The World’s Worst Mother Is Back on The Huffington Post

/Rochelle Hartman
Flickr/Rochelle Hartman

The Huffington Post has published an updated and re-titled version of an oldie but goodie, “10 Commandments for My Teenage Daughter.” For some reason I haven’t been able to figure out, the original version has been going nuts over the last few days.  I’m starting to worry that an angry mob of pitchfork wielding religious zealots is organizing to come to my house because they think I’ve committed a sacrilege. If I go missing, you’ll know why.

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Your Mom Is Getting Around

Yesterday was crazy. My article “How to (Purposely) Raise a Disrespectful Child” was pushed out to 1,500,000 Facebook feeds by Huffington Post Parents.

It’s generated exactly the response I expected. The people who have taken the time to comment on Facebook hate me. They really, really hate me. I am apparently everything that is wrong with parents these days. (Hah! And Go Me!) My favorite Facebook comment is: “All I have to say is: 💩💩💩💩💩💩” I was also accused of being a Millennial. (Bwah! Sooooo far off from fact.) And there have been all sorts of dire predictions about how my child will grow up to be a asshole — which couldn’t be farther from the truth. I sometimes have to encourage her to be more of an asshole. But many, many more people have clicked the “like” button than the “dislike” button. So there’s that.

I also had my first featured piece on the awesome website, Sammiches & Psych Meds. They published my article, “Your Mom’s Guide to Murder,” which details my obsession with the true crime genre. More to come on the Sammiches site in about two weeks.

Anyway, click the links above now, stop by, and check the articles out!

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Bubbles, Bubbles, Everywhere


I’ve been exchanging thoughts about the election with a friend of mine from high school.  Chris and I grew up in Kansas City. We migrated to opposite coasts. Chris eventually returned to Kansas City, while I have spent the last 25 years in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Chris was bemoaning how the “coastal elites” view those who live in the heartland. He believes that those in the “coastal elite bubble” base their reporting or prognostication on their own elite perspectives and then act surprised when the voters in the “hinterland” vote differently.

There’s certainly truth in what Chris says, there is an “elite” that is surprised when their point of view is not accepted.  But it’s not coastal. And there is no geographic “elite” bubble limited to the coasts.

Yes, there are people on the coasts who make dumb comments about “The Wizard of Oz” and “flyover country” and assume that everyone in the middle of the country is some sort of idiotic hick or rube. But that’s just a result of lack of exposure.  I’m regularly astonished at the number of smart, sophisticated people I know who have never set foot in the land that stretches from the Rocky Mountains to the states along the Atlantic.

That being said, I think the “coastal” elite thing is overstated. It’s not the coast vs the heartland. Instead, the divide is a divide of class, education and urban/rural. Geography is not that consequential. There are “elites” everywhere. There may be greater concentrations in some areas than in others, but the “elites” are everywhere.

I know I live in a bubble, but my bubble is not a geographic one. My friends who live away from the Coasts are almost uniformly part of the upper(ish) class, educated, urban/suburban “elite.” And with a few — very few — exceptions, my friends are appalled by Trump and astonished by the outcome of the election regardless of where they live.

So if the “elites” are in bubbles, there are bubbles everywhere, not just on the coasts. There are “elites” in New York and Washington and San Francisco, but there are also “elites” in Kansas City and Tulsa and Louisville. And the bubbles we live in are those made of class, education and the opportunity to be exposed to and become comfortable with the “other” that is available because of greater diversity in urban/suburban areas.

If someone is not well educated, lives in a rural area and is in economic distress, s/he is not likely to know Muslims, or openly LGBT people or Asians or undocumented residents, or highly educated women etc. It’s much easier to view those “other” people with suspicion when you don’t know them. And Trump fed that fear.

But the lack of understanding goes two ways. In my bubble, I don’t know rural America. I don’t know many people who didn’t go to college. I don’t know many people who are suffering from the displacement caused by the evolution of our economy away from manufacturing jobs. I don’t know many people who have never left their state, not to mention traveled abroad.

I find it’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking that because I’m “smarter” and more sophisticated/worldly, I know better. But the thing is, I don’t know — at all. I don’t know the experience that made Trump supporters buy into the fear he peddled.

And I think it’s only when those of us who are the “elites” (geography be damned) open up our eyes and try to understand these “others” that we can even begin to move forward. We, the “elite,” have the resources to figure out why many Trump supporters think the way they do. They don’t have the resources to figure out why we think the way we do.

So it’s on us, “elites,” to make an effort to figure out WTF is going on and whether there’s anything we can do to change the situation.  Maybe there isn’t. Maybe Trump’s supporters are just a bunch of racist, sexist assholes for no reason. But I doubt it’s that simple. We don’t have to agree with the Trump supporters or respect their thinking.  But we do need to understand the roots of their thinking if we want that thinking to change.

How to (Purposely) Raise a Disrespectful Child

Flickr/Bailey Weaver
Flickr/Bailey Weaver

In the wake to Donald Trump’s victory, I came across a post from an anti-Trump mom who was wrestling with whether she should revisit how she was talking to her daughter about Trump. She said she had two choices. She could continue to bash Trump or she could teach her daughter “to accept defeat with grace, carry her morals and values with her head held high, and respect authority.” She chose the latter.

I’m fine with teaching a child to accept defeat with grace and to carry her morals and values with her head held high. But I have a real problem with teaching a child to “respect authority.” Respect for authority can be grossly overrated if not downright dangerous. This is one of those times when respect for authority is dangerous.

So I’m teaching my daughter to be disrespectful. Not rude. Just disrespectful.

I believe that we need to teach our kids that respect for authority should be viewed with a harshly critical eye. Just because a person is in a position of authority does not mean that he deserves our respect. The Office of the President of the United States deserves respect, but the person occupying that office must earn our respect. To date, Mr. Trump has done nothing to earn my respect. I sincerely hope that changes, but until it does, he will not have my respect, and I will encourage my daughter to not respect him either. The stakes are simply too high to give him any deference.

And although we tell our children to “respect their elders,” blind respect for authority – even among the very young – can be dangerous. We need to teach our children that there are times when adults should be disrespected. On a broad level, teaching our children to “respect authority” is the dream of totalitarians. Our children need to be taught to question authority. On a micro level, teaching our children to respect adults just because they are adults or are in a particular position is an invitation to the abuse of our children by those in authority. Many children have been abused by teachers, clergy or others because they have been taught to “respect their elders” or “respect authority.”

Furthermore, many of the most important changes in America have been won by those who did not respect authority when authority did not deserve to be respected. Think of the Civil Rights movement and the badly behaved women who, 100 years ago, fought authority so that I could cast my vote on Election Day.

So I am proudly teaching my daughter to be disrespectful. As long as my daughter is thoughtful about her position — and not just fighting authority because it’s authority — I’ll encourage her to be disrespectful to authority when needed. It’s needed now. Too much is at stake. At the moment, disrespect is what may keep America great.

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What Millennials Don’t Know About Voting

i-voted-sticker Boo turned 18 in July, so the upcoming election is the first time she will be able to vote.  She is a budding social justice warrior, so she’s stoked about voting.  She’s spent a lot of time educating herself about the candidates and issues, and she understands the importance of voting — having her voice heard, supporting the democratic process, civic participation, blah, blah, blah . . . . She gets that.

What she may not completely understand is some of the underappreciated benefits of voting, so I’ve shared them with her.  Now I’m sharing them with you too. You’re welcome.

The Underappreciated Benefits of Voting

  1. The stickers. (Duh!)
  2. You get to be a superhero because you fought to save the world from the Trumpocalypse. Spandex outfit is optional.
  3. Your Mom will not kick you out of the house on the grounds of dumbassery.
  4. Legalized weed. In 3 years. When you turn 21. And not a minute sooner. Also, do as I say, not as I do.
  5. You can have riveting conversations about politics at parties. Like this one.
  6. You get to vote on issues related to porn. (See California’s Prop. 60) And who doesn’t love a good old-fashioned porn vote?
  7. Being able to travel abroad without having to explain WTF happened.
  8. Polling place games. image
  9. Canceling out the vote of your dimwitted cousin.
  10. A President with a vagina of steel.

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College Prep for Toddlers


Pixabay/Creative Commons CCO
Pixabay/Creative Commons CCO

Earlier this week, my daughter hit “send” on her first few college applications. College admission these days is a brutal process. With some of the most competitive colleges admitting  less than 10% of their applicants, it’s more important than ever that applicants stand out from the crowd.

My daughter’s application process has made me question what I could have done that would have eased her way. I’ve come to the sad realization that I may have missed the boat when she was a toddler. There are so many things I could have done that could have better prepared her for today’s hyper competitive college admissions environment. Unfortunately, it’s too late for her, but i hope the next generation can benefit from the lessons I’ve learned. So please share these suggestions with the parents of any toddlers you might know.

College Prep for Toddlers

Have your toddler give a TED talk. Colleges are looking for passion and expertise in their applicants.  Nothing says “passion and expertise” as much as a TED talk.  So have your toddler speak on topics she is passionate about.  Possible subjects may include: “My Liberation Manifesto: Why Taking Your Clothes Off in the Grocery Store Is an Expression of Solidarity with the Oppressed,” “The Booster Chair Pollock: Creating Floor Art with Food During Lunch,” “Life Strategies: How to Temper Tantrum Your Way to Getting Anything You Want at Target,” and the evergreen toddler topic “Noooooo!” You will probably have to accompany your toddler to her TED talk as a translator because, let’s face it, only a toddler’s parents can understand what she is saying.

Train your toddler for the Olympics. Highly selective colleges love Olympic athletes. The good news is that toddlers are already surprisingly adept at certain Olympic events, so all you need to do is use their natural talents as a springboard to Olympic glory. For instance, every attempt to get your toddler dressed is a natural entree to Greco-Roman wrestling. Put a tray on a slide and you have a luge. Fight with her sibling? I see a judo medalist. A ride on a merry-go-round is the first step toward earning a gold in the 3 day equestrian event. And that melon your toddler hurled through the window? On her way to being a shot put champion. (Note: For some toddlers, you may want to exclude training for certain Olympic events from this plan. For example, training for archery and the javelin throw may only be appropriate for the most advanced toddlers.)

Have your toddler write the next Broadway smash. Colleges are always looking for applicants who have a passion for the arts. Fortunately, toddlers love to sing and dance.  So all you need to do is help your toddler harness that creative energy and turn it into the next “Hamilton.”  Possible titles for your toddler’s genre redefining musical include: “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Bathroom,” “How to Succeed in Driving Your Sister Crazy Without Really Trying,” “The Sound of Shrieking,” and “The Phantom of the Opera Is in My Room, So I Must Sleep with You.” Your toddler can also incorporate innovative choreography such as jumping up and down in one place while screaming, spinning until she is dizzy and staggering like a drunkard, and running around the living room like a maniac until she smashes her head into an end table and cries. (Unsolicited advice — this last move should probably be reserved only for the very, very, very, very, very, very sad parts of the show. 😢)  Then sit back and wait for your toddler to collect her first Tony.

Help Your Toddler Make a Scientific Breakthrough. Colleges love scientific geniuses. So what if Einstein didn’t speak until he was four? Your toddler can do better than Einstein! Toddlers are naturally curious and have been known to conduct their own groundbreaking experiments. For example, toddlers have made important discoveries in areas such as: How many peas can I stick up my nose?; How far can I projectile vomit?; What’s that floating in the bathtub?; and How long will I be required to thrash and wail until my parents meet my totally reasonable demands? There’s a Nobel Prize and an admission to MIT to be had in these experiments.

Have your toddler run for President. Oops! Too late! We already have a toddler running for President.

If you and your toddler put these helpful suggestions to use, in 15 years, she will be a shoo-in for her dream college. Now all you have to do is worry about how to save several million dollars to pay her tuition.

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10 Questions that Should Be Asked on Financial Aid Forms


If you follow my Facebook page (and if you don’t, you should), you know that I spent all day Saturday crying and drinking while I filled out Boo’s financial aid forms. I have newfound respect for the FAFSA-only schools. Download your tax forms, answer a couple of other questions, e-sign and you’re done. Of course, only one of Boo’s colleges is a FAFSA-only school, so I got to go through the ordeal of the CSS profile — which is much more detailed and ostensibly gives colleges a broader profile of your family’s financial situation.  The only problem is that even though it is WAY more detailed, the CSS doesn’t really give a full picture of a family’s financial situation.  I hate to suggest more work, but here are 10 questions that aren’t on the CSS profile but should be:

1. Do you have a tent? No? You might want to think about getting one.  You may need a place to stay.

2. What are your average annual expenditures for the following necessities: a) ice cream; b) Netflix; c) alcohol?

3. Seriously? You spend that much on ice cream?

4. Have you ever lost a billion dollars at a casino? (Trump family only)

5. You’re gonna have to moonlight, so what will it be? Drug mule or stripper?

6. Please describe any unique talents you may have such as the ability to spin straw into gold.  Or to turn water into wine. Or counterfeit.

7. How many 6 ft. portraits of yourself have you purchased at charity auctions?

8. Are you related to the Beverly Hillbillies?

9. Say, hypothetically, that you needed to rob a bank.  What would be your foolproof plan? Attach a drawing if necessary.

10. So we know this guy. Will pay top dollar for immortal souls.  Goes by “Lucifer.” Any interest?

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10 Types of Guides You See on Campus Tours

image If you haven’t yet been on a college tour, there’s something you need to be aware of.  Your tour guide can make or break your impression of a school. After going on dozens of college tours, here are 10 types of tour guides you might meet. You may have better chemistry with some than others. It’s better to be prepared.

10 Types of Campus Tour Guides

Welcome! I’m Davina. I’m a dance major from Rochester. At the moment, I’m working on my senior project — which is an interpretation in movement of an 18th century Japanese feminist tract incorporating elements of African dance, primal scream and pogo sticks. After graduation, I’m hoping to get a job as an investment banker.  Let’s get started.

Hey. My name is Brett. I’m from Arlington. I’d appreciate it if you would keep your voices down. I’m super hungover.

Hi!!!! 🌺🌷💐 I’m Amber!!!!! 🦄🐶🐱🌈 I’m from Orlando, and I’m sooooo excited to tell you about the community service activities I do with my sorority sisters!!!! 💛❤️💙💜💚!!!

Hi! I’m Zell. My preferred pronouns are zhe and zher. I’m from Portland, and I’m majoring in oppression studies. But before we start, I’d like to apologize that our campus is so ableist.  If you’ll follow me, I’ll take you to our first stop — the yurt.

Hi! I’m William. I’m from Boise, Idaho.  I’m an honors English major.  I’m working on my thesis “The Epistemology of Elegy and Essentialism in Frankenstein and Fifty Shades of Grey — A Proto-Feminist Critique.” I’m also president of the College Republicans.

Hi? I’m Maya? I’m from Newport Beach? I’m majoring in marketing? With a minor in fashion design? After graduation, I’m hoping to work for Ralph Lauren? Or as a personal assistant to Kimye?

Hi. I’m Julia. I’m a computer science major from Wayzata, Minnesota. I’m president of the Tri-College furry club. And I play the oboe.

Hi, I’m Rob. I’m an exercise science major from Lenexa, Kansas.  I can bench press 2 times my body weight.  Seriously.  If you’ll hold still, I’ll lift you over my head.

Welcome! I’m Eleanor.  I’m from Boulder and I’m majoring in environmental science and sustainability studies.  Let’s head to the new language study center.  It’s LEED certified and has a vegetable garden and chicken coop on the roof.  We use the produce and eggs from the roof garden in our cafeteria and I sleep on a pillow stuffed with molted chicken feathers. I’m also so excited that we’ve convinced facilities to acquire a herd of goats that will be used for weed control on campus instead of carbon emitting machinery.

Hi! I’m Marcus.  Sorry I was a few minutes late.  I just got back from my internship in Sen. Warren’s office. Anyway, I’m the president of the SGA, so if you want to know anything about student government, I’m your man.  Also, I run cross country.  And I’m doing research on using robotics to stimulate cell regeneration.  And I’m playing Stanley in “A Streetcar Named Desire.” If anyone needs me to do this tour in ASL while walking backwards, please let me know.

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Ten Questions I’d REALLY Like to Have Answered at a College Information Session


As a veteran of many — probably too many — college information sessions, I’ve come to realize that they’re all pretty much the same. Some of the fine details may differ, but generally, you’ll get a description of the curriculum, the graduation requirements, the application process, financial aid, study abroad and some vague description abou . . .


Sorry. I think nodded off for a minute there.  That happened to me a lot during information sessions.

Ahem. Back to business. I can barely remember any of the information sessions Boo and I attended — with the exception of two spectacularly bad ones; one of which left me wanting to punch the pretentiousness out of the admissions officer and the other made me want to stuff a sock in the mouth of another parent. I might have actually done the sock stuffing except that it was very clear that her daughter wanted to do it way more than I did, and I hate to rob kids of their fun.

In any event, the sameness of the sessions made me ponder the questions that I would really like to hear answered during an information session.  What would really be practical information and set the schools apart and give me a sense of what the school is really like? So I came up with this list of the ten questions I would really like to have answered at an information session.

Information Session Questions

1. What is your policy on responding to a panicked mother who has watched too many episodes of Dateline and whose daughter is not responding to texts?  Asking for a friend.

2. Which movie most accurately reflects life on your campus: a) Animal House (party school); b) The Social Network (school full of ruthless/annoying dweebs); c) Revenge of the Nerds (speaks for itself); d) Scream 2 (for God’s sake, are you so stupid that you’re going out by yourself? There’s a serial killer on campus!); or e) Pitch Perfect (awesome a cappella battles!)?

3. Are admissions here rigged?  Because I hear they’re rigged.  Believe me.

4. What footwear am I most likely to find in the closet of a female identifying student: a) Birkenstocks; b) Ferragamo pumps; c) super cute flip-flops (squee!); d) hiking boots; or e) Manolos?

5. Has your marching band ever been disciplined for an obscene or offensive half time show?  If yes, please describe the theme of the show.

6. Is there parking for helicopters?  Again, asking for a friend.

7. Name the alumnus/alumna you are most embarrassed to admit attended your school.

8. Which academic department is led by the craziest person?

9. It’s 11:00 p.m. on a Saturday, where is my child most likely to be: a) a frat party; b) a poetry slam; c) hanging out with friends from high school; d) in the library; or e) passed out?

10. Which of these most accurately reflects the usual level of interaction between students and professors: a) my professor came to a party in my dorm room;* b) my professor and her spouse have her students over for dinner; c) office hours only; d) I’m the person in row 23; or e) what professors — I only see grad students.

*Some day I’ll tell the story of when the Mayor of Providence ended up at a party in my dorm room.

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Boo’s F**king Water Bottle — A Historical Perspective

Usually Boo pays no attention to my blog, but by some miracle, she saw my last post “Where’s Boo’s F**king Water Bottle?” and she found a water bottle and brought it home!  I nearly fainted.

Anyway, she liked the post, and I had enough fun doctoring pictures that I decided to do a sequel focusing on the history of Boo’s f**king water bottle.  It turns out that Boo’s f**king water bottle has played an important role in some historical events.

Oh the tales Boo’s f**king water bottle could tell!


It wasn’t an apple.  It was Boo’s f**king water bottle.


Mystery of the Sphinx solved! It was a holder for Boo’s f**king water bottle.


Boo’s f**king water bottle was a regular at orgies during the Roman Empire.


99 f**king water bottles on the Great Wall.  99 f**king water bottles.  Take one down pass it around.  98 f**king water bottles on the Great Wall.


We now know why the Mona Lisa was smiling.  She was well hydrated thanks to Boo’s f**king water bottle.


Little known fact — Henry VIII and Boo’s f**king water bottle carried on a torrid affair until he lost the f**king water bottle.


Originally the text read, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Boo’s f**king water bottle.”


Boo’s f**king water bottle was a notorious suffragette who was arrested after she magnetized herself and stuck herself to the White House fence.


Boo’s f**king water bottle killed Hitler!


Boo’s f**king water bottle was spotted on the Grassy Knoll.  Just saying.


F**k, Neil!  You left Boo’s f**king water bottle on the moon!  How are we gonna get it back now?

Let’s hope that this post prompts the return of another f**king water bottle.