Archive for the ‘My Not-So-Humble Opinion’ Category

Thanks, Kind Target Customer

Thursday, November 11th, 2010

It had been one of those days.

Dishwasher problems. The contractor working on our deck railing took a chunk out of the deck. Long work day.

And then I ran to Target to get a bunch of stuff, and the cashier stashed, on the rack under my cart, the plastic box, raisin bread and vitamins I purchased. (He put the bread and the vitamins inside the box.)

As he did that I said to myself “don’t forget that stuff when you get to the car.”

You guessed it. I got home, unloaded everything and realized I was short one plastic box, a loaf of raisin bread and my One-a-Day for Women. I’d left the cart in the parking-lot cart-drop-off area. Someone was probably headed home with a plan to make raisin-bread French toast tomorrow, I figured…

But maybe not.

I called Target and asked for Customer Service.

“Did anyone turn in a plastic box with a…”

“With a loaf of raisin bread and some vitamins?” the guy said. “Got it right here behind the counter.”

How nice to be able to share with my teenager my little tale about the nice person who brought my little box of goodies back into the store.

Sometimes that’s all it takes, I told Matt, to turn “one of those days” into a pretty darned good day.

To the very kind person in the Target parking lot… Thanks.

Why I Won’t be Buying a Toyota Highlander - or Van de Kamp’s Fish Sticks

Monday, November 1st, 2010

Please do me a favor and watch these two ads, then read the post, below. I really want your opinion on this…

I’ve owned two Toyotas in my life. I don’t have anything against Toyotas. But I won’t be buying any car that is advertised with a bratty kid looking up from his video game and saying “I don’t tolerate dorkiness very well. Yet my parents cart me around in a car that says ‘Hi, we’re the geek family.’” The tag line spoken by the kid at the end: “Just because you’re a parent, doesn’t mean you have to be lame.”

Oh, and the young man is walking around pontificating while his hard-working (but apparently lame) dad is working away in the driveway, washing the “dorky” family car.

I know it’s just an ad. But as a parent, I’m wondering… Does Toyota think I’m so worried that my kid won’t think I’m cool that I’ll buy a vehicle because our dear little children “don’t tolerate dorkiness very well”? Give me a break.

Somebody needs to tell Toyota and its ad agency to give the Little Prince a bit less video-game time and to introduce him to a bucket of water and a sponge.

Then there’s the ad for Van de Kamp’s fish sticks. The adorable-looking little girl says to her mother, who just served her fish sticks: “What is this, minced? You feed me minced? You ever catch a minced fish?” After Mom switches to another brand, the little cherub says “This is more like it.”

What scares me the most? The fact that Toyota and Van de Kamp are probably having success with these ad campaigns — which says something about the current state of parenthood. Me? I’ll buy my cars and my fish elsewhere. What do you think of these ads?

Guest Post: Thanks, But My Tween Will Pass on the Hooker Heels and Makeup

Friday, October 15th, 2010

Today’s guest blogger, Jennifer Smith, is mom to a tween girl and a teen boy. She’s a proponent of university-model schools (I want to ask her to blog about that, too!), a world traveler and a freelance writer and editor. Thanks for your post, Jennifer.

Whose job is it to help my 12-year-old daughter make important wardrobe choices? Everyone is eager to help. The malls are selling grown-up mystique to 12-year-olds faster than I can say, “How about a cute t-shirt under
that?”

Magazines and television ads and shows are “helping,” suggesting our kids can be tomorrow’s big pop stars if they dress and move a certain way. And many of the other girls are pressuring those who dress less “cool” to
dress older.

One day recently, I heard a young fashionista ask another tween girl, “Where did you get that shirt?” After the reply that the girl bought the shirt at a nearby children’s store, the fashionista rasped back saucily, “Oh, I thought so.” Sounds harmless enough to a parent, but for a fragile tween, that’s enough to make her want to burn everything in her closet!

Maybe a better question than whose job it is to help my daughter (i.e., market tween fashion to her) is, “Who is going to help my daughter make wise decisions about the way she dresses?” My answer? Her mom. No one else is going to help her navigate these decisions as honestly and carefully as I will. Not her friends, not the other tweens out there wearing full
makeup, hooker heels and skirts cut up to “there,” and certainly not the media.

No one else is going to be honest with her about the pitfalls of dressing too old too soon. With all the messaging encouraging girls to grow up fast, I want my daughter to have time and freedom to enjoy being a girl, playing sports and acting goofy with her friends.

That doesn’t mean she has to dress frumpy; I just don’t want her to dress “sexy,” for crying out loud! There’s plenty of time to grow up, but once those child years are lost, they can
never be regained.

Let’s be parents and take back our right to say “no” to anything that steals the innocence of our girls, including their wardrobe choices. Our “no” to growing up too fast and dressing too maturely is just a “yes” to so many other good things our kids need to be doing right now.

Is Your Kid Sharing Too Much on Facebook?

Sunday, October 10th, 2010

Not long ago I saw something on Facebook that parents should know about.

Some middle-school kids, who may not necessarily list where they live on their profiles, are joining Facebook  groups with names like “Run Day at ______ Middle School Sucks.” Or “Swim P.E. at ______ Middle School Sucks.”

Should 12- and 13-year-old kids be on Facebook in the first place? Probably only with their parents’ knowledge and supervision. Why? Because they don’t always think about the logical consequences of their actions.

No child should be this easily identified online, especially when it comes to where they live and what school they go to. I looked at the profiles of some of these kids (many of which were public and not protected; another issue for kids this age), and I was amazed at how much personal information they gave out, either in their profiles or through the groups they joined.

If your kid is on Facebook, MySpace, Twitter or some other social-networking site, make sure you check out his or her profile, posts, tweets, etc. regularly. If your child doesn’t want to friend you on Facebook, insist on knowing her password and let her know that you’ll be checking out her Facebook page from time to time to make sure she is not endangering herself or her friends by giving out too much information.

If your child posts videos on YouTube, make sure he doesn’t identify where he lives, where he goes to school, etc.

Talk with your child about being safe on the Web, and about Internet predators. We all watch the news and we all hear about kids being contacted by people who should not be targeting kids.

If you wouldn’t want your 13-year-old daughter telling a 40-year-old male stranger where she attends 7th grade, then you’ll want to make sure she isn’t doing exactly that — without intending to — online.

Chill, People! (Your Kids Are Watching)

Sunday, September 26th, 2010

I had $2.99 worth of fresh basil (a big container from Trader Joe’s) in the fridge and didn’t want it to go to waste, so I thought I’d whip up a batch of pesto.

Trader Joe’s was out of the required pine nuts, so I figured I’d bite the bullet and stop at Bristol ($$$) Farms on the way home to just grab some, figuring I’d pay maybe a dollar more there. I didn’t see the price, but when the checker rang them up, I saw that they were $23.99! (For about 10 oz of pine nuts, if the bag was even that large…)

I was friendly and polite but said I just couldn’t pay that much for pine nuts, and I asked for a price check to make sure they weren’t mis-marked. What happened next was worth the hassle. Talk about a hoot!

Three or four beautiful-people Bristol Farms customers stood behind me in line — and the body language, exasperated looks and sighs that came from from this crew, because they had to wait two extra minutes for a price check, were hilarious. They looked completely put out, and one man and his wife were so ticked off, they practically got in a tiff right there about whether to stay in that line or find a new line.

We’re talking about a price check that took about 90 seconds. How do they respond when hit with a real problem? Did their parents not teach them anything about being patient and considerate? It eye-opening to watch these beautifully dressed people in their 30s and 40s sink into a toddler-worthy snit over such a minor inconvenience. (And yes, we’ve all had things happen where we HAD to get home to the babysitter in the next five minutes, or we HAD to get to the hospital to be with a family member, but that didn’t appear to be the case here.)

But humorous moments aside, it made me wonder… Do these folks care that their kids are watching them when they behave as if the world exists solely for their convenience and other people are merely road blocks on the way to getting what they want?

The Cult of “I’m So Busy”

Monday, September 6th, 2010

This school year, I’m not going to buy into it. I’m not, not, not. And I’m going to mark my calendar for the beginning of Oct. so I’ll come back and read this post again and remind myself, once again, that I’m NOT.

Not what? I’m not going to let myself get sucked into the “I’m sooo busy” trap. You know it. Chances are, you’ve been in it with me. We may have seen each other at the grocery store, church, our kids’ school, and said “What’s new?” “Oh, I’m just so swamped I can’t see straight.” “Oh, I know what you mean. Between the school fundraiser and the kids’ activities and work and…”

“Blah, blah, blah.”

I may be bold this school year and take a Monday morning off and go to a coffee shop with the newspaper. Go get my hair cut on a Thursday afternoon. Read a BOOK. I don’t have to prove to anyone that I’m so important because of how darned busy I am every hour of every day. This year, it’s going to be OK to relax now and then. And to actually admit, in public, that I did, indeed, relax.

It’s a false set-up anyway. We moms seem to have to one-up each other in this area, and it’s a crock. I hear it every time I go to the grocery store and see two women parked in front of the dairy case, comparing kids’ schedules. Heaven knows I’ve done it. It gets old to listen to, and it really is a boring thing to discuss, over and over.

So let’s take a bit more time to relax this school year. And when we run into a friend? Let’s talk about the great book we’re reading, the fun new thing we did with the family the other day, the movie we want to see, the new hobby we’re enjoying. Anything but “If I have to spend one more minute in that car this week I think I’ll scream.” Because, frankly, if I have to have one more conversation about nothing more than that, I’m going to jump straight into the dairy case and hide behind the milk.

Life’s Little Pleasures

Thursday, July 22nd, 2010

Randy (AKA “The Hubs”) is flying home from a week-long business trip and is due in any minute. The laundry is done for the first time all summer. The dog endured his trip to the vet + bordetella shot today and is happily snoozing at my feet. There’s homemade chocolate cake in the house. I have lots of paying writing and editing work to do tomorrow. And Matt, my son, is downstairs playing Emerson, Lake and Palmer’s “Lucky Man” on the piano.

Life’s little pleasures. They mean a lot in the day-to-day scheme of things. (Although Randy returning after being gone for a week is a BIG pleasure.) A phone call from a friend. A great cup of coffee. An unexpected card in the mail. A walk on a gorgeous July morning.

What are the little pleasures in your life right now? Isn’t it amazing how something so small as (temporarily) having the laundry done can make your day?

Is Summer Relaxing for Moms?

Tuesday, July 20th, 2010

I’m feeling like a bit of an odd duck lately. I’m hearing a lot of moms say “Oh, I’m so glad it’s summer! Things are more relaxed and I have so much more time.”

Seriously? I’m feeling like I need a giant DO-OVER button for my summer. I’ve been:

° Working

° Driving Matt to activities

° Going to the grocery store

° Driving Matt to activities

° Going to Target

° Working

Now, I love Target as much as the next mom, but come on! I need to take a break and read a book on the deck, with my shoes off, while drinking lemonade. (OK, in the evening? Maybe a glass of wine.) I need to get off this work-schlep-chores train and relax a bit more.

Can you relate? Are you with me? OK, let’s go squeeze some lemons, grab that book and take our shoes off.

See you on the deck.

Guest Post: A 16-Year-Old’s Take on “All Sexed Up For 8th Grade Graduation?”

Thursday, June 24th, 2010

I’m so happy to be able to share a terrific guest post today. Keira, who is 16, is the sibling of one of the 8th graders who was promoted at our local middle school on Tuesday night. This is in response to yesterday’s post on that event. (Let’s just say it prompted an interesting discussion!) I think she has a great perspective — and a heck of a lot of maturity. (I also think if every high school student in our town was as articulate as Keira, our English teachers would we thrilled.) Take it away, Keira…

As a 16-year-old girl who was there at promotion, I must agree with you. It’s disgusting. My year was even worse. I don’t understand how the parents of these girls let them walk out of the house looking like that.

I would never let my own daughter display herself in such an inappropriate fashion, nor would I ever feel okay dressing myself that way. Ever. It doesn’t matter if you’re thin and cute and want to show off, or if you’re not-so-thin and still feel like you need to show it all or fit in or whatever. It’s simply not okay.

The women in my life have shown me how to be modest and that one attracts people with how they dress. Obviously, we should not judge people by how they look. I’m not advocating that at all. I’m just saying that the girls who dress like they want a certain kind of attention will get it.

And for a 14-year-old  girl fresh out of junior high, that’s never good.

All Sexed Up For 8th Grade Graduation?

Wednesday, June 23rd, 2010

Last night we attended our son’s promotion from middle school. It was a wonderful evening, and we loved seeing so many kids that we’ve known for years — some since they were in diapers.

With 380+ kids in the 8th grade class, we saw a little bit of everything when it came to fashion. And let me be very clear, given what I’m about to say: The vast majority of kids followed the dress code that was distributed to parents on three different occasions.

But — and I’m not exaggerating here — about 10 percent of the girls looked like Vegas hookers, complete with stripper heels. We’re talking skin-tight dresses (with spandex to make them even more revealing), some strapless, at a length that barely covered their assets.

What are these parents thinking? Have they abdicated all authority over what their children do? Are they afraid to say no? Are some of the moms so hell-bent on having a daughter who’s part of the in crowd that they allow (or even encourage) her to dress like she’s about to slither around a pole at a sleazy bar?

These girls are FOURTEEN.

I don’t get it.

And another thing: As the mom of a 14-year-old boy, I’m working hard to teach my son to respect girls. It would be a whole lot easier to do that if some of these girls had a bit more respect for themselves.

Talk back: What do you think? Am I out of line here? What are you seeing in your community? And if you’re a parent who thinks this kind of dressing for an 8th grader is fine and dandy, would you please tell us why?