Liz Wolfe | Personal
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Last week, while my sister and I were having breakfast at my country house, a bear walked across my lawn. The movement in the bushes initially caught my eye, and at first I thought it was a deer. Then it stepped boldly and assuredly onto the open lawn, where it traipsed along seemingly without concern towards the woods on the other side. “Oh my God!” I breathed to Ruth Anne, “That’s a bear!” I jumped up and grabbed my camera, pulling off the lens cap and dropping it all in one motion. As the lens cap hit the wooden floor with a “chink,” the bear, which was at least 100 feet away, looked up in our direction. Yikes! Then, deciding he was in no immediate danger, he continued on his journey towards the woods. With a racing heart, I took a series of photos from the relative safety of our screened in porch.

My daughter had a “publishing” party at her school recently, and so, instead of driving her as I usually do, we took public transportation. This consists of hopping on the subway near our house, and then getting off at 110th street to catch a bus across the top of the park. As we emerge from the subway station, there is a tense moment where we scan the traffic circle between the two bus stops to see if a bus is coming. If one is stopped at the light, we have just enough time to run from the stairwell to catch it. If the light has already turned green, it’s quite a hustle to make it there in time, but there are usually enough people waiting at the stop or also running alongside us to hold the bus. Renting an california limousine is convenient especially when going into a party since you'll save time, energy, and effort. Even if you're stuck in the traffic, you can just sit back and relax and arrive in the grandest style.

An old friend and her husband have a six year old son who was diagnosed with “moderate to severe” ADHD. Recently I was sharing with them my experience with my own children’s development. We commiserated over the notion that as far as attention spans are concerned, they can always seem to find the will to focus on something that they want to be doing, but if their interest isn’t already piqued, then they won’t stay motivated enough to complete a task.

Years ago in New York, it was common to see people handing out flyers in the subway. En route to work each morning, I would often see one particular group who offered commuters bright orange flyers. The evangelists would scatter themselves along the corridors in groups of twos and threes, such that I would have to weave in between them to avoid their outstretched hands. I had my approach down to a science – a slightly lowered gaze, tightly gripped purse, along with a short, terse shake of the head – to indicate that I was not interested. Still, the next person down the line would insistently shove the paper toward me, forcing me to repeat the same gesture until I was out of the minefield.

I have a friend whose daughter goes to a competitive middle school on the UWS. Since her daughter and my son are in the same grade, we sometimes commiserate about our experiences with our children, school and homework. Yesterday she came to me especially frustrated by her daughter, who has ADHD, and their homework situation. She had no way of knowing what the homework was because her daughter doesn’t know, and my friend is not allowed to email the teachers to ask – in fact she doesn’t even have access to their email addresses.

When I anticipated motherhood, I only pictured two phases of their childhood – baby through Kindergarten, and when they were off to college. Somehow I never visualized the gangly stage that my son is in during his 7th grade year. While he doesn’t seem to eat very much, he’s still growing at a rapid rate, and has almost reached my height.

I have two older sisters - two brilliant, creative, beautiful, expressive and overshadowing older sisters. As the youngest, I came up behind them in school and had many of the same teachers. I endured them calling on me in class by “Jennifer” and “Ruth Anne” or being constantly compared to their talents, their schoolwork, and their grades. This impacted my upbringing so much that for my college admissions essay I wrote about an interaction that my friend had:

One day, a friend of mine told me a story about having gone to see the school nurse. This particular nurse is the type who knows almost all the students and loves to talk. During the time Mary was in the office, she mentioned that she was friends with one of the “Wolfe Girls.” The nurse was delighted. She said, “Oh, yes! Ruth Anne is so wonderful. She’s so talented and smart and is a wonderful actress. And she dances so well!”

Thinking back to my youth, I can definitively say that 7th grade was the worst ever. I attended a small town “junior high school” that consisted of just 7th and 8th grade. The main form of entertainment at recess for my group of friends was to stand in the far corner of a blacktop lot and smoke cigarettes. I don’t ever remember a single teacher coming over to check on us or to break it up. In fact, the space where we stood was clearly visible from the school and anyone could easily see the billows of smoke rising above us. I remember being much more concerned about how I was being accepted in social circles than I ever was about getting good grades, since that was, if not “uncool”, at least not cool.

Growing up, my father, two sisters, and I took many road trips to visit relatives for summer vacations. I remember spending long hours in the car reading, singing, playing or just looking out the window as the cornfields went by. Because of these fond memories, I looked forward to having children of my own, packing up, and hitting the road on some adventures. One husband and two children later, I have had a few fun road trips with them, though they don’t quite look as I imagined them to be. For one thing, while my children are avid readers, they expect that on a trip of any length that they will be watching DVDs. As a result, not a lot of scenery watching happens. Also, it occurs to me that perhaps they are not quite as enamored with the journey as the ultimate destination.

There’s nothing quite like the satisfaction of getting something done that I’ve wanted to do for a long time. Like many people, I’ve been leveraging the impetus of the New Year to rearrange some items in my life, in particular purchasing a treadmill for under my desk and rearranging furniture in my office. I love the fresh feel of seeing my world in a new way.