Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Escape at the Dentist's

I don’t need Novocain.

I’ve got kids and it’s summer.

My threshold for pain is, shall we say, higher than the average patient's. In fact, getting 45 minutes to recline in the leather dentist’s chair with only the sound of a drill humming in the background is as peaceful as it gets these days.

“You only have two tiny cavities,” my dentist said, looking over my chart. “Do you want me to numb you?”

The problem with the numbness is that it tends to stay that way for about four hours. There is one version of the shot my dentist administers that dissipates faster, but it’s still not much fun feeling like a swollen bug bite has taken over your mouth.

“Just go for it,” I said.  And with that, I donned the over-sized black sunglasses and checked out for a while.

There was drilling and the suction of water, the taste of something foul, the tap, tap tap, of that sheet of blue paper that indicates how even the fillings are—and there was the quiet conversation crisscrossing above me as the hygienist and the dentist handed off equipment.

Ah, peace.

No one asked me for a snack. In fact, I was often handed a small paper cup filled with water and provided a moveable funnel in which to spit.  Such service.

No one fought over who got more of my attention. Only occasionally did the dentist request that I turn to face her, but that was done delicately and in everyone’s best interest.

When it was all over, I got to use their restroom and no one followed in behind me asking where she left her dirty socks.

I paid and didn’t have to fend off requests for gum at the checkout line.

I should add that my dentist’s office is in a brownstone in Princeton. Legend has it that Einstein used to go there.  It’s a stately building, still, with Persian carpets and soothing wall colors, and a Keurig machine in the quaint waiting room. My dentist is a woman about my age with two young children, whom I met at a Music Together class on her day off. I could spend all day at her place. It might require a root canal or oral surgery, but it’d be lovely.

A few hours after I got home, when the peaceful feeling of my “me-time” had been overwhelmed by the reality that followed, one nagging thought entered my mind.


My mouth hurt.

Thanks for reading. Follow on Twitter @educatedmomMP


Thursday, June 11, 2015

Help! It's Summer...Top 10 Things I Shouldn't Have Said

As anyone who has followed this blog knows, times of difficulty bring about creative, or, perhaps, desperate, writing. And so it goes with the past seven days, when the the joys of summer vacation have lost their golden hue and I've sunk to uttering the phrases experts caution parents not to say. 

"This is ridiculous."

"Is it 5 o'clock yet?"

And, the one that never makes it to print, "Yes, you can watch another show."

Below, however, are the Top 10 Sentences I've uttered in the past 7 days, phrases that perhaps you might recognize.

TOP 10 "Help! It's Summer" Sentences 

1. Well, it’s 10am. I’m not making your lunch yet.

2. Your babysitter is a lacrosse ref. You have to behave.

3. If we were roommates, you could get upset with me for drinking the last Bai5. But I’m your mom, so, this is different.

4. I can’t be in two places at once, by which I mean, I can’t help your sister and you at the same time even if you are, technically, in the same place.

5. Thank you for bringing me the tub of yogurt. But, I’m upstairs. And you’re going to need a bowl.

6. The dog has something on his paw that is not chocolate ice cream.

7. Of course I will help you clean your closet. Here’s the thing.  It’s 10 pm.

8. The days seem short to you? Tell me about that.

9. I know the pool water is cold. They don’t heat it. Apparently, because then it gets cold again.

And the favorite thing I’ve uttered to my children today:

10. You start camp next week.

Finally, the top five things I've done to keep my cool as the kids, the heat, and the inability to do two things at once get a little intense:

1. Wake up before sunrise to go to yoga.
2. Drink a mug of tea at bedtime.
3. Actually, I've only done two things. I haven't figured out the other three.

Thanks for reading. If you're counting down the days until the end of the school year...why?


Saturday, January 31, 2015

MASH: Where Where You?

Where were you between the years 1972 and 1983? I went from not-being-born to becoming a nine-year- old. And if you asked me what TV show I remember my parents watching throughout that decade it was MASH. I have a feeling we comprised four of the 125 million people watching the final episode in late February of 1983, which, as legend has it, created a drop in water pressure in New York City because everyone headed to the bathroom at the same time after the episode ended.

Mash is coming to Netflix (streaming I presume) in February, according to the company, and it’s being touted as another show to “binge watch.” Many of us grew up watching re-runs of the episodes through the 80’s, but the idea of pushing a button and watching episode after episode on a hand-held screen would have seemed like something from the Jetson’s.

It will be interesting to revisit this show as an adult. There were at least three misconceptions I had when I was a naïve kid catching it while my parents let me stay up late, or later, on afternoons in re-runs.

The first was that the war was about Vietnam. I was told it was about the Korean War, but I remember not knowing how to put that in context and eventually just associating the green fatigues with the ones I’d seen more recently in the news about Vietnam.

The second misconception I had was that the show was a comedy, missing the darker side to the comedy that make it, in some descriptions, a dramady or dark-comedy. Which brings me to the third thing I mistook about the show as a kid, which, as with the dark tone, would be any sexual innuendo or theme of romance. 

So now that the series will be on Netflix, I’ll be seeing it from the perspective of an adult. Alan Alda, the tall, wry, doctor, Hawkeye Pierce, is now almost 80. And, as many have stated, the 256 episodes of MASH far outlived the three-year war on which it was based.

Last February, well before MASH came to Netflix, comedy writer Ken Levine wrote in his blog about what happened once they took the film from a Hollywood lab to the studio.

“Once we approved the final product the show was shipped to CBS. They transferred it to videotape and that’s what they aired. First you lost a generation due to the transfer. And then for whatever reason CBS’s color was just a bit off.”

Watching the show on disc 40 years later, Levine said the color was closer to what he remembered seeing before the transfers.

Levine’s post came before Netflix’s acquisition, but maybe we’ll all be seeing MASH in a whole new light.

This post is part of my monthly series on shows to watch, with our without the kids. I have a blog about education, "Never the First to Finish: Why Pace Matters"  featured on the website Getting Smart this week. I invite you to hop on over. Thanks for reading Lunch Box Mom. 

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Young Lovers with a Grocery Cart...

One recent Saturday night, around 6pm, I dashed into the grocery store to pick up dinner. My husband was with our kids and it was a rare trip to the store by myself, free of my two mini-me’s who ask for samples and overpriced packs of frozen kefir. I flew through the aisles with nobody interrupting my thoughts.

But then I saw them. The couples that go to the grocery store together. These were the young lovers who still had time to shop together because they enjoyed it. They’d pick out some food, go home and cook, and maybe even watch a movie. They’d watch the entire film, too, neither calling it quits three-quarters of the way through because sleep was more prized than closure, even ones Hollywood devises.

They think they’re busy, these couples on the tip of marriage. They don't have time to grocery shop until six o’clock on a weekend, after all. They don’t have a single bit of time between waking up at 10am, going for a jog, catching part of the football game on TV, and finishing the book for book club.

“Want to go out for dinner?” one of them asks.

“Let’s cook. We need more organic free trade coffee, anyway, and I’d like to pick up some chia seeds.”

And so they stroll through the aisles with a tiny basket or maybe a cart. What interesting crepuscular creatures. I was once among them. 

Now, I am part of the brood of mothers who shop before they shower, early during the week or at 1pm on a Sunday when well-dressed four-year-olds lose it by the soup station. I am there next to the mothers who manage to nurse a child in a sling while keeping four others in sight with a version of hands on a hard grocery cart. Don’t touch the squares of chocolate near the register. And they don’t.

In our salad days, when we shopped for greens at Bread and Circus, my husband and I would buy some prepared food and sneak it into the movie theatre. That was before children, when we lived recklessly and saw movies in something called a movie theatre. 

So I say to those young lovers in the produce section, enjoy the moment while you can. Sniff the melon together and ponder the differences between yams and sweet potatoes.

One day soon, when the kids are in grade school and your dog has white whiskers, you’ll go to the store at 6pm on a Saturday night, and be thankful that you're yourself. And maybe you, too, will marvel at those young lovers who stroll slowly down the aisles, remembering when that was you.

Photo credit: click here.

Thanks for reading. I invite you to follow me on Twitter. I've got two other recent posts to share, one on The Washington Post's On Parenting blog about parents behaving badly, as well as a round-up of articles on ADHD on The Educated Mom. 

Monday, September 15, 2014

When they hatch, count them

I don’t count my chickens until they hatch, a habit that’s gotten me into trouble, as it did when my figurative chicken hatched three weeks early and I almost delivered her in an elevator. But it’s also saved me heartache, with several, “I never thought it would happen anyway” predictions I’d rather have been wrong about.

Still, I’ve always known, for a fact, that the calendar would eventually arrive at the second of September 2014. And for several months, I’ve known that on that day, despite my superstitious doubts, both kids would finally attend the same school. No more preschool: they’d be in together in elementary school.

One school. One drive. One calendar. One parents’ association. One place to focus our commitment to their learning.

Did I say one drive?

For the past three years, I’ve been doing what folks around here call the Bermuda Triangle. The towns aren’t that far away: twenty minutes here, twenty minutes there, a bit of traffic at the expected times.  Everyone knows the drill. It’s a triangle, but you feel that you’re just driving in circles. And it’s added an extra hour and a half each day for what on paper seems to be only a few miles.

I don’t think most parents look for sympathy when they admit to hating a part of their routine that is of their own making. But can I share an unexpected moment of happiness?

It snuck up on me like a jolt of giddiness at 4pm the day before school started: an honest smile that wouldn’t leave. My husband said I was glowing. It wasn’t a compliment. He was reading a book and looked up because of the glare.

How we’d gotten into the Bermuda Triangle rut, as with most things in life, was due to a haphazard collection of choices. We found jobs, a home, an elementary school, a preschool, and bam—we were in the Bermuda Triangle.

The time-sucking danger zone wasn’t just on the literal road, it was in other things: school schedules that didn’t overlap which was a real shuffle when I was teaching full time and we had three schedules to remember. And friendships, not for my children, but for me. In some ways, I could say I doubled my connections. But to be honest, I was pulled. I was always in a rush to get to the other school and not able to commit to the things that build relationships beyond a pleasant “hello”.

These woes were all small beans in the context of larger problems, but over time, minor burdens take their toll, ones you may not appreciate fully until they’re lifted.

And that’s what happened.

While my girls took one last jump in the town pool they’ve played in all summer, my husband and I sat in the late afternoon sun, and I realized, that at long last, I could finally count my chickens.

Thank you for reading Lunch Box Mom. I invite you to hop over to my blog focused on education and parenting, The Educated Mom, to see my new post on the JoltSensor, a concussion tracking device invented by a recent MIT grad. It may change the way you watch from the sidelines.