Passionate opinions on punctuation

A few months ago, one of my fellow mom friends was accused by her teenage daughter of using “aggressive punctuation” in text messages. Since we’re both writers, my friend and I discussed this new information at length. Writers are punctuation nerds by nature, so we were surprised to learn that teenage text messaging has turned a simple period into something more like a door being slammed in your face. I asked my own teenagers if they, too, felt like punctuation was a text messaging throat-punch, and they agreed. My daughter even told me that a reply like “Okay” followed by a period is a way of letting the other person know that you are most definitely not okay with whatever [...]

Workin’ at the dog wash

Tis the season for teenagers and summer jobs. Two of my three offspring are pounding the digital pavement this week as they apply online for various jobs around town. Their dad and I have always believed that school is incredibly important, but we also realize that some of the best parts of our own education happened in places where we had a boss and a paycheck. Our daughter (who is the youngest of the three kids) is already hard at work. She scored herself a dog-washing job with a mobile pet groomer, and today was her first day at work. She was nervous and excited as we pulled up to the dog-washing unit on wheels. She’d already worked with her [...]

Math misery strikes again

Last night, on the eve of another week of school, my 14-year-old daughter remembered Monday would bring more math – geometry homework and tests, to be specific. Silent tears slid down her face in anticipation of what was waiting. If her life was a movie right now, geometry would be the monster lurking in the bushes. She hates it. Fears it. Dreads it. And last night as I laid down next to her in bed to dry her tears, she asked the question students have been asking for decades now: “Why do I even have to learn this? It’s not going to help me.” How can a parent answer this question? I asked the same thing when I was her [...]

Finally off the hook

Today I did something that felt so weird. I took down the hook. For the past nearly 14 months, a small Command hook has hung by our front door. That’s where we put the “answer the door mask.” We realized we needed one there after a few instances of reaching to open the door and then suddenly realizing we needed to put on a mask first. The first few times, we held up a “wait just a second” finger and would then run frantically through the house trying to find a mask. As the pandemic progressed, I also noticed that, when I answered the door wearing a mask, it was a signal to the person who knocked that we were [...]

How many throws does it take?

If you’re old enough, you may remember a TV commercial that featured a cartoon owl in a tree who answers a little boy’s question: “How many licks does it take to get to the Tootsie Roll center of a Tootsie pop?” Lately, I’ve been asking myself a similar question about the newest dog in our family: “How many throws of the tennis ball does it take to wear out a dog who likes to run?” (Mac the Goldendoodle, still has the kind of puppy energy that rivals a toddler who has eaten three too many cupcakes.) I’m not sure I’ve found the answer to the question yet, but the research is fun. People say, “a tired dog is a good [...]

What happened after my spring fling

Sometimes we self-proclaimed “indoorsy” people get seduced by the sunshine of a perfect spring day. Last Sunday was one of those days, and my mom and I felt a magnetic pull to the gardening store which was bursting with new hanging baskets and flats of flowers. After lunch, we shopped and then loaded up the back of my SUV with our favorites. Even the plants seemed thrilled to be going to their new home on such a beautiful day. We have happy hydrangeas, joyful geraniums, perky petunias, celebratory calibrachoa and much more. As we began putting flowers into the pots we’d saved from last summer, Tom opened the backdoor and let the dogs barrel outside to join us. They chased [...]

Press 1 to waste time

I dialed the number and, after a few rings, a recorded voice answered. Recording: “Thank you for calling ABC Clinic. Your call is very important to us.” Me: Is it? If you really felt that way, wouldn’t I be talking to someone with a pulse right now? But I appreciate the sentiment. Go on. Recording: “Please listen closely as our menu options have changed.” Me: Wait a second. You said this same thing the last time I called. How often are you guys changing phone options? I’d bet good money it’s still Option 3, just like it was the last time I called. But I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt. Go ahead and outline the options. Recording: “For [...]

The brave, middle-aged starfish

Instructor: “Now, wrap the fabric around your wrists and then pull yourself upside down to do the inverted starfish.” Me (inside my head): “Wait… what? Is she serious right now?” I glanced around and saw the feet of nine other people go up in the air. Apparently, she was serious. This was happening. I didn’t want to be the only fraidy cat in the class, so I took a deep breath and pulled. Suddenly I was upside down, hanging only by my wrists, with my head suspended a few feet off the floor. I was torn between two thoughts – “Yay, I did it!” and “This could go so very wrong.” Before I describe what happened next, I should explain [...]

Letter to the college freshmen

Dear College Freshmen, I won’t try to sugarcoat it. Your freshman year sucked. It wasn’t at all what your older friends, the movies or even your parents told you it would be. It was… underwhelming, at best. I know this because my oldest son is one of you. On a recent weekend visit home, he said that, so far, college feels like a weird continuation of high school. He didn’t say this next part out loud, but I got the distinct vibe that, on the inside, he and millions of other college freshmen are wondering, “Is this really all there is?” College was supposed to be this amazing launch into a new, exciting, adventurous phase of life, right? Except yours [...]

Vaccinated, and it feels so good

Tom: “Is it just me, or does this feel a little like Christmas Eve?” Gwen: “It really does. I guess it makes sense. We’ve been waiting a whole year.” Tom: “It’s weird how excited I am about this.” Gwen: “Me, too. I can hardly wait for tomorrow morning. I’d turn a cartwheel right now if I wasn’t afraid of breaking something and missing the appointment.” And this, my friends, is the kind of conversation that happens in 2021 – when you’re about to go to sleep at night and wake up on Vaccination Day. It’s the most wonderful time of the year. I’d felt a similar joy in early February when our state began offering vaccinations to people over 70, [...]