Henrico County opinions

Growing a grown-up: Part II


When we last touched on the subject of how to raise a grown-up, I mentioned what I considered the Number One rule: limiting TV and other electronic entertainment. Keeping those in the realm of parental control is essential if kids are to develop initiative and intellectual curiosity – and to grow up understanding that entertainment is not a 24-7 entitlement.

The Number Two rule I would suggest is avoiding “7-Eleven syndrome.”

My friend Cindy coined the term when she was going through a divorce, and her husband would pick up their girls for an outing.
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All hail to mothers and the hardest job of all


I once thought that raising my children was the hardest work I had ever done or would ever do.

Raising my three daughters was so physically, mentally and emotionally taxing that I often fell asleep at 9 p.m. when they were young – the instant I had them tucked in bed.

By midmorning, I was always drained of mental and physical energy (quite literally "drained" in the days of nursing infants on demand), and almost crazed with exhaustion by nighttime. There was never enough sleep, and there were never enough breaks.
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Cabin fever cures - and blessings

The wintry weather we’ve been having lately brings to mind a popular discussion topic at playgroups and mom forums back when I had young children: cabin fever – and how to cope with it.

In Pennsylvania, where we lived when my kids were small, there was no such thing as having too many ideas on how to liven up those long dreary days of indoor confinement. Not only were winters considerably longer and snowier than Richmond’s, but it was the 1980s, and there were fewer entertainment options around.
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Time to give spanking the boot


The fuss about Adrian Peterson has died down in the last month, but the case continues to bother me – and will for some time.

Like a lot of people, I was appalled to hear that Peterson, a Minnesota Vikings football player, whipped his four-year-old with a wooden switch to the point of injuring him.

But that is not what left the lingering bad taste in my mouth, and what discouraged me so much about the whole affair.

What really took me aback was how many people defended him, and how many advocate physical punishment of children.
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An actual holiday spirit


There are three kinds of people when it comes to Christmas – those who love it; Scrooges and Grinches; and those who fall somewhere in between.

The Christmas-lovers are the ones who hum Christmas jingles year round; who start trying out new holiday cookie recipes in July and beginscouring Christmas stores for decorations in August; who love to flip through holiday-themed magazines; who are thrilled when stores hang ornaments in September; who like to wear those jingly, blinking sweaters; and who savor Christmas shopping as their favorite sport. I have even heard of Christmas lovers who go shopping on Christmas Eve – despite having everything on their lists – just because they want to be part of the "hustle and bustle."

Clearly, these people are certifiable.
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School calendar overhaul long overdue


It's a 19th-century anachronism, and long ago stopped serving its intended purpose.

It has failed to keep up with social change, continues to stifle progress, and acts as a major obstacle to growth and improvement.

It makes no sense whatsoever in the 21st century, yet continues to exist because of bureaucratic inertia, resistance to change, and the attitude "we've always done it that way."

It wastes space, time, manpower and – most of all – it results in the waste of millions of young minds.

Yes, I'm talking about our antiquated and inflexible school calendar.
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Modern parents have it soft (or do they?)


By the time my first child was born, I assumed parenthood couldn’t hold too many surprises. Between caring for three younger siblings, monopolizing my neighborhood babysitting market, and coaching youth sports for the previous two decades, I had more experience with children at age 28 than some adults accumulate in a lifetime.

But I was still in for a shock when my daughter arrived.

I never anticipated the bone-deep, sapped-of-all-life weariness I would feel after a day of being home with her (and later her two sisters).

I never dreamed how mentally cruel motherhood could be: how my children would not only dominate my every waking thought, but seize my subconscious and induce crazy, irrational nightmares about them as I slept.
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Cemeteries: for reverence or recreation?


When the story broke recently about an uproar over an Easter egg hunt in a Norfolk cemetery, I took more than a passing interest.

You see, I spend a lot of time in a cemetery these days. My daughter Lanie is buried at Hollywood, and I visit her grave and walk the cemetery at least three times a week.

I am partial to the place -- you might even say possessive. I think of it as my cemetery, while realizing that I actually share ownership with thousands of area residents, tourists, and descendants and relatives of the interred.
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Cooking for a vegetarian wanna-be

You know your 13-year-old child is truly growing up when he announces his plan to become a vegetarian, effective immediately.

“But you like meat,” I pointed out.

“True. But I don’t like the idea of eating animals.” He rubbed his belly sentimentally. “It doesn’t make me feel good.”

Apparently, meat of the porcine and bovine variety particularly bothers him. And poultry doesn’t sound too appetizing to him either. (Fish we can slaughter at will.)
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Henrico Business Bulletin Board

September 2017
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