Posted in Messy Rooms, Parenting, Teenagers

My Teenager is Sort of Raising an Ant Farm

ants - sarris

I just walked in on little sister Lena in Cara’s room looking for candy. She was rifling through Cara’s Easter baskets — FYI, Easter happened three Sundays ago, but Cara still has a stash left. Anyhow, I was also craving something sugary, specifically chocolate, so I came in to see what Cara had.  Lena found a package of M&M’s that we would share, but then I pulled out a box of bite size milk chocolate, peanut butter stuffed bunnies and chicks, Sarris Candy Brand.  I took out a bunny and ate it.  

“Mmm,” I euphorically sighed. “Lena, these are better than those M&M’s. Here.”  She took the box and dumped some out.  “Don’t take all of them,” I warned.  “Save some for Cara.”  

“Okay, I just took a bunny and chick.  I can’t believe she still has these. They’re the best!”  

“I know.  Let me have one more.”  I was weak.  

“Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhh!” Lena screamed.

“Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhh!” I screamed because Lena screamed even though I didn’t know why she screamed.  

“There are ants! There are ants on these bunnies!” and she dropped the chocolates like she got caught stealing candy from an Easter basket.


“Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhh!  I probably ate some!  I’m dying!  I cannot believe this!”  Lena bolted from the room (with the M&M’s).  “CARA!!!”  I screamed.


“What, Mom?”  she asked.


“I’m busy though. I’m playing Skip-Bo with my friend right now.”  Her boyfriend was over for a day date, and they were playing cards. Although I’m a fan of board games and cards, this could not wait.

“NOW!”  skip bo

She begrudgingly showed up to her room and said, “What is it?”

“Ants!  You have ants in your room,” I revealed.  

“Oh yeah.  I forgot about those,” she claimed.  

“You knew about these ants?” I was incredulous.  

“Yeah, I saw some, but didn’t know what to do about them.  They really weren’t hurting anything, so I forgot about them.  There were just a few.”  

“Well, now there is an army!”  I moved the trunk on her floor to prove their omnipresence. They partied on her name brand chocolate, danced together, dined some more, mated, and multiplied in her bedroom.  Sickening!!!  

“Wow!  How’d that happen?”  She seriously looked puzzled.  

“Go tell your friend that you have to exterminate your room a bit and you’ll be back when I give the ‘All Clear!'” 

“Okay, I’m sorry, but they’re really harmless, sorta like the mockingbird in that book you keep telling me I must read or you will go to my teachers and try to improve their circus.”

“Improve their curriculum,” I corrected. I was momentarily distracted that she even listened to what I told her about Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird masterpiece.  It didn’t excuse her and the unapproved picnic she was hosting in her room though.  She sleeps in a loft bed, so what does she care about her floor.  “I’m pretty sure I ate some of your ants. I guess you’ll have less to sweep and suck up with the vacuum.”

She laughed and swept. Why does this kid laugh at everything?!  If I were more positive I could’ve looked at this as a business venture, but I’m so damn itchy I can’t even.  Do you know that ants are sold online for ant farm kits?  I think we could’ve collected enough to crawl through at least ten kits. Maybe I’m old fashioned and don’t want chocolate covered ants and would prefer my kid to earn money by babysitting or baking or anything besides bug breeding.  

How do I stay sunny and sane (albeit part-time) while mothering teenagers and ants for another 70,000 years?  How are you surviving?  Are you eating ants too?

ants - sugar ants


If you want to buy or raise you own ants, check out these sites:



Posted in Anxiety, Family, Teaching, Teenagers

Getting Sent to the Office – A Mother and Teacher’s Tale

Disclaimer – I know my reaction to the following scene was an overreaction, and that is an understatement. Although I am a part-time sunshine who tries to keep a positive outlook, I am also a full-time nut job who can fall into a vat of emotional turmoil in a single breath. Come hold my hand and breathe with me…


The loudspeaker blared throughout my school interrupting first period.  “Mrs. Lucas, please come to the office. Paging Mrs. Lucas.” In case you didn’t know, I am Mrs. Lucas, high school English teacher.  image

I pushed my classroom call button connecting me to the office and said, “I’m in the middle of class.  Do you need me right now?”

The secretary replied, “Yes. Your daughter’s school is on the phone for you.  Mr. Jones can cover your class.”  

Whoa!  The secretary already called for classroom coverage. This didn’t sound good. And why did she page the whole building instead of just my classroom?  I felt like a kid getting sent to the principal’s office.  It is alarming to get jolted out of class for a surprise phone call, especially one about your own child. Since students can’t be left unattended, teachers realize whoever wants to speak to us has an immediate, important concern.  

Mr. Jones quickly arrived, and I raced down the steps as fast as I could in my new navy high heels. Clip-clop, clip-clop. Who called, I wondered? The high school or middle school?  Which daughter was this about: Cara or Elena?  Was she sick or hurt?  Was she in trouble?  Oh my my!  Did she cause trouble?  My concern from the loudspeaker, turned to anxiety as I hurried to the unknown caller.

I sped down the deserted halls to the office which seemed further away today, like it relocated to the moon. Finally, I pushed through the teachers-only door where a substitute-secretary warmly greeted me. It was as if she had been waiting for me the whole four minutes since she paged me, eons ago.  “Mrs. Lucas, I’m sorry I used the school intercom, but I was confused on how to page your room for you.  Here, you can sit at the desk to talk.” As a fill-in, maybe she was afraid to lose my call.  Or maybe she was just polite and letting me use her chair while she stretched her legs. Or maybe this was a huge emergency. 

I accepted the seat and pushed the red blinking answer button.  My caller spoke with a friendly, high-pitched voice and chirped, “Mrs. Lucas?”  

“Yes, this is she?” What were the chances the secretary got confused again and my caller was actually an extra-appreciative parent who wanted to tell me, voice-to-voice, how thrilled she was with the lessons I taught her teen?  

“This is the school nurse at Cara’s high school.”

Dang it! It wasn’t a thankful parent.  “Hi. What’s wrong?” I asked.  

“Cara had an accident in gym class and hurt her finger. She was doing box jumps and somehow slammed her hand into the box.”

“Oh, nuts and bolts!  Will she be able to throw the javelin and discus tomorrow for her first track meet?”

“I don’t think so. Her finger is a little crooked.”

“Crooked?” I asked looking at my own shaky, sweaty, but not crooked, fingers. “Can I talk to her?”  

“Yes, she is sitting right here with an ice pack.”

Cara chuckled,  “Hey, Mom!”

“Cara, why are you laughing?  Are you delirious?”

Still giggling. “I don’t know what that means, but it was so funny. Bella and I were doing box jumps, and then I accidentally hit my hand off the box and now it looks like a hook finger. It was so random.  We were cracking up!”

“Are you messing with me?  Are you seriously hurt?”  Cara is a prankster who celebrates every  April Fools’ Day and obnoxiously loves joking around about things mothers don’t find funny.  

Cara, quick to profess her discomfort, said “Uh, my fingers look like the letter ‘W’ and the bent one is throbbing.”

“Oh, I bet it hurts.  What’s your pain on a scale of one to ten?”

“I’m going with W!”


“Why are you being so silly, Cara?”

“Lighten up, Mom.  I’m the one with a bent finger. When you come get me can we stop for some chicken nugs? The nurse wants to talk to you again.  Bye!”

The nurse got back on the phone and convinced me that the finger was a serious injury and probably broken. “I recommend you take her to the emergency room and get it checked out. She can’t straighten it.”

“Oh boy!  I’ll be there as soon as I can,” I uttered. The anxiety that started with the intercom got worse, and that crooked finger was enough to push my panic button. My heart beat out of my chest and my stomach swarmed with butterflies.  We aren’t a bone breaking family.  We have our share of accidents but nothing that cracks our skeletons.  From my chest up, my flesh burned with nervous electricity, and my ears rang with piercing dog whistles that muffled the school bell.  My nerves zoomed from zero to ten to ‘W.’

“Okay. See you when you get here. Drive carefully,” the nurse advised.  

“Umm. Who am I coming to get again?  Cara or Elena?”  Add short-term memory loss to my list of worrywart ailments.  

To be continued with “Reconnecting with my Teenage Daughter in the Emergency Room.”


Posted in Education, Family, Social Media, Teenagers

13 Reasons Why: Adults Need to Talk About it.

13 reasons why

I plan to write an exploratory blog a post on why parents and teachers should watch 13 Reasons Why and talk about it with their teenage viewers. Most kids are binging it and having their own conversations. I think adult input is beneficial. If you watched this series, please share your input as an adult viewer and why you think it can help generate a conversation about the issues depicted: suicide, bullying, underage drinking, rape, violence, dishonesty, neglectful parenting, bystander (blind-eye) teaching, premarital sex, homosexuality, depression, social media, and more.

If you aren’t aware, this is a Netflix series based on the book of the same title. The Protagonist, Hannah makes cassette tapes to be distributed to those who she felt influenced her suicide. There is a lot of hurt, pain, blame, and shame revealed. I do NOT agree with how Hannah handled/mishandled her issues, but I think it merits a mature conversation that could help other distressed adolescents.

SPOILER ALERT — When you comment, act as if all readers of the post have viewed the show. If you have not, you may want to refrain from reading comments until you finished the series.  I recommend watching the 30-minute documentary following it on Netflix: 13 Reasons Why: Beyond the Reasons.

Comments — I hope to generate a good, adult conversation. Anything you add can find it’s way in my next blog, unless you state otherwise.