Mom and Dad Who Are You?

Growing up, I always thought I knew my parents to a tee. Their personality traits, likes, dislikes, and pet peeves. After all, I lived with them for a whole 18 years before I went away to college. But now that my four prodigal siblings have moved out and it’s just the three of us, I’ve learned that I didn’t really know them as well as I thought. Living with my parents has allowed me to discover so much more about them, and I’m sure they have discovered a lot more about me. Here are a few very important things I’ve observed about Mike and Mo:

  1. Mike Sr. loves to take out the trash
    Where we live, garbage pick-up day is on Tuesday morning, and it has been this day for as long as I can remember. Growing up, one of us kids was always assigned the chore of “emptying the wastebaskets” in all the bathrooms and bedrooms so it could go in Tuesday morning’s trash pick-up. As you can imagine, this caused a lot of fights between the five of us kids as to whose turn it was to take on this horrific and exhausting task. If my Mom accidentally assigned the same kid to “emptying the wastebaskets” two weeks in a row, she was dead to that child.
    When I moved back home after college, I started to notice that my dad took on this Monday night chore, which was fine with me because I didn’t want to do it. But then I started to notice he became more aggressive with emptying the waste baskets, going through and emptying them a couple times a week. Then it got to the point where if I threw a single Q-Tip in the bathroom wastebasket I felt my father was going to sneak up behind me and empty that wastebasket so there wasn’t a single piece of trash in it. I finally had to confront him about his addiction to emptying the wastebaskets, to which he adamantly denied.
    Since my father travels on business a lot during the week, he can’t always be there to empty the wastebaskets, so I would have to cover for him. I decided to use the information of knowing he loves emptying the waste baskets to my advantage, so I decided to start texting him pictures of myself in the act of emptying the wastebaskets to taunt him while he was away making enough money to continue to feed his 25 year old deadbeat daughter.

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The selfie stick is the gift that just keeps on giving.

My Dad’s love of emptying the wastebaskets has become a running joke between the two of us. As you can see, it’s the main thing we text about. He still claims that he doesn’t LOVE emptying the wastebaskets, that it’s just something that needs to be done, but I know the real truth.

2.  Mo is sick of pretzel rods
My dad does the grocery shopping every Saturday morning, so he keeps inventory of what’s in the fridge and what everyone likes to eat. One Saturday morning, as my mom and I were lounging on the couch with our coffee, watching a juicy Dateline episode that she recorded the night before, my Dad came up from the basement and said to me, “Kathleen, I noticed you haven’t been eating your yogurt that’s in the basement fridge. Do you not like yogurt anymore?” I paused the Dateline episode because I needed my parents’ full attention when I responded to this question. “Ah yea,” I said. “I’ve been meaning to  make an announcement about that. I’m pretty sick of yogurt these days. So if you could stop getting it from the store, that would be great.” And before anyone had time to process my big news my mom chimed in and said, “Well, while, we’re making announcements, I have one too. I just wanted everyone to know, and I know this is shocking, that I’m burned out on pretzel rods.” “Whoa, whoa, whoa, excuse me?” I immediately said. “You can’t just piggy back off my announcement with your own big announcement! You totally just stole my thunder.” Wow, I thought, talk about rude. I felt like Taylor Swift when Kanye West jumped on stage when she was accepting her award at the VMA’s. My own MOTHER “Kanye West’ed” me.
I have to admit though, this did come as a big shock to me. My mom has loved pretzel rods for as long as I can remember. When we were growing up, each day after school she’d boot us from the tv room so she could watch Jeopardy with her Diet Coke and pretzel rods. It took my father and me a few minutes to get over the initial shock of what my mother just said. Did we even know this women at all anymore? While it did take us awhile to come to terms with it, we finally accepted it and said we’d support her in whatever food she decided to replace the pretzel rods with. And that food turned out to be Famous Amos cookies.

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Mo and her two youngest watching Jeopardy back in the day. (I’m the one on the left) It got pretty tight on that couch with five kids, a mom, bags, book bags and all the other junk we threw on that couch. (looks like Girl Scout Cookies and grocery bags in this photo)

3. My Dad has trust issues with Tupperware
A couple of weeks ago, while the three of us were sitting down to a nice dinner of leftovers, my Dad brought up something that I could tell had been bothering him for a while:

Dad: You know, Mo, I put these pineapple chucks in this Tupperware container and the lid doesn’t seem to fit quite right.
Mom: I’ve noticed that too, I think this new dishwasher has been shrinking the lids. Dishwashers these days are way too powerful, I think it’s done some damage to my nice plates too.
Me: You guys always blame stuff on the dishwasher! Dad, the lid doesn’t fit because the top is Betty Crocker brand and the bottom is Rubbermaid brand so they don’t go together.
Dad: Where does it say that?! No, I’m sure these two fit together. (At this point my dad proceeds to try to jam the lid on top of the Tupperware container.)
Me: Would you like me to get a hammer from your tool box so you can better jam that lid onto the bottom? Look right here, the bottom says Rubbermaid and the top says Betty Crocker.
(Now Mike and Mo both take out their reading glasses and begin to inspect the Tupperware for several minutes, discovering that, in fact, the top and the bottom are two different brands.)
Dad: Oh Hell! You practically need an electron microscope to see the damn names on there!
Mom: (said with disgust) I don’t think it’s right that the two companies both make Tupperware containers with red lids. Each company should have a different color lid. They shouldn’t both be allowed to make Tupperware with red lids!

I got a good laugh out of how heated our Tupperware container conversation continued to get. Our dinner conversations always seem to come back to Tupperware. Ever since then my dad has been very cautious about the containers he uses. And he always takes out his glasses to inspect the top and the bottom, usually while making a sarcastic comment. “Do I need to get my PhD to be able to find a top and bottom to put away this pineapple?”

4. Mo hates to toss food.
My mom is a great cook. But these days, she has grown pretty tired of cooking, and I don’t blame her, she cooked meals for her husband and five kids every night when we were little. So the times when she cooks dinner have grown few and far between. But when she does, she cooks in mass quantities as if she is still cooking for five growing children. I also suspect it is so she can be sure there are a lot of leftovers. My mom loves leftover nights because this means she doesn’t have to cook. She is very skilled at making a meal and then stretching it to serve us the next four or five nights. And she’s not picky, she’ll take other people’s leftovers too. Have food you don’t want to finish? Send it Mo’s way, she’ll take it. All these leftovers can sometime be a burden for me because the task of finishing them seems to always fall on me since my parents both eat like birds. If we can’t finish all the leftovers and some food needs to be tossed, my parents make me feel guilty. “It’s a shame we have to waste this” my mom will say as she dumps the food in the garbage while her accusing eyes stare directly into mine, piercing my soul. “I can’t finish all the leftovers!” I say, “I’m only one person! That dinner you made on Monday is like the loaves and the fishes! The food just keeps multiplying in the fridge! I can only eat so much!” “Oh no, I’m not blaming you.” She’ll say even though she is 100% blaming me.
Her biggest pet peeve though is if she gets lunch meat from the store and you don’t finish it. For anyone that has read the book The Little Match Girl they know it’s a story about a little girl who is sent out to sell matches but doesn’t sell any. She is afraid to come home because her father will beat her for not selling any matches. So she stays outside in the cold and ends up dying. Pretty depressing for a children’s book if you ask me. Well, in this reoccurring lunch meat situation at our house I am like the little match girl. If I don’t finish the lunch meat I feel like I shouldn’t even bother coming home for fear of what my mom will do. “Oh my God, oh my God!” I say to myself in a panic as I see the “best if used by” date approaching on the turkey. “I have to find a way to finish this!” I frantically try to come up with a plan and see when I can fit a turkey sandwich into my week’s schedule. Sometimes I don’t meet the deadline and disappoint my mother. Just like the Little Match Girl feared disappointing her father by not selling any matches.”You know I’m going to stop getting lunch meat if you and Dad aren’t eating it.” She says angrily. She always says this, but doesn’t really mean it. And the vicious lunch meat cycle continues.

There are many other things I’ve learned about Mike and Mo, but these are just the important things. Maybe I never noticed these personality traits of theirs growing up because I used to only see them as my parents, but now they are my buddies. It’s been fun getting to know them better. They are pretty great roommates/landlords!

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This photo of me and the roomies was taken on the worst day of my entire life-my college graduation day. 

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Tech Girl Here

A couple of weeks ago something happened to my roommates and me that was extremely traumatic. It really made us stop and think about what was really important in our lives. Mo and I had just plopped on the couch to watch the episode of Chicago Med I had recorded a few days prior. We both had our Diet Cokes in hand, and I was ready with my chips and salsa. But when I hit the “recorded tv” button on the remote an error message came up. Yes, our DVR had malfunctioned and was not working. I tried to remain calm and assured my mom that it was probably just something with our WiFi and after I reset the DVR box it should come back on. Unfortunately, the reset did not help and our shows were still missing. “Give it some time, they will come back, these things just take time.” I said to my mom. Looking back now I’m not sure if I was trying to reassure my mother or myself, for I did not know if our favorite recorded shows would really return. About 45 minutes later my dad yelled up to me from where he was watching tv in the basement. I could immediately detect the fear in his voice when he told me he tried to watch his recording of The O’Reilly Factor and it would not work. “Everyone just remain calm!” I shouted. With my adrenaline pumping I went around to every tv in the house and reset every single DVR box. After all my efforts our recorded shows still did not come back. To make matters worse, our scheduled recordings did not record either.

Exhaustion had set in and I told my parents I needed to get some rest and that I would try again in the morning. Sadly, I could not sleep. How could I knowing that Mike was going to miss this week’s episode of Ice Road Truckers or that Mo would have to sit through the commercials when she watched Dateline or Forensic Files?! Plus Mo and I had so many Inside Editions to catch up on and we like to be caught up before we start watching the nest week’s episodes. But would our DVR be back working to record next week’s episodes? I knew I had to do something, and fast.

The next morning I woke up bright and early and got on the phone with AT&T. After over an hour of waiting to speak to an actual person, I was able to have a technician fix the problem over the phone. Our DVR was finally working again and all of our shows were restored. I was relieved but also felt like I needed a mimosa or something with alcohol in it after that stressful situation.

I really don’t think people quite understand the stresses that come with living with Baby Boomers. You have to be available for tech support 24/7. It is a responsibility only a select few can handle. Luckily, I am one of them and have taken a vow to help my parents with whatever they need in return for them keeping me from becoming homeless.

My father can be a bit of a disgruntled customer when I try to help him. He usually gets mad at me when I try to help him on his computer, claiming I was going too fast. “Wait a minute how the hell did you do that?! You are going to fast! You can’t just go beep bop zip on the keyboard so quickly and expect me to keep up!” I remember he became a little upset when I was teaching him how to use his new iphone. I was showing him how to check the weather when he quickly grabbed the phone from me and said in a loud voice “No! Don’t show me that! You’ll just confuse me! All I want to know is how to make a phone call and check my email! I was happy with my Blackberry but my company forced me to switch over to this stupid thing!” “Well Dad,” I said in a calm voice, “It’s not 2006 anymore, no one has a Blackberry now so you will just have to learn to use your new iphone.”

He also was not very happy when he bought his new car which had a touch screen for the radio. I feel bad for the guy, the car has way too many features for him to handle, not very Baby Boomer friendly. I programmed his radio stations but he just cannot get used to the touch screen. A couple of weeks ago the three of us were driving in my Dad’s car (which was a surprise in itself that his car was actually out of the garage) and my two roomies were trying to figure out how to change the station. I tried to walk them through how to do it but the touch screen was an obstacle they were struggling to get over. I was dying laughing in the back seat it was so comical. Fortunately I was able to compose myself long enough to snap this picture.

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“They put too many damn bells and whistle in cars now a days! Is it too much to ask to just have a simple radio?!”~Mike

My mom is a bit more delightful to work with when I am trying to help her with her tech problems. But I can’t start to explain anything to her until she has her reading glasses perfectly positioned at the end of her nose. She loves to use phrases like “I have to start write these directions down.” or “Over Christmas break I want to hire you to show me how to use my itunes so I can upload the songs myself.” All empty promises of course but I know she means well. I still have nightmares from when I helped her scan pictures for the scrapbook she made for my sister. There was always one more picture that needed to be scanned. I was starting to think she was taking more pictures just to make me scan them. We did do a great job on that scrapbook though, it came out beautifully.

Many parents don’t know how much their kids worry about their future when it comes to using any sort of technology. I often find myself worrying about what my parents will do when I (hopefully) move out of their house. What if they want to watch a DVD and I’m not there to help them pop it in? What if one of them needs to send a picture via text?! Or copy and paste something and I am not around to show them?! I am trying to teach them as much as I can so they will be able to survive when I am gone. Being the house tech girl is a big job but I am happy to do it. Anything for my two best betches 😉

Mom and Dad

Me and my betches. Family by chance, roommates by choice-well maybe not their choice.