Moxie Mom On Life and Kids

MOXIE MOM on Life & Kids

Wayward Teen

This morning, when Leah and I returned from sharing a pastry at a bakery, we found Milo, our now teen-age cat, lounging on our neighbor’s front step, along with one of the neighbor’s resident cats, who is an overweight pudge, and the local bully, whom we think might be a stray. I’m actually not sure he’s a bully, but he’s a rough-looking sort with greasy black fur and bony hips, and I have always assumed he’s the one yowling around at night, ready to beat the stuffing out of any of the softer house cats who come from good homes and have no concept of poverty or hunger.

But here they were, hanging together amicably—the fat girl, the bad boy, and the impressionable teen, looking as if they had been discussing the fun of trying cigarettes.

Bad Boy rose as soon as he saw us to lope down the steps and across the street to the lot where a new house is going up. The pudge continued to lie on her porch, contemplating me and Leah. Milo, after a pause, got up to follow the stray, at a distance. Apparently, his new friend offers a tantalizing window into the wide world of fun. Milo, who has been allowed outside for the past couple of months, has always exercised caution, sticking close to the house and bolting to the front or back door if he senses a threat. Today, he crossed the street without looking.

“Oh my gosh,” Leah remarked. “If he was a kid, he’d be the type to take the candy and get in the car with a stranger.”

I laughed. So right. And I found myself worrying a little, just as I worry about my kids. We watched Milo pause at the edge of the new-house property, crane his neck to see where Bad Boy went, and look toward us, torn, it appeared, between following his bliss and making the right choice.

When we clicked our tongues at him and called his name, he meowed, hesitated, glanced in the direction his friend had gone, and then crossed the street (without looking) to come home.

I wonder how long it will be before he caves completely to his teen urges. And whether we’ll have any influence at all.

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Photo Album Success

Okay, so the Shutterfly photo album was a complete hit, and I can’t believe it took me so long to suggest it (see my previous post if you’re feeling lost). All those class pictures from the kinder and early grade years, along with the school pictures taken every year, are now catalogued in an easy-flip-through book and not just filed away in a dark corner of the file cabinet. Leah feels well-loved, I suspect, now that her mom has finally gotten into virual scrapbook mode. (She still doesn’t realize that she did all the work, and I didn’t really do anything except offer the idea and the money, but maybe that’s enough. If I can get out of scrapbooking without her realizing, I’m happy.)

Anyway, now I’m looking at that cavernous basket of photos with a new eye. There’s an article in the latest Parents magazine called “Organizing Your Family Photos.” I feel overwhelmed every time I thnk about scanning millions of photos, but maybe if I tape this article to my wall, it won’t seem so techy after the tenth read through. If your kids are still little, I recommend moving on it now. Of course, if your kids are still little, you’re probably totally digital anyway, and it’s a non-issue. It’s those pre-digital photos that are tripping me up.

Need a Christmas idea? Shutterfly is it, man. I’m a new disciple.

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Mother, How Could You?

A few days ago, Leah and I were going through our cavernous basket of photos (I don’t even pretend to plan to put them into albums anymore) for pictures related to school. For her birthday, I had given her an open invitation to create a photo album of her school years with Shutterfly. The beauty of this gift? She did the work and didn’t even realize it: she figured out how to scan her class pictures, she came up with the background designs, she placed her pictures in various clusters, and periodically she called me to the computer to approve of her choices. And I whole-heartedly approved with suggestions here and there.

A win-win situation as far as I’m concerned. She gets the photo album I’ve been planning to put together for a couple years now and somehow never got around to, and I simply pony up my credit card number. Love. It.

So, but that’s not what I really meant to talk about. Here’s what struck me as we were going through our photos. Time is fleeting, fleeting, fleeting. That’s it in a nutshell. My daughter is 13 years old. I have only five years left with her at home (unless she’s one of those rebounders). A mere decade ago, which actually sounds like a long time ago when I write the word, she was three years old.

As I wistfully pawed through the photos, thinking about how recently Leah was just a little thing, Leah was thinking something else entirely.

“Mom, I can’t believe you let me wear those clothes together. I’m wearing pajamas with a dress! How could you let me go out like that?”

And this: “Mom, my hair was a mess. Did you never brush it? I mean, really.”

True, she did look like a wild child at times. What doesn’t show in those photos was the tantrum simmering always below the surface, ready to erupt if I told her she couldn’t wear clashing clothes or we needed to brush her hair. Well, and to be totally truthful, it was less about the tantrum and more that I didn’t care anyway. Win-win again.

But now my fashion-conscious child can’t believe how un-put-together she was as a toddler, even though I explained that her opinions about her clothing choices were stronger than mine and that her hair wasn’t always a mess.

I can just hear it now when she’s 25: “Mom! I can’t believe you let me wear such a tight shirt. Mom! How did you let me go to that party where everyone was drinking?”

Um, yeah, well, see, I didn’t know about that party (I will be thinking).

I am now one of those parents who explain away their parenting choices, casting them in a I-did-the-best-I-could light, very much like, well, my parents. All parents. Shocking to be here already.

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