Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Maternal mind changers

Last night, I attended the annual back-to-school night at Emily's elementary school. The assistant principal, who looked to be about 24 years old, went over the attendance policy with us. He stressed the importance of attending school regularly, and went over the school's policy for calling in sick kids or taking a planned absence.

"Those of you who are planning to go to Disney World, well, shame on you," he deadpanned.

Cue nervous laughter from the parents, especially the ones who like to go to DW in November.

"I'm just kidding," said the young 'un in the tie. "I just wish you had been my parents."

No kidding. I wish I had been my parents, too. My parents subscribed to the "You must be dead to miss school" policy. My parents weren't afraid to let you know about those parents who kept their kids out of school for a mid-winter beach vacation. For instance, when I lived in Florida, my parents visited every February. (They were well out of school and didn't need to fill out any prearranged absence forms.) Still, my father got his swim trunks in a wad when he'd see 8-year-olds frolicking in the sand.

"I wonder what they missed in school today," he'd muse. "I wonder if they're going to ever get another chance to learn that."

I tended to agree with him, remembering the days when I'd struggle to make up homework for a mere two days home with the flu. School trumped vacation. Period. I'd say that only funerals trumped school, but my parents sent my brother and me to school on the morning of my grandfather's funeral, only allowing us to come home at lunchtime to attend the mid-afternoon service. Family vacations during the school year were high on my list of things I'd never do as a parent. The list also included parking the kids in front of the TV, letting them stay up until midnight on any day except New Year's Eve, making them pay for every luxury item they crave so they'll appreciate them more, and taking them to church every Sunday.

Truth be told, though, I've fallen short on most all of the abovementioned things. We've done a couple Disney trips in January, although I will argue that they were prompted by a soccer tournament that happened to fall in January, and we planned the trip to minimize the time away from school. I even sent the girls to school for half a day when our flight didn't leave until 2:30. I've let them stay up as long as they darned well pleased this summer and over Christmas break, as long as they didn't bug me after I went to bed at my normal 11 p.m. The TV is on all the point, to the point where Spongebob is part of the normal background noise of our home. As for luxury items, well, we kind of missed the boat on that, because our kids don't have money. We screwed up the whole allowance thing, mostly because we couldn't agree on what chores were necessary to earn the allowance. And church, well, we've recently recommitted to going each week, as long as we're in town and healthy. This time we mean it.

I'm not giving up, however. I still have a list of things I am going to stick to. These include:

  • No dating until 16. I predict this will be the source of many headaches during the next four years. Dating will be defined as boy/girl, no chaperones, no other people. I'm not sure of the group date thing. Maybe 15? Already, I'm hearing ideas of going to the movies with a girlfriend, and a boy just happens to be there…. Gah.
  • The first car will be a clunker. I'm thinking that a nice 1996 Toyota Corolla will be a good find in another four years. Maybe I'll splurge and get a 1992 Camry. Insurance must be subsidized by the driver.
  • No parent-free spring break trips. Sorry, kids. If you don't want to hit the beaches with Mom and Dad in April, you're not hitting the beaches. I've seen too many "Girls Gone Wild" commercials.
  • No ridiculous amounts of money spent on sports. I'll get back to you on how that goes in a few years.
  • No computers in the bedroom. I want to be able to sneak up on them when they're AIMing.
  • College must be subsidized by the student. A part-time job must be procured by senior year of high school, to start contributing to college expenses.
  • No pets smaller than a cat. I re-instituted this rule after the last of 11 carnival goldfish went to the great fishbowl in the sky a few months ago.

I'd list more, but I hear my 12-year-old's cell phone ringing. Yes, that would be the cell phone she wasn't going to get until high school.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Guys: Don’t read this

If you're a guy and you're reading this, come on. Can you not read? This is not a blog post for guys. The subject matter contained within has been known to cause grown men to put their hands over their ears while they sing "La la la la I can't hear you."

Yes, I'm going to talk about female things. You've been warned.

Guess what? I have a circle in my breast. Yes, I'm sure you've all been wondering if Lori has a circle in her breast, and the answer is yes. An almost perfect little hollow circle, about the size of a pin head. How do I know this? Because this evening I had my annual mammogram, also known as the beginning of the most vulnerable, nerve wracking couple of days women go through each year. You can go into the office feeling fine, and then you pick up a copy of some health magazine and read a story about Sheryl Crowe. Suddenly, you're thinking that she's gorgeous and fit, and she had breast cancer, so what right do I have to hope I'll be spared?

Anyway, back to my circle. I go down the hallway, put on the gown and go to the imaging room, where the nice lady puts me in place and lets the machine do its job. I'm recovering from the first squish when she says, "Have you had any surgery on your breasts?" I look down and think, "Lady, does it look like I've had surgery here? Because if I did, I want my money back." Instead, I say no, and she beckons me over to the screen. "Look here," she says, pointing to a perfect little circle on the image. "That almost looks like a piece of metal or something."

Being Lori, I say, "Do I need to freak out?"

"Oh no," she says. "It's probably just a calcification. They're not usually perfect circles, though."

Fortunately, I remember having been diagnosed with a calcification some years ago. I had to go back for a mammogram every six months to see if it changed. After three mammograms with no changes, I was given the OK to go back to annual exams. The nice lady suggests we do the second image from a different position, to see if it shows up again. Sure enough, there's the little circle, in the same place. Again, she tells me not to freak out. We finish the other side and she takes me down to a computer room where she can pull up last year's mammogram. Sure enough, there's the circle. A perfect circle. Same size. Same place. In a freaking out way, it's almost kind of cool.

Why do I share this story? Because those of you who know me know how much I freak out whenever I have a headache that won't go away. Those of you who know me know that I'm going to fret over the circle for the next few days, until I get the call of "all clear" or (gulp) "come back for more pictures." As I said above, it can be a horrible few days for women. It's almost horrible enough to put it off for a while.

But I don't. Again, those who know me know that one of my best friends was diagnosed with breast cancer last year. I lost an online friend to the disease a couple years ago. So if my circle story serves as a timely reminder to someone who's reading this and thinking maybe, just maybe she should go ahead and schedule her annual mammogram, then I'm glad I shared this story.

And guys, if you've completely ignored my warnings and read through this, do me a favor. Tell the woman you love to make sure she gets hers, too.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

It’s called underwear, not outthere

I took my almost 12-year-old shopping today. Tomorrow is her middle school registration, where she'll get her schedule and her locker, and she'll sit for a picture that will double as an ID photo and school photo. She pointed out that she didn't have anything new to wear, although her T-shirt drawer can barely shut these days because it's so full. But I remember being 12 and wanting something new for the school picture, so we headed to the mall.

I figured she wanted a cute T-shirt, preferably one that advertised Hollister, Aeropostale or Victoria Secret's Pink line, a marketing tool designed to lure 12-year-olds into what used to be a decidedly adult venue. No, she wanted a poofy tank top that she could wear over a white T-shirt, because spaghetti straps aren't allowed in middle school. Nothing like a specific need when you're shopping with a mom who likes sale racks. We scoured Aeropostale, Hollister and Vic's Secret. No luck. On a whim, I said let's check out Delia's, even though I usually gasp at the prices. (I'm talking $26.50 for a T-shirt. Yes, they're often "buy one, get one half off," which translates to roughly $19.88 a T-shirt. When you're used to Kohl's prices, that's pretty steep.) She immediately found a top that worked. I decided to be generous mom and let her try it on. It looked adorable on her.

"OK," I said," "Let's walk down to Justice and get a plain white tee."

"That's OK," she said. "I don't need a T-shirt for the picture. I'll wear it like this. I just have to wear a T-shirt underneath when school starts."

Now, my almost 12-year-old follows a trend that I find a little unsettling. She wears cute little camisoles over her cute little bras, and she lets the bra straps peek through. I admit, as someone who went to great lengths to ensure that a bra strap never even peeked out of a sleeveless dress (ill-fitting strapless bras, anyone?), I had a hard time getting used to this look. I don't know why I'm surprised, when I'm almost always seeing the underwear of any wearer in the under-20 crowd. That's right. I know what color boxers the skater kid is wearing and what color thong the high school girl is sporting. And I've gotten to the point where I'm OK with the under-20 crowd flashing a bra strap, because they tend to wear cute little colorful bras with delicate little straps. I think that if you're going to flash a bra, you should at least have cute little bras to flash. The middle-aged mom, two-inch wide bra straps in white or cream just don't work.

But even though I've learned to live with the peeking bra straps, I really, really, REALLY didn't want to see them in my daughter's school picture. I brought this up in the Delia's fitting room, and she rolled her eyes at me. I used my "I hold the checkbook" veto power and said she had to find a solution that didn't involve sharing her bra straps with her grandmothers and anyone who happens to visit Grandma and look at the grandchild picture display on the wall. She begrudgingly agreed to wear a tank top or a T-shirt for her school picture.

I guess I should consider myself lucky. At least she's not flashing her thong panties, which she doesn't have and won't have until she's old enough to buy her own underwear. Which I wish would stay under there.