, when you miss work because of your children his blood pressure begins to rise. He understands you can’t send a sick child to school or day care but that doesn’t mean he has to like the situation.

You’re uncomfortable because you know this will upset his day and the work needing your attention will be thrown on to someone else. You’re annoyed because you know he’s thinking, why did I hire a mother? You salve your conscience by remembering, you work hard and he pays slave wages. Who else could he get to work for peanuts?

Today will be a labor of love and frustration. Love, because there is no other reason you’d put up with the endless treks to the child’s room plying him with jello and soup, mopping his fevered brow, and changing the sheets.

Frustration because you’re home for the day and must ignore the layer of dust on the furniture, the windows that need to be washed, the blinds. . .well, no use even thinking about those. There is a list of things to do that this extra day would hardly put a dent in. You’d like to try and yet, today is not the day to make the attempt.

Yup, I know what kind of day today will be. The kind of day I signed up for when I brought you into this world. Not as much fun as a day at Disneyland but part of the contract anyway.

[] Hungry Washing Machine

Washing machines are enough to make a person believe in the supernatural. Did you ever wonder how you can put 5 pairs of socks into its bowels and retrieve only 3 1/2? And how about all those extra pieces of ‘little people’ clothing that mysteriously find their way into your dryer? To be fair other moms are probably washing some of my children’s clothes.

It only seems fair to me that if the machine requires a diet of socks as well as electricity to maintain its life, then the manufacturers should list that information in its specifications. Perhaps then my husband would know I’m not purposefully trying to make his life miserable by losing half of his socks. The least it could do is take the entire pair rather than just one sock from each set I sacrifice to its gluttony.

The up side to these phenomena is the children’s clothing that strangely materializes out of thin air. I know my children’s friends don’t leave my home naked. They always appear to be fully covered when they depart after a day of play. So where do these extra garments come from? My children always deny any knowledge of who the true owner of these extra items might be. They’re more than willing to believe the machine made them. But they also believe in unicorns and fairies too.

Looking at the situation philosophically, I should be thrilled that the vagaries of the washer provide lots of interesting coffee klatch stories. At one such meeting I suggested that each of us put lost and found boxes on our front porches. This way we could all mix and match our offspring’s outfits whenever we stopped by for a visit. We could experience the pleasure of shopping without having to pay the piper. The idea generated a lot of enthusiasm.

Perhaps washing machines are really produced by fairy godmothers. Having witnessed the price of children’s clothing these godmothers have taken pity and created a device that turns socks into kids wear. Something like turning straw into gold. Not a bad trade. Now if I could just get my washer to produce designer brands. . .

My husband may never get all his socks back but what we save on the purchase of children’s clothing will more than compensate him for new ones. I wonder why Ripley’s ‘believe it or not’ has never picked up on this story.

[] Graduation Message

I wrote the following for my daughter’s eighth grade graduation and thought perhaps other parents might appreciate the sentiments.

With this message from parents to teens, we hope to set the stage for the next four years. We want you to understand what’s going through our minds and hope you’ll realize we are not completely out of touch with your feelings.

Even though these words are from all parents to all students, the message is written in the first person because our hopes and feelings are for you each as an individual.

Wow! Here you are all dressed up, and a small part of me, wishes you had no place to go. I want to hang onto you for a while longer, protect you from the harsh truths of life, shelter you from any pain that may await you. I’m going to worry about you driving. I’m going to worry about the parties and the people who might be there. I’m your parent. I’ve watched over you for so long, it’s a hard habit to break.

Besides each year brings you closer to the day when you say goodbye. . . until your laundry needs to be done. I’m sad because I know our relationship must change. I’m going to miss that special closeness we shared when you were little, but look forward to the time we can share as equals. I’m slowly learning to trust the decisions you make. That makes the letting go a little easier.

And, deep down, I know you have places you want to go, things you want to see, people you want to meet. That great, big world out there beckons with an irresistible lure—your life unfolding, your future. You can hardly wait.

Well, almost, anyway. High school looks like a scary place. It’s so big. There are so many people you don’t know. The teachers are different. The classes are different. Just remember, you handled the transition to the junior high routine just fine.

I’m proud of you and your accomplishments thus far. I’m proud of the steps you’ve already taken toward independence. Trust yourself and your values. If you’re honest with yourself, you’ll do fine.

Intellectually, I understand you have to spread your wings and test your independence. That means we may not always see eye to eye. I’ll do my best to listen to what you say. I’ll try never to belittle your ideas and dreams. But I’ll need your understanding. I’m sure the old parent will occasionally push the new, improved parent aside. I’m sure I’ll still try to steer you away from what I see as a mistake. Bear with me. However, I expect the same courtesy from you that you ask of me—I listen to you and you listen to me.

These next four years, and in reality, the rest of your life, will be what you make them. You will be bored with school and life in general, only if you choose to be. There are so many opportunities but you have to take advantage of them. You must reach out with both hands and grab them. You must set goals for yourself.

If there’s one piece of advice I’d like to offer, it’s be flexible. Life is full of unexpected glitches. The pop quiz, the forgotten homework assignment, the car won’t start, the boyfriend or girlfriend who turns out to be. . . something unprintable, you don’t get into the college you want, you lose your job, you forget to take something out of the freezer, you need a new roof and your budget says you don’t, divorce. Trust me, there will be glitches in your life. They’re much easier to handle if you can bend a little. Give yourself a chance to look for alternatives.

The final bit of advice I offer. . . No matter where you or I end up, no matter what happens, I will always be your parent and I will do everything in my power to be there for you when you need me and step back when you don’t. I love you.

[]About the Author

Rumor has it that Bonnie began telling stories at a very early age. Photos exist of the author toddling around the corner of the house covered in mud babbling about magic rabbits leading her through the garden. Her parents were amused – until they discovered she had also walked across the newly poured cement patio – which only added fuel to the fire of her passion for writing. From then on, her active imagination continued to churn out plots and character sketches always wondering how different people would behave in similar situations.

Bonnie used her writing skills throughout her professional life as a fundraiser and marketer for several nonprofits. She enjoyed the chance to tell and share the story of worthy organizations. In the late 1980s, Bonnie authored a syndicated column in several California newspapers in which she shared the experiences and misadventures of life as a wife and mother. The jury is out on whether or not her children always appreciated her candor. Because Bonnie has romance in her soul, she also worked as a Wedding Planner for several years. Absolutely loved it!! She craves anything sweet, revels in any chance to travel, and is addicted to Ancestry.com. A native Californian, the author lives in Northern California with her husband.


Life At My House Sampler

  • Author: Bonnie Phelps
  • Published: 2017-09-14 02:35:11
  • Words: 6688
Life At My House Sampler Life At My House Sampler