Scarlett of Suburbia

Field Notes from The Motherhood


February 2017

On Afternoon Tea

The Grandma: Big C, do you want a cup of tea?

The 18 y.o.: Not particularly

The Grandma: Oh. I was just thinking since you are sick that it might be nice.

The 18 y.o.: Thanks for thinking of me, but I’m ok.

The Mom: I think Grandma wants you to make her a cup of tea.

[The Grandma nods sheepishly]

The 18 y.o.: Really? Ok then. Ahem. Grandma? Would you like a cup of tea?

The Grandma: As a matter of fact, I would. It’s like you can read my mind. Not too hot. And two tablespoons of honey. Oh – and lots of milk. And shouldn’t you get something for your mother too?

The Mom: How did I get dragged into this. I’m good.

The Grandma: I’m just always thinking of others.



On My Trio of Stubborn Daughters

Shores of Lake Michigan 2013
I knew my firstborn was stubborn. She was 12 days past her due date when the labor contractions began to nudge her towards her birthday. A few years later, her nursery school teachers requested a conference (the first of many unscheduled parent-teacher conferences I would attend).
Turns out my spirited 3-year old refused to stay in ‘Circle Time’ for the full 20 minutes. Instead, she would wander from the circle to the Housekeeping Corner to ‘cook’ breakfast in her miniature kitchen. It wasn’t that she refused to return to the circle or stubbornly remained far from the toddler crowd, but that she would shout “BREAKFAST!” to the classroom.
And her friends had the audacity to follow her lead, opening lego boxes, splashing in the water table and yes, some would come to see if she magically made breakfast, somehow, from the ancient wooden eels, a plastic apple and half a velcro pizza.
Now, she is a young woman on the verge of adulthood. Yet she has even more charisma, more influence and more sass, while her stubbornness has been chiseled into a statue of determination, tenacity and persistence. Instead of ‘conference requests’ directed toward me, she regularly emails and chats with her teachers. Whenever there is an issue, she handles it by gradually winning them with her charm, faultless logic and verbal sword play.
The second daughter arrived 4 years after the first. She was also 12 days overdue and, after having labor induced for 12 hours, she simply refused to be born and I was sent home. A few days later, labor was induced again, this time for 29 hours, but she stubbornly waited until few minutes past midnight when Gemini was in the sky to greet the world on her birthday.
Constantly in the shadow of her older sister, my second rigidly conformed to rules in pursuit of perfectionism which was diametrically opposite how my first handled life. Often in family conversations, daughter #2 would listen the entire time then finally she would speak, like a jury foreman announcing a verdict. Usually her succinct sentence or two showed wisdom well beyond her years and instantly condemned or redeemed whomever received her judgement.
In 6th grade daughter #2 wrote a story about her family. Her description of me was painfully honest and caused me to re-evaluate my priorities in life. Within a year, I was putting my family firmly in first place again. Here’s the quote:
“..then the clackity-clack of her heels on the cold, slate tiles caused a cacophony as our dogs tried to outbark each other, which led to most of the family shouting at the dogs to be quiet until all that could be heard was the drop of each shoe and my mother padding across the wooden kitchen floor in search of food. It was an odd symphony that announced her arrival home: too late for dinner again.
Hours later, as pre-dawn pink began to light the sky, the symphony was more pianissimo on carpeting while the dogs slept in their crate. Then I would hear her energetic heels tapping their dance on the wood as she crossed the kitchen, then the slate tiles, always further and further away from me.”
Nearly 4 years to the day after my second daughter was born, along came the baby, who had those two as older sisters. She slowly channeled her stubborn like-a-terrier personality into THE most persistent kid in the world. She remembers everything: conversations, promises, deals, and, of course she’s always right with her didactic memory. Her sisters sometimes think we are easier on her, but no – she keeps her word, does her work, expects what was promised and she’ll keep on reminding me every 2 minutes for hours and days and weeks until I tick it off my very long list.
I’m grateful I’ve been able to work with my lovely, gorgeous, smart daughters on building strong, loving relationships with each one and as a family. Sometimes I watch each of them sleep, wondering what they are dreaming as I enjoy the tranquility of silence. And then the clock starts melodically ticking down those precious hours until the marvellous, madness and mayhem starts up again when the sun peeks over the eastern horizon.

On Polygrip

The Mom: Your polygrip will arrive on Friday. I just got a notification.

The Grandma: The what?

The Mom: Polygrip

The Grandma: Polygrip? What’s that? Is it yours Big C?

The 18 y.o.: What? Polygrip? Um NO.

[the 18 yo looked hard at the Mom and mouthed what?!}

The Grandma: What is it?

The Mom: What is what? The polygrip?

The Grandma: Yeah. What is it?

The Mom: It’s for YOUR dentures. I’ve never used it in my life!

The Grandma: OH! I knew it looked familiar.

elderly lady talking on the phone and woking with computer


On Powdered Peppers

“I just love all the music by the Red Hot Chili Powders.”

The 10 y.o.


On Rewards

The 14 yo: Mom, here’s the cash for the video game I want to download. You said you’d pay for $20 since I got a 100% at the checkpoint for Geometry and I’d pick up the rest.

The Mom: Yup. What do you need from me?

The 14 yo: Your credit card?  So I can pay for the game. Here’s the money I owe you.

The Mom [zips open wallet] I’m so proud of your hard work in school this semester and the good choices you have been making in life lately. [pokes around wallet]

The 14 yo: Thanks, mom.

The Mom: [hands card to the 14 yo] Here’s the card. You know what to do, right?

The 14 yo: Yeah. And it will be much easier if you give me your credit card instead of your library card….




New Cast Member: My 80 yo Mother

In addition to taking care of my trio of smart, witty and gorgeous girls, there is a new character in our suburban cast: my 80 y.o. mother.

‘Grandma’, as everyone calls her, came out for a week-long visit for Christmas and she suffered a breakdown of sorts. After visiting a dozen different doctors in as many days, the TL;DR is that she has more than a touch of dementia and needs to be in a living situation where someone is around at all times. For the past month she’s been in our guest bedroom with the girls and I taking ‘shifts’ to be with her. She also says the MOST hilarious things that I’ll be capturing here along with the wit and wisdom of the OC.

Most days she’s pretty ‘with it’ and enjoys reading what I write here. And for entirely selfish reasons, I want to keep a record of the funnier (and possibly poignant) conversations. Enjoy.



On Alexander Hamilton

My 10 yo returned to 5th grade in our local elementary school last week after a year and a half of homeschooling. They were on the American Revolution unit in US History.

Teacher: Today we are going to learn about Thomas Jefferson. Does anyone know who he is?

Class:  [crickets]

The 10 yo [slowly raises hand]: George Washington made him the Secretary of State. Jefferson wanted the states to have control over everything. He hated Treasury Secretary Alexander Hamilton who wanted a strong federal government and national bank. It led to a cabinet battle over the future direction of America.

Jefferson wrote “Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. We settled for these ideals and shouldn’t settle for any less.”

But Hamilton was all, “How do you not get it? If we assume all the states’ debts, the  nation gets a NEW line of credit – a financial diuretic. By being aggressive and competitive, the union gets a boost but Jefferson wants to give it a sedative.”


The 10 yo:  [mic drop]


– VS –


On Watching Superbowl LI

The Grandma: How old is Tom Brady?

The 18 yo: What? How should I know? I don’t even like football.

The Grandma: I was looking at your father.

The Dad: Why would I know? I’m English. Football means something completely different to me.

The Grandma: Doesn’t anyone know how old Tom Brady is?

The Mom: 39. He’s 39 years old. They said he graduated from the University of Michigan in 1999. Assume he was 22 so he’s 39. Well, 40 this year, I guess since that would make him born in 1977.

The Grandma: Wow. How did you know that?

The Mom: I mathed. Why do you want to know anyway?

The Grandma: I predict that in 10 years Tom Brady is going to be President of the United States.

The 18 yo:

The Dad:

The Mom:

The 10 yo: You mean 12 years, right Grandma? Presidents have a 4-year term in office and this was a new president year. Why do you think Tim Brady is going to be president anyway?

The Grandma: Look at him. Everyone loves him. He plays football. And he’s handsome.

The picture makes as much sense as a conversation with ‘Grandma’

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