Last night I went out with two wonderful women. We had dinner, drank some wine, talked about our lives and books and such, and then went to the movies. That alone would make for a great night, right? And it did. But something small happened during the movie that sat in my brain and grew and filled my heart and drove me to write this blog post.
Here’s what happened: someone sneezed during the movie. Yup, just your basic, “Ah-CHOO!” Not all that noteworthy in and of itself, but what happened in that quiet theater was remarkable in the simplest of ways.
At least half the audience responded with a gentle, “Bless you.”
That’s right: when everyone’s guard was down, when we were all there for a shared purpose, we all responded with kindness. We wished well-being for a stranger.
So it turns out that something I’ve suspected for quite some time is, in fact, true: my children are their own people.
Every stage of parenting has its challenges. There are the early, introductory years, where you’re just trying to figure out what to do with this beautiful, living, breathing, cooing, crying, pooping being who can’t tell you what they need, and you feel your heart exploding with love while just. wanting. a good night’s sleep. Then there are the years that find you attempting to strike the perfect balance between protecting your kids and helping them become independent. You referee play date squabbles, become an unpaid Uber driver, try to nurture their unique spirit and teach them all the lessons you learned the hard way. You introduce them to all those things you loved when you were a kid — kickball, bike rides, flashlight tag, 80s movies (“Whoa! Forgot about that part – hit fast-forward . . . hit fast-forward . . . FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THAT IS GOOD AND HOLY FAST FORWARD!”), sports, hobbies, books, music, vacation spots – and hope that they love them as much as you did at their age.
This morning, I had a shaking my head moment (SMH, if I were texting this) as I drove my daughter and her friend to their middle school. I had managed to avoid driving there at drop off time for months, but today she had to bring a backpack, a gym bag, and an apple tart she’d baked for French class and it was POURING out — not bus stop material.
I have loved words for as long as I can remember.
On my childhood bedroom wall there was a needlepoint sampler my grandma made with a plant for each letter of the alphabet. Azalea, Begonia, Carnation . . . Yucca, Zinnia.
When I couldn’t sleep, I’d look at the sampler and go through those letters over and over again, hoping to fall asleep before I hit Salvia or Tulip. Then when I still couldn’t sleep (or just when I was at a good part), I’d sneak out the flashlight I’d hidden in my nightstand and hide under the blankets with whatever book I was reading, keeping an ear out for my parents’ footsteps on the stairs. (There’s a reason I always had a hard time waking up for school.) My friend and I studied that sampler and learned the alphabet backwards, and then I learned it again in French. (Not at all useful, but later did come in handy once in a while in the party tricks department. That and making my eyebrows “march” by raising one eyebrow at a time. Class act here.)
Growing up is hard. Like, REALLY hard sometimes. At your age, you have limited decision-making control over a lot of things while you also have a lot of responsibilities. You feel like you have to answer to your family, your teachers, your friends, your teammates, your coaches, your community. You have ideas about what all these people expect from you, and it can be really overwhelming trying to give everyone what you think they need.
I’ve been wondering lately how different the world might be if along with learning the Golden Rule and the Pledge of Allegiance, everyone upon starting school also pledged to forever uphold what many consider to be the essence of the medical profession’s Hippocratic Oath: First, do no harm.
And yes, I know — I’ve done the Google research and learned that “First, do no harm” is in fact not an actual part of the Hippocratic Oath’s wording — but just go with me for a minute on this one.
On Sunday night, a group of three friends, some of our children, and I had an Oscars viewing party at my friend M’s house. At her daughter’s request, we wore formal wear for the red carpet portion and first hour of the show and changed into pajamas for the rest. When another friend attending asked if anyone else was coming to the party, M’s reply was something along the lines of, “No, just us.”
To me, that tiny word “us” is so much more meaningful than its two little letters might suggest.
Maybe I’m a prude. So be it.
It was at the checkout counter of a Center City bookstore yesterday that I first laid eyes on this year’s Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition. And listen, guys, I get it: a beautiful sun-kissed woman in a barely there — and I mean barely there — bikini during the middle of this freezing cold winter? I can appreciate the appeal.
This whole blog business began with a spontaneous sit-down-and-write-it-then-post-before-you-chicken-out essay I wrote one Thursday morning last December as I got ready for the day. It broke the seal, so to speak, on my writing, and it got the ball rolling down a path I had only secretly considered up until then. Fast forward to February, and here we are, at Blog Post Number Seven. Thank you to everyone who read this the first time ’round, to those who are reading it now, and to those who have encouraged me along the way.
See? I wasn’t kidding. Remember how I wrote about B.J. Novak’s and my shared thing-we’d-most-like-to-see-fixed-in-our-lifetime (“Foreword Thinking”)? We’re totally buds.
Just imagine that there’s a cup of coffee instead of a cup of Sharpies in front of each of us, my jacket and copy of his book aren’t on a chair to my side, and there’s no line of people stage left, and this is a completely natural pic of two pals just hanging out.
Yup, just me & B. Friends.