Post-shooting vigil in Parkland, Florida, February 2018.

Silent No More

I have not posted here in a long time, because I have no words for most of the outrages that have been perpetrated on us since January 20, 2017. It’s time to end silence and march. We cannot allow the gaslighting of America to go on, while children are being shot in their schools.

via Plans Are in the Works for A National Day of Action to Protect Students Against Gun Violence

Featured image from

Ray at 14 by Dorianne Laux | Tuesday, November 01, 2016 | The Writer’s Almanac with Garrison Keillor

Bless this boy, born with the strong face of my older brother, the one I loved most, who jumped with me from the roof of the playhouse, my hand in his hand. On Friday nights we watched Twilight Zone and he let me hold the bowl of popcorn, a blanket draped over our shoulders, saying,…

via Ray at 14 by Dorianne Laux | Tuesday, November 01, 2016 | The Writer’s Almanac with Garrison Keillor

I loved this short poem. It reminds me of a favorite epigram, by J.V. Cunningham:

Arms and the man I sing, and sing for joy,

Who was last year all elbows and a boy.


The Weekly Vent?

This week I am chortling, not screaming, at my new middle-aged heroes: Hilarious Parents Re-Create Daughter’s Sexy Selfies With Boyfriend. I love these people! What a way to make their point with a sense of humor!

Selfies. What a concept. And yes, it does irritate me when I find that one of the several teenagers who live here has taken numerous silly selfies on my unattended iPhone. Though if I REALLY minded that much, I would just post them on their Facebook pages for all the world to see. Hmmm …

Illustration: Mark Knight, Herald Sun, 6 September 2013

The Narrative of Privilege

This is an extraordinary piece by a young doctor: The Narrative of Privilege. From the perspective of middle age, and raising teenagers myself, she is so accurate about the ways in which adolescents are shaped not only by the choices they make, but by the choices they are offered, throughout childhood and adolescence.

Just so you don’t think I’ve lost my snarky edge — this is why it enrages me when public officials nickel and dime services for children, like public education, so they can slash taxes for the overly fortunate. We are a fabulously rich nation. Surely we can afford to make sure all American children are offered excellent choices as they grow.


This week, the New York Times reported that in a sharp reversal, school districts are now scrambling to fill teacher positions after several years of issuing pink slips to teachers: Teacher Shortages Spur a Nationwide Hiring Scramble. In fact, they are so desperate to hire teachers that they are hiring some before they have even graduated. This is nuts! I have relatives who are teachers. They are skilled professionals, with years of expensive education including master’s degrees in specialties like information technology in education, as well as experience. One works for a private school, one worked for a public school.

The one who works for a private school has been able to have a long, well-developed career with steady advancement and reasonable job security. The one who worked for a public school system did have tenure, but her job was constantly under threat from incompetent principals and superintendents, the threat of reorganizations that would have eliminated her position, the constant cost-cutting. She finally couldn’t take it any more; she and many other seasoned teacher colleagues have retired in the last two years. She herself was snapped up to do contract work by a mentor at the state department of education, who knows her talent and skill set. Her work with teachers and students in that role has restored her love of teaching and education, now that she is away from the relentless politics of the local public school district.

This makes me crazy. When will this country stop whipsawing schools, teachers and schoolchildren back and forth? It’s impossible for professionals to plan for a skilled career when their job prospects look like a rollercoaster. It’s impossible for the best professionals to do good work in an environment of shifting alliances, inadequate resources and permanent job insecurity.  Public schools deserve better, and so do the huge majority of American children who depend on them for their education. Periodic “nationwide hiring scrambles” are not the answer.

Resilience and adverse childhood experiences

“Look at children. Of course they may quarrel, but generally speaking they do not harbor ill feelings as much or as long as adults do. Most adults have the advantage of education over children, but what is the use of an education if they show a big smile while hiding negative feelings deep inside? Children don’’t usually act in such a manner. If they feel angry with someone, they express it, and then it is finished. They can still play with that person the following day.” H.H. The Dalai Lama.

“Autoimmune disease. Heart disease. Chronic bowel disorders. Migraines. Persistent depression. Even today, doctors puzzle over these very conditions: why are they so prevalent; why are some patients more prone to them than others; and why are they so difficulty to treat?”

Sound like some outcomes of bottled up rage? Yeah, I thought so too.

Childhood, disrupted

This is a long read but well worth it, and it offers hope to adults whose “adverse childhood experiences”, or ACEs, may be affecting their physical and mental health decades later. The good news is that an ACE score can be partially offset by resilience factors, such as having other caring adults in a child’s life or the knowledge that even a flawed parent did love the child. You can test yourself for both ACEs and resilience here:

Got Your ACE Score?

Sad and Mad

I was raised in a household where children were never allowed to express anger. Not that all anger was forbidden or unexpressed — just children’s anger. A child’s anger was wrong — and bad. So I spent many years not admitting even to myself when I felt mad, and instead feeling sad and bad. And when I had children of my own, I wanted to teach them to know their emotions: to name them, acknowledge them and cope with them. Sort of like mindfulness for toddlers.

So I did a few things. I always told (and still tell) my kids clearly that I love them, every day if possible, even if it’s just a text now that my oldest is away at college. And when they did something that upset a member of the family, including me, I would say something like: “You did ___. That makes me sad. And mad. I am sad because (fill in the blank: you broke something I liked; you said something hurtful; you pushed your sister). I am mad because (fill in that blank: you know better; you hurt someone; what you did was wrong and here’s why).”

Then I would work with the child to address the situation: offer an explanation, clean up the mess, apologize to the sibling, take some time out to think about what just happened, reflect on why the kid did it, think of better ways to proceed next time. The idea was to model that we can be sad and mad, but those feelings don’t make us bad. It’s how we choose to respond to those feelings that can turn a situation bad.

I was reminded of this, reading another blogger’s eloquent post about Pagliacci, and anxiety and sadness, and how those can look like anger: Pagliacci Is In Town Tonight. I would add that not allowing yourself to feel mad can make you feel really, really sad.  And THAT’S bad.

Illustration: Sad and Mad; found on