Thursday, August 21, 2008

Some Philosophical Waxing

You betcha (she is SO Minnesooota), baby, and this has nothing to do with ears. Although Dr. Matron has been known to give the occasional lecture on this blog, this isn't so much lecture as Query and Ponder, out loud.

This post, rendered by the ever intriguing Tootsie, got the Matron thinking. Thanks, honey!

I'll pause while you read. Hum, hum. . ..

Okay, then.

So the Matron started thinking about boundaries and when we let children move through them. The crib is a boundary, of sorts, then the baby's territory is expanded! She's in a bed. Same logic runs with the back yard. When Little Angel is 5, he's in the back yard. At 12, riding a bike down the block. Territory expands! While territory expands, so does the self - you need to have the brains, the emotional tools, the social skills to navigate your new terrain! Because--and here's what it gets tricky -- the new terrain always has some kind of relationship component! You're not alone navigating that terrain, from the toddler whose parent tucks Junior in bed at night (and picks her off the floor when there's a bump in the dark!) to the 12 year old Junior riding her bike into the world of drivers and neighbors -- and potential creeps or criminals.

Are you with her? So this is all about growing up and going out into the great big physical, relational world!

But this generation of parents, the one she shares with you (damn that third person narrator and grammatical restrictions), is confronting a new set of boundaries: electronic, online, alive! Children aren't just growing up as their physical boundaries expand -- or growing into just the physical world, but the online world as well.

You all know this.

Here's what interest the Matron.

She's sure there's a name for this and damn, if she just can't remember what theory she's theorizing. Philosopher Mom? Are you there? Is this just plain old poststructuralism below or somethin' else? She vaguely remembers a theory . . .

Anyway, if Self is shaped through the endless series of interactions between self and other -- whether that other is an object, animal or person -- if you've ever had a transcendental moment in nature or a 'light bulb' go off in your head when talking to someone, you were conscious of a change in YOU but this happens all the time without us knowing, we're becoming with every interaction -- okay, if Self is shaped that way, what are the implications for that Self if so many of these memorable interactions are virtual. Just you, interacting with nothing tangible. Solid. Real. Yet this shapes you.


Veering down a different technological path, if growing up involves a thoughtful parental extension of boundaries, the Matron laments the contradiction, the difficulty, the pain of even understanding the virtual boundary. Because the child (at least hers) sometimes confronts and desires the new terrain before the Matron even knows it exists -- how can she set the pace for him? How can she set the terms of expanding boundaries without knowing where in the hell that terrain is -- and, new terrain gets created constantly!

Luddites among us? Well, the Matron just left her virtual classroom. In the spring, she is teaching nearly entirely online. Her son's new junior high school employs all kinds of parent portals, chat rooms, peeks and spies and various online, electric possibilities. Social networks, Couch-surfing, telecommuting.

The Matron is making herself dizzy. If you haven't heard of couch-surfing you're not in your twenties. See how the world has changed! Now there's an example of ever-expanding territory.

Finally, she's noticed something else. Even as the online and electric terrain expands at eye-popping speed, the physical terrain available to our children has shrunk dramatically. Whose urban children roam free these days? Not many. She knows that in her corner of the city, packs of children don't roam free for hours, unattended, like she did. But Little Johnny has the world at his fingertips once he hits that laptop.

There's no gold standard for the contemporary parent--when you get to go to the Magic Mountain alone -- because the Mountain itself shifts, every few hours.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

The Boy

When Stryker was 8 years old going on forty, he decided to be Calvin of Calvin and Hobbes for Halloween. To wit, he put on a striped t-shirt, slicked back his hair with a few strategic upward shots, and memorized the lines he would enthusiastically offer at every single unsuspecting door.

Friends, imagine this. The sweet decaying sixty-year old neighbor answers the RING of the bell, all nostalgia and sentiment. There's a bright young boy on her doorstep who appears dressed as, well, just a boy. So this old woman - and actually, everybody else because why aren't you in a costume, kiddo? -- says: "And who are you?"

You've said those words yourself! She knows it.

And this is what you get.

"I'm yet another resource consuming kid on an over-populated planet raised to an alarming extent by Madison Avenue and Hollywood, poised with my cynical and alienated peers to take over the world when you are old and weak."

Then he hands out a copy of the Calvin and Hobbes strip and makes speedy retreat with his booty. Reactions at the door varied. The Matron apologized more than once.

He was 8.

Today, the Matron staggered in with her actor child at 10 pm to discover that Stryker has created a blog. His plans? Oh, just about par with the Matron's for her own fine self, all that skinny jeans, wealth and fame.

His angle? This is a child weary of Waldorf and Montessori, of the parents with rules regarding media or fear of instant messaging, text-rolfing or whatever. He wants to be fully wired, even as his mother shows him increasingly frantic yoga poses and strategically places oil paint and clay in his eye shot.

He IS Technology and the 21st Century and is striving to make a buck, at barely 12. His blog will review and discuss media--movies, games, books, televison--aimed at the younger set and his underlying philosophical concerns are twofold: get as MANY ads (and therefore make as much money) as possible on his blog and debunk the outdated parental concept that children should not be completely saturated with media.

She will post the link soon, the second the masterpiece is completed. What's up so far is half adorable and alarming.

And Stryker also informed the Matron that Barack Obama would totally be behind this plan. So she should be, too.

Monday, August 18, 2008


Not long ago, the Lady of the Manor blogged about a staggeringly stupid episode from her youth and then asked readers to report their own missteps.

Now, the Matron has a long history with this imaginary scenario, this revealing your own stupidity and mistake. Goes like this:

Massive Ego-Driven Scenario! Unfolding!! Matron on Big Talk Show. O. O. O. You will never guess, right? The book deal and the Matron is ALL about the wisdom, the growth, the spiritual vibe and verve. And the skinny jeans and the journey to get there, sistah! After much lauding and love. O: "Matron? Girlfriend, tell us one of your most embarrassing moments, the thing you did that make you shudder and quake, still? We all have one!" Light applause, bated, eager audience breath! Is O able to humanize the delightful Matron? Matron: "Uh, the most humiliating moment of my life would be that moment when I'd be stupid enough to relive terrible shame and angst in front of millions. Humiliate myself, again on purpose. Next question?"

So anyway, that was a tiny digression into how the Matron feels about scraping the bottom of her personal barrel. But guess what, friends? You are SO in lucky because -- after the first full work day of the school year, an overnight house guest downstairs in the kitchen, and not one but TWO healthy glasses of wine -- she has decided to dish.

When the Matron was a Young Miss and in graduate school, she dated this man's son:

This would be Mickey Edwards, at the time one of the most powerful and conservative members of the U.S. Congress. Did you hear her type the words 'conservative'? Well. . . . when the son, let's call him S for son (oh! she's original!), first set his eye on the Matron, his friends warned him away.

"She is SUCH a lesbian."

"She swings in the other direction. Like, probably buys Playboy herself."

"She's a fucking socialist freak and maybe a lesbian. You are crazy!"

"Wake up, man! She wants to live on a commune and love everyone. Here, read Regan's memoir, one more time!"

"Oh my God! This woman channels Karl Marx. Did you see the tie-dye leggings she had on yesterday? Throw yourself off a bridge."

My, my! She caused quite the stir (and was actually shocked to learn all this, later). But Young Miss followed her heart and not her ideology -- as did S -- and they fell hard for one another.
S loved her with all his Jewish, Oklahoman, conservative-born heart and the hippy dippy Young Miss in tie-dye and Grateful Dead loved him with her lapsed Catholic, left-wing Buddhist leaning heart, right back. At one point, she was ready to convert and bear his children.


The twentysomething fever did not last, at least first, for the Young Miss. She eventually fell decidedly out of love and that had nothing to do with politics. Indeed, as sometimes happens with young love, hers grew - sour. Ugh! And it was nobody's fault.


She is kind by nature and when S, devoted still, asked her to pretend they were still happily together for the day his parents visited? Why, Young Miss held his hand and smiled through dinner! She sorta did this a couple of times, breaking up and making up and struggling through even when she knew was finished.

One night in the midst of this muck, S made a proposal. It went like this (and, Oh My God, she is not making this up):

S: "Mary? I know you don't love me, but I love you. I've been thinking about this for a long time and I'd like to ask you something."

Young Miss: "Hmmmm."

S: "Will you marry me?"

Young Miss: "What the @#$%$^^#^&#@ are you KIDDING?"

S: "No, no! Not like that! I love you. I want to always take care of you. I know how you grew up -- welfare, food stamps, crime and poverty -- all of it. You never have to love me back. You never have to sleep with me, never. You can have your own life. But I want you to marry me. I'm a rich man and will be richer. You know the trust fund kicks in when I'm 30 and I'll have millions of dollars. I'll take care of you for the rest of your life if you'll marry me. Please marry me."

Now we're talking.

Friends? The Matron hesitated for about one second and then she said:


Yup. She said yes. Yes, to the most clearly doomed idea humanity ever dredged up. Yes for all the reasons S mentioned and then one more, one she didn't even yet know - she didn't yet understand that she herself could provide all that security she craved, the security she hadn't felt as a child.

She signed on! Yes!

Yes lasted about 11 days and 6 hours. Sex was actually not quite so clearly out of the picture. Of course, being the buoyant fiancee when the deal is all about the dollar isn't all that easy to fake, either.

So it ended, forever, right after the engagement/agreement/purchase.

But the beautiful, tragic, staggering (really sweet and nostalgic in a 'how could I have been so young') truth is that when she said "yes! yes!!"?

She meant it.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Yes, Those are Craters Under Her Eyes and They Don't Go Disappear with Sleep

Tonight, the Matron's vast blogging plans were thwarted by a power outage! She was thoroughly annoyed because her family had a perfect blogging day, a Sunday full of Narrative and Thrill. But, time has ticked itself away and that must wait until tomorrow.

So the power outage meant the Matron didn't have her hour of blogging! She was visibly grumpy until Scarlett slogged through the camp gear, found her headlamp and offered this -- the most precious, perfect lighting apparatus -- to her mother. The Matron was able to read and write, if not surf the net or blog.

Slim verbal offerings, thanks to Xcel Energy . . but! A rare sighting of the Matron! Scarlett took this picture, all aflutter over the sight of her mama wearing a head lamp.

Oh, the Simpsonathon? Ended yesterday -- Day Six, 4:37 pm. Stryker is still bumping into furniture, that dazed.