My husband and I have just returned from a "parents only" long weekend in New York City to celebrate his 50th birthday. While there, we took in a terrific Dutch Masters exhibit at the Frick and scored tickets to a taping of The Colbert Report. A highlight was walking both directions across the Brooklyn Bridge despite the below-freezing weather. And neither of us complained it was cold or that our feet hurt.
In other words, we did the kinds of things we never could have done if we'd had the kids in tow.
This will not (although it could) be a treatise on the value of "alone time" for a healthy marriage, though. Nor will it be an ode to how nice it was for me to have a few days off from lunch-packing, carpool-driving and homework-nagging.
There is no question I completely enjoyed my break from the kids. But my biggest discovery this past weekend (besides the fact that both Vermeers and Stephen Colbert are totally worth standing in line for) was that it was the kids, perhaps, who needed a break even more.
A break from me.
On the whole, I think my children would say that I'm a fairly easy mom to live with. Of course, like any kids, they'd prefer I didn't ask them to take out the trash, unload the dishwasher or match socks quite so often. But I've never gotten the feeling that they were devising plans to trade me in for a different model.
But from the moment I told them that my husband and I were going away for the weekend and that my mom was flying in to stay with them, the kids wanted to know how soon we were leaving. You know how some children have an Advent calendar to count down the days until Christmas? My daughter concocted her own version to count down the days until Grandma was in charge.
I don't think I'll ever know for sure everything they did while we were away. But suffice it to say, what my mom lacks in physical dexterity (she hasn't walked well for years due to a nerve issue), she makes up for in permissive ingenuity. I have heard rumors of M & M-infused Yahtzee tournaments and grandmother/granddaughter makeovers involving garish lipstick, bright blue eye shadow and Instagram. I think Xbox Madden was played before breakfast on school days. And I'm pretty sure that one night they ordered in Chinese and ate dinner right out of the containers while lying on the pullout in the family room.
I am trying to picture my three kids, two of whom are taller than me, plus Grandma, squeezed together in the double bed. It must have looked like a scene out of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.
But I don't ask too many questions. I was lucky enough to grow up seeing my grandparents every weekend; they were an indelible part of my childhood. But my kids only get to see my mom, who lives on the East Coast, a couple of times a year. So, in the end, what difference does it really make if no teeth were brushed all weekend? Or if I'll be finding remnants of egg rolls in the couch crevices for months? Precious memories were made. The kinds of memories that only happen when you enjoy every moment and loosen the rules. You know, like when you get a break from your parents.
So no, my husband and I definitely weren't the only ones who got a tremendous amount out of our weekend away. Yes, we may have had Broadway, Chelsea and Madison Avenue. But the kids had Madison, Wis., with my mom. And my daughter has already asked if I would consider moving my 50th birthday up a couple of years.
I don't think she wants to wait that long to tell me once again, "What happens with Grandma, stays with Grandma."comments powered by Disqus
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.
Some clever-clogs is playing Rachmaninoff on the piano at a party, and there it is again, that oft-heard adult lament of lost opportunity from a dejected onlooker: "I wish I could play. I wish my parents hadn't let me quit music lessons. I was just a kid -- how was I to know?" It's a reasonable complaint.
If you're checking out summer camps for your child, there are many issues -- some obvious, some less so -- to keep in mind. Here's a list to keep handy when you contact camps and camp directors, looking for the perfect spot for your kids to have fun, relax, and learn this summer.
I know, in the grand scheme of things, that my kid issues, when it comes to dining out, absolutely pale in comparison to those of parents whose kids have special needs. Many kids, especially those who are on the autism spectrum, are disturbed by changes in their routine, or anxious around noisy places. They may not be able tolerate waiting for a table or standing in line. So unfortunately, many of these families just avoid eating out at restaurants altogether.
It's weird to admit this, especially in a city surrounded by as much outdoor beauty as Madison. But frankly, I'm just not that into nature. I'm more of an indoor kind of gal. Give me an afternoon at the Chazen or the Wisconsin Historical Museum over the Arboretum or Olbrich Gardens any day.
Lavish costumes, gorgeous sets, a full orchestra and a concession stand where nothing cost more than two bucks and you have a pitch perfect experience at the theater. Oh, and did I mention the ticket prices were just $10 dollars apiece? One could afford to take the whole family for a live theater experience for less than an evening at the Lego movie would cost including popcorn.
I think the first time in recent years that I've felt a real sense of shame, as both a parent and community member, was last Tuesday evening as I sat in a crowded elementary school LMC to listen to Ken Taylor, executive director of the Wisconsin Council on Children and Families, and his colleague, Torry Wynn, present key findings from the 2013 Race to Equity report to our PTO group.
It's Wednesday morning at Allis Elementary School on Madison's east side, and 16 third-graders -- 10 boys and six girls -- enter into an open-space classroom in typical wiggly, giggly style. Some are making goofy faces at one another, some are bouncing around hand-in-hand with friends, and others are just trying to stay out of the whirling-dervish path of activity.
Of the 789 poorly-composed, way-too-dark and out-of-focus photos currently living on my iPhone, I can count on two hands the number that show my kids and me together. And my husband is in probably no more than three or four of those.
Something kind of magical has happened these past two weeks during the Sochi Olympics. There is no question, debate or disagreement on what will be watched on television once all homework is done. Everyone in the family makes time to sit down together to watch an hour of so of the primetime televised games.
Truth be told, though, this month I'm feeling a bit cinematically fried. In some ways, I already feel like I've spent the last week or so at a film festival. A festival specializing in minute-long glimpses of ordinary lives all ending with credits that feature the ubiquitous blue thumbs-up. Yes, it's been the February of the Facebook movie.
Just last week, on precisely the same day the Momastery post was getting over a million well-deserved views, Madison mom Suzanne Buchko was telling a similar story. Not on a blog but instead in the confines of the modestly circulated Franklin-Randall Elementary School weekly newsletter.
Late last month, the Madison Metropolitan School District adopted a five-year, $27.7 million technology plan calling for all district students, including those in the primary grades, to have significantly increased access to their very own tablet or notebook computer by 2019. Some parents, as well as education professionals, questioned whether elementary-aged kids, especially kindergarteners who aren't even able to read or write yet, will gain much benefit from introducing yet another screen into their lives.
This past Monday, had winter's unrelenting weather allowed, Middleton Cross Plains School District teacher Andrew Harris would have once again been at the helm of a classroom. After nearly four years of fighting his dismissal from Glacier Creek Middle School for viewing and passing on sexually explicit material on district computers, MCPSD has been legally forced to reinstate Herris, this time as a seventh-grade science teacher at Kromrey Middle School.
In a study published last week by the National Bureau of Economic Research, academics have found that the 16 and Pregnant series may have played a significant role in the recent decrease in U.S. teen pregnancies.
In our house, sad but true, we've rarely spent the Martin Luther King holiday discussing race, social justice or the power of non-violent civil disobedience. Instead, the third Monday in January has historically been treated as just another day off school, just another long weekend. And it's been a missed opportunity.
It's not something that happens very often, but last Friday, as news of the impending arctic cold snap reached our house, my kids were rooting for Governor Scott Walker. They were rooting for him to take Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton's lead and cancel school throughout the state. They couldn't care less if he had the authority to do such a thing -- if he called off school, he'd be their hero.
Late last semester, as students were packing up their backpacks one final time before winter break, Middleton High School principal Denise Herrmann and assistant principal Lisa Jondle were co-authoring a note home to parents informing them of a widespread cheating scandal involving nearly 250 calculus students at the school.