Wednesday, February 20, 2008

A chilly school day and other ruminations of parenthood

This morning is one of those that make me long for the days of former Gov. Arne Carlson, who famously closed schools when he thought it was too cold for man or beast. On my way to work this morning, the thermometer registered a balmy -13. And the windchill was -30-something.

Then again, I don't have kids in school. Thank God. I am so glad to be finished with those years. I feel like I went to grade school, high school and college at least four times: once myself, and once again for each of my children. When the first kid starts school, the experience kind of takes you back. It's a nostalgic kind of thing: You get a kick out of the wide-ruled notebooks, the No. 2 pencils, the first experience of detention, the challenge of dealing with a bad grade, a cold shoulder or a broken heart. By the time you've done this over and over and over again, it's just plain tiresome. Makes me wonder how those St. Paul Irish-Catholic moms with the nine or 10 kids managed to keep sane by the time the last one got on the bus. An old friend, a middle child among nine, said her mom "went on retreat" a few times. Only when she was in her 40s did she learn her mom actually went into rehab for alcoholism!

Today the whole "kids in school" phase of parenting is even more difficult. I notice that parents of students at the university where I work are involved to a point of being so overprotective that I think their kids will never earn their independence. But the world is much more a place to be protected from than it ever used to be. When I was in college I called my mom (or she called me) about once every couple of weeks. A long-distance phone call was like a bon bon: an expensive, short-lived treat. Today, college kids talk or IM with their parents every day.

Parents of young children, please note: You really won't want to talk to your children every day when they're in college. If you have more than one child, this practice will frazzle your nerves and wear you out. You don't need to know when your kid fails a test, had his car booted for unpaid parking tickets or yelled at a slobby roommate. He'll work it out without you, and he'll work it out better in the long run. Really. Look at it this way: When your co-workers steal your lunch from the employee fridge, who you gonna call? Mom? Seriously.

To be continued ...

Thursday, February 14, 2008

If this is some kind of copyright violation, so sue me

One of my friends sent this wonderful cartoon today. It serves to remind me that in matters of life, love and money, you have to make room, above all, for laughter. Trite but true, laughter makes it all bearable. Happy Valentine's Day to everyone who makes me laugh so regularly. I think I'm losing weight because of it. Really, it's working!

Monday, February 11, 2008

OK, boys and girls. We're having a contest

To come up with the best Valentine's Day idea for our significant others. You first!

Friday, February 1, 2008

Psst. Right now I'm procrastinating, hiding and looking busy

My husband thinks I sit in my office and fart around on the Internet all day. Yes, I say, I do this for a living. They pay me good money (well, not so much) to do so. But today I really AM farting around and not working very much because I am tired, sort of depressed and feeling really quite desperate, and I just don't want to write or edit anything important. So I shan't. I shall fart around all I please until it's time to go home. Then I shall watch mindless television, drink a bit or two of wine, snack on something fattening and welcome Miss Barky McSchnauzer for the next two weeks.

Miss Barky is the purse puppy belonging to a pair of my husband's better customers, Mr. and Mrs. Thurston Howell (not their real names), and so he volunteered us (i.e., ME) to care for her during their two-week jaunt to St. John (like that alliteration, you language geeks?). Miss Barky (not her real name, either) comes with her four little boots so her tiny little paws don't get raw with road salt when we walk her each day. Which -- and the Howells probably wouldn't believe this -- we don't do. I can't stand walking dogs. Hey, I tried it when we had one of our own. I just don't like doing it. You can't really get going at any decent pace when you walk a dog. It's not like the treadmill, unless yours is all herky-jerky and downright stops and sniffs sometimes. But we act like we'll dutifully walk Miss B morning, noon and night just so they won't worry that they're dropping off their little dog into the clutches of hell.

I still like Barky anyhow, even though Maisie, the cat who lets us live with her, will probably retreat into the rafters down the basement for the next two weeks. Barky really does bark, and Maisie just hates all that damned noise. Besides, she has to eat her food on top of the dryer, for godssakes, when Barky is around or there won't be any. It's enough to drive a kitteh krazy.

No, I am not drinking anything at the moment. I am in my office where no one is watching me. They should know better than to leave me alone with the Internet.