Category Archives: Soapbox

Why Are There So Many Clueless Parents In The World And Why Am I In The Minority?

So…..Disney nut that I am, I follow quite a few Disney fan sites on Facebook. And as we blog, this very moment, there is a great debate going on about the appropriateness of revealing a surprise trip to Disney for her daughter’s birthday.

The Facts:

  1. Her daughter wanted a slumber party to celebrate her birthday. (No age was given, but slumber party age….I’m thinking between 10-13)
  2. Her parents are giving her a trip to Disney to be taken later in the year.
  3. They want to stage a scavenger hunt to be done at the party with prizes for everyone but her daughter will receive the trip to Disney as HER prize.
  4. A friend of the mom felt it was “cruel” to give this gift in front of the other children.
  5. The mom is now conflicted but feels a trip to Disney is no different than her child opening up any other gift at the party.
  6. Mom is asking opinions so she can decide when to give her daughter their Disney gift.

My Thoughts:

  1. A slumber party is a great way to celebrate a birthday.
  2. A trip to Disney is a fantastic birthday gift.
  3. A scavenger hunt is a fun way to keep the kids occupied. Gifts at the end? Wonderful. But for her daughter to receive such an extravagant gift in comparison to the other children? Ridiculous.
  4. You go, friend!
  5. Mom, if you’re conflicted than maybe you should re-think this plan. How in the world do you compare a trip to Disney World and an American Girl Crafts Pencil Toppers Sewing Kit? Seriously?
  6. The fact that you’re conflicted means,  in your gut, you know this is wrong. Stop asking strangers for parenting advice.

I realize everyone doesn’t behave exactly as I would like. I realize it takes all kinds to create this crazy world in which we live. But I’d like to think that the majority of us out there have a decent, kind and compassionate playbook that we follow in order to conduct our day to day living.

It seems I am wrong.

I am in the minority with my response…..

“Just my two cents, although it looks like the decision has been made.. I don’t think opening gifts in front of the guests is an issue if the gifts are in line with what the other guests brought. I think it gets a little muddled when extravagant gifts are paraded in front of the guests. And that’s what a trip to Disney (or a car for a 16th birthday) would be like for some. We have our kids open gifts from their guests in front of the guests. But gifts from family, which tend to be more expensive, are opened privately, with family.”

I had to throw in the “or a car for a 16th birthday” because so many of the responses asked, “How different is it to give your child a car for graduation or a 16th birthday?”


  1. You would really parade a hugely expensive gift, like a car, in front of your child’s peers? Who are you? And why is YOUR self-worth wrapped up in what you buy your child?  And……
  2. Parents actually buy their kids cars for birthdays? (My kids are in for a rude awakening!) What ever happened to earning the privilege and showing some financial responsibility?

I was, very clearly, in the minority. Most of the parents out there (granted, most of them are huge Disney addicts) thought a trip to Disney was a wonderful surprise and should be flaunted in front of her peers.


And don’t get me wrong. I am not jealous that this parent is able to give her child a trip to Disney or a car for her graduation. I am able to give my children multiple trips to Disney (and I do) and cars for their birthdays AND graduation (which I don’t. Sorry, kids).

A collage of selfies taken on multiple trips to Walt Disney World.

A collage of selfies taken on multiple trips to Walt Disney World.


A collage of cars I will not be buying my children for the 16th birthday or graduation. (Sorry, kids!)

A collage of cars I will not be buying my children for the 16th birthday or graduation. (Sorry, kids!)

The money and the haves vs. the have nots is not the issue.

The issue is the grand-standing.

And no one saw this but me and a handful of others who were willing to speak out.

The majority said, “Go for it!” and “Everyone is so friggin’ offended over EVERYTHING that happens these days!”  and (said more forcefully) ” I’D GIVE HER THE GIFT AS PLANNED. IF THEY DONT LIKE IT TOUGH!!!”

Really? If they don’t like it, tough?

I’m not a socialist. I don’t believe everyone should get an equal share of every pie. I realize that my kids see some of their friends getting cars and trips for presents while others get video games and baseball mitts and books.

Don’t worry.

I get that.

What I don’t get is this need to flaunt expensive gifts in front of others who might have parents without the means to shower them with the same type of gift. Or, forget the means, maybe their parents believe their child should work for something of value instead of being handed expensive items.

And we wonder where this sense of entitlement is coming from with kids these days.

There are other comments along the lines of: We should be teaching our children to be happy for other’s successes in life, not be jealous of what they have.

And I agree with THAT, too. But successes in life should include best time in the swim meet, great grade on the test, graduating from school, promotion at work. I’m not saying we shouldn’t be happy that she’s going to Disney World. Yay! Go her! I’m saying that…….well, it doesn’t matter what I say. No one’s reading this far and quite a few disagree with  me.

In the time it took me to craft this post the original poster has read all the recommendations and come to this conclusion:

“Many feel that if even one person may have their feelings hurt, or be offended, than it is too high a price to pay and should not be done, yet there are others who think learning what I call life lessons early on is the best way to go about it and I fall into the last catagory. We’re going ahead, as planned!”

Life lessons? Really?

What life lesson is that?

That there are people in the world who don’t give a rat’s ass about modesty, humility and kindness? That there are people in this world that love to gloat and crow and boast? That some parents are just a bundle of insecurity and need to showboat in order to prove to the world how much they “love” their daughter with the expensive gifts they give?

Is that the lesson?

Then you go right ahead.

Lesson away.






Filed under parenting, Soapbox, Uncategorized

And Reason #173 Why “Auntie Jen” Shouldn’t Have Children

Just when you think you’ve heard it all, THIS pops up in my news feed…..

“A jury has ruled against a New York woman who sued her nephew for hugging her too hard on his eighth birthday.”

I’m sorry. But with that kind of lead-in, I just had to click and read.

Apparently, with undue glee, the sweet,  “very loving” (<—her words!) 8-year-old boy ran towards her and leapt into her arms, saying “Auntie Jen, I love you!” The force knocked her down and she broke her wrist. She didn’t complain to him at the time because, as she told the jury, “It was his birthday and I didn’t want to upset him.”

So, Jennifer Connell upset him later with a $127, 000 lawsuit. She wants him accountable for his actions. Besides, now the 54-year-old has a hard time juggling her hors d’oeuvre plate when she attends parties due to her injury. (I’m not kidding. That’s what she told the jury. I can’t make this stuff up.) 

Hence, my disgust and confusion.

How in the world did this woman find an attorney that would take this case?

How in the world did anyone, crazy aunt or money-grubbing attorney, think they were going to get $127,000 from an 8-year-old boy?

How in the world did this ever, ever in a million years, get to a jury and waste the good taxpayers time and money?

Thank you, dear jury, for delivering the only verdict possible.

Thank you, Auntie Jen, for never having children. You’ve already squashed the loving exuberance of a sweet child in one fell swoop. We don’t need to squash any other children.

And to the poor, sweet, very loving boy (who is now 12-years-old — yes, it took four years for this debacle to end) may you find love and kindness in your other relatives.

And may you never have to hug Auntie Jen ever again.



Filed under I'm Baffled (And Because I Love The Word Baffled), In the News, Soapbox

Mom Cries Foul At 8th Grade Awards Night Or How Our Awards Happy Society Has Jane’s Panties In A Twist

There is a story, complete with proud-parent-and-child picture, riding the internet waves. Specifically, on Facebook. (Where I seem to get all of my news, sadly.)

This mom is pleading for us to like/share/comment on her son’s pathetic tale. Apparently, at 8th grade awards night, her son received his award for great grades in 8th grade but his name was inadvertently left off the list when awarding students for great grades for their entire middle school academic career. Her son was so shaken, and so was Mom, that she is pleading for us to like/share/comment so she can give her son the recognition he deserves.



I read the plea to my recent college grad daughter and she rolled her eyes and said, “I’ll bet he’s as embarrassed as hell. I’d KILL you if you ever did that to me.”

And then, wisely, she said, “There are so many disappointments in life. So many good things that he’ll do that may not go unnoticed but WILL go unrecognized. Isn’t that the bigger lesson there?” (Ahhh, now I’M the proud mom.)


If he is so bright. So determined. So driven. He is going to go on to achieve many great things in life. Some will go unnoticed. Some will go unrecognized. But in his heart, he will know he achieved “greatness.” Those close to him will know. And isn’t that what’s important?

We have become a society that applauds and awards the smallest of achievements. We give recognition when, sometimes, it shouldn’t be “due.” And we are doing this with such regularity that we want our children to be recognized for every little thing. And when they aren’t recognized? For the big and the small? We are livid.

A few times, during my son’s baseball career, I’ve cringed at the end of the game awards ceremonies. Every kid is guaranteed a medal, at least once in the short 6 game season, for “greatness.” Well, I hate to put this out there, but my kid ain’t great. He’s mediocre. He loves the game. He has a blast. He makes great strides for him. But most kids would have hit that ball. Caught that pop fly. Or made it all the way to 2nd base on an overthrow to first. So when the coach would sometimes have to search for something to praise my kid about I wanted to say, “It’s okay to give it to the boy who hit the home run with 2 RBI’s or the outfielder who made the over-the-fence out.”

But I don’t. And my kid is bursting while he wears his medal after the game. And my cruel heart softens, as I see him bursting with pride. And that’s okay, too.

Because sometimes, he’s going to get awards for things that are disgustingly easy for someone else. And he’s going to watch, someday, as someone gets the award that maybe he should have received. There’s a lesson there, too.

There are so many lessons of unfairness for each of us to learn. And sometimes, we have to learn them in 8th grade so that when it happens in 12th grade and in college and umpteen times in our adult careers we don’t want to curl up and die because no one noticed our greatness.

We aren’t always going to have mommies, cheering on the sidelines, making sure every single one of our achievements is noticed. And we shouldn’t.

The true value of an achievement is what we learn from it.

What we take from it.

And how we apply it to further greatness.




Filed under Lessons Learned, Soapbox

So Sue ME. I Bought Baby Einstein Videos For My Kids.

How is it that I am late to this party?

Not a polite 5 minutes late.

Not a day late (and a few dollars short.)

But six years late.

Apparently, in 2009, Disney offered refunds to parents for the Baby Einstein videos because they didn’t turn your darling little angels into …..well, Einsteins.


The consumer group, Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, took the children’s video giant to court crying “foul” to their claims that Baby Einstein videos are “educational.” In fact, the American Academy of Pediatrics suggests that video watching by the under 2 set is actually damaging to their tiny little brains. So Disney removed the verbiage from the packaging. But that wasn’t enough. Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood demanded that parents be fairly compensated for the trauma they had been put through, as their expectations fell, realizing that little Johnny and little Jane were (gasp!) still just average.

Don’t get me wrong. I am a Disney nut who tends to defend Disney at all cost. Claiming that these videos were “educational” based on anecdotal evidence and the fact that they played classical music in the background is wrong. And, I’ll admit it (only to you) that I, too, fell prey to purchasing not one, not two but about 5 of these little beauties.

But ultimately, who is at fault here?


In 2004, I bought the videos. Even though my pediatrician gave me the developmental handout telling me not to sit my baby in front of the television. Even though I knew that real life stimuli trumps passive TV watching every time. Even though, in my heart, I knew I should be the one entertaining my baby.

But I bought the videos anyway. And I plopped my then one-year-old in front of the TV so that I could nurse his little brother, age 2 months, in relative peace. Or both of them, so I could start dinner. Or fold laundry. Or pee.

I played the role of educated consumer and I traded the opinion of the experts for a few moments of sanity.

So sue ME.

If you completed at least a middle school education, you should know by now that there is “truth” in advertising but most times, it’s a twisted truth. My husband always cracks up when “health food” claims what they are selling is “all-natural.”

“Arsenic is all-natural,” he’ll scoff.

We, the parents, bought the $15 dollar DVDs. We, the parents, decided that they were acceptable entertainment. And we, the parents, are ultimately responsible for nurturing our child’s intellect in a way that will help it to reach its full potential.

Not television.

And certainly not Disney.





Filed under parenting, Soapbox

Jane Cries A River For The Impoverished Music Industry

I watched an awards show. Finally. In it’s entirety.

The 2015 Grammy Awards.


Don’t get me wrong. I used to be an awards show junkie. I never missed. Even the shows announcing the nominees. I loved the entertainment industry. As a music major in college, I thought I would be a part of it one day.

But then, life happened. And kids. I discovered a whole new vocation I never thought in a million years I would enjoy so much. Motherhood. It’s been a blast. And the reason entertainment is my weakest category in Trivia Crack.

All in all, I felt it was a bit lack luster. Madonna tried to be shocking. Yawn. A legend crooned with a much, much, much younger up and comer. Creepy. Rock bands that should have retired long ago tried to show they still had it. Uh-uh.

Then, the Grammy’s put domestic violence and human trafficking into the forefront. Brooke Axtell, a survivor, spoke out against abuse against women. She gave a moving speech and Katy Perry followed up with a beautiful rendition of “By The Grace Of God.”

I thought, good for them. They should pick a cause every year to support.

And then, (you knew there was going to be an “and then” didn’t you?) ……..

And then………

Recording Academy president, Neil Portnow, used his time on stage to promote Creators Alliance, a new lobby group to represent those poor, under-appreciated and under-compensated music artists in Washington.


Oh, you mean like Steven Tyler, Alicia Keys, Adam Levine and Jennifer Hudson?

Yep. Those artists.

And I couldn’t help but remember when Metallica made (pardon my language but there really is no other word) asses of themselves in 2000, crying about Napster.

Don’t get me wrong. I am a poster child for plagiarism. I’m a rule follower from way back. I had a neighbor tease me once because I still use iTunes to buy my music. So sue me. I think stealing is wrong. Whether it’s milk, money or music. But when it comes to musicians, raking in millions from their craft, and they want to cry about the other thousands they may have lost? I have one thing to say. Take care of it privately. Quietly. Get your lawyers on it. Use your considerable wealth and position and power without telling me all about it.

Neil Portnow wanted to use his platform to gain support and inform the fans. Inform the fans? Seriously? He wanted to wag his bejeweled finger and remind Johnny that downloading songs for free is wrong and robs artists of fair compensation? Johnny doesn’t already know that? And fair compensation? Nobody is downloading some no-name artists music for free. And if they are, I can tell you the “no-name artist” is thrilled that someone is even listening to them.

I sat there. Trying to judge the reaction of the audience. The cameras panned the crowd and showed a few bobbing heads of agreement but there wasn’t some wild outpouring of support (Thank God.) I honestly don’t know how the audience felt. But if they agreed, it seems they had the common sense to keep their (greedy) feelings private.

I agree that people should be rewarded for their work. I agree that sharing music online without compensating the artist (and producers and writers and etc.) is stealing. I wouldn’t have stolen an album from a record store back in the day. I shouldn’t steal a song of the internet waves now. But talking to me, sweet little Jane, sitting in her living room on the weathered coach she can’t afford to replace, telling me that if this rampant internet stealing continues we’re going to have a world without music because artists won’t be able to make a living in the music industry anymore? Bullshit. (Oops. Excuse me again. But this topic pisses me off.)

Cry me a river. You want to talk about professions that aren’t fairly compensated for their craft? The ones who truly struggle to make a living? How about teachers? Police officers and firemen? Or social workers? Create a lobby group for them.

The Verge headline this morning said it best: Grammy Millionaires Unite To Lobby Washington For Better Pay.

Earlier in the evening, I mused how wonderful art would be if artists pursued their craft for the pure joy of creating it. Not for money. Not for glory. Not for fame. Real, true artists sharing their gifts.

Find me a gifted, talented, true artist that is also poverty-stricken and suffering and I’ll be happy to get behind your cause. But until then, Mr. Portnow, keep your wagging finger and your millions to yourselves.




Filed under Soapbox

Since When Is A “B” Not Enough?

And not just a “B” but an 88.5.

For a 10 year old.

Are you kidding me?

Don’t get me wrong. I love this college-prep elementary school. I’m glad they have high standards. I’m glad they’re pushing my son to reach his full potential.

But when is enough, enough?

Or, more specifically, since when is a “B” not enough?

My son is bright. And imaginative. And active. (You can see where this is going, can ‘t you?) Some teachers love his exuberance, his joie de vivre. And he thrives in their classrooms. Other teachers? Not so much. They just don’t get him.

Not to be redundant but,  did I tell you he is bright? This isn’t just a delusional mom. I have perfect standardized test scores to back me up. As a result, he gets bored. Easily. But emotionally, he is right there with his peers. So, in the 5th grade, he stays. I’ve put my foot down and no one will convince me otherwise.

I received an email today asking for a conference. “He isn’t in trouble, by any means, I just don’t think he’s working up to his full potential.”


I scan the grade sheet. The detailed rubric of his progress in this one class. Writing Class. A 93. An 88. Another 88. And an 85. For an average of 88.5.

So what’s the problem?

I don’t want my kid to be lazy. I want him to always give 110%. But he hates (gasp) to write. He doesn’t like to write fiction. He doesn’t like to write non-fiction. He won’t even like to write his own autobiography. Apparently, I didn’t pass down the writing gene to him. And that’s okay with me. Because….

He loves math. And science. And engineering. And taking things apart. And putting them back together. And Greek mythology. And history. And reading. He loves, loves, loves to read.

So, the writing will come. Someday. For right now, an 88.5 in his least favorite class, and his lowest grade in all subjects, is fine with me. In fact, a high B in a class he doesn’t enjoy is pretty impressive in my book. And because he is bright, I know he will glean from writing class what he needs and apply it when he needs to apply it.

C’mon. He has an 88 in writing mechanics. At age 10.

I’m not worried.



Filed under Observations, Soapbox

Maddie Ziegler and Sia Chandelier Performance On Ellen: What Am I Missing Here?

I’m an unabashed fan of Ellen DeGeneres. She’s funny. She’s kind. She’s giving. I watch her show often (while folding laundry, of course. I’m nothing if not a great multi-tasker.)

But the other day, she had the artist Sia on her show to re-create her video for her hit song, Chandelier. And I was a bit…….stunned. First, let me say, I enjoy Sia’s music. Have a few of her songs on my iPod, as a matter of fact. I was looking forward to her performance.

Instead of being wowed (in a good way), I sat there, slack-jawed. I was uncomfortable. When they didn’t show any audience reaction, I figured the rest of the audience felt the same way.

Nope. As soon as the performance ended,  the audience erupted and the camera revealed a standing ovation.


If you’re not familiar……

(1) Here are a few snippets of the lyrics to Chandelier: “I’m the one “for a good time call” ,” “1-2-3 drink, 1-2-3 drink, throw ’em back ’til I lose count,” and “Sun is up, I’m a mess, Gotta get out now, gotta run from this. Here comes the shame, here comes the shame.”

(2) Maddie Ziegler (from Dance Moms) is an 11-year old dancer.

(3) And her costume for the performance, a flesh toned bodysuit, looked like this:


I was troubled. I wrongly assumed others would be, too. And when I Googled “Maddie’s performance Sia Chandelier on Ellen” the adjectives in the articles that popped up were “amazing,” “haunting,” “emotional,” and “incredible.”

Call me a prude. Call me self-righteous. Call me old-fashioned.

I don’t care.

I have an issue with prepubescent girls dancing on television in skin-tight, flesh colored leotards, creating the illusion of nudity to songs that describe adult alcoholic beverage (over) drinking behavior.

So sue me.





Filed under Soapbox