The Trouble With Teens

dishesSome days I want to be done parenting. I want to clock out – not just for the night, but forever. Deep down, beyond the drudgery, I know I don’t mean this. But when the well is dry like it is tonight, I can’t fathom where I will scrape up the energy to do it again tomorrow.

Husband saw that my mothering light was extinguished sometime between a power struggle over chores and a monotonous round of shuttling thankless teens to their activities. He took over with a threat, “No ride to the gym unless those dishes are washed!” Beagle didn’t budge.

“Did you hear me?” Husband said with a more aggressive tone, trying to penetrate the Beats headphones.

With a much-too-casual attitude Beagle replied, “You weren’t serious.”

This lit Husband’s fire and he exploded on a teen who very brazenly called his bluff. I wisely left the scene in anticipation of escalating emotion – I didn’t need to be in the vicinity to hear the fallout. And I thought it best to avoid bearing witness to a potential crime.

After a dramatic round of shouting and banging of pots and pans, Husband emerged victorious with his chest puffed up a bit, patting himself on the back for showing teen son who’s boss.

A male friend commented that he was glad he never had a son because he knows that he would butt heads with a boy in a much more destructive way than with his daughter. It would be physical and loud and ugly, he postulated – just like between me and my dad. And I would win, just like my dad did.

Really? Did Dad win? Did you love your father?

No.

Did you respect him?

No. I feared him.

Did you resent him?

Absolutely. And it made me rebel even more.

Case in point. There is no winner in war. Even if both sides agree on a victor of the battle, the silent war wages on. Grudge matches ensue; both sides unwilling to declare ultimate defeat.

The trouble with teens is that they excel in the art of power struggle. One would think that a parent would too. After all, parents are just teens of yore with more experience. But we are worn out and the game is old. Teens, on the other hand, seem to have a bottomless supply of energy for sparring. It emanates from a gland that no longer serves the parent.

I hated to ruin Husband’s victory dance in the kitchen, but he needed to know the truth. Teen son had washed the dishes as commanded to do, yes. But instead of using a sponge, he had washed them with the scrub brush that is used to clean the floor.  Zing.

Accepted, Excited and Panicked

collegebound2I knew by the size of the envelope that it was an acceptance letter, but I still held my breath when Principessa tore into it.  This was her top-choice university and the outcome could make or break her sanity.  She was ecstatic for a solid five minutes until nervousness set in.

I’ve tried reassuring her without being untruthful.  Sort of like telling a toddler that a vaccine shot will hurt – but only for a minute.

To be honest, I’m questioning my success in preparing her for what’s ahead.  My confidence in this regard has been taking hits of late. Like when we were driving at night.  I flipped my rear-view mirror to block the headlight glare from behind.  “Wow!” Principessa exclaimed.  “Does every car have that feature?!”

This is the same honors student who thought that the car made its own windshield washer fluid.  No joke.

I find myself dispersing random facts of life at every opportunity to ensure that I’ve covered all possible topics before releasing my first-born to the world. A crash course in Life, if you will.

  • Expect to feel free.  You are about to grasp that Golden Ring of Freedom that every teen craves.  For the first time, you’ll have no parental supervision.  But let me remind you that even in the absence of authority, actions have consequences.  And the fact that you will make more of your own decisions means that you will assume more of the responsibility for the outcome.  Think before you act.  Or as your grandpa the carpenter would say, “Measure twice.  Cut once.”
  • Expect to feel lonely.  Even if you’ve forged strong bonds with new friends and are having the time of your life, you will, at some point, feel lonely.  You may be standing shoulder to shoulder in a crowd of 10,000 students on the college quad and it will strike you that you are utterly alone.  The good news is that loneliness is a slingshot.  It propels you back in the direction of meaningful connection.  Just as spontaneously as you fell into loneliness, you will reconnect and wonder what your heart was fussing about.
  • Expect to feel amazed.  You probably feel pretty worldly already.  But I assure you, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet.  Get ready for jaw-dropping stories and experiences, the likes of which may test your faith in humanity.  You’re leaving a bubble of relative predictability and heading to a melting pot of cultures, customs and values.  This isn’t a bad thing.  If you observe from a reasonable distance like a wildlife researcher, your observations will resemble a really good movie.  Grab some popcorn.
  • Expect to be betrayed.  There’s no sugar-coating this one, darling.  A friend will tell your secret, or a roommate may steal your boyfriend.  But at the end of the day, there will always be more good in the world than bad.  I can’t give you scientific proof of this, but I believe it with all my heart.
  • Expect to be loved.  You know this one.  Love has no boundaries.  Your family will not forget you or wane in our affection while you’re gone.  Your place in our hearts is guaranteed.

What I’m trying to say, my dear, is that yes, college is a big deal for a small-town girl. But it’s just another season of life.  There will be harsh Winters AND glorious Springs.  As long as your heart beats, you will weather the seasons, because that’s what humans do.  They live through all manner of experiences from horrific tragedy to mind-blowing joy.  Some survive and others thrive.  Each decides.

One Direction

one directionDespite my love for football, I’d never been to Gillette Stadium – home of the New England Patriots.  And I never suspected that when I did get there, I’d be amidst throngs of screaming adolescent girls who were swooning over the five adorable lads of One Direction.

I should have been prepared for the frenzy after hearing a remote comparison to Beatlemania.  One Direction themselves reported in an interview that American fans are their loudest and craziest.  But truly, I had NO IDEA.

Husband, a seasoned tailgater, packed the family SUV with coolers, grill and food.  Good sport that he is, he also decorated the windows with One Direction tribute.

one d

He, too, was taken off guard when observing that the men’s bathroom at Gillette, normally packed with obnoxious football fans, was so empty he ‘could have played whiffle ball’ in the vast space.  In short time, the men’s bathroom was converted to a temporary Ladies Room in order to accommodate the sea of females waiting in line.

Husband and I laughed about the contrast between this and our own teen concert experiences with rock bands of the 80’s.  Cell phones have replaced hairspray torches (thank God), and LED graphics have replaced strobe lights.  But in spite of all the differences, one thing remains the same – teenage obsession.

I recall the internal pandemonium – the feeling of coming unglued at the sight of my celebrity crush – a rockstar, an actor…  I see girls quivering and crying, hear their frenzied screams, and feel their pain. Complete surrender to the allure of a star is intoxicating.  He’s singing to me.  He means his words.  He loves me too – didn’t he say as much in his song?

I’d dream of my hero, unable to shake the memory of seeing his face, albeit on a jumbotron from 2000 yards away.  He was there!  He was real!!  I wanted desperately to be recognized.  If only I was famous too.  Then life would be great.

At some point the crushing reality sets in that no, your rockstar crush didn’t see you.  He won’t ever know you, and elation gives way to depression or disinterest – until the next big thing comes along.  Thus goes the cycle.

What I didn’t realize as a teen was the flip side.  What happens to the star at the end of the show?  The tragic death of Robin Williams makes it difficult to avoid the topic of the dark side of fame.  In a 1981 television episode, Robin, as the character Mork, says, “being a star is a 24-hour job and you can’t leave your face at the office…some can’t take it.”  Chilling.

Truth be told, I actually enjoy One Direction.  I tap my foot to their music and applaud their clean image.  But I worry about them.  They are so young.  And so suddenly popular.  So instead of dreaming of them at night as I’m sure my daughters do, I pray for them.  Please be okay lads, even when the fickle little girls turn away.

4 Things I Want My Daughter To Know About The College Search

CollegeDear Principessa,

I can tell by the glossy look in your eyes that you are lost in worry.  The prospect of college is daunting.  You wonder if you are smart enough, prepared enough, or brave enough.  You perform the tricks that your educational system demands but question its effectiveness.  You compare yourself to standards and graphs and peers and end up feeling like a bruised tomato in a tossed salad.

Take a deep breath and know that all is well. Contrary to popular sentiment, the decisions you face are not as dire as you’ve been led to believe.  It’s okay to be confused.  It’s okay if you choose a college or a career and change your mind.  That’s what growing up is all about – figuring out who you are and how you want to contribute to life.  If you’re like most people, you’ll never stop questioning yourself.  Nor should you, unless you seek complacency (SAT vocabulary word alert – learn it.)

Try to remember these things:

  1. Stay In Your Own Lane – Don’t worry about what your peers are doing. Who cares if they’ve taken more honors classes or applied to more colleges? Focus on you and the life you’re driving, lest you crash. Distracted driving in life is as dangerous as in a car.
  2. Do Your Best – This advice is often misunderstood. Your best in any given moment is not the same as your best ever. Current circumstances determine your performance. If you’re tired or stressed, your best will be different from a day when you are on top of the world. That’s just the way it is. Roll with it.
  3. Open Your Mind – Believe nothing. Question everything. Explore, discover, and reveal life as you see it. Don’t take the world’s word for it about the way things are. See things through your unique eyes. Believe that they can be different and that they aren’t always as they seem. Am I making myself clear or do I have to reference Albert Einstein?
  4. Let Your Heart Sing – Your heart has a song that was composed just for you. I know because I’ve been listening to it since before you were born. No one else can play its music – it belongs only to you and it’s always in perfect pitch. The more you tune into your heart’s song, the better the world can hear it. Go ahead, let it sing, the world has been waiting.

You asked me if I would be disappointed in you if you made certain choices about college – choices that might not be in line with my own desires.  Are you kidding?  The only thing that would disappoint me would be if you made choices based on ‘shoulds.’  It would break my heart to watch you trudge through life, defeated and demoralized, because you didn’t care about yourself enough or know yourself enough to hear your calling.

I want three things for you, my daughter: Joy, Success (by your own standards), and Love.  I want you to love your life.  I’ve wished these things for you from babyhood and promised myself that I would help you find them.

You, Dear One, are a magnificent specimen of life.  You don’t see it yet, but you will, in glimpses or grandiosity, and I will be right here cheering for you.  I will always be your biggest fan.

Love,

Mom

5 Things I Want My Son To Know About Dating

mother's day tea. (2)Dear Beagle,

When you were in preschool we had a special date called “Mother’s Day Tea.  You and your classmates worked for a week to create invitations, place settings, and snacks.  On the day of the event, dressed up in your Sunday best and wearing a necktie for the first time, you sat patiently waiting at a pint-sized table for two.  I was outside the classroom waiting anxiously for my name to be called.  “Mrs. Dunham,” the teacher announced, which prompted you to stand up, push your chair in gracefully, and walk to the door to take my arm.  You led me to my place as if on official business, and asked me to join you for a bite.  I graciously accepted the tiny chair you pulled out as I fought back tears of joy.

My heart gushed with emotion that day.  Watching you learn the timeless lessons of hospitality thrust my mind toward the day you would be taller than me, dressing in man clothes and shaving in preparation for your date – which wouldn’t include me.

You had perfect manners that day, Beagle.  Any girl would have been proud to be sitting across from you.  My hope, now that you’re dating, is that you retain the sense of importance in this ritual.  You’ve got the basics, but there is so much more about relationships that I want you to know.  Here are the top five:

  1. Don’t be careless with another person’s heart and don’t let them be careless with yours.  You are playing with two hearts.  Protect them both with gratitude, for the risk of incurring hurt is high when you take each other for granted.  Be kind, be gentle, be aware.  Honor the validity of your partner’s feelings even when they differ from your own.  Love is a two-way street.  It’s not about taking and using, it’s about giving and receiving.  Listen to what your own heart is telling you and act on it with a mix of caution and abandon.  And most of all, be brave.  Because at some point your heart will be broken.  But it will heal and find the capacity to love again.  That’s what the heart does so well.  And if it’s you that departs first, let her down with dignity and you will preserve your own.
  2.  Love the one you’re with.  We all want to feel special to someone.  We want to know that the person we’re with has hand-picked us from the pack of possibilities.  At first we are fixated on the other, blinded by love.  But as time wears on, eyes may wander and observations may surface.  If you find yourself distracted by the ‘greener grass,’ it’s time to re-evaluate.  Take stock of your feelings and sort them out so you can make clear decisions.  Perhaps it’s time to move on, perhaps not.  But if you decide to stay, put your whole self into it.  Intimate relationships require and deserve focus.
  3. Don’t kiss and tell.  This is a no-brainer.  If you want your relationships to succeed, you must honor sacred ground.  No matter how much your ‘Boyz’ pressure you for information, keep it to yourself, even after the relationship has ended.  Back away from the desire to brag about your progress with a girl.  Respect the secrets you discover about each other and, dare I say, with each other.  You will never regret the practice of becoming trustworthy.
  4. Be yourself.  Partners in relationship have a way of highlighting each other’s warts, especially when the shine of newness has worn off.  When one chews too loudly or the other does that thing she always does, it’s easy to be critical.  We start to snip away at each other like tailors trimming and binding to make a perfect fit.  Sometimes we agree to give up parts of ourselves and we become altered versions of the whole person we were born to be.  True, we all have some ‘fat’ to trim; we could give up some bad habits that serve no one.  But each of us is perfect and valuable and worthy as is.   Better to find a person that fits the clothes than alter the clothes to fit a person.
  5. Take responsibility.  Relationships possess a level of risk, both physical and emotional.  Don’t let those risks run away with you.  Think before you speak.  Think even harder before you act.  Know what I’m sayin’?  Let me spell it out…If you don’t want to become a teen parent, protect yourself.  Don’t assume your partner is taking care of business.  Or better yet, abstain.  Enough said.                                                                                                                               The most important piece of wisdom to remember about relationships is this: YOU ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR YOUR OWN HAPPINESS.  Don’t try to blame your witchy girlfriend, or her angry mother, or her crazy friends.  No one makes you unhappy.  Happiness is a matter of choice and perspective.  If you love, respect, and care for yourself, happiness will not outrun you.

Beagle, you know how much I adore you.  You’ve long outgrown my cuddles, but I hope you’ll never outgrow my love.  I want the best for you and for all the people who are lucky enough to meet you in this lifetime.  So listen to your wise mother.  And bend down and kiss her once in a while.  She will always be your first love.

“So there’s this boy who stole my heart.  He calls me Mom.”  -anonymous

Driving Me Crazy

driverLong ago, husband and I determined that, whenever possible, the job of teaching our children would be delegated to professionals.  It’s not that we lack skills, but rather patience.  After several episodes of family meltdown on ski slopes, ice rinks, and swimming pools, we raised the white flag.  Better to preserve an amicable family dynamic than risk damage to our relationships over the breast stroke.  Our plan cost us thousands of dollars but saved us the possibility of nervous breakdowns or homicide.

Fast forward sixteen years to the opening chapter of Driver’s Ed.  I was shocked, but delighted, to pay close to $1000 for Principessa to learn all things car from the local school.  In a convenient memory lapse, I convinced myself that her twelve hours with the instructor would magically spare me many more hours of grief.  I know, naivete has no limits.

It turns out that the driving instructor was a handsome 20-something who apparently thought that my daughter’s driving was so perfect, he could catch up on texting whilst she experimented with her own rules of the road.  I could have complained, but truth be told, I knew it would take more than twelve hours behind the wheel no matter who sat beside her.

I was duly panicked to take the passenger seat but husband jumped in with his signature, ‘It’ll be fine’ attitude.  It wasn’t fine.

Six months after receiving her permit Principessa was still unclear about right-of-way and traffic lanes.  She blamed her confusion on the conflicting instruction she had received from husband and me.  Not to mention the way it was delivered – with a healthy dose of yelling.

Poor Principessa – first in line.   All along the way, she has suffered the brunt of our parental inexperience, helping us to carve out rules that would be solidly established by the time her siblings came of age.   They can thank her for the following rules of the road:  no driving with both parents in the car at once, no radio, no eating, no friends, no flip-flops…. Take note, parents.  I give you lessons learned the hard way.

The most helpful tip I can share was created by a desperate and teary-eyed Principessa, “Mom, maybe it would help if you pretended to be someone else.”  What?  You want me not to be your crazed, anxious, white-knuckled mother in the passenger seat?   Genius!  From thence forward, I became ‘Bernard’ (pronounced Bah-naaahd) and Principessa became ‘Barbie’ (prounounced Bahhh-bie).

From the moment we adopted our alter egos with thick Boston accents, the mood in the car transformed.  It’s wondrous that we didn’t crash, so steeped were we in humorous banter.  Barbie and Bernard had a grand time on the road – for the most part.  To say that I became a flawless driving instructor would suggest a level of aplomb beyond my abilities as a quick-tempered Italian.  But I was a vast improvement incognito.

As the License Exam day approached, I found myself afraid that Principessa would fail, thereby extending my tenure as driving instructor.  So we crammed in late night sessions of parallel parking and three-point turns.  She would pass this test, damn it.  My sanity depended on it.

Alas, she did.  I waved goodbye to her on her maiden solo voyage, and recalled a radio advertisement that claims “the first year of a teen’s driving is the most dangerous year of her life.”  What the what?!  I needed that terrifying tidbit like I needed an inflated auto insurance premium.

When Principessa offered to take her siblings on an outing to the beach, I nearly vomited from the thought of losing all three at once in a car crash.   It’s going to take me a while to get used to this and to appreciate the positive aspects of having one less child to shuttle around.  In the meantime, I’m losing sleep and gaining gray hair.  And, despite that, loving it all.

The Old Shoe

 

I am an old shoe, shoved to the back of the closet, worn thin and out of style.  But in my hay-day I was really something.  Your consideration of my needs will polish me and help me to shine again.

 

I am slowing, not fading.  Please give me time to catch up.

I am needy, but not helpless.  Allow me to do what I can, and trust me when I say ‘I can’t.’

I am dull in senses but not without feeling.  Be gentle with me.

I am less clear mentally, but not stupid.  Treat me with respect.

I am fearful, but still hopeful.  Protect me and my remaining dreams.

I have less bodily control, but no less dignity.  Shield me from embarrassment and teach me things in a way that doesn’t diminish me.

I value the old ways that defined my youth.  Please don’t invalidate my long-held  beliefs.

You cannot expect me to be who I was. I am changed.  But I have not lost ‘it’ and you have not lost me.  I am still the mother who carried babies, the man who supported a family, the person who achieved and gave generously of resources.  I’m a little more crusty and vague, I admit.  But I am still valuable.   I hope you see that too.

 

This post is dedicated to the clients whom I am privileged to work with every day.  And to aging people everywhere.

Letter For New School Year

kindergartenDear Beagle,

It’s the start of another school year and your first year of High School.  Wow!  Remember that first day of kindergarten?  The teachers put you on the bus by mistake when I was planning to pick you up.  We were both so scared. We’ve come a long way since then.

I bet you’re glad to be in the home stretch.  You haven’t always been the biggest fan of school.  But this is IT – the period of time when you’ll gather stories that you’ll share in reminiscent conversations for the rest of your life.  ‘When I was in High School….’

You may love this school year or hate it.  You may have a teacher who doesn’t ‘get’ you, or a friend who breaks your trust.  But you will also cross paths with kind people and brave people and people who appreciate your sense of humor.  Love them all.  Be inspired by every experience – even the ones that make you want to scream.  Because this is real life – a bunch of experiences that make you want to cringe or to celebrate.  All of them are a pile of gifts just waiting to be opened by you.  Life is waiting to see what you’ll do with these gifts.

School might seem like a place that you have to go to.  I get that.  You can’t wait to be done, to be free in the world to make your own choices.  But the truth is, you’re already free.  Each day that you show up for life, you have choices.  You get to choose whether you’re miserable or happy.  You choose to be kind or to be mean.  You choose to do the work that is asked of you or not.  Every choice that you make tells the world who you intend to be.

Dad and I don’t send you to school hoping you’ll be the smartest or funniest or coolest.  We don’t care if you’re picked for a team or invited to parties.  We don’t hope you’ll be the best at anything because we already love you completely.  You can’t earn more of our love or lose any of it.  That’s the way it is.

We send you to school to experience life.  To practice being you in a sea full of people.  To learn how to be brave and disciplined.  To make mistakes and learn to forgive yourself.  To discover your hidden talents and maybe some limitations too.

Take care of yourself this year, Beagle.  And your classmates and teachers too.  You’re all together in this thing called school.  Dad and I are here to support you.  We will always be your biggest fans.

Love,

Mom

Getting Noticed

trophyIt’s awards season at school and not every child is receiving an award.  This is great news for families with high achievers but not so great for the remainder.  Or is it?

Sure, it’s fun to be on top, to be part of that crowd, to be selected.  We want to be recognized and appreciated, deserving or not.  When we’re overlooked, it can be deflating, as if our ‘doing’ wasn’t enough.  The problem is that the not doing enough feels more like not being enough, which is a slippery slope to travel.

Winning can be treacherous.  It’s addictive, like caffeine.  If we become praise-dependent, we are in danger when the winning ends, (as it eventually will) because the high goes with it and takes a chunk of self-image along for the ride.  We recover,yes, but do we ever stop seeking the reward?  If you love coffee, do you ever stop being wistful when you smell that aroma?

We humans enjoy praise and approval.  Sometimes, a simple pat on the back is all we need to stay motivated.  How many times have you heard a person complain about being unappreciated by a boss or a spouse?  A little recognition goes a long way.  The problem is, there’s no guarantee in life that you’ll be given due accolades.  The truth is, it’s no one’s job to approve of us – except us.

When Principessa lamented that she had been passed over for an award which she felt she had earned, her perception was one of bewilderment and frustration.  “What do I have to do to get noticed?”  Therein lies the problem.  When the self-satisfaction in a job well-done is dependent on recognition, we suffer.

“Go ahead,” I advised.  “If you want a ‘doing’ award, then DO.”  Do the parlor tricks where you hit a ball 90 mph or block the most goals, or get the highest test grades.  Practice as hard as you can.  Stay up late studying.  Worry yourself silly.  Pile your efforts on top of your talent and go for it.  Teachers and coaches will notice you with a certificate and a handshake.  You may even get a scholarship, which will make your parents extra happy.  But none of these things guarantees your success.  You may have more choices for college; colleges like people who achieve on paper and in the field.  It’s a bonus if you end up being a good kid too.  But these admirers can’t promise you happiness, or even a good career.

There will be no awards for most mature teen.  If there were, you would win.  There is no prize money for most honest and loyal.  You’d win those, too.  Heck, I could list a hundred things you do ‘better’ than your peers.  But the point is not to feel better than.  Your job, my dear teen, is to figure yourself out – how you want to contribute to the world and who you want to be. If you never win an award in the process, smile and say thank you for the not noticing.  While all eyes are looking in the other direction, you are working on humbleness and self-motivation. Without the complication of external feedback, you are free to explore yourself and develop your own unique purpose that is not dependent on another’s opinion.

You don’t need people telling you you’re doing a good job at life.  There is no such thing.  There is no good life or bad life.  There is only life, full of limitless potential.  What you do with that potential is your choice.  What others think of your choices -the way they do or don’t take notice – is their business.

Principessa, I admire you.  I don’t tell you all the time because I don’t want you to rely on my admiration.  My words are of better use in helping you find what will sustain you for the long haul.  My job is to nurture your passions and  help you discover the greatness  in yourself, for yourself.  Because when all the award ceremonies are over, you still have to live with you, even when no one is watching.

Unsticking the Stuckness

oh-the-places-youll-go“I feel stuck,” she whined.  “It feels like everyone is moving forward without me.  This one is dating, that one is achieving, and I….I am going sideways.”

Principessa is in the Waiting Place –  that frustrating place in the Great Balancing Act of Life.  I remember when the Waiting was a place I loathed.  I too, was a teen itching for excitement and forward motion.  These days, as a parent, the ‘nothing is happening’ place is a welcome reprieve from the ordinary chaos.   It represents safety and calm.  Not so for an eager teen teetering on the edge of the nest.  She is percolating with frustration and worry.

I ask Principessa to look at the bare-limbed trees outside.  They are resting.  Months ago they dropped their leaves in order to preserve energy for the Spring revival.  The trees didn’t worry when they lost their leaves because they knew that their season to shine would come around again.  They just had to be patient.

But it’s hard to believe in seasons when you’re a teen.  NOW is where it’s at.  I. Want. It. NOW.  Which is just another version of ‘I’m not enough as I am.’ Whenever I hear this ‘not enough’ story, (including from myself,) I follow with the question, “Not enough for whom?”

We could spend a lifetime chasing ourselves with a stick, slinging accusations and pointing out failures, which is essentially what we do when we entertain self-criticism.  We think that comparison keeps us motivated to achieve.  We are convinced that without ‘not good enough’ we are in danger of falling behind.  In truth, the only purpose it serves is to keep us in a perpetual state of anxiety.

Long ago I read this bit of wisdom:  Perhaps the question is not, ‘How can I be who I want to be?’ but rather, ‘How can I want to be who I am?’  Loving the self is tricky business.  Contentment is often confused with complacency or vanity.

I remind Principessa to stay in her own lane and keep her eyes on the road.  If your attention is on the person who’s passing you and you’re worried about falling behind, who’s driving your life?

My words of wisdom barely hold the teen tears at bay.  In a final attempt at rescuing Principessa from herself, I gather her in a cuddle and begin to read to her for the first time in many years.

Somehow you’ll escape

All that waiting and staying.

You’ll find the bright places

Where Boom Bands are playing.

You’ll get mixed up, of course,

As you already know.

You’ll get mixed up

With many strange birds as you go.

And will you succeed?

Yes! You will, indeed!

(98 and ¾ percent guaranteed.)

Kid, You’ll move mountains!

I felt Principessa’s body lighten.  “I never understood this book when I was little.  Now I do.” she said quietly, then leaned in for a kiss.

Thank you, Dr. Seuss, for getting the job done.  You were a genius!

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