Those “Scary” Kids With Older Siblings

Good parents care about who their kids hang out with– right?  I remember, when my first child began elementary school, being concerned about the influence of her friends who had older siblings– those kids saw movies I wouldn’t dream of letting my child see; those kids heard words I wouldn’t want my own to hear.  They were more “worldly”– they “grew up faster”.  And I wasn’t the only one who thought that– I met other parents who felt the same way. 
I never stopped to think that not only had I been one of those kids, my second child would become one.

There is a ten year age difference between my sister and me, and a 13-year age difference between my brother and me.  At age nine, when I got to stay with my sister one weekend while she was in college, I watched as she and her friends consulted a Ouija board and asked it, “Is Paul (McCartney) dead?” I got to see drunk sorority girls come in late and vomit in the bathroom. I saw empty beds and knew some girls never came back that night at all.   When I was five, my brother was the lead singer in a local rock band.  Keep in mind, this was the late ’60’s.  When his band wasn’t rehearsing in our basement to tunes similar to the stuff in the movie, “That Thing You Do”, they (and their girlfriends) were writhing to the records of Led Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix and Frank Zappa, also in our basement.   I’d clutch my Malibu Barbie tightly and wince at the volume.  It’s a wonder parents let my friends come over to play at all!

With a four-year age difference between her and her sister, my 10-year-old, Emmie, has spent her third and fourth grade years with a sister in Jr. High, and next year Emmie will be a 5th grader with a sister in high school.  I wonder if any of her friends’ parents are “concerned”?  Emmie definitely gets in on “adult” conversation at the dinner table, and sees movies I wouldn’t have dreamed of letting her older sister see at the same age.  Not long ago, she “inherited” her sister’s old Ipod, loaded with her sister’s favorite tunes, and before I realized what had transpired, knew all the words to stuff from the likes of Britney and Sir Mix A Lot.  Her sister is reading the Twilight series, and so is she.

But in spite of all the “older” influence, my friends can vouch for the fact that I was the most goody-two-shoes of the bunch, and I think Emmie walks a pretty straight line, too.  Even though she likes Slash (the guitarist) and wearing “graffiti” sneakers, she’s always talking about how wrong it is to drink and do drugs, when celebrity addicts make the news. She comes home from the neighborhood pool and reports, with disgust, which 7th graders were making out in the lounge chairs, and she yells out the car window at people she spots smoking in other cars (I keep trying to tell her about the dangers of road rage…). When she gets allowance or birthday money, she often chooses to give half of it to the church or another nonprofit.  She loves looking after her toddler cousin and can’t wait until she can babysit.

No, I don’t think I (or other parents) need to worry about her too much… maybe it’s the “unsupervised only child” we need to look out for…or the “kid whose parents party too much”…or the “kid who hurts animals”…                  ###
 
                 


        

                               
Me at age 7, winter 1968– my brother posed me for this and took the photo (and no, those weren’t my real glasses!).



Mom’s Pet Service

It’s such a cliche’, but it’s true– all family pets eventually become Mom’s.  Over the last 15 years, I’ve become the reluctant (and eventual guilt-ridden) caretaker of two goldfish named Goldie and Glowy (accidentally killed ’em within a week of owning them); a long-haired guinea pig named Snickers (he lasted a few years– but eventually got a kidney stone and died, probably because I didn’t add enough fresh veggies to his diet); an anole named Colors (kind of looked like the Geico gecko– I dutifully bought him a bag of mini crickets and a meal worm each week…but I think I waited too long one week…) and our current animal resident, a Cavachon dog named Luke (trust me, I’m doing all I can to keep him alive and healthy!!).  We waited a long time to get a dog– we wanted to wait until we’d moved to a bigger house, and to make sure our kids were old enough to help with the responsibility.  Hah! The joke was on me, again.

As it turns out, we had to take ownership of him a month before Christmas– he was already six months old, and the breeder didn’t want to “hold” him longer than a couple weeks once my husband and I decided he was “the one”.  Since he was supposed to be a Christmas surprise for our kids, we hid him at our friend Clyde’s house until The Big Day.  I’d drop the kids off at school and stop at Clyde’s on the way home, picking up Luke and keeping him all day at our house until it was time to take him back (and I had to be very careful to get rid of any evidence that he’d been at our house– thank goodness he doesn’t shed!) So, naturally, who does he follow around once he’s introduced to the rest of the family on Christmas morning? Me.  He is hopelessly attached to me.  And while that defeats our original purposes of having a dog (a pet for the kids, a calming influence for my teen, a chance for the girls to learn responsibility), it sure is nice to have a “baby” to cuddle on your lap when your kids get too big for it…

Amazingly, the blog post I wrote about him several months ago has received the most hits of any entry on this blog, 897 to be exact. So with that in mind, here is another photo of Luke the Dog– recently caught in the act of helping to clean the dishes.  Hey, at least somebody’s helping!!!

                                

Unsolicited Parenting Advice– From A Telemarketer?!

Emmie, my 10-year-old, posed a humorous question to me yesterday, as she was making her lunch and our caller ID voice (who we think sounds just like the lady from our neighborhood Chinese restaurant) suddenly filled the air.  Emmie had just heard me say, “Don’t answer it– I recognize that name and it’s a telemarketer.”  She paused a moment, pouring leftover chili into a bowl, and said, “Mom, do telemarketers like getting calls from telemarketers?” What a great question.  I wonder if they do? I wonder if they run to the phone with glee and always pick up, listen carefully, and then say something nice? 

I was cured of talking to telemarketers a couple years ago. After a long, tiring day, I was preparing dinner when the phone rang. I could tell it was a telemarketer’s number (why do they always have to call at mealtimes?) so I chose to let the answering system get it, and at the time we had one of those where you hear the message as it’s being left, so you can “screen” your calls.  And I got to hear an earful– a loud recorded message, about how “marriage should be between a man and a woman, and to join the fight against same sex marriage, call this number” …it also said a few more things about gays and lesbians, if I recall.  Now, put aside any political/social opinions you have about the topic and consider what I was thinking: I’m glad my youngest child wasn’t home at the time, because I hadn’t talked to her about that topic and I really wasn’t ready to broach the subject while chopping celery.  I thought about a young mom at home with an even younger child playing at her feet, and got madder.  Oh, sure, we modern parents are used to deflecting “unwanted sexual advances” when our kids are in tow, from the Viagra ads on the car radio,  to the “57 Ways to Please Your Man in Bed” magazine covers that scream at us in the grocery store checkout line, and the “Condoms to Go” billboard that’s been staring at our family along a major highway for at least 10 years.   But there was something about a total stranger using my phone lines to yap about a sexual topic in my own home that really got my blood boiling.   Every parent knows when the time is right to explain various things to their children, and I had made a conscious decision that it wasn’t right yet for Emmie, that she wasn’t at the right maturity level and neither was anyone in her class.  I felt like our privacy had just been grossly invaded, and I thought that whatever organization this was might want to re-think their marketing techniques (after all, I studied advertising in college and used to work in PR).  And so, heart beating very fast, I called the number in the message.

“I just want you to know that I don’t appreciate you calling my house and leaving a message on this subject because I have young children,” I said, “and I’m not ready for them to hear about this.”  The young guy on the other end immediately copped an attitude, much to my surprise.  “Well, then you should always pick up the phone!” he declared, matter-of-factly. Wow, nothing gets the adrenaline flowing like a smart-ass telemarketer.
“WHAT?” I said, raising my voice.  “Are you kidding me? That’s what an answering machine is for!! I’m a parent! I don’t have time to answer the phone every time it rings!”
Smart-ass telemarketer: “Well, then you should be telling your children about gay marriage.”
Nothing sends a parent’s anger off the charts like having a telemarketer give them parenting advice. I was so mad at that point, I can’t remember exactly what I said.  I know it involved the words “How dare you” and slamming down the phone.

I stood there in my kitchen, staring at my pile of celery, not believing what had just transpired.  What breed of telemarketer is this, who has the nerve to tell me how to answer the phone and how to raise my kids?? Do they not care anymore whether they make sales or win votes?? And wasn’t he representing a conservative organization who supposedly is concerned about “family values”?  I could have pursued the matter further, but I didn’t want them to waste any more of my time. 

We have an answering system now where the messages are left internally. And my child now knows a lot about the birds and the bees and gay marriage– but thanks to me and my timetable, not a telemarketer’s.

Friendship 101

Do you have friends you’ve kept up with since childhood? High School? College? First job? If you’re a parent, who among your kids’ friends do you think they’ll still be close to when they’re in their 40’s and beyond? I think one of the best gifts we can give our children, and ourselves, is to help foster and nurture deep friendships.  I’ve been thinking a lot about this lately, as I count down the days until my teenager starts high school (66 as of today– I can’t believe it!) and watch my kids spend their summer hours.  Having “best friends” in childhood, college and beyond is an important component in weathering the ups and downs of life. I’ve been fortunate to have had really good friends, friends who will drive (or fly) a long way to be at (or in) your wedding, attend your father’s funeral, show up on a moment’s notice when you’ve just moved to the ‘burbs and are really depressed about it, send you a “gorilla gram” for your birthday…  a lot of these friends have known me since elementary school, one since preschool, and I’ve wondered lately, who among my two daughters’ friends will be their Best Friends Forever? 

From reading this blog, you probably wouldn’t think my teen is very much on the shy side, but she is.  It’s always been hard to get her to call up “new friends” and ask them to do things.  Still, I’m noticing a few good signs of her establishing strong friendship “foundations”– a certain group of friends (people she’s known a long time) that consistently come over to spend the night; inside jokes and good times they “reminisce” about; lots of laughter; funny photos they share with eachother on Facebook.  I try to help them make memories when I can, by suggesting fun activities and accompanying them there, like outdoor exhibits, concerts, etc.  Things are looking good for my other daughter as well– she has a tight-knit group of school friends (there is only one classroom of her grade level at our neighborhood elementary school so they’ve all been together since kindergarten), and no matter where she is, she collects phone numbers and addresses of new friends (just like I used to do). It’s my job to help her find these scribbled scraps of paper, encourage her to put them in an address book, and try to arrange get-togethers, providing transportation when necessary. 

But as adults, do we put as much effort into nurturing/fostering friendships for ourselves?   We get busy with jobs, family, community…our BFF’s from our younger years are often not in our own neighborhood anymore.  We call them maybe once or twice a year.  Send a birthday card.  A holiday “form letter”.  (Luckily, Facebook has greatly helped increase opportunities for communication!) If we’re lucky, we might see them in person once in awhile…
We try to make new friends, but it’s hard. When you’re married with kids, or married with older parents to care for, you tend to “circle the wagons” and focus inward. There’s a lot to be done as a family and there’s hardly any time for anyone else.  Or at least, we don’t prioritize and make the time.  I see it time and time again, not only in my own family, but in others, among men as well as women.  How sad, huh? And then when we really need a good friend to talk to, someone outside the family, we’re kind of “on an island”.  Oh, sure, you talk with other moms at soccer games, birthday parties and PTA board meetings, but that’s not quite the place (or enough time) to make deep friendships.  If you’re lucky, you might be blessed with neighbors who become your good friends– my husband once had that kind of next-door-neighbor, and then our neighbor passed away.  For women, the concept of “retreats” has sprung up to help meet their needs for friendship– opportunities to “get away” from their families and hang with other women.  Around here, on any given weekend, there are scrapbooking retreats at country B & B’s, church ladies’ retreats at lakeside conference centers, Girl Scout volunteer retreats at wooded campsites, babysitting club retreats,… if I went to all of them, I’d never see my family! So I rarely go to any of them, because I’m too busy

Just as we help our kids nurture friendships, we need to model friendship, show them that it is important to our own health, happiness and well being, by making time for our friends.  I keep telling my teen, when she’s feeling bored and lonely, “Friends don’t just happen.  If you want a friend, you have to be a friend.  You have to nurture that friendship.”  It’s time I took my own advice!



Four Ways to Follow Uncool Mom

Thought it’s about time I let readers know how to do an “RSS Feed” and other ways to follow the blog, other than typing in the address each time you want to check it out. Here are four options you might want to try:

By RSS Feed: This adds a link to uncoolmom.com on your Internet home page and a few titles of recent postings (that are updated), so if anything looks interesting you can click from your homepage to read them. To do this, go to your homepage, and if it has an Add Content tab or something like it, click on it, and look for “Add RSS Feed”. Once you’ve clicked on Add RSS, where it asks for a URL, copy and paste this:  
http://uncoolmom.com/rss2.aspx

Via Facebook: This is an easy way to follow the blog if you’re on Facebook a lot. Go to the sidebar of uncoolmom.com, and in the “Facebook Networked Blogs” box, click “Follow this Blog” at the bottom.  (Even if you follow the blog in other ways, sign up to be a Facebook follower and help boost my numbers.  My goal is 100 Facebook followers by the end of June and I’m close to 80 right now!) Once you’re a follower, you have the option to put a link to the blog on your Facebook “Info” page as well as in other spots.  If you put it on your sidebar and Info page, it will show up as “Blogs I Follow”.  Here’s how to do that (and if you’re already a follower, PLEEEESE try this out so your friends can know about the blog):
On your Facebook page, on the toolbar at the top, press (don’t click) on “Settings”, then click on “Application Settings”.  Then, on the “Networked Blogs” line, click on “Edit Settings”.  You have the choice to a.) add an icon of the blog as a “box” on your Facebook sidebar, b.) Put it under a Blogs “Tab” on your Facebook page, and/or c.) as a box on your Info page.  Under “Privacy” on the Networked Blogs setting page, you choose who gets to see the blog icon on your page. (Of course, “everyone” is great but it’s up to you!)

Via Email: Clickable titles of new blog postings are sent directly to your email inbox.  On the blog homepage, look at the sidebar, scroll down to “Free Updates to My Blog Posts Via Email” and type in your email address. 

Via Twitter: I’m on Twitter at Uncoolmomdotcom. Of course, it doesn’t give you blog postings– it’s just a fun “extra”.


A Note About Ads: Please drop me an email (
patricia@uncoolmom.com) if you find any of the ads offensive or uncomfortable or just plain weird, and type the URL of the ad in your note (usually it’s listed at the bottom of an ad).  A few doozies have shown up lately (Google AdSense places them based on key words in the content and I never know what’s going to show even though I signed up for “Ad Review”) and I’m trying feverishly to block those I feel get into controversial territory or things I really don’t want to be seen as “endorsing”!

In Defense of Summer Camp

Growing up, I was a huge fan of summer “sleep away” camp.  I went, year after year, to a small one that sat on the bluffs above a wide bend in the Mississippi River near Montrose, Iowa, and I liked it for all the reasons you’d think someone would like camp: New friends (that became lifelong friends), fun stuff to do, nice counselors, new skills (I learned synchronized swimming, macrame’ and tetherball, to name a few), campfires, crazy songs, and being surrounded by nature, for a whole week.  But when my teenager first went to the same camp when she was nine, she loved it for a different reason: “I loved the freedom,” she said.  “It was like your own little community where you could come and go as you pleased.” I’d never thought of it like that before–  but campers there were responsible for getting to meals and classes on their own, listening for their counselor’s whistle and following their own printed schedule, with breaktime in between. And they had a lot of free time in the afternoon, when they could swim, nap, go to the camp store or participate in tournaments.  Upon talking with her further, her comments underlined what I’d already been thinking: There is truly something inside modern-day, big city kids that is yearning for freedom and independence.  That even though today’s kids have never known the kind of freedoms their parents had, they miss those freedoms.   I’ve heard it from my younger child as well, when we go visit Grandma, who lives in a small town.  There, both girls get to “roam” (my hometown neighborhood is kind of secluded and almost in the “country”) and when they return back to our home in the Dallas suburbs, the little one is always bummed.  “Mom, you were so lucky when you were a kid,” she always says.

Summer days for my husband and I, when we were kids, (as I’m sure was the case with many people our age) were spent riding our bikes all over the place, finding friends without having pre-arranged “play dates”. He grew up in a big city and I grew up in a small town, and it was the same experience.  My husband would often be gone for hours and his mom wouldn’t see him until supper.  When I was nine, I’d ride my bike down the street to the pool and stay there all day.  When my friends and I turned 13, it was a rite of passage to ride the bus downtown, on our own, and go shopping.

Our kids definitely don’t enjoy freedoms exactly like that.  When you live in the “Metroplex” that gave birth to the Amber Alert system, you think differently about things.  Also, suburbs tend to have busy, 6-lane streets criss-crossing through neighborhoods, streets that are not friendly to young bike riders.  I think good parents today have to find a balance between being safety conscious and still allowing freedoms.  (Sorry, there I go again talking about balance, but this is a different kind.) Our 10-year-old can ride her bike, just not outside our neighborhood.  If she walks to a friend’s house that lives a couple streets away, she takes a walkie talkie and she and the friend meet up halfway.  She does get to meet friends at the neighborhood pool and stay there by herself, only I drive her there. And when she rides her bike to school, I ride part of the way alongside her (and, unbeknownst to her, watch her ride the rest of the way.)   My teenager definitely enjoys a few more freedoms due to her age, maturity, and proficiency with a cell phone. 

Some of you are probably thinking I am too restrictive, but the few freedoms I try hard to give my kids are considered a no-no by many area parents I know.  Letting a 10-year-old child (who is a good swimmer) stay at the small, neighborhood pool without a parent, even though she knows most of the lifeguards as well as the families visiting the pool, and even though the posted age for being there alone is 7? Horrors.  Allowing a teenager to be at the mall with friends to go shopping, by themselves? Unheard of. (And, you let her pick out her own clothes? Unbelievable.)  You let your nine-year-old go into Braum’s and order an ice cream cone and pay for it by herself, while you wait in the car just outside the door? No way. While on vacation, you let your four-year-old child have fun making friends from all over the world at the supervised, highly rated Kid’s Club at a resort while you and your husband spent a fun afternoon alone? Never.  You let your teenager bike to a nearby sandwich shop, and cross a busy street by herself? How wrong.  (One of my teenager’s friends has never even been taught to ride a bike, let alone been allowed to own one.) You let your child attend “sleep away” camp at age 9, and go to Costa Rica with the youth group on a church mission trip at age 13? Are you out of your mind?

No, as I’ve said before, I’m just trying to give our kids whatever independence I can, within safe parameters. And the naysayers can always come up with all sorts of reasons why what I’m doing is not safe.  But keeping your child on a short, virtual leash is not safe, either.  At some point, you have to ask yourself, is it worth taking safety-consciousness to the degree that it denies your child the chance to grow and develop normally?   “A Life Lived in Fear is a Life Half-Lived” is the motto from “Strictly Ballroom”, one of my all-time favorite movies, and I think it’s a good motto to live by. (And, as I’ve said many times, the kids who are the most restricted in their formative years are the wildest once they get to high school. Or college.)

Today I’m a supporter of “sleep away” summer camp more than ever.  (My 10-year-old will attend one in East Texas for the first time in July.) Even if a camp doesn’t have all the freedoms of the one I attended, it’s still good for an older child to be away from home and make decisions on their own.  And it’s a growing experience not only for the child, but for the parent as well.  The other day, one of my friends, whose daughter is also signed up for a sleep away camp for the first time, called me in a panic to ask, “If the camp instructions say no cell phones, computers, or other electronic devices– how am I going to keep in touch with my child?” I hope I wasn’t too blunt in my answer, but basically I told her that while the camp does have a telephone, parents aren’t supposed to call unless it is an emergency. (And I think this rule has a lot to do with lessening homesickness as much as it helps a child have a bit of freedom.)
“But I’ve never not been in contact with her every day!” she said, sounding a little defiant.   That’s what the U.S. mail is still good for, I told her.  You write to them before they ever get to camp, so letters will be waiting for them at the first “mail call”.  And they write to you. (Thank God this particular camp still champions “Letters from Camp”!) 
“This is going to be so hard,” she said. 
Ah, but so worth it– especially if it’s a good camp experience for her daughter.

When Helicopter Parenting Results in Tragedy

This weekend marks the one-year-anniversary of something outrageous that happened in my neighborhood. It is so outrageous yet true, and I think ultimately related to parenting, that I wanted to share it.  First, a bit of background:

We have a long alley that runs behind our house.  Most people in our neighborhood just see fences when they look across their alley.  A couple houses have city streets running perpendicular into the alley, directly behind their property. Our neighbor, whom I’ll call David, owns one of those houses. When he and his wife bought the house, they were assured by the realtor that even though it looked kind of ominous, with a street running into their back fence and only a couple feet between the fence and their bedroom, it was safe. Just in front of their fence, the alley had a high curb due to a storm drain underneath.  There were two reflective warning signs on posts in front of the fence .  The fence was made out of brick, as was the house.  And the fence was reinforced with rebar.

One night last summer, as David and his wife were asleep, they were almost killed when a drunk 19-year-old girl, already with two DWI’s under her belt, sped down that street around 2 a.m. and into the alley, jumping the high curb, plowing down the warning signs, crashing through the “reinforced” brick fence and through the brick wall of their bedroom.  The impact was so forceful, pieces of furniture from a bureau backing up to the alley-side wall flew across the bedroom, through the opposite wall and into an adjoining bathroom.  David attributes their Tempur-pedic mattress with saving them, since it folded up around them “like a burrito.”  (They still suffered injuries, including a broken wrist.) At first, he’d thought a bomb had gone off.  (Amazingly, just a few  doors down, our family was not awakened by the crash or the sirens that followed.)  Later, after we’d seen the damage as we drove down the alley and noticed the pile of broken furniture waiting to be picked up, David showed me photos from the accident on his phone. How weird to see a car halfway through a bedroom. David said that after he painfully climbed out and over the tangled wreckage that had been their bed, he confronted the driver, who was climbing our of her car at the same time, seemingly unharmed.  I was dying to know what she said first. “Did she apologize?” I asked.  “No,” he said.  “The first thing she said was, “How do I look?”

Apparently she was worried that she’d been disfigured or cut up by the accident. Not about whether she’d killed someone or caused tens of thousands of dollars in damage.  There was never an apology, and never has been an apology since.  David said she was taken into custody and quickly bailed out by her parents (or bonded out? I’m not sure of the correct term here).  “Are you kidding me!?” I asked.   They bailed her out, just as they’d no doubt done previously.  How did she even have a car to drive? If my child had (God forbid) one DWI, let alone two, I think the city bus would be her primary mode of transportation for a long time. But driving while intoxicated, almost killing two people and wrecking their house? Shouldn’t your “adult child” driver experience “police custody” longer than a couple hours? I’m thinking longer than a couple weeks…

David and his wife thought about selling their house and moving away after the accident.  Instead, they now sleep in a different room. Even though the girl was insured by a large, well-known insurance company, they have yet to collect anything from her insurance for the medical bills and costs to repair the house and fence.  If you were parents with any kind of integrity, wouldn’t you perhaps, in addition to jail and rehab, have your child actually get out there in the hot sun and work with the crew to fix the large, gaping hole that had to be covered in plastic sheeting for days? Maybe bring some meals to David and his wife? Write an apology letter??????  The more helicopter parents there are in this world, ready to fix their child’s problems so their child experiences as little pain as possible, and then act like it was never a problem in the first place, the more unsafe we all are.
 

The Science of Rushing

Texas musician Sara Hickman once said in concert, after she became a parent, that sometimes she only had time to shave one leg while in the shower.  Boy, could I relate, as I’m sure many women in that audience could.  When your kids are little, you’re rushing through your showers because either a.) they’re sitting in their carseat in the bathroom and you don’t want to take too long or they’ll start wailing or b.) they’re too big for a carseat so you’re worried they’re killing themselves and/or wrecking the house while you’re trying to enjoy a Calgon moment. And when they get older, you’re rushing through that shower because there seems to be so much more going on in your schedule, even if, like us, you’ve cut back.

Especially in May.  May is “hell month” for most parents because all your kids’ activities come screeching to a climactic end all at once, in a flurry of band concerts, dance recitals, final exams, choir shows, sports picnics, Scout banquets, preschool graduations, kindergarten graduations, 6th grade graduations, 8th grade graduations, (wasn’t there a really important graduation at one time?) Oh yeah, high school graduations, college graduations, teacher appreciation luncheons, end-of-year field trips, honors breakfasts, art exhibits, awards assemblies, library book turn-in, textbook turn-in, “Parent’s Day” at the gym, Field Day, and “last-day-of-school” parties.  Oh, and if your last name ends in A, bring a dessert to the sports picnic.  And donuts to the honors breakfast.  And fried chicken to the Scout banquet.  And a salad for the teacher appreciation luncheon. And bottled water to the Last Day of School party.  And while you’re at it, could you round up some beads, string, glue, construction paper, and brown grocery sacks for Field Day?

I’m out of breath. We still have school until June 4th.  And I hardly have time to shave one leg, let alone two.

As a result of the busy-ness that is often my life, I find myself thinking about the original book, 
Cheaper By The Dozen. Ever read that? It’s the humorous true story of husband-and- wife “efficiency experts” (I think they’re called Industrial Engineers today) and how they practiced their theories/methods at home with their large brood, whether it was how their 12 kids could brush their teeth faster or the most efficient way to dry off after a bath– no wasted motions!  I wish the most recent cinematic “re-make” of that book had looked something like it, but I think the only thing it shared was the title and the size of the family.  Pity.  I think time/motion study is fascinating, and I’ve tried a few shortcuts of my own (in addition to the one-leg-shave).   See, here I go again– domestic engineering.  While I don’t Velcro my makeup to my car’s dashboard anymore (seriously, I did that when I was single and had a commute down a long street with about a billion stoplights…), I have been perfecting the art of the fast get-ready down to a science.  For anyone who needs help in these crazy times, I offer my latest “recipe”:

Supplies:
Rubber or terry flip flops
Terry “spa” bathrobe
“Aquis” towel (or a Sham Wow!)
Shampoo (or a 3-in-1 shampoo, body wash and conditioner, or use spray-on conditioner later)
A shower clock
The hottest, fastest hair dryer you can buy

1.Have flip flops and terry bathrobe waiting just outside the shower. 
2. Use your shampoo as a body wash (it’s okay to do this– check out
this link.)  Or, use one of those 3-in-1 products (they’re hard to find at a decent price, unless you’re willing to shop in the kids’ section and smell like bubble gum or blueberry kiwi sparkle…) The shower clock helps prevent me from losing track of time, of course, which is pretty easy to do in a shower!
3. When you’re done, step out of the shower and into your flip flops and bathrobe and use the towel to quickly soak up the water in your hair. Let the bathrobe (if it’s the right kind, it acts just like a towel) and flip flops absorb the rest of the drips while you do other things, like lay out your clothes.  Once your body’s dry, finish drying your hair with your supercharged hairdryer (and make sure your hairbrush has those “airflow” holes in it). (Just upgrading my hairdryer cut at least 10 minutes off my drying time– my hair is so thick that a hairdresser once told me, “My wrists can’t take all this drying time anymore so I’m having an assistant come do this!”

As for makeup…you can get your eyelashes dyed so you skip the mascara step, but it doesn’t last very long. Better yet, you can now get “dermagraphics” (basically tattooed makeup) for eyebrow color, eyeliner, eyelashes, lip lines, and full lip color.  Here’s what
americanhealthandbeauty.com has to say about it, an online magazine and cosmetic surgery listing service: “Because of the nature of the permanent cosmetics procedure, some patients may experience some discomfort according to their pain tolerance.”  To me, roughly translated, that means “If you thought childbirth was painful, that pales in comparison.” I think I’ll just try to get outside and get a little sun.  Probably a lot more healthy, cheaper– and faster!