LaGoon Utah, 2008. This ride was closed for repair while we were there. They were filling the cars repeatedly with employees to test it and see if it was ready to open to the public. Talk about hazard pay!!!

I look forward to a momentary break in the craziness of life, something like the sidetrack on the roller coaster—the calm straight section of the ride that grants a momentary pause in the ups and downs. This diverts the rider’s mind from the nasty vertical spin.
After the gut wrenching chaos, the switch over to the sidetrack can stabilize things and once again all can be well with the world… at least until the next slide. T

I’d like to think that the answer to, "Why me?" is not always "Why not you?" I like to think that I am involved in this constant upheaval of parenting because I’m so good at it, but the bottom line is that you don’t have to be "good" to be a parent nowadays, you just have to be willing to attempt it.

Confuse and confound is a successful parenting tactic. I distract the two-year old during the immunization visit and confuse him when at four, I attempt to answer his myriad of questions.
At six he is easily redirected when he wakes from a nightmare. At ten, I can still mystify him when I bombard him with intricate and valid excuses to his querulous “why-nots?”
Why is it then, that I sit back baffled as the teenager demonstrates how well he has mastered any and all of these sidetracking techniques?

If you can’t be good at it, at least be good at the deluding yourself that you are good at it. I am good at being a parent, if being a parent means being a professional manipulator—the side tracker or the spinner…
I'm the best!

I am a professional side tracker. It is a tactic that I acquired and perfected early as I pinched the child on the left thigh at the same time as the nurse administered the shot from the right. By the time he/she/it had discovered what was going on and responded, it was too late and the trauma was all over.

But, I didn’t realize how good I was until the daughter called yesterday. She was babysitting for the neighbors and she began the conversation with, “I’m going to be a great Mom and I owe it all to you.”

My mind leapt. After all, doesn’t one strive all one’s life for that, “Thank you for teaching me…” call?

She continued, “I’m a great manipulator.”

My mind blanked out and I mumbled the standard response to parental shock, “Would you care to expound?” while I got my mind around the true and immediate response, “I-can’t- believe-you-meant-that,” “What-are-you-thinking,” and “What-have-I-created?”

She continued, “It was time to leave the swimming pool and when the children balked and they insisted that they stay, I responded, ‘That’s fine, I’m sure they have somewhere you can sleep.’”
“Then, Mom, I started packing up and looking around. Then I said thoughtfully, ‘Maybe the showers? You could sleep in the showers, but I don’t know where you would eat?" As I continued to pack, I went on, "They probably turn off all the lights and go home, so probably there wouldn’t be food, or a nightlight… or anything.’”

She gushed onward, “Wow, Mom, by the time I finished, I was out by the car and the three of them were buckled up, inside and ready to go.” “Am I good or what?”

Yeah I guess so. I guess it’s okay to outline the simple and natural consequences in such a clear and logical way. But manipulation… is that what it was?

Reality Bite: And 'til now I thought I was so subtle.


If I consider that nothing stays the same—that life either progresses or regresses, then shooting for improvement should become my watchword.

When life changes, I try to aim forward but sometimes the momentum prevents that. I must reconsider the phenomena of change as an opportunity to be progressive, not just flail about in a never ending helix.

My life digresses and just when I believe I am headed comfortably in a certain direction, surprise, surprise another cog is shoved into the works.
My youngest inventor reminds me that adding another cog usually makes the whole thing run backwards. About face, T.

If I strive to accept change and choose to move forward, no doubt I will soon find myself careening at a breakneck pace and unable to avoid the curves that come with the downward slide. This causes slips and slides, twists and twirls in unplanned directions. As I whirl past these life-altering stages, I wonder… Why me? And then I remember, Why not me!

Reality Bite: I know why the luge event is always seeking willing participants.

…self check

Challenges encourage me to take stock of my life with military precision. I reevaluate and perform a self-check.
"Do I have what it takes for this particular challenge?" "Am I prepared for what is to come?" "Most importantly, how do I marshal the troops to assist?"
Challenges, even national emergencies, require meticulous planning and of course a trip to the supermarket!So, off I go, T.

It’s deceptively alluring, the promise at the self-check-out. “It’s easy, just Scan, Sack and Scram.”

I try to ignore the voice in my head saying, “Don’t go there”.

To me,
You know that I don’t listen to the voices in my head. I ignore their advice, because I can’t sort out the devil on my left shoulder from the well-meaning advisors on the right.
I’m not sure which of them are acting as rescuers from my misadventures. Is it a guardian angel rescuing me, or the devil, assured that I'll make even more mistakes. T.

At the superb-market, I stand in the check-out line long enough that the enticement becomes too much and I can ignore the prompting no longer! I wander over in front of the machine. I can self-check! How hard can it be? “Welcome, please begin scanning.”

Wow! I’m here and it’s all-knowing. I eye my cart… I have fruit, which can be a toughie for even a seasoned checker, but I persist. Other hazards threaten to complicate things, one item has no UPC code, another has two, and while I am waiting, “Please wait for assistance,” I must remember not to lean on the bag scale, “Please remove unscanned item.”

I ignored the voices as a coping tool that I perfected back in the era of questioning four-year olds. I am at that stage again, in my life where I need to tune in to the noise, just in case the utterance may be the rare voice of the teenager.
If I continue these self-checks, I’ll catch what is really important and be more in tune with my true self, then I can always bury the listening skills until I need them again as a grandmother.
Kick me, T

I’m now hearing more voices in my head, “Please rescan item,” “Please place scanned item in the bag.” “Please wait to remove bag from shelf,” “Please stop banging your head against the credit card sweep.”

At this point, I’m just passing stuff across the all-knowing, all-seeing window and flinging it haphazardly in the general direction of my cart while the machine intones over and over, “Please step away from the booth and keep both hands in the air.”

I leave the store with my sanity barely intact and as I race to the car, from a distance I push one button to shut off the alarm, another to unlock the doors and still another to open the back hatch. I have James Bond’s car that starts itself and picks him up at the door—at least I’m sure mine would, if I could just figure out the remote. But, just now though, the doors are flapping open and shut, up and down and it’s like a great bird, struggling to catch wind.

Writing is a great self-check. As I try to make sense of myself, I can see many things in retrospect that I should change. There are many more self-checks that I should perform daily. My big mouth is the most important. Why can’t I put it into check? Why can’t I just muzzle it? T.

Reality Bite: Could be because I abandoned the roll of duct tape in the store cart.

I manage to slide into the vehicle between door slams, and as I tame the fracas and settle myself in, I hear another unearthly voice, “Please secure the safety belt.” And the thought crosses my mind… "Around my neck?"

Reality Bite: I guess I don’t have to worry about hearing voices until I start doing anything I’m told.


Once upon a time, I thought that if I couldn’t avoid the chaos completely, I could at the very least ease the topsy turvy tumult with careful plotting and judicious planning.

But, no, it seems that just as I manage to get my arms wrapped around the T-bar that grounds me, the ride takes off at a different speed, in an entirely new direction.

I must not complain. Stress is energizing! I work best under the influence of adrenaline. Boredom bores me! Having nothing that is dangerously foreboding or urgently pressing threatens my sanity!

My bold nature thrives on change and I am constantly racing toward it headlong. I am a thrill seeker, whose most daunting fear is repetition! It’s in my blood. Unfortunately it is also in the blood of my children.

“Yet’s do it,” is the mantra of the four-year-old who can’t wait to bike to the top, slide to the bottom, nail this to that, then plug it in, and after that, "let’s mix it all together and see if it blows up. " What will I do when he’s a teen? T.

... ripe

Although I seek variety and spice, I would like to have a hand in selecting which challenges I face. If I could plan for major life events as if I were riding the sky ride at the amusement park—floating along above the raucous crowds, evaluating the challenges ahead—then I could aim better and know how to arm myself for the barrage to come.

If I could float along above it all, I would be insulated from the noise in the distance and reassured by the gentle sway of the seat. Viewing life from a distance makes all tribulations—even the highest roller coaster—seem manageable.
I could make objective decisions from this distance. I would look to whatever was ahead and I could pick the next ride--the most vibrant and approachable destiny—one that appears to fall within my limited expertise and from this distance I could gauge which challenges to attempt only on an empty stomach or perhaps to avoid entirely.

I saved all year for this trip. (This means I scavenged the change from the annual accumulation on the nightstand, the top drawer, and from the dryer.) I took it in bulk to the amusement park and dispensed it from pocket and purse, for popcorn and cotton candy and at the duck food dispenser, my goal—to rid myself of the encumbrance.

The day goes on and the bag on my arm slowly empties as everyone else fills up with candy apples, hot dogs, snow cones and lollipops.

Change can serve a good purpose, or I could maintain status quo and use my rudimentary coin collection as a paperweight to flatten the chaos running amok in my sock drawer! T.

I realize that this wish cannot be granted—that nothing this pleasant ever lasts very long and the delusion flees as my mind returns and the chair drops me back down to mill with the masses in the vast human crush of reality.

I fling change at the parking attendant, and to the fairway vendors, but I drop nothing smaller than quarters for the street sweepers, or it won’t even be worth their efforts to bend over.
This plan might work better in a change-starved third world. T.

...risk and character

It takes so little to make someone’s day. A buck or two in quarters scattered on the path encourages the street-sweeper to head to the nearest slot with his stash, because his luck has changed! The little fortune fairy, Terina

Dropped back down into the midst of mayhem, I listen to the travails of other riders who have traveled before me. What if we all had access to the amusement ride's handy-dandy warning gauge that detailed the level of difficulty and identifies the pain potential prior to attempting each problem?

Teens are high risk. The teenage insurance risk is that the fourth “incident” on the car, (irrespective of the fact that none of them were her fault, and all of them were paid completely by the offenders insurance,) nontheless, have upped our annual premium $800.00.

Initially, the wand on the gauge flickers toward enjoyment and effortless refinement, but after speaking to someone who has actually taken the ride, the wand would swing back and forth wildly between alarm and hysterical fear—all due to a dawning comprehension of life’s authentic degree of difficulty.

Reality bite: How one adapts to change is essence of true character.

…elusive calm

I’m taking advantage of moments like this, enforced quiet time while I’m stuck with my head in the sink, to reorganize my cluttered, chaotic mind.

Lists have really helped. I’m told that brains are like filing cabinets, and retrieving the facts merely requires decoding one’s own personal filing system, but I’m too busy accomplishing things to dwell on them, or even think about them! So I’ll write it on a list.

To me,
I wonder if other people have the same problem. I should meditate more, ponder and consider my thoughts and actions. I need time for myself to contemplate, to think and plan. What an interesting concept!

Reality Bite: I write that as my GFD tomorrow—Remember to Think.

…efficacy, the curse

Dear Me,
Thought takes too much of my time and effort. I prefer to perform contortions to add to my list while I’m stuck in the sink.

I’ve been enamored with the idea of accomplishing more ever since I read Cheaper by the Dozen as a youth. I loved the vision of twelve little children jaunting through life inspired by efficiency! I experimented with better efficacy myself back then.

To me
Today, while cooking dinner, I was thinking ahead to what came next and I propped up the hand mixer while I assembled the other ingredients—and then spent the rest of the night cleaning the floor and ceiling. Yikes, Terina

I walked with my nose in a book, long before they had treadmills, to school and back. I ate food fast long before there was fast food. I still recall fondly my invention of the three-minute egg, tuna, and mac and cheese sandwich.

To me,
…so here I am, in the sink. This is where it’s all gotten me—my quest to be more efficient. Time is so elusive and I been consolidating tasks to have more time to be more efficient, but I really must be more selective about which jobs to combine. I can’t keep doing this!
The note that I jot to self: “Try to think ahead next time …”

I remember doing most of my homework while dashing to class and I wearing yesterday’s makeup and tomorrow’s clothing to bed so I could wake later, yet get to school earlier. I was a great thinker in high school, as a Senior![1]

To me,
… although how precisely, I came to be stuck in the bathroom sink is a mystery. I was washing my hair and brushing my teeth at the same time and under the faucet, somehow the toothbrush head jammed in my mouth while the handle got stuck in the overflow hole.
This is not the first time I’ve been stuck like this, so it must be a common occurrence for all of us. I want you to know that I share your pain. All choked up, Terina

Reality Bite: The efficient make everybody else look bad anyway, and we wouldn’t want that.

[1] Some things never change.