Thursday, September 30, 2010

Three for Thursday: Satirizing Sanctimommies, Bullying the Allergic, Uncool on 'Parenthood'

Item #1: Satirizing Sanctimommies

When I found this series of online videos satirizing sanctimommies, I was immediately smitten. The videos, posted on, feature two women at a park, one “normal” (meaning she tries to raise well-rounded kids with her feet firmly planted on the ground) and one who thinks that parenting is a competitive sport complete with winners and losers, who believes it's wise to install GPS chips in her kids.

What I love about the series of videos is how the “normal” mom has the stones to refute the inanities spouted by the judgmental whack-job mom, and the "normal" mom is quick with the retorts, whereas we mere mortals might be rendered speechless and slack-jawed upon hearing such unmitigated garbage being emitted by a fellow parent at a park.

Here’s one of my favorites:

Item #2: Bullying the Allergic

When I read this Fox News story I was astonished and disheartened by the cruelty some children can level at one another. According to a study published in the journal Annals of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, over 30 percent of school children said they have been the target of harassment at school because they have a food allergy, Fox reported. Forty percent of those kids who were harassed said the harassment took a physical form “such as being touched with their allergen, such as a peanut, or having the allergen thrown or waved at them,” Fox reported.

The vice president of the Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network, who also worked on the study, said, “Recent cases involving bullying and food allergies include a middle school student who found peanut butter cookie crumbs in her lunchbox and a high school student whose forehead was smeared with peanut butter in the cafeteria.”

As if this wasn’t bad enough, the study found that 20 percent of those who harassed students with allergies were teachers or school staff.

Item #3: Uncool on Parenthood

The first few episodes of Parenthood this season have been excellent. They’ve depicted parents as flawed, selfish, selfless, controlling, hopeful and worried adults, in other words, like flesh and blood, well-rounded people. This past episode (still available for free online viewing until Nov. 3) stood out for me because I completely related to it.

First, there was the dad, Adam (Peter Krause), who had his feelings hurt when his son Max, who has Asperger’s, was disinterested in speaking to or spending time with him. Adam tried, on several occasions, to engage Max in a conversation, to persuade him to sit next to him and watch a baseball game, all to no avail. Are there any parents who HAVEN’T experienced that gut-level twinge when our kids push us away, don’t seem to care about our feelings or act like they don’t want us around?

Second, there was Adam’s wife Kristina (Monica Potter), who used to work on political campaigns before becoming an at-home mom, who was over the moon when she learned that her teenage daughter Haddie was going to run for class president. Only Kristina, blinded by her enthusiasm, pushed way too hard, tried to take over Haddie’s campaign and then admonished her daughter for not appreciating her mother’s efforts. Just a few hours before this episode aired, The Girl came home from school and told me she was thinking about joining the school newspaper. I, a former newspaper reporter, was ecstatic (even though newspapers are, in their current form, dying) and had visions of my mentoring her running through my head. But after watching how this played out on Parenthood, I think I’ll wait for The Girl to come to me and ASK for help if she needs it.

Third, there was the sad spectacle of Sarah (Lauren Graham) who was jealous that her teenage daughter Amber was spending so much time with her friend’s parents, who are rich and with whom Sarah felt she couldn’t compete. In order to fashion herself into the “cool” mom in her daughter’s eyes, Sarah went to great lengths, though it was painfully clear – especially after a bouncer called her “ma’am” -- that she’s no longer a hip club-hopper and that trying to seem cool to her a daughter is a losing battle.

For my review of the must-watch episode, go here, to the Clique Clack TV site.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Being 'The One' Who's Mean and, Apparently, Power-Mad

Image credit: Comics Kingdom/Oregonian
“Why do you have to be the one?”

That’s what a child of mine – who shall remain nameless -- asked me recently when said individual was railing against me, the power-mad, all controlling mother who'd said, "No," to something the person requested. Over the past few weeks, here are the questions two of the Picket Fence Post kids have asked me this person wanted to know was:

Why do I have to work? (Two of my children gripe about the fact hat I’m not as available as “the other moms” who volunteer in the schools, constantly arrange play dates for their kids and sign their offspring up for as many sports and activities as the children desire. Meanwhile, I can barely get the kids to their sports practices on time, feed them, oversee their homework and do my own work.)

Why do I make the family go to church? (Our Christian-Jewish family attends a Unitarian Universalist church where the Picket Fence Post kids – two of ‘em anyway – are practically dragged kicking and screaming into Sunday school each week. They think that my forcing them to go to church is, like, totally unfair and mean.)

Why don’t I drive the kids to school/pick them up every day like other parents? (Whenever possible, I have the kids take the school bus. It's simply more convenient. However because they have to be at school early – meaning before the bus would arrive at the school – for various activities, The Spouse or I already drive them to school three mornings a week.)

Why do I buy “only healthy” foods and try to avoid foods containing high fructose corn syrup and hydrogenated fats when “no one else's mother” does? (I’m constantly accused of depriving my children of sweets and being a wild-eyed health nut. Me! The one who’s addicted to coffee and has an unhealthy attachment to barbecue potato chips. When I pointed out to the child who was asking me this question that, during the course of the week in which this statement was uttered, I’d made apple crisp served it with ice cream, bought a second gallon of ice cream, purchased Mint Milanos, snickerdoodle cookies and Cheez-Its, the kid replied, “Well those don’t count.” Why didn’t those foods count? Because all the sweets/snacks had already been consumed when the kid said this, except for the vanilla ice cream, and the complainer didn’t feel like having vanilla ice cream.)

Why don’t I allow the children to have unfettered access to the internet and computers in their rooms like “all the other kids at school?” (The kids can use a family laptop computer as long as they do so in a common area of the house – like the kitchen or dining room – and there’s a parental control on it which, I must say, is a pain in the neck as I'm constantly having to "approve" sites. In instances when they’ve wanted to go on YouTube -- which gets blocked, they’ve had to do it with me or The Spouse overseeing it. This makes me/us overprotective, hovering freak(s), apparently.)

Why do I limit their TV watching/video game playing? (We have a so-called “TV hour” on weekdays, timed to occur when I’m making dinner and don’t feel like dealing with the inevitable gripes about what I’m cooking. However they’ll keep watching/playing long after the hour has elapsed, waiting for me to tell them to turn it off. Even if it’s been in excess of an hour, I still get griping or pleas of, “Oh Mom, just let me finish this level” or “But we just started this show!”)

Why won’t I let them have cell phones when “tons of other kids” in their school have them? (I’ve told them that when they’re going to be in locations where they will have to spend time alone, without adult supervision, or if they have to walk long distances alone, I’ll get – or loan them – cell phones. So far, there hasn’t been a need for them. When they’ve taken walks with the dog, I've let them borrow my phone. This unreasonable, irrational anti-cell phone stance means that I’ve destroyed their street cred and made it impossible for the other kids to text them.) This last question was the subject of today’s Pajama Diaries comic which made me laugh when I saw it this morning.

Sometimes being “The One” who places all these restrictions on the kids feels pretty lonely, especially when they make me sound like just this side of Attila the Hun. I just hope that, once they're older, they'll get that I was trying to do what I thought was right for them, not act like a power-mad dictator. Believe me, it's not because it's fun being "The One." It'd be much easier for me to say, "Yes" to most of these things instead of enduring their criticisms all the time as they sometimes wish aloud that one of the "other" sainted mothers that their friends have were their mom.

Image credit: Pajama Diaries via Oregonian/Comics Kingdom.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Me & The Mom from 'The Middle:' Trying to Get (And Stay) Organized for School

Image credit: ABC
While watching The Middle’s season premiere this week I felt as though I was a kindred spirit with the lead character, Frankie Heck, played by Patricia Heaton.

After a disastrous first day of school in the Heck household – everyone got up late, the grade-school-aged boy’s backpack still had a rotting sandwich from the previous school year inside, the kids (including the teen boy who was still in his boxers but was holding his clothes in his hand) missed the bus – Frankie vowed to change things when it came to school, “get in front" of the things they needed to do” for once in their lives.

The following morning, Frankie got up early and prepared a hot breakfast of bacon and eggs (which seriously confused her kids because she never does that), got and set an alarm for her teenage son so he could get himself up, bought her youngest a new backpack, baked a freezer full of brownies so she’d be prepared for a year’s worth of school bake sales, filled out all school paperwork immediately, dashed off a check for her daughter’s cross country team sweatshirt right away and met with her youngest son’s teacher on day three of school to give her a head’s up on his idiosyncratic behavior.

I’ve been trying to do a similar thing since the Picket Fence Post kids have returned to school. Thus far, I’ve filled out and returned every form immediately (or at least I’ve handed them to the kids, whether they’ve submitted them is anyone’s guess). I’ve grabbed my BlackBerry and the family calendar in our kitchen and recorded the dates and times for things like school picture day, curriculum nights and parental information nights so as to not inadvertently miss them. I’ve been writing the day’s events on our white board in the kitchen (next to the fridge and the family calendar) the evening beforehand after the kids are in bed so everyone can see what’s on the agenda and plan accordingly.

After a disastrous first day of school in the Heck household – everyone got up late, the grade-school-aged boy’s backpack still had a rotting sandwich from the previous school year inside, the kids (even the teen boy in boxers, holding his clothes in his hand) missed the bus – Frankie vowed to change things when it came to school, “get in front of them” for once.

The following morning, Frankie got up early and prepared a hot breakfast of bacon and eggs (which seriously confused her kids because she never does that), got and set an alarm for her teenage son so he could get himself up, bought her youngest a new backpack, baked a freezer full of brownies so she’d be prepared for a year’s worth of school bake sales, filled out all school paperwork immediately, dashed off a check for her daughter’s cross country team sweatshirt right away and met with her youngest son’s teacher on day three of school to give her a head’s up on his idiosyncratic behavior.

I’ve been trying to do a similar thing since the Picket Fence Post kids have returned to school. Thus far, I’ve filled out and returned every form immediately (or at least I’ve handed them to the kids, whether they’ve submitted them is anyone’s guess). I’ve grabbed my BlackBerry and the family calendar in our kitchen and recorded the dates and times for things like school picture day, curriculum nights and parental information nights so as to not inadvertently miss them. I’ve been writing the day’s events on our white board the evening beforehand after the kids are in bed so everyone can see what’s on the agenda and plan accordingly.

Then I went to two different back-to-school nights and learned that one kid had reading assignments he was already supposed to be doing at home but hadn’t been. Teachers referred to some textbooks that the students had been given, assuming that we parents knew all about them. (I know that my kids had to – and promptly did – put covers on their textbooks. The Spouse helped them turn paper grocery bags into book covers the night the books came home, but I personally didn’t had a chance to comb through all their books. I did peek at a social studies text though.)

The two boys are in their school bands but neither child can seem to remember exactly when they’re supposed to go to school early and when they’re supposed to bring their instruments to school. Given that The Youngest Boy has a giant xylophone in a rolling case, it’s kind of important to know when he’s expected to lug it there. Though I’m really big on getting the kids to be responsible for their own things and assignments – how will they learn if they don’t make mistakes? – I must admit I’ve sent e-mails to their band teachers attempting to clear the confusion so the kids don’t spring a “Hey mom you need to drive me to school!” announcement while I’m still in my PJs and they have to leave immediately.

For the fictional Frankie Heck on The Middle, her valiant attempts to “get in front” of all the school madness backfired, went kaflooey and she gave up. Hopefully, that won’t be my fate too. I’m still doggedly hanging on the illusion that I can keep on top of this school stuff. Then again, it’s only September.

Image credit: ABC.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Three for Thursday: More on Dad's Stand for Bullied Daughter, Sports Schedule Woes & Saying Good-Bye to Family Car on 'Modern Family'

Item #1: Dad Stands Up for His Daughter, Follow-Up

Remember the story I wrote about last week about the Florida dad who boarded a school bus after his daughter had been bullied on it, demanded to know the identity of her tormentor(s) and was threatened with arrest? Well more info on the story has come to light.

After the father apologized for his behavior – he was charged with two misdemeanor counts of disorderly conduct and disturbing a school function -- he told the media that his 13-year-old daughter has cerebral palsy and that students on her bus had allegedly repeatedly harassed her, smacked her on the head, spit on her and even tossed a condom at her. Reading all of this and seeing the video below, who can blame this dad for getting angry and storming onto the bus?

Item #2: Sports Schedule Woes

I’m trying to be a good sports parent. Really. I am. *earnest smile plastered on face*

Although I deeply resent how, in order to allow one’s children to participate in youth sports at even a minimum level, one has to assent to having one’s family’s weekends hijacked by uncompromising sports schedules which make visiting family or things like having old fashioned Sunday dinners – as I longed for when I wrote this post – nearly impossible, I’ve been trying to go with the flow these past weeks.

It hasn’t been easy.

The Youngest Boy’s hockey schedule is extremely fluid. Too fluid. To borrow an analogy used on Mad Men on Sunday night, it’s like soup that’s spreading all across the kitchen counter, but no matter how much you try to capture it in a pot or hold it in your hands, there’s still more of it that you’ve missed, that's still on the counter or slips through your fingers and it winds up dripping all over the floor and onto your shoes.

There’s no one regular hockey practice time, therefore, practices pop up in my e-mail box intermittently, most of the time for dates when I’ve already made plans for that particular time slot and have to do major schedule shifting, delaying and appealing to other parents for transportation help in order to accommodate these “new” practice times. (I get that booking hockey times can be extremely challenging, but something that we can at least count on and work with would be nice.)

Just this past weekend, there was a 6:50 p.m. practice scheduled for Sunday. But when The Spouse brought The Youngest Boy to the arena, they were informed that the folks who send out the e-mail schedule updates had mistakenly put “p.m.” instead of “a.m.” The practice was at 6:50 a.m. The Spouse and the other parents who showed up with their kids were admonished to check the hockey web site EVERY DAY to see if there are changes to practice and game schedules that weren’t either e-mailed to us via the hockey calendar e-mail system or the coach. (Like parents have nothing better to do than to chase down the hockey people to see if they’ve decided to switch things around with no notice and without telling anyone. Add it to the list with making sure the kids are fed super-nutritious and home-cooked meals, bathed, clothed, have done their homework and didn’t leave their shoes by the front door so that the dog’ll chew them up.)

Even when the schedules are set, things are still proving rather, shall I say, constraining. The Eldest Boy’s soccer practices go until 8 on Friday nights. One of The Girl’s soccer practices is late on Sunday afternoons, and The Youngest Boy’s hockey games range wildly in their times from very early in the morning – I’m talking 6 a.m., which means he has to be at the arena at 5:30 – on a Saturday or Sunday morning, or they can be in the middle of the day, when he’ll have to wear his uniform to church and race out of there in order to make it to the game. He has a few games on Friday evenings.

What does this all mean? It means that we have practically no weekends where there’s a significant block of free time to, say, drive out to western Massachusetts to visit my parents for an afternoon or spend the day in Boston if we wanted to. I’ve had to tell The Picket Fence Post grandparents that the best way to see their grandchildren is to come to their games.

This is making Mommy extremely frazzled – especially with new hockey practice times cropping up like time bombs waiting to blow the family schedule all to hell – but I’m trying, really, I am, to be a good sport about all this. Go team!. . . and please pass the ginormous cup of java. I really need it.

Item #3: Modern Family: Saying Goodbye to the Old Family Car

Modern Family returned last night for its sophomore season debut and it was funny – I laughed out loud at Cameron’s flinching when Mitchell used the nail gun and the nails went through a wall and nearly impaled Cameron’s back – but I think my expectations for this wonderful show were too high because I wanted it to be off-the-charts hilarious, and it fell short of that.

But there were moments that resonated nonetheless, like the story arc about the old Dunphy family station wagon that Claire wanted Phil to sell because it’d been sitting in their garage, unused, for years. It was the car they used when their children were very young, when Luke was a toddler (and used to frequently puke in it, thus they nicknamed his puke bucket they kept in the car, “Buckety”). While going through the car to prepare it for sale, Claire began to feel nostalgic about when they were a young family, so they took the old bucket of bolts out for one last hurrah and the video below is what happened.

This reminded me of how attached members of the Picket Fence Post family were to our tan mini-van – christened the “funny van” by The Eldest Boy when he was 2, who’d misheard us call it a mini-van; the “funny van” name stuck – when we got rid of it a few years ago. We got it when I was pregnant with my 9-year-old, and when we got rid of it, it was a very sad day for one unnamed member of the Picket Fence Post family.

'Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows' Trailer Out, Looks Bleak

*Cross-posted from Notes from the Asylum*

If you’ve got Harry Potter fans in your house, mark down November 19 as the date for the release of the second-to-last film in the saga: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1.

I’m planning on taking my twin 12-year-olds to see it on opening weekend as this series is absolutely beloved in the Picket Fence Post house. My twins have read and re-read and analyzed the entire seven-book series countless times. The Picket Fence Post kids have dressed up for Halloween as various Hogwarts students for years. (The Eldest Boy looked eerily like Harry Potter the one year he was The Boy Who Lived for Halloween.)

The Spouse and I have read the series ourselves (me twice), and we, as a family, have been reading it aloud to our 9-year-old. (We’re a third of the way through the fifth book, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.) I must admit, I’m really enjoying this reading-the-book-aloud project.

However when I watched the newly-released trailer for Part 1 of Deathly Hallows, it was rather bleak and sad, as I see Harry as one of the more tragic characters in children’s literature and the end of the sixth book/movie, literally made me cry. (No one had yet spoiled the ending for me.)

The Spouse and I went to see The Town this past weekend (which I recommend for a thoroughly entertaining two hours) and he saw a poster promoting Deathly Hallows and said it was upsetting to see the image of Hogwarts, on fire, under the heading, “It All Ends Here.” *sniff*

Will you be taking your resident Potter fans to see the Deathly Hallows?
Image credit: Warner Brothers.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Florida Dad Confronts His Daughters' Harassers on School Bus

A Florida father is being investigated by police, and may yet be arrested, after he boarded a school bus and asked his daughter to point out the kid who'd allegedly beaten up and taunted the girl during bus rides, the local NBC Miami affiliate reported.

"The Seminole County Sheriff's Office may seek charges of false imprisonment, disorderly conduct, interrupting a school function and assault," the station reported.

What do you think about what the father did in this case, boarding the bus and trying to scare/threaten his daughter's alleged harasser? About his possible arrest?

Six-Year-Old Booted from Cheerleading Squad for Not Cheering About Shaking Her Booty. Seriously.

When I heard about this insane story -- a 6-year-old girl was kicked off her cheerleading team after her mother objected to a cheer the squad was doing – the thought that came to my mind is: You can't be serious.

The cheer in question, for 6-YEAR-OLD girls goes like this:

Our backs ache.

Our skirts are too tight.

We shake our booties from left to right.

Yeah, the MOM who objected to a girl barely out of kindergarten sexualizing herself is the one with the problem. The cheerleading coach and parents of the little girl’s now-former squad members -- who voted unanimously to keep using the cheer AND to kick the little 6-year-old out -- are now demonizing the mom as not being a team player, for going against “the family” (as though cheerleading is the mafia) because absolute agreement with the powers-that-be are the notions upon which this nation was founded, right?

This was so backwards-thinking that I thought it MUST be some kind of parody, a skit for The Colbert Report, or perhaps The Daily Show. Sadly, it wasn't.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Scenes from 'Parenthood' Season 2 Premiere

While I watched the sophomore season Parenthood premiere last night, there were two storylines that felt really familiar to me. I mean really familiar. Uncomfortably familiar.

First, there was the story about a 6-year-old girl's questions to her parents about how babies are born, how eggs get fertilized and how babies get into moms' bellies. I could so relate to this, having just gone through a series of reproduction/sex discussions with The Eldest Boy and The Girl earlier this year, while The Spouse suddenly had an urgent domestic chore that he had to attend to in a room far away from where we were talking the minute he heard me ask the kids if they really wanted to know what "sex" was. This is never an easy topic to discuss with kids, makes parents mighty uncomfortable.

The mom on the TV show, Julia, though she was initially taken aback by her daughter Sydney's questions, she answered them accurately and calmly until the questions got a bit, um, well, detailed is a good word to use. At that point, Julia got too squeamish and decided to take the route her distinctly embarrassed husband Joel, who kept wanting to change the subject, took and discussed what kind of ice cream they might have after dinner.

Then there was the teaching-your-teenager-how-to-drive storyline, which brought me smack, dab back to my days as a teen when my parents were trying to teach me how to drive.

The scenes, which were also uncomfortable to watch, also convinced me -- after watching the mom on Parenthood make her daughter completely paranoid about the horrid things that could befall teenage drivers, literally grab her daughter's leg, shout at her and exaggerate the magnitude of the mishap with the side-view mirror -- that I am not going to be the one to teach my kids how to drive. I'm afraid I'll be doing that sharp, loud, sucking in your breath thing that moms are apt to do from time to time (my mom used to do that, a lot), or that my fear about them learning how to drive will cause me to overreact to things to which I shouldn't overreact.

Previews promise more meaty parenting material in upcoming episodes. I hope they don't disappoint.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Three for Thursday: Restaurant Tells Screaming Kids to Get Out, Showtime's Dysfunctional Moms & Sports Parents Crying Uncle

Item #1: Restaurant Tells Screaming Kids to Get Out

A North Carolina restaurant owner has sparked a hearty dialog online by posting this simple sign in its front window, “Screaming children will not be tolerated.”

A Babble blogger called the "no screaming kids" policy a “total joke,” writing: “I don’t condone bad behavior in public, but we all know even the most well-behaved children are sometimes more boisterous than we’d like them to be. That doesn’t mean families should be forced to stay home.”

A writer on Slate said while she doesn’t tolerate “screaming by my children at home, let alone in public,” she thinks the sign is overly hostile: “It’s an admonishment, an advance assumption that those children will scream. It creates an immediate atmosphere of hostility toward families, and it is, in itself, rude.”

In her defense, restaurant owner Brenda Armes told her local TV station that she wants to give her customers a pleasant dining experience saying, “We want to attract the type of people that come in knowing they aren’t going to have to sit behind a table with a bunch of screaming children.”

In the TV interview, Armes added that she just wants parents to take their children outside if the kids start to scream. The sign notwithstanding, that’s not an unreasonable policy . . . speaking as someone who has, in the past, hastily asked the waiter to pack up my food in a To Go bag while I hustled my screaming toddlers out to the car and The Spouse paid the bill.

Do you think the restaurant owner went overboard or is sending a negative message to parents?

Item #2: Showtime's Dysfunctional Moms

Back in March, The Wall Street Journal ran a feature story saying that Showtime was planning to build on the success of their pot-dealing suburban mom show Weeds and was promoting more shows featuring strong, dysfunctional female characters.

From Weeds’ Nancy Botwin, who has taken her children on the run along with her former brother-in-law, and Nurse Jackie’s unfaithful, drug-addicted nurse married mom of two, to The Big C’s married high school teacher mom whose cancer diagnosis (which she’s kept secret from her family) has caused her to upend her life, Showtime is really delivering on the dysfunctional mom front, a subject to which I dedicated my recent pop culture column.

Item #3: Sports Parents Crying Uncle

And I thought I was the only one who feels overwhelmed by the intensity and time suck that has become youth sports. Just this Saturday, my three kids have four games in four different towns, starting at a pre-dawn hour, with the last one occurring smack dab in the middle of dinner hour. The whole day will feature The Spouse and I racing around to four different places for soccer and hockey games. (My 9-year-old son has TWO games on Saturday in different locations.) I've already informed my daughter's coach that The Girl will miss her Sunday afternoon soccer practice because we’re going to be belatedly celebrating Rosh Hashanah with family -- heresy, I know -- however we have arranged for The Youngest Boy to get transportation to and from his soccer practice Sunday morning while The Spouse and I are preparing for our big family celebration (for which we're missing church, FYI, because Saturday was so packed).

This schedule makes me crazy because I oftentimes feel like sports can take over family life, even when I limit each child to one sport per season and don't go to "extra" tournaments and competitions. Well the local CBS station here in Boston just featured a mom of three who decided she’d had enough of her sons’ insane sports schedules and is taking their participation down a notch.

In the segment – link here – the mom talked about the scheduling nightmare that is having three children play sports at far-flung locations and the negative fallout she has received from her parenting peers when they learned that she pulled her kids off of travel teams and stopped making a year-long commitment to specific sports. She just reduced their involvement, not eliminating it altogether, mind you.

“Experts in youth sports have found a lot of youth burnout among over-scheduled child-athletes, and now there is burnout among parents as well,” WBZ reporter Paula Ebben wrote on her blog.

As the new fall sports seasons commence, what do you think about this issue? Can sports – particularly when it comes to travel teams – spiral out of control? How do you handle it?

Monday, September 6, 2010


The Spouse and I, mad with dark power, opted to torture our three children yesterday by forcing them to sit . . . get this . . . side-by-side in the back of The Spouse's sedan. Can you believe it, the horror of it all?

Instead of taking my SUV-crossover, in which one of them could sit in the third row, we took the sedan to our destination, a 40-minute drive from our house, forcing them to have to split the backseat three ways.

Oh, and did we hear about the dismal conditions! All the way there and all the way home, until The Youngest Boy fell asleep on the way back last night.

To show them how spoiled they are by the ample leg room they're afforded -- both The Spouse and I are only too well acquainted with the invisible dividing lines we drew with our siblings down the back seats of cars when we were children, cars with no AC -- The Spouse and I are considering that, whenever possible, we should take his sedan instead of my car to teach them a lesson. A lesson about what I'm not sure, but we're sick of them whining about how we're torturing them as they sit in the air conditioned car.

Friday, September 3, 2010

This is Why I Love Brian Williams, Calling People Who Want to Ban School Swings 'Safety Types'

I cracked up watching the segment below of the NBC Nightly News this week while Brian Williams waxed poetically and sarcastically about being a part of a generation that was "hardened by the horrors" and "violence" of playing school yard dodge ball, experiencing the "exquisite sting of the red rubber ball" usually in the middle of one's back. He even named his "personal nemesis" from grade school who used to slam him with balls which, to a 9-year-old Brian, felt like they were traveling at 100 miles per hour.

This was all a lead-in to Williams reporting that "safety types" -- the same ones who've tried to rid the nation's schools of the scourge of dodge ball -- are now setting their sights on swing sets as a safety menace. Trying to restrain the glee in his voice, Williams noted that an attempt to ban the swings in a West Virginia county failed when those "safety types" suffered the "embarrassing realization" that the swings are "required" on school playgrounds by education policies.

Score one for sanity. And Brian Williams.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Random Question . . .

I spent some quality time this evening going through the stacks of papers the three Picket Fence Post kids brought home from their first day of school -- and answered the same questions on various school forms over and over again -- and have a question:

What does it mean when there are grammatical errors and inconsistent punctuation in correspondence sent to parents from school officials?

It's School Time . . . Where Absence Makes the Heart Grow Fonder

There comes a point during the summer when you're a work-from-home or an at-home parent, where you feel like you're going to lose your mind. Either the kids won't stop fighting over stupid stuff or they're telling you they're bored (like you're their cruise director in charge of their amusement or something) or they're nagging you to death for a) TV b) video games c) snacks d) all of the above.

Today as the three Picket Fence Post children went off to school, I was saddened to see the summer come to an end, but was pleased that I'll get a reprieve from moments like this one (though I'm not usually lying down in a bed when the children are still awake):