The Best Way….

eggsAs I was preparing to hard boil a few eggs for Easter, I could hear in my head the voices of a few people in my life who hold strong opinions on the best way to complete this particular process.  This is certainly not the first time I’ve ever mastered the art of boiling eggs, but just for kicks, as I was letting the eggs warm up to room temperature (another “must do” tip I’d heard somewhere along the way), I went to the Resource-That-Knows-All, the Internet.  One quick search of “how to hard boil eggs” brought a myriad of rules to follow for the “perfect” hard boiled egg.

I was amused to see how a “recipe” which requires literally two ingredients – water and eggs – could vary so much.  Each source proclaimed theirs was the best way to achieve perfection:  Put enough water in the pot to barely cover the eggs; bring the water level to 4 inches above the eggs; bring the eggs to a boil then turn off the heat immediately; bring the eggs to a boil, turn off the heat, then turn it back on; let the water boil for 1 minute; let the water boil for 30 minutes; add salt; add vinegar; let the eggs sit in the hot water for 12 minutes; remove the eggs from the hot water immediately; rinse the eggs in a colander; put the eggs in ice water for 10 minutes… and on it went.  Each technique proclaimed certain benefits:  less cracking; easier peeling; firmer eggs; freshest taste.

Every one of us has very particular ways we like to cook certain foods. We R.W.’s hang on to our chosen methods with a rather protective ferocity, not quite believing that any one else’s techniques could yield quite the right results.  We are either fully committed to our own recipes and guidelines because we personally like the flavor or format of the results, or – even more likely – our techniques were passed down from generations of Real Women before us, and it is just “the way we’ve always made it.”

Somewhere along the way, Our Way becomes the Right Way and we get downright stubborn about making any changes.  There are specific ways we’ll make things like meatloaf (with ketchup on top?), mashed potatoes (creamy or thick?), grilled cheese sandwiches (butter before grilling?), tuna salad (with celery and mayonnaise?), beef stew (big carrots or small?), deviled eggs (with olives or paprika?)…. And we can get into lengthy discussions with family, friends or co-workers about the “best way” to create a certain successful dish.

One challenge that presents itself is when we get married, or live with a partner or roommate, and suddenly there are two “right ways” facing off in the same kitchen.  I believe men are especially attached to how things “should taste”, usually based on their childhoods or a previous relationship.  We are then tasked with either trying to convert them to “our way”, or feel pressured to make it “just like mom used to.”   I felt like I had successfully climbed Mt. Everest for my husband when I mastered making Italian Wedding Soup like “Ma Pucino” and Corned Beef and Cabbage “just like Teeter’s.”   Yet I have successfully converted both my husband and son to “my” mashed potatoes and meatballs.

Cooking is both a personal, and a social, activity.  We R.W.’s view it as a reflection of ourselves – on our tastes, our styles, our capabilities, even our personalities. We certainly have all experienced failures in the kitchen, and once we have recovered from the horror, they become the stuff of legends and future party stories.  We also have our own “signature dishes” which we proudly present at every opportunity, just waiting for the chorus of “ooh’s”, “aahh’s” and “yums” they evoke.

Even when it comes to the basics – say, boiling eggs – we follow our own “best practices”.  And although it is far from rocket science, we are still proud when we reach perfection. Or, at least, good results.  We feel it is then our mission as R.W.’s to pass along our Tried-and-True Right Way to the next generation.  Sure, they may not adopt it… but we are at least assured of a topic to be discussed over dinner at the next holiday gathering.

Bon Appetit!






Not Something to Brag About

busy stunningBusy-Bragging.  Have you heard about this?

It is a trend, or perhaps I should call it a phenomena, which is getting some attention lately in the media.  We all know R.W.’s who do it. We have each likely been guilty of it ourselves.  It is when we complain about being too busy all the time.  We are just SO busy, we can’t keep up with all that we have to do.  And yet, even though we are overwhelmed, frustrated, and complaining, it is like we are participating in some sort of weird one-upsmanship.  As in, I’m busier than anyone else – you think you are busy? Well listen to what’s on MY plate….  As if we want to wear this ugly badge of honor.

Sure, we all know what it is like to feel busy.  It is how we R.W’s roll.  We have our moments of high stress, those overwhelmed feelings where we want to call out “Calgon take me away!”  (Yes, I’m aware I showed my age with that reference.).  But how often do we really consider what our lives would be like if we didn’t have all this to do?  What if our lives weren’t this full?  If you didn’t have those kids in your life who need a mom-chauffer; if you didn’t have that job you go to every day; if you didn’t have that home that needs cleaning, or the food in the fridge that needs cooking?   How would it feel instead to NOT be busy – at all?  I admit, there have been times when I slip into my busy-martyr personae and say “oh, how I’d love to feel bored for a day.”  But in reality, I know I’d hate it.  (well, ok, so my fantasy of escaping all by myself to a beach for three days would be rather lovely…but really, I’d only need three days…promise.)

Perhaps rather than complaining, or busy-bragging, we should be showing a bit more gratitude for our full lives.  Next time we feel the urge to open our mouths to tell another how we are just too busy, we could say we are thankful for what we have.  Can you imagine how much more positive that would sound?

And here’s something else we can feel.  Pride.  Which is not the same as bragging.  After all, we really are busy, and we really do juggle a lot, squeezing as much as we can out of every minute of the day.  We do a pretty amazing job of it.  So I think there is no harm in every now and then admitting to ourselves  “dang, I was productive today. I rock.”

My sister sent me an email the other day with a classic example of all that we R.W.’s manage in a day.  She had an appointment outside her office, and reported the following accomplishments within 80 minutes:  Checked email; drove to doctor’s office and back; filled out paperwork; cleaned out handbag; got mammogram; had bone density test; power-shopped a favorite dress shop and put two outfits on hold; picked up lunch; reloaded an App on her phone at a stop light.   Not too shabby. And you know what?  She felt pretty darn good about her productivity.  And she should.

So what do you say?  Shall we start our own form of rehab from busy-bragging?  How about the next time any of us are making dinner while checking a child’s homework, starting a load of wash, clearing the kitchen table, carrying on a conversation with our spouse, returning emails about our volunteer responsibilities and preparing for our next work day, instead of stopping to complain about it, we take a deep breath, look around at all we have in our lives and say “yeah. I’m good.”




Making a Difference

differenceThis past week I had the good fortune to fit in a short vacation with girlfriends to visit my sister. This required some air travel, and during one of my layovers, I marveled at the sea of people flowing through just that one concourse of the airport that I was in.

A couple primary thoughts bounced into my head.  First, isn’t it rather amazing that we can spend a full day around so many people, and not recognize anyone?  To not personally know one face in a crowd?   Even in my own “local” airport, there was not a chance meeting, no running into anyone I knew, even though I’ve lived in my area for almost 20 years.  There are so very many people beyond our immediate daily scope of interaction who live, work, play, or travel within just a few miles of each of us.  And yet we’ll never officially meet.

That led me to think about that expanse of people, of other human beings, some very different from me, some so very similar, I’m sure many other R.W.’s, who were streaming by me– and then multiply that by a few hundred million, and that’s just the population in the U.S…. how about multiply it by a zillion (ok, that’s an exaggeration, but I’ve always loved that word)…and…wow.  That is a lot of unknown faces.  And I thought, “how does one person ever make a difference in a world of so many souls?”

I’ve always had in mind a goal of somehow leaving a mark, a legacy of some sort, so when I’ve left this world and moved on to that celestial world of peace and harmony, that I would be remembered, or will have made some sort of difference.  What I haven’t quite determined yet, of course, is what that legacy will be.  I’m still working on that part.

So during my travels I began to wonder, what kind of differences can normal, Real Women make?   Sure, we read about celebrities who have the funds and the followers to successfully take on a charity, crisis, or third world development need.   We’ve read in our history books and watched world news and marveled over amazing people like Nelson Mandela.  Closer to home, we all know unique, special people who devote their lives to volunteering all of their time and energies to one or more worthy causes.  We hear of the woman who creates the next great product in her basement and achieves world-wide fame, or becomes a history-making company leader or political figure.  We are keenly thankful and amazed by the daily work done by emergency care workers and military personnel.

But what of regular Real Women?  All those who work “normal” 40 – 50-hour-a-week jobs, and spend any of their “free” time taking care of family and home?  How do they break away to make a difference in their world?

The answer, I have come to believe, is simply in looking at a slightly smaller version of our worlds.  Who says the “difference” we make, or the legacy we create, has to be something a stranger 3,000 miles away will notice?   Who says that the impression we leave has to be about anything earth-shattering or unusual?   If we make a difference in just one person’s life, does that make it any less important?

And so I’ve begun to pay a bit more attention to the changes we Real Women make every day to the people, or world, immediately around us.   Some are pretty obvious. For example, one of my BFF’s works for a hospice, where she, and her co-workers, make obvious differences every day in the lives of families who come to them for support and comfort.  But sometimes the differences are less obvious, and for the person making them, simply part of life.  Like there’s the mom caring for a special needs son. The teacher helping a child learn. The teenager who helps hand out sandwiches to the group of homeless at a church function.  The neighbor who comes over in the middle of the night to watch the children when the parents are suddenly called away.  The pedestrian who catches the run away dog before it gets hit by a car.  All important. All making a difference.  Memorable?  To the person affected, you bet it is.

It takes about 30 seconds for any of us to think of an instant, even in the past week, where someone made a difference in our life.  For me, it was on my vacation.  As luck would have it, I celebrated my time away by contracting the Flu.  Instantly, I had 3 women stepping in to take care of me (and a forth long-distance via text!).  Had I been alone, I would have been far more miserable, and likely sicker.  But with them, I had the bonding of R.W. Sisterhood, got the care I needed immediately and still managed to enjoy the trip.  Without even trying hard (in their minds), they made a difference.

As far as legacies go, who knows how long any of us will be remembered for who we are and what we do while we are here on earth.  I have a hunch, however, that it will be for far longer than we expect.  Just recently, a friend shared a memory of my mom with me, more than two decades after her passing; and they said simply: I miss her.   Not too shabby for someone who was not a world traveler, Nobel Prize Winner, celebrity or heart surgeon.  She was “simply” a Real Woman mom.  But her legacy certainly lives on.

Let’s not be too worried about being a world-wide phenomenon, or changing the course of a population. Let’s instead stay focused on making our differences one small step at a time.   Guaranteed, something we do today will matter in a big way to someone else.



Yay Me

me ice cream“Tomorrow is the first page of a 365 page book. Write a good one.”

Today is my birthday.   And I’m ok with that.

(Although now I have The Beatles’ “Happy Birthday” running through my head.)

When we are young, we can’t wait for the next birthday.  We are filled with excitement over getting another year older.  Birthdays are day-long, sometimes even week-long, celebrations.  There are parties, friends, activities, and gobs of gifts we may or may not ever play with.  My mom used to throw awesome birthday parties for us as kids, complete with family, friends, cake and games.  As a matter of fact, I came across a photo recently of one of my birthday parties as a little girl, and there I am, blind-folded, clearly not pinning the tail anywhere near the appropriate anatomical part of the donkey picture on the wall.  What can I say, I’ve always been blonde.

As we get older, and become mature Real Women, that sugar-high excitement over birthdays diffuses a bit.  Certainly every birthday deserves a celebration of some sort. What’s not to love about a bit of pampering, some time with friends and family, and a good dinner out?  But that “oh, goodie, I’m a year older!” feeling is just not there.  Instead, birthdays become much less about the number (I vote to stop counting past 35), and more of a time for appreciation, reminiscing, and goal-setting for our next milestones.

Anyone who knows me, knows that one of my common phrases in past years has been “I don’t want to get old.”  My fear has never been about having too much time on this earth – after all, I really do hope that I’ve got another good 40+ years in me.  No, my fear has been more about the affects of aging on my body and mind.  I’ve had a really hard time loosening my grip on my longed-for youth.

But a funny thing seems to be happening this year.  I’m easing up a bit, and starting to learn to accept that age happens – or I’m trying to.  Our bodies change.  And as long as I take care of this body I have, I hopefully will be able to enjoy the next few decades.  Now, please take note that I will need to be reminded of these words the next time I wake up in the morning and panic over a new crop of grey hair, get depressed over 3 more wrinkles, pout about my muffin top, or get frustrated over achy knees.  I didn’t say this was an easy progression.

I do intend to stay as healthy as I can for as long as I can. First of all, with this economy, I will likely need to keep working for many years to come, so I will need to be a healthy, spry and smart old lady.  Secondly, I will need to keep my eyesight and dexterity so I can keep scrapping.  I have my priorities.

So beyond the attempt to come to terms with the aging process, I’ve naturally learned to appreciate each day we have, especially the birthdays.  It is our time to truly be aware and thankful for the amazing people we have in our lives, the experiences we’ve had, and how blessed and lucky we are to have made it through another year.  We can remember both the good times and the bad – because they all make us who we are.  And, as part of my “don’t be scared to get older” philosophy, I’m getting into setting goals for things I want to do before the next big milestone.  I have places I want to go, accomplishments I want to complete, experiences I want to enjoy.  It makes me not cringe so much about another year, but – dare I say it? – get excited about what’s to come.

Ok, so I’m not in my 20’s any more.  Not in my 30’s either.  And there’s a big scary number looming on the horizon.  But this is the year that I’m going to try to look forward more, and not lament the loss of my past youth so much. I’m going to focus on squeezing every drop of good stuff I can out of every moment, and having the energy and awareness to appreciate it along the way.   There is another great quote that I’d rather take to heart, by Hunter S. Thompson:  “Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming “Wow! What a Ride!”

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got some livin’ to do, and there is a fun fruity celebratory drink waiting for me.





A Reason to Celebrate

shamrock“Different roads sometimes lead to the same castle.”  -  George R.R. Martin, A Game of Thrones

The Irish are an enthusiastic and hearty bunch.  So much so, that St. Patrick’s Day has become a day of celebration for everyone.  “Everyone is a little bit Irish on St. Patrick’s Day.”  I find this fascinating… no other cultural or ethnic day of observance seems to have become more all encompassing than the day dedicated to the “wearing of the green” – other than, of course, the primary religious holidays for various Faiths.

As a matter of fact, St. Patrick’s Day was originally a religious feast day for the patron saint of Ireland.  However over time it seems to have become more about celebrating a culture and a country, and having a whole ‘lotta fun.  Perhaps St. Patrick’s Day is embraced so robustly because it holds with it a promise of spring after a long winter.  Or, maybe it is so popular because it is has somehow been transformed into a reason to not only accept, but encourage, drinking heavily all day long, and eating traditional Irish comfort foods.   Some of the original meaning behind the many traditions of the celebration have been lost, accept to those who truly are Irish and remember their history classes or church school lessons.  For example, I never knew the legend that St. Patrick used a shamrock to visually illustrate the concept of the Holy Trinity.  I just thought the plant was symbolic because it grows rampant in that country… either way, people everywhere will be wearing the green leaves on this day.

As far as I know, I have not a drop of Irish blood in me, accept through marriage. My husband is at least partially Irish.  He certainly has some of the recognizable traits – loyalty, good sense of humor, quick temper, blue eyes, a fondness for Irish Whiskey and meat ‘n potato meals.  At the risk of offending anyone, I will admit that I don’t care for beer or whiskey, am not a huge fan of Irish music, don’t even really like the color green, and only made corned beef and cabbage tonight because my husband enjoys it.  But I do find all of the frivolity around the day amusing.

I think about other nationalities, cultures and ethnicities in this melting pot we call the United States, and wonder if any of them come close to the kind of universal acceptance and participation as this day of green.  Certainly, some cities, towns and neighborhoods that have a robust population of people with shared origins will host festivals, food fairs or parades.  From time to time we’ll hear of Italian, Puerto Rican, German and Polish festivals and celebrations.  But generally speaking, those of us who are not part of those cultures don’t go running off to the Party Store to buy hats, corsages, noise makers and giant drink glasses to jump into the action.

And what of the more lesser-known, or not as celebrated backgrounds?  If we each could design a day to celebrate our own heritage, what would it look like?  How would we recognize our origins?   I am, at least partly, Swiss.  What would my day of celebration be like?  I did do a little research, and every year on November 1st, Christians in Switzerland honor all saints, particularly those who do not have their own special feast day.  That struck me as ironically typical of our image of the Swiss people. How nice of them, honoring those who didn’t already have a special day.  I imagine an All Saints Swiss celebration would be a bunch of us spending the day peacefully and politely skiing, or doing crafts like wood carving and embroidery, and eating lots of cheese, chocolate and bread.  Perhaps we’d get really wild and crazy and have a Fondue Cook-Off.   Not sure that kind of party attitude would get everyone clamoring to be “Swiss for a day.”

Even more to the point, how would most of us even know which heritage to celebrate?  As time goes on, our melting pot mixes more and more cultures into each of us.  A couple of years ago, when my son came home with a school assignment to create a poster about his ancestor’s cultures, we figured he had about six to choose from.  Part of the grandeur of this country, and the people who live in it, is the variety we all represent.  Yet in a way, could this mean we may lose the grasp we have on our own heritage and cultures?

There is a great Modern Family episode where Lily’s Dads take her to a Vietnamese Restaurant so she can learn about her background, because they clearly don’t know anything about it.  At the same time, Gloria has a meltdown because she’s concerned her son is losing touch with his Colombian roots.   It is a very funny, yet touching, message about knowing who we are and where we came from, and honoring our traditions and cultures.

One thing is for certain.  Some of us may recognize our backgrounds have become a bit muddy; but there is no doubt that we all have a ferocious grip on our strength and pride in being Americans.   So grab a frothy glass of green liquid and raise it high -– no matter what your origin is today, we all have something to celebrate.



Impossible to Ignore

boobiesSlightly more than 50% of the population have them, or some variation of them. Men revere them.  Babies need them.  Women worry about them.

Yes, I’m talking about mam’s, ta-tas, The Girls, boobies, breasts.  My apologies to any of my male readers out there who now feel uncomfortable.  Honestly, I gave great thought as to whether or not I was comfortable being rather public with this topic.  After all, even my Dad follows my blog.  (Sorry, Daddy).  But then I thought about how the media and medical professionals are encouraging us all to speak more openly about prostate health, the importance of regular colonoscopies for both sexes, and how we are now even subjected to tv commercials promoting Viagra.  So I decided that yes, in certain situations, we can be brave enough to venture into the topic of Ta-Ta’s.

We Real Women have a complex relationship with them.  Not only are we quite obviously physically attached, but emotionally attached as well.  They are arguably the most obvious symbol of our femininity.  If we have nice ones, or for those who have spent time and money to enhance them, we like to show them off.  Some of us nurse our children with them, forming an unbreakable bond.  We can’t help but admit that they were likely involved in at least the initial attraction we received from our partners.  After all, boobs seem to be to men what nectar is to hummingbirds.  They can be worn with pride.

However, many of us are less than thrilled with what we are blessed with above the waist.  There are those of us who wish we were more endowed while others of us wish we had less — and even go so far as to have reduction surgery.  As we age, and the perkiness dwindles, we begin to feel less enamored with how The Girls look. We get worried that they are too lopsided, that gravity has kicked in too much, that cleavage wrinkles are appearing.  We begin to wish we had worn more bikini’s and tank tops when we could, and had appreciated them more in our youth.

Beyond the questionable beauty of them (really, I often wonder what men find so fascinating about these sacks of glands), we of course have health to consider.  And therein lies a whole ‘nother land of worry.   After a certain age, we get into an annual or bi-annual routine of subjecting The Girls to analysis via unpleasant compression or other means.   I recently saw an amusing video that had been posted on FaceBook of two men who had allowed themselves to be strapped with electrodes in order to experience a simulation of the labor pains their wives had endured during child birth.  The results were eye-opening and painful for the men, but pretty darn funny for all moms.  Trust me, men, in a similar way, you don’t want to experience the discomfort of a mammogram.  At my most recent analysis I told the technician that her instructions to hold my breath were unnecessary – it already takes your breath away.

During this process of course is the inevitable wait in the little room, where we R.W.’s sit and hope for an “all is well, see you next year” instead of “the doctor would like to talk to you.”    According to the American Cancer Society, an estimated 296,000 women in the U.S. will be diagnosed with breast cancer this year.  1 in 8 women will be diagnosed in their lifetime.  1 in 8!  That number seems shocking until we each stop to think about the women in our lives.  Virtually every one of us knows someone who has waged that battle.   Even more eye-opening to me was my realization that out of my Personal Board of Directors, my group of BFF’s, EVERY ONE of us has had to have at least one biopsy or similar procedure to check on potential issues.  One of my BFFs, that “lucky #8”, has fought (and thankfully come out on top of) the cancer war.  Startling, yes.  But in many ways, comforting.  With one simple phone call or email, BFFs circle around with words of support, advice, and comfort any time one of us has to face a procedure and endure the wait for results. We recently joked about starting a club of those of us with implanted titanium chips.  We could call ourselves the Bionic Boobies.

There is no way to over-state the importance of routine exams.  I will put off seeing my general practitioner. I will delay getting to the dentist. However I never miss an OB/Gyn appointment or mammogram.  Certainly the check ups and procedures are no fun.  But the odds are too high, the opportunity for early detection too vital, to take our Real Women health too casually.

Regardless of what the men in our lives may believe, these Ta-Ta’s belong to us.  Love ‘em or not, it is our duty to take care of them.



And So It Begins

greg hOne of the amazing traits in young children is their seemingly universal acceptance of each other. I love watching toddlers and pre-schoolers interact with each other. The playmates could be tall, short, wide, thin, purple, blue or green – it just doesn’t matter.  They are not yet tainted by any form of prejudice or unreasonable biases.  They operate on a philosophy of “If I get mad at you and cry, it is because you took one of my toys or I need a nap.  Otherwise you are A.O.K. in by book.”

Flash forward to the pre-teen and teen years.  That innocence starts to fade, and the kids start to form opinions, right or wrong, about each other. Middle school in particular is a cesspool of hormones, emerging individualities and tests of self confidence. Groups and cliques begin to form.  The good news is strong friendships begin and can last through their lifetimes.  The bad news is universal acceptance is no longer the norm.  Granted, you couldn’t pay me to be 13 again.  Well, unless of course, I could be 13 and already armed with what I know now.

As a general rule, most young teens are not inherently “bad” kids.  As a matter of fact, most are pretty amazing. They are just struggling to find their way in the transition from little kid to young adult, forming their personalities and interests that will carry them through high school and beyond.  Naturally I’m biased, but my son is pretty awesome.  He’s smart, funny, and overall a really good kid.  Our biggest issue with him, like so many others, is his apparent addiction to electronic screens of all kinds.  And, like all others in his age range, he’s becoming a “typical teen.”  He gets moody and mopey from time to time, doesn’t want to do his chores, finds humor in things we just don’t understand, and can’t possibly consume enough food in one day.  I had to laugh recently when he posted “ Rules of My Room” on his bedroom door, most of which involved his privacy and could we PLEASE remember to close his door when we exit.

Despite the ever changing teen attitude, we noticed recently that his outlook on school had changed a bit. It had veered off from being “an inconvenience that keeps me from other things I’d rather be doing” to “I hate it.”  Moodiness or not, coming from him, that seemed pretty harsh.

About a week ago, after a particularly cranky evening, I ventured into his inner sanctum (bedroom) to attempt to get to the bottom of whatever was eating at him. Now, I have come to believe that talking to a teen boy is like an archeological dig.  Best done carefully, casually, gently wiping away the layers, preferably working side by side with limited eye contact.  If you dig too hard and too fast, you run the risk of it all falling apart, and walking away not getting what you were looking for.

Luck was with me that night, and after a few “I dunno” answers, my digging uncovered the gold nugget and he fessed up.  A boy in several of his classes, who happened to have a locker right next to him, had been picking on him with name calling.  The name itself wasn’t really the issue (honestly, I didn’t even understand it, it was made up words that rhymed), but it was the repetitive, taunting way it was used, and the fact the kid had even developed an obnoxious child-like song to accompany it.

Now from what we could tell, there hadn’t been any major event that had started this issue.  The taunter was shorter and smaller than my son, and there had been no initial argument to kick it off.  But for whatever reason, this boy targeted my son.  My son was clearly very upset about the situation, after he finally unveiled it to us.  I asked him why he hadn’t said anything sooner, reminding him that his school is strongly “anti-bullying.”  He said he didn’t think it was a “big enough” deal, that it didn’t really constitute bullying.  Ok, so it hadn’t gotten to the point where the kid was attempting to physically push my son around, and it wasn’t an issue of rampant cyber-bullying and rumor spreading…but it certainly was something that needed to stop.

We asked him how he reacted when the kid did this taunting. He replied “mostly just stand there and take it.”  Then he said “well….accept…. promise you won’t get mad at me?”  We braced ourselves for what he was about to say.  Then he confessed that one day, during gym class, when he couldn’t take it anymore from this kid, our son called him a prick and kicked him in the shin.   Maybe I’m a bad mom, but part of me inside was saying “Bravo!” and wanted to laugh.  Luckily I held back.

The resolution, happily, was easy.  The next morning my husband and I went to see the vice principal with our son, explained the situation, and by that afternoon we received a call that the boy had been talked to, along with some of his friends, they fessed up, the parents were called, and strict punishment was promised if it continued. So far, all has been quiet since.  And that, in a way, shows the beauty of Middle School and that age.  When they are called out, know they are in the wrong, they straighten out and fly right – at least for a while.

However, this whole small event was eye-opening to me.  It made me wonder, was it really like this when we were kids?  Was there such an issue with bullying during our youth?  Were we that mean to each other?  I don’t remember it being that way.  I think in our day, we all certainly had our own groups and cliques, and we just avoided anyone who wasn’t within our group.  But for the most part, I really don’t remember being purposefully rude to others.

But more importantly, it made me think “and so it begins.”  That cute little blond toddler and pre-schooler boy of mine who used to play happily along side any other child is now having to find his own boundaries and learn that life isn’t always as easy as sharing toys.  That there are going to be challenges with others, there are going to be mean people in his life.  And I pray that it doesn’t taint him, that he continues on a good path to be as open, caring and accepting of others as possible.

I wish I could gather all teenagers together and show them a future mirror.  Flash them forward to 20 years down the road when they will be at a high school reunion and realize they are all on the same playing field. They will all be gaining weight and losing hair, all working hard trying to do the best for their families, all following their dreams or at least trying to have successful careers…and once again, moving back to universal acceptance of each other.   Eventually, in our adult lives, we come full circle – and those cliques, those warped opinions, the whole concern over who’s cooler than who – that just doesn’t matter.  Just like in pre-school.

But until then, we just have to strap ourselves in for the bumpy ride through the teen years and hope we all come out on the other end a bit dizzy, but smiling.