Tag: childhood

The Little Cloud that Cried…Or How to Chill in July

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image via pinterest
image via pinterest

University of Baltimore MFA grad Sue Loweree remembers her ice-skating contest/identity crisis. It’s such a cathartic read, especially in the Baltimore summertime, you’ll likely shiver.

The Omaha Convention Center is a big, cold building with ceilings as high as our new two-story house. I follow Mom and Miss Darby, the skating coach down the hall listening to them talk about Thursday night lessons.

Child Whispering

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The writer as a child with her mother and brother.

“Experience has taught us that we have only one enduring weapon in our struggle against mental illness:  the emotional discovery of the truth about the unique history of our childhood.” 

So begins Alice Miller’s The Drama of the Gifted Child, a book that’s been kicking around for the better part of four decades.  Strangely, no fewer than four people have mentioned to me in recent weeks.  Finally, I got a copy.

Toward Graphic Maturity

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image via fastcodesigns.com
image via fastcodesign.com

Essayist Lindsay Fleming ponders the character hidden inside each person’s handwriting.

I’m filling out the permission form for an after-school activity and call Addie over to sign her name. She’s 11 and several forms in the past year have required her signature. She watches me sign in the space for parent/guardian. I hand her the pen. She says, “But I don’t have a signature.”

The Treat of a Tree House

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Treehouse_roundwalk

This column, That Nature Show, is about the nature right under your nose: in our backyards, playgrounds and parks!  Stop and look around, you’ll be amazed at what surrounds you.

My son, 9, is what teachers call “not academically motivated.” Bless them. What they mean is that he’d rather be fishing. Or collecting worms. Not sitting doing subtraction. In class he’s a pain in the neck, in other words.

The Inexplicable Nature of Seed Pods

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image via aeliope.blogspot.com
image via aeleope.blogspot.com

University of Baltimore MFA student Ian Anderson remembers his teenage summers at the beach with friends who were like brothers until they couldn’t be any longer.

I was sitting on the step in the garage of Greene’s Bike Rental with my summer friends, Dominic and Marty. Dominic was a year younger than me, wearing a long, white t-shirt and gym shorts—his uniform. Marty was a year older than me, but the shortest and with the kindest face. We were waiting for the cops to show up. Mr. Greene assured us the cops were coming, and our parents. I was 14 years old, an age when angry parents are infinitely worse than anything the judicial system can offer. Mr. Greene kept walking around the garage, cursing, coming back to us, saying, “you little shits,” and then walking around again. I was scared. I think Marty and Dominic were, too, but they didn’t show it, so I didn’t either. The garage door was open, framing a blue sky with cotton candy clouds, the kind you see on postcards. The wind was coming in off the sea, cooling the streets of Wildwood, where my family rented an apartment above my grandmother’s beach house every summer. It was a beautiful day outside, but we were in the garage.

To Grace, From Mom – A Love Letter

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Dear Grace,

I miss you.  I know it hasn’t been a whole week yet, but I do.  I miss you like the sun would miss the moon, or the waves would miss the shore.  For 18 years, we have been companion forces of the universe, rising and falling in time, coming and going together.  But now, you are moving in your own direction, in your own time, as you should; and I miss you.

This morning, the house is quiet.  I passed your empty room, and my heart got heavy.  It will be months before you sleep here again.  You will be so busy making friends, navigating roommate issues, adjusting to college classes, learning how to eat from a cafeteria every day (and possibly learning how to drink shots).  I know you will do great – we have watched you conquer obstacles your whole life, and there is nothing you can’t do.

I will miss your beautiful face, and the radiance that surrounds you wherever you are.  I will miss your sparkling eyes, wide open to the world of possibilities that lie in your future.  I will miss your laughter – crazy, loud, quirky, and totally joy-filled.

Proof of a Happy Childhood

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Happy child with red paper heart. Image shot 03/2012. Exact date unknown.

How is it over?  I don’t think I looked away, but somehow I didn’t see it happening right now.  Her childhood is over.  Grace has grown up.  And Monday, she leaves.  I am stunned by the truth I have always known, and at this minute it is raw, and painful.  I will miss my little girl.

I spent the evening putting together a collage of Grace’s childhood – proof for her future roommates that it was a happy one, and that she comes from a loving family.  I dug through boxes of old photos – remember when we had boxes and envelopes of photos?  Duplicates of everything so we could send them to grandparents?  Well, all the old photos are in the basement, in dusty under-the-bed storage containers.  I sat on the floor, sifting through the years, staggered by the speed of life.

There are almost two decades of sheer beauty in there.  A life time, our life times.  Birthday parties with homemade Barbie cakes, pony rides, Halloween costumes, Christmas stockings, so many summers at the beach and lake, years when she lived in dress ups.  Pictures of family trips, and of the everyday – baking cookies with big-girl aprons and baker’s hats, and flour all over the kitchen.  How is that all in our past?

Sheppard Pratt Child Psychiatrist Answers Questions About Adam Lanza, Childhood Mental Health and more

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adam-lanza-ap

Even before the tears dry and the innocent are laid to rest, the questions come. Why did this terrible tragedy take place? Could anyone have prevented it? And how do we comfort our own children? For answers to these and related questions provoked by this week’s tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut that killed 20 children and six adults, BaltimoreFishbowl turned to Michael Bogrov, M.D., the chief child and adolescent psychiatrist at Sheppard Pratt Hospital.

BFB: From news reports, a fragmented profile of the shooter, 20-year-old Adam Lanza, has emerged. We know he had Asperger’s, a high-functioning form of autism, and was considered “troubled,” though the precise nature of his mental state is unclear. What is clear is that he lived a fairly isolated life. Social isolation seems to be a huge risk factor at play in several recent shooting rampages or attempts by young adults. Could you speak to that?    

Dr. Bogrov: Not only is social isolation one of the most significant risk factors, but it is one that people can do something about. People need to have some way of getting feedback about how they’re thinking. If someone is angry or feeling aggrieved, and no one is around as a sounding board, then that anger can escalate without anybody monitoring it. 

Coming Clean (about Baltimore)

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Artist, MICA instructor, world traveler, and well-meaning truth twister Marcus Civin faces (mostly) facts about his unexpected move back home…to Baltimore.

Originally, I’m from Saint Petersburg. When I learned to drink champagne, I learned in a castle back home. I learned to smash the empty champagne flute on the ground after a toast. My mother says a family of raccoons lived in our tool shed. Way back, I’m related to Dostoyevsky—yes, the great Russian novelist.

My father did his medical residency at the National Institutes of Health, outside of Washington, DC, in Bethesda, MD. I have an early memory of watching my brother and my father build a metal model fire engine. I watched them through a hole in the floorboards; they were in the basement of a little house in Bethesda, and I was upstairs with a stuffed Snoopy. I bet I was supposed to be napping.

My mother says my father used to bring bones home to that house from the hospital for study, that they were real human bones. When I was three, my father got a job at Johns Hopkins, and my family moved from Bethesda, Maryland, to Baltimore.

Wait — I lied. I am not from Saint Petersburg. I learned to drink champagne in Baltimore. Really, I was born in Boston, Massachusetts, then moved to Bethesda, then to Baltimore. My father, it’s true, worked at the NIH, then at Hopkins. I’m not related to Dostoyevsky, though this is not by choice. I’ve been to a couple of castles, but I haven’t been to in any castles in Saint Petersburg. The raccoons lived in our garage in Baltimore, this is completely accurate.

I grew up in Baltimore. My older brother and my sister-in-law, my nephew, my parents, the family with whom my family does all the Jewish holidays…they’re still here.

I left Baltimore for good in 1996. Since then, I have lived in Providence, San Francisco, and Los Angeles. I never thought I’d be back to Baltimore to stay. I’m back.

Really, why’d I leave? Really.

Maybe it was the preppies. At the Baltimore prep school my parents sent me to, I read Camus in the original French. I remember reading the opening passage of The Stranger (L’Etranger). It was 10th grade study hall. My French was pretty good; I understood what was happening. Sitting in study hall, I was reading when I got interrupted by a boy twice my size who put me in a headlock. I shook him off, looked around and decided to put a boy smaller than me in a headlock. This is all to say that I didn’t understand Camus’s existentialism. What is existentialism to a 10th grader?

The Mad Naked Summer Night

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University of Baltimore Asst. Prof. and Bohemian Rhapsody Columnist Marion Winik ponders “the half-life of a snow cone” and other heated, heat-related topics.

Shall I compare thee to a summer’s night? Thou art more lovely and more temperate, but I’m afraid that’s not saying much. These nights are thick and heavy as black velour, hot and formfitting against our bodies, over our faces. A humid landscape through which we plod like testy zombies, arms outstretched, eyes blank, returning slowly and inexorably to our air-conditioned tombs. We have sacrificed our last calorie of energy on the altar of daytime. We have burned the skin off our thighs getting into the car. We have permanent ruts between our eyes from the weight of our sunglasses. Exhausted drag queens in melted makeup, we have worked our last nerve.

Motorcycles thunder, jet planes roar, a distant procession of sirens woo-woo for hours, as if people for blocks around us are dropping like flies. The cicadas drone the same annoying phrase over and over, a garage band of four-year-olds with sitars. Then the monotony is cracked: shattered glass, a shot, a bomb, a firecracker, maybe just a boom car throbbing down the street. Toward midnight, the fabric of the sky is torn by heat lightning; even the atmosphere cannot take it anymore.

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