Category Archives: That Reminds Me!

That’s It! Time Out For Everyone!

Faemom brought on this “Hey! That reminds me…” post!

Not long ago, the boys were playing in their playroom. I was working downstairs in the kitchen. Suddenly, it got very, very quiet. Fully expecting to catch them in the act of a dastardly deed, I tiptoed up the stairs. As I rounded the corner I witnessed a peculiar scene.

The entire playroom was perfectly neat. (very peculiar) Every toy was in it’s proper place. (very, very peculiar) Except for the stuffed animals. Every animal was sitting side by side in  a long row that wrapped around the room.

“What’s going on?” I asked, innocently.

#1son shook his head sadly and said, “It’s been a very, very bad day.”

It was everything in me not to crack up.

But just as seriously I replied, “I’m right there with ya!'”

And with that #2son sidled up to me and patted my shoulder knowingly.

Yes, they know all about the very bad day.


Filed under children, That Reminds Me!

Isn’t A Burka Simply A Mask?

Angelcel, of AC’s Scrapbook brought up a topic of the “Hey, that reminds me!” variety. See the inspiration for the following post here.

Angelcel’s post got me thinking. Isn’t a burka simply a mask? It conceals the identity of the person inside. It creates a nameless, faceless figure that is not easily identified.

Anti-mask laws are debated in the United States. In a simple google search I discovered that many, if not all, states have some form of an anti-mask ordinance in place. And for as many laws I found, I found just as many rebuttals, protests and appeals. Those against anti-mask laws are concerned about freedom of speech and expression. Those for anti-mask laws are concerned for public safety or to discourage offensive behavior.

Where I live, much of the hullabaloo centers around this kind of mask:

I find the above mask and robe offensive. I don’t want someone hiding behind it, spewing hatred towards others under the “safety” of a mask. I also find the burka offensive. But wearing it is an expression of religious affiliation. I believe those forced to wear a burka are victims of hatred. But there are some who willingly wear the burka as an expression of their religious beliefs. Who am I to tell them it’s wrong?

Which leads me to the “Hey! That reminds me…” part of the post.

It was July. My daughter was 8 years old and her US citizenship was finally approved. My husband suggested that we celebrate the fourth of July in Boston, his hometown. Perfect. A Boston fourth of July – there’s no better place to celebrate!

We had a wonderful time. Homes all decked out in red, white and blue. Picnics and Bar-B-Ques. Even a neighborhood parade (she decorated her scooter with streamers and rode with her cousins) that ended at the local park. Sack races and egg tosses. Pony rides and sno-cones. And the fireworks? Amazing!

We spent a week in the Boston area so we had plenty of time for sight-seeing. One particular afternoon, shopping at Faneuil Hall Marketplace, we all split up. Everyone wanted to see something different. When we met back up my mother-in-law was agitated.

“See? That person there? In the burka? It’s a man.”

Her husband scoffed. My husband laughed and called her paranoid.

“No. Look at his hands. His shoes. It’s a man under there. We should do something.”

She was right. Thick, hairy arms. Thick, hairy fingers. Large, black work boots. He noticed us staring and he scuttled away.

“What should we do, Mom?” my husband asked, “He wasn’t doing anything wrong. And besides, we’re not sure it was a man anyway.”

My mother-in-law was still upset. She had been watching him for some time. He appeared to be fascinated with the crowds and the buildings. We just brushed off her concerns. The date was July, 2001.

Two months later, America’s greatest tragedy happened. And the two planes that crashed into the World Trade Center originated in Boston.

Before 9/11, if you had asked me whether women should be banned from wearing burkas in this country I would have defended their every right to freely express their beliefs.

But now? No. No way. Never.

It’s a mask. Plain and simple. And in this country, we don’t wear masks when we’re in public. You are welcome to wear your mask on Halloween. But on every other day? No. In this culture, a mask in unacceptable on a daily basis. It conceals our identity and arouses suspicion. As angelcel pointed out, “If I were to go and live in a different culture I would accept that I should abide by the rules and accept the creeds and standards of that culture.”

So when you are in a western culture, burkas are not acceptable. Because a burka is a mask.



Filed under Soapbox, That Reminds Me!

Walking The Fine Line Between Need And Want

I had a “Hey! That reminds me…” moment today. WackyMummy shared an experience with her child that got me thinking about my own up-bringing….

I remember a time when all four of us slept in the same room. All girls, ages 4, 2 and 1-year-old twins. My parents slept in the living room on a pull-out couch. Then we moved to a big house. It had 3 bedrooms. My sister and I shared one. The twins shared the other. And my parents slept on the same pull-out couch in the den. They couldn’t afford a nice bed. My mother made most of our clothes. We only received gifts (and not many) on Christmas and birthdays. Our meals rotated between pork and beans, macaroni and cheese, spaghetti and spanish rice with a little ground beef thrown in. I remember I loved going to my grandparents houses where there were salads and fresh fruit, juice and soda.

My parents were struggling financially. They were young and Dad was trying to make a name for himself at his company. My mother desperately wanted to be a nurse so she was going back to school. With one income, four kids and college tuition, it was a stretch for them.

But I didn’t feel poor. We lived in a Detroit suburb. A blue-collar neighborhood. Everyone else was in the same boat. Television commercials were mostly about laundry detergent and breakfast cereals. The fancy cars lived in the fancy neighborhoods. Only the rich and famous could afford designer clothes. Designer anything didn’t exist for the common folk.

Then my dad received a huge promotion. My parents moved us to a very wealthy area. They bought the biggest house they could afford in one of the nicest areas and best public school districts in the state. Suddenly, we were all too aware what kind of cars our neighbors were driving. And our neighbors didn’t work on assembly lines – they owned the assembly lines. Or they were doctors and lawyers. And the kids in the neighborhood were expected to achieve. Ninety-two percent of my graduating class went on to college. In my old district, less than 10%. We were in the big leagues now.

Our lifestyle had changed and so had the times.

My defining moment was when I was in the 7th grade. My sister and I each wanted a Sir Jac jacket. You remember (that is, if you’ve over 35 you might)….they came in all colors with the red plaid lining? Angela, the coolest girl in the 8th grade, had the pale yellow one. She was at my bus stop and she barely knew I existed, even though we were the only two at the stop. I wanted a jacket just like hers.

We begged my dad and he found a store that carried them.  Even though it wasn’t Christmas or our birthdays he said we could each have one. We walked into a discount store, Meijers. But we didn’t care. We were getting our jackets! New clothes. Not hand-made or hand-me-downs. Not anymore. They weren’t “Sir Jac” but they looked just like them. I took the classic khaki and my sister wanted powder blue. We were thrilled. We tried them on right there in the store. Suddenly we heard giggling. We turned to see who was there. No one. We told our dad how much we loved them. We heard noises again. This time they were high-pitched voices ooohhh-ing and ahhh-ing over the jackets. And then we saw them. Two boys, from my sister’s 5th grade class.

My faced turned beet red. My sister was angry. My dad? The look in his eyes. It was the first time I have ever seen shame in my father’s eyes. He looked quickly down and asked if we wanted to leave.

 “No,” my sister said defiantly, “We love these jackets. Can we still have them?”

My dad smiled and walked proudly to the front of the store. Those horrible boys followed us, chanting about the poor kids buying poor imitations. I’m ashamed to say I would have loved to dump the coats right there and never come back.

But we weren’t poor kids. We lived in a huge house with five bedrooms and four bathrooms. My parents had nice cars. We ate out at restaurants a few nights a week. We bought our clothes at Jacobson’s and Pappagallo. We had a “kid’s phone line” in our home. We belonged to a swim and tennis club. Why were they calling us poor?

Because the boys ridiculing us in front of our father lived in even bigger houses with elevators and a cleaning woman. Their moms weren’t nurses who worked 12 hour shifts to be able to afford nice clothes. Their moms played tennis and bridge. Had their nails done. The ladies who lunched. They took trips out of the country for holidays. They were given a car at age 16.

I went to school that Monday and, even though my sister was in grade school, word had traveled to the middle school that I was wearing an imposter. I’d forgotten that one of the boys teasing us at Meijer had a big brother in my grade. I was teased and ridiculed. I hid the jacket in my locker and wadded it up in a ball for the bus ride home.

Suddenly, I was thrust into the world of want. Wanting the best. Needing designer clothes. Knowing the brand names. The cost. I learned the rules of never buying on sale, only shopping certain stores and that no one who is anyone buys imitation.

The times had changed on television, too. Commercials pushed more than soap and soup. And television shows were getting into the act. They pushed a lifestyle to maintain. Clothes, hairstyles, vacations, jewelry. The difference was clear between the haves and the have-nots. And I wanted to be a have.

We strive as parents to provide our children with the best. My parents wanted the best for us. They wanted us to live comfortably. Enjoy new things. Receive a good education. It’s the same I want for my children. But at what cost? How do you balance having with appreciating? Satisfaction with envy?

It’s difficult when we live in a culture that looks to their neighbor to see how they live. When television and print ads bombard us with what we need. How do we teach our children, despite all the distractions, that what we need is safety, comfort, integrity, love and support? We need to pursue professions we love, in spite of the salary. We need to surround ourselves with people who love us and accept us for who we are, not what we wear.

After all, designer labels and trends change with each decade. The need for each of us to be valued and loved for who we are remains constant.


Filed under That Reminds Me!, Uncategorized

Hey, That Reminds Me!

I read so many of your posts out there and you’ll stir a memory or remind me of something else I’ve heard. It happens so often I’m thinking of starting a meme (If it hasn’t been done already! Jeez, it seems every time I come up with a great idea it’s already been thought of. And if you’re here to take my great idea remember, you heard it here first and I’ve got proof – note the time and date stamp of this post!) but I’m too technologically-challenged to create a button for you to “grab.” But I digress…

Julia, over at Brainella the Librarian, reminded me of a wonderful game my dad and I used to play with one another – in my teens and early twenties. It stopped because it made my mother jealous but that’s for another post. And before your dirty, Freudian minds get away from you let me explain….

My dad traveled a lot for work. During lay-overs or at tacky diners, he’s browse the gift shops. He bring home the tackiest gift he could find. An Elvis souvenir comb from Memphis. An ashtray (I didn’t smoke) with Jimmy Carter’s face in the bottom (I’m not kidding about this one. I wish I could find it to show you!). The “All I Got Was This T-Shirt” t-shirt. Refrigerator magnets. Hats. Pens that glowed in the dark. Silly mugs and other beverage containers. Sunglasses. You get the picture. We had so much fun trying to top each other with our gifts.

It was a wonderful way to connect. To be thinking of each other when we didn’t see each other so much anymore. When I was in high school I spent the summer in Germany. I remember I brought my dad home a teeny, tiny beer stein – it couldn’t hold more than 2 sips. In my twenties, I went to Paris. I found a pair of toenail trimmers with the Eifel Tower on it. I scooped it up. Later in the trip, one of my fellow travellers got a hangnail. She had to use the nail clippers. So, my dad received an even tackier gift that year – it was a pair of used nail trimmers with the Eifel Tower emblazoned on it.

It’s a great memory for me from a comfortable time in my relationship with my father. It’s one that I want to carry on with my children when I begin to travel away from them, when they’re at an age to understand the silliness and fun. Just another way to add fun to an adventure!


Filed under That Reminds Me!