Children Without Borders

I just learned that when I was a child, my parents were criminals. That’s a lot to take in when you thought your mom and dad were law-abiding citizens—more or less. I had no idea my parents hid a dark side until I heard that parents in Maryland were charged with neglect for letting their kids walk to the park. Alone.
At first, I thought the story was a joke and kept reading for the punchline. Nope. Totally real. A neighbor called the police to report that the children were playing without the required amount of helicopter-parent supervision. Additionally, the nosy neighbor stated, “It wasn’t the first time these children played by themselves.” Gasp.
The siblings were taken by Child Protective Services while the parents were investigated, and (because we have to label everything) the term “free-range parenting” was created. Free-range parenting is defined as, “A new, hands-off approach to raising children.” But other people label it as neglect.
So, if I was so inclined, I could retroactively (and in my mom’s case, posthumously) have my parents thrown in the slammer.
Every Saturday morning, after we finished eating Fruity Pebbles straight from the box while watching “Land of the Lost,” my mom would kick us out of the house and tell us not to come home until sunset. Then she’d slam the door. And lock it.
We were cool with that. We shrugged, hopped on our bikes and went to find something to do. We’d wander through neighborhoods like adolescent Pied Pipers, picking up other unattended children. Then we’d end up in someone’s yard playing Red Rover (aka Clothesline Your Buddies) until those parents told us to get lost.
We’d amble to 7-Eleven where we’d buy candy cigarettes and Fresca (because the can looked like beer). We’d sit on the swings sipping our pretend beer and discuss whatever it is kids discuss in those situations. I’m sure we fooled everyone because doesn’t every 10-year-old sit in the park swigging a cold beer while smoking with her friends?
I guess our parents didn’t think we needed 24-hour supervision. We walked to school every day with a group of friends, rain or shine. And we frequently rode our bikes nearly two miles to the Murray Library with ne’er an adult in sight.
In a time before cell phones, GPS and tracking devices, parents relied on their kids to use common sense. They taught us to avoid strangers, stay off the train tracks, don’t go into homes when the parents weren’t around and, basically, not to be stupid.
My daughters could also have charged me with neglect, and they’ve probably already contacted an attorney. I often allowed them to bike to the local swimming pool and stay there for hours. They also walked to 7-Eleven—and probably bought candy cigarettes with their friends.
People say, “Don’t you know how dangerous the world is?” Guess what? The world has always been dangerous. Helicopter parenting, obsessive worrying and overprotective hovering doesn’t stop bad things from happening.
Here’s my definition of neglect: not allowing your children to create a feeling of independence; not allowing your children to be bored and have to create something; not allowing your kids to make mistakes, get lost, mess up and face consequences.
Kids are resilient, and more often than not, they make the right decision. So I guess I’ll have to forgive my parents for teaching me to be independent and creative. Gee, thanks mom and dad.
Originally published in the West Jordan Journal–

Happy Mother’s Day

It’s been five months since cancer took my mom. Not a day goes by that I don’t think of her and thank her for the opportunity I had to be her daughter. My mom could be. . . how do I put it. . .stubborn. But she taught me how to love being a mom, and how to enjoy being alive.

Some of the best lessons my mom taught me (or tried to teach me that didn’t necessarily stick) include:

  • Never, never, never stop learning.
  • Keep track of your vacation money by using cash-filled envelopes for food, gas, souvenirs, etc. (Disclaimer: I don’t do this–We teased her mercilessly about it.)
  • Cook desserts from scratch using real butter and cream whenever possible. And it’s always possible.
  • Flip off slow drivers. (Not something I do, but my daughters have certainly picked it up.)
  • Friends come and go but family is there FOREVER. I don’t think she meant it as a threat. I could be wrong.
  • Laugh as often as possible and never take yourself too seriously.
  • Read something every day.
  • Christianity isn’t something you learn from a book. It’s something developed in the heart.
  • Plant flowers. (I did not inherit my mom’s green thumb. I plant flowers and they wither abruptly. However, my mom could make plastic plants blossom.)
  • Have good friends.
  • Live with joy until the very end.

This Mother’s Day is the first time in my life that I won’t be able to talk to mom and tell her I love and appreciate her. I hope wherever she is, she’s planting a garden, eating chocolate cake and reading a really good book. I love you and miss you, Mom.

Make sure to send love to your mom today.

Things Driving Me Crazy Today

I can usually get through the week without experiencing too much mental trauma. But for some reason, this week has pushed me over the edge of psychological stability. Too many meetings? Not enough sugar? Who knows, but EVERYTHING this week makes my teeth grind.

Here are the top culprits today:

  • The pointy sponge on my eyeshadow applicator keeps flipping off and falling into the sink.
  • I’ve resolved to eat healthy today–so all I can think about is a glass of ice-cold Coca-Cola.
  • I keep humming “Disturbia” which is freakin’ disturbing.
  • Every TV station in the world is showing highlights of the royal wedding.
  • I’ve resolved to eat healthy today–so all I want is to eat the chocolate ears off my Easter bunny.
  • Utah weather.
  • Listening to my husband TALK about Utah weather.
  • Having to talk to auto mechanics about my broken turn signal.
  • Taking out a small loan to pay for  my broken turn signal.
  • My anti-wrinkle cream has stopped anti-wrinkling.
  •  I don’t have a maid.

Since tomorrow is Saturday, and I have NO meetings to attend, maybe my brain can relax and I can stop being pissy. Breakfast for tomorrow: Ice-cold Coke and Easter bunny ears.


Pardon My French

If you heard vast amounts of cursing coming from the west side of the valley for the last few days, that would be me.

You see, I’ve been trying  to get this &#&%ing blog set up and if it weren’t for chocolate chip cookies and Southpark episodes, my computer would have been crushed under my garage door–repeatedly. My laptop likes to think for me. Since I’m not always thinking clearly–that’s not hard to do. But in THIS case, I wanted it to mind me. And it didn’t care. No amount of mouse banging, button pushing, cord wiggling or cupboard door slamming could make my computer work any faster.

Notice the little gallery of photos at the top of my blog? That took 48 HOURS of screeching until my lungs were scraped raw to make that work. Changing the font? An additional 12 hours of sobbing into my pillow. And don’t even ASK about how I added links. I’m still recovering.

So as AMAZING as this blog is today–expect changes as we go along. God help us.