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Date archive for: February 2010

Fall From Cool

They said it would come, but I didn’t believe them. They told me that one day my children would find me uncool. And worse than uncool: an utter, ego-shrinking embarrassment.

Me. The mom with the killer iPod song list. The mom who considers French fries a vegetable. Embarrassing? It didn’t seem likely.

Then we attended a school concert last week, and when I erupted in my trademark rock-show howl of “oowwwww!”, followed by a passionate shriek of “woo woo!”, I glanced over at my 11-year-old son. And there it was.

The Eye Roll.

It wasn’t a subtle eye roll, either. In fact, it was so exaggerated I thought he might tear an ocular tendon and have to spend the rest of his life staring at the back of his own skull. But then, perhaps this was his goal. At least he wouldn’t have to see his newly ridiculous mother rocking out.

Fortunately, he needn’t wallow solo in such shame. Seems the sentiment strikes all adolescents.

“My son’s greatest mortification comes from when I try out the latest teen speak,” a friend of mine confessed. “He once told me, ‘Moms who drive Volvos are not allowed to say, ‘Fo’ shizzle!'”

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Trickle-Down Trepidation

In this economy, our family is taking a less-is-more approach to money: We’re spending less — and talking about it more.

Scarce jobs and bountiful bills have caused a cash crunch and I’m addressing it the way I address most problems: by surrounding it with the sound of my voice. My plan is to squawk and blubber about it until it asphyxiates on the carbon dioxide spewing from my motormouth. So far it hasn’t helped.

But while I’ve been prattling about money — pointing out the high cost of cable TV (was it always this pricey?) and proposing fun new dining-out policies like “I know! Let’s all order water!” — I think I freaked out my kid.

“Mom,” my 11-year-old asked this week, “are we having money trouble?”

I was rattled by the question. Embarrassed even. Sure, we’ve “tightened our belts,” as Obama likes to say, but no more than any other family. No one’s coming for our house or anything. I don’t think. Yet.

“You talk about money all the time,” he said.

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View from the Control Tower

It’s always been a dirty word in my family.


As in “Don’t be so controlling.” “What is she, a control freak?” “Well, you know how she likes to control things.”

As a clan, we condemn such behavior — but we also embody it. I come from a matriarchal flock of females who … let’s just say, we’re all really comfortable with our hands on the tiller. In my family, you’re either calling the shots and being chided for it, or you’re resentfully carrying out someone else’s capricious edicts and making snarky comments about her intolerable bossiness.

Control-or-be-controlled! Steer-or-be-steered! It’s the way we Roshells roll, and I don’t much mind it. The truth is I’m happy sitting in the saddle and I can’t really help it if the world works better when I’ve got the reins, now can I?

When it unnerves me, though — when my admittedly despotic disposition seems more exacting than endearing — is when it flops over onto my parenting. Rather, ahem, when my kids call me on it.

I recently put the kibosh on a family outing because my progeny were behaving like orangutans on espresso. Warnings didn’t work. Pleadings didn’t work. So I nixed our plans and picked up a magazine instead, settling into the sofa for the night. I wasn’t trying to punish my adorable little barbarians; I just couldn’t conceive of strapping myself into a compact car with them for any duration whatsoever.

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Dazzling Dollhouse

Long before I owned a big velvet couch, I owned an itty-bitty one. Years before I could sweep my front porch with a broom, I could dust it off with a fingertip. And decades before my dining room sparkled under a ponderous chandelier, it glowed under a pee-wee one, about two inches long.
I had a dollhouse. A dazzling, one-of-a-kind dollhouse that my father built for me. A blue two-story Victorian with an Astroturf lawn, white popsicle-stick fence, and working lights — and switches — in every room.
My dad’s a woodcarver, and quite a craftsman. The way he remembers it, I approached him one day with this oh-so-casual remark: “Grandma said you could make me a dollhouse. You couldn’t do that, could you?”
And the game was on.
He called it my “tiny mansion” and worked on it most of the year in his garage, in secret. I recall with breathtaking precision the moment I first saw it: French doors and balconies, old-fashioned wallpaper, buzzing doorbell. A wooden cutting board slid out from the kitchen counter. My initials were carved above the front door in scroll letters.
My dad’s a joy to me. He’s smart and funny and there when I need him. But if he’d never done another kind thing for me — ever in my life — this would have been enough.
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