How to Low Key Troll Your Family and Survive the Holidays

What would the holidays be without traditions? The food. The family gatherings. The scrutiny of every single one of your life choices by the very people who shaped who you are today.

A better person than I would tell you to let it roll off your shoulders or have a calm discussion with the offending party explaining why you don’t want your three month old to drink a soda or why a baby doll is a great gift for a two year old regardless of gender. But this is your family! They should know you. And if they don’t, are you really going to change their minds while they’re up to their ears in eggnog? Probably not.

Now full disclosure I don’t recommend trolling anyone that you have a fraught relationship with. Save this for the nearest and dearest, the ones you have a great relationship with but they just can’t seem to keep their advice to themselves. When in doubt, text your bestie from the bathroom and bitch to her. 

via GIPHY

Without further ado here is my easy four step guide to low key trolling your family and surviving the holidays:

Step one: breathe.

The reason is twofold. One, all that oxygen is going to settle your limbic system and quiet that fight or flight response. Two, it’s going to give you time to think of a remark. And three (I guess it’s threefold) comedic timing! If you go into your response too quickly it’s going to look like an attack (and if you aren’t breathing it’s going to come out like one too.) We are not attacking, we’re bringing light to the situation like a sweary scented candle.

Step two: laugh.

Smile. Put a twinkle in your eye. You are not laughing at them, you’re laughing at YOU. You can’t make them feel that you’re joking at their expensive but at your own. That’s how satire works. By making it look like you’re mocking the thing you believe in, or making the offending party think that you are. Remember, we want to sit down and eat cheesecake with these people later. We’re not trying to throw a stick of dynamite into a straw house. 

Step three: fire away.

It helps if you have responses prepared ahead of time. (Let’s be honest, families aren’t exactly creative when it comes to their knitpicking.) Like if your family thinks your breastfeeding is indecent, exclaim that lucky for them you brought enough receiving blankets for everyone to eat under! If they think you’re irresponsible for going back to work, a quick “Yeah (male who went back to work after becoming a dad), don’t you find it so difficult to leave your baby all day?” should suffice. Oh and about that kitchen you’re excited to give your son I saw the best response on twitter:

Now I’m not definitely saying you should respond “that’s so gay” every time a male in your family eats but I mean… could be a new party game.

Step 4: shut the convo down.

Offer to get them a drink. A cookie. Feign a heart attack. Do what you’ve gotta do to make clear that your parenting and life choices are no longer up for discussion. This whole interaction should take less than ten seconds and if you laugh with good humour your family should be left laughing too, if only confusedly.

I know they say kill ’em with kindness but let’s squash ’em with humour shall we? Much more seasonal. And easy to pull off if everyone’s in the rum. I think this is where I remind you that your family loves you and just wants the best for you bla bla bla but let’s be real here: we’re all just trying to get in and get out with our relationships intact.

Happy Holidays!

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Things I’m sick of hearing as the parent of a gifted child

Disclaimer: I am not an educator, psychologist, or any other professional related to giftedness or child development. I am just a former gifted child and the current parent of a gifted child, and these opinions are my own. Please proceed with a sense of humour.

Ask any parent what it’s like having a gifted child and they’ll probably tell you that it’s not all roses. Here’s a bunch of stuff that parents of gifted kids are tired of hearing.

(Okay, that I’M tired of hearing.)

“They all even out.”

Yeah because they’re bored to death and have stopped trying.

“Oh, like X character from blank?”

No, like the individual that they are.

“Oh, you have them trained!”

If my kid was trained he wouldn’t wake me up ever but here we are.

“If you let them learn they’ll just get bored.”

I’m bored talking to you and I’m surviving.

“Let them be a kid!”

Oh crap, there I go sending him off to the coal mine again. Oh wait no, I was just letting him do a math problem. Sorry, I got confused by your reaction.

“You have it so easy.”

This is exactly what every parent dreams of hearing, thank you.

“It’s because they’re an only child.”

It’s actually a neurological difference but ok.

“They need to be with kids their own age for socialization.”

Yes, because as a 31 year old I only ever socialize with other 31 year olds.

“I wish my kid was gifted.”

You’re confusing a special need with high achievement *loud whisper* it’s not the same thing.

“I know someone who skipped a grade, they hated it.”

That’s unfortunate, but research overwhelmingly supports acceleration.

“Don’t you want them to be normal?”

Define normal.

“Funding these kids takes funding away from kids who actually need it.”

We find room in the budget to fund huge companies, we can find a couple bucks to fund all kids and their needs because they all “actually” need it.

“How did you teach him to do that?”

I didn’t. YouTube did.

“They’re exhausting.”

So is hearing that.

“They’re such an angel!”

That’s because their perfectionism is so strong they’re hiding their real personality to please you.

“I can’t wait to see what they do when they grow up!”

I just want to see them reach adulthood without crippling anxiety.

“I know lots of gifted kids. None of them grew up to be successful.”

That’s probably because a high IQ isn’t necessarily indicative of success.

“We have lots of kids like them here.”

Statistically, you probably don’t unless you’re a gifted program.

“Socialization is so important. They need to learn to be around people who aren’t gifted.”

Considering 98% of the population isn’t gifted and I let my kid out of his closet sometimes, I think we’re good.

“They can’t be gifted, they don’t do x yet.”

Asynchrony is a characteristic of giftedness. Nice try though!

“They can’t be gifted, they have (ADHD, Autism, etc).”

It’s called twice exceptionality and it means they need extra accommodations for all of their needs and especially their giftedness.

“You’re just bragging.”

Umm yeah I thought that’s what we were doing here? Or are you the only one allowed to share cool shit about your kid?

“Where do they get it from?”

Okay, first of all, ouch. Second of all, apparently it’s genetic?

“They’re a genius!!”

Albert Einstein, Marie Curie, and Stephen Hawking are geniuses. My kid is just a kid.

“We don’t see issues while they’re here, so it must be trouble in the home.”

You don’t see problems because they’re bottling it up all day and bringing it home to me.

“They’ll be fine.”

Except they probably won’t be if their needs go unmet.

“Gifted programs are elitist.”

If you think equality is elitist.

“They’re so smart!”

Way to set them up for anxiety and imposter syndrome.

“You shouldn’t care so much that they’re gifted.”

Maybe parents shouldn’t care if their child is gifted, but not caring about the fact that they are gifted would be neglecting their special need and hindering their development.

“But their handwriting!!”

I didn’t know they were training to be a monk in the Middle Ages?

“We’ll accommodate them with depth and breadth.”

That’s useless for truly gifted children if it doesn’t also come at a faster pace with increasing difficulty.

“But they seem so normal!”

Umm… thank you?

“All children are gifted!”

All children are gifts, sure, but saying they’re all gifted is like saying “all children have brown eyes”– and it’s FALSE.

Parents: what did I miss???

Meme text reads: “What people think raising a gifted kid is like vs what it’s actually like:” and image is two side by sides of Mr Incredible. In the first he looks overjoyed and in the second he looks stressed and worn out.

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How to own the stay-at-home-mom thing

Maybe it’s because of super moms on the internet. Maybe it’s because we went to school for 4 years and spent thousands of dollars on an education for a career that we no longer have. Maybe it’s because the default emotion of mom is guilt. (Or hey, super dads on the internet and dad guilt.) But for whatever reason, when you’re a stay at home parent, there is this need to do MORE.

That’s why so many of us blog and try to work from home and get trapped in pyramid schemes. You cannot JUST be a parent. It’s not even an outside pressure thing. It’s an ego thing.

I don’t know how many times I have sat down at the end of the day and said to myself, “I am pooped but I have no clue why… I have nothing to show for my day! The house is messier than when I woke up this morning, I didn’t even cook – I fed the child Mac and Cheese and leftovers. And I mean, I only have one friggin’ kid… there is no excuse for this!”

Shhhh….. listen to me, and listen to me good. Screw it. Screw all of it. Those super moms on the internet probably snapped fifteen hundred pictures all in one nap time and have been squeezing them out slowly over the past three months. That career will be there one day.  And that guilt? Chuck it. It’s useless. If you weren’t a stay at home parent it would be guilt about not being with your children and if you weren’t a parent well you’d have guilt from Aunt Lucy about, “When are you gonna settle down and have a family?”

So here it is. My 100% made up stay at home parent guide.

Don’t wake up with your kid

I’m serious. Nothing good comes from being “on” before your ready. Let the baby coo quietly in their crib. Let your preschooler spill cereal all over the floor (that’s why you got a dog after all isn’t it?). And if you absolutely, one hundred percent, must physically get out of bed, because I don’t know, Netflix is down and it’s the end of the world as we know it, sprinkle some little people or legos or whatever it is your kid is into across the floor and lay down and close your eyes and say things like, “mhmm. wow. yup. zzzzzzzzz.”

Leftovers are gold

No lie… I make a lot of shit from scratch. It’s a lot of work, don’t do it. But if you do… double everything. Muffins. Bread. Pasta. Soup. Making single chicken breasts are for suckers- you roast an entire bird and eat like a king for a week straight. Freeze whatever you can. I freeze pancakes. If my kid has pancakes for breakfast every morning for a week, it’s not because mommy has been extra attentive, it’s because she’s been nursing those babies so she doesn’t have to parent and make him eat a diverse breakfast selection.

Don’t do anything while your kid is asleep

That is your time. If you can’t get it done during “working hours” it doesn’t deserve to be done. I have been forced into this by necessity- my kid sleeps the same amount as me and doesn’t nap (SOS), but I’m wondering why I did laundry and cleaned while my kid was napping in the good ol’ days? Put on the radio, strap little ones to you and give bigger ones their own cloth for “dusting” and spend an hour giving the house a once over. Plop your kid in the middle of the laundry pile while you fold– or hell, don’t even fold! Then, after the four hour ordeal that is bedtime, put up your feet, eat the good snacks and zone out with whatever guilty pleasure you have until you pass out yourself. You deserve it.

Don’t do it all

People love to say, “you can’t do it all.” YES YOU CAN AND YOU CAN DO IT ONE HANDED.  I know that personally, I am surprisingly competitive and nothing makes me want to do something more than someone telling me I can’t. However, not doing it all doesn’t mean you can’t do it all, it just means you have badass time management skills. Think about it: the biggest CEOs don’t do everything themselves. Okay, maybe Elon Musk does but didn’t he sound a tad douchey after firing his assistant? I mean I get it, I am him- I refuse to delegate. If you want something done right, you do it yourself! But knowing that you have the option to delegate, and the option to say no, is very freeing. Think long term and ask yourself: is this worth it? If it’s not, ditch it.

Find the joy

I like to complain and make jokes about being with my kid all day everyday, but the truth of the matter is that it does have a positive side. There are times where I really genuinely like my kid. Not love him, because of course we all love our kids, but there are times when he’s my favourite person to be with. Allowing myself, or some days, forcing myself to find moments of laughter and happiness reminds me that it’s not about the food or the clothes of the perfect house, it’s about my time as a mom and his childhood. And it’s the best motivator.

So forget the parental guilt, it’s everywhere. And find ways to make stay at home parenting your own. You deserve it.

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Yes, I’m homeschooling my kid. No, he’s not going to be a weirdo.

I get it. You love my kid and you want what’s best for him. Or hey, you’re a complete stranger who just likes sticking their nose in other people’s business. And yes, it’s one or the other, there never seems to be an in between.

It’s like a weird word association game where when I say “homeschool” you blurt out “Socialization!” “Homeschool.” “Socialization!” “Homeschool.” “Socialization!” You go on and on with word vomit about how important proper socialization is to a child as though it’s second only to the air he breathes. Do you want to ask me about that too?

Maybe you’ve never known anyone who homeschooled their kids before. Or you remember that one kid who started off homeschooled and then came to public school and they were a little bit odd. You know the one. It was totally because of the homeschooling too because I mean, absolutely none of the other kids who went to school their entire lives were ever a little odd, and definitely never you, you were never odd. You, you were totally normal all the time. No awkward stages. Not ever.

And I mean, maybe it’s my fault. Maybe I’m not being explicit enough. Maybe I need to start saying, “We’re homeschooling. But-don’t-worry-it’s-not-like-I-keep-him-locked-in-a-closet-all-day-we-sometimes-leave-the-house-like-go-to-the-museum-and-library-and-science-centre-and- we-love-to-hike-and-here’s-a-list-of-his-extra-curricululars.” Maybe it’s me. Maybe I’m answering your question wrong.

If I seem sensitive, it’s because I am. From the second that stupid little pee stick announces that you’re carrying a little bundle of joy, the judgements start rolling in. “You can’t do that when you’re pregnant!” “Breast is best!” “It’s really selfish that you won’t give your baby a bottle so someone else can bond with him.” “You gave him WHAT as his first solid?!” “Those shoes aren’t nearly supportive enough.” “Where is your mother why isn’t she hovering over you? You shouldn’t be climbing the playground yourself!” “Stop being so overprotective, a little sugar won’t kill him.”

Enough!

And quite honestly, up to this point, my son hasn’t been cognizant of your concerns, so maybe that’s why it has stung, but not quite made me so rage-y. But your criticisms, sorry, “helpful advice” concerning my parenting choices are being heard and internalized by my child on this one. My child, who already feels he is missing out on a part of the collective culture that involves bells and desks and assemblies and after school activities, is going to grow up hearing how “weird” he’s going to be because he’s not experiencing such things.

(And no, those experiences are not worth the anguish that public school was, so please don’t go there.)

The mama guilt is bad enough without your help, thank you.

We chose homeschooling because it’s right for our family. It’s difficult. And exhausting. And quite frankly, if I’m being honest, I wouldn’t have chosen it if I didn’t feel that I had to do it. But you know what? I am so happy that it’s the road we’re on. I get to choose books and subjects that I know my kiddo will love. I get to help him learn the way that he learns best. I get to incorporate things like baking and an obscene amount of field trips. We talk about everything from politics and current events to money and household management to technological advances to a really silly joke that we just can’t stop laughing about. The possibilities are endless.


And that socialization you’re so worried about? It’s not like he’s homeschooled in a closet. Really, I promise. Have you seen how small the closets are in a 1960s side split? He’s in a number of activities with kids his age. We visit with family and friends of all ages. We go to parks and he makes friends with museum docents who are happy to answer his stream of questions for a few minutes to his complete delight. There are even homeschool programs. Heck, he spent two weeks in Europe! Not a day of school was missed. Homeschool is where you are.

And yes, maybe my kid might turn out weird despite my best efforts to normalize him.  Any kid that isn’t forced to conform to norms is probably going to have a few quirks. But I don’t see that as a bad thing. And honestly, at the end of the day, I’m his mom. I went to public school my whole life and while I can do a pretty good impersonation of a normal person once in a while, deep down I’m a big ol’ weirdo. Aren’t we all?? I’d rather him be able to own who he is then spend years trying to pretend, only to grow up and realize it’s the weirdos who end up happier because they don’t try to hide who they are on the inside.

So yes, I’m homeschooling my kid. No, socialization is not an issue. In fact, I’d argue he comes into contact with a wider range of people by getting out into the world than he ever would sitting in a classroom. And if he does turn out to be a weirdo, trust me, it’s not because of the homeschool. That’s 100% genetic right there.

Let’s be honest, homeschooling is not going to make my kid a weirdo. I’m his mom. He was doomed from the start. @lifeattiffanys

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“It’s just a phase” is a lie parents tell each other (and themselves)

After my son was born, I remember being furious that no one had warned me about all of the intimate details of parenthood. Surprises kept popping up and I couldn’t understand why it was so difficult. If we’re being honest, I still can’t. I mean, I googled. I signed up for those weekly emails. I read baby books. I prepared myself in every way possible. But still, the most common phrases I heard as a parent-to-be were vague cliches like “parenting is so difficult” and “it’s the most rewarding thing you’ll ever do.”

Now, I’m not saying parenting isn’t difficult or rewarding. And I’ve definitely depended on those old cliches time and time again. When my best friend had a baby of her own and she yelled at me for not warning her, I realized I had totally dropped the ball like all of the other jerks. It wasn’t that I intentionally kept anything from her; I had actually blocked out entire phases of the early days. Self preservation and all that. It turns out that becoming a parent makes you a big fat liar.

The biggest lie? “It’s just a phase.” Veteran parents love that one. And sure, it does have a shred of truth to it, because it usually is a phase. The inherent problem though, is that by saying something is “just a phase” you imply parenting gets easier somewhere along the line. But that phase is like a wave in the ocean. And you’re on the raft from Titanic. You aren’t Rose, nu uh, your kid is Rose and you’re Jack and you’re holding on for dear life and the damn waves keep coming. Sure, sometimes you get a reprieve. You catch your breath, relax your grip for a few seconds, you brag to a friend, “I totally got this!” Maybe, you take a shower and do a load of a laundry. You feel pretty proud of yourself. And then a whole freaking storm hits.

Your kid may never sleep through the night. At least not until long after you’ve given up hope of ever sleeping again and have completely forgotten how to sleep eight consecutive hours yourself. Crying still happens, even after your little bundle of lungs has words. A 6 year old screaming “I hate you” sucks every bit as much as the imaginary commentary you put to your newborn’s cries. At least they won’t remember the time they rolled off the bed, but your 10 year old will definitely remember the time you forgot to pick them up from school. Whoops.

And sure, the “clingy” phase might end and your kid might stop crying when you leave the room, but don’t think you’ll ever be able to poop in peace again. Meal time will always be a mess, and even the best of eaters will decide to be picky at times. (Don’t worry though, it’s just a phase. They’ll hate something else next month.) Suddenly, your kid will have opinions and wants and parenting will become a battle of wills! And my personal favourite: butt wiping doesn’t end where potty training begins. What the actual fuck.

Seriously, how do we survive? Oh, our kids are freaking adorable when they’re finally asleep? That’s true. Admitting to myself that I know nothing about parenting, but neither does anyone else, helps too. Seriously, everyone is making it up as they go along. But of course, I still defer to the experts because I don’t want screwing up to be on my shoulders! At least if I screw up, I can point to the expert and whine, “Well he told me to!

So no, parenting doesn’t get easier, it just gets different. No amount of reading is going to prepare you for what’s next. Parenting is on the job training; and sometimes, just like in the real world, your boss is a complete jerk.

So what can you do? Invest in wine. (The cheap wine, you’re gonna need lots.) Keep a stash of sweets. Surround yourself with people who get it, people who you can rant and rave to and know that they won’t think worse of you for it. Waste valuable sleeping time looking at pictures and videos of your kid to remind yourself how damn freaking much you love them. And tell yourself over and over that this too shall pass.

(But something new will be waiting around the corner to take it’s place.)It’s cool how we call it a “phase” as if parenting gets easier.

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