Latest Chart: For those interested in a new parenting program!

November 15, 2019

By Ekta R. Garg

Are you tired of your current career? Do you feel like your friends are moving up the ladder faster than you are? Have you ever wondered what it’s like to spend time with contentious middle schoolers?

Introducing our brand new training program called “Parenting Tweens!”

In this program, you’ll learn how to spread yourself thin pursuing your own professional pursuits while also keeping track of laundry, groceries, and navigating after-school schedules that leave you driving all over town. Find out just how far you can stretch the contents of your fridge before needing to go to the store and when is the best time to cross that yellow light (or not.) Discover how many different ways you can explain the same point and how you ignore the eyeroll every single time.

But wait—there’s more!

This training program also confers upon you a degree in psychology! That’s right, after completing the program, you’ll be able to counsel any tweens, teens, or young adults on the tough situations of life. Advise your young person through unexpected challenges that they should have totally anticipated, and find out what it’s like to get responses like the classic, “I know, Mom.”

Not convinced yet? Let’s examine a sample case study:


Mom (on Sunday night at bedtime): Sweetheart, I got an email from your teacher, Mr. A. He said he’s looking forward to your project being turned in tomorrow morning first thing.

Eleven-year-old (sits up in dark): What?!

Mom: Yeah, I guess he must have sent it this morning, but I just saw it. What project is this?

Eleven: Mamma, it’s the Lilies of the Field project. Where I’m drawing the church and the pews.

Mom: Oh, yeah, you showed it to me. I think it looks great.

Eleven: It’s not done yet.

Mom: What do you mean, it’s not done yet? Mr. A. is saying you’re supposed to turn it in tomorrow.

Eleven: That was my rough draft, what I showed you.

Mom: Your rough draft? But you’ve been working on it for a while.

Eleven: Well, it’s not my first one.

Mom: Well, why can’t you just turn in the latest draft that you have? It looks so good.

Eleven: Because it doesn’t work like that. Maybe…I can get up and do it now.

Mom (looks at clock): It’s almost 8:45. If you get up to work on it now, you’ll be up really late and it probably won’t turn out well. I don’t understand why you can’t turn in what you have.

Eleven: Because it’s on lined paper, and he said it had to be on unlined paper.

Mom (thinks for a minute): I know, but what you’ve done looks so good. And you’ve worked so hard on it for all these weeks now.

Eleven (dropping back onto her pillow): If you would just let me stay up, I can redo it.

Mom: If you stay up late now, there’s no way you’d be able to do a good job on it. Why don’t you go to Mr. A. tomorrow and explain what happened? Show him your rough drafts. It’s not like you were slacking off all this time. Just tell him that you got mixed up on the due date, and see what he has to say.

Eleven (in a sullen voice): Okay.


On the surface, this seems like the end of the scenario, right? It might be, for the amateur parent. Those enrolled in the “Parenting Tweens” program will learn how to handle this situation with rock-solid, meme-worthy advice.

Want to know more? Here’s the next section of this case study. It’s called “Following Up After School the Next Day”:


Mom pulls into the car pickup line and sees Eleven-year-old laughing and talking with friends. Maybe everything went well this morning when she talked to Mr. A., Mom thinks. Maybe Eleven will be able to bounce back from this without too much stress.

Mom (as Eleven-year-old sits in car): How was the day today?

Eleven: It was humiliating.

Mom (puzzled): Why, what happened? Did you talk to Mr. A.?

Eleven: Yeah, I told him what happened.

Mom: Was he mad?

Eleven (in agitated tone): Well, he wasn’t happy about it.

Mom: What did he say?

Eleven: He said I could turn it in on Thursday.

Mom: That’s good. At least he’s giving you a little extra time to work on it. Is he going to take points off for it being late?

Eleven (with disappointment): Yes.

Mom: Did you show him your rough drafts so that he knows you weren’t just goofing off all this time and remembered at the last minute?

Eleven: He said he didn’t want to see all that. He just wants me to turn in my final project.

Mom: So then why was the day humiliating?

Eleven: Because during class, he was calling on all of us one by one to talk about our projects, and I was sitting between J. and M. After J. finished talking about his project, Mr. A. looked at me and said, “Uh…okay, M., why don’t you tell us about what you did?”

Mom (waits for the “humiliating” part): Is that all?

Eleven: Yeah, but it was so embarrassing!

Mom: He probably just needed a minute, because he might have remembered right then that you hadn’t turned yours in yet. Just think, it would have been even more embarrassing if he’d called on you and then said, “Oh, no, wait, you didn’t turn yours in.”

Eleven (miffed that she can’t ignore this logic): Yeah, well…


Here’s where the beauty of the “Parenting Tweens” program comes in! You learn to turn ordinary moments in the car like this into inspirational speeches. You find out how to take situations primed for defeat and disheartenment and attempt to convince the young people in your life that there’s no need to feel that way! Best of all, as you work on your psychology degree, you’ll learn to develop a thick skin even when your advice and encouragement are rebuffed over and over.

“How is this possible?” you’re probably saying in amazement. Check out our case study one last time to find out:


Mom: Here’s the thing. There are going to be times when you do incredible, amazing things. You’re a smart kid, and in the future you’ll say stuff and accomplish goals and feel great about yourself. There are going to be other times when you mess up, when you make a mistake or forget about deadlines or something else. It’s not the end of the world.  You should be grateful for the fact that Mr. A. is letting you turn your project in late and not giving you a bad grade automatically just because you didn’t get the deadline right. He didn’t have to give you the extra time, but he did. He’s giving you a chance. So you should be grateful for that chance, okay?

Eleven (begrudgingly): Okay.

Mom: The most important thing is that you do your best. You’re not always going to be perfect. You’re not going to remember everything all the time. That’s why you have your planner, right?

Eleven (begrudging tone still evident): Yeah.

Mom (in bright, encouraging voice): Well, there you go! Maybe you can break down projects like this on a monthly and then weekly basis.

Thirteen-year-old sister speaks up in a quiet tone: You can even set up alerts on you iPad to remind you that stuff is coming up. That’s what I do, and it really helps.

Mom (grateful for teen’s input and simultaneously groaning inside because tween will probably react badly to “advice” from big sister; encouraging voice continues): See, there’s an idea. Between alerts on your iPad and writing things down, you’ll be able to make sure you don’t miss another deadline. If you work hard, you will do well overall. One project isn’t going to break your grade. I know it bothers you, but you’ll bounce back from this.

Eleven (begrudging tone still evident): Okay.


Don’t waste time! Act today to take advantage of this incredible program. And if you contact us within the next 30 minutes, we’ll throw in a free copy of our workbook, “Sarcastic Things I Can Think In Response to My Tween’s Snarkiness”! Learn to take the high road and counsel your tween while getting in the last word, even if the tween doesn’t hear it.

Be the expert parent on the block. Enroll in “Parenting Tweens” today!


*Some restrictions apply. See Life for details. Program requires a 10-year lead time—that is, you cannot enroll until you are the parent of at least one tween, defined as a child between the ages of 10 and 12. 

**Program facilitators are not responsible for any stretch marks, parental crying, clothes dirtied from spit-up or poopy diapers as participants prepare to enroll in program 10 years from now. Thereafter, program facilitators are not responsible for fights with partners, sleepless nights, hurt feelings, extreme anxiety, or other negative effects from parenting tweens.

***The psychology degree is not recognized by any medical body but certainly honored by other program graduates. Sometimes, years after they’re no longer tweens, the degree is also honored by the children.

****Seriously, why can’t parents just walk into any university of their choice and just demand a psych degree?



Latest Spurts: Interior designers versus artists and more

Dec. 2, 2016

Enjoy these Spurts from the last two weeks, readers!

Last year in a post-Christmas sale we bought a 10-foot tree from the floor of our local grocery store. The store manager gave us the tree and all the decorations on it—which included dozens of ornaments, several strands of lights and garland—for $180. We brought everything home, found tree bags and containers to store everything and then packed it all away for this year.

The weekend before Thanksgiving we spent our Sunday afternoon pulling out all those ornaments, the garland, the lights, and also our older ornaments and lights. As we sorted through what we wanted to put up to decorate the house this year, my husband took out a bouquet of silver and red shimmery bulbs with long strands attached. Someone in the store last year had separated the bulbs and stuck them at various intervals in the tree; my husband put them in a red vase we have and put the base on the mantel.

Ten looked at the vase on the mantel, gave a nod of approval, and kept hanging ornaments on the tree where it sat not too far away on the stairs. Eight and I frowned at the vase and exchanged a look. We were taking a break sitting on the sofa together, and I turned to her.

“That doesn’t match,” I said, noting that my husband had put a red vase full of glittery silver and red decorations on a mantle with two Persian blue vases with coordinating sapphire blue glass candlesticks. “What do you think?”

Eight turned up her hands and shrugged. “I don’t know.”

Clearly she didn’t want to hurt her father’s feelings; Eight’s always on the lookout to make sure everyone is happy.

“But I thought you’re an artist,” I said. “Shouldn’t you know about this stuff?”

She gave me a “duh” look. “Yeah, I’m an artist, but I’m not an interior designer.”

Well…of course. There’s a difference. Silly me.


A little later in the evening, Ten and I worked together to string some lights on the spindles of the railing. The rest of the decorating was almost done, and Eight had plopped on the sofa to take a break and watch TV. Ten and I chatted casually, and at point in our conversation I used the word “good” incorrectly.

“Don’t you mean ‘well’?” Ten asked pointedly.

My cheeks flushed; she was right. Somehow I’d gotten caught up in talking and making sure we strung the lights in such a way that they would go all the way across the spindles and hadn’t paid attention to my grammar usage.

“I’m a writer, I can say whatever I want,” I said.

“Uh huh, sure,” Ten said, rolling her eyes. “Is that how it goes now?”

Hey, isn’t there such a thing as parent privilege?


Last week when I pulled into the driveway of the school to pick up the girls, I noticed something unusual. I saw a chunk of rainbow in the sky. It looked as if someone had taken an oversized prism and fitted it in a particular spot in the clouds. With the sun just peeking out from farther away, it somehow managed to catch the moisture in that spot and create a block of rainbow.

As the girls climbed into the car, I pointed out the rainbow prism. Eight mentioned how odd it was that the chunk of vibrant colors would appear only in that section of the clouds.

“You know, when I was little, I thought the reason why it snowed was because the snow fell on the clouds and they felt cold, and when they shivered the snow fell down to the ground.”

My heart melted a little at this description. Just then, Eight, my ever-practical child, piped up.

“And why would you mention that right now? It’s not snowing.”

I could hear the eye roll in Ten’s voice. “Because we were talking about clouds, so I thought of it.”

Shivering clouds. I love it.


One of the most fun tasks since moving into the new house has been to decorate my writing studio. Because it’s the one spot in the entire house where I really don’t need to worry about anyone else’s opinion, I’ve taken my time in considering what I want to hang where.

Last year when we visited Europe, I bought a poster in Prague of the famous Charles Bridge with the intention of hanging it in the studio. Because of the length of the poster, the shape of the room, and the slanted walls, however, I had trouble deciding where to put the poster up. Ideally I really wanted to hang it in a spot where I could see it as I worked, but the only feasible spot available was directly behind me.

A few weeks ago Ten walked into the studio to ask me something, and she saw the poster lying on the floor.

“Where are you going to hang this up?” she asked.

I frowned. “I don’t know yet. I don’t have space anywhere where I can see it.”

She glanced at the wall behind me. “Why don’t you just hang it there?”

“But then how would I see it?”

Her eyes widened a touch. “You turn around.”

“What, and spend all day turning around like this?” I said, demonstrating in a comical fashion.

“Yeah, you just…turn around,” she said, slipping for just a moment into teenage snarkiness. “It’s not hard.”

I thought she’d forgotten about it until Thanksgiving break when I reached into the freezer to grab something.

“Here, Mamma, I’ll get that for you since you can’t turn around,” she said.

I was thoroughly confused. “What do you mean?” I turned around in a circle. “See? I can turn around.”

“Yeah, you can turn around here, but you can’t turn around to look at your poster.”

I raised a hand to swat at her, and she shrieked with laughter and scooted away. Smarty pants.