Wednesday, April 28, 2010

We Don't Want Any

...nanny state, that is.

I'm getting tired of the government's efforts to protect people from their own stupidity.

Michelle discusses a California law that removes toys from the Happy Meals. Because the TOY is what causes child obesity. Uh huh. Who knew toys had that many calories?

And here in New Jersey, they've passed a law that few people want--one that makes young drivers a target for police profiling as well as criminals who prey on young people--in a misguided effort to keep inexperienced drivers from hurting too many people.

My son already has a "Cinderella" license, as a first-year driver. He has to be in by midnight. Now, Kyleigh's Law will require him, until he's had his license for one year or turns 21 (whichever comes first), to be in by 11. He will also be allowed ONE passenger in the car, unless a parent is present, at which point he can have as many people as he has seat belts in the car. This means he can't have both his siblings in the car at once. So much for his ability to pick them up at school if I'd need him to! Sorry, not allowed! He's got to show that he's a new driver by displaying a special sticker on his license plates, stickers that we have to pay extra for AND make a special trip to get. These same stickers will identify him as a new driver to police, and as a teenager to criminals and predators. This is especially disturbing to any parents with daughters!

This law is supposed to help discourage behind-the-wheel cell-phone use as well. Now I realize that teens are heavy phone users, but sit near a traffic light sometime and see just how many adults are on their phones while they're driving. Check those soccer moms leaving the athletic fields and texting dinner plans behind the wheel. Bet there's no limit to how many kids they can have in the car while they use their phones. After all, they're over 21.

What's next? No listening to the radio while driving? No refereeing squabbling kids? No eating McDonald's french fries? (Wait, I forgot, that's probably already against the law.)

Tuesday, April 27, 2010


While I don't generally put much stock in dream interpretation, there's no argument that some dreams can really unsettle a person.

Normally the dreams that stick with me are the ones in which I am annoyed by something a family member is doing. Then I spend the day trying not to be annoyed at that family member for something they hadn't done in real life.

Last night's dream was weird, though. (Aren't they all? But this was stranger than usual.) I dreamed that something bad had happened to a faraway friend. I'm fuzzy on the details, but not on who the friend was. Anyway, in my dream, I traveled there to be there for my friend--and for some reason, brought along an entourage of around 8 people with me. I can't remember who those people were, but it was a strange combination.

I know I'm going to spend the day wondering if all is well with my friend.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Adventure Boy, the Franciscan

Adventure Boy, Little Brother and two other Boys From Down the Street are playing outside. One of the boys was smacking at a spider on the swingset.

"Stop killing bugs," Adventure Boy instructed him. "Those are not your bugs. Those are God's nature."

Monday, April 19, 2010

Translation, Please

To a mom, the phrase "tidy up the family room" means things like: pick up your toys off the floor, put away the video-game controllers, and put books back in the bookcase.

To Little Brother, the same phrase means: get a big piece of clear package-sealing tape, stick it on the (finished-wood) toy box, and write on it, in silver Sharpie, "Basketball place." Then put the basketball on the floor in front of this label.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

It Does Take a Village to Raise a Child

Lest you think I am in any kind of agreement with Hillary Clinton on this subject, I am not. A more accurate rephrasing of Mrs. Clinton's position would be that it takes a state to raise a child. And I'll never buy that.

The village, however, is another matter. Now that Big Brother is 18 and getting all set for his high-school graduation and enrollment at LaSalle University, I've been reflecting upon everything that the village has done, and meant, for him--and for me as his mother.

In our world, the village (outside our own immediate and extended families) is composed of three parts: church, school, and Scouts. In no case did we abdicate our parental responsibility and leave church, school, and Scouts to pick up the pieces. But church, school, and Scouts influenced our son, and our parenting, in many ways. All three were truly part of his growing up.

At church, Big Brother learned about sacrifice and about ministry. He grew up watching me particpate in music ministry; he was an altar server during his middle-school years, and in the past year he's gotten quite involved in music ministry himself. He plays in the folk group at our church, in the contemporary group at another church (with his friends) and at school. He'll continue that next year. He's gone from a cautious beginner at guitar to being unafraid to tote that same guitar, as well as a mandolin and a harmonica, to church--and he's learning as he goes. All of this would not be possible without the acceptance and welcoming spirit of the adults in our folk group. They know that you have to start somewhere. They know that teens are the future of the Church. So they make sure to nurture the gifts of any teen who wants to sing or play with us.

Big Brother is completing his thirteenth year at Catholic school. He's had more than his share of outstanding teachers who are there for the love of it--they're certainly not there for the salary! He's been challenged and inspired, and he's definitely the better for it. He's part of a school community in which the principal will hear of a kindness a student has done for a teacher or staff member--and take the time to send that student a handwritten thank-you note.

At Scouts, from the time he was a first-grader in that Tiger-Scout t-shirt right up until he earned his Eagle Scout rank, he has been challenged to live up to the high ideals of Scouting:
A Scout is trustworty, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean and reverent.
He's encountered many committed leaders whose own sons are long done with Scouting--but who give up several hours each week (and one weekend a month for camping) to pass along these ideals to the next generation of boys.

Without this village, our son would not be where he is today--and neither would we, because his village is our village. We are thankful to be part of it--and hope that we can be a part of someone else's village as well.

The Things Moms Put Up With

(and wouldn't have any other way)

Little Brother and our two backyard neighbors are playing some kind of complicated imaginary game involving pretend "ships" and lots of writing on my husband's enormous whiteboard.

I have just been instructed to pretend I'm on the "black ship" and that I don't see Little Brother (who's wearing a really bright yellow T-shirt) as he sneaks around the house. So I sat here, reading and enjoying my coffee, and pretended to ignore him as he crept up close to me and pantomimed a hit over my head.

"Wait a minute, did you just murder me?" I had to ask.

Like it's so reassuring when he told me that he wasn't killing me, just hitting me over the head.

Thanks for that.

Thursday, April 15, 2010


Two of my kids will be graduating this year: one from high school, the other from eighth grade. And I've got Senior-Mom-itis.

Both my graduates have senioritis pretty badly. My daughter's teachers aren't helping; there's not much homework being assigned these days. And once Big Brother made the commitment to accept the very generous scholarships offered him by LaSalle University, it was like a switch had been flipped.

Turn him over--he's done.

I'm just as bad. Today is report-card-and-conference day at his school. They don't mail these report cards home; parents must show up at school and pick them up. If they want to, they can have a short conference with any of their child's teachers as well. I usually take advantage of that. There's almost never a problem, but it is nice to go in there and hear nice things about my kid from several teachers. Conference day is good for my ego.

I think, though, that my ego's going to survive without today's conferences. Big Brother has three A's and one B in his four classes. He's only got six weeks more of school. He's done. And I'm done. I'm proud of his hard work and thrilled that he's been accepted into a good college and rewarded for his studies and other commitments. So I'm going to pick up his good report card, thank the secretary who's handing them out at the door, and head back home.

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Discretion is the better part of motherhood

Otherwise known as: You've got to know when to hold 'em, know when to fold 'em."

Things I'd like to say to my daughter's friend, but don't: "If you're that interested in the clothespins that you've got them hanging from your ears, perhaps you'd like to take the laundry down from the line and fold it neatly."

Things I'd rather not have to say to my daughter's other friend, but do, since he's a neighbor and I've picked him up at school once in the past 2 weeks, in the pouring rain, because of a foot injury: "Don't you have a sore foot? Should you be doing barefoot gymnastics?"

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Truer Words Were Never Spoken

"Little Brother, if you had just gone up to take your shower when Mom told you to, instead of whining and arguing about it, you'd already be clean and back down here playing."

"No, I wouldn't! I'm just getting started!"

Monday, April 05, 2010


"Little Brother, why did you want to sleep in our room last night? Did you have a bad dream?"

"No, but I was about to."

Thursday, April 01, 2010

The "Easter Fast"

Father H. mentioned at Mass the other day that we are coming up on the time of the "Easter Fast." That term was a new one on me. He explained that this fast begins after the Mass of the Lord's Supper this evening and extends until the beginning of Saturday evening's Easter Vigil. But it is not the same as our Lenten fast, in which we might give up chocolate or fast food or (gasp!) coffee.

Instead, we fast from the celebration of the Eucharist.

Of course, you only notice this if you go to daily Mass. Today is a weird day. It's 9 AM, and I'm feeling like I should be somewhere. Normally at 9 AM, I'm at Mass. I will be at Mass tonight, but my morning is a little off-kilter.

That makes me think about what Jesus' morning must have been like on the very first Holy Thursday. What was he doing? He was preparing to celebrate the Passover meal with his disciples, one of whom would betray him, one of whom would deny him, and many of whom would abandon him. He knew exactly what was going to happen to him, and he was prepared to accept the physical and emotional pain that he would go through.

These Triduum days force us to break out of our routine--even good routines like daily Mass. That's because these days are anything BUT routine, and the Church wants us to realize that.

Blessed Triduum!