Natural consequences

AS I WAITED FOR MY GARAGE DOOR TO OPEN yesterday afternoon, I was met by Eli, who was fixing to leave on his bike with his basketball. He’s been enjoying that we live close to basketball courts, but it’s been too cold to play outside. He has discovered that sometimes, his school is open after hours and if one of the two gyms is not in use, he can shoot around inside.

The problem was, he was wearing crew socks and a pair of athletic slides. And a hoodie. And it was 20 degrees outside.

I tried to explain frostbite and hypothermia, but all he heard was BLAH BLAH COLD BLAH BLAH BLAH and off he went.

When he returned 15 minutes later, his feet were really cold. (No!) As he sat with them next to the fireplace, we had another discussion about how 20 degrees is a kind of cold one should not trifle with. This is the kind of cold that would freeze the canned sodas we used to leave on the shelf in our carport. It’s the kind of cold that helps you identify every broken seal on every window and door in your house. It’s the kind of cold that makes furnaces sputter and quit.

You would think the experience of self-inflicted cold feet would have left an impression. You would think he’d have been grateful that I dug out two winter coats so he could choose one to wear on his walk to school. You would think those things, but you are probably an adult with a fully-developed frontal lobe. The boy rolled his eyes and groaned when I insisted he wear a coat. Or, he groaned because it was the first day back after winter break. Probably some of both. Either way, he was running late this morning and asked me to drive him to school. (Only the second time this school year!)

He got into the car wearing just a hoodie. Coat’s in my backpack, he said in response to my side-eye. Do you have a hat? I asked. I have a hood. Gloves? One. But I have pockets.

At least he was wearing sneakers instead of slides.

WebMD illustrates natural consequences using the coat / cold example. They go on to say, “Learning through experiencing consequences is much more powerful than through a lecture or punishment. Using consequences for misbehavior is an effective teaching method for dealing with behavior problems in children and teens.”

Oh, WebMD! That’s precious! I thought it would be effective too, but I am a female adult. And I have learned from parenting two boys through their teen years that cause and effect is not the deterrent you’d expect it to be, at least when it comes to weather-appropriate dress. Eli’s brothers insisted upon leaving coats behind, lest they be forced to actually use their school lockers. And with Eli, I’ve had to establish a threshold of 32 degrees Fahrenheit, below which he will only reluctantly wear long pants to school, much to the chagrin of school administrators.

Despite it all, I do tend to agree that a “natural consequences” approach to parenting is probably the best way in most cases. Within reasonable limits, of course. But I’ll be counting the days until he demonstrates that he can decide on his own, based on weather reports and experience, whether or not it’s a good day to wear a coat.

I take comfort in knowing that my kids’ behavior places them in the fat part of the bell curve. A quick Google search of “shorts in snow” yields many images of bare legs on a white background, including in this feature story from the Coeur D’Alene (Idaho) Press that articulates adults’ perennial concern for children’s cold legs.

I have found my people.

Area Boy wears summer attire in winter. School administrators remain exasperated.


On cutting one’s own hair

safety scissorsTwo weeks ago, I squeezed in an impulsive visit to the hair salon located in the spa in the resort in which we were staying in PA. The stylist asked lots of questions and spent time trying to figure out exactly what it was I was asking her to do. She might have achieved some sort of understanding, too, if I had, in fact, known exactly what it was I wanted her to do and been able to convey it.  Mostly, I wanted her to fix the haircut I’d had five weeks prior, during which I’d asked that stylist to please fix the style that my longtime hair stylist had failed to achieve.

So Olga did a fine job, but really, it was just a trim, and now, two weeks later, it’s growing out because if my hair were a superhighway, it would be the Autobahn.

Tonight, I was becoming increasingly annoyed at how long the back has gotten since my little visit with Olga, and I thought to myself, how much damage could I possibly do if I just bust out the clippers and trim the tiniest bit all by myself?

Now that the deed is done, I can state with confidence these two things:

  1. I CANNOT ENDORSE cutting the back of one’s own hair.  Bangs, maybe. But the back? Under no circumstances should this task be entrusted to anyone other than a trained professional.
  2. You cannot un-cut hair. It will grow, eventually, but you can’t stick it back on after it’s cut.

My little DIY trim does get the hair off of my neck, and this is a good thing.  It certainly feels better. It may even buy me a couple more weeks before I seek out yet another stylist whose price is more in line with my current budget.  My longtime guy? Waaaay too pricey for me now. Besides, If I’m being honest (and I know you expect nothing less from me), I hadn’t been entirely happy with his product the past few visits. I do feel kinda bad leaving him now because, well, we have history, and also, he had moved into new space and was struggling to keep it in the black. (Take a tip from my (former?) stylist: Do not open a shiny new salon in a high-rent district that’s 10 or more miles from most of your clients. They won’t come. Bonus suggestion: Take care not to do this when the nation’s economy is imploding.)

And before you ask, NO, I don’t have a photo of my little home haircut gone awry. My camera is in for repair.  (It’s under warranty!)  Plus, you think it’s hard to cut the back of your own hair? Try photographing it, with a cell phone camera! Not possible.

Aren’t you glad you visited today? I know I am. Do come back next time where I plan to bitch and moan about the perils of home hair color.

Or not. But I should.


meg profile
Mad props to Audrey for somehow managing to make my chin look less weak than it really is. Click her link in my Blogroll 'cause I can't embed it in this caption, dammit.

I think it’s fair to say that, amidst all the socializing and photographing and touring and swimming and eating and boozing that took place at last week’s VA Blogfest, each blogger who attended had a chance to learn new things about herself. Some have already  written about it.

I learned a couple of interesting things about myself through the course of the weekend. For one thing? Turns out I get homesick. Yes, just like during sleepaway camp thirty years ago. It was all giggles and grins during the festivities, but when I would finally hit the wall at night and excuse myself to go to bed, I would close the bedroom door and immediately get all choked up. I laid there and thought to myself, how ridiculous are you being, you almost-42-year-old woman? You’re always plotting and scheming about getting away; now here you are, you’re away from the kids, and the husband, and the pets and the chores and the work and the Reality, and you’re laughing and drinking red wine and socializing with some of the finest people to grace God’s green earth, and all you can think about is how you’re homesick???


Nevertheless, that’s what I was feeling, at least right up until the moment I passed out from drinking too much wine sheer exhaustion. Go figure.

Something else that fascinated me is the extent to which you can connect with The People Who Live In Your Computer (as we call them), through nothing more than blog posts and comments. I’ve read and commented on lots of blogs and have come to “know” some really wonderful people. But it’s not everyone I’m tempted to learn more about, tempted to meet “IRL.” And yet, with this group, who came together quite randomly, and, for the most part, hadn’t met IRL before, it was as if we just picked up right where we left off the last time we saw each other.  Someone likened it to a family reunion, only without all the drama! I have joked with Laurie and Janice about how we surely were separated at birth; it was so pleasant to confirm once we met that we do have something resembling sisterhood going on.



I'd tell you to wave "hi" to the Bridge, but I want you to keep both hands firmly on the steering wheel.

This is the Governor Harry W. Nice Memorial Bridge, and if they had named this bridge after me, I would have told them please, don’t do me any favors. This bridge links Virginia with southern Maryland on U.S. Route 301, crossing a wide portion of the Potomac River.  It has two narrow lanes with no median and a steep, panic-inducing 3.75% grade.

This bridge? Is the one that keeps appearing in my recurring nightmare… only I didn’t know it was this bridge until I drove across it for the very first time on Sunday, on the way to take Foolery to the airport near Baltimore.

And what’s even funnier? She says she has the SAME DREAM! You see? We truly are separated at birth. We even share nightmares! She also has the one that I do about being washed away by some huge, cresting wave in the ocean. 

How weird is that, that we would have the same recurring nightmares?

Anyway. The Bridge. So there I was, driving my high-profile vehicle up that grade. Up, up, up, and if you look at that picture, you can see what the problem is – it is that you can’t see what’s on the other side! It’s like ascending the first hill of a roller coaster, which is all shits & grins when you’re at King’s Dominion, but significantly less awesome when you’re at the wheel of a very large SUV, transporting someone who’s travelled the whole way across the country to Experience Virginia through the eyes of complete strangers.  You can almost hear the ratchety clacketa-clacketa-clacketa– you know, the part where you’re sure the coaster train will just slip and go sliding backwards into the station? 

So we’re going up and all I could think of was, what will happen when we s-l-o-w-l-y crest the apex? Will we pause, teetering, at the top? Will the decline be just as steep?  Steeper, maybe? If so, will my brakes go out?  Will it be straight, or maybe a series of impossibly twisting S-curves?  Or maybe, the road will just DISAPPEAR like it does in my nightmare, leaving me to plunge, with my poor, helpless passenger, into the depths of the tidal Potomac?

Seriously. My pulse quickens as I write about it and view the photo.  My hands are shaking the tiniest bit. I really am a freak.

Chesapeake Bay BridgeI’ve never had an issue with bridges.  I love crossing the Chesapeake Bay Bridge; the view is breathtaking. Soup Husband Curt, however?  In his 20s, he would stop and make someone else drive his car across the bridge on the way to the beach. It was only in recent years that he decided, this is no way to live, and forced himself to drive across. He gets sweaty palms, but he can do it if he simply stares at the license plate of the car in front of him.

 But the Governor Nice bridge?  Not even a little bit Nice.

That’s about all of my soul that I care to (or even should) bare at this time.  Hope I haven’t scared you away, ha HA! Please, do check out my new blogroll, at the top of the right sidebar, to see what freakish fascinating realizations the other bloggers may have experienced during our time at summer camp Blogfest.