Archive for January, 2011|Monthly archive page

Perfect Storm in a Starbucks Cup

In Family Life on January 27, 2011 at 10:27 am

I pulled off the road today because of an accident ahead and went to Starbucks to wait it out. $6.00 later, I was sitting at the window sipping and reading The New York Times. Since I didn’t have my reading glasses, I started with the “Home” section which had the biggest pictures. I read an article by Michael Tortorello that discussed the conundrum we have, as parents/art critics, when our children present us with their masterpieces in crayon day after day. Keep some and throw the rest away at midnight has always been my philosophy. The article turned poignant at the same time as some other thoughts occurred to me and the caffeine hit my brain. A perfect storm. Ms. Palmer, interviewed for the article, described coming home one day to all her school art work waiting on the porch for her. Her mother delivered it after years of collecting. She realized in that moment that her mother was no longer the “keeper of my art”.  I am still the keeper of my children’s art for a few more years.  Some of it is here:

While I read the article, I overheard the cause of the accident that drew me into Starbucks. Life and death so close. The thoughts of my own treasure sorting after my parents both died came flooding in.  I cleaned up their whole house.  I threw away countless, once special, items and kept countless more. This is what I kept:

  • Certificates from universities
  • Honors from professional organizations
  • Letters and photographs
  • Unpublished books
  • Grandma’s Russian recipes
  • Grandma’s love letters from Grandpa
  • My dad’s “pinup” picture of my mom when she dyed her hair blond.

Now I am the age my mom was when that pinup picture was taken.  This year I will venture into our storage room and label what is important for our kids to keep when I die.  With no reading glasses to wipe the steam from, I wiped my tear filled eyes and quickly made an exit from the pseudo community of Starbucks on a rainy day.

Where is your childhood art?


Post Traumatic Carpool Stress

In Family Life on January 24, 2011 at 3:15 pm

Has the SUV made our lives easier? I’m not sure. I was in a carpool that had about 40 women driving 40 times 2.7 children to school and back. This was done according to a flexible schedule developed and updated real time by a process engineer who worked in the city. We all carried printouts of the spreadsheet for that week telling us when we were to drive and who to pick up. Kids from kindergarten through highschool were shuttled to and from a school that was about 30 minutes away. Some moms had to commute to the drop off parking lot and then we all put our kids in the cars for that shift. My boys liked certain cars based on comfort and smell. But in the end, they just wanted to go in mom’s car. It was pretty stressful for everyone involved. It wasn’t until we moved to another city that I realized the stress of it all.

To join this carpool, it helped to have a 7 seater and 24/7 access to email and texting. Most of us did. The poor woman with the 4 seater had to drive twice as many shifts and eventually dropped out. There was a lady whose computer died and she had to drop out too. When the economy turned bad, a mom lost the use of her cell phone…and she dropped out. We drove one shift per child so it cut down on hours in the car but also cut down on hours with our own children. I met many like minded women in those days. Learned all sorts of things about their marriages and eventually their divorces. I saw the whole cycle of life through their eyes. Babies were born and parents died and spouses left. Spouses always left. Usually left a house full of babies. One husband died young. He lived on revered in his wife’s eyes. She lived on without the heartache of rejection.

Now I drive the boys and we talk about life on the way to school and philosophy on the way back. Sometimes we just talk about Call of Duty – Black Ops. But we talk. It’s so much better. And when daddy shows up at school to pick them up, they are wild with excitement. Well, the 11 year old is. The teenager is too. He just doesn’t show it as much. And sometimes we pick them up together and stop for ice cream on the way home. That wasn’t allowed in The Carpool. Someone did try that once but the texts and emails that followed shamed her into following the rules. We still drive an SUV but not to ferry half the school kids back and forth. It’s mainly so we don’t get into a crash with another SUV.

How’s your carpool working out for you?