Sunday, September 23, 2007

My Daughter Wants a Doll for her Birthday

My daughter is turning five and has asked for a doll for her birthday. There is nothing unusual in this, I asked for dolls when I was little. As I anticipated the arrival of my beautiful daughter, I dreamed of playing dolls with her, setting them up on pillows and having tea parties together. Unfortunately, the doll she wants is a Bratz doll.

For those who don't know, Bratz dolls are scantily clad dolls with oversized lips which have that annoying line outlining their lipstick, ostensibly from lip liner (apparently Bratz girls don't read the magazines; you are supposed to match your liner to your lipstick). Even the Bratz baby dolls are heavily made up and adorned with jewelry. From the looks of these dolls, I think they would eschew tea parties in favor of the latest fruit laden martini.

I played with a beautiful effanbee baby doll which smelled of powder and had cute baby rosebud lips. She was my baby, my friend. She later shared my affections with Chrissy a doll with a hole in her head so that you could give her long or short hair, depending on your mood, by pulling it out of the hole in her head and then pressing her navel to roll it back inside. When Chrissy's hair got too tangled, I fell in love with my Baby Tender Love, a doll with pores and soft baby-like skin. None of these dolls would have inspired the Police to write Roxanne. Not so with the Bratz dolls.

The Bratz dolls look like juvenile delinquents. Bad news. The kind of girl your mother warned you about, the kind of girl a decent boy would never bring home to his mother. I've told my daughter that we don't approve of Bratz dolls in our family. But she is really too young to tell her why.

She isn't getting her hearts desire for her birthday. And what makes me so angry is that someone must be buying these dolls or they wouldn't continue being sold. There are people who actually think these dolls are appropriate. I don't know what age the dolls are marketed for, but in my opinion they aren't appropriate for ANY age.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Tonight, a mother cries...

Tonight a mother cries. She is the same mother who, on Friday night, continued to have hope that her son would beat his leukemia as he had his cancer. The cancer treatment put the cancer into remission, but caused the leukemia. He would have graduated from high school in June. Tomorrow he will be buried. My heart is broken for this woman I have never met.

I, too, have a son who is a high school senior. Tonight his fresh mouth and snarly attitude made me feel awful. So often, lately, I question why he hates me when all I want is for him to grow up to be a fine man. And I thought of the woman who will never see her son grow into the man he would have become. I cannot fathom her grief, her despair, her limitless faith.

As mothers, we all too often point fingers at each other: she lets her kids drink soda, she lets her kids play violent video games, she doesn't seem to care what grades her children get, she stays at home, she leaves her kids in day care. All of the criticism we level at each other means nothing tonight. A mother is crying because the best person she ever knew, the person she loved best, has died. We feel a pain, but even as we do, we know that it is nothing like hers.

Tonight, a mother cries. And every mother cries with her.

Top Ten Ways You Know We Are Back at School

School has started. I have a high school senior, a sophomore, and a kindergartener. And I am a teacher. How do you know that we are all back to school? Here is a list:

10. My house is a mess.

9. I no longer have time to Gather.

8. There are four school bags plopped in the foyer.

7. My checking account is empty because of all of the back-to-school sneakers, shoes, jeans, underwear, boxer shorts, gym socks, binders, pencils, pens, erasers, folders, notebooks and fees that I have been shelling out money for.

6. My TiVo is no longer taping shows because I have not had time to watch anything and it is full.

5. I am making lunches while I put on my make-up.

4. I've been tempted to tell my principal that the dog ate my plan book.

3. Despite buying all of the aforementioned school supplies, I had to fill out emergency cards in brown crayon.

2. I sent tissues and paper towels to everyone's teachers, but we have no toilet paper in the house.

And the number one reason you can tell we are all back at school:

1. My idea of cooking a homecooked meal has dwindled to Top Ramen noodles and a sliced tomato.

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Happy New Year

I am a teacher. I make New Year's resolutions twice a year. Like most people, I make them as the new year approaches, after the busyness and chaos of the holidays. I take time to take stock and figure out where I can make improvements in my life. But I also get a clean slate and a new beginning each September as the new school year approaches.

There is an old joke about teaching that the three best things about the profession are June, July and August. Any teacher worth her salt knows that these are the months, after the busyness and chaos of the preceding school year, to reflect and ask the hard questions about what you could have done better, brush up on your subject matter, and make improvements. Somewhere in there you try to rest up and restore yourself to yourself.

Although I hate the end of summer and its slower pace, I do feel excited by the prospect of a new year. I mark this fresh start with tangible tokens of newness: new pens, pencils, papers, and the latest organization system that I am sure will beat the one from the year before. And then I buy tissues, vitamin C, hand lotion, jugs of hand sanitizer and granola bars. It all gets packed in my "new school bag" which I convince myself will be sturdy enough to last the whole year.

Before long, the school year will start to drag. I will feel stressed, forgetful and bone-tired. A thought will creep in that I've got to make some changes fast, or the quality of my life will be strained. And it just so happens that this will occur right around December 31st: the perfect time for a clean slate and some new resolutions.