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Friday, September 20, 2019

Annals of Successful Parenting: News and Confessions

Summer ended before I was ready. I know, officially it's still summer for a little while. But this summer ended too soon. It was full of fun things. One of the funnest was this, seen as we inched through traffic to the beach in August:

Look closely. This Harley-riding dog wears goggles. 

With stuff like that in my life, you can see why I wasn't fully prepared for the start of school. In fact, confession, I wore pajamas to school carpool drop off that day. That means I am fully a suburban mom. Better late than never. Readers, I have arrived.


Is this truly a wonderful thing? I don’t know. It’s not as if I have been up and dressed every morning at seven twenty-three for the mad dash to the high school. In fact, the only reason I haven’t done drop off more often in my pajamas is that the husband is the morning carpool driver. So while I may lord it over y’all that I haven’t dipped and lowered myself to driving to the high school in my pajams, it’s simply because I haven’t had to leave the house most mornings to do that drop off.

Until last Thursday. And I felt something slide into place. The last piece of the puzzle that is suburban motherhood.

A pause to contemplate all that means.

Car culture. Complacency. A measure of comfort. Also, rushed multitasking frenzy and a soupçon of guilt — the environment, consumption. The contradictions of modern life.

So the high school student is in her last year of high school, and the college student is in her last year of college. I have been a suburban mom for ten years. Mind. Blown. 🤯Before that, I was an urban mom. In many ways, I liked that better. My stroller was my wheels. This had downsides. There was no walking to school drop off in my pajamas. There was no driving to school in snow and rain. And when I needed an X-ray for what turned out to be pneumonia, I had to walk to the hospital.

Anyway, it took me ten years to do drop off in my pajamas. I take pride in that. And in my defense, drop off was at six forty-five that morning, because the high school senior plays trumpet in the pep band, and the pep band was to welcome the students to the new school year.

Speaking of new school year and students, I am into my second year of teaching first year students at a small college nearby. I have joined the ranks of adjuncts, which I feel is analogous to being a scab during a strike. I am working for an insultingly small amount of money. And I feel bad that I am called by the honorific, "Professor". What does this do to all those Ph.Ds looking for work in academia? How are they to succeed at their careers? This adjunct thing seems like yet another way our culture has succumbed to an economic, short-term, profit-based mindset, rather than a people-based one. Seems like key to failure as a society.

What am I teaching my students, you may wonder? I am teaching their required first year seminar on how to write at the college level. Or how to write at all, apparently. There are many sections of first year seminar, since every student is required to take the course. So each section has a theme and mine is Defining Success. It turns out that I have a lot to say on the subject. But of course, as a teacher, I aim not to do all the talking, but to lead my students to their own conclusions.

Anyway, in other news, I have been enjoying the sidewalk in our neighborhood. The Australian Labradoodle doesn’t. Well, he does sometimes, and sometimes he doesn’t. The times he doesn’t are those times I attempt to walk him on the sidewalk when he is expecting to walk on the other side of the street as we used to do, when we had to walk facing oncoming traffic. He only wants to walk towards oncoming traffic in other words. He is a rule-abiding dog. Now it's all gone to hell, from his perspective. We might be walking one direction. We might be walking another. Either way, it's the same side of the street. This is not how we do things, in dog brain. So many unsniffed scents and uneaten blobs of grass cuttings on the other side of the street that he can’t process in his own special ways.

It's tragic.

Sometimes I cross the street just to let him have his way.

I have a another confession. I put away my snow shovel yesterday. Are you temporarily dizzied trying to calibrate the season and the shovel? No, you are not crazy. Yes, my shovel has been on my porchlet (or is that porchette? porchini? covered entry?) since last winter. So sue me. My neighbors have had a Halloween skeleton hanging from their front door light for about eight years. At least I got my snow shovel stored before I need it again.

That’s all the news that’s fit to print right now.

Is any of this about success? You decide.

In case you missed my podcast interview, which is indeed all about success, here is the link:


And now, I am off to the Global Climate March, Albany site. 🌎