Life Lessons (guest post by Bridget Straub)

Image courtesy of Digital Sextant via Fliickr.Here’s a dilemma that came up with my eleven year old daughter.  She came home from school yesterday ten dollars richer, thanks to another classmate who insisted she take this money for no apparent reason.  Naturally, I told her she had to give it back and naturally, she did not want to.  “That money comes with a huge danger sign attached to it,” I told her. She disagreed and insisted she couldn’t give it back, and that it would be rude to do so.  She said she had told the girl at the time the money was offered, that it was too much, but the girl wanted her to have it.  “She’s trying to buy your friendship and it’s not okay,”  I said.  Round and round we went.
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Q of the Week : Any Interesting Encounters with Strangers Lately?

In the comments to my Friday Roundup (in which I refer to the subject of failing to feel lovely, among other tidbits and links) my friend Karin commented that she finds it a good antidote, when feeling unlovely, to do something nice for someone else “… even if it’s just flashing a brilliant smile and a sincere thank you to the coffee guy who looks more miserable than you - their startled and pleased smile could be just the thing you need!”  It stuck with me, and when casting about for a Question today (the 186th one so yes it gets hard some days!) I remembered a not-so-nice encounter on the subway last week, and here we are. 

So what interesting or meaningful or simply memorable encounters have you had with strangers lately?  Glances, conversation, helpfulness, kindness, nastiness … what’s your story?  I’ve had a few that stick out, and I’ll get the nasty one out of the way first. 

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Q of the Week : How Do You Respond to Compliments?

Can you tell I hate having my picture taken? He was supposed to be taking pix of the boys hunting for easter eggs. I’m terrible at dealing with physical compliments.  Especially if they come from my husband.  He tells me I look beautiful?  I say “if you think so.”  Catch him staring at me with that look in his eye?  “What are you staring at??”.  I’m all gracious like that.  Yeah, really kind and appreciative.  Honestly?  It freaks me out a bit.  I don’t like having my picture taken, and send sardonic looks at the camera if I can’t actually escape it. It’s like I can’t really believe what he’s saying, and if I do, then I must be proud.  If I agree to it, then maybe he’s just fishing for sex.  What’s up with that assumption?  I have issues I guess.
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I'm not regretting it ... yet

Maybe homeschooling has changed me more than I thought.  Yesterday I lugged the boys downtown on the bus, to stock up at my favorite two stores in Bklyn, Sahadis and TJs.  As always, I bought more than I could really carry, and ended up staggering back to the bus with a loaded backpack and two shopping bags, barely able to hold Fynn’s hand.  As we approached the bus stop, we passed the usual row of street vendors, hawking everything from workbooks to cell phone covers to silk shawls. I ignored them all, but managed to catch a glimpse of a small stack of clear plastic containers with neon-colored lids, each housing something that looked like a wee turtle. 
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Friday Roundup ...

Tidbits from my week, some observed, some linked … enjoy and have a great weekend!

  • Being real is scary and makes me feel vulnerable, but utterly necessary and I need to do it more often.
  • This powerful post on motherhood and identity on Her Bad Mother’s Basement comes from the other side of the fence in terms of kids and identity, and I found it a fascinating read.  I don’t relate personally, but utterly respect her position.  
  • As I walked down the sidewalk yesterday afternoon, with both kids in tow and likely a longsuffering expression on my face, a couple and their two kids passed me going the other direction.  The father had just had some sort of a confrontation with the girl, and as we passed each other, he turned to me and said “This parenting thing is HARD!”.  I was jolted into agreeing wholeheartedly, and went on my way feeling a bit less frustrated with my day, and little less alone.
  • How I spent five hours of my life on one pretnatal check up, thanks to Bethany Actually.  We’ve all had days like this …

Q of the Week : What do you do when someone else parents your kids? (by Darah Z.)

Have you ever been in a situation where a stranger took it upon herself to either instruct your kid or blatantly scold them in front of you? It’s uncomfortable and complicated indeed- on so many levels. First, if your ego doesn’t completely overtake you and send you on a rampage to tell that person where they can “stick” their unsolicited advice, you may feel inadequate as a parent. Why didn’t I address that issue with my kid first? Secondly, perhaps that other person is a friend, co-worker, acquaintance or other parent and has something valuable to offer- something you hadn’t thought of. Lastly, how is this total disregard for your status interpreted by your child?

Of course, when one takes it upon himself to discipline your kid in your absence that’s one thing; when it is done in your presence - that’s another story.
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A fresh perspective

Walking home with my boys today after school, they were in full swing as usual.  We were on our final block and Douglas was in explanation mode, telling me all about an invention of some sort.  Fynn was just jumping out of the stroller to run ahead and ‘hide’ on the steps.  A woman walking past me got a lovely smile on her face, looked with appreciation at my boys, and then said to me, “Oh how lovely, you’ll never be alone!  That’s so nice.”  I looked up in surprise and a bit of wonder, agreed with her, and murmured something about them always having each other too.  Barring tragedy, she’s right, and I’d never thought about it that way before.  I’ll always have family.  That’s a beautiful thought, and a new perspective for me.  I got the sense that she was alone, and while not bitter about it, she was wistful.  I’m extra thankful for my family tonight!