Tag Archives: parenting

Shock therapy

Two readers took me up on my offer yesterday to share a personal story about a 70s fad. So here goes.

The year was 1973 and a wild trend was sweeping the nation. The fad and the name—streaking—had begun centuries earlier, but for some reason it made a big comeback in 1973.

During the time of this craze, my job as a seventh grade girl was to spend as much time as possible on the telephone. My girlfriends and I talked for hours after school and on the weekends. Literally, hours.

Our household phone hung on a wall in the kitchen. Like many houses, there was a circular traffic pattern joining the foyer, living room, dining room and kitchen, where my brothers used to chase each other pushing Tonka trucks. The phone cord reached from the kitchen to an arm chair around the corner in the dining room, where I spent the bulk of my adolescent years.

One Saturday afternoon my parents tried everything to get me off the phone. Little brothers yelling and screaming, pots and pans clanging, nothing fazed me.

Just then, my very clever parents paraded in and ran the foyer-living room-dining room-kitchen circuit. All they had on were novelty hats, which they held over their frontal regions. The phone receiver I held instantly crashed on to the floor.

Parental streaking: The fast-acting remedy for your difficult teenager.


Filed under Family and Friends, Hearth and Home

By the book

About 10 years ago I realized that, as a society, we parents read way too many books about pregnancy and infancy and not enough about parenting. It was much longer ago that I marveled at the amount of energy and money we pour into infants, equipping ourselves and them with nursery furniture and fixtures, clothes and equipment, when everything is outgrown in the blink of an eye—and, in our case, occupies space in the attic for another 20 years.

As I glance at my bookcase, I count more than a dozen books about the first years of life. Were those really needed, when what we focused on at that stage was putting food in one end and cleaning up at the other? The loving came naturally.

By the time our children are adolescents, we are too busy pulling our hair out to read books. I did have one or two that helped in a pinch, but wouldn’t it have made better sense to read those in advance of onset?

Then came the dreaded Empty Nest Syndrome, for which I was completely unprepared—most likely because I was consumed with the here and now of the high school years. Then came the college years, during which parenting happens long distance. And then, the post college era.

Just weeks after our son graduated from college last spring, I struggled with identifying my role as a parent. You’d think your work is done, but isn’t your role just being redefined yet again? As the parent of an only child, I am the very model of the modern helicopter parent, always hovering. When is it time to fly out of the picture? How is my adult child going to navigate the adult world? Where are the books for this stage?

Well, it turns out there are plenty of books on parenting your adult child. I just never thought to look. I spent some time on Amazon.com this morning, when my son and his girlfriend went back to North Carolina after spending a week here, exploring possible relocation. Yes, we are inviting him back to the nest, so that he might have a better pad from which to launch the second year of his adult career. And I see there are nearly a dozen books on the subject.

Again, we contemplate our role as parents. We taught him what the cow says and where his nose is. Surely, 20 years later we can be of help in punching up a resume, crafting an elevator pitch, sharing advice on networking techniques, working up sample budgets and helping in the clarification of goals. But whose goals, his or ours?

I know the answer is this: we have an adult son who has matured into an outstanding man, caring and talented, in spite of us.

Now what?


Filed under Family and Friends, Reading

Picante parenting

Stories of extreme parenting techniques have gotten a lot of attention lately. First it was Yale law professor Amy Chua, the so-called Tiger Mother, who bragged in a recent book about depriving her daughters of all things social and calling one child “garbage” for being disrespectful.

Now, it’s the practice of “hot-saucing,” or washing a sassy kid’s mouth out with hot sauce, as a mother of six recently did—and was charged with child abuse.

I imagine some parents, upon hearing this news, might say they wish they had thought of hot sauce. Not I. Not because giving a young child hot sauce might be abusive, but because my child would have loved it.

My son bit into his first jalapeño pepper when he was just eight months old.

My husband and I were having dinner at the coffee table in our tiny first house, when our baby boy crawled over, pulled himself up to the table, grabbed a bit of raw jalapeño and popped it into his mouth. We freaked out. We got ready to call 911 while watching closely for a reaction. He shuddered for a few moments. Then he reached for another pepper, which of course, we grabbed before he ate it. No tears, no hives, no stomach effects, just a desire for more hot pepper.

Ever since, his fondness for all things spicy has only deepened. To this day, he goes into regular withdrawal living 100 miles rom the nearest Chipotle.

It never occurred to me to wash his mouth out with anything, let alone hot sauce. No, Dave’s Insanity triple-X habanero would be a reward. For my boy, punishment would be a mouthful of dark chocolate. No kidding.


Filed under Family and Friends, Food, News