Wednesday, November 28, 2012

One Egg, One Basket

Over the years, I have written a lot of marketing copy for financial services firms. So, I'm intimately familiar with the concept of "diversification." (how cool is that name?) defines it this way:

A risk management technique that mixes a wide variety of investments within a portfolio. 

My retirement savings, as modest as they are, benefit from this type of strategy (and, thank goodness, from the steerage of a so-much-smarter-about-money-than-I-am financial advisor). But it occurred to me recently that I forgot to apply the principle of diversification to a rather important part of my life. Parenting.

I am the mother of an only child.

There are certainly pros:

• Only one student's college tuition to plan for. (Although, one student means four years at about $50,000 per year, so this is no very great solace once I do the math.) 

• We only have to coordinate all-day field trips to one athlete's events. (I know moms who juggle hockey, dance, swim meets and softball on a regular basis.)

• We were able to afford a horse for our besotted equestrian offspring. (More than one, believe me, would be much more than impossible.)

• Travel, on the other hand, is still possible. After a child is two years old, their seat on an airplane is full fare — regardless of the size of their little tush. A weekend away or a family vacation becomes exponentially more expensive with multiple kids.

• I only have to keep track of one young person's unexplainable eating eccentricities. ("When did you stop liking Pop Tarts? Oh, I know. The week after I bought two double-sized boxes of them.")

• I only have to help with one person's homework. And no, geometry is decidedly not more fun the second time around.

• I only have to nag one person to keep her room clean. (And, in a related observation, I only have to re-make one person's bed on a regular basis.)

Then again, and especially these days, there are also cons. Big ones. 

• If I had hoped for a child who shared my love of acting, singing and dancing, well ... that show has opened and closed.

• If I wanted a daughter who would love my hometown, New York City, as I still do. No dice. She is the country cousin to my city mouse. 

• And, if I'm persona non gratis for some egregious maternal crime (like taking the video games off of someone's iPhone because she — shall we say — stretched the truth about playing them after hours), then I am thoroughly, completely, totally and universally despised.

Aye, there's the rub.

An old friend of mine, one whose intelligence I have always respected and admired, apparently put more care into planning all this than I did. With her four children (and several more now thanks to a recent remarriage), she has managed to enjoy all the ups even in times of downs. For example, when her eldest daughter was a teenage pill, her younger ones still doted on her. Now that they are teens themselves, their older sister is coming back around.

I love this friend very very much. But, I am very very jealous.

Of course, the situation puts undue pressure on my daughter as well. She has to be "the smart one," "the athletic one," "the kind-hearted one," "the artistic one." When it comes to siblings, there's no one else for her to share these daunting roles with. She has to be every type of superlative offspring all in one.

It's a little late now, but I confess that I sometimes daydream about my "other children," the ones who would remain sweet and affectionate and never fall out of love with me. Alas, all my eggs are in one basket. Actually, there's only one.

Good thing she's a good egg.

Monday, November 26, 2012

No Rain on Our Parade

When people hear I'm from New York City, they typically ask me one of two holiday-season questions ...

"Have you ever been down to Times Square on New Year's Eve?"


"Do you go to the Macy's Parade on Thanksgiving?"

The answers, respectively, are "No frrrkin' way!" and "Abso-frrrkin'-lutely!"

I grew up on Manhattan's Upper Westside, a mere ten-minute hop, skip and a jump from the beginning of the parade's route on Central Park West. We went each year as a family, or if my mother had too much dinner preparation to tend to, my father took us. One year, we left the house later than usual and the parade had already passed. Not to worry, we jumped on a downtown subway and arrived at Herald Square in time to watch the whole thing.

When I was in high school, I was a member of the prestigious First All Children's Theatre Company. In 1978, we were invited to participate in the parade. What a thrill! Although several of the younger children marched (one lucky young man got to sit on the giant Schaper Cootie Bug), most of us were down at Macy's, where we did a musical number from The Incredible Feeling Show by avant-garde dramatist Elizabeth Swados. Dressing rooms were set up between cosmetics counters on the department store's first floor. Ours were right next to the cast of Broadway's Peter Pan, including then star Sandy Duncan. I think we had to be there at 4:00 am — not exactly prime-time for a bunch of teenagers. But, what a wonderful memory!

Throughout college and after I moved to Boston to start my career, I always returned to New York for Thanksgiving and always, always attended the parade. There were years when it was just my mother and me, my siblings either sleeping in after an evening working or away on some adventure. I did manage to drag my husband along a handful of times, but he prefers to watch the parade from the comfort of a couch, coffee in hand. After all these years, the only person I can really count on is ... my teen daughter.

Imagine that.

This year, I confess that I expected a little push back. Getting up early (unless it's to drive to an equestrian event) is not exactly her forte. But, she was perfectly amenable; in fact, she expected and — dare I say — even looked forward to it! 

The weather was gorgeous: sunny and mild for the time of year. We walked up to Central Park and then fought the crowd for a couple of square feet of prime parade real estate. Although we had a bit of a wait, we didn't mind. The people-watching was pretty epic and we got to eavesdrop on some very entertaining conversations. (Two aspiring actors from Ohio debated whether a mutual friend was "gay gay" or "bi gay" and whether it was his mother's fault because she bought him a Louis Vuitton bag. And, no. I'm not kidding.)

The parade began, as these parades often do, with clowns and roller skaters and balloons and a team of New York's finest, who seemed to be in a particularly good mood despite their holiday detail.

With my daughter nearly my height now, I didn't have to hold her up or worry about whether she could see. We could both relax and enjoy. And, really, there was something for each of us. It was as though the powers that be at the self-proclaimed "World's Largest Department Store," planned their parade to appeal to trendy teens and their not-exactly-with-it-anymore moms. In fact, whenever I wondered, "Who is that?" she knew the answer. And vice versa.

So, my daughter was pleased to see The Wanted, Flo Rida, Carly Rae Jepsen, and Jennette McCurdy. And, I was happy to wave to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Chris Isaak, Jimmy Fallon and Whoopi Goldberg. We were both thrilled to see Gabby Douglas and the U.S. Women's Gymnastics team. And, I will always have a soft spot for the cast and creatures of "Sesame Street."

By the time Santa Claus arrived (and, if anyone from Macy's is reading this, let me just say "Best. Santa. Ever!"), we were a little tired and ready to head back to my mother's cozy apartment and the all-day feasting that awaited there. As we recapped the highlights together, I thought about how valuable family traditions are, and — despite some fairly typical teenage ups and downs — how much I enjoy my daughter's company sometimes. She wouldn't let me take any pictures this year, but that doesn't mean they weren't there in my mind.

I thought of them later, as thanks worth giving.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

The Kids Are Online (The Parents Are On Edge)

My husband and I don't worry about problems with our iPhones, iPad or laptops anymore. You know why? Because we have a digital native in the family, a self-taught cyber-savvy young woman who can troubleshoot blindfolded with her hands tied behind her back.

Our teenage daughter doesn't wait for us to ask for her help either. She jumps in and rights our wrongs even while we are blissfully unaware of them ...

"You should turn the screen brightness down to save your battery."

"You need to close out the apps you just used or they stay open under your homepage."

"You can post more than one picture at a time you know."

"Blah blah blah."

Suffice it to say, the doctor may be in but her bedside manner leaves something to be desired. Nevertheless, it's nice to have an in-house expert.

However, while our frantic calls to "tech support" and "The Geek Squad" have diminished, we face new worries every day. At fifteen, our daughter is growing up faster than we can comprehend. As a freshman in high school, she has more autonomy, more freedom and more responsibility than ever before. We used to have a strict "No electronics after 8 pm" rule. That just isn't feasible anymore.

She's still doing homework — much of it online — after 10.

When the sun goes down, my imagination lights up. How many stalkers, cyber bullies, identity thieves and privacy-busting data miners will my daughter encounter online tonight?

And, even if she doesn't run into any of these bad Internet elements, what is she herself posting? Will her pictures, tweets and status updates be seen by guidance counselors? College admissions officers? Employers? Supreme Court nomination committees?

Agh. I need a glass of pinot grigio, stat.

They say, "Misery loves company." I assume that holds true for "Anxiety" as well. The Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard, along with the Pew Internet Project, just released a study called “Parents, Teens and Online Privacy.”

The study included phone surveys of 802 parents and their 802 teens ages 12-17 across the country, as well as focus groups of another 120 students. The results are remarkably similar to the conversations I have with other mothers at Starbucks. But, I guess these are a bit more statistically valid:

• 81% of parents of online teens say they are concerned about how much information advertisers can learn about their child’s online behavior, with some 46% being “very” concerned.

• 72% of parents of online teens are concerned about how their child interacts online with people they do not know, with some 53% of parents being “very” concerned.

• 69% of parents of online teens are concerned about how their child’s online activity might affect their future academic or employment opportunities, with some 44% being “very” concerned about that.

• 69% of parents of online teens are concerned about how their child manages his or her reputation online, with some 49% being “very” concerned about that.

There is additional information about actions taken by parents to protect their teens. The most telling is a sharp increase in the number of parents jumping into social media themselves:

• 66% of all parents who have a child between the ages of 12-17, say they use a social networking site, up from 58% in 2011. 

So, my net net on all this? I was most surprised to learn that more parents are concerned about advertisers tracking their teens' behavior than about strangers. That's a switch, I think, from the frightening headlines we were bombarded with a few years ago.

And (I'm embarrassed to confess), even though I run a direct marketing ad agency that lives and breathes data, it didn't occur to me that my daughter is rapidly building her own online profile that might be used — or abused — by marketers.

Crap!  Something else to obsess about.

Please pass the pinot.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Twinkies and Other Tragedies

Alas, poor Twinkie. I knew him well.

It was official on Friday. Hostess announced that it was shutting down. No more golden sponge cake with creamy filling. No more Twinkie the Kid. No more Twinkies. Really. Like, forever.

Twinkies are to junk food what Mecca is to Islam. What Shakespeare is to an English major. What Darren Criss is to a teenage girl (at least the one in my house). The ultimate ultimate.

My day-to-day life won't change too much. My daughter, who has the world's most insatiable sweet tooth, prefers raw cookie dough, Starbursts and Ben & Jerry's. But, that doesn't mean Twinkies won't be missed.

As a child, I ate my share of Hostess products. My mom would buy boxes of individually wrapped snack cakes and slip them into our school lunches. (My favorites were Yodels, because you could creatively dissect them. Nibble the chocolate icing edge on the bottom first. Then, peel the rest of the icing. Then, unroll the cake. Then, eat the cream filling, followed by the cake, followed by the icing.)

Many (many, many) years later, I was the Creative Director at an ad agency in Boston. We were promoting a regional bank and its commitment to small business clients, a group who wears multiple hats and pretty much eats at their desk or on the run. Our bank client was proposing to make their lives easier. We designed a 3-dimensional pyramid-shaped box with a teaser that read, "Is this your idea of a power lunch?" Inside, was a package of Twinkies and an invitation to a nice lunch with a business banker. At least, that was the plan.

While the mailing was at the printer, Hostess issued a nationwide recall on ... you guessed it ... Twinkies. Traces of asbestos had been found in the popular snack cakes. We had to switch gears. Fast. The 5,000 Twinkies packs were replaced by 5,000 peanut butter and cheese cracker packs.

Twinkies for lunch? Funny.
Peanut butter and cheese crackers for lunch? Not so much.

But happily, that's not the only time Hostess played a role in my career. At a different agency, Twinkies helped us crack a difficult client relationship. Our client, a marketing director from a major financial services organization, was demanding, humorless and downright ornery. We were at our wits' end. Until, someone had the bright idea of bringing a tray of snack cakes into the meeting. Almost instantly, the disgruntled adult became a playful kid. For the first time in many months, the client smiled, laughed and actually appreciated the advertising ideas.

Thank you, Twinkie the Kid!

And now, in 2012 — the year that the ancient Mayans foretold life as we know it would end — Twinkies are no more.

What of Twinkies' less celebrated but equally sinful sisters and brothers? Along with T's demise, we must also mourn the loss of the famous Hostess Cupcake, Hostess Ding Dong and Hostess Ho Ho. I confess I'll miss even the most disgusting snack cake of all: the Hostess Sno Ball. No matter how many sweets or how much garbage was in my shopping cart, I could always feel self-righteous as I passed by those revolting pink monstrosities. 

And, in the monopolistic world of snack cakes, Hostess takes other labels with it. At this sad, sad time, we are also losing Drake's with its Yodels (sob), Ring Dings and Devil Dogs.

Twinkies were invented in 1930 but in this day and age, their loss is rippling through cyberspace. Google "Twinkies" and you'll come up with nearly 14 million hits in 0.17 seconds. (Who measures this stuff anyway?) For a real laugh, go on ebay and you'll find 12,800 active auctions. I have to assume that the $18,000,000 listing is a joke. There's a $3,000 Twinkie lunchbox and a $3,000 Twinkie Hawaiian shirt. But, my favorite is the vintage full-length mink coat that lists "Bonus 1 Sealed Twinkie."

But, fear not my vegan readers. Before I let my nostalgia for a snack cake persuade me to buy an ethically irresponsible coat, I am comforted by my belief that someone will bail out Twinkies. It's no different from Wall Street or the auto industry. What would America be without Hostess cakes? It's just a matter of time.

After all, everybody loves a comeback. 

Tuesday, November 13, 2012


What is a teenager? defines it as: a person between the ages of 13 and 19; an adolescent.

I prefer to think of it as a walking contradiction.

It isn't just the emotional roller coaster (although those mood swings can be pretty extreme). I'm talking about the absolute dichotomy between what they say and what they do, what they think and what they feel.

Has your daughter transitioned from tween to teen? Here's a a quick checklist that can help you decide. If your daughter has exhibited any of these twelve traits, you are probably sharing your home with a bona fide teen. (Please keep your arms inside the vehicle at all times.)

Teens remember everything their mom has ever done wrong — and none of the things she's done right.  

Teens can play the most complex video games — but can't figure out how to make their bed.

Teens will complain that they're getting fat — then eat an entire bag of cheesy poofs. Followed by a box of Fruit Roll-Ups.

Teens can hear a text come in from a cell phone buried in a coat pocket inside a closet three rooms away — but they can't hear their mother yelling "Dinner's ready."

Teens will remind you if their allowance is late — but conveniently forget to pay back any money they borrow.

Teens never want your opinion — except when they are looking for a correct answer on their geometry homework.

Teens have to be nagged to take a shower — but once they're in, they don't come out for hours.

Teens are often too tired to do their homework — but never too tired to watch the latest episode of The Lying Game, Switched at Birth or New Girl.

Teens spend an inordinate amount of time and money on how they look — while trying to make it look like they just rolled out of bed.

Teens do not want you to invade their personal space — except when they climb on your lap right before they ask you for something.

Teens treasure their individuality — and, at the same time, they are desperate to fit in. 

And, last but not least, teens may be uncertain in many social situations — but they are absolutely certain that their moms know nothing. 

Hey, it's not as if we were ever teenagers ourselves.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Very Creepy

Years ago, before we were parents, before we spent all of our free time at equestrian events or shopping at Forever 21 or helping with homework, my husband and I used to go on day trips together. We would drive up the coast to Maine. We would drive down the coast to Newport. We would drive out to Western Massachusetts. 

There was a funny informal game we used to play in the car. I call it, "What made you think of that?" Basically, if one of us came up with something that seemed to be out of the blue, the other could demand to know the train of thought that led us there.

For example, on a drive to New York:

Me: "Did you know that you have to remove male hamsters from their babies because they'll eat them?"

Him: "What made you think of that?"

Me: "Well, we just passed Co-op City, which is where my third grade teacher Mrs. Wells lived. That made me think of her class, which made me think of my desk which was the last one in the first row and right by the window, which made me think of the window ledge, which made me think of my first grade classroom in which all of our pets were on the window ledge, which made me think of the hamsters that we had, which made me think of the journals we kept and the pictures we drew when the female hamster had babies, which made me think of the morning we came in and the father hamster had eaten all the baby hamsters."

Him: "That must have been pretty traumatic for you guys as first graders."

Me: "Not as much as you'd think. We all drew pictures, but we ran out of red crayons."

Him: "Well then."

This is a true story. But, not (thankfully) the main point of my post.

A few days ago, I experienced another set of non-sequitorious events that led to an unexpected discovery. To recap quickly for you:

I am a big fan of Downton Abbey. I was intrigued by the preview that was released for season three of said mini-series, and particularly taken by the women's choral group that sings in the background. A little research led me to the Belgian choir Scala & Kolacny Brothers. I bought one of their CDs (yes, to my teenage daughter's chagrin, I do still purchase discs). There was a haunting rendition of Radiohead's song "Creep" on the CD. I was killing some time, waiting for my daughter at the stable, so I Googled it and found this video.


I always knew Barbies were evil and now there is videographic proof. In this short film, a supposed "plain jane" (in truth, a lovely Madame Alexander doll) is enthralled by a group of shapely blondes. She is desperate to be accepted, so she mutilates herself — literally removes her head and puts it on a discarded but statuesque doll body. At first, it seems to have worked. The clique of "so f*cking special" girls appears to welcome her. But, no! In an act of Greek tragedy proportion, they tear her limb from limb and throw her from a cliff (or at least from a kitchen table). As the song ends, our pathetic heroine closes her doll eyes for the last time.

I repeat ... Yikes!

The not so subtle message here is that you should never change yourself to fit in with others. That beauty is only skin deep. (And, that blondes may have more fun but you should probably stay clear of them if you want to remain in one piece.)

I think it's really unfortunate that between Barbie dolls and Victoria' Secret, our society offers a fairly impossible standard of beauty for our girls to aspire to. Estimates vary, but if Barbie were a real woman, she would be 6-7 feet tall, weigh about 100 pounds and have measurements along the lines of 36-18-38. (That waist, BTW, would make her 35% slimmer than a typical anorexic.) In Mattel's defense, they did once launch a more realistically proportioned doll. It didn't sell.

Based on the figures above, no mere mortal woman could ever achieve a truly Barbie body. And, what about girls who are naturally petite or muscular or stocky or flat-chested? Are they judged by standards that relate to their own anatomy? Or are they judged by how far removed they are from this ridiculous plastic ideal?

That's why I'm going to show this video to my teen daughter and encourage her to share it. As far as I know, none of her friends have actually attempted a head transplant yet. But, we've already heard about crash diets that sound frighteningly like eating disorders, and girls who are saving money for nose jobs and — yes — boob jobs.

The song is called "Creep" and the title comes from the narrator's self-assessment. But, the video's story and unhappy ending are grounded in a very real observation about self-destructive self-image and its dire consequences.

To this mom, that's really the creepy part.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

A Good Day to be a Girl

Last night, I allowed my teenage daughter to stay up late with me as we watched the 2012 election returns. I think it is so important that we demonstrate and instill in our children a respect for this country's political process and a responsibility to participate in it.

At fifteen, my daughter is too young to vote. But, she has some fairly strong opinions, and I encourage them.

Nevertheless, to paraphrase Scarlet O'Hara, "Tomorrow was another school day." Despite our best intentions (and genuine concerns about the outcome), we gave up and went to bed, crossing our multigenerational fingers that our candidates would win.

Here is what we woke up to:

Another term for President Barack Obama. You may not agree with Obamacare. You may be disheartened by his progress towards a stronger economy. But, Republican or Democrat, you have to admit that he is a feminist with a capital F. He is two for two with Supreme Court Justices (Sonia Sotomayor and, my former Hunter Elementary classmate, Elena Kagan). He is pro-choice and supports Planned Parenthood. He signed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act on his very first day in office. 

In the recent conversation — and controversy — over the definition of "rape," Obama stated the obvious:

     "Rape is rape. And the idea that we should be parsing and qualifying and slicing what types of rape we are talking about doesn’t make sense to the American people and certainly doesn’t make sense to me.
     So what I think these comments do underscore is why we shouldn’t have a bunch of politicians, a majority of whom are men, making health care decisions on behalf of women."

Go, O!

As women, my daughter and I were happy to see President Obama re-elected for a second term. But, as women, there was so much other good news:

The state of New Hampshire (right next door to us) is now the first state with an all-female slate. Governor? Check. Senators? Check. Congressmen ... er, women? Check.

The United States Senate will now have 19 women — the most in its history. Although we are not at parity yet, this is a significant increase since 1992, the so-called "Year of the Woman," when that number was just five.

The first openly lesbian senator has been elected in  Wisconsin (which shows that feminism and gay rights aren't  just coastal state fads).

And, in our own state of Massachusetts, Elizabeth Warren beat incumbent Scott Brown in a hotly contested race.

Wow! So much for their "war on women." Thank you, sisters!

In my next post, I promise to abandon all things political and go back to discussing typical teen issues: cell phones, boys, schoolwork, hormones. But, for now, I'm going to sit back and enjoy being a girl.

Last night, we proved that, as the once and future President said: "Women are not an interest group. You are half of this country." 


Monday, November 5, 2012

Adam and Election Eve

Tomorrow is Election Day and I'm torn. 

Half of me can't wait for all of this to be over: the debates on TV, the debates on Facebook, the endless advertising, all the phone calls (Matt Damon and Bill Clinton both left messages for me last week!). 

The other half is terrified that voters will undo what I perceive to be progress in the areas of peacekeeping, human and civil rights, equality, healthcare and social services.

I make no secret of my own political leanings. But, I hope I haven't rammed them down anyone's throats. I truly believe in democracy. I believe that my opinion is no more valid than yours even if they are different. And, if that means that my candidate, my party and my platform are defeated by a real majority of the people, then I have to accept that.

But, more than anything else, I believe that we have to vote. There are people in this world today who literally risk their lives in order to be counted. Don't we owe it to them to exercise our right tomorrow?

And, there's another group of people to whom we should dedicate the simple action of going to the nearest polling place and casting a vote. The women, here in the U.S., who put their lives on the line to assure that we had a say in our own government.

"Well done, sister suffragette."

It was a long and difficult road from the Seneca Falls Convention in 1848 until the 19th Amendment was ratified in 1920. We owe Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Lucretia Mott, Susan B. Anthony, Alice Paul, and so many other brave women our thanks for what may seem obvious to our generation: the right to determine how and by whom we are governed. I find it interesting (and distressing) that a nation founded on the principles of liberty and equality not only took over a century to extend voting rights to half of its population, but that we lagged behind a number of countries, including Denmark, Lithuania and New Zealand.

If the many women (and some men) who marched on Washington in 1913 were miraculously transported to 2012, there would be much to astound them. Digital technology, air travel, penicillin, a black president. But, if the same time-traveling people learned that women today have the right to vote (thank-you), but don't always use it, how would they feel? In the 2010 congressional election, less than half of female citizens over the age of 18 voted. Only 46.2%, which is appalling until you realize that even less, just 45%, of their male counterparts did.

Why did thousands of American women risk imprisonment, police brutality and social censure back in the early twentieth century? So they could vote, certainly. But, more importantly, so that their children and their children's children would live in a country that offered all of its citizens a fair and equal say in their government.

Ladies, we owe it them. We owe it to ourselves and future generations. Go to the polls tomorrow, stand on line if you have to, but vote. It's your hard-fought right. Please don't waste it.

And, one more thing. Take your daughter with you.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Taking a Stand ... in Pigtails

There are many aspects of mothering a teenager that feel repetitious. I mean, how many mornings do we struggle to get our beloved offspring out of bed? How many evenings do we have to cajole the apples of our eye to finish their homework? How many times do we have to lovingly chide our child to "Get off your cell phone. Now. I said, 'Now!'"

Um ... a lot.

In writing Lovin' the Alien, I try not to repeat myself. But, this week I feel compelled to revisit a topic about which I recently posted: hair.

Several days ago, a high school student named Maisie was picked on by another high school student. It was the last straw in a series of bullying gestures, and while there was no physical injury involved, there was pain and humiliation.

Maisie's own mother advised her to let it go, but she couldn't. That evening, she posted the following on Facebook:

“There was a incident today, and I was really upset about it.  A girl who has been bothering me all year, saying rude, hurtful things to me, said something that just topped me over, and I’m ready to get this Over and done with. Today she was behind me going up the stairs and commented on my hair that was up in pigtails (for a sport) commenting to her friend

Saying “who wears pigtails still? Are we in kindergarten?” as nonchalant and innocent as this seems, it’s been one of a few comments at me and about me and my group of friends said in hearing range of myself. I am asking you all to understand that this hurt me beyond reason (partially from PMS, and partially because this has been a tough week for me), but mostly because it was wrong, i cried. This was the last straw for me. I know pigtails are ridiculous looking and often don’t look the best on 15 and 16 year olds, but please if you could help my cause and do so many other girls who have had hurtful things said to them; wear pigtails tomorrow. If you can’t or won’t, please tell others about my experience, and ask them

To please wear pigtails. 

Thank you so much for reading, and sharing.” 

The next day, hundreds of students (girls and a few brave boys), as well as a handful of faculty, showed up in pigtails. The bully called in sick.

This episode struck close to home for us. Literally. The high school that the victim (and the victimizer for that matter) attends is my daughter's school.

My daughter hasn't worn pigtails for years, but she certainly recognizes injustice when she sees it. She's also a kind-hearted and compassionate young person. (Or so other mothers tell me; it's not always so apparent in our mother-daughter dialogues.) Most of all, my daughter has an acute sense of justice. I think most teenagers do. The reaction to Maisie's post and the solidarity that other students showed her proves this. 

One of the exciting things about all of this is that the rest of the girls see a peer making a difference. She is getting quite a lot of media attention and the high school is buzzing with rumors of upcoming television appearances. What's particularly great is that Maisie is being noticed and commended, not for competing on a talent show or making a sex video. She is being recognized for a small, personal gesture against a bully. The people who support her are not star-struck, they are trying to do the right thing.

As mothers, we don't want our daughters to be bullies. We don't want them to be bullied. But, sometimes we do want them to wear pigtails.

To join the conversation, you can "Like" Maisie's new Facebook page: Pigtails4Peace.