Monday, November 04, 2002

November 4-6, 2002

NOVEMBER 4, 2002

Despite her pre-teen protestations about hating school and living for the weekend, I can always tell how much my daughter likes going to class when she's sick, and I suggest that she can't go. "No, really, I'm fine!" she's croaking this morning, the cough and the huge wad of Kleenex bunched in her hand notwithstanding. She's got a cold, alright. Maybe it's because she was jumping on an outdoor trampoline in 40-degree weather on Saturday with a good friend and an inadequate jacket. Maybe it's because I let her go out trick-or-treating on Thursday jacket-free. Maybe it's because her instructional aide at school had a cold last week, and this germ transfer is proof that she's still leaning over my girl too much. Or maybe it just is.

When I was growing up, I never wanted to stay home from school either; of course, I was an obnoxious Type A over-achiever and could not bear the thought that someone might learn something ahead of me. That's sure not the case with my daughter, but I know she enjoys the social aspects of school and the routine of it and the recess and the gym (the latter two were about the only reasons I'd WANT to stay home from school, but again, I was a way different kid), and staying home is boring. (Mama makes sure of that.) We still go by the "if you don't have a fever, you get your butt to school" rule here, which means that I send sniffling, sneezing, coughing, wheezing kids to school on a regular basis during the winter, which I'm sure endears me to the teachers. Hey, if they'd make the sick aides stay home, maybe we wouldn't have a problem.

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NOVEMBER 5, 2002

Peer pressure reared its ugly head and bit my daughter this month, and our local phone company tattled to Mama. Fortunately, it's not phone calls to China or to astronomically priced toll services that her friends urged her to make, just three-way phone calls to include an extra friend in conversations. I didn't even know you could make three-way calls from our phone until I got last month's phone bill, with its 75-cent charge for each one. I let my sweet little preteen know at that time that there'd better be no more such calls dialed from our phone. What her friends dial is their mothers' business, but if I saw more 75 cent charges on our phone bill, there would be trouble. She promised she wouldn't do it.

And so comes this month's bill. And five 75-cent charges.

Under mild cross-examination she admitted that, yes, a few times she had let her buddy talk her into dialing. Her friend just would not quit, and finally, to shut her up, she had done the thing that Mama had said not to. And she didn't really see what the big deal was until I took the $3.75 out of her compact-disc savings fund.

I explained that it wasn't so much the extra phone charges that worried me, but the fact that she would let her friend talk her into doing something that she knew she shouldn't do. She has to learn to speak up for herself, and here's a $3.75 lesson why. I lectured her, I lectured her friend, I made it very clear to everybody that my girl is not to make those calls, and now I sit back and hope and wait for next month's phone bill to tell me if I got through. This is a very small experiment in peer pressure resistance, and the consequences of failure are relatively cheap. As she heads into her teenage years, the tolls of giving in to your friends are liable to be much, much higher. I sure hope she gets the message while we're still just talking about phone bills.

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NOVEMBER 6, 2002

Well, election day has finally passed, and however you feel about the results, I think we all have to admit that our nation is significantly better this morning in one important way: NO MORE CAMPAIGN ADS. Yee-ha! At last, we can watch TV or listen to the radio without the risk of getting caught in a mudfight.

I don’t know if it was true across the nation, but this round of campaigning here in the northeast seemed to be especially unseemly. Every time I thought ads couldn’t stoop any lower, they did. Every time an ugly ad made me sympathize with one candidate, that candidate volleyed back with one even uglier. I’m long past the age of feeling idealistic about politicians, and I’ve almost made my peace with the notion of lessers among evils, but do they have to rub our face in it all quite so blatantly?

I mean, goodness. Wasn’t there ever a time when people running for office talked about themselves, and not about the other guy? Wasn’t there ever a time when candidates tried to sell voters on their own beliefs and intentions, rather than getting the electorate to believe the worst about the intentions of their opponent? Maybe not. Maybe it’s always been like this, and the technology’s just better now. But when the normal run of product-pushing commercials seem like a peaceful relief after endless election ads, I think someone may want to rethink a little strategy. Please?

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