When it’s too late to look for fairies

During the next few weeks, my daughter will turn 18, and my son will turn 20 and all I can think about is the fairies. I had this plan, when they were small, to wake them up in the night during a full moon and lead them outside in their pajamas to look for fairies. We lived, for a while, in a little farmhouse with acres of pasture where millions of fireflies danced in the summer. I imagined buying my children bonbons and calling them “fairy food.” I might have made fairy houses out of twigs and flowers and moss and put them where the kids could “discover” them. Maybe we would sit on a blanket and talk about how the fireflies were fairies, dancing, until we all believed it. We would eat our bonbons … and hold our breath with wonderment. I planned it over and over. But I always remembered it at the wrong time: when the moon was already full and I was tired and the kids got to bed late. I didn’t have any bonbons and I hadn’t made any fairy houses. And what about mosquitoes … or chiggers. I had a lot of excuses and year after year, I didn’t do it. It’s kind of late now. More

When kids’ hearts are broken it breaks parents’ hearts

Maybe it’s not the same for all parents. But when my kids’ hearts hurt, I feel it in my own heart. Whatever they go through — problems with friends, crushes, self-image — brings my own teen years whooshing up through the decades, like something escaped from a grave, to swallow me again. I tell myself I want to end their pain for their sake, and I do. But also I want my own empathetic misery to stop. It’s not pretty, but there it is. More

Censoring kids’ playlists less effective than talking

I love road trips with my kids. We talk, having lots of time to explore the how and why questions life seldom affords time for. We listen to books on tape. And we take turns picking songs from our iPods. I want, on these road trips, to be open and nonjudgmental about my kids’ music. I was a teen once. I remember my father passing by my room, sticking his head in, and with a look of horror asking, “Don’t you have any happy music?” Their music tells me who they are and what’s going on inside them. At least, that’s how I was thinking when we started our recent trip to Lubbock. But slowly it dawned on me that I was feeling really angry — homicidal, actually — and it seemed to be connected to the music. More