Wanted: Your Parental Two Cents


This is a touchy subject.  I wouldn’t be broaching the subject if I wasn’t at my wit’s end.  The whole thing embarrasses me… and Daddy-O.  Apparently, though, it doesn’t embarrass the one person it should!  Frankly, I just do not know what to do about my oldest son.

He steals.  He takes little things from stores – things he can fit in his pockets unnoticed like lip balm or those stupid silly bands.  He pockets small objects, toys mostly, from his cousins – though he is always quick to proclaim innocence and ulterior action.  I believe he pilfers erasers and pencils, etc. from the school book fair but can’t actually confirm it.  And, most recently, he has taken candy from a friend.

This has been going on in various manifestations since he was 3 years old.  The week before his 3rd birthday we went to the party store to buy stuff for his birthday party.  He asked for a mylar balloon.  I said no.  When I put him into his car seat I noticed something sticking out from the pocket of his sweatpants.  He had stuffed them full of latex balloons.  I immediately marched him in to the store and made him return them to the cashier and confess (in front of a long line of customers).  The cashier was embarrassed and dismissive.  “It’s not a big deal”, she said to me in front of Ben.  I stridently disagreed, took my son home and spanked his bottom (with my hand, thank you very much overly-concerned-about-corpal-punishment people). 

A couple of years later he took some lip balm from the local surf shop.  Then went out of his way to show me the item as soon as Daddy-O brought him home.  Busted by his own bragging.  He’s cute but not the brightest bulb in the pack.  Off he went with Daddy-O; back to the surf shop.  We asked that the owner call the police.  (There had been other incidents here and there that I just can’t remember now.)  The owner refused but did give a very appropriate lecture on the distrust for a petty thief and how they will be followed every time they enter a store.  We also made him pay for the item as well as return it.  Hit him in his pocketbook, so to speak. 

Fast forward to the last few months.  I suspect, though cannot prove, that he pilfered copious amounts of pencils and erasers from the book fair at school.  I can’t prove it because he says he bought them.  And he does have money from time to time.  And I don’t keep an inventory of what he has in the art supply category.  So I looked at him suspiciously and asked the question and raised my eyebrow at his response then let it go.  I dropped the ball, I guess.  Perhaps I should have followed up with the school… but I work and I’m busy and gah… that just seems like so. much. trouble….  and maybe a little bit I didn’t really want to know anyway.  sigh.   Same thing with those ridiculous silly bands all the kids are wearing these days.  Daddy-O bought him one pack.  One pack.  Next thing I know he has about 300,000 of them on his arms.  Where are they coming from?  Traded them at school.  Bought them at the market.  Blah, blah.  Again, no proof.  No pudding.  No trust. 

At Christmas time, he lifted a few flies from the Fly Shop in Redding.  I caught him pretty quickly when my Mom-Radar was activated by his suspicious behavior when I walked in the room.  He received a nice and appropriate bare-bottomed spanking and, again, he was taken to the store and forced to confess and return the items. 

Then last night he took a roll of Lifesavers from his buddy.  Stupid Lifesavers! And from a friend!  He’s losing his electronics through the weekend.  He’ll go over tonight and have to look his friend in the eye and tell him he took something from him.  The thing is, I don’t think it’s the first time he’s taken something from friends.  There is a suspicious PS2 game at our house when we never had a PS2.  He says his friend at Nana’s house gave it to him.  I don’t believe him any more.  On the other hand, why would he steal a game for a system we didn’t even have? 

So here is where you come in.  I don’t know what to do.  I can’t seem to get anyone to call the police on him.  Obviously, talking to him and shaming him in front of the merchants isn’t working.  He’s getting to that transitional age where things cease to be “stages” and become traits set in stone.  It’s a dangerous, messed up path he’s on.  I have a few ideas gathered from friends over the years of dealing with this.  Most are pretty harsh, which I like.  I feel like it’s going to take a rather large shock to break this cycle.  Here are some of my ideas.  I welcome beg for your feedback and suggestions.

Solution #1:  AN EYE FOR AN EYE.  Take away something of his each and every time he takes something from someone else.  Perhaps give said item to the victim as a form of restitution. 

My thoughts:  All for it, except I am usually the one buying his stuff so I’m really hurting myself.  Him, too, of course.  It’s hard for me to agree to giving away items I’ve worked hard to buy. 

Solution #2:  CAN’T TOUCH THIS.  Make him walk with his hands behind his back whenever he’s in a store/at friend’s house.  Stop him before leaving and publicly search his pockets.

My thoughts:  This one is going to happen regardless but I just don’t think it’s enough. 

Solution #3:  HUMILIATION.  My old sitter suggested this one.  When she had the same problem with her daughter she made a sign that said, “My name is _____ and I am a thief!”  She then had her march in front of the victimized store (I think it was a grocery store) for 30 minutes during rush hour.

My thoughts:  I really, really like this one.  I just don’t know what to do about location.  March up and down in front of his friend’s house?  Or maybe location isn’t the important thing…  Maybe in front of the grocery store for maximum exposure… 

Solution #4:  FORE WARNED IS FORE ARMED.  Make him (or us, perhaps) announce to store managers or parents upon his arrival that he is a thief and bears watching. 

My thoughts:  Nice.  But equally as humiliating for Daddy-O and I.  Don’t know if I’m that strong for the long haul.

Solution #5:  HUMILIATION TAKE TWO.  Make him a t-shirt to be worn either to school for a day or out and about on errands that says roughly the same thing as Solution #3. 

My thoughts:  Schools may deem this abusive.  And I do have concerns about alienating all his friends. 

Now it’s time for YOUR thoughts.  Please, please help. 

Note:  Drive-by’s wishing to only snark at my parenting skills without helpful advice are not welcome and can kiss my, well, you know. 


The Sound of Disappointment

“On a drizzly gray day, a young blind girl sets off on a journey down into the tunnels of the subway.  The trains transport her to impossibly wonderful places she can see only in her mind.  She swims with dolphins, sunbathes on a whale’s back, flies through the air between skyscrapers, and travels to the end of the world.  Spectacularly illustrated by internationally bestselling author Jimmy Liao, this beautiful, evocative book celebrates the power of imagination.  This is a moving, magical n readers won’t soon forget.” 

The Sound of Colors, back cover

Sounds great, right?  Sounds like it would be a wonderful book for a young blind boy like Danny, right?  Not so much. 

I bought The Sound of Colors ~ A Journey of the Imagination for Danny’s birthday.  I anticipated a book about a newly blind youngster describing the colors of her sighted world with the sounds from her unsighted one.  I expected it to be similar to The Black Book of Colors by Menena Cottin which is the best mainstream book for vision impaired kids I’ve ever seen. 

The Sound of Colors arrived in the mail today.  I cracked it open and began to read with excitement, already anticipating sharing it with Danny this evening.  At first I was confused… wondering when the meat of the story would start.  It’s moving very slowly.  Plods, even.  Where are the color descriptions?  The vivid imagery that even a blind boy would be able to relate to? 

Only one page was as I expected.  It was the highlight of the book for me. 

“When at last I walk out of the tunnel I can’t see the light, but I can feel the leaves falling like sunshine all around me.”

Mostly, I found this book to be depressing instead of empowering.  Certainly not suitable for my blind 5-year-old who doesn’t realize he is different from anyone else. 

“Home is the place where everything I’ve lost is waiting patiently for me to find my way back.” 

That’s not so bad, actually.  Sort of poetic.

“The last thing I lost was the light, as if somebody played a joke on me, turned off the switch.  I tried and tried, but I couldn’t find it again.”

Hmm.  A little dark for a children’s book (if you’ll pardon the pun).

“So I went forward, step by step, into the dark.  Now I listen for the sound of the colors I can’t see.  I try to smell the shapes, taste the light and dark.  And I hope to find a friend who will read me a poem while the window fills up with sunset.”

And yet…

“There must be someone who’ll sit beside me, sip tea, tell me her hopes for the future, and listen to mine.  …one thought keeps me going — someone could be waiting for me at the other end.”

OK.  Now it’s getting a bit sad.  And needy.  But wait.  It gets worse.

(Speaking of a butterfly) “She’ll take me to the friend I need to find.  She’ll lead me to the place where all the colors are.  She’ll bring me back to the light that I lost, still glowing here, in my heart.”

So, is it just me?  Gloomy, right?  There is one good thing I can say about The Sound of Colors, the illustrations are absolutely riveting.  They are far more interesting than the story itself.   

All in all, this is not an uplifting book.  Not even an empowering one for people with disabilities.  It’s a sad, depressing book that implies that blindness equals loneliness.  Maybe something important was lost in the Chinese to English translation.  Regardless, I’m sending this book back to Amazon.com. 


Mirror, Mirror

I have been walking.  And walking.  And walking.  Unfortunately, not walking my butt off. 

When I started training for the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer in January I was heavier than I’d ever been outside of pregnancy.   I had no illusions about how I looked physically.  Roughly the equivalent of this:

Even though I’m In It To End It and not to Lose It, getting skinny would be a happy benefit. 

After 9 weeks of walking, walking, walking and sometimes even (gasp!) running a little (if it’s downhill and no one is watching), I feel fit.  I can walk my hills without stopping.  More importantly, I don’t feel like I need to lay on the ground gasping for air either.  I feel good at the end of a walk.  Like I could go a little farther.  Like I look like this:

I want to look like this.

Imagine my surprise and disgust when I saw something more similar to this in the mirror last night. 

Lingerie + menopause = hate!!!

Mirror, Mirror, on the wall

Can’t you ever lie at all?

The Dream

I’m still in the throes of the dream I had this morning.  It was like a combination of every bad dream I’ve ever had.  I was a child.  I was an adult.  My mom was there. And my sister.  And my Dad.  At times my boys.  Even my BFF was featured in a phone call.

There was a tornado.  I was at my mom’s with her and my sister.  We watched the sky storm and clouds gather in amazing  black, greys and purples.  The Weather Channel was on.  I was in my mom’s house calling updates through the window while she and my sister corraled the animals.  My boys were running in and out of the livingroom “Mom!  Mom! Moming” me to death.  The Weather Channel showed two storms combining.  Outside the funnel began dropping.  Inside the child me, my sister and mom all huddled in the bathtub together.  When the tornado was gone we went looking for my Dad as if he were a wayward puppy.  We found him on the back deck uninjured but no less dead.  And I knew it would happen like that. 

In the aftermath of the tornado there were huge fires.  Magically, the three of us and Ben were at a favorite steak house in my hometown that had caught fire.  We broke in to get the dogs out.  ???  I found a steno pad with the owner’s number and was busily calling him when an angry man started berating me for being on the phone.  I cursed at him and kept on with my business.  There was a lot of frenzied activity and fire putting out going on.  Soon I’m about a quarter mile away looking on the scene.  The restaurant is in the middle of a field of ripened hay looking very much like 3 red barns clustered together.  There was singeing around the edges and vibrant pastoral colors.  The adult me felt a very physical craving for my camera. 

Then the scene changed to one in the center of town.  Everywhere there was devestation. All over were the dull greys and browns of collapsed buildings and flying dust surrounded by the vibrant green hills of springtime.  I was in a 50s style diner that I think was made out of a bus or train car or something.  I was on the phone with my BFF retelling the events of the night/morning.  I don’t know where my mom was but my sister was outside in the street talking with the milling people.  As I walked to the steps leading outside I glanced over the hills.  There I saw a jumbo jet flying very low and very upside down right towards us. 

The dream shifts into that frantic slow motion disaster speed that only dreams and real-life tragedies can somehow manage.  I dropped my cell and began looking for my sister.  I jumped clear of the diner as it is demolished in a fireball of plane and screaming people.  My sister is doing that looking-over- the-shoulder backwards run from the movies.  She’s trying to outrun a crashing jet!  I scream to her to run to the side!  Like a riptide!!!!  Get. Out. Of. It’s. Way!!!!! 

And we’re fine.  But the world is a flaming, smoking, disaster.  And I need to find a bathroom.

I don’t think it takes a genius to see the symbolism there.  Tragedy is surrounding me.  My friend Sarah is suffering a recurrence of her breast cancer.  Susan is waiting on her biopsy results after a bad scan.  My own yearly scan is this morning.  Everyone I know is in financial turmoil.  There is devestation everywhere I look these days.  And beauty.  Undeniable beauty that I feel a physical need to document.  And we come out on the other side.  We’re fine. 

I’ll hold on to that.  We’ll be fine. 

I do wonder where my husband was, though…

Titleless in the Blogosphere

So, you may have heard that the Chilean Earthquake rocked the world.  Literally.  Andreas Reitbrock, a professor of Earth Sciences at the U.K.’s Liverpool University, says that Santa Maria Island near Concepcion, Chile may have been raised as much as six feet by the 8.8 quake!   Yowza!!!!  And that’s not all!  According to NASA, the quake may have permanently altered the Earth’s axis resulting in a loss of  1.26 microseconds each day. More lost sleep for us poor parents.  We just can’t catch a break.  sigh

I had the best laugh I’ve had in weeks while reading up about the quake-induced time crunch.  There are some very witty people out there in Webland and they are all commenting on news articles.  Here are a few of my favorites:

Octothorp says:  
“And the planet’s axis may have moved three inches.
Insert nightclubby short penis and/or erectile dysfunction joke [here].”        

Fadviral brings it home with:
“Great. My phone’s GPS already reckoned I was half a mile away from wherever I was actually located. Now it’s half a mile plus three inches. :/”

Tipsy Hausfrau endears herself to me forever with:
 “See? I totally don’t have time to go to the gym now. Can’t argue with science.”  

HowardRoarkLaughed only made me smirk with his:
“Same thing happened the last time Kirstie Alley fell out of bed.”

Claire Buoyant gets extra points for the political tie in:
So where does this put the Axis of Evil now?”

Damn it! Just when the days were starting to get longer too!”      (Seriously!)

Also, TurdBlossum?  Really?

Ocean or Mountains?

Which one do you prefer?  Which one rejuvenates you – replenishes your soul?

I ask because the answer is often not what I presumed.

I live on the coast.  I love it.  I can sit in the sand or in my car and watch the waves break for hours while I ponder God’s awesome power, the immensity of the universe and my place in it.  The ocean fills me with wonder.  I revel in it’s ever-changing beauty.  No two waves are alike.  No two sunsets the same color.  Foam patterns on the beach are different with each receding wave.  I meditate on infinite possibility. 

But it’s the mountains that heal me. There’s just something about being surrounded by trees that fills me with a serenity I cannot tap into elsewhere.

The sound of a creek waters flowing over rocks and swirling around a sandbar is soothing music to my ears.

I spent the day in the mountains yesterday.  I just drove by myself for five hours.  The higher the altitude became the lighter I felt.

I stopped by Burney Falls.  It was cold and damp from the mist and the late afternoon shadows.  But the smell was beyond Heavenly.  Pine.  Moss.  Damp earth.  Deep cleansing breaths.

Little traffic.  Fading sunlight.  Trees straight and tall on all sides.  Majesty above them.

Peace.  Completeness.  Inspiration.  Quiet.  Solitude.  Wellness.  Integrity.
All these words and more define the mountains for me.
I came home refreshed and ready for another round of parenting, working, struggling to survive. 
Which gives you that renewal?  Ocean or Mountains?

Benefit or Burden

I love October.  Suddenly the bright spotlight of the media is shown on stories that normally don’t rate for their lack of warm fuzziness.

Take the Welsh’s from Ohio, for instance…  Both wife and husband are in their 60s and are undergoing Breast Cancer treatment.  Both. Of. Them. 

This is a subject near and dear to my heart as my boys have a significantly increased risk of developing breast cancer because I and my mother both carry the BRCA2 genetic mutation.  By significantly, I mean about 80 times that of other men!!!  This equates to about a 1 in 14 lifetime chance of breast cancer.  BRCA2 also increases the risk of other cancers: prostate, pancreatic and stomach cancers as well as melanoma.  Did they hit the genetic jackpot or what!? The BRCA2 gene DOUBLES a man’s chances of developing prostate cancer and melanoma!  My boys have a 1 in 3 chance of prostate cancer before they turn 65!  All of these cancers will rear their ugly heads earlier than typical in a BRCA2 man.

I have long been an advocate of Knowledge Is Power!  It’s only when we hide medical histories and facts in the dark because of embarrassment or fear that these awful diseases get the upper hand.  That being said, knowing my boys could be victims of genetic Russian Roulette, I have a decision to make.  Should I get them genetically tested?

My quandary is this:  genetic testing would arm all of us with the power of knowledge.  We could gird our sons against cancer with more frequent screenings at much younger ages.  Even enroll them in test programs aimed at prevention.  However, by equipping ourselves with this information we also make the results available to insurance companies.  If I test the boys as children in order to afford them the best possible chance at survival, do I label them with a giant red flag that will prevent them from ever getting health insurance?  Will it cause them employment issues in the future?

It’s such a tight rope to walk; future benefit or burden?  What would you do?

Cross posted to Mothers With Cancer