Thursday, May 19, 2016

Feeling Decidedly Un-American

There are times when I identify with Americans or the USA and times when I want to distance myself. I'm writing about the latter over at my Expat Focus column is you want to take a look.


Monday, May 16, 2016

College Boy Re-entry

So it's end of the year for many college kids in the USA. (Colleges are not all on the same system so not everyone finishes at the same time.) The College Boy moved back on Saturday, and as usual, not without incident. 

His plans were to do a couple of car loads last week so that Saturday wouldn't be a royal pain. He was on the 15th floor of a large building with only two small elevators/lifts, so everyone moving out on the same day was looking like hell on earth. Unfortunately on the day we planned for me to swing by his dorm after my doctor's appointment, well, he forgot to get up. I texted him after my appointment with no reply. I then texted his name a couple of times, as you do. No reply. I then said "If I don't hear from you in the next 15 minutes I'm going home" which elicited the response that he'd just woken up and then "My bad". Like it would ever be my fault he overslept! 

We did manage to get one car load home mid-week but it still required a trip on Saturday. I was volunteering at the world's biggest garage/jumble sale and the Ball & Chain appeared to think he'd done enough so the plan was for College Boy to come home, collect my car and do the move himself. Sorted. 

Except for the fact that he phoned me from the El train to say he'd forgotten his key. "No problem" says I, "there's a lock thing in the front garden with a spare key in  it. Just punch these numbers and it'll open". Unfortunately the combo didn't appear to work so he had to come to school to get my key, then go to his dorm etc, etc. Which left me without a key, so I then had to text the B&C to find out when he would be home. And so it went on. 

Hours later and after much fiddling, we finally found the correct combo for the lock thing and I remembered that the 12 year old had been so worried about it being hack-able that we changed the combo. Only I forgot that bit. So the one time we've ever had to use the emergency spare key, it failed us. Or rather, my memory failed us. Pah!

Anyway, we're on Day Two of College Boy re-entry and so far my conversations with him have started with - 

Where are my car keys?
Please move that box from the living room. 
That amp cannot stay on the dining room table. 

My hallway.

Keep smiling.  

Monday, May 9, 2016

Hey, Parents - Leave my Kids Alone

I came across this article today - by a mother who chooses not to help her kids up the slide ladder at the park. She wants them to give it a try first and requests - "Please do not lift my daughters to the top of the ladder, especially after you’ve just heard me tell them I wasn’t going to do it for them and encourage them to try it themselves."

Of course the comments almost immediately dissolve into the inevitable parenting competition that many such posts attract, but I have to say I agree with her. It's one thing if a child is balancing precariously on a piece of play equipment, crying out for a parent who seems to have exited stage left. Of course you help them down. When you're going against what you see the parent is trying to do however, and the child is in no danger, you're being a busy body or a smug parent. Probably both. 

It reminds me of when mine were little and they said something I was trying to stop. Perhaps calling me a "big poop"; you know, the stuff designed to make you lose it in public. So I wouldn't react most of the time, thus robbing them of their prize. That's actually what many experts advise - no attention is worse than negative attention. 

But then there'd inevitably be the adult-who-is-far-better-with-children, who jumps in and says "It's not nice to talk to your mother like that." (Ironically, it was often adults whose children were, to be honest, the brattiest kids on the block.) Seriously, it used to infuriate me on so many levels. I mean, I wasn't deaf at any point, so ignoring my kids was obviously a strategy of mine - the parent, the person in charge of those kids. I am not, and never have been, a pushover as a parent so didn't need "reinforcements" in the form of adults who thought they had more authority with kids.

I lost interest long ago, in trying to "better" other people's kids. I mean what's the point? You might remind them to say "please" while they're at your house, not to complain that "there's  nothing good to eat" in your kitchen, or ask rather than simply opening the fridge and taking what they want, but hey - they're a reflection of someone else's manners, not mine. Similarly, if someone wants to raise their kids with a bit of "tough love" or just by not jumping in and rescuing them at every hurdle, then just leave those kids alone. 

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