Sunday, July 26, 2009

Tales from the back seat

One afternoon last week, when Alison and Alex Ogden piled into the back seat of Karin Ogden's car, they spied a pair of handcuffs.

For a split second, there was dead silence as they both just stared as if they'd discovered a pile of gold coins. Then, they dove at the same time, scrambling for possession.

"I want them!"

"No, I want them!"

"No, I want them!"

Another split second of silence. Then, simultaneously, they said, "Let's hook ourselves together."

Now, I don't know what Mrs. Ogden, who blushes whenever I even hint at an off-color joke, was doing with a pair of handcuffs in her back seat.

Frankly, I'm afraid to ask.

Lessons learned

The excitement of earning an allowance seems to have palled for one Alison Reed. It was another $4 week after Captain Reed determined the young redhead hadn't quite lived up to her chore list. Her chief offense was in having to be reminded to feed her two fish.

Jeff took advantage of our dinner hour to relay the news. And as is his wont, he tried to impart a little fatherly wisdom as he brought down the hammer. "You know, Alison, your fish rely on you to feed them, just like you rely on Mom and Dad to take care of you, to get you to camp, to get you food, to get you clothes. If we didn't live up to our responsibility, you wouldn't like it very much, now would you? You can rely on us. Your fish need to be able to rely on you."

(I'm giving you the abbreviated version. I'd pretty much eaten, cleared the table, washed, dried and put up the dishes before he was done.)

"So, Ali, do you agree that this wasn't a $5 week?" he asked.

"No, Daddy," she said. "It wasn't a $5 week. But Daddy?"

"Yes, my sweet?"

"Do you think it would be OK if I used my $4 to buy a small packet of Pokemon cards?"

The captain re-assumed his lecture position.

"Well, Ali, let me tell you about a man who taught your dad a lesson about unlimited wants and limited resources," he began, launching into the tale of his high school economics teacher, Dick Halpin.

"So, if you spend all your money on Pokemon cards, how will you ever buy your Nintendo DS or more Laffy Taffy or anything else you want?" he asked.

Without missing a beat, she leaned over, put her little hand on his arm and said, "Well, Dad, I'd rely on you for those things."

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Reading Report

I ran across this great blogger the other day, who I'm recommending to anyone who needs a little parental support, relief, insight and laughter. I've added her blog to my blog roll, so you can check in on her, too, if you like.

Here are some of her Radical Parenting highlights:

These articles are by Vanessa Van Petten who runs a parenting blog written from the kid's perspective with 20 teen writers. Her goal is to give parents a secret view into the world of kids and youth.

Teacup Parenting
: Is your Child too Fragile? She delves into the four different types of kids she sees today and what their pitfalls and strengths are!

Cotton Candy Friends
How social networking, IMing, texting and the Internet are changing teen’s friendships

10 Rules Kids Wished Their Parents Lived By Here are our radical parenting principles put together by Vanessa and our Teen Team of how we wish parenting would be.

50 Best Mom Blogs Parents always ask us “which websites should I read?” Here we did a complete overview of our favorite mommy bloggers across the net with reviews, favorite articles and descriptions.

Back online

At the risk of reminding Jeff that ReedRight Communications isn't paying him anymore, I have to give him a shout-out for his tech assistance. Again.

I wish I was more curious about how stuff works, but I'm just not. I want the computer to work when I sit down. I want the DVR to record the shows I like when I press a button. I want the camera to download my pictures when I put it in the cradle.

It's the camera that's been uncooperative lately. For the past few weeks, I've had to pull out the memory card, insert it into a reader and download from a different drive. That's about as technically advanced I am. And it was a fine system until Jeff did me a favor and took some photos not knowing I hadn't re-inserted the memory card.

That left some photos trapped in the camera. Jeff can be a patient man, but even I'm tired of my technological reticence. So he stood over me and walked through the uninstall, re-install process. And voila! we freed the captive shots and it appears that Kodak is again EasySharing with me.

I'm really growing as a person. Two weeks ago, Peggy Boehm revealed the mystery of why the formula to factor percentages actually works. Today, I've installed software. Who knows what next week might bring?!

We have another great weekend under our belts. Next week is pottery camp for Alison -- we were all set to go to overnight camp for a solid week, but her buddies couldn't go and she opted to wait until next year. She was looking forward to it, primarily because she thought she could go the whole week without brushing her hair and there would be NO PARENTS around to tell her what to do.

While I'd braced myself and was willing to drive her for her week away, I'm not-so-secretly relieved that she'll be home. Jeff made fun of me, and I know I need to let her grow up. But not this year.

Even with me holding her back, though, she's been growing a bit herself.

1. She slept in the backyard with Jenna (and without me) last weekend. I did sleep with my head of my footboard, which is closer to the window overlooking the backyard. I wanted to be ready to spring up in case they needed anything. They didn't.

and 2. She got to ride solo on her bike down the street to a play date with a little neighbor girl. I watched from the driveway, but she went all the way. And before you join Jeff in laughing at me, it involved a stop sign and crossing a street where there's sometimes cross-traffic...

I woke her up Saturday morning to see if she wanted to bike over to the Ogdens with me. Karin and I were planning a little work out and the kids wanted her to play. She was sound asleep when I woke her and gave the option of sleeping or biking.

She yawned and stretched and then popped her eyes open awake as could be. "You mean by myself? I can bike all the way to the Ogdens by myself?!" she asked.

As if.

I'm not sure I ever want Alison to know about all the things my brothers and sisters and I did without adult supervision when we were growing up. We still marvel about how none of us were killed or permanently maimed. We literally ran wild in the summertime; barefoot, dirty, tangled hair flying in the wind. We only went home to eat.

A lot people raise their kids just like they were raised. Me? Not so much.

I think back to when my brothers chased me with snakes; smacked our horse on the butt with me astride her, sending her flying through the new trees along the creek bank; and the high times we had playing with gasoline and matches.

I got into a little dispute this weekend with my sister Donna who claimed she was my only sibling to have never tried to drown me. Upon my recitation of time and place, she allowed that she may have tossed me into the pond, but she never intended me to stay there.

To be fair, I don't think any of them intended murder. When my brothers tossed me into a raging creek, they simply wanted to see if I would float all the way to the river. And when they put me in that home-made boat every year, they just wanted to see if it would float. (For the record: it never did.)

As my sisters and I were recalling some of our bloodier childhood exploits at a cookout Saturday with my Columbus aunts and uncles, my cousin Lori leaned over to her mother and said, "Thanks for stopping at one."

If Alison ever complains that she should have had siblings, I'm going to send her to Columbus. Lori can set her straight.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Just call out my name...

At Book Club Friday night we were talking about American Wife and its friendship themes, which set us down the path of how we all have friendships with people that have suffered rocky moments but have never fallen away over the years. The luckiest among us have friends we met before we were in double digits that are still going strong -- even if its years between actual real-life sightings.

All of us have friends we’ve met along the way who we may not see often but as soon as we Facebook or email or (gasp!) see them in real life, everything falls away and we’re the same friends we were back when we were together all the time. Friends are important to me -- once I collect one it's hard to give him or her up. And I'm always battling the fact that I don't make enough time to properly take care of them.

My friend Amer struggles too, and she claims to shy away from new friends. "I have enough friends," she'll say when she's met someone new she might like. She's a huge fraud because she always takes them in -- much like she did me not long after I moved to Indy. It took us a while but she's family now and even when she denies me full access to Jenna, I love her.

The importance of friendship was striking chords all weekend because Amer finally let us have Jenna for a sleepover. Alison and Jenna were born less than two months apart and they attended the same Day Nursery until they had to go to school. Back then, Amy and I were together way more then than we get to be now, and the girls were, too.

Both girls are convinced they were able to talk to each other before either emerged, and that they’ll be best friends forever. Amy's worried that Alison will tell Jenna about the birds and the bees before they're 10, but it was Jenna who was telling how "hot" (and I quote) the Jonas brothers are.

I was worried when they went to separate kindergartens and elementary schools that they’d drift apart. But their bond seems to be just as strong as it ever was. When I heard Amer drive up Friday night, I yelled to Ali downstairs that Jenna had arrived. I heard thunder on the stairs as Alison bolted to the front door. As I was opening the door, they were both squealing little pigs about to be fed. Then, they headed straight downstairs.

“Um, hello? Is there a hug in there for me somewhere?” I inquire of the brunette who used to love me.

Jenna gave me the obligatory squeeze and they were off. Amer and I hugged and squealed and then she was off to Drew's baseball game.

Later, when I left for Book Club, the girls could barely be bothered to say goodbye.

Generally, it’s great when Ali has a guest because they’re at an age where they occupy themselves and give the old parental units a nice break. But I haven’t seen Jenna in ages either, and I kind of like her. She used to want to play with me, too! We had fun. We’ve laughed together. We’ve cried together. I’ve shielded her from Captain Reed when she crossed his crazy lines. I've bandaged her cuts and snuck her gum. It would have been OK with me if they’d wanted to hang out with me for a little while.

But no. Jeff didn't fare any better. He told me that after he’d delivered their pizza and taken care of their drink needs, they advised him that they needed a little private time. So he got the heave-ho, too.

I came back from Book Club and they were wrapped up in a movie but ready for bed. They were planning to brave the elements and sleep in the backyard in the tent.

“Want me to sleep with you out here?” I said. (They’re only 8 and we live in a city and you never know what could happen…)

They looked at me through the zippered screen. “Uh, no Mom. Really. We’ll be fine.”

They were sweet about it, but they did everything short of ordering me back to the house. I was so unnecessary. But like Jeff the night before, I had my place.

“Hey, Mom, do you think you would go to the Donut Shoppe in the morning and bring us donuts like you did when Alex was over?”

“Sure, honey. You guys could come with me and pick out what you want, you know.”

“That’s OK. We’ll stay in here,” they said. In unison. And they zipped up the window so I couldn't even see in the tent.

The brats.

Part of the reason we got Jenna was Drew's baseball schedule and Breanna Tabor's birthday party. I served a useful purpose in ferrying them around and I took full advantage of Amer to get time with Jenna. Back in their Day Nursery days, Ali, Jenna and Bree were the Three Musketeers. Bree split off to go to yet another school, so the girls see each other maybe a couple of times a year.

We need to do better about getting them together. It was just like old times having all three of them together. And it instantly sent that old James Taylor song through my head.

So today, I'm grateful for my friends, for each of whom I'll always be there. If not in person via Facebook, email, the phone and yes, even in person.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Flopped 4th

Quote of the week. Possibly the year.

"I'm not half the pig I could be. But I'm probably twice the pig you think I am."

Jeffrey Merle Reed
July 2009

I think that means I'm glad I'm not telepathic...

Our fireworks were rained out, so we're going to try next weekend. Jeff's set off a few in the driveway, freaking out our next-door-neighbor's daughter but entertaining the rest of the neighbors.

I'm exhausted after doing pretty much of nothing all weekend...........Happy 4th!