Parenting is Hazy, Try Again

Ear ThermometerWhen I was a kid and complained that my head hurt or my stomach hurt or I just plain didn’t feel well, my mother gave the thermometer final authority over whether I went to school or stayed home.

If I didn’t have a fever—101°F or above—and didn’t throw up before the bus arrived, I went.

This was partially because perfect attendance was a bragging point among parents back then—far more important than keeping one’s germs at home—and partially because I had a habit of visiting the nurse’s office every Monday morning with all the symptoms of a kid who did not want to spend another single second in school.

Jane often doesn’t want to be in school, either.  So when she complained yesterday morning that her head hurt, I did as my mother did before me and turned to our thermometer like a magical, medical 8-ball, while quizzing her about any tests or assignments or boys she might be avoiding.

Her temperature was absolutely normal.  Mine was higher than hers.

So, again in the family tradition, I dosed her with Tylenol—I didn’t doubt she had a bit of a headache, since we share DNA and it was starting to rain—and dropped her off.

A couple hours later, while I was at the library helping several of my co-workers to wrestle general fiction back to its permanent home, the school called and told me that Jane had complained about having a bad headache, though their thermometer also claimed she didn’t have a fever.

I sympathized, glanced at the clock, and asked them to give her a half dose of the Tylenol I’d sent along with her inhaler at the beginning of the year and send her back to class.

Thirty minutes later, as I was struggling to get an overloaded cart into the elevator without tipping it, the school called again to report that the meds hadn’t made a dent and Jane seemed pretty out of it.  It was suggested that since she wouldn’t be able to concentrate today, she might take her lack of concentration home, in case it was contagious and/or suddenly invaded her digestive system.

Jane came on the line.  I told her, as my mother had told me, that if she came home, there would be no TV, no electronics, and homework would be completed.

Her “Okay, Mom.” was subdued.

My guilt warred with the distinct feeling that I was being played and joined forces with the guilt over suspecting my own devious spawn  beloved offspring of trying to play me.

And succeeding.  Because when the thermometer lets you down, what other avenues do you have?

My husband had classes all day, so I told them to gather her homework, threw myself on the mercy of my boss, assumed custody of the patient from the school’s administrative assistant (who did not seem overly impressed by my apparent lack of parental sympathy), took her home, and stayed with her.

Jane fell heavily asleep for four hours, woke up, had some soup, did her homework, welcomed her little sister home with the customary noogie, and was her usual delightfully obnoxious self for the rest of the day.

Was she actually sick? Or just sleepy?

I don’t know.

Had I actually been sick, all those years ago?


Does it really matter, in the greater scheme of things?

Not a clue.

But it’s clear that parenting paradigms have changed and maybe my parenting methods–and attitude—should change with them.

To start, I’ll be swapping our thermometer for a magic 8-ball for the tough calls.

If Jane doesn’t shake it more than once to get the answer she wants, she’s definitely sick.

Reply Hazy


Weekend Writing Warriors: Odd Duck (Eddie)

We WriWa bannerHave a WIP, an EIP, an MS, or a published work you want to share on your blog, eight sentences at a time?

Want to sample other people’s WIPs, EIPs, MSs, or published works, eight sentences at a time?

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List of participants is here!


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I’m still typing up my nanoduck, which is slower going than I’d anticipated. This is partially the fault of work, which has uncharacteristically knocked the stuffing out of me this week, and partially Other Priority Projects.

So I’m not trying to do much editing as I go; the point is to get it all into the same format so I can print it out and have a literal cut-and-paste (or staple) party.  But since I know where the story is going, there are a few things I’ve corrected as I fly past with the speed and grace of Zippy the Safety Snail and some things I’ve actually saved in a special document like the word hoarder I am cut, including a couple of minor characters who don’t do much but give Tom a reason to dump info.

But Eddie, the valet at the snobbish and very expensive Poisson d’Or, is a keeper.  I think he adds a little larcenous patina to Tom’s untold backstory and also does our hero a couple of small solids that are keeping me from testing the readers’ suspension of disbelief regarding coincidences.

I like that in a secondary character.

Eddie may or may not be a Were—he hasn’t mentioned it yet. If he is, I’m guessing he’s probably something ferret-ish?


“Tomás!” the valet said. “Got a client, or did you hit the Lotto?”

“Hey, Eddie, what’s the scam?”

“Day job,” he said, with a shrug. “Gotta be somewhere, might as well make a buck.”

That probably meant he was casing the Poisson’s clientele and vehicles for future plans of a less than legal nature, but I let it slide. “Make sure no one takes the dents out of my fender or boosts the hubcap,” I said.

“Be a shame,” he said, gravely.


Tom is driving my car, by the way, though I’ve managed to keep both fenders and all the hubcaps.  Because rust is sort of Nature’s solder, isn’t it?

Random Thursday: Random Awesome

Random Thursday (ˈrandəm ˈTHərzdā): the day on which Sarah plunks down all the odd bits and pieces she’s been sent by friends or has otherwise stumbled upon this week in an effort to avoid writing a real post, the assembly of which usually ends up taking twice as much time as sitting down and creating actual content

The only thing this stuff has in common is that it made me go, “Whoa!”

Join me?


 Need a Birthday Cake for a Hoopy Frood?

Don’t panic.


Unless you don’t know what a hoopy frood is, or why towels are important.

Then you can panic a little, until you can get to a library or bookstore and ask where they’re keeping the Douglas Adams books.

Read. Enjoy. Repeat.

You can thank me with cake.

(Thanks, caitlin!)


One Does Not Simply Listen . . .


Can you imagine the roadies for this group?

“Thou shall not (without a backstage) pass!”

(Thanks, Kev! Force liquids,* dude—you’ll make it.)


Have the Holiday Blues?

Have 49 seconds of mongooses playing in a ballpit.

You’re welcome.

(Thanks, Watson—this was timely, believe me!)


Physics Pwn

Schrodinger gets pawnd

Hairballs may not have mass, but they do have squish . . .

(Thanks, Paula!)


Have Yourself a Minor Little Christmas

Chase Holfelder likes to arrange well-known songs in major keys to minor keys.
He’s really good at it.
I think I like this one better than the original, which I find a bit wistful, anyway.  The minor key just makes the tune fit.
*And by  “liquids”, I don’t mean “bourbon”.  It’s “feed a fever”, not “get it drunk and hope the hangover kills it.”  Sorry.

Whine of the Wild Librarian: Owww

Wild LibrarianMy library branch is currently closed for recarpeting and renovation and will remain closed until the day after Christmas.

This is a good thing, as all the nonfiction from the second floor is now on rows and rows of tables in my department on the lower level, fiction is filling up the first floor elevator bay to the children’s department, Horror is in YA, and most of the furniture in the building had been gathered or stacked in great piles to be broken down or assembled, respectively.

Shifting the library

The visual answer to the question, “But why can’t YOUR department stay open?”

I spent my day helping to transfer books from ranges to carts, deliver the carts for unloading, and take the empty carts back to the ranges.  I also tagged shelves, which involved tearing pieces from two rolls of identically-numbered sticky tape and slapping matching numbers on the first book on a shelf and the shelf itself.

This is necessary and saves reshelving everything after someone realizes after finishing the Ms that we forgot a cart way back in the Bs.

But since the tape is ancient—so old I couldn’t even find an image of the rolls—and very sticky, I had to scrape and pinch the pieces off the roll, which meant I repeatedly jabbed my thumbnail into the tip of my forefinger, for two hours.  It also meant doing a series of very slow toe touches at each section of the ranges, for two hours.

It was difficult to move this morning.  I may have cried, just a little, when I passed my stationary bike and remembered that I owe it some time tonight.

They never mentioned this in Library School. I didn’t have to shift books for the final.

It was bad enough to learn that librarians don’t actually sit around and read books all day, if at all, and that math is required on a daily basis—but this is adding injury to insult.

And next week, we’re going to have to put  everything back.

But it does have to be done, and who better to do it than people who care about the books and about being able to find them again, once all this is over?

So this morning I put on my favorite tee-shirt,* comfortable jeans, and my old, broken-in Adidas, and packed myself a nice Advil sandwich for lunch.

Bring it.

. . . slowly . . .





Weekend Writing Warriors: Odd Duck (Hooper)

We WriWa bannerHave a WIP, an EIP, an MS, or a published work you want to share on your blog, eight sentences at a time?

Want to sample other people’s WIPs, EIPs, MSs, or published works, eight sentences at a time?

Be a Weekend Writing Warrior!

Rules are here!

List of participants is here!


Or if you’re a fellow Facebook addict (we can quit any time we want to, right?),
why not check out the offerings of the Snippet Sunday gang?


I’m currently typing up my handwritten pages of the nanoduck and just reached this bit, a conversation between Our Hero Tom and Hooper, the bodyguard of Leda, an American Swan Princess whose father is powerful in both human and Were politics.

Leda is something of a hot wreck.

Hooper, on the other hand, is a calm, collected swan who could probably bench press a Chevy.

Whooper Swan

“It’s almost too bad you don’t like Leda,” Hooper said.  “You’re not such a bad guy.”

“Gosh, thanks,” I said. “What about you?  You like her—and you can’t tell me Swanson’s crap doesn’t rub you the wrong way; why not swoop down and save her from all this mess?”

“She likes it messy,” he said, shrugging. “She needs drama or she gets bored—and I want a mate, not a sparring partner, y’know?”

I knew.


Hooper isn’t an oxymoron, if you were wondering.

The very few male wereswans I’ve read about in fiction—there are fewer in legends—are mostly these otherworldly artistic types, as if Odette had a fraternal twin who was too physically delicate to make in it professional ballet, even after taking classes with his sister and her friends since he was five, so he becomes a high-strung college professor with turned out toes and an interesting translucent pallor.

But Real Life™ swans are actually these enormous birds with incredible upper body strength and powerful legs who could snap your arm with a single wing wallop. And they may look like they’ve been designed solely to droop in an artistic way, but they’re actually pretty savvy guys who are protective of their territories and bevies like whoa.

Some of the male swans in Tom’s world are still pretty droopy, possibly because they believe their own press.  Or maybe just ’cause the chicks dig it. Or maybe because of my narrative needs.

But Hooper went to college on a football scholarship.

I’m just sayin’.


Image of a Whooper Swan was taken by Pascal Aleixandre, located on WikimediaCommon, and shared under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License.