Never Give in to The Baby

The baby is ten. I’ve been parenting for over 18 years now, been through all the nonsense and the poop and the puke, and I’m down to one last, not-a-teenager baby.

She’s ten.

Here’s the problem with being the baby of four kids. When three of the four kids DON’T cry and drool, they DON’T want someone to make them breakfast and lunch every day, they DON’T still leave Calico Critter crap on the ground for me to step on barefoot, it’s hard to remember that everyone was ten once. She’s just the last ten-year-old.

This morning during scripture study Georgia openly rolled her eyes at us. Like, over-exaggerated, I’ve-been-watching-too-much-disney-channel eye rolling. I gave her a chance to apologize. She did, WHILE ROLLING HER EYES AGAIN. So she got a Responsibility Chore.

This is a little parenting technique my sister Jenny taught me many moons ago. When a kid screws up, then they continue to screw up, you give them a Responsibility Chore. These are the chores mothers HATE to do. Things like scrubbing out all trash cans in the house, or wiping down all the baseboards. If the kid protests, they get a second chore. Then a third, and so on, until they hush their reckless mouth and get to work.

Georgia drew the “clean out under the kitchen sink” card–it’s a doozy. So she did what all babies do best. She cried.

And cried and cried and drooled and puddled and cried some more.

So I gave her a second cupboard, and then a third. Finally she stopped begging to be released from her responsibility and resorted to good old, “Everybody HATES me!” weeping while she clawed the flotsam out from under the detestable kitchen sink. I set a timer for ten minutes to come and check.

It has been 58 minutes and she is finally finished with cupboard #1. I haven’t gone toe to toe like this with her for a while (obviously). I literally had to go stand in the garage and blast my music at one point so I wouldn’t yell at her for slobbering all over my kitchen floor and NOT working. When I finally went in and praised her seven minutes ago, then pointed out her NEXT cupboard, the water works started again. I thought I was going to lose my mind.

However, I want you to know that she is quietly cleaning cupboard number two and there appears to be no additional crying coming from that room. I actually hear her reorganizing the pots and pans–and she isn’t throwing them–

UPDATE – SHE JUST CAME IN AND APOLOGIZED FOR BEING RUDE AND HUGGED ME. Then she asked if she could please not do the third cupboard…

This is where we often fail. We give in. They’re cute. They did kind of good there. They’re…the baby.

Don’t give in to the baby.

I lovingly walked into the kitchen, inspected her work, told her she’s done great, and pointed to the third cupboard. “One more sister, you’ll be done in five minutes!” She nodded at me, and headed back to work. With. No. Tears.

Parents, Romans, countrymen, I am here to remind us all that the baby needs to be parented as well. And my old techniques? The ones I kind of forgot because my older kids are mostly great? They still get the job done.

Don’t give in to the baby. Don’t EVER give in to the baby.

You’re Never Too Old

Remember when you were a teenager and had things happen that were so horrible, so embarrassing, that they become long-term bedtime pillow suffocation incidents? I have learned that those events do not magically end once you reach voting age.

Jason and Harry (almost 18) came home from a hiking trip a few weeks ago with a stomach bug–the kind that sends you routinely sprinting to the nearest toilet. Saturday morning the bathrooms were overtaken by whiny men, with much shuffling-sprinting-shuffling from toilet to toilet. Around eleven, I heard Jason moan up the stairs to Harrison. “Hey buddy, get your stuff ready, you have a lacrosse game in an hour!”

“Um, sweetheart,” I said (sweetheart is code in our marriage for “hey stupid head”), “He’s got di-uh-ree-uh. I’m pretty sure running around a field isn’t the best choice right now.”

Ron Swanson glanced at me with his sweaty, pallid, manly face. “Honey, all he needs is a little fresh air and sunshine and he’ll be just fine.” He gripped his stomach and leaned on the stair railing. “Just let him try to play, don’t baby him, he’s a man…SON, YOU WANT TO PLAY, RIGHT?”

Pause. Pause. Pause. Bedroom door creaking open. “Huh?”

“The game,” Swanson says, “You want to go play your lacrosse game, right? You’re fine, bud, you’ve got this!”

“I…guess. Sure.” Door closes.

An hour later Harry had reluctantly left for his game and I was putting on my shoes. “Honey, let’s go!” I yelled up the stairs.

“You go ahead,” I hear, “I’m just going to take a quick power nap…let me know if he decides to play.”

When I got to the park and saw that my manly son was out on the field running around, despite his crappy condition, I called his power-napping father. “Get over here, and bring him an extra change of clothes just in case.”

“Oh? He’s playing then?”

“Oh, he’s playing all right, get down here and watch him.”

After the game Harry was in his car, about to head home. Before leaving, Jason and I hurried over to his car window.

“Baby!” I said to Harry, then jokingly, “I’m so proud of you, did you poop your pants? Daddy brought you clean clothes–“

“Mom!” he gave me a death glare. I realized he must be feeling pretty rotten to miss how funny I was being.

“What? It’s okay, everybody poops. Like in that book we used to read. Do you need new undies?”

“Mom, I’ll see you at home.” He put his car in gear and gave us a warning look. We shrugged, chalked it up to grumpy-sick-teen-syndrome and headed to our respective vehicles.
Later that night Harrison and I were in the kitchen. We joke a lot, we laugh a lot, we have a great relationship. “Mom,” he said, “You realize that today was possibly the most embarrassing moment of my life, right?”

“Huh? How so? Did you poop your pants?!”

“No. But when you came up to my car window and asked me, the car parked right next to me, behind you, was full of high school girls with their windows down. They heard our entire conversation.”

I could have melted in shame and horror.

You’re never too old.

I’m home. Again.

Well, it happened. I have once again found myself at home, in my house, with my children. All of them. Sure, we did the Nevada COVID thing, but I was constantly preoccupied with graduate school (finished) or the distance version of my teaching job (over), so it was easy to busy myself with not home things.

And now I’m home. With the home things.

Harrison graduated early in January and is doing that waiting-for-mission-stuff-without-enough-to-do-with-myself-in-the-meantime-so-I’ll-make-maps-for-dungeons-and-dragons thing. It’s awesome. He and his buddies run a Lacrosse camp for elementary age kids, but that’s only six hours a week, and his own team practices are maybe another six hours. I don’t do math, but I think there’s way more available time in his life for…something.

We started homeschooling our kids in December and I openly love it. Rex is doing an online high school program called Acellus (he’s in 9th) and Harry tutors him where needed and helps him with test question comprehension.We’ve been so relieved to find out that Rex’s poor academic record from the past four years wasn’t a proper sample of his ability. Yes, he has ASD, but in the right environment he can totally work on grade level with solid A’s and B’s. Phew for him.

That leaves the two girls. Ten and thirteen. Georgia and June. And I…I am their teacher. Never have I ever been so grateful for an extended education.

Enter piano lessons. Thus far, piano has been a casualty of mommy working full time. We’ve tried, but with a 30+ minute commute each way to school, plus after school junk, it seemed to be the one thing we couldn’t make happen. But now I’m home, and I have realized that I am entirely suited to piano teaching.

Then I met Georgia.

I know she’s only been playing for a week, and I know she’s only ten, but the moment we begin, I turn into a retro German school marm and find myself yelling, “No! Count out loud! Just count! Can’t you count?! Eins-zwei-drei…” It got so heated this morning that I had to leave the house and send her a formal apology. And I know we should be further along with all the homeschool things, but it’s so easy to get caught up in a youtube explanation of rocks. Fascinating stuff, we lose total track of the schedule. Then it’s time for tap dancing and cookies…so…yeah.

I don’t know if I’m going to write again, and I don’t care if anyone ever reads it, but I do know that I need something right now to fill my temporary personal void. This has always been my safe place. Here’s hoping.


How my girls handle boys

The girls and I are on vacation this week having some much needed training with my very ladylike mother up in Washington. I teach 8th graders and my lovely little Georgia (7) seems to think they are all her social equals. Well, all but the boys. She believes she is far superior to the boys.

Georgia is sure that the only way to ensure the boys in my classes don’t think she likes them is to be verbally and physically abusive. That sounds harsh. She kind of is. She’s like an adorable, dimpled, miniature bully. 8th graders of the male variety, beware.

Last week one of my students was working after school on his missing assignment. Georgia came in and got a good look at him. He gave her his most winning smile, “Hi, Georgia,” he said with a wink. She stomped over, took her coat, and whacked him as hard as she could with it, turned around and humphed out.

Honestly, who knew boys would even factor into the equation yet?

June informed me the other day that most 4th grade boys are just idiots.

“Really,” I said, “like who?”

“Boys who like, like you. You know, they just act so…dumb.”

Call me a skeptic, but I wasn’t totally sure she was reading the situation correctly. I mean, she wouldn’t be the first girl in my gene pool to get her signals crossed early on in the relationship realm. In third grade, I could have sworn Jeremy Carter only ignored me and pretended that I didn’t exist because he was totally infatuated with me. I so misread that one.

“Honey,” I said, “you might be reading it wrong. Give me an example.”

She proceeded to tell me about a boy in her class (we will call him Bobby) who was rumored to have a crush on her. “He’s a really fun kid at recess, but he’s gotten really stupid around me. Like, I was sitting straight in learning position in my new seat, and he had been moved right across the aisle. Mom, I didn’t do anything or even look at him, and he got all dopey and started pointing at my sparkly nails going, ‘Oooh, pwetty…spawkley…’ Boys are just so dumb.”

I can’t deny that she has a point. And yes, 4th grade boys are really dumb. Don’t even get me started on 8th grade boys.

Letting Him be a Man

Harrison is 14. I have decided that this age is, undoubtedly, one of life’s most cruel jokes. I teach 8th graders all day, every day. This year it’s seven periods a day of English Composition and English Literature–no Drama classes on my plate. No fear, that hasn’t stopped the drama from unfolding around me.

I recently taught my students Romeo and Juliet. One of the early lessons was on different types of love–unrequited love, romantic, friendship, and love of family honor. After going into great detail with stories of love from my own life (oh, so many stories to share; Jeremy Carter, you second grade heart breaker), my students were anxious to corner me after class and share their own painful experiences.

“Mrs. Tintle,” one particularly dewey eyed student said after getting me alone. “I think I’m experiencing unrequited love!” Little sob, dab dab, sniff sniff.

“Oh sweetheart, do you want to talk about it? That’s so hard to care for someone–”

“No no, I don’t have unrequited love, someone has it for me.”

Life is so hard when you’re in 8th grade.

9th is tougher. My son is at his third school in three years, my fault completely. He lives by the whims of his working mother; where I go, you go also. Here in Las Vegas the public school system is awful. Last year was awesome at our private school, but they moved across town and I couldn’t get the resources I needed for Rex there.

So when I found American Prep Academy it was a game changer. There is a high academic and personal standard here that all students are expected to not only adhere to, but embrace. The problem is, there is a high academic and personal standard that all students are expected to not only adhere to, but embrace. Academics. High. Hard. Standards. First year of High School. No friends. That is Harrison’s life.

I recently learned that the three most traumatic things a person can go through, in order of awfulness, are death of a child, parental divorce, and moving. We all experience one or all of these situations in life, but I sometimes forget that when my kids are miserable or acting out, there might be a reason, and I might be part of it.

This is where Jason and I have landed. Harrison is an amazing person, but the last year we have watched him withdraw from friends, family, sports, everything. He has survived this all with his nose buried in a book. All the moves and schools and new church groups and lost friends. Let’s face it, we have no idea what we’re doing here or how to fix it.

Enter brilliant family counselor. So much we don’t know and so much help available. It’s like these last few weeks we’re starting to see our kid again. He’s playing High School Lacrosse now, he’s let himself make a few friends at school, and best of all is the unexpected group of friends he has landed in our neighborhood from church.

We just…we want our kids to be happy. We all want that. Sometimes, though, we don’t have the power to fix their problems. Having older kids is my favorite part of motherhood to date, but there is so much I don’t know.

A few of my tops with Rex

It’s already practically mid-January and the days are disappearing faster than a tray of lemon tarts on Thanksgiving. We try so hard to convince our kids to not fight. Like a few weeks ago during the holidays, my Christmas mantra was, “All I want for Christmas is love, you little rats!”

We had an almost perfect shopping trip one afternoon before Christmas. I had to go to Sam’s Club because we were out of dinner food (hot dogs and chicken nuggets), and lunch food (hot dogs and chicken nuggets), and quite frankly, there was a mammoth sized laundry pile just waiting for me at home. Not ready to climb that mountain.

Miraculously, my four kids joked and laughed the entire way through the store with nary a sassy word. It is possible that this moment of joy was, in part, due to Georgia choosing to ride in the cart and play on my phone.

“Mom,” June said in the paper plate aisle, “Who’s your favorite kid?”

“Oh, that’s easy,” I said, “Definitely Rex.” This was met with a cacophony of dismay.

“What?!” Georgia said, shooting daggers at me. “Oh great. You just HATE me!”

“Wait,” Harry said, “I thought I was your favorite?”

“Stop!” Rex yelled, “Mom, please don’t say that! Just say we’re ALL your favorite kid!”

I smiled at this and looked down into June’s lovely green-eyed, freckled little smiling face, and was delighted to see that she is apparently my only child who is confident in her claim to my heart. “Yeah,” I said to her with a wink, “Definitely Rex.”

My favorite Christmas moment, though, was Christmas Eve when we got to church in Elma and ran into my brother, Steve. “Hi, Rex!” Steve said.

“Oh, ah, hi! Do I know you?”

“Rex,” I said, smiling and nudging him, “This is your Uncle Steve, my brother.”

“Oh,” Rex said to him. “So, are you a Valentine?”

“Rex!” I was feeling embarrassed at this point, “Of course! He’s my brother!”

My sweet autistic 12-year-old, who has not only met his Uncle Steve literally dozens and dozens of times, but even looks like him, looked over at me and said, “Wait, are YOU a Valentine?”

That afternoon Rex and I were up wrapping presents. “Look,” I said, “Let’s just review the family song about your aunts and uncles before the Christmas party tonight.” Years and years ago I made up a simple little ditty to help my littles learn the names of my 10 siblings. It’s worked miracles on family visits.  “Okay, I’ll start you off. First there’s Koni…”

Blank stare.

“Come on,” I said, “next it’s one of my brothers…”

“Hmm,” Rex said, “Otto?”

Otto? OTTO? “No Rex, there is no Otto in our family.” I started to sing the Mommy’s Sibling’s song as a refresher. “Koni, Bart, Bruce and Steve, Marilyn, Kerry–let’s just stop there. Okay, repeat those back to me.”

“Oh, okay. Let’s see here, ah, Koni, Bart, Chris and Steve…” Chris? Really?

“No, Rex, there’s no Chris in our family. It’s Bart and Bruce, no Otto, no Chris.”

Living away from family is tough on the little things, like name recognition. Or just names in general. Either way, in Vegas we live, and for the time being, in Vegas we shall stay. It was sure wonderful to get all those Valentine hugs, though.


The Veteran’s Day Velociraptor

So the kids here at APA (American Prep Academy) are having a contest for Veteran’s Day; they have to submit an essay, whether they like it or not.

If you’re like me, this is pretty much a Disneyland assignment. But if you’re like my sweet, autistic 6th grade Rexy boy, this is a veritable nightmare.

For some reason Rex has it in his head that I have no idea what I’m talking about when it comes to school or writing or writing in school. So what if I spend all day teaching secondary Literature and Composition, it apparently doesn’t give me the know-how to help my sixth grader with a five paragraph essay.

BLAHHH!! GAHHH!!! These are the sounds I make after a writing session with Rex.

“Hey,” his teacher said a few days ago, popping by my classroom after school. “I just wanted to remind you that Rex really needs to work on that Veteran’s Day paper, he’s got a graphic organizer and the deadline is coming right up.”

I looked over at Rex who was staring at the tip of his pencil with forced intensity. This was not new news.

“Rex,” I said, “Did you hear that?”

“Oh, uh, I’m just working on something over here right now,” he said.

“You need to listen, Rex, you have to start on that essay…” and then I launched into all the different Veterans in our family he could find out and write about. He might as well have been holding his breath underwater for all the good it did.

After his teacher left I pulled a desk next to my table and forced Rex (who was panicking) to join me for a work session.

“So,” I asked, “What is a Veteran?”

“I don’t know! All I know is the Veteran’s Day Velociraptor!”

Wait, What?


“Yes! I saw it in a magazine, and it’s on Uncle Grandpa…the Veteran’s Day Velociraptor!”

“No,” I said, “This is not a paper about a dinosaur, it’s a paper about a Veteran…”

And then we spent twenty minutes watching short videos for kids on “What is a Veteran?” and “Fun Facts About Veteran’s Day” and “How to Force Your Stubborn Child to Understand Patriotism.”  Did any of it sink in?

“So,” I asked after the fifth time he had watched a ten second clip of the definition of a Veteran. “One more time, what’s a Veteran, Rex?”

“It’s…America! I don’t care about this! It’s not my thing!”

The whole “it’s not my thing” is Rex’s favorite excuse for anything he doesn’t want to do.

“Look Rex–”

“All I know is the Veteran’s Day Velociraptor!”

Great. And we were full circle once again. “Tell you what,” I said, looking at his paper. “You need a good ‘hook,’ something to get the reader’s attention, let’s just go with it. ‘Have you ever heard of the Veteran’s Day Velociraptor?’ That would make a perfect hook.”

And just like that his pencil started to move.

I can’t tell you how delightful it is to see a student find their muse. I’ve been teaching this unit for the past few weeks, helping my older kids find someone who inspires them and explaining why it’s so important.

I guess with Rex I was just looking at the wrong species.

Naked ladies at Costco

And time marches on…I’ll get back to that.

So last night we took the kids to Costco for dinner.

Last week I started teaching/training for a new job, secondary English here in Vegas at American Preparatory Academy, and it’s rocked my world in the most fun and exhausting way ever. Direct Instruction, it’s the real deal. Suffice it to say, Mama hasn’t done much cooking this week.

We were browsing the Costco aisles and sniffing for samples when my girls pulled me aside. June is nine now and Georgia is seven (what?!) and they are quite the little biddies. As in, hanging out with them is like hanging out with a couple of old ladies. Full of chatter and propriety.

“Mom,” Georgia said, “They have a magazine back there that is really inappropriate.” Anyone who knows us knows that “inappropriate” is my favorite parenting word ever. It is, in fact, the most versatile word in the English language; perfect for describing everything from bad television to eating after 8 pm at night.

“Really,” I said, not thinking too much of it. I mean come on, it’s Costco. Super Family Shopping.

“Yeah,” June piped in, “It has a naked lady on the cover of it!”

I raised my eyebrows at this, and poked around for clarification. “You mean a picture with a girl in a tiny swimsuit?”

“No!” Georgia said, then was quickly trumped by June who added, “She had NOTHING on and is just covering her private parts, like this.” The girls then posed for a demonstration…oh mercy.

We quickly made a 180 and marched back to the supposedly naked lady gracing the Costco shelves. To my abject horror, there was, in fact, a fully not clad, birthday-suit-wearing, naked lady on this month’s cover of Women’s Health. Thank you Photoshop. To be honest, I didn’t even notice last night who it was because all you could see was how totally naked she is.

So my girls and I took a copy of the naked Ms. Vergara and trooped off to the customer service desk. My heart was pounding by this point and my inner lioness was doing warm-up pilates, readying for a serious showdown. I was going to roar big time on this one, my 12 and 14-year-old boys had been looking at the magazines with the girls and both been totally exposed to this. It was a 7-up-in-my-veins kind of moment.

But as we got to the front of the line I abruptly changed tactics. “Girls,” I said, “I want you to explain to the ladies what happened.” They nodded importantly and stepped to the counter. Bright faces, green eyes, the picture of appropriate. The two gals at customer service smiled at them warmly.

“Excuse me,” June began.

“We were looking at the magazines–” Georgia

“With our brothers–” June

“They’re 12 and 14–” Georgia

“And we saw this one on the bottom of the shelf–” June

“It was VERY inappropriate–” Georgia

“So we brought it up here to show you,” June finished and with a flourish I turned the magazine over.

Both the women behind the counter gasped. Hey, a naked lady is a naked lady, and Costco is no place for naked ladies.

They were absolutely appalled. “Oh my goodness,” the one helping us said, “Would you wait here? I’d like to get a manager.”

A moment later, Doug sauntered over. Picture your typical Costco dude, late 40’s, going gray and bald, faded jeans, red vest, and a name tag.

He came up with a pasted smile on his face. “How can I help you?” Doug said.

And then, in perfect synchronicity, my daughters told him the story at the exact same time, with one voice. It sounded extremely coached and scripted (it wasn’t, we’re just natural performers here, people) and his smile moved from plastic to patronizing. I could see his mind working it out, two kids, coached by mom, etc.

As they finished the story I held up the magazine. “Sir,” I said, “Does this look like pornography to you?” he bristled.

“That is not for me to decide,” Doug said, ” And I would never say that,” oh please, “But if it offends you, I will happily take it down, just for you.”

“Just for me?” I said. “Sir, what about all the other children who–”

“Ma’am,” yes he ma’amed me, “You are the only person who has complained about this, but if it will make you feel better, I will remove them.” And with that he turned on his heel and walked away from us.

Not very satisfactory, but at least they were coming down.

The girls and I gave him a ten step head start and followed behind. He got to the magazine rack and reached down to pull the hefty stack from the lower shelf. As he turned with an armload of Women’s Health, the breeze caught him and suddenly, the entire slippery mass spilled from his arms, blanketing  the main aisle at Costco.

Naked. Ladies. Everywhere.

Let’s just say looked a bit more uncomfortable. And flustered. Hard as he tried, he couldn’t seem to corral those slick little Sophia Vergara’s, they just kept getting away from him, the coy little devils.

“Oh!” my sweet girls quickly said, “Here, we’ll help you!” They rushed over and started helping him stack the porn into a nice neat pile.

“No!” he said, “Please…uh…I’ve got it…just…go with your mother…”

Can I just say, it ended up being a most satisfactory end to our confrontation. Eyes out this month for Women’s Health, mother’s and father’s beware.




Best teenage kid fit ever

Harrison absolutely kills me. He’s almost 14 and he has these moments of fantastic maturity and sweetness. Like, he will totally give me hugs at school in front of all his friends and say that I’m his favorite teacher. Win! But somehow he manages to balance these delightful bouts of nice guy with totally unhinged teenage rottenness.

This morning Georgia cried before school. Actually, every morning Georgia cries before school. I get it, it’s annoying. But she’s only six and this has been a tough year for her with teacher and friends. As annoying as that is, it is kind of her reality right now.

I was in a gentle mood this morning and 10 minutes before we left I lovingly encouraged Harrison to fix his hair. He’s so handsome when his hair is done, I love him better that way. When his hair is flattened on his forehead it makes me grumpy. Five minutes before we left I begged him to please, please just put a little gel in it. One minute before leaving I told him he wasn’t getting in my car without fixed hair.

We piled in (late) and waited for Georgia. She came out frustrated without socks and climbed in barefoot.

“Everyone just…be nice to her. She’s had a rough life.” I jumped out of the car and grabbed a pair of socks from the laundry room. When I climbed back in it was water works galore.

“He’s so mean ta me, he hates me!” she cried.

In all mean cases “he” means Harry. Rex is never mean. Ever.

“Harry,” I said, “Did you really yell at her?”

He pursed his lips, stuck his chin out and said, “Yes. Yes I did. She’s crying like a baby and I’m sick of it!”

“Harry,” I said gently, “Do you have to be that way? Just apologize to her and be the bigger kid.”

“No! I will NOT apologize! I’m sick of listening to her cry in the mornings!”

“Really? You really can’t just say–”

But before I could finish my sentence he glared over at me with ice in his eyes and then…furiously messed up his hair as badly as he possibly could.

“Wow,” I said, “Did you just…”

And then he did it again. Two hands, wildly smashing through his hair just to spite me.

It secretly made my day. Not sure what to say other than parenting is awesome.

Why fighting in front of kids is the best thing ever


A week or two ago we pulled into town after a very long car trip. In our ravenously hungry state, we called Cafe Rio ahead of time and decided to pick up a late dinner.

Jason went in and collected the food, came out to the car and handed it to me, then drove us home. As the boys unpacked the car, the girls and I set the food out. Two burritos, an order of enchiladas, and my big beautiful steak salad. There was napkins, plasticware, the extra pico and the…wait, where was the creamy magical salad dressing?

In a moment of hangry insanity I felt my hackles rise. Jason came in from the garage, took one look at me, and stepped back.

“What’s wrong?” he asked.

“They forgot my dressing. Again.” The last time we ordered from Cafe Rio and got our food to go, the same thing happened. Total dinner killer.

“Oh, I had no idea…” he said.

“Sweetie,” I said, (this is our favorite fake endearment for each other when we’re fighting) “Did you forget to check the order before you left?”

“Well…yeah…but did you check the order when I handed it to you in the car?”

Maybe it was the raging hunger in my belly, or perhaps the raging PMS coursing through my body, but before I could collect myself and offer any kind of non-contentious reply I heard my crazy face say, “No, that was your job. 100 percent your job. This is 100 percent your fault!”

Jason is humble and good and kind, but the man can only be accused so much.

“Uh,” he said, “I acknowledge that this is 99% my fault, but I think it’s fair to say that you should own at least 1% responsibility, you could have checked it yourself.”

Did I mention that our kids were sitting around the table ping-ponging their little heads back and forth as we argued?

“You guys,” Harrison said, “You sound so stupid. This is Cafe Rio’s fault.”

“Excuse me young man, we are having a conversation thank you very much!” I replied, then looked at Jason again. “100 percent you. I take no ownership here!”

This is the point where Jason quietly stomps out of the room, stops at the garage door, looks back and says, “1 percent!” then slams it and goes out to clean the car.

I was furious, I was steaming, I going to go out there and let him–

“Mommy?” Georgia said, putting her six-year-old hand on my shoulder. “You know sometimes at school I get in trouble for things that aren’t my fault. But I say sorry anyway.” Then she patted my shoulder and went back to eating her dinner.

I couldn’t decide if I wanted to laugh or yell at her for being so irritatingly smart and humble. I held my breath, finally blew it all out, and said, “Are you saying I should apologize to Dad?”

She nodded in a very old-person way, “You know what you need to do.”

He stomped back into the room ten seconds later and I looked at him carrying all the luggage in from the car while the rest of us ate. Jason is a good man. He’s my best friend and would move mountains to make me happy. I felt instantly humbled and stupid and deflated. He was totally right, I should have checked the order.

“You’re right, I’m sorry. It was more than 1% my fault…it was like, at least 7% my fault.” I said with a smile. He smiled back at me. And I felt better.

Sometimes being right feels worse than sharing ownership of what’s wrong…if that makes any sense.

Thanks Georgia. I’ll remember this lesson.