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Category Archives: parenthood


>Today is my day to post on The Peanut Gallery Speaks. Hop over there and find me.    I’ve been missing my Dad this week.  Leave me a comment (it’s easy on the Peanut Gallery.) I would love to hear your voice.


>The Stuff of Dreams


When’s the last time you saw Shakespeare’s The Tempest? I think occasionally of Prospero’s great line, “We are such stuff as dreams are made on . . .” Humphrey Bogart quoted it wrong when he said “such stuff as dreams are made of” at the end of The Maltese Falcon, by the way. (That’s BTW for you uber-texters who can’t remember how to decipher actual words anymore. Just kidding. Oh, I mean JK! I don’t have time to keep translating 4 U. U R on UR own now. Being bi-lingual really does come in handy, doesn’t it?) Anyway–there is good precedent for misquoting Shakespeare out of context.
Critics claim that Shakespeare perfectly
captured the fleeting nature of existence and all things temporal with his nifty little iamb. Yeah, well Shakespeare never cleaned out my closets. I have spent the past week going through stuff that dreams are made on–really bad dreams.
Forgive the strong language, but I loathe STUFF. The pack-rat gene passed me by. I’m a tosser. Haven’t used it recently? Doesn’t fit? Pitch it. Have an extra? Never really liked it in the first place? Bye bye. Clutter muddles me. I long since gave up having three sections in my closet. You know, the “I Vowed I Would Never Buy Jeans This Size But I Can’t Go Out in My Pajamas” section, next to the “I Will Get Back Into These Clothes Someday When I Give Up Food,” and then that little section in the corner, “I Haven’t Been This Size Since College, But Dang I Looked Good in These.” No. Uh uh. One section of clothes I like and wear. Period.
Here’s the thing. Not every member of my household shares my gift for de-junking. Our four children have flown the nest, but their stuff remains lurking in closets and in plastic bins under beds. They have no plans to reclaim their oddments, or even any idea what their former drawers and closets actually hold. What does one do with sixty-something assorted athletic trophies? How about a large plastic bin filled with love notes and school pictures of people my daughter hasn’t seen in this century? Fourteen prom dresses in every color of the rainbow? There are things that even St. Vincent de Paul doesn’t want.
We leave the door open and a light on for our adult children to come home whenever they want to, of course. But what about their stuff? Can we practice “tough love” with the detritus of two decades and box it up or give it away? How about a bonfire?! Ooooh, I like that. If you see a red glow flickering in the sky above Livermore this week, don’t be alarmed. That  silhouette you see dancing around the flame with joyous abandon would be me. Feel free to back your car up to the blaze and throw in your kids’ stuff.  I’ll bring the marshmallows. Now that’s the stuff that dreams are made on.

>Yes, there are stupid questions

>Did you ever have a college professor affirm to the class early in the semester that, “There are no stupid questions . . .” I appreciate the intent of such a statement–the desire to encourage open discussion, the willingness to clarify and explain. But it’s simply not true. There are stupid questions. Lots of them.

Medical personnel do stupid questions really well. They are professionals, after all. With the right tone of patronizing superiority they can make YOU feel stupid for not knowing how to respond. For instance:

“How would you rate your pain, on a scale of 1 to 10, 1 being no pain and 10 being the most severe pain possible.?” What does that even mean? Like anyone knows what the most severe pain possible is? I certainly don’t want to test the limits so I can give an accurate answer. And if I had no pain at all, would I voluntarily spend a summer afternoon in a backless blue gown in the emergency room? Mmmm, no. I hurt, OK? Just start the painkiller.

The stresses of parenthood seem to spawn a particularly idiotic strain of questions. I cringe to think of the ludicrous queries I’ve put to my children. Some classics:

1. “Do you want a spanking?”
Right. What kid WANTS a spanking? Like they harbor a secret wish that we’ll swat their little bummies and they’ve been hoping we’d ask. Do we sincerely want their input on the matter? Doubtful.
2. “How many times have I told you (fill in the blank)?” Oh, wait Mom, while little Johnny runs to his dresser drawer and pulls out the tally sheet. He has kept precise records of everything you’ve ever said to him and is so happy that you asked. He’ll do the math and get back to you asap.
3. “Why did you do that?” This question assumes that there is a logical reason that Susie shoved a bean up her nostril and that she can articulate it in twenty-five words or less before you cut her off with question #2 above.
4. Do I look like a dictionary? Wow. If my kids can’t tell me from Webster’s at a glance then I’ve got bigger problems than why the bean went up the nose. Either it’s time to drill them with some family-photo flashcards (Mommy. No, not dictionary. Try it again M-O-M-M-Y.)or I need an extreme make-over.

Kids on the other hand, ask really cool questions. They put us grown-ups to shame. But that’s a discussion for another day. So what all-purpose stupid questions do you ask your kids? Come on, I can’t be the only one! Dish. Or what absurd questions did your parents keep in their arsenal? Make me laugh.