The 40 Year Old Bat Mitzvah

soulfish: Lost & Found

Posted in soulfish by Juliet on April 27, 2010

“Put the zoo on lockdown!”

Jane was lost for a scary ten minutes during a multi-family trip to the zoo. It turned out she hadn’t moved on from the polar bears to the elephants with the rest of us, but we didn’t know that at the time.

Was Jane the one who was lost? Or were the eight of us?

Time freezes. It stands still. All you can do is hope that your child knows what she should do to stay safe and be found soon.

“I remembered what you told me, Mom,” she said after we were reunited. “I couldn’t find a mom with kids to help me, so I found a mom without kids.” (Call me crazy, but we do practice drills of this in Ralph’s.)

Every kid gets lost sometime. Will your child know what she should do?  Kids should know:

  • Don’t wait to be approached by someone offering help.  Take action and ask for help.  (The odds are very slim that it will be a dangerous person whom your child seeks out for help.  The same goes for you, too, by the way.)
  • Teach your kids to ask for help from a mom with kids.  I do drills with my girls:  “You look around and can’t find me.  Who is a good person to ask for help?”  Personally, I have chosen to teach my kids that if they are lost in a store, they can go to the cash register and ask for help from a worker.  In general, though, kids can have trouble distinguishing uniforms, employees, etc., so I like the “find a mom with kids” guideline better.
  • Stay where you are.  Remember, I’ll be looking for you too.

A few other tips:

  • Make a mental note of what your child is wearing.
  • A friend writes her cell phone number in Sharpie on her kids’ forearms.
  • Ask for help.  Many public venues like amusement parks have official procedures for reuniting lost kids with parents and keeping them safe.  I did temporarily put the zoo on lockdown just by approaching a nearby churro vendor.  He called the front gate and I gave them Jane’s description so nobody would be able to leave with her.  I knew it wasn’t happening but it still made me feel better.
  • Read Gavin de Becker’s books The Gift of Fear and Protecting the Gift.

Stay safe.


(Almost) Wordless Wednesday: Peace Pole

Posted in philosophizing by Juliet on April 14, 2010

Peace Pole erected by the Jon Castro chapter of Veterans for Peace at the Cathedral City Library

I was entranced by the simple and beautiful message of this peace pole outside the Cathedral City Public Library.

The cedar pole sits between two palm trees. It reads "May peace prevail on earth" in Spanish, English, Hebrew, and Arabic.

This article gives some history.

Go in peace.

Want more Wordless Wednesday?

From the Mouths of Babes

Posted in personal growth by Juliet on April 13, 2010

“Ding!” “Ding!”

My car dinged insistently and “please refuel” lit up as I steered my little carpool toward Hebrew school.

(Doesn’t “Please refuel” sound polite? My car also informs me that the “bootlid is open” when I forget to shut the trunk.)

“What’s that sound?” asked Skyler, a kindergartner, sounding worried.

“Oh, don’t worry about that!” Eva said confidently. “My mom can drive a really long time after that starts beeping.”

All the self-help experts advise to keep your gas tank at least a quarter full. It just makes sense. Clearly I’m in need of a refresher course.

A Room of One’s Own

Posted in personal growth by Juliet on April 12, 2010

Virginia Woolf had a room of her own.

Dr Who and I have a TARDIS.

welcome to my tardis

Last summer I was sharing complaining to my SHED group about my family’s shocking lack of respect for my personal space. I don’t know if it’s the ages of my kids, our mutual temperaments, or the fact that I do not work outside the home so I don’t have a private office or even desk to call my own.

The truth is, it’s probably a combination of these factors plus the fact that the kids are at an age when they want to use our home computer, but aren’t old enough to do so unsupervised so they sit at what used to be my desk in our kitchen nook, rifling through drawers and stealing my Scotch tape.

I was feeling resentful in almost every aspect of personal space. I told the SHED group about a morning when I’d made six of my favorite Trader Joe’s petite croissants and left them on the counter to save for a snack. When I got back from running errands, it was to discover nothing but an empty plate of crumbs.

“Can you set up even a small area as an office?” Melissa asked.

Even as I swore up and down that there was NO room, the idea hit me, and like Harry Potter, I found myself inhabiting an under-stairs closet.

We took the door off and braced a custom-cut piece of wood against the wall et voila!

Every day I’d come home with something new: modernistic some-assembly-required chairs from Target; a fake flokati rug; an elephant-shaped box to store my electronics chargers.

“When are you ordering a conference table for the TARDIS?” Scott asked.

I think he was only half joking.

And, maybe I really am as powerful as Dr Who because even though there is no door, nobody goes inside. They haven’t even tried. They physically halt like there’s an electrified fence running along the door frame.

It was such a simple, inexpensive project, yet it gave us the perfect elegant solution to my growing sense of frustration.

As I like to tell the kids when they complain about being too hot or cold: “I don’t control the weather. Yet.”

But maybe, just maybe, I do control Time and Relative Dimension in Space.

Life Is a Series of Transitions

Posted in philosophizing by Juliet on April 9, 2010

Lately my favorite TV genre is “scientific apocalyptic”: asteroids hitting the earth; super-volcanoes under the ocean; disappearing gravity due to slower rate of planetary rotation. You know, your typical cheery fare.

If you think about it too much, it can get depressing.

The world — at least the world as we know it — is going to end.

It’s only a matter of time.

The earth is not fixed in one permanent state. It’s changing all the time. And that’s how life is. Literally for decades I’ve felt like I’m in various stages of transition. I keep waiting for “things to settle down” and “get back to normal.”

There is no normal; to live is to grow, and to grow is to change, to move through an endless series of transitions from our first breath to our last. Whenever that may be.