Friday’s four things: teenage girls, family dinners, Houston, and the obits

And because five was too many.

That's Miss T.

That’s Miss T.

A birthday. Miss T turned thirteen yesterday – one-three, 13, XIII – which means we now have three teenage girls living in our house. Sometimes I don’t know who they are, but mostly I do. They’re fantastic, except when they’re not, which ends up being the problem, if there is a problem. I wake up not certain of whom I will face, either over breakfast or picking up in the afternoon, though Goldie is driving herself now. (That’s a blessing, not a curse.) The teenage years are profound and I’m paying strict attention, even when they think I’m not. You hear that girls? So when I say, “How are you?” what I mean is, “How ARE you?” because I really, really want to know. I don’t seek to re-live those years – oh no, not that. I aim to simply convince them that being a teenager is not the worst thing ever. Feeling so much and so deeply is often the best. Please welcome Miss T into the ranks and wish her well. I do indeed.

Family dinners. How many do you have a week? They’ve tried to quantify the advantages of having this meal together – mom, dad, children at the table, same time – to prove its golden value. But correlation is not causation, and other factors are involved that indicate why teenagers who sit with family at dinner might have a lower risk of depression. Regardless, here’s my scientific evaluation: the more, the merrier. Meals are meant to be shared. Breakfast and lunch are complicated – we’re on the go, we’re working. But dinner? You can always say the same, or you can force your children to sit down and eat with you. There’s no downside. Sure, sometimes we eat after 8pm because of schedules, but no one is going to die because they ate too late. They might have funny dreams, but who cares? All the better from which to wake. Last Wednesday night, my sister and cousin joined us for dinner and the girls enjoyed the extra company so much, they brought their homework to the table so as not to miss the lively conversation. Or at least that’s what I think was happening. In my previous life (or lives), I lived in a community where people dropped in for dinner all the time, and there was always enough. We were healthy and happy, and maybe a little fat, because no one and nothing ever got in the way of this casual, but critical evening ritual. It doesn’t matter what’s on the table, but who’s around it. That is all.

HERO, the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance. Oh my, oh my, oh my. Allow me a detour for a moment. I love Bernie Sanders, but when he said, at the first Democratic candidates debate in October, of gun control: “…all the shouting in the world is not going to do what I would hope all of us want, and that is keep guns out of the hands of people who should not have those guns…” In this hot mess of a country where we live, it is often the loudest and richest among us who have the final word. Case in point – Houston. Last Tuesday, an equal rights, anti-discrimination bill was rejected soundly because Houstonians who came out to vote were afraid of creepy men in women’s bathrooms. I decided to investigate and keep an open mind. Perhaps this was another redundant bill whose authors shot themselves in the foot by insisting on an inclusion of allowing transgender persons to use bathrooms that were in opposition to their physical sex. Throwing the baby out with the bathwater, if you will. I’ve skimmed the document, all 36 pages of it, because I have nothing but time. Couldn’t find the word “restroom” anywhere because – wait for it – it’s not in the bill. The bill is a boring litany of protections saying basically, “You can’t discriminate against anyone in housing and employment just because you don’t like their purple hair.” But the political loudmouths in Houston, right-wing conservatives all, wanted the legislation gone and so created, like the NRA does so successfully, baseless fear. If you vote for this bill, get ready for felonious fellows in fashionable frocks to enter women’s bathrooms throughout Houston and rape us all (not “us”, you won’t find me in Houston, sorry Karen Stokes). It worked. Bill defeated. 61% voted against it! Diplomacy and compromise are the ideal tactics for getting things done, but it is a fact that sometimes, the loudest person in the room, that bull in the china shop, has the last word. Shame on you, Houston. You should be soooooo embarrassed. For the record, creepy men in women’s bathrooms doing bad things? Illegal everywhere.

Obituaries. Of the New York Times’ current listings, among twenty-four, there are two women. I noticed this last week, about the same ratio. Melissa Mathison (screenwriter of “E.T.”) died on Wednesday – too young, very sad, two children – and it struck me again as I glanced among the group of doctors, authors, politicians, athletes, Kustom car pioneers, etc. that we ladies are either immortal or no one cares. Or does the truth lie somewhere in between? There is a long, deep post about this in my future, but for now, the obvious assumption is that older women – those most likely to die – are not among the generations that followed which include famous doctors, writers, politicians, and chefs. As a gender, though, I predict we will always be underrepresented in the death notices because so many of us are mothers first, film directors second, and “having it all” is a ridiculous notion. Not right, not wrong. We’ll discuss heatedly another time. For now, let’s stay healthy, out of the obits, and celebrate our lives while we’re living them.

REMINDER: Rachel Maddow will host a Democratic forum tonight/Friday on MSNBC, 8pm ET. This is not a debate. Candidates Clinton, Sanders, and O’Malley will sit with Maddow separately to discuss issues that matter, because Maddow is super smart and good at what she does (a Rhodes scholar, BTW).

Enjoy the weekend.

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  1. says

    As far as HERO goes, it calls to mind a great quote from H.L. Mencken: “Democracy is the theory that common people know what they want and deserve to get it good and hard.”

    But as far as “It doesn’t matter what’s on the table, but who’s around it,” those are words to live by!

    Thanks, Jo.

    P.S. Kids sure do grow up fast, don’t they?

  2. Mare says

    I’m so glad you’re back to sharing your opinions. You’re an excellent writer and there is usually something to celebrate, some food for thought and always a reminder of what I miss about having young kids around the house. It was a blast on Wednesday….there is a life in your home that raises me up. May time slow down just a little for us all to enjoy!

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