First Day of School: Annual Tradition; Rite of Passage, and Universal Theme

As another school year begins, I reflect back a few decades ago, when I wrote a regular newspaper column in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.  The 1988 school year saw my youngest child start kindergarten and my niece go away to college. The following is a barely edited text of my column that ran September 8, 1988. The theme is basically timeless. However, reading my own words filled with hope for my children’s future is quite poignant today.

Few scenes are more pathetic than a disenfranchised mother, like a mama bird, peering regretfully over the edge of her empty nest.

Case in point: The first day of school at my son’s elementary, where a covey of kindergarten mothers cluster in the hall to commiserate.

​Inside the classroom, enthusiastic five-year-olds proceeded with the business of growing and learning, while outside in the hall, a handful of teary-eyed adults bemoaned their “babies” growing up. There was a difference of opinion, as to whether it was more difficult for those of us blowing goodbye kisses to our last “baby,” or for those mothers who, while gently nudging their first into the world, still had at least one safe in the nest.

​Only one dad was among us, and he left long before the teacher ushered the rest of us to the door. Clearly, nest-nudging is a task that falls under the job description of “mother.”

​Altogether, it was not an easy first-week-of-September.  I was forced to acknowledge the encroaching adulthood of my niece, as she went away to college, and my little boy starting kindergarten. Only my fourth grade daughter lent some sense of stability, by not embarking on any “significant firsts.”

​September – summer’s end, seems to be the season of separation. Oh, I know there are songs from the 1960s, which would have us believe otherwise: “See You in September” and “Sealed With a Kiss.” But, they are about teenagers’ school crushes, distanced by summer sabbaticals. I may have fallen for that romantic rhetoric then.  But, wisdom is in the eyes of the beholder. From the parental perspective, I see September as a time of letting go.

​My daughter’s first day of kindergarten went more smoothly.  And knowing my son’s survival instincts, I should have known he would also ace the first day of the rest of his institutionalized life. Yet, I couldn’t suppress the memory of horror stories I had heard about hysterical kids clinging to their parents’ car bumper on the first day of school.

​Not to worry! The annual inauguration seemed to take its toll primarily on those of us over three feet tall.

​I don’t know about other mothers. But, I probably tend to project my own childhood insecurities onto my more self-actualized offspring. So, I am always pleasantly surprised that, not only do they cope, they conquer new situations.

​My niece and my children represent the secure 80s generation – the boomers’ babies who rarely view anything new as the end of an era Instead, they approach life as an adventure, seeking less to maintain the status quo than to experience something new and grow.

​It’s a great winning attitude – one I have tried to sow and nurture in my children. (It’s always a good idea to raise kids who will be positive role models for you in those formative years – from 30 to 45).

Now, for the requisite call to action:

If you liked this piece, please click “Like,” leave a comment, “Follow” my blog, – better yet, share the link with friends, family, or colleagues you think would enjoy it. It’s the only way a writer can gather an audience. Thanks very much! Nancy 🌹

Posted in Aging, americana, Baby Boomers, Education, Growing up, Humor, mid-centurions, Motherhood, Nostalgia, Parenthood | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Right From Wrong – There’s No Shelf Life

Yesterday, in Little Rock, a man crashed his car into a monument of the Ten Commandments – apparently, because he disagrees with those precepts. They may be over 3,000 years old. But, I’m pretty sure there is no expiration date.  I’m also guessing that rules chiseled in stone cannot be edited, and “cut and paste” is not an option.

 I tried to raise my kids with a certain set of values, as I’m sure most of my generation did, as did the generations before us. Unfortunately, when confronted with what we were taught as “right from wrong,” many of the younger ones argue, “It’s 2017 – not 1967.” True.  Continue reading

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“Put On a Happy Face…”

A current television ad for an antidepressant (Rexulti) features people holding a hand drawn smiling mask in front of their faces to cover their true feelings.

The obvious implication is the medication these people are on is not completely effective. Hence, they still have to “put on a (fake) happy face.”

Well, I always thought that was just good manners, because it’s how I was raised.  That is a lesson I learned at an early age. While shopping with my mother, we encountered someone she knew. The adult kindly leaned down to ask me how I was. After a shy hesitation, I blandly responded, “Pretty good.”

As soon as we got home, my mom made it clear, in no uncertain terms, that when someone asks how I am, this is the only procedure for responding:

No matter how you feel, you are to make eye contact, smile, and say, ‘I’m just fine.’ Then, you thank them for asking, and mmediately need to show genuine concern, and ask, ‘How are you?'”
Continue reading

Posted in Depression, emotions, Growing up, health, Humor, Psychology, values | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

What We Have Here is a Failure to Find the Right Reference Point (Or how I learned to communicate with Generation Y)

Mother’s Day weekend, I had the pleasure of visiting with my son and his gf (that’s hip for “girlfriend” – how cool am I!).

Somehow, we got on the subject of Bruce Willis’ fame. I immediately referenced Moonlighting.  Despite it’s airing in the mid-late 1980s, my son actually (albeit vaguely, because he was very young) remembered it – or was, at least, familiar with the title. 
Because it was completely foreign to his girlfriend, I began to explain how the show was initially intended as a Cybill Shepherd showcase until Willis’ character David Addison quickly eclipsed the female lead. The blank look on gf’s face was my clue to backtrack and ask if she knew who Cybill Shepherd is. With some hesitation, she said when she was younger, her parents often called her “Sybil.”

No, no, wait… 
Continue reading

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Airline Abuse at New Altitude 

Airline Atrocities – we all have a story.  With airline atrocities at a new height, the time seems right to share my mine.

In the last Century, I wrote a column for the Garland Daily News, that was also carried by several other suburban publications.  Clearly, my use of the word “hostess” dates the piece, and I apologize in advance for that demeaning gender-specific, archaic nomenclature.

In March 1991, I wrote a column that opened with comments applauding the flight attendants’ recent victory in obtaining increased weight limits for the profession.

I did, however, go on to address what I felt was an inappropriate attitude during my children’s first flight.

“When all is said and done, I do not begrudge the added inches and pounds.  In fact, I would like to see more emphasis placed on the hostesses’ attitude.  What I would like to see from any airline attendant – skinny or fluffy, is more hospitality and helpfulness toward traveling families, instead of just to males flying solo.

Whatever happened to those friendly skies?”

It seemed innocent enough to me.  I never expected the ensuing angry outcry.  This column set a record for my hate mail.  In fact, the union issued a call for members to write my editor.  I had probably written about politics and religion that never elicited so much as a hate postcard.

My “airline stews” (from the actual headline) column was as close as I would come to Dallas Times Herald’s columnist John Bloom Joe Bob Briggs 1985 “We Are the Weird” controversy.

Once I discovered that “sacred cow,” I should have “hit it 20 more times ,” as John (Joe Bob Briggs)  Bloom would say.  But, it’s my nature to avoid confrontation.  I returned to my more Erma Bombeck-esque editorial style.  And here I sit – blogging for free, when all I had to do was let the airline attendants make me famous.

Now, for the requisite call to action:

If you liked this piece, please click “Like,” leave a comment, “Follow” my blog, – better yet, share the link with friends, family, or colleagues you think would enjoy it. It’s the only way a writer can gather an audience. Thanks very much! Nancy 🌹

Posted in celebrities, cultural history, Dallas history, famous people, Humor, news, pop culture, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments

The Satisfaction of Door Slamming

Throughout my life, I have been a door-slammer. I have found it to be an excellent release for pent-up tension. You can feel it and hear it. Like a pitcher on the mound, you put your whole arm into it, and wham! Then, there’s that rewarding thunderous slamming sound.  Ahh… sweet relief.I don’t really cuss; definitely do not want to hurt anyone or punch a hole in a wall.

But, I can dang sure slam a door.  

When I was a little, my mother encouraged me to scream in a pillow when she could see I was really frustrated about something. I tried the pillow-screaming a few times. It just did not serve as a pop-off valve as well as door slamming. Continue reading

Posted in Adulthood, Depression, emotions, family, Growing up, Humor, Psychology | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

“Working 9 to 5 – what a way to make a living”

After years of being a secretary, currently called an “administrative professional,” I was able to go home and be a full-time mom.  Fortunately, for many of those mom years,  I was also writing a newspaper column.  In April 1992, I penned this piece, based on my secretarial experience.  Overall, the role was not unlike the job as depicted in Dolly Parton’s “9 to 5.”  I worked for a few Mr. Harts.  You was also blessed to work with some excellent manager/mentors.

Because this is ADMINISTRATIVE PROFESSIONALS WEEK,  I am sharing it.  Though the IBM Selectric has gone the way of dial phones and Studebakers, little else has really changed for the women who answer make the coffee, type the memos, answer the phones, and keep it all together.   

Traditionally, the Wednesday of Administrative Professionals Week was known as “Secretaries Day,” when the administrative would be treated to lunch by her superiors.  And by “superior,” I don’t mean the people who are necessarily any smarter than the administrative – they just make a lot more money.

So, here’s hoping all secretaries/administrative assistants get a free lunch, candy, flowers, or all of the above today! 

Now, for the proverbial “call to action:”

If you liked this piece, please click “Like,” leave a comment, “Follow” my blog, – better yet, share the link with friends, family, or colleagues you think would enjoy it. It’s the only way a writer can gather an audience. Thanks very much! Nancy 🌹

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