Category Archives: daughters

Wearing uniforms to school

My daughter loves to put together outfits. For several years now, she has spent a huge amount of time picking out clothes to wear, or planning which outfits look cute enough for whatever occasion is on the horizon. Bedtime always included time for “picking out” the clothes for school the next day. She says she wants to major in fashion, and even takes her sketch pad on trips with us to draw the ideas she has for cute clothes.

So she decides that she wants to change schools…to a school that has a very strict uniform. Go figure.

Today was the first day of school. Last night I went up to say good night and she had her clothes all lined up. Skirt, oxford cloth shirt, knee socks (they had to be the exact right length), shoes, and headband. The shoes and headband are pretty much the only way she can “individualize” her look. She can wear either Wallabees (she won’t even touch those, so that’s not an option for her), or white athletic shoes. Not a lot of options there, either. But, when we were in Paris this summer we walked by a sports store on the Champs Elysees, and she found the cutest pair of white patent leather Nikes.

So this morning we took pictures of her in her uniform, all cute and everything, and drove her to school (5 minutes instead of 30…yeah!). She didn’t tuck in her shirt, because she thought someone had told her that was O.K. But just to make sure she texted about 6 friends this morning, but no one got back to her. We drove up to the drop-off, and all the girls were walking to class with shirts tucked in. So now, instead of making an “entrance”, she walked in with her backpack, her computer case, and both hands frantically tucking her skirt in. Hopefully they’ll give her a break on the demerits since it’s her first day.

Good luck, my sweet girl!

Is this the way it’s going to be?

H starts school tomorrow. Which means that last week she finished up her summer reading and started working on the written portion of the assignment. As usual, she waits until the veeerrryy last minute to do it. Sunday afternoon I came into my office and she was emailing all her files to my computer so that she could print them out. Something wasn’t right. Oh yeah.

“Do you want me to proofread for you?”

“No, Mom, I’ve got it.”

What? Not that reading over her assignments is something I enjoy, or particularly want to do, but she always asks me to do it.

She finished up her business, loaded up her laptop, and left.

Then, as soon as I sat down, she was back.

“Mom, close all those files for me, O.K.?”

And she stood there while I closed them all.

Later, she brought down the “project” to show me, with her fancy cover sheets and plastic report cover. I reached for it. She pulled it back.

“Let me read it!”

“No, that’s o.k…”

“Please, I just want to read it.”

(I had read two of her books so I wanted to see her take on them).

She looked at me in the eyes, stuttered a little, and said,

“I don’t want you to read it. I’m happy with it, and I don’t want you to suggest any changes.”

I guess my baby’s growing up. Welcome to High School.

Ahhhh, Summer!

I took a few days to pretend I was actually on summer break, with nothing to do but sleep late, watch TV, go to the pool, eat popsicles… Then I remembered-I’m a mom, mom’s don’t get breaks. Oh well, back to Mom reality, driving H all over the place, packing for basketball camp, motivating (nagging) her to start her summer reading, grocery shopping…

It’s not that bad, really. Since H is out of school, everything is more relaxed. We can actually linger at the dinner table, unlike during the school year, when she has to cram some food in her face and do homework for the rest of the night. She must be in some kind of crazy growth spurt or something, because she has learned how to sleep late. She never was a late sleeper, but she is loving that bed this summer.

Basketball tryouts were this week, and I was so nervous! She was too, I guess, but I really wanted them to go well, so that she’d meet some girls from her new school before school starts in the fall. They have three weeks of summer practice, workouts, and camps before the “blackout period” starts at the end of this month. She did a little bit of spring basketball, and worked out a lot with a private coach we found here, who we LOVED. She is an ex-WNBA player, a point guard, and was a high scorer at The University of Oregon when she was in college. She did some really great things with H, and it paid off. The high school coach at the new school told H it was obvious she’d been working hard in the off-season. When I picked her up after the first day, she almost skipped to the car, with an ear-to-ear grin. She is having a blast, and loves the players and the coach.


Anyway, I’ve been enjoying the summer so much that I haven’t written in awhile, so here are some pictures of some of the things we’ve been doing.

Spent a few days in Florida for my Mother-in-law’s birthday. She had a dinner party with 25 people, and H gave an impromptu toast. She was so poised and said such beautiful things that my mommy heart almost exploded with pride! (that’s sparkling grape juice in her champagne glass, by the way)

H’s friends (and their parents) had a “going-away” party for her:

J’s gardens were so beautiful this year we invited a few friends over for memorial day:

And last weekend, J’s college roommate from Chicago brought his 11 year old son down to North Carolina for a boy’s fishing trip (but H and I couldn’t stay away, so we joined them for a few days). J taught H and her friend how to cast, and we fished all afternoon.

This weekend I’m taking four of my college friends back to North Carolina. To be continued…

Body Image and Teenage Girls

With Memorial Day coming up, J and I invited some close friends and their kids (who are also H’s close friends) to come over to the house to swim and grill out. We’ve had a pool for about 6 years, and have great memories of the kids having a blast in the water while the parents get together at the same time. This year, the mom of one of H’s best friends said her daughter doesn’t want to swim. When I asked why, she said it was because she doesn’t want to wear a bathing suit in public. That breaks my heart.

I remember eighth grade as being probably the most awkward year for me, appearance wise, and I can see that in H’s friends as well. Not that they look bad, it’s just the year that their bodies change drastically from the beginning of the year to the end of the year. Their skin goes crazy, their bodies grow like never before, and clothes don’t fit the same way that they have for most of their lives. H had difficulty with the size NUMBER, when she outgrew some of her jeans and we went shopping for new ones. This is a scary time for me, as a mom. I want to teach H how to eat right, exercise, and stay healthy, but I want to avoid things like this short video…

Despite fears of diminishing influence over their children’s lives, research shows that parents continue to be essential role models, in both positive and negative ways. A 1991 Yale study, published in the Journal of Abnormal Psychology, found that women who began dieting at early ages were more likely to have daughters who would engage in binging or have problems with eating. These mothers were also more likely than other women to agree, when asked, that their daughters should lose weight.

“It’s my impression that parents are not sending negative messages deliberately. They’re doing it unconsciously,” says Debra Franko, PhD, director of the Harvard Eating Disorders Unit at Harvard Medical School. “A mother might say, ‘Oh, these pants used to fit last winter and now they’re too tight.’ The mother doesn’t have a sense that she’s saying anything wrong, but that statement, in combination with all the other messages a child is getting, might leave an impression that how you look means a great deal.”

“I wouldn’t tell a child that appearance doesn’t matter, because in our society it does,” says Rebecca Manley, director of the Massachusetts Eating Disorders Association. “But it’s about looking at what (qualities or attributes) you do have, and focusing on those things.”

So, what are we supposed to say as parents, when our daughters try to wear the jeans that “used to fit” and now are too tight? What do we say when they say they want to “firm up” a little for the swimsuit season? Should we give them advice on making good food choices, or portion sizes, or should we try to change the subject, and say they’re fine as they are, go ahead and eat that jumbo sized muffin at Panera?

I know there is a a happy medium in there somewhere. I have been super-cautious as H grows up not to let her see ME obsess about weight, or exercise, although I’m sure she sees it subliminally. I’ve tried not to tell her that any food is BAD, but to balance out nutritious food with the sugary, fatty stuff that bombards them every day.

I read countless articles that say to teach our girls to “celebrate their bodies individual strengths and vitalities, regardless of dress size”, and that “numbers on a scale or jean size or breadth of their hips must not determine their self-esteem”. That’s all well and good, but when every TV show, magazine article, and teen movie shows girls who look like barbie dolls, those ideals just kind of seem like empty words.

I hope H’s friend changes her mind and swims on Memorial Day. I want to see her beautiful smile, laughing with her friends and enjoying an afternoon of fun.

Am I Cheating on my Dentist?

H’s recent gum surgery was the beginning of the final solution to problems she’s had with her front teeth since before she was two. She fell on the playground a month before her second birthday and knocked out the pretty new tooth she had just sprouted in the front of her mouth. We actually found the tooth, which came out root and all, but her (our family) dentist didn’t feel that trying to reattach it would be helpful, since it was just a baby tooth. I was heartbroken. She cried for five minutes and promptly forgot about it. She spent the next five years without a front tooth. At first, people just thought she hadn’t gotten the tooth at all yet, then they thought she had lost it early. At any rate, other than lots of pictures of her without a tooth, it didn’t really matter to her one way or the other.

In first grade, the permanent tooth grew in, finally. I personally think there was something wrong with the root, because it came inREALLY crooked. Then, a couple of months into the school year, I got a phone call from the school nurse. She had fallen on the playground, and knocked it out. This time, we couldn’t find the tooth. Her schoolmates still remember the mass search party on the playground, to no avail. So once again, she was toothless. The first prosthetic tooth she got was really bad, but we were so glad to have something there that we lived with it. It wasn’t crooked, and we knew it was temporary, so it was o.k.

Over the next 7 1/2 years we went through different variations on the tooth: one attached to her braces, one attached to metal bands, and another with little wings on the back that were glued to her existing teeth. She had another problem, though, which was a genetic problem that she shared with J. Her teeth were stained kind of yellowish-brown. No amount of brushing could get rid of it, so we did some composite bonding, which never really matched the fake tooth. Luckily, she is a beautiful girl, with a beautiful smile, so even though her teeth weren’t ideal, her smile made up for it.

Through all the variations of temporary fixes, our family dentist did the work. He’s a really nice guy, and does regular cleanings and things for us, and fits us in when we need emergency care (like gluing her tooth in every time it fell out). We really like him for our regular dental care, but we always thought we’d go see a specialist when it was time to do something more permanent. He does some cosmetic stuff, and his website lists his education, but he doesn’t really have any aesthetic certifications or degrees. The thing is, J and I were big wimps about telling him. Last year, H started expressing an interest in getting her teeth fixed, so we asked around and got several recommendations for a cosmetic dentist here in town, Dr. Dennis Wells. Dr. Wells does a lot of celebrities, even did the “Extreme Makeover” show and has all kinds of aesthetic experience, certifications, and degrees. We really feel comfortable with him, and consulted with him and a periodontal surgeon here to establlish a plan for H’s teeth. But through all that we never told our family dentist. J had a cleaning a couple of months ago, and I told him to mention it, but he said it never came up, so he didn’t do it.

Yesterday I had my regular appt., and since H has started the process, of course, I had to tell him. I hated telling him, because he’s been so nice about working with us over the years, but I really thought he’d understand. He’s not a cosmetic specialist…and H’s problems are not even close to being typical, or easy. But he was really upset. He looked at me like I had just stolen his pension or something. I started stuttering, like I always do when I’m nervous, and said,

“It has nothing to do with YOU…You’re great! We just thought we needed to go to a specialist.”

He said, “Well, it sure seems like it has EVERYTHING to do with me.”

I felt like I was a teenager breaking up with a boyfriend…”It’s not YOU, it’s ME!”
Anyway, after I tried to justify our position, and he scolded me for quite a while, he said, “Well, you have to do what you have to do.” Then he stood up and walked out of the room, saying “Bye” over his shoulder as he walked down the hall.

Something tells me he won’t be fitting us in for apppointments in the future. Jeez.

Mother’s Day thoughts

It’s the day before Mother’s Day, and I’ve been doing a lot of “Mom” kind of things. H made it through day one after gum surgery. She’s been incredible about keeping ice on her mouth, so the swelling isn’t too bad. I’ve been spending the last two days making up ice packs every twenty minutes, and making soft mushy foods. Her appetite hasn’t suffered, so I guess that’s a good thing. She slept in our bed last night, with me. (J slept in the guest room). The most difficult part is sleeping with her head elevated. She slid down off the pillow in the middle of the night. I tried to get her to wake up and move so that she was more elevated, but she wasn’t having any of that. So, she woke up with blood crusted on her teeth (I know, ewwwww….), and a couple of Angelina Jolie-like lips. The pain medicine let her get a good night’s sleep, unlike me, who woke up every hour to check on her. It’s now almost noon and she hasn’t asked for advil or pain medicine, so I think she’s on the mend.

I think she’s going to look back on this fondly, because she’s had non-stop TV since we got home yesterday (something she NEVER has time or permission to do), and she loves the soft diet of ice cream, noodles, applesauce, pudding, oatmeal…stuff she lived on as a two year old. The only thing she will HATE, is that I’m posting the above picture of her with the ice pack on her mouth.

Speaking of two year-olds, here’s a cute little video in honor of Mother’s Day. I wish I’d had digital video when H was little. They talk like this for such a short time…

I love being a mom. It’s the best job I’ve ever had, and I’m grateful for every minute of it.

To my 14 year old daughter…P.S.

I was browsing through the mom blogs on the Mom’s Alltop site (which is a great way to scan through tons of blogs to find the most interesting posts), and came across White Trash Mom’s post “I’m sorry it sucks to be 14“. She hits the nail on the head with the whole “size” issue. Only the girls who are beanpoles can really wear the clothes that “everyone else” is wearing. It’s hard enough for me to try not to pass on to H my fear of obesity (which runs in our family), and my (sometimes unhealthy) obsession with exercise. Most of the time, she is totally happy with her beautiful self, but when she goes in to try on clothes and has to go up a size or two, or the clothes just aren’t flattering on her, because she doesn’t weight 80 pounds, I can see her getting upset. I guess we all go through this at this age, but I don’t remember the clothes being so tiny when I was 14. I really love one of the comments on this post, saying “You might add that if Marilyn Monroe were around today, they’d send her to the Woman’s department at Macy’s. And all of those Size 0s? In 50 years, they’ll look really great with their decorated walkers, seeing as how their bones will have crumbled by then.”

I’d like to add a P.S. to the letter:

P.S. I’m also sorry that you’re discovering that friends who are starting to notice boys in a whole new way will totally leave you in the dust if you don’t feel comfortable with flirting or dirty dancing (which you call grinding). That if you want to spend time with the girls you’ve known and loved since Kindergarten you’ll have to also spend time with boys who are girl crazy and flirt and tease your girlfriends, making them think the boys really like them when they’re just playing and having fun.

I’m sorry that you’re sad when your friends choose to be with other girls who are into the things you don’t like. But I’m also proud of you for standing your ground, and reaching out to some girls that you wouldn’t otherwise have gotten to know. Being 14 kind of sucks, but it does get better, I promise.

Stay true to yourself. You might even start liking those silly boys, and you might enjoy the attention, instead of it making you uncomfortable. You might even make some new friends. As the years go by and your confidence and maturity grow, you will look back and think about the lessons you learned during difficult times.

I wish someone had written a letter like this to me when I was 14. I probably wouldn’t have taken it seriously, anyway. I knew everything back then.

Valentine’s Day disappointment

H was so excited about Valentine’s day; like me, she loves the thought of telling people how much they mean to you, or just that you’re thinking of them, and chocolate! We’ve always made a big deal about it at our house.

So, a couple of weeks ago one of the high school classes did a fundraiser for the prom or something…sent a note to the 8th graders and I assume the high schoolers, that they were selling carnations. For $5, you could get 3 carnations and they’d be delivered to the locker of any student you wanted. She was so excited and quickly picked out 4 or 5 of her best friends that she wanted to send flowers to. She sat down to fill out the form, and I mentioned that I hated this kind of thing.

She said, “why?”

“Because there will always be someone who won’t get flowers, and they’ll feel left out.”

Well, of course, she couldn’t bear the thought of that. So she made a list of 40 or so of her classmates that she thought might not get flowers, and $70 later, made a list to send those classmates “anonymous” carnations.

When I picked her up at school today, she was bubbling with excitement about how much those kids appreciated the flowers. One girl carried hers around with her all day long. Someone had found out H sent them, though, even though it was supposed to be anonymous. But she still felt good about it.

Later on, after homework and shower, when she is always exhausted and emotional, she looked at me and burst into tears. When I asked her what was wrong, she said, “No one sent me any flowers!”

One of those hard lessons about the joy of giving without getting anything in return.

Girls in sports…benefits in the workplace

I read a very interesting article about the benefits of sports participation for girls and women. Why Sports Participation for Girls and Women

Research shows that between ages 6-9, boys and girls are equally interested in sports participation, but by the age of 14, girls drop out of sport at a rate SIX times greater than boys. Even though our daughters are not as likely to be discouraged from playing sports as they were 10 years ago (thanks to Title IX), they aren’t encouraged to the same extent as little boys. We need to encourage our daughters’ sports participation, so they can derive the psychological physiological and sociological benefits of sports participation that boys and men have received for years.

We’ve all heard about the benefits for girls involved in sports:

*they’re less likely to have unwanted pregnancy
*more likely to get better grades in school
*higher levels of confidence, self esteem, and lower levels of depression
*more positive body image and higher states of psychological well-being

and yadda yadda yadda…

But, the interesting thing in this article is the fact that women entering the workforce, who don’t know the written and unwritten rules of sport are at a disadvantage in understanding business models of organization.

For example:

1. Teams are chosen based on people’s strengths and competencies rather than popularity
2. Successful players are skilled in practicing the illusion of confidence
3. Errors are expected of people trying to do new things. Just don’t make the same mistake twice
4. Loyalty to teammates is very important
5. “I will” equals “I can”
6. In a hierarchical organization, your boss (coach) gives the orders and the employees (players) follow the instructions.

Sport is where boys have traditionally learned about teamwork, goal-setting, pursuit of excellence in performance and other achievement-oriented behaviors–critical skills necessary for success in the workplace. It’s no accident that 80% of female executives at Fortune 500 companies identified themselves as former “tomboys”-having played sports.