My Sister was in town recently, which as I’ve told you, means I saw a bit of my Mother.  She usually has something to say about our parenting skills (again, you know how much I like people talking about my parenting)  My sister and I have always been open about talking to our daughters about sex (age appropriate).  The conversation went something like this:

Mother: I don’t know why you have to talk to the girls about sex

Me: Well, it’s a natural thing.  I want daughter to learn the right things and not have hang-ups.

Sister: Yeah.  I don’t want my kid to feel shame when thinking/talking about sex

Me: Totally.  The way you taught us left me filled with shame.

Mother: No it didn’t.  I was very good about teaching you those things.

Sister: No you weren’t.  I felt shame too.

Mother: No you didn’t.  I did it the right way.

Me: Mom, if we’re both saying the same thing, you have to at least consider that what we’re saying is correct.  You tried, but we’re telling you that your method didn’t work.

Mother: Yes it did.

I know parents make mistakes.  I’m sure my daughter has a list that she’s waiting to spring on me.  But I HOPE that I can acknowledge when I made a mistake, when I did something wrong, especially if my daughter tells me.

My Mother is a know it all (seriously- she makes me look like an amateur) Whenever someone says anything, she knows better.  My daughter mentioned that she wanted to look at a certain college.  My Mother immediately said, “That’s in a bad neighborhood.”  I asked, “When were you there?”  My Mother said “40 years ago.”  Now I realize that some things stay the same.  But guess what?  Some things change.  My Mother had no basis for her statement, but she will say it loud and repeatedly.

I really know that my Mother has my best interests at heart.  I know she says things in order to help me out.  But here’s the problem:  her statements are not always logical, factual or realistic.  She will read one article on something and declare it the absolute law, because it backs up her beliefs.  She will not even consider another opinion on pretty much anything:  there’s her way or no way.  And she has opinions on everything.  My daughter wanted a certain type of make-up brush for Christmas, which I bought her.  As soon as my Mother saw it she said “You don’t want to use that.  It’s horrible.”  Had my Mother ever used this item?  No.  Does she know anyone personally that used this item? No.  She just didn’t like the idea of it.  I told her that sometimes people need to try things out themselves- learn from experience.  She just shook her head at me.

See, that’s another issue with my Mother’s parenting skills.  She gave us a road map as to what we should and should not do.  She told us exactly how to proceed through life without teaching us how to make a good decision.  She never taught us to think about our actions.  We all know this is bad.  We need to make mistakes.  We need to get hurt.  We need to get dirty.  I know my Mother did these things out of love because she didn’t want us to feel pain or hurt.  But guess what, you still feel pain and hurt, because those things are unavoidable.

My Mother gave us the facts that she thought were important, not the facts that we needed.  And I have accepted that she didn’t know any better.  I have no issue with the fact that she made mistakes.  My issue is that she refuses to accept that she made mistakes.  In her mind, she did everything right and would not have changed her parenting choices at all.  This is why it is difficult to have an adult relationship with her.  She still tells me all the things I am doing wrong with regards to everything, and still tries to give me directions on how to live my life.

Yes, today is blog as journal day.  Today I randomly write down things that annoy me about my Mother, because it is somewhat cathartic to write the words down.  When I write it down, it releases a little something in me.  I feel a little bit better.

And as always, I often wonder why I am so screwed up, and then I spend some time with my Mother, and I wonder how am I so normal.


They Were Better

I’ve talked about my daughter before, but I’m going to give you a few relevant facts so that everyone is up to speed.

  1. Very hard working and strong work ethic
  2. Wants to be a lawyer
  3. Co-Captain of her high school law team
  4. Very competetive

In the winter/spring, the law team competes in mock trial.  The teams are assigned a case, and the students research the case and act as lawyers and witnesses and compete against other teams.  There is a great deal of work involved in being on a team such as this: she probably puts in a minimum of 20 hours a week when they are prepping. (on top of the other responsibilities she has) So this is a fairly large commitment.

So, a few weeks ago they competed.  And while their defense team won, their prosecution lost.  I knew how much she wanted to win, so I told her that I was sorry that they lost.  And her response was simple:  “It’s Ok.  They were just better than us.”

She didn’t blame her teammates.  She didn’t say the judge was biased.  She didn’t complain about their mentor law firm (who really did let the team down- but that’s a whole other story) She just said that the other team was better.  She said that her team was well prepared, that everyone really performed above expectations, that they gave it their all.  They just weren’t good enough.  She said it didn’t reflect badly on her teammates because they left nothing on the table, but sometimes in life you can do all the right things and still lose.

Now, I’m going to go with nurture again, because I’ll take all the credit because I’m ultra competitive.  So seriously, I don’t take losing lightly- how did I end up with a child so mature about losing?

Here’s the thing:  I have some rules in the house.

  1. If she wanted to join something or take lessons, she must finish out stated commitment- go to all lessons, go to all games and practices
  2. These commitments come first- she wasn’t allowed to not go to something, especially in a team situation, because I stressed that it is a team, and teammates show up
  3. You always give 100% of your effort.  The end result doesn’t matter, but the effort and work do
  4. I made it very clear that sometimes you win, and sometimes you lose, and that’s life
  5. Life is not fair
  6. You can’t win something if you don’t try it (this isn’t really a rule, more of a saying, but I preached it a lot, so I’m including it)

My daughter has a room full of trophies and plaques and certificates.  She has had her fair share of wins.  But she has also had losses.  She has been losing things since she was young.  But I have shown her that if you lose, you get to be sad, or mad or whatever emotion you want.  But then you pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and get on with it.  Because sulking is not a lifestyle choice that winners have.  Winners keep going- even when they lose.  Winners are always in the game.

So what’s the lesson?  I’m the greatest parent in the world?  Not even close.  But you need to think about the lessons you’re teaching your kids.  Someday they are going to make all their own decisions: they need to be prepared for that.  Make sure you’re stressing the important things.


The Water Bottle

I love my water bottle.  I mean, I really love it.

  1. It holds 32 ounces of water
  2. It’s curved like an hour glass, so it’s easy to hold
  3. It’s narrow enough at the bottom so it fits comfortably in cup holders at the gym and most movie theaters (this is actually rare for a bottle that holds 32 ounces)
  4. The cover is pink!
  5. The cover is a screw top, which means that unless I don’t close it properly, it is leak-proof, so I can throw it in my bag without worry

In short, it is my perfect water bottle.

Now here’s the story:  A few weeks ago I was at the movie theater.  I left my treasured water bottle at the movie theater.  I realized it when I was about halfway home.  The movie theater is about a 30 minute walk from my house, and it’s also not a convenient mass transit ride. (I live on the east side, the theater is on the west- it’s basically a Manhattan nightmare).  I was very bummed.

When my daughter got home she asked about my day.  I told her my tale of woe.  She sympathized.  She knew what that water bottle meant to me.  So she put her coat back on and made the trek to the theater and retrieved my water bottle for me.

My daughter did the hour round trip to get me my water bottle.  She simply said, “I know you would do this for me.  I know you have done this for me.”  There are no words for how I felt.

Now, this is one of those moments that I am going to say it’s nurture.  My daughter was nice to me because I have been an awesome Mom and raised her to be an amazing person.  Don’t you dare tell me it’s nature…

So, is it silly to be enamored with a water bottle?  Yes.  Was it necessary for my daughter to spend an hour retrieving the water bottle?  No.  Do either of those things matter?  Probably not.  My daughter did something sweet for me that didn’t cost any money, and she did it without expecting anything in return.  That’s pretty much the only gift I will ever need.


Yesterday I told you about the trip to the Spy Museum.  Now, let’s backtrack.  When I originally bought tickets, I asked my daughter if she wanted to join in on the excursion.  She said no, because she had a very long to do list and limited time.  No worries.

When Husband and I got home from the museum, we went into her room where she was seated at her desk doing homework, and we told her all about the place, the questions, the simulations.  We told her it was fun.

We are horrible parents.  We told our kid we had fun.  Without her.  And she got all sad and mad and teenagery.


Because she wished she had gone.  She felt she didn’t accomplish anything she set out to do, and it would have been a better use of her time, and more fun, to have gone off with us.  (for the record- she got more done in the three hours we were gone than I get done in a week- but I do lean towards the slacker side)

I feel for daughter.  She lives in a stress induced bubble, where every task before her appears to be life altering and tantamount to her having a future.  She also is a teenage girl dealing with issues that social media present and dramatic school mates.  She has moments of insecurity where she’s not smart enough, or pretty enough or talented enough.  Teenagers try to  appear to be super confident, but we all know that is a façade.  They are unsure if the face they present to the world is the one that the world wants to see.  Sometimes they overthink to a point where they are paralyzed and can’t do anything: sometimes they act without thinking.  To put it simply, being a teenager sucks.

I talked to her and told her it was OK- it wasn’t a lifetime opportunity to have gone to the spy museum that day, but, you know how it goes when you talk logically to a teen…

So she moped.

Later that day she used the dreaded B word.  She told me she was bored. (There are words that we never say in my house, I’ll probably blog about that now that it’s come to mind, and bored is one of those words)

I stormed into her room of a thousand and one objects and I looked for something to occupy her mind.  I pulled out her Nintendo DS which had probably not seen the light of day in awhile, and handed it to her.  She looked at me as I plugged it in to charge and handed it to her, along with her pink box of games.  She was skeptical as she opened the case and browsed titles she hadn’t thought about in awhile.  And out came Cooking Mama.

Now, parents don’t often say this, but thank goodness for video games.  This was the exact break my kid needed.  It reminded her of being a kid.  It got her brain working in different ways.  It made her laugh.  It tool her out of her funk.

She came out later laughing, telling is that she didn’t know how the game developers expected an eight year old to figure out the “Kit: An American Girl Game”.  She had to google stuff.  I didn’t care.  I was thankful to the developers.  They made my teenager laugh and be happy.

So what’s the moral of the story.  I don’t know.  Just remind your teenagers that nothing is the end of the world, it’s OK to mope, and life has its ups and downs.


Girl Talk

I’ve noticed a common theme in blogs recently- Moms upset that their teenage daughters are pulling away from them.  I guess it’s the season: it’s the second half of the school year, kids are getting closer to the next grade, the next school, the next milestone.  Moving up and moving on is right in the crosshairs…Mom’s are in the rearview mirror, waving and running towards the car, tears in their eyes….

What happened to my baby?  The words to “Sunrise, Sunset” purr through the mind.  When did I lose my daughter?

Well, to be fair, you started to lose your child pretty much after they were born.  From the moment they breathe air and the umbilical cord is cut, your daughter is striving for independence.  (This goes for non biological kids too, the umbilical cord is metaphorical)

I know this firsthand.  I have a daughter who is 16, and a Junior in High School.  She will be leaving the nest in August 2019, possibly forever. (It better be forever.  There is an elliptical trainer that is going to look great in that room)

I’m not a therapist, nor do I have any training in this area.  I’m just going to throw some common sense and logic out at you.

Everyone wants to forge their own identity.  Everyone wants to do things their way.

Is this bad?

No.  Of course not.  Your goal as a parent is to make your child into a fully functioning adult.

Your goal is to make sure they can survive on their own.

Your goal is to make sure they see the opportunities that lie before them, and to go for what they want.  A little bit of Carpe Diem.

Though as a parent, I get the whole thought, “Can’t you Carpe  that Diem tomorrow?  Can’t you just sit with me and be my baby just one more day?”

But ask yourself- am I being fair to my daughter?  Is this the best path for her?

Here’s the anecdote- I know you were sitting with baited breath, waiting to hear what actually happens in my house…

A few years ago, I would look at the weekend calendar and automatically include my daughter in the plans.  As of 9th grade- well, her being around just wasn’t an option anymore.  I had to say to her- “What’s on your agenda?”  I would ask, “can you fit in family/Mommy time?”  (I will also add that I have a strict 3 family meals per week rule- but this is actually more for my husband, and this has been a rule forever.  No one crosses me on this)

I would ask her.  I did not assume, nor force her to spend time with me on the weekends.  You can disagree with me- everyone has their own rules for how their household is run. But I felt that she was old enough to learn/know how to manage her own time.  I know how much homework she has.  I know how many activities she juggles, and how much time she devotes to these.

I’m OK with her figuring out her path.

I know she still loves me, even if we don’t have an activity planned.

But, I have found (and this is me- I can’t vouch for it working anywhere else) that my daughter tries to find a little bit of time for me.

She has been very crazed lately- burning the candle on three ends.  Last week I said to her “I feel like we’re ships passing in the night and I miss you.  Can we play this weekend?”

I asked.  I told her the truth about how I felt.  Her response?

“Sure Mommy.  We can get lunch after my SAT class on Sunday.”

Which we did.  I found a little French café that has this amazing hot chocolate selection, and yummy crepes.  The décor was porcelain tea cups and wrought iron tables, the display case showcasing opera cakes and lemon meringue tarts.  The air smelled like chocolate- did I forget to mention it’s also a chocolate shop?  I knew we had an hour- I wanted to make sure the event was special- because I can’t take for granted the time I get to spend with her.

I don’t have a great relationship with my Mom.  I am trying to forge a different path with my Daughter.  I saw the mistakes my Mother made, and I’m trying not to make the same ones with my kid.  It’s a very fine line, trying to have a nice relationship with your adult daughter.  Right now, I’m still the parent- I need to speak to her as a parent.  But, I’m also learning to speak to my daughter as a woman and as an almost adult. (FYI- this is where my Mother made her biggest mistake- she has still not learned to talk to me, not at me- but that’s a whole series of blogs)

So Moms- accept that your daughters are growing up and away from you.  Figure out how to make the new dynamic work for you.  Figure out how to maintain a positive relationship with you child, who isn’t really a child anymore.

Your daughter loves you.

They just need to find themselves and stand on their own.



Highly Selective

My daughter wants to apply to “Highly Selective” colleges.  For my purposes, I will define those as schools that accept less than 20% of the applicants that apply.  They are four year universities that have instant name recognition, and can be found on lists of top schools in America.  They are schools that some will be impressed when they hear that you attended, while others will think you are pretentious.   Getting accepted at one of these colleges is my daughters goal.

Now to get into these schools, you need, at minimum, the following:

  1. high grades- daughter has high GPA
  2. leadership- she’s a captain or holds a leadership role in at least 3 activities
  3. community service- double her schools requirement
  4. awards and honors- yup- those too
  5. high SAT/ACT scores- OK here is the problem…..if you want to call it that

My kid is not a great standardized test taker.  Now- this point could be debated.  97% of the kids in the country would like to have her PSAT score.  I didn’t score that high on my SAT, back in the day (though we can’t compare- I was a lousy student).  But it’s a brave new world now.  A world where it’s 1500 + or bust.

So what do kids do now, to get those 1500 or better numbers?  Well, first off, if you think a kid grabs two#2 pencils and races in the room to take a test- you are mistaken.  Kids read test books.  Kids take prep classes.  Kids get tutors who specialize in how to take the test- they don’t teach algebra or English.  They specifically tell you how to look for clues in the question to help you determine what the right answer is.  I spoke to one of these type of tutors the other day.

Good times.

Now, my kid is a high achiever.  She studies a lot.  She invests much time and energy into her extracurricular activities. I don’t think she has slept since 3rd grade.  You get a picture of my kid?  Now imagine that the tutor basically told me that my kid doesn’t work hard enough, and does not do the right things.

First off- he chastised me for having her prep so late for the test.  She’s taking the test in March and then in August.  He actually said that she is behind and that she will never catch up.  Ok- how much do you think I liked this guy at this point?

Then, he told me that she should cut out all extracurricular that she has no chance of getting a scholarship in.  What.  The. *%^&.  My daughter LOVES her extra choices.  She loves law team, tech crew, tennis and school paper.  Like, these are often the high point of her day.  Give them up, so she can prep for a test, because they don’t “mean anything”?  How about – they fulfill her.  They give her something to dream about.  They engage her mind and body in things other than academia? As her Mom- these things are important.

Then he told me she should apply to at least 20 schools, including the top 12.  First off- applying to 10 schools is hard enough (10 is the number her school suggests)  Secondly- she doesn’t want to go to a brand name school just because it’s a brand name school.  She only wants to apply to 3 or 4 top 25 schools- the ones she really likes and knows would be a good fit for her.  I don’t get applying to schools just to say you went to a top school.  In my mind there is a difference.

He then told me we should hire someone to “work on” her essay with her.  Now he said “work on” but what he means is write the essays for her.  Now- what do you think I thought of that?

My kid is a humanities girl.  Her school limits the amount of AP courses you are allowed to take, so she did a hard target and is only taking humanities AP this year, and then next year- meaning no AP science or math.  He said she should take the science/math AP’s instead next year, because they look better.  My kid does really well in science and math, but she doesn’t like them enough to take the more advanced classes.  I agree with her.

He said some other things that I didn’t like, but at that point I had stopped listening.  My mind was made up about halfway through the conversation.  I did not want this guy anywhere near my daughter.  We had philosophical differences.


He was a good prep coach.  And my daughter needs a prep coach.

So I politely got off the phone, promising him that my daughter would consider his online workshop that he runs on Saturdays, 7-9 pm.  (OK- for the record- my daughter is often studying on a Saturday night- but sometimes she is actually having fun.  I know this guy doesn’t approve of fun- so we won’t even go there)

After I digested the conversation and told my husband that the guy was a lunatic (my Husband had gotten the number from a co-worker) I went to talk to my daughter.  At the end of the day, it was her decision.

Remember what I said yesterday about bias?  How it’s almost impossible for someone to relay a story without tipping the scales in their own favor?  How do you think this tutor sounded when I talked to my daughter about him?

My daughter agreed that this wasn’t the right tutor for her.  We would try someone our neighbor used.


I’m good at making decisions.  I weigh out all the options, the pros and cons, and I come to a conclusion.  My gut is telling me this guy is the wrong tutor.  Fine.  But what if the gist of what he is saying is right?  What if she does need to spend a billion hours to move her scores up to 1500?

This is where I hate parenting.  I feel that my daughter already spends too much time studying, but I balance it out with the fact that she has activities that she loves, and a great group of friends.  I think she is as well rounded as someone of her personality type will ever be.


I also know how much she wants to go to some of these elite schools


I know that even with a 1500, her chance of getting into these schools is still really slim

See- I’m going back and forth.  I don’t think his tutoring method is right for her, but maybe I don’t know everything.  (I know, I know- of course I know everything….)

Did I manipulate the facts when I spoke to her so that she wouldn’t want to work with this guy?

Will this be a decision I regret, down the line?

Parenting sucks……


That’s What I Like About You

My blog friend G Sandwich wrote a great post the other day about writing.  Sometimes as a journalist she (and every other journalist in the known world) would need to file copy, so they would “milk” an already written article – basically rewrite the story using mainly the same facts.  The other option is to write a “follow-up”.  This is where the majority of the new story is actually new, but just brings up different viewpoints or more info.  Here’s hoping that todays post is a follow-up and not a milk.

Last week I wrote about saying I Love you unconditionally.   My blogging friend Deep As Thought commented that sometimes she would like important people in her life to say, not necessarily I love you (though I think everyone wants that) but “I like you because ….”  That got me thinking.

Growing up, my Mother was very critical.  In 3rd grade, I remember getting a 95 on a test.  I was proud of myself.  I went home and told my Mom.  her response: “Well, if you’d studied harder you would have had a 100.” ( No- my Mother was not nominated for parent of the year that year, or any year since.)  These words from my Mother never got less harsh as time passed, but guess what, my grades got worse.  I stopped studying and doing homework.  How I managed to escape High School with an average somewhere in the B range is a testament to being somehow smart enough to get through a test. What I lacked in actual book knowledge I made up for in an uncanny ability to figure out multiple choice questions.  In my teenage mind, my Mother was not going to appreciate anything I did, so why should I try? No- I hadn’t yet learned the art of doing things for myself.  Again, my Mom was so controlling, I didn’t think having my own thoughts and actions was possible. She did not like who I was. Thanks Mom.

My Mothers words and actions continued to dominate my thoughts and actions.  This lasted for way too long.  I had a long line of mistakes and missteps that can be directly attributed to my weird relationship with her.  Because at the root of everything, my Mother did not like me.  She did not like what I did.  She had comments about my weight, choice in friends, what I wore, what I read, how I spent my free time.  There was little in my life she did not criticize.  As a child and a teenager and young adult, even as a real adult, it did not feel great to think that my Mother didn’t like me.  It sort of zaps your confidence.  Well, not sort of.  It  totally zaps your confidence.  And if you don’t feel confident, then you really can’t succeed at anything,  you really can’t ever be happy.  You walk around with a feeling of not being worthy of anything.  This is not a great path to be on.  It is a dizzying downward spiral.  It is a spiral that is hard to recover from.

All because my Mother never said “I like….”

We all want to be liked, especially by our parents.  Shouldn’t the assumption be that a parent likes their child?  As a Mother, I know I want my daughter to feel loved, liked and appreciated every day.  I make sure I praise her about the things she does well at, give constructive criticism if the situation warrants it, thank her when she does something nice, and tell her I love her.  (Don’t worry- I screw up a lot too- I’m sure one day she will write a blog and tell you all the horrible things I did…)  But I really try.

So here’s your homework assignment.  Really think about why you like all the people in your life.  Think about their positive attributes that draw you to them.  Tell them.  Tell the people in your life why you like them.

Here’s my list:

  1. I like it when my husband takes out dog out for the 10pm walk, because if I’m home I like to be in my pajamas by then.  He knows this is important to me, which is why he does it.
  2. I like it that my daughter comes home and takes care of school work right away.  This makes my life so easy.  I have never had the dreaded homework fight.
  3. I like my best friend S because she is a vault.  I can tell her anything and she will not even share it with her husband.  Everyone needs a friend like that.
  4. I like my friend G because she will always tell you the truth.  Sometimes I need the reality.
  5. I like my friend M because she is completely realistic.  She knows that sometimes life has to be ugly, and she will guide me through the cold hard facts.
  6. I like my friend A because she is truly the funniest, most sarcastic person I;ve ever met.  No matter what the situation, she finds the humor, no matter how dark.  I need this type of person in my life.
  7. I like my friend SF because he is willing to argue with me.  We differ on certain subjects, and he’s never afraid to engage, even though he’s always wrong.
  8. I like my friend M2 because she loves culture.  I need a friend I can go to a museum, concert or whatever with because those experiences are fun to share

I could go on and on and on, but you get the idea.

Tell someone you like them.  It really means a lot.  They will like it.


Lost and Found

My daughter lost her wallet yesterday.  She got on the city bus in front of our building, so she knew she had her wallet then, because she used her Metrocard (what we use in NYC to board public transportation) to get on the bus.  When she got to school, she went to get her ID, and realized the wallet was missing.  To belabor the point, she lost between getting on bus and getting to school.

When she realized she lost her wallet, she called me.  I could hear agony in her voice, it was low and as soon as she started to talk, she began to cry.  She didn’t understand how she could lose it.  When you’re an ultra responsible kid who has never lost anything other than a water bottle (which she does lose a lot for some reason) this was devastating.

And while I tried to console her, I knew that practicality had to come out.  “What was in your wallet?”  I knew she had a credit card and a debit card. I snapped my fingers to get my Husbands attention.  “Daughter lost her wallet.  Cancel the Visa, I’ll do the debit card.”  I got off the phone with my daughter, telling her she had to go to the main office and tell them she lost her school id.  Why I needed to explain to a reasonably smart person that someone could use her ID to enter the school fraudulently is beyond me.  She didn’t want to do this- she kept saying that someone would surely find her wallet.  I said it would be great if they did, but everything had to be canceled and places had to be notified that her ID might be compromised.  This went on by text way too long, till I told her it had to be done.

So my daughter was embarrassed to have lost her id.  I get that, but I also know that people are human and mistakes are made.  I also told her she could have been pickpocketed.  I wanted to race up the 52 blocks to her school and hug her, but a Mom can’t always be right there to physically comfort a child.  Sometimes the kid has to learn how to self sooth.

I then received a whole bunch of texts asking me to contact the MTA at 11 when the lost and found opened.  She was positive that her wallet would be found and turned in, all contents still inside.  She gave me the bus route, the time she got it- I’m surprised she didn’t have the driver and bus id.  Her optimism was impressive.  My pessimism was equally impressive.  I explained to her that the wallet was small, and would probably not be found.  Also, the Metropolitan Transport Association is not really known for its blazingly good customer service.  Just ask anyone who has been stuck on a train for 45 minutes.

At 11 I called.  After 25 minutes of trying to find the right department, it turned out I had to fill out an online form to document the loss.  Which I did.  Oh, the detail and general backasswardness of this report.   They asked for brand of wallet- they had no choice for piece of shit wallet she bought at TJ Maxx for 3.99. You have to list every item that was in the wallet.  Credit card.  Debit card. NYC Parks tennis pass.  School id.  Brandi Melville gift card.  American Eagle gift card.  Regular metrocard.  School issue metrocard.  Sticker from Brandi Melville.  (to tell you the truth- I was really impressed that she knew exactly what was in her wallet- not really surprised, but impressed none the less)  All this, when she wasn’t getting her wallet back.

Now of course, because I had spent 45 minutes of my life that I would never get back filling out a lost property claim, her wallet was found.  Husband got a call.  Wallet was  dropped off at a branch of the bank which issued the credit card inside.  Great.

Texted daughter.  Everyone is happy.

Here’s the thing.  My daughter just assumed the wallet would be found and turned in.  This girl has grown up a few blocks from a methadone clinic, and has seen people at the bottom of their luck, trying to quell an addiction that has destroyed their life.  She has seen people lying on the streets, passed out from drink.  She was seen people sleeping in the vestibule of the bank, homeless people showering in the sprinkler at the playground.  She knew a girl who died trying to jump from one building to another.  She knew a girl in her 7th grade class that got pregnant.  She has had friends who knew kids who committed suicide.  She has seen on a daily and routine basis how crappy life can be for others.  Yet- she has hope.

Why?  How?

Well, she has spent the past 3 years as a volunteer tennis coach at a program for inner city youth.  Shas spent the past 3 years as a tutor at a program for kids with no resources for extra help.  She tries to make life a little better for others.  One Saturday morning a month she gets up at 630 on a Saturday, and chops vegetables and sets out cutlery at a soup kitchen.  When she exits the church basement after prep is done,   I know it still shocks her how many people are lined up for that one meal.  She has sat next to children who are wearing coats and gloves and hats, and carrying backpacks that me, and other parents have given the school to distribute to families that need just a little help.  This is what gives her a little bit of optimism- she sees people trying to do the right thing.  She tries to do the right thing.

Will she always think that the good nature of people will prevail?  I hope so.  But it’s hard- because as stated, sometimes life sucks.

Now, my daughter is happy that wallet was turned in, most things still there.  Someone did swipe her two metrocards, and she was annoyed that the equivalent of 20$ was lost/stolen.  She wants to recreate how she actually lost her wallet, to the point she asked me how she could access the security cameras on the streets.  Seriously.

I told her that between her 40 pound backpack, purse, and big tote bag she had to lug around yesterday, it’s easy to get distracted.  She tries to fit a thousand things into a little tiny purse, and I explained that when you have so much stuff it’s real easy for something to fall out while retrieving something else. She has this delusion that she is perfect and completely aware of everything at all times.  Maybe this will teach her a lesson that she is indeed fallible.

So what’s the moral of this story?  People are generally good.  There is a cause for some optimism.  But we must always be pragmatic.

How’s that?



Sweet Sixteen

Today is my daughters 16th birthday.  I can tell you exactly where I was 16 years ago today- in a hospital bed, recovering from 12 hours of labor followed by an emergency c section at 1 in the morning because I spiked a 104 degree fever.  I’m still convinced she was holding out for the 13th because that was her actual due date.  She’s that kind of person- always right on time.  Childbirth.  Good times.  But anyway.

There is so much I could say about my daughter.  It amazes me that she is actually my child.  She is intelligent, funny, hard working, confidant and resilient. She does not always succeed in what she sets out to do, but she always tries and always bounces back.  We often joke that we are not sure whose child we have actually brought home from the hospital, because she has traits that neither my Husband nor I possess.  We figure that there is some high achieving couple out there with our slacker kid.

Now, I personally know 3 other people who have the same birthday as my daughter- just think back 9 months…..Valentines Day.  Just saying.

But back to my amazing child.

She really is a good kid.  Her birthday always falls within a week of first marking period report cards and parent teacher conferences.  Now, for many kids, this might be a bad thing.  For my kid, well, it means we will probably be extra generous.  You see, my kid has literally never gotten a bad review from a teacher.  I’ll even say, that if teachers were to have favorites, my kid is the favorite over 90% of the time.  Am I bragging?  Yeah, a little.  My kid has made many things very easy for me.  I walked in PT conferences the other day- in my 3 minutes per teacher allotted time, I heard mainly “Well, I’d like it if she participated a little more, because I think her input would help the class, but I know she is fully engaged, so I’m not too worried.”  The two words that were most often used to describe my daughter are intense and focused.

But remember, with intense and focused come other issues.  I have to make sure she is handling stress properly.  I need to make sure she gets some sleep.

What I’m saying is- all parents have issues with their kids.  The issues may be different.

Why am I saying this?  Because frankly, I’m tired of being told that I have a “perfect” kid.  Because first of all, there is no such thing.  And secondly, I still have things to watch.  Just because my kid does well in school, and is responsible doesn’t mean I have no worries.  I have worries.  Every parent does.

But, I am also tired of hearing that I am “lucky” because my kid was just “born this way.”  First of all, what does that even mean?  Does that mean that she was just born responsible and hard working and resilient?


Maybe not.

Maybe it’s a little of both.  Maybe there is something inside my daughter that gives her drive.  But maybe I have also seen that in her, and thought about how to bring it out.  Maybe I have helped her find her strengths and play up to them, and work around her weaknesses.  Maybe I have had good moments of parenting.

Maybe it’s nature and nurture combined.

People are always talking about nature and nurture- which one is better, which one works.  I’m suggesting that you need both.  You need to have raw material, and you need to figure out how to coax it into the best possible shape.  Take a box of Legos.  Figure out the best configuration with what you have in front of you.  Take what nature gave you and nurture it.

If you see your kid has a gift, or a talent, help that kid explore what it can do.  My friend saw that his daughter had a great eye when she used his phone to take pictures.  This was at 4 years old.  He let her play with his camera, and at 8 she is becoming an exceptional photographer.  He saw what she had, and figured out how to enhance it.  And she loves being behind the camera.  She struggles a bit in actual school, but her confidence is being built up because she found something she loves and is good at.  Will this continue?  Who knows.  But right now, she feels good about herself.  A child that feels good about themselves is a beautiful thing.  That feeling is what will get them through the tough stuff.  And life has a lot of tough stuff.  So figure out what your kid is good at, what they’re passionate about, and help them explore it.

So on my daughters birthday, I have rambled quite a bit.  I guess, because I didn’t really want this to be an ode to my kid.  I think you all know that I love my daughter more than anything in the world, just like those of you with kids love yours more than anything in the world.  That’s being a parent.  We love our kids.  We love them no matter what they do or don’t do, no matter how well they do at school, or at activities or at sports.  We just love them because they are our kids.

to sum up:

Love your kids for all their imperfections.

Tell them you love them.

Help them find their passion.

Make sure you know there weaknesses so you can figure out how to deal with them.

Nurture their nature.

And Happy Birthday to my favorite girl!!!



Maybe I Was Too Judgmental…..

Yesterday I wrote about a person I had seen sitting in front of me at a show.  I saw that he was rigid and stone faced throughout the performance and I concluded that he was being cranky because he didn’t like the content/theme of the show.  Many people thought that perhaps this man had had a bad day and shouldn’t be judged.  Fair and correct point- I made an assumption based on what I viewed, but had no actual knowledge of the situation.  I know I have acted in inappropriate ways sometimes- I think every parent has.  I’ve been to the*%^$#& happiest place on earth, and have seen many parents lose their cool even though they are all at place where it should be fun, fun, fun.  Parents are allowed to have feelings other that absolute joy, and parents are allowed to show these feelings.  Your kids need to learn that everything is not always happy and pleasant.  And no one should judge what any other parent is going through at any particular time.  So I realize I made a snap judgement, and you should never judge another parent.


FYI- I’m thinking of changing my name to But….. because I find that I use that word a lot….

I saw a middle school age girl almost jump out of her seat with excitement when John Green took the stage.  I saw her look at her Father.  I saw her smile drop.

I’m sorry- but I can’t help but feel for that little girl.

Middle school is hard for many kids.  There bodies are changing- that’s so much fun when all of a sudden things start popping out….And the emotions!  Oh- the emotions!  My kid was in this stage not so long ago, and to some degree she still has mood swings, but not like a few years ago.  They are confused and angry and they don’t know their place in the world.  Part of them longs to be an adult, but part of them still wants to be a child.  Their brain is developing, and they don’t quite know how to handle it.  One minute they’re crying, then they’re yelling, then they’re laughing.  The emotions of tweens is about as confusing as this paragraph.

So I felt for this girl.

I don’t know- but I think sometimes as parents we have to be better.  We’re the adults.  Maybe a parent needs to suck it up sometimes, and no matter how cranky they are, or how bad a day, they need to maybe smile- even if it’s just for the 10 seconds that your kid is looking at you for confirmation that everything is ok.   Yeah- I think sometimes a parent needs to be selfless.  I know it’s hard- remember- I wrote a whole blog entitled parenting sucks……By job description- parenting is not easy.

But this little girl- looking up at her father….and the mother was sitting on the other side of the father- if he was in a bad mood, why didn’t he take the aisle seat and have his wife between him and the kid?

See- because I can’t help but think about this girl…..

Now- lets switch this up a little. What if I said the parent was on their cell phone the whole time?  What would we think about a parent that was at a show but not paying attention?

I’d say the level of disengagement was exactly the same.  The parent was physically present, but emotionally withdrawn.

Let’s switch it up again.  What if the father was pissed at his wife, and that was the reason for the scowl?  Should you let marital problems interfere with your kids?

So, I’m torn- because I don’t want to judge anyone or their situation.  But, I also want kids to enjoy certain moments in their life, because I know that life sucks a lot of the time.