Archives for April 2013

Life Lessons: “It’s Not Fair”

Life Lessons: “It’s Not Fair”

My daughter came home late from her weekly dinner with her grandmother. At nine, she hasn’t succumb to pre-adolescence moodiness and was amicably sharing the details of her day as she pulled out her homework assignments for her grandmother to check.  (On Thursday nights, Grandma checks the homework as this is considered “Mom’s night off.”)  She told us that during class today, her teacher asked the students a question and then called on one child (not Lulu) to answer it.  When the child responded to the inquiry correctly, Lulu’s teacher gave her a “class dollar.”

(Class dollars are rewards for doing something well or for going out of your way to help a fellow classmate.  The students save up these “dollars” and can buy things like having lunch with their teacher or “buying” a homework pass for specified amounts of “class dollars.”  I guess you could call it positive reinforcement/free trade?)

Lulu later approached the teacher later and commented that had the teacher called on her (Lulu), she would have given the same answer.  Lulu told her teacher that she didn’t think “it was fair” that the other student received the dollar when she also knew the answer.  The teacher’s response? “Life’s not fair.  Get used to it, Honey.”

Err..what did she say?  I asked Lulu to repeat it so I could get the words right: “Life’s not fair.  Get used to it, Honey.”  Pretty rude and abrupt if you ask me.  And now I am facing a dilemma starting with how the teacher’s response impacts my daughter?  All school year, Adam and I have tried to teach Lulu some basic concepts about common courtesy based on the following:



What does it say about Lulu’s teacher, and adults in general, when an adult and someone our daughter looks up to does the complete opposite of what we have been so diligently teaching her? (The above sign is prominently posted on our back door as a constant reminder to ALL of us to do and say the right things.)   I wonder how the teacher would have felt if Lulu had said “Life’s not fair.  Get used to it, Honey” to her?  Probably pretty annoyed.  It seems unfair to expect a 9-year-old to respond to an adult’s censuring comments with a mere shrug of the shoulders and a smile.  What was the teacher expecting would be the outcome from her harsh words to my daughter: Lulu would learn a valuable life lesson?  Or maybe my daughter should simply repeat her teacher’s words when confronted by a friend about the unfairness of a situation.  After all, she’ll reason, the teacher said those words to her, right?

I know that everyone is entitled to a bad day or two.  And maybe Lulu whined when she complained about the lack of fairness but I guess I hold teachers to a higher standard than I hold others.  What Lulu’s teacher said to her was hurtful and mean.  Calling her “Honey” almost makes it worse than if she hadn’t used that word.  In our house, if someone, adults and children included, says something hurtful to another member of the family, he or she is expected to apologize.  I can explain to Lulu that what the teacher said was wrong but I am not sure how to rationalize to my daughter why her teacher may not apologize for being a “git.”

So, what do you think?  Should I overlook this interaction and help Lulu to focus on what’s important: learning about minerals and parallel circuits?  Or do I send the teacher a note requesting that we speak so I can discuss what I feel is an unacceptable interaction with my child? I’m not sure that there is a right answer.  I guess I’ll have to file it away in the growing folder entitled “Things I Wish Hadn’t Happened to My Child but Should Be Considered Life Lessons.”


Dear 16-Year-Old Me

Dear 16-Year-Old Me

Dear 16-year-old-Me: You are cuter than you think.  Lose the color contacts.  And please, don’t rub baby oil on your skin in May hoping to get tan before the Junior Prom! It won’t make you any cuter. (Also, you really need to pay more attention your English class.)

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Yup! That’s me at 16. Love the colored contact lenses almost as much as I miss the curls.


I’m not cute anymore: I’m a Mom.  And I can’t get this video by the David Cornfield Melanoma Fund, “Dear 16-year-old Me” out of my mind.  It’s because I feel responsible for the nasty sunburn my 9-year-old daughter sustained while we snorkeled in St. Thomas last week.  (Mom guilt anyone?) Where was I with the bottle of skin block in one hand and a swim cover in the other while she sat on a boat and sustained skin damage from the sun?  I am trained in public health, disease prevention and intervention for goodness sakes!  If anyone should know the importance of using sunscreen, applying before going out in the sun and then frequently reapplying it, it’s me.  And the chances of getting a melanoma if you sustain JUST ONE sunburn before age 16 go up significantly in comparison to those who stayed away from the sun.  No wonder I am literally swimming in my own guilt.  Anyway…take a look at the video.

Powerful and seriously scary.

Living in Chicago has made me starved for sun.  So I guess it’s not surprising that all three of us imbibed in too much sun last week.  Maybe if we had seen this video before going on the cruise, we would have remembered how incredibly important it is to slather oneself in UVA and UVB sun screen (not forgetting the tops of one’s hands–that space is frequently forgotten and is a sure giveaway to revealing one’s age.)  Maybe I would have also remembered to bring a shirt to snorkel in and thus protect the skin on my back too?

Now as I slather on layer upon layer of lotion on my family’s skin in hopes of preventing Lulu, Adam and my skin from flaking and peeling (Note: it’s not working too well) I have already started to compile our packing list for next year’s cruise.  At the top of the list?  You guessed it: Sunblock 50 for body, for hands, for babies and specifically for the face.  I still love the look of a golden tan but not as much as I hate the idea of a piece of me being removed because I didn’t take the time to care for my skin.

After all, as someone in the video conveys: “Your skin is like an elephant: it never forgets.”