Thursday, October 29, 2009

This Is It - It definitely would have been

People who know me well (or who knew me when...) will not be surprised that I went to see This Is It yesterday when it opened. For those of you who don't recognize the movie by its title, it's the footage from Michael Jackson's rehearsals for his last concert series scheduled for London's O2 Theatre this year.

From interviews I've listened to and read, I believe MJ gave the concert this name because he intended for it to be his crowning achievement, a lasting legacy for his children and his fans. This girl believes it definitely would have been.

I was fortunate enough to see Michael in his heyday - 1988 for his Bad tour. (I still have the ticket stub - I paid a whopping $25 for the experience. Think of that....) He was everything you'd expect, and I remember the feeling I had just being in the same building with him. No matter what else you say about the man, you have to acknowledge his creative genius.

Bad was the last album of his that I bought. I didn't continue to follow him, except for the snippets of news I would get nightly on TV or in the headlines of my local paper. I was never able to form an opinion as to what I thought about the allegations of molestation that plagued him in the recent past. The teenager that fawned over him in the '80s couldn't conceive of the idea that he would hurt anyone. The mother I am now shivered at the thought of what he might have done with those kids. All I know is that the criminal case foundered and he was never convicted of anything. I know his wealth would have been a beacon to unscrupulous people looking to make some money. Really, it doesn't matter what I think about that, does it?

The fact remains that a performer I was fanatical about as a teenager died so much sooner than he should have, taking his genius with him. Kind of. Because what we have left - This Is It - is a wonderful celebration of Michael at his best. The concert would have been phenomenal - amazing stage sets, new films shot to play behind his live performance on stage, choreography worthy of the King of Pop - and I would have paid several hundred dollars to see it. Thousands of people already had when he died.

This Is It does not exploit Michael Jackson. It does what he wanted his concert series to do: It plants him firmly back at the top of the pop charts. It gives us one more look at the performer who broke records - and hearts when he died - all around the world. It gives us a chance to remember him at his best.

And when it comes down to it, isn't that what all of us want when our time's up? To leave the best of ourselves behind? Michael did that. This Is It is it.

Friday, October 9, 2009

The flour baby

My daughter is a sophomore and is currently taking the one required trimester of health. It's been an interesting week in that class, for both of us.

On Tuesday, I had to go to the store to buy a five-pound bag of flour which she promptly named Kadence Lily. Yes, she named a sack of flour. Why? you ask. Because for a week she has to pretend it's a baby. It - sorry, Kadence - goes to school with her on Monday, and then she drops her baby off at "daycare," which is her health teacher's room, for the day. When she's performing next weekend with her marching band, guess who gets to babysit. Oh, yes, Grandma Sharon. I am expected to take that sack of flour - sorry again, Kadence - to the competition and sit with it in the bleachers while I watch my daughter perform. I've already scouted the territory of, "Well, what if I just leave it - her - at home? Who's going to know?"

"MOM!" my daughter responded with mock indignation. "You have to take her!"

Yes, my daughter knows it's not a REAL baby. (Even if we did buy some onesies to dress it in. She swears she's not the only one doing that, and I do believe her.) But she wants this to be an authentic experience. She wants to play her part, so I have to play mine out of respect for her. (I'm taking a big tote bag to the band competition and Kadence is going to be at the bottom of that.)

Today, she came home from school and said that she'd been given a handout with diagrams that demonstrated how to do a breast exam on herself.

"Mom, it was an old woman with real saggy boobs and that's just wrong! I didn't need to see that!" We had a good laugh over it. (Especially too, because the handouts had been miscopied and on the flip side were diagrams demonstrating the proper method for checking oneself for testicular cancer. Imagine that in the hands of a 15-year-old girl.)

But after we got done chuckling, I talked to her about how important those self checks can be, and how frustrating they can be. It's difficult to know - at least for me - what's just me and what might be the beginnings of a cancerous tumor. I told her that if she actually started doing them now, maybe by the time that the threat of cancer is a lot more real for her, she'll have a much better idea as to what is her and what isn't. Practice surely helps.

Which got me thinking . . . Isn't that what we, as parents, try to do with our kids? Aren't we trying to teach them - while we have them under the safety of our own roofs - how to handle the twisted, slippery roads of life, both through our own experiences and theirs, as they grow? Don't we want them to practice their decision making skills so that hopefully when they're out on their own they will have honed those skills well enough that they'll keep themselves (relatively) safe, happy, and healthy? Of course that's what we're trying to do.

So bring on the flour babies. I'll babysit Kadence Lily whenever she asks.

Monday, October 5, 2009


My daughter and I were talking about serious matters last night, about choices we make in life, about the choices I hope she makes.

I've been honest with her about my life as a teenager in the hopes that maybe she won't make some of the same mistakes I made, that she won't live with some of the same regrets.

She told me she doesn't believe in regret. I responded, "That's only because you haven't lived as long as I have."

I went on to say that I think having regrets is healthy. Our regrets are evidence that we made mistakes, that if we could go back and do things over again, we'd do them differently because we've learned important lessons along the way.

She said that she believes in learning lessons from mistakes, but that you shouldn't dwell on the mistakes, that you shouldn't let them consume you and define who you are. In her mind, regret equals wallowing. I realized that in essence, we were on the same page.

Like her mother, she will make mistakes, and she will (hopefully) learn from them. My regret is that I haven't been able to prevent her from making them in the first place.

For another perspective on this theme, visit Billy Coffey's blog entry, The great front yard experiment. I love the way this guy writes.