Tuesday, January 29, 2013

The Mama Siren

Children will go to great lengths to get their parents’ attention. Verbally, the result of this is what I like to call “The Mama Siren.”

The Mama Siren begins much the way that I imagine fire engine and police sirens first began: as a loud, repeated noise intended to break through the hubbub of miscellaneous background noises. Old-fashioned sirens repeated two notes: Wee-oo, wee-oo, wee-oo. Small children also begin by repeating two notes: Ma-ma. Ma-ma. Ma-ma. Once people got used to the sound of sirens, they weren’t quite as attention-grabbing, so they began changing volume slightly: WEE-oo, WEE-oo. Likewise with children: Ma-ma. Ma-ma! MA! MA!! But eventually, we all learned to tune those sounds out as well. So modern sirens and alarms use a wide variety of sounds to catch our attention: WEE-oo. BRRR BRRRR BRRR. Meep meep meep meep. Zoo-pa zoo-pa zoo-pa. Bzzz bzzz bzzz bzzz. Children discovered the same thing: Mama! Mum! Mum! Mommy! Mama mama mama! Mummy! Mum! Ma! MAAAAAA!!!

Both modern calls appear to work on the principle that changing sounds are more likely to capture our attention through the haze of general noise that is always around us. But the actual fact of how they work is that they are ANNOYING.

You try to ignore it for as long as you can, but finally it sets your teeth a little too much on edge and, like Lois in the clip above, you blurt out an irritated, “WHAT??!!??”

Now, I’m sure there are occasions when a child is attempting to impart a critically important piece of information like, “The drapes are on fire,” or “I just shut my little sister in the dryer,” or “It makes my tongue feel all tingly when I chew on this battery.” But in my experience, the message following the Mama Siren is almost always along the lines of, “Hi,” or “Water is wet,” or “Nothing.”

Like the Boy Who Cried Wolf, a child who overuses the Mama Siren will probably eventually have a crucial bit of news to report, and that report will be delayed because of that past misuse. And unfortunately, the fallout from that reporting delay is much more likely to affect the parent than the child. The child, after all, has no personal attachment to the drapes, no concern for his little sister’s welfare, and no concept of what battery acid will do to the human tongue. The mother, on the other hand, will have a heart attack, have a heart attack, and have a heart attack as a result of those three particular bits of news.

So just like I force myself to glance around the parking lot for suspicious activity when I hear a car alarm blaring, I force myself to look around for telltale signs of impending disasters when I hear the Mama Siren. I don’t want to miss any crucial news. And besides, every now and then the important announcement turns out to be, “I love you.”

Bookmark and Share

Monday, January 28, 2013

SAG Awards vs. Golden Globes Fashion, 2013

I missed the Screen Actors Guild awards last night, but I could hardly miss the red carpet buzz this morning. But instead of doing a full fashion review, I’m going to focus on a comparison of gowns worn by actresses whose Golden Globes couture I also reviewed two weeks ago.

Nicole Kidman made a rare fashion misstep at the SAGs this year. The cut and color of her black and deep blue column are striking, as are her long straight hair and strappy heels, but the floppy flowers make the gown look like it’s unraveling, and the random flowery blobs on the bodice are doing her bustline no favors. The devil really was in the details!

Anne Hathaway swapped her elegant white column for a spangled black mini-dress with a thick tulle overlay. The bodice looked crooked and made her look both flat-chested and thick-waisted. Not a horrendous gown in and of itself, but totally unflattering on her.
Michelle Dockery also went from white to black. Her black gown was simple and clingy, much like her white gown, but she traded in a demure high neckline for a cutaway back exposing a bit too much side-boob. She looked like she could have used a bit more support as well. Not a complete misstep, but a small step down from her cool GG elegance.
Lea Michele certainly changed her look from the GGs to the SAGs. Trading in her white, slit-up-to-there halter dress for a bubble-gum pink taffeta prom dress, and swapping her sultry wavy tresses for straight hair with heavy bangs, Michele went from sexy to sweet. A very different look, but nearly as successful.
Jennifer Garner made the opposite transformation, from sweet to sexy. Although she wore gowns with similar silhouettes and textured fabrics at both ceremonies, her overall looks could not have been more different. From deep red to metallic gold, from a sweet updo to long dramatic waves, and from a slightly full skirt to figure-hugging glamour, Garner proved she is a red-hot mama no matter what color she wears.
Claire Danes hardly looked like the same person at the SAG awards as she did at the GGs, but she looked equally as stunning. From bright coral to black, from conventional wrap to single-sleeved column, from loosely flowing wavy tresses to an asymmetrically pinned-up and straightened ‘do, and from natural makeup to dramatically dark lips, Danes made the top of the best-dressed lists at both ceremonies.
Amanda Seyfried went from washout to knockout in this strapless, cobalt-blue mermaid gown with wavy sideswept locks, smoky eyes, and a long silver pendant. This look is an absolute best of the best-dressed, not to mention a "Most Improved".
Jennifer Lawrence traded in her scarlet ball gown for a sleek, deep blue mermaid. She looked lovely at the GGs but looked even more mature and elegant at the SAGs. Her blue gown was simple but perfectly fitted and the single accessory of a small diamond drop necklace plus deep red lips were all she needed for polish.
Marion Cotillard aimed once again for the cutting edge, but fell a bit short this time. The structured, high-waisted, full skirt with self-sash is stunning and flattering – and a gorgeous color - but the nude-colored, unadorned tube top makes it look like she forgot to finish dressing.
Jessica Chastain’s SAG look was a vast improvement over her saggy dress and badly slicked locks at the GGs. Although her striking red column gown was a bit too tight (as evidenced by a visible belly button and slightly straining seams), the lovely criss-cross bodice details, narrow belt, and slightly flared trumpet skirt were absolutely stunning, and her simple loose waves and diamond necklace were the perfect finishing touches.
Kelly Osborne tends to walk the fine line between edgy and hot mess. At the GGs, she just missed the mark with an unfortunate overly-ruffled hem, but at the SAGs, she chose an elegantly draped, just-clingy-enough black gown with subtle studded details on the bodice. Her sleek updo and bright coral lips added just the right pop of color.
Bottom line? A few actresses lost some fashion ground, but most took a fashion step forward between the Golden Globes and the SAGs. I can’t wait to see what they all have in store for the Academy Awards!

Bookmark and Share

Sunday, January 27, 2013

An Annual Meeting "Who's Who"

Over the past 40 years, I have attended dozens and dozens of annual meetings. I’ve attended town budget meetings, non-profit organization meetings, company business meetings, and church annual meetings. Just this morning, I attended my first annual meeting at the church we recently started attending. And it occurred to me during that meeting how every meeting of this kind seems to attract certain types. So here is a listing and description of the “Who’s Who” of pretty much every financial, annual, and/or business meeting that you may be privileged to attend. Not every meeting will contain all of these parties, but if you look closely, I’m sure you’ll be able to recognize at least a few.

The Robert’s Ruler
This person is easily recognizable because within the first few minutes of the meeting, he or she will interrupt the meeting moderator by announcing loudly, “Point of order! Point of order!” The Robert’s Ruler is often either a former moderator of the organization at hand or the current moderator, president, or chairman of another organization. The Robert’s Ruler can be relied upon to bog down the meeting with obscure points of procedure which have little or no actual impact on the point at hand, but which will successfully derail the discussion for large blocks of time.

The Minutiae Person
This person also manages to derail the discussion for large blocks of time by questioning verbiage or minor (often irrelevant) details, discussing obvious (and minor) typographical errors in past meeting minutes, and proposing alternate wording for multiple sections of text. He or she can easily be recognized by arriving at the meeting with a copy of the annual report already highlighted in multiple colors and marked up with red pen.

The Discusser/The Rabble Rouser
The Discusser and the Rabble Rouser are somewhat similar in action but very different in motivation. They both raise numerous questions during the meeting about every point under discussion. However, the Discusser raises them because he or she has not read any of the previously distributed minutes, agendas, or reports prior to the meeting and is attempting to get up to speed on all the issues, whereas the Rabble Rouser asks questions fully intending to spark heated debate, particularly about hotly contested topics.

Neither the Discusser nor the Rabble Rouser ever actually serves on a committee.

The Bloviator
The Bloviator is generally the first to respond to the Discusser’s and the Rabble Rouser’s comments. His or her reply usually begins with a personal anecdote often including words such as, “When I was on the committee,” “When I was the moderator,” or “When we did similar work on my house.” The anecdote lasts anywhere for 5 to 15 minutes, and usually involves multiple reassurances that he or she is almost finished.

The Bloviator’s eventual point is usually completely irrelevant to the discussion at hand.

The Over-Explainer
The Over-Explainer also responds to the Discusser’s and Rabble-Rouser’s comments in a somewhat long-winded manner, and therefore is occasionally confused with the Bloviator. However, after the 15 minutes of explanation from the Over-Explainer, you feel like you were at all of the relevant committee meetings, whereas after 15 minutes from the Bloviator, you’re no longer sure what it was the committee was even supposed to be doing.

The Motion-Maker
There are two types of Motion-Makers: Explanatory Movers and So Movers. The Explanatory Mover explains his or her motion in great detail, often repeating verbatim what the moderator has just said. For example, if the moderator asks, “Do I hear a motion to strike the existing Bylaw Number 3.05 Section 5C Subsection 8.1 regarding the maintenance and upkeep of the organization’s collection of kadiddlesloopers and replace it with the proposed text that was just read by the Clerk?”, the Explanatory Mover will reply, “Move that we strike the existing Bylaw Number 3.05 Section 5C Subsection 8.1 regarding the maintenance and upkeep of the organization’s collection of kadiddlesloopers and replace it with the proposed text that was just read by the Clerk.”

The So Mover will simply say, “So moved.”

The Seconder
The seconder rarely discusses any issues and never makes a motion. But he or she is always the first to second any other motion, usually in a bored or vaguely annoyed tone of voice, and invariably by saying merely the word, “Second.”

The Peacemaker
The Peacemaker is occasionally a general member of the voting body, but most often he or she is either the Moderator or the Clerk. The Peacemaker diplomatically summarizes the long-winded questions of the Discusser and the Rabble Rouser, gently wrests the microphone away from the Bloviator and the Over-Explainer, and calmly overrules the Robert’s Ruler when necessary. A good Peacemaker can significant decrease the time of the meeting and increase its effectiveness.

Multiple Titles
The Robert’s Ruler may also be the Motion Maker, although a Robert’s Ruler who is also a Motion Maker will invariably be an Explanatory Mover, never a So Mover. A Robert’s Ruler is nearly always also an Over-Explainer, unless he or she formerly served on the committee whose report is currently under discussion, in which case he or she will be a Bloviator.

A Minutiae Person is occasionally also a Bloviator. Minutiae People sometimes become Bloviators with age. Bloviators never become Minutiae People.

A Discusser is never a Mover, but may be a Seconder.

Rabble Rousers are invariably married to Peacemakers, and vice versa.


Bookmark and Share

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

The Games People Play

My son loves games. He loves active games like Hide and Seek, Catch, and Simon Says. He loves board games like Candyland and Chutes and Ladders. He loves brain games like I Spy and What Shapes Do You See. But the games he loves best of all are the ones he makes up himself.

The first game he ever made up was something he calls “Bing, Bang, Boom.” This is a game played by two people using two large balls. The players each hold a ball and sit about 6 feet apart, then chant, “Bing…bang…BOOM!” and on the word “BOOM” they roll the balls toward each other and try to crash them together. When they crash, both players laugh uproariously, chase the balls, and do it all over again.

Another recent favorite is “Soccer Falling.” Another two-player game, this one requires only one ball. The players stand facing each other a few feet apart, and one player kicks the ball to the other. Instead of kicking it back, the receiving player immediately falls over. Cue uproarious laughter. My daughter helped create a 3-player variation of this game where the third player randomly wanders in between the other two and either kicks the ball back to the first player (usually by accident) or gets hit by the ball and falls over. This variation is somewhat less popular because it occasionally ends in tears instead of uproarious laughter.

He’s also created a whole series of dancing games that can be played by any number of players, from one person right on up to however many can fit in the room. These games generally have names like, “Penguin Dance,” “Robot Dance,” and “Silly Chicken Dance,” even though there’s no resemblance to a penguin, a robot, or a silly chicken that I can see. I’m not even really clear on what the difference between these games is, as they all seem to involve madly stomping, flailing, wriggling, shimmying, twirling, and spinning around on the floor like a manic break-dancer. But that fact doesn’t bother him in the least.
Explaining one of his games to cousins John and Catherine.
I love that these games are further proof that he can find ways to entertain himself. I love that he understands the concept that games have rules, even if he often changes them. I love that he’s occasionally willing to let his little sister join in his games. I love that he uses his body creatively. I love that he totally cracks himself up when he plays them. And I love how completely uninhibited and unselfconscious he is whenever he plays any of them.
But most of all, I love how uninhibited and unselfconscious I am when I play those games with him. Anyone want to join me for a few rounds of “Silly Chicken Dance”?

Bookmark and Share

Monday, January 21, 2013

"I Have a Dream"

In honor of Martin Luther King Day today, I am not going to write a blog entry. I am simply going to post the complete text of Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech. For all that I have heard bits and pieces of this speech dozens, perhaps hundreds, of times over the course of my life, I don’t think I had ever heard or read it in its entirety. I encourage all of you to take a few moments and read this inspiring speech, as it was given by Mr. King on August 28, 1963, and ponder how the world has changed in the nearly 50 years since. And think about what you have done – and what you can do – to continue to bring his dream to fruition.

I am happy to join with you today in what will go down in history as the greatest demonstration for freedom in the history of our nation.

Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand, signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of captivity.

But one hundred years later, we must face the tragic fact that the Negro is still not free. One hundred years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination. One hundred years later, the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity. One hundred years later, the Negro is still languishing in the corners of American society and finds himself an exile in his own land. So we have come here today to dramatize an appalling condition.

In a sense we have come to our nation's capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men would be guaranteed the inalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check which has come back marked "insufficient funds." But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. So we have come to cash this check -- a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice. We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. Now is the time to open the doors of opportunity to all of God's children. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quicksands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood.

It would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the moment and to underestimate the determination of the Negro. This sweltering summer of the Negro's legitimate discontent will not pass until there is an invigorating autumn of freedom and equality. Nineteen sixty-three is not an end, but a beginning. Those who hope that the Negro needed to blow off steam and will now be content will have a rude awakening if the nation returns to business as usual. There will be neither rest nor tranquility in America until the Negro is granted his citizenship rights. The whirlwinds of revolt will continue to shake the foundations of our nation until the bright day of justice emerges.

But there is something that I must say to my people who stand on the warm threshold which leads into the palace of justice. In the process of gaining our rightful place we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred.

We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force. The marvelous new militancy which has engulfed the Negro community must not lead us to distrust of all white people, for many of our white brothers, as evidenced by their presence here today, have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny and their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom. We cannot walk alone.

And as we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall march ahead. We cannot turn back. There are those who are asking the devotees of civil rights, "When will you be satisfied?" We can never be satisfied as long as our bodies, heavy with the fatigue of travel, cannot gain lodging in the motels of the highways and the hotels of the cities. We cannot be satisfied as long as the Negro's basic mobility is from a smaller ghetto to a larger one. We can never be satisfied as long as a Negro in Mississippi cannot vote and a Negro in New York believes he has nothing for which to vote. No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.

I am not unmindful that some of you have come here out of great trials and tribulations. Some of you have come fresh from narrow cells. Some of you have come from areas where your quest for freedom left you battered by the storms of persecution and staggered by the winds of police brutality. You have been the veterans of creative suffering. Continue to work with the faith that unearned suffering is redemptive.

Go back to Mississippi, go back to Alabama, go back to Georgia, go back to Louisiana, go back to the slums and ghettos of our northern cities, knowing that somehow this situation can and will be changed. Let us not wallow in the valley of despair.

I say to you today, my friends, that in spite of the difficulties and frustrations of the moment, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: "We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal."

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at a table of brotherhood.

I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a desert state, sweltering with the heat of injustice and oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.

I have a dream that my four children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

I have a dream today.

I have a dream that one day the state of Alabama, whose governor's lips are presently dripping with the words of interposition and nullification, will be transformed into a situation where little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls and walk together as sisters and brothers.

I have a dream today.

I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together.

This is our hope. This is the faith with which I return to the South. With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.

This will be the day when all of God's children will be able to sing with a new meaning, "My country, 'tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing. Land where my fathers died, land of the pilgrim's pride, from every mountainside, let freedom ring."

Amen, my good sir. Amen.

Bookmark and Share

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Weird Golden Globe Fashions That I Missed

Since I posted on the fashions of the 2013 Golden Globes last week, I’ve stumbled across photos of some fabulously awful gowns that I somehow missed. So here’s my review of some of the real missteps from this year’s Golden Globes.

Thandie Newton is a stunningly beautiful woman. And she has the legs to pull off such a short dress at a formal event. But the fact that the skirt is lined in a different color from the top serves only to emphasize the impression that her left breast appears to be going supernova. And she could have used less boring shoes.

Sienna Miller came very close to hitting the target on this one. The boxy, short, 1960s-inspired top over a straight column skirt is classic, elegant, and flattering. The color scheme is perfect with her peaches-and-cream complexion. But the fact that the flowers are three-dimensional and flopping away from the dress is too reminiscent of those swim caps that my grandmother used to wear:

This outfit also is crying out for a fabulous, brightly-colored clutch or a single, chunky bangle or ring to make it pop.

Sarah Hyland was one of many too many celebrities whose boobs were crammed into a too-small bodice. In fact, her bodice looks like it gave up the battle and popped a few pleats, because there’s no other explanation for why there are pleats only on the far left. And although belts are generally slimming, this particular belt makes it looks like her waist is actually thicker than her rib cage. The giant hair valiantly attempts to balance out the outfit, but fails miserably. Her makeup is gorgeous and flattering, though, so it wasn’t a total loss.
Another unfortunate trend at this year’s Golden Globes was dresses with sheer overlays over mini-skirt-length linings. Kerry Washington, Rachel Weisz, and Louise Roe all looked stunning from head to…mid-thigh. I love the silver sequined patterning on Washington’s gown overlay, the tiny satin belt and bow on Weisz’s gown, and the severe boat neck on Roe’s, but all three gowns would have been much more successful with a full-length – or at least knee-length – skirt underlay. And, in Weisz’s case, a hem that didn’t puddle messily on the ground.

There are plenty of perfectly gorgeous figures that are not flattered by clingy, metallic dresses, and unfortunately, Emily Mortimer has one of those. The straight lines of sequins do not enhance her curves and the tiny belt and shiny fabric both emphasize her (slightly) rounded belly. Her unstyled hair and bland makeup aren’t doing her any favors, either.

I won’t say much about this gown other than to say that when a dress can make Heidi Klum’s boobs look droopy and uneven, it’s a definite fashion DON’T.

It breaks my heart to include Helen Mirren on this list, because I LOVE her. I think she is absolutely stunning, and has only gotten more stunning with age. She even looks stunning in this travesty of a dress, which makes her look as if she is being attacked by an anaconda and is just waiting to be saved by another member of the motorcycle gang who gave her the studded shirt.

It’s embarrassing enough when two celebrities show up wearing almost exactly the same gown. But it’s a hundred times worse when it’s a BAD gown. And it’s a thousand times worse when it’s a bad JUMPSUIT. Neither Julia Roberts nor Kelly Lynch accessorized the outfit with anything other than cleavage, which only added to the shame. At least Lynch had soft, full curls as opposed to Julia’s limp locks.

Sometimes an awards dress is perfect when the wearer first puts it on, but it doesn’t travel well, or she can’t walk in it, or it has some kind of an accident on the way to the event. Poor Julie Bowen must have looked like a million bucks when she got into her limo in this gorgeously draped, amazingly-hued turquoise gown. But by the time she hit the red carpet, the static monster had attacked the sleeve and the skirt, there was a big pull right in the front, and the waistline was wrinkled instead of draped. Even the gorgeous stack of bangles and the contrasting clutch and shoes couldn’t save this gown from its travel woes.

There are a lot of details on Morena Baccarin’s gown that would have worked beautifully alone: the sequined center panel, the pleated skirt, the long train, the sheer sleeves, the cobalt blue color. But combined, they were much too much.
So the next time you look in your mirror and you’re not thrilled with what you see, remember that even the most beautiful women in the world – who have well-paid stylists and price-is-not-object budgets – don’t always look that great, either.

Bookmark and Share

Saturday, January 19, 2013


One of the funniest things my son has ever said – and believe me, that bar is set pretty high – was when we had the following exchange:

Ryan (holding a toy truck): Mama, may I nun you with my impact hammer?
Me: May you what?
Ryan: YOU know, Mama. (Pokes me repeatedly with the truck) Nun nun nun nun nun…

As I’ve discussed in the past, I’m not generally a fan of “verbing,” or creating random verbs out of nouns, at least not when the newly-created words do not in any way enrich the English language. But at the same time, I am a big fan of onomatopoeia (so much so that I didn’t even have to look it up in order to spell it correctly), so creation of novel and expressive verbs that are onomatopoeic is an entirely different category. And it is a category that my son excels in.

There may not be a great need for a word that expresses poking someone repeatedly with a toy truck or other small object, but on the rare occasions that do call for such a word, “nun” is exactly what is called for.

“Nun” is not the only onomatopoeia that my son has coined recently. The other day, he was building some block towers and I heard one come crashing down. I asked him what had happened and he replied, “I ka-chunged it.” Not just “I knocked it down,” but “I ka-chunged it.” Knocking it down could have been caused by any number of factors, including accidentally bumping into it or overbalancing it with one block too many, but ka-chunging it implies a certain deliberation and intent, not to mention an unnecessary use of force.

There are many verbs that he needs to invent to include the deliberate use of unnecessary force. Yesterday afternoon, he informed me, “Mama, you are the bad guy, and I am going to hi-ya you.” The most accurate existing English phrase he could have used is probably “karate chop,” which indicates a striking motion with the side of the hand. But as anyone who has ever seen a 3-year-old imitating martial arts moves knows, this is a less-than-full description of how that child performs a karate chop. A hi-ya, as performed by a 3-year-old, includes the full body following through the motion of the arm, and often also includes a cartoon-like flying up into the air and landing on the posterior. It also usually involves a complete lack of contact with the intended target. All of that information is included in the verb “to hi-ya” in a way it most certainly is not in the verb “to karate chop.”
I am proud of the way my son is contributing to the development and enrichment of the English language. He definitely isn’t on his way to becoming the next Bruce Lee, but he just might turn out to be the next Shakespeare. After all, it was Shakespeare himself who said, “Suit the action to the word, the word to the action.”
Bookmark and Share

Friday, January 18, 2013

Sneaky Milestones

Every parent watches for milestones in their child’s development. There are many obvious milestones, particularly with small babies: the first time they roll over, or sit up without help, or take those first tentative steps. Some milestones come a bit more gradually: learning to talk or read or ride a bike or use the toilet, or outgrowing a car seat or a high chair. Some of them are specific events, like the first day of school, or the first sleepover at a friend’s house, or senior prom, or going away to college. But there are many other milestones that are more subtle, but equally as powerful in reminding parents that their children are growing up. They’re the milestones that sneak up on you.

I hit one of those sneaky milestones the other day when my son and I came inside after playing in the snow. After I hung up my coat in the closet, instead of hanging my son’s parka on the hook when I usually put it, without thinking I grabbed another coat hanger and put his coat on it. As I was reaching to hang the hanger on the rod next to my own coat, it suddenly struck me: My son is grown-up enough that his clothes fit on adult-sized hangers.

There are other sneaky milestones that you often don’t think about until they’ve passed. Things like not having to hold your child’s hand in the parking lot because you can trust him to stay close to you. Not having to remind her to say please and thank you. Letting them play in the yard unsupervised. Leaving them in a room with an open box of crayons knowing you won’t come back to graffiti on the walls. Realizing that the subjects of their paintings are recognizable as people or animals or houses. These are the sneaky milestones that can easily slip past without notice. But they are still hallmarks of development, quiet proclamations that your child is growing up right in front of you.

My son is only three years old, but already I find myself looking back at his baby pictures and wondering where the time went. My mind boggles that in the short span of three years, he has transformed from a personality-less (but adorable) lump into an articulate, interesting, polite, smart young man.

Whose clothes fit onto adult-sized hangers. Wow.
Bookmark and Share