Monday, February 8, 2010


"Remember, you're unique; just like everyone else."

I love bumper stickers (although the ones I have are utilitarian rather than clever: organ donation, childhood cancer, a local radio station). As I walk through a parking lot or drive down the street, I find my gaze naturally drifting to the back end of cars, looking for a bit of entertainment: the license plate of a Saab laden with all the extras ("SNAAB"); the car magnet on a dented hatchback ("Support Magnetic Ribbons"); the sticker on the bumper of a nurse's sedan ("Midwives: They help people out.").

The proverb that opened this post is one that I've seen at touristy gift shops and tee shirt websites, variously attributed to Carlin or Wright or that old wag, Anon. (Digression: did you know that in Budapest, Hungary, there is actually a statue in memory of the greatest philosopher that ever lived...Anonymous?)

It might be overused, but I like it. Clever enough to make one pause to think it through, true enough to remember. And it is just a twinge off from what I have told my children as they grew. Is it not one form of a mother's love--in addition to the hugs and the bedtime stories and the favorite meals and the inside jokes and the comfort for a broken arm or a broken heart--to tell her children that they are special? That their ideas and thoughts and imaginings are unique and valuable? That they should dream those really big dreams that no one has ever before experienced? I look at them around the dinner table, all teens, the same genes scrambled three ways coming out with three completely different combinations.

And yet, there are things they do that make me wonder if in the development of humans, there are certain stages that must be passed through. And thus it has been through all the ages.

Like "Rock Star." (mandatory for teenage boy; optional for girl. I wonder: did Jesus go through a stage like this?).

My oldest son thinks he's Keith Moon. Or Zack Starkey. Or Ringo himself.

Every object in the house is a drum head. Or a cymbal. Or high hat, snare, tambourine, kick drum. And who needs drumsticks? This is why God gave us hands. I hear music blaring from his room (not that I mind; he's got pretty good taste and the bands he prefers are melodic and write intriguing lyrics) accompanied by pounding, banging, thumping. His new desk has a nice resonance. The floor isn't bad either. I am just hoping he does not give himself whiplash from the accompanying head movements.

Stage 2: "Mysterious Recluse." (works for either male or female child).

My middle son appears to have intermittent hearing loss. Because I can call his name and get no response. Yelling helps; touch usually gets a positive response. Oh, right, let me take the iPod headphones out of your ears and let me repeat myself. There, that's better.

Mom, attempting to bond with her child, "Hey, what are you listening to?"
Son, serious and sincere: "Music."
Mom, still trying to initiate conversation: "Which band?"
Son, oblivious: "Mrghsmphs."

OK, let's try this again. Son invested in mod activity with other online players.
Mom, trying to be interested in her kid, "Whatcha doing?"
Son, nodding, hypnotized by screen: "Garry's mod."
Mom, really trying hard now: "Who with?"
Son, oblivious: "Friends."

This from a kid who turns dinnertime into a re-creation of "The People's Court" or "So You Want to Be a Millionaire." Where were you on the night of January 28, 2007?

Stage 3: "Vegetarian," or Social Justice Meets Nutrition (mandatory for teen girl; optional for teen boy. As my oldest explained, teen boys have "blood lust" for meat. Real men eat meat.)

Daughter, picking up package of cheese: "Does this contain rennet? Rennet comes from animals, you know."

Daughter, stirring pot of vegetable soup (hey, I learn quickly) on stove: "Did you use vegetable broth in this? I can't eat it if it has meat broth."

Now let it be known to the court that I tend to prepare foods that are relatively close to the source. I can count on one hand the "processed" foods I buy: spaghetti sauce (and only because my crockpot burned the last batch. Which likely explains why the pot was such a good sale price at the store); cereal; crackers; canned tomatoes, beans, olives; pizzas; pepperoni. Ok, pierogies a couple times a year. Let it also be known that my hamburger has NEVER been helped, and that I have never prepared a meal using a "kit."

And let it also be said, for the record, that I cook a vegetarian meal at least twice a week, and sometimes more often.

I have one child that is ovo-lacto-fisho but no shrimp (which is Mom's lifesaver when I forgot to plan ahead; did you know shrimp thaw in running water in about 5 minutes?)

I have one that has a cheese phobia. And cheese paranoia. (This should be a new category in the DSM-V. BTW, there are ways to hide cheese in foods. Don't tell.).

I have one that cannot bring himself to eat seafood of any kind, unless it's Farmer John's fresh smoked trout (Farmer John being a friend of our family from Buffalo, who morphed into a snowbird. End of trout.).

I am ready to set up TPN for each of them. And headphones. They should listen to music while I set up the boluses. They're teenagers, after all.

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