When Your Son Asks: Remembering Our Deliverance

Mancub at age 10 sleeping on the way home from Arkansas.

I want my kids to remember me with a soft kind of fondness–that perfect balance of light and hope, discipline and humor, friendship and love. A warm and fuzzy mama–but at the same time tough as the lady who delivers our mail. Have you seen her? She can bench 400 pounds, I know it!

I want my kids to think of me as a good example, someone they want to imitate.

One problem: I’m far from perfect. I screw up fairly often. At least as much as Donald Trump says offensive stuff on TV. I mean well, but …

I was reading through Exodus (actually, that’s inaccurate. I’m so lazy I have somebody else read Exodus to me, on an app. Because there’s an app for that). Anyway, this scripture refers to the story of the deliverance of the Israelites from Egypt. I just love the first sentence.

14 “In days to come, when your son asks you, ‘What does this mean?’ say to him, ‘With a mighty hand the Lord brought us out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. 15 When Pharaoh stubbornly refused to let us go, the Lord killed the firstborn of both people and animals in Egypt. This is why I sacrifice to the Lord the first male offspring of every womb and redeem each of my firstborn sons.’16 And it will be like a sign on your hand and a symbol on your forehead that the Lord brought us out of Egypt with his mighty hand.”

When your son asks you, “What does this mean?”… how well we know this feeling, mamas. How well we know that frightening reality that somebody put us in charge of these precious human beings as IF WE WERE GROWNUPS. Grownups with answers. Grownups who hold those memories in the palm of their hand.

Sometimes, I sweat bullets when my son asks me questions. They used to be so easy.

“Hey Mom. How do you make instant oatmeal?”

“Hey Mom. Can you watch me go down the slide?”

“Mom. Mom. Mom. Mom. Why doesn’t the dog eat at the table with us?”

Lately, the questions are much more hard core.

“Mom, how does God feel about transgender people?” (This one’s easy: LOVE)

“Mom, I think my friend is in trouble. Can we help?”

“Mom, why does God let bad things happen?”

I don’t know all the answers. But I don’t ignore the questions. We look it up. We talk about it. I want to be the one, along with my husband, that is able to answer those “What does this mean?” questions.

In this verse, God is instructing the Israelites in the importance of remembrance. There’s no way these children, or grandchildren, or great-grandchildren, will ever know the sound of the cries of Egypt as they woke to find their firstborn children dead. It’s just too horrific. Over 400 years of slavery, of the Pharaoh killing the baby boys–the Jewish mothers hiding their babies, shushing their cries.

And the angel of the Lord passed over…

There’s no way the children would remember the unreal feeling of freedom. What? We are free? We can go? The feeling (and then, the eventuality) this freedom can’t last– that the Egyptians would change their minds and maybe call for the blood of the Jews to rectify Pharaoh’s hasty decision. The absolute miracle of the Red Sea parting down the middle as thousands of slaves left forever. The smell of the sheep and goats (and all those people) and the heaviness of the hastily packed possessions–the sheer terror and doubt that any of this was real. But they were told to try to make them understand–the importance of storytelling and ritual. Unleavened bread eaten in haste as we planned our escape. This is what it means, Son. This bread–it is a symbol of our deliverance.

I’m fortunate (NOT gonna say #blessed because I HATE that) to have never been in this kind of bind–this kind of slavery. But we all know a type of bondage.

Addictions.

Debt.

Disease.

Abuse.

Pain.

Crippling fear.

Anxiety.

God is not JUST the God of the past. He knows us. He knows you. HE has the answers.

I don’t always know what things mean, but when my son asks me, I’ll tell him.

I’ll tell him that we are free.

 

 

 

 

 

Cold Coffee and Speed Limits: Encouragement for Mamas of Teens Coming Sept. 25!

Tina Book Cover

Cold Coffee and Speed Limits

A Letter to Mamas of Teens:

Why is it that there are thousands of books/blogs about raising babies, toddlers, and even school-aged kids, but when we get to the teenage range–poof! Everybody disappears from the blogosphere faster than my pre-pregnancy figure. Sure, there are plenty of scary clinical approaches out there, but this isn’t one of them. I’ve been a mama of teenagers for a while now, and though I’m no expert, I’ve been there. Actually, I’m still there.

I am with you, Mama.

The life of a mom raising teens is anything but easy. This book began with a blog: http://www.tinabausinger.com. I wanted to chronicle my experience raising teenagers (two girls and a boy) not only for myself but to encourage others. In this book, I’ve included the most popular posts.

Some posts are funny—some are not. Some I wrote out of complete frustration and heartache. Others I wrote with joy and humor.

Besides being a mama of three, I’m a writer, an experimental cook, and an English professor. I’ve published in magazines and newspapers and internationally in Chicken Soup for the Soul books. I also wrote a novel, War Eagle Women.  I live in Texas (the land of Old Yeller) and I survive on large amounts of coffee and ungodly amounts of sugar. It’s really not healthy.

I refer to my son (now 16) as Mancub. He just LOVES IT. Ok not really, but he’s gotten used to it. Remember the Jungle Book? It’s Rudyard Kipling’s classic post-colonial story that sort of satires the motives of the British Empire as it claims to “civilize” India (and any other country it could get its hands on). All that aside, I think the jungle is the perfect metaphor to explain raising teens. Here’s why:

It’s scary. You can’t quite see your hand in front of your face, and your lantern is just not bright enough.

It’s dangerous. There are many things just around the corner wanting to hurt you (or your Mancub). Sometimes, your Mancub may even go looking for danger. Sometimes danger comes looking for him.

I use the term Watergirl for the female of the species. In the Jungle Book movie made famous by Disney, Mowgli thinks he knows EVERYTHING until he sees the girl who sings about fetching the water. After that, Mancub is just GONE. So that’s the collective term I use for teen girls in this book.

So yes, the jungle is a dangerous place. Mancub can’t be expected to look after himself just yet, even though he disagrees. But oh—the beauty of the jungle…it’s breathtaking if you take a moment to reflect upon it.

For now—welcome to the Jungle!

What people are saying about Cold Coffee and Speed Limits: Encouragement for Mamas

Cold Coffee and Speed Limits is an enchanting look into the journey that is mothering teenagers. Recipes, open letters, anecdotes and practical guides come together in this book to inspire and comfort readers. More than the perfect Mother’s Day gift, Cold Coffee speaks to teens, mothers, mothers-to-be, and everyone in-between. The raw realities of life are beautifully arranged to fulfill our need of obtaining important information rapidly and allowing the reader to slip into the beauty that is family life.” Stephanie L.

Cold Coffee and Speed Limits is a mix of advice, recipes and anecdotes that will have the most serious of readers laughing and taking notes. It made the chaos of parenting seem both magical and practical…I laughed, teared up (RIP Goliath), and jotted down a meatloaf recipe to try later. After reading this book I went and hugged my mom and told her I was sorry for putting her through teen hell and thanked her for loving me through it.” Gabbey S.

Tina shares her mother of teens experience to show others there is a light at the end of the tunnel and they aren’t traveling it alone. Joy K.

Even though I’m not a parent, I found myself tucking little nuggets of your writing away in my mind for when I do have kids of my own.  Kelsi A.

So many other parenting blogs/books just make me feel guilty. It’s already too late to do or not do what’s suggested, or I don’t have the means. Yours are helpful and flexible. They help me see that, though I’ve made mistakes, my kids are doing well, and I still have time to teach them a few things.-Bryony T.

With each laugh, worry, and reflection shared, Tina unveils the teenage years of parenting as a time to revel in the beauty of living despite the chaos of the jungle. Through her journey, she shows the weary mom how to focus on the moment at hand versus the entire collage. Slow down, enjoy the coffee and hug your babies: we are all going to make it with the help of a little comfort food! –Kari M.

On Marching Band, Second Chances, and Joy

H&L

The Lord is my strength and my shield; in him my heart trusts, and I am helped; my heart exults, and with my song I give thanks to him. Psalm 28:7 

I picked them up after band practice today.

Her smile was noticeable, even from several feet away–braces can’t mask loveliness that comes from the inside. Her hair is stuffed into a bun, and she laughs a bit at the awkwardness of scrambling across the seat. It’s kind of great.

Even better? The smile that my son wears when they tumble in the car, a pile of instrument cases and water jugs. The contrast between his demeanor a year ago and today–it’s remarkable. The fact that two  teens maintained a long-distance relationship for over a year–the fact that anyone can, let along two kids in high school–it boggles the mind. But they did it. They didn’t give up. It was anything but easy. It was heartbreaking.

But she’s here. She’s back. After over a year of a very painful move cross-country, Watergirl’s family is on its way back too–and they sent her first…so she wouldn’t miss band camp.

I know this decision has not been an easy one. I’ve heard bits and pieces of the dilemma as her parents made a very difficult choice to again uproot and come back. Who is ever 100% sure of God’s will–even those who speak to him most intimately? The truth is, we pray and ask for guidance and wait for an answer. Sometimes, heaven is silent and the clock forces us to make our best guess. Sometimes we must make a decision from our gut and trust that God is looking out for us.

I know only a tiny bit of the back-and-forth that Watergirl’s mama and dad faced. They want what most people want–to do the right thing for their family. Add in a congregation they love (and one that loves them back) and the equation is further complicated. They say that moving is one of the most stressful of life events–right up there with divorce and death. When we move from one town (or state!) to another, there is always a bit of divorcing of some sort, isn’t there? It’s separation, it’s saying goodbye. It’s packing and unpacking and loading and unloading and taking furniture apart and putting it back together again. It’s turning off power and turning it on again. It’s tears and stress and we snap from the pressure.

But then–we see the smile of a young girl.

Lance and Becky–I know you can’t see it right now; you are still making your way back to Texas, so I’ll try to describe this smile your daughter wore today. I’ll try to describe the grin my son wore because of your daughter’s smile. It’s a smile of contentment, joy, and a realization of the miracle of unexpected second chances.

Thank you–and I can’t wait to welcome you back to Texas, with a big smile.

Overheard at the DMV

driving

Please enjoy this blog post on the continuing adventures of Mancub.

Overheard at the DMV

A Letter to My Son on Your 16th Birthday

Concert

Dear Son,

It’s hard to believe you’re turning 16 today. Apparently, when I blinked, your little blond Mancub self, who used to spend hours catching grasshoppers, swimming and music has grown into a tall, kind smart teen who loves games and fixing and building things.

I know this journey hasn’t been easy.

I know your dad and I (especially I!) have made mistakes, but we have done our best. It’s not easy figuring out what should be said and done and those words that should remain unsaid and the actions that should remain undone. Because sometimes, the hardest thing to do is to stay back and let the lesson teach itself.

There have been a couple of close calls–a few times I felt my heart in my throat. When you ran into the road as a toddler. When you got in a fight on the way home from school in the 6th grade. When you fell–no, flew–from a trampoline and broke your arm in one clean crunch–I heard the sound from inside the house and somehow knew that it wasn’t someone else’s kid, it was MY kid. Dad and I exchanged looks and he stepped out to check on you. The two of you came in, your arm hanging in a disturbing, unnatural manner–and you had to get surgery. They said it would take 20 minutes, and over an hour later we were still waiting.

The doctor said your growth plates were in danger; he had to operate right away.

So hard to believe there was once a time when we were worried about your growth rate.

Now, you stand 6’4 1/2 (size 16 shoe!) and there doesn’t seem to be any signs of slowing.

Sometimes, it’s hard to tell you what I want you to know. Many times, we don’t see eye-to-eye. Sometimes, I don’t do well when I’m put on the spot. Sometimes (most times),  I do better in writing. So here goes.

I know you think you have it figured out. Life, I mean.

And in many ways, you do. You get good grades, you get along with your peers, you love music and your horn, you have a sweet girlfriend, you stand up for your faith. You feel things deeply, and injustice bothers you. These are all attributes that make me proud of you.

But please–never fail to listen when somebody older and wiser tries to give you advice. You don’t always have to take it (many times you shouldn’t!), but listen to those who care enough to try to help.

In just a few years, you’ll be going off to college–driving without me, making decisions on your own. I’m not worried about that. Well, I do worry a little, but I think you’ll be fine. Not that you won’t sometimes make mistakes–we all do. But your heart, your moral standards, will hold. I know it may sound cliché but I’m going to say it anyway–do follow your heart. Follow your conscience. It’s kept you kind and compassionate.

One thing I do worry about: I want you to make time for friends. I know you are introverted (I am too!) and it’s easier to stay by yourself but it’s not always the best. And you have so much to offer others: your sense of humor, your knowledge of current events, your wit. You’re so funny!

Please, don’t sell yourself short. Shoot for the stars! Set high goals. It’s okay to not always succeed — sometimes falling is part of the process. Don’t let yourself get discouraged. Sometimes, you’ll get told “No.” Even though it stings, it’s not the end of the world. If it’s important to you, keep trying…don’t let one person (or opportunity) hold you back. Just don’t let YOU be the one to hold yourself back.

Remember that big goals are often composed of several steps. You didn’t make All-State band the first time you tried, and you didn’t make first chair the first time you tried. But you kept trying. You kept practicing, and it happened. Sometimes, success is trial and error. Sometimes, it’s just grit and determination and blood and sweat and getting mad and trying over and over and over until it finally works. Sometimes the ones who come out on top are only there because somebody else (or many somebody elses) gave in. It doesn’t make you less a winner.

When you do win, know you deserved it. Nobody can say you didn’t.

I’m your mom, and I love you–and I can’t wait to see how you’re going to shake up this world of ours.

It’s going to be beautiful.

Love,

Mom

5 Tips for Traveling With Teens

I'm including this picture to show you a few of my gorgeous (and tanned) relatives. Yes, I am related. Shut up.

I’m including this picture to show you a few of my gorgeous (and tanned) relatives. Yes, I am related. Shut up.

Enjoy this clip from National Lampoon’s Vacation with Chevy Chase: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5HbBL62IiRE

It’s that time of year again. Roadtrip! Nothing says summertime like voluntary confinement in a car for hours on end!  Because most of my family lives in Arkansas and we’re in Texas, it’s a necessary evil if we want to see them. Because I don’t want to end up like Clark Griswold’s family in Vacation, I have certain rules for the road. There is a certain freedom you achieve when your kids aren’t babies anymore–for example, nobody’s gonna poop their pants (unless you stopped at that food truck you passed, then all bets are off). However, traveling with teens can create a whole other set of joys and challenges. For your amusement, here’s 5 easy tips for traveling with teens.
1. Make sure everyone’s showered AND is wearing deodorant. Yes, this seems like an obvious thing, but sometimes with teens regular hygiene can be dicey at best, and nothing puts pain into hour three on the trip like the rugged aroma of the unwashed masses. Unless, of course, you’re recreating Civil War America and want pure authenticity then go for it.
2. Crank up the tunes. I always think that the driver has first dibs, unless of course I’m not driving, then I institute the “oldest person picks” rule. I like the Eagles channel on iTunes. I feel that it’s my duty as the most musically educated (ok, except for Jody and Sarah but who’s writing this blog anyway?) to spread my knowledge of 1970s rock to the next generation. The Eagles, The Beatles, pretty much any band that represents a bird or insect if up for grabs. I also love me some “Sweet Home Alabama” type music. I see it as my duty. They can’t learn it all from Rock Band. Take some responsibility, parents.
3. If music gets old, have an audio book handy. We listened to “Insurgent” on the way last time. It’s the second book in the “Divergent” series. Good stuff, and Mancub didn’t mind. He actually turned it back on after a pitstop.
4. Take a few short breaks and let everyone switch seats. Those long teen legs need to stretch out periodically, preferably NOT in my back.
5. Have lots of snacks on hand. The last thing you want to happen is to break down on some deserted road. That’s how Texas Chainsaw Massacre starts, people. With Mancub’s appetite I can’t afford to take chances.I don’t have bumper stickers but if I did it would say “The cycle of cannibalism stops HERE.”
Be the change, people. BE. THE. CHANGE.

Mancub, Cousins and Oodles of Spaghetti Noodles

spaghetti

It’s summer! For us, one of our favorite traditions is picking up my nephew (who is BFFs with Mancub) for a few weeks. So now, I have 2 teenaged boys with teenaged appetites. I LOVE IT.
My goal: feed everyone generously and tastily with a reasonable budget. My main goal is to WASTE NOTHING.
We eat a lot of spaghetti at my house. It’s a family favorite. Today I made a giant batch with homemade sauce. Mancub, Cousin and The Engineer ate their fill for dinner, and then I packaged the spaghetti in individual containers and put them in the front of the fridge. This way, they are readily available for anyone who’s hungry and there’s less chance that the spaghetti will be lost in the back of fridge, slowly growing moldy and looking all science-experimentish. And it’s worked! My watergirls came home from work and found the appetizingly packaged leftovers and dug right in.
Here’s my easy-peasy recipe for homemade spaghetti sauce. It’s much cheaper than the name brand and, I think, much more delicious.

Spaghetti Sauce
1 pound ground round
2 cans tomato sauce
2 cans diced tomatoes
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp. garlic salt
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. pepper
1 onion, diced (optional)
1 green pepper, diced (optional)j
1 can mushrooms
dash parmesan cheese

I was fresh out of peppers so I skipped them this time, but normally I love the taste they give the sauce. Plus, it’s a sneaky way to add veggies to the mix.

In a hot skillet, add a generous amount of olive oil. When it’s hot, cook the veggies until they are soft. Next, add the hamburger. Cook until the pink is gone. Add spices, tomato sauce and tomatoes. My hubby doesn’t like the texture so I blend them first before adding to the sauce. He’s spoiled that way.
If you have time, an option is to put this in the crockpot on low for a few hours. It realllly tastes great the longer the flavors have to mingle. If you don’t have time, just serve it over hot pasta. Easy peasy.

After everyone’s eaten, package the leftovers in individual containers like tv dinners. Whatever size you have on hand is fine.

Teen Speak: On Faith, God and Prayer (or Lack Thereof)

bridge

When I asked Mancub if he’d talked to God about his feelings on Watergirl moving away, he replied, “Not really. I’m kind of mad at him right now.”
“Why are you mad at God for this? He’s not making her family move.”
“Yes he is,” he explained. “He’s calling them to do a church plant and they have no choice but to do it.”

“God is tough enough to handle a bit of anger.”

Wow. This isn’t a difficult conversation at all, is it?

So we prayed together for a bit. I have to admit I don’t pray with him very much, and as a family we don’t spend enough time praying together. I experience a sort of anxiety when asked to pray out loud, probably because I’m intimidated by those who pray so well. You know the type, they are able to in a second’s notice create sheer poetry when asked to lead the prayer.
When I pray out loud it sounds something like this:
“Dear God, we just thank you for this day and for this time together. Please heal Mr. Smith’s bad hip so he can continue to play racquetball. In Jesus name, Amen.”
I’m a writer folks. Give me a pen and I can write a pretty prayer, but it doesn’t always translate verbally. This made me feel guilty (yet again) about how I’m raising my kid. I let him see me angry at traffic, frustrated from work, laughing at bad television–so it’s definitely a problem if I don’t let him see me pray. And if I don’t teach him how.
If I teach him to open doors for women, how to cook a cheese sandwich, but not how to pray, how am I preparing him for life? I’m not.
The University of Notre Dame recently conducted a study regarding teenagers and their views on faith and God. One of the main purposes of the study was to update findings which were deemed outdated. It’s pretty interesting and I plan on taking it apart bit by bit to see what it means for Mancub and our family.

http://youthandreligion.nd.edu/

Teen Speak: Three Things To Remember When Your Kid is Hurting

coffee in arkansas

It’s inevitable. As much as I’d love to take my  kids and bubble-wrap them from any sort of physical or emotional pain, it’s just not possible. Life happens to all of us, and sometimes it’s an all-up-in-your-face free-for-all that results in their pain.

Many times I never see it coming. A breakup or a giant fight with a best friend seems to come from nowhere and it’s intensely personal. It’s so, so difficult to remain a responsible adult when these things happen, meaning NOT going over there to give that brat a piece of your mind.

Yes, kids need to work out their own relationship issues…blah blah blah. Tell me that again when it’s two in the morning and your kid hasn’t stopped sobbing and it’s just heartbreaking.

Sometimes, it’s unavoidable and I can see it coming from a mile away. That’s the worst, I think. When I know when the day or event is coming that’s gonna cause emotional fallout and there’s just nothing I can do about it.

Sometimes I can help, gently suggesting solutions (if there are any) or hiring the Mafia to take care of the problem. Isn’t it infuriating when all you can do is watch someone mistreat and manipulate one of yours, knowing that despite your advice and pleas, it’s up to them to finally see the truth? It’s times like those I wish I had The Godfather on speed dial. “You come to me, on the day of my daughter’s wedding…”

Sometimes, though, there’s nothing I can do to fix the pain and that is an anxiety-ridden few days–or months–when I have to stand back and let things happen.

It’s so hard. I don’t want them to hurt.

But so very many things are out of my sphere of influence. When a best friend moves away. When a relationship breaks up leaving your kid as a casualty.  When those hard things life throws us hit us right in the eye and we can’t see for days because of it.

Here are 3 tips to help you through this time with your teen.

1.Be still, dear Parent. God loves your sweet teen even more than you do. He can see the bigger picture and he’s in control. Give your teen more hugs than usual and a bit more leeway than you normally would. Let him or her know that you are available to talk anytime.

2.Be available. Take him for ice cream to get out of the house. Invite another friend over to distract him. Be silly with him–watch a terrible movie together and laugh. Don’t be afraid to help him laugh.

3.Pray with him. Remind him of God’s presence. Pray for him also, basking them in the Spirit and speaking joy over them.

And for today, everything will feel a tiny bit better. And again tomorrow, a bit more, until the pain is in the form of a shadow rather than itself. The sun will shine again, and when it does you’ll know. Your kid will smile and you’ll see it, just there. See it?

Conversations With Mancub

Mancub in his natural habit. He's got it pretty rough, folks. Warning: this may be hard to read, like the "Arms of an Angel" dog commercials.

Mancub in his natural habit. He’s got it pretty rough, folks.

Warning: this may be hard to read, like those “Arms of an Angel” dog commercials. Not really.

Yesterday, I made it home kind of late. After teaching my night composition class, I was hanging out with my sweet friend Katie who just had an operation in which THEY BROKE HER FACE. Actually, the doctor broke her nose in an effort to reset and repair sinus issues that have been making her miserable for years. Anyway, I showed up at her house with Tacos and Tom: the best sick buddy combo ever. Tacos from Rusty Taco and a Tom Hardy movie. In this case, Wuthering Heights with Tom as Heathcliff. And before you ask. YES she likes Tom Hardy and YES she wanted to watch it…I know some of you were thinking that this was some sort of bullying on my part because Katie was poor and helpless with her broken nose. All you naysayers can just go to h.e. double hockey sticks because she loves Tom Hardy too.

Anyway, back to Mancub. It’s his first week of summer vacation and I’m already struggling with how to keep his butt from permanently growing into his desk chair as he “catches up” for lost time (meaning the annoyance that is high school) on his favorite past time: video games. During the school year, we don’t make him clean the kitchen (his normal chore) on Wednesdays because that’s when he goes to Youth Group with Watergirl and he needs time to do his homework and practice (theoretically) his horn and do the various good Samaritan deeds he does throughout the community and his many other philanthropic pursuits. Well, here’s the rub. It’s summer–so he doesn’t really have homework. He has youth group but that’s only for a couple of hours.

I’m over at Katie’s, selflessly hanging out with my medicated friend watching Tom Hardy (hey-she would have picked it if she had a choice! I swear) on Katie’s supersoft bed in her immaculate apartment when Nate calls. He’s asking for money to go to this restaurant called the Cotton Patch tomorrow for lunch. I’ve been there: it’s ok…good not great. However, it survives in Tyler for two reasons: it’s a family restaurant that serves everything deep fried. I bet I could ask them to deep fry my sweet tea and they would.

Restaurants have a hard time surviving in Tyler unless they are pretentiously expensive and serve all manners of booze. This one restaurant called “Double D’s” caused a big ruckus when it opened across the street from the high school and next to Toys R Us. That’s just good marketing, folks. Eventually it went out of business, so then it became some kind of chicken shack and now it’s for sale again.

Mancub knows I don’t carry cash so he’s learning to plan ahead where this is concerned. Never mind that he and Watergirl just went to Chili’s earlier (with the sisters). But I stopped by the ATM for him anyway. I also stopped by and got The Engineer and I some frozen custard. I didn’t get the kids any because I’m mean.

I came in the living room with the custard and Mancub’s like, “Did you get me some?” Um, no. I’m the meanest mom around, and sometimes I gotta remind him of that. Plus he just said he was avoiding junk food for “a while.” He gets this from me. Awhile means one thing when I’m dieting and another when I’m doing something painful like watching Sci-fi.

Earlier, he and Watergirl were making juice in the kitchen. They juiced an entire pineapple, some carrots and anything else they could get their hands on.They might have considered juicing the chihuahua but he’s mostly fat pockets which is not healthy.When they were finished, Mancub left the juicer exactly the way it was and didn’t rinse anything off. He gets THAT trait from his dad. Apparently if you just leave your dishes lying around or kick off your dirty undies next to the shower, it disappears like magic–presumably by our invisible butler named Jeeves.

If you’ve never juiced before, you should know that juice pulp, when left on a juicer, takes approximately ten seconds before it magically turns into a hardened, ancient oatmeal consistency that somehow manages to become part of the molecular structure of the juicer. The pulp clings to the juicer parts like the Gosslin kids used to cling to Kate before she got the hair extensions.

“Nate. You didn’t clean the juicer.”

“Oh yeah. It’s my day off.”

“I’m sorry? Day off?” I ask, with a slight lilt in my voice that suggests that I don’t understand English.

“Yeah. Youth group day.”

“How does that translate to “I get to leave a bunch of crap for mom to clean up?” In case you really thought we had a butler named Jeeves.

“Um…”

“Plus, what do you do today that’s left you so exhausted? Sleeping in? Hanging out with Watergirl? Napping? Watching reruns of Avatar? Fighting off creepers in Minecraft? I know these are all extremely taxing activities but I’m gonna have to ask you to clean up that juicier.”

So he did. Call CPS if you must.