Be cool. The kids are watching.

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Go Badgers! Go Bears! Go Boilermakers!

Congratulations on sending your child off to college! It is time for you to join the Facebook <insert college name here> Parent Page. Don’t use Facebook anymore? Time to suck it up and start again! Still don’t understand social media etiquette? Just stifle your borderline narcissistic tendencies and let’s get started!

The Parent Page is a great way for you to stay engaged with your child’s college community before and during their time on campus. It’s a surprisingly responsive place to ask questions that aren’t proactively answered on…


Returning sophomores, we owe you an enormous debt.

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You guys.

I don’t even know where to begin.

I’ll start this letter to you with full disclosure.

For three years, my family has lived deep inside the belly of an elite midwestern university. We are a “faculty family,” here to provide some balance to the culture of campus life. We are encouraged to engage, but we have few actual residential life responsibilities. …


#1: They will be FINE.

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My new Covid pastime involves actively participating on the Facebook parent page for my son’s university, Class of 2025. But with a twist. Little by little, I have revealed to the group my dirty little secret: I actually live on that exact campus. I have for years.

Yeah it’s totally weird. I don’t deny it. It’s a long story.

Bottom line, we are a faculty family embedded in a residential college on the same campus our son, a faculty “brat,” has elected to attend, and we have literally seen it all. As a result, I…


Because we needed a new challenge.

(Image is property of the author)

“I stepped on a bat!” my daughter screamed from down on the dock. “Someone help!!

I mentally anointed my husband as that “someone.” I was five minutes into Saturday afternoon nap, complete with earplugs and a face mask that might as well have had “Go Away” quilted into it. I burrowed deeper into my scratchy cabin blanket and leaned into my neglect. I wasn’t even sure I’d heard her correctly, frankly. Who steps on a winged animal known for agility and speed? Maybe she meant baseball bat. Or maybe she said mat.

After several…


Farewell, you forgiving pain in the ass.

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“I think we’ve made a terrible mistake,” my husband Jeff said to me as we drove the few short blocks between our university apartment and our vacant off-campus house. We were going over to remove a few remaining items in the garage and to mow the lawn one last time before transitioning ownership to strangers the next day.

“Oh thank god I’ve been feeling the same way,“ I said with a rush of unbridled relief. I stopped at the red light and turned to my husband of twenty-four years. …


This is not the 2020 virus you are looking for.

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When my 15-year-old daughter started struggling with acne this fall, I knew it was time for Accutane. If you’ve never had children, or acne, Accutane is a miracle cure for pimply teens. It’s like a magic wand that turns those painful-to-behold angsty faces into smooth templates of granite-like, youthful skin. But it comes with some serious side effects, so every prescribing physician is required to emphatically counsel females against pregnancy (helpful!) and run routine liver function tests before the first dose.

Two days after my daughter’s pre-Accutane blood draw, the…


Your 2020 Step-by-Step Guide

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Step 1: Find An Actual Goatherd

Retreat for the summer to your family’s weekend cottage in Minnesota for what you adorably believe will be the last few months of a pandemic. Optimistically anticipate it will be over by July 4th. Settle in with a collection of family members who all had the same idea, an obscene number of dogs, and way too many WIFI-enabled devices for the “cozy” little river cottage to handle. Wait until you have one moment away from Zoom calls to notice that, while fighting the good fight, the family homestead is in dire need of some love.

In…


Let’s just get this over with, shall we?

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I’m at the Miss Havisham stage of the pandemic. Life has been on hold for so long I’ve stopped noticing. But rather than an old wedding dress, I’ve shaken that Dickensian image with a muumuu to disguise the absence of a bra, and instead of manipulating my teen children, I ignore them by binge-listening true crime podcasts while we pass each other in the kitchen like ghosts. That’s because we, unlike a lot of the world, are still fastidiously trying to avoid COVID.

My husband’s cousin and his wife on the east…


I live on your campus. And I definitely wish you were here.

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My family and I live on one of the thousands of college campuses across the globe that abruptly closed in the wake of the pandemic.

When I say that we live on campus, I mean we literally live in one of the residential colleges that houses hundreds of first and second year student at a private mid-western university. I am accustomed to the sights and sounds of scores of undergraduates living their lives within a few feet of us at all hours of the day and night. …


And Other Recent Discoveries.

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Ok! Show of hands from those doing some light hoarding? Anyone?

Relax. I was where you are about a month ago. Rumors of shortages sparked my panic purchase of canned and frozen foods, leaving my shopping cart filled with absolutely no fresh fruit or vegetables whatsoever. I never hoarded toilet paper, I’m proud to say. But my growing anxiety was on full display as I made makeshift gloves up to my elbows from the complementary disinfecting wipes dispenser at entrance of the store. …

Leslie Kleinberg Zacks

Writing about whatever I feel like. Mom with a career. Filled with love and rage. It’s cool- I’m not for everyone. twitter @lesliezacks

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