Vicki’s Turn

What Are We Teaching Our Kids About The President, Anyway?

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As the author of several books called Girlfriend’s Guides covering the motherhood experience from pregnancy up through teenagers (the teen book is still being written at this point) and as the mother of four kids, I’m sickened by the miasma of suspicion and cynicism that is infected so many parents regarding President Obama. I’m not going to begin a diatribe here about the profound and critical need to reform health care (which as the mother of a son diagnosed with cancer two years ago, I have some bitter feelings about,) but let’s instead begin with his back-to-school speech.

When I heard that the same parents who fail to go to Open House Night to meet the teachers who spend every day teaching our kids decided that watching the President of the United States address them was something they could not allow, I staggered. I kept reading about it to find some sense to why people were approaching a student-directed speech to their kids (with the contents available on line to parents the night before, for God’s sake!) read more ›

I Hate Dogs, Especially Mine!

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After I had kids, I cooled a little toward dogs. I’ve always owned them and there was a time many, many years ago when I loved them like furry children. I even made my former husband pose for a Christmas card photo of him and me and our two dogs, but that was when I was getting infertility treatments and was nearly psychotic from the lethal blend of hormones and disappointment at not having a real infant.

But when that blessed first baby came, I noticed I developed a marked ambivalence about my pets. Every kid I grew up with had a scar above their lip or over their eye from a dog bite, and who was I to dispute my mother-in-law’s wives’ tale about cats sucking the milky breath out of sleeping babies? All the love, and my inexplicable impulse to dress small beings in funny clothes that I’d shown my dogs was more than fulfilled by my baby, who was followed in rapid succession by three more babies.read more ›

Girlfriends’ Guide to Divorce: When Parents Attack, The Kids Are the Injured Party

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Yes, Anne Heche, you can say “lazy ass” on television. The question is, should you?  And the answer is, it’s NEVER appropriate when you are talking about the father of your child, as the actress was about her ex, Coley Laffoon, on Letterman the other night.

I get it that being on Dave’s show is tough, what with his attitude toward women shifting from lascivious to alienated. And with his reputation for keeping his studio as cold as a meat locker, the shivering from cold and nerves must combine to make a person move and speak with all the poise of someone suffering from hypothermia. Still, a mature parent would never blaspheme a co-parent for schtick.read more ›

We’ve Forgotten How To Mourn

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Most of us don’t get very far in life without experiencing the death of someone we love. And by mid-life, where I currently reside, people seem to be kicking off at an alarming rate as parents, mentors even, God forbid, people our own age or younger pass away. That is certainly true for me, having lost my beloved grandparents, my father and my only sibling, a younger brother in the past decade. I’ve gone to more funerals than I wanted to and fewer than I should have, but I still have such uncertainty about grief and mourning.

Being a fifth-generation Californian, I have almost no heritage or tradition that is more than fifty years old. Sure, I am culturally informed enough to roast a turkey at Thanksgiving and that sort of thing, but as to the BIG issues, like the meaning of life and death and the framework in which to place them still has me all bollixed up. My Iowa-born mother saw to our Presbyterian baptisms and we attended Sunday School, but our parents just dropped us off there and picked us up after they’d enjoyed a free hour to read the Sunday paper without kids.read more ›

Three Boys For Every Girl

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“I’ve been married three times,” anthropologist Margaret Mead said, “and each time I married the right person.” I get it completely. I don’t know if I would recognize the bride I was thirty years ago if she were to throw her bouquet at my face… although I do remember her as pretty and with a firm round ass that no longer exists. I feel certain, however, that she and I would be looking for very different things in a relationship, plus I’m a lot wiser than she is.

For the first marriage, a woman is driven by the biological imperative to perpetuate the DNA. Romance and lust are the propellants behind most first marriages. College-aged girls may be indifferent about the institution of marriage, but they are zealous about being brides and having weddings. The perfect guy tends to be attractive and sexy and what a “groom” should look like, and this guy is absolutely the right guy to marry at the time.
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Girlfriends’ Guide To Divorced Parents: Hey Kids, Wanna Have A Sleepover With Daddy’s New Friend?

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We may be divorcing, but the father of my kids is still one of the funniest guys I know. He and I were talking on the phone recently and he explained his concept of the 5,000 Mile Rule: neither of us can date anyone who lives nearer than 5,000 miles from our homes in Los Angeles to protect everyone’s feelings — especially the dates’, because our kids are ages fifteen to twenty-one and they would torment them or embarrass them publicly. So, until I finish writing my next book in December, I’m all alone on weekends, but come January I’ll be off to look for Dmitri or Colin or Sancho. As for him, his business in Europe seems to be expanding rapidly and demanding a lot of his time.

For parents of very young children, however, getting the needs of the parents to coincide with the best interests of the children is usually fraught with agony all the way around. We all say we would do anything for our kids, including die for them, but when push comes to shove, most of us resist being inconvenienced, lonely or horny for their sakes.
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Parenting Your Parents: They Are So Hard To Discipline

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I only have one parent left out of two biologicals and two in-laws and I cherish her, honestly, I do. But after this week, I’m dangerously close to taking up smoking (which, by the way, she does with great commitment; I’m convinced it’s her scheme to keep herself ineligible for all senior living communities in California) or throwing Momma from the train. She doesn’t seem to want to die yet, and I certainly want her to live for many more years, but she just won’t work with me on this.

Old age is not for wussies. I am keenly aware of all the little murders aging commits each day. It’s not just the Big Three Diseases, cancer, heart disease and Alzheimer’s that lurk around in wait for the aged to take advantage of weakened immune systems and, but the daily assaults like falling, shingles (who knew?) and sadness. I have so much compassion for my shrinking little mommy, at least when I’m not haranguing her, admonishing her, begging her and cajoling her to do things like take her medication, take a shower, floss her teeth or get up and go for a walk with me.read more ›

Global Warming: How Having Teenagers Makes Me An Expert On Developing Countries

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It’s no coincidence that I waited till the Huffington Post moved all the environmental stuff out of the Living section before I began posting for it. Call me anything, but never call me “earnest,” please. My ecological philosophy goes something like this: Don’t be a pig and clean up your mess to your best ability. Enough said. Reading about carbon footprints just makes me feel guilty and insignificant, particularly now that the G8 meeting is coming to an end in Italy. I may be squinting at under-lit labels in my pantry because I’m using CFL’s and I may be driving a hybrid, but what difference does that make when India and China haven’t even gone through puberty, let alone been invited to the dance. The developed countries have all agreed to a “goal” to limit global warming to no more than 2 degrees, but the hormonal and exceedingly populated developing countries have been trying to act invisible during this part of the summit.

Who can blame them? They haven’t had their Bruce Springsteen moments yet.

They feel born to run and are just itching for affordable cars so that Wendy can wrap her legs ’round these velvet rims. We developed (and I use this term loosely) folks orgiastically indulged in the freedom and sex appeal of cars and now that we’re middle-aged and no longer capable of rising to those emotions, we can’t understand why everyone doesn’t embrace moderation. As the mother of four kids, ages Learner’s Permit to Legal Alcohol Limit, I get the rising titans’ reluctance to restrict their appetites for the stuff all teenagers want. I don’t believe that there is a single hybrid in the senior parking lot of my kids’ high school that isn’t either a pretend fuel economizer (like a Lexus GS450h or the hybrid Tahoe) or their mother’s. Left to their own devices, youths choose fast and big every time. Even if it required a coal-burning engine and a gas mask, teens and China would drive if they could.read more ›

I Can’t Find My Way Home

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I spent the night in my new home last night. Going to sleep there was fine. Waking up there, not so much. After six months of going through the business and heartbreak of getting divorced and setting my children and me up with a new place to live, it’s official:

My printed stationery is obsolete. I have a new credit card that I haven’t memorized, I double-check myself when giving my phone number and I don’t know where anything is in all the cartons and piles relegated to the corners of the rooms in wait for some furniture in which to place everything. I need more honey pots, so to speak, since as Pooh said, “they’re useful things to put things in.”

Oh, God, what have I done? I know how I got here, but I’ll be darned if I know what to do now that I’m here. I have my work, of course, but I don’t even know where to do that.read more ›

Mommy Porn: What We’re Really Fantasizing About

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A “missing” man who happens to be Governor of South Carolina gets caught with his pants down in Argentina while his wife’s only comment is something to the effect, “I’m busy here taking care of our four kids while the idiot is chasing his Evita.” Have you seen this guy, Mark Sanford? A wussy fellow who says inane things in a silly and pompous press conference like, “I’m going to lay it all out and…it’s gonna hurt.” Oh show me how you take the pain, Big Man! It’s all so tedious and sneaky and, well, unmanly.

Which is why I have joined millions of tween and teenaged girls as a devotee of the “Twilight” books. I’m not the first mid-life mom to discover the love story of a clumsy high school girl and a vampire; my girlfriend Cheryl was the first of my peers to recommend them. My 15 year-old daughter made fun of my secret interest in the series, but ended up giving me the first book on audio disc for my car. The plan was that we’d listen together while she practiced her driving under my supervision. But I started sneaking listening sessions when I was driving around town alone, and I was up to disc 6 before I had to confess to her that I was hooked.read more ›

Vicki Iovine – Girlfriends' Guides