Archives for May 2014

Once Upon A Prom

small_526926484Observations From Prom Sidelines

Somewhere between tuxedos and tiaras, the prom has become a cesspool of treachery. Who’s to blame for the veiled drama this evening of pomp and circumstance delivers? Perhaps Disney is to blame for some of this throwback sensibility by feeding, these graduates didn’t grow up with “Frozen,” young girls a steady diet of fantasy by way of a handsome Prince saving the day. The prerequisite ball, adoring fans and the final kiss have been imbedded in the minds of, otherwise intelligent, girls on the cusp of college and many wonderful things. Reality TV may also be to blame by parading female contestants vying for the same man via the “The Bachelor,” it so makes me pine for “The Dating Game.” “The Bachelor” and “The Bachelorette” have lowered the bar so low there is no bar, except everywhere on that show. Lest we compare the “Rose Ceremony” to the “Promposal” – don’t get me started.

Speaking of entertainment, current day prom is rife with conundrums such as finding the “right date” and then a “group.” The group, for those not versed in prom vernacular, are candidates who go through a sorting process and form a cohesive unit who then proceed to carry on the festivities after the prom. That’s if you’re not kicked out of your group before the shining event. The post-festivities include another party, because the prom in and of itself, does not deliver enough grief. The after party carries even more import than the prom itself and must include some sort of regal transportation for 50, magic carpets excluded, and a fantasy castle by way of a Hampton’s house.

For the “right date” rules of friendship do not apply, which means that you can lose a best friend since middle school for the right to snag a prince. All of this mishap and maneuvering can obliterate what you spent your high school years building like friendship and a sense of community. Yet, it’s so worth it in the end as you glide across the ballroom snag your shoe on your dress, fall on your date and realize you’ve spent so much time in the restroom that you’ve missed the chariot to the castle and now that you’re face to face with your date you realize you he’s no Prince and from the way he’s looking at you – your Princess days are numbered.

photo credit: <a href=””>ricklibrarian</a> via <a href=””>photopin</a> <a href=””>cc</a>

Words Hold Power

Libri, books (Explore)Encourage Your Children To Read!

Once again New York Times writer Frank Bruni has waxed- poetic about an issue that always provokes my ire. His latest op-ed laments the decline in reading among children recently reported by Common Sense Media. Since I’ve been on this good earth for five decades, I grew up “computerless” and in a time when there were fewer than 10 television channels and nary a video game. Recreation consisted of going outside and reading. I had wonderful role models who valued books and right from the beginning it was love at first sight. I remember my mother reading Dr. Seuss’, “Are You My Mother” which I read to my own children and have on my bookcase today. I sometimes pick it up and I can still feel a soulful connection to the little bird’s search for his mother. As a child, the joy, suspense and exhilaration of his journey touched me. I wanted more and never looked back.

On rainy days, I would huddle under the table with “Heidi.” Though I haven’t picked that book up in years, I loved the relationship she had with her grandfather. I can still taste the warm, oozing cheese sandwiches he made her. Literature connected me to children like me, who lost a parent. I was no Scout Finch growing up, a tomboy and fearless, but I found a soul mate in Scout one of “To Kill A Mockingbird’s” great characters. I admired her tenacity and belief in justice. On those same pages, I fell for the mysterious Boo Radley, friending Boo should be a prerequisite for all children so they learn not to judge others too harshly. Atticus Finch became my hero and since Gregory Peck played him in the movie, he still is.

I cried when Francie Nolan lost her flawed but beloved father. Betty Smith made the streets of Brooklyn come alive in “A Tree Grows In Brooklyn.” In the English countryside, I worried about the ever curious Pip, who graced the pages of one of the Dickens best works of fiction, “Great Expectations.” As he grew, I became empathetic for his pining for Estella. To top that off, I feel I wouldn’t be the same without an introduction to Miss Havisham, the quintessential jilted lover, who refused to move on. As an eleven-year-old I was fascinated by the cobwebs and rotting bridal cake. I spent countless days wondering if Heathcliff was going to marry Catherine in “Wuthering Heights” and fretting over Jane Eyre and Rochester’s hidden wife in the attic.

From these pages, I learned about myself and spent time pondering each characters’ flaws and feelings. This is what children are missing if they’ve never whiled away an afternoon with a great book. It is terrifying that the reading rates are sloping downward. It’s like being undernourished. Reading makes us human, confirmed by studies that have indicated that reading makes children more empathetic, while many of the connections kids have today are dehumanizing. Though the digital world offers up many positives, much of what kids are engaging in have no intrinsic value and can be summed up as shameless self-promotion. Great books are timeless and though times have changed, there will never be a time when kindness, compassion and empathy are not necessary ingredients to living a good life.

All is not lost, I thank J.K. Rowling for bringing Harry Potter into the world, although her books appeal to everyone they are especially wonderful for boys, who need more books to relate to. Words still hold the power for change and it only takes one good book to get hooked. Parents should not raise a white flag on this issue! Read, read, read and encourage your children to do the same!


A Mother’s Day Wish

get-attachment-164.aspxIf I Could See You Again…

If I could see you again, I would agree that red doesn’t go with purple as you often said, and that life is for the living. I’d also thank you for teaching me the beauty of creating – experiencing the joy of taking a blank piece of paper and painting it with your thoughts or color. I’d thank you for showing me how to experience life beyond your means, to break through the barriers of money and class to defy convention. I’d thank you for introducing me to the value of education, not because it’s right but because knowledge is power. The kind of power that can help you pay the bills but also the kind of power that cannot be taken away. I’d thank you for valuing books, the stories, the words and the thoughts behind great minds. I’d also thank you for never allowing a silly thing like money hinder you from being the most elegant woman in the room. I’d thank you for understanding what true taste is. I’d thank you for not allowing that love of beauty or impeccable taste prevent you from being empathetic, the kind of empathy that would seek out someone in need and offer help without acknowledgement or fanfare.

If we could walk side by side one more time, I’d thank you for showing me that there are no limits to one’s creativity. When shopping wasn’t an option, you learned to sew. I’d thank you for my one-of-a-kind communion dress dotted with daisies, that I may not have appreciated back then among the veils and glitter – but I now realize was truly a fashion statement and a wink to conventionality. I’d thank you for teaching me resourcefulness and that talent resides in all of us. If we could sit down for a cup of tea, I would thank you, a woman born in 1925, for raising a feminist and for warning my sister and me to build careers and be able to rely on ourselves. This was one lesson learned the hard way for you, a young widow without the opportunity to pursue an education. If I could see you again, I would tell you that you taught me more in the short 11 years we shared on earth than many who’ve had a lifetime with their mothers.

If it were possible to see you again I would thank you for introducing me to art. Waking up to a table filled with paints, brushes and canvases showed me that a mother deserves time of her own to dream or pursue passions. If I had one more moment with you, I’d thank you for showing me what bravery is – the kind of bravery to stand face to face with your mortality and still worry about training bras and math homework. The type of bravery to endure sitting in a wheelchair with a beautiful robe on and lipstick and smile and tell us everything will be alright when you knew it wouldn’t be.

If I could see you again, I’d thank you for not being perfect and for being okay with that. I’d thank you for losing your temper sometimes. I’d also thank you for bringing beauty into a house that needed it, whether you painted on the walls or decided on a blue and silver themed Christmas tree. If I could see you again, I’d thank you for throwing the best birthday party a ten-year-old girl could have and for showing me how ingenuity and creativity trumps anything store bought.

If we were to meet again, I’d tell you that I’m proud to be your daughter and I’m woeful we only had 11 short years but I’d tell you that you provided me with a lifetime of lessons. You taught me what life was about and what it wasn’t. For that I’m eternally grateful. For some of us our time on earth is short and others long, it’s what we do here that counts and for me every step I’ve taken is for you to be proud of the woman I’ve become.

If I could see you again, I’d wish you Happy Mother’s Day – the passage of time has taught me that life is a gift and I thank you for bringing me into this world and giving me the gift of life.

I Do Declare!


Congratulations On Decision Day!


Today college students across the country are nailing down their college decision including my 17-year-old daughter. It’s hard to believe that the little girl I watched climb the bus stairs, she was so small she had to use her hands is now going off to college. I can still see her on that very first day of school – the Oshkosh denim jumper, embroidered Peter Pan collar, lace socks, Mary Janes and the bow. The bow said it all, a green grosgrain bow with a plastic art palette smack in the center.

I’m not sure how time has gone by so quickly. It really does seem like yesterday that she was off to kindergarten. The very first time she was away from home for an extended time. There have been so many moments between that time and now the end of 12th grade and though I have never been prouder of who my daughter has become – truth be told I have also changed and grown.

My daughter has taught me so much and many times I didn’t even realize it. I think many parents, if they take a step back, would realize how intuitive our charges are. Parenting isn’t easy when there are so many balls to juggle – I mean the self-imposed balls of ensuring your child is successful such as attending the “right” college, earning the “right” grades, having the “right” friends. While I may not have always subscribed to these tenets I am guilty of some of them.

Along the way, I was straightened out by that bow-toting, doe-eyed little girl. She set me straight with sports by telling me that “she wasn’t going to go anywhere near the soccer ball for she may get hurt.” She also scoffed at the de rigueur of soccer cleats. She came home from elementary school one day and told me she felt “invisible.” I knew she was quiet but I fretted and tried to arrange for play dates that ended horribly or worse yet with girls who found more in common with her baby brother. Why didn’t I trust her instinct? She wasn’t interested in sports – but I wasted my time worrying about who she would play with when everyone was on the soccer field? I worried about the invisible comment and observed girls who were more aggressive and seemed to attract followers. She was learning about who she was and being quiet does not mean you are signing up for a life of loneliness – in time she found the right friends.

I worried every time she mentioned that she wasn’t popular or smart. Again, she was observing the world around her. Popularity was a contest she decided not to pursue and she was always far smarter than she thought. A solid student, the top tier always felt far away – she felt bad about herself. She had to work through that and she worked hard and watched others fly through tests without studying and earning 100s. She slowly learned that everyone blooms at different times and that hard work paid off. She also realized that she possessed talents and skills that were unique to her.

I learned that I spent way too much time lecturing about what she needed to do to get into college when all along the things that make my daughter who she is were always present and sometimes I failed to see that. I suppose it’s a mother’s job to question but if I could go back in time I would see the positive in so many little comments or incidents that I worried about. I also learned that swooping in for the rescue deprived her of making her own assessments. Believe me she put me in my place many times for that one.

So, today my daughter made her big decision and guess what – I once again failed to see what was in front of my face. She decided to go to a much larger university than I ever dreamed she would go to and the internal alarm sounded off for me. I countered by asking her if she was really sure and fretted about the final decision. What I should have seen is that my daughter was not taking the path of least resistance; she wants to get out of her comfort zone for her own personal growth. I should have seen that she was fearless and that instead of opting to be a big fish in a small pond she craved something more – a larger experience filled with challenge, diversity and opportunity. I was now guilty of not seeing her. My daughter was never invisible; not being seen by others who are wrapped up in themselves does not mean you are not there. Right now, I’ve never been more proud and I see more clearly than ever – that it’s time for me to get out of the way and wave goodbye!

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