Friday’s five things: the weather, the Bieb, never say ‘never’, cell phone etiquette, and solving problems

frogs falling from the sky1.  “Global warming is scientific fact.”

“No, it’s not.”

“Then how do you explain the frogs falling from the sky?”

“That’s simply God’s way of punishing us for homosexuality.”

I’m not sure that’s exactly how the conversation goes, but it’s often nonsensical.  In today’s New York Times, Coral Davenport covers how the effects of climate change are affecting the economy worldwide, making it more costly for Coco-Cola and Nike to churn out their wares.  That’s good news!  Why?  Because if large corporations admit that their bottom line is affected, the extreme right-wing wackadoos will be told by their Congressional representatives to ixnay the crazy talk.  While the East and Midwest bundle up under the weight of more snow and colder temperatures, here on the left coast there are barely any layers left to pull off in this record-setting Saharan January.  You can hear skin and lips cracking if you listen closely.  Personally and selfishly, global warming makes me sad.  We’ve got wood to burn for romantic nights in front of the fireplace, but only if we get through a day without the A/C on.  There’s no rain, no snow, and Governor Brown insists we take shorter showers.  We’re in a drought – again – which must sound insane to my friends in New York.  Extreme weather results from the warming of the earth.  Yes, it does.

2.  Years ago, when my sister was complaining that her family never had dinner together during the week – the reason being sports practices – I was appalled.  As a young mother, I bought into the notion that dinner with your kids every night was essential if they were to grow up and become the next Marie Curie, Abe Lincoln, or Jonas Salk.  I told her, righteously, that parents needed to speak up and, in the name of all that is good and right with family dinners, refuse to bring their children to practices that ended after 6pm.  She laughed at me and explained something about field space and gym availability.  My girls were five, three, and one at the time.  What did I know?  A few years later in AYSO, when a coach asked about Bun Bun’s interest in post-season All Star play, I inquired about the commitment and was told ‘practices and tournaments throughout the winter and spring’.  I balked.  No way.  A friend’s daughter had soccer on Sunday afternoons.  “That’s horrible,” I said.  “Never!”  This weekend, after 8pm evenings spent on the pitch and in the gym, Trader Joe’s dinners thrown on the table or eaten in the car, the husband and I are splitting our time between Torrance, Mission Viejo, and San Bernardino.  And if you realize there are three locations and only two of us, that means we must be giving one of our children away.  Sorry Miss T.  It’ll be Bun Bun next time.  For crying out loud, every time I’ve said ‘never’ in my life, I’ve been made a liar.  My children are mostly to blame.  (A note to you Facebook folks who post pictures of the fabulous gourmet dinner you’ve just prepared for your child on a random Tuesday night, please stop.)

3.  Justin Bieber.  Oh, never mind.

4.  Cell phone etiquette.  Is there any?  Isn’t it just common sense?  Not with most youngsters (yeah, I just used that word), so I’m the bad guy in our house as I constantly tell Goldie and Bun Bun to put their phones down and pay attention/be social/eat their spinach.  It’s not uncommon to see a bunch of teenage girls at a restaurant together all looking at their phones, after taking pictures of their meals.  It negates the ‘togetherness’ of hanging out.  It’s also rude and I’m not buying into the difference in our generations.  Rude is rude.  When you’re with someone, BE with them.  Put the damn phone away.  Adults aren’t much better.  Sit around with a group and try to come up with the name of so-and-so from that movie.  Can’t?  Within seconds, someone will Google the query and no more brain wracking is necessary.  But shouldn’t we wrack our brains occasionally?  Isn’t that exercise for the mind?  And who the hell are those people having personal conversations at the top of their voices while picking out fruit at the market?  Seriously, who ARE they?   Are they the same people we call ‘close talkers’, who have no concept of personal space?  I could write about this topic almost as much as I could write about gun control, so it was tragic to read two weeks ago about the movie theater incident that married the two issues and ended in murder.  In no way was Curtis Reeves’ reaction to Chad Oulson’s texting valid, but remember five minutes ago (or back in the 90s) when texting the babysitter wasn’t even a thing?  Like smoking in public, there has to be a ‘shame’ element attached to using a cell phone in most social situations.  Join me in the shame brigade.

5.  I coach one of the soccer teams at school and sometimes it feels like herding cats.  They’re different ages, circling puberty or already in it, and therefore have many agendas.  But like wrangling our three daughters when they were all under the age of four, I’ve got this.  Yesterday, outside our house in the front bushes, I was asked to wrangle a frightened dog.  I went and got Jack’s choke chain and leash and, pretending to be Cesar Millan, whispered to Blackie.  He nipped at me as I tried to float the collar over his head, so I asked Bun Bun to get me the goalkeeper gloves from the back of the swagger wagon to protect my hands from his sharp little canine teeth.  Stroking Blackie’s head while cooing sweet nothings in his ear, I managed the task and was able to get him where he needed to go.  Is this a compelling story?  No.  But I complain to the husband all the time that the girls are rarely faced with conundrums, and I worry they won’t be capable of figuring out even the smallest of everyday problems – mostly because the husband and I do too much.  The solution?  More and more, and then some more, we’re making them get/do/find/finish things themselves.  And whenever possible, I’m making them watch as I demonstrate problem solving, like the goalie gloves.  Like I said, not a terribly captivating story.  But tell me, if you have kids, how do you teach self-sufficiency without them hating you?

Enjoy your weekend.  My cousin is headed to Sochi and her husband is off to South America.  I’ll be in Orange County.

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  1. Anne says

    Great blog message Joanne! 2 major issues in my world and one not so much…family dinner and cell phone etiquette I fight for on a daily basis. Some days I win…other days I lose! Justin Bieber….agreed, “oh, never mind!” Many tweeners I know love that kid. And as much as I want to love the Bieb…he blew it!!

  2. Michael says

    Texting while sitting with a group of people in a social gathering could be seen as the electronic equivalent of whispering. As you say … rude is rude.

  3. says

    As for my daughter learning to be independent? Well, rather me desperately wanting to teach her to be independent because I’m terribly afraid she won’t be and she will be a mess when she goes off to college and I don’t sense she is particularly interested in being independent anyway, after all, haven’t we her dotting parents pretty much taken care of everything? Okay, maybe I’ve done a few things that might one day help. Such as summer camp. The less cushy the better! The best one? Wilderness Horse Camp, deep in Eastern Oregon, the Eagle Cap Wilderness. She (at 13) and only one other brave girl, and two counsellors, spent most of 2 weeks in the wilderness, with pack horses, their own horses, and tents. Yeah, she’s still soft and I try to make her just figure stuff out for herself. And if I’m highly self-disciplined, I won’t give in to the whining and low and behold, she DOES figure it out. Because she can. And even likes it.

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