Cary Jacoby lives in a small rural community with her three children. She has an MA in anthropology, teaches English as a Second Language, writes, and used her sign language skills to document life histories of the deaf elderly.
It was 10:40 on a school night, the end of the last shift of the day, which had seemed more difficult than usual: homework and bath time had been laborious and fraught with resistance, bedtime was now forty five minutes late. And so I cannot tell you why I and my sons, Ariel, 11 and Ben, nine, were all in Ben's bed when I opened The Secret Garden and began reading aloud. One of my early fantasies of motherhood had been to share this childhood favorite with my own children. But now it was 2000 and I had two boys who were competent though not avid readers, well entrenched in the popular cultures of television and computers. They are boys who spend most of their days playing sports or running around with other boys.
Yesterday evening, as I was folding laundry on my bed, my eleven- year-old son walked into my room and said, "Mom, I'm having one of those funny feelings again." He looked pale and taut with tension. He paced around my room, breathing nervously. "What happened?" I asked. Did you see something on T.V. or on the computer?" "No, its nothing like that. It was.... just the headline of a story in the teen newspaper supplement. I threw it in the garbage and I don't want to talk about it.
I've never had a problem understanding the advice given in the "how-to" parenting books. I've just had trouble following it. Whether it is talking-to-my-children-so-they will-listen, a la Faber and Mazlish, or applying Adlerian humanism to family dynamics, there has been a gap between knowing what should be done in a given situation and actually doing it.
When my friend, Ruth, landed a full time job after 15 years as a free-lance writer and at-home mom, seventy percent of me applauded the new move. The other thirty percent felt like it was in an elevator that had disengaged and was falling through a hundred story shaft. "Maybe we should talk about what my new job means for you," she had said, noting my poorly disguised bewilderment. "Oh, I'm sure there are going to be some major adjustments in your household," I answered, neatly dodging her overture by turning the focus back to her.
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