Monday, August 10, 2009

What you see and what you are

This is me at Christmas 1985, when I was a 14-year-old high-school freshman. I was a bit of a late bloomer and was about the same size that G is now, at ten and a half -- a situation that caused me no end of angst, I can tell you.

The sad part is that in addition to being small for my age, I truly believed that I was hideously, irredeemably ugly. Every time I looked in the mirror, I saw a misshapen troll looking back, but in fact, I was pretty cute, or at the very least, normal. I wish I had known that then. But even more, I wish there were a way to convince G -- who already dislikes her appearance and refuses to look at photos of herself -- how beautiful she really is.
Why are girls cursed with this distorted self-image?

Saturday, August 08, 2009

Mom knows best

Yesterday I bought a copy of that immortal middle-school classic, Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret. I told G she would love it, but she was underwhelmed by my endorsement, so I (re)read it myself and then left it on her bedside table in case she changed her mind.

Just now, I went in to see if she was asleep, and found her deep into the book, reading by flashlight.

"This is pretty good," she informed me.

Yes, yes it is!

Play that funky music

G has just informed me that I've ruined her entire weekend.

I know what you're all thinking -- "Did you ground her? Beat her? Cut the head off her favorite teddy bear? No. My heinous crime was informing her that she'll be participating in band this school year. I know more adults than I can count who regret not learning how to play an instrument, and G is not going to be one of them if I have anything to say about it. Which I do.

Needless to say, G took the news badly, moaning that playing an instrument is too hard and she doesn't want to. I told her that if she gets to the end of fifth grade and hates it, she doesn't have to do it again next year, but until then, she is going to play the clarinet even if it makes her lips fall off. (It doesn't have to be a clarinet. It could be a sousaphone or an oboe or a bouzouki. But given that this is elementary-school band, odds of it being the clarinet are pretty high.)

Truthfully, I kind of surprised myself with my own vehemence -- I'm pretty easy-going about most things, and in the past I've just let G try whatever interests her, racking up a checkered extracurricular history that includes tap, ballet, horseback riding, tennis and fencing. But music is important to me, and it was important to P (an accomplished guitarist), and I don't want her to miss out on learning the basics before she gets too old. She may not thank me for it later, but at least she won't be able to say she never had the opportunity.

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Speaking with authority

We're at the movie theater and the preview for "2012" comes on ...

G (horrified whisper): The world is going to end in 2012?!
Me: No, that's all a bunch of baloney. No one knows when the world is going to end. Probably not for millions of years, though.
G: Oh. Okay! *cheerfully sits back to watch the rest of the previews*

Boy, do I wish I were still young enough to accept reassurance that completely. Not that I ever really did -- when I was about G's age or a bit older, I used to make my dad sit on the edge of my bed after lights-out and tell me all the reasons why the Soviets wouldn't bomb us. Imagine me lying there in my pajamas, saying "Okay, now explain the mutual assured destruction doctrine again," and you will know exactly what I was like as a child. No wonder I didn't fit in with the other kids in fifth grade!