Getting an 8th grade boy to pay attention to you is not easy. This was true in the 1980s and it’s true now. 8th grade boys like girls fine, sure, but they’re usually not nearly as interested in the girls in their class as said girls are in them.

This is also the case for 8th grade boys’ mothers.

Sure, sometimes the 8th grade boy will give you some acknowledgment that you’re alive. But most of the time, 8th grade boys take a third helping of whatever is for dinner while ignoring their mothers’ lame-o attempts at conversation.

What’s new at school?

What did your friends do this weekend?

God, I sound so dumb! IDIOT!

But here’s the thing: I really like my 8th grade boy. And I really want him to like me back.

So I tried to remember: what did I do about this when I was in 8th grade?

In 8th grade I liked a boy whose name was Bobby Crotman. (Okay that is obviously NOT his real name. I would never tell you the ACTUAL NAME of a boy that I liked.) As I recall, the main reason I liked Bobby Crotman was because my best friend Erin liked his best friend, and so it was all just too convenient not to go with.

Bobby Crotman liked his dirt bike. He really liked his dirt bike. If you wanted to talk BMX with him on Erin’s parents’ front porch swing, he was very happy to oblige. But whenever the conversation drifted to other topics, so would his attention, and within a few minutes he’d be getting up and walking away, asking if I didn’t want to go watch him while he rode his dirt bike.

Things didn’t last with Bobby Crotman and that may be because there’s just not that much to say about dirt bikes. Believe me, I tried. But judging by my current 8th grader’s conversations with his father and his brother, there is a great, great deal to say about his own obsession:

Who is Good and Who Totally Sucks in the NBA.

My 8th grader might not want to talk about much. But the slightest conversational overture made toward professional basketball players will send him on an epic, Rube-Goldberg-marble-run, uninterruptable monologue of heartfelt opinion.

I have no expertise in this particular area, but just as one doesn’t have to watch C-SPAN to have an opinion about the members of the House Oversight Committee, one doesn’t actually have to watch any professional basketball in order to talk trash about professional basketball players. One just has to be able to name said professional basketball players.

Which is why I am spending my free moments with TinyCards. This isn’t a sponsored post; this information is simply that crucial for me to share. Like a semester abroad, this powerful app is immersing me in the world of what really matters:

Gently, softly, it presents me with a picture and asks me to type in the player’s name.

Despite my having drilled on Deck #1 all week, I am forced to click “I Don’t Know.”

It’s Derrick Rose. TinyCards makes me type that out twice more, just to be sure.

I do better with the multiple choice.

I almost definitely know the answer to this one. It’s the guy with the orange headband. As long as he keeps the headband on, I’m good!

Admittedly, I have a long way to go. I’m still stuck on Damian Lillard (Deck 2) and really I should be on to Kawhi Leonard (Deck 5) by now.

I’m going to keep it up, though, and once I master all fifteen decks, I’m going to sit down to dinner, help myself to some quinoa, and then muse aloud that Rajon Rondo’s time on the injured list may distract lesser fans of the sport from noticing his 48 percent shooting over the last ten games.

Then I’ll mention James Harden, just for good measure. (He’s my favorite. He’s got a beard.)

8th grade boys: there’s an app for that.

How the Mom Saved Christmas

Over at the What Fresh Hell:Laughing in the Face of Motherhood podcast this week, we’re talking about how to handle the holiday craziness. Here’s a little Christmas poem I wrote for the episode- an ode to holiday simplification, with apologies to Dr. Seuss. Enjoy over your eggnog!           Every Kid down in […]

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announcing my new podcast!

I’ve been blogging a lot less over the last year. (Perhaps you’ve noticed). Fewer people are reading blog posts these days; sometimes it feels like no one is listening. This isn’t to say I’m closing up shop.  I have loved blogging– it has brought me so much, personally and professionally. I also think we all may […]

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It Seemed Like a Good Idea at the Time

It seemed like a good idea at the time: I would shake hands with Woody Allen. Twenty years ago, I came thisclose to being cast in one of his films. The one called Everyone Says I Love You. The part that would be played in the end by Drew Barrymore. I didn’t know any of that at the […]

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When Mom is sick

Last week two of my three children, and then my husband, came down with a quick-attack stomach bug so virulent it kept taking after there was nothing left to give, if you catch my drift. This added moderate amounts of laundry to my already moderately frantic attempts to pack us all for a looming four-day […]

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The Christmas List Chase

I used to think my husband was the most impossible person in the world to buy for. But no, it’s my eleven-year-old son. Because it’s one thing when you don’t really give a toss whether you have stuff to open on Christmas morning or not. But my middle child cares. He cares deeply. He is […]

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talking to our kids about Paris: because we have to

My second-grader found out about what happened in Paris because I messed up: I left the TV on in my bedroom last Sunday while I took a shower. Five minutes later, I come out with towel-turbaned hair to find her sitting there watching the cable news churn. “Mostly it sounds like ‘blah-blah’ to me,” Maggie […]

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Finding the Optimal Push

I’m proud to have an essay published in this month’s New York Family magazine on finding what sports psychologist Larry Lauer calls “the optimal push”: pushing your kids just hard enough to have them reach their full potential. It’s easier said than done, of course, and I certainly don’t have the answers. When I compare […]

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breaking my comfortable silence

When the murders in Charleston occurred almost two weeks ago, anyone with a brain in their head did a lot of soul-searching. A lot of bloggers, speakers– people with online platforms, whatever they call themselves– put their own soul-searching out there, and challenged others to do the same. One of my favorite thinkers, Brené Brown, said […]

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The Songs That Made Me

This month Rolling Stone has been asking recording artists for lists of the Music That Made Them. Nancy Davis Kho of the blog Midlife Mixtape: For the Years Between Being Hip and Breaking One asked some of her friends if we might contribute our own lists of the songs that made US, super-cool mom bloggers that we […]

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