Monthly Archives: August 2011

Jane Reads: This Beautiful Life

Like most of you, I love to read. I think that’s true for most of us who write. As a mother, it’s difficult for me to find time to read. With young children at home (I hesitate to say small as #1son just jumped two shoes sizes in the past 5 months. Yes. I said, two sizes!) my reading time is limited. But when I stumble onto something that grabs my attention, pulls me in and won’t let me go until I finish? I’m going to want to share it with all of you.

This Beautiful Life, by Helen Schulman, is a compelling story of a young teen who receives an illicit video email from a girl who has crush on him. He is stunned, conflicted and confused. With a click of a mouse, he forwards the email to his best friend – a friend with whom he shares everything.  A modern-day telephone game ensues and the video goes viral.

Privacy issues, family dynamics, social posturing in an upper class New York society are tossed together in a mixed-up tale questioning the boundaries we cross daily with our internet use. This story fascinated me as I wrestle with how public and transparent my own daughter seems to be on Facebook. I’ve had to ask her, repeatedly, to be careful with the pictures she posts of her little brothers. I typically get the eye-roll and a toss of the head. Feeling “square” I try to see it from her perspective but always come back to the same uneasy feelings that somehow our family privacy no longer exists in the click of a mouse internet age.

Helen Schulman is a compelling writer. I did get a little annoyed with meandering fluff sections and the use of profanity in descriptive, third person passages. I’m not against profanity use. I watch Dexter for goodness sake and have to check my own f-word use after watching an episode. But it seemed out of place (as if the narrator was trying to be as “hip” as her character) and seemed better suited to appear in actual dialogue. But I really enjoyed the way the story progressed from a different character perspective with each turn of the page. The frustration of the bread winning father, the shame and embarrassment of the son, the mom, barely coping with her new role as social outcast and the raw innocence of the 6-year-old daughter. A family divided in reaction and coping skills yet united in this internet tragedy.

This book doesn’t provide instant answers to the boundary hopping game the ease of the internet has given us. But it does push the reader to question personal boundaries and our comfort levels when we put ourselves out on the internet for all the world to see – whether we intend for the whole world to see us or not.

And what about our children and what we teach them is appropriate to share of themselves? For me, I’ve realized my own lazy internet parenting with my daughter and has me re-thinking how we’ll handle the computer with our sons.

I’m reminded of a New Adventures of Old Christine episode. Christine (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) realizes that she just clicked send on a scathing email intended for her friend but sent instead, to her boss. She races down the cord of the laptop and yanks it out of the wall. Then breathes a sigh of relief. And her brother remarks, “Yep. I’m sure you stopped it.”

With a click of a mouse, your whole world can change.

And there’s absolutely nothing you can do to stop it.

9 Comments

Filed under Books

My Baby Is Heading Off To College. Help!

My baby. My sweet, adorable angel. My amazing little girl is heading off for college. College? Seriously? Oh, how I feel like my grandmother when I say this but here goes….Where DID the time go?

I love being a mother.

Wait.

Did I just say “love?”

I ADORE being a mother.

It has been, hands down, that absolute best job I have ever had. No commute time. Loads of benefits. Company car. My coffee breaks aren’t timed. I can take a lunch whenever I want. No company parties to attend. Free daycare. Casual dress code.

And, I’m my own boss. (Well, most of the time.)

But it’s one of the rare jobs out there with a limited lifespan and forced retirement. Oh sure, I’m still her mother. But no longer the day-to-day chef, nurse, chauffeur, laundress and maid.

Hmmmmm. Maybe this isn’t such a bad thing.

As much as I’ve complained about picking up after her, attending to her crisis-of-the-week, cooking the dreaded tuna noodle casserole (her favorite), I’m going to miss that little stinker.

She is bubbly and bright. A stinging sense of humor. She quick with a witty comment or a heartfelt hug  just when you need it. She entertains her little brothers for hours on end. She has the magic touch when they are sad or frustrated.

I am going to miss her. So much. Four hours away seems like forever away.

My heart is aching and excited for her, all in the same beat. Such a pivotal and exciting chapter in her life. But I’ll be on the sidelines, with binoculars, from oh-so-far-away, watching and cheering. I’d like to think it is going to be a pivotal and exciting chapter for me, too.

But right now?

I just miss her so much.

 

21 Comments

Filed under children, Growing Up, Motherhood

Back-To-School Traditions Shared. (I Hope)

When my daughter first started school, 14 years ago, we started a tradition of dinner out at the restaurant of her choice on the first day of school. It was a tradition born of necessity. I was teaching at the time, a single mom, and was completely overwhelmed and frazzled on that first day of school. She had no idea she was saving me from having to tackle dinner.

She thought it was all about her.

Which it was.

And continued to be.

We’ve done that every year as our little back-to-school tradition. Not very original, though. Especially when I read a Facebook friend’s little shout out: “Just finished our end-of-summer-back-to-school tradition of ice cream for dinner! Yum! Yum!”

So cute. A little too sugary for my tastes. (Ba-dum-bum! Chhhh!)

 But original. And a lot more exciting than our boring ol’ go-out-for-dinner-on-the-first-day-of-school.

There must be other traditions out there that I hadn’t heard of.

So…..

Shout them out in the comments section below.

Please?

I’m looking for new material!

14 Comments

Filed under Because I'm Curious

Mom’s First Day Of School Jitters

We had to switch schools this year.

#1daughter is attending college in a short 10 days. And in case you weren’t aware….college is expensive. Damn expensive. I sure don’t remember having a college book bill totaling over $500.

And my husband is self-employed. Oh, yeah. And the economy sucks.

So, the boys had to leave the perfectly lovely, wonderful, can’t-say-enough-good-things-about Montessori School they’ve been attending for the past 4 years. We adored that school. But in March, we (and by we I mean “I” because my husband hates to be the bad guy) had to start looking at our “free” options. As in, those evil public schools. (And by evil, I don’t really mean evil but it seems whenever you tell someone you’re paying for your child’s education – on top of the taxes you already pay – it must mean that you think public schools are bad. Which I don’t. But that’s for another post.)

And when you tell your friends that you’re considering other options, everyone wants you to choose their option. The charter school, homeschool, the school down the street. We (and by we, remember we’re talking “I” here) weighed our options. And the school down the street (not really down the street but closer than the last school but far enough for the boys to ride the coveted school bus) was the fit that I (oops, I mean we) thought was the best fit for our children.

Let me tell you. I agonized over this decision. It kept me up nights. I listed the pros and the cons. I consulted friends and professionals. I visited and visited, again and again. I read articles online and compared test scores.

It was brutal.

But I finally came to a decision I prayed was the right one.

And even though I was pretty sure it was the right one, I still worried. It’s so different from Montessori. And so much bigger. 800 students in all! What if #1son gets lost in the crowd? What if #2son gets bored and starts acting out?

The first day arrived. #1son – who thinks he is too big for hugs and kisses goodbye, who marched around like a drill sargent that morning making sure everyone had their shoes on, teeth brushed and lunch boxes in hand – when it came time to hug me goodbye, clutched me around my middle and wouldn’t let go. I practically had to peel him off me. I could feel his apprehension. He didn’t have to say a word. (And he didn’t.)

I worried all day long. Every half hour passed and I wondered: “Did they make any new friends?”, “Were the kids mean on the playground?”, “What if they can’t sit still that long?” and “Will they get lost in the lunchroom?”

This is what greeted me after ambling off the bus: both boys, two thumbs up!

 

Nope. No worries, mom!

What a relief.

14 Comments

Filed under children, Moms, Motherhood

The Fate Of 36 Television Shows I’ve Never Heard Of

I will begin this post by admitting I have no idea what I’m talking about.

Oh sure, I know what I like. I know what interests me. That, I know.

But I have no idea how Nielsen ratings work. I don’t understand the whims of  TV execs who decide which shows should stay on the air and which shouldn’t. It seems to me as the number of channels to watch has grown so has the unpredictability if your show will survive another season, let alone another episode.

A few days ago, on msn.com, they had a “cover” story about the Fate of Your Fave TV Shows. Apparently, I had a lot of time on my hands. Because I actually clicked through all 92 slides. Not once, but twice. The first time because I was curious. The second time? I simply had to crunch the numbers.

I made a little chart. Two columns: returning and canceled. Then I divided the paper in half. The top half were shows I had heard of. The bottom half where the ones I hadn’t.

I expected the bottom right hand square to be chock full of shows that I hadn’t heard of. After all, they were being canceled because  no one was watching them. Most of all, me. With my high sensibilities and excellent taste I should be the judge of what is on television and what is not. Right?

Apparently. Not.

Of the 92 shows highlighted, I had heard of 60% of the shows listed. Sounds about right. I watch about 60% more television than I should.

Check.

Of the 92 shows highlighted, I hadn’t heard of 40%. Again, about right. I wish this number was higher but I can’t lie. I enjoy watching television. (There. I said it.  I feel so much better now.)

What surprised me is that the number of shows that were canceled, those that I had heard of and hadn’t heard of? The numbers were neck in neck.  Twenty percent were canceled. And 20%  of the shows that I had never heard of were returning for another season.

Huh?

This figure ticked me off.

How in the world did The Cleveland Show (never heard of) and Bob’s Burgers (never heard of)  beat out smart, interesting programs like The Good Guys (watched and loved)  and Detroit 1-8-7 (watched and loved)?

Bradley Whitford + Colin Hanks = Excellent Pairing

I understand 30 Rock and The Office continuing their careers (love them both). But hasn’t Desperate Housewives had its day? And what about Cougar Town? And Celebrity (train wreck) Apprentice? Are you kidding me?

Skins (never heard of) and Traffic Light (never heard of) and Brothers and Sisters (heard of and it was definitely time) were canceled. But you’re bringing back Being Human (never heard of)  and Happy Endings(never heard of but it must be the karma of the show title) ?!?

No rhyme. No reason.

Just the whims of a bunch of suits, sitting around a glass table throwing darts at the television schedule.

That’s how I see it, anyway.

I just have one request.

If I could have the final word on the subject, oh Producer Gods? You’re bringing back Two and A Half Men. Fine. But please say it will be without Charlie Sheen.

14 Comments

Filed under Soapbox, television

It’s The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year!

Most wonderful commercial ever! (At this time of year, anyway!)

Just one more week for mine. How about yours?

14 Comments

Filed under funny