Driving Monitor

Watching your parents age is tough. Those people who loomed larger than life, who seemed to be able to solve all of life’s problems, are no longer what they once were. There is neither bad nor good to this: it’s just life. Aging sucks.

But what about your elder parents and driving?

I don’t think any of our four parents should be driving as they once did.

There. I said it.

I don’t think any of the parents should be on highways or driving at night.

I’m guessing this would be an unpopular opinion for anyone who might be older than me, but really

  1. slower reflexes
  2. eyesight not quite as good
  3. thinking they can make turns and merge the same way they were once able

I’m not being mean, or petty, I’m just stating the facts. I’ve been in cars with them. I will no longer get in a car with any of them driving. Period.

So this leads me to my next point:

I understand that it is not feasible to have people over a certain age take driving tests. Plus, I get the whole age discrimination thing…


Should people over the age of 75 be required to have some sort of dashboard monitor or app to monitor their driving?

While I get that accidents happen to everyone of every age, and that those between the ages of 16 and 20 are most likely to get into accidents, there is a case to be made that older drivers do get involved in more accidents than those who are younger (meaning 50s and 60s)

I’m aware that you can anonymously send a complaint to DMV stating that someone should not be driving, and that DMV will ask for a retest, but is that the best way to handle the issue?

What do you think about people over 75 driving? Do you think there should be retests after a certain time? Do you think drivers over 75 should be required to have a driving monitor?


Anything Can Happen Friday- The Scam

So my Mother called me the other day…

She received an email from one of her neighbors. The email said that this particular neighbor was having a rough go and needed my Mom to get her a gift cardfor either Amazon or Apple.

Now, I know most of you are thinking the same thing as I thought about this email…

But my Mom…

My Mom can be a very trusting and helpful sort of person. If someone is in trouble she will try to help. She has a sort of Capraesque view of the world, where good wins out over evil and all the other stuff. She assumes that people are good, and that no one tries to take advantage of another.

In theory I guess it would be nice to be that trusting. But you know…I’m a realist not an idealist…so most of the time I’m looking for the angle.

Is this real?

Can I trust this?

What’s the possible downside?

My mother emails back, asking how she can help. She gives her “friend” her phone numbers in case her “friend” can’t find them. And then she proceeds to try to figure out how to buy the gift card.

Now this is a time when I am glad that my Mother is not tech savvy. She couldn’t figure out how to buy the gift cards.

My Mother then calls her friend, to tell her that she can’t buy the cards…

You probably know that the friend’s email account was hacked.

My Mother called me, worried that these scammers have her phone number, and she responded to the email. She was worried that accounts could be opened up in her name using her phone numbers. Honestly, I don’t know anymore what people can and can’t do with information, any information, so I told my Mom to watch her statements and she uses one of those companies that call you when an account is trying to be opened, so I told her to just monitor things…

After I got off the phone with her I heaved a big sigh. While I have got over scams with my daughter ad infinitum, I never thought I would have to go through this with my Mother. I assumed that my Mother would just know when something seems off…But now I really have to worry that she will think the Crown Prince of Nigeria really needs her help.

I love that my Mom is trusting and wants to help others, but now this is a new worry that I have to contend with. Realistically I know that I can’t protect my Mom, but it sort of crushes me that I can’t stop bad people, bad things from hurting her. This is the part about being a daughter that no one really talks about- when the child becomes the parent and the protector.

I sit and try to figure out where to go from here. Is there anything I can do to help my Mother than I hadn’t thought of? Is there any way to prepare? I have to remind myself that there’s not always a solution to things: that there are things that I can’t write as a list and check off the things I’ve done and look ahead to what comes next…

I realize that this is where I need hope: hope that things won’t be too bad, hope that I can fix whatever happens, hope that life will be pleasantly uneventful.

Hope. Sometimes it’s the best option.

The Car Ride

My parents used to live on Long Island, and they went to a Doctor in Brooklyn which was where my Dad worked. When they moved to New Jersey (twelve years ago), they continued to go to this Doctor, even though the drive was at least an hour. They would make a day of it…go to the Doctor and then meet up with friends in the neighborhood for dinner.

Of course, it’s twelve years later and they are twelve years older…

As of now, they are not supposed to drive long distances. Which means that the hourlong trip to the Doctor is a No Go.

Unless they ask my Husband and I to take them…

So on the condition that they seek out a general practitioner in their neighborhood, my Husband and I agreed to take them to the Doctor- which means us driving to NJ, getting them and driving back to the city, then driving back to NJ, then back to the city…

The car ride…

My Husband and I sat in the front. I had a tote bag with snacks, water, tissues, wipes and paper towels. You know, how you travel with kids. Of course, I should have brought car games and headphones, because they really did start to act like my sister and I used to do on long car rides…

He’s in my spot

She’s bothering me

I’m hungry

Why are we going this way

Are we there yet

They were bickering so much I thought in my head:

If you two don’t stop arguing and fidgeting I’m going to turn this car around and we will go homeNo Doctor for you

Because that is the lengths they had driven me to…

I really don’t like this reversal of roles…I’m already the parent to a daughter, and a dog, and a cat, and a husband….I don’t like this parenting of my parents. As I explained to someone else, I’m also doing a really bad job of parenting my parents…they don’t listen, they make poor decisions, and I am wont to leave them up to their own devices. I have yet to find a good way to have them listen to me and behave accordingly. It’s like they go out of their way to thwart me…

I’m presently trying tough love. I told them they have to get a primary who is near them. I said I will not drive them to their Brooklyn Doctor anymore. After the whole calling the police incident, I’ve considered putting a GPS device in my father. Seriously. I’m just trying to pay off a veterinarian to do it for me… I now have weekly conversations with their Doctor so that he is armed with information that they might not be willing to share, and I’m HOPING they get a new primary soon, even though I like the one they now have. And I read whatever articles I can so I can gain some perspective as to how to proceed.

And I wonder how to best prepare my daughter for when it’s her turn to parent me.

And Sometimes…

My Husband and I play WORDLE, and my Husband introduced my Father in Law to the game. he usually texts my husband to tell him how many turns he needed.

So one Sunday morning, where the word was, I think, psych, my Husband gets a text from his Father:

FILDo all words need vowels?

HUSBAND– What do you think the vowels are?


HUSBAND– And sometimes Y

My FIL calls my Husband- incensed. He says that neither he nor his partner have ever heard of this nonsense about Y being a vowel. He thinks my Husband is making this up. He’s yelling that I should ask my parents what the vowels are.

So I call my parents, who not only say Y, they also add that W can also be a vowel.

My FIL challenges my Husband: Name a word that uses Y as a vowel?

My Husband responds: WHY.

My FIL starts to talk: Be… Goodbye Son. Have a good day.

Anything Can Happen Friday: The Police Saga

Last week my Mother called me at about 9pm. She asked if my daughter was back from South Africa (as some of you know, she just spent three weeks there as a study abroad) and I replied that she was presently in flight somewhere between Cape Town and London. She asked me a few questions regarding my daughter’s experience blah blah blah.

She then proceeded to tell me the following:

Your father and I got into a fight today. He left the house at 4:30 with no money, no wallet, no phone, no medicine and no car keys. His parting words to her were “Have a nice life.”


Talk about burying the lede…

I ask her if she’s checked the complex…she assures me she has…

I call the police, because in my mind, 83 year old guy with mobility issues, who falls at least once a week, a month ago that resulted in a broken shoulder is out without his medicine, has no money…you get the idea and my level of concern.

First thing the officer asks me is if he’s in the clubhouse of the development. I reply “No” because my Mother said she checked…

Of course the police go to look for him and he’s in the clubhouse playing cards with his buddies…

So now I feel like an idiot and I’ve sent the police on a meaningless search instead of allowing them to do their actual jobs…

I’ve been trying to help him keep his dignity as he’s navigated health issues the past year. Now that’s out the window…

My Mother told me that my Father is really mad at me- apparently I’m out of the will- and I can’t help but wonder if my Mother passive aggressively manipulated me into calling the police because she didn’t want my Father to be mad at her- that I was a good scapegoat…

I can’t decide if they are acting like toddlers, tweens or teens…

As I recounted the story to my friends, I told them that on a scale of 1-10, the angst of raising my daughter was a 1. The angst of raising my parents on the same scale is about 4,083.

When my daughter was born, people told me that parenting is a forever job. What they neglected to tell me was that when I stopped parenting my daughter I would begin parenting my parents…

HIPAA and You

Spoiler alert: If you think this is going to be about COVID, I am sorry to inform you that it is not. However, if you want a fast paced blog about the problem with rules, keep reading…

We all know about HIPAA. According to the CDC (do I need to define them for you?):

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) is a federal law that required the creation of national standards to protect sensitive patient health information from being disclosed without the patient’s consent or knowledge.

Does everyone understand why we have these laws? Basically to provide privacy to someone who is sick. And you all know that I defend the right to privacy. Completely.


Sometimes we create rules to protect that end up screwing the person that most needs protection.

Case in point: My Dad has long term health care insurance. In order to qualify to reap the benefits of said insurance, you need to meet certain criteria: namely, that the person needs help doing normal, everyday things. It means that the person probably needs help advocating for themselves.

As my Father does not have the ability to sit on hold for 90 minutes waiting for a customer service rep, I have been helping him out.

Here’s the rub: I am not allowed to ask questions about the policy without his consent. Which is fine. I get the law and how it’s trying to protect people. And I call my Mom and get her to put my Dad on the phone so that he can give consent, for that day and that day only, for me to help. And my Dad is ill. And I’m trying to get him help with THINGS HE PAID FOR FOR THE PAST 20 YEARS…

Can you feel my frustration about this.

So, after I lost it last week and I emailed the CEO of the insurance company, and got a senior executive to answer my call…I will share with you what I told him left me a tad frustrated…

I asked how a long term care policy could be put into effect without the policy NEEDING to have at least one authorized individual who can speak for the insured. I carefully explained, like I stated above, that by the time the insurer needs the policy they can’t actually do the leg work. I told them that it SHOULD BE REQUIRED THAT EVERY POLICY TAKEN HAS AN AUTHORIZED PERSON THAT CAN ACT FOR THE INSURED. I said that you can send out an update form on a yearly basis as to who that authorized person should be, with updated contact info. I asked how, MY MOTHER, his WIFE OF 59 YEARS IS NOT ALLOWED TO DISCUSS THESE THINGS- and how she wasn’t put on the policy 20 years ago…which my parents swear that they did…

I then pointed to the part of the policy that states that I am the one to be called if for any reason they payments lapse. I told the Sr. Exec that my parents assumed by putting me on that, making me responsible for the money and all, would allow me to have access and speak for my father.

Next, I told him how my parents filled out the necessary paper work so that my Mother and I could have access to speak to the insurance company, and how the insurance company DENIED THE PAPERWORK because the SIGNATURES DON’T MATCH. My father is ill and has trouble feeding himself sometimes. DO YOU THINK HE HAS THE SAME MOTOR SKILLS?

I understand rules/laws are meant to protect people. But sometimes the rules/laws hurt the very people that they are supposed to protect. When we set a standard, we need to make sure that people truly are protected, and it’s not just an additional 80 levels of paperwork and bureaucracy…and added levels of angst and frustration.

So, the moral of the story is: if you have long term health insurance, make sure you have someone listed as an approved person to discuss matters.

And if they do amend the law that every care policy like this MUST HAVE A DESIGNATED PARTY TO SPEAK ON ONE’S BEHALF…

You’re welcome…

Designing Girls…and Boys

I am not tall. My Husband is probably considered average height for a man. When you put these things together you are probably aiming for a shortish child.

Mission accomplished. My daughter is short.

I used to joke that I wanted to marry a tall guy specifically because I wanted a kid that didn’t need to spend their life climbing on things in order to reach other things. Wouldn’t it be great if you could pick out the traits that you want your child to have?

Wouldn’t it?

Or would that be the worst thing ever done in the name of science and advancement?

We are entering a world where parents may be able to choose the characteristics of their children.

Yay science.

About 30 years ago a trend started- leaving your kids back in school, from the onset of their school years, so that the child would be the oldest in the grade. The reasoning was that the child would be bigger physically (sports) and have a more mature mind (intellectually). This would give a kid an “edge” over their peers…

So now, my daughter who just went along with the grade she was supposed to be in, has some classmates that are two years older than her, and incoming Freshman who are older than her. She is routinely asked if she skipped grades…

If we’d held her back, would she have graduated number one in her class instead of eighth? Would she have played first singles instead of first doubles? Would she have missed 0 questions on the math SAT instead of two?

Was I a bad parent because I let her go with her grade? Was I a bad parent because I didn’t give her an edge?

Did the trend of having children start kindergarten at six help them out? I have no idea. But for a little bit I did think we would have kindergarten classes where the average age was ten…

You know parents…

Anything to give their offspring an advantage.

But let’s get back to science…

If parents were willing to hold their kids back from formal schooling, what other lengths will they go to?

Many parents have expectations of their children- this happens before they are even born. Maybe they want them to be a beauty queen. Quarterback. Doctor. President. And many parents are saddened when their children fail to reach the expectations set for them…

If you have the money, would you try to engineer your child?

Would you write down a list of all the qualities that you want your child to have?

Are we about to see a world of tall, blonde, athletic children?

Does this remind you are any point in history?

(you get it all with my blog- sociology, science and history)

Genetically engineered children…

How far do we go to make the perfect person?

Who determines what perfect is?

What happens if every child has the exact same attributes? Will there still be kids who don’t make the team or finish first in their class?

I mean really- there are still only nine on the baseball field, five on the basketball court, six on the rink- I don’t know anything about football so you have to tell me how many are actually on the field…

Is the entire grade going to tie for valedictorian?

What do you think about designer children?


My sister lives across the country. When she comes to visit, she stays with my parents. This is not an unusual family situation- out of town relatives often stay with one another.


My sister and my parents have diametrically opposite views on just about everything. I mean really, everything…

And when my sister comes to town, they verbally spar. They verbally spar about 90% of the time. When my sister came to town a few months ago, her plane landed about 6pm. By 9am the next day she was already texting me about the arguments…

I understand my sister’s point of view. She is just trying to be herself. She loves our parents, wants to see them, yet…

My parents are not always easy to get along with…

And some of my sister’s ideas on life are a bit out there…

I clearly understand both sides in this situation.

I understand the cross words and raised tempers.

I just wish that all of them could be quiet sometimes.

I understand the need to get one’s point across. I understand wanting to be heard and not wanting to be marginalized. I understand that we are all allowed to have our own opinions. I get that opinions can never be wrong.

But…at the end of the day…my sister visiting is a lot of grief for everyone. I don’t know if my sister or my parents are actually happy during the visits. I receive calls from both sides…complaining…

I am very stressed out when my sister visits because I hate to be in the middle. I hate trying to broker peace.

So my question is thus:

If a visit to family causes angst, should you visit?

Do you continue the visits out of a sense of obligation? Out of trying to assuage guilt?

Is there a time when you shouldn’t visit your family?

Which regret is worse: not seeing your family because you drive one another crazy or feeling bad that you don’t see your family?



Yesterday I posed the question “Should a person about to ask someone to marry them ask permission of the parents beforehand.” Needless to say, this is not a yes or no question. The comments provided us with a lively debate on the topic, all sides having interesting and valid points.

Today I am going to start with the supposition that one should ask the parents of the intended for blessing/permission.

So Person A approaches Parents Z and says “I love your daughter, and I would like to ask her to marry me. Do I have your blessing?” Parent Z says “No”.

What happens next?

What if the parent really doesn’t like the guy that there child is dating?

Should the parent deny their blessing/permission?

I understand that there are many valid reasons for not wanting your child to marry someone. If the person doesn’t treat your child well, no marriage certificate is going to change that. Abusive relationships don’t get better.

But what about the areas that fall into the grey area of relationships? The guy has been married before- is that a valid reason to say no? Doesn’t make enough money? Doesn’t practice the same religion? Doesn’t want kids? Works too much? Works too little?

What are reasons that you would not want your child to marry someone that would make you not bless/permit a union?

Then let’s go to the next step:

Does the person holding the ring box still ask the person to marry them?

Does the person receiving the ring say NO to the proposal to make their parents happy?

Does the person receiving the ring say YES, and proceed to get married without their parents being present, or accepting the marriage?

And you all thought this would be an easy post…

It all boils down to one essential question: How much do the parents feeling matter when their children decide to get married?

My friend met the parents of the girl her son is dating this past weekend. She was very “eh” about them, and the girl. As the kids are college seniors and about to go to graduate school,  I said “Don’t worry about it. She is respectful of your son. It’s not like they’re getting married.” But after I said that to her, I thought- hmmmm- but what if they do decide to get married? Will my friend spend her life not really liking her kids in laws, as well as his wife?

What do you think?



The Day I Lost My Cool

I don’t like conflict.

I don’t like yelling.

This may come as a surprise, because we all know that I love a good argument.  I have no problem picking a side and defending its merits.  Those of you who have heard my tales of customer service experiences would also wonder about the above statement, since I’ve told a story or three about dealing with customer service. (truth- my daughter thinks that every call center around the world has my number and picture with a big line crossed through it, and that  their free time is spent throwing darts at it)

But as a rule, I don’t like to yell at people.

You also know that I don’t discuss politics on my blog.  What you may not know it that I also refuse to discuss politics in real life (there are only about 3 people I will ever talk politics with) I am of the belief that everyone has an opinion that they are entitled to, but I also strongly believe that people don’t want to have a discussion, they want to get you to change your mind.  Obviously this is my opinion, which I am entitled to.

But anyway.

Everyone in my real life knows that I do not like discussing politics, especially at an event such as Father’s Day (see- you knew this would become topical).  Most of my youth was spent sitting around the dining room table on holidays, with people yelling at one another (the common refrain was – ‘we’re Italian- it’s not yelling- it’s how we talk- and my Mother adds facebook comments in ALL CAPS BECAUSE SHE JUST CAN’T HELP HERSELF) So my goal was to have holidays with the least amount of verbal conflict possible.  I did not want my daughter to feel like I did growing up.

My Father in Law knows that I do not like discussing politics.  I have said this to him about a thousand times.  No- make that a million.  My husband knows that I do not like discussing politics in an open forum.  Let me make this clear- if you know me, you know I do not discuss politics.

So naturally, on Fathers Day my FIL sat at the table and asked my daughter about politics.  And my daughter blew off the question the first five times because she knows that I don’t like political discussion at the dinner table.  So, the conversation went like this:

FIL (to daughter) What do you think of X?

Daughter: Can you pass the potatoes?

The above was repeated about five different times with my daughter varying her answers slightly

FIL- well you must have an opinion

Daughter: Actually, the past month has been crazy with tests and year end stuff.  The only things I’ve been reading are about school, and trying to get an internship for the summer, and pre season tennis practice.  I haven’t read a paper or watched the news.  I’m not informed enough to discuss X.

FIL- but don’t you think it’s wrong?

Daughter- I don’t know

FIL- makes ridiculous statement

Husband- makes opposite position ridiculous statement

My Father- alternate ridiculous statement

Father and Husband yelling at one another

Me: Hands slam the table saying in my loud, authoritative bond trading floor voice that I haven’t used in 18 years: “AND THE DISCUSSION OF POLITICS IS NOW OVER

FIL: (stands up from table) = “Oh, I guess your house, your rules.”

Me: (looking directly at him) You bet your ass.  My house,  My rules. (me staring him down till he sat back down at the table.

See- this is why I don’t like discussing politics, or yelling.  Because the fierce side of my personality comes out- the person who doesn’t put up with shit.  The person who takes control of the situation.  And normally this part of my personality is my friend- this part of my personality has gotten me through life.

But I don’t want to do it at the holiday table.

I don’t want yelling at the table.

I don’t want to yell at my Father.

And I was mad at myself for yelling.  I was annoyed that my FIL and Husband have so little respect for my one wish that politics are not discussed ( to be clear, my Husband engaged the conversation with the stupidest comment ever). But mostly I was mad at myself for yelling at my Father.  My Father is 80.  Thought there no imminent threat to his health, he has about a thousand issues.  I don’t know if I get another Father’s Day with him.  I did not want my last Father’s Day memory to be of yelling about politics, of all stupid things, and me losing my shit.

Yet, that is what happened.

I so want to blame everyone at the table.  But in the end I must take responsibility for my actions. But I can’t take back what I said, or what happened.

And I need to live with that.