Friday Randomness (belated…)

Graduation Invitation
Isn’t that a cute Graduation Invite, for a proud parent to send out to invite her friends and family to show off her daughter, and celebrate said daughter’s accomplishment in school? Yes, it is. See how cute, the picture of her Kindergarten graduation? Her official Senior photo (in my great aunt’s pearls), her other, casual Senior photos? Sigh. The thing is, Maya doesn’t want a graduation party. She doesn’t want to hang out with a bunch of Ted and my friends, feeling self-conscious because everyone is looking at her. She and her friends will have been partying at the ‘All Knighter’ (They’re the Knights), and she’d rather go from party to party at her friend’s houses. I don’t blame her. But still, I’m a little disappointed. I have attended parties for several of my friends’ kids, and I enjoyed them. I enjoyed admiring the graduating senior, hearing about their plans going forward, all of that. I want my friends to enjoy that coming to see my child. So here I am, letting it go. LETTING IT GO. It’s her graduation, not mine. I’ll have a party later in the summer with my friends, and we will have a lovely time. They will admire my child, not because it is her graduation, but because they love her, and they love me. So there.

Friday afternoon, our front door lock broke. Always on a Friday, right? Of a holiday weekend? That’s when the kid comes down with a fever (though generally they wait until the doctor’s office is closed), the stove/air conditioner/hot water heater goes out, that kind of thing. All things you want fixed NOW, and you will have to wait until Monday. I’ve heard that what duct tape doesn’t fix, WD-40 will, I tried oiling the dead bolt. No help. (The issue was that the dead bolt would only come out about 1/5 of the way, not the full extended way.) So I took the door knob thing apart (two little screws were all that was needed), figured out what was wrong, then went to look in my ‘fix everything around the house’ book that my Grandmother gave us years ago. No help at all. None. So I took the pieces to my local Ace hardware store, hoping that they could either tell me how to fix it, or sell me a replacement. Nope. However, at 4:40 in the afternoon, they gave me a recommendation to a local locksmith. Across town. So I called them and asked them if they could maybe stay open until I got there. They helpfully said yes. Across town I sped, thankfully against the afternoon traffic. I got there at 4:55, before they even had to stay late. The locksmith took one look and said, “Nope, can’t fix it. The part that’s broken, they don’t sell just that part.” So we looked at the several options. One was $15, but very temporary. One was $300, and required us installing the new door stuff ourselves. The fact that I call it ‘door stuff’ should inform you about how good I am at this stuff. Ted is better at it than I am, but he’s not a handyman, he’s an academic. The third option was to pick a different brand of hardware (aka, door stuff), which would be cheaper on the parts, but would mean drilling and painting our stupid door. Blech. So here I am, it’s 5:05 on Friday of a three-day weekend, and I’m frustrated. Finally, the locksmith said, “There’s another option. I can remove the broken part, which isn’t necessary. The broken part, being broken, is getting in the way of the rest of the mechanism. It will certainly get you through the weekend, and it may even work long term.” OK, I’m in. Why couldn’t he have suggested this to begin with, I wondered. However, all I said was, “How much?” Free. I love that price. I said no, he should be paid for his time and expertise, and he said no. So he took out the broken part (which required some expertise to do), and I took it home and put it back together. The door knob is looser, doesn’t fit just the same anymore, but it works. It works well, locks properly, and was free. So I went on FB and yelp and gave full props to the locksmith, hoping maybe I could pay them back in some way. If the solution falls apart and it turns out that we need something more, they’ve earned my business and I’ll go back to get a long term solution.

This morning, Maya had a job working for one of her teachers (who has a successful side business, Pinot Days, very wine related), so while she went and took care of that, Ted and I went and ran errands. We went and picked up the badges earned by Maya’s Girl Scout troop, then to breakfast at a place we haven’t been to before. It was tasty. It was a little expensive for a semi-fast food breakfast place, but the quality of the food was good. We liked it. Then we went to the farmers’ market and got the essentials…strawberries, nectarines, and eggs. We ran a few more errands, then came home, and I took a delicious nap. Saturdays can be lovely indeed.

The other day I went to the video store…we still have a video store we love to try to keep open. I picked up a DVD, ‘Labor Day’, with Kate Winslet and Josh Brolin. For some reason, I knew nothing about the film, and thought it might be a romantic comedy. It wasn’t. It was closer to a love story. Josh Brolin is an escaped convict, convicted of murdering his wife and child, who forces his way into the home of Kate Winslet and her young teen son. He’s camping out for a few days. The pace is slow, the acting superb, the story not quite as dramatic as you might want, but at the same time, because of that, it seems more real. We really liked it a lot.

I’m reading the new ‘David Sedaris’ book, borrowed from our library. I like it a lot, though I can’t plow through it as quickly as needed for the online rental. We’ll see how I do, if I finish in time.

In other news, I tried a new quinoa recipe. YUM. So good. I’ll post it here soon. It had pickled onions, nectarines, and arugula. Really good.

Enjoy your weekend.

Still Alive

Still Alive
Yes, I’m still alive. I know, it’s been awhile. I hate writing that at the beginning of a blog post, but somehow, I find myself doing it more and more often. Today I took a few minutes and looked at blogs that I link to from my blogroll. So many of them are defunct, or might as well be. Last post in 2011, 2012, 2013. I should clean them up, move them out. But I don’t use an RSS reader or anything like that. My way of checking to see if you have a new blog post is to click my link, and go look. So I keep them. I want to see if some of you come back to blogging. Who knows…it could happen.

As is often the case when a household consists of two adults and a teen, most of the news around here is about the teen. Let’s see. Well, in one crappy week, she was in her first car accident, and had her first flat tire. Thankfully, the car accident was a tiny fender bender, and no one was hurt. Of course, nowadays a tiny fender bender still means a new bumper, new grill, etc. It wasn’t her fault, so the other insurance company paid for the repairs. Perhaps she could have avoided the accident if she had been paying closer attention, perhaps not. She was parking, and the other driver backed out of a parking place and into the front of our car. She didn’t see it coming, because she was looking into another row for a place there. So I’m glad she learned the lesson of paying better attention now, and in a safe place without getting hurt. Sadly, part of the lesson was that people can be jerks, as the woman who hit her got out of the car and yelled at her. The flat tire came the next week. Don’t know what she hit, or if maybe it was just the tire’s time. What she didn’t know was what a flat tire felt like, so she continued driving, wanting to get home. Bad move, but again, we were lucky and her driving on a flat didn’t cause any damage to the wheel. So…she’s learned a few things about auto stuff lately.

Also, she had her first opportunity to vote! We had a tiny little special election here, to renew a bond measure for the local high school district. I was unsure as to WHY they chose to have a mail-in ballot in May, when there is a much larger election scheduled for June, which will surely attract a much larger voting population. We (Ted and I) decided that it must be because they felt like they would get a better, more dedicated vote than they would get from the general public. Whether that was the reason for the strategy or not, it worked, and the bond measure passed. So the local high schools will continue to be well funded.

Which chaps my hide. Don’t get me wrong, I voted for it. I want the schools to be well funded. But it’s frustrating to the nth to me that this is how our schools work. You live in a wealthy enclave, and the people vote to support the schools. Why? Because it’s OUR KIDS. But a vote to support the schools on a larger, state wide, basis? A vote that would make the schools a bit more equal? Hell no. Why would we want to vote to support OTHER PEOPLE’S KIDS? Grrr. I miss the days back when I grew up, when schools were better funded, there was money for things like school buses, art, PE, etc., without having to tap different areas for different amounts of money.

So anyway, she voted, we voted, and the measure passed. That was a mail in election, and the next one will be a walk in election. I have, in the past, requested a mail in ballot, because gosh, it’s just SO DARNED EASY. Deep down, though, I can’t get past the idea that maybe they don’t bother to count those votes. Also, I kind of like the ritual of going into the little ballot box and marking the ballot myself. I liked when we lived in Philly, and you made your selections, then pulled a big lever down that punched holes or something. That was pretty satisfying.

We received news that Maya was awarded a scholarship for $1,000 from Burger King, which is funny because we don’t eat much fast food. I’m the junk food junkie in the house, and I don’t eat it THAT often. I think she’s probably been to BK twice in her life. But anyway, we applied for the scholarship, and she received it, which is great news. $1,000 now will pay for most of a semester’s expenses at a community college, as long as you live at home. Tuition and books. Which brings me back to my earlier point about funding the schools. Back until the mid-80s, community colleges in California were free. Then in 1985, they started charging tuition, which was a flat $50, no matter how many courses or units you took. When I transferred to San Francisco State University, it was about $450 a semester for tuition. My friend Janet transferred from community college to UC Berkeley, and her tuition was a little over $700. So a semester at a community college now is about the cost of a semester at Cal back in the late 80s. Which would be very well and good if wages had gone up that much, but of course they haven’t. Wages are higher, but the minimum wage has about doubled, which college costs have exceeded that at an alarming rate. She’s applied for a few more scholarships, and we’re hoping to get her next semester’s fees paid for as well. If we can avoid dipping into the little bit of savings that we have until she goes to a four year as a JR, that would be great.

Which brings me to my next thought. Really, a brag. The same week as her AP test, I found another local scholarship I thought she should apply for. One that required her to write 2 very short essays, get letters of recommendation, and have a resume. Being the quick turnaround time (2 days), I offered to write the resume for her, as she’s never done one for herself, and she had the AP exam to study for. I’m impressed. There are surely kids who have done more, and kids who have done less. But she’s an AP Scholar with a strong GPA, is a member of 3 clubs at her school (for 2 of them, she’s co-president), she’s been a cheerleader, in the school choir, and on the school paper. She’s volunteered over and over again (mostly through Girl Scouts) to wonderful organizations that help children, animals, and adults in rough times. I wish my resume had looked like that at her age. Mine was more like, “Two years at Mr. Steak, three years in the Dungeons and Dragons club, crappy GPA, decent test scores”. So yes, I’m proud.

Along with the end of High School (she graduates June 13th) comes the Senior Ball next weekend, and the end of Girl Scouts. She’s been involved for 10 years now, and I am so glad that she joined, and that she stuck with it for this long. The troop has dwindled down to 5 girls, and they don’t see each other or keep in touch the way they once did. But they’re still close, and have shared wonderful experiences. They have put in a lot of time, volunteering, camping, working on badges. I hope they are forever friends, even if that means the kind of friends who keep in touch online only, once in awhile. They’re all great girls, doing wonderful things with their lives, and I’m proud of them all. This next chapter will be an exciting one for them indeed.

My life? Not as exciting, but still pretty good. We went to Stockton a few weeks ago to celebrate my Great-Aunt’s 90th birthday. My Great-Aunt, who was in the delivery room with my mom when I was born. She took me on a trip with her and her daughter in the late 70s. We drove through Yosemite (drought, so no waterfalls), up to Tahoe, and had a great time. She loaned me money to pay that first $450 tuition check at San Francisco State, because my mom had no money and I had blithely moved out, gone out on my own with no money to my name, trusting that all would work out. Somehow it did. My roommate’s father loaned us money for first/last/security deposits. My great Aunt payed my tuition. My friend’s parents let me sleep on their sofa until we had our apartment, and while I started my job and got money for school books. Looking back, I can’t believe I got away with it.

I have a new computer for work. I love it. It’s faster, and a newer operating system. What I like the most about it is that it’s a laptop, which means when it gets hot here, I can work downstairs where it’s much cooler. My office is in the bedroom, which is upstairs and gets full on afternoon sun, which is lovely in the cold of winter, and fine until the temps get to be about 85 or 90. Once it’s 90 degrees outside, and 3:00 or so with the sun beating through the window full force, it gets to be about 80 downstairs, and I don’t know how much hotter upstairs, but I start sweating while at my desk, which I DO NOT LIKE. I don’t like turning on the A/C when the sun is hitting that room, it feels like it’s fighting a losing battle. I’d prefer to wait until the sun goes down, and then turn on the A/C if need be to cool the bedroom down enough for sleep. Now, when I’m upstairs, I have a docking station for the laptop, which means a huge monitor (good for my aging eyes), a full sized keyboard, and a mouse. Downstairs, I can bring all of that if I really want to, or I can just bring the laptop down with me. It’s great.

This coming weekend, my parents are coming for a very quick visit. They live in Portland. My step-mom is a big wig in the yoga community, and owns a very successful yoga studio there. One of the museums in SF has an exhibit about the birth of yoga, so they’re coming down on Friday, seeing the exhibit on Saturday, going home on Sunday. Maya’s Senior Ball is Saturday night, so we’re not available that day, but we will go into the City and have dinner with them Friday night. I’m excited to try the fancy French restaurant where we have a reservation, and of course I’m excited to see them.

That seems like enough for now. I did try a nice sausage and polenta recipe the other day that I may share soon, and we might go to a movie for Mother’s Day tomorrow. If we see something worth seeing, I’ll let you know.

Growing Up

Of course, Maya has been growing up for over 17 years now.  Seeing the Royal Baby in the news reminds me of how little my own baby once was.  I remember, sometimes fondly, how sweet and dependent she once was.

And now…now she’s 17, with a driver’s license, going to appointments and the grocery store on her own.  Taking the train into Berkeley to see a movie with her friends.  I confess to being a bit over-protective.  I make her appointments for her, pick up her prescriptions for her, that kind of thing.  She could do these things for herself, and probably she should.  She needs to be ready when she goes away, ready to know how to make appointments and take care of things.  She needs to be able to cook a meal or two.  She can, actually, cook a meal or two.  She can do laundry and clean house.  But I think she needs more, in order to feel confident when the time comes for her to leave.  She needs to know that she can take care of herself, even if it’s still with a little bit of help from us, once in awhile.

In the meantime, this is all new to me.  New to me to have her gone and not check up with everyone involved beforehand.  She went to a movie the other night (Much Ado About Nothing) in Berkeley with her friends.  Two friends, both girls of her own age.  The BART ride there didn’t bother me, but the BART ride home was after dark, and made me a little nervous.   It’s new to me to have her running errands or going out with her friends during the day, in the car.  She went to lunch last week, and I’ll admit that I asked for a text to tell me she got there safely.  It’s just downtown, but we live in the Bay Area.  The streets are not as busy as San Francisco, or even Berkeley, but they are much busier than the streets of Stockton where I grew up.  She’s been going out on her own to get exercise, on the trails that I walk all of the time on my own.  I feel confident that I can handle most issues that might occur there, and I’m getting used to the ideas that, 1. perhaps she might be able to as well, and 2. nothing is likely to happen there.  Sigh.  It’s difficult.  I’m trying.

What for you, fellow moms of teens or adult children, was the most difficult change to adjust to?  I predict her not living here anymore when she’s away at college, that will be a doozey.  (Ted and I both did the community college thing for our first 2 years while living at home, and that may be a good option for Maya as well…so I’m not sure yet WHEN she’ll be away at college.  But I know it will happen sooner rather than later.)  But what, when they were still at home?  What made you nervous and want to watch your phone for an update?  And maybe, what still does?

Giving Tuesday


The day after Thanksgiving is Black Friday, the day when retailers hope to move from being in the red to being in the black.  It has also become a day when shoppers go forth, hoping to find great deals, either for their Christmas and Hanukkah shopping, or perhaps for themselves.  There is also Small Business Saturday, when shoppers are encouraged to frequent small, locally owned businesses, rather than the big box stores that are so popular on Black Friday.  Yesterday was Cyber Monday, when shoppers go online and shop while they’re supposed to be working.  A person can supposedly get really good deals on this particular Monday, though I find offers of such deals to be somewhat suspect.  (I saw a deal on Amazon for a gift I am intending to purchase, and it was 1/3 of the regular price.  But it was not available, because all at that price had been snapped up.  I have no stomach for such games.)

Now there is Giving Tuesday, a day when we are encouraged to stop worrying about buying gifts and so on for a moment or two, and give some thought to non-profits.  I do not, could not, and will not, offer a gift guide of shopping suggestions.  However, I do have some giving ideas, if you’re looking for help in that arena.  You can give goods, time, or money, whatever fits your situation the best.

Local:

  • Food Banks – You can donate in several ways.  You can write them a check (or donate online).  You can put food in the barrel at the grocery store (peanut butter and canned tuna are always popular options).  You can volunteer to go to the food bank and help sort food, which will be delivered to local soup kitchens, or picked up by those in need.
  • Soup Kitchens – A lot of people come out and serve food on Thanksgiving, Christmas, and maybe Easter.  Why not call them up and see if they’d like your help another time of year?  I’m guessing they would.
  • Schools – Public schools depend more and more upon foundations to support not only extracurricular activities, but also art, physical education, and science.  Increasingly, this support funds teacher incomes, not just them staying late to tutor our children.  I’m not sure how much this is a factor outside of California, but here, because of stupid Prop 13, it’s HUGE.
  • Child Abuse Prevention Council – Again, both volunteering and monetary donations are welcome.  A donation in your child’s teachers name might mean more to them than a mug or a box of candy.
  • Meals on Wheels – They can always use more volunteer drivers.  They also need people to go and visit the elders once in awhile, and of course, they can always use money to help them provide this needed service.
  • Toys for Tots – If you really really like shopping, and you want to do some good at the same time, you can contribute to a local toy drive.  Toys for Tots is the most famous one that I know.  One year, my company supported ‘Adopt an Angel’, and my kid wished for a warm coat.  He was 9.  Gah, a 9 year old that wants a coat instead of a toy or a book or a game…it broke my heart.  And duh, I bought the warmest coat I could find.
  • Animal Shelter – All animal shelters can use cash donations.  Some animal shelters use volunteers to help socialize animals, or to clean out cages, and so on.  Some accept donations of food and animal toys.
  • 18,000 other local organizations – There are undoubtedly plenty of other local non-profits that would be grateful for your help.  Perhaps a group of kids that create cards that they sell, and use the money to buy sleeping bags and clothing for local homeless folks; a group that collects and sends care packages to soldiers deployed overseas;  perhaps a dog rescue that brings in dogs for your particular favorite breed, cares for them (sometimes very expensive), and finds them home.

National:

  • American Red Cross – The Red Cross can use your help in so many ways. They are the first responders when natural disasters like the ’89 earthquake, Hurricane Katrina, and Superstorm Sandy hit. They are also there for smaller disasters, like house fires and floods. They collect blood for emergencies, blood which is needed by so many. People with cancer, people in car accidents, people having surgery, and so on.  My grandma received a transfusion during her recent medical stay, and I’m thinking this weekend will find me donating at our local blood center and thinking of her.  Want to help? You can donate money, you can donate blood, and I’ll bet there are plenty of ways for a person to donate time as well. Speaking of Superstorm Sandy, if you’re interested in helping out, the Red Cross is probably not the best place for longer term help. NPR had some other ideas, here. I was especially impressed by the organization of Occupy Sandy volunteers.
  • Planned Parenthood – I don’t know if Planned Parenthood has much use for volunteers, but I do know they can use financial help.  Planned Parenthood is sometimes the only healthcare women receive.  They provide cancer screenings, birth control, and treatment when needed.  They were there for me when I needed birth control, but did not have medical insurance.  They are there for so many.
  • Medical Research and Advocacy – The list is seemingly endless.  Organizations devoted to research to end breast cancer, cervical cancer, prostate cancer, lymphoma, leukemia, just plain cancer cancer.  Then there’s AIDS, Alzheimer’s, epilepsy, Down’s syndrome, on and on and on.  There are groups working to help burn victims, children with cleft lips and cleft palates, spina bifida, any group you can think of, they surely have a worthwhile organization that can help, and that needs your money.
  • NPR/PBSNational Public Radio and the Public Broadcasting System, they both produce wonderful programs for children, adults, everyone.  If you believe in the mission to bring this information to the public, if you listen and watch, this might be a good place to plant a few dollars.
  • ACLU and/or Southern Poverty Law Center – These organizations work to defend the civil rights of Americans.  The ACLU focuses more on the right to free speech and due process, and the SPLC focuses on protecting the civil rights of those who have been wronged, and bringing those who commit hate crimes to justice.  They are both very worthwhile organizations.
  • National Center for Family Literacy – Their mission is towards whole family literacy, because when the family and community are literate, the circumstances for the entire community improves, and the children have a better chance of graduating from High School.
  • 18,000 other National Organizations – There are so, so, SO MANY worthwhile organizations out there.  Think about what is important to you…the arts, medicine, animal welfare, hunger, poverty, civil rights, alcohol abuse treatment, etc.  Find what you care about, and then find an organization that helps.  Give them money, or time, whatever you have more of.

International:

  • Heifer Project  – The Heifer Project works to alleviate hunger and poverty, both nationally and internationally, by giving animals to families in need.  A goat that provides milk to a family, perhaps enough that they can sell some to neighbors.  Perhaps they make enough money so that their children can go to school rather than working.  The first offspring of this goat, they must donate to another family in their town or village, who must also pay it forward.
  • Mercy Corps – The Mercy Corps works to alleviate suffering, poverty and oppression by helping people build secure, productive and just communities.
  • International Red Cross – Again, a first responder, there in times of crisis, to help people through the most difficult times in their lives.

There are so many more organizations that you can help out.  Give blood.  Put some peanut butter in a bin at the grocery store.  Go serve food at a soup kitchen, or sort at a food bank.  Visit some old people at a nursing home, donate flowers to make things more cheerful there.  Adopt an animal, if you’re ready for an addition of love and laughter to your household.  There are so many things you can do.  Do them.  Today and every day.

 

Looking Good

My mom was a big believer in reading. She was addicted to it. She read more than anyone else I have ever known. She loved to read everything, almost any genre, almost any book. LOVED it. When she was trying to figure things out, she would read to find a solution. Recipes, career advice, whatever. Parenting style. She loved her parents dearly, and she firmly believed that they did their best. But she also thought that they could have done better. So when she found she was going to have kids, she wanted to find out how to do things better than her parents had done. For the most part, I think she did an amazing job. She taught us so many things. To love your family and put them first. That people are not for hitting. That knowledge is more important than grades. That honesty is a value to be respected and honored, even if that means letting go of some much cherished lies. That a good book can be more important to you than a bad friend. That a good friend can be more important to you than a bad family member. That a good family member is worth doing anything for. I don’t know how much of this she got from books, how much she got from her family, and how much was just her. But I have felt really lucky in my own parenting, that I don’t often have to think ‘my mom goofed this up, how can I do it better?”

Of course, no one is perfect, and no parent is perfect. My mom made mistakes. She sometimes said one thing and did the opposite. She trusted her books too much sometimes. Anyway, I heard an author on the radio a while ago talking about a parenting book, about not putting excess stress on your kids by over praising them. Much of what he said resonated with me and I agreed with, but one thing he said reminded me of how we do not grow up in a vacuum, and that how our friends’ parents raise them also affects us. He said that you should not tell your kids, especially your girls, that they are beautiful or pretty, because it puts too much pressure on them to be pretty, and if they don’t FEEL pretty, it puts them in a strange situation of wondering if you’re lying. It gives them the idea that the most important thing that a girl can be is pretty. That if she isn’t pretty, she’s not worthwhile. That a better way is to tell them things you like about them. My mom raised me this way. She would say, “I love the way the sunlight reflects on your hair”. “I like your wrists…they’re so delicate and elegant”. “Your smile lights up your face”. All fine and good, but because my friends all were told they were pretty, in front of me, and I wasn’t told that, I grew up wondering if perhaps my mom thought I wasn’t pretty, and these compliments were just consolation prizes. Like, ‘too bad you’re plain, but at least you have elegant wrists.” See how good intentions sometimes don’t work so well? Sigh. So I grew up not knowing if my mom thought I was pretty or not. A girl should really think that at least her parents think she’s pretty. Yes, the pressure is out there, the pressure to look good. It’s not as important as how you treat people, as your sense of humor, as your brain or your heart or your soul. But it’s all over the place and very much there. I confessed to her how this method made me feel, once, when she was telling me the theory behind it. I think her heart broke a little, and she felt like a failure to a certain degree. But even then, I wondered, had she thought I was a pretty girl, a pretty child, or was she just trying to make me feel good? Maybe there’s no way to really make a girl feel confident in a culture so obsessed with looks, I don’t know. Maybe it wouldn’t have mattered if she had told me I was pretty every day. Perhaps I wouldn’t have believed her.

But back in November, I went through her boxes of books. All 55 of them. Looking for some books that Richard had said he wanted, some books that I could send him for his birthday in early December. Her books are still at Kate’s house, as she’s planning on selling them on ebay, and we don’t have room for them here, and they’re covered with cat hair, which would probably kill Ted. So I went to Kate’s house, and she and I and dug through box after box after box. One thing I found was my baby book, which was pretty awesome to find. I haven’t seen that since I lived with my mom, back when I was 20 or so. Maybe before that even. Another thing I found was a set of binders, where she was trying to work out issues she had with her parents, my Aunt Colleen, that kind of thing. I skimmed them, and decided I didn’t want to try to bring that much frustration and pain into the house, and that she had gotten a lot of that stuff out of her system on her blog, which I can read any time I want to. So I didn’t keep them. But as I was flipping pages, I found one page, written when I was maybe 15 or so…and all it said was…

“Julie is the most beautiful girl in the world.”

I carry those words in my heart now. They fit just right, and they feel good.

Playing Hooky


Last weekend, Maya asked if she could miss school on her birthday. My first reaction was, No, go to school. Then I thought about it and realized, who cares if she misses a day of school to celebrate her birthday? I mean, if a teacher is absent, they just show a movie in class, so if they can waste her time (once in awhile…not ragging on her school…it’s a good school, with very dedicated teachers), then so can I. Anyway, it seemed like SUCH a good idea, that Ted and I decided to take the day off as well. So we took a vacation day from work, and went into San Francisco for the day. What a good idea that was!

We started out with lunch at a sentimental favorite of Ted’s. He remembers going to Alioto’s (on the wharf) with his father, and really liking their crab spaghetti. Turns out that a Tuesday at 11:30 in March is a great time to visit Fisherman’s Wharf. When we lived in the City, we pretty much avoided the Wharf like a plague. Far too touristy, far too crowded, everything mediocre and over priced. But on the first really gorgeous day of spring, playing hooky from work and school, it’s actually a pretty nice place to be. The restaurant doesn’t have crab spaghetti anymore, but they did have a ‘fruits de mer’ pasta that filled in just fine for him. Maya and I had a big pancake breakfast, so we weren’t as hungry. I opted for a crab cake appetizer, which was lovely and just the right amount of food. The sauce was really good, as was the sourdough bread, so I pretty much licked the platter clean. Maya had the very SF dish, clam chowder in a sourdough bread bowl. Mmmm. San Francisco sourdough is the best, bar none.

Anyway, after lunch, we walked over to Pier 33 and boarded a ferry to Alcatraz. I’ve lived in California for most of my life, spent several years as a concierge in San Francisco, and I had never been before. Again, too touristy for the natives. But I found that if I thought of it as California history, instead of a tourist attraction, it didn’t feel so cheesy. And did I mention that it was a GORGEOUS day? San Francisco is such a beautiful city, and on a bright sunny day following week after week of gray rain and clouds, it sparkles like a jewel from the vantage point of a ferry boat. The Rock itself was a mixture of interesting history, a sad reflection of what cruelty humans are capable of, and again, beautiful views. I learned a few things, such as that the lighthouse on Alcatraz island was the first on the west coast, constructed in 1854, at the height of the gold rush and California’s boom period. It later became a military fortification, then a military prison, then the Federal prison for which it became famous. It was retired in 1963, and has operated since then as a national park.

Ted has been before, probably most recently in the late 80s, and back then you were guided through the prison by a park ranger. Nowadays they start you off with a lecture about the decaying buildings and the importance of staying out of areas that are sectioned off (and yeah, you could fall to your death if you’re being stupid), then you go inside and watch a brief Discovery Channel video about the history of the U.S. occupation of the island. Then you pick up some headphones and begin an audio tour, narrated by former guards and prisoners. It’s depressing to see what people can be reduced to, life in a tiny cage like that. But while it made me sad to think of life on The Rock, the beauty of the outside surroundings, and the fact that I wasn’t cooped up at work made it much more palatable.

Overall, it was a truly lovely day. And kind of like a field trip more than skipping class. I think we should maybe play hooky for Ted’s birthday next month. Hmmmm.

Breaking Her Fall

Breaking Her FallOne summer night in July of 1998, Tucker Jones drops his 14-year-old daughter, Kat, off with her (slightly older) friend, Abby, in front of a movie theater. But the girls meet up with a group of older boys, one of whom is Abby’s boyfriend, Jed. Jed’s parents are out of town, and he invites the girls back to his place for a party. The party is big and gets out of control, and a few hours later, Tucker receives a phone call from the parent of another girl, telling him that Kat has been drinking shots, has gotten naked, and gone into the pool house to give oral sex to several high school aged boys. Tucker flips out, and rushes over to Jed’s house to rescue his daughter, only to find the party long over, three or four somewhat sober boys sitting around a deck table talking and laughing, and Kat nowhere to be found. When Jed tells Tucker that he doesn’t know where Kat is, Tucker loses his temper, and smashes the empty beer bottles off of the table with a shovel he picked up on his way in. He and Jed get into a shoving match, and Jed slips and hits his head against the table, hard.

Thus begins this page turner of a novel, Breaking Her Fall, by Stephen Goodwin. Goodwin paints Tucker as a decent and loving father, a man who finds himself sinking into a moral quagmire, who is struggling to save his business, his reputation, and most importantly, his relationship with his daughter. Tucker is in over his head in dealing with this situation, and is struck over and over again by the pressures that teenage girls are forced to navigate.

Buffalo jumps. I’d been reading about Montana, and I kept thinking about the buffalo jumps, the cliffs over which the Plains Indians drove the herds of buffalo, slaughtering them in great numbers. That was happening to the girls. As I say, my imagination was drawn to violent images, but when I saw knots of girls on the street in their summer outfits, their tiny shorts and halters, with their spangly makeup and paste-on tattoos, when I saw them acting out the roles defined for them in the thousands of commercials and TV shows and popular songs and movies, when I put all this together with the case studies I was reading of the girls who cut themselves or couldn’t eat or simply couldn’t function, when I thought of what was happening to Kat – when I tried to make sense of it all, it seemed to me that the girls were as helpless and confused and panicky as the buffalo must have been as they stampeded over the edge of the precipice, that in all the noise and din they had lost their bearings, they they had no idea of the dangers of the plunge they were about to make.

Goodwin writes of the emotions and the difficult, halting conversations as Tucker and Kat try to understand how the events of that July night could possibly have come to unfold. As they try to understand each others’ actions and motives, to forgive not only each other, but themselves. As they try to find their way back together as a family, as the gossip mill of Washington DC blurs around them, as Kat is expelled from her private school, as Tucker’s ex-wife tries to fight for custody of Kat and her brother, Will. The story takes a lot of sideways and backward turns, as Tucker tries to unravel his own inner workings, tries to figure out who he is after this violent day, and as the family tries to mend its wounds and figure out if they can come together again.

I liked Breaking Her Fall a lot.  Most of the novels that I read are about women, especially those that are about emotions, passion, and family issues.  To read them from a man’s perspective was a welcome change.  His protectiveness for his children, his tenderness, and the way he has of keeping people at a distance since his divorce are all written so honestly and cleanly, that they will speak to many.  The end is a bit pat and predictable, but overall, a very good read, and one that I would recommend.

Sleepless Thoughts…

SleeplessThe other night, I was starting to drift off to sleep, and for some reason, the thought popped into my head, that Maya is going to be a teenager soon.  13, on March 29th.  Not that I haven’t realized this for awhile, but still, somehow, the idea that she is going to be 13 suddenly made me feel OLD.  I mean, the teen years…who doesn’t remember the teen years?  Some of the best and the worst in your life, with friendships that change, young love that opens your heart like a flower and crushes you at the same time, cruel jests from bullies, school getting harder when it has always seemed so easy, parents suddenly seeming out of touch.  Friendships that last and stick with you forever, teachers that touch you with fresh ideas of humanity and strength, parents trying to stay an important part of your life, sometimes connecting…and mostly what I feel like is the out of touch parent.  What?  How did that happen?  I’ll tell you, it woke me right up to realize that when I was 13, my mom was only 36.  When my mom was 43, I was 20.  Doesn’t matter, but still, it makes me feel old to be the parent of a teen.  Even though I’m older than my mom was when I was a teen.

Doesn’t help that my health exams now include mammograms, mole checks, cholesterol and blood pressure checks, no longer really viable for having more kids (not that I want to), watch your weight, cardio, lift weights for bone density, on and on and on.  How is it that I feel 22, and I’m actually 43.  The difference between how I feel and my actual age is an adult, old enough to order their own martini.  It’s crazy.  And I’m in pretty darned good health.

These are the thoughts that kept me awake the other night, trying to drift off to sleep.  I finally did.  I’m not that old.  But old enough.

Apostrophe Abuse

spam

Not sure if you’ve noticed, but parenting doesn’t happen in a vacuum.  Which makes it difficult sometimes.  For example, a few years ago we went to a somewhat upscale French bistro in San Francisco for dinner.  Maya wanted to wear jeans, and we told her that was inappropriate, that at nicer restaurants, people wore nicer clothes.  Of course, we were the only diners that evening who were not wearing jeans.  Thankfully, she learns more from us at this point than the world around her, and does pay attention to what she’s wearing and whether it’s appropriate to her surroundings.

Another example of parenting not happening in a vacuum is grammar and punctuation.  I can’t really blame any child growing up these days who thinks that apostrophes are to be used for plurals, when we’re surrounded by signs and ads that do just this.  For example, look at this email that popped into my spam folder yesterday.  Why is “want’s” possessive?  Sorry, not a real word.  Why is “MacBook’s” possessive?  Should be “MacBooks”.  Plural.  My favorite part of the email isn’t the apostrophe abuse, though…it’s “…and they will even pay them!”  Pay whom?  The laptops?  There are so many problems with this email, it seems fair to say that it’s a scam. (duh)  But sometimes, legitimate businesses make these same mistakes, like the sign I saw back in December, promoting “Poinsettia’s – 3 for $7.99”.   (To be fair, sometimes scammers use proper punctuation.  They’re not all grammatically challenged.)  With examples like these surrounding us, how is a child supposed to learn the correct punctuation?  The only way I’ve figured out is to point out these mistakes in a pitying voice, “How unfortunate that those people don’t know how to use their apostrophe correctly.  They don’t realize how uneducated it makes them appear.  Either that, or it makes it seem as though English were not their first language.”  Which it probably isn’t, but how embarrassing if it were!   Hopefully, she’ll listen to us, as with the jeans in the fancy restaurant, and not follow the herd.

If, like me, you sometimes get a kick out of the stupidity of sign makers, you might enjoy Apostrophe Abuse.  They have a collection of pictures of signs, mostly of people confusing their plurals and their possessives.  Good for a chuckle, and for feeling just a bit superior.

UPDATED to add:  Donna sent me a link to a synchronous article about apostrophe use in Britain, as defended by the Apostrophe Protection Society.  Their issue is different, and seems to be more of the “is this a possessive or not” variety, rather than thinking that plurals should be treated as possessives.

This Too Shall Pass

When Maya was an infant, the baby books said that if you want your child to go to sleep easily every night, put them in their crib full, clean, dry, burped, and slightly awake. Be careful what bedtime routines you start, because the child will associate them with bedtime, and while you may enjoy rocking your child to sleep at bedtime every night, you may not wish to do it every time the baby wakes up during the night, often every 2 or 3 hours. What they don’t tell you is that they will soon grow out of the phase of wanting to be rocked to sleep, and you will miss it dearly. Doesn’t so much FEEL like you’re going to miss it, when you’re exhausted, sleep deprived, and craving a few minutes of grown up time before you both pass out, plus there’s a pile of dishes in the kitchen, and gosh, you want that baby to get to sleep. And again, at 2, at 4, and at 6, you may want the child to go easily back to sleep after being fed, burped, and changed. So you learn to hold back on the rocking. I remember one day, my MIL was rocking Maya to sleep, and one of us said, ‘we don’t want her to get used to being rocked to sleep all of the time’ (my MIL watched Maya a few days a week for us, and would rock Maya to sleep at nap time every day)…my MIL replied that we would miss these times, that they grow up so quickly. You know what? She was right. Maya’s been too big to rock to sleep for a long time, and she’s the kind of kid who enjoyed it beyond the age that some kids will permit cuddles. You know what else? She didn’t come to associate being rocked to sleep at nap time by her Ma to bedtime at home, and she never confused our bedtime songs with the middle of the night wake-ups.

Another time, I mentioned to my mom that I was worried that we were feeding Maya too much baby food from a jar, instead of getting her more used to eating ‘adult’ food. It seemed to me that we were being lazy in this area, but it was what she preferred, and gosh, so easy to pop open a jar of food and not have to worry about when the adult meal would be ready. My mom said, “Don’t worry, I’m sure she’s grow out of it by the time she’s 35.” Her way of telling me that this too shall pass. And you know what? It did. And Maya is one of the least picky eaters I’ve ever met. When I went to lunch with a Republican last week (my joke for when my friend Janet comes to town and we go out for a fancy lunch downtown), Maya was out of school, and joined us. We dined on tuna tartar, mussels, leg of lamb, green beans, and chocolate souffle. The only thing she didn’t love was the green beans, but then, she rarely likes green beans. She’s more of a broccoli girl, but they didn’t have that on the menu.

More recently, I’ve been perturbed to see that she wasn’t telling time as well as I thought she could. She did fine at school, and as long as a clock had numbers on it, she was OK. But when it came to clocks with no numbers, or Roman numerals, she was stumped. Seemed to me I could read these kinds of clocks well before 6th grade, so I was kind of frustrated. But I hoped that my mom’s advice would apply, and she would learn to read any old clock by the time she turned 35. And lo and behold, middle school seems to have cured her. Perhaps those long hours of staring at the clock, wondering when she’ll get out of class, etc., has done the trick. The other day, she was talking on the phone to her BFF, and she glanced at our clock, with its Roman numerals, and very casually said the time. And I thought, wow, she’s only 11 1/2….that’s at least 22 years early.

All of these thoughts were triggered by a post over at Teeny Manolo, where Glinda brought up the beauty of Velcro shoes, and how some people worry that their children will never progress to tying their own shoes, and thus will be forever stunted in proper child development. So though Maya didn’t tie her shoes as quickly as I did, or tell time, it’s because she didn’t need to do either very often. She certainly learned them well before her 35th birthday. In fact, she learned them when she needed to have those skills and apply them to her life.

To every thing there is a season…rocking your child to sleep, food from a jar, having trouble telling time, even Velcro shoes. Whatever joys or frustrations we go through as parents, we must remember that this phase will end, and either take that message as a lesson to cherish precious times, or a hope that this time will indeed end, and must only be borne for a little while longer (I’m thinking specifically of Maya’s 5 months of colic on that one).

This too shall pass.  Whether we like it or not.

~DoSoEvAyMo
Today I should call my sisters and wish them a Happy Birthday!  Happy Birthday, Maya and Melissa!

Clarification, s’il vous plait

On Monday, we received a progress report for Maya’s Core Class, and there was a comment in the appropriate field that said, “Missing Work”. Her grade thus far in the class is an A-, so I wasn’t too worried. (I don’t worry too much about grades anyway, but at this school, Core is English and Social Studies, which are Maya’s two favorite classes, so if she’s not doing the work, that would surprise me. Actually, she always does her work, so it would surprise me even if it were a class that weren’t her favorite.)

So I thought about it a bit, and sent the teacher an email:

Dear Ms. Core Teacher,

We received Maya’s progress report in the mail, and I have one question. In the comments section, it says, “Missing Work”. I know that Maya neglected to turn in an assignment early on, but I assume she’s doing better in this regard, as her grade thus far is an A-. My question is, is there something you want her to do regarding the work she did not turn in? Even though it’s a month later now, do you want her to turn it in now? Or do some extra credit to make up for it? Or do you think she’s fine now, and just wanted to notify us that this was a problem at the beginning of the year? Or, has she missed other assignments more recently?

Sincerely,

~J

My thought was, if this is important enough for the teacher to send home a report, maybe I shouldn’t just say, “oh, missing work”, and ignore it, assuming it was the one assignment I already knew about, and which Maya says she didn’t know was supposed to be turned in. She doesn’t lie, so I believe her. But maybe there was more action required on my part, or maybe the teacher wanted Maya to do something about the missing work. I received this reply:

I sent the progress report so you would be aware that Maya doesn’t always do her homework. Because she works diligently in class and does a great deal of her homework, it isn’t affecting her grade much at this point. That may not always be true. Some parents prefer to be notified if there’s any missing work, especially early on in the quarter. At the time I had to turn in progress report requests, Maya had a C-. I entered grades after my report date which changed her overall grade to an A-. This indicates to me, that Maya is getting better at the routines of sixth grade.

There’s no need to sign or return anything. I do appreciate that you contacted me with questions. Thanks, Core Teacher

OK, this is 90% OK…she’s adjusting, she’s doing well, etc. But this comment got me: Maya doesn’t always do her homework. Really? How often is this happening? When I talked to Maya about this early on, it was just one assignment…but Maya doesn’t always do her homework? That’s not the Maya I know, so now I’m concerned. So I write back.

Thank you Core Teacher,

Can you please clarify to me whether she is missing assignments recently, or if this was just at the beginning of the school year, and how many assignments she has missed? If it was one or two things at the beginning of the year, when she was adjusting, etc., I am not concerned. If it is an ongoing problem, then it is something that we need to address.

~J

To which I received the following clarification:

We’re sending a detailed progress report home today for math, science, and core. As I look back, it was only one assignment in social studies that brought her down. It was worth a number of points. I ended up giving her some credit for the work done in class. I don’t think there’s anything to worry about. Core Teacher

Do you see how a little bit of clarity at the beginning would have been more useful? Like, if she had said, “Oh, Maya missed one assignment that was worth a number of points, which had me concerned early on, but she’s a diligent worker, and has turned in everything since then. It is school policy to notify you when work is missed, which is why you received that comment on her progress report.” I would then have said, “Oh, OK, no problem”, and gone about my day.  This is a teacher that Maya really likes, and I liked what she had to say at back to school night about the class and her teaching plans, etc.  I wonder if the teacher will learn anything from this experience, and will be more clear in the future?

Anti Racist Meme

I was tagged for this one by Shelliza. She doesn’t say if she was tagged, or if she made this meme up herself. But I’ll go for it.

1. I am:

Mostly British. Some of my family came to the U.S. as recently as maybe 4 generations ago, from England. Some of them came over back in the mid 1600s. I remember growing up saying I was English, Irish, Scottish, and Welsh. I did our family genealogy a few years ago, and couldn’t find any Welsh, and the Irish and Scottish were both disputed. Some of my family came over as indentured servants, some as farmers, I don’t think any of them were rich when they arrived. At least, not many.

2. My child is:

Half British, half East Indian. I say British, because all of the groups I mentioned above are considered the ‘British Isles’, right? Her East Indian half comes via Ted, who was born in Canada, and his parents, who were born in Guyana. So you have to go back several generations to get to India.

3. I first started thinking more about race, culture, and identity when:

I was 16 or 17, working at Mr. Steak. (Boy, for such a short term job in my life, it sure comes up a lot on the blog, huh?) My male coworkers were all black, my female coworkers were all white. At one point, the restaurant was closed, but we were all sitting around talking, and I noticed that it was just the girls out front talking. I asked where the guys were, and someone said, “In back, probably eating watermelon”. I got up to go get some. Someone stopped me, thankfully. But that was a stereotype I hadn’t heard before. I’d like to say I didn’t hear many, but I guess I did, because my grandparents were very racist. I tried to ignore it as best I could, and my mom usually called them on it anyway.

4. People think my name is:

July. I swear, my name is Julie, and some people cannot spell it. Odd, huh? (This answer might be more interesting if I were Maya…she has a more interesting name.)

5. The family tradition I most want to pass on is:

The ability to cope with life’s struggles, and to maintain a sense of humor about it.

6. The family tradition I least want to pass on is:

Ignorance. My family comes a long way each generation, so I think I’ll be OK on that one. But I have heard my grandma say that she’s tired of black people complaining about slavery, because her great-grandfather died in the Civil War to free them. What she ignores is that on her father’s side, there were people fighting that same war from the other side. And my great grandfather refused to go through high school graduation, because he would have to stand next to a black boy.

7. My child’s first word in English was:

Maya.

8. My child’s first non-English word was:

Does Findi count? (That’s fake Hindi…when you make up words and say them in an Indian accent.)

9. The non-English word/phrase most used in my home is:

Mostly Findi words that mean nothing, often used to scold the dog. 🙂

10. One thing I love about being a parent is:

Watching Maya grow from a dependent little girl into an independent young woman.

11. One thing I hate about being a parent is:

The fights that come along with Maya both craving and fearing her independence.

12. To me, being an anti-racist parent means:

Teaching Maya that all people are created equal. I would like to say that we are teaching her to be color blind, but sadly, that’s not the world we live in. And actually, to understand someone’s color, and therefore maybe some of their culture, gives the world some of its beauty. So to me being anti-racist means acknowledging people’s differences, strengths, and weaknesses. Admitting to yourself that the color of someone’s skin does sometimes inform their beliefs and reactions to the world. Working with this information, and not judging someone as better or worse than another based on their ethnicity.

Also, being an anti-racist parent to me means to walk the walk. Standing up for your child, or yourself, or a stranger, when you see racism in action. Donate money to causes that support your beliefs in this area. For me, I donate to the Southern Poverty Law Center. They do amazing work. Check them out.

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As for tagging…no, not going to tag anyone. Feel free to take this one on if you feel like it.

Walking a Tightrope

The other day, when we were in Tahoe, Maya was trying to pick out a t-shirt as a souvenier, and this t-shirt had to be SPECIAL, because she was getting one for herself, and a matching one for her BFF, Jackie. I noticed that the one she had picked was an adult size (they didn’t have any kids shirts), and it looked kind of long…a huge NO in the book of Maya. So, I pointed it out to her, and she got mad. And snippy. And rude. Which escalated into a fight, in which we told her that she has every right to feel picked-on and angry, but she does not have the right to be rude and snippy to her parents.

Fast forward two days. She’s trying to decide between beginning band or another elective (there are only two choices in 6th grade) for middle school, and I’m afraid to open my mouth with an opinion. Of course, now she REALLY wants my opinion, and a little guidence from her mama. So, I finally told her what I thought, which was that band is available every year, whereas this other elective is a kind of survey class of electives, and is only available to 6th graders, so it might be more fun, and she can take band next year. She was thankful for that opinion, and signed up for the survey class.

Does anyone else feel like you’re constantly walking this tightrope? Wondering when your opinion will be welcome, and when it will be seen as criticism? When your child needs you to BACK OFF, and let them make their own decisions, and when they need you there, to be a mama and guide them through? And I wonder, do mothers of boys have these same issues? Early seperation, perhaps? Or Dads? Or is it just the mother/daughter relationship that manifests itself this way?

The thing is, I remember all too well being in her shoes. I grew up without a father, so I don’t know how that would have been similar or different, but I do remember, painfully, the pre-teen years of insane hormones, and thinking every comment my mother made was one of criticism, that she thought I was ugly, stupid, annoying, whatever (mostly because I thought these things about myself, and I was projecting my frustrations). Talking to her years later, she said these times seemed to come upon us the most in the few days before she started her period – so I’m sure the estrogen in the house was way out of whack – and that may well be happening here as well.

Remembering those times, the self doubt, the frustration, and the assurance that I was a crappy person in my mother’s eyes – it gives me perspective into what she’s going through…or at least, what I THINK she’s going through. I don’t want to project my past onto her, to suggest feelings that she may not be having, and somehow make it worse.

I’m telling you, being a mother? You need a safety net AND a helmet.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FkRwHMa-5tc

(This song makes me think of that time…of the self doubts and feelings that went with them..Pink, Don’t Let Me Get Me)

Naughty Chair?

One of my occasional guilty pleasures is watching “The Supernanny“. I like to watch it for a couple of reasons…first, I like to feel superior to these people, because MY CHILD has never behaved in these ways, and really, we would never allow it. Second, I like to see how QUICKLY effective methods of discipline can diffuse a situation, how good communication between caregivers can help, and how the family can very quickly go from one based in hell, to one that you might actually consider functional. She does some great work, and her website actually has some pretty good advice. Some crap, too, though, so you have to weed through it.

My main problem with Jo’s method, however, is the ‘Naughty Chair’. If you’re at all familiar with The Supernanny, you know that a cornerstone of her method is the Naughty Chair. It’s no different than a Time Out. There are a couple of problems with time out as a discipline technique, for me. First, it doesn’t always make sense. Sometimes it does, and then it’s a fine technique. For example, if my child is behaving in a way that is disruptive and annoying, a logical consequence to bad behavior is that she doesn’t get to be near me. If she’s behaving badly in a grocery store, or a restaurant, a logical consequence is to remove her from that situation. That means you don’t get to stay if your child is misbehaving, which sucks, but it teaches the child, and is only fair to those around you. However, if she’s just made a mess all over the floor, a better form of discipline than sending her to a Naughty Chair would be to have her clean up her mess. If she’s too young to do a decent job of cleaning up the mess, she can help me clean up the mess. As long as she’s involved in the process. Another problem with the Naughty Chair, is that I always see the children getting out, and the parent having to pick them up and put them back in the chair. The purpose of a time out is to get the child away from the attention that they seek, and if you’re constantly having to stop what you’re doing to put them back in the chair, they’re getting plenty of attention. So, for me, the Naughty Chair, and Time Out, can SOMETIMES be an effective method of discipline, but only when they are the logical consequence to the child’s behavior. There are many, many more effective methods to use, which won’t turn into a power struggle, and won’t have you wanting to break the Naughty Chair over poor Jo’s head.

If you’re interested in learning more about Logical Consequences, which, by the way, I hated as a child, because they often meant going without my allowance until something was paid for, when a spanking would have been MUCH quicker and over with in my mind, click here for a good article. It’s meant for teachers, but it explains the concept pretty well.

Why?

Why did my beautiful daughter have to inherit my mouth, so that she had to go through the pain and torture of braces? Ted has PERFECT teeth, not a cavity, straight and pretty and perfect (except for the few he knocked out in a motorcycle accident).

And why did she have to inherit my eyes, so that she now needs to have glasses? Ted has pretty darned good eyes, no glasses until his mid 20s. Still way better than mine in the prescription department.

Me? Full on braces, headgear, whole shebang. I swear, they were (ALMOST) worse than childbirth, because I had to keep going back and having pain again every three weeks. She got 1/2 and 1/2, I guess, because she didn’t need them on the bottom teeth, just the top ones. And with the glasses, my eyes were so bad, I didn’t have any depth perception (one optomotrist thinks maybe due to a hard fall when I was young, but I kinda think I fell a lot because of the depth perception, so who knows), and I had to wear them forever, and I refused, ‘losing’ them behind my best friend’s appliances, repeatedly. And now, I have the stupid contact lenses, without which I’m pretty much blind. So again, her eyes aren’t as bad as mine. This year when I took her in for her check up, they said we should get them looked at by an optomotrist. Ted took her yesterday, and yup, she needs glasses. CRAP. Thankfully, her eyes are not nearly so bad as mine, so at least for now, she only needs to wear them when she needs to see something far, like the chalk board or whatever.

The thing is, why do I FEEL this so much? Why is her pain so much my pain? Why do I have to go through all of this crap over again? Wasn’t once enough? I wish I were the kind of parent who could just say, “Suck it up and soldier on, there are worse things in the world…like NOT having these things available to help you”. But I can’t. I remember getting teased for these things, I remember how ugly I felt because of them. And I don’t want her to go through that. And I’m dreading her getting her period…because I don’t want her to have to go through the misery and confusion of mood swings and cramps. It’s like her pain is my pain. Why why why?  (I kinda sound like Nancy Kerrigan here, don’t I?)

At least she doesn’t have to wear corrective shoes…like I did. My poor mom. Too bad we weren’t rich…with no insurance, and being a single parent, having a kid with braces, corrective shoes, and glasses that kept disappearing must have been hard indeed. Sorry, Mom.

Clarification: Lots of comments mentioning the braces…she’s (hopefully) finished with those.  (Depends on how her teeth come in, etc.) She took them in stride, as she is the glasses.  She’s not happy with them, but she’s not as upset as I expected her to be.  She was hugging me yesterday, and with a sad voice said, “Mama, I don’t want to get glasses….”  That’s what started me off…that and remembering the teasing…blech.