All kids covet that "special something" which (according to them, at least) every other child in the class has had for ages, but you are just too mean, strict, or out-of-touch to let them get the same. For it me, that "special something" was a pair of Dr. Scholl's, the wood-bottomed, one-strapped exercise sandals so popular among the Marcia Brady-wannabes (which was everyone) at my school. All my friends had a pair, some even two or three.
And they were all planning to wear them to our sixth grade graduation.
But it didn't matter how hard I begged, pleaded or cried, my dad said I absolutely could not get them. I don't know whether he thought they were inappropriate, dangerous (they kind of were, you had to clutch for dear life with your toes to keep them on) or just plain ugly. And he held fast to his decision. I went to graduation in white Mary Janes and had to wait the full year until my Bat Mitzvah to wear backless shoes for the very first time. It was a pair of burgundy knock-off Candie's slides. No, I can't remember for the life of me what Torah portion I chanted that evening, but man can I remember the shoes.
My feet hurt like hell long before "Hava Nagila" was played at the party. But I wouldn't have traded that pain for the anything in the world.
Footwear hasn't yet come between my daughter and me. But for years her "special something" has been getting her ears pierced. I had always said 13 was the magical age, subconsciously, I guess, guided by own experience with delayed-until-Jewish-adulthood gratification. And besides, unlike my parents who had been digging in their heels over a pair of sandals that I would surely outgrow, ear piercing, I felt, was a much higher stakes (it's practically permanent, for goodness sake) decision.
My daughter has never agreed though, and ever since age six or seven, she's been begging me for a single piercing (I guess I should count my blessings) in each ear. For years, I'd remained strong and explained the whole "patience is a virtue" thing over and over again until her patience wore thin.
This past week though, she took her hard sell to a whole new level and presented my husband (who has no strong feelings on the minimum age for piercing -- ears that is) and I with a five-page persuasive essay on why this, her eleventh birthday, should be the day.
She hit the health angle, citing a website which stated that the younger a child is when he or she gets her ears pierced, the less likely infection or keloid scarring is to occur. She included arresting visuals including a detailed table that carefully illustrated when every girl in her class had gotten her first set of earrings.
She even took the sustainability (and humor) angle and argued that unless you are Vincent Van Gogh, your ears are something you will keep forever, making a gift of ear piercing a very environmentally friendly choice.
I'm guessing she will grow up to be a lawyer. A lawyer with pierced ears. Because I immediately caved.
Right after school that day my daughter and I headed straight to Claire's at West Towne mall where a lovely sales associate held a gun (she called it a "piercing instrument") up to each of her lobes and inserted a tiny cubic zirconia. It was over in three minutes.
I treated my jubilant daughter to a food court frozen yogurt right after to celebrate. And when I asked her how her ears felt, she said, "they hurt a little, but in a really good way." Just like my feet at my Bat Mitzvah.
And although she didn't have to chant a lick of Hebrew to get her "special something" two years early, I am glad neither of us had to wait for her to be so happy. I'm also pretty sure, given her ear piercing success, that she's currently writing a brief on why she should get a cell phone at 11-and-a-half. But I'm really sticking to 13 on this one.comments powered by Disqus
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.
The first week of summer break at our place usually comes and goes without incident. At times, one could argue, it even verges on pleasant. I have no school lunches to pack and the kids have no 7 a.m. buses to catch.
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.
I want to say thank you to the Board of Education for allowing Maia to return to class, unquestionably the place she belongs, as well as to thank them for adopting the new policies. But just as importantly, I also want to thank Maia and her family for their willingness to come forward with their story.