Saturday, May 30, 2009

from Dorothy Parker

Indian Summer
by Dorothy Parker

In youth, it was a way I had
To do my best to please,
And change, with every passing lad,
To suit his theories.

But now I know the things I know,
And do the things I do;
And if you do not like me so,
To hell, my love, with you!

I recently happened upon this poem by Dorothy Parker. I suppose it's sad to say that it resonated with me, even though I certainly hope that I haven't yet entered the Indian Summer of my life.

Beginning in high school, I was definitely guilty of that chameleon-like behavior which Dorothy describes so laconically. I kept it up until The Child came along, and at that point I seem to have taken on Ms. Parker's Indian Summer attitude.

I have a theory which resulted from my awareness of that phenomenon: maybe my former "lad-pleasing" behavior was actually inspired, unbeknownst to me, by a biological urge to reproduce. Once that happened, I was allowed to be myself and let the chips (or lads) fall as they may.

I have always preferred to do my own thing, although, admittedly, there are those rare occasions when it would be nice to have a companion. When the Child grows up and flies the coop, there will be a void.

Maybe then I'll have to revert to my youthful ways.

Meanwhile, here are a couple of shots from my walk in the park today:

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

What would YOU have done?

Can you see that white flower in the middle of the above photo? It's an iris- one of the star bloomers at this time of year. Until a few minutes ago, that single iris was surrounded by many others.

Here's what happened: I happened to be looking out of my living room window into the park on which my house is situated. That's when I saw a woman walk up to the flower bed of irises and bend down. I thought she was just getting a closer look, until I realized that she was actually picking the flowers! There were no people around, and she certainly didn't know that I was watching from inside my house.

As she walked toward the parking lot with her booty, I debated whether I should let it go or confront her. The decision was made as I found myself standing a few feet from her car, saying (in a voice loud enough to be heard but not yelling), "I think that what you just did is illegal."

She mumbled a dismissive "yeah" without looking at me and proceeded to enter her car.

Not quite ready to let it go, I added, "Not only that, but it's not fair to your fellow man."

No response, and she drove off.

I've been around long enough to usually have a sense of whether I've done the right thing or not. In this case, I'm unsure. As the sole witness to this woman's indiscretion, was I morally obligated to let her know that she was seen and judged? Or was it none of my business? Was I standing up for the taxpayers of this city whose money paid for those flowers? Was I upholding the law? Was I speaking on behalf of the many people who enjoy this park and its flowers? Or was I just using her weak moment to try to boost myself into a morally superior position?

Saturday, May 09, 2009

Thank you, mother

for all the "square" meals you prepared
for the huge roast you made just for me when you found out I was anemic
for taking me to see the New York City Ballet
for the treats you put in my bag lunches
for all of the term papers you typed (and re-typed)
for making it possible for me to explore my interests
for the horse-drawn carriage rides around Central Park
for teaching me how to "mother" on the day my puppy was bitten by a bee
for doing the best you could to show a defiant daughter how to snare a boy
for making lime slush for every holiday meal because it was my favorite
for providing a good example of "moderation in all things"
for not being jealous those times when I preferred to spend time with your mother
for providing a constant example of the saying "you catch more bees with honey"
for allowing me to be myself, even though "myself" was foreign to you in many ways
for inadvertently teaching me by example to not let a man run my life
for the fresh baked cookies you mailed to me at summer camp
for taking me to Saratoga for that concert I just had to attend
for planning all those picnic lunches for the two of us
for allowing me more freedom than most parents would have
for believing in me beyond reason

Monday, May 04, 2009


Today I realized that good parenting requires a fertile imagination. It's so easy to be bogged down with the challenges of everyday life, especially for single parents, and especially in today's economy.

Yesterday, for example, I kept asking The Child all day long what he'd like to do. I was hoping for the art museum, zoo or science museum. He had other ideas- he wanted to spend the day on the computer. I had things to do, so I waited. And waited.

Finally sometime late in the afternoon he that he wanted to go to Cinnabon for a cinnamon roll. By this time, I was tired, hungry, frustrated and upset about something that was going on at work. I drove him across town to Cinnabon, griping the whole way. By the time we arrived, he was miserable and I was guilty.

I tried to apologize and smooth things over, explaining the things that were bothering me so that he'd know it wasn't about him. I asked if he wanted to go anywhere else, but he just wanted to return home.

This morning he cried before we left for his school bus stop. He strongly dislikes school, and didn't want to go. I tried to be on my best behavior, asking if there was anything I could do to brighten his morning- short of letting him stay home, that is.

When I returned home after his bus roared off, I sat on the patio feeding peanuts to the squirrels and chipmunks. I wished The Child could have been there with me, because I wanted to talk to him about the reason I do this.

Then something very rare happened: I had a good idea. I ran into the house to get a pen and paper, and I wrote The Child a letter, saying what I would have said had he been there.

This accomplished two things: I communicated my beliefs to him, and I provided him with a writing example. Although The Child is an excellent reader, he has never really enjoyed writing- a common problem among boys.

I am curious about any parenting breakthroughs or pearls of wisdom you all may have to offer- on any aspect of parenting at all- not related specifically to the incident described here. I just want to hear about any examples you have of parenting successes! Those of you who don't have a child are invited to weigh in- you certainly don't have to be a parent to have parenting ideas or theories.