Thursday, August 26, 2010


Each year, the night before school begins, I read the book The Kissing Hand to each of my children. In case you are not familiar with this sadistic book, it is a children's story about a raccoon who is scared to go to school until his mother gives him a kiss on his palm and explains that this symbolizes that her love will be with him no matter where he goes. There is not a mother in the world who can read this book aloud to her child without crying and I once saw a kindergarten teacher read it aloud to an entire room of parents and kindergartners on the first day of school with nearly disastrous results. No one likes to see grown men in suits sobbing.
Still, it is a tradition, and so I soldier on. This year, as I dusted the book off, I said to Lilly, "This year I will not cry," and I meant it. "Sure," she said, "Good luck with that."
I made it past the part where the raccoon says how much he just wants to stay home with his mommy because that no longer applies--she loves school and is happy to go. But when I got to the part where the mommy realizes she will miss her little raccoon I could not go on. I just pointed to the page and Lilly finished reading it for me.
With Atticus I made it all the way through. Teenage boys don't have much patience for their crying moms. But for some reason when I tried to read it to Grace I couldn't even start. I just had an image of her pleading with me not to send her to preschool. She just wanted to stay home. And I have to say, I should have let her stay home. Hindsight is 20/20 especially when it comes to parenting. Preschool is over-rated. Mandatory schooling starts soon enough. I started crying as soon as Chester said he wanted to stay home and Grace had to read the whole damn book to me, shaking her head in bewilderment as tears poured down my face.
As you go through your back-to-school rituals this fall with your own raccoons, from preschool to college, remember you are not alone. Despite the funny commercials showing the moms celebrating as the bus pulls away, we are all crying inside.

Thursday, August 12, 2010


I suppose earlier generations had to sit through all this huffing and puffing with the invention of television, the phone, cinema, radio, the car, the bicycle, printing, the wheel and so on, but you would think we would learn the way these things work, which is this:
1) everything that’s already in the world when you’re born is just normal;
2) anything that gets invented between then and before you turn thirty is incredibly exciting and creative and with any luck you can make a career out of it;
3) anything that gets invented after you’re thirty is against the natural order of things and the beginning of the end of civilisation as we know it until it’s been around for about ten years when it gradually turns out to be alright really.

Douglas Adams, Sunday Times, August 29, 1999

So, are you on Facebook? Probably. Now that Facebook membership is up to 500 million (that would be 200 million more than the population of this country) you have probably jumped on board. I did a while back and since I've been on for more than a year I'd like to make a few observations.

1. If you are not on Facebook, do not brag about it: Yes, we know, you don't get it. You say you don't need to know that your best friend from high school is making pot-roast. Saying that is the equivalent of saying, "Airplanes! If God wanted me to fly he would have given me wings!" To quote Bob Dylan, "Come mothers and fathers Throughout the land And don’t criticize What you can’t understand Your sons and your daughters Are beyond your command" Besides, when you say stuff like that, it makes you sound, well, old.
If you are new to Facebook--here are some tips:
2. Do not take quizzes or answer questions that your friends "send" you: I do not understand how this all works but if you answer a simple question or take a fun quiz, Facebook sends weird messages to all your friends and you may not even know it. This happened to my friend Mary who answered something silly and next thing she knew, all her friends received an alleged messaged from her asking if they thought Jack M. had a nice ass. This is especially weird because Jack M. is her son. Eww.

3. Don't play Farmville: This is apparently an addictive game you can play on Facebook and I'm sure it is quite fun. I myself like to waste time doing crossword puzzles so who am I to say Farmville is or is not a good way to pass the time. But the thing is when you play Farmville, Facebook sends out messages, unbeknownst to you, broadcasting messages like "Cindy needs just one more plank to build her pigpen!" Which is just another way of saying "Cindy is playing Farmville at work again!" Thank goodness my crossword puzzle does not do this to me or you would learn just how much time I spent trying to figure out a five-letter word for Carribbean getaway when I was supposed to be doing the laundry.

4. Never respond to a post truthfully or sarcastically--it's not the Facebook way: Since everyone on Facebook is a friend, the tone is quite kind and civil (I'm speaking of adults here, apparently the under 20-set can get ugly). This means when someone from your past posts "Just got back from the mall! So happy to find a lot of clothes in size 0 and 2!", you should not respond with, "Who in the hell were you shopping for?" or even the obvious, "Bitch." Instead you must say something like, "OMG, you're so skinny still!" and "You have such a darling figure, I'm so jealous!!!!!"
And, along the same vein, when people post photos you must always tell them how darling they/their pet/their children are. And they really are because no one posts bad pictures of themselves and if their kids are ugly they don't post those pictures either.

So that's what I know so far. Facebook is a fact of life for better or for worse and it's not going anywhere soon. It's a great way for people of a certain age to keep in touch with the friends, coworkers, and relatives you tend to acquire from a life well-lived. And yes, I do want to know that today is Val's birthday, and Christine is on her way to California, and Wendy had a killer margarita in Mexico City last night. These things make me smile.
If I figure out Twitter, I'll let you know.