Thursday, October 25, 2012

How about Little Girls Go as Little Girls

Some costumes for sale at a local grocery store.
Maybe I am getting old. But not so old that I can't remember that when I was a young girl, I dressed up as Casper the Friendly Ghost for Halloween.

These days, girls are apparently dressing as Candy the Slutty Ghost.

If not some ridiculously pink and frilly princess, girls have few options from purchased costumes that aren't a miniature adult version of what a woman would wear to a Halloween party with the singular goal of getting laid.

Is it too much to ask that a vampire costume for a girl not include a red lace corset? Or a devil costume to include pants?

It's an adult concept that sex is part of the whole dark fantasy of a creature who can suck the life out of you, or that lust is a sin that can undo the saintliest of saints.

It's scary that young girls are parading around in these concepts and getting Snickers and suckers.

This makes me an old fuddy duddy, right? I suppose I'm rather fortunate that I have boys. Else I'd be spending all night on Oct. 30 trying to make a homemade costume appropriate for a young girl.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Gadget Wars

My teenager recently got the latest iPad, a gift from my mother for being so helpful these past months with the baby and at the farm.

Well, that and she would give him the moon if she could.

I'm the one with the professional need for such a gadget, but there he sits with it, on the toilet, playing chess. It's among the least damaging ironies in my life right now, so I'm mostly OK with it.

However, we've already had a fight about it. Well, not really a fight. I do not fight with my children. I say something, the kid has about two or three sentences in which to make any kind of viable point, and then I end the conversation with either acquiescence (rarely) or an imperative (usually). If there is attitude in there from one who has come out of my womb, there is often an elevated consequence.

I didn't know he had done it the first day, but the second day I caught Gabe trying to take his new iPad to school. He claimed he used it for his assignment book. I know for certain that he used it to play chess, watch stupid videos on YouTube, and generally dork around with his friends.

The assignment book is a sore subject. Gabe has slipping grades only because he cannot keep track of his homework assignments and turn in completed homework on time. It's been a struggle his entire school career.

If I were convinced that an electronic device that cost hundreds of dollars would inspire him to do the simple task of noting when his homework assignments were due, I would have bought one for him years ago. I am not convinced.

I'm also not prepared to replace it if he loses it or it gets stolen. He once borrowed my husband's scientific calculator because he had misplaced his own, and then managed to misplace the loaner. Not a great day.

Complaints that "other kids" bring their iPads to school fall on my deaf ears. Perhaps these kids have shown an immense level of responsibility. Perhaps their parents aren't even aware of what they do. Perhaps I don't want my children to get caught up in the horror of status symbols.

I understand the great value in students learning with the kinds of technology that they will use in their advanced education or employment. As a high school sophomore, Gabe can practice his iPad swiping here at home. He has several other semesters during which to demonstrate to his mother that he is the kind of student who needs to carry around such a tool during his school day.

But he is the kind of kid who handles an adult-level of work and family obligations. I think I will take him out to dinner.

He can even bring his iPad.

Friday, October 5, 2012

To Work or Not to Work, That Is the Question

I'm out of writing juice.

My new reporting job is sucking it out of me. It's also being rather gluttonous with my emotional and physical well-being.

I sent some videos of baby Max to his daddy out to sea, and they inspired him to protect what he could see as the results of a good, strong mother-son relationship. He said that I could quit my job and that he would keep working hard to support all of us.

To say I was relieved would be an understatement. On "E" in my articulation tank, I can't adequately describe what I felt to have been given that gift. It's something for which I had been praying about six months into my pregnancy, and now Max is almost 5 months old.

I also have no words for how difficult it has been to consider really quitting my job.

Lots of people are telling me lots of different things, which is turning my brain into utter mush and spurring my already manic tendencies. My bosses are begging me to stay and insisting that I just need to give it more time to feel settled and qualified in this beat. My mother is dead-set against me giving up a career for which I've paid so many dues.

I think my boys are leaning toward me quitting. My teenager Gabe found the most gentle way he could to tell me that I've been a raging bitch the past several weeks. Max just clamors to be nursed more often.

My identity has been wrapped up in newspaper for so long that it is far more challenging to jettison it than I ever had imagined. I have clear pictures in my mind of what kind of mother, wife, daughter, sister, cousin, auntie, friend, and community member I could be without the stress of a professional job. But I go back and forth several times a day.

My litmus test has become: "Do I really need this kind of bullshit in my life?"

The question is easily answered with a resounding "hell no" upon cranky emails from coworkers, standing in the damn rain at assignments, or typing a story with one hand while the other hand is desperately trying to guide a boob into a screaming baby's mouth.

Yet these "well maybe" answers keep creeping in. A story, typed with one or two hands, sometimes turns out really well, and it's hard not to be proud of it. A reader will thank me, or I make a really interesting new acquaintance. Suddenly laundry and bottle washing don't seem that glamorous, or even necessary.

I have more than 100 pairs of shoes in my closet, and I haven't found the walking ones just quite yet.