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Monday, November 24, 2008

momification? give me a break!

Are you keeping up with the latest and most inflammatory battlefront in the "mommy wars," the questions raised about Michelle Obama's decision not to quit her lawyer's job to be...um, First Lady? Is the implication that she'd be advancing civilization to stay in Chicago? I hope instead that as First Mom, she helps direct some attention to the increasing price we all pay by trying to outsource childcare, and the forces in our culture that attempt to make this seem like a healthy option.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

day of the dead

"I hope you die," my 13-year-old son said to me last night, after I told him he had to stop playing his x-box.

We can leave aside for the moment the whole topic of what these *&^%$ games are doing to our children's brains -- and of who, exactly, was the negligent parent who allowed the xbox into our house.

Let's just limit this blog to what he said, and what I did.

My son has been diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder, which, as I'm learning, is a major glitch involving what are known as executive functions, including self-restraint and thinking about consequences.

At times, ADD can resemble Tourette's Syndrome, that disorder that makes people shout out curses and racial epithets, against their better judgment.

"You wouldn't punish your child for having Tourette's, would you?" a therapist asked at a seminar I recently attended.

Nope. But the devilish thing about being the parent of an ADD child is that the limits aren't always that clear. The line continually shifts between explanation and excuse.

I've gotten into a habit of ignoring a lot of epithets and insults in favor of trying to strengthen a bond between me and my son that weakened alarmingly during a couple of years in which I didn't understand how he was struggling. I've made a vow to substitute appreciation and understanding for punishment and trying to win.

But last night was really too much!

So I took the pair of boxer shorts he wanted me to mend and placed them gently in his lap. "I love you, son, but words matter, and for the next 24 hours, I'm going to let you see how it might be if you got your wish." And then I stopped talking to him.

I didn't make him breakfast, lunch or dinner, throttling down that maternal instinct that really likes to watch him eat healthy food. (He cooked himself Ramen; I tried not to watch.) I made myself scarce for most of the day, and at home, drifted by him in the hall like a ghost. I didn't drive him anywhere, and when he called from the mall with his friend to ask for money, (the chutzpah, huh?!) I gently reminded him of his wish.

It's now early evening, and he just came into my office and said, "Mom, I understand why you did what you did, and I'm really sorry for what I said."

"Ok," I said, and left it at that. This was the most articulate apology he's ever delivered to me in his life. It's a step forward, I guess....

Sunday, November 09, 2008

the "clean coal" bedtime story

A mother's heartfelt thanks to Al Gore today for illuminating the illusion that has haunted the past election -- the idea that "clean coal" is going to help America confront climate change and dependence on foreign supplies. He rightly points out that, to date, there's no such thing -- not even a single demonstration project that captures and safely stores greenhouse gases. The one thing that worries me about President-elect (and I so love writing that in front of his name) Barack Obama is his pandering use of that stupid phrase during the debates. Let's hope we get some "straight talk" on energy during these crucial next weeks......

Wednesday, November 05, 2008


It didn't seem possible until the last minute -- and then, what a world of possibilities! Starting with America's astonishing new ability to elect someone who speaks directly to the best of us. It's enough to make you believe in evolution.....