This Parent’s Nightmares

Two New York Times articles this weekend conveniently book-ended the gamut of parental nightmares — child abuse and drug abuse.

In the hallowed halls of elite Horace Mann School, unabashed pedophilia survived through willful blindness for decades.  Just another reminder for me to listen closely to my child’s discomfort and fears, if G-d forbid, there was some problem.  And any man who takes an active interest in SOS and engages in “horseplay” is suspect.

When SOS was young, we thought to have a manny (male nanny) to give him daily contact with a male (something missing in a two-mom household).  But the logistics got complicated when I realized that if we had a manny (who might just be a pedophile), we would also need a nanny to watch the manny watching SOS.  POB gave up on the idea rather than try to unravel my paranoid (and correct) logic.

The second story was about high school kids buying prescription drugs used to treat Attention Deficit Disorder and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.  These drugs, when used properly, help certain kids function with the “appropriate” level of attention and focus in classrooms and other venues. The drugs’ effects on kids who don’t need the drug are laser-focus on task and rapid recall.  Like steroids, these drugs are now seen as performance enhancing aids so that kids can perform better on class tests and college entrance exams.

It is shocking how easy it seems to get a prescription or buy a few pills from a classmate.

(My high school alma mater was singled out as one place where there is a real problem.  The person who said any publicity is good publicity is, um, wrong.)

So, POB and I were talking about this and we both scratched our heads.  We as a society are pushing our kids into drugs “to make us proud”.  It made getting high and playing frisbee seem like something out of Mayberry.  You know, the stuff you did to rebel and make your parents fret about your future.

And now my new view is:

SOS, if you must try drugs, please smoke A LITTLE dope (and then make sure it was a bad experience).  And promise me (pinky-swear and everything) that you won’t ever, ever, snort Adderall for performance enhancement. 

I love you just the way you are.


High School Reunion


Thirty years.

Thirty YEAHS (said like a New Yorker).

It isn’t as if we were celebrating 30 years of marriage or a career.  We were celebrating surviving for 30 years since we last saw each other as a group.  “So, whatcha been doin’?” would require days, if not weeks, with every classmate, in order to catch up.

But we only had a few hours.

I was the class nerd whose parents couldn’t afford to have me keep up with the clothes and accessories of the others.  So, I always felt I was on the outside looking in and, sometimes, some of the girls were mean.   And, of course, I had an inkling that I was different somehow (later, to realize I was gay).  I think it manifested by not understanding how to connect to the other girls; I was always at home talking with the guys.

So, this is was a loaded event for me.  But I had a plan:

look thin and prosperous.

Except I hurt my arm 10 days ago and hadn’t been to the gym.  And, POB (partner of blogger) is no longer employed.

Great plan; bad execution.

So, I was bloated and feeling unprosperous.  And yet I am a lucky person in life and I am really happy, so, Saturday, I had a new plan:

Just make sure the make-up is flawless and the lipstick color is awesome.

So I put on comfy clothes and went.  There was a small pre-party at a classmate’s chocolate shop, with people who were always quirky and kind enough to accept my bizarro-ness and eccentricities even then.  Immediately upon entering the chocolate shop, all trepidation disappeared.  And the years melted away in such a warm and wonderful way.

[Just a side bar about the chocolate shop: Bond Street Chocolate,, a tiny, fabulous place that is worth the schlep to East 4th Street; it isn’t actually on Bond Street].

Everyone was instantly recognizable.  Same laughs, same voices, same cadences and same energies.  Some looked so fabulous that I just know they have their own Dorian Gray-like pictures in their closets.  They were AGELESS.  And no scalpel touched their faces.  (Maybe some hair coloring and under-eye cover stick but that was it and we are 48!!)

We all arrived at the official party.  The turn out was amazing.  And, again, people were instantly recognizable.

Life has tread on all of us.  We lost our harder edges.  The mean girls weren’t mean anymore.   Those old distinctions didn’t matter anymore.  We all had happy times, disappointing times, scary times, and sad times and that makes us all a lot more grounded than teenagers spending grades 7-12 together in a tiny Upper East Side private school.

I left grateful for the occasion to reconnect with people who share some of my past and, I hope, part of my future.

Back in School

Tonight was curriculum night at our son’s school.

The teachers tell the parents about what the kids are learning and the year’s goals.  As if I know whether it makes any sense or is grade-appropriate.  Nevertheless, I go because, well, you know the adage, “be there or be talked about”.  In fact, POB (partner of blogger) and I did talk about those who weren’t there over dinner later.  Let’s face it, we are all just children with graying hair.  So, if you put us in a gossip-y environment, then you better run for cover.

We were at the school for two hours, during which I slipped into the slouching, smart-mouthed, bored student of my youth.  I was disruptive during the reading teacher’s presentation because I was joking back and forth across the table with another mother (who has made a cameo in prior blogs — the mother of our son’s future wife).  Later, I was whispering to the father of my son’s best guy friend (who also has made a cameo in prior blogs — he was the one in need of adult male bonding rituals after months at home with the kids).

During the math teacher’s presentation, I was getting antsy and was counting ceiling tiles.  During the art and music presentation, which was last, I stared at the clock until there were ten minutes remaining and then I started packing up.   Just the kind of child that makes teachers leave teaching.

POB took notes throughout and asked pertinent questions.  She elicited smiles and positive reinforcement from the teachers.  She was like that as a kid.  Remember we’ve known each other since we were ten years old and I know that she always did her Hebrew school homework.  Her Hebrew school homework, for G-d’s sake (in a manner of speaking).

If there is a test on the details at the next parent teacher conference, POB will ace it and won’t let me peek at her paper.  I just know it.

My poor son.  I sure hope nature (POB’s genes) beats nurture (my overbearing personality) because otherwise he is toast.

Child is teacher to the parent

All of the talk of Hurricane Earl has my son asking about other types of natural disasters.  His questions are very specific:  why are there earthquakes in California and not in New York City (where we live)??  I didn’t want to tell him that earthquakes are possible in New York and we have had tremors before.  He is only 8 years-old after all and that could freak him out.

Where to begin?  So, I start with, “Not all the land under the oceans are connected.  And deep down, the earth is actually so hot and pressurized that it is liquid.  That is even true under dry land.  Sometimes, the pieces of land bump into each other and move apart and —- ”  My eight year-old son interrupts me, and says, “Oh, you mean plate tectonics?  It also causes mountain ranges.”

Well, all right then.  I actually thought I was doing a good job answering the question, way better than my answering of the Tampax question.  Apparently, I failed to give him new information even though I was essentially making up the connection between earthquakes and plate tectonics.

I knew there would come a time when my son knew more about stuff than I did.  I didn’t realize that it would happen when he is EIGHT YEARS OLD!!!!!  But don’t tell him that earthquakes can happen in New York City; he is still a little boy and might really get scared.