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Worst. Punishment. Ever.

Most of the time, my parents punished me in the normal ways.  I’ve had to sit in a corner, eat liquid soap, eat bar soap, I’ve gotten a smack on the ass, I’ve been backed against a wall, sent to my room.  I had to hold a penny to the wall with my nose for an hour, I’ve been told they’re disappointed in me, and I’ve been momentarily grounded.

I do not deny that I deserved every single one of those punishments.

They never made me throw away a toy or burn my rock and roll records, and they never threw me out of the house or abused me.  They simply produced repercussions for my actions.

But there was one punishment that I will always remember, because it was the worst punishment ever.

I don’t remember what I did wrong.  My guess is that I was talking back.  Let me set a pretend (although probably accurate) scene for you.  It’s a summer Saturday, and I’m young enough to be punished and old enough to care what my friends think.  My dad is getting ready to go outside to mow the lawn.

Something has pissed me off–probably my father complaining about what a wreck the house is, or how my brother and I never help out.  I say something mouthy, and all the sudden, he’s had enough.  He grits his teeth and tells me that if I think that I do enough around the house, that I can also mow the lawn.

“I don’t know how to use a lawn mower!” I yell.

He glares at me.  He’s probably upset that I actually do not know how to use a lawn mower and he probably thinks that I am spoiled rotten brat.  He takes me by the arm and leads me into the kitchen. He pulls a pair of Fiskers scissors out of the drawer and says, “You know how to use a pair of these, though, right?”

I nod in my most sassy way.

He hands them to me and says, “Go cut the grass.”

I may not have been as old as this man, but I was certainly as grumpy.

I think of saying no, that this is ridiculous!  That there’s no way I can cut the grass with scissors.  But the look on his face, the furrowed brow, the red tint of his skin, the bulging eyes, tell me to shut the hell up.

I walk out the back door, which he slams behind me, and think, “He’s really gonna make me do it.”  I look back up to the window where the kitchen sink is and see him staring at me.  He points to the grass, and I exhale and drop my chin to my chest.  All I can think is, “What if the cute neighbor boy sees me doing this?  What if my friends stop by?  What if someone, anyone, sees me?!”

My solution is to go to the part of the yard that is furthest away from the road.  I drop down to my knees with my scissors and begin cutting the grass.  I’m sure my father is enjoying this twisted punishment.  I cut a line with my scissors and begin making a pile of grass clippings.  I look at the window, and back down to my work.

It takes me about an hour to cut a decent sized circle patch near the shed.  Eventually, my father comes outside, takes my scissors away from me and says, “Go do the dishes before your mother gets home.”

I gladly give my scissors and go inside.  When I get to the kitchen sink, I see him stuff the scissors into his back pocket, look down at my circle, shake his head, and laugh.

Worst.  Punishment.  Ever.

As a return punishment, I never learned to use the lawn mower.  I still, at 26 years old, can say that I’ve never mowed a lawn.  Booyah, Daddy.  🙂

 
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Posted by on November 4, 2011 in When I Was Young

 

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Raising My Youngins – Odds and Ends

I will raise them to have reasonable expectations about the world around them.  I will encourage them to follow their dreams, but I will not encourage a fruitless path.  There will be a logical side, and an emotional side to my children.  And most importantly, there will be an awareness for others.

 
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Posted by on October 10, 2011 in Raising My Youngins

 

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“Less Play Time = More Troubled Kids, Experts Say” NO FARK!

When I was little, I was never inside before it was dark.  Even then, my parents would have to call and call and call, and sometimes even come out and get me.  I climbed trees, invaded a chicken coop with “an endless well,” and climbed into a hayloft with some unreliable flooring.  I got cut, stung, scraped, stuck, scabbed, and bruised.  And you know what?  I’m a better adult for it.

Kids don’t play anymore!  And there are far too many disadvantages to that.  Childhood obesity, lack of imagination, lack of experience, inability to work independently, inability to work with a team, problem-solving, lack of challenges, and so much more.  Playing is learning.

Through free play, “they are acquiring the basic competencies we ultimately need to become adults,” said Gray, author of two studies published recently in the American Journal of Play.

While I think there are many factors contributing to this lack of play time, this article is blaming “hyper-vigilant parenting.”  I’m not in disagreement to this, but I also know that parents have their reasons.  The article explains:  “So what’s keeping kids indoors? Fear of abduction is a big one, followed by worries about kids getting hit by cars and bullies, surveys have found.”

Okay, I get the abduction one.  There’s a world full of crazies and perverts out there.  But kids getting hit by cars and bullies?  Raise smart, tough kids and that one’s null.  Jenny and I both agree that anymore, kids are being raised to be wimps.  And it sucks!  If we just harbor our little snowflakes (thanks, Fark.com) until they’re adults, there’s no way they’re going to be able to function in the real world!

“Today’s young, at least in the middle class and upper class, are psychologically fragile,” Marano said in an interview published in the journal.

I can’t wait to live in a country run by psychologically fragile kids.  Please note sarcasm.  Goodness.  I won’t be buying my kids any type of video gaming system until they’re 16.  No cell phones until they’re 16.  They will play outside, and they will not rely on me to solve every little stupid problem they encounter.  I will raise my kids in a certain way specifically to avoid this bull crap.  They’ll be tough.   I can think of no better way to end this post than the way Jenifer Goodwin ended her article:

“Parents have to remember that childhood is this special time. You only get it once, and you don’t want to miss it,” LaFreniere said. “Mixing it up with other kids in an unrestrained manner isn’t just fun. It isn’t a luxury. It’s part of nature’s plan.”

 
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Posted by on September 23, 2011 in Raising My Youngins

 

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How My Life Would Have Been If…

You know how just one thing can change everything about your life?  If you had done just one thing different…  I’ve been thinking about all of the different ways in which my life could have been different if I had made a different choice in one area of my life or another.

I love my life now, and I have no regrets, but isn’t it kinda fun sometimes to think about what might have been different?

Like okay, say I never went to college.  What would I be doing?  Well, I’m tellin’ you right now that I’d have probably stayed at Whirlpool for at least a couple of years straight on till dawn.  I don’t know for how long, though.  Here’s the thing:  if I hadn’t gone to college, I would most certainly have remained in Fremont.  I’d have moved out into my own apartment or rented a house somewhere.  Eventually, I probably would have moved into office work at Whirlpool (I do type on average 116 words a minute) and married someone from there.   We would have gotten married at a Catholic church and had our reception at Ole Zim’s (you know what I’m talkin’ about, Fremont people), and honeymooned in Florida.

By now, I would have probably had our first baby and might be considering the next in about a year and a half.   Every Sunday we’d have dinner with my parents.  I’d probably join a book club and still be writing (about what, I’m not sure).  I’d walk around the Grove.  I’d snuggle up to my husband every night.

But here is the downside–I’d have never met any of my friends from Ashland (all I love dearly) and I would have never met the folks at UNCW (most of whom I love dearly), and I would have never met Mike.  I wouldn’t have my BA or my MFA, and I wouldn’t be working at this incredible job right now.  Both scenarios could have worked.  It’s weird, but they could have.  But this one brings me much more happiness (and often much more strife–long distance relationships suck).

I’m happy to be where I am.

 
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Posted by on September 9, 2011 in Daily Happenings

 

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What I Learned from Watching Children Fight in the Grass

What I saw on last night’s run:

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On a late summer afternoon, the grass sways lazily in Autumn’s approaching breath.  The sun is still warm and cutting slants through the trees, and jets move silently through the sky, leaving white trails that spread out and disappear into clouds.  A cardinal is chirping in a nearby tree, the smell of grilled hamburgers is in the air, and the sounds of children laughing in backyards while they throw grass at one another bounces off the houses. 

In the front yard of a white house with blue shutters, four children sit in a circle in the grass.  They are only four or five years old, and there are three boys and one little girl.  All of the boys are shirtless and wearing “play” shorts.  The little girl is in a blue and white sailor dress, her hair mussed on one side, her cheeks rosey.  They all laugh. 

Then one boy tackles another.  They play fight, roll in the grass.  The other boy jumps in on the fight.  They growl.  The girl twirls a piece of grass in between her fingers and watches intently as they begin to tumble into a shallow ditch near the yard.  She hesitates, inches forward and settles back down, then moves forward again and tickles the feet of the boy at the bottom of the pile.

One of the other boys gets up, runs around the girl and plops himself in front of her, blocking her from the boy’s feet.  She smiles, leans back and crosses her arms.  

The cardinal continues to chirp.

The boys continue to fight.

And the girl has gotten her first lesson in dating.

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Oddly enough, I saw this in only a matter of seconds as I ran past the house.  It just seemed so clear to me that it encompassed everything about the way boys and girls interact.  The girl wants to play like the boys, but they’ve already singled her out as different.  She likes the one who doesn’t want anything to do with her.  And the boy that does like her?  The one who can’t stand the fact that she’s tickling somebody else’s feet, well, she wants nothing to do with him.

It’s no wonder that so many love lives are full of turmoil or difficulty.

We’re all lucky to find that guy whose feet we want to tickle, and who actually wants us to.

 

 

 
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Posted by on August 23, 2011 in Domesticity

 

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More Baby Dreams…

Last night, I had a dream that I found out I was pregnant.

Again with these pregnancy dreams!  But the baby did not belong to Justin Bieber or to Jack Hannahan this time.  This time, it was Mike’s.

In my dream, we were not married, but we were living in the same place.  I went to the doctor and came back afraid to tell Mike I was pregnant.  When I told him, he got really excited and hugged me.  Then we went to tell my parents (who were less than thrilled that we weren’t married) but we told them that we were going to get married and then everything seemed okay.

When I woke up, I was still as shocked in my conscious state as I was in my unconscious state that Mike was excited.

It was all just very weird.

Perhaps this is because I filmed a video with nine kids for work last night.  And maybe it’s because the last episode of Melissa & Joey (yes, I watch it) involved Joe thinking he knocked up his ex-wife.

Or maybe it’s just high time I have kids.

 
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Posted by on August 4, 2011 in Daily Happenings, Domesticity

 

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Why It Is Almost Impossible to Live In One’s Hometown

I don’t know about your family, but mine has been in the same place for a long long time.  Let me explain.

Fremont & Clyde

Fremont and Clyde, where my kin resides.

I grew up in Fremont, Ohio.  Most of my family has been in Fremont and Clyde for at least 70 years.  See that map?  My entire immediate family including grandparents is pretty much in there.  My maternal grandmother grew up in Clyde and searched for Jessie Simmons’ tongue on the very farm I searched for it years later.  She married my grandfather, who was also living in Clyde.  My parents, aunts, and uncles all married people in the same vicinity.  And let’s be honest.  Everything is easier for them in terms of seeing loved ones If my grandparents need something, they have 4 kids and their spouses right there, plus some grandkids and cousins.  It’s easy to pick a place to have a family gathering because everyone is right there.

And up until my generation, everyone was still there.  My grandparents have 10 grandchildren.  Seven of them are still living in either Clyde or Fremont.  I am just south of Cleveland.  My cousin Heidi is right around Ashland.  I know we would love to be able to get back more often and see our family, but sometimes it just isn’t possible.

Getting off of work at 5, driving an hour and a half home puts me at 6:30, long enough to eat dinner, say hi, and head on out before the hour and a half drive back, so that I can go to bed at a decent hour.  I’d love to be able to drive 10 minutes down the road to have a cup of coffee with my mother.

There are advantages to this.  If you marry someone from your hometown, chances are you get to be close to both of your families.  That makes celebrating holidays with both much easier.  It makes planning the actual wedding easier.  It creates built-in babysitters that you don’t have to pay and grandparents get to see their grandkids.  I loved spending every weekend at my grandparents’ house.

But it’s hard to do that as a Gen Y kid.  We move away, go to college, graduate, feel guilty for not using our degrees, and live somewhere we can get a job.  During that process, most of us fall in love, either with someone from our hometown, someone in college, someone in grad school.  And eventually you have to choose.  Do you live closer to your parents?  Or your lovers?  You’re coming from different places, after all.  Will someone be upset?  What if you both can’t get a job in the same place?  What happens then?

It’s just all very weird.

 
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Posted by on July 26, 2011 in Domesticity, Fremont

 

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