Let me give you some tips

Note to everyone who lives in this house. You are driving me insane. I don’t know who you think is going to perform all the manual labour in this house when you finally put me over the edge. In order to prevent the men with the huggy coats picking me up for being a few grapes short of a fruit cocktail, it is important that you read the following.

1. You should clean up a hairball on the carpet if you see one. Do not lie to me and tell me that you did not see it, I know you are lying because you warned me not to step in it. We are not wild animals, we do not simply “work around” disgusting messes until Mum comes home from the guild meeting and cleans it up. I do not feel cherished when you save it for me.

2. Do not, I repeat, do not make the decision to re-lace both of your stupid sneakers while I stand there telling you that you are late for school. This is not a mature decision, and since it is possible to walk to school with your laces laced in a less than perfect manner and instead re-lace them later when no-one is waiting on you, I feel that I must also tell you that as far as attempts to drive me insane go….this one is pretty infuriatingly transparent.

3. Do not use up the last of the toilet paper and tell no-one. This should be obvious.

4. Do not be late and then insist to me that you are not only not late (which you SO ARE) but insist with belligerent indignation that you have never been late in your whole life. You are often late. Everyone knows this about you. We talk about it. We are thinking about starting a victims association. We will have tee-shirts. You are late.

5. Immediately cease and desist with fights so stupid that they would make a United Nations negotiator want to snatch you bald. I cannot possibly hear anything more about who is crowding who on the chesterfield, who is looking out who’s window or who took who’s lip gloss. I do not care that she was in your room. It matters nothing to me that she took your bookmark out of your book. Stop. It.

(NB. Your sister did not steal your lip gloss. You left it in your pocket where it exploded in the dryer and stained an entire load of laundry.)

6. Put the *&^%$#@@#$% MILK IN THE FRIDGE. Not “by” the fridge, not “near” the fridge. PUT. IT. IN. For the love of wool, I could train monkeys to do this.

7. Do you think, that I…as a woman, a mother and the person intelligent enough to keep a whole family alive and functioning for 16 consecutive years is really so easily tricked that you can lead me to believe that you have changed the hamster cage when I can smell it from the kitchen?

8. I don’t want to talk about “the wrong kind of toothpaste” anymore. You’re lucky I buy you toothpaste. I have bigger fish to fry than discussing (again) exactly how it is that I have completely ruined your life by getting the wrong toothpaste.

9. Despite having conceived, gestated, nursed and cared for you, I assure you that it is not my fault that your bangs won’t curl under.

10. The recycling bins are on the porch. I can tell that up until now you didn’t know that, since you have put nothing in them. I trust that sharing their location with you will resolve this issue.

I’ve finished my Dulaan hat, designed by Norma.


It’s a pretty hat, warm and cozy, but I gotta tell ya Norms, there comes a point in this hat where you really need some self discipline. The hat is knit as a long tube, (really long) then you gather the ends up firmly, tuck one end inside the other and make a double thick, simple, warm hat. The willpower part comes in when you are exactly half-way done the tube, when you suddenly look down and realize that if you gave it all up, right that second….


You would have a perfectly good roll brim hat. I’m telling you…it takes a little bit of something to keep knitting after that.

The Dulaan hat is tucked into my box with a few others, and I started a Dulaan sock to be my computer knitting.


The shawl is a little bigger, but not worth photographing. I’m desperately behind on adding people to the KSF tally and pages, so no thank you gifts (including the mittens…which I totally am not trying to keep for myself) until I’ve got everyone who should be on the list, on it. (You all want a chance, don’t you?)

See you Monday…in Memphis. (Holy cow.)

88 thoughts on “Let me give you some tips

  1. The social worker in me (yes, MSW; no, never professionally counseled a single soul in my life, thank the goddess)wants to say that the acting out is a signal that they want you, need you, love you, and will desperately miss you while you are gone.
    The mother in me says, right-on sister, you tell them! I’m copying this and pasting it on my refrigerator… the milk, the recycling, the small items exploding in the wash. I feel you pain.

  2. I love your writing. I love that you are pissed about the same things I am, and you write so eloquently about them.
    What is it with family members not being able to deposit garbage where it should be deposited?!! It boggles the mind!

  3. Perfect. I’ve printed the list and hung it on the icebox with an additional note, handwritten with a bright red sharpie, to please, please, please make some attempt at accuracy when aiming at the toilet!

  4. Hey, Stephanie — add this nifty URL to your laptop, so you can check ahead on expected weather for each stop on your Royal Progress: http://www.weather.com/. Yeah, I know, it’s a hard one to remember. . .Looks like Monday in Memphis is going to be a perfect 10 for sightseeing, partly cloudy, and around 70 degrees F (which is 21 degrees Canadian–oops, Celsius) and the cardigan of ill repute would have been just fine. ..

  5. Damn it! I just read your tour dates, and you’re going to be out here in Berkeley (2 August) while I’m still in Russia (til 11 August). No chance that you can come 10 days later? I will give you cashmere, bejewelled stitch markers, lunch at Chez Panisse — anything you want! (Sigh.)

  6. Hey Harlot: Sounds like the speech I just gave a couple of days ago, but I also added:
    If you don’t care, how do you expect me to be able to?
    If you want to act like you live in a hotel, you will be treated that way. If you want special services (like meals, laundry, etc.) you will PAY. If you don’t have a job, I will remove things from your possession WITHOUT benefit of anesthetic!!!
    It worked. (for now anyway)
    Can you PLLLLLEEEEEEEEASE come to Windsor or Detroit??????

  7. OOOoooh, this entry speaks to my soul. Please consider writing a “how to survive parenthood” book. Please please please.
    Also, enjoy the next leg of the tour! Memphis, wow!

  8. Yes, I know it takes willpower to finish my version of the hat, but I’m all about willpower for making little heads super-warm, aren’t you? But wait, didn’t you get the memo? Ryan’s thing is a scam. We shouldn’t be knitting things for it! (kidding — see Ryan’s and my entries in the past few days for explanation if you don’t already know about this ridiculous assertion).
    But I love your little hat. Thank you for making it! You’re a dear. Even if you buy the wrong damn toothpaste. Will you STOP THAT?!

  9. They are going to miss you. They also want to make sure you don’t forget them (like that is possible). They also are making it a little easier for you to leave them for awhile. The ironic part is how much you will miss the senseless fights, warm milk, and hairballs once you have been away for awhile. Of course, that feeling will last about 1.3 seconds once you step back into the house. So saddle up, grab your cowboy hat, and have a good ‘ol time in Memphis!

  10. Maybe the MSF mittens could go on tour with you? You know, letting the adoring fans pay homage before they go to their forever home.

  11. You forgot one:
    11. When you are asked to pick up your clothes from the auxiliary closet (aka your floor), said clothes will not be put in the hamper if they are clean. They are to be put where clean clothes live, i.e. hung in closet and folded into drawers. Also, clean clothes that have mingled with dirty clothes are not automatically dirty and are not regarded as such by the launderess.

  12. Sadly, 70*F in Memphis does not constitute sweater weather, lacy cardigan or no. It will be icky hot, muggy, and according to the morning news guy, possible rainy. It might seem pleasantly warm to you lucky Canadians, but it has become humid, mosquito weather here in the icky South. My ultimate knitting goal is to be able to make mittens like the Harlot, but alas, I’d never get to wear them. πŸ˜‰

  13. I too am going to post this on my refrigerator, with the toilet-aiming addendum. PLEASE write a parenting book!! You’re the only one who can make me laugh about all this!

  14. Harlot-
    I am so looking forward to seeing you on Wednesday, it’s not even funny. I almost called Knit Happens so I could know where you were flying into, if they were meeting you at the airport, and if I could come, and knit big letters that said “H-A-R-L-O-T” like we had a knitted limo waiting for you or something. I’m excited.

  15. mamacohen: My SO teaches at a choirschool for boys, where in the bathroom there is a sign reading, “Aim high in music, but not over the toilet!!!”
    Stephanie: You’re coming to Berkeley! I am thrilled beyond measure and may even bring chocolate. πŸ™‚

  16. You are so funny I can hardly stand it!! Might I add one?
    11. Just because I will not let you wear flip-flops to school when it is 28 degress out, does in no way prove that I am ruining your life. Wait until your first date comes to the house and I show him pictures of you naked in the pool to decide on that.

  17. I am SO PRINTING THAT OUT and hanging it on my fridge! (not that they’ll read it, cuz the LEAVE THE FLIPPIN DOOR OPEN) ugh!
    Gotta love the kiddos. Thanks for making me feel so less alone! lol

  18. Stephanie, for whatever it’s worth, my oldest, at 16, once screamed all her teenage insecurities in my face like it was all my fault. This one time I managed to say just the right thing: I looked at her tenderly–the last thing she expected–and responded, with warmth, “I take that as a compliment. You know that I absolutely, unconditionally love you or you would never have dared say such a thing to me.”
    She stomped off in her room, slammed the door, stayed there a few hours, and then came out a perfect angel. Not a word more on the subject. And in the seven years since then she has never mouthed off at me quite like that again.
    But I still have a teenager at home and I’m printing out your list!

  19. Wow, Harlot rage is as awesome as Harlot wit! Hope you have time to take the waters in Saratoga Springs, sounds like a bit of restorative splashing about is in order.
    FYI, Lord & Taylor finally came through with a reservation confirmation. Anxiety – then happiness! See you next week in NYC.

  20. Are you addressing your daughters, or mine? Yup, that breastfeeeding/organic homemade babyfood/sling-carrying really got us far, didn’t it????

  21. 12. You should clean dog pee on the carpet if you see it. Do not lie to me and tell me that you did not see it, I know you are lying because you just stepped over it. We are not wild animals, we do not simply “work around” disgusting messes until your wife comes home from the office and cleans it up. I do not feel cherished when you save it for me. You work from home all day. TAKE THE DOG OUT!
    I feel much better now. πŸ™‚ Looking forward to seeing you at Knit Happens next week!

  22. Man, they DO NOT want you to leave. Or they’re getting away with what they can before The Man is left in charge again.
    By the way, my favorite part of BOOK was the acknowledgements, the part about “to Joe, Amanda, Megan, and Samantha”… My first thought was, “Hey, I know those people!”

  23. I think I have your kids. Two young people in my house last night were having that very same argument until I had to remove myself from the room to hide in a dark place. Also my dishes were not rinsed after dinner although they promised they had been – isn’t this kind of like the hamster cage bit? I have informed them that I am not blind and large chuncks of food does not constitute a rinsed dish. Can I send them back now? Also – see you monday as I’m in memphis! I am so very much looking forward to it.

  24. Ohhhh boy. This list is going to end up on my fridge, too…I just know it. And my six year old daughter has suddenly aquired the ability to give me “the look,” along with the patently false statement, “I was not sticking my tongue out at you, duh, I was just licking my lip.”
    Yeah, RIGHT. I need bigger hipboots and a stronger shovel.

  25. Oh my gawd, is this what I have to look forward to? I tried the guilt approach on my 3 yr old last week with “Please stop, you are breaking mummy’s heart and you are making mummy cry” to which he responded “I don’t see any tears”. Nice. Yes, the next bazillion years should be fun. Take a look at my blog to see how my sweet boys “fixed” my wall last week. Like I said, the next bazillion years should be fun.

  26. Yeah, teens are a bitch. My little one turns 40 tomorrow… I still vividly remember the teen days. Oh, but you miss them when they’re out of your hair.

  27. I think if my mom had written a blog when me and my sister were growing up it would have sounded a lot like your list. πŸ™‚

  28. My youngest is 34 today – I vividly remember things like his dangling a strand of spaghetti for the cat to chase – on my mother-in-law’s new carpet –
    I stayed exhausted –
    Now he’s 6’3″ tall and has a Master’s degree –
    Patience – all too soon they turn into us … .

  29. I remember doing some of those things. I am not sure I am fit to have children if they are going to do to me what I did when I was a kid. I can see why you are a little angry.
    Good Luck!!

  30. Loved the rant. Mine get treated to a similar version on a weekly (at least) basis. I just substitute catbox and rabbit room instead of hampster, cheese-and the wrappers-left out instead of milk, items too numerous to mention are stepped over rather than picked up, and at last count there were 7! different kinds of toothpaste in my bathroom. Only 4 people brush their teeth there. The other bathrooms also have toothpaste. Have fun in Dixie.

  31. This entry should be priority reading for anyone even considering producing a child who will one day be a teenager. It should be REQUIRED reading for anyone considering having more than one!
    Perhaps the pharmacy should consider handing out a copy with each BC pill prescription.

  32. hrm. it *might* be your fault that her bangs don’t curl under. Genetics are a bitch. I blame my mother for my unibrow EVERY. DAY.

  33. Stephanie! Intrigued by the category known as “computer knitting.” Are you knitting while typing? Do you have extra fingers or something? Does it knit if you stare at it long enough?

  34. ROTFL!
    I almost wish I had kids so I could give this to them! I have to send this to all the moms I know. I’d give it to my monster kitten (famous for showing his belly and acting cute after he just ate a plant) but he’d probably claim illiteracy.

  35. Yay! YOu’re coming to Portland!!!!
    I’ll have to organize a road trip from Eugene to come see you.

  36. There is only one solution to this problem. You must immediately come to Chicago where we will welcome you and not force you to clean up any hairballs, nor will we leave lipgloss in a pocket to melt in the wash, and we all promise to put the milk in the fridge and clean the hamsters cage. We do solemnly swear. Now will you please come to Chicago?

  37. I’m printing this day’s blog up and putting it on the fridge, with the extremely relevant parts highlighted. You must have my children, and I’m going through an extremely stressful and busy time right now, only to come home and discover that even though one of the darlings did ALL the dishes, you still cannot find enough room on the counter to put a grape. The kitchen floor seems to be of the self-stick variety, the dogs are so desperate that they have their legs permanently crossed (please, Mummy, if you let us get a dog, we’ll always walk it… yeah, right), and my crowd not only do not seem to know what a recycling bag is, they’re not too sure how to tell when the garbage is full either. I’d trade in the crowd of them, husband included, for a few more sheep, since the sheep are potentially useful, and much less labour intensive.

  38. Mothers across the land are applauding you (even though you can’t hear us) for beautifully (and humorously) articulating one of the daily struggles in the land of motherhood.
    I try to communicate all these things to my children (in a tone that isn’t too aggrieved, even), but somehow, I fail.
    I’m going to print out this entry and tape it to the fridge (or on the counter, right next to the leaky carton of milk).
    You rock! see you next week at L&T.

  39. That was too funny!! I had to call my Mom and apologize for being a typical teenager. They’ll be sorry one day, just be patient.
    Enjoy your trip. Pack for both warm and cool weather. You can have both in the same day in the south……

  40. Someday in the future they will make you a grandmother, and you will be overjoyed and thankful that you didn’t kill them as teenagers.

  41. Ah, the joys of motherhood! You make me want to run right out and have children . . . or, on second thought, maybe I’ll just stick to having a dog who sits quietly while I knit!

  42. Poor thing. Enjoy your trip away from it all. Of course, then you’ll just worry about them. Between a rock and a hard place… I finally got the bookbookbook btw. Sakes, why didn’t anyone tell me it was only $10?? I could have conned some male out of that (my dad or bf, not a stranger silly). I’m forcing myself not to read it all at once so as to enjoy it. FREAKING AMAZING is all that I have to say. FREAKING AMAZING!!

  43. You know I’ve sorta got the impression you have teenage daughters! LOL!
    Now I know why you like babies.
    Still waiting for my bookbookbook to arrive in poor deprived Australia. Amazon is wonderful until it takes 10 days to ship the bookbookbook.

  44. Stay with it Harlot. When you become a grandmama and your daughters regale you with child behaviour complaints, simply wave a copy of today’s post before their eyes. Payback – bigtime.

  45. I have learned from a friend with children the same age as yours that the manner in which one’s shoes are laced is closely scrutinized at school, effects social status, and thus effects one’s lifelong mental health and career prospects.
    Tell him to do it the night before.

  46. I have learned from a friend with children the same age as yours that the manner in which one’s shoes are laced is closely scrutinized at school, effects social status, and thus effects one’s lifelong mental health and career prospects.
    Tell him to do it the night before.

  47. I have learned from a friend with children the same age as yours that the manner in which one’s shoes are laced is closely scrutinized at school, effects social status, and thus effects one’s lifelong mental health and career prospects.
    Tell him to do it the night before.

  48. Wow…I can’t believe this is the first time I’ve read your blog – it seems you have quite the cult following! *g* I wanna join the club! πŸ˜‰ I LOVE your list to your family… I need to make a similar list for the husband. Emphasis on the milk issue – but his neglectfulness expands to all refrigerater-bound items!
    Check out my blog! πŸ™‚ I’m linking to yours -hope you don’t mind! http://knitbutterflies.blogspot.com

  49. I think it should be illegal to have teenagers without any Grandmothers. There is something of a release in having your Mom say “I remember when you…” and you realize you are not out of your freaking mind, all this has been done before and you wil survive. She is living proof. Well mine are without Grandmothers and I am certifiable. Go figure.

  50. Oh my word. The laces. Yes. My son. The milk. Yes. Every kid in my house. What would we do without you reminding us in such a hilarious way that we’re not the only ones with families that do ALL OF THESE EXACT THINGS!!?? THANK GOD!!!

  51. The tears are streaming down my face leaving mascara tracks. (This would be one of the 8 days a year I wear mascara…) My girls think I’m having a fit, I’m laughing so hard.
    Truer words were never typed. All I need do to make this my house is subsitute the words “guinea pig” for the word “Hamster” and “chapstick” for “lip gloss”. and mine haven’t even HIT teen yet.
    please, shoot me know and put me out of future misery.
    Or… come to chicago, and let us know when. I’ll go there!(better yet, come HERE to Champaign — stay in my house where you can laugh at my kid foibles knowing they arent’ your kids to cope with).

  52. Ok… We know the Harlot is busy busy busy AND being held back by crazymaking children… but will somebody please explain to me what “computer knitting” is? I have thought about knitting baskets and pencil pots, but never a computer. I have wondered if my computer could cook or clean for me, but never if it would knit.
    My toes are too clumsy to type OR knit… and I only have two appendages that can type or knit… and I need both for both.
    Thank you. Thank you very much.

  53. This is just perfect. I think I must live in a parallel universe, except I do buy the other toothpaste, just to be sure I don’t have to share a crusty tube with the cap always left off. I quite like the wrong brand for myself and I get to use it from a clean tube.

  54. It must be a disease or virus going around, I’ve had the same type problems at my house. And if things could be worse here, there are, the oldest daughter is getting married in 2 months. I have to keep reminding myself–I’m the adult, I’m mature, and I want this to be a memorable event, not torture for those involved, so I’ll just keep my mouth shut πŸ™‚ even if it kills me!
    Denise, not a blogger yet

  55. I LOVE this list! Of course my boys are only 3 and 5 and couldn’t read the list if I posted it on the fridge. But there are so many days that I say the same things over and over….

  56. If you live with men, rules 3 and 6 will not ever be followed. Trust me on this. In fact, on the very slim chance that (if) a man does put the milk in the fridge, the carton will be completely empty. This is a murphy’s law about milk. There is even an equation: IF(FULL,OUT,IF(EMPTY,IN)). There is a smiliar one about toilet seats. . .
    On another topic, I just wanted to write and thank you for your book. My best friend gave me a copy of it for my birthday this week, and I start out my day by reading my At Knit’s End Meditations. I’m already highlighting those that particularly touch me. I’m already quoting you (hope that’s alright)? One of favorite passages is The 14th Rule of Yarn: I agree about the opposites attract, but had never considered what happens to the color-blind knitter! I’m still laughing, and thanking God I’m not color-blind.

  57. Stephanie, would you please let me know if venting on the blog works? either to preserve your sanity or to get the family to cooperate?
    posting a print out on my fridge would be a certain waste of time, I know already, but blogging deserves a second thought!
    Thank you! (i know you are a very busy person, you can just add a line to your next post if you feel like it).

  58. Dear Harlot,
    You could write almost anything and I would laugh (or cry) out loud (as appropriate). But this whole lying thing has to stop. We know that your family knows where the recycling bin is. They put ice cream containers in them the last time you went to the US:
    I’m sure what you /meant/ to say was, “up til now you’ve put only ONE thing in them.”

  59. #3. My DH takes the last two rolls of TP and hides them. Works pretty well as long as he tells ME where he hid them!

  60. It’s so nice to see that things will either a) get worse or b) remain the same. Mine’s only 7 and we have very similar fights EVERY DAY. It’s good to know I’m not alone in wanting to beat my head against the wall.
    We’re in the shrug stage -“Why did you leave the milk out/leave your dirty clothes/towel/etc. on the floor/etc.” Answer – shrug.

  61. That is too funny!! It made my day and reminded me of my time teaching high school:)

  62. Oh stephanie, I laughed so hard when i read this. I have 4 teenaged boys as you probably know by now. My life is filled with the kinds of things you “mentioned”. I distinctly remember the day my then 16 year old son threw a huge fit about having to go to work with a pimple on his face, it was clearly my fault of course.
    I will just tell you that the 2 oldest boys are now 19 and almost 18 (1 month and 14 days to go he announced this evening) and they have their moments but are definitely shows some signs of impending adulthood as long as I don’t look too hard or often for those signs:)
    Have fun your tour that isn’t coming to eastern canada. I like the tube hat idea, will have to try it.

  63. LOL! What a scream! I nearly choked when I read the part about the hairballs… I have no kids but my husband leaves hairballs for me to clean up. πŸ™‚

  64. Stephanie,
    Just so you know, I have told my children that when they are at your house they need to behave more appropriately. I wasn’t aware that they could magically “translocate” to your house and live double lives, but after your description, it is obvious that my children have been tormenting me while they are in my home, and then slogging off to your place to do the same to you. I am sorry. They will be severely punished.

  65. I feel your pain, sister. I have four boys 9, 7, 5, & 3. Someday I will share all the things I have smashed, thrown, crushed, ripped, and broken in a fit of rage. I know they are coming to get me soon. I think my kids are calling the assylum as I write.

  66. Interestingly enough, although we had discussed this entry before our trip to Seattle on Saturday, Daniel found it in his heart to state, upon arriving half a friggin’ hour late to pick me up from the street in front of Weaving Works in the rapidly darkening middle of Seattle: “I am NOT late”.
    He later explained that he wanted to achieve fame by being told off on a blog.
    Your blog is a teaching tool. I have just emailed him the definition of the word “notoriety” – he’s quadlingual and English is his fourth, just possibly all those other ones are crowding out the concept of “notoriety” along with his sense of time…

  67. I loved the rant. I’m another one without kids, well, the small variety. I do have 2 dogs, and a husband who begged for gerbils, but apparently can’t smell the cage reeking from the office. He has also added so many tubes that it is almost impossible for me to clean. AAAARRGGGHHHHH!!!!!!!

  68. On Recycling –
    My 8-yr old son came to me last night in the middle of his “creating something out of garbage/recylables” project and asked, VERY seriously:
    “Mom, you don’t happen to have something like, you know, STRING or anything like that, do you?” (to which I FREAKED and thought a space-time warp had indeed occurred and it was your child several months ago during a similar project, and perhaps you and I were vaguely connected in some inter-altergalactic way).
    So, I took out the 6″ long piece of beaten and abused purple Lion Brand that I was using for a bookmark in the bookbookbook and handed it to him. **sigh** (actually, it was for an elephant’s tail, so the fraying worked perfectly!)I was too lazy to get up. And enjoying your book WAY too much, obviously.

  69. I think my daughter is living at your house as well as mine. It’s just amazing to watch someone who honestly believes with all their heart that the entire universe revolves around them, they piss you off, then eat you out of house and home without batting an eye.

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