Category Archives: Parenting

On Becoming a Grandmother-to-Be!

Jane Okay:  we’ve seen the ultrasound pictures.  It’s official:  my daughter is pregnant.  My first-born baby girl, who cannot possibly be old enough to be a mother, is going to have a baby sometime in early December.  Hello, Jane, this is real life!  Take it in:  Lizzie is actually a grown woman, married to a very sweet grown man, and now she is going to have a real baby.  As you can see, I’m having trouble believing this.  But don’t get me wrong:  all this difficulty getting my brain to believe the news does not mean I’m not excited.  In fact, the opposite is true.  I’m so excited I can hardly stand it.  I may have moments of worrying about her nutrition or her labor or her financial state (because babies turn into expensive little beings), but the overwhelming emotion in my heart and soul is complete and total excitement because, here’s the real important news:  I’m going to be a grandmother!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  (It’s all about me!)  

Come December, there is going to be a little baby in our family, and that wonderful thought blocks out all my worries about anything (I know:  this kind of thinking has gotten me in trouble in the past!).  Best of all, this baby is one I won’t have to stress over so much (the way I obsessively did with our 4) because I won’t be responsible in a sleepless night kind of way for this baby’s reading ability or spirituality or even its dental health!  My only job will be to love it and love it and love it some more!  How amazing and wonderful is that?

Enough said for now. I’ll just share a picture of my girl when she herself was a baby, a mere 26 years ago, so you can share my amazement about this event.  Stay tuned!  I have a feeling I’m going to be blogging about this event a lot!

Lizzie with our beloved Rufus
Lizzie with our beloved Rufus, 1987

P.S.  Tom says I never mention him in the blog, so I will report this:  Gramps is pretty excited himself!!!!!  And, by the way, that’s Tom on the floor in the picture, showing the effects of sleepless nights with Lizzie, the miraculous baby who never slept.  (I wonder what her baby will be like!  Is she in for some karma?  Mean , mean grandmother!!).

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I Hate Everything About College Admissions in this Country!

Jane
Jane

I hate everything else about the cattle chute that either gets students into colleges in this country or dumps them out!

Here are my specific hates:

1)    I hate the process of applying to college.  In particular, I hate it that all application forms have different required essays, so a student has to sweat over not one but five or ten different essays!

2)    I hate deadlines that come too early!

3)    I hate Super Parents who are completely on top of those deadlines, along with everything else about the process (such as the need to push your kid into taking AP’s as early as sophomore year if you really want them to rank at the top of their class!) while the rest of us muddle along.

S.A.T.
S.A.T.

4)    I hate the SAT and the ACT and anything else that judges my kids based on one morning in a high-pressured testing center with ONLY number 2 pencils and completely filled in ovals!

5)    I hate it that some great extracurricular but non-social-impact activities that your kid loves count for nothing!  And I hate it that anything the kid did before the 9th grade also doesn’t count!

6)    I hate the FAFSA (which stands for Free Application for Federal Student Aid)!

7)    I hate the fact that the FAFSA always comes up with a ridiculous amount that you supposedly can afford as your parent contribution—one that has no relation to reality!

8)    I hate it that you have to fill out a new FAFSA every year of your child’s time in college.  So far, we have filled out the FAFSA 13 times, and we have at least 3 more times to go!

9)    I hate filling out a damn Master Promissory Note for a student loan!

10)    I hate it that any member of the so-called Middle Class, who isn’t either filthy rich or desperately poor, can’t ever get enough financial aid to be able to send their kid to college without loans, even at your state’s public university!

admissions game
The Admissions Game

11)    I hate the CSS and the IDOC, both asking for different information.

12)    I hate it that you really have to do your taxes before you fill out the FAFSA, unless you happen to like going back in and correcting all the errors you made when you estimated!

13)    I hate it that a student has to be the first chair in their local symphony, the top of their class, a world-class athlete and the founder of their own high-impact non-profit in order to get into an Ivy League school!

14)    Most of all, I hate, hate, hate that some kids feel bad when they get turned down and actually believe that they must not really be as smart as they thought they were!  There is not enough press about how much randomness is involved in the process (who happens to read your application, what students that college happens to need at the time, where you happen to live in the country, what race/ethnic group you happen to belong to, how you happen to approach an essay on the day you sit down to right it, whether or not you happen to have had a good night’s sleep the night before the SAT, and on an on)!

I’m Getting Sentimental Over You!

Jane On a recent visit with my three sisters (our annual get-together), we got to talking about all sorts of things, including, of course, our children and how quickly they have all grown up.  One sister said the hardest thing for her about having her children grow up is that, in the process, she lost the little people they were at age 2, 4, 6, etc., as if someone came and spirited them away.

I’ve been thinking about this a lot since I got back from the trip and realizing that there is always a part of me that is half expecting those little ones to show back up, as if they are hiding somewhere in the house.  And thinking about them makes time compress and expand at the same time.

Lizzie and Parker in Roxbury, NY
Lizzie and Parker in Roxbury, NY

If I close my eyes, I can remember Lizzie, our first daughter, tromping into our kitchen in upstate New York in her favorite rubber boots and saying, “I ahna Goo-Koo,” (I want a cookie) or singing her way downstairs in the morning.  Same with Parker, next in line.  I can see him playing Power Rangers with his buddy Max or sitting at the kitchen table with his pirate ship and pirates and doing all the different voices for the various pirates and their enemies.  Becky is often sitting in her high chair (I think I must have left her in there a lot!), smiling at the thought of all the mischief she is cooking up to get her brother or sister to pay attention to her or standing at the bathroom mirror, cutting herself trying to shave her chin with her father’s razor.

Becky
Becky

Josie, the youngest, is always living in some story of her own making, like the millions of worlds she created for her dolls, or like the Madison Avenue world she inhabited one night in the bathroom, washing a hand towel over and over while singing out her version of the ad for OxyClean: “it gets your whites whiter and your bwights bwighter!”

Josie in Asheville
Josie in Asheville

 

So, the memories are vivid, but, if I think about it hard enough, they are not as fresh as I would like them to be.  And sometimes it’s hard to sort out what I really remember from what I have recorded in pictures and videos.  The hard part, I guess, about trying to hold onto memories of your children as little people is that, when they are actually little and getting bigger every day,  every memory is constantly getting replaced with a new one, each time the child does something new and different. (This is why I should have written things down in baby books!)  Before you even have a chance to catch your breath, the two-year-old version of your child is replaced with the three-year-old version, and you’re off and running on a whole new child!  Or, to state it more accurately in terms of how it feels, the two-year-old is replaced with the twenty-six year old version!

The "Men in Black" Christmas Card
The “Men in Black” Christmas Card

One great thing is that I still get glimpses of those earlier children in their new, larger bodies.  Every now and then, one of them will smile or laugh a certain way or turn their head at a certain angle, and there is the three-year-old version of themselves peeking out from behind their eyes or the six-year-old version looking worried and serious.  Same look, new source of worry!

Here’s to all the different versions of my children, in all their glory, including those little people who are hiding somewhere (maybe they will come back as grandchildren?) but especially these wonderful and strange grown-ups now inhabiting my world and saying they came from me and Tom!

Lizzie's Wedding!
Lizzie’s Wedding!

Question of the Week: Who Were Some of Your Favorite Childhood Book Characters?

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I loved the responses we got on the last ‘question of the week’, so here I go again.  This time, I’d like to know who some of your favorite childhood book characters were.

I’d have to start out with Mister Dog, the dog who lived by himself in a little crooked house and cooked up bones for himself in a pot and slept in pajamas.  That was one of my favorite Golden Books–and I’ve never gotten over the wonder of those illustrations.  I think they were by Garth Williams, the same incredible person who illustrated Charlotte’s Web and the Big and Tall book–I think that’s the name of it.

I would move on from there to Anne of Green Gables.  I read all the Anne books, and I understand why people still make pilgrimages to Prince Edward Island.  Anne had so much spunk, and she could never make herself do things according to how society wanted her to behave if she didn’t really believe in those things.  It didn’t matter that she had no real parents; she could handle anything that came her way.  And she got so much pleasure out of life!

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My mother read a book called Miss Minerva and William Green Hill out loud to us–and she got all the accents right.  (It was based in Tennessee and written in dialogue.)  And I loved William.  He could not stop himself from getting into mischief, and he had a wonderful sense of humor. When I just looked for this book on Amazon, I was happy to see that the little red version, which is the one Mama read, has been reissued and is still available.

I guess my favorite character in my teenage years was Elizabeth Bennett, since she was so strong and intelligent, and even though he fell for Mr. Darcy eventually, she first had to know that he was smart enough for her and could meet her on equal footing.

In high school, my favorite was Holden Caulfield.  Maybe because I spent so much time in a German school, where everything was regimented, and you had to snap to attention around your teachers, and it was hard to know what you really thought or felt about anything, I was thrilled to discover Holden and his unconstrained mind and his absolute contempt for “phonies.”  He gave me a model for someone speaking the truth, even if he was supposed to be a little off his rocker.

Then, in college, my favorite character of all time was Joe Gargery in Great Expectations.  What a sweet and loving soul he is.  I could read the Joe speeches over and over, especially when he comes to visit Pip in London and is shunned by the young fool.

I would love to hear from our readers on this question, since we all grew up around the same time!  Please respond to the blog itself, instead of on Facebook!!!

Thanks.

Jane

On My Son’s Graduation

JANE

It’s gotta just be the work of the big engine in the sky that speeds up time as you get older.  I know that, for the first year of our children’s lives, time crawled along.  It was slowed down by sleepless nights, endless diaper changes, worries about nuclear war and kidnappings–or about dropping the baby or not getting the car seat put in the car correctly.  Then, for about the next 5 to 10 years, it managed to move a little faster, but it was still kept in its place by dumb homework assignments, school sports events, and endless worries about everything.  But ever since all four of our kids hit ages where I no longer have to worry obsessively about every detail of their lives—these ages where they are pretending to be grownups!—time seems to have jumped right onto the fast track.  And it won’t let up for a minute.

Parker, Ready to Graduate!

 

So now, my son, Parker, who started out as a little, chunky, always meditative boy, fondly referred to as “our Buddha baby,” is not only 6 foot 6 or 7 inches (but who’s counting?), but he’s graduating from college!!  Forgive me if I just cannot take it in.  Maybe if I scream it out:  “Parker is graduating from college, World!”  Nope.  Didn’t work.

Taking a Break on the Road to Learn

 

  All I can say is, “How in the hell did this happen?”

 

 

Parker, Home Stretch