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Nose Job

20 Aug


This past weekend my 2-year-old son really gave me something to cry about when he gave me a full head-butt backwards into my nose and nearly broke it. Surprisingly and fortunately for me, there was no blood, swelling, or bruising after the incident. But my son, knowing he had done something wrong, looked up at me with concern and said with his thumb stuck in his mouth, “Mama owie?”

This painful experience has caused me to reflect on just how powerful and unpredictable a toddler can be. It has also reminded me of the title of a book I think I’m authorized to write–Everything I Learned About Self-Defense I Learned From My Toddler.

In the course of raising five children, I’ve had my share of mama owies and wrestling matches as I’ve struggled to get them into car seats and shopping carts. And along the way, I’ve also learned a lot of valuable self-defense skills that I think all women could benefit from.

  • Imagine how effective you would be at taking someone out if you were grabbed from behind and you gave them a full head-butt in the nose.
  • Imagine how difficult it would be for someone to abduct you if you went suddenly limp or ramrod straight.
  • Imagine how difficult it would be for someone to remove you from a room if you were clinging to a doorframe with your hands and feet or were sprawled out kicking and screaming on the floor.

My nose is still a bit tender three days later, but I’m so glad I didn’t end up with an unexpected nose job. I’m a little more cautious around my thuggish toddler now. I suppose having a “head’s up” anticipatory attitude is yet another self-defense skill to add to the list because you never know what life is going to “throw” your way.


Warning: Don’t Laugh At This Man!

29 Jun

Part II of my experiences at the Phi Theta Kappa International Honors Institute at San Francisco State University, June 16-21, 2008…

On my day off in San Francisco, I went with my friends Roxanne and Derek down to Fisherman’s Wharf. We rode the subway train (MUNI) down to Pier 1. It happened to be a free day on the MUNI for everyone in the Bay area so the busses along the wharf were jam-packed. We didn’t want to wait around for an empty bus and it was a nice day so we decided to walk from Pier 1 to Pier 43 1/2. As we were walking along, we saw this street performer standing stock still on the sidewalk. I had seen similar performers on You Tube and thought to myself I would take a picture of this guy to show my teenage son when I got home. I didn’t have a camera with me, but I had picture-taking capabilities on my cell phone.

As soon as I whipped it out, Robot Man pointed his finger at me and strode directly toward me with a mean sneer on his face. He stuck a plastic cup in my face and flicked the rim of it with his finger. Out of nervousness, I laughed underneath my breath. He said in a menacing tone, “What are you laughing at ma’am?” I reddened a bit and put my cell phone back in my bag while my friend Roxanne put a dollar in his cup to appease him.

I don’t think this is the same guy, but here’s a video that demonstrates just how unbelievably rude and aggressive these people are.

The incident rattled my nerves a bit and made me upset for several reasons: 1) The guy didn’t even perform–he just wanted money for the privilege of looking at him or photographing him 2) He was a big bully and that made me even less inclined to want to give him anything.

Another homeless man we saw at Fisherman’s Wharf is known as the Bushman. His trick is scaring people by hiding behind two big branches, growling, and jumping out at clueless tourists. At least he makes people laugh instead of intimidating them! After he surprised us, we spent some time watching him, though I admit I didn’t give him any money either. Later in the day when we passed by him, we heard him yelling. We turned around to see what he was so upset about. Apparently someone’s dog had raised its leg on his bushes as it was going by and he was not too happy about being sprayed!

It’s interesting how this experience just happened to correlate with our 2008-2010 Honors Study Topic–The Paradox of Affluence: Choices, Challenges, and Consequences. I was troubled by my discomfort with homelessness and poverty when I was actually confronted with it. I live in a pretty affluent neighborhood and live a pretty cushy life, so I don’t often encounter people in this situation. I’m of the general opinion that a hand up is always preferable to a hand out, but how should our society address this particular challenge?

The best speaker at our Honors Institute, Dr. Raquel Pinderhughes, had some interesting ideas. As a Professor of Urban Studies at San Francisco State University, she has created a working model that provides “green collar” jobs, or manual labor jobs that improve the environment, for adults with barriers to employment. Pinderhughes’ presentation was upbeat and hopeful with an emphasis on the transformative power of education and the need for scholars to walk their talk by getting actively engaged in civic issues. I was inspired by her message and although I am mostly naive, uninformed, and baffled by the complexity of local, national, and global politics, I like to think that through my involvement with Phi Theta Kappa as the Vice President of Scholarship in my local chapter, I have the opportunity to contribute to social change even if it’s on a very small scale. Certainly it’s a step in the right direction as I struggle to overcome my own barriers of apathy and ignorance.

A Case of Mistaken Identity

1 Jun

It seems like I’ve had a lot of embarrassing moments lately. Here’s yet another opportunity to laugh at my expense…

So, Friday night, I’m at the grocery store at 10:00 with my 17-year-old son who is in charge of providing breakfast for our annual ward Father/Son Campout (ironically the one he and his dad won’t even be attending). I’m razzing him because the only time Mr. Independence seems to need me anymore is when he’s in a pinch and needs moola. He’s only just let me know 30 minutes earlier that he even has this assignment and we are standing in front of the dairy case trying to figure out how many eggs to buy.

As I’m trying to perform the mathematical calcuations in my head, I glance over at two young men in white shirts and ties who are approaching us. Without even thinking, I say to them, “Hey, Elders!” and then I think to myself, Hey, what are the Elders doing out so late? I look at my son who is looking at me strangely. Suddenly I realize my error. The two men are the store managers NOT Mormon missionaries!

The store managers look at each other quizzically, but then gallantly ask me if I’m finding everything I need. Flushed with embarrassment, I assure them, “Yep, I’m doing okay, just fine thank you…”

“Mom, what were you thinking?” chides my mortified son as they stride away.

Chuckling I respond, “Well, they looked just like the Elders! The missionaries in our ward change nearly every week and they looked vaguely familiar to me. If they were older men, I wouldn’t have made that mistake.”

I guess I could continue to make up excuses for my lapse such as my age or my inability to function well after 8:30 at night. But as I sit here with egg on my face, I think how good it is to be able to laugh at myself, to even get over my self-consciousness long enough to blog about it, and to remember as Anna Fellows Johnston put it, we often “need laughter sometimes more than food.”

Doing the Foxtrot

14 May

Funny story.

My 13-year-old daughter and I belong to a Mother Daughter book club. This past Friday, we drove out to Roxborough, along with two other mother/daughter pairs to the new home of one of our members for our bimonthly meeting. (Roxborough is a growing residential area in Douglas County, but is still more remote and rural than Highlands Ranch.)

 As we wound through the homes nestled on the scenic hillsides, we spotted mule deer grazing along the roadside and commented on how nice it must be to live so close to wildlife and in such a lovely setting.

When we arrived, I parked above my friend’s house on a gravel road and we walked down her sloped driveway so I wouldn’t have trouble backing out when it came time to leave.

Before dusk, our daughters and my friend’s other children were playing outside. From time to time, we could hear their delighted shrieks as they chased after small groups of mule deer who happened into the yard. As I watched the skittish creatures bound away across the grass, I asked my friend if they had had any encounters with coyotes. (Although I live in suburbia, there have been ongoing problems in my own neighborhood with coyotes snatching small pets and displaying aggression, particularly towards children.) She replied that they had a fox den nearby, but that so far, they had not had any encounters with coyotes, mountain lions, or bears. Still, I was a bit nervous as I watched her cat and two-year-old wander in and out of the house unattended.

When it came time to leave later that night, my friend apologized that her porch light was out. Using the remote control to my van, I opened the side doors so we would at least have the interior lights to guide us. We said our goodbyes and my friend shut the front door. It was quite dark, but the walk was short. The girls and one of the moms scrambled up the hillside while me and the other mom decided to take the driveway. I was just telling her how jumpy I felt, when I looked over to my right and spied less than ten feet away a dark hunched shape crouching on the road.

“It’s a coyote! Run!” I screamed.

My normally very calm and collected friend screamed too and we both took off running toward the car.

In the course of my sprinting, I stepped right out of both of my sandals but kept on running in my bare feet until I reached the car.

“Shut the doors!” I yelled as I quickly switched on the headlights.

There, just outside the yellow beam I could see the unmistakable form of a fox standing in the road and my two deserted sandals. Of course, we all started laughing with relief. My friend that had run with me to the car offered to retrieve my shoes. Jokingly, I said, “It’s not worth it–they were only $15! Don’t do it!” But keeping her eye on the fox, she bravely got out of the car and picked them up for me. As we drove away, a baby fox with a perplexed look in its eye peeked out of its den. He was probably wondering what all the ruckus was about.

Since that night, we have all had a good belly laugh at my expense. But that’s okay. I know I’m lily-livered (or maybe I was just demonstrating what I learned about the fight-or-flight response in my Psychology class this semester!) At any rate, I’m sure glad I didn’t step on the hem of my elastic-waisted broomstick skirt as I was running away or it would have ended up in the road, too.

Then everyone would have really had a memorable encounter with nature. Yikes! 😀