Thy Mom’s Ten Commandments

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In the last few days, an article about the benefits of “nagging” your daughter has come across my Facebook feed a couple of times.  The premise of the article is that the daughters of “nagging” moms are more likely to succeed later in life.

I hate this article.  When you look at the details, what it really says is that if you encourage your daughter to make smart decisions, she will listen.  The examples they give?  Tell your daughter to go to college and not to become a teen mom.  Duh!  That’s not nagging.  That’s doing the minimum required to be a mediocre parent.  In contrast, nagging is getting in your kid’s face all the time — often over little things that don’t matter.  That’s not a good thing.  I’m not sure when encouraging reasonable expectations for your kid became nagging.  Because it’s not.  And why is it that it’s always the moms who “nag” and the dads who “encourage”?  Because that’s sexist.  It just plain is.

Stepping off my soapbox now.

And a cleansing breath . . . .

Even though I found the article extremely irritating, it did get me thinking about some of the expectations and requirements I have for Boo.  First, I need to clarify that Boo is either a really good kid or the greatest con artist in the history of humankind.  I don’t spend much time worrying about her becoming a teen mom or driving drunk or taking drugs or becoming romantically involved with someone on death row.  Of course, it’s possible that she has me completely fooled, and that she’s out robbing banks and driving around town, pregnant and on meth, while I’m at home writing stupid blog posts.  But I don’t think so.

Anyway, the result of my thinking is the following list of Thy Mom’s Ten Commandments.  Feel free to copy, revise as necessary, post on your refrigerator, and/or carve into stone tablets.  Which really seems like the least you can do given that I’m not charging you for my words of wisdom.

Thy Mom’s Ten Commandments.

  1.  Although thy Mom would prefer that thou remaineth tattoo-free, thou shalt take a month-long timeout between the time thou decidest to get a tattoo and the time thou actually gets said tattoo.  If thou insisteth on getting a tattoo, thy Mom thinkest that the word “Mom” in a heart is the optimal choice.  Thou shalt never, ever get a tattoo of the name of thy current girlfriend/boyfriend/gender-fluid-friend.
  2. Thou shalt promptly respond to texts from thy Mom inquiring about when thou shalt be coming home.  And if thou shalt not be home for dinner, thou shalt let thy mom know ASAP.  Thou knowest thy Mom hates to cook.  Thy Mom sayest this for thine own good. Thou knowest that thy Mom can get cranky.
  3.  If thou art going to engage in a perilous activity such as sky diving or bungee jumping, thou shalt not advise thy Mom of such activity in advance.  Thou art 18, and therefore, thy Mom knows that there is nothing she can do to stop thou, but thy Mom will be frantic with worry.  Thou mayest inform thy Mom of thine exploits after the fact — but maybe not even then.  Thou shalt use thy discretion in determining if and when to inform thy Mom.
  4. Thou shalt be particularly careful driving into/out of/through parking lots.  Thou knowest that thou hast a tendency to scrape thy Mom’s chariot against inanimate objects in parking lots.  Thy Mom is not amused when that happens.
  5. Thou shalt complete the personal statement for thy college applications so that thy Mom can stop stressing about it.  Thou must concede that thy Mom hath demonstrated the utmost restraint about this matter even though it is Eating. Thy. Mom. Alive.
  6. Thou shalt not object and shall provide all necessary information when thy Mom insisteth on running a criminal background check on thy girlfriend/boyfriend/gender-fluid-friend.  Thy Mom shall not abuse this right.  Better yet, do not have a girlfriend/boyfriend/gender-fluid-friend that thy Mom is likely to suspect is a felon.
  7. Thou shalt cut thy Mom some slack when thy Mom uses the wrong pronoun when referring to one of thy friends.  Thy Mom spent the better part of 5 decades with limited pronoun choices, and it’s hard for thine old Mom to learn new pronouns.
  8. Thou shalt bring thy f**cking water bottle home from school.  Thy Mom estimateth that thy school is the repository of approximately $800 worth of thy nice water bottles.
  9. Thou shalt not get annoyed with thy Mom when thy Mom asks thou to repeat something.  Thou art not one with a right to complain given that thou hardly ever respondeth to thy Mom unless thy Mom is literally in thy face.
  10. Thou shalt cast thy first ever vote for President of the United States for Hillary Clinton or be prepared to face the wrath of thy Mom.  #Thymomiswithher. Fortunately, thy Mom knowest that even though thou felteth the Bern, thou art sensible enough not to vote for an insane misogynist Orangina and is not losing much sleep over this.  Also, thy Mom is thinking of forming a band called “The Insane Misogynist Oranginas.”  Thou shalt be the lead vocalist.  Thy Mom shalt play the tambourine.

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Your Mom’s Guide to College Rankings

Last week, I spent a whole night refreshing my browser until the U.S News “Best Colleges” rankings were finally published.  It was an evening fraught with terror because — as we all know, the USN&WR rankings are the definitive arbiter of all that is good and worthwhile in a college education.  Also, if your kid doesn’t attend a top 10 school, you are a failure as a parent.

After reviewing the list, I came to the sad, sad conclusion that I’m likely going to be a failure as a parent.  Boo is only bothering to apply to one of the top 10 LACs and none of the top ten national universities. But to all you other failures out there, take heart.  Come cry your bitter tears with me.  I’m saving you a seat at the bad parent table.  We’ll be sullen and weird — just like the Ally Sheedy character in “The Breakfast Club.” Only old, possibly drunk, and definitely cranky.  And none of us will be dating Emilio Estevez at the end of the day.

But then I looked at the methodology USN&WR uses for determining the “Best Colleges” and felt much better.  More than a third of the ranking is based on “reputation” and “selectivity.”  If I were being judged by that criteria, I would perform poorly too.  My reputation is mediocre at best, and I am in no position to be highly selective.  In high school, I was a cross between Tracy Flick from “Election” and Urkel.  As an adult, little has changed.  So if I were a college, I would be well out of the top 10.

Because I think that popularity is a poor way to judge colleges, I have come up with my own methodology for ranking colleges.  I believe my criteria are a much better metric for ranking colleges.  You be the judge.

Your Mom’s Methodology for College Rankings

Affordability (40%) — I doubt that Warren Buffett, Bill Gates or Mark Zuckerberg is reading this blog (despite its obvious brilliance).  If they are reading it: a) Uh, Hi! Um . . . don’t you have more important things to do with your time?; and b) you can skip this part.  But for the rest of us mere mortals, let’s face it, affordability is really a threshold metric.  There is no point in looking at any other criteria unless you can pay the king’s ransom demanded by most colleges.  Running the net price calculators for Boo’s target colleges sends me into fits of rage, floods of tears, or Ocean’s Eleven style fantasies of robbing a casino.  With George Clooney.  So on second thought, I guess it’s not all bad.

Weather (5%) — I have told Boo that she should go to school in Southern California because of the weather.  In a completely unsurprising turn of events, she will not listen to me.  But I suspect I will have the last laugh on this one. Mwah ha ha!  I have started to practice saying “I told you so” every night in front of the mirror.  Can’t wait to break that out during her first winter vacation.

Beer (5%) — For the record, I hate beer.  Also, for the record, I drank beer in college.  Because college.  Maybe things will be different at Boo’s chosen hippie college.  But I doubt it.  They’ll probably just drink organic free range beer made by mute Tibetan monks instead of regular beer.

Peers (20%) — Yes, I know the purpose of going to college is to get an education.  But now, 30+ years after I graduated, I barely remember my classes.  I do remember my friends — despite the beer.  My college friends had (and continue to have) a far more profound effect on my life than any class I took.  So find your tribe of kind, smart, interesting and diverse people, and avoid the jerks, the mean kids and the phonies.  (CoughHarvardcough). And pray to God that your freshman roommate is not a ticking time bomb.

Professors/Class Size (15%) — This is one of many areas where Boo is showing that she is much smarter than I was at the same age.  She is not having huge lecture classes, inaccessible professors or classes taught by grad students.  Nope.  Not going to happen.  She wants small seminar style classes and lots of opportunities to interact with her professors.  In contrast, I did almost everything I could to avoid my professors — possibly because my freshman academic advisor may have been the single scariest person I have ever met.  Not serial killer style scary.  But scary in almost every other way.  Advantage Boo.

Food and Housing (10%) — Food and housing won’t make or break your college experience, but they can definitely have an effect.  For example, I went to a college where the main campus dining room was called “The Ratty” — with reason.  And during my freshman year, I lived in a cinder block dorm with built in furniture that was so far from campus, it might as well have been in Siberia.  In contrast, High Point University has its own steakhouse (on the meal plan) and its dorms include swimming pools, hot tubs, a first-run movie theater with free snacks, an arcade, a putting green and a free ice cream truck.  In my next life, I am so going to High Point.

Distractions (5%) — This is very much a “choose your own adventure” category.  There are schools that have amazing outdoor adventure clubs and climbing walls.  There are schools where the thrills and opportunities of big cities are right outside your door.  There’s the University of Missouri that has an indoor beach, a lazy river and a grotto based on the one at the Playboy mansion.  And then there was Providence in the ’80’s — a mafia haven with a cesspool of a river flowing through it.  Good times.

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Look for my Guides to the Hippie Colleges of America and the Ivy League here.

Your Mom Is Going Back to School

No. I’m not going to college with Boo 😭, but I am going back to school.  That’s right.  My last back to school night is coming up this week.

Back to school night is ostensibly a time for you to get to know your child’s teachers and to find out about what your child will be learning during the school year. But it’s also an awesome opportunity to embarrass your child.

As I face my 13th and final back to school night, I feel like I have almost perfected the art of embarrassing Boo.  But I would hate to see my years of accumulated wisdom go to waste as my time comes to an end.  So I am sharing my techniques with you, dear readers. Use these techniques in good health.  And if you know the parents of any preschoolers, be sure to pass this information on to them.

Things to Do at Back to School Night

After the teacher goes through the syllabus, raise your hand and ask, “Will this stuff be on the test?”

Seek out the parents of your child’s current crush and invite their family to dinner.  Watch the reaction when you tell your child what you have done.

Ask the teacher how you can most effectively complain about your child’s grade.

In math class, say, “I was told there would be no math tonight.”

Ask the teacher how your child is going to be challenged given that s/he is so much smarter than the other kids in the class.  Other parents love that!  (Note: this is a true story.  I witnessed it myself when Boo was in the 1st grade. SMH!)

Paste a mushy love note from you to your child on the front of your child’s locker/cubbyhole.  (Note: this technique is not effective before third grade.)  Bonus points for including an embarrassing picture of your child.

In English class, start singing “What Do You Do with a B.A. in English?”  

And last but not least:

Tell the teacher that you’re a ticking time bomb.  But also really chill.

And with this, my back to school nights come to an end. But the good news is that I’m already planning for my first parents’ weekend next fall!  Instead of one night, I get a whole weekend of embarrassing Boo!  Suggestions in the comments would be welcome.  I am stoked!

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Look for my Guides to the Hippie Colleges of America and the Ivy League here.


Your Mom’s Guide to the Personal Statement

Now that we have finalized Boo’s college list, she is in the throes of writing her personal statement.  She is busily trying to figure out how to be be authentic, sincere, humble, honest, thoughtful, humorous, sagacious, scintillating, peppy,  mysterious, illuminating, perspicacious, and . . . uh . . clean!  Oh, and don’t forget — the statement should let colleges “hear her voice.”  (I have come to hate that stupid term.  Everyone uses it.  If they want to hear Boo’s voice, she’ll happily sing for them.)

Things were much easier when I was applying to college.  I could get away with a “what I did on my summer vacation” essay that did little more than demonstrate that I was marginally literate and intermittently conscious.  And that I had spent a summer in Sweden, weirded out by their love of lutfisk, ABBA and Bjorn Borg.  But, back then, that essay was good enough to get me into Brown.

Over the summer, Boo wrote a personal statement that centered on a series of calamities she faced during a trip to Turkey last year with a group from her school.  The essay culminated with her falling into a river and then having to wear her teacher’s spare pair of size 0 shorts for the rest of the day.  (Boo is slim but not that small. So as if having to wear her teacher’s shorts was not humiliating enough, the loss of circulation below her waist was positively mortifying.) Then she decided that essay was horrible, an abomination, and a possible crime against humanity and that she needed to start fresh with a new topic.

So in my usual helpful fashion, I came up with some topics that I thought would be perfect for her personal statement.  Much to my astonishment, Boo has rejected all my suggestions, so I share them with you.  Feel free to pass them on to anyone who is struggling with a topic. I’d hate to see all my hard work go to waste.  You’re welcome.

Personal Statement Topic Suggestions

❤️‍‍🐶❤️🐶‍❤️‍‍Why my doggie is the cutest doggie ever!!!!!!!!❤️🐶‍❤️🐶‍❤️‍ (emojis mandatory)

How Justin Bieber has informed my weltanschauung. (For the record, let it be known amongst all people of good faith and for all generations from now to the end of days that Boo is not now and never has been a fan. She would smite me if I left the impression that she was.)

Pringles — Tasty, tasty snack food or abomination against nature? . . . . Or both?  

The past season of “The Bachelorette” through the lens of Eastern philosophies.  (Boo rejected this topic because she doesn’t watch “The Bachelorette.”  On advice of counsel, I plead the Fifth.)

Why pumping your own gasoline in Oregon is a threat to global stability.

My summer in Sweden.

Inappropriate show tunes I have sung.  (This one was under serious consideration.  And yes, she knew the entire score of “Avenue Q” by the time she was 10.  I  have no idea how that happened. Nope. No. Idea. At. All.)

Why my spirit animal is a sloth.

Fights I have had over pronouns. #firstworldarguments

And last but certainly not least:

How my mother got into the World’s Dumbest Feud (©2016 Your Mom) with College Confidential!

Next — Your Mom’s Guide to College Rankings

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Look for my Guides to the Hippie Colleges of America and the Ivy League here.

Your Mom Has a Parent Crush

On a serious note, Julie Lythcott-Haims is one of my idols.  I keep trying to be more like Julie.  She also did a fabulous podcast called “Getting In” which is all about the college admissions process. Look for it on iTunes. When it comes to college, her motto is don’t buy into the hype; find the fit that works for the student and his/her/their/zher (see I’m being pronoun sensitive!) family.

UPDATED — The World’s Dumbest Feud Gets Even Dumber!

[Be sure to catch the update on this update at the end of this post.  I expect there will be an update on the update on this update at some point.  Because this is just too freaking fun.]

Me and College Confidential

I know. You thought that the World’s Dumbest Feud (©2016 Your Mom) was dead.  So did I, but a whole new level of dumb has now brought it back to life. If you’re unfamiliar with the World’s Dumbest Feud (©2016 Your Mom), you can get the background here.  It’s a really stupid feud between me and the website College Confidential which led to me being banned from posting the continuation of my popular Hippie College Guide on CC.

But before I get to this whole new level of dumb, I’d like to say hi the moderators at College Confidential. I understand you’re reading my blog. Yay!  Hope you’re loving it as much as I’m loving you!

So how did the World’s Dumbest Feud (©2016 Your Mom) come back to life?  Well, one of my informants tells me that CC is taking the position that this is all just a big misunderstanding.  They’re not really banning me. Instead, it’s a problem with my IP address!  There is something wrong with my IP address that is making CC’s system automatically kick out my postings. So it’s all the fault of my IP address and has nothing to do with the content.  Nope.  Not content related.

The problem with that explanation is that I don’t have a single IP address. I’ve used a bunch of different IP addresses and a bunch of different devices. But no matter which of my many IP addresses I’ve used since they first banned me, my posts get deleted and my access is cut off as soon as I appear as a version of hyppymom.

Notably, I’ve been able to successfully post using many of the same IP addresses — until CC figures out that it’s me.  And then I’m banned again.  For example, when I logged in as “@realhyppymom,” I was able to post the continuation of our Ohio trip until CC discovered the post, deleted it, and banned @realhyppymom.  So, the problem is clearly not my IP address(es).  [Update: CC apparently decided to undelete the Ohio post, but @realhyppymom is still unable to post.]

I would call bulls**t on CC’s latest explanation of why I can’t post except that I’m too much of a lady to use such crass language.  In fact, I think I just fainted for a moment there.

Moreover, if this were a just a simple misunderstanding, as CC now claims, perhaps they could send me an email telling me that I need to use a different IP address?  It’s not that hard to use a different IP address.  I could go to the local Starbucks!  Or better yet, I could sit on my couch and route my postings through servers in Dallas or Buenos Aires or Ulan Bator or pretty much anywhere else in the world.  Then they’ll have different IP addresses.  It’s not that hard to do.

And it’s not like CC can’t find me.  They’ve managed to contact me to warn me about the contents of my Facebook page, so they know how to get in touch.  And if they need my email, they can find it on the contact page here. I’ll be waiting, College Confidential.

UPDATE TO THE UPDATE — 9/13/16 @12:45 PDT I was contacted by another CC poster who has apparently been banned because they thought she was I.  FFS.  It’s not like I’m recruiting terrorists.  It’s just a stupid travelogue about visits to hippie colleges.

UPDATE TO THE UPDATE TO THE UPDATE — 9/15 I finally got a message from CC explaining that “realhyppymom” was banned because it was a duplicate account of hyppymom.  Fair enough.  But I still have yet to receive any explanation from CC as to why hyppymom was banned in the first place.  Oh well.  Moving on.

UPDATE TO THE UPDATE TO THE UPDATE TO THE UPDATE — 10/2 The World’s Dumbest Feud (©2016 Your Mom) goes nuclear.