Twisted Mixed Tape: Goodbye!


Alas, the “Goodbye” theme is appropriate this week, as this will be the last installment of Mixed Tape Tuesday for a while.

Before I reveal this week’s selections, I wanted to announce a new weekly musical blog hop. With Jen’s blessing, I am going to embark upon a musical A to Z. Obviously, this will get us through 26 weeks! (We’ll see how it goes from there — while the alphabet is limited, the possibilities are endless!) I have created a Facebook page and a Google + presence for it already. Also, Jen has been kind enough to agree to allow us all to continue meeting up on the Twisted Mixed Tape Facebook page, as well.

Each week the theme will be a different letter. You may choose five songs that begin with that letter or focus on a single group or artists or multiple groups who fit the category and choose five of their songs. If you like, you can even use the letter to tell us about bands/acts that you saw at a certain venue that begins with the letter of the week. Or, use the letter to create a theme — “L” for love or loss, “C” for covers. It’s up to you!

The first installment of MusicAtoZ will begin next Monday 4/21. Bring your “A” game!

And now, onto this week’s Twisted Mixed Tape Tuesday theme: Goodbye!

Last Kiss, Pearl Jam

This is actually a cover of a 1961 Wayne Cochran song (I know, I know, I hadn’t heard of him either). The song is great and I’m glad that Pearl Jam put their spin on it. It’s sad and it’s beautiful. The plaintiveness of Eddie Vedder’s voice is perfect for a song that tells the story of a man lamenting the death of his girlfriend.

Seasons in the Sun, Terry Jacks

This 1974 song is about a terminally ill man saying goodbye to his family. The rumor was that Jacks had written it because he was, himself, dying of leukemia. That was not true. It’s actually a remake of a Jacques Brel song. I’m happy to report that Terry Jacks is alive and well and has spent the last several decades as a record producer, a documentary filmmaker, and an environmental activist.

The fact that he is alive doesn’t make the song any less sad, though.

Sorry Seems To Be the Hardest Word, Elton John

I don’t know why, but this song has always, at least to me, had a finality to it. I don’t think there is anything in the lyrics that indicates to the listener that Elton is signing about the end of a relationship, but that’s how I’ve interpreted it. And, let’s face it, “Sorry” often is the hardest word.

Goodbye to You, Scandal

I just love this song. There’s nothing like an in-your-face, screw you song with a great baseline and a girl singing lead. Nope. Nothing like it at all. I’ll admit it, I have a bit of a soft spot for this song for personal reasons — when it, and the accompanying video came out, people said she looked like me and, truthfully, we did kind of resemble each other. I don’t know whatever happened to Patty Smythe’s musical career. All I know about her now is that she is married to John McEnroe.

Closing Time, Green Day

I think it’s appropriate to close out this edition of Twisted Mixed Tape Tuesdays with this song. It signifies the end of something, but not its death. While it saddened me to hear it back in my drinking days, signaling as it did, the end of night, I knew that tomorrow was another day. Just like “Last call” closes the bar, these posts close out Mixed Tape Tuesdays for a while. Still, our music discussions don’t have to end. The venue may change, but the dialogue can continue! Don’t forget to join in to MusicAtoZ.

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Twisted Mixed Tape Tuesday: Play Ball!


I got very involved, as I often do, with the opening of the Major League Baseball season. So much so that I neglected my Mixed Tape Tuesday blog post. That simply won’t do! Especially because this is wild card week, more especially because there are only three more weeks left of Mixed Tape Tuesday before Jen over at puts it on hiatus for a while! (Stay tuned to Ambling & Rambling for a Jen-approved alternative —- Coming Soon!)

Don’t forget. This is a blog hop!

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I love music. I love baseball. So, I thought, why not combine the two?

The first song that comes to mind is, of course, Take Me Out To The Ball Game. It’s a classic. I love a classic. I also love a twist. So, someone thought, why not combine the two? Those someone’s? Goo Goo Dolls, that’s who! (Sorry. Alvin. Sorry, Chipmunks. I know yours was the “go to” cover for quite some time, but on the adorableness scale, Johnny and the boys just edge you out!)

While he may not be adorable, John Fogarty can take us back to the days when we itched to grab a mitt and get in the game. Put me in, coach, I’m ready to play Center Field

The washed up athlete in all of us can certainly identify with Bruce Springsteen’s Glory Days. Heck, you don’t even have to have been an athlete to be sympathetic to the hero in this song. I’d settle for returning to a time when I could make out the writing on the back of a Rice-A-Roni box without my reading glasses! Yeah. Those were my Glory Days!

Baseball is all about tradition. You can’t have a baseball game without a seventh inning stretch. And you can’t have a seventh inning stretch without Kate Smith’s God Bless America.

Sure, there are other versions, but why? Even I, anarchist that I may be, wouldn’t dream of selecting any other rendition of this song.

How many times have you heard this instruction? At this time we ask that you stand and remove your hats for the singing of The National Anthem.

It never gets old, though, does it?

Wanna know a secret? I have, over the years, chosen my favorite players based on whether or not they sing along to The National Anthem. I’ll drop them like a hot potato if they don’t at least mouth the words! (I am happy to report that David Wright ALWAYS sings along.)

Although Whitney Houston wasn’t opening up a baseball game when she sang it, I’m including her Superbowl XXV version here. Because I have to. Because it’s breathtaking.


Wrong Choice, Wrong Reason


Putting decision-making power in the hands of an 18-year-old feels counterintuitive. Perhaps that’s because it is. Or, perhaps, it’s just my kid that this applies to. Somehow, though, I don’t think so.

At present we are engaged in whittling down her college choices. Unfortunately, it comes down to money. More specifically it’s about where she’ll get the most education for the least amount of money.

As it happens, as it always seems to happen, the college that she prefers would leave her in about $70,000 worth of debt at the end of four years. The college that we would rather she attend will leave her with ZERO debt at the end of four years. My husband and I think this is a no-brainer.

There are, of course, other variables to consider. The zero debt college has smaller class sizes — important in any area, but, we think, even more so for anyone seeking a science-related degree. Their facilities are newer. By all accounts their instructors are first-rate, top notch, if you will. Students also seem to enjoy a higher rate of success in its nursing program, if graduation rates and national board scores are any indication of this, which, we think, they are.

So, what’s the problem, you ask? As I see it, it’s two-fold.

First and foremost, this school is only 15 miles from our home. In a nod to compromise, we have not only agreed to allow her to live on campus, but to fund it, as well. If she lived home it would literally cost us nothing to send her there, but we want her to have, as much as possible, the “college experience”. We want her to be happy. Whatever that is.

The second reason that she is resisting this school? I graduated from there. This fact is not exactly a selling point. As you all well know, I’m a complete and utter failure. I’m just a lowly waitress.

We have sat her down, explained to her why we think the in-State college is the better choice, for reasons both financial and educational. We have explained that for $70,000 she can buy herself a Tesla (her dream car) or she can owe that same money to the leeches who provide student loans — the bankers, the government. Again, it seems like a no-brainer to her father and I.

Still, she views this institute of higher learning with disdain. After all, if I was awarded a degree from there, it can’t possibly be that good. (It is, by the way, THAT good.)

Alternately I feel like throttling her and like crying. Luckily, I’m a fully-formed person who understands that neither of these activities will do either of us any good.

What scares me most is that ultimately it is her decision. While her attitude toward me is both hurtful and disappointing, what’s worse is knowing that she may make the wrong choice and that she will do so for all the wrong reasons.

photo credit: thumbs down

I’ll Never Have to Know How to Sex a Hamster

no hamsters

The website that greeted me yesterday upon opening up the desktop, was “How to sex your Russian dwarf hamster”. I also discovered that the contents of a plastic kitchen container had been dumped onto the dining room table. There was, in addition, the distinct smell of wood shavings about the room. I was growing suspicious. And my husband, the always perceptive, Fang, knew it.

Realizing that I may have gotten the wrong impression and sensing my hamster-related anxiety, Fang reported that the container had been used as some sort of holding pen for a Russian dwarf hamster. He assured me that he or she (I’m uncertain of its gender, not having been present for the sexing) only enjoyed a brief stay in the plasticware  — the one that, up until last night, I had used to store things like open flour and powdered sugar; the one that has now and forever more been contaminated by a hamster — prior to moving on to its new home.

It was quite a relief to discover that my dear daughter and lover of all things four-legged, Fangette, had purchased the furry creature for a friend as a birthday gift.  I don’t want a hamster — or anything in the rodent family — living in my house. And she knows it.

Of course, I told myself, it could have been worse. Last week Fangette announced that she wanted a hedgehog.

When I explained to her then that I had a strict “No Rodent” policy — a policy that she complained she was unfamiliar with; a policy that I had never felt the need to institute or discuss prior to last week — she helpfully pointed out that hedgehogs were mammals. I quickly revised my “No Rodent” policy to include quilled animals. Before Fangette , always one to smell a loophole, could wiggle through said loophole I told her to forget the “No Rodent” policy and directed her, instead, to the policy on “No Animals That Are Not Cats or Dogs” which means, essentially, that if it needs to be caged, it’s not living here.

Truthfully, I don’t want a dog, either. The time to have gotten a dog was when my child was around three years old. Likely the dog would be dead by now. Of course, that’s what I told myself about the cat, which we did get when Fangette was three. I figured he would be long gone before Fangette went to college. Do I even need to tell you that he’s still hanging around? That’s actually fine, though, as he’s kind of grown on me.

In a conversation that took place long after midnight last night, Fangette, in making her argument for getting her own hamster — which she is absolutely not bringing into my house (please refer to the previously mentioned and hastily constructed “No Animals That Are Not Cats or Dogs” policy if you don’t believe me) — informed me that hamsters live less than a year, unlike, as she helpfully pointed out, the five-year life span of your average hedgehog.

As a result and in an effort to sway me regarding rodent ownership, she cheerfully explained that her hamster would, in all likelihood, be dead before she went to college. Clearly, her math skills need work — hopefully they’ll get some attention at college — because she will, the good Lord willing and the creek don’t rise, be going in five short months. So, even if I don’t get the one hamster that lives to be nine years old (wanna bet I do?), that thing will be hanging around in her room — without her — by my estimation for at least several months. It doesn’t take a math wizard to figure that one out.

It doesn’t take any kind of wizard to figure out who will become responsible for its care and feeding when she hops off to enjoy dormitory living and a major overhaul of her dwindling arithmetic skills. Me. That’s who. And, that, my friends, is not going to happen.

Putting aside for a moment the fact that I would be left holding the bag of wood shavings, I wasn’t all that impressed by her nonchalant attitude toward the future, but what seemed imminent, death of her imaginary pet rodent. Frankly, she didn’t seem at all that broken up about it. I would have to say that as pet owning arguments go, if you have to include the possible time of death of the pet in question to make a case for adopting the creature, you probably shouldn’t have it in the first place!

photo credit: hamster

What’s Going On?


I don’t always know what is going on in the world — I suspect that most of the time it’s going to hell in a hand basket, but I don’t actually know that for sure. Admittedly, I’m a little self-centered. My world, being as Jackie-centric as it is, means that I pay very little attention to things that don’t impact me. It’s a good bet that I’ll have some idea what the weather is supposed to be like on my day off, but don’t expect me to know that there are changes afoot in Turkey’s political landscape.

In an effort to help me stay a little more on top of things, my husband, the far more interested in keeping current, Fang, recommended that, to this end, I download an app. This was prompted, no doubt, by his exasperation with his ill-informed wife. In an urgent tone, he reported that this app would send breaking news directly and immediately to my phone. I’ve forgotten what exactly it was that I didn’t know that so exasperated him. Whatever it was it caused him to nearly beg that I show a little more interest in both national and international events. He may have mumbled something about being an embarrassment to the family name.

I would like to take this opportunity to defend myself — and the family name — by saying that I often know when there’s big stuff going on in the world — not always, but often enough. I knew about the missing Malaysian airliner, for example. That this may have been the result of social media being all abuzz about it, I can’t recall. It’s probable that I had come by this information by clicking on a link that some helpful friend posted and which I stumbled across while I was trolling around on Facebook while awaiting new lives to load for Candy Crush. While it’s possible that I got the information in another way, it’s not bloody likely.

Unless there’s a baseball game on, I don’t watch television when I’m home alone. Outside of the capture and killing of Osama bin Laden, I can’t remember a time that a sports network interrupted my enjoyment of a game with current events. As I didn’t have the app yet, it’s a pretty good bet that I got the airliner news, one way or another, via the internet. Even if The Mets were on that day, I don’t remember Keith, Ronnie, Kevin, or Gary commenting on it.

Because I was so proud of myself for finally being in the loop about something newsworthy, I not only had a conversation with Fang about it, I initiated one. I know. It was cocky of me, but sometimes I have to take my successes where I find them. Breezily and confidently, I just threw a comment out there, over dinner or some such, in a nonchalant way about how it was so odd that such a large thing could just disappear into thin air. By way of a response, Fang just looked at me and said, “It’s good to know that news made it to Facebook.” Alas, he’s always on to my shenanigans.

I decided to let this mildly snarky comment slide. I had already allowed my mind to wander. That it wandered in the direction of “Where We Get Our News Today”, instead of whether I had remembered to tape last week’s installment of “Ripper Street” or when, if ever, PBS would provide the world with another episode of “Endeavour”, surprised even me.

Normally, those are the sorts of questions that take up space in my brain, not why I, and I suspect millions of others, no longer keep up with what’s going on in the world through newspapers, television, and/or radio. Honestly, if the event doesn’t make it to my home page or if someone doesn’t post or comment on it through social media — it’s helpful when they provide a link — I won’t know about it.

Frankly, I’ve never been one to read a daily newspaper. I used to get The New York Times delivered, but that was mainly for show and for the crossword puzzle. National television news spends far too much air time time covering wars, famines, and natural disasters; local television expends its energy on fires and murders. It’s downright depressing.

As far as the radio is concerned, if we even own one, I don’t know where it is. Once in a while I’ll tune in to NPR, but I do that via the internet, too. I do so enjoy “This American Life”.

With this topic in mind, I interrupted my husband, the guy who foolishly thought he was having a conversation with me, while he was going on and on about the theories that were swirling around regarding the circumstances of how a gigantic aircraft could just disappear. I asked him how he happened to come by all of this information — these theories, I suspected, weren’t his own. That’s when he told me about the fabulous app he had on his phone, the one that delivers to him, in real time, breaking news stories.

I did not ask him why he thought his means for keeping current was better than mine. I knew then, as I know now, that he would make the argument that his source was better, more professional, more substantial, even, than my more willy-nilly method. I wasn’t looking to tangle with him, I simply wanted to know.

Ultimately and for some inexplicable reason — perhaps I thought that my husband and I would converse about issues and affairs not related to baseball if I knew something about issues and affairs unrelated to baseball — I did something that seemed a good idea at the time. I downloaded the app. I’ve regretted it ever since.

This thing beeps and blips all night long! It has, thus far, alerted me to many, many things in the middle of the night that are of little or no interest to me, but that I fear, as a result of the incessant beeping and blipping, may be of utmost importance. Every time the noise alerts me to something new, I worry that if I don’t at least glance at it, I may miss out on life-saving information.

This gripping dread has led me on far too many recent evenings to roll over, bolt upright, begin a search for my glasses, and wearily click on the app, as I hope against hope that I won’t be instructed to evacuate my premises or, God forbid, the State of New Jersey. I know all too well that in my mismatched pajamas and brightly colored fuzzy socks, I’m not really dressed for that sort of thing.

Fortunately, no such instructions have been forthcoming. Instead, I have been advised about fires in Russian shipyards that may, or may not, involve nuclear submarines, nearly minute-by-minute reports about what Congress may or may not be up to (in the dead of the night?), and sanctions that the UN may or may not levy upon some country that up to now I didn’t even know how to spell.

I could go on and on, as the stupid app does, but I won’t. I’ll spare you that. Suffice it to say that this app hasn’t provided me with new information on anything that is of any real concern to me. I still, for example, do not know what the BBC is up to in reference to “Endeavour”. As soon as I delete the app, I am going to do what I always do when I want to discover something — search the internet or head on over to Facebook or Twitter. What’s nice about my method, willy-nilly though it is, is that I can use it at my convenience, like when I’m awake.

My husband can go ahead and think me shallow and ill-informed. That’s fine. I’ll learn to live with being a disgrace to our name, which is his name anyway, so, really, what do I care? If I’m going to plow through life shallow and ill-informed, at least I’ll be both of those things AND well-rested. I’ll just have to rely upon Fang to rouse me from my slumber if, indeed, the zombies (or the Russians, or the Redcoats) are coming. Hopefully, I’ll be wearing matching pajamas.

Better Off “Live”: Twisted Mixed Tape #51


This week, Jen Kehl has charged us with coming up with a list of songs that we’ve always loved, but came to love even more when we heard them live. It will be difficult to limit this list to five, but I’ll play by the rules as best I can.

This is a blog hop! So, hop on in!

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I could, very seriously, include every Bruce Springsteen song ever written in this post. His music, more than almost any other artist, is best heard live. Like millions of others, I’ve attended countless Springsteen concerts. The difference is that I’m from New Jersey where such a thing, along with eating a meat product we call Taylor ham (with cheese! on a hard roll!), is not only expected, but required.

That being said, I’d love Bruce regardless of where I lived. My favorite Springsteen song, by far, is Thunder Road. Even in a sold-out arena, it manages, in concert, to be both intimate and personal. When I hear it live I can’t help but think he’s speaking directly to me when he sings, what may in fact be the greatest lyric ever written, “You ain’t a beauty, buy, hey, you’re alright.”

Sure, that particular statement wouldn’t make your heart flutter if it was recited by your beloved — likely if he said it, he wouldn’t be your beloved for much longer — but, when Bruce says it — directly TO you — it’s just about the most romantic, the sexiest damn thing you’ll ever hear! Really. It is. I swear.

NOTE: Here are some links to other live versions of Springsteen songs that I think are worth at least one listen or, if you’re a fan, thousands.
Jersey Girl
Sherry Darling
Jungleland (my husband’s favorite)

CROSBY, STILL, & NASH, Teach Your Children
I look forward to this song when I see CSN live. I’ve been lucky enough to see them do it acoustically while they sit, dangle their feet off the edge of the stage, and lead the crowd in the ultimate sing-a-long. If you are an American who hasn’t been limited to bubble living or hasn’t just discovered hearing, you know this song. Certainly if you’re at a CSN concert, you know this song. Thousands of voices joining together to sing it always makes me leave one of their concerts with a spring in my step and the notion that love — parental and otherwise — can, indeed, save the world.

DIRE STRAITS, Romeo and Juliet
I always tell people that of all the bands I’ve seen in concert, Dire Straits was the most surprising. I’d always liked them, but once I saw them live, I loved them. They really are THAT good in person — better, frankly, than I ever would have imagined.

Of all of their songs, my personal favorite is Romeo and Juliet. The recorded version is spectacular; the live version breathtaking.

NOTE: This video is from the same tour that I had the good fortune to see — take note of the saxophonist, he’s a hottie.

Lots of folks know this song from the John Cusack movie “Say Anything”. It’s takes center stage in powerful and lovely scene in the movie. The live version will give you goosebumps. I promise.

THE GRATEFUL DEAD, Uncle John’s Band
I never really “got” the whole Grateful Dead thing — a little too hippy-dippy for me, but I have to admit that after seeing them live I at least understood their appeal, even if their music didn’t make me want to chuck everything and live in the back of a van for the duration of the tour.

The music, the atmosphere, even the presence of lots and lots of Deadheads, when taken as a whole really was an experience that I’m happy to have had. I don’t know now, nor did I know then, many of their songs, but I knew and always liked their signature song, Uncle John’s Band. It was really quite a treat to hear it live. I gained a new appreciation not only for the song, but for The Grateful Dead, as well. Oddly enough, my unfamiliarity with their songbook did not mitigate how much I enjoyed the show and that, my friends, is saying something.

Thunder Road, BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN AND THE E STREET BAND from the album Born to Run (1975). Words and music by Bruce Springsteen.
Teach Your Children, CROSBY, STILLS, & NASH from the album Deja Vu (1970). Words and music by Graham Nash.
Romeo and Juliet, DIRE STRAITS from the album Making Movies (1980). Words and music by Mark Knopfler.
Uncle John’s Band, THE GRATEFUL DEAD from the album Workingman’s Dead (1970). Words by Robert Hunter, music by Jerry Garcia.

“The Pencil Story”


My daughter recently attained adulthood, at least in the eyes of the law. Personally, I won’t be conferring that status upon her until she learns to pick the wet towels up off of her bedroom floor. Still, this milestone in both of our lives has given me reason to reflect upon how my idea of successful parenting has changed in the intervening years.

If I’d been asked eighteen years ago what my parenting goals were, it is very likely that I would have responded, in much the same breathy, heartfelt, yet misguided, way that every “Miss America” contestant discusses how she wants to “make the world a better place for the children”. I would have said that I hoped to raise a kind, confident, happy person. As scary, not to mention overly optimistic, as this may sound, I would have meant it. I suppose those young pageant-y types mean what they say, too. Never mind that none of them have any real chance of achieving the very lofty goals they were foolish enough to share publicly.

It’s lucky that I set my goals privately — I didn’t report them to Regis on national television. Still, I had visions that I could turn out a person that had all of these qualities in spades, plus a bag of chips. That’s just the kind of Pollyanna I was back in the days when motherhood was more theoretical, when tending to my child’s physical needs were paramount and all-consuming. Her spiritual needs would have to wait until I was a more well rested.

What I failed to realize was that feeding and diapering an infant, taking a toddler to the park, or throwing a ball around to a youngster would be far easier, both for me and for her, than molding her into that kind, confident, and happy person that I was so convinced she could become. Having now been in the trenches and seen motherhood for what it really is — a series of pitched battles where ground is gained and lost, resulting, ultimately, in something that more often than not resembles a Mexican stand-off, I can’t help but wonder whether I set the parenting bar a little high when I was still cuddling a newborn.

Those “Miss America” contestants would undoubtedly agree. If, after having backed themselves into a corner with their idealistic vision of the world, they traded in their glamorous evening wear and their tiaras for khakis and bandanas — clothing and accessories more in line with hut building — and spent eighteen years knee-deep in mud fighting off killer mosquitos in some malaria-filled jungle only to discover that the very people they were trying to help were in no way interested in their silly project.

That realization would have to change a person, even if that person was a well-intentioned beauty queen, which I, most definitely, am not. I suppose I should be grateful that I didn’t have to come by my lessons by wielding a machete in some godforsaken rainforest. Having a great tan might have been nice, though.

Fairly early on I realized that I should have set less lofty goals for my child and, by extension, for myself. Qualities like kindness, confidence, and happiness are difficult things to measure, to be sure. At some point, when reality set in, I gave up the idea of building castles in the sky — or huts in the jungle — and contented myself, instead, with constructing things that were more in keeping with my skills — things like small Lego outbuildings.

I did manage to come up with one example where she demonstrated all three of these qualities. It was years ago, but I’m going to go ahead and count it anyway because, you know, it gives me some small comfort to know that somewhere inside the snarky young adult that I now share my life with, the one who shows a remarkable ability for towel littering, there once existed a kind, confident, and happy child.

While mine was never the kid who spent years growing her hair out only to have it shorn off so that wigs could be made for cancer victims, she did once return a pencil to a friend. I know this doesn’t sound like much on the surface, but the act meant a great deal to the friend — a friend who, to put it bluntly, had formed what I and many others, including the child’s own mother, considered an unhealthy attachment to said pencil.

Somehow, during what were, no doubt, some schoolroom shenanigans, the pencil managed to find its way into my daughter’s backpack or her pencil case or her pants pocket. Who knows? Who can remember? A siren call was put out by the somewhat embarrassed pencil owner’s mother for the return of the item. I gave (and still give) that woman a lot of credit for realizing the importance of the pencil to her daughter. Even though her child’s reaction to the loss of something as ordinary and easily replaced as a pencil was a tad south of loony, this mother went ahead and organized a search for it anyway. I don’t think I would have done anything of the sort. Perhaps if I had treated the loss of a pencil with such tenaciousness my daughter would have more respect for me now. Maybe she’d even pick her wet towels up off the floor.

As a result of the numerous phone calls made and emails sent by this tenacious and, let’s just be honest, a little high-strung mother, I required my child to search for the foolish pencil, which was nowhere to be found. And then one afternoon, weeks after the pencil in question went missing, my daughter discovered it somewhere among her belongings. She decided to return it all on her own, an act that I proudly attributed at the time to her emerging kind and caring nature.

I had very little doubt that her possession of the pencil was accidental, still it may have looked a little suspicious from another’s perspective. She could have just thrown it away. She was, after all, the one who happened upon it, not me. She demonstrated real confidence in this situation. So confident was she that her role in the disappearance of the much searched for pencil was innocent that she went ahead and returned it.

When I asked her how it felt to have returned the item to its rightful owner, she told me that it felt good. I asked her if it felt good because she had made her friend happy. “I guess”, she said, “Really, though, I’m just happy to not have to hear about the dumb pencil anymore.” It still warms my heart to know that she experienced happiness at some point in her life.

There have been many moments over the years when this incident and my daughter’s role in it has given me comfort. I have to admit that most of these moments have tended to occur while I am removing wet towels from one surface or another, still I am reminded that at least there was one time when my kid was kind, confident, and happy. It may not compare with the memories that other, possibly better, parents may be able to dredge up regarding how their kid gave all of his Christmas presents to the needy or stood up to a bully, but, like I said, I’ve learned to be more realistic in terms of measuring my success as a parent.

Now that I’ve sat down and thought about it, it’s nice to know that if anyone ever asks whether or not I’ve met my parenting goals I can answer in the affirmative. And, I’ve got “The Pencil Story” to prove it.