“Castle on the Hill”

As most of you, I have four kids, three of which I have to get to three different schools daily. You know this because I complain about it enough.

Drop off order is as follows.

Gracie (middle school)
Vinnie (college)
Sofia (elementary)

It is a lot of driving five days a week, and of course, these kids also need to be picked up. I kinda think all of the driving is what made my car mess up, but I am no car expert. Do not listen to me. Anyway….where was I?

Okay, so every morning, just like clockwork, the girls and I are situated in the car waiting for Vinnie. I have no idea what it is with him, but he is always the last one to come out. It’s annoying. Based off on how long it takes him to blowdry his hair, determines if Gracie will be late to school. Gracie, God bless her and her autism, has a very strict yet odd ritual. She will get out of the car at 7:55. No sooner, no later. It’s like juggling a three-ring-circus to make this happen., and, it all depends on Vinnie coming out to the car. Follow?

Friday. Gracie stayed home with Joe because she was not feeling too good. She was most likely faking, but that is another blog. Friday morning at 7:00 am I went into Vinnie”s room and said as clearly as I can “Gracie is staying home with Dad, we are leaving at 8:00. I cannot be late, have to be at Sofia’s school.” I assure you I was not speaking a foreign language. I know this because Vinnie said, “OKAY MOM, WHY DO YOU HAVE TO YELL FIRST THING IN THE MORNING?” Vinnie is not a morning person, although he will never admit this.

Sofia and I are in the car at 7:55. We are listing to Bender & Molly on the radio, complaining about how they never play good music. I do not even know what it is that is being played nowadays but I hate it. However, I do love Bender & Molly, so there is that.

8:00 comes around. There is no Vinnie.

I text my usual “Let’s go.”

No response.

Time is clicking away.

A text comes in.

It is not from Vinnie. It is from Sofia’s school. “Jen, I have two parents here waiting for you.”


I am going to have to bullshit my way out of this one, or speed and get another ticket.

“I am on my way!”

I grab my phone. It is now 8:08. I am mad. I text Vinnie.

Let’s go.
You are making us late.
That’s not fair.
I gave you plenty of warning.

Finally, he texts me back.

“Just go, I will call an Uber, I do not want to be in the car with you!”

Oh really? He does not want to be in the car with me. Did we just meet?

You bet your ass Sofia and I left.

Minutes later, I get a text.

“All you care about is coffee. I was on my way down!”

Calmly, with my armor fully in place, I texted him back.

“Vinnie, you told me to leave, so I did. I told you what time we needed to leave, you did not respect that, perhaps we need a lesson in time management.”

Ten minutes past. I get another text.

“Do not pick me up from school.”

I ignored the text, then, when it was close to him getting off, I texted.

“Do you need me to pick you up?”


So, I did not pick him up.

Now, I was able to take a break in my commitments at the school, come home, check on Gracie and Joe. As soon as I made sure everyone was still alive, I left the apartment, heading back to the school to finish up.

As I am making my way to my car, I see a car pull up. It’s Vinnie and one of his friends. Immediately I go over to the car. I can hear Vinnie, “That’s my mom, do not talk to her.”

I went up to the driver’s side window.

“Hi! Thank you so much for dropping him off!”

Vinnie’s friend is smiling. “Oh, no problem!”

Vinnie is getting his backpack from the backseat. “No, do not talk to her. She left me this morning.”

I look at the friend, who is probably regretting taking Vinnie home. “No, do not listen to him, I have the text message that proves Vinnie told me to leave!”

Vinnie and I are going back and forth, by means of his poor friend as the “middle man.”

The friend looks at me, shakes his head and says “Man, he sounds just like my cousin!”

I look at Vinnie. “See!”

Vinnie laughs while trying to pretend he is still mad. He tells his friend he will be right back, as he makes his way up the stairs to our apartment.

Before I get in my car, Vinnie calls to me “Mom, are you taking me to work or are you going to make me Uber it?”

Not missing a beat, I say “I can take you to work, just hope I am not late getting home to take you to said work.”

He looks at me and smiles his big goofy smile while shaking his head. I get in my car and know that we are fine. And for what is worth, you know damn well Vinnie will never be late again, because, I will leave.


I talked to Christin tonight. As you guys know by now we talk every day on the phone. Tonight was no different. She calls, and, immediately I know something is wrong. She is frustrated and stressed out by her teenage daughter. Something that rarely happens with Christin.

I know Christin’s daughter. I have spoken to her on the phone a few times. Mostly she lectures me about doing low carb. This coming from a vegetarian. Christin’s daughter is a strong-willed, stubborn, convicted by her beliefs, wonderful young lady. I have told Christin many many times “You are going to have your work cut out for you with that one!”

Christin was feeling frustrated. She and her daughter went toe-to-toe tonight and the end result left Christin feeling unappreciated, feeling as if she was being taken advantage of. Now, remember, my kids are older than hers, well, the boys are. I have been down this road many many times.

I knew exactly what needed to be said.

“So here is the thing. Remember when you were a single mom? Remember having a newborn? Remember the toddler years? Well, that was the easy part. No one ever tells you that, but yeah, those are the easy years. The teenage years, you need to shift your mind frame, you need to put on your “big girl” pants, and get tough! This right now, this is the hardest part, because you are dealing with hormones, and the little bastards wanting to come into their own, and they all feel they are grown up when we all know none of them know the first thing about being an adult. You be tough, and fair. You stand your ground while letting them know you will always be there for them, and you gotta tell yourself, you are teaching them life lessons. You are teaching them the art of respect, of feeling valued. You can do this, do not allow your guilt to get the best of you! Actually, I have a story for you…”

I then proceeded to tell her the story you guys just read.

Christin listened, she laughed, she understood.

“Okay, I can do this for five more years, I can do this!”

I had to hold back my laughter.

“Christin, AJ is like twenty-four and I am still dealing with it! It does not get easier. I was not kidding when I said THIS IS THE HARDEST PART!”

I can tell she is still not convinced, or, she still feels guilty. I feel bad for her because let me tell you, she has given her kids everything. So, when she does not feel appreciated, it makes me feel sad. If her children understood the sacrifices she has made and continues to make for them, well, then things may be a little different. However, it does not work that way.

“Jen, does it ever get easier?”

I laugh.

“Christin, I am like forty-something years old and my parents just sent me money for my car, even after I told them not to. NO, it does not get easier, we never stop being a parent, we just have to change the plan of attack.”

I have said it before and I will say it again. I had a wonderful childhood. A childhood filled with magic and adventures. I was taught about family loyalty and how important it is to have God in your life. I had hands-on parents all the way around, and yet somehow, I still gave my parents a hard time.

*I want to marry the lead singer of Skid Row
*I am not going back to school
*I want to get married at the age of 17
*I want to be an actress
* I want to hang out in the trailer park
*I want to move to Seattle
*I lost my job
*My power is shut off
*I am pregnant
*I am pregnant again
*I am getting married
*I am pregnant

You see, it is never-ending.

This whole parenting thing, we are the castle, and well, the kids, they are always finding their way up the hill.

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