Wednesday, May 27, 2009


I've been all over the place today. I woke up in a strange, reckless state of mind and left home wondering if I was going to say or do something I would regret later. Next I got some kudos and a possible opportunity that put me in a great mood, and then along came an unexpectedly large expense that made me want to tear my hair out. It's getting close to midnight and I still don't know whether to categorize the day as good or bad. Plus, I still feel weird and jittery, as if something big is about to happen. It makes me nervous.

Also today, I got proof positive that I am completely oblivious to other people. When I went downstairs to get lunch, one of the chef guys asked me "Were you at [name of shopping plaza] last weekend?" I said "Yeah, on Saturday night," and he said "I thought so. I was there to see Star Trek, and I saw you sitting on a bench outside and thought 'Hey, I know her,' but I didn't want to bother you."

I said that I had been there to see a movie too and we chatted about what we'd both watched for a few seconds, and then I walked away with my burrito feeling like the most unobservant person on the planet. Not only did I not see this guy on Saturday (I was waiting for a friend and had my nose stuck in a magazine), but if I had, I never would have made the connection that person at the movie theater = person from the café at work, unless someone pointed it out. And yet he somehow managed to recognize me out of context, at a distance, and in the dark no less. Either he's some sort of super-secret super-spy, or I go around completely lost in my own world all the time. I'm thinking it's probably the latter.

And on a final, vermin-related note, I found out that both of our cats have fleas and that G was probably exposed to head lice during her Girl Scout troop's sleepover last weekend. My skin is crawling just thinking about it, especially the lice part -- I've made it through 10 years of parenting without ever having to deal with lice, and I don't want to start now. I already dosed the cats up with Capstar and Frontline, so they should be fine, but lice ... ewwwwwwwww. The girl with the lice is a lot younger and she and G didn't really hang out or sleep near each other, so hopefully we've escaped the scourge. Only time will tell.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Joe Cool

At the dinner table last night:

Me: Who did you play with at recess today?
G: Um, Mom, I don't exactly "play" at recess anymore.
Me: What do you do instead?
G: I hang out.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Survey says

1. How old were you when you started walking or biking to some places (e.g. school or a friend's place) on your own? What were the circumstances?)

I was allowed to play outside on my own starting at about age 7. I started walking to school alone after we moved to Houston, when I was nine and in fourth grade. Around the same time, I also started walking to the park by myself, and I remember very clearly being allowed to walk to the Stop 'n Go down the street for the first time. (I bought a candy bar and a Richie Rich comic book. Good times.)

2. How old were you when you started taking public transit on your own? What were the circumstances?

I started taking the public bus to school at the beginning of ninth grade, so I would have been 13, almost 14. I went to school in another city, and it was quite a long trip -- 45 minutes on two buses.

3. How old were you when you first took a long-distance trip (unaccompanied on the bus, train, or plane, even if you were met at your destination) on your own? What were the circumstances?

I don't think I ever did this as a child. I do remember that when we lived in Houston, my best friend from Louisiana, who would have been about 11 at the time, flew by herself to spend a week visiting me.

4. This set of questions was inspired by a news story about a woman leaving her nine-year-old in downtown Manhattan to find his own way home on transit and the controversy it caused ( What's your reaction to this story?

I think a lot of the people who flipped out about this are from the suburbs. Nine is too young, IMHO, but most of the people I've met who grew up in NYC started using public transit independently at a pretty early age. Incidentally, this is also really common in large European cities -- I used to know someone from Paris, and she said that she and all her classmates were taking the metro to school alone by the time they were 11 or 12. (Now, whether I would let G do this is another story -- see the next question.)

5. At what age would or did you let your kids (hypothetical kids, if you don't have them) do those things where you live now?

G is 10 -- close to 10 1/2, actually -- and she isn't allowed to play outside or go anywhere by herself. If we lived in the neighborhood immediately surrounding her school, where there isn't a lot of traffic and most of the people know each other, I would most likely let her walk to school next year (fifth grade) if she walked with a friend. But, we live on a busy street and don't know our neighbors, so she's not going to be walking anywhere without me in the near future. Maybe when she starts junior high.

As for the other situations, I wouldn't allow her to take public transit alone until high school, and probably not even then. Our bus system is awful and it's easy to miss a connection and get stranded somewhere, plus I have not-so-fond memories of being harassed by men, both in cars and on foot, while waiting at the bus stop. On the other hand, I probably would let her fly alone to visit relatives at 13 or so, assuming someone I trusted was meeting her at the other end.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Could have been worse

I spent quite some time this morning begging G to please please PLEASE go and see a movie with me for Mother's Day. She refused to do that, but she did finally consent, after I told her it was the only way she'd be eating as I wasn't going to cook, to eat lunch at a restaurant in the mall. I don't know why she always chooses Mother's Day to have one of her "I don't wanna go out" days, but she did the same thing last year.

On the bright side, once we actually got to the restaurant, she was very pleasant company, and even agreed to go to the bookstore for 20 minutes when we finished eating. She ended up getting a Webk*nz while we were there, so it was a good deal for her.

Anyway, I suppose this problem will eventually solve itself because she'll be old enough to stay home and do what she wants to do while I go out and do what I want to do, but I'd rather have her spend the day with me. Only, you know, not under duress. Sigh.

Friday, May 08, 2009

Oh good grief

Me: Hey, Mother's Day is this Sunday.
G: We should get a present for Catherine! She's a mom.
Me: Okay, that's great for the cat, but what should we do for me?
G: I don't know.


Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Here it comes

Friday night is the big annual Fifties-themed sock hop at G's school. She's excited and has already planned her outfit. I'm looking forward to it with all the enthusiasm I would reserve for another root canal. This is because unlike other events, where it's pretty common for one parent to bring the kid(s), the sock hop is a family night, which means that the few people I know well enough to chit-chat with will be with their families, leaving me to languish in total boredom while G alternates between running around with her friends and appearing to announce, "Mom, I need money for popcorn/glow bracelets/root beer floats/raffle tickets/a live raccoon." (OK, I'm kidding about that last one, but if they had a live raccoon booth she would totally be all over it.) I don't mind sitting by myself per se, but three hours is a long time to watch people do the Cha Cha Slide and eavesdrop while they gossip about other people I don't know. I wonder if it would look too weird if I brought a book to read.

How have I managed to have a child in the same school for five years without connecting with any of the other parents, you ask? Beats me. There's certainly a network of parents who know each other, drive each others' kids around, socialize outside school, etc., but I'm not part of it. We went on a big group trick-or-treating expedition last Halloween because G got invited by a friend whose mother is part of that network, and no one except the friend's mother said two words to me all evening. I think it's partly because we don't live in the neighborhood immediately surrounding the school, where most of these relationships seem to flourish; partly because I work full-time and am not at the school during the day; and partly because I don't have much in common with them other than the fact that our kids go to school together.

I know if P were around the situation would be different -- he was the sort of person who could talk to anyone, and if I walked away from him for five minutes in the video store, I'd come back to find him embroiled in a deep discussion with a total stranger about the merits of Jackie Chan vs. Chow Yun-Fat. But, he's gone and I'm crap at small talk, so here we are. It doesn't help that I don't watch TV or follow sports -- he used to say that those were the two golden topics if you wanted to talk to people you didn't know, and from conversations I've overheard, he was right. He also said that most people thought I was standoffish and didn't like them because I didn't jump in and chat, and he was probably right about that too. It isn't true, though; I don't dislike very many people at all. Well, except for those beeyotches from last Halloween. I have a special frowny face for them. Here it is: >:-<