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BADGES OF AGE AND HONOR (and blackmail)

3 Sep

I’ve started a middle-aged revolt. Against my kids. Against their earnest assumption that in all things technical I am a doofus.

Anytime I pick up a piece of equipment, be it a camera, TV remote control, garage door opener, there always seems to be a resounding “I’ll do it mom!”  Years ago they would simply grab whatever the equipment was out of my hand. They have learned the consequences of that.  I’ve begun fighting back like a two-year-old. 

Now, I do appreciate the saying, “If you want to know how to use a complicated piece of equipment, ask a ten-year-old.” But I don’t want to become to my kids what I did to my ex-husband – a technophobe.  In the divorce I also lost my computer repairman. My ex is a hot-shot video editor and handyman. I almost  forgot how to drive a nail when I was married. 

Nevermind that at one time I was the one that all my parents’ friends called to hook up that new VCR thing they had brought home. Or that a college professor/news director actually once threatened to blackmail me if I wouldn’t be his news video editor because I was the only one who could do fast edits of the tape student reporters  brought in. (Didn’t work, but more on that later.)  Or even that I was an awesome photographer with one of those old-fashioned SLR cameras. (They think I’m incapable of using my phone camera now.)

The real problem is of course that I try to do all of the above without wearing  my badge of being over forty – my reader glasses.  If I had a nickel for every cry that went up when I was merely trying to change the volume on the TV and instead changed the channel.

So now my children are trained to wait patiently while I attempt to do whatever it is I’m not doing fast enough for them.  And when I cry “uncle” they will give me a patient lesson in how to do it.

Now back to that blackmailing news director.  I didn’t take the bait, but instead went across town and offered my services for free to the ABC affiliate as it was my last quarter in school and I needed to build my resume tape. Fast forward many years later, and I find out that this said news director was well-known for telling blossoming female students that in order to have a go at anchoring the news they had to sleep with him.  But not me. I was blackmailed for work.  It was my badge of honor to be blackmailed for my video editing talents and not sex. 

Now I can’t work the TV remote.  But don’t tell my kids.

Nothing Good Happens After Midnight

1 Sep

A friend asked me the other day whether she should call out her 12th grade daughter for locking her out of her Facebook account.  Seems the daughter was having boyfriend problems and wanted some privacy. My advice to the mom was that now that her daughter is a senior, she might think of letting her have her privacy while the mom is still there to clean any mess that might develop as a result. My friend easily saw the sense in that advice, as hard as it was to let go.

My kids will be the first to say that there are times I embarrass them in public by saying what’s on my mind,  but at the same time they tell me I’m one of the most lenient moms of all their friends’ moms. That in itself is interesting since a former boyfriend (who had seven kids himself) said I was much to hard on mine, while my mother was sure my leniency was going to find them pierced and tattooed by 11 years old. When I asked my son why he considered me so much more lenient than other parents, he responded, “Well for one, I can ride my bike past the stop sign.”

The truth is that I value teaching trust and independence to children.  Instilling it in them as an ongoing process garners much better results than waiting until, say, they are a senior, to let loose.

My children have turned out just great. My daughter tells a story of how a friend of hers wanted her to sneak out a window late one night to go do God knows what. My daughter’s stance was, “My parents trust me and let me  do just about anything I want  within reason. Why would I want to do something stupid like that and have them not trust me?” Exactly.  She knows good behavior begets trust. Besides, my favorite saying is “Nothing good happens after midnight.”

My son is another story. Just tonight we had that talk where I tell him that he may think I’m a clueless old lady, but I’ve been around the block many a time and there’s not much you can get past old mom. He actually had a teaspoon of oregano on a piece of notebook paper that just happened to be the size of a joint paper. Don’t know what shenanigans he was up to, but it didn’t work when he tried to convince me he just wanted to come ask me if that was enough to put in the tomato soup.  I don’t lecture too much, but it turned into one of those conversations where I sounded like my parents: “I’m talking and you’re listening.”

My son may be testing his independence now, but I know the day will never go away where I can’t count on his unsolicited hugs and kisses while I’m working  at my desk. Our best talks as a family is when we all three just pile in to my big king-sized bed and giggle and talk about anything and everything. Inevitably, it turns into a tickle fest and competition as to who gets to be closest to mom.  Those are the days that make me smile.



25 Aug

My daughter Hayden is 18 years old today. The night before she was born, Hurricane Andrew stormed into Miami and there was news of all near-term pregnant women in Miami being rounded up to go to the hospital without family. There wasn’t enough room for family too. Hayden was born the next morning in Jacksonville, all 10 lbs. 11 ounces of her, and I luckily had her father with me.

I can’t say she made it through life unscathed; chronic Lyme disease and the divorce of her parents surely left its mark. But on her part, she was a child I’m very proud of for the choices she has made. When your priest and pediatrician both tell you  your high school aged daughter has “made very good choices,” you accept it and thank God without question.

I think it was her 12th or 13th birthday when she was having a party and inviting all the kids in her church youth group. There was one particular kid that was an oddity, and I casually mentioned that she didn’t have to invite him if she didn’t want. She remarked that she indeed was going to invite him because he was part of the youth group and it would hurt his feelings if he wasn’t. That’s my daughter.

While there was celebration of life today for Hayden, there was grieving by me for loss of one of my close friends  from junior high school. We haven’t been close since, however, our lives have intertwined in a variety of ways. She lived down the street from me when I was married and her daughters babysat for my children. I went to school with her husband as well, her high school sweetheart.

All those years ago as my friend and I sat in junior high school Latin class and passed notes furiously about this boy and that, and had our own secret written symbols for the girls they liked, and not us, we never looked ahead to the future to contemplate what our lives would bring. It was all about the here and now.

When you make a life in the city in which you grow up, your  paths cross many times with the people you figured would be history.  The folks you went to high school with are the ones that really know you no matter how successful or disconnected you become later in life. We never have to explain ourselves to them, ever again. They are the ones that forgive your transgressions over the years and welcome you as an evolved adult later in life.

My wish for my daughter Hayden on her 18th birthday is that while she makes a life for herself  that she makes the effort to stay connected with those who over the years who have meant something in her life. That she forgives the small transgressions that inevitably will be made by friends.  And that forty years later she be moved when one of them leaves this world. My wish for Hayden is that she understand that the here and now is what builds the future.  Often, the best part of the future is looking back.

Happy 18th Birthday Hayden.