Learning to Hate the Mail!

When I was in high school, I had a math teacher—Miss Pavidis—and she referred to all her students as young whippersnappers. Sad to admit, I have not been a young whippersnapper for a long, long time. I am no longer even a middle-aged whippersnapper, but rather someone that should probably be called ma’am even in New Jersey, where woman like me would still be referred to as “Miss,” even though I have been married over forty years and am the grandma of two little cuties.

I will soon be celebrating the third anniversary of my hip replacement, I have been covering my gray hair for ions, and my hands have age spots and old-lady veins showing through the skin. After careful calculations on timing, I began collecting my Social Security checks as soon as I could.

But this week, the final insult appeared in my mailbox confirming that I am forever a former young whippersnapper. My Medicare card arrived! Although I am not eligible for a few more months, our government has been reminding me for months that this is the big year. I told Grandma the awful news and she responded by saying, “How do you think that makes me feel?”

I am in the autumn of my life.

Our Children will be Calling Bullshit

I am glad I am not raising a child these days, because with Donald Trump as president, it would be difficult for me to explain to my little ones why it is wrong to say or do what our commander in chief routinely does.

Growing up, there was not a lot of swearing or derogatory discussions in our house, and as I pointed out the other day, most conversations said around the children are heard. (Our Children are Listening…“Who is Adam Schiff, Grandma?”)

After the president’s latest post-impeachment rant, when he called the Russia investigation “bullshit” to a roomful of his supporters in the East Room of the White House shortly after noon, Daddy, Kelly, and I had a conversation about his little tirade.

Dad recalled listening to President Kennedy’s moonshot speech when he was not yet nine, and then being inspired to work in a technical field. Back in our day, can you believe that parents could permit their children to watch the president speak anytime without fear that his behavior would be repeated and then emulated by America’s kids? Kelly then recalled innocently sitting in front of the television while the presidents spoke, and it was not until Clinton’s impeachment that I had to monitor what was being discussed on the news.

Now our children’s vocabularies are “enhanced” with bullshit, discussions of shithole countries, goddam this, what the hell that, and of course, the lovely non-G-rated Access Hollywood tape discussion which made it to the news when he famously said he could “grab them by the pussy.”

Dad wondered, and I direct the answer to the teacher in our family for the answer, what would happen if one of your students yelled “bullshit,” or worse, in the school cafeteria? Would the behavior go unpunished if the child said they learned it from the president?

I guess I could give him a pass if he wasn’t locking children in cages, loosening environmental regulations which helped clean our air and water (Oh, but that’s good for business!) , mocking a sixteen-year-old climate activist, a Gold Star family or a disabled reporter. I could look the other way when he refuses to apologize for anything if only he would take care of Puerto Rico, did not make fun of women who were sexually assaulted, protected us from gun violence, or stopped going after the Biden family when his own children are openly making a fortune from their Daddy’s presidency.

But people are making money in the stock market, so we look the other way because honesty, integrity, and empathy are less important. His party does not have a single alternative candidate it seems.

Maybe our children will say “bullshit.”

South Carolina Bravery Medal

We rarely had birthday parties outside the house, so I tried to be as creative as possible with my home-based celebrations. There was the tea party during which Dad and I dressed up as the maid and butler, the diner-themed Fifties party, the “make your own gingerbread house party,” and the more traditional parties, where we played games like pin the tail on the donkey and musical chairs.

I totally understand not hosting a birthday party at home, because someone else does the cleanup and there is no danger of anything getting broken. Never having been the parent of any boys, I am in agreement with this arrangement. With that in mind, I must say that there is a lot of braveness in allowing a soon-to-be seven year old to be having a sleepover at home. As you recall, the only time we had a birthday sleepover party, it was done at Embassy Suites.

Four boys is a good number, but don’t expect any sleeping to be done at this sleepover. They will be excited, and I will not be surprised if this is the first sleepover party for any of them. May I suggest hiring a hypnotist as your entertainment?

I am working on the cake, which will be five little boys sleeping atop a chocolate cake. Here is the plan which I found on Pintrest. I hope I can do it justice.



Let the Races Begin

Dad had no brothers or sons, so he has been enjoying engaging in activities he did do at his home as a boy or in our home as the father of three girls. I am loving watching my big and little boy playing games, building a car, and most recently, building a track to race golf balls down the side of our yard.

We all know about Bryce’s love of building marble tracks for the purpose of racing them. He is obsessed with watching videos on YouTube of others racing marbles, and he would like to upload his own races.

So I was not surprised to see the two of them discussing how and where they would build the track in our yard. They went outside and surveyed the property and decided on the location, and then just waited for a day without rain and for the temperature to rise. Their enthusiasm was adorable.

The weather on Tuesday, our typical day of the week for a playdate, was sufficiently warm enough for a January day and the sun was peeking through the clouds on and off after lunch. I stayed inside for hot chocolate and tea while the boys got to work.

They used my small gardening shovel to dig the trench and Dad pulled out an old pair of sneakers with heavily worn soles to stomp on the track until it was smooth. Then they began sending the golf balls sailing down the track and observing where it got hung up. Then they repeated the process: dig, smooth, and test until enough track was done to begin the races.

Next, the rest of us were summoned outside and given a ball to choose. The races began, which included lots of jumping up and down and cheering, particularly on Lily’s part.

The track is not complete, so weather permitting, the boys will be back at work this weekend. Then it will be time to build the text raceway.



Our Children Are Listening

As a mother, I tried to bring up my children to be polite and respectful. I also knew that there were also many forces influencing them, but I had help. Back then, beginning in 1997, television shows were rated to help parents determine their appropriateness—TV-Y, Y7, PG, PG14, and MA. I am not certain whether these ratings still exist.

With the exception of the Clinton hearings, I never worried about turning the television off when the president spoke. Unfortunately, that has changed. Now, when our current president speaks and the children are present, I  turn off the television because you just never know if what he says when he goes off script will be appropriate for young ears.

Last week, I was sitting at the kitchen table playing Mancala with Lily. Although she is now four-years-old and therefore a “big girl,” I am still careful about what is on the television. So while we were playing, Dad was watching the impeachment trial on his phone at what he thought was a very low volume level so she could not here. He was wrong.

Part way through our game, Lily turned to me and asked, “Grandma, who is Adam Schiff?” I admit I was surprised (but happy to learn that her ears work quite well), so I thought carefully before I answered, “He is Miss Nancy’s friend.”  (I have not put my Nancy Pelosi Christmas ornament away. She is hanging on a lamp in my bedroom so Lily sees her often.)

Lily then asked, “Does he know Miss Ruth?:

“Oh yes,” I explained to her. “They are all friends.”

So my advice to other parents and grandparents is this: Be careful what you speak about or what you watch when your wee ones are nearby. You may think what they hear is being ignored because it is boring grown-up talk. But don’t be fooled. They are listening and their ears are find-tuned.

King Day at the Dome

January 2020 has been unusually balmy, with temperatures hovering close to 80° during the first week, so I decided that this was the year I would participate in Martin Luther King Day at the South Carolina State Capital. Naturally, I awoke the morning of January 20 to a temperature reading below freezing. But I decided I was tough, so I bundled up, grabbed my hat and gloves and headed downtown.

The kickoff event was a service at Zion Baptist Church and was attended by eight of the presidential hopefuls.

Not knowing I could have gone inside, I waited outside in the cold as a helicopter hovered overhead, and watched the crowd grow while police officers and bomb-sniffing dogs lingered nearby. There was a plethora of Sanders, Biden, Buttigieg, Warren, Sanders, and Steyer signs from people who had already decided who they were planning to vote for on the February 29th primary. A speaker was set up so we could hear the service, but the crowd was busily chatting away.

Around 10:00, the doors opened and the church emptied out. We were able to catch a brief look at the candidates as they headed up the street so they could lead the march to the State House. During that day, they played nice with each other and walked arm in arm.

I was near the back of the group with my Moms Demand Action group.

When we arrived at the State House, we were greeted by a crowd of thousands. There were plenty of speeches and musical interludes, and it was then that I learned that Tom Steyer was quite a dancer.

I am lucky to be now living in an early primary state, which gives me the opportunity to meet and listen to the presidential candidates. That is an opportunity which I did not have when I lived in New York, New Jersey, North Carolina or Georgia.



It was a grand day.





I want to add another example of how imaginative children can be.  This time I want to discuss my observations of the creativity of an almost seven-year-old boy.

He was over for his weekly playdate, and rather than playing a rousing game of Uno, Bryce decided he wanted to play mini golf. The fact that we do not have our own personal miniature golf course at home was not a problem. “I am going to make it myself.” I sat back and watched.

He walked around the living room looking at what he could use to construct ramps, barriers, and holes. We didn’t have a lot of time, so I figured perhaps he might be able to do nine. I was wrong. In a short period of time he made a full eighteen hole course, which wound it way from my living room to the kitchen and out to the screened porch. I allowed him a lot of freedom but put my foot down when he tried to put a hole on top of my end table. I could just picture the lamp crashing down on the floor, particularly because we were using real golf balls, not the more gentle practice balls.

When the course was complete, Dad, Bryce, and I grabbed our putters and began the game. We lined up our balls on each holes, took careful aim, and moved throughout the course, keeping careful count of each stroke.

We had a lot of fun. I came in last!