To Selfie or not to selfie… that is the question

By Gwen Rockwood, newspaper columnist and mama of 3 Remember the story of Narcissus? He’s the main character in a Greek myth about a man so entranced by his own good looks that he pines away while staring at his reflection in a pool. The story makes me wonder: If smartphone screens were pools of water, would people be drowning every day? Has the selfie phenomenon brought a tidal wave of our own reflection at which we can’t stop staring? As easy as it would be to hate everything about the selfie movement, I don’t think it’s all bad. I’m sitting smack dab on the selfie fence. I’ve snapped a few pictures while using the backward-facing camera on my smartphone, [...]

Bullied at home

By Gwen Rockwood, newspaper columnist and mama of 3 Sometimes I feel like I’m being bullied in my own home – by the pets. I’m bigger than they are, so how is it that they always seem to get their way? I should be controlling them – not the other way around. If cats could tell time, I would get our cat Percy a reliable Timex and strap it on her furry leg. Because when the sun goes down, Percy starts performing a barrage of harassing “feed me” reminders. She’s afraid I’ll forget to crack open her nightly can of Fancy Feast before I go to bed. I don’t go to bed until 10 or 11 p.m., but Percy starts [...]

Feeling a little loopy

By Gwen Rockwood, newspaper columnist and mama of 3 If you’re feeling a little distracted and loopy lately, the culprit might just be – get this – loops. Specifically? Open loops. An “open loop” is anything that pops into your mind – or your email inbox or voicemail – that distracts you and needs your attention. It could range from small things like “buy cat food” to big things like “start a new business” or anything in the middle. The idea of “open loops” became popular more than a decade ago when author David Allen published a business book called “Getting Things Done.” But 12 years ago I was busy with babies instead of business books, spending most of my [...]

Parenting in a Wi-Fi world

By Gwen Rockwood, newspaper columnist and mama of 3 It was the summer of 1980 and the open field next to our house was overgrown with tall grass nearly waist-high. Then one day papers blew all over the field, getting snagged and tangled in the unruly grass, making it even more of an eyesore. So my mother sent me and my big brother out one afternoon to pick up the litter. My brother, who must have been about 13 or 14 that year, grumbled about the chore all the way out to the field, while I trailed behind him. He griped loudly right up until the second he picked up the first piece of trash and realized what it was. [...]

C is for Capable

By Gwen Rockwood, newspaper columnist and mama of 3 A wonderful thing is happening at our house. The kids are becoming… capable. That sounds weird, I know. It’s not like they were helpless blobs all this time, but lately I’ve noticed they can really do things – helpful things, necessary things – things Tom and I have been doing for them for more than a decade now. Today I was busy cleaning up the kitchen and making a mental checklist of the things I’d need to get done before morning. I caught 12-year-old Adam as he was on his way up the stairs to play video games and said, “Before you play, I need you to make three sandwiches to [...]

The Rockwood Files: DNA Disco

By Gwen Rockwood, newspaper columnist and mama of 3 Sometimes genetics can be cruel. Often the things you hope won’t get passed down to your kids are the very things that show up and start banging on the door. In our family of five people, there are 18 eyes, if you count all the glasses and contact lenses it takes for us to navigate around the house without bumping into things. So far, only 10-year-old Jack has managed to cruise out of the eye doctor’s office without a prescription for glasses or contacts. I might say he’s the lucky one of our group, but genetics has a way of evening things out. He’s also the one who is destined for [...]

The case of the missing red belt

By Gwen Rockwood, newspaper columnist and mama of 3 Our 12-year-old groans every time he sees a back-to-school commercial, which lately seems to happen once every five seconds. (I can’t blame him. When adults go on vacation, the last thing we want is to be constantly reminded that our regular jobs are about to start up again on Monday morning.) So my kids are milking these last few days of freedom for all they’re worth – wearing pajamas until noon, playing Marco Polo in the pool and enjoying lazy evenings without a hint of homework. The kids may think I’m ancient, but I’m young enough to remember the special brand of angst that comes with the first day of school. [...]

Weird is their middle name

By Gwen Rockwood, newspaper columnist and mama of 3 Today I read something in the newspaper that convinces me there are people in the world with entirely too much time on their hands. How else could we explain the fact that there’s a couple in Massachusetts named Melanie and Neal who have petitioned the state to legally change their middle names to the word “Seamonster.” I read this information in a short news snippet so I don’t have any context for the story, but I doubt that additional information would make the request seem less weird. Perhaps they really love sea monsters? Perhaps their favorite uncle was a sea monster? Maybe they lost a bet made after five too many [...]

Road warriors back from battle

By Gwen Rockwood, newspaper columnist and mama of 3 We made it. Dragging in past midnight, bleary-eyed with sore behinds from more than 10 hours sitting in the car, we each fell into our own beds after spending several nights away and decided that these are, in fact, the best beds in the whole world. The only thing as great as the excitement of vacation is the sweet relief of being home again. I’ll admit that our generation has it much easier than our road-tripping ancestors. The portable DVD player, smartphones, audio books and iPads have been a game changer in getting families across the country in relative peace and harmony. But that doesn’t mean the trip is without challenges. [...]

My dignity on ice

By Gwen Rockwood, newspaper columnist and mama of 3 My refrigerator made a fool of me today. This morning when I came downstairs to the kitchen, it was croaking – loudly. It sounded like an elderly frog was inside it, sitting in a creaky rocking chair that got louder each time he rocked back. I could hear it across the room. So I did what most of us do when a complex piece of machinery starts to make a weird noise we don’t understand: I smacked it. But it went right on croaking at regular intervals, completely undeterred. Having exhausted all my repair expertise with that unsuccessful smack on the side of the fridge, I called our appliance repair guy, [...]