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Monday, December 31, 2007

Religion and crazy people, part deux

Today my daughter had another talk about religion, and crazy people, as we watched Amazing Grace (actually,this was more about perseverance and ethics than religion) and Jesus Camp. This is where the crazy people come in.

Frankly, after watching this documentary, I had the strong feeling there was some brainwashing of seven-year-olds going on here. It was set in the Oklahoma area and the camp this lady runs during the summer. The counterpoint was this radio host who was hammering the views these folks had. I was surprised that he hadn't had a Christian fatwa put out against him.

And while I consider myself of Christian, I think that having a six-year-old girl sobbing on the floor for her sins is just....wrong.

I also think that getting a group of kids to lay hands and pray, in tongues, over life-size cardboard cutout of George Bush is falling down a rabbit hold odd.

At the end of watching it, I turned to J. and said "see, yes I go to church, yes I believe Jesus was and is the son of God and rose from the dead. But your mom isn't nuts. And I do believe that God listens in on a party line."

After a moment's thought, she shook her head in agreement.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Mom, I don't need to see this!

Usually my hubby goes to bed before his night owl daughter and wife.

So that means Jennifer and I are trying to be quiet in her bathroom at about midnight, brushing our teeth, washing our face, et al.

Then it gets to taking off the clothes, which end up in a heap by the tub. About three years ago my daughter decided she didn't want me to see her naked anymore. Now, this year, she's decided she doesn't want to see me naked either.

"Mom," she barks, as I take off my bra and undies (no, not the ones I bought in the previous post) "What makes you think I want to see this!"

"Jennifer, in case you haven't noticed, we're both women."

"I don't even like it when in the locker room when everyone's taken off their clothes. Please do that somewhere else."

This coming from a child that used to strip off her clothes at 2 or 3 and run naked through the house, and probably outdoors if I let her. And from the child that, between 9-10, when mom was taking a bath, trying to unwind, would run down the hall and she'd crawl in the tub with me, despite Gary saying mom needs her alone time and to stay away.

Now, at 14, she yelps when I walk into her room, and you'd think we were strangling a cat if Gary happens upon her.

So banished to my own bathroom, I ask my husband how we raised such a prude.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Text, lies and videotape

As we were prowling through the mall today, looking for my hubby's b-day present, we passed by Victoria's Secret, when he stopped, looked at me and said "you need some new bras, go in and take a look."

Okaaay. Hint taken.

My daughter tagged along, since she sniffed out the possibility of buying a perfume she likes, and as long as mom was in the spending mood...why not?

Once we picked out the six smelly items for $30, I said, okay, I'm off to look at the bra sale. I thought my daughter's head was going to explode.

"I don't need to see, or think about this," she said. "Your mom didn't do this to you, did she?"

Well, actually she didn't. I once asked my dad, at around this cheeky age, when the last time was they french which he replied "it is none of your god damn business."

Okay, end of that touching father-daughter moment. But no, my mom never purchased lace underwear trimmed with sleigh bells as I was now doing in front of J.

She went back into the perfume section, with strict orders NOT to come back until was I was done, and NOT ask her opinion about any of my purchases, and to put them in the bag with NO comments whatsoever.

So I picked up the sleigh bell undies, and a few other items and then picked out a black bra with rhinestones that I learned at checkout cost $48. Not quite how I envisioned spending $50, but it was a defacto gift for Gary.

"You know mom, I don't know how you're going to wear that bra under anything when it has so many lumps from the rhinestones," she said, as we headed to the car.

"Well, dear, it's not made for wearing under clothing," I start. She cuts me off with a glare and starts to text.

Gary then jumps in and starts explaining that I had only beige underpants and bras when he met me and that it took him years to get me to buy anything else.

At this point my daughter plugs her ears and starts going lalalalalalalallalal. He misinterprets the appalled look and thinking his daughter is affronted by any hint of pre-marital intimacy, revises the bland underpants discovery until after we were married. Yeah, like she'll believe that, and no, that's not what she was freaking out about.

"Too much info dad, I don't need to hear this. I don't need to have this video going through my mind!" she said, before she snapped open her cell phone and started texting again, probably telling all her friends her parents are sex fiends.

We drop her off later at the Auburn Supermall to shop and go to a movie with her friends, and then we go back to the house to try out my purchases. They work quite nicely, thank you, for all the 3 minutes I wore them.

As we pick up J. tonight from the movie, Juno-ironically, she asks what we did all night. Uh, just stopped by Top Foods for a few things and waited for your call, darling.

God, that sounds boring, she said, and starts texting the friends we just dropped off a few minutes earlier.

Yep, that's us, dull as dirt.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Mom, can my BF spend the night?

A reasonable request.

Except for the fact that Nicole, said BF, is allergic to cats, and we have three, with a fourth trying very hard to join the household.

When I reminded both J. and Nicole of this, both said it's no big deal as long as she sleeps in J's room where the cats don't hang out (mostly).

I kept hoping Nicole's mom might say no, but she didn't (probably wondering what the hell I was thinking saying yes.)

So I said yes, made up a bed a newly washed sheets in J's room and then laid awake half the night listening for any signs of an asthmatic attack. Not a wheeze. I checked later with Gary, and he was listening for the same signs, as was my mom, who spent the night on the couch.

So as the adults drank their extra strong coffee this am, two chipper teenagers emerged from J's room. I think I"m just going to bite the bullet and say no next time.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Mom, can I go to a New Year's party?


But I checked that answer and tried to answer reasonably. Okay, who's giving it?


And are Elliott's parents going to be there?


Okay, here's the deal, I have to actually talk to Elliott's mom or dad, and check to make sure that's true, find out the ground rules of the party and how many kids are going to be there and if they are going to be there through the entire party as well.


If you don't agree to this, no deal.

Fine. (insert rolled eyes and hair flip here)

Then she tells me that Elliott's parents are having a few friends over too. Warning bells start to ring. I assume that there will be alcohol at that party. Who is going to make sure the kids don't sneak up from the den and spike their own cool aid? Are there going to be any non-drinking designated adults to keep an eye on the kids?

Okay, I see that I'm going to end up looking like the overprotective bitch in the conversation with Elliot's parents. They will probably take offense as well, at questions about whether they have guns in the house, are they under lock and key and if either of them are convicted felons. (did I mention I was a crime reporter in a past life?)

So deep breath here. I just can't see, at 14, allowing kids to have one party, while the parents are having another upstairs. So I'm about ready for the glare and the "ruining my life" speech when Jennifer breezes into the room and sez the party is off.

They kids are going to meet up at the theaters on New Years eve and go to a movie together instead.

I try to make a show out of looking disappointed.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Good God, what was she thinking?

I often ask this when I look at my daughter and consider that first Christmas, no hoopla, presents, pie or a tree.

It likely occurred in the spring, when shepherd's would be watching their sheep at night (to keep away wolves from the lambs). And God decided to put her plan, the fate of the world and her only plan for redemption in the hands of a girl, no more than 14 (my daughter's age).

Mary could have said no. But she didn't and decided to roll the dice with God and hope she wouldn't be stoned to death when the village or Joseph found out. And Joseph was not old. He likely grew up with Mary and was no more than 18 or 19. He had to decide whether to stone her, as was his right, or divorce her (both of which would preserve family honor) or take her as his bride anyway. He did.

He probably took Mary to Bethlehem to keep her out of the glare and backbiting that can only occur in a small town.

Then Mary has the bad timing to have the baby, far from home and midwife under our equivalent of a freeway overpass. Or maybe the humane society. No money, no friends, and no guarantee that anyone back in Nazareth will come to his carpentry shop again (esp. after a two-year hiatus to Egypt.)

I think the true meaning of the story, which gets lost in all the glitter and sermons is that God reaches down and despite all, works out her plans, even when things are going to shit.

And did I mention (s)he trusted all this to a 14-year-old? Sort of puts my daughter in a new light, until she whines her way out of doing the dinner dishes again.

Monday, December 24, 2007

So far so good on church...

A. isn't what I'd call an enthusiastic churchgoer (and what middle schooler is?). But I think that has more to do with the fact that it requires getting up on Sunday mornings rather than the theology.
Also, we have a semi-decent youth program, so she and all the other young folks only have to sit through a bit of the grown-up stuff, then they head off downstairs for fun, games and -- hopefully -- a subtle message about life, the universe and everything, to paraphrase one of my favorite philosophers, Douglas Adams.
Our Christmas Eve service is short, sweet and song-filled, and it's become part of our family tradition. We open gifts from family on Christmas Eve, so I started very young with an edict: No church, no presents. So we look forward to church because we know the goodies come after!
Do you suppose I'm going to hell for that little bit of mommy bribery? Oh wait. I don't believe in hell, so never mind.

Christmas, religion and crazy people

My daughter doesn't do church, so she'll probably not be coming to Christmas eve services tonight but that doesn't mean she's agnostic. She stopped going to church at about nine years old, and I haven't been able to get her back since.

However, last year, they were having some sort of comparative religion section in her social studies class, and all her friends were on the side that religion is harmful and stupid (which on some points, I agree). J. was apparently the only one who stood up and said that she's sees value in Christianity, and religion.

A good series to watch is "God's Warriors" which aired on CNN earlier this year. It takes a looks at the extremists in each religion and wouldn't you know, J. wanted to stay up and watch it with me, all three, two-hour parts. It gave us a look at Muslims, Christianity and Judaism and the fringe parts of each. J. thought that that the Jewish settlers were the worst of the bunch, which surprised me.

I think she was upset that they felt it was okay to plan an attack on a Muslim middle school. I can't really argue with that, except that there are some Muslim groups that obviously feel it's okay to attack anyone who doesn't believe as they do.

Maybe they'll have good treats at church, that's always a good lure.

There was a good program on last night called Voices of God, talking to religious men of all faiths, and one woman (we'll gripe about that later) and I'd recommend it as well. At any rate, Merry Christmas, every one.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Texting does have its uses

Especially when it comes to comforting friends.

J was practically glued to her phone yesterday and today,until I finally asked her what all that furious texting was about (I assumed it was about Jimmy.) It was not. It was about Elliott, a friend of Jimmy's who is now in the hospital with what sounds like bone cancer.

He was bored between chemo sessions, I guess, and wanting to talk with friends. So, he did. Okay, I saved my "aren't you texting too much" lecture until later. I asked if she wanted to swing by the hospital to say hello, but she said that would be weird, he'd feel weird, so no. She'd rather text, and he'd rather receive them than let's say, balloons.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

OMG, B4YKI she broke up in IM world, ignored my .02

I should have known that despite my sage advice, this was going to happen.

Today, my daughter decided to go for the "single life" as she put it, and broke up through e-mail with her long term boyfriend of all of three months (which, she hastily reminds me, is three times the duration of my first relationship)

She said that he was okay with it. Which I guess, in truth, he was, since he promptly texted his BF and said he was single again, "let's go party!" Now, said best friend passed this around his friends, and it ended up back in J.'s IM box. She promptly labeled him a douche bag and IM'd all her friends.

Okay, well that was quick. And I guess no x-mas present from Jim.

@TEOTD, You knew she was going to ditch my 411 and B4YKI, be single again. (To translate this, go here.)

No texting at the table, please

We're at the Metropolitan Grill in Seattle, busy waiting for our appetizer and going over the menu, which starts at $25 a plate, salad extra.

It's our traditional "treat ourselves for the holidays" and we've decided to do it big as family, with dinner and then go see Jersey Boys. Both my husband and I look up and there is J., head down, texting her friends.

"Common, J.," Gary says, "turn that off. You're at the table now. It's family time."

Insert glare here.

"Dad, you two are boring, and I'm just talking to my friends," she said.

"You don't see mom and I with our cell phones at the plate do you?" he countered. "Turn it off."

Reluctantly she complied, but not before she took a picture of the $225 martini on the menu (had gold flakes on the rim) and sent it to all her friends, with an explainer. Another excuse to text no doubt, and to add that she was being forced to sign off, and her parents were LMO.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Peregrine falcons or army men?

That was the dilemma facing me as my daughter looked up at me pleadingly last night.

I had just come to pick here up at her best friend's house after work, and she and N. were working furiously on a history project showing the battle of Gettysburg. Could I please, please, please go out and get some of the Army men (Toy Story style) to represent the Union and Rebel troops. I had planned to go to the Rainier Audubon Society's cookie swap and peregrine falcon lecture.

But she needed a good grade on this after flaming out on her video assignment (see earlier post) of which she received a C because it wasn't edited enough and she wouldn't allow her father to touch it. So, back to the falcons versus Army men choice.

I chose the Army men, and drove off to K-Mart and the Dollar Store. K-Mart was a bust, but fortunately there were four bags of these guys, complete with bazookas, left. I took two, and then was stuck at the cash-only check out line rummaging around for my last $2 in change.

The clerk gave me a rather odd look as I paid for the rest in dimes.

"I hope she does well on her map," she called to me as I rushed out the door, back to the bf's house.

This morning, we were rushing around, J. had come down with a cough and a cold and we were late, as usual, in rushing out the door. Just as we pulled up to school, I turned and said "Did you bring your Army guys?"

Her look said it all. Of course not.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

A spark of charity when I least expect it

I was pretty discouraged after the fight talk (didn't seem to make much headway.)

But lo' if J. doesn't surprise me sometimes. Like when she turned around from viewing Seventeen Magazine and said, "Hey, there's a link to give microloans to women in other countries to get out of poverty. We should do that this Christmas."

Okay, jaw just dropped here. Then she followed up by noting that Club Penguin (think MySpace for young uns) is offering its members $1 million to give away to charities as they see fit. Very cool.

Friday, December 14, 2007

So, how was your day at school? How was the fight?

I'm beginning to wonder if I should ask this question as a follow up to the first.

Yesterday, on the way home, my daughter breathlessly told me about how one girl walked up and started punching another in the middle school courtyard during lunch. The entire eighth grade knew about the upcoming smack down, it seems, and were all there to watch, as one girl, Anne, walked up, and start punching another girl, Megan, known for being the eighth-grade school bully.

"She totally deserved it," said my daughter, who said that the first girl had bragged all morning about how she was going to let Megan have it.

"Even the teachers weren't sympathetic, no one likes here," my daughter continued.

Anne, who started the fight, had a black eye at the end of it, while Megan broke her hand, punching back.

Finally one of the teachers arrived on the scene, separated the two, and marched them into the principal's office. A one-day suspension for the bully, a three-day expulsion for the girl who started the fight.

This whole conversation led into a discussion on bullies, the way girls fight (lots of hair pulling and slapping), the way boys fight (lots of punching), and why any kid's a bully in the first place. Apparently this bully comes from nice parents, according to my daughter, and a $1 million home.

Okay, but bullies aren't born, they are made, I reminded her. The middle school bullies in my school (before it became the subject of studies and movies like "Mean Girls") hired a much bigger girl than herself to slam people (including me) into lockers.

I surmised that she obviously has problems, probably at home that no one knows about.

"Well, she's a bitch," J. declared, with a sideways glance. But the "bitch" apparently has her uses.

Later that night, as she was brushing her teeth, J., my daughter said that she hoped Megan didn't get in too much trouble. She's a good basketball player and the team needs her.

"We'd really suck without her," she said.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Homework battles. Are they worth the fight?

In the end, she just handed in the film to her social studies teacher and figured he could download and watch their video production.

My daughter and her group had flamed out of writing the script (received and F, and told to rewrite it). So they did, and then when it came time to download their next Sundance nominee, they couldn't figure out how to get it out of the camera to the DVD.

Now my husband has spent the last 30 years in television, and could have probably done this entire procedure in 20 minutes, if that. But no. She didn't want to go down to KOMO. She didn't want to bring her friends. She didn't want to be set up in a professional editing room, with Gary's promises he'd leave her alone.

Some of this is inevitable, since Gary has a tendency to take over a project (maps, science, math, you name it). He cedes the writing and art to me, my fortes. But our daughter doesn't want him helping her with homework anymore, even when it means that she would benefit from his help.


I hate homework. And apparently, so do other parents.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Yes, I made my daughter's middle school math teacher cry...

But it's not what you think. I was not being the mom from hell.

I was sitting across from Mrs. H., and she was giving me the usual spiel on yes, my daughter was doing fine in the class, all As, nothing to report. She did then mention that my daughter seemed more mature, more thoughtful (not the first word that comes to mind for me), more reserved than the rest of the class.

I took a deep breath and gave Mrs. H. the back story. I said that perhaps it was because, when she was seven, her younger sister, Sara, died in a third trimester miscarriage, and then when they were taking Sara's tiny body out of me, the operation went all sideways as the DC device punched through uterine wall, chewed up the intestine. Emergency surgery, collapsed lung and one worried husband later, plus post operative pneumonia, well, you get the picture. My daughter was wondering if mom was going to come home at all.

Mrs. H. then started to cry. She had just lost a child in a similar manner, a girl, I think. She asked if it ever got any better - and to not get her wrong, she loves her three-year-old son. Yes. And no. Your life, as you knew it, is napalmed out of existence. (Actually, the worked fucked comes to mind.) You have to learn to rebuild, with a family that is more than ready to move on and you're not. And some part of you will always live, bookmarked in that time.

You have to put up with the cruel remarks (you can always have more kids, it's for the best, it's God's will.)

And I think the incident, along with me being back in Washington DC during Sept. 11, marked my daughter, and me.

You don't take life, or each other for granted anymore. I remember when she was sitting in the bathtub talking with me, and I could really see her for the miracle she is. This is when she let me sit with her while taking a bath. Now, she just hands the hairdryer through the door, with a towel firmly wrapped around herself.

And even if she can't stand the sight of me, she doesn't want me out of her sight for long. When I mused over a job that would take me out of town for long stretches recently, she absolutely, positively forbid it.

"You were gone for three months in DC," she said.

I was back there for five days, and finally got on a flight that took for-ev-er to get from DC to Seattle.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Mom, I'm too old to go here anymore...

My daughter said this as we're sitting in Pediatrics Northwest, Federal Way office, surrounded by newborns and two-year-olds. She's been seeing Dr. Ory since she was, oh two days old, and now, 14 years later, she's beginning to notice the age difference.

Same holds true when we visit Kent's Children's Dental Care. There might be some kids there who are 10 or 12, but usually, she's the oldest one. So I finally relented and took her to my dentist, who carefully gained her trust (J. had had an awful experience when she was five. She had 13 cavities due to high fevers when she was a baby stripping away her enamel. The dentist was not sympathetic.)

So, after an hour in the dentist chair, filling a cavity last week, J. had decided that Dr. Kutz is okay. One hurdle down. Now I just need to find an adult doc she can trust. My husband had it right, if a doctor would just specialize in tween or teen medicine, they could make a mint.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Breaking Up, MySpace Style

My daughter has had a boyfriend (same grade, age, classes) for one month, two weeks and four days and about three hours.

Recently, she was thinking about breaking up with him, and discussed said thoughts with her girlsfriends on their MySpace pages. (for the reason why she wasn't discussing it on her MySpace page, see the first post.)

Now, everyone - boy and girl - seems to chatter with each other by texting, IMing or looking at the various MySpace comment walls. So, wouldn't you know that said boyfriend looks at one of her friends walls and sees this discussion. He then goes directly to my daughter and asks if he is the boy that is discussed there.

She equivocates. (I told her that actually, she lied) He's reassured. So the relationship continues for at least another week (which is getting rather long in the tooth for middle school relationships.)

Saturday, December 8, 2007

You're getting the point of this, right?

My daughter insisted that we get out to the malls this weekend to shop. Nothing odd about that. But this time it is to shop for the low-income families that her middle school is helping out during the holidays.

She's already bought a pair of jeans (okay, I actually bought that pair of jeans) and a top for a 17-year-old girl her class is sponsoring. But apparently, the more items her class turns in for this family, the more points each class collects for some sort of grand prize the winner receives before Christmas break.

As she was pitching to go to Costco to buy a uber-sized serial container, my hubby looks up and asks if the point of this is to buy goodies for poor families or win the contest. Eye roll here. Of course it's to help, she says. But winning is nice too, she adds.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Mom, turn off that music

Each day, driving my daughter to school, she usually hums along with me to 106.9, which as we all know by now, has been playing Christmas carols since mid-November. But once we pull up to school, she frowns and tells me to turn off the radio while she opens the door, with strict instructions to NOT turn the radio back on until she's away. (At this point I'm itching to find a Barry Manilow song and crank the volume.)

She can't have her friends think that she actually likes that music, she tells me. When I threaten to jack up the sound just as she meets up with her friends, she just glares, as only a 14-year-old can, and stomps away.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

My Space, or no My Space

My daughter wants a My Space account.

Her dad has said absolutely, positively, no.

It doesn't matter that all friends have an account, or that I have a Facebook account, or that there are new security measures. No My Space, at least until she's 16.

Jennifer has the unfortunate stroke of fate to be the progeny of two journalists - one who still works in the news biz and both who have done too many stalker stories. She begged, she pleaded, she slammed doors and pouted. We were relegating her to a life of solitude without one.

The compromise was getting her unlimited texting, and she uses her BF's account to talk to her boyfriend and other friends.

Gary's main fear is that she'd accept friends, who in fact were 50-year-old men, and bang, they are in her accnt and know which school she's at and what she looks like.

Anyone else out there have any views on this?