Friday Frivolity: Momologue

Most mothers have had one of those moments: a moment when the patter she engages in with small children, her usual monologue (or shall we say momologue?* ) spills out into "real life." She might find herself pointing out the window and brightly exclaiming, "Look at the dump truck!" when riding in a car with friends. Or she might find herself biting her lip before suggesting, "careful!" as a friend steps out into a busy street.

However chagrined the modern mother might feel about such slip ups, she can rest easy she has never gotten so myopically focused on her role as parent to behave as the character in this fictional video.

Of course, the interesting point that this video highlights is something most of us instictively know to be true: many of the ways adults talk to children are not considerate, nor do they help a child make sense of the world a they experience it  Not so frivolous thoughts from a humorous video. Food for thought.

Have a wonderful weekend!

* Momologue: The patter in which mothers sometimes engage, a mixture of instructions (napkin in your lap!), admonitions (sit square on your chair!), and observations (look! the butter is shaped like a shell!).

I Have Fifty, Do I Hear One Hundred?

With school auction season upon us, we thought this old piece seemed particularly apropos.

Going, Going, Gone!
Reprinted, with permission, from March 22, 2011

Should the conversation begin to lag when you are talking to the mother of school-age children, one  sure way to avoid an awkward pause is to bring up school auctions.  A polite inquiry such as “Does your child’s school have an auction?” is usually good for upwards of 20 minutes.   In this time she will regale you with tales of the time she chaired/contributed to/attended the XYZ school auction and the horror or hysteria that ensued.  It is hard to pinpoint what exactly makes school auctions so fraught with peril but it undoubtedly has something to do with the combination of alcohol, competition, money and ego.  While we cannot, in good conscience, suggest the well mannered  mother avoid these gatherings entirely – after all they are for a good cause – she might want to follow some basic guidelines.

Pre-auction: if volunteering, show up when you said you would and do what you agreed to (see Committees).   It is also best not to voice your opposition or displeasure too loudly or you might end up chairing the event next year.  Additionally, have a strategy worked out with your spouse/date of how much you want to donate that night.  A “safe word” to stop your spouse or yourself in the heat of the bidding frenzy is also recommended.

During the auction: keep your wits about you and alternate between the hard stuff and a glass of seltzer to insure lucidity.  Eat something. Socialize, don’t crowd the bidding tables.  Remember, to the victor goes the spoils.  While you may feel good about it at the moment, do you really want those two weeks in Hilton Head or the taco party for 30?  Keep it friendly, this is for a good cause.  If you win wonderful.   If not, just think, the school gets more and you get to keep yours.  So really, in a way, you did win.

Post-auction: get in touch with the kind people who donated whatever it is you purchased as quickly as possible to agree on delivery.  Never complain or imply you overpaid.  Do not gossip - it is gauche to discuss who spent how much or who outbid his own bid three times.

Finally, the well mannered modern mother knows that while these events may be like a Prom with gasoline, alcohol and money thrown in, the best thing she can do is remain polite and adult about it all.  Thus avoiding incriminating photos of herself on Facebook the next morning.

Sheryl Sandberg makes me feel guilty

The saturating media coverage of Sheryl Sandberg, and her new book, Lean In have left me feeling a little guilty and a little confused. Like a splinter, something about her message lodged and irritated, and I wasn’t quite sure why. And then I read this post on Penelope Trunk’s blog.

In her post, Ms. Trunk, blogger, career coach, homeschooling mother, says, “I am doing a life that she [Sandberg] would hate” and feels bad she doesn’t measure up to Sheryl Sandberg’s stratospheric standard. Me too. (For those who have missed the barrage of media, Sandberg argues that women should aim high towards big careers and positions of power; they need not cut back and slow track themselves.)

The problem is, I never wanted the big corporate or government position. Ms. Sandberg might see this as downshifting before starting. I see it as normal for someone who seeks time for friends, family, creativity and contemplation. Doubtless, there are other women like me: those who aspire to be teachers, artists, botanists, therapists, among others. Are they all guilty of self-sabotage or downshifting?

Ms. Sandberg's analysis of women and workplace issues shifts much of the burden onto women themselves. Thus, inspiring that vague guilty feeling. Those women who don’t push forward against the glass ceiling become part of the problem and those who do push forward, but fail, appear to have not tried hard enough.

Ms. Sandberg is an amazing, accomplished individual. I hope many women and girls benefit from her  "You can do it!" message. I feel happy to live in a time and place where she, and women like her, can succeed so visibly and vibrantly. Yet, her life cannot be for everybody. Some women might not want it; others might not be so lucky.

Coming In For A Landing?

 image from Free Range Kids

A article making the rounds these days is Tim Elmore's  "Three Huge Mistakes We Make Leading Kids...And How To Correct Them."  The mistakes not the children.

It is a good reminder to let our children take risks, make mistakes and replace phony praise with genuine and merited encouragement.  Of course, chances are, if you read this blog, you have probably read The Blessing of A Skinned Knee, which is the gold standard of such parenting advice.

What I wonder is, it getting better?   Are more parents giving their children a little more freedom to make mistakes?  Are some of those helicopter parents coming in for a landing?  According to Free Range Kids letting your kids walk a couple of blocks in your own neighborhood may land you in jail.  This article on What Makes a Nightmare Sports Parent - And What Makes a Great One suggests that there is still a lot of work to be done.

One result of such parental management seems to be the children who call home 8-10 times a day from college asking questions like "should I have a hot dog or chili for lunch?" or "Should I do my Econ or History homework first?"  One also reads about parents helping (?) to negotiate a person's first salary and calling a company's HR dept to advocate for their offspring


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