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Excerpt

Excerpt

Don't Call Me Baby

Prologue

Do you know what it’s like to be recognized at the mall by random moms pushing strollers when you’re just trying to hang out with your friends?

Do you know what it’s like to have strangers at Starbucks say, “Ohmigosh, I’ve watched you grow up. I’m so glad that your braces finally corrected that awful overbite!”

Do you know what it’s like to have your classmates read about you getting your first period?

Do you know what it’s like to have everyone think that they know you because of what they read on some stupid website?

I didn’t think so. I imagine that Suri Cruise could empathize with me, but at least she has awesome clothes and actually famous parents. I’m recognizable because my mother writes a lame, but very popular, blog.

My mom has been a blogger since before I was born. It started out as a healthy living blog, but then she found out she was pregnant. Ever since then, it’s been a mommy blog. (Technically, it was a womb blog for my first nine months.) The thing is, I’m fifteen now, and she’s still blogging about me. I have two lives: my life as the blogging world knows it and my actual life. You can read my life as my mom tells it on mommyliciousmeg.com. This version is my actual life. Thanks for reading.

 

Mommylicious

Back to School

Imogene is starting the ninth grade today! Can you believe she’s fifteen?

Do you remember when she was born? If you don’t, click here. Do you remember when she first walked? If you don’t, click here. The first day of preschool. The first day of middle school. And now, the first day of ninth grade.

(Insert the Niagara Falls of tears over my little girl growing up.)

Even though she’s my baby, I know that many of you have grown up with her too! After all, y’all named her in that genius contest, and it turns out that she is such an Imogene! I have the smartest readers.

What does ninth grade mean for Imogene? It’s a big one, since it’s the last year of uniforms AND the last year before high school. Soon, she’ll be driving, and then before we know it, she’ll be off to college. But the REALLY huge event in ninth grade is the Halloween Pirate’s Booty Ball, which will be Imogene’s first date dance.

While listening (okay, maybe I was technically eavesdropping), I overheard Imogene and a friend already talking about who they want to ask them. No spoiler alerts here! I’m just scared that she (or someone else) might get their feelings hurt. What do y’all think: Should there be formal date dances before high school even starts? Send me your feedback!

I can’t wait to share Imogene’s back-to-school photos tomorrow! I know you guys don’t want to miss seeing how grown-up she looks. She’s even wearing a real bra these days. You know, the type with underwire and a little padding . . . but shush, don’t tell. Where did our baby go?

Butterfly kisses,

Mommylicious!

 

Chapter One

The Great Escape

Click.

I recognize the precise sound of my mom’s camera shutter opening and closing.

Instinctively, I dive for cover and throw my pink-and-white seahorse-print Lilly Pulitzer duvet over my head.

“Are you serious, Mom? This can’t be happening.” I moan, but the goose feathers in the duvet muffle my cries.

“Gotcha!” my mom exclaims. “That was a hilarious shot. And, Imogene, I do before and afters every first day of school. They’re adorable. Readers love seeing you waking up to a new year. It signals fresh starts for them, too. You know this, Imogene.”

Just because I know it, doesn’t mean I’m okay with it. And I want a reset button just as much as my mom’s readers do, one where I’m not the subject/star of a mommy blog.

I stay under my tent of privacy until I’m positive that my mom’s exited my room. There’s no way I’m going back to sleep for an extra ten minutes when I’m this angry, so I fumble my way into my bathroom for a shower.

I miss summer already, and it’s not even seven a.m. on the first day of school. As I soap up, I practice the abbreviated version of my “Can this year please be different?” speech.

“Mom,” I say to my Bubble & Bee organic shampoo bottle. “We need to talk. I’m in ninth grade now, which means I’m almost in high school, and I don’t want to be on your blog every day. I don’twant people to know what we did over the weekend. I don’t want to review clothes or products for your sponsors. I want a normal life where I have privacy. I want be Imogene, not Babylicious. I want you to be my mom, not Mommylicious.”

Even before the conditioner’s all the way rinsed out of my hair, I already know that I don’t have the guts to give that speech to my mom today. It wouldn’t change anything, anyway. But while I might not have the courage for the speech right now, I’m definitely going through with the escape plan I thought up last night when I couldn’t sleep.

“Focus on your getaway,” I say in my most confident voice.

After drying off, I zip myself into my gray polyester pleated uniform skirt. Then I button up my light blue Oxford shirt, leaving the top three buttons undone. Bowing my head, I say out loud: “Please let this be my last year of uniforms. Aphrodite, goddess of all things beautiful, please have mercy on my wardrobe.”

Every year a few of the parents start a petition that high school students should also wear uniforms, but so far, thankfully, it’s never passed. Of course, it would be just my luck for the school to change its policy next year when I go to Neopolitan High.

I run my fingers through my hair before slowly approaching my full-length mirror. Breathing in, I slowly take in my reflection. Long brown hair, freckled skin, dolphin-gray eyes, and skinny legs. I sigh because I look exactly like myself. Every summer I hope that the Gods of Puberty and/or Beauty will bestow me with a new look for back to school, but alas, I appear nearly the same as last year. And the year before.

I partly blame the uniform.

How are you supposed to grow up when you’re dressing exactly the same as you have since you were six years old? Really?

As I apply my lip gloss, I check myself out in the mirror again. Despite recently purchasing a lightly padded bra (a “demi push-up” in Victoria’s Secret language), I still totally look like a kid. I guess I will be Babylicious forever. At least, after I get to school, I can roll my skirt up a few inches. My mom would murder me if she knew I did that. She specifically bought me new uniform skirts after my recent growth spurt because she deemed last year’s skirts “inappropriate, especially for someone like you.” By “someone like you,” she meant the daughter (and star) of Mommyliciousmeg.com, a blog with twenty thousand daily readers. Or something roughly around that. I can always tell if my mom’s readership is up or down based on what treats she buys from the grocery store. If there are fresh gourmet bakery cookies, it was a good month for readership, therefore advertisers. If it was a bad month, it’s Chips Ahoy! all the way.

I clip my bangs to one side with a bobby pin, and I use my magnifying mirror to check for any zits on my face. Every time my mom takes a picture of me, it’s always “Get your hair out of your face, sweetie” or “Honey, do you want to borrow some cover-up?” Cover-up is the only makeup that my mom approves of for a fifteen-year-old, and she’s always try to it peddle on me. Sometimes, it seems like I’m not even good enough for my own mom’s blog, which is hysterical, since it’s about me.

I wonder if my mom’s hoping that this is the year I finally get pretty. Maybe that would bring in a bigger readership, which seems to be the only thing that makes her happy anymore. Truth Number One of Life with a Blogger: the more website hits, the bigger the smiles. To put it simply, affirmation from random strangers is a total turn-on for my mom.

I take one final look in the mirror before heading down the stairs. Standing at the kitchen counter, I gobble down a bowl of Honey Nut Cheerios with chocolate milk, my all-time favorite breakfast. I can hear my mom upstairs, rustling around in her closet.

I hear a loud thump. Thump.

This means only one thing: She’s getting the tripod out for my “after” back-to-school pictures, the posed ones she takes of me before school when I’m actually standing upright and wearing clothes, not pajamas. She needs the tripod because the point-and-shoot camera isn’t good enough on a day like today. Of course, she’ll set the timer to get a few posed shots of the two of us together: arms around each other, pretending to be thrilled about going back to school.

Some might think that it’s sweet that my mom wants to remember my first day of ninth grade and my last day of uniforms, but it’s really not. It’s all business. Later today, after the photo shoot, she’ll upload uncomfortable photos of me and write awkward captions like “Good morning, Babylicious. Love the bed head!” for the “before” photo and “Isn’t she filling out nicely?” for the “after” photo. Majorly awkward. Then tonight, my friends and enemies alike will visit her blog and have a nice laugh about it.

But not today.

Today I have an escape route. Even if I’m not ready to confront my mom, I’m still not just going to willingly submit to a back-to-school blog feature.

I open the door that leads to our basement and I tiptoe down the stairs.

Grandma Hope is reclining on her red leather La-Z-Boy. The Golf Channel is on.

She points at an up-and-coming golfer on the screen “He over-rotates. Why can’t anyone but me see that? I’ve watched this shot four times. I’m sure of it. These analysts are all blind bozos. Where are the women analysts? They have women on the sidelines at football games but not golf matches? That’s plain stupid.”

She rewinds the screen and presses play. We watch the shot again.

“See. Told you so,” she says.

Before she was my grandma, or even my mom’s mom, Hope played professional golf in the 1960s; she was part of the early Ladies Professional Golf Association, or the LPGA, as it’s better known. When she moved in with us five years ago, right after my grandpa died, she cut back to playing golf four days a week, which doesn’t include the days she clocks in at the driving range and the putting green. Luckily, we live in Naples, Florida, where it’s summery all year round, so she never has to take a real break from golf. Although she’s as healthy as a Florida navel orange in autumn, I think that would kill her.

Diversion, I remember. Concentrate on your escape.

“Grandma Hope, I need your help,” I say slowly.

My grandma looks away from the TV and toward me. “Well, don’t you look like the bee’s knees! That gloss works on you, although I think a Pink Lady apple red would suit you better. I’m forever confused about your mom’s makeup ban. As women, we still aren’t first-class citizens like men, but at least we get to wear a nice lipstick. Why should your mom deny you that?”

On top of being a terrific athlete, Grandma Hope’s also an incredibly classy dame. There isn’t a single day where she doesn’t dress to impress. Depending on her outfit, she wears either a strand of black pearls or a chunky turquoise necklace. And she always applies her favorite red lipstick, Ruby Slipper, while she’s still in bed. I’ve never seen her natural lip color before. Seriously. She keeps a tube of lipstick on her nightstand at all times. And one in her purse, and one in her glove compartment. Her hair is also permanently styled and highly flammable due to her heavy-handed sprays of Aqua Net. “Just because I’m an athlete, doesn’t mean I’m a tomboy,” she always says.

“Grandma Hope!” I repeat. “I need to be quick. Ninth grade is an extremely,majorly big deal, but my mom is driving me crazy by making today about her and her blog. So will you please, pretty please with a cherry on top, drive me before my mom has a chance to make me her next photo spread? She already totally ambushed me once today when I was still asleep.”

Grandma Hope shuts off the TV, which shocks me. Whenever she’s not out on the golf course herself, the Golf Channel is always on. It’s the soundtrack of her life; she even raises the volume when she’s in the shower. It can get so loud that we can hear it all the way upstairs.

She stares at me from her perch on the couch. “Darling. I have a crazy idea: Why don’t you just try talking to her?Lord knows that I’ve tried, but I think it needs to come from you. You’re her daughter. I’m her mother, so that means she hasn’t listened to a single thing I’ve said since, well, since she was your age.”

I pause.

Grandma Hope would love my “Can this year be different?” speech I’ve been preparing. She’d be so proud of me, especially during the parts in which I stand up for myself and explain why I need my privacy. But I’m not ready for that speech quite yet. Asking someone to stop doing what she has always done is a fairly large request. It’s especially tricky to ask your own mother if she’ll stop being herself from now on . . . or at least stop being the Mommylicious version of herself.

“I’m not talking to her today, Grandma Hope. There’s enough going on already,” I answer. “But can you please just help me skip the ‘after’ pictures? Maybe it’ll be an ‘Actions speak louder than words” kind of moment.”

“All right,” Grandma Hope says with a nod. “But you can’t hide forever.”

With the spring of a woman who’s had two hole-in-ones in her seventies (and she’s only seventy-three), my grandma grabs her keys and the gold chain that dangles with them, and her two most recent hole-in-one balls. She squints at the sun as she peers through the sliding glass doors that lead out to our side yard.

She raises her eyebrows and winks her left eye. “It does look like a swell day for a drive. Do you have your schoolbag and your things for swim practice, Georgia?”

My grandma never took to the name Imogene. She is still more than a little bit “salty” (her word, not mine) that my mom chose my name by holding a contest on her blog. So ever since I was little, Grandma Hope’s always called me Georgia, my middle name.

I motion to a Vineyard Vines tote bag a with starfish border, a gift from one of my mom’s sponsors, and my blue swim bag that constantly reeks of chlorine despite the fact I wash my swimsuits out with a little vinegar to try to get rid of the smell.

“Got the bags. Thanks, Ace,” I say. I use my grandma’s golf nickname because I know she loves it. Ace, in golf language, is a hole-in-one.

We quietly exit through the sliding doors and make a quick getaway to Grandma’s old boat of a convertible, a 1960 Ford Galaxie Sunliner. It’s sea-foam green and gorgeous. She already promised me that I can have it when I turn sixteen, but only if I drive her to her golf club, the Orange Grove, whenever she wants.

“You can be my designated driver, and I can finally play the nineteenth hole. I think at seventy-three-years-old, I’ve earned that right,” she has told me at least a dozen times.

The nineteenth hole is when golfers gather in the clubhouse after playing and socialize over a round of adult beverages. My best friend Sage’s grandpa speaks Chinese; my grandma speaks golf. I’m happy to speak Pig Latin in a Romanian accent if it means I get a vintage convertible as my first car. Plus, I’ll finally be able to avoid Mommylicious without needing to find a getaway car and a driver.

As my grandma’s car is backing down the driveway and only narrowly avoiding our mailbox, my mom, dressed only in her sunflower robe, rushes out our front door like someone just told her George Clooney was shirtless on our front lawn. My mom drives my grandma batty with her clothing choices. “Working from home isn’t an excuse to dress homeless,” Grandma Hope always lectures her.

I roll down the window, which I do only for effect, since it’s a convertible and the top is currently down.

I yell, “I needed to get to school early, so Grandma’s taking me!”

“But . . . ,” my mom starts to call.

We can’t hear the rest of what she says because Grandma Hope has already pressed hard on the accelerator, and we’re flying down Mullet Lane, the street I’ve grown up on since I was born. (Mullets are a local fish.)

I twist around in my seat just long enough to see my mom holding her camera up and taking a picture of us zooming into the distance.

I can almost hear the click.

That’s not going to be pretty, I think as I turn back around in my seat.

“Your mom will get over it,” Grandma Hope says. She takes her right hand off the wheel and gives my knee a tiny squeeze. “Your mom seems to think the blog is a way to keep you hers forever, but you’re growing up, and she finally needs to learn to give you some space.”

I watch my mom get smaller and smaller in the side mirror. As much as I detest my mom’s blog, I also still hate disappointing her. I only wish she had a career other than exploiting me.

 

 

Chapter Two

This Year Will Be Better, Right?

I texted Sage, my best friend, that I’d be getting to school early, so she’s already waiting for me in front of St. Augustine Academy when Grandma Hope’s car pulls in. By pulls in, I mean her convertible zooms into the parking lot like it’s a speedboat full of cocaine and we’re running from the Drug Enforcement Agency. And even though the lot is nearly empty, Grandma chooses one of the few spots clearly labeled faculty only.

My grandma definitely doesn’t work at my school.

I wish I had inherited her fearlessness, along with her straight, thick hair and long, skinny fingers.

Sage’s holding her phone in a tight fist, and she looks pissed. At five feet zero inches tall, Sage is the shortest girl in our class; she always has been and probably always will be. She has a theory on why this is: “If only my mom would let me eat food with fat, I wouldn’t be this tiny.”

Sage marches right up to the Green Whale (that’s my name for grandma’s car, although Grandma Hope calls it Green Sherbet Delight). By the time Sage reaches us, she has relaxed her scowl and plants a peck on my grandma’s cheek.

Despite being small, Sage is a force to be reckoned with. Her unruly dark brown ringlets take up a lot of surface area, and nobody ever forgets her. Whenever anyone teases me about my mom’s blog, Sage always has my back. “Imogene can’t choose her mom’s job. She wishes her mom wasn’t a mommy blogger as much as you wish your dad wasn’t a gynecologist,” she told Todd Waltman, an annoying kid who thankfully moved to Omaha, Nebraska.

“Morning, darling,” Grandma Hope sings out to Sage. “I just can’t believe that you girls are in the ninth grade. It seems likeI was in ninth grade only a day or two ago. I was major trouble that year.”

Grandma Hope is always referring to her youth and how wild she was, but she never tells any actual stories. My mom says that it’s all an exaggeration, but the way Grandma drives and the way she golfs, I’m not so sure.

Sage flashes her memorable gap-toothed smile and waves good-bye to Grandma Hope, who’s already jerked her car into reverse.

“Bye, Basil,” my grandma teases Sage. Every time my grandma sees Sage, she calls her by a different herb. Last week, it was thyme. The week before, it was rosemary.

As soon as the Green Whale drives out of sight, Sage re-furrows her dark, thinly plucked eyebrows.

“I have a serious problem,” she says, and huddles close to me. Sage points at the touchscreen on her phone. It’s on her mom’s Facebook profile.

Zoey Carter’s (Sage’s mom’s) status reads: “Sent Sage off to her first day of ninth grade with this spinach and kale smoothie. Yum!!! I know . . . I’m the best mom ever! Just say adios to sugary cereals and hola! to veggies. Join my revolution!”

Linked to the post, there’s a photograph of a Sage drinking a giant green smoothie out of a milkshake glass with a stalk of celery sticking up like a straw. In the photo, Sage’s making a face that looks like she’s a contestant on Fear Factor and she’s being forced to eat cobra eyes.

Except unlike on Fear Factor, there’s no prize.

Sage’s mom is also a blogger.

Her online moniker is VeggieMom because she’s a vegan blogger. She photographs and blogs every single item of food that she and Sage eat. Believe it or not, there are lots of bloggers like her; they’re usually called food or healthy-living bloggers, and their entries are called food diaries.

Ms. Carter and my mom were actually “blog friends” before they met in real life. That means they met over the internet and became virtual “friends” before ever meeting in person. My mom hasn’t met many of her readers, or “friends” as she prefers to call them, but our moms met in real life after Sage and her mom moved from Minneapolis to Florida. Sage’s mom was new to the area and lonely, so she emailed my mom, who she knew also lived in Naples. They became fast real-life friends, so Sage and I have grown up both on the internet and in real life together.

Because our moms are both bloggers, sometimes I think that Sage is the only person who at least sort of understands me . . . except I’d gladly switch places with her, because at least VeggieMom only blogs about food, and my mom blogs everything about me.

After staring at the large glass of greenness on Sage’s iPhone, I start to feel a bit nauseous, so I press the home button to exit out of the screenshot.

“I thought she promised no more Facebook updates or Tweets about you. Isn’t the blog enough?”

Sage shakes her head and takes her phone back. “Exactly. This is only day three, and she’s already broken the agreement. But I can’t say I’m surprised. It’s so her to do something like this.”

“Totally annoying,” I say as we walk toward the school’s entrance. “I escaped with Ace from this morning’s photo shoot. I just couldn’t do it today. The idea of posing and smiling for my mom’s camera makes me want to gag nearly as much as thinking about that green goo you had to swallow.”

“You’ve got to stand up to her,” Sage says. “She might not hear you, but at least you can get it out of your system.” Sage’s always been so much better at telling her mom how she feels. Most of the time, I’d just rather change the subject and avoid talking about how I feel.

“That’s pretty much what my grandma said this morning.”

I playfully bat Sage’s hand. “Sage, stop picking at your fingers.” Sage is a competitive piano player who tears at the skin around her nails when she’s nervous. “You don’t want to be known at Juilliard as the girl with the messed-up fingers.”

Sage throws up her scabby hands. “Imogene, you know that just because I’m good at the piano, doesn’t mean I’ll get into Juilliard, right? That only happens in the movies. If I really wanted to get into Juilliard, I’d be playing the piano right now. I’d have to even play when I was supposed to be asleep.” She mimics playing the piano with her eyes closed, and I laugh.

Sage sighs. “Maybe at the very best, I’ll get into a college with a solid piano major, but I’llnever get into a conservatory. And besides, how are my mom and I going to afford any college?”

Sage’s mother is a single mom, and her blog is much less well known and visited than my mom’s, so she makes a lot less income from it. Money in their family is always tight. Recently they had to sell their house, which had the most amazing Hass avocado tree in the backyard. They moved into an apartment complex, which was tricky because they had to make sure their new neighbors were okay with hearing classical piano three to four hours a day. Luckily, this is Naples, Florida, and the median age here is sixty-four years old. They found a place where the neighbors in nearly every direction turned out to be both ancient and hard of hearing.

“Well, I totally think you could get into Juilliard or any other college,” I tell her honestly. “You’re the Nicki Minaj of the piano minus all the costumes, wigs, and expletives . . . but college is a long way off. Let’s just focus on having the best year ever before we all go off to high school. Maybe this year I can finally be known as someone more than Babylicious, the girl on that blog.”

“Here’s hoping,” Sage whispers. “And maybe this will be the year I finally get to decide for once what I ingest and what I expel.”

 

The first half of the day, I spend worrying about what my mom’s going to say when I get home. When our wireless goes down or I spoil a photo op, like I did this morning, she goes into a total tizzy. I guess that saying “Don’t take your work home with you” isn’t easy to live by when you blog about being a mom. When we eat dinner, it’s “How did you like that new Dip & Squeeze Heinz ketchup? I need to review it.” We even take sponsored vacations. Our lives move around the blog like it’s like a permanent fixture. Even though it’s usually sunny in Florida, it’s always the one cloud in my sky.

I sigh with relief when it’s time for my English class, which is the final class of the day and my favorite subject. I love reading books about other periods in history, specifically the Time Before the Internet. I love English class because I get to read about people who just lived without documenting every minuscule detail to share with the whole wide world. My mom claims blog wasn’t even a word until she was twenty-five years old, but I’ve never known the world without the internet. According to Mommylicious lore, my first word was even blog.

Ms. Herring greets all of us as we come into the classroom. “Hello, Imogene,” she says.

Our school is tiny, so everyone knows everyone, especially if you’re the girl whose mom writes a blog about her.

Ms. Herring’s our school’s youngest teacher by about a century. All the girls love her because she’s fashionable, and all the boys love her because she’s beautiful. (Some of our teachers are nuns, so it’s hard to get a good gauge of what they actually look like under their habits.) I’ve been excited to have Ms. Herring since she moved here from Missouri five years ago, so I walk into class with a huge smile on my face—and not just because Dylan Mulberry, my biggest crush of all time, stared at me from across the lunchroom earlier. Or at least, I think he did. He could’ve been looking at the wall behind me instead.

I take a seat next to Sage in the front row, and I pull out a notebook that someone sent my mom. Companies send her all free products in hopes that she’ll write about them on her blog—basically, on any given day, I’m a walking billboard. Today I’m a wearing shoes donated from Sears (gold penny loafers that are thankfully cute), and this morning I actually washed my hair with those Bubble & Bee products we received last week. (In my opinion, organic is not always better. There were some serious tangles.) I know that I should be happy we get free things, but we don’t need or want half of them anyway. Our front closet looks like a fancy 7-Eleven.

“Class,” Ms. Herring says in a soft voice. Everyone’s chatter stops, and all eyes go to our teacher.

Behind me, I hear the door shut, and I turn to watch Dylan glide into an empty seat in the back row. He’s the cutest guy in the ninth grade—or at least, he’s got my vote. With eyes the color of green sea glass, sandy blond hair, and a tan that doesn’t even fade in January, he could be on a postcard for Florida. Maybe he and Mickey should team up as our state’s ambassadors. Dylan would definitely lure quite a few tourists in with his smile.

I count silently and realize that I have three classes with Dylan this year; that’s two more than in eighth grade. Hopefully, this will help facilitate my plan to get him to ask me to the Halloween Pirate’s Booty Ball. It’s our first date dance ever.

Ms. Herring pulls down the projector screen. “I just love the first day of school. Bobby, please get the lights.”

The classroom darkens, and Ms. Herring sits down at her computer desk. “A new school year means new ideas,” she says. “I like to it switch up. Otherwise, it gets boring and stale for all of us. Déjà vu isn’t a good feeling when it comes to learning.” She taps away at her keyboard and then a website that I’m way too familiar with pops up on the projector: It’s a website site that helps people create blogs.

“This year, instead of writing in journals or typing essays, each student is going to write and maintain his or her own blog. I think it’s going to be an awesome project.”

Whenever a teacher uses awesome, students everywhere should be terrified.

She smiles at both Sage and me. Everyone, including Ms. Herring, knows that our moms are bloggers. Not only do our moms give presentations about blogging at career day every year, but they also plug their blogs to anyone who will listen. My mom even has a magnetic Mommyliciousmeg.com decal that takes up the entire left side of our car. (I know, mortifying, right? I always sit on the right side of the car to avoid seeing the curious stares from other cars’ passengers.)

Why would either Sage or I need any more blogs in our lives?

To my left, Ardsley Taylor raises her hand with the perfect posture of a beauty queen. If our school were cast in a teen movie, Ardsley would play the popular girl who everyone wants to be, even though she’s not very nice.

“Ms. Herring, do Sage and Imogene have to write blogs too? Or can they just turn their mothers’ blogs in for credit?”

The class begins to snicker, but Ms. Herring puts her finger to her lips and the class quiets. “Ardsley!” Ms. Herring scolds.

“I was just asking a question,” Ardsley says in a singsong voice.

I refuse to turn around and acknowledge Ardsley. Ever since she was allowed to use a computer, she’s been ragging on me about my mom’s blog. My mom said Ardsley would grow out of it, but of course, she hasn’t. Despite what parents tell us, people rarely seem to grow out of who they are. And I can’t exactly blame Ardsley for teasing me. My mom keeps giving her too much good material. Take my mom’s post about my first period, for instance. Two years later, the headline “Babylicious is now a woman” still loops in my nightmares. The day after the post went viral, someone (I suspect Ardsley) decorated my locker with a congratulations sign, the silvery, shiny kind you buy at Party City for someone’s new baby or retirement.

Totally humiliating.

I turn toward Sage. She looks nearly as green as her morning smoothie. Does Ms. Herring not comprehend how a blog can ruin a childhood?

As class ticks on, Ms. Herring details exactly how our blogs will work. On one group blog, we will post papers and assignments for class. This way, Ms. Herring explains, “We can learn from one another.” Aside from our class blog, we are each responsible for writing our own blog, which we can make private with only Ms. Herring able to see it or make public for everyone on the internet to see. Of course, this prompts a “dangers of the internet” discussion, during which Ms. Herring explains how to be safe online.

Why doesn’t anyone ever tell grown-ups to be safe online? It seems like every night on the news, there’s a story about kids being dumb on the internet, but there are never any stories about the ridiculous things parents do online. Namely, join Facebook, friend their own children, and write blogs.

At the end of her spiel, Ms. Herring reminds us that our private blog is extremely important, and drops the bomb that it’s worth 25 percent of our entire grade.

Superlicious. That’s Sage’s and my sarcastic way of saying something is terrible.

After class is dismissed, Sage leans over and whispers, “We need to do something about this, stat. I don’t want a blog. It’s bad enough that my mom has one.”

I nod furiously. There’s no way I’m starting a blog either. This assignment has the potential to make the ninth grade officially the worst, and it’s only day one.

So much for the best year ever.

 

 

Mommylicious

“MY BABY IS GOING TO HAVE A BLOG!”

You read it here first!!! Mommylicious’s Babylicious, Imogene, is starting her own blog! It’s for her English class, and I’m thrilled that this is something we can share. Lately she hasn’t seemed as interested in my blog (as you might’ve noticed in the re-created “after” back-to-school shots), so hopefully this will bring us closer again.

According to the email from her English teacher, the blog will have two functions: 1) It will be where she posts papers on books that the class is reading. 2) It will act as a journal of her year.

Basically, I get to read my daughter’s diary, and y’all can too! Brilliant! Not to mention that I’m de-lighted that the school is teaching kids internet skills. Remember the days of blackboards and chalk? Talk about torture in the Old Ages. I <3 the internet.

I think it’s so progressive of the school to have students start blogs. As we all know, blogs and blogging communities are majorly powerful. Who would I be without Mommylicious?

Imogene hasn’t given me her blog’s URL yet, but I know she will soon!

Anyone else’s kids have blogs? Here’s a philosophical question to chew on: If your baby has a blog, does that mean she’s not a baby anymore? Since Imogene deactivated her Facebook account last year, I haven’t had a way to connect to her online! I know. A blogger whose own kid isn’t even on Facebook . . . Talk about irony. So, obviously, this blog project is reason to celebrate, and I’m so excited that I can now proudly call my daughter a fellow blogger.

Unfortunately, in other ironic news, my mom is still refusing to get an email account. “The Golf Channel is all I need,” she says. “And a good newspaper.” Yup, it’s official. . . . I have a dinosaur living in my basement!

Read my review of Bounty’s newest line of super-duper absorbent paper towels here. They really are the quicker picker-upper.

Butterfly Kisses,

Mommylicious

Don't Call Me Baby
by by Gwendolyn Heasley

  • Genres: Young Adult 14+
  • paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: HarperTeen
  • ISBN-10: 0062208527
  • ISBN-13: 9780062208521