Archive for November, 2010

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How Could I Have Forgotten?

November 22, 2010

It is not an evening of pleasantries.

It is not an evening of a calm, happy dinner.

It is not an evening to enjoy each other’s company.

It is an evening of meltdowns.

Of crazy maniacal behavior from the 14 yo;

Of weepy, overhelmedness from the 12 yo.

Because why?

Because tomorrow, they leave for the Middle of the Country.

They get on the airplane, and they say goodbye.

And it freaks them both out just enough to make tonight absolutely, positively horrendous.

Mouse is in tears — she has too much homework, she can’t pack, she doesn’t know what shoes to wear.

She really does have a ridiculous amount of homework.  I know that 7th grade is a very intense year in our school, but Mouse hasn’t felt it yet.  She just got her report card, and she had all As.  But today they informed the kids that if they won’t be in school on Wednesday, everything is due tomorrow instead.  One of the assignments is to re-work a draft that was returned today, and is due on Wednesday.  Some of the other things, she could have maybe worked on more over the weekend (instead of having lunch with me, or watching Harry Potter with me, or going to Newbury Street with me, getting manicures and Pinkberry.  Or instead of reading two novels, or going to a dance.  Or instead of sleeping until noon … but she DID do homework instead of watching the Patriots KICK THE COLT’S ASS!!  [oh, wait … sorry … off topic]

Lemon is going OFF (which usually is also accompanied with tears) – it’s not FAIR, this is so BORING, this is the WORST LAST NIGHT EVER!!

She wants to watch Buffy.  But her sister has too much homework ….

So Lemon is threatened within an inch of her [social] life (i.e., “do you want this to be a horrible night, or do you want it stretch into a horrible MONTH? Because I can prevent you from making plans in the afternoons and weekends for all of December, you know!”  Response:  “I want it to be a horrible 5 minutes; I’m sorry mommy!”)

And Mouse is given some ice water, and helped to make a plan.  Lemon is given a compromise (no Buffy, but we’ll watch something else instead).

Hopefully things will be okay.  Homework finished, calmness found, comfort restored.  They’re always fine once they get on the airplane, and mostly have a great time while there.  I picked up some cute little baby clothes to give their baby brother for his first birthday, and it will be fun for them to see him again, for the first time since August.  Their step mother is pregnant with a baby girl, and that will likely be exciting, too.

They’ll have fun. (I hope.)

(and I still know I will have fun … New Orleans!!)

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Prepping for New Orleans

November 22, 2010

Ahhh, home on a Monday!  And with very little work pressure.

I had a great weekend to kick off my vacation –  I did only a little work, my fun Saturday was followed by a Fun Sunday (Pinkberry & manicures with the Mouse; Patriots kicking ass all afternoon; evening of chillage).

Then this morning, I woke up with the kiddos (cute that it’s Mouse’s job to essentially wake the whole family … poor kid has the weight of the world on her shoulders), went for a run, then hopped in the shower so I’d be ready to run to the bank with a fellow parent volunteer, to get myself on a checkbook so people can be reimbursed for volunteer-related expenditures in a timely manner.

I’ve since been cleaning my room, like a kid or something, because it was such a mess.  The poor kittens are besides themselves, unsure what to play with or where to find a bra to drag around the house.  (No, really, they do that.)

Every now and then I take a quick break to try on a dress or a skirt to see if it’s what I want to wear to one fantastic New Orleans restaurant or another.  Taking another break here or there to read Harry Potter the Third (I’m working my way back through …) or to check and see if my shipment from J.Jill has arrived yet.

But i’m staying productive.

Tomorrow after school, we’re making our first airport run, to get the girls on their way.  I’m a little nervous that the new TSA rules won’t let WD and I to the gate, as we’ve always been able to do in the past.  But I’m pretty sure they’ll at least let ME through.  I hope.  Now that Lemon is 14, they’re not flying as unaccompanied minors anymore.  So there is a chance that they’ll say no.  The girls won’t like that.

I’m going to trust it will all be fine.

And then Wednesday morning, WD and I are out of here.

We’re landing to 80 degrees and sunshine.

Planning travel clothes is tricky.  We’re leaving 40 and grey, and arriving to 80 and sunny.  Hmmm.

So looking forward to the trip.

 

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Finally, a Fun Weekend

November 20, 2010

Sort of my first weekend without work.  Except that I got up at 8 and worked on finishing a project until noon …

 

But now!?  VACATION!!

 

I am very excited.

Kicked it off with a fun lunch out with the Mouse, to celebrate her Straight As Report Card.  Go Mouse!  We went to our favorite Vietnamese restaurant, and ate too much food.  We chatted about school, the movie we watched last night –

Defiance, with Daniel Craig.  WD and I didn’t expect her to watch it with us – she came home from a dance when we were more than half way through.  She’s pretty good at knowing when something is too much for her, so I thought she’d be leaving the room soon.  movies about Jewish refugees hiding from Nazis, starving and barely surviving in the forests of Eastern Europe, sprinkled with occasional battles and death (thanks, Nazis.  Jerks.) didn’t seem her speed.  But the movie was awesome, and pretty powerful, and she ddin’t leave.  And then we talked about it for 15+ minutes at lunch today ….

And she told me that yesterday was the best day ever.  Because (1) she had a presentation in History, and it went well, and it was a lot of stress leading up to it, so it’s a great relief; (2) she had two quizzes, and felt that she did well on both;  (3) she broke up with ____; and (4) she had fun at a dance with her friends.

Kinda funny that breaking up with a boy is mixed in there as something that was making for a great day.  But the poor kid is 12, and found herself “going out with” someone she didn’t really like.  But she did like him as a friend, and so didn’t want to hurt his feelings.  And he wasn’t in her classes, and their activities don’t overlap, so she just …. let it sit.

For 6 weeks.  They texted now and again, but never spoke, never saw each other, never nothin’  (poor boy)

Finally, just before the dance, she had a face-to-face conversation with him, and told him that she thought they were better off as friends.  His response?  “Will you still be my friend?”  She said yes, and told me she thinks she really will.  Poor kids.  Life is tough.

After lunch, we came home to grab Lemon, and went off to see Harry Potter.  That was fun.  I liked it.

Then we came home again, and had a mad dash to clean [most of] the house, because Lemon is having People over.

New people.

People I hadn’t met before.

Now that she’s a freshman, her class is comprised of 500 students, instead of the 60 that were in her 8th grade class.  She’s been spending time more and more with a larger circle, and today is the first time she’s had non-regulars over.

And what are they doing?

They’re watching the Hangover.

That is a Rated R movie.

Lemon has seen it already – with WD and I.  Honestly, I didn’t even squirm that much.  The movie was funny as hell, and I know from conversations with her that the jokes were not going over her head.  (Usually, when I express concern that she gets certain references, her response is, “Mom, seriously?  I learned about it in health class!”)

But I was a little nervous.  I don’t know these girls, and I have no idea who their parents are.  Or if they even have parents.  Maybe they don’t? But what if they do?  What if they have super-protective parents?

I tried to casually mention to Lemon that I would like to email the girls’ parents, just to make sure the rated R movie was okay.

She balked.  Like crazy.  “MOM!  One of them is bringing HER copy of the movie over!  Obviously it’s okay.  Everyone has seen this movie.  I was the last one!  You do NOT need to call their parents.”

I thought about it a bit. And I decided it’s important to me that the kids come here.  I don’t want to do something to prevent it in the future.  I know things are safe here.  I know WD and I are home, and that we won’t let things get out of control.  And none of the parents asked to meet me, to talk to me, to ask me what the girls are doing (and 3 of them are sleeping over ….)

And so I am letting it go.

For the record – while it may be true that they’re going to watch a Rated R movie with multiple references to drugs, alcohol and sex … they’re currently singing nursery rhymes.  I’m comfortable with the balance.

Most frequent words spoken in this house:  “Mom, we’re FRESHMEN!”  [as if she is saying, “mom, we’re 40 year old executives!”]  We all know how mature and grounded FRESHMEN are.  So I’ll just stop worrying and thinking and, you know, parenting!

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(Maybe Inappropriate) Memory Lane

November 19, 2010

Lemon had a friend over today – one of my favorites of her friends.  And we were just chatting*about the social world of high school, and how some people have changed, and so forth.  I may or may not have suggested that on behalf of my daughter, I will find another 9th grader, and kick her in the shins.  Because she was mean.  To my daughter.  And hurt my daughter’s feelings.

Dear Friend said, “Oh!  My mom says that all the time!  Only she says ‘Want me to trip her next time I see her?'”

[No huge surprise, Dear Friends’ mom is also a Dear Friend.]

And so I told Dear Friend [14 yo version] a story, that the tripping/kicking reminded me of:

When my girls were wee, we lived in Berkeley, California.  I was trying desperately to be an appropriate Berkeley Hippie-Chick.  I sold my car, and got me and my kids around town with a bicycle.  Every now and then, I would leave my small children (5 and 7?) outside with the bike while I ran elsewhere.  What I remember most is parking the bike along the fence of my side-yard with the girls while I ran around the front to get the mail. And I would tell my sweet little girls, “Stay here with the bike.  If anyone tries to take it, what will you do?”

and they would respond, in a adorable cute-little-kid unison:

“KICK ‘EM IN THE SHINS!”

They were so cute.

They still are.  But now they’re tall.

Dear [14yo] friend used to be taller than Lemon.  Just a year ago, she was at least an inch taller.

Tonight?

Lemon is towering over her.  She’s long … Dear Friend, less so.

Time flies.

 

* My favorite thing about when the girls’ friends come over – the friends are always more likely to talk to me about what’s going on than the girls are themselves.  No exception here. I had been stressed about a recently-failed friendship of Lemon’s, and wasn’t sure I had the whole story.  But tonight, Dear Friend shared the story, and it’s in line with Lemon’s version, and clearly was hurtful to Lemon.  Shin-kick-worthy, for certain.

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Vacation Stress

November 17, 2010

I’m in the throes of that work-spell that leads up to a vacation – the major stress time. Where instead of getting things done and watching my list grow shorter and shorter, I’m getting things done and watching my list grow longer and longer … beacuse people are thinking “she’s leaving!  quick! let’s get her to do this stuff before she goes!”

And I keep finding myself saying things like, “oh, I’ll be around over the weekend!” and therefore inviting more of the piling-on.

And I will be here over the weekend.

What I’m not telling people is that I will also be here on Monday and most of Tuesday.

I’m not telling people that because I need those days.  For that other favored task … cleaning the house.  (Blech.)

Because we have a ridiculous amount of animals, including young kittens, and so we have friends coming into the house at least once a day to play with the kittens and to be sure taht they aren’t wrecking our house (which they may do).

My house is in no shape for friends to have access to all of the deep recesses and dusty corners.  No shape for that at all.

I also need to launder lots of clothes, and be sure that the girls are ready to be packed onto an airplane on Tuesday.

So I have a lot to do.  I’d like to do it during the day, and not in the middle of the night.  If I have to work during the day, I will be doing these cleaning-things in the middle of the night.  And it will be bad.

At one point yesterday, when I was told I had to write a major memo before Thanksgiving, I thought “eegads!  I only have two days!” But then I realized it was Tuesday – not Wednesday.  And I calmed down.  But then I got a call yesterday evening saying “let’s write three major memos!”  And then I freaked back out.

But I will say that the people I’m working with are respecting my vacation, when it is pointed out to them, and solutions are being found.

Back to the stress, now …

 

 

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Confession No. 2

November 16, 2010

I should be especially ashamed of what I’m about to admit, because when I was an adolescent, my mother victimized me with the same evil deeds, and I was so upset about it.  But I have not learned.

I have a very hard time stopping myself from reading my kids’ journals.

But since Lemon doesn’t keep one (as far as I know), I guess I just mean “I have a hard time not reading Mouse’s journal.”

I work on blaming her:  “if she would only TALK about things more, I owuldn’t have to read her journal.”  But I know that it isn’t a good excuse.

I need to either decide it’s okay for me to do it (for now) or stop doing it.

IN the meantime …

A couple of the things I’ve learned from reading her journal:

  • Her close friend told her she was fat, and picked on her for having a flat chest.  Her response was “but I think I’m thin, because last week, someone asked me if I was anorexic.  So I must be thin, right?  I also think I’m fit – I play sports every day!”
  • Then she went on to talk about how she would only eat fruit for snacks, and she would do crunches – 50 in the morning/50 at night.
    • No!  Wait a minute!!!!
      • FIRST:  this *friend* is now on my shit list.  How dare she?  Why would she?  And I had many moments of being ready to call her mother (my close friend) to let her know what was going on.  Because … come ON!
      • SECOND: The child is 5’2 and she weighs 90 pounds, if that.  She has a freaking 6 pack. She is strong, she is tall, she is lean …
      • THIRD:  Even if she wasn’t — how is that a FRIEND???
      • FOURTH: Why is she so easily swayed?
      • fifth: oh no.  it’s bc she’s afraid of getting out of shape like her mother. [see how selfish i am?]
  • Last spring, all of her friends were ganging up on her, and making her feel on the outs.  She didn’t know what was going on, and was confused.
    • I knew something was wrong.  I just knew it.  She was telling me everything was fine, but spending more and more time in the house while her friends were just outside playing on the block.  She was saying she just “didn’t feel like playing.’  But she seemed down.  I asked & asked – she didn’t budge. Everything was fine.  Things did end up fine before they all went their separate ways for the summer, but it upsets me that she can’t just say “yeah, mom, things feel funny with my friends.”

I don’t know what to do to get her to talk to me more about these things.  i don’t feel like we’re not close.  We talk a lot, and we’re happy and comfortable spending time together.  But she does have certain lines.  I am her Mother.  I get much conversation on many things; and none on other things.  She likes to spend time with me, seeks me out, looks forward to our time together – I am sure of that.  But she does not want me to talk to her about boys, or about her friendships, or about sex (god forbid).

But is that okay?

It’s really not that Lemon talks to me more about these things.  She just chatterchatterchatters all the time, and often it’s with stories about this thing that happened while she was at so-and-so’s house, and I can pick up on dynamics through these stories.  She recently had a falling out with a friend she’d had since third grade – someone whose mother I am friends with and who I had a very good rapport with and kind of miss – and it was like pulling teeth to figure out wht went on there (and I’m still not sure I have the real story).

Is it all just none of my business?  When does it become my business?  If Mouse is having severe body image issues, and is decreasing her food intake because her friend was being an ass — isn’t that my business?  If Lemon is being unkind and reacting to the pressure of entering high school by making decisions that hurt her friends of years upon years … isn’t that something that I should be talking to her about?

I mean … they’re 12 and 14.  Not 22 and 24.

And … should I stop reading the journal?

[this is hard.]

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Morning Rush

November 15, 2010

Getting ready to leave the house this morning, I thought I’d check in on Lemon, half wondering if she fell back to sleep.*

She wasn’t in her room, so I thought I’d check the bathroom. Our bathroom door opens in, and was mostly closed, so I peeked in at the little frack of the door to see if she was there.

Out if habit, my eyes were peering in at my chest level, to see if she was there. I was physically startled when my eyes had to readjust to find her – adult-sized, at eye level.

I say I love them growing up. I say I don’t miss their younger years.

But today ….

* mouse leaves considerably earlier. Odd that in this town, high school starts later than the rest. Of course, Lemon doesn’t mind that extra bit of sleep!

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Never Enough Apples

November 14, 2010

Oh, the tears are a-flowin’.

Every time I talk to others about the amount of technology in our family, I feel like we’re a bunch of spoiled brats.  I have friends who have a single desktop computer in a common living area, and all family members are used to sharing.  Others where the kids have a computer, and the adults have a computer.  But not us.  We do not share.

We all have our own laptops.

It wasn’t always this way.  For most of my parenting life, we did have one computer.  The kids occasionally had their turns to goof around with a CD-Rom, or peck out an email to a grandparent.

Then law school happened, and I *needed* a laptop.  (No, really.  That’s not sarcasm.)

So I had a laptop, and they all shared a desk top.

But then Lemon ended up all … creative.  And ambitious.  With her friends.  In 4th grade, they started a newspaper.  This required her to write articles, and to email them to the group.  This continued into 5th grade, while her homework was also increasingly requiring computer use.  So when she hit 6th grade, she got her own lap top.

Then WD went to school.  And he *needed* a laptop.

So Mouse was left with the desktop while the rest of us had laptops.

And then she went to 6th grade, and precedent had to be followed (such a lawyer …and a push over).  At least I can vindicate myself by saying both of their laptops were contingent on straight A’s.

And the desire to keep their grubby paws off my computer.

Now mine and Lemon’s computers are getting old.  I bought mine when I was a summer associate (2006?), and Lemon’s came that fall.

I think they’ve held up well, for the most part.  Hers is dirty.  (No fault of Apple’s.)  Soemtimes, my screen goes blank.

But lately – Lemon’s spacebar has been sticking.  It was bad enough a couple weeks ago that she asked me if we could go to the Genius Bar. We talked about her bringing her computer to my work (beautiful Apple store across the street now), and us having lunch together on Veteran’s Day.

But then WD looked at the mechanics of the spacebar, and “fixed” it.

For at least a week.

Then today happened.

Today.

I got up at 7 and went to the office.  I cleaned my desk and did some work.  Then I came home, and took Lemon shopping.*

In the meantime, Mouse was at her second birthday party of the weekend — this one a sleepover.

We all had projects to work on this weekend.  I think we all managed to put them off.

So when Lemon came to me at 5 p.m., as I was just settling in, post-shopping-trip, post check-in with WD, to tell me that she needed my computer?

Uh, no.

Then there were tears.  And frustration.  And delays in getting things done.

Her spacebar is a mess.  I don’t know how to reconnect it.

Fortunately, Mouse had less work to do than anyone else, and was too exhausted to do it all (due Friday).  Therefore, she pitched a fit and cried uncle at, oh, say – 6:30?  Then Lemon was able to use her computer, and WD and I were able to continue the work on our respective projects, with only the interruptions needed to wipe tears and referree negotiations between a tween and a teen about privacy and closed windows and not snooping on one another while borrowing computers.

In other words … we were interrupted.

But it’s 9:40 p.m. right now (I started drafting this post at 5:10, by the way), and I’m done.  Mouse is in bed.  Lemon accepted my grammatical edits (miracle of all of the miracles) and is implementing them, and WD and I are watching the Pats.

We’ve made it through to peace.

Who knows when we’ll fix that f’ing space bar, though.

 

 

* That didn’t work out so well.  She wanted boots.  Black high boots to wear over her skinny jeans.  She found mine one day, as I had previously mentioned, and decided she needed some.  The ones she chose sold out in her size before I bought them (the story of my life – remember the trip to London?), so we went shopping.  Problem is her SIZE isn’t her SIZE.  Her feet?  Size 9.  Her calves?  Like, 6 inches around.  If that.  So any size 9 boots are GAPING at the calf, and reaches her knee.  Thankfully, she’s not interested in getting something new just for the sake of something new, and was discerning in her decision-making (and not forcing me to come in to trump her decision-making). Poor kid.  14 is not an easy age.  Big feet, skinny legs (something I can’t imagine), and confusion about style.

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Liking the Job

November 12, 2010

It’s not easy, trying to strike the confidentiality balance on the blog.

But I complained a good bit during the trial about the trial.  And about the hours, and about the demands it put on me, and how I missed my family.

And to counter that – I’d like to take a minute to say:  I am happy right now.

I have recently felt the difference, felt the change in seniority.  No longer a “junior” associate, instead flirting with “mid-level.”  I enjoy the increased responsibility.  Right now (and maybe only right now) the increased hours don’t make it unpalatable.

It also makes a real difference that my kids are teens at this point.  They have plans and they make them without me.  They are engaged in their own lives enough that it doesn’t really bother them if I have to sign on to my work account at 9:15 on a Friday night.  That they have enough after school activities – and then enough homework – that if I come home at 7:30 on a week day – no big deal.  (I prefer to come home at 5 p.m. on a weekday, though …)

For right now, things are okay.

I wonder how long it will last?

 

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Pushing Boundaries

November 11, 2010

Lemon was not easy yesterday.

First, she spent the afternoon texting me (while I was at work) to beg for money.

I will be fair.  I owe her money.

I haven’t given her allowance this month.

And.

Her father sent her a birthday gift in the form of a $50 check, and I … deposited it.  And never gave her the cash.

Which was really fine.  Because she wanted a new (replacement) iPod, and she wanted some boots (after I already bought her boots) and she wanted lots of other things that would come out of her budget, but were my responsibility to purchase.

All to say – she wasn’t demanding the money in a bratty way.

It eventually came out that the reason for the $$ demands was that she wanted to go to the mall.

Wait.

The mall?

It may very well be the case that when I was 14, the mall was a common destination.

But it’s also the case that I raise my kids better than that.

We hate the mall.

It gives us HEADACHES.

It makes us CRANKY.

We prefer the internet.

We don’t “go shopping.”

Sometimes, we “have to go shopping.”  Maybe we go to second hand stores.  Maybe we find awesome boutiques where they have (or might have) the perfect thing.

But shopping isn’t a pastime.

So … the mall?

And I guess that’s where my attention was focused.  On the “ick” factor.

So when WD wrote and said, “did you know they plan to take the T?”  I was a little surprised.

See, they could have been taking the T to MY mall. And I probably would have balked a little less.

But no.

They chose a mall in the suburbs.

Well, not really.

But not a mall where there’s exactly a T stop.

You get off at the stop, and you sort of have to walk down a road that doesn’t have a sidewalk, and where cars go pretty fast, and then you have to sort of trespass over some shrubs and into the parking lot of the mall, and then you have to walk WAY across the mall parking lot to a department store entrance.  AND – the last time I did it, it was snowy out.  So in my mind, it’s even more horrible.

And it’s pretty perplexing to me that she had this idea.

Because the rule has always been that she could take the T, and she could go into Boston (but not OUT of the urban area?) — before dark.  Home by dark.

But this was “we’ll leave home at 6:30 and will be home between 9:30 and 10.”

It’s dark now at 4:30.  Or at least — dark enough.

WD and I were both perplexed.

We spoke on the phone: “what is going on?”

and “What should we do?”

Soon, texts and IMs were frustratingly slow, and we had to call each other to quickly convey the perplexment and frustration.

Then we fought over who would call her and tell her.

But he won (sort of — I dictated the conversation).

And he called her.

And told her he’d give them a ride.

Wimping out?

I don’t know.  We felt pretty good about it.  Other parents committed to taking them home, and so it felt like we made our mark – we made our line in the cement, and we were good.

But then at 9:30 – she texted AGAIN.

We thought – when we heard the “brring – brring” of the text – that it was going to be “oh, that other parent can’t come get us – you have to!”

We were wrong.

Instead, it was: “Almost home, but we want to watch a movie at ____’s house. Okay?”

But … that would start at 10.

And I know that it wasn’t a school night (thank you, Veteran’s Day, for making my life different than that of my children’s lives).  I know that.  And I know she’s “14 YEARS OLD!”

I also know that any house in which she watches movies, parents live in.  And for the 9th graders I know, 90% of the parents work.  And they work full time.  And so that means they DO have to get up before noon.

And  I said no.

I said no because neither WD or I wanted to stay up* that late, and I assumed neither did the parents in the house that Lemon was proposing that they watch movies in.  Who wants to stay up that late?  No one.

But man, was she upset.

“You don’t remember what it’s like to be a teenager!  Didn’t YOU want to spend time with your friends!!!??”

Dude.  I WANT to spend time with my friends now.  Today.  There are tons of things that people want all the time.  Things they can have, and most things that they can’t.  I remember, sure.

Geez.  One day, I’d like to give her a more thorough explanation of what it was like to be raised by parents who believed that I should not be friends with people who did not believe that Jesus was their personal lord and savior.  And how much I wanted, and how much I didn’t get, until I found a way to get more than what I wanted, because of how little I was allowed to have.**

Eventually, the fit subsided.  And she settled in with us, and spent an hour or so as a happy member of the family.  By the time she went to bed, the blow up was forgotten.

But it’s not lost on me that the boundaries are being pushed.  The curfew (which has never before been later than 11), the distance (never outside our semi-small town) — they’re being stretched and tested.

It was a first, but definitely not a last.

* Actually – we were fine with being *awake* that late.  But not kid-oriented.  We had decided that we were going to have sex that night.  No, really.  We’d put it off for days and days because of work and kids and kittens and work, and we wanted to have sex. Finally.

** In all honesty, I think I’ve already told her much of that.  Not always on purpose.  She was in … 5th grade?  Maybe 6th. When she overheard me telling a friend how ridiculously young I was when I engaged in Rebellious Sex.  She was so offended.  That I hadn’t previously explained the WHY of my teenage years of grounding.  I’d told her I was grounded all the time, but hadn’t connected the dots.  (Because … hello?  5th grade?)  She was angry with me for a year.  A full year.