Consider yourself warned!
A guide for those who think they want children.
If you read my last blog, you remember that I wrote about all the expenses relating to the whole college application process. If you haven’t read it, go back and read it. It was very informative (if I do say so myself). Since money has been on my mind, this blog is going to look at other costs related to the senior year of high school.
When your kid starts out his/her senior year of high school. The first few weeks, all you can think about is how fast the time flew. You reminisce of when you brought your kid home from the hospital. Your child was so cute. You were so tired. Then, you remember when you first left your kid with the babysitter for the first time and the guilt you felt because you couldn’t afford to stay home full-time. It goes on and on. You reflect on the first day of preschool, the first day of kindergarten, the first day of first grade. Where did the time go? Who knows? All you know is now, this school year, your child is about to graduate from high school and go off to college. You will have one less child in your home.
You’re happy for your child and sad too. This kid is going to soon be off to college. We all look forward to that day, but you can’t believe that it is really going to happen so soon. What happened to that sweet little face that used to look up at you adoringly? I’ll tell you what happened … (s)he grew up! Now, that sweet little face looks down at you and asks for money for everything! Mom, can I have some money for food? (No, there’s food in the house). Mom, can I have money to buy my girlfriend a birthday gift? (No, she’s not my girlfriend. Besides, you didn’t get me a gift for my birthday.) Mom, can I have money? I want to go shopping with my friends (Wait, are you going to buy me something? What no? Never mind then).
You get the point. But during senior year, there will be some expenses that you will just have to suck it up and pay. There are two that I have already dealt with and one that I know will be coming soon. So, let me help you get ready for when you have to deal with this. Trust me, if you have kids, your day will come.
The first expense that took me by surprise was the graduation fee. Seriously, there was a graduation fee. My son’s school had various packets. After consulting with him, he chose the middle tier packet which set me back $275. Yes, $275 for this kid to walk down the aisle. I understand that it costs money to rent the graduation gowns and that someone has to pay to print the diplomas, but come on. Does it really cost that much? Doesn’t the school get a group rate? If not, they should. There are over 900 kids in his class. Someone should pay me to sit through the graduation ceremony! That $275 got my son a yearbook, graduation cap and gown, his major stole (his high school has majors), a diploma case, and includes some unspecified graduation ceremony related expenses. In fairness, the graduation ceremony is tentatively scheduled to be held at Barclay’s Center. I guess that venue isn’t cheap. But, maybe if Barclay donated the space, they could write if off on their corporate taxes? Oh well, all I know is that I paid $275 for this kid to participate in the graduate ceremonies. What was included in the higher package? I’m glad you asked, for $325, you got everything I mentioned above plus a yearbook name plate, a senior t-shirt, a Class of 2019: blanket, duffel bag, travel mug, and charger. I was willing to get my son that package, after all, you only graduate from high school once, but thank God he didn’t want it.
The next expense is the senior picture. I must admit, one of my co-workers forewarned me about this one. But you don’t fully appreciate it until you see it for yourself. A few weeks after my son took his senior pictures, I get an email with a link to view the pictures and to place my order. The picture company is so kind. They had pre-set packages in varying price ranges. I elected to order a la carte. I really don’t need an 18 x 20 picture of my son. I know what he looks like. I have been looking at him for the last 17 years. All I need are a few 5x7s and some wallet-sized pictures to give away. Just know, at these prices, everyone will not be getting a picture. They are pretty much reserved for grandparents and me. Well, I guess I could give his sister a wallet-sized picture.
The last expense I must anticipate (I hope that this will be the last one) is prom. According to my son, those tickets will set me back around $300 (I just checked the school’s website. Single tickets are $235. If he, or rather me, pays for his girlfriend, that’s $470. They may have to go dutch)! I don’t know where this prom is going to be held, but it better be at a fantastic location with a 5-course menu.
So, get ready for senior year. As my son told me at the beginning of the school year, this year is going to cost you money!
So, now you know, and you can … Consider Yourself Warned!
If your kid has already graduated from high school, what types of expenses did you have to pay for?
For those of you who have kids in high school, let me get you ready for senior year. Senior year took me by surprise. Now don’t get me wrong, I knew that my son would be applying for college. After all, I had been taking him on college tours for the last two years. What I didn’t anticipate was all the expenses that came along with applying for college.
Let me tell you, the costs associated with applying to college, so that you can be prepared:
So, if you have kids entering high school, start saving for the college application process now!
Now you know, and you can … Consider Yourself Warned!
If you have already gone through the college application process, what advise do you have for other parents?
When my kids were little, they had to depend on me to do things for them. Let me tell you, it can get so tiring being the main person that kids depend on to do almost everything. I’m not taking anything away from their father, but let’s be real. We all know that kids tend to gravitate to their mothers more than they do to their fathers. The list is endless: Mom, I’m hungry. Mom, I need you to buy me a book for school. Mom, I can’t find (fill in the blank). Mom, I need a gift for the birthday party. Mom, can I have some money. Mom, I need a ride to (fill in the blank). Mom, can you (fill in the blank). Mom. Mom. Mom. I used to hear that day in and day out. Even when they were at their father’s. If they needed or wanted something, they called me.
I couldn’t wait for my kids to become self-sufficient and a little more independent. I welcomed the independence that would come with age. But, now that I have two teenagers, I now realize that there are still some things that only I seem to know how to do. Let me give you some examples:
This list can go on and on and on. But, I think you get my point. No matter how old your kids are, there are certain things that apparently only you can do.
Now you know, and you can …. Consider Yourself Warned
What are some of the things that only you know how to do at your house?
I was on the train last week. It was the rush hour home, so the train was crowded with people who really just wanted to get home so that they can (I imagine) unwind, relax, and possibly spend time with their families. There was his lady on the train riding with her two young children. The youngest was around 2 or 3 years old. That child was a little girl. She was a cute little girl. The kind that makes you say, “Oh, I wish my daughter was that age again. I miss that time of our lives.”, or “Maybe I’ll have just one more.” It is so easy to forget how little kids can behave when you see them with someone else. They look so cute and perfect. You gloss over all the challenges that come with raising toddlers and preschoolers. All you see is the cuteness, the sweetness, and how adorable those little kids appear to be.
Well, as I mentioned, this little girl was adorable. She was standing on the train, swinging her Barbie doll, as if she didn’t have a care in the world. Then, her mother took the Barbie doll away. Now, I understand why she did it, the train was crowded. Mom didn’t want her daughter to hit anyone with the doll. And, let’s be real. This is Brooklyn. If that child had hit someone, only God knows how they would have reacted. So, Mom did what she thought was best, she took away the doll.
When Mom took away that doll, that adorable, sweet, angelic little girl transformed instantaneously into the demon from hell. I know you all may think I’m exaggerating. But believe you me, I am not. This girl started shouting and crying … loudly. This kid started at level 1000. She didn’t work her way up to it like some kids tend to do. This one went right into a full out, let me get everyone’s attention mode.
I felt so bad for this mother. I know she wished that she could just disappear. I have to give Mom credit. She maintained her composure throughout the whole ordeal. I don’t think I would have had the patience she had. She talked to her daughter and explained why she took the doll away. But this kid did not want to hear reason. All she wanted was that doll back. And let me tell you, this kid was hollering so loudly, you would have thought she was getting the beating of her life. Mom didn’t lay one hand on her.
Now normally, I would side with the Mom and stand with her in principle. Mom should not give her daughter back her doll, but this kid would not let up. To her credit, as much as I’m sure me and the rest of the people on this train wanted her to give that doll back, Mom stood fast and held her ground. I understood. She had to take a stand and not give in to her daughter’s behavior. If she did, the only lesson that little girl would have learned was that she could get her way by having temper tantrums. I learned that day that the people who ride the 2 train are very tolerant. No one said anything or complained to Mom about her daughter. Everyone pretty much ignored the whole scene, even though we were a captive audience and had to endure that meltdown for a good 15 minutes (it felt like it was much longer).
Anyway, when you have little kids, get ready for the temper tantrums. They will come at the most inconvenient times.
So, now you know, and you can ….
Consider Yourself Warned.
How would/do you cope with a young child’s temper tantrum?
Earlier this week, my daughter came home from school upset. She told me that one of her white classmates saw her with her hair braided and asked her why didn’t she just wear a wig because it would look better. Can you imagine how my precious Angel must have felt? Her feelings were hurt. I don’t know the motive behind that remark, but I told my daughter that she should have told that girl to mind her own business and go to hell. Knowing that my daughter goes to a Catholic school, that probably wasn’t the best response to that situation. But hey, if she got detention for saying it, I would have been ok with it. Sometimes you just need to say what needs to be said.
My heart hurt that day. Kids can be so cruel, and I really think girls are the worst. They are catty, mean, and just plain bitches. They say things that can really damage other kids’ egos and can potentially ruin their self-images. Unfortunately for my daughter, and any other African-American girl, she is bombarded with images of women with bone straight hair. Of course, those women are considered to be beautiful, the ones the all the boys want. They see it every day in social media, on tv, in videos, and movies. And it really hits home when you see young black boys choosing the “Beckys with the straight hair” (as Beyoncé so eloquently put it). My daughter knows that her hair is fine just the way it is, but that remark still hurt.
Not only is she dealing with the hair comments, but she is skinny. She has always been skinny. Some of her overly developed and not so skinny friends make comments on her weight. Unfortunately, girls have been commenting on her weight since she was little. Once, she came home from summer camp and told me that she had to gain weight because the girls at camp said that she was too skinny. She was around 9 when this happened.
If its not the hair or the weight, its her belief that other girls her age are just prettier. That drives me crazy. I don’t know what she sees in the mirror, but it is surely not the beautiful girl I see every day. I don’t know if she’s comparing herself to other girls in her school, or if she’s comparing herself to the image of “beautiful” girls in the media. Either way, I wish she could see herself the way that I see her. I am hopeful that over time, she will.
So, back to the girl who felt the need to comment on my daughter’s hair. Later on in the week, I asked my daughter about it. She said that the girl is oblivious about the effect that remark had on her. This time, since I was no longer in angry mom mode, I was able to offer better advise. I told her that she may want to have a talk with the girl and explain that what she said was pretty mean (just in case she really thought she was being helpful) and explain that that comment made her feel as if her hair wasn’t good enough. That way, this girl is on notice that she better think twice before saying something again. As far as I’m concerned, if she makes another negative comment about her hair, the perfect reaction is “Go to hell!”. I didn’t tell my daughter that part. But, she knows her mom.
Media images glamorizing a certain look can damage some of these young girls’ self-images. We as parents must be mindful of that and always do what we can to let our daughters know that they are beautiful no matter what kind of hair they have, what their body type is, or what kind of clothes they wear. We need to remind them that beauty is in how they carry themselves, and that smart girls are sexy.
So, now you know, and you can … Consider Yourself Warned!
What advise do you have for teenage girls who don’t see their beauty?
Last week, one of my friends had her first baby. She had a little boy. I envy her. I miss those days when my kids were little. That was a special time. They were so adorable. I was able to smother them with hugs and kisses and no one would complain. They would just smile at me and wave their little arms and legs. After my ex-husband left for work, and I would lay the baby on the bed and just talk to my baby. It was our special time together. To be quite honest, I can’t remember what I did the rest of the day, but I do remember just laying on the bed, talking to my little angel. I hope my friend will have that same experience. Actually, I hope that for all mothers. There is just something special about bonding with your child. For most mothers, the love that you have for your child multiplies exponentially during that time. There is nothing quite like it.
Eventually, the baby will become a toddler and learn to crawl and then walk. I remember when my babies were learning to walk. I would hold those little hands to steady them. The smile on their faces was infectious. But then, they learned to run. Let me tell you, if you’re not in shape when you have a baby, you will get in shape once they learn to run. I don’t know what it is about babies, but once they start running, they don’t stop. And you really must watch them. I mean, really, really watch them. One minute, the two of you are sitting in the living room watching tv. You’re tired. After all, you’ve been running after a toddler all day. You’re sitting on the couch and you think to yourself, “Let me close my eyes for just five seconds.” I am telling you right now, “Don’t do it!!!” But, you won’t take my advice and you close your eyes anyway. Five seconds turns into at least five minutes. When you finally open your eyes, guess what? That baby is gone! When you realize that your toddler is not where he or she should be, there is a sense of panic. Where is he? What did she get into? Did someone take them? Is everything breakable out of their reach? Wait, do I remember where I put the breakable things, or did I give them all away? When that kid is gone, every worse case scenario goes through your mind. And, mind you, you’re at home! So, you go looking for that kid, and eventually you’ll find him. If your lucky, that toddler is playing with the toys in his room. If you’re not lucky, something of yours will be ruined. Its funny how toddlers always seem to know how to find the expensive stuff. Its like they are born with a homing device that guides them to the pretty, shiny, breakable things. Actually, they have two homing devices. The other one guides them to anything that can make a mess … the dirt from the flower pot, the toilet paper, the egg, yogurt, or milk in the fridge. If it can make a mess, they will find it.
So, now you’re mad at yourself for taking a catnap. How dare you? You don’t need to sleep. But you do. You tell yourself, “I know. I can take nap when this baby takes one.” Yeah, good luck with that. First of all, you have to get that baby to take a nap. Nine times out of ten, that child is not ready to go to sleep when you are. You can try laying in bed with him, but I guarantee you that you will fall asleep before your baby does. So, what do you do? You try to tire that kid out. You can try all you like, but at that age, it doesn’t work. I don’t think they ever get tired until they are teenagers. Then, they want to stay in their rooms and sleep, only coming out to use the bathroom and for food.
What’s the point to all this? There is none. Sometimes, it feels good cherishing the memories. Make sure to make lots of memories and take lots of pictures. The time just flies by.
So, now you know, and you can ….
Consider Yourself Warned!
Parents, what are your most cherished memories of your baby/toddler days?
Now, I consider myself to be up with technology. I mean, I use the computer. I have a smart phone, and I know how to look things up on the internet. But, today's kids are so proficient in technology that it amazes me. On any given day, you see will kids as young as 2 playing on their parent's phone or playing on their tablets. These kids know exactly which app to go to and how to manipulate it. It almost seems as if today's kids come out the womb with a degree in computer science and 10 years of work experience. It is scary how they are so advanced.
Recently, I had to buy a new computer. My old one was over 10 years old. It had lived a good life, but it was time to let it go. I decided to do something different. I went and a bought a Mac. I figured hey, since both kids have iPhones, I may as well make this a true iHouse. Besides, I plan on eventually switching over to the iPhone so we can all FaceTime each other when the kids go off to college. I was excited to get the new computer. I couldn't wait to have a computer that is modern and fast.
I have to admit; this Mac is much different from the computer I was used to. The commands seem all wrong to me. But eventually, I got the hang of it. Well, at least I thought I had. Last week, I had to send some files from my iPad (which I won as a door prize at a networking event and have been using to check my email when my son is doing his homework on the computer) to one of my friends. In my mind, all I had to do was upload the files to my Google Drive and share them. Sounds easy, right? Wrong! For some reason, the files would not upload to my Google Drive. No matter what I did, it would not upload. Then, I decided to try to upload it to DropBox. Again, it didn't work. Finally, I had to break down and ask my 16-year-old daughter for help. I was really trying to avoid doing that, but I was in a time crunch, and she was willing to help. My daughter changed some settings on my iPad (I still don't know what she changed) and then transferred the files to the computer via AirDrop. I had never heard of that feature before. I tried to pay attention to what she was doing, but her skinny fingers were moving so fast, swiping here and swiping there, I couldn't keep up! Then. It suddenly hit me. This must be how my mother feels when I show her how to work her computer! I have to admit, it made me feel old. I didn't like that feeling.
The thing that amazes me is that working that computer was second nature to her. She diagnosed the problem and fixed it quickly. If her first plan of action didn't work, she quickly came up with a new plan of action. I was amazed. This experience taught me that I'm as tech savvy as I thought I was, and that I need to get up to speed so that I can keep up with my kids! Otherwise, I won't have a clue what's going on.
If you plan on having kids in this century, you better stay up on technology. If not, you'll be clueless.
So, now you know, and you can just ... Consider Yourself Warned!
For those of you who have kids, or have been around kids, have you ever had a kid explain anything dealing with technology to you? If so, how did it make you feel?
On Christmas Eve, my kids and I went to Applebees with my parents and my younger brother for dinner. At the table across from us, a young mother and her son (who may have been around 3 years old) were getting ready to order. I couldn’t hear what the mother said, and quite frankly, I wasn’t paying too much attention to them. That was, until the little boy said out in a very LOUD voice, “Yeah, she really likes her alcohol!”. I can only imagine the poor mom’s embarrassment. Especially since everyone at my table busted out laughing (there were 6 of us at the table, so you can imagine how loud we were). We didn’t even try to play it off. We probably should have tried to act like we didn’t hear him so that mom could at least save face. But, that thought never even occurred to us.
So, here’s the lesson in that experience… please be careful what you say around kids. They are like sponges. They will soak up everything. And, they are … Always. Paying. Attention. Always. Trust me, that little boy didn’t come up with that statement on his own. He heard someone say it. He just didn’t understand it. If he did, he never would have repeated it.
This holiday season, you may be around family and friends that you don’t like or who may work your last nerve. Be careful what you say. If you don’t want people to know how you really feel, don’t say it around the kids!
There. So now you know.
And you can …. Consider Yourself Warned!
Parents, what have your children repeated in public that embarrassed you?
Well, it started. Last week, my son started hearing back from some of the colleges he applied to for early acceptance. I didn’t even know that the results were out until he sent me a text to let me know that he had gotten in. I felt a little cheated. I imagined that when he got his results, I would be recording it on my cell phone so I could show my co-workers and post it on my Facebook page. Instead, his sister recorded it. Let’s just say you don’t want her filming any of your special moments. After getting these results, my son was happy and relieved. He was happy. I was a little sad. Don’t get me wrong. I really was happy for him, but that text just reminded me that my firstborn will be leaving me in a few months.
Then came the email that my son had been waiting on ... the decision from his first choice school, one of the Ivy League universities. He knew that this was one of his “reach schools”. He knew that there was a strong likelihood that he would not get in. Even so, it didn’t stop him from wanting to go there. It didn’t stop him from hoping that he would get in. It didn’t stop him from daydreaming of being there. His sister and I gather around the computer as he opened the email. He was nervous. He was anxious. I was scared. I wanted him to get accepted because that was his first choice school. But, I was worried of how he would react if he didn’t get in. My daughter and I patiently waited for him to read the email. He read it silently, and then, he told us. He was rejected. He was heartbroken. I was mad! How dare they reject my son! Didn’t they know what a great kid he was? Believe you me, if I could, I would have gone to that college and make them accept my son. But we all know I can’t do that. Well, maybe if I funded that new library wing, or had the right family name.
So, what could I do? All I could do was tell him the truth. I told him that it was the school’s loss, not his. And I told him that this won’t be the last time he would face rejection. It will happen over and over and over again. I told him that how he deals with rejection will define his character. Then, I told him of how I didn’t get into law school the first time I applied, I was wait-listed and never made it off the list. I reapplied the next year and was accepted. I wanted him to understand that I knew exactly how he felt because I had experienced it too. But after a while, I saw the all too familiar glassy, far away look in his eyes. Instead of getting annoyed like I normally do when I see that look, I knew it was time to just leave him alone. He needed his space. The next day, my son bounced back and was ready to start applying to his second set of schools for regular decision. I must admit. I was proud of him. I know that with that attitude, this kid will go far.
As a parent, it seems as if when your children’s heart breaks, your’s does too. But what can you do? As much as we want to protect our children and make the world a perfect place for them, that’s just not possible. There are so many things that you as a parent can’t control. All we can do is remind them that they are loved, that they can do anything, and to teach them how to navigate the not so happy times of life so it won’t seem as if the world is falling apart. Unfortunately, dealing with rejection and disappointment are life skills that children must learn, skills that we as parents have to teach them.
So, now you know and you can .... Consider Yourself Warned!
For you parents out there, how did you help your child deal with rejection and disappointments?
Sometimes as a parent, you want to surprise your child. When my daughter turned 5 years old. I surprised her with a birthday party. It was a princess themed party. I told her friends’ mothers to have their daughters at my apartment at a certain time, and to have them dressed in their princess dresses. I hired a princess for the party and made lots of food. Miraculously, the secret never got out. My daughter was genuinely surprised when she came home from her father’s and saw all her friends. You should have seen the look on her face when her friends yelled, “Surprise!”. She didn’t know what was going on. She was so stunned, she ran to her bedroom. There, she found a new princess dress and crown laid out on her bed. All her excited little friends ran after her, hugged her, and then eagerly helped her into her dress. We all had a great time.
Fast forward 11 years later. That little 5-year-old girl turned 16 this past Tuesday. I asked her repeatedly if she wanted a Sweet 16 party, and she consistently said no. So, I along with one of my friends planned a surprise for her. For months, this kid has been blasting the songs in the musical Hamilton. I swear I have heard that music so much that I should know all the words to every single song. I decided that it would be a nice surprise to take her to see the actual musical. However, when I looked online at the prices, I quickly realized that the price of 2 tickets is way too much for this government worker. I was telling one of my friends that it’s a damn shame that we live in New York and can’t even afford to go to a Broadway show without taking out a small loan, when she mentioned that she had wanted to see Hamilton too. She offered to take buy her own ticket to the show and take my daughter with her. That, sounded good to me. I gave my friend the money for my daughter’s ticket, and she bought them for the day after her birthday, which was perfect since it turned out that she had a half day of school that day. She could go home, change, and do her homework before the 8pm show. We decided not to tell her so that it would be a surprise for her.
We had it all planned out. My daughter would meet me at my office at 4pm. We would go to her brother’s basketball game, get a bite to eat, and then head off to Times Square. I was so excited. I couldn’t wait to see the look on her face when we got to theater. I was surprised that I kept it a secret for so long. Well, I didn’t really keep it a secret. I told a few people, people that I thought I could trust.
So, imagine my surprise when I got home from choir rehearsal Tuesday night, and my daughter says to me, “Mommy, I spoke to XX today” (I’m purposely not telling you who she to. That person may read this blog. I don’t want him/her to feel outed.) “XX asked me how did I like the play. Am I going to see Hamilton?” You know I was pissed, right? I have kept her in the dark for months. Since the beginning of November, my daughter has been asking me what she was getting for her birthday. Here I am, one day away from surprising her, and XX spilled the beans! When I later spoke to XX, he/she told me that she didn’t state the name of the musical. I had to remind him/her that there was only one play my daughter was interested in seeing. She’s a smart girl. She can figure things out.
Needless to say, if you are going to plan anything for your kids as surprise, DON’T TELL ANYONE! Not even the people you think can keep it to themselves. Just keep it between you and the people helping you with the planning, and try to limit that to one person. If you don’t, the surprise will be on you when you find realize that your kid knows what’s going on.
So there. Now you know, and you can … Consider Yourself Warned!
Parents, have you ever planned a surprise for your child only to have it ruined? What was it and what happened?
I don’t know what the weather is like where you live, but in Brooklyn, it is cold. In fact, as I am writing this blog, according to my weather channel app, it is 39 degrees outside. The low today is supposed to be 29 degrees. That may not be cold to you, but it is cold to me. And, its not the “Let me put on a sweater before I leave” kind of cold. Its more like the, “Go get your sweater, hoodie, winter coat, scarves, gloves, and put your boots on” kind of cold! Well, at least it is until the hot flashes kick in. Once they kick in, it feels like summertime. Anyway, that’s a different blog. All this to say, its cold outside. That is why for the life of me, I don’t understand why cross country is a winter sport.
My daughter is on her school’s cross country team. I love to go cheer and support her and her teammates. Almost every time she runs, we make the hike all the way up to the Bronx so that she can run a 2.5 mile race (Side bar, with all the space in Brooklyn and Manhattan, I don’t understand why we have to trek all the way to the Bronx. I have nothing against the Bronx, but it is far from where we live, Yes, I’m spoiled. I know). Earlier in the season, the weather wasn’t so bad. It was coolish. But last Saturday, it was just downright cold! It was so cold that it actually snowed for a few minutes! I’m not exaggerating. It. Snowed.
I know that I tend to get cold easily, but I knew it wasn’t just me when I saw other mothers walking around, all bundled up in their down winter coats. Unfortunately for me, I didn’t check the weather forecast the night before. All I had on was a thin shirt and a fleeced lined hoodie. No scarf. No gloves. No hat. No winter boots. Needless to say, I was cold. But as cold as I was, I just couldn’t understand these teenagers. They were dressed like it was summertime. My daughter included! When I picked my daughter up from school (her school had Saturday academy and she wanted to attend that first), she had already changed into her running uniform. She didn’t want to waste time getting changed. She wanted to be able to just warm up and run when she got to the park. I was fine with that. After all, that made sense. However, what didn’t make sense was what she changed into. This kid had on shorts and a tank top … in what felt like the middle of winter! I asked her why she wasn’t wearing her running pants, to which she replied, “I don’t like running in those Mommy.” Can you believe that? I was in shock. They make the running pants to be worn when its cold outside! Anyway, we get to the park, only to see damn near every kid dressed the same way. I mean, these kids were running around in shorts and tank tops like it was the middle of July in Florida. I was amazed! Of course, my daughter was sure to point out how everyone was dressed.
Finally, after waiting for about an hour for my daughter’s race to begin, I grew tired of watching her shivering. I finally asked her if she wanted me to get the blanket out of the car (it was still in the trunk from the “spring” track meets. I learned to keep it in the car because it gets cold at Randall’s Island). Believe you me, she was happy when I brought out that blanket.
So, this is what I learned … always make sure the blanket is in the car, make sure that I bring winter appropriate clothes to cross country meets since I can’t depend upon my daughter to bring them for herself, and always check the weather the night before to make sure I’m appropriately dressed. Basketball season starts in two weeks. I am soooo glad that’s an inside sport.
So, for those of you who don’t have teenagers yet, once you get rid of the diaper bag, you may as well go out a buy a gym bag. You are going to need it to carry around extra stuff.
So, now you know, and you can … Consider Yourself Warned!
If you have teenagers, what extra things do you carry around?
When my son was first born, I remember sitting on the hospital bed holding him in my arms. He was so tiny and precious. I couldn’t believe how much love I felt for that little baby. I kissed him. I hugged him. I told him how much I loved him. Then, I laid out my expectations for him. I told him that it was expected that he would do well in school. It was expected that he would go to college. As he and his younger sister grew older, I added to my list of expectations. I told them that not only was it expected that they would do well in school and finish both high school and college, but that it was expected that they would attend and finish graduate school. After that, it was expected that they would get a good job. It was only after they completed all of that, that they could think about getting married and having kids. I know that it may have been early to tell them those things, but I figured that as a mother, I needed to set some clear expectations of them.
Well, this week my son reached a milestone in his life … he submitted his first set of college applications! While he has applied to four colleges so far, he has told me that he intends on applying to more. Who knows where he will eventually end up? The list of colleges that he is applying to ranges from as far north as Boston to as far south as North Carolina. His list ranges from state schools to private colleges. Even though I have told him since he was little that this is what I expect of him, I must tell you, I have mixed feelings about this. On the one hand, I’m happy for him. He’s a smart boy and will do well in college. He’s also very handsome (if I do say so myself), so I know he will enjoy an active social life. He will have fun and experience all that college has to offer. I have no doubt about that. On the other hand, I don’t want to see my baby boy grow up and leave me. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not one of those overbearing mothers who wants to control her kids. And, I am not trying to raise a Mama’s Boy (I don’t want my future daughter-in-law complaining about me). No, I understand that he has to go out and live his own life. I just hate that it is happening so fast!
So, the countdown has begun. I very much doubt that he will stay in the Big Apple for college. Even if he does, most colleges require freshmen to live on campus. So, no matter which college he attends, in August, he will be leaving me. August. I can’t believe that it is so close. I only have about ten more months to enjoy my son as a teenager. When he comes back home from school the following December, he will be coming home as a young adult. Wow!
If you have little kids, enjoy each day that you have with them. The time goes by faster than you’ll ever know!
So, now you know, and you can …. Consider Yourself Warned!
If you have kids that have already left home, what did you do to prepare yourself for it?
So, as I mentioned in the last post, I allowed my kids to have some control over their money in hopes that they would learn to budget and spend their money wisely. It was a rocky start with my daughter, but I think that she is going to get better at it, especially since she now has to wait until she gets some birthday money next month to replenish that account.
Now, let’s look at my son and his spending habits. In the past, my son has demonstrated that he likes to spend money. I have really had to work on him to help him understand the value of saving money. Two summers ago, my son worked as a counselor at a basketball camp. He was making a decent money, and I made sure that he put some of that money in the bank. Man, you should have heard the countless discussions as to why he should be able to take out his money and spend it on whatever he wanted. After all, he earned that money. It was exhausting trying to explain the value in saving money for a rainy day. If I left it up to him, that money he earned that summer would have been spent on sneakers, sneakers, and more sneakers!
Speaking of sneakers. I did let him buy one pair at the end of the summer, right before school started. He said that he was going to use them for basketball. I hope I will never forget that day. He wanted me to go with him to Foot Locker. I don’t’ know why, other than to give my opinion on which color I liked better. Anyway, he picks out the sneakers. The sticker price was around $150.00. I wouldn’t pay that much for sneakers, but hey, I’m not a teenager and he wasn’t spending my money, so go for it. The cashier rings them up and the price comes to about $170.00. He pays, and we start walking home. On the way home, he stops, takes the change out of his pocket, counts it, and puts it back into his pocket. About 30 seconds later, he does it again. Finally, I ask him what’s going on. He explains that he’s a little confused as the sneakers cost $150.00, but he paid close to $170.00. So, I reminded him that he had to pay sales tax. To which he replied, “I thought tax was going to be around 50₵”. I just burst out laughing and told him that the sales tax was around 8.75℅. Then, just to add injury to insult, I told him that now he can understand why I get so mad when he and his sister break things after I buy them. I knew that he had been listening to my lectures when he told me that he was going to get $170.00 of wear out of those sneakers.
So, last week I looked at how he had been spending the money in his “checking” account. I already knew that he spent $150.00 for some wireless Apple ear buds. Again, not something that I would spend money on, but this was his discretionary cash and he hasn’t lost those ear buds yet, so be it. But then, I noticed a trend. This kid was spending money on Uber Eats and at the various food places around his school. I had to have a conversation with this kid too. I explained that he should be eating the food they serve at school and the food at home, and not ordering from Uber Eats. I explained that it was a waste of money. Do you know what this kid had the nerve to tell me? He told me that there was no food at home. Like I don’t go to BJ’s and the grocery store on a regular basis! I was in awe and reminded him that there was food in both the fridge and in the freezer. But no, that kid doesn’t want to eat the same food every day! Does he not know that there are kids who would love to have access to the food that he as at home? What luxuries this generation has! When I was growing up, if we didn’t eat the food my mother cooked, we just didn’t eat. This generation has way too many options!
Again, impart the value of money in your kids early so they aren’t living off you for rest of their lives.
So, now you know, and you can … Consider Yourself Warned!
If you have kids, how did you teach them how to budget and save money?
When my kids were younger, I opened a bank account for them. Whenever they were given money for their birthdays, Christmas, or any other occasion, I would make them put some of it in the bank. My goal was to teach them the value of saving. I wanted them to see how much money they could save if they didn’t spend it all. I was trying to teach a life lesson.
For the most part, it worked. The account was a savings account and they couldn’t take any money out unless I signed off on it. So basically, they couldn’t spend their money unless I gave them permission to do so. Most of the time, I would not let them spend the money. That worked well when they were younger. But now that they are teenagers, its time for them to learn how to budget their money. I don’t want them learning how to do it for the first time when they go out into the “real world”. This is a good time for a trial run. With that in mind, I decided to transfer some of their money into a separate bank account where they will have access to it, without needing my permission, via a debit card. All I can say is, thank God I didn’t put all their money into that account.
I have always said that my daughter would be the one in charge of my money when I’m too old to manage it myself. She had always proven herself to be the most frugal of my two kids. My son likes to spend. My daughter likes to save, or so I thought. I went online yesterday to see what these kids are spending their money on. What I saw shocked me. I had to have a talk with each of them when I got home from work.
Let’s start with my used to be thrifty daughter. You know, the one that used to like to save money? Well, she’s the reason I decided to do a quick check on their accounts in the first place. What tipped me off was that one day, she mentioned that she was not going to transfer any more money into her “checking” account because she wanted to save the rest for college and that she didn’t want to spend it all. In fact, she was going to put her birthday money in the “checking” account to replace the money she spent. Sounds good, doesn’t it? It does until you actually look at the account and see that after three weeks there is only $18.00 left! It started at $300.00! Granted, I know that it averaged at her spending $100.00 per week, but where did that money go? Well, let me tell you what a 15-year-old girl spent it all on. First, there was the $128.00 charge at Sephora. That was for Fenty foundation, blush, and mascara. That I understood, those items will last a while. Although I would have just gone to the drug store and gotten them for much less, but that’s just me. Then, there was the $50.00 charge to Amazon. That was for a water bottle that she has been using every day and I think an outfit for a Sweet 16 birthday party. I could even understand that charge. So, we are at roughly $180.00 spend so far. Now, that still leaves about $120.00. Now I would think, this kid lives at home with a mother who keeps food in the house. This kid wears a uniform to school. So, she doesn’t need to spend her money on food and clothes. What can she possibly be spending her money on? Can I please tell you where that $120.00 went? It all went to food. Most it, about $90.00 went to STARBUCKS!!! Can you believe it … STARBUCKS!! I’m sorry, but there no way I would spend that much money at Starbucks. When I explained to her, as calmly as I could, that she was just throwing her money away at Starbucks, she explained to me that the food at school was not healthy and that sometimes she wanted to give herself a treat after cross country practice. She may have a point, I’ve seen the school lunch menu. But you don’t go to Starbucks to get healthy food … especially when there is a Wholefoods and Traders Joe a few blocks away! To her credit, she did note that she didn’t spend more than she had in the account. Lord, I just can’t.
So, if you don’t want your kids mooching off you for the rest of their lives, you better start teaching them about money early.
Now you know, and you can … Consider Yourself Warned!
How did your parents teach you how to value and save money?
Well, its that time of year again … back to school. I know that in other parts of the country, school has already started. But here in New York City, school started the Wednesday after Labor Day.
When you watch TV this time of year, there is always the picture of the parent, usually the mother, who is overjoyed that the kids are going back to school. She is smiling, while the kids are sad and depressed. I am NOT one of those mothers. While I enjoy the routine that school brings, I actually prefer summer vacation. I feel like I need the summer break just as much as the kids do.
School has been in session for only ten days. Out of those ten school days, three of them were half days. My son (who goes to public school), has already had three days off for Jewish holidays, and my daughter (who goes to Catholic school), is off tomorrow because the teachers are having a faculty retreat. Now, in those “ten” school days, I have been to my daughter’s cross country meet (there's another one this Saturday), signed about 20 million forms (I know I’m exaggerating, but it really does feel like I signed that many), have been given a list of school supplies, and had to get the medical forms for basketball completed because they were due this past Monday, even though the new basketball season doesn’t start until next month. Oh, and let’s not forget the multitude of emails that I received about back to school nights and other save the dates. And, did I mention that my son is a graduating senior this year? There are emails from the school counselor about upcoming deadlines and colleges visiting the school. Not to mention that the early decision/early action deadline is November. There have been numerous discussions with my son over which schools to apply to, when he should apply to each school, what he should write about in the essays, etc, etc, etc. On top of that, my daughter told me that she wants me to sign her up for the Saturday SAT classes at her school, and, how can I forget, there are more Sweet Sixteen parties to attend. Not to mention that she turns Sixteen in November and is still trying to figure out what she wants to do for her birthday.
It just never ends! The rest and relaxation that I had from my vacation is gone. There hasn’t been a full month of school yet, and I already feel like I need another vacation.
If you are thinking about having kids, you better rest up now.
So now you know, and you can … Consider Yourself Warned!
SassyGirlTye lives with her two wonderful teenagers in Brooklyn, New York. No matter what she says in her posts, she truly loves her children with all her heart.