3 Lessons From My Mom On Her 68th Birthday

Happy birthday to Modern Mary's mother, Judith Elaine, patroness of living and travel, literature and art.

Happy birthday to Modern Mary’s mother, Judith Elaine, patroness of living and travel, literature and art.

July 15, 1948 was the day my life became a possibility. It was a full 29 years before I was born.

It was in Youngstown, Ohio. It was the day my mother, Judith Elaine, was born.

I’m sad I don’t know much more about that day than the date. But I know enough about what came after.

I know that was the day the beautiful, creative, kind, intelligent and profoundly generous spirit who became a daughter, sister, wife, mother, cousin, friend, teacher, editor and volunteer was born.

Each year since her death, I do my best to honor her birthday. It’s a challenge because it’s a day mixed with joy and pain.

I bounce between internal reflections of her personal influence on me and external sharing about the values her life embodied and the lessons she taught us with her fully manifested Judy-ness.

My mom treasured three things above all others in her life (besides her family, which was at the top of her list). Embedded in her passion for these three things are many lessons for each of us.

They were:

  • Travel
  • Literature
  • Art

Travel was a full-body and soul experience for my mom. It gave my mother the chance to step outside her life, to traipse beyond the rigors of raising four children, working and keeping pace with her frenetic routine. It gave her the chance to breathe in the ambiance, the art and the literature of the places she roamed. It opened her mind, her soul and her heart to new possibilities. It gave her reprieve from her constant giving and allowed her to receive, to fill back up.

She was no tourist. She experienced the places she visited: rambling through shops for hours on end, purchasing huge, heavy objects de arte my Dad deemed impossible to get home, sat at cafes, read books by local authors, talked to servers and docents and desk clerks. More than that, she applied her imagination to the place. She mused over if she could live there, what her life would look like if she did, where she would shop, what the local flora was like and how the morning air felt on her skin.

In her 62 years, she did not have the travel footprint she wanted. There were so many places yet for her to experience.

Literature consumed my mom, it was a daily indulgence for her. She ate it up, and it fed her in a most glorious way. One of my most powerful images is of her sitting up in bed at night in her pajamas, with her glasses on, knees up, reading, a hot cup of Earl Grey tea gently steaming on the antique dresser that served as her bedside table. Most likely a tea cookie or two, which she stashed stealthily in cabinets we kids couldn’t get to, would be waiting next to her tea. This was her sacred space. This was the most zen Mom.

Words, books, were an escape, a constant revealer and a companion. She read everything, and was a lover of the word. She took large canvas totes of books to the beach with her every summer. She had a stack of at least 50 books on her bedside, next to her bedside, in her car, and under her bed. Selecting books to take on a trip was a challenge and required a trip to the library for just the right read. My mom knew how to release into a time and place invented or real, and she had an uncanny talent for finding just the right book at just the right time.

Her writing reflected this consumption. Although a great loss in her life was that she never viewed herself as a writer the way she rightfully should have. She wrote legendary letters and cards, brief but meaningful notes for her sleeping children in the summers before she left for her part-time job as an editor. She was a master linguist who also had the ability to infuse heartfelt directness in her written words.

Art was a place of surrender for my mom. Each city she visited included a surrender to the power of the local art museum. In her mid-life, even with four small children in school, and very little free time, she spent precious hours and days training to become a docent at the Phoenix Art Museum. All too soon, she had to resign for lack of time.

I will never forget our post-high school graduation trip to France, and the long, meandering daily trips to the Louvre, Musee d’Orsay, the Georges Pompidou. We’d learn all we could about the artwork, the artists, the times in which they lived, and swap stories, wide-eyed in front of the masterpieces. We let our eyes and hearts be overcome by Gauguin’s lounging women and Monet’s Giverny bridges. We would dive in and ponder Dali’s off-kilter conglomerations of ideas and Picasso’s disjointed madonnas. Memories of those precious days feed me on days like today, as do the way my mom flung herself, headlong into the appreciation of the art.

She commissioned art from her friends who were artists. She bought sculpture or paintings or handcrafted items that spoke to her, regardless of where she was, how she would get them home, if my Dad liked them or not, and where they would go in their home. She explored her personality in art and let it be a reflection of her: quirky and joyful, dark and abstract, bright and bold.

She would have never admitted she was an artist, but she was. She took photographs, made elaborate cards, drew on hand-crafted wrapping paper, did amazingly intricate needlepoint, sewed clothing, and took drawing classes, calligraphy courses. She applied her artistic style to her amazing cooking talents as well – and once launched and ran a highly successful catering company for several years before resigning for lack of time.

Once a profoundly influential person you love leaves you, there’s abundant time for reflection upon their lives. I think about my mom and her life, every day. Each day, I’m extracting new lessons. I cast what I remember of the 34 years I spent with her in a variety of differing lights. I consider the angles that light casts, the shadows, the highlights, the mid-tones, and the dear, dear candlelight person she was to me.

Among many other sunbeams she cast, my mom’s life was a glowing illumination of full-fledged experience of travel, consumption of literature, the surrender to art. It is a recommendation to me (and each person she touched) to not just to go places or read things or look at art, but to

Experience

Consume

Surrender

your passions. And do it now.

You will have disappointments, be short-changed and confront regret. But by in large, if you push yourself into your loves, the example you set by living your passions will create a legacy of living your loved ones simply will never forget.

I know I won’t.

Happy Birthday, my dearest Mom. I love you.

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Warm milk + Chili Dot Com: Perfectly particular palates

Our girls are not picky eaters. They do, however, have discerning palates.

This is particularly true of Prima, who at the age of 5, while being babysat by friends, replied “shu-shi” when asked what her favorite food was. (They were anticipating a response more along the lines of “pizza” or “ice cream,” I think.)need for milk

As a baby, Secondo used to sit in front of a high chair tray full of black beans, avocado and cherry tomatoes cut into halves and quarters. I can still see her chubby little fingers chasing black beans around the tray and shoving them heartily into her bonny little mouth.

At age 6, Prima licked her lips and dubbed our easy homemade chili recipe, “Chili dot com” [“I love when we have chili-dot-com!” she announced, tomato cheeked.] I don’t know where it came from or how she created it, but I immediately fell in love with the moniker and her ingenious way of putting language together.

In a tribute to my mother, who began to wind down her day raising four small children when she poured her evening cup of tea, they both enjoy and drink tea. When Prima is sick, she asks for Britain’s favorite beverage.

“But Mooom,” she’ll whinny, “can I have PG Tips? With cream and two sugars?” This girl knows her tea.pg_tips

For the majority of her life, Secondo has preferred her milk warmed one minute in the microwave. If you pour too little in the cup or only go 45 seconds, she’ll know. Not even worth trying.

Over the years, as they have gotten older, their palates have expanded and contracted. They’ve settle in on some favorites.

Secondo’s major food group is cheese. Cheese crisp, mac and cheese (she prefers Annie’s Organic and not the blue box stuff), girled (not a spelling error) cheese, cheese quesadilla and – the holy grail of her dairy obsession – cheesesticks.

That should be two words but in our household it’s ubiquitous, so it is one.

Cheesesticks are serious business around here.

One brand does not suit all.

Prima prefers the Frigo variety (she lampooned an empty Frigo cheesestick package to our refrigerator as a reminder of what type to buy). And mozzarella only. Once in awhile, she likes to venture out to into sharp cheddar rectangles – but only Sargento, thank you very much. And never, never, ever, ever send a cheesestick in her lunch, even if you pack dry ice to maintain temperature. Without fail it will come back a greasy, flaccid half-melted mess of rejection, and the flustered admonishment, “Moooom, I DON’T like cheesesticks in my lunch.”shushi

None of this is suitable for Secondo’s tastes, however, who prefers Precious cheesesticks – “the ones with the guy on the skateboard on the front.” Bingo. Never yellow nor pepper jack nor provolone nor anything other than mozzarella. Packing them in her lunch is A-OK, however. She’ll eat them here or there or everywhere. Really. I’ve found them half-eaten stuffed between couch cushions or under beds, on bathroom counters and dried up in the playroom – a little dairy trail of her day’s activities.

Despite the annoyance of making an extra stop at another grocery store (of course my local does not carry both types of preferred cheesesticks — welcome to Mommy hell), their preferences please me.

They’ve always been the kind of kids to find something on nearly any menu to enjoy. They’re not limited to hot dogs or nuggets. They eat Japanese, Italian, Thai, Chinese, Mexican (Prima has taken up Mr. Bailey’s Cholula obsession), Middle Eastern with regularity. They like salad. They love clementines and apples and berries. When I bring oranges for soccer game half time, they are genuinely excited.

Of course, left to their own devices, they would eat pizza with sides of breadsticks six nights a week and candy for breakfast each morning, but with a spoonful of our guidance, we’re getting them somewhere tasty, cheesesticks in hand. Dot com.

Wonder of 5

Secondo and I are walking hand-in-hand across a snowy parking lot. Her chubby 5-year-old hands echoed by the puffy brown and pink coat she’s wearing, hood flung back, wide-open to the blue sky.

Photo by Michał Koralewski

Photo by Michał Koralewski

“I believe in God,” she announces as we weave through the icy spots, the dirty snow, the salt and grime of the lot. “And I believe in Santa Claus.”

I smile broadly.

“Do you?” I say through my grin. “OK.”

A day earlier, Mr. Bailey had pointed out to me that Secondo was in a stage of discernment and wonder. What she is learning in her first year in formal school and comes home in delightful and confusing, definitive and doubtful ways. It’s a glory to witness.

I caught her the other day walking around the house with the illustrated children’s Bible my mother gave me as a kid. She was pretending to read each story as she flipped through the pictures. She disappeared, then reappeared, saying, “Why did Jesus die on the cross?” in the tone of voice reserved for questions like, “why do we sleep at night?”

Then, one night as I was tucking her into bed, “God is invisible,” she told me, very matter-of-fact, then suddenly a bit angry, “WHY?”

At five, she is now aware of the larger world around her, even as she struggles to define it in a meaningful and ordered way. She knows the bliss of having her teacher point to her as an example of appropriate behavior – and the embarrassment of having her classroom card turned from green to yellow for pushing in line. Yet, she postpones her tears of hurt until she’s away from school, ensconced in our car, sobbing, “I was going to get only green all year long!” Secondo basks in the warmth of loving friends’ attention, flinging her arms wide and singing at her Thanksgiving performance of “Any Turkey Can Tango” or “We Wish You a Merry Christmas” on Christmas Eve. Yet, she’s also run headlong into a shower of hurtled sand, thrown hard in her face by someone she assumed liked her. She even knows the embarrassment of having a recess accident.

This would be Secondo.

This would be Secondo.

For weeks, at night when I tucked her in, she told me she was dizzy and couldn’t fall asleep. I gave her a comforting placebo of lavender cream that took away the dizziness. Even as she doubted the efficacy of this little invention, she insisted I apply it religiously at the same time, each night, waking from a dead sleep if she’d dozed off in the car, to ask for her “dizzy cream.” Then suddenly one morning she sauntered into our room and announced she didn’t need it anymore, her dizziness was cured.

On the day before Thanksgiving as Mr. Bailey prepared the turkey to take a long briny bath, she walked into the kitchen and stopped as she caught sight of the dimpled white fowl sitting on the counter. “Who killed that?” she deadpanned.

She’s exploring the poles of human experience – the agony of the yellow card, the ecstasy of Christmas morning and well, the mysterious muddle of faith, death and life for which none of us have answers.

Even better than this journey of hers, is the opportunity for Mr. Bailey and I to watch the world swirl around her tiny frame, as she strides boldly into each new day, and then settle softly every now and then.

Wherever you are…

I was just going to write a post that started out: “I am at the library.”

The post would have gone on to tell you all about how much you can learn about a person by

Modern Mary wants to go to there. Always.

finding out where their favorite places are. The library has always been a refuge of mine. Not necessarily this library, although it’s history in my life is rich, but any library, anywhere. And every library at every university I attended and every city I have lived in. The library to me is nearly church.

A few weeks ago, as I was walking out of the library with Prima, I told her, “Prima, no matter what you are going through in your life, no matter what you need, you can always go to the library.” I squeezed her hand extra tight when I said it, hoping to create a physical reminder of this gospel. I hope she holds that idea somewhere inside her heart forever.

But back to my post.

The post would have told you about my childhood, when my three brothers and I spent the early summers after we moved to Bedford Falls and did not know many people, driving in our powder blue Pontiac station wagon to wherever the public library’s Bookmobile was

“Get your books and get in the car! We going to the Bookmobile,” Modern Mary’s mom used to say.

stopping that day. Many lived miles from the main branch of the library at that point, so our growing city had settled on the Bookmobile as a suitable replacement to the brick and mortar.

I have vague images of the heat, our four little bodies sticking to the blue leather seats, windows down, wearing our mid-80s short running shorts, with the white stripes down the side, and our Snoopy T-shirts.

We would arrive at the Bookmobile, books clutched in dirty paws, and rush over. The big step up into the Bookmobile required a double-handed grab on the silver handles and a hoist from behind, willingly delivered with extra viciousness by one of my brothers.

And there was Dorcus. She was the Bookmobile lady and probably one of the first friends my Mom made in our new city. My mom made friends with everyone. That was just who

Dorcus was not this old. But in our childhood minds she was about 500.

she was. Of course she was on a first-name basis with Dorcus, and reprimanded us when we giggled at her name, sharing some sobering detail about her life, like how much Dorcus loved her grandchildren or that, did we realize, Dorcus’ husband had just had surgery.

The four of us would scatter around the Bookmobile, pulling out new books, returning old ones, leafing through illustrations to select more. My mom would talk to Dorcus, and get recommendations for the next book or 12 that deserved to land on her nightstand. I remember being amazed my mother could read those thick-as-Bibles books in just a week or two and then return them to Dorcus for a full discussion and request for another recommendation. To me it was a sign of ultimate grown-up lady-ness.

The Bookmobile was a refuge from the hot summer days, a way to unwind our constantly kid-wound minds, an old friend, and always a place that had the magical effect of bringing peace to our mother, who found herself in an unfamiliar city, surrounded by four young children only 6 years apart in age and a husband who constantly traveled.

They eventually did build a library branch closer to us and so the Bookmobile went away, as did Dorcus. (I know my mother kept in touch with her for awhile, once she moved to a proper librarian position. I remember my mom walking right up to the main desk and asking if Dorcus was there, which as a teenager was so supremely embarrassing.) Sometimes after school if my mom was delayed, she would call Mrs. Phoenix the chain-smoking, rod-thin and mean secretary and have her relay the message that the four of us should walk over to the library, and she would pick us up there. Mom knew we would be safe there, find distraction and comfort. We would play and get shushed, get lost in the stacks, panic and find each other in relief, and read stuff we knew we shouldn’t. It was all so thrilling.

My mother is gone now, but the library is still here. This place, above many others, seems to calm my spirit as it captures her essence in its cool quiet and the reassurance of all of those books, all knowledge and insight, and fun and adventure at my fingertips, an orderly anchor for my chaotic Modern Mary life. It feels like my mother’s embrace. It reads like her forgiving, commonsense caring approach to navigating life and relationships. It’s less heartbreaking and more heartwarming.

I was thinking all of this as I walked through those sliding glass doors from the warm day and was enveloped by the cool, bookish library smell. I was missing my mom so much the hole in my chest was gaping open a bit.

As I walked by the charity shop the library volunteers run, where they sell retired books, the first volume my eyes laid themselves on called out to me its title, “Wherever you are, my love will find you.”

So then, I decided to write about that.

They’re kids. Not clones.

Parents seem to be endlessly amazed by the fact there are profound differences between their children. I mean, they are truly astonished, right?

It’s a frequent topic of discussion among them, and I am including myself in this circle of inanity.

When one pauses to consider: given the innumerable DNA coupling, all the random genetic match-ups, do you really think each little human being you push out of your body will be an exact duplicate of the one before? If not in appearance than in attitude, interests and propensity to like Elmo better than Dora? It defies logic.

Yet. We seem to be continually astounded by the fact our children are all not carbon copies. Shock that the oldest is quiet and obedient while the middle child is loud and outrageous. Surprise that the middle child will party all night long if not forcibly put to bed while the youngest brushes his teeth, looks at books quietly and then comes to kiss you goodnight all on his own.

So, what is it about the difference between siblings that is endlessly entertaining to us as parents? You got me.

I, by all means, am not immune. I too find silly entertainment by the personality differences between Prima and Secondo.

Of course, there’s a “for example” that comes to mind.

Prima has always loved school. Since the days when we guiltily used the working-parent lexicon, calling daycare as “school,” until now, well into the elementary school years, Prima goes to school smiling, happily. She’s the kid in the class the teacher always loves. The go-to gal in the classroom, the nice kid every parent compliments. (I know this factually because: Her birthday is over the summer. This past summer, the phone rang on her special day. My mouth hung open as I heard two years worth of teachers on the line, wishing my first born a happy birthday. She was over the moon excited to get the call, but not too surprised. It’s clearly a love-love situation.)

Along came Secondo. She has more or less enjoyed school, except when she threw raging fits for six months every morning while getting dropped off for nursery school. Oh, and, ummm, preschool, too.

Whereas at drop she would cling to me, fussing, at pick-up, she would take another tack. Secondo would primly walk passed me when I came to pick her up, all her friends dashing to give her hugs on her way out the door. I apologized and cajoled, but she was decidedly aloof. Her Pre-K buddies would call out to her, voices thick with a futile desire to gain her approval and love, “Bye, Secondo! See you tomorrow! You’re my best friend!” with nary a response from her. To be fair, sometimes she would respond with sighs, and eye rolls and perfunctory embraces. She didn’t want me to believe for one second she was backing off of her earlier position, that preschool was something she was fundamentally uninterested in, all evidence to the contrary.

Now Secondo is in kindergarten, and I am enthused. They are both at the same school, on the same schedule. The girls look so sappily adorable walking in and out of school together, my heart races with mom-adoration to see them go and when I pull up to pick them up. Happy Mommy wants for kiddos now to be happy. Please.

The first day of school, playing happy Supermom, I had their after schools snacks ready and waiting when they walked in. We unloaded backpacks and washed lunchboxes as we chatted and they munched.

I asked a million questions. Prima provided her usual ample information, in a rush, sharing everything she could think of. Getting relatively little from Secondo, I tried a more nuanced approach.

Me: Secondo, was there anything interesting about kindergarten?

Her: Well. [Fixing her gaze on me steadily. Pause.] There’s no toys in kindergarten. That’s interesting. [Pause] And, HORRIBLE!

Not making this up.

It’s early in the school year and as Mr. Bailey always likes to remind me, transition times are the hardest.

“She’ll get into it,” he reassured me. Fast forward to a very recent Sunday night meal.

Me: So, Secondo, are you excited to go back to school tomorrow?

Her: [Looking at me dully, she cocks her head to the right.] Sitting around? Writing Cs ALL DAY? Does that sound like fun to you?

She’s five years old. As she says this to me, she’s sitting there in pigtails, sipping milk.

As I often do, I admonish – “Secondo!” then hide my face behind my napkin and dissolve into eye-watering silent laughter. Mr. Bailey does the same.

But, here’s the trickiest part of it – she’s right. Writing Cs all day sounds like a stage of hell even as a writer, I would rather not journey. This child makes one heck of a powerful argument. Who could resist being amazed by that?

The band scar

When I was a younger woman, I used to relish the time in a relationship when I collected my paramour’s scar stories. I would lightly trace the scars on hands, feet, arms, legs and coyly inquire where they had come from, how they were acquired.

Those physical scars always seemed to lead to a discussion ripe with the knowledge I was really after – what their emotional scars were and where they hid. As a naïve, infatuated young adult, these were scars I mistakenly thought I could help heal.

Of course, I know all of Mr. Bailey’s scars now. Being a bit clumsy, he’s got a number of them. When we were first married, they all represented adventures or amusing stories he had before me. Now, a good number of the scars represent shared memories – a gash on his wrist a week before our second Christmas together, slightly raised bumps across his broad knuckles from accidentally punching a hole in our ceiling, celebrating our team winning a trip to the Super Bowl.

After so much in-utero anxiety about their health, the first time they laid my pink and perfect babies in my arms, I cried over their unblemished skin, tears I hoped would bless and protect them from any harm.

I remember the moment Prima received the cut that is now a straight, slim two-inch scar on the front of her left hand. I think of that moment every time I catch sight of the scar.

But what really keeps me up at night is the mental gymnastics I do pondering where and how Prima’s and Secondo’s emotional scars will bloom. As any good parent does, I contemplate my role in creating them, which, let’s be honest, always pertains.

Prima and Secondo have already experienced the death of two grandparents, before the

Photo by Kelly Hampton, from the blog, Enjoying the Small Things, http://www.kellyhampton.com

age of 10. A grandfather before Secondo was born, so the scars carried there belong to Mr. Bailey and I; a grandmother just a year ago. For a year, they only rarely spoke of her keen love for her granddaughters, her sparkling smile, the way she made them feel better when they were sick and handwrote thank you notes praising them for small kindnesses they had offered her. But since that year has slipped by in a confusing fog, they’ve begun to ask me to tell them stories, and to explain again why they lost her.

They’ve also lost a teacher, two great-grandparents, and two great uncles, in some cases, quite suddenly.

So I am aware of those scars and try my mother-bear best to prevent smaller losses – friends or routines or cherished playthings – from causing further damage.

Recently, Prima came home from school in an absolute fervor. The band teacher had visited the classroom and she was now on fire to join the band and play the trumpet. Having paid for guitar lessons over the summer that seemed to go well but resulted in a distain for practicing and an interest in a thousand other activities, we were less than enthusiastic. Then we took a look at the costs, and the other activities she was already committed to, we decided to postpone the band for another day.

Prima was completely devastated. There were tears, gnashing of teeth, casting of stones, spasmodic jumping up and down and sad faces for days. Her big brown eyes became orbs of betrayal when she expertly cast them upon us, welling.

I calculated how deep this cut would be. I worried it would result in a lifelong scar. I hoped the band scar might be treated with the happy moments we were also providing: birthday parties! Soccer games! Specialized tutoring! A study hall with her teacher while the other kids were at band! Not so much.

But then, the tide of tears seemed to stem and Prima once again found her happy place. She’s a pleasant child by nature, and I breathed a sigh of relief.

Several days later, I was tucking her and Secondo into their bunk beds. We said our nightly prayer and then I asked each child to tell me who they wanted to pray for. Prima mentioned family and friends, then paused.

“I also want to pray for all of the children who want to do band but their parents won’t let them,” she intoned, reverently.

The dim night light shielded my shocked face as I managed to choke out, “OK. Secondo! Who do you want to pray for?”

So, chalk up another scar. It’s clearly not the first, and certainly not the last.

But maybe, (I can dream) it might be the worst for a little awhile.

You won’t find this scene in the Bailey household these days, much to Prima’s chagrin.

Vacation parenting: It’s a combat zone

Our summer vacation was another trip East to visit and stay with very patient and accepting family members.

In order to relieve the crush of the Bailey family’s daily activity and energy level, we planned several day trips and one overnight jaunt up to Niagara Falls in order to relieve our patient hosts of, well – us.Image

There we were motoring along, taking our time, stopping where it seemed interesting to stop. The air was cool. The road was pleasantly winding and the four of us were happy.

As we passed lush, fragrant fields of ripening grapes in upstate New York, I was contemplating our well-behaved Prima and Secondo. At that moment giggling over a game they were playing quietly and peacefully in the backseat. I was reveling in the fact that, all things considered, they were good, respectful children. My hand doing dolphin dives out the window, I took a moment to mentally pat Mr. Bailey and me on the back for our dedication to our role as parents.

Several moments later, the lull of the summer air making us dozy and comfortable, sharing sideways smiles, we listened as our girls, forgetting our presence and our ability to hear conversations going on two feet behind us in a closed space, began chatting amiably with one another.Image

The conversation went very nearly like this:

Prima: I kind of get upset sometimes because I never get to do what I want to do.

[This, of course, is an abject lie. We sometimes say our entire lives are exactly what our children want to do.]

Secondo: Well, Prima, you know, that’s easy. Do you know what I do?

[Mr. Bailey and I exchange dubious glances.]

Prima (genuinely stymied): What?

Secondo: All you have to do to get something you want is to start crying. That’s what I do. And it always works. I start crying and my parents give me exactly what I want.

[Mr. Bailey and I, slightly aghast, exchange discouraged shakes of the head.]

Prima: (sounding uncertain) Oh.

 

Now, would my guard have not been so precipitously low at that moment, I would have argued Secondo’s point until blue. I would have pointed out our use of time out. I would have extolled our willingness to correct bad manners and to insist on things like good eye contact and apologies. I would have discussed our dedication to empowering our children to be self-reliant problem solvers.

But at that moment, we were on vacation. Similar to a warzone, vacation parenting was in full effect. In vacation parenting combat zones, we tend to go with a we-will-give-you-what-you-want-if-you-will-please-stop-your-continuous-whining/crying-before-we-get-kicked-out-of-this-hotel/house/restaurant/pool/airplane-for-beating-our-children approach, regardless of the cost to us as parents.

Therefore, I could not argue. I could only acknowledge, grit my teeth, narrow my eyes, and realize our darling Secondo had us, sagely, over a barrel. And, worse still, she knew it.

Later on as Mr. Bailey and I laughed a little and fretted a lot about all the battles to come with Secondo, I recalibrated. No, I don’t have perfect kids. That is clear. But they have gumption, they have spunk and they are smart.

For that I am grateful. And also, worried.Image