Thursday, September 30, 2010

How Big Can I Make My Umbrella?

Last night I attended a parent meeting at Jillson's preschool, so I could learn about the Happy Bear program. This is an age-appropriate way of teaching our children about welcome and unwelcome touches, personal space, and what to do if someone touches you in a way you do not like. I was glad I went so that we in the Gutsy household could all be on the same page methodologically. (Wow, that was a long word to type.) I liked the way they handled the topic, introducing things without suggesting anything scary. But I just about lost it at the end of the presentation when they told the parents to remember to say, if a child comes to you to report an unwelcome touch, "it was not your fault." We are to reassure the children that it is not their fault, even if they forgot to say no to the person or forgot to move away from him or her.

And that is when my heart leapt up into my throat and I lost my breath. I was flooded with feelings--probably a mere approximation of what I might feel if either of my daughters actually came to tell me about unwelcome touches. I pray, probably more deeply than I pray about anything, that I never have to have this sort of conversation. How will I contain my rage? The thought of someone abusing them makes me feel sick to my stomach. The idea that they then might think it was their fault, this is just beyond heartbreaking.

How can I protect them as they grow up? How, as they grow up in this world that must teach four-year-olds about unwelcome touches? I want to keep them in the umbrella of my arms, my home, my love forever. When do I acquire the skills to let them out from under the umbrella and into the world? Does that come with maturity (theirs and mine)? How did my parents ever let any of us go?

Suddenly I think of an oft-told story in our family. After my parents dropped one of us off at school (I think it was my oldest brother), they began the four-hour drive home. Perhaps feeling a little doubtful about letting a chickie leave the nest, my mother, upon seeing a sign for a roadside farm stand, insisted that my father pull over the car. She then, in order not to cry, or perhaps while also crying, proceeded to fill every nook and cranny of that car with mums. "More mums than we'd ever planted in one fall," my Dad likes to say.

I think I can understand why. And I think I am going to be buying a lot of mums in the coming years.

Friday, September 17, 2010


Two days ago we moved the piano out of the living room and into the kitchen so we could steam clean the floor in the living room. As we were coming around the corner I instinctively said "pivot!" (because we needed to) and then I started laughing.

Yesterday we moved the piano back, and this time my husband said "pivot!" quite authoritatively, and I started giggling again.

Finally, today, in the middle of a step aerobics class, the instructor called out "pivot!" (it's a fairly common move in step class) and I just lost it. Every time we came back to that move the instructor barked out "PIVOT," and I could barely contain myself.  I'm fairly certain the other exercisers thought I was going a little crazy, but then again, if they are of my generation, chances are at least one of them was thinking of this scene:

I can't explain exactly why, but this has always been one of my favorite comedic TV moments. Enjoy!

Saturday, September 4, 2010

When the Market's Out of Corn

I bought okra at the farmer's market today, and after much discussion with the farmer who sold it to me, she and I agreed that the best way to "introduce" okra to my family would be to fry it.

I believe I may be the first in my family's long line of Yankee chefs to attempt such a thing, but I look forward to being corrected if I am wrong.

The farmer gave me excellent instructions. The resultant fried okra was tasty and crunchy and, well, okra-y without being slimy.  It was gobbled up by one and all (not quite as enthusiastically by Jillson as by the rest of us) and made a marvelous side to the brisket we brought home from All Slabbed Up. (We now need more people to visit us, or we need return visitors, as we finally have found a local barbecue joint. It is far better than any we have tried in KC. Hallelujah!)

The success with the fried okra makes me feel I should attempt fried pickles (a delicacy around here), but I'm thinking it might be better not to go any further down the lane of experimental fried foods.  Best to quit while ahead.