Stunned into Silence

This week, we've been stunned into silence by Monday's bombings at the finish line of the Boston Marathon. No, neither of us was present and neither of us had friends or family who were victims. That makes us lucky. Yet, we mourn the loss of three vibrant and young Bostonians and the maiming of so many others.

While our thoughts are with the many victims and their families, we recommend Messing with the Wrong City a recent op-ed by Dennis Lehane. His piece so perfectly sums up some of the peculiarities of our adoped city. Bostonians like hard things (epic snowstorms, creaky public transportation, and unexplainable traffic patterns). Rich with medical institutions, grit, and, in Lehane words, "adoration for civility and intellect," Boston will not be cowed by such atrocious acts of terrorism, we're all just too contrary.

* We wish we knew who to credit for the image. We found it on Facebook, where it is rapidly going viral, just like Lehane's op-ed piece. 

Let Us Now Praise Famous Women

The Modern Mother of a Certain Age may be feeling sad today at the passing of two great leaders of her youth.  First, the formidable and fascinating Baroness Thatcher, Britain's "greatest post-war Prime Minister has died at the age of 87." (Telegraph, UK

 Photo courtesy of Time Magazine

And second, a lady of a very different pattern, Lilly Pulitzer socialite and fashion icon died this past Sunday at her home in Palm Beach.

Photo courtesy of NYTimes

They will both be missed by many a Modern Mother. 

To read more about the extraordinary  Mrs. Thatcher please visit the Margaret Thatcher Foundation

There can be no better tribute to dear Lilly, than the many pages of her creations that can be found on Pinterest.

Parenting advice from non-parents?

Sometimes it can be hard to take advice from a “childless bystander” but in a recent op-ed, the New York Times’ Frank Bruni makes it easy. His observations of modern parenting are deeply amusing and often true, especially his take on gratuitous praise and how parents sabotage their children’s eating habits by talking about them excessively. A few points seem a bit tired: when he describes modern parents as prone to “boundless fretting” it feels like Judith Warner’s Perfect Madness or New York Magazine’s July 2011 issue all over again. Happily, he concludes with the observation that most children turn out fine no matter how they are fed, transported, soothed, disciplined, etc. He’s certainly right about that. That, and the fact that all children these days eat way too many chicken fingers.

A Crisis of Conference

I never thought I would be one of those mothers - the ones who doubt, dismiss, disbelieve, when a teacher reports less than desirable behavior in her child, the mothers who assume that her child’s faltering performance at school stems from the school “not doing enough” or a problematic teacher. But then, I had never really been tested.

Sitting in a recent parent teacher conference, learning about my third child’s “learning differences,” I was surprised by my own reaction. Despite a careful, kind and well mannered delivery, the message somehow sounded like, “all of the other 1st graders sit quietly at their desks reading chapter books, while your child swings from the light fixtures, and barely writes his own name.”

Battling mounting anxiety and defensive thoughts like “their expectations are just too high” I managed to listen and ask questions. I could see where and how my child might need some support. In the end, the teachers and I pulled through this “crisis of conference,” had a civilized discussion and put a plan in place to help my flagging student.

Yet, I emerged humbled – not by the fact that one of my children will need tutoring, but more than a little surprised to find myself susceptible to the kind of defensiveness that can undermine an effective parent teacher relationship. I like to think of myself as a cooperative and open-minded person, not someone who would deny the existence of a problem.

In the end, I suppose I am lucky. Lucky, that good manners and good will prevailed, allowing us to proceed forward and do what is best for this child, whom I love so much.

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