Thank you, parents

Do-bug and I stopped by her school’s graduation ceremony this morning.

I figured we wouldn’t last the entire time.  And we didn’t.  But I’m glad we went for the first 30 minutes because we were introduced to an extraordinary concept on which I have not had much thought:

After the students solemnly and sweetly marched in, the head of school thanked their parents.  She sincerely thanked them, and then asked them all to stand as she named them one by one.  It was a public acknowledgement that schools produce great students not just because of their teachers, curriculum, resources, and dedication, but because parents are choosing to actively participate in the education of their children.  So they were thanked.

Years ago, when I worked at Chicago Children’s Museum, I remember a day when one of the VPs (she’s now CEO) reminded us that we all needed to remember that even though we want parents to be engaged in their children’s day, we should be thankful that they took the step to bring them.  Because taking your child to a museum, or any cultural event, is an important participatory choice in and of itself.  Our next step is to engage them, but let us first remember that they have made a good choice by being here.

But I don’t recall ever saying to a parent, “Thank you for bringing your child.  This is a good strong choice you have made for the benefit of your child.”  Her comment simply made me want to forgive the parents who sat on benching with their eyes glazed over as their children explored the exhibits.

And here she was, standing in front of the school and thanking each parent for simply being a parent.  I, too, felt appreciated as a parent because although my child has only just finished kindergarten, it is safe to assume that this school acknowledges my worth too.

yes, we have bananas

garlic is a decided ‘no’

my stomach told me so

all the way through the afternoon and into the evening, regardless of my need to be performing a 90-minute two-woman show that is ‘not light’

no garlic for me.  no ma’am.

but, bananas, are a gleeful and happy tummy ‘yes!’

three days in a row of banana servings

smoothies just got a little more exciting.

I am Brave.

There are many kinds of bravery.

My daughter holding her place in the line up of children on stage so she could still be seen as she sang out “We are all a family under one sky…”

A beautiful young lady fumbling at the piano.  Asking to start over, calling her teacher on stage to help, and smiling through to the end.  Cheeks hot pink with shame, she finishes with a grin and does not let her tears overwhelm her until she leaves the stage.

Do-bug’s dad turning to me as she goes and announcing with a grin and his yes welling up, “that made me cry.”  My relief when I can admit that I, too, am crying.

Admitting to my director that I made the wrong choice.  I should have asked her to change the rehearsal time so I could stay for my child’s entire school variety show instead of having to leave part way through to go to my own rehearsal.

Admitting to myself that what I really want is to be the mom who volunteers all the time at her child’s school, but I can’t be that mom because I have to work more hours than there are in the day.

Admitting to myself that that is a false statement.  I could make other choices in my life so that I could be that mom.  I could.   I could make those choices.

I could be brave by not admitting after the fact but by making the choice now.

I could be brave.

Just like Do-bug, just like her school-mate, just like her dad.

I could be brave.

little girls of the 80s

i am 33.

so are many of my friends.

when we were little girls, we were told we could have it all.

as we grew, we were told that we should go to college, have careers, get our own bank accounts, and follow our dreams.

our moms still did the cooking and cleaning. but they also worked.

now we’re in our thirties.  some of us have children.  some of us don’t.  some of us are married. some of us are single.  but we all still want it all.


it’s time for us to be okay with “all” being different for everyone so that articles like Single by Choice and My Secret Grief can be part of the conversation instead of issues of blame, guilt or competition.

it’s okay to be 30-something and sad that you don’t have a child, or rejoicing that you’re single, childless and climbing your career ladder, or living it up as a stay-at-home, or bummed that you’re divorced, or weirded out that you’re a grown-up, or tired of being a brides-maid, or thrilled to be planning your wedding, or still trying to find that career that fits you best.

we are not one-size-fits-all 30-something women.

we are far more.  and we are making our own way just the way we should.

so back off media.  quit sticking us into polarized categories of love or despair, child-free or hampered. we are all shades of awesome.


Dare I Say It? I Like Lego Friends

Last week, I got a text message from Do-Bug’s Dad.  Here’s an approximation: “I bought her a lego set, and she’s actually playing with it.  She LOVES it!  I’m SO EXCITED!”

Ever since she refused to listen to him read The Hobbit (his childhood favorite), he’s been waiting and waiting for her to take to Legos.  She never really has.  She would, occasionally, pick up the little box of duplos and make a very uninteresting tower to destroy.  But she didn’t really dig them.  Her dad and I love adventure stories, so does Lego.  Our daughter…well…she’d rather play puppy.

Don’t get me wrong, she’s not a princess-in-pink kind of girl.  But she likes animals and dolls more than anything.  Briefly, around three, she fell in love with Thomas, but I’m afraid neither one of us encouraged it because the show is so gosh-darn boring, and then her trains had to go into storage because neither one of our miniature apartments had room for the big bucket.  So, is it our fault she doesn’t play with trains anymore?  Who knows.  Regardless, she loves dolls but doesn’t play dress up too much.  She’d rather play with puppies and has little patience for anything princess-like.  Her Hess trucks are used to transport Calico Critters around on their adventures.  She adores creating extensive towns out of cast-off boxes, paper, and clay.  She builds amazing fortresses (for her animals, of course) out of her wooden unit blocks.  One night I got her to eat her dinner by playing “begging puppy.”  Not bad for the pickiest 5-year old ever.  But legos?  Not so much.

Until now.  Thanks to Lego Friends.

Yes, there are some downsides to them.  Like the pervasive pink and purple.  And the fact that the figures have tiny boobs. What?!  Don’t worry, they’re not barbie-licious.  In fact, the figures kind of resemble Polly Pockets, but thankfully I don’t have to deal with trying to tease twiggy legs into rubber pants.  I can just pull her in half and switch her legs with her friends’ legs.  awesome.

But, seriously, I, a somewhat typical college-educated feminist mom, am going against the feminist-grain today because I like Lego Friends.  Here’s why:

  • The figures are AWESOME.  Her dad agrees.  Why hasn’t Lego made such cool figures before?  Begone stupid square limbs, hello figures that actually look like little people.  The boys will be clambering for their own, trust me.
  • The kits are COOL.  We have the tree house, which includes a secret hiding spot for jewels, two movable ladders, a lookout place, the coolest tiny bird house, and, you guessed it, TINY ANIMALS.  We also got her the convertible (I say ‘we’ because I want to take credit, but really it’s her dad.) which is super cool.  The details are awesome (plates, grill, seats, steering wheel).  And I’m told that putting it together, it’s clearly well designed.  They had a blast.  Okay, we also got her the Vet’s Office already (can you blame us? poor kid’s been sick as a dog this winter and needed some serious cheering up.).  It has little food bottles, and syringes, and notepads, and scales, and all sorts of COOL STUFF.
  • It has opened the door to OTHER LEGOS.  Yes, this is the most exciting part for both us old ‘rents who spent many many hours building with legos.  When her Friends set went home to Dada’s house after the initial opening, I suddenly remembered that  I own a very small Harry Potter kit that I had closeted away.  I pulled it out and she was instantly in love.  Thanks to a ‘girl safe’ version of Legos, which happens to be, as I said already, VERY COOL, she’s now willing to play with other lego stuff.

The opponents of the new Lego Friends are calling them LadyFigs (which I find a little weird since I haven’t seen them called that anywhere on Lego’s own site), don’t like the pink of it all, and contest that all legos should be for all kids.  In their defense, if you’ve never actually built a Lego Friends kit and are only going by their marketing campaign, I can see what would cause the reaction.  Looks like Lego is really emphasizing the girly-girl crap.  Yes, crap.  My daughter could care less about the hair-dryer that came with the convertible.  (Who the heck knows why they thought a car needed hair-care products to sell?)  They’ve got pictures up of girls in front of mirrors surrounded by jewels.  And, okay, yes, girls don’t just like pink and purple for crying-out-loud.

So, I went and checked out the petition to Lego.  I wasn’t sure I would sign it because I don’t agree that adding something so cool could be so wrong.  I’m pleased to say that it’s actually a good thing because the heart of the message is not “Lego Friends is sexist and crap.”  Yes, they say that some (they actually call it Barbielicous which I think is unfair.  Those of us who have had to watch our empowered daughters unwrap a barbie doll know better than to throw that word around lightly.), but they also put the following in bold:

LEGO, we are asking you to:
Go back to advertising and offering all LEGO to boys and girls!

And that’s really what sums it up.  My daughter specifically said to me “I like them, Mama!  Because they’re for boys and girls, not just boys, like other legos.”  She believes what the pictures on the rest of the Lego boxes tell her: that only boys play with these.  I know that’s false, but she doesn’t.  Did you catch that fact that she also thinks that Lego Friends is for boys?  How about that, Lego?  Like I said earlier, you might want to start working on some of those awesome figures for boys.  They are far cooler than the little yellow figures you’ve got going so far.

By the way, here’s the one I would TOTALLY WANT IF I WERE FIVE.  Beakers of unknown materials, a microscope, tools, and a tiny robot all in one. (okay, since I’m not five, all i can see is the fact that Olivia is wearing flip flops in her Inventor’s Workshop. Total safety hazard.  Note to Self: Must write to Lego and tell them to supply Olivia with leather, closed toe boots.)