Casper, the Friendly Disciplinarian

Jane has reached the age where she quickly hides whatever she is doing anytime I unexpectedly walk into the room. It doesn’t even matter if she’s doing something wrong or not. The phone gets tucked under the blanket. The Kindle gets hidden behind the bathroom cabinet. The hands go quickly behind the back.

Yesterday, I walked into her room and the paper she was writing on was suddenly turned upside down and her hand was placed firmly over it.

“What are you writing?”

“Nothing.”

“Yes, you are. What are you writing?”

“Nothing. It doesn’t apply to you. It’s nothing.”

Jane’s mother is an insanely curious person. Being none of my business does little to quench the curiosity. I sat down on her bed. “Who is it to?”

“No one. It’s nothing.” At this point she crumpled the paper up and clenched it in her fist. Oh, boy, now the curiosity was racing.

“If it’s nothing then why can’t I see it? Who are you writing to?”

“Myself. I’m writing to myself and it’s nothing.”

At this point, the mother part of me realized that she was very uncomfortable and I shouldn’t push. She wasn’t acting like she had done something wrong. She just seemed embarrassed. The curious part of me idly wondered if I might be able to sneak in and find it after she went to bed. “Ok, fine. If you don’t want me to read it, I won’t.”

She pressed the paper back out on her table and picked up the marker she was using. I walked out the door, wondering if I could live with not knowing what she was writing.

Today, I asked her again what she wrote about.

“Do you want to read it?” she asked.

“Yes.”

“OK. You can read it.” She left the room and returned with the paper ball, which she threw at me with a smile. I read it and started laughing. Her father, grandmother, aunt, and her aunt’s boyfriend were all around the table. With her permission, I wadded the paper up and threw it to her dad, who read it and then wadded it up to throw it to her aunt, and so on until everyone had read it.

I got her permission to share it here after telling her that I found it very creative and a cute attempt to motivate herself. Before I share it, you must know that Jane has an imaginary friend named Casper. She knows he’s not real. At least, I think she does. Here’s the paper:

casper_discipline

In case you can’t read it through the wrinkles, it says “Make your bed or you aren’t allowed to txt for 20 days!! I mean it! Love, Casper”

Her bed, by the way, was very nicely made this morning. I guess I need to take a page from Casper’s playbook. The threat of a texting ban was obviously effective.

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The Start of Us

Teenagers are goofy creatures. When I was in high school, note passing was serious business. Sometimes I think more communication took place in missives passed in the halls or across the classroom aisles than during lunch or after school.

I passed notes with several people. One was my best friend’s (recently ex-)boyfriend, who also happened to be my (recently ex-)boyfriend’s best friend. Got that? Like I said, goofy. We were in Latin club together and had come to enjoy each other’s company.

I had begun to “like” him but he was already dating someone else. I liked him enough that I resolved to just be his friend if I couldn’t be more than that. Lucky for me, the girlfriend broke up with him.

One day, shortly before Halloween, he asked me – in a note, of course – who I “liked”. I listed three names. First names only. One was his.

He wrote back, “So tell me more about this ‘Daryl’ guy.”

I don’t remember exactly how I responded. I suspect I was worried about being rejected, despite the undeniable signals I was getting from him. So I’m sure I paid him some compliments and also made some little jibes, enough that I wouldn’t be too embarrassed if he wasn’t interested.

He wrote back, “What would your answer be if I asked you to go with me?” I guess I wasn’t the only one that was uncertain about the path forward.

My mom had some really old books on a shelf in the living room. One of them was a ladies’ etiquette guide from the late 1800’s or early 1900’s. I found the proper response to a gentleman who has requested permission to court and decided to use it. After all, that’s basically what he was doing.

Then, on Halloween day, 1990, he popped the question. Via a passed note. “Will you go with me?” I wrote “yes.”

And thus was the start of us.

We have other anniversaries. There’s the day he asked me to marry him, and then the day nearly 10 months later when we told people we were engaged. And, of course, our wedding day. Halloween, though, was and always will be our first anniversary. The day the two of us officially started down the path that has led us to where we are now. Still in love. And still goofy.