September 17, 2022

Failing Or Higher Priorities - "The Talk"

 So I'm not doing so hot on my writing and piano practice goals for this year.   But I guess I technically didn't put writing on my list.  So 4 out of 5 isn't bad, and I still have time to learn 1 song to still meet that goal.   So I won't give up that one since I'd say the other 4 are going reasonably well.  Though the stress level is an interesting one.  I sense that the stress of the last 2 1/2 years have been impacting more than just me and in very different ways, and in some cases taken out on me.  So I will just roll with it and keep trying to help alleviate it and put it into positive energy and positive changes at work.  

So my husband has been experiencing death of classmates very recently.   Which while I'm sad for him and them they had about twice as long or more than the first round of 4 I went through in and just after college.  Recently this year, 2 more from my high school class were added to those tolls.  The graduating class of '96 is taking a toll on the overall life expectancy and especially for women.  

So he was off at a much needed funeral or celebration of life the other week spending time with people that had done some growing up since he last saw them.  Which, I much prefer celebration of life and no open casket trend that seems to be happing now that we've hit middle age.   While he was there I spent some much needed time with my daughter.  We had "The Talk."

"The Talk" is probably not what you think it is.  No she's known about sex and how babies are made for quite awhile and repeated for learning and understanding purpose.  She's not quite made it to her period, but we are expecting it any day, month, or year now.   No "The Talk" we had was around adults in her world and appropriate behavior.   She's grown up with the annual age appropriate no one sees you naked not even friends except (now) me if she needs help, or the doctor if there's a problem we need her help with.  We've even talked bluntly about the rape stories in the Bible vs gloss over what happened as was the tendency when I was growing up.  But we took it to the next level and talked about how adults can 'groom' kids and gain their trust in an effort to rape them.  I had a very personal example I shared with her of someone I went to school with that became a teacher and is now in jail (thankfully that was handled appropriately when found out, but should never have been allowed to happen in the first place if adults had good sense in the first place).  So because of the details I know about that case I got very specific with her that a teacher should never call her or any of her classmates out to spend time alone with or or any of them except for known reasons like her piano lesson that happens at school.   I shared with her that he had access to start grooming the girl he raped as early as 6th grade, which is the grade she's in this year.  I also let her know that I share this not to scare her or to make her afraid of all of the teachers, pastors, and adults around her,  but to enable her with the confidence to stand up for herself or to help a friend if they are ever in a situation like this that they don't know how to handle.  

 That's person I went to school with has probably been in jail about 9 or 10 years or so. I guess we learn and grow because thankfully background checks and regular training are now required of her teachers, pastors, and any volunteers including us parents that participate in any of her activities.  However, that doesn't mean first time offenders can't slip through that process.  This conversation was triggered by a DocuSeries I watched on FreeForm leading up to our weekend together called "Keep This Between Us," which reminded me of the age and timing this started with this asshole, and that she is not far off from the age of offense and certainly within the age of grooming.  So it's important for me that she be on the look out and know she can talk to me or another trusted adult if something doesn't seem right.  We will continue to have this talk regularly so she's aware and prepared for how to respond if she ever feels uncomfortable or has the sense that something isn't right.  Better to follow her gut and be brave enough to speak up, than let herself or someone get hurt.  It was a good talk and she had great questions and appropriate disturbed reactions to adults raping children.  We also talked about the reverse example of Mary Kay LeTourneau so that she understands this can happen to any of her classmates.  So this conversation will continue while she lives at home.  

This is not a conversation I had growing up.  I don't think it was less prevalent.  I think it was behavior that was swept under rug, excused, or relocated.  I distinctly remember being told to lock my door once when we had houseguests as a kid.   However stupidly I recall being babysat by the same person at least once, so honestly it's probably a miracle that nothing happened to me.  In my current life if I knew of or suspected anyone was raping or molesting a child, 1. I would report it and 2. I wouldn't associate with them to put my child at risk.   I think it was thought that I wasn't pretty enough to be target.  It's not about how a kid looks, it's about opportunity, and I think kids need to be educated to make sure they understand and speak up to help protect themselves and others.  I pray my daughter and her friends and classmates are surrounded by upstanding adults that are truly looking out for their well-being and best interest.  But she will be educated by me to keep a watchful eye and speak up, as opposed to to blindly trust all adults in her world none-the-less.  

My only advice is to please talk to your kids.  They are smart and can handle heavy topics.  When they know you are looking out for them they will trust you.  Make sure they understand the world is not surrounding them with cotton candy and cotton. Bad things happen, but they don't have to sit there and take it, they can fight back.  They won't be afraid to talk to you if you respect them enough to have honest and transparent conversations with them. 

May 1, 2022

Nostalgic Music

Do you have any songs that take you back to a vivid memory whether an event or time period of your life?  I've forgotten about many songs that I probably regarded as favorites when I was young, but the following list of songs or albums bring back very distinct memories for me.  And while some of them take me back to awful experiences, those songs provided a soothing impact to help me through life's difficulties at the time.  They also take me down the rabbit hole of my brain to lead me to happy memories ultimately.  And all of them help me appreciate that every day is a gift and music is a wonderful and fulfilling part of this short life we have.  

1. Cranberries "Everybody Else Is Doing It so Why Can't We?," Smashing Pumpkins "Siamese Dreams," Janet Jackson "Janet": These are the 3 first CD's I got with my first CD player for Christmas in 1993.  My favorite song on the radio was "Linger" by the Cranberries, and well the other 2 albums had great singles playing on the radio that I also loved at the time.   My parents got me the CD player and my brother bought me the CDs.  They were really my introduction to album ownership of my choosing.  From there I went on to love everything the Cranberries and Smashing Pumpkins put out, as well as expand my collection via the endless cycles of joining and cancelling CD club memberships to BMG and Columbia.  That was the most cost effective way to purchase music at the time short of recording songs off the radio ruined by DJs talking over the beginning and end of them.  I have fond memories of listening to full albums and was thankful for CD technology that allowed me to skip past the bad songs, as I quickly learned most albums were not as good as the 1 or 2 singles released on the radio.  However, the great artists could fill an album with great music that never made the airwaves. 

2. PM Dawn's "I'd Die Without You" & "Set Adrift on Memory Bliss" and Prince's "7":  My friend Traci and I loved these songs in high school.  She would go on to introduce me to even more music to broaden my scope from the influence of my older brother's terrible taste in music.  Winger and Firehouse to name a couple.  Though I should probably give him credit for Metallica which I don't hold against him.  Thankfully Traci helped me discover the likes of Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, Neil Young, and Ozzy to name a few.  But it's specifically these 3 songs that really make me think of her and probably because they are from my early days of discovering my taste in music. 

3. Sound Garden's "Black Hole Sun" & Coolio's "Fantastic Voyage":  It was the summer of 1994.  My parents were separated and my mom lived in a city 4 hours away.  Her place of employment had a branch office near where I lived that she had transferred from.  They offered a summer internship for the kids of employees.  I applied and got accepted and was earning cold hard cash 40 hrs a week for 8 weeks or so. My dad dropped me off in the mornings and picked me up in the afternoons since I was a newly licensed driver and the highways of Dallas are nuts during rush hour and take some getting used to even outside of rush hour.  I had my Walkman radio listening to music while working on files all day long.  These 2 songs were the songs of the summer from my perspective, because they'd both play on the radio several times a day and kept me happy and distracted amongst the boring and mundane work, and during the prime awkwardness and turmoil of being a teenager.  The days were long and boring, but I was earning a real paycheck. Minimum wage, but still better than what I had earned babysitting.  I remember the OJ Simpson trial being on in the break room, which looking up the timeline, it must have been pre trial proceedings.  There was one other girl interning that summer a year older than me, and lunch time was the only time we really interacted.   She was nice, but I don't remember her name.  After work my dad would pick me up from work and he'd let me switch the radio station to my music, and at least once a week or more we stopped at McDonald's for a shake on the way home.  I had to switch to strawberry because chocolate had a bad metallic or chemical taste.  I really enjoyed those car rides with my dad and appreciate that time with him. I'm fortunate to still have him around, but we don't connect like we did back then.  I guess that's part of growing older (Cue "Landslide").  That summer was about expanding my freedom and independence as I had more spending power and responsibilities, but I was also mobile and did drive around and hang out even more with my friends.  I enjoyed it all!  There are no other songs that remind me of that summer so vividly, though I'm sure the radio playlist included many of my favorites.  These are the two songs that brought me a sense of joy and freedom, and when I hear them to this day, remind me fondly of that summer. 

4. Poe's "Hello" album":  It was during the year that should have been my Sophomore year in college. I had chosen to take a year off to go be a student missionary in Brazil.  I was sick of school and going to class, there was so much drama around me, and I needed a break from it all.  But I needed a purpose so that I would return to school as that was the path I was on in life, and could not envision a successful career without it.  I went there without knowing anyone, but there were other student missionaries there from the US, Germany, Australia, and Denmark that I periodically met up with to travel around Brazil when we had breaks.  Agape was from California.  She was too cool for me in real life (at least in my mind at the time), but we had this year in Brazil in common.  We all met up to go on a trip to spend a week on a tributary of the Amazon, and she shared this album by Poe with me.  I loved every song on it.  It spoke to the anger, frustration, and turmoil that I felt I had run away from.  Even though they explicitly told us not to sign up to be a missionary to run away from problems.  They were wrong and it was a defining year in my young adult life.  I grew up.  I learned about the world.  I learned about my fortune to be born in a first world country.  It gave me perspective.  It sparked a love of travel for me.  I gained confidence navigating the world without my parents.  In fact when they visited me on separate occasions, I was their tour guide and translator.  It taught me the I can always keep learning whether through study or from those around me.   I bought the CD as soon as I returned and I love this album to this day even if I don't listen to it as much.  

The world I returned to had moved on, but those problems I ran from also moved on from me, and the next 3 years of college came with many wonderful and tragic experiences.  But this was the defining year that helped prepare me and give me the courage needed for life.  I highly recommend a year abroad for young adults before you settle down.  For me it led to another summer in Brazil right after I graduated and then a year abroad in Italy a couple years after college to obtain a graduate degree. Don't rush into marriage and parenthood before you've given yourself time to discover who you are and how you want to live your life.  That is what this album reminds me of.   And if there's one song from it that I take away from it as the 'one song,' it's "Beautiful Girl." The whole album reminds me of that year, but that song is the culmination of the person I like to think I became. 

5. White Lion "When the Children Cry":  This is about my friend Kandy.  She was one of my very best friends.  We met in high school and became fast friends and hung out with everyone that was too cool to fit in with the 'popular' kids.  We had many adventures together throughout high school and into college specifically around this song.  It was her favorite song.   I'm don't remember why, but think it had something to do with either her mom or dad.   She was raised by her grandparents and that is who's house I spent many hours and nights at.  Anyways on any occasion we were at the mall and or near a store that sold music, we would look for the CD that contained this song.  We always went in with low expectations, because we'd become accustomed to striking out.  This was obviously before the days of getting on Amazon or Ebay to buy whatever the hell you want.   One Saturday night we were in a book store, and decided to go back and check out their music section since we'd not been to that one yet.   She hit the jackpot that night as there was one copy and she instantly snatched it up.  Perseverance had finally won out!

She was tragically killed in a car accident at the end of my junior year in college.  She was much too young.  Her younger sisters were in town with her mom making arrangements with her grandparents, and they asked me about music to play.  I told them the story of looking for this album and that this was the song she wanted played. Ironically we'd gone though a discussion of planning our funerals, and she had a much more extravagant one planned that included limo hummers and I believe shooting her ashes off in fireworks.  When this song played at her funeral, I didn't realize just how fitting it would be.  But I have such vivid memories of her and our many adventures in addition to looking for this album that come to mind when I hear this song. 

6. Neil Young "Cortez the Killer": This song also takes me back to Kandy's death.  I was numb.  I was sad.  I didn't want to be alone.  Thankfully I had some wonderful and concerned people that did reach out to call and talk with me and keep me surrounded during that time leading up to her funeral.  I didn't know what to do but go to classes and work, but I was literally non-functional and put professors through some serious bear trap moments including one professor who sarcastically walked by and said 'oh get a room' while a male friend of mine was hugging me while I was balling my eyes out.  But he missed that part.  One of my other really good friends actually worked for him, and I went into his office after class to talk with my friend who had explained why I was actually hugging someone for longer than a second.  I'm not and haven't ever been a huge hugger, but am emotionally intelligent enough that I can do so when appropriate.  My professor profusely apologized to me for his callous comment to me, which I didn't hold against him.  It was one of many teaching moments for me that remind me that I need to always consider that I might not know what someone I interact with is dealing with that day, week, or month, and that they could maybe use a little grace from me. 

My friend Traci was my rock that week. We are thankfully still friends to this day.  She kept me distracted at work, and talked me into taking some time off work and hanging out at her aunt and uncle's pool.  She also invited me to stay at her apartment with her so I didn't have to be alone at night.  One night we drank a bottle of wine and watched the movie "With Honors" I believe and balled our eyes out.  In the morning she would put music on, and one morning she put on a Neil Young CD and this song came on.  It played while I layed in bed waking up not wanting to get up because I didn't know what and how to do that day.  It was a beautiful and moving song to me and for some reason brought me a sense of peace in spite of the topic of the lyrics.  But I have always been attracted to music first and lyrics sometimes.  This is the song I would listen to on the anniversary of her death for many years to come and reminds me of all the people that loved me through that tragic experience. 

7. Garbage's "I Think I'm Paranoid":  Kandy introduced me to the Version 2.0 album and I love every song on it.  "Special" was my favorite song for the longest time as it described many dating interactions I had in college.  However, "I Think I'm Paranoid" takes me back to a night in college that I was going out with Traci and some other friends.  I do believe it was my senior year.  I don't remember if we went to a concert or if we went dancing or what.  But I was at her apartment and she put this album while she was getting ready.  This song came on and I felt inspired to pick up her bass guitar, turned on her amp, and starting figuring out the bass line of the song because it was so perfectly pronounced for me to pick it up.  I didn't and still don't play the bass, but when I starting playing the piano when I was young, I had a knack for playing by ear after the teacher played through new songs for me.  So much so, that she stopped playing them for me to force me to learn to read the music.   I'm convinced to this day that ruined my musical desire and potential because it became a chore to practice.   Anyways back to Paranoid, I did a good enough job playing along that Traci even commented on it and for a brief moment in time I felt like a cool musician!  

There is my list and associated memories.  What's yours?

March 13, 2022

The Day-Light Savings Lobby & 2022 Goals Check In

I feel like I have an inner grumpy old man inside me that comes out to shake my fist and complain every time there's a day-light savings change of the clocks.   I mean how long are we going to keep complaining about this and what big money lobby is preventing federal or state legislation to stop it?   I mean I really want to know who is for keeping the twice yearly changes so much that it goes nowhere in congress.  It seems like an easy thing to get bi-partisan support for that someone could then tout as working well with the other side to get things that matter done when it comes time for re election.  

Am I wrong? 

We all know by now that farmers don't care about clocks.  They farm when they need to farm, so it never did, nor does it now have anything to do with farmers.  So if the consensus is that we want sunlight later in the day, then just don't end daylight savings.   Leave it there perpetually and stop changing back and forth like Michael Scott's vasectomy.  Snip Snap Snip Snap.  It's time to end the madness!

I really need someone to follow the money and blow the whistle on the day-light savings lobby, because I don't understand why we have made it to the middle of my life and things are so bad in politics that people can't work together on what should be little easy wins.    What do we have to do to get that done? Start a petition?

If someone wants to explain to me the hyper partisan reason on both sides why 'we' can't get along and get this done, please tell me.   Otherwise put aside the bigger reasons you choose not to have real discussions to solve issues, give peace a chance, and start with this one little thing.   Can't we all just get along?

By the way, here's an update on my goals for 2022 as a way to hold myself accountable:

1. Personal growth - Going well (Generic goal gets equally generic status update)

2. Keep Learning - Definitely doing this

3. Take more time off work - I've taken more PTO by this time this year than I did the last 2 years and I have a few days already on the books planned for the next month including one this coming Friday!

4. Get my stress level back to a healthier level - I see a light at the end of the tunnel, but definitely still working very hard on it, including a little on a Sunday  

5. Practice the piano more/learn at least one new song - I bought a piano book of Enya songs and working on a couple of favorites.  They are easy but so what. 

Have a great day, week, month, and be kind to each other, to strangers, and to yourselves!

January 31, 2022

Cussing, Cleaning, & Tattoos; Awkward Conversations with my Father

 My parents got divorced when I was in high school.  It still affects me to this day as a middle aged adult, which is another post for another time.  I moved out the minute I graduated high school.  Or more accurately my dad got remarried and moved out on me a month before I graduated.  So I've pretty much lived on my own with various levels of roommates since then.  I had moments of short term renting a room for free from them during and after college, but very temporarily in an effort to save up money to go live abroad for awhile.  

My dad and I had a very good relationship when I was that age for the most part.  I lived with him after the divorce and he only got mad at me when I failed to call and check in with him past curfew, even though I was out with my older brother.   This was when cell phones were emerging so we didn't have them yet, but there were home phones and pay phones galore that I could have used.  

So back the title of the post.   My dad did NOT teach me to cuss.  In fact cussing was more likely considered a sin in my house growing up.  However when your parents commit the mortal sin of divorce, well you can always keep that in your back pocket to throw that in their face when convenient.  I got a job waiting tables my senior year of high school thanks to my brother.  And that is where and when I really learned to cuss like a sailor.  When no one shows up to work for a shift and 3 of you are left to wait on the whole restaurant, and it's slammed, and the kitchen manager is a bitch to you, well you learn how to cuss pretty quickly to manage through the stress.  This was back in a time when they didn't not seat open tables just because people didn't show up for work.  You just did the best you could and the manager rolled up his sleeves to help and we powered through it and made good money.  F yeah!

Well I started slipping up around my dad during college and he thought it best to warn me that my potty mouth wasn't attractive and I'd have a hard time finding a husband.  Joke was on him, because I married a kick ass man that loves me and my potty mouth.  And he's a pretty f-ing hot good cusser too!  I've slipped up enough around my daughter that I'm very self-aware that I'm the one likely teaching my her how to cuss.  She's not learning it at school.  For now she knows not to say that at school or teach her friends how to cuss.  She has been open enough to tell me when she has overheard some of her friend's older brother's friends cuss and ask about it.    

Then there was the time that my dad came by my apartment in or after college, and I was busy and it wasn't very picked up.  But I went over to other people's places, they didn't come by my place.  He awkwardly told me I was going to have a hard time finding a husband if I didn't learn how to keep things picked up.  But the thing is I wasn't searching for a husband at that time in my life so I didn't really care.  I knew when I was ready to settle down, I could pick up after myself so as not to scare the right man off.  I think my dad thought I was a slob, but my place never smelled like my brother's stinky feet closet, so there was nothing dead or decaying underneath my mess.  Thinking back, I'm not sure why he was preoccupied with my ability to get a husband.  I was in no rush and not a drain on him any more than he'd signed up for. 

Now on to tattoos.  When my brother was a freshman in college he asked my dad about piercing his ear to which my dad responded that any and all financial support would be cut off if he did.   Even though at the time he was going to school on loans that I guess my dad co-signed for but that was it.  The debt was still my brother's.  My brother liked to say shocking things for a reaction, not actually do them.  So I learned that you don't run things past dad that you know he'll disapprove of.   So I got a tattoo in a reasonably well hidden spot and kept it hidden pretty well until the one day when I accidentally exposed it and someone else saw it and ratted me out to him.  He got pissed, and made some kind of comment referencing what he told my brother.  I don't remember my exact response, but that's probably when I pulled out 'you got divorced and then moved out on me before I graduated high school, so if this is the worst thing I do or that happens to me, then you are f-ing lucky as a parent.'  And we never spoke of it again.  Because he witnessed the tragedy that became of one of my best friends.   He watched the struggles some of his friends have been through with their kids.  He's still an f-ing lucky parent in spite of my cussing, cleaning challenges, and tattoo, and he knows it.  

Anyways I share this because 20 plus years later in hind sight they are funny memories to me and I know he was looking out for me and wanted the best for me at the time.  But with each passing year of my young adult life, he gained new perspective that he wasn't expecting to gain.  I know he's proud of the person I've become and thankful that me and my tattoo are still around to have more awkward conversations. 

January 2, 2022

New Year New Goals

Another day and new year gifted to me in this life, for which I am grateful.  My personal goals for this 2022:

1. Personal growth

2. Keep Learning

3. Take more time off work

4. Get my stress level back to a healthier level

5. Practice the piano more/learn at least one new song 

No plan for how to achieve them yet, though some cases I just have to make a decision in a moment to take a day off work, to sit down at the piano and play, to find something new to learn about, to take a deep breath and choose to bite my tongue.  Others may truly require more deliberate actions and back up support to go forth and achieve.  In the case of number 5, if I don't call it out separately, it is not likely to happen. 

There it is.  Specifically generic.  And in some cases accomplishing one may also accomplish another.  You may think that's cheating, but I couldn't care less.  It's my life and they are my goals.   You can make whatever rules you want for your goals or resolutions for the new year.  Or you can choose not to set any at all, and I will practice my first goal, and love you anyway and not give you my opinion unless you ask for it. 

Happy New Year and may 2022 be Merry and Bright for you!

December 4, 2021

Hell Hath no Fury (Or Strength) Like a Toddler in a Car Seat

When I dusted off this blog, one of my intentions was to fill in some of the gaps of experiences between 0 and 10 of raising a child for the first and only time.  One that my mother did not warn me about was the car seat prison so despised by the freedom loving toddler.  This is probably because car seats were in the early stages when I was a baby and not likely nearly as effective at restraining a child as they are now.   

My daughter came out with early indications of being a highly independent girl, which I was very happy about.   She was walking around at 8 months, albeit a bit wobbly and not without many opportunities to teach her that she was 'tough' and didn't need to cry when she fell down, or bumped her head.   Though there was that one time that she earned a big cry and my parenting might be judged as questionable by some for not rushing her to the ER.  However the internet and the book I had confirmed they'd just monitor her and gave me signs to watch for.  So I monitored her for those concerning signs and made sure she was still functioning normally, and she turned out fine.  But I digress.  

The bigger and more mobile she got, the less she liked being strapped into her car seat for long periods of times.  It made her cranky to the point that we avoided trips longer than a just a 2-3 hours away for quite awhile.  And we also accepted that if they were longer, we'd have to go slower to let her get out and run around for a bit.   

It got to a point where we had many fights trying to get her strapped in.  She was a strong little thing too.  She would stiffen up straight as a board, which is not how car seats are shaped, and fight me with every ounce of strength in her little body.   Which by the way, surprised me that it greatly exceeded mine in these moments of desperation.  All of this came with screaming bloody murder as if she was being abused.  Manipulative little bugger!  This horrified me in big public parking lots with people walking past usually pretending not to notice as no one ever came over and checked on the situation.   There were a few times we cried together in frustration for 15-20 minutes until her strength was worn down to a level that I could safely overpower her and get her strapped in.   I remember wishing that it should just be left up to survival of the fittest, so that I didn't have to have that fight on a routine basis. I mean car seats didn't always exist.  I would have been happy to let her play on the floor in the backseat to avoid the whole scene now and then. 

Not only did my mother not warn me about this, no one did! They don't teach you anything about what really happens when you choose to bring a child in the world and raise it.  It's not all cute and fun.  Which I knew that going in.  I just really didn't know a car seat was going to become the bane of my existence as mother.  To this day that was the worst for us so far, so I can't really complain as there are many worse things that some parents have to go through with their toddlers and children.  I'm just putting this here for my memory and for those that might want to prepare themselves mentally for what comes when fiercely independent toddlers begin to fiercely despise the car seat.   We turned her around as soon as we could, and graduated her out of it into a booster as soon as she reached the borderline minimally recommended size.  Which was early compared to some kids we know that were just as content as could be in their 5 point harness turned backwards. 

Now she sits in the front seat and loves it!  She's still as independent as ever, but has greatly matured in how she exerts it, which makes it all worth it to control yourself, take a step back, and slow down as needed when they are toddlers.  Even if that means sitting in a parking lot for a half hour.  There's a light at the end of the tunnel.  Unless you keep having kids. Then it's just compounded for years and years until finally the last one gets there! 

November 28, 2021

My Only Child is Not Spoiled - Privileged Yes - But Not Spoiled

I have an only child.  A daughter if you've not read previous posts of mine.   I have friends and peers that have or planned to have only one child, so in my world it hasn't been that big of a deal to proclaim that decision to others.   And I've not received many comments related to having only one that I recall.  But it could be that I and we don't really care if someone disagrees with that decision, because it's really none of their business anyways.  However some that I know have heard many unsolicited comments about the decision to have one including their child is or will be:

  • Lonely
  • Selfish
  • Antisocial
  • Spoiled
  • Bossy
  • Dysfunctional
  • Won't know how to share
  • Won't work well with others
I only had one only-child stereo-type mentioned to me that pissed me off, however I bit my tongue.  It was a new colleague who came to talk business in my cube many years ago when my daughter was still young.  She saw the picture I had up of my family and asked if she was an only child to which I affirmed.  And she said 'oh she must be spoiled.'  I'm pretty sure I gave her a confused look as it seems a pretty bold conclusion to draw about a child you've never even met.  

As I've grown up and gotten further out from it, I honestly don't think she meant it with mal-intent or as a shot at our parenting as compared to hers or others with multiple kids.  She just didn't think that how she phrased it comes across as a negative shot at such a decision.  I think she probably meant it as we spend more time and money on her since we don't have other kids to spread it out on.  Which is true, but doesn't equate to raising a spoiled kid.  But she made a statement without knowing that we:
  • tell her no
  • considered that we would have to teach her to think about others
  • take the time to demonstrate thinking about others as a value worth putting time an effort into. 
  • consider a budget for Christmas and birthdays  
  • participate in efforts to be generous to those less fortunate so she understands that she is indeed privileged 
I myself came from an upbringing where I was the youngest of 2.  My husband is on the younger half, but in the middle of 7 kids.  So we were both very well aware of the nonsense and/or chaos that comes with growing up with one or more siblings.  When we decided to have only one, we didn't make that decision lightly or without research.  We actually realized that we'd have to make more effort than we might normally like to ensure she has social interaction outside of the normal school schedule and year.  Honestly this is probably a good thing for a couple that is 1. introverted and 2. extraverted but borderline introverted socially.  This means we end up hosting her friends at our house more than other parents host her.  But honestly we don't always know her friend's home situations and so we are more than happy to have them over for lunch and and afternoon of fun.  When I think back to the parents (particularly the moms) that hosted me during my turbulent high school and college years, I'm incredibly grateful for them allowing me to dominate time at their homes with my friends.  They taught me so much about who I want to be as a mom to my daughter's friends going through the same tough times I did as a kid. 

She is on the other hand incredibly privileged in the following ways:
  • She was born in a rich and free country relative to much of the world.
  • She has parents who love her dearly and don't want to screw her up.
  • She doesn't have to share a room.
  • She doesn't have a sibling to break her toys.
  • She doesn't have a sibling to fight about everything with including not crossing the center line in the car.
  • She was born to parents who can provide food, shelter, and private education for her.
  • She was born to parents willing to move her across the country to provide her opportunities within their value system that she didn't have just a few short years ago.
  • She was born to parents who can afford to make sure one of us is currently at home for her and can take her to various activities that she likes to participate in.  This wasn't always the case for her.
  • She was born to parents that believe vacations should include her and they don't mean only going to visit grandparents.
  • She was born to parents that can and do teach her the value of a dollar and how to manage money including expenses, charity to those you don't know, and generosity towards those you care about and love.
  • She was born to parents who know their limits.  Even when that means telling her No!
We have very much thought about the fact that when we are old and decrepit, that she won't have a sibling to share that stress with.  We both can currently talk to our siblings about the stresses that come with our parents aging or other frustrations that come with that.  However, we are doing our best to make sure that we are not a financial burden to her.  My own personal worry is that I will do or say something to screw up her desire to be part of our lives when she is an adult.  That concern is what reminds me to own up and apologize to her when I've been an unreasonable hardass.  Plus I have a wonderful husband that isn't afraid to call me out when I need it.  I also think of these times as opportunities to show her I'm not a perfect parent/adult and it's ok and important to own up to and learn from mistakes.   

We are trying to do our best just as reasonable parents who choose to have a heard of children generally try to do their best. She's privileged yes, but not spoiled.  My dog on the other hand, completely spoiled!