Thursday, April 24, 2014

The Parenting Continuum

Have you all heard about this study in which researchers observed parents ignoring their children because they were so absorbed in checking their smartphones? Although this was not a scientific study, more like anthropological observations, one of the researchers noted that children whose parents were on the phone the longest were more likely to act out to get their parent's attention.  A psychologist not involved in the experiment commented that when parents put their digital devises ahead of their children they are sending the message to the children that they are not interesting and that they don't matter. I think we can all agree that the conclusion reached is indisputable. Obviously, we all know it is better to engage with your children than to ignore them. Additionally, I think we'd agree that it's incredibly rude to pull out your phone mid-conversation with anyone, a child or an adult, and start texting or checking email. My problem is that "research" like this is part of a whole trend in parent-shaming that makes it hard to feel like you are ever doing enough as a caregiver.

The cards are stacked against parents from the get-go in the anthropological study. The researchers observing 55 groups of adults and young children dining at fast food restaurants (a McDonald's according to the radio broadcast of the story) in the course of one summer. The key points to me are the location (a fast food restaurant) and the time of year (summer). You know when I tend to take my kids to fast food restaurants? When I'm in a hurry and we're away from home. You know when I take my kids to fast food restaurants in the summer? I do it when they're not in camp and we've been out doing some child-centered activity in the morning and need to eat lunch out before segueing into our afternoon of child-centered activities. If the researchers were watching me, I guarantee that I'd be checking my phone when we sat down at the table. Would the researchers prefer that I do that while driving to Chick fil-A?

Monday, April 21, 2014

Easter-Related Musings

We celebrated Easter yesterday with lots of eating and sitting around, two things at which I could excel except that on most days I only have five minutes to shove a meal in my mouth before racing off to some activity. When I retire I plan to devote more time to eating and sitting around; it would be practically un-American not to. We also went to church and the minister told a funny (to me, anyway) story about receiving a promotional email from a company that will provide the equipment to enable people to fly during church Easter productions. The email said something like, "You know what's missing from your Easter production? Flying!" I'm a little bit upset that I've never received an email saying that that the one thing missing from my life is flying, because it's true. I already get 1,000 emails a day telling me that what's missing from my life is the perfect pair of ankle-cuff sandals or some new outdoor furniture, but not a word about flying. After the minister told the flying story he said some religious stuff, little of which I retained because the Boy distracted me with pictures of soldiers that he was drawing on the prayer request pamphlet in the pew. Since I left the pamphlet there, I  hope someone finds it and decides that it's a prayer request for the military and not just random vandalism.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

All Joy and No Fun

After today, my kids have 30 more days of school before summer break. For the first time, I think I'm looking forward to the break more than the children. I'm going to be blunt: This school year has kicked my ass six ways to Sunday. Part of the reason that I haven't been posting is because I've been working on revising my novel (BTW, I hate the way that makes me sound like a pretentious cliche - like how all SAHMs with a camera are suddenly "photographers" and all SAHMs who have a camera and fancy themselves writers are bloggers ;-)). But this is supposed to be a humor blog and I've been in such a funk that I've had a hard time seeing the funny side of anything. 

I'm self-aware enough to realize that it is ridiculous for me to be stressed out. Objectively speaking, my life is pretty easy. I don't live in a war zone, my children have enough to eat, and all my problems sound like whiny first-world problems, i.e., "Worst day ever! Whole Foods is out of brown rice sushi!"  The other day I was rushing around the grocery store (my umpteenth visit of the week) and saw an old lady sitting on a scooter and rummaging in the bargain bin wearing a "I'm too blessed to be stressed" t-shirt. That got me thinking: Surely, I'm at least as equally as blessed as the old lady. So, why am I not walking around humming "Happy," with a perpetual grin on my face?

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Spring Fever

You could always count on a handful of warm days in late April or early May in New Jersey. It was your reward for making it through six months of cold, grey weather. Of course, what seemed like "warm" was really temperatures in the mid-50's, but it still seemed like time to break out the shorts and tanks because it was so much better than 20 degrees and snow. On those warmish days, we would beg our teachers to have class outside and when they invariably refused, we'd stare out the windows, waiting for the bell to ring so we could just feel the sun. "Spring fever," the teachers would sigh, and at the time I thought that they were concerned that we weren't going to learn anything for the rest of the year. Now I realize that they were probably just planning their shore vacations and dreaming of tossing back drinks at Bar A. (Aside: As I look at pictures, I realize that Bar A has barely changed since I was there in 1994. Although, it does look like they've added the saddest VIP area ever. Note to Bar A: random potted plants and garden stools do not a VIP area make. Also, who are these alleged VIPs hanging out at Bar A? I'm picturing Caroline Manzo's sons, Albie and Chris from "The Real Housewives of New Jersey." They probably have some girls with them from their Stripper Car Wash and the girls probably pronounce "cabana" and "grotto" with that nasally Philly accent and are practically handicapped because their fake nails are so long.)

The point is (yes, I have one) that spring fever used to conjure up all sorts of good images: sunglasses, sitting outside, and the end of the school year. Now I can't even hear the word "fever" without immediately wondering if we are fully stocked with Children's Motrin. Those pleasant images have been replaced with this image:

Now spring fever comes with spring
coughing and wheezing.