Monday, May 30, 2011

I was not a Senior Hottie. I don't think.

There's been this meme going around the interwebs this weekend called I Was Senior Hottie, and it's pretty funny - all these bloggers posting pictures from their high school graduations.  There's a lot of late 80s and early 90s fashion going on in there: hair spray, standing-up-straight-bangs, and pouffy taffeta.  My absolute favorite of the series is my pal Varda at The Squashed Bologna - not class of '97, not class of '87:  try class of '77, baby.  Aw yeah.

I'd pretty much decided against posting (just because most days I decide against posting. Sigh. Sorry, readers.)  Then an old friend emailed this, late last night:

Yep that's me, sporting the lifeguard's usually-wears-sensible-one-piece tan.  Mmmhmm.  This was our senior class trip, to Florida. (You can tell it's me there in the middle, because I am twice as long as the other two. Why are the women in my life so petite?)

So fine then, let's go ahead and post a graduation picture, complete with hairsprayed bangs and white pantyhose:

Class of '91 represents, with my sweet grandma
What's the point of all this nonsense? you're wondering.  So what about your high school grad photos? Even if you did post a half-nekked beach one?

Here's the thing, peeps.

Never told you much about my reunion weekend, did I? It was great - a good time had by all (I think). It was silly and brief and all the things you want reunions to be. There was a monsoon and my hair looked like hell all weekend, but whatevs. 

There was one flash of insight, twenty years later.  Over the weekend I remembered just how incredibly multicultural my class was:  Indian, African-American, African, Korean, West Indian, and yeah, Caucasian.  My group of friends mirrored this mix, and we had a good time.  The differences in our skin color never seemed to matter very much.

My flash of insight was this:  in the midst of all this gorgeous ethnicity, there wasn't a huge demand for oversized preppy white girls.  Just wasn't the going currency, if you see what I mean.  So I managed to get through most of those horrible high school years not thinking I was any kind of 'high school hottie.' Far from it. 

And here's the best part of that - when you go through high school without being particularly worried about this, it frees up a huge amount of psychic space for sports, for student government, and yeah, for  

Now - before I get away from this post scot-free, claiming I trod the vanity-free high road, I will absolutely hold up my hand and affirm that 14-18 year olds are notoriously narcissistic, and therefore of course I worried about my looks. Of course I spent way too long peering into the mirror.  But somehow all those hours with my Paul Mitchell Awapuhi hair spray seemed not to result in a very positive takeaway image. 

And that's ok. 

Yep. By the look of these photos, if big blondes are your thing then maybe I was a High School Hottie.  But, quite simply, I'm just happy that it was something I didn't believe back then.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Comfort Food

A fraught grumpy evening, a stormy exchange.  An irrational, angry response that prompts sudden, heartbroken sobs - the kind that require flinging one's eight year old body onto the bed full length and letting shoulders heave.

I can only apologize.  And I do.

I hold my girl on my lap and say I'm so sorry I acted that way.

The shuddering sighs come that signal the end of the weeping, and still we sit, rocking together on the bed. And then:  Mommy, I'm hungry.

Well sweetie then you should have eaten more at supper.  We're done eating today.

No, I did eat enough supper.  I'm just hungry for....something.

Oh sweet girl.  I can tell you what you are hungry for:  you are hungry for security, for feeling loved, for feeling happy with your place in the world, for feeling content, for feeling accepted.

Instead, your body says that it is hungry for Ben & Jerry's, for BBQ Pringles, for Twizzlers, for Froot Loops.  Maybe for hunks of salami hacked off, pinched together with thick slices of cheddar.  Maybe dark chocolate truffles dusted in cocoa. Maybe a whole pan of Rice Krispie Treats.

So at 8, I get to teach you about the concept of comfort eating.  The mother who swore not to bring her own food issues, her own body image issues into our relationship?  Yep.  That mom gets to explain that your body swears it is hungry, but hungry for the things you won't find in the fridge.  That you can eat all evening long and still not fill that hole.

Will you remember learning this?  When you are far away in a college dorm someday and reeling from a broken heart or a horrible job interview, will you remember that the hunger isn't going to be fed at the drive-thru?

I wonder about this, later, sitting on the couch licking raw cookie dough off my spoon.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011


Every new parent's heard it:  don't compare your baby with others.  Every child reaches milestones in their own timeframe.  Different kids will achieve at different times.

Easy enough for your pediatrician to say.  Easy enough for those crazy authors of What to Expect From The First Year.  Living bloody hell for the poor parent sitting on the floor at the weekly playgroup wondering why the hell Baby Quinn is walking!! in her RileyRoos while your kid is sitting happily in front of you, clapping his heart out but headed nowhere.

And so it goes.  Eventually you might have another kid or two that distracts you from obsessing about those ages & stages.  Maybe you don't have any more, but you still might just get over yourself and decide to smugly leave the front door wide open, safe in the knowledge that Little Ozzy won't crawl out on your watch.

And then.... then they get to preschool.  Maybe you've been lucky enough to land at a preschool where they encourage play, and keep up the messages that you're doing fine by letting your kid splash in soapsuds all morning and dig in dirt in the afternoon.  Maybe you've landed at one of these schools where the teachers worriedly lean into the minivan at pick up and ask if there is maybe a chance you could be practicing more of the letter sounds at home?  Maybe that makes you more comfortable, to hear these oblique queries - makes you feel your 4 year old is actually getting a jump on education.

Ok, so now, fast forward to that summer before kindergarten.    You mention to an acquaintance or two that you're a little worried about readiness.  That maybe this modern world of all day kindergarten might be a bit much for your sweet Ebenezer.  I would put money on the next question:  but when is his birthday?

As in, surely the information about where in the calendar year his birthday falls will be the final say on his readiness for the world of formal schooling.

Where, all of the sudden, has the gentle talk of 'ages and stages' gone?  Is this something we grow out of - getting the benefit of the doubt?  Of being given the gift of time to mature and grow on our own little timeframe, different though it may be?

All of the sudden I find myself deep in the mire of a pedagogical debate, all about whether readiness for kindergarten is such a big deal.  About what actually happens in that mystical magical kindergarten classroom, which is often billed as the great equalizer for 5 and 6 year olds across the land.

This I believe:   kids are different - at all ages, at all stages.  There is simply no way a school system or a tutoring business can address this and get everyone to the same starting line.

I am just a parent and a blogger, listening to that small voice inside that says 'maybe The School isn't always 100% right'.  But I'll tell you:  I've got some heavy hitters doing research that supports me in this apparent lunatic idea.  First, I've got Sir Ken Robinson himself, diagramming all the holes in the current education system.

Then, today, one of our favorite advocates for childhood, Classic Play, wrote all about why your 3-year old doesn't actually have to learn how to read this year.  (There are some excellent links in this article to current early childhood education research.)

So. I don't have a heavy message for you to take away tonight.  Just a gentle reminder, a crazy old idea, that regardless of their age, maybe giving your kid a year to play may be the very most powerful tool for success at school.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

She's EIGHT. But she can't go to school naked.

So I dithered on posting about this.

As she gets older, I want to respect her privacy - recognize that she won't want all her business out there for the blog world to read. (Already getting the wary "are you going to blog about this?" or the cheesy poses, as she yells "put this picture on Facebook!" Yikes.)


It's spring.  She grew.  Not like, 'oooh those pants are getting a tad short' grew - more like, 'honey are those shorts a little long or are the they pants I JUST BOUGHT YOU IN JANUARY?'

So she needs new clothes.  Ok, not 'needs' like she needs a new toothbrush, but hey - I'm a tall girl and a little sensitive about making tall kids wear too-short trousers.

So I spend two hours of MY FREE TIME, and I buy her new clothes.  Not cheap clothes, because I'm a little old fashioned in this way, and I hate when t-shirts fall apart in the washer after wearing them twice. But, we're not talking Gucci or Ralph Lauren stuff here either.

I give her the bag.  She makes the snottiest face.  She says "ugh.  I guess I'd wear that.  Maybe like... once a month."

People?  I had to walk out of the room.  I WAS THAT MAD.

Where do I go from here?  Seriously - looking for advice on this one.  Do I just let her pick out what she wants (glitter, sparkles, the Shar-Pei line) at Target?  Do I give a big speech about looking for well-made seams and lining in dresses?   How do I deliver the message that it is not ok to be snotty (and/or snobby?!?! about your clothes) at THE TENDER AGE OF EIGHT??

Coming up hard against the perplexities of raising girls these days, and coming up short of answers.

This confused little rant is part of the Stream of Consciousness Sunday posts over at All Things Fadra.  Bunch of posts this week, on all sorts of stuff.  Check it out!


Sunday, May 8, 2011


Someone forgot to brief the stupid cat that it's National Sleeping In Day Mother's Day.

Since I'm up, I thought I'd go ahead & do my Stream of Consciousness Sunday post.


I want to write a Mother's Day post. I do. I sat down 67 times yesterday to write a Mother's Day post to all my lovely friends who do that mothering thing, and each time I sat, I wondered - what do I say to them that we haven't all heard thousands of times before?  That we don't know already?

Yes, mothering is the toughest job there is.  Yes, it changes everything. (Thank you Johnson & Johnson for that deep little insight into our existence).  Yes it does 'go so fast.'

But what I am only starting to grasp about mothering - although the lessons started the day that little changeling was born - is how profoundly humbling the task is.


Find me any mother out there who thinks she has done it perfectly.  Find me the very most confident, naturally-gifted mama, and in promise you that in the late night hours, the hours when we are most alone with our bare thoughts she will admit that she's afraid she messed up big.  Could have done it better.

I can't think of a single life experience that makes you question, on every level, almost daily, if you are doing the right thing.  Wondering if, in ten years, fifteen years, twenty years, you will be able to look at your child and say - I did it right.

But here's what I want to tell you, all of you gorgeous mother's out there on Mother's Day:  I guarantee you did it with love.  Whether you are finished, whether you are just starting out, whether you're right in the thick of potty training or pubescent angst, whether you're kissing your child on graduation weekend, whether you're wondering if your grandchildren will call:

You did it - do it - with love.  This I know for sure.

And surely, this is all that can be asked of a human, caring for another human:  I did it with love.


Happy Mother's Day - to my own beautiful mother who shows superhuman amounts of love, always; to my mom friends who get me through this adventure with, yep, love (and um, snarking and wine); to all the moms out there on the interwebs who may come across this today.

My Mother's Day flowers: peonies make me smile like nothing else.
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