Tuesday, January 29, 2013

On Facebook, Does High School End?

"When I was your age, milk was a nickel. And we had to walk three miles to school. In four feet of snow. Uphill. Both ways."

If you're like me, you probably swore you would never bore your offspring with rose-colored memories of the "good old days."

And, if you're like me, you broke that promise a while ago.

Actually, I have no idea how much milk cost when I was a kid. And, I didn't walk to school either. I took the 66th street crosstown bus and transferred at Madison Avenue. The things I find myself making comparisons about are limited mainly to fashion, music and technology.

Especially technology.

Here is a partial list of the things that my fifteen-year old daughter takes for granted that were nowhere in the picture back when I was that age: the Internet, laptops, personal computers, remote controls, email, voice mail, DVDs, iPhones, iPads, iPods, iTunes.

Back then, Apples were fruit.

I'm not complaining really (yes, I have my share of iDevices); I'm just observing. What is more troublesome than the ubiquity of digital gadgets is the lifelong repercussions of being constantly connected. Our toys have certainly changed (cue The Jetsons' theme song here, please), but the real issue is how social media has changed our evolution as individual people.

Think back to your freshman year of college. Chances are, you were nervous about fitting in. You may have been on your own for the first time and had to build new friendships. You may have worried or you may have been elated at the idea of reinventing yourself. Either way, it was pretty much a clean slate.

Now fast forward to Thanksgiving break freshman year. For many of us, that was the first time we returned to our hometown and our old gang. You were glad to see each other but you were also aware that a new chapter had begun and that in some ways at least "you can't go home again."

Facebook completely changes this. Sure, a modern-day college freshman may still be on her own on campus, but as soon as she gets to her dorm room, she's instantly connected to every one of her 652 "friends" from back home. In fact, she probably doesn't even have to go that far. She can check-in with them via text or video-chat right from her phone. Anytime. Anywhere.

Less lonely? Maybe. But, how do these kids ever get a fresh start if their (granted, enormous) circle stays right there with them when they move on? What about the class clown who wants to be taken seriously? Or the nerd who wants to be cool? Or the victim who wants to leave the bullies behind? 

Several years ago, members of my high school class started a Yahoo group in order to spread the word about a reunion. It was wonderful to reconnect and find out what everyone had done with their lives. My classmates took turns posting their bios and one industrious woman put all of the stories into a booklet for us. It was wonderful! We had rocket scientists (yes, literally), educators, doctors, lawyers, writers, political figures, philanthropists, musicians. We reminisced (oy vey, did we reminisce!) and compared notes on mothering (or fathering) our children. Had we grown up in the age of Facebook, there would have been no need for updates of any kind. 

What I have to wonder is would we have achieved the things we did and become the people we had become if our entire class had been looking over our shoulders for twenty years?

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Pretty in Pink in Post-Menopause

The other day, I had lunch with a former coworker I hadn't seen in more than ten years. As we greeted with a warm hug, I told him "You look exactly the same!" So, of course, he had to say that to me too.

But, I don't.

I am starting to go grey, and I am too lazy or too cheap (or too both) to do anything about it. My hair, cropped short as always, isn't aging in an even salt-and-pepper way either. No, always the drama queen, I have one of those Cruella DeVil localized, high contrast streaks. It's working its way from my right temple back. Lovely.

And, then there's the additional weight. When he last saw me, I was a fairly trim 40-year old. Now, I've gained ten years and with that comes a mellow maturity and some additional baggage — mainly around my middle. Suffice it to say, I like to eat muffin tops, not wear them. Yet there we are.

(Fear not gentle reader, I'm on a strict new year's resolution diet. And, we all know how well those work.)

Still, I may be older, I may be greyer, I may be ... er ... pleasingly plumper, but I have much to be thankful for. One major thing for which I count my blessings on a continual basis is how my daughter is turning out. Oh sure, she's a teenager and often she's sullen, moody, stubborn, disrespectful (did I mention she's a teenager?). But, I certainly derive satisfaction from all of her good qualities — y'know, the ones she exhibits to everyone except her loving mother.

My daughter and her peers are coming of age in a world that recognizes the power of youth and unashamedly markets to it. So, while I watched a handful of TV shows with my family (M*A*S*H comes to mind), these girls have entire networks devoted to their entertainment. ABC Family, for example (one of my daughter's favorites) boasts Pretty Little Liars, Switched at Birth, The Lying Game and The Secret Life of the American Teenager. 

Which brings me to the point of this post.

Yes, I have aged, but at least I haven't had to do it in the oh-so-critical public eye. The middle-aged mom of Secret Life's central character is played by Molly Ringwald.

How is that even possible? 

She looks really good for a woman her age. Really really good. Unfortunately, the world still and forever will think of her as the lovable, but slightly nerdy, girl from such classic 80s movies as Sixteen Candles, Pretty in Pink and Breakfast Club. Unlike her fellow brat-packers, she wasn't in St. Elmo's Fire, a rather whiny and thoroughly unbelievable story of a bunch of recent college grads kind of, sort of getting their sh*t together as grownups. (Hollywood legend has it that the tepid script was turned down by multiple studios. One executive described the ensemble of characters as "the most loathsome humans I have ever read on the page.") Yikes.

Still, the project attracted an A-list of then hot young things: Demi Moore, Ally Sheedy, Rob Lowe. So where was Molly through all this? Maybe she had better advisors (or better taste) than her cohorts. Maybe she was already committed to a better movie. Maybe the powers that be wanted to freeze-frame her as a perpetual teen. I think we all did. Real-life girls idolized her, dressed and pouted their puffy lips like her. She was a household name at a very young age. And then suddenly she was gone.

Or so it seemed. It's not as though Ringwald truly dropped off the face. After turning down the leads in Pretty Woman and Ghost (can you imagine?), she relocated to France where she continued to act in film and on stage. She's also appeared on Broadway.

And now, she's back and once again well-known amongst high school girls because of The Secret Life of the American Teenager. But, she's not the title's teenager and she has no secrets (well, none worth knowing if you ask the show's young audience). She is ... the MOM.

One day when my own American teenager was watching ABC Family, I felt compelled to point Ringwald out. "She was in these great movies in the 80s," I explained, "You would love them!" My daughter, to her credit and despite many other similar yet epic fails on my part, agreed to try some of those alleged greats.

I started with Sixteen Candles (my personal Molly favorite). It was exactly exactly, I mean exactly, as I remembered it. Those outfits, that adolescent angst. So deliciously dated.  Suffice it to say, it did not translate. My daughter's review was succinct: "Hated it." Okay, then. I think I may have pushed Pretty in Pink next, but we didn't make it all the way through. I abandoned ship before we ever got to The Breakfast Club.

So, where did we end up? Teen entertainment has changed pretty dramatically. I will never instill a love of the big 80s in my millennial generation daughter (although the new Carrie Diaries may be my best shot). Still, watching iconic teens turn into graceful grownups helps me know I'm not alone in this.

And whether she gets it or not, there's a very good chance that my girl will one day be a middle-aged mom herself, complete with her own tempestuous teen ... and muffin top.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Still Hopeful

Yesterday was Martin Luther King Day. My teenage daughter had no classes, but she had plenty of work to do. Six tests in four days — her very first high school mid-terms are this week, which has caused great stress in our household.

My husband was getting ready for a business trip, and I had a fair amount of advertising copy to write. And, since it was technically a "day off" here in Massachusetts, there was a list of chores about a mile high. (Isn't that how you spend your days off? Doing all the things you don't have time or energy for on days on.)

Nevertheless, I took a little break midday to watch Barack H. Obama become our president again.

Obama is a consummate speaker. In fact, it was through his inspiring oratory that he first came onto the national stage back at the DNC in 2004. The convention, which formalized the less than successful ticket of Johns Kerry and Edwards, was held here in Boston. I know. I was there.

You see, I was tired of hearing all of my liberal friends bitch and moan about President Bush and the Republican party without actually stepping up, so I decided to try and contribute to the cause. I volunteered and was duly vetted and security-checked, then sent an official badge and lanyard and a very nice DNC polo shirt. I can't quite remember what my expectations were in terms of my conference assignment, but I ended up playing an enormously valuable role. I — and I alone — ensured that all of the delegates — not just a few, mind you, but all — from the great "show me" state of Missouri got on the correct bus for dinner. No truants, no stragglers, no misplaced Missourians. I did my job and I did it well.

Yes, that is the extent of my political career and I am damned proud of it.

Anyway, even with all of that responsibility on my shoulders, I could easily see that this charismatic young man from Illinois was going places. When he ran for president in 2008, he did so in the name of "Change" and "Hope."

It's been a long four years. Poor Barack has had to fight a partisan Congress, an economy on life support, and a host of disastrous events both natural and man-made. He hasn't moved as quickly or definitively as many of my more progressive friends would have liked. 

But, if yesterday's inaugural speech is any indication, it looks like second-term Obama is going to stop beating around the bush (no pun intended) and push through the things he believes in. 

Like equality. He specifically mentioned Seneca Falls (women), Selma (blacks) and Stonewall (gays) in the same sentence. In doing so, he endorsed LGBT rights and equated them to suffrage and the civil rights movement. And, in case any listeners didn't see the connection (or weren't caught up on their American history), he came right out and said, "Our journey is not complete until our gay brothers and sisters are treated like anyone else under the law for if we are truly created equal, then surely the love we commit to one another must be equal as well." 


He spoke about all of the policy bogeymen that have haunted his first term. Climate change (finally), immigration, universal health care. And, he evoked the victims of Sandy Hook Elementary School in a timely reminder (particularly timely as Vice President Biden's recommendations for gun legislation are considered). 

"Our journey is not complete until all our children, from the streets of Detroit to the hills of Appalachia, to the quiet lanes of Newtown, know that they are cared for and cherished and always safe from harm."

What I think was most powerful of all was his assertion throughout that his more progressive agenda was actually true to the very core of our country's values and the original mission of our founders. For good measure, he alluded to the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence throughout.

And, to top it off, he asked God to bless us. Can anyone really argue with that?

This is the man I voted for again two months ago. And that was the speech I waited four years to hear.

And I only have one more thing to say. "Hillary 2016."

Saturday, January 19, 2013


(Sung to the tune of Michael Jackson's Thriller)

It's close to midnight.

But someone here's still working in the dark.

She's got her laptop, 

Hoping she'll succeed and make her mark.

She wants to scream but panic takes the sound before she makes it.

She starts to freeze as index cards dance before her eyes,

She's paralyzed.

'Cause this is mid-terms, mid-terms week,

And no one's gonna save her with the answers that she seeks.

She knows it's mid-terms, mid-terms time.

She's fighting for that grade and it's an uphill, uphill, uphill, uphill climb.

She hears a door close and on the steps she thinks she hears a shoe.

Her parents would help — if, that is, they had the slightest clue.

Geometry, it doesn't make much sense. The test is looming.

But all the while, she feels her college chances slip away.

Filled with dismay!

'Cause this is mid-terms, mid-term tests.

She wishes she had studied a little harder with the rest.

She knows it's mid-terms, mid-terms week.

She's running out of time and really starting, starting, starting to freak.

An exam each day, and there's really nowhere left to hide.

The tests are coming, they're closing in on her on every side.

Honors English: Copperfield, Gilgamesh, Of Mice and Men ...

Biology, French, World Cultures ... oh, if only she could trade,

And go back to eighth grade.

'She can't, it's mid-terms, mid-term days.

She knows she'll soon regret her former care-free lazy ways.

Because it's mid-terms, mid-terms time.

And it's an uphill, uphill, uphill, uphill climb.


Darkness falls across the land,

Mid-term tests are close at hand.

Terror seizes freshman blood,

All throughout y'alls neighborhood.

The saddest cries in the air,

The grim prospect of three more years.

And grizzly ghouls each dawn awake,

Because they stayed up way too late.

And though she tries to cram her head

That A+ isn't firm

For all mere freshmen come to dread

The evil of the mid-term.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Pass the (Microwave) Popcorn: The Carrie Diaries

A few years ago, my then tween daughter begged to watch Sex and the City with me. At first, like any conscientious mother, I resisted. I mean sex and cosmopolitans and sex and Manolas and sex. (Did I mention sex?) Oh my!

Soon, she grew up a little (and wore me down a little), so I let her watch the basic cable version of the show, which was by then in syndication on E! and Style Network. This was the kinder, gentler Sex and the City. No nudity, less profanity, more euphemisms, more commercial breaks.

We had to laugh at some of the rules for bleeping out foul language. For example, they could say "ass" but not "hole," so if Carrie or one of her BFFs was putting down a particularly jerky guy, they would call him an "ass-BLEEP!" Shouldn't it have been the other way around?

If the adult content was a bit much for my daughter at times, I was right there beside her. Explaining, demystifying, assuring her that some of it was a little far-fetched. Let's not kid ourselves, though. Teens today know more (way more!) than we did about ... well, about pretty much everything. I'd rather have my daughter learn about the details of sex through an entertaining show than through some shaky handheld video on YouTube. I know a lot of moms wouldn't agree — and that is absolutely their prerogative — but this is how I saw it.

At one point, my daughter asked me, "Mom, which are you? Carrie, Samantha, Miranda or Charlotte?" I didn't know what to say. She had already decided for me, apparently, and informed me that I was half-Carrie because I'm a writer and half-Miranda because I'm a workaholic. So, I was spared the slut and the romantic. Okay, I guess I can live with that.

At any rate, we were both fans, and it gave us something to do together. I also hoped it might make my daughter appreciate my hometown a bit more. Sex and the City is as much about the city as the sex.

And so is the new prequel series, The Carrie Diaries.

Set in the mid-80s, the new show follows the adventures of a starry-eyed young Carrie Bradshaw, a small-town high school student who is just beginning her love affair with the big apple. Recovering from her mother's death, Carrie takes an internship at a law firm in Manhattan. She immediately (as in on her very first lunch break) meets some fabulous urban types — editors, artists, fashion designers — and the rest is, as they say, history.

It took a little while to accept that this was the same Carrie even in the hands of a young pro. AnnaSophia Robb is no newcomer, having acted half her life. In fact, a younger daughter and I knew her well as the very first American Girl in the very first American Girl movie. (How I miss those days sometimes!) More starring roles followed, including Bridge to Terabithia, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Because of Winn Dixie. She's very good as Carrie, it's just that it's hard to think of anyone other than Sarah Jessica Parker.

Then there's the issue of the backstory. We have seen all six seasons of Sex and the City (many times, too many times — just ask my husband), and I don't remember ever hearing that Carrie's mother was dead. Or that she had a sister. Or a father. Or any old friends either. Hmmmmm ...

Then again, part of the magic of New York is that it is a place where people reinvent themselves. So can we really blame Ms. Bradshaw for leaving the past behind?

The 80s references in the new show are fun, as is the fashion. (I keep telling my daughter "Yes, we really dressed like that!") The teen angst is familiar from countless other shows my daughter's already addicted to. I let her watch them on her own; I just can't quite get my arms around The Lying Game

But, I think I'll stick with The Carrie Diaries. For a while anyway. Being "on the groundfloor" of a new show? Nice.

Having a reason to share something with my daughter for an hour every week? Priceless.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

What Was She Thinking?

Looking at the title of this post, you probably assumed I was referring to my teenage daughter. Right? After all, that thought "What was she thinking?" does cross my mind sometimes. But, no. This time I'm writing about someone older, someone educated, someone in a position of responsibility. An adult, and a mother no less.

No, I'm not talking about myself either. (Very funny.)

I'm wondering about the "prominent Massachusetts lawyer" who had a New Year's Eve party for her teen daughter and friends and served them alcohol. Oh boy.

The mother, Tracy Miner, is considered the top white collar attorney in Boston. She is best known for representing the Kerrigan family when the Olympic skater Nancy's brother was accused of manslaughter in the death of their father. She also represented former FBI agent John Connelly who had been implicated in the "Whitey" Bulger case. One must assume — and hope for her sake — she knows other good lawyers.

Because she's gonna need one.

Shortly after midnight early New Year's morning, the police in Scituate, a lovely little coastal town south of Boston, received an anonymous call that there was an unconscious young man at a party. Upon arrival, the officers ran into a stream of teenagers fleeing the scene. Although doors were locked, one first responder spotted the boy slumped in a chair and was able to get inside to aid him. There were still a handful of teens in the house along with Miner who was in her bedroom upstairs.

The attorney explained that she was throwing a party for her daughter and had taken the car keys of the guests. In addition to alcohol (and pizza — gasp!), the police found marijuana. The boy was taken away by paramedics and Miner, her daughter and six additional teens received summonses.

I repeat, oh boy.

In case you've been asleep since the Reagan era, the legal drinking age in Massachusetts is 21. So, here's what's in store for the teens. If they are convicted as minors in possession of alcohol, they will be fined rather than face jail time. However, their driver's licenses will be suspended for 90 days and their insurance premiums will no doubt go up. And, as far as the dreaded "permanent record," is concerned, a criminal conviction is not going to go away any time soon.

Hopefully, Ms. Miner knows more than one good lawyer.

As for her own part in this, the state's "Social Host Law" prohibits furnishing minors with alcohol. Miner faces a fine, a year in prison or both. One can only assume that this lapse in judgement will affect her professionally. Perhaps end her career. Isn't she honor bound to uphold the laws of the state in which she practices?

So, I return to my earlier question. Exactly what was she thinking?

Perhaps Ms. Miner views the current drinking laws as unfair and she was protesting them, much as our nation's founding fathers (and mothers) did two hundred plus years ago under unfair foreign rule. Maybe she believed that her wanton disregard of the law was actually her moral obligation.

I sincerely doubt it.

Here's what I think, as the mother of teen myself. I think that Ms. Miner took the easy road that night. She weighed her popularity with her daughter and her responsibility as a parent/grownup/lawyer ... and found in favor of the former. She wanted to be her daughter's friend first and mother second. Rather than think about consequences and life lessons, she made one extremely stupid short-term decision.

Sadly, that decision will have long-term effects. 

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Say What?

Did you know that Samuel Johnson published The Dictionary of the English Language in 1755? 

Did you know that between the British variety (think Downton Abbey) and the American, there are 400 million people who speak English? (With all variations included, the number is closer to 1 billion.) 

Did you know that there are an estimated 750,000 words in the English language? That's more than Spanish and German and French ... combined!

Sacre bleu!

Well, don't feel bad. I will bet that my teenage daughter doesn't know any of that stuff either. Then again, she doesn't care. Because she and her friends are reworking the language to serve the combined and peculiar objectives of communicating as quickly as possible via text message and simultaneously stymying their parents.

It's working.

Here are just a sampling of the words and phrases that you may hear these days — and that may not mean what you think they do.

"That's sick nasty!" 
Despite what an older or literate person might suppose, this combination of negatives makes a positive. To describe something as "sick nasty" is to express great happiness with said article. It is the ultimate ultimate. It is cool. It is far-out. It is overwhelming and otherwise indescribably good. (This may also appear as sick-nasty or sicknasty. Ah, so many sick and/or nasty variations, so little time.)

"My bad"
This one actually means what one would assume it means. The speaker ("my") has done something wrong ("bad"). They are admitting that they are to blame. But, here's the usage rub. When a teen admits that something is "my bad," they typically do so with amusement. They shrug it off; they smile coyly. The subtext is "Yes, most certainly I am the party at fault here. But, I am fifteen and so much more attractive than you will ever be again. It doesn't really matter, does it?"

Another combination, in this case it means to relax and chill. It can be used by a teen to describe lying around doing nothing. "Why aren't you studying for your World Cultures test?" "I'm chillaxin." "Why haven't you cleaned your room?" "I'm chillaxin." "Why aren't you in the shower yet?" "I'm chillaxin." A shorter version can also be used as a command. "Chillax mo-o-om. It's covered."

"Truth is ..."
Troll around the Facebook pages of teens and you will see a lot of this phrase. They value truth and feel compelled to state it almost as a duty to their generation. Yet, most of the time they choose to articulate "truth," it is to point out something that's difficult to hear or "awk-ward." 

"Truth is, she shouldn't wear those jeans."

"Truth is, he doesn't like her anymore."

"Truth is, my parents make me insane." 

As Oscar Wilde (a man with an extreme appreciation for the idosyncrasies of the English language) once observed, "The truth is rarely pure and never simple."

Clearly, I have just scratched the surface. Please feel free to post any delightful words or phrases you've overheard from your own teenage linguists and I'll put together a part two post. 

Truth is, I'd love to hear from you.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Those Were the Days, My Friend

When I hear the mother of a much younger child — like a baby or toddler — complain about their stress and fatigue, I can't help but smile. 

"Sister," I think to myself, "You ain't seen nothin' yet."

Not that I've forgotten those early days. I remember them all right. I remember checking to make sure my sleeping daughter was breathing. I remember tormenting myself over her first eye infection. I remember crying through a 2:00 a.m. feeding, a sloppy emotional bag of exhaustion and postpartum.

"She hates me," I sobbed to a coworker the next day.

"No, she doesn't hate you," he said knowingly. "She will hate you. But, she doesn't hate you now."

This man, you see, was the father of a teenage girl.

Really, now that I look back, what was all the fuss about? Basically, our job as the mother of an infant is to feed them, burp them, change their diapers and get them to sleep. Along the way you have to support their little head and change them from one adorable outfit into another — six or seven times a day. Their tiny hands curl around your finger and (whether it's just gas or not) they look up at you and smile.

Oh sure, some days are tougher than others. At six months, after I nearly fell asleep in the Sumner Tunnel on my way to work, we finally gave in and tried the dreaded "Ferber Method" so she would sleep through the night. Basically, you teach them how to "self-sooth" by letting them cry for five minutes, comforting them, then letting them cry for ten, then twenty, then thirty, etc. etc. etc. Forty-eight hours later, she was all set, and her mother (that would be me) was permanently traumatized.

But even on those endless nights, life was easier than I realized. If I could go back in time and counsel my younger self, I would say, "Stop. Breathe. Enjoy this."

I'd say, "Sister, you ain't seen nothin' yet."

Here's a short list, in no particular order, of the things that keep me up at night these days:

• Grades. She's in ninth grade, that's freshman year high school. Suddenly, there are hours upon hours of homework. Suddenly, there are tests and quizzes and mid-terms, oh my! Suddenly, good grades count. (And, just as suddenly, they are much harder to come by.)

• Cutting. Sadly, I don't mean cutting class. I mean cutting one's arms (or legs or God knows what else). It bothers me that some of my daughter's friends are doing this. It bothers me that she even knows about such a thing.

• Online safety. Texting, sexting, Instagram, Tumblr, Skype, Snapchat. Just a couple of years ago, we were concerned about letting our then tween daughter have a Facebook page. That was so yesterday!

• Mean Girls. This topic comes at me from both sides sometimes. Within the same week I can be comforting my daughter as the victim of a particularly nasty encounter and trying to help her see how she herself might be perceived as mean.

And last, but not least, there's the time I spend missing and mourning my baby. The days when that baby, practically grown now, barely mutters a single pleasant word to me. When I can tell that I am no longer her bestest, most favorite person. In fact, I'm more like her least favorite, most annoying, barely bearable person.

We used to play that game ... "I love you more. "No, I love you more." "No, I love you more." "No, I love you more."

Well, for now at least, I win. I love her more.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Bad Medicine

All right, as the mother of a teenage girl, there are times when my popularity index dips low. Really low. Less than zero low. From little things, like insisting she eat half a bagel with melted cheese this morning (quick — call Social Services!), to larger issues like grades, curfews and cell phone use. 

One issue that rears its contentious head over and over is Internet time limits. We have rules. However, the rules (like the rule-maker) are not very popular.

This is actually one of the (few, believe me, very few) times to which my husband and I can look back and say, "We did it right." It all started a couple of years ago. Desperate for a laptop, Internet access and Facebook page, my then tween daughter happily agreed to some basic rules. She could only be online a limited number (I think it was two) hours each day. All electronica (laptop, iPhone, iPad) was to shut off at 8 pm. We've heard too many stories about teenagers getting into all sorts of trouble alone late at night and online.

The trick, in hindsight, was to solicit buy-in at that crucial moment when the prospect of getting access was irresistible. Basically, she wanted Facebook so badly, she would have agreed to just about anything. We have friends who didn't make rules when their daughters were twelve and thirteen. For them, it's virtually impossible to set boundaries now that the girls are fifteen and sixteen.

The rules have evolved a bit, driven mostly by late-night homework that necessitates Web access. But, we do still have rules. They provide us with a constant reason for connection. "Turn off the phone now." "You're not online, right?" "No more texting, time's up."

What would we have to talk about otherwise?

While my daughter thinks our rules are "ridiculous" (yes, she has used that exact word), she hasn't been driven to break them. Or at least she hasn't been driven to break the law to break them.

That's exactly what two teenagers in California have been accused of. Fifteen and sixteen year old friends allegedly mixed prescription sleeping pills in milkshakes and gave them to the parents of the younger girl. The motive? To knock the parents out so they could go online. Yikes!

The parents became suspicious when they both awoke groggy and with headaches. They acquired drug-testing kits from their local police and with results in hand returned later. The girls were taken to Juvenile Hall. 

I'm not sure what boggles my mind more. Wanting to go on the Internet so badly that you would essentially poison someone (your parents no less)!  Or, reporting your teenage daughter to the police to have her arrested. I can only assume that the parents feel (rightly) that their daughter is out of control. I can only hope that earlier intervention — and much of it — was attempted before the family reached this terrible place. The story is circulating online because it's so sordid. I hope that people also realize that it's so sad.

Despite a fairly constant barrage of complaints, I will continue to enforce our family's rules. My daughter has been known to stretch the truth at times, to get away with things when she can, to practice the ancient teenage art of lying by omission. But, by and large, she is a law-abiding if rather sulky citizen of our house.

Truth is, I trust her.

But just in case, I think I'll decline any drinks she makes from now on.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Resolutions Schmesolutions

Happy New Year! Did you make many resolutions? 

Any resolutions?

Myself, I love sitting down and writing out New Year's resolutions. For me, that annual list represents a clean slate, a fresh start. It's like my New Yorker Desk Diary, a Christmas gift from my husband that I can always count on — and always look forward to getting. 

Soon after all the wrappings and bows are cleared away, I open that crisp new datebook and fill in important appointments, deadlines, fitness classes, birthdays and vacations. Yes, of course, my MacBook Pro has a calendar feature which could link to my iPhone and to my iPad. But, despite my obvious allegiance to the house that Jobs built, I'm an old-fashioned gal at heart. I prefer clean white pages, ballpoint pens and the occasional use of Wite Out.

As far as resolutions are concerned, I organize them into categories: myself (lose weight), my business (gain clients), my family (be a better mom, wife, daughter, sister, friend). I usually include some spiritual goals and a handful of things that are just plain fun (see a movie every week, finally make a necklace out of those antique beads, reread all of Jane Austen, bake more cookies).

I begin each year with great hope and typically fall off the resolution wagon some time in February. This makes me exactly like all my fellow human beings. You don't believe me? Just take a look at the parking lot of my gym the first week of January and again the first week of March.

About a month ago, I thought it might be a nice exercise for our family to make some resolutions together. I thought it, but I didn't do anything about it. So, here we are on New Year's Day and my teenage daughter is hanging out with a friend at the mall, my husband is checking his emails after nearly a week off. And, I'm the only one resolving any resolutions at all.

Do I try and think of something fresh? Or, should I just photocopy the list I made last year? Given my near certainty that my success (or lack thereof) will mirror that of years past, why do I bother?

Because I honestly do want that positive feeling, that sense of optimism, that earnest belief that this year could be the year that I finally achieve all of those things on my list. So, maybe I'll only make good on one or two of a dozen items. That's better than none.

And, there's always next year.

So, Happy New Year, everyone. I have to go now and write out my resolutions. In my brand new datebook. With a ballpoint pen.