Thursday, March 09, 2006

The Family News Alert System Crashes

So my mom has this system by which she tracks which of her three children she’s told about major family news items. Basically, it’s a large dry-erase board with a column for each of the three kids and a row for major events or activities of note (babies born, pregnancies, deaths, etc.). When my mom tells anyone about a particular news item, she checks them off the list. This is sort of how it works during a phone conversation:

Mom: “Oh, did I tell you that Laura had her baby?”
Me: “No! Oh wow! Boy or girl?”
Mom, making an audible mental note to herself: “Okay, I can take that off the list.” Cupping a hand over the phone and shouting to my dad: “Peter, can you check Jess off the list for me? Yeah. I just told her about Laura’s baby. So you can check it off the list.”

But the system has experienced a major break down because MY DAD HAD SHOULDER SURGERY YESTERDAY AND NOBODY TOLD ME UNTIL TEN PM LAST NIGHT. Yet my mom called my brother on Monday to tell him that 24 was on at 7 pm.


And when my cousin Laura had her baby? I actually found out at Thanksgiving weeks after it happened. Methinks this system could stand some improvement. Mom, I love you more than anything. You make delicious meals that accommodate the strange dietary needs of your children. You put up with my adolescent moodiness and forgave me for stealing the family minivan back in 1990. You are a lovely, fun, and generally wonderful person and lugged me around internally for over nine months and gave birth to me. I can’t even imagine that process, what with the twenty-seven hours of labor and my fat head and all. But I’m filing a formal complaint about this family news alert system of yours.

Now I feel like a horrible daughter for not paying attention to the upcoming surgery when it was mentioned to me weeks ago. Plus, when I was talking to my dad on the phone last night (FINALLY), he was still pretty groggy from the anesthesia and had to quick put the phone down to go throw up, which made me really sad.

But don’t feel too badly for him. Look how he tried to scare me during a family trip to Florida in 1979. Yes, that is a real, live alligator in the water just inches below me.

Luckily, the entire family made it through the trip intact. We also survived my dad’s blazing white tennis pro outfit, which almost blinded everyone within fifty feet whenever he stepped into the sunlight.

I’m going to see my parents this weekend because I miss them and want to see how Dad’s doing. I won’t be bringing them any grandchildren (sorry Mom!), but I will be bearing other gifts. Possibly baked goods.


  1. Sympathies about the tennis outfit. My Dad had a sweater he fancied and it was a royal EYE SORE. YUK!


  2. I hope your dad recovers quickly. You know why your Mom's communication system broke down!?!? Mercury retrograde, baby!

  3. Anonymous11:24 PM

    awww family memories!!
    Eeeep! Not the family system!!
    I really hope your Dad feels better soon.

  4. Anonymous11:42 PM

    Good wishes for your dad. You *are* bringing your mom a grand-dog. ;)

  5. This is a very sweet post. You gotta to embrace the family you have and it sounds like you do Jess.

  6. Great post.

    Ask your mom if she thinks this season of 24 is as good as the last two.

    I dont' watch it, but I know a couple of people who do, and they are totally addicted. No wonder Mom's alert system faltered. She's a Keifer junkie.

  7. I think family and closeness are BOTH GOOD things! But maybe that's just the Dad in me! ~ jb///

  8. Anonymous6:48 AM

    I had a friend who found out her grandmother died by reading the obituaries, so really, in the big scheme of things, this wasn't too bad.

    Did I make you feel better or just make you need to overhaul the system more?

  9. Anonymous7:18 AM

    ARGH!! That drives me batty. My mom was in the hospital for her heart condition and she called my brother who didn't think it was important to CALL ME... HELLO?????

    Hope he's okay~

  10. Yum. baked goods!

    And tell your father to scale back his "list checking off" until the shoulder heals.

  11. You mean you're not on the parental "forward everything in your in-box" spam program?

    That's how I get my info from the home front. Every now and then some actual family news gets sandwiched in-between the junk.

  12. I'm so glad the 70's are over as far as the fashion goes. Oh but wait--crap. Aren't hot pants and bell bottom, hip hugger jeans back "in" now? Oh well.

    That's a pretty funny news alert system your mom has going. Hope your dad recovers quickly, and that you all enjoy the visit!

  13. Shoot - am I the ONLY one who thinks your Dad was kind of cute? Nice legs! Dig the 'stache!
    And you can tell him I said so.
    I come from a family of nearly non-communicators, so this system of which you speak sounds intriguing.

  14. Lucky he didn't drop you. That alligator looks hungry.

  15. At least she has a system, albeit a flawed one. When my parents and I talk, we can never think of anything "newsy" to pass on until after we hang up. Then we send follow-up e-mails.

  16. First off, hope your dad is okay! Send him a stuffed aligator with a get well card.

    Secondly, your mom's system is hilarious. I have to forward this to my dad. He just tends to tell me everything six or seven times, just to make sure he's got me covered.

  17. Hope your pops is okay :-)

    And try not to feel too bad. I never hear about anything from or about my family until way afterward and only after a press release has been sent out to the ENTIRE UNIVERSE.

  18. Here's what we do in my husband's family for updating each other. Every other week, I send a mass e-mail to everyone soliciting contributions to the "Dearest Family" newsletter. I give everybody about a week and they e-mail back with a paragraph or two about their lives. I put them together in chronological order and e-mail it all back to everyone. We all love it and now the college and high school kids contribute also. My in-laws love it the most of all because it's news about everybody.

    Love the photo of you and your dad.

  19. Anonymous1:22 PM

    Love the idea of a family news alert system. I could use one of those; I never remember who I told what. Hope your dad feels better soon!

  20. Please don't hate me, but that picture had me LMAO. Although I'd probably make the same face if someone held me over a gator tomorrow. Have I mentioned that we have an estimated 2 gators in EVERY fresh body of water in Florida?

    I hope your Dad feels better.

  21. having $a hard ltime typing, retinal burn...

    yeah, my familycomm is totally busted. i'm on the "tell her 2 weeks after the fact" list.

    hope you're dad is feeling better soon!

  22. Anonymous4:14 PM

    thank you for stopping by!

    and stay tuned for part III. it is the best story.

    and the last.

    thank god.

    but i now sware by online dating. my fiance and i always get completely caught off guard when people ask where we met...and then even harder part after we reveal 'online' when they ask 'what site?'.

    oh god.

    its horribly embarrassing!!!


  23. Ah yes, the funny "Mortal danger" look on the young child.

    best wishes for his speedy recovery and buy your mom a Blackberry. She'd love it

  24. That picture should be blown up and framed, so it can hang with pride over the family fireplace.

    Hope your dad recovers soon!

  25. Anonymous7:40 PM

    Jess, your mom has obviously never gotten over your minivan shenanigans. Be prepared to be shut out until you COME CLEAN! COME CLEAN I SAY!

    (seriously, I hope your dad is recovering nicely.)

  26. I think the reason you're not blinded is the belt. The big brown belt. I think that's what's intriguing the gator.

    You gotta get your mom hooked up on text-messaging. (I know, internally cringing, aren't you? Can you imagine if the moms of the world knew how to text message?)

    ... That's all I can write... I keep going back up to the mark pettus photo...

  27. My grandfather used to have a short-sleeved leisure suit. For some reason the photo brought back memories of horrid seventies fashion.

  28. omg, that picture is hilarious! that is SO WRONG!

  29. I hope your dad feels better soon. Obviously your mom needs his dry erase checkering off skills. You sure are prolific lately. It puts me to shame.

  30. Anonymous5:16 PM

    I love that picture of you with your dad. Hope it didn't foster a lifelong fear of alligators! (although I suppose that's not an animal you're likely to just run into on the street...)

    My parents are funny about sharing family news. Sometimes they're pretty good about remembering, and other times they forget for days and days to tell me pretty big news. I don't know if it's their advancing age or what.

    Hope your dad has a quick and easy recovery from his surgery.

  31. Jess- You're much too pretty to be "gator bait!"
    Hope your dad feels better soon.
    Can I have a chocolate chip cookie with walnuts in it? :)

  32. interesting system...let's hope my mom never hears about it. She loves anything involving sytems, lists, checkmarks, etc. Love the tennis outfit!

  33. Anonymous8:58 PM

    Hope your dad will be back on the tennis court soon. ;-)

    My grandmother would assemble a "newsletter" by clipping things out of her local paper and mailing them out to us. The only thing is we had no clue who anybody in the articles was. At least we were consistently informed.

    – Texas T-bone

  34. Jess- I'm just glad that your dad didn't match his shoes to his belt. If he were my dad he would've been wearing thongs. With.The.Socks. Further proof we're the same age.

    The fam system is failing you. Have you thought of maybe cans with strings attached? It worked for the Little Rascals every time.

  35. Jess--that picture portrays parenthood at its finest! You know we only have kids for the torturous reasons, right? Oh, and to make them our slaves... which, BTW, Saturday night we had a party and one of the guests noted we house our liquor in a low cabinet. She asked, "Don't you worry the kids will get into it?" (Kids are 8, 6 and 4)... I told her, "Nah, we wouldn't want it any other way. If we kept it up higher, they wouldn't be able to make our cocktails for us!"

    Also, on the note of parental surgery: My mom told us she was having her wisdom teeth pulled about five years ago. The day of the surgery, my dad calls. Here is the conversation.

    Dad: Your mom's out of surgery.

    Me, like you, having forgotten she was having her teeth pulled: Oh, yeah, I forgot about that. How is she?

    Dad: Well, she didn't have her wisdom teeth removed. She had her silicon implants removed.

    WHAT THE FUCK! This is how I find out my mother had a boob job in like 1974 and here it was like 2002 and she's having her silicon removed.

    First shock, then relief. I was happy to know she realized the error of her ways, and that silicon was bad and it was great she had them removed.

    But no!!!!!!!!!!

    She did have them removed, THEN had them replaced with SALINE, and bigger ones!

    I went through 30 years of my life NOT KNOWING MY MOM HAD BOOB ISSUES and can you believe the shock of finding this out then, and, to add misery to the whole thing, to finding out MY HUSBAND KNEW AND I DIDN'T!!

    Cripes, there ain't enough therapy in the world for these issues.

    Hope your dad is well, and that you bake him something good! And tell him he looks hot in his tennis gear!

  36. I hope your ded gets better quickly.

    My husband and m-i-l are the same way....he will talk to her for an hour and then I ask what's up and he says, "nothing." A month later I find out one of his sisters is pregnant and the other is getting a divorce.

  37. Holy Hell that photo is fantastically funny!

    Oh that would have made me piss my pants which wouldn't have looked good against that bright white tennis outfit. He sure was rocking it. :0)

    Systems does need work, if only so you don't have to feel guilty.

  38. Anonymous3:55 PM

    My Dad had the same get-up.

    At least your Ma checks off who she's said what to, mine the classic Repeater. But yes, there seems to be a bit of a breakdown...time to take it into the shop for repairs.

    (That picture is awesome. Dad has a little bit of a mean streak, eh?)