Category Archives: Parents

milestone

https://i0.wp.com/www.indiana.edu/~rcapub/images/GrowthChart.jpgIt’s official: our almost-13-year-old son is now taller than his dad.

  • Son’s height: 5’10-1/2″
  • Dad’s height: 5’10”
  • Son’s total growth in the last year: 7″

He’s a testament to the power of peanut butter, jelly, and pop-tarts!

taking the wheel

http://tbn0.google.com/images?q=tbn:IFZ4WZlNj8lNiM:http://www.monkeyandfriends.com/items_images/1155256225_3001-Baby-CarKeys%2520copy.jpgToday my little girl drove herself to school.

Somehow, the bouncy 2-year-old with sunny auburn Shirley Temple curls has grown into a gorgeous 16-year-old. Yesterday we went to the BMV where she passed her written test with no problems, I handed over $14, and she got her driver’s license.

This morning, away she went. Our town’s Harvest Homecoming festival is going on now, so she won’t be home until 10:00 p.m. — and for the first time, we won’t have to go pick her up.

It seems as though she was just born, and now she’s taking the wheel of her own life.

warped!

https://i2.wp.com/farm2.static.flickr.com/1120/986796536_dc503480e3.jpgOn Wednesday, I took my daughter (C), her boyfriend (T), her best friend (L), and the friend’s boyfriend (A), to Cincinnati for the Warped Tour. It’s an all-day concert event with six stages featuring simultaneous rock, punk, and hard-core music; the tour visits cities all over the U.S. and runs for two months. A rotating list of about 60 bands travels with the tour, and numerous smaller/local bands appear in each city. On Wednesday, I’d estimate that 50 different bands played.https://i1.wp.com/farm2.static.flickr.com/1305/985947665_b589a907c4.jpg

The event was at Riverbend Music Center, a lovely place on the banks of the Ohio River, with a huge covered amphitheatre stage. I’ve been there before to hear Bonnie Raitt. The audience this time was rather remarkably different. 🙂

If you’re interested, you can view all my photos of the day on Flickr.

We reached Cincy about noon (the event’s starting time). The walk from the car to Riverbend followed a pathway through a sweet little amusement park called Coney Island (they share parking). As we passed the merry-go-round, I wondered what the parents of the park’s small visitors thought of the massively pierced, tattooed, spike-haired stream of young people passing by — and the distant drone of bass and drums that had begun and that wouldn’t fall silent until almost 9 p.m.

As we walked, we were enveloped by a cloud of pot smoke. It caused me to worry that I’d be surrounded by drugs the whole time; but to my surprise, I didn’t smell pot again all day, I didn’t see anyone using any sort of drug, and I didn’t see anyone who was obviously stoned or drunk. I also didn’t witness any fights or other sorts of bad behavior. Many people, put into these surroundings, might have been frightened by the general appearance of many of the concert-goers; but they were friendly, peaceful, and there to hear lots of music.https://i1.wp.com/farm2.static.flickr.com/1155/985948075_68c656d6fd.jpg

Speaking of appearance, I decided early in the day that it would be easier to count the people who did not have tattoos. It was extremely hot, so everyone was wearing as little clothing as possible, and many guys were shirtless. Thus all the tattoos were on full display. It was a fascinating parade of artwork, good, bad, and vulgar. Of particular note was a young man with two full-size pistols tattooed on his torso, the barrels pointing downward, their ends hidden in his low-riding pants, pointing at an area where I wouldn’t think you’d want two guns aimed; we also saw a young women with large, beautifully drawn angel wings tattooed on her back.

https://i0.wp.com/farm2.static.flickr.com/1074/986805408_125222d30a.jpgWhen we arrived I walked around with the kids for a while, to get a feel for the layout, locate the various stages, and examine the goods being sold at the hundreds of booths set up by bands, record labels, and other vendors. Then I found a seat in what I called the “parents’ section” in the back row of the main amphitheatre; that stage was, unfortunately, hosting mostly loud, screaming punk music, but the seats were in the shade with a view of the river, and a cool breeze blew all day. Quite a few other people my age and older sat in this area reading our books and magazines; the kids we’d brought came and visited us occasionally, and except for the volume of the screaming onstage, it was pleasant. (Side note: I’d like to know how the lead vocalists of these groups are able to talk after screaming for such an extended period. But maybe they don’t talk — maybe they save up all their vocal energy for their time onstage.)

Over the course of the day we kept in touch via cel phone text messages, which worked very well. I always knew where the kids were, and they knew where I was, and I never had any cause for concern. A definite benefit of the event being spread out over a fairly large area was that the crowd, although a sell-out, was dispersed and not oppressive. Unless you were up near one of the stages, there was plenty of room to walk, and Riverbend offers lots of shady places to sit.https://i1.wp.com/farm2.static.flickr.com/1099/986802362_c27f0d85d5.jpg

If you were up close to a stage, it was a different story. The kids wanted to hear several of the bands in particular and in those cases made their way to the front, over to the side of the stage. C said it was the hottest she’s ever been — and keep in mind that we just came back from Disney World in July! People were packed in tightly, with more always coming. And there was also the danger of being accidentally kicked or hit by someone being passed overhead while crowd surfing. (The front of each stage was lined with security people whose job was to help the crowd surfers reach the ground safely. However, the kids saw several badly injured people who evidently fell and had to be taken away for medical help. Despite the risk, C told me that T would have happily gone surfing if she hadn’t been with him.) However, they managed to see their bands, get great close-up photos, and avoid injury.

At one point I was watching one of the punk bands and saw that a group of shirtless guys in the crowd up front were having fist fight. But — no, they weren’t, they were bouncing off each other, and then spinning through the crowd with their arms extended in fists. L explained to me that it’s called hardcore dancing, which is closely related to moshing. As far as I can see, the idea is to get hurt, or to hurt people around you; but it was contained to a small area in front of the stage, so obviously the people who chose to stand in that area knew what to expect.https://i0.wp.com/farm2.static.flickr.com/1005/985953373_9346a57c9f.jpg

One of my favorite moments came early in the day when we were walking around and finding the various stages. A new group was just beginning to perform on one of the smaller stages. The huge, bald, shirtless, sweaty, tattooed lead singer bellowed, “I just want you to remember that everything we do, we do for Jesus! So now we’re going to get emo for Jesus!” after which they launched into an indecipherable riot of noise. After finishing the number, he launched into a crowd-enlivening recitation of the word fuck in all its various forms, such as “You Cincinnati motherfuckers are a great fuckin’ crowd, and we’re gonna fuckin’ rock!” (What would Jesus think?)https://i2.wp.com/farm2.static.flickr.com/1405/986801336_6fe43d17da.jpg

Speaking of that particular word, I heard it more times on Wednesday than I have in a long time — it boomed out over audiences more frequently than it leaves Joe Pesci’s mouth in Goodfellas or is spoken by the cast of Bull Durham (and that’s saying something).

I bought myself a black Vans tank top as a souvenir. C came home with multiple shirts from her favorite bands. We all got sunburned to some degree, but it shows we were there. The kids had a great time. When we reached the car at the end of the day, all the kids thanked me for driving them, and T said in a heartfelt tone, “I’d take a bullet for you right now.” What possible better compliment from one’s daughter’s boyfriend?

When we got home, my husband asked me if I had a good time. The thing is, I did not have a good time in the usual sense of “oh, boy that was great fun and I want to do it again soon!” The day was hot, loud, and long. But I did have a good time helping my daughter and her friends have a good time, and talking and laughing with them in the car, and just having that time together. If they want to go again next year, I’ll be there.

https://i2.wp.com/farm2.static.flickr.com/1318/985960781_cb6514400e.jpg

suppose they invented a breast cancer vaccine…

If a vaccine became available that would stop 70% of breast cancer, I have no doubt that 99% of parents would line up with their daughters to get the shots. As parents, we want desperately to protect our children from pain — from illness — from anything that might hurt them. Cancer is close to the top of most people’s personal list of Scary Things That We Do Not Want Associated With Our Kids, and breast cancer is a much-publicized and frightening slayer of women young and old; so providing our daughters with protection against such a scourge would be a no-brainer.

But guess what? When I took my daughter on Friday to get the first of a series of three Gardasil shots, the nurse said to her, “You know, you’re lucky to have a mom who’s letting you get these shots. A lot of mothers won’t.”

I find this so staggeringly mind-blowing that it’s nearly impossible to comprehend. I’m a mom who’s letting my daughter have a vaccination that will protect her from the HPV viruses that cause 70% of cervical cancer (and 90% of genital warts). I’m a mom who’s letting my daughter avoid the things that I’ve gone through:

  • The stress each and every year when it’s time for my Pap test
  • The anxiety of receiving phone calls that my test results were abnormal and I need to be retested (this has happened three times)
  • The stabbing pain of a cervical biopsy (this has happened twice)
  • The panic at being told that I have severe precancerous cervical dysplasia and that immediate treatment is necessary (only once — so far)
  • Surgery during which a sizable portion of my cervix was burned away with a laser to destroy the abnormal cells

You’re damn right I’m a mom who’s letting my daughter be protected against all these things — and against the worst of them all, the one I fear and will have to continue fearing my entire life: being one of the thousands of women who die each year in the U.S. from cervical cancer.

In some inexplicable manner, many parents have got it in their heads that letting their daughters have the Gardasil vaccine will give them license to run amuck sexually. I beg these people to remember that when they first considered having sex, the risk of the HPV virus and cervical cancer was not even on their radar. The sex-related argument against these shots is utterly specious — a fabrication of twisted, overly zealous minds.

Friday was one of the happiest days of my life, because I was able to personally help ensure my daughter’s protection against a killer. To be unwilling to do so — to deny this protection to a daughter — is surely tantamount to child abuse.

parental statement of the day

https://i2.wp.com/img173.imageshack.us/img173/1672/15rc2.jpgOverheard this evening (Halloween)…

Our neighborhood is hilly and sparsely populated, with few opportunities for serious trick-or-treating. So, our son requested that we drive him to an alternate neighborhood offering easier walking and more households handing out candy. On the way, it was raining, and we were relieved when it stopped just as we arrived. The neighborhood was full of cars and excited, costumed children. Coming toward us down the sidewalk as we parked was a somewhat damp and frazzled-looking dad with two children, maybe ages 6 and 8. When I got out, he was saying to them…

OK. We can go trick-or-treating. Or, we can go to Target, and I’ll buy you each two bags of candy, and you can eat all of it.

Alas, we didn’t hear the outcome of the negotiation that surely followed.

long time gone

My dad died 7 years ago today. He’s been gone one-sixth of my life, and one-half of my daughter’s life. I find that I’m focusing on all the things he didn’t get to see and experience with me and, especially, with his grandchildren.

I don’t believe in an afterlife, so I can’t take comfort in the thought of him smiling down indulgently from a fluffy cloud as his 42-year-old daughter gets tattooed (something he could never bring himself to do — even in the Coast Guard,when his buddies went to be decorated with dragons and anchors, he couldn’t deal with the idea of the needle).

And it wasn’t “God’s will” that took this flawed but fundamentally wonderful man far too early, at age 67 — it was a cruel and swift cancer.

He’s gone. And every year at this time, when the weather is swelteringly hot and the cicadas’ buzzing is loudest (a sound that will forever be the soundtrack of walking to my parents’ house during my dad’s last weeks), I’m confronted by the fact that some things just aren’t fair, no matter how many ways people try to rationalize them.

“you have a beautiful house”

When we built our house next to the house I grew up in, both my parents were alive and it seemed like the ultimate wonderful spot to raise their grandchildren. I was delighted with my new house, and I enjoyed going next door to visit frequently.

Then my dad died, and all I wanted to do was run; there were days that it took all my self control not to get in the car and take off for somewhere. Anywhere.

That was almost 7 years ago, and I still don’t like to go next door any more. My mom wants me/us there more often, and says so, but I have to force myself, and I don’t make that short walk as often as I should. I also don’t really want to live here any more; as I’ve said before, I’d love to live by water. It’s as if when my dad died, he took with him my purpose for building a house in an ordinary subdivision in an ordinary town in the ordinary state of Indiana. And now I can’t move, because my mom is here, and I’m an only child and the parent of her only grandchildren. Guilt keeps me tethered to this house and this place.

Today, my daughter brought home a friend who hasn’t been here before. When they walked in the door, the first words out of her friend’s mouth were, “You have a beautiful house!”

I suppose it is. I like the colors on the walls; I planted all the flowers outside, and I love the trees. I just wish I wanted to live here.