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Our son, B, did it. He finally asked The Question.

Yes, I mean THE Question. I’m not kidding around like I was in this post.

The fastest sex-ed class ever

It wasn’t the first time he’d asked The Question. Before, we put him off, telling him he needed to wait until he was older. This time, he was around eleven and a half years old when, right in the middle of an episode of Little House On The Prairie, he blurted out, “So do women just randomly get pregnant, or what?”

His question wasn’t random. This was the episode where both Miss Beadle – I mean, whatever her name was after she got married; I forget – and Carolyn (Ingalls) get pregnant (the latter with Grace). B’s pre-teen brain couldn’t take the suspense much longer.

I looked at J. J looked at me. His look said, “Just to remind you, you’re the one that likes to talk.”

Aw, hubbies are so sweet sometimes.

Anyway, I looked at B. “Are you sure you’re ready to hear it? If I tell you, you’ll probably never look at Mommy and Daddy the same way again.” After a second, “You may never look at girls the same way ever again.”

“Yes, I’m ready,” he said with an enthusiastic nod.

So I gave him the birds-and-the-bees bare-bone-basics. What parts of whose body goes where, and why.

A pause.

Then, after a melodramatic grimace, “I’m never going to have sex!”

I said, “Keep thinking that way until you’re about thirty!”

Oh, no! He’s becoming a typical teenager!

His question that night didn’t surprise me. I knew the subject was bound to come up soon.

What did surprise me was a scenario I encountered last week.

A little background: B doesn’t like for me to cut his hair, because he’s super-ticklish around the neck and is also afraid I’m going to cut an ear off with the scissors. Nevertheless, he lets me cut it a couple of times in the summer so it doesn’t get in his face while he’s swimming.

He also likes to grow his hair long during the fall and winter because, he says, it keeps him warmer.

I should also tell you that the only time he’s ever looked in the mirror (just a small, hand-held one; we don’t have any large wall mirrors) was if he thought he looked funny somehow, or I told him to look to wipe ketchup off his mouth.

Those times have been rare.

So a few days ago, I did a double-take. There B stood, just outside the bathroom, studying himself – and I mean, studying himself – in the mirror. If I’d have been thinking, I would have caught the moment on camera.

But I couldn’t think. My little boy was acting like he actually cared about what he looked like!

Say WHAT??

He finally lowered the mirror, looked down at me to where I lay half-conscious on the floor, and announced, “I think I need a haircut. Just about this much.” And he pulled a strand away from his head, indicating with his fingers the length he’d like it cut.

I tried not to make a big deal out of it. Okay, anymore than I already had. I wasn’t sure whether to be excited or sad.

My baby is growing up. Seriously.

His hair is now about an inch shorter than it was a week ago, without me having said one word to encourage it.

Wait, I did say one word a few weeks earlier when he complained about how hard it was to wash his hair in the plastic tub (our house is not plumbed – no shower). But I didn’t push, and didn’t pursue it.

B is starting to care about how he looks. What’s next? Cutting his fingernails? Body odor? Will he have whiskers on his chin tomorrow morning when he wakes up?

Where will it all end?


Signs that your little boy isn’t so little anymore.




College? Job? Debt? HELP!!

Question on Quora:

Would it be better to delay college for 4 years and save up and start your career later, or go into debt and start career earlier?

My answer:

The first question you need to be asking is, “Do I absolutely need a college degree for the career I want?” Because this is a different world than it was 30 years ago. College degrees don’t go as far. People with skills and know-how can get a job that is advertised as requiring a degree, without a degree…if they can prove their competence to the potential employer up front.

Consider also that over half of all people with a college degree never use the degree. Taking community college classes here and there, and otherwise learning as you go, might be enough to get you where you want to go.

Do you have a specific career in mind? In that case, could you find fulfilling work in a related career that doesn’t require a degree? Or, at least not four years?

I would recommend delving into the workforce as well as staring a side, part-time micro-business focused on an interest or talent you have. The one will broaden your skill sets and vision of opportunity, the other could turn into a lucrative, full-time career.

After doing both for a couple of years, you will

1) be able to better discern whether you truly need a college degree, and

2) have a much better idea about “what you want to be when you grow up.”


How To Be NICE Without Being A Pushover

Question on Quora:

Why do people feel the need to be rude to me even though I am nice and polite to everyone?

My answer:

Two possible reasons. One is that, sorry to say, people have become ruder during the past 20 years (I’m almost 49). I think the Internet is partly to blame, because you can get into the habit of being rude anonymously, which will then slide over into face-to-face communication.

The second one, and one that I found when I was a kid, is that people take your kind character as permission to run roughshod over you. They see you as a doormat. And you’re too nice to stand up for yourself and establish boundaries.

Quick story: after graduating from college, I worked nights for a while at a nice restaurant. One of my fellow table servers was a 30-something year old guy who couldn’t keep lewd comments out of his conversation. He wasn’t making sexual innuendos toward me, understand, just talking generally.

He was a first-grade teacher, married with a kid, by the way. By which I mean to say, I found his behavior completely incongruent with his station in life.

One night, I’d had enough. I said, with firmness, something to the effect of how I found his constant sexual remarks offensive and that I wanted him to stop.

Never heard another lewd comment out of his mouth again.

Don’t stop being kind, but when people behave rudely set boundaries and be firm about it. Maybe even ask for reciprocal manners? You have the right not to be a doormat.


Question on Quora:

If you could give one piece of advice, that you knew would be followed, to a new teenager, what would it be?

My answer:

A2A. And my answer is going to ruffle a lot of feathers, but since it was requested, I’m going to give it regardless.

My one piece of advice: Start developing a relationship with your Creator. Now.

If you already believe in God, great! Develop a vibrant prayer life, including asking every day to be filled with and guided by God’s spirit.

Otherwise, just say, “Okay, God, this crazy woman on Quora says you’re real and that I should somehow get into a relationship with you. I’m going to go ahead and start praying every day, but I sure wish you’d show me that You’re real.”

If you have faith no bigger than a mustard seed, God will answer that prayer. I don’t know how or when, but He will. He loves you; more than that, likes you, and wants you to know that He is on your side and wants to help you to live the best life you can.

Every morning, ask God to fill you with His Spirit and to guide you throughout the day. Several times a day, talk to Him. Thank Him for something good that happened. Ask for wisdom about every life-impacting decision. Tell Him off when you’re mad. He won’t get mad back, I promise. 😉 Ask Him for things that you need. Pray for other people who need help.

And begin to learn to listen for His quiet voice inside. Sometimes, it’s a thought that pops into your head that you know isn’t yours, that sounds like it’s coming from a loving father. Sometimes, it’s a gut feeling, a strong inner knowing, about something (or somebody). Sometimes, it’s a growing conviction over time; that is, you more and more strongly believe that a certain direction is the right way for you to go. Sometimes, it’s something somebody says to you, or something you read, and it clicks with you deep down inside.

Don’t force hearing God. If it happens, it happens. Just keep your spirit in tune as much as you can.

Why is this my single piece of advice? Because when you have a relationship with the Creator of the universe, you have access to all His knowledge and wisdom.

It doesn’t mean that you will never have any troubles. It doesn’t mean that God will tell you the future. Your faith will be built by the hard things in life. But it will mean that you will have God leading and guiding you. This can keep you from doing things that might cause you heartbreak or trouble down the line. And it will help you discover changes you need to make in your life. Your future path will be clearer.

Finally, when you accept God into your life and work on building a relationship with Him, it’s a lot easier to love the unlovable, and to struggle through and over obstacles because you have His strength and peace.

All the best to you. 🙂



The Glories Of Looking Young

Question on Quora:

I’m starting college soon, I don’t feel like I look old enough to be going, I’m 16 and about 5’4 but I look about 13. Is this normal?

My answer:

I’m barely 5′3. When I was 22 and was substitute teaching at a school I’d never been before, a belligerent sixth grader demanded to see my driver’s license because he didn’t believe that I was old enough to teach.

My first year of full-time teaching, four related incidents happened. I overheard a sixth grader ask a teacher if I was a teacher or a student (I was walking by myself down the hall at the time). At a PTA meeting, a disgruntled parent (not a parent of any of my students) was crabbing about all the things wrong with the school, and mentioned “a teacher who looks like a kid” (me; I wasn’t at the meeting, a colleague told me about it later). That summer, I was working in my classroom. I was the only teacher there. At one point, the custodian told me that one of the contract workers approached him with concern, telling him he thought one of the kids was roaming around the school.

You guessed it. Me again.

When I was 34, my then-fiancee and I were out to eat a restaurant, and the waiter (who couldn’t have been more than 20 years old) called him a “young man” and me a “young lady.” Amused, I asked him how old he thought we were. His best guess was early 20’s.

About five, six years ago, I was trying to purchase small canisters of propane for the small stove we had. The kid – ahem, I mean, young man – carded me.

He. Carded. Me.


He was at least mildly surprised when he saw my DOB.

Last summer, just to make myself feel good, I asked a college student who was working a cave tour how old she thought I was. She guessed maybe 32?

She about fell on the floor when I told her I was 47.

Looking much younger than my age has been normal for me all my life.

It may frustrate you now, but trust me – one day you’ll get a kick out making people’s jaws drop open.