Report on Screen-Free Week 2016

Posted by on Sep 7, 2016 in Kids & Technology, Parents are People, Too | 0 comments

(Image courtesy Micah Purnell via Flickr.com)

(Image courtesy Micah Purnell via Flickr.com)

We did it. We survived a week without screens—more or less. The week before school began, our household—consisting of two adults, one fourteen-year-old male, one eleven-year-old female and a small assortment of pets—gave up screens for the week. We followed the rules as set forth in the previous blog post. Two exceptions were granted toward the end of the week for a little all-family TV-viewing time. (It was hot, we were tired.) The kids did great.

The adults, not so much.

It’s amazing how much screen time one can squeeze out of a “work” exception. Also, what if an important email comes in? Also, what if Trump finds a way to start a war with some country before the election even happens and I don’t know about it because it’s screen-free week? Also, the fact that I’m carrying my phone around the house means nothing; I’m not looking at it or anything. See? It’s just a prop.

Pathetic. And I mean me.

I wasn’t a complete failure the whole week.

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When a Parent Needs Help: the Uncharted Waters of Eldercare

Posted by on Jul 27, 2016 in Parents are People, Too, The World We Parent In | 3 comments

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Hi there. It’s been a while. I hope you haven’t been waiting for me this whole time.

Good. Glad to hear it. After all, you have your own family, your own responsibilities, your own life to take care of. And you may have become a bit preoccupied with what’s been going on in the country and the world these last few months. There’s plenty to talk about there. But I’m going to save that for a future post…or twelve.

I’ll tell you what I’ve been doing for the past few months. It has everything to do with parenting, and nothing to do with my kids—except it’s affected them tremendously. It involves seeing to the needs of my own parent—specifically, my father—and getting an education in eldercare in America along the way.

We found suddenly—as so many people do—that my father was no longer capable of living alone. Some signs had probably been there for a while, but we’d missed them. Others he’d hidden, not wanting to lose his independence. But a home accident brought everything into the light, and we discovered that we needed to find a new living and care situation for him, fast. He went first to the hospital, then to a skilled-nursing rehabilitation center for a few weeks, and finally to the assisted-living home we found in a frenzy of frantic searching.

The day-by-day of what happened is too private to him and too lengthy to relate here. But I will share some key points I’ve learned since April:

  • When an elderly parent requires healthcare, you must constantly play the role of advocate. Even centers of good repute sometimes fall back on patterns of care or behavior rather than evaluate each patient individually, and you have to check in with every caregiver to make sure that your parent is getting the care appropriate to her individual situation.
  • You never really know the full story. A parent with any level of cognitive decline for any reason will necessarily have gaps in what he can remember—how that fall happened, how that giant bruise appeared on his leg, what the argument with the neighbor was about. He may tell different stories to different care providers as he tries to work the puzzle, and those providers may or may not confer with each other about the circumstances surrounding your parent’s care. You have to sort it all out and make sure everyone has the best possible information despite what you don’t and may never know.
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“True Confessions of a Stalker Mom”

Posted by on Jul 16, 2015 in Growing Up, Other Parenting Stuff I've Written, Parents are People, Too | 0 comments

 

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Who, me?

Well, yes. And I’m the last person I would have expected to turn into such a thing.

“I am not a helicopter parent, but when my son went away to camp, it took less than 24 hours for me to become his stalker.” You can read the rest at Cognescenti, WBUR’s ideas and opinions page.

Fellow parents, watch out; for all you know, there’s a hidden stalker lurking somewhere inside you, too.

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Parenting and the Writing Life: Can They Co-exist?

Posted by on Dec 3, 2014 in Parents are People, Too, Writing | 0 comments

I write while SAm plays and leans against me

 

A lot of ink–and milk–has been spilled trying to answer this question. So many writers work best in large chunks of undisturbed, peaceful time. How can you get “in the zone” where you hear only your characters when there’s a baby crying, a Lego war underway, a carpool to be driven right now? In fact, how do you get anything done requiring concentration and creativity when you’re a caring, involved parent?

Being a parent impacts everything else in your life. But that’s not always a limitation. Sometimes parenting opens your world beyond your kids in ways you didn’t expect and never imagined. It’s worth trying to remember that when you’re shredding bits of paper in frustration.

My short essay, “Parenting and the Writing Life: Can They Co-exist?” can be found at the New Hampshire Writers’ Project website. Click on over, especially if you’re having one of those days…

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To Chase or Not to Chase One’s Tail

Posted by on Oct 27, 2014 in Parenting on a Daily Basis, Parents are People, Too | 0 comments

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One of my cats frequently chases her tail. She stares at it as she would a bird or a chipmunk, and when she thinks the moment is right, she pounces. Her prey always slips out from under her paw just when she thinks she’s got it, and she’ll often turn in circles of pursuit three, four or more times in rapid succession to see if she can catch up with it. Then she rests before trying again.

My husband thinks Spaghetti chases her tail because she doesn’t understand the nature of the thing always following her. But of our two cats, Spaghetti is “the smart one.” I’ve long maintained that she knows exactly what she’s chasing, but she keeps pouncing on her own tail because it’s just so much darn fun.

I’m glad my cat is so skilled at amusing herself. But I do not share her enthusiasm for chasing one’s tail.

As a human, I am, of course, speaking metaphorically. I don’t literally keep trying to capture my own hindquarters. (If I did, that would be an entirely different blog post. Or perhaps a different blog–or psychiatric state.) But I do feel these days like I am perpetually looking behind me, trying to catch up to what I see there. And I never succeed, so I just keep trying. I suspect I’m not the only one.

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10 Parenting Goals for the New School Year

Posted by on Aug 27, 2014 in Adoption, Domesticity, Growing Up, Parents are People, Too | 2 comments

Nope, NOT one of my goals this year. (Image courtesy Stargirl806 via deviantart.com)

Nope, NOT one of my goals this year.
(Image courtesy Stargirl806 via deviantart.com)

The new school year begins today. I know my kids will be asked to set goals for the year: goals as students, specific class goals, sports goals, academic activity goals, etc. As their mom, I will try to help them achieve their goals by supporting them in various ways while also encouraging their gradual independence.

But what about my goals for the new school year?

Yup, I’m talking about my goals as a parent. Calendar years mean little when you’re a parent; December 31 is just an excuse to party (or, more likely, try to party but not make it to midnight). When you have kids in school, the academic year is the one that counts. So I’d like to set a few personal, parental goals as the school year begins:

  1. Surviving the first months of THE TEENAGER. This year, my son “Jack” will turn thirteen. It’s no secret that I have long feared this stage of development in my children. There’s the split-personality moodiness, the overall crankiness, the disdain for the existence of parents, the meanness of other teens toward my own kids, the possibility that my kids may be mean toward others, the cliques, the slammed doors, the limitless potential for serious trouble, the possibility that there might be serious trouble and I won’t know anything about it… I could keep going. (And believe me, I do keep going in my brain at night.) My own teenage years were less than spectacular–actually, there’s no reward in the world that could entice me to repeat them–and my biggest hurdle will be not projecting my own experience onto my kids as I shepherd them through this next stage of life. Good luck to us all. If you need me, I’ll be quaking in the corner.
  2. Allowing my son to attend his first school dances without embarrassing him such that he joins the Witness Protection Program and doesn’t even tell me. Because, come on, how cute? They’re going to dances this year! I already asked if I could be one of the parent chaperones, and Jack said “no” faster than I’ve ever heard him answer any question in his life. As I mentioned above, I remember my teenage years all too clearly. So I don’t want to ruin this for him. But a few photos couldn’t hurt, right? Maybe a hug in front of his friends?
  3. Pulling off a successful bar mitzvah without turning into the Jewish-mother equivalent of Bridezilla. This one I think I’ve got. There were enough over-the-top moments leading up to my and my husband’s wedding that I believe I learned my lesson for a lifetime. It’s a celebration for a thirteen-year-old. Read from the Torah, nosh, dance the hora. L’Chaim. Do not lose your head.
  4. Navigating the next part of the adoption journey with “Emmie.”
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