Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Miley, Miley, Miley

Much ado is being made today about teen sensation Miley Cyrus and some photos that were taken for Vanity Fair magazine. In my opinion, America needs to LIGHTEN UP and enter into some dialog about matters that matter.

Miley was photographed by famed photog Annie Leibovitz for a Vanity Fair spread. In some she’s hanging with her dad, and in one she’s draped in a satin wrap, barebacked for all to see. Honestly, if she’d been wearing a swimsuit, she would have been a lot more exposed.

Parents (moms mostly) are up in arms that their daughters are somehow betrayed by these photos of Miley which portray her in a seemingly sexual nature. I think this is a no-brainer. Don’t buy the magazine or show it to your little girl. I’m not sure if I can attest to the buying habits of preteens, but I’m pretty certain Teen People and Tiger Beat are more likely to be purchased by a 12-year-old girl. I don’t think I’ve ever purchased a Vanity Fair magazine, and I know I didn’t buy one as a teenager.

When I owned a parenting magazine, many years ago, we had a complaint about a photo of a little girl who appeared in an ad for my favorite photographer. The woman who called the photographer thought it portrayed the girl as a child prostitute. The photographer immediately called me to let me know of the complaint. The child was fully dressed but had a look on her face (I’d call it wistful) that the woman interpreted to be sexual. Oh, my. Fortunately she was alone in her complaint and the matter went away.

For Miley and her parents, all this ado is on a much grander scale. I hope that Britney or Paris step in and do something stupid they are famous for and shift the focus off Miley. I think this is a lesson for any of us with aspirations for our children to become famous. Is any of this really worth it? I think not.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Do we go together well?

My daughter asked me the other day: When you date someone, does your skin have to match? First I asked her what made her ask that, and she mentioned seeing a show on Disney where a boy with brown skin had a girlfriend whose skin didn’t match his. I told her that God made everyone the same on the inside, where it counted, and that it doesn’t matter what color you are on the outside. No one really “matches” their skin with someone they love. I told her that if she compared Daddy's skin to mine, she would see that we aren't even close to the same color.

Our conversation reminded me of one I had with my friend Wila not that long ago. I’m not sure what started it, but I think I mentioned to her that I thought my son, because he is so fair-skinned, should marry a woman of color. That way his children might have a chance at being outside in the sun without constantly seeking shade or wearing sunscreen. When I told him my suggestion, he agreed. Besides, he’s always had a thing for Jennifer Hudson!

Wila said she has a theory about the second coming of Christ. She thinks he’s waiting on us to all be one race, to blend our skin tones with marriage and babies until we are all truly seen as equal. (Did I tell you she’s a smart woman?) I think she might be on to something.

I hope I am raising children who are “color blind” when it comes to how they see others. And that one day, they will choose to love someone for who they are on the inside and not judge first his or her outward appearance.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Estee Lauder in-training

I really doubt too many moms confess to being negligent. Being a work-from-home mom lets me earn a little extra income (at today’s prices—grocery and gas money), and there are times when I allow my four-year-old to entertain herself so I can meet a deadline. Usually I pay for it by having to untangle my dining room table and chairs from a web of yarn she’s woven or clean up puddles from the kitchen table she’s made with water colors. Sometimes, it's just the price of working from home with a toddler as my only assistant.

This wasn’t even one of those times. I submitted my last article for the day and promised my daughter and the dog that we’d take a walk before the threatening rain materialized. She followed me into the bathroom, and I shut the door to the toilet area for a rare moment of privacy. On the other side, I heard her ask if she could wear some makeup for our walk. Whatever, I thought. “Sure,” I said. “Really?” she asked, astonished since I never let her play in my cosmetic drawer unless I’m supervising a swish of blush across her cheeks.

I waited a minute before opening the door, relishing my last moment of peace for the rest of the day and then nearly fainted when she turned to look at me. “What in the world?” I asked when I saw what she'd done with some eyeshadow.

She giggled nervously. “Are you going to laugh?” I wasn’t sure what to do. “What look were you going for here?” I wanted to know. She said something about a clown and when I told her to sit tight while I grabbed the camera, I think she realized she was about to get off the hook. While I rubbed her face down with some baby wipes, I lectured her about making a mess with my stuff. “Sorry,” she said, lying through her baby teeth.

That’ll teach me for trying to be the “nice mom” and let her do something I know she shouldn’t do just to bide some extra “me time.” Lesson learned, at least for today. Who knows what might happen tomorrow…

Monday, April 14, 2008

Wooden you like a new hair color?

I colored my hair over the weekend in an attempt to wipe out most of the grey that threatened to take over their brown counterparts.

My daughter spied the empty box in the trash and the side panel featured three “before” hues next to three “after” hair colors, close-up photos of various shades of brown hair. She took one look at them and said, “Oh, Mom. I wouldn’t use this stuff if I were you.” I asked her why not, expecting her to tell me that I should be blonde like she is, which she frequently taunts me with. “Look,” she said, pointing to the close-up photos. “If you use this stuff your hair will look like wood.” She was right. The photos did look like wood grain samples. I guess that’s a chance I’ll take since it sure beats having hair that looks like steel wool.

It could be worse--much worse

Last Thursday was one of Those Days. Nothing terrible happened, just frustrated with a few freelance writing assignments I was trying to complete. People wouldn’t take or return my calls and I tried not to take it personally, but I can be pretty insecure. In high school, if I saw a group of girls with their heads together, naturally I’d think they were talking about what I was wearing.

All I really wanted to do was work on the manuscript for the novel I’m writing with my writing partner Joan. We are in the middle of a really fun adventure (we think!), and I tend to slow us down when my writing-for-hire gig gets in the way.

I took a break from the computer and folded some laundry to gain some perspective. I know several writers in my writing circle who work full-time jobs and still manage to carve out precious hours to pursue their passion. Then I remembered reading in Stephen King’s “On Writing” how he wrote “Carrie” while balancing a typewriter on a child-sized desk in a corner of their mobile home. His real job was cleaning and doing laundry at a hotel. His images of maggot-infested sheets he’d put to good use in future books. And the idea for Carrie’s famous shower scene came from cleaning a bathroom and reloading the feminine hygiene vending machine.

So, I never know where inspiration lurks and I’m highly aware that there are much worse jobs out there. For now I’ll borrow a line from my son—Until the band makes it… (or for Joan and me—Until the book sells…) and I’ll continue to press on.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

I propose...

Recently my girlfriends and I were sharing our engagement stories. Sonya's husband proposed to her in a cornfield—on the exact place where he drove his car when he fell asleep on his way home after their first date. Another friend’s husband confidently presented her with a Bible, inscribed with her married name.

My story isn’t very romantic, but I never doubt my husband’s love. A little over a year after we’d been dating, he began talking about our having children one day. At that point, I asked, “Don’t you think you should ask me to marry you first?” And he said, “Well, will ya?” And, choking back a lump that had formed in my throat, I shrugged and said, “I guess.” Then we were officially betrothed. Not a Hallmark moment, but it worked. Two months later, we were married and now after 17 years, he still makes my heart beat faster when I see him.

Now we are experiencing our son’s first stages of courtship. He just turned sixteen and has a girl who seems to be returning his affections. She’d been prom dress shopping and I’d been wondering if he was going to take the hint and ask her out. He had a plan. First he wrote a song and planned a scenario that, in his words, involved: her driveway, his guitar, some sidewalk chalk and candles. Fearing her dad might somehow spoil his plan, he switched to Plan B.

He fine-tuned the song and then had her stop by our house. Fearing we’d mortify him by eavesdropping, he asked if he could break a house rule and sing to her in his bedroom—a safe distance away from his nosy siblings and parents. “I just need ten minutes!” he begged. “Fine,” I told him, “but keep your clothes on.” He countered, laughing, “Okay, I just need five minutes.” Glad to see he has a romantic side and a sense of humor.

The song was a hit, she said yes and bought the prom dress. Now my husband has one concern: if his son planned such an elaborate scheme just to ask a girl to go out with him, how in world will he one day propose to his future wife? I’m guessing he won’t ask his dad for any pointers.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Happy Birthday, Jacob

Sixteen years ago today I was resting in a hospital bed, waiting to go home. My husband had checked me in two nights before with severe cramps and a smile. I was in labor. At 4:37 AM on a Friday morning, I had given birth to a 5 lb. 8 oz. healthy baby boy. He had his father’s cleft chin and his grandfather’s denim-blue eyes. He was gorgeous and I remember telling my doctor’s partner (who was on call) that Jacob was the most beautiful baby in the nursery. He replied, “Well, I’m sure he is to you,” and flipped his Rolex up to look at the time. I couldn’t wait for him to leave.

Now my tiny baby weighs more than I do and hugs my head to his chest every morning before he leaves for school. Instead of Power Rangers and Legos, he shrugs and says money will be fine for his birthday gift. He’s saving up to buy a car so he can take a girl on a date.

His taste in music has evolved from Raffi and Barney to John Mayer and the Beatles. (And I speak for everyone in the family when I say, Thank goodness!) When he was little he used to ask me endless questions such as if bees make honey then do butterflies make butter? Now he asks me to proofread his English essays, and I shake my head in wonder at his mature thought process and his ability to communicate on paper when in speech most of his sentences start with “dude” and end with “I’m starving.”

God blessed us with three children, each of them different in looks, talents and personalities. Jacob was our first—our proverbial guinea pig—and I have to think he’s turned out pretty well. I hope he forgives me of the mistakes I made along the way, overreacting as new mothers do. When I dressed him too warmly when it was cold and forgot the sunscreen when it was only overcast and he burned anyway. He is my boy and my joy who I unselfishly share with the world and pray that those he loves will love and respect him in return.