Sunday, March 31, 2013

Repost: Invasion of the Body-Snatchers: What happened to my parents?

I've contributed to the Orlando Sentinel's Moms at Work blog since 2010. The blog is changing content management systems and my old posts will no longer be available to the public, so I'm reposting them here, in the order that they were originally posted.

Enjoy.



Dec. 29, 2010

I've long been aware of the notion that even the strictest parents turn into pushover grandparents. I thought it was just a cliche, until I saw it in action for myself during Christmas weekend.

It has now become clear that the people I once knew as my parents no longer exist.

My father -- a noted neat freak, mind you -- actually uttered the following when I mentioned something about how my daughter loves to throw her toys and shoes around: "Oh, that's OK. If anybody can keep a house neat with a young child, they'll give that child a psychosis. Those kids will grow up to have serious issues when they're teenagers."

Then he laughed. Laughed! My dad suddenly finds messiness funny, instead of seeing it as a character flaw.

My head didn't actually explode, but it really felt as though time slowed to a crawl for a minute or two as I processed what had just been said and who had said it.

The next day, I spied my mother smiling and laughing as my daughter banged a spoon on a crystal glass. One of my mother's crystal glasses.

When I was a kid, my mother was so worried about me breaking valuables that she gave them a name: They were "do-not-touch" items. Stores that sold figurines and other dainty items were, naturally, do-not-touch stores.

The woman who taught me not to put my hands on things I could break apparently thinks it's delightful when her toddler granddaughter bangs out a tune on fragile crystal glasses.

I...don't understand. What in the world has happened to my parents?

Do your parents or your partner's parents let their grandchildren get away with things they'd never have permitted their own children?

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Repost: Visit to Santa: Done! Now what?

I've contributed to the Orlando Sentinel's Moms at Work blog since 2010. The blog is changing content management systems and my old posts will no longer be available to the public, so I'm reposting them here, in the order that they were originally posted.

Enjoy.



Dec. 22, 2010

A few weeks ago, I wrote about how ambivalent I was about introducing my toddler daughter to all the Santa Claus hoopla.

Well, we did it. She visited Santa. What an experience. I told my husband as we walked out of Mall at Millenia that it may have been one of the weirdest experiences of my adult life.

There we were: Parents, grandparents and guardians, all willing to stand in line for more than two hours just to advance a fiction -- and to pay for the privilege!

Did I say that I *was* ambivalent? Yeah, I'm *still* ambivalent.

It was a nightmare. All those kids and all that pent-up energy, just for a couple of minutes with a guy in a funny costume.

Did I mention the kids and their energy? Quite a few parents gave up trying to get their kids to behave and let them run around, screeching. At the beginning of the line, the dad in front of us had two well-dressed daughters with combed and styled hair. By the time Santa got to them, those girls had tossed their matching sweaters to their father and looked as though they'd run a marathon and then rolled around in a sandpit.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Repost: What parenting has done to my marriage

I've contributed to the Orlando Sentinel's Moms at Work blog since 2010. The blog is changing content management systems and my old posts will no longer be available to the public, so I'm reposting them here, in the order that they were originally posted.

Enjoy.



Dec. 15, 2010

I expected that parenting would change my life, but I'm also finding that it's done something interesting to my marriage: my husband and I are learning new things about each other.

Not big things, of course; he hasn't suddenly revealed lost years spent as a pirate or anything. Still, it's nice to learn even a small new thing about someone I've known so long and so well.

This past weekend, as we were at the dining-room table eating dinner, he folded a piece of paper into an origami boat to amuse our fussy daughter.

I looked at him quizzically: "I didn't know you knew origami."

"Oh, yeah," he said. "I guess I haven't thought about it 25 years or more, but my friends and I used to make things all the time in elementary school and I was pretty good at it."

Who knew? Like I said, it's not a big thing, but I had to add a brush stroke to the picture of him that exists in my mind.

I've learned in recent months that he can flawlessly mimic Elmo and Yogi Bear, while he's learned that I can do Piglet and Tigger voices par excellence. We've also had what I call "The Patty Cake Matter," when we realized that we learned completely different versions of common nursery rhymes.

For now, the differences are innocuous. I anticipate more such moments in the coming years and I'm enough of a realist to know that some of them are likely to be complex. Who knows what revelations our daughter's elementary school and teenage years will bring?

Has parenting provided you with any new insights into your partner and/or his or her hidden talents?

Are we connected on Google+?

I'm Anika Myers Palm. Are you following me on Google+?

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Repost: What hopes and dreams do you have for your children?

I've contributed to the Orlando Sentinel's Moms at Work blog since 2010. The blog is changing content management systems and my old posts will no longer be available to the public, so I'm reposting them here, in the order that they were originally posted.

Enjoy.



Dec. 8, 2010

A couple of days ago, I stumbled across three sentences I'd scribbled in a notebook in summer 2009, a couple of months before my daughter was born. I'd intended those sentences to be part of a long letter for my daughter, in which I outlined my hopes, dreams and fears for her. My original thought was that it would be a way of clarifying for myself the kind of parent I wanted to be as well as something of a contract -- even if just a one-sided one -- between her and me.

I never finished that letter, but I probably should. As our lives grow busier and busier, I don't want to forget some of these things. I want her to know that I hope she'll be an eternal optimist like her father. I want her to know that I hope she'll be a better dancer than her parents. I want her to know that her father and I named her after a science-fiction character not just because we're nerds and we liked the name, but because we want her to be a pioneer and leader like that character. I want to tell her about the lessons I learned from the great-grandmother and great-great grandmother she never met.

Even if she doesn't read it until she's old and gray, maybe it will someday have meaning for her.

What dreams and fears do you have for your children? How have you told them?

Are we connected on Tumblr?

I'm Anika Myers Palm. And yes, I have a Tumblr.

A minivan with its own vacuum?

I'm not in the market for a minivan, but that's certainly an appealing feature.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Repost: How do parents become estranged from their children?

I've contributed to the Orlando Sentinel's Moms at Work blog since 2010. The blog is changing content management systems and my old posts will no longer be available to the public, so I'm reposting them here, in the order that they were originally posted.

Enjoy.



Dec. 1, 2010

Since I'm a crime reporter, it should be no surprise that I sometimes write about dangerous criminals. Not long ago, in an attempt to cover all my bases while reporting on a crime, I tried to find family members of someone who had been recently arrested so I could get a rounded picture of the kind of person he is. The man's mother told me she couldn't comment for my story because she hadn't spoken with her son in more than five years. Then she hung up.

I don't know the details of that family's story or whether what she said was true. Still, the possibility that she had in fact lost contact with her son struck me as heartbreaking, especially since she sounded like she was not a young woman.

I'm an only child. Although my parents were not perfect by a really long shot, I can't imagine being estranged from them. They are past retirement age now, and I hope that my presence in their lives is at very least comforting. I have some friends who are somewhat estranged from their parents, and that state of affairs has always puzzled me. I'm hopeful that my daughter, who may also end up as an only, will grow up to have the same kind of loving relationship with my husband and me that I have with my folks, and that my husband has with his.

I know that parents' relationships with their children ebb and flow. I definitely remember my own teen years (particularly when I went away to college) as a time of renegotiating the parent-child relationship.

When that woman held her son for the first time, I'm sure she didn't look at him and hope that they would one day not be on speaking terms.

I don't know how estrangement happens, but I do hope to be fortunate enough so that it doesn't happen to my relationship with my daughter. Of course, I can't predict the future. As I'm finding about so much when it comes to parenting, I can only do my best and hope it's enough.

Are you estranged from your parent or child? Did it happen suddenly or was it something long in the making?

2Cellos, Benedictus

This is so incredibly lovely.

Hey, you! Are we following each other on Twitter?

I'm Anika Myers Palm. Are you following me on Twitter?

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Repost: I lost my sexy, but I think I know where it is

I've contributed to the Orlando Sentinel's Moms at Work blog since 2010. The blog is changing content management systems and my old posts will no longer be available to the public, so I'm reposting them here, in the order that they were originally posted.

Enjoy.



Nov. 24, 2010

Today is my wedding anniversary. Eight years ago this morning (and I do mean morning; we got married at sunrise), my husband and I said 'I do.'

Last year, our daughter was a few weeks old, so we had a candlelight takeout (Moroccan!) dinner at home while she napped. This year, there will again be no high heels or fancy dinner.

The plan is pretty much to hang around the house and get ready for tomorrow's Turkey Day extravaganza. I will probably be wearing pajama pants and a T-shirt, with my hair tied in a scarf. My daughter likely will be dancing and hopping around. My husband will probably be trying to dip into the food for Thanksgiving. We likely will be listening to Raffi.

Yeah, I think I've lost my sexy.

Have I found you on LinkedIn?

I'm Anika Myers Palm. Connect with me on LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/pub/anika-palm/5/207/837

Monday, March 25, 2013

Repost: Abby Cadabby makes me stabby: Reflections on kiddie TV

I've contributed to the Orlando Sentinel's Moms at Work blog since 2010. The blog is changing content management systems and my old posts will no longer be available to the public, so I'm reposting them here, in the order that they were originally posted.

Enjoy.



Nov. 17, 2010

Sometime within the past three months, my daughter decided that she hates any and all personal grooming her parents try to force upon her.

Bathtime? She screams bloody murder. Diaper changes? That's when she first used the word 'no.' Hairstyling? A daily battle.

Then we discovered the magic of Sesame Street. My husband and I felt guilty at first, because we'd agreed the TV wouldn't be on while she was in the room until she was a bit older. However, who can argue with success? A few days later, it was routine: We call up Sesame Street on the DVR and within minutes successfully comb/brush/braid her hair.

Most of the characters are OK. Bert and Ernie are still around, and sometimes you'll catch Big Bird, the Count and Snuffy. I like Rosita and Telly. We finally got to figure out what Elmo's all about (the Elmo Slide is the hot dance craze in my house) and I'm kind of fond of Murray and his little lamb, Ovejita.

Do you pin?

I'm Anika Myers Palm. You can follow my Pinterest boards.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Arrested -- yes, for charity

I'm going to be arrested. It's for charity! Many charities raise money by inviting participants to raise money. So...I’ll be getting arrested for charity this year. It will be for a good cause: I’m doing this to raise money for The Society for Professional Journalists. You can learn more about this little project of mine via my various social media sites: http://twitter.com/ampalm https://plus.google.com/u/0/115907559814931389952/posts

Repost: To Santa or not to Santa? That's the question.

I've contributed to the Orlando Sentinel's Moms at Work blog since 2010. The blog is changing content management systems and my old posts will no longer be available to the public, so I'm reposting them here, in the order that they were originally posted.

Enjoy.



Nov. 10, 2010

I've decided to take my daughter to have her picture taken with Santa Claus when he arrives at area malls.

This doesn't sound like much, but for me, this is a big decision.

I didn't grow up with Santa Claus. Although my holidays were always bountiful, my parents thought bringing him  into my life would limit my appreciation for the hard work that went into putting those gifts and goodies under the tree. The Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy didn't visit my house, either. It helped that I was a preternaturally mature kid, but my parents' logic made complete sense to me. As a working mom now, it still makes sense (I want to be appreciated for the hours I worked to buy that toy/sweater/whatever! Waaah!).

My husband, though, definitely had Santa in his life. Even now, he gets a wistful look in his eye and his deep voice softens when he reminisces about the Christmas mornings of his youth or uses phrases like "the wonder and awe of childhood" or "kids should get to be kids."

I'm a sucker for his wistful looks. Oh, and for arguments about preserving the wonder of childhood. Somewhere in there may also have come comments from my daughter's grandparents -- even my parents! -- and various great-aunts, great-uncles and cousins about wanting a picture of her with Jolly Old St. Nick.

So I'm dipping my toe in the Santa Claus pool this year. We will get The Picture. I'm still ambivalent about whether she'll grow up with Santa Claus, though. Luckily, she's still young enough that she won't remember this holiday season, and if I don't like it, I won't have to mention it again and can forget it ever happened.

Margaret Garner

I wish somebody would put on a production of this near me. I'd be in the most expensive close-up seats I could afford.

Are we connected on Google+?

I'm Anika Myers Palm. Are you following me on Google+?

TGIF

I'm going to greet this Friday morning, after a long week and when I know I'm just a few hours from beginning my weekend, with an extra spring in my step.

Take it away, cast of The Wiz:

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Repost: Making mom-friends: Take awkwardness, add a kid and stir

I've contributed to the Orlando Sentinel's Moms at Work blog since 2010. The blog is changing content management systems and my old posts will no longer be available to the public, so I'm reposting them here, in the order that they were originally posted.

Enjoy.



Nov. 3, 2010

A couple of times recently, I've realized that moms on my quiet street had planned get-togethers for their babies and toddlers but although I've worked hard at being a friendly, outgoing neighbor, my daughter and I weren't invited.

Being forgotten (rejected?) by other moms on my own street just underscores how difficult it's been for me to find a mom-friend.

For years, it's been a point of pride for me that my circle of good friends was spread around the country and world. I wouldn't give up a single member of my friendship diaspora, but now that my daughter's here, I do feel quite keenly the lack of nearby buddies who understand what I'm going through. I knew finding mom-friends with whom I had something in common might be difficult when my husband and I attended several weeks of childbirth classes and were, strangely, the oldest couple in the class. Despite our six weeks of classes, we didn't connect with anyone.

I vowed to do a better job of meeting moms with kids near my daughter's age around the neighborhood, at church, storytime at the library and other places we go regularly. So far, my efforts have come to naught. It's strange. How exactly does one go about making new friends when one is thirty-mumble years old?

I'm reaching out. Truly, I am. I bathe and brush my teeth regularly. I strike up conversations with other people. My daughter is impeccably clad (except on the days when her father dresses her and she ends up looking like a 14-month-old Willow Smith).

I admit that I can sometimes be quiet (some people think I'm shy; those people are wrong). My sense of humor is decidedly on the snarky side. Maybe it's a cultural thing and other moms don't know how to respond to me or assume I'm not interested. Maybe this will all get easier once my daughter is in school and has made a few friends herself.

But for now, talking to other moms is a lot like what I imagine it's like to audition for acting roles.

For now, I'll double my efforts at being extra-friendly to the moms I meet and those I see around the neighborhood -- and know that I'm not alone in trying to solve the mom-friend conundrum.

Am I following you on Tumblr?

I'm Anika Myers Palm. And yes, you can follow me on Tumblr.

Today's theme song

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Repost: Babyproofing: An art and a process, not a science

I've contributed to the Orlando Sentinel's Moms at Work blog once a week since 2010. The blog is changing content management systems and my old posts will no longer be available to the public, so I'm reposting them here, in the order that they were originally posted. Enjoy.
Oct. 27, 2010

When I was pregnant, friends and family members told my husband and me that we needed to babyproof our home. We agreed, and actually did it...to a point.
We thought as long as electrical sockets and dangerous chemicals were secure and out of her reach, we were pretty safe.

We were wrong. Oh, how wrong we were.

The following is a short list of some of the things my daughter has managed to get her hands on and destroy in the three months since she learned to walk:

  • multiple magazines (she has a particular, inexplicable animus against The Economist)
  • newspapers, of course
  • a Bible
  • a cardboard -- cardboard! -- copy of Goodnight Moon
  • my husband's iPhone (it went for a swim in the dog's water bowl)
  • a ceramic bowl from Japan (my fault; I thought it was too high on a shelf for her to reach)
  • my cherished 25-year-old copy of the novel A Swiftly Tilting Planet
  • a drinking glass (neither my husband nor I can recall which of us was silly enough to leave it within her reach)
  • a beaded necklace I placed on my nightstand as I changed into comfortable clothes after work
  • the remote control for the television (this broke my husband's heart)


Sigh.

We're getting better about quickly scanning every room she enters so we can move anything we determine she can rip to pieces -- which we've learned she can do in the blink of an eye.

In the meantime, our hair is graying rapidly.

Are we following each other on Twitter?

I'm Anika Myers Palm. Are you following me on Twitter?

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Repost: Neurotic first time mom says 'hi'

I've contributed to the Orlando Sentinel's Moms at Work blog since 2010. The blog is changing content management systems and my old posts will no longer be available to the public, so I'm reposting them here, in the order that they were originally posted.

Enjoy.



Oct. 20, 2010

Hi. I’m Anika, and I’m delighted to join the Moms at Work cabal.

During my workdays, I’m a full-time breaking-news reporter. Whenever I’m not on the clock for the Sentinel, I’m doing the equally full-time job called “mom and wife,” spending time with my husband of eight years and our 1-year-old daughter.

She’s walking, learning to talk and developing at what seems like lightning speed. It’s completely exhilarating (and a little frightening!). She's turned my life upside down, even to the point of affecting how I look at my work. Since I cover a lot of crime, I occasionally write stories about child abuse or other terrible things happening to kids. Before I became a mother, I'd report and write those stories and think, "That's horrible," and go on with my day. Now my response is, as you can probably imagine, more visceral.

Since I’m an only child who had little experience with children until the day I had my own, I confess that I am constantly unsure -- and something of a worrywart -- about doing this whole motherhood thing properly. Luckily, my husband has both more common sense and patience than I do and usually can help me to recognize when I’m overthinking matters related to our daughter.

Basically, my parenting style veers wildly between neurotic overprotectiveness and, well, winging it.

But I’m still new at this, so I’m sure you’ll have a lot to teach me. I hope I won’t bore you to death in return.

So let’s get started, shall we? I’ll see you in this same spot at the same time next week.

Do I know where you are on LinkedIn?

I'm Anika Myers Palm. Connect with me on LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/pub/anika-palm/5/207/837

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Keeping kids safe from violence

I have a post up today on the Sentinel's Moms at Work blog. This one's about the way violence affects our children. An excerpt:
Jonylah was just six months old. To make matters worse, the incident that took her life wasn’t the first time her physical environment had been shattered by gunshots; CNN reported that Jonylah’s mother sustained a bullet wound to the leg while she was pregnant with the girl. Stories like this make me feel so sad. Not just for Jonylah’s family — although I can’t imagine the grief they feel right now — but also for her community and the country in which I live. This should never happen. No parent should have to bury a child because of violence or matter-of-factly accept that violence is probable or possible for children who aren’t old enough to drive or sign legal contracts. Not in Jonylah’s neighborhood, not in anybody else’s.
Read the rest here.

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I'm Anika Myers Palm. Are you following me on Twitter?

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Moms at Work: What songs do your kids associate with you?

Here's my Moms at Work blog post for the day: What songs do your kids associate with you? An excerpt:
One recent day when I picked up my daughter from school, she decided, once again, to make her displeasure known at the music I was streaming in the car. “Mommy, I don’t like this song,” she complained. “Mommy, stop it.” I couldn’t believe it. The kid, who has questionable taste in music herself, was being judgmental about my music. The nerve of her!

Are we connected via Twitter?

I'm Anika Myers Palm. Are you following me on Twitter?

Friday, March 1, 2013

Arrested for charity

I'm going to be arrested for charity!

This will be strange, but I'm still going to do it.

Many charities raise money by inviting participants to raise money.

So...I’ll be getting arrested for charity this year.

It will be for a good cause: I’m doing this to raise money for The Society for Professional Journalists.

You can learn more about this little project of mine via my various social media sites:
http://twitter.com/ampalm
https://plus.google.com/u/0/115907559814931389952/posts
http://www.linkedin.com/pub/anika-palm/5/207/837

Are we connected via Google+?

I'm Anika Myers Palm. Are you following me on Google+?