The One Ball I Cannot Drop

I’m not sure if I’m a juggler or a catcher.

Most days it feels like both.

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Keeping balls in the air and fielding the ones tossed my way.

Definitely both.

On a daily basis, I drop one ball or another.  I’m working to see this not as a failure, but as a “missed” try–something to work harder on.  Some are more serious than others–bigger balls, you might say, and so the little ones I drop I barely blink an eye anymore.

Forgot to get boxes of tissues.  Okay, grab a roll of toilet paper and sit it on the counter.  Not aesthetically pleasing, but not hurting anyone either.  And it gets the job done.

Forgot to get ketchup.  A little more serious.  Dig in the refrigerator I need to clean out (another dropped ball), fingers crossed I will find a stray pack of ketchup or sauce that will make them forget they really want ketchup.

Slacked on the toothbrushing routine and paid for it at the dentist.  A little more serious.  Actually, I spent three days beating myself up over this.  But once again, took it as something to work harder on and we are back on track.  Dental hygiene–we got this!

Overdue library book.  Okay, lecture my sorry self about being a sorry self and put the book in the car and make sure we get by there to return the book.  Again, it costs us, but it is easily fixed.  Thankfully.

Got behind on fourth grade math skills.  This dropped ball weighed on my heart, smack dab where it landed, for quite some time.  Finally, I gathered my thoughts and made a game plan and asked for help.  Possibly my best move as a home school parent–asking for help when it was overwhelming.  That ball has been tossed back up in the air, and as long as we stay on it, we’re good.  Thankfully.

But there is one ball that I am constantly fielding and juggling.  I am not the only one.  There is a whole community of parents and caregivers who are dealing with this.  Every single moment of every single day.

Those who care for children who have food allergies.

Food allergies.  These are the commonly recognized top 8:

Milk

Eggs

Fish

Crustacean Shellfish

Tree Nuts

Peanuts

Wheat

Soybean

These are the major allergens, but know that these are not all of them.  There are as many food allergies as there are foods.  I have a niece who is allergic to two of the top 8 and bananas.  They can vary and often the person with food allergies will have multiple foods that are problematic.

Food allergies are more than unpleasant and uncomfortable and bothersome.

They are DEADLY.

When you are allergic to something, it doesn’t matter if your last reaction was treated with Benadryl and you were fine.  Each reaction is different, and anaphylaxis can occur with any contact to an allergen.

Anaphylaxis is a potentially life-threatening allergic reaction.  It can kill.  When it occurs, a shot of epinephrine and a trip to the ER are the proper course of action.

As a parent of a child with three of the eight major allergens, that is the one ball I cannot drop.

I MUST NOT DROP.

At the grocery store, I read labels. And reread them.  Sometimes my OCD and anxiety kick in and I have my oldest reread the label before we prepare whatever it is.

I get emails regularly notifying me of recalls because of potential exposure to allergens.  I usually get several of these a day. (The latest is for cumin and paprika–these have me rethinking a lot of what we prepare and eat…..and no more Mexican restaurants for a while.)

I bake cupcakes for her to take to birthday parties.  I politely decline treats at the bank and grocery store.  I hesitate before accepting invitations to anything.

I check and double-check that we have her epipen anytime we leave the house.

I obsess over complaints of throat discomfort and rashes.  Sometimes it’s hard to delineate between anxiety and a potential reaction.

Before we go out to eat anywhere I’m online looking up allergen charts.  If they don’t have one, we don’t go.

I reiterate over and over to the wait staff my child’s allergens and what she’d like to order.  Even if we just ate there last week, and all was okay.  I sound like a broken record to my family, I know.

I am careful about soaps and lotions and shampoos, because there can be allergens in there as well.

When we go to events, I eyeball what those around us are snacking on.  I have coached my daughter to look out for her own well-being, but she’s only ten.

This is my ball.

And I’m doing everything in my power not to drop it.

So when I see this “meme” going around the social media world that is insinuating that this is a choice–living with this life-threatening condition that keeps me up at night and has my anxiety at a level 9000 on a scale of 1 to 10–

I get mad.

Angry.

Vehement.

How dare they?

The memes I’ve seen are basically saying:

“If my kid can’t bring peanut butter to school, yours shouldn’t be able to bring communicable diseases.”

I’m sorry–what the heck?!

I am not here to debate about immunizations.  That is not my place.

What I am here to do is to put a halt to this IGNORANCE.

I’m not angry with the people who shared it.  They don’t know any better.  They might be reacting from a place of fear for their child’s health, and I GET THAT.

But hear this–

I FEAR FOR MY CHILD’S HEALTH EVERY. SINGLE. DAY.

I wash down surfaces in public to keep her safe, and I carry a sheet to cover the theater seats to limit the chances of exposure to her allergens.  I LOOK LIKE CRAZY, JUST TO KEEP MY CHILD ALIVE.

THIS.

THIS IS NOT A CHOICE.

Whether or not people get their children immunized (again, not debating that here) IS A CHOICE.

Get it straight, please.

While there may be some parents who have children with food allergies who choose not to get immunizations, the two do NOT automatically go hand in hand.

ONE IS A CHOICE A PARENT MAKES FOR HIS OR HER CHILD.

THE OTHER MOST DEFINITELY IS NOT.

Because believe you me, if I could choose for this to be gone tomorrow, in the next minute, ten years ago–

I WOULD.

If I could choose an allergy free life for my child I would.

So we could enjoy going on vacations without worrying that the person who stayed in the room before us had a major feast of her allergens right before checking out.  So we could go to eat with friends without my having a mini-meltdown in my closet before we have to leave.  So I could let her say yes to party invitations based on whether or not she wanted to go, and not on how well I felt the parents would work with us on her allergens.

So I wouldn’t be sitting here tonight, while she’s ten years old, praying with white knuckles that when she is allowed to date, the person she is interested in will respect her and care enough about her to do everything to keep her safe.

Just like I have.

Every day of her life.

I have a lot of balls in the air.

But this is one I cannot, MUST NOT drop.

This.  This is not a choice.

This is our reality.

There is a difference.

 

 

 

 

 

 

On Coming Home

We have returned from our Big Trip.

I could call it big trip, small trip, whatever, because it’s the only trip we’ve been on that required an overnight stay in several years.  And we were gone for seven nights.

Seven.

That’s a long time for this homebody.

We encountered mice, ducks, princesses, wookies, Jedi, and all sorts of folks all in the name of fun.

We met cousins and in-laws whom we’d never met in person before.

We ate in restaurants for the very first time and Princess was okay.  She even got to have an ice cream sundae in one, and THAT.  WAS.  HUGE.  For her and her Mama.  Such joy over that.

Of course my two constant companions were along for the trip–Anxiety Girl and Justin Case.  I worried more about my girl, about keeping my children in my line of sight, about not offending friends and family, about preparing enough food, and about Miss Sophie and the kitties back home and how they were behaving for the kind souls taking care of them.  Justin had me overpacking every single day.  We took snacks we never touched and had rain ponchos when it only rained us out the first night.  At one point I was carrying a backpack on my front and my back.  But I was READY.  FOR.  WHATEVER.  CAME.

I found a system that worked for keeping up with my camera, wallet, tickets, and autograph things.  I am proud of that as the whole losing my wallet thing has been a recurrent nightmare for me lately.

I have lots of stories to share over time and lots of things to think about.  We laughed, we cried, we cleaned up accidents on more than one occasion, and we kept on keeping on.  I had my faith restored in my fellow inhabitants of this earth way more than the few times I was disappointed in them.  I tried to take care of me, of all of us, and I said no to things that weren’t within those confines.

There is one moment I keep thinking about.  It’s come to mind today many times as I say goodbye to Haiku week (though I’ve had such a great response–thank y’all, I will likely do that again).  And I think it describes perfectly where my mind, heart, and soul are when it comes to leaving my home.

Last Wednesday, our last day to visit with the Mice, we needed to hop from the magical place to the animal one in the middle of the afternoon.  We got on the monorail and were soon zooming way above the ground.  There was one other family in the same car, and their backs were to us.  They appeared to be an older couple with a grown son who was developmentally delayed.  They were staying at one of the resorts and headed back there on the monorail.  I overheard the son tell his parents quietly with a wistful voice, “Well, our stuff just better be in that room.  Yeah, it sure better be.  All of it.”

I understand, precious one.  I sure do.

Because when I’m away from my comfort zone, I worry about such as that.  The stuff I brought, the things I “need” to get through the trip–they better stay right where they are. I can’t lose them.  My link to home, to the life I left back there, my connection to what was and what will be again–in the NOW I need for it to be there.  And when I’m away from my comfort zone, my anxiety levels rise, so yeah, I worry about all sorts of things–my stuff not being there just one of many.  But it’s about way more than just the stuff–it’s about the connection to the place where I feel the most ME.

I smiled as I heard him utter the words, and I knew I’d come across a kindred spirit.  Bless him.

Because no matter where on earth life might take me zooming across, there is no place like home.  The place where my stuff, and my heart, and those I love will always be.  The place to find ME.

Love to all.

 

Ebb and Flow and Food Allergies

 

Ahh, the ebb and flow of life.

Specifically, today, the life with a child with severe food allergies.

This morning when I took the littles to our first stop on the OutandAbouts for the day, where they have been learning good things all week, I saw the little girl who had enjoyed watching my yarn as I crocheted yesterday.  She and her twin brother, not quite two yet, were both snacking on crackers that I noticed right away.

Whether due to my hypervigilant state when folks are eating in public or because those things practically glow in the dark–likely it was both–I saw they were eating those peanut butter cheese crackers.

Trying to be subtle, I immediately redirected the path of my crew to avoid the eating area and little hands that might reach out and touch us or our things and moved them to where they needed to be in line.  Once they were settled in, Aub and I took our things and went over to another area to sit.

Where the Mama and her twins soon joined us.  *sigh*  I wish I could come up with a nice way to say, “Hey, we’re allergic, that stuff could kill one of us, could you please avoid touching us or hey, since Anxiety Girl decided to tag along today, just avoid our general area, okay?”

But I haven’t yet.

So I just sat uncomfortably avoiding eye contact with the sweet little girl, whose crumb encrusted hands were reaching to get around the stroller her mom had placed strategically to block her into a small area.  Yesterday we’d had such a nice interaction–she and I.  She pointed at my yarn, and I said, “Yarn.”  She pointed at her little jelly-like sandals and said, “Shoooo.”  It was great.  And sweet.

But today, because of those contaminated (yes strong word, just how it feels to me) hands, I couldn’t take a chance that she’d touch my pants or our bag or Princess’ things and then I wouldn’t know how to keep my girl safe.

Because that is what it all boils down to.  Doing WHATEVER and ALL that it takes to keep her safe.

We got through the morning with no mishaps or accidental exposure.  The only casualty was my heart and feelings and anxieties with being torn between not wanting to hurt someone else’s feelings and keeping my child protected from potential harm.

One day I’ll learn how to better handle things like this.

*sigh* And people wonder why I just want to stay home.

Then there was the positive for the day.  Total reversal of where the day was heading. One of the BEST THINGS EVER.  One of our own wrote me that she’d found a No-Nut Butter at the Big store.  It’s made by Sneaky Chef.  She had tasted it and thought it was pretty good.  So the next stop on our OutandAbouts was the Big store to see what I could find.  And sure enough, there it was.  (Well, after I called her to ask where it was.  Of course I found it before she could even get the words out to tell me.  Always the way.)  I was giddy with anticipation.  I know that makes for a silly picture–me checking out of the store, practically bouncing, unable to get home quickly enough to open up the jar and try some.  But there it was.  This is the life I lead.

Because we have NOTHING to replace peanut butter.  We’ve tried other butters, but eventually they were all ruled out as being okay for her.  The only thing that we’ve been okay with is Biscoff spread–fondly known as “cookie butter” around here–and let’s face it, not really a nutritious choice.

No-Nut Butter.  Two words.  Yay-licious!

No-Nut Butter. Two words. Yay-licious!

But No-Nut Butter?  Sneaky Chef, my hat’s off to you.  You ROCK.  This is safe for my child.  Not only that, we all LOVE it.  Aub even wants to make her favorite peanut butter dessert using this as a substitute.

We ARE THRILLED.

Joy, fear, anticipation, anxiety, hard times, good times.  It’s all in there together, isn’t it?  No matter what your family is dealing with–the ebb and flow of life.  It’s there.  Always.  The key, I guess. is to be patient when things seem way too dry or feel like they’re pulling us under.  Just hang in there.  Life is ever-changing, not static.

I was reminded of this in these words of Ann Lamott from “Help, Thanks, Wow:”

“Most of us figure out by a certain age—some of us later than others—that life unspools in cycles, some lovely, some painful, but in no pre­dictable order. So you could have lovely, painful, and painful again, which I think we all agree is not at all fair. You don’t have to like it, and you are always welcome to file a brief with the Com­plaints Department. But if you’ve been around for a while, you know that much of the time, if you are patient and are paying attention, you will see that God will restore what the locusts have taken away.”

I have had my days that I have doubted this, but this came full circle for me today.

And I am thankful for that.  Thankful for a new day, a fresh start, and clean hands again on another day, so maybe my little friend and I can visit again.  And maybe the opportunity will present itself and the words will come so I can explain my anxiety to her mother.  I give thanks for family who look after me and mine and love us enough to share their thoughts–my Aunt and my Cousin, I’m especially grateful for tonight.  When folks care enough to get in your chili, even about what you are eating (chili or not)…..that’s a precious gift.  And I don’t take it lightly.

May the ebb and flow of your life leave you feeling refreshed today.

Love to all.

 

 

 

I’m Done with Apologizing

Mess Cat was over today, and we just visited.  The way folks do.  Sat on the furniture that’s for sitting and talked about a little bit of everything.  It was awesome.  She’s been working on home projects and so have I, so this was a nice respite for us, as our littles played together.

We started talking about our personalities and how they are different.  An incident from when I was in fourth grade came to mind.  My teacher, Mrs. W, who had taught my Daddy and my Uncle, was teaching us about quotation marks.  We were to write a sentence using quotation marks.  Correctly.  She asked a few of us to write our sentences on the chalkboard.

I loved writing on the chalkboard.  Something that has continued on to the whiteboards in my adulthood.

Love.  It.

So I was thrilled when she called on me.  I went up and wrote my sentence on the board.  I had tried to step outside the box and make my sentence a little different.

Big mistake.

My sentence was:

“She said she was going to town.”

As in someone asks, “Where did Mess Cat go?”

And I would reply…..

so proper use, right?

Only Mrs. W corrected me, had me correct it on the board, and totally misinterpreted my meaning.  She wanted,

She said, “She was going to town.”

Which doesn’t even make sense, am I right?

Ah, well.

I was a people pleaser.  So I never said a word or tried to explain myself.  That was 36 years ago.  And I’m still carrying it.  What is that about?

I told Mess Cat today that I’m trying to outgrow that, living as others expect, trying to people please.  It hasn’t always been healthy for me, holding in what I’m really thinking, what I really believe.   And I’m paying for it, so I’ve decided no more.  I’m not talking about showing out or picking fights.  I’m just going to quit apologizing for certain things I do or say or believe.

So here goes:

–Today while we were visiting, my oldest called me a name.  And it made me laugh.  “Helicopter Mama.”  I looked over at her, and she nodded, “Yeah.  You.  You hover.”

Y’all.  For the love.  I busted out laughing.  Forget monogramming.  I am so having that put on something.  A name I’ll wear with pride.

Because I am.  You got it.  And baby girl, I know you are 18.  Legal in different ways, still not in others.  However, here’s what you need to know and I’m not sorry a bit.  I will always be your helicopter Mama.  I will be hovering when you are my age, good Lord willing and the creek don’t rise.  I love you, I want what’s best for you, and forgive me if sometimes I think I might know what’s what a little better than you do.  Or when I ask too many questions.  Or when I worry because you got off from work 45 minutes ago and I still haven’t heard anything.  *ahem*  I’m asking for forgiveness but I am not apologizing.  It’s part of what I signed up for nineteen years ago when I was waiting on you to arrive.  I hovered then, every little flitter or burp had to be interpreted…..and the first time you had hiccups in utero?  Oh my land.  Called the doctor I think. Or my Mama.  So yeah, I’m the best Helicopter Mama there ever was and will be as long as my blades will turn.  You call it hovering, I call it love.  And I do.  Love you.

–I’m done apologizing for my dog barking when folks come over.  Yeah, she’s shy.  She’s slow to warm up to new people.  She barks like mad when someone comes through the door she doesn’t know.  However, she loves like nobody’s business, and that is pure joy.  Many nights my writing is delayed because she is laying at my right side, patting my right hand, wanting some attention and cuddles.  That right there.  That’s why I wanted a dog so much.  While I wish she didn’t bark quite so much, and that my word about someone being okay could be enough, I’m done apologizing for it.  I give thanks she is so attentive and protective of all of us.  For such a sweet little fluffball, she’s a smart girl.  And she knows who her people are.

–I have found myself apologizing for my child’s food allergies.  Lately I’ve heard my own words, and I’ve thought, “What on earth? Why am I apologizing for taking the best care of my child that I can?”

I’m done.

No more apologizing to servers in restaurants as I explain for the umpteenth time about her allergies and ask them questions.  I appreciate their compassion and attention to details and I will compensate them for it, but I won’t apologize for asking what I need to know to make sure she’s going to be okay.  No more apologizing to folks when I have to carry separate food for this precious child.  She’s okay with it, I’m okay with it, and I hope you will be too.  (And I’ve never had anyone who wasn’t–such sweet Mamas at birthday parties–who let me know ingredients beforehand or who say “please, by all means, do whatever you have to do to feel okay for her sake.”  This is an issue that is about my mindset, not theirs.  For whatever reason I’ve felt like I should apologize for “inconveniencing” someone else, and I’m done with that.)  And no more apologizing for the paranoia and OCD that comes with having a child with food allergies.  I appreciate your help and your ideas and suggestions, but I’ve got this.  I’ve been trusted with this child by a Power Higher than anyone who walks on two feet, so please, trust me too.  I’m really trying to trust myself.  It’s taken years for me to get where we are today, mentally and in our routine, so yeah, we got this.  As “got this” as anyone can be in this situation I guess.  It scares me to death on a regular basis just how fragile life is, so I really appreciate those who go out of their way to understand and to join the “Keep Princess okay” team.  And there are many of you.  Thank you.

–I’m done apologizing for where my children are in the learning process.  When our Princess was “behind” learning to read, I stressed.  I worried and I wondered.  And I STRESSED.  With Cooter I have worried a little, mostly because he didn’t seem the least bit motivated, but then, that’s who he is.  He is motivated differently than either of my other two children, so I had to learn about what makes him tick.  Once I did, it seemed like he took off.  But we have many years ahead of us, and many more opportunities for me to worry and apologize for them being behind, ahead, or right on target.  (Believe me, I have very nearly earned a doctorate in apologizing–I can find a reason in any situation for me to need to say “I’m sorry.”  But no more. I hope.)

My house.  Oh good gravy.  It’s a cluttered mess.  Especially right now.  In transition.  Moving precious memories and things from my growing up home to my home now.  I want to be a good steward of all of it, and if I can’t, then I need to let it go.  (Is that song playing in your head now? I would apologize, but…..) I want not to feel like I need to apologize every time someone walks through my door.  “I’m sorry it’s such a mess.”  Oh my.  That would be nice.  And the only way I can change that is to do something about the clutter.  And I am.  Oh, it won’t be huge, I guess.  We still live, work, play, eat, sleep, and learn here–pretty much 24/7–but it could use some organizing and culling…..and we are on it.  Seriously.  Be impressed.  I did not inherit my Mama’s organization gene.

–My faith.  My beliefs.  My values.  So many times I hold my tongue for fear of offending someone else because I know they wouldn’t understand; I know their beliefs are different.  I don’t want to upset anyone.  And yet, I get so frustrated when I see others who are more conservative with different beliefs being so vocal and adamant that their way is the. Only. Way.  I need to reach a better balance. I need to be able to speak my mind, respectfully, without picking an argument.  And I need to be able to share my opinions and thoughts gently without feeling apologetic.  *deep breath*  This is going to take a while.  It’s a hard one.  But no more apologizing for what or who I am.  I just can’t do it, and I’m not being true to myself if I do.

–Finally, I am trying to stop apologizing for my slow progress on the whole grief journey.  When I was with Hospice many years ago (is it possible that it’s been thirteen years?), I came across something that blows the whole “wandering on a path” idea of grieving out of the water.  It was a Grief Wheel.  And the thing is that you can go round and round on it a few times before heading towards Recovery, and sometimes the least little things–something you come across, a song on the radio, the smell of sweet potatoes baking or squash cooking in the skillet–can send you right back on that wheel again.  It’s not a long and winding road with an end in sight.  It’s cyclical, and no two days might ever look alike on this journey.  There are days I just can’t be a part of the world and all that is going on, and there are days that I can’t wait to get out there and be with everyone and all that is.  Those days are not common, but they happen more than they used to.  I am sure I seem sad sometimes; I am.  I know I must seem angry too; I am.  I probably seem very lost; yep, that one too.  But I have joyful and happy moments too.  It’s all a part of figuring out my life without folks whom I loved and respected and went to when the world came crashing down or everything was awesome.  They multiplied my joys and divided my sorrows and were a safe place for me to land.  I’m sorry they are gone, but I’m not sorry for missing them.  I have to work through it at my own pace, and I need to stop feeling like I need to apologize to everyone for where I’m at.

Years ago in my previous life, I had a friend who was a manicurist.  She pointed out to me on a Tuesday evening over a beautiful French tip manicure that I said “I’m sorry” way too much.  She told me that the world did not need me to nor did it expect me to apologize with every other breath.  I felt a little put off at the time, but you know what I said to her?  Yep.  “Oh, I didn’t realize.  I’m sorry.”  Sigh.

Over the years that conversation has come back to me.  And I’ve realized more and more that she was right.  I did apologize for things that an apology was not necessary for.  As though I need to apologize for my mere existence taking up space.  It’s not about others most of the time.  It’s about me.  Feeling intrusive, inconvenient, and in the way.  Troubling others.  Yes, occasionally it was because someone made me feel “in the way” or “a bother, ” and other times I needed to offer a real apology.  But way too many times, it was about me, myself, and I. And my skewed perceptions.

So I’m done.  I’m going to try to hold back on apologizing for these things that are a part of my world and just are what they are.  Apologizing is not healthy in every case, and if I’m wrong, well…..then.

I’m sorry.

Wait.
No.

Oh boy, this is going to be a long rehabilitation.

Love to all.

 

 

PS–Did anyone notice all the proper use of quotation marks throughout?  In the words of Eeyore, “Thanks for noticing.”  🙂

 

 

His Best Day Ever

Tonight my oldest asked our little guy, age 6, when was his best day ever.  He answered, “Today.  Right now.”

Why?

pic of Star Wars logo

Because he was finally watching a few minutes of Star Wars.  The actual movie–not the Lego’s version that I hoped would appease him a little longer.  He was so excited he could hardly sit still.  My little guy, Cooter, knows more about Star Wars than a lot of people who have seen all six movies.  He asks a lot of questions and pieces it together in his mind.  He KNOWS this stuff.  All I can say is if he puts this much energy and passion into learning REAL history, we are all set.

While he and his friends were watching, my friends and I talked about movies we watched growing up, which echoed a conversation my husband and I had earlier today.  I realize I am way overprotective of what my children watch.  (I ask folks in doctor’s offices to change the channels–I mean, some of the junk they have on in there is downright ridiculous!)  Today I might have gotten to the heart of the matter.

pic of sleeping beauty

Disney’s “Sleeping Beauty” was one absolutely SCARY movie.  I mean seriously, have you seen the big battle scene between Prince Phillip and Maleficent?  That’s the stuff nightmares are made of people.  I know this.  For.  A.  Fact.  It was made in 1959.  For children.  I guess dancing forest critters and the bumbling sweetness of the fairies, Flora, Fauna, and Merryweather were all supposed to outweigh the darkness that was Maleficent and her curse.  However, when I first watched it about fifteen years after it was made, it made no matter.  I was terrified.  We even had the soundtrack album, and the pictures on the record cover could give me the heebie-jeebies.  She changes, Maleficent does.  Into a horrible, terrifying, HUGE fire-breathing dragon.  Prince Phillip is almost toast.  Literally.  Okay, enough of that.  Too close to bedtime.  Suffice to say, when that movie is in your memory banks, you remember it and try to keep your own little ones away from such as that for as long as you can.

My friends and I talked about other movies and television shows we watched growing up.  Horror movies, soap operas, Love Boat and Fantasy Island were amongst those mentioned. (Yes, we all agreed, Tattoo was a creeper.  He often just hung out, staring.  What was that about?)  I remember my parents picking a weekend, usually in the heat of the summer or over a school break, and going to the video rental store.  For one special price we could rent a Video Disc Player and something like ten movies on video discs, not due back until Monday by noon.  Wow.  We camped out in the living room, all of us together, taking bathroom or snack breaks between the movies.  My spot was lying sideways in the chair that now sits in my Sister’s beautiful room.  We watched so many different movies, I can’t remember them all, but I do know most of those weekends were Western weekends.  People tend to remember Westerns with a nostalgic look on their faces, but let me tell you, they weren’t pretty.  In hindsight I shudder at just how violent some were.  We were partial to John Wayne and the old classic westerns that had great one-liners and funny oddball characters.  They were wholesome, but a lot of folks got shot up.  Does that even sound right?

And so I obsess.  I watched all those movies starting when I was probably 10 or 12.  But my sisters were younger than that.  So, am I being too overprotective with my own children?  Our Princess, eight and a half years old, who wants to watch the newer Disney shows designed for tweens and teens.  Our little guy, Cooter, who desperately wants to watch Star Wars.  Whose best day ever was this one right here when he got to watch 25 minutes of Star Wars, Episode 4.  And who can’t wait to watch the rest.  He keeps assuring me he wasn’t scared and that it was AWESOME.

And now the new Lone Ranger movie has come out.  My little guy sees the pictures on cereal boxes and on Lego’s boxes (thank you for that, oh Lego’s Wise Ones).  He wants to see it.  This one is a “no” (it’s PG-13 for goodness’ sake), but what about the old, original episodes?  Is he old enough to handle them?  Zorro?  Gunsmoke?

So, just wondering, what do you remember watching?  How old were you when you first saw Star Wars?  Sleeping Beauty?  How old were your children or other little ones in your life when they saw these movies?  How old were you or your child or someone you knew before they saw their first PG-13 movie?  The old Westerns–pros and cons?

We get one shot at doing this right, and I’m really trying.  Nobody ever said raising children would be easy, and that’s a good thing.  Because it’s not the least bit easy.  At all.