Raising Free Thinkers

09.7.12

Last night we sat at the dinner table and talked about politics. It was a different kind of discussion because Jane is now in the 8th grade and her homework this was to watch the president accept the Democratic nomination. She said she couldn’t watch with us talking because she had to be impartial (apparently when we scream at the TV it’s distracting).

Mr. G asked the kids if they were Democrats or Republicans and they looked confused. Jane quickly said she was a Democrat and Alexander looked at me and asked me what I am. I explained that I’m a registered Republican but that the party has shifted of late and I don’t really identify with them anymore. I told them how awful it was to not be able to vote for McCain because when he chose Palin as a running mate he picked one of the few people on the Earth that made it dangerous to be a woman in America.

Then my husband took a turn that I hadn’t expected (and when he surprises me in parenting it is always a delight). He told the kids that they aren’t allowed to ask us how to vote. He told them that they aren’t allowed to choose a party and vote with it and that they are obligated to follow their own moral compass and vote for what’s right. He said they aren’t allowed to say they’ll vote for anyone or anything without explaining why and then went on to ask the kids why they’d vote for Obama and the answers were interesting because both kids would but for very different reasons. They’re allowed to tell us how we should vote but we will never do the same for them.

As is often the case with Mr. G I just sit at the table and watch him with his kids and I’m struck dumb. They are the luckiest two kids in the world to have a father who would rather listen to them than lecture.

I was sitting and listening to my kids talk about the Dream Act, Lily Ledbetter and four million private sector jobs and falling in love with my husband all over again. He wants to raise free thinkers.

Oh, except they’re only allowed to like the Yankees, Giants and Rangers. No free thinking there… sports aren’t a democracy, they’re a mandate.

 

How Much Value do You Put on Sports and Education?

05.30.12

Alexander started with a new tennis coach. He really loves his group lessons but now that baseball has ended I’d promised him a private lesson each week. He’s just had his first lesson and loves it. The guy is German and speaks so kindly to Alexander that it reminds me of my grandparents. When he told him to stop and get a zip of water I could almost smell my Grandfather’s cologne.

Jane has a tutor for Spanish. Jane’s tutor makes 40% of what Alexander’s tennis coach makes hourly. I don’t set the rates or even offer to pay a certain amount. I just find it suspect that an academic is making so much less when I allegedly care so much more.

I suppose if I cared more the kids would be in group Spanish or Math classes after school instead of tennis, volleyball, baseball and soccer.

I’m bothered by this. I can’t change it but I’m troubled that athletes are given more money than academics.

Oh also. I’ve once again neglected to plan my summer vacation in time. Give me recommendations! I’m lost (only figuratively for now).

I Was Late Everywhere Yesterday

05.9.12

Yesterday was supposed to be a busy day. I was supposed to be taping a video with a production company at 9.30 in the morning. This would have meant that I was going to have to get up at 6.30 so that I could look and smell good before getting the kids off to school.

My friend Yvonne was having a Healthy Child Healthy World event at her house from 10 to 12 and I figured I’d just get there as quickly as I could and maybe have an hour with my girlfriends.

At the very last minute my 4pm appointment turned into a noon appointment and the shoot was cancelled. Of course I had it in my mind that I was showing up at Yvonne’s house at 11 and I wondered if it was even worth going because I’d be there for just 30 minutes. If you’re paying attention you see the problem already.

I left in plenty of time to get to Yvonne’s house at 11 but there was construction and I got there at 11. 15 feeling really anxious about having just 10 or 15 minutes to stop in for a hug. Everyone was in the yard eating pizza and salad and I was like, “When is the demonstration?” and Yvonne patiently told me it was at 10. Which is when I immediately corrected her for not knowing what time her own party began and I just stood there confused.

I asked what I’d missed and the big thing was that kids with asthma should not be in the kitchen when you are cooking with a gas stove. Something is released into the air that irritates their airways. I’d never heard this but I also don’t have a child with asthma so it’s unlikely I’d know it. Now you know.

I gobbled some salad fast and ran off to my noon appointment. When I got there I signed in as a visitor and part of the sign in process is a pretty informal NDA. So I definitely am not telling  you that I had a meeting at a company that sounds like oogle. The meeting lasted about an hour but I think we could have chatted for three easily. I left there to go to Whole Foods in Venice.

Can I just say that on any given day if I had a thousand dollars to spend at the Whole Foods Market in Venice or at Barneys I’m not sure which one I’d choose. That market is spectacular.

I grabbed a tuna roll (no rice just greens) and felt horrible about it. Every time I eat tuna my brother asks me if I’m happy eating it because it might be the last tuna in the ocean. And I know that it’s terrible for me. Probably full of mercury and definitely not a sustainable catch but it’s cheap and easy and it’s absolutely everywhere. Plus according to scientists most of our fish is mislabeled anyhow so it’s possible I was eating dolphin meat. Hooray?

I wisely don’t grab a cart and leave Whole Foods having spent just $8.99. I am annoyed when the cashier doesn’t give me the penny back. I always tell them to leave the penny in case someone needs one but I am bugged that she didn’t offer me my money. She also asked me a lot of questions about my food, rolling it around in her hands and wanting to know what the ingredients are. It’s dolphin meat bitch, now give me my penny.

I eat and drive to acupuncture. My right hand is resembling a claw but since beginning acupuncture I have taken NOT ONE narcotic. How’s that for hocus poke-us? Eating in the car is horrible and I try to keep tons of water there because it’s easy to mistake thirst for hunger but I console myself in knowing that I’m three days into a sugar free and grain free lifestyle. Not even corn. I’m living on lean meats and green things with just a tinge of crankiness.

After acupuncture it’s time to get the kids. Jane has volleyball and Alexander just wants to play Pokemon with his friends. I’m relieved to see a large group of kids playing, it’s such a strange thing to be into that I want to know that it’s not just my son.

I go home freshen up and head out to Digital LA where I’m to be on a panel of Mommy Bloggers. I know. I cringe because of the Mommy thing and I show up anyhow because Ciaran will be there and Ciaran is smarter than I am so I go where she goes.

I stop at Tiffany & Co. to pick up a gift for my sort of niece who turns 16 this weekend. She’s a good girl and 16 is a big deal. I spend too much.

The panel starts late and ends later but we do get to play PacMan while we’re waiting. The room is hot and we’re the second panel. Most of the men leave, this is to be expected. The ones who are left behind are the smart ones. The first group will pay to work with Felicity Huffman or whatever other celebrity hired someone to run a website. It’s a different business they’re in. I try to not be offended but I remember that I don’t actually have any overlap with these folks. Or maybe I do?

I’m home at 10.30 and the kids are sound asleep. There’s a pain in my chest because I’ve missed an evening with them. I know it felt like it was important to be out, but when I get home I recognize that I never should have left. I wanted to be there. With my family.

 

While Mr. G was at the Office I Brainwashed Our Son

04.26.12

At 8.45 last night I plunked myself down on the family room sofa and sort of pointed at the Chinese takeout. “Feed yourselves. I’m pooped.” Oh, and then I sipped a little Pinot while snuggling the dog.

Mr. G grinned at me and wondered aloud why I was so tired and he was still chugging along. He mentioned something about leaving the house while we were all still sleeping and Alexander chimed in.

“Mom doesn’t just sit and type you know. She types in the morning and then she makes us food and gets our clothes and buys us things and makes dinner and today she drove us everywhere. Mom works harder than anyone.” He was petting the cat and smiling at me, like we won something.

Not exactly everywhere but that boy might just get an extra allowance this week.

“Do you think I sit and type all day?” Mr. G asked.

“Well on the days you make TV you might work harder than mommy but only on those days. When you’re in the office typing with your friends I don’t think it’s harder.”

“What did mommy do today?” Mr. G asked.

“Well I  brought your children to school and then went to the drycleaner. I came home and tidied the house and then had a conference call about this thing that I’m not quite ready to talk about yet, and then I wrote for a few minutes and then I had a call with Momversation and how I might make videos with them again. And then I had to go to the gym. I picked up Alexander from school and brought him home for a snack and washed my face and some of the funk off. Then we got back in the car and picked Jane up because her school volleyball practice was over. We went to Panera and the kids got sandwiches while I grabbed a jalapeno bagel. Panera is for goyim. Then we went to Sprint to get new phones but we were too close to 6 so we just reserved them for a pickup tomorrow. I dropped Jane off for her club volleyball practice, picked up the dry-cleaning, looked at the refrigerator and grimaced. I decided to order Chin Chin and ran out to pick it up while Alexander luxuriated with Minecraft. I ran home from Chin Chin at 8.30 because I didn’t want to wait for Jane’s volleyball to end at 8.45 and give you guys cold fried rice. Of course when I was around the corner from volleyball at 8.40 I got a call from Jane checking on when I’d be there because it ended at 8.30 and of course Chin Chin is just around the corner from Volleyball. That’s what I did.” I’m pretty sure I only exhaled twice while talking.

“How was the gym?” Mr. G smirked.

“It was WORK. I’m blogging about it! I even made a video, well I made the video with my iphone but it’s still a good video.” And he’s looking at me funny now so I decide to take my poodle, my wine and my nook and to head upstairs for a hot bath.

Oh, and here’s the video. You know you want to see the man who has been torturing training me.

We got Alexander to bed and Mr. G came into the bathroom to chat with me while I soaked. We had a good giggle… I’ve got that boy fooled. Anyone who thinks that hanging out with these two kids all afternoon is work… well, they’re just wrong.

So I Have this Fantasy of Jane Breathing New Life into Ms. Magazine

02.14.12

I’m a dismal failure as a feminist. It’s only recently that I cared about reproductive rights because it never occurred to me that Roe v. Wade could actually be challenged. It never dawned on me that people would actually try and legislate my uterus. I’m still mostly stunned when a fuss is made and I almost don’t believe the Catholics when they say they don’t want to pay for birth control. It’s like reading The Onion… only after a certain point I realize that some evangelicals are, in fact, so very worried about the next life that they’re willing to ruin this one.

Jane and I were in the car alone today, and there’s something magical about silence in the car. It begs to be broken and Jane heeds it’s call. We talked about friends of the family who got caught drinking. The boy was given a hard time and some moms don’t want him in the house (understandable), the girl was labeled a slut and Facebook has been abuzz for two weeks. School is misery for her.

I asked Jane why she thought consequences were different for boys and for girls. She had a lot of theories, and concluded with “Some things just are.”

Then we talked about Valentine’s Day and the fact that Daddy had asked Alexander if any girls sent him love notes while chiding him, but sounded worried when he asked her if she’d received any cards. We both smiled, because we know her dad loves her and we both want her to be happy, but it’s understood that a girl’s purity is to be prized while a boy who has many conquests is a hero. Who the boys are supposed to be with has always mystified me, but it’s been this way since the beginning of time. My time anyhow.

I didn’t apologize to Jane for her father’s concern just as I won’t undermine his parenting with Alexander. I don’t think my husband was wrong, or right. I think it just is.

Some things just are a certain way, and even if you disagree with them you don’t have to be loud or argumentative, you just have to be. Sometimes not calling girls slutty or acknowledging that really sexy women are beautiful is a loud statement. Sometimes it’s enough.

Sometimes you just sit in the car with your 13 year old daughter who is trying to understand why her friend who happens to be a girl is marked as a tramp while her friend who happens to be a boy is kinda cool, when they made the same dumb decision.

Jane told me about how girls will just talk to you and boys will wait like five minutes to answer back. When I tried to make sense of how it could take five minutes for them to answer she rolled her eyes and said, “iChat mom.” Oh. Yes, five minutes, of course. She let me know that it’s a power thing and we talked about how some relationships will always be unequal. She said the boys were trying to keep the upper hand. It was remarkably insightful.

She shrugged as she got out of the car for volleyball. “Everyone says they want equal rights and stuff, but I’m not sure why they want to play sports with the boys. They can’t even play basketball right and they have to dribble a 360 before they even take a shot and then they miss because they were too busy showing off to just play the game right. So maybe things already are equal because girls together are better.”

Which almost made sense.

It’s a marvelous time to be her mother.