Archive for January, 2007

Now we know what Bush watches on TV (Hint: Not body bags coming out of Iraq)

January 23, 2007

    Aaarrghh! The State of the Union address just ended. I thought I was prepared for anything Bush could throw out there. The ridiculous health care reforms, the plan to "win" in Iraq—I knew these were coming, got through them by enjoying the expressions of controlled disgust on Nancy’s and Hillary’s faces, and by watching Teddy and John (McCain) trying to stay awake, you know they’ve heard all this before.

    So it wasn’t the big things that set me off on a rant, nearly knocking over the root beer on the nearby tray table (my teen son and a friend were playing a "drink to the State of the Union" game, taking sips of root beer whenever Bush used various pat phrases). Nope, it was one of Bush’s heros. This year, along with the guy that jumped on the subway tracks to save a guy that fell, Bush honored the creator of Baby Einstein. (And no, I’m not linking there.)

    Baby Einstein! Give me a break. This is the woman that convinced parents that it’s perfectly OK to prop up babies in front of the television because it’s educational (they don’t even have to be old enough to sit)! The woman that found the perfect combination of music and colors to hypnotize a baby into complete docility, to ensure that the next generation really will be passive observers, not interacting or caring much about the people around them or their environment.

    Or, perhaps, this is the woman that has found the way to raise the perfect Republican…

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Medium Mommy

January 20, 2007

Scales_1 Today I let my 11-year-old go out for lunch with a friend of hers to a shopping center about six or eight blocks from our house. My daughter and her various middle school friends go there regularly, so I didn’t think much of it when she called a friend and suggested they go to lunch on this nice sunny Saturday. I think the girl asked her dad for permission, and I think he gave it, but I didn’t talk to the dad, so I can’t be sure.

Well, the friend’s mom called after the girls had been gone for a little less than a hour and, while she’s not the kind of person who would get into a personal attack, she made it clear that she thought my parenting standards were pretty slack. She would never let her children wander around town alone, if her child wanted to go to lunch she would take her as a family, not let her go unsupervised with a friend. And she would never let her go to the shopping center, so close to a busy street, because it is dangerous. This is not a safe town. She’s glad her daughter goes to a private school with nice girls, not the public school (with my daughter and, I guess, other not nice girls).

Ouch. Well, I told her I was sure that her daughter would be home when she had said she would be, but if she came to our house first I would have her call. And I thought, wow, now I get what it feels to be the loose mommy; I’m more used to being thought of as the strict mommy.

As strict mommy a few weeks ago I heard an equally emotional (but less directed) unloading from a looser mommy, who felt that all the stricter mommies think badly of her for how much freedom she gives her kids, but she thinks we don’t trust our kids because we supervise them so constantly. And mostly she doesn’t say this because she’s afraid we’ll think she’s a bad mommy.

My kids, of course, always perceive me as the strict mommy. When my 15-year-old wanted to go hear a band at a club in San Francisco with friends, I asked my husband to go with him. “Aawww, mommmm.” But that also made me the loose mommy because I let him go, and it was on a school night. (But, I told him, we are not making a habit of that, and he’d better have finished his homework.) Tonight he’s going to the midnight show of Rocky Horror (loose mommy); but I’m making him find out exactly what time the show lets out and I’ll be waiting at the exit (strict mommy, also very sleepy mommy).

Mostly, while some of my parenting peers might have made a slightly different choice here or there, we’re basically in the same ballpark, trying to be medium mommies. Sometimes I envy the moms on either end of the continuum; it seems their lives must be easier, just say yes or just say no, not go through a complicated decision process with every situation, to make sure the next step towards independence is a baby step, not a giant leap, but encouraging those baby steps even though your instinct is to wrap your kids up in bubble wrap and protect them forever. And yeah, some of the looser mommies make me a little uncomfortable, because they force me to be the bad guy and say no to this or that invitation, when it would have been a lot easier on family harmony if my kid hadn’t been asked in the first place. And now I’ve found out that I’m making stricter mommies uncomfortable. Who thought that the middle would be such a difficult place to be?

Bright and Shiny

January 8, 2007

00008046980503 One Grey’s Anatomy episode a while back Meredith turned on the bright and shiny, and drove everyone nuts with her perkiness. Yeah, she was fresh out of a bubble bath with McDreamy, which helped bring on the bright and shiny, but she put it on herself. And by the end of the day, a lot of the sparkle got taken out of her; we all know how that goes.

Got me thinking…can I still do bright and shiny, at least start out the day that way? At best, these days, I have bits of a bronze luster poking through the fingerprints and grime. And diving out of bed in the morning to make two lunches, hand over lunch money to the third child, brush hair, round up books and permission slips and Monday envelopes while my DH throws waffles in the toaster and asks me to recite the week’s schedule off the top of my head doesn’t give me much of a chance to polish up my sparkle before the day begins. And somehow, I don’t think a bubble bath is the answer (and when I do dream of bubble baths, I’m thinking alone. With the bathroom door locked). Maybe I just need to change my brand of coffee…wonder what’s in that cup McDreamy hands Meredith when he makes a coffee run?