Archive for the ‘Motherhood’ Category


Here’s what someone said, somewhere, to someone else: You’re only as happy as your least happy child. Talk about a buzz kill. I don’t care how motivated and crazed a parent might be, or how loving and smothering: sometimes it’s impossible to extract light and joy from our beloved offspring. Not to flaunt my depth of knowledge about adolescent behavior, but I happen to know that sometime between middle school and college, the cheerful part of a teenager’s DNA shrivels and sulks. It takes time for the happy gene to grow-up, apologize, and come sit at the table like an adult.

Rather than admit defeat, I say change the battle. At least, that’s what I determined after experiencing the following epiphany: You’re only as happy as your least functional appliance. Put another way, I thought everything was fine until my dishwasher died. Unloading still-dirty dishes, however, underscored how powerless I was in the face of appliance adversity. I was distraught, and that’s an understatement.

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Felix Baumgartner takes a leap from space.

Here’s what I know from walking into a preschool class eighteen years ago with my first child. Every class has a Felix Baumgartner in it, and I don’t want my kids being friends with him. Or her. Or anyone who thinks it’s fun to jump because there’s a bridge, or climb because there’s an Everest, or dare because he’s a devil.

I’m talking to you, Felix Baumgartner, Mr. Risk-Your-Life-Jumping-Out-Of-A-Space-Capsule-For-Fun. Think about your mother, for goodness sakes.

Does this ring a bell? “It’s those friends of his. They’re a bad influence.” Every mother alive has blamed the first and second and sometimes third round of bad behavior on the company her kid keeps. Peer pressure is the scapegoat of every parent caught hand wringing in despair as she wonders why her child made bad choices.

So imagine if your kid hung out with Felix. Every night at the table would be the same old same old. “I don’t care if he jumped from a space capsule. I said NO.” Or, “I don’t care if he fell at Mach 1. NO.” Or even, in utter despair, “No, you may not jump from three atmospheres. Not today. Not tomorrow. Never. Understood? Now go finish your homework.”

Felix had to be tough at home, tough at school, and just plain tough. Maybe if he’d been in middle school now, he’d have been medicated out of his tendency to push the boundaries of fear and sanity. I’m not necessarily promoting the possible merits of medicating our youth, but perhaps on the right cocktail he would have been happy just bungy jumping or ice climbing or heli-skiing, like more typical thrill seekers.

The dinner conversation would still be the same, though on a smaller magnitude. “I don’t care if it’s a one-time-only opportunity to squirrel-fly from the Eiffel Tower. Not while there’s breath in my body.”

As far as I’m concerned, the fear-buzz Felix experienced before plunging toward earth could only be a fraction of what his mother felt. And I’m guessing she doesn’t enjoy the buzz from the emotional intensity of life-threatening activity the way her son does.

Sometimes it sucks to be the mother.

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