I was completely exhausted after attending my first West High football game last Friday night. The emotional Regent loss coupled with the crash that inevitably follows a dinner of concession stand-Lemonheads didn't leave me much energy for Saturday's sporting event--getting my ninth grader ready for his first homecoming dance. I had believed quite foolishly, and perhaps sexist-ly, that because it was my son who would be attending this all-school social event, as opposed to a daughter, I'd be able to avoid much of the dance-day drama.
And I was wrong. Boys, too, it turns out, have "getting ready" anxiety.
I fully remember the stress I felt around school dances growing up. Once I got over the horrible disappointment of not being asked by the right boy, the pressures of what to wear on a date with the wrong boy (always a "friend") felt absolutely enormous.
Would I sport on the shoulders or off? Do I wear tea length or long (homecoming circa 1981 was a much more formal affair, at least in the DC suburbs, than nowadays in Madison)? Should I try to put my hair up or just leave it down? For me this wasn't much of a decision; it was going to frizz-out in the heat of the overly decorated gym regardless.
But it wasn't until last Saturday that I realized boys have their own version of this torture. And my husband wasn't even around to help our son out; he had picked an inopportune weekend to head up north with his college buddies. Sure, it was the sartorial advice of a man who had made the unfortunate decision of wearing a yellow tux to his own senior prom that we were missing. But my husband at least knew how to tie a tie.
As it turned out, to "tie" or not to "tie" was fashion choice number one. And as a woman who has been known to wear full-on sequins to events where a simple pair of jeans, without bedazzling, would suffice, my gut instinct said my son should wear one. Together we settled on tasteful silver number from my husband's under-utilized collection. We then went through a checklist of further style decisions that could rival anything back stage at a Marc Jacobs show. Dress shoes or high tops? Shirt tucked in or left out? And was any guy in the ninth grade wearing a jacket at all?
My son pulled it together just in time to make it over to a girl friend's (not a "girlfriend""he's destined to be a "just friends" person, like his mother) house for group pictures. And as I snapped away, it became clear to me that this school dance ritual isn't just for the kids, but for us parents as well. It's a chance to take our daughters shopping for that first pair of heels, praying no ankle will be twisted on the over-crowded dance floor. It's an opportunity for a father to experience what can only be called a "Sunrise, Sunset" moment as he watches his son climb into the back seat of a van sporting his own ill-fitting sport jacket. I realized that evening how little help my son asks for these days, and how much I like giving it when he asks. Even if the help is only to decide if his shirt matches his tie.
Which it did. Because as far as I am concerned, silver (and sequins) match everything.comments powered by Disqus
"People are looking to book space here all the time," says Remy Fernández-O'Brien, communications and facilities coordinator for the Lussier Community Education Center, a private, nonprofit community center on Madison's west side. "They want to throw their child's first birthday party here or hold a Girl Scout meeting. We're really busy year-round, but it's especially lively here in the summer."
Last week, in response to the county-wide Sleep Safe, Sleep Well public health campaign that encourages parents to "share the room, not the bed" with their sleeping infants, Isthmus contributor Ruth Conniff penned a lovely opinion piece in defense of bed sharing entitled "Confessions of a Co-Sleeper."
As much as I'd like to believe there is latent genius in my daughter's early finger paintings, I'm pretty sure her works are not distinguishable from those created by the pointer fingers and pinkies of thousands of other children from across the world.
Seeing Romeo and Juliet this past weekend was a definite reminder that I need to prepare for something that might resemble a (Near) West Side Story around our place pretty soon.
All during childhood, we calmly tell our kids they don't need to be afraid of the dark, thunder or the monster under the bed. But it's pretty hard to keep your parental cool when your kid is about to embark on the one thing that terrifies you. I knew the problem wasn't really with him. It was with me.
Last January, when temperatures dipped below minus 30 and most people between the ages of 16 and 24 did anything to stay inside, a small yet sturdy group of at-risk teenage boys and young men stacked wood and managed controlled burns at Festge County Park near Cross Plains. Five months later, following a temperature swing of more than 100 degrees, Isthmus found some of those same guys removing invasive honeysuckle and buckthorn at Lake View Hill County Park on Madison's north side.
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Have you tried getting anywhere on either Verona Road or East Johnson lately? I'm pretty sure a six-month old could crawl to Fitchburg, or across the isthmus, in less time that it takes me to drive there these days.
As soon as the door closed behind him, I poured myself a cup of the coffee he had made and took a moment to let the enormity of what just happened sink in. My son was ready that morning despite my inability to properly set an alarm clock. My kid was ready that morning without nudging, cajoling, or reminding. He was ready, even when I wasn't.
For the past 17 years or so (i.e., since I've had kids), I haven't made books the priority in my life I know they should be. It's not that I don't try. Just this past weekend I had the best of intentions of picking up, and even finishing, I am Malala, this year's UW-Madison's Go Big Read pick. But the copy still sits untouched on my nightstand.
The longest day of the year is upon us. For those of you keeping track, the sun will rise at 5:18 a.m. and set at 8:41 p.m. on Saturday, June 21. All that daylight, courtesy of the annual summer solstice, will provide the perfect backdrop for Make Music Madison, a daylong event featuring hours and hours of free performances in nearly every corner of the city.
Last week, for the first time, I made my way up to one of the open gallery nights during Madison West's Fine Arts Week, the school's annual showcase for all things creative. The scope of the event is huge, with nearly 1,600 students participating, and the quality of the presented works is phenomenal. It's almost as if the school had been lifted off its perch on Regent Street and traveled back in time to Belle Époque Paris.
If you have aspiring authors in your house, this summer offers a fabulous opportunity for them refine their writing skills. For its second summer, the Greater Madison Writing Project, in partnership with Olbrich Botanical Gardens, is sponsoring two week-long camps in August for young writers entering grades 3-8.
There are lots of benefits to living in a college town. First and foremost, there is always something going on -- a lecture, a film series. Maybe even a protest, if you're lucky. And since becoming a Madisonian, I, for the first time in my life, find myself interested in college football.
My passion for the talent show clearly runs deep, but I'm more than just a fangirl. This year marked my second as one of the "Ziegfelds" of the Follies, Hamilton's annual showcase for singers, musicians, dancers and other varied forms of entertainment. Trust me, when you are part of the spectacle's "producing/directing" team you get a new-found appreciation for how hard the kids worked to get up on stage.
My daughter, who turned twelve just this past week, is not legally "of age" when it comes to social media. But I guess, in many respects, especially in those that involve screens, I am a permissive pushover. I've allowed her join some networks.
What adults love about camping -- sleeping under the stars, getting away from it all, the sounds of nature -- can be scary for children. It's dark in a tent. Nothing is familiar. Of course, camping with kids is more work for adults, too. Stay cool, live in the moment. Forget about that lost fork. Making s'mores, spotting wildlife, that's what kids will remember.
I have just returned from a whirlwind, five-day, four-city college tour with my son. You know those "101 Things to Know Before Visiting Disney World" guidebooks that experienced theme park travelers have written to help the uninitiated? I think I am now officially seasoned enough in information sessions and campus tours to give some serious thought to penning a similar "insiders guide" for the junior-year parent.
This past week, against both my will and better judgement, I accompanied 50 or so middle school kids to the Future Problem Solvers Wisconsin State Bowl, a popular academic and skit-writing competition.
It may be a bigger waste of breath than electricity to ask my kids to turn off the lights when they leave a room. If I've nagged them once, I've nagged them a thousand times. No, I've never noticed anything amiss with their fingers. But it appears they are physically incapable of flipping a switch to the "off" position.