That's All She Wrote

Commentator Cathy Alger wrote the pieces on this blog and recorded them for public radio WFPL, 89.3 FM in Louisville, Kentucky. All material is copyrighted and retains all rights. It cannot be reproduced or copied without permission of the author.

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My daily blog: Lifetime Learning

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Aired October 13, 2006

On Being a Boy and Four

In an email, an acquaintance stated that four year olds were at the most difficult stage. Myself, I love four. Four is wonderful. Okay, I have my moments when I have to do a sanity check but let me list a few things:
  • A four year old is old enough to do things for himself, yet young enough to still need you.
  • Four is old enough to play independently, but love still to sit in your lap.
  • A four year old can communicate well, but still has a few baby words to cherish, like maz-a-gine (magazine), to make you laugh.
  • A four year old is old enough to walk, but young enough to pick up. Nothing feels like the warm, loving hand on the back of your neck while you hold him.
  • A four year old can go to the bathroom by himself, but is young enough to still go in the Women's restroom where you can see him.
  • A four year old can (almost) sleep through the night, but is young enough to still sometimes fall asleep in your arms.
  • A four year old can dress himself, but isn't old enough to know that orange pants with a purple turtle shirt isn't cool.
  • A four year old is old enough to not cry when they cut off the cast of his broken leg, but young enough to stir your sympathy when he shakes like a leaf.
  • A four year old likes to sit in your lap while you read, and can laugh at the book. He's not old enough that you worry yet about how well he is learning to read.
  • A four year old is still young enough to enjoy finding a cool worm, but old enough not to eat it.

And yes, there are moments when he asserts his grown up self that we all grrrrrrrrrr through our teeth. Still, I see our four year old slipping away into a five year old. It won't be long now and it won't be cool to be your mama's boy. Cherish the days.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Mark Your Calendars!

I'm not superstitious about Friday the 13th (October), which is a good thing, since my next commentary will air on WFPL around 8:30-8:35 a.m. To listen live, click here.

Here's a preview. Check back on the 13th for a complete transcript.

On Being a Boy and Four
In an email, an acquaintance stated that four year olds were at the most difficult stage. Myself, I love four. Four is wonderful. Okay, I have my moments when I have to do a sanity check but let me list a few things:

A four year old is old enough to do things for himself, yet young enough to still need you.

Four is old enough to play independently, but love still to sit in your lap.

Check back for more on the 13th!

Commentaries recorded but not yet scheduled for airing:

Pluto: Commentator Cathy Alger takes a look at the changing nature and goals of education.
Space Age: Commentator Cathy Alger suggests spending our dollars closer to home.

Friday, September 15, 2006

A Call to Arms - August 4, 2006

There are moments when I think she's right. Like when I've picked up yet another banana peel casually left on the end table or when dishes are left on the counter above the empty dishwasher. I think of my expensive and hard-won education as I wipe strawberry jam dribbled down the white kitchen cabinets. Endless career possibilities floated in front of me in my younger days. There are flashes when I feel like an adult again because someone made a positive comment on my writing and I wonder what it would be like to work where I'm appreciated.

So, who is she? Author Linda Hirshman thinks women who stay at home are wasting their education. In Get to Work: A Manifesto for Women of the World, Hirshman writes that women need to be working and filling positions of power, that the "glass ceiling" is our in our own home by choosing to be a stay-at-home mom. She advises we should have but one child. Which of my children would I not have had? Lauren, who plays Chopin with enough feelings to make adults misty-eyed? Or Anna, my sensitive child that writesand draws beautifully? How about William, the one that teaches me look at butterflies, and laugh? Yes, we might have had a bigger house, more things but we wouldn't have each other.

I have many thoughts on her points, but my son is waiting. Yes, this engineer will be building roads, but in the sandbox. You see, Ms. Hirshman,I'm not a data point. I don't want to leave my children for the boardroom. I believe in Heaven, but I also believe in another type of immortality. Long after I am gone, I'll live on inside each of my children. They'll remember my words, they'll remember our times together, they'll remember laughter and tears. I'll live in them. And I will change the world, one child at a time. Your writing is a call to arms. I will call each of my children to my arms, and tell them that I love them. Put that in your study.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Over the Coals - July 19, 2006

My husband went to the super-hardware store for three screws – when he returned, he had a large box in the back of the truck. It seems while scanning the shelves in the hardware department, he came across the grill of his dreams.

It took both of us to unload it from the truck, because it weighed so much.
It is all stainless steel with sharp edges, so I envisioned it slicing right through the palms of my hands. From the main body, two wings jutted out to the sides. "Can't it just fly itself up to the deck?" I asked. It has about the same number of controls as a small engine plane and it's own fuel supply.I won't bore you with the cost of the thing, but suffice it to say that I could've replaced my refrigerator that is being held together with packing tape and has limped along for 15 years now. "I knew you'd say that," he laughed. Well, how could I not? I suppose the grill is a symbol of having arrived in the male kingdom.

After buying the grill, he of course needed the associated cooking instruments. We now have a spatula with a knife built into its side, so you can use it to butcher the cow, chop the meat and then just flip it right on the grill. And of course, what grill would be complete without a hot chili pepper holder and tongs so large they take two hands to use?
So, I am retiring from cooking meat at least. We now have a summer kitchen, complete with a burner, rotisserie, and grill. This is good, because the back burner of my stove doesn't work anymore and sometimes the oven turns off mid-bake. (It displays an F2 error that I don't even want to decode in case the stove is cussing at me.) I'll get a lot of mileage out of this purchase!

Lime Green Shoes - July 6, 2006

My 3 year old son suddenly grew out of his new gym shoes, as children will and so, we made a trip to the local superstore. For some reason,William loves to try on shoes. The most colorful catch his eye first. Headmires greatly the red sparkly Wizard of Oz shoes for girls, the flowered sandles and yesterday, the plastic lime green shoes with bright yellow soles.

As I scanned the rows of shoes looking for just one pair of size 9 boys'gym shoes, Will had made his choice. He had his shoes and socks off and was trying on the pair he had to have. I tried to distract him with the boys' shoes that light up when stamped against the ground. Uninterested, he asked me to tie the lime green shoes. He proudly walked the aisle. The shoe clerk who had been helping me let out an "oh, my!".

At $5 on sale, I decided that the easiest course would be to buy the shoes, and let him wear them around the house, getting the light-upThomas the Tank Engine shoes for real wear. But no, he wanted to wear these home, and the helpful clerk said that it would be allowed, as long as I kept the tag for checkout. So, we made our way through to the front of the store, my son sporting undoubtably girls', lime green shoes.

Amusement fought with shame in my mind. What were people thinking of me to put my boy, decked out in grey sweatpants and a navy windbreaker, in lime green shoes?? Willliam walked proudly, enjoying it all. Amusement won out. People definitely could see him coming! I briefly thought that if I lost him in the store, at least he'd be easily located by the color of his shoes. We went on our way to pick my girls up at a horse riding practice. All day, the reactions of people we met cheered me and made it well worth the $5 purchase price. I laughed all day.

Backhoe - June 22, 2006

"Harry* thinks we need to buy a backhoe now," commented my husband's cousin at the wedding reception table. We were catching up with family news. Harry and Shawna* had moved into their own "money pit" this past year, escaping suburbia for rural New Jersey. As is often the case, there were a few little surprises in store for them at their new residence, including the state of the septic system, hence, the backhoe. Having enjoyed his experience with the borrowed machinery, Harry felt they should own their very own backhoe, in the event of another ditch-digging emergency.

We laughed at the preposterous idea, while at the same time commiserating that there were costly tools in our very houses that our men had purchased so they could be prepared for just about anything. Shawna laughed, "If I pull out both racks of my dishwasher at the same time, the whole kitchen tilts." Appliances used daily limp along while specialized drill bits gather dust in the garage.

My mother-in-law fares no better. While visiting recently, I could not get her dishwasher to start. "Oh, you have to lean against the door with your hip and jab the start button hard with the handle of a knife, " she instructed.

Our fifteen-year-old refrigerator, opened about a zillion times a day, is held together with packing tape. The interior is a cave without illumination, since the lights long ago stopped working. I hate to think what lurks in the dark corners. While I'm on the refrigerator, why is it that the little plastic shelves, which break off like saltine crackers, cost as much to replace as a new refrigerator?

My washing machine, which runs continuously, lasted fifteen years with several replacements of the agitator spline. It was a good machine, if you did not mind the sound of a jet engine just off your kitchen. It finally died from an overload of sheets and towels, and I stood agonizing over the models in the showroom. After much soul searching, I thought of Harry's backhoe, and bought the most expensive one I could afford.

Copyright Cathy Alger, 2006.