Tap Shoes, Dance Competition, and Active Parenting

958253_10151642609894866_104325619_o“I can’t find my black tap shoes!  I called daddy at home, and he can’t find them either!” panicked Meg in the dressing room at her weekend dance competition.  We arrived about 90 minutes early so she could calm herself and warm up with her dance team.

I had helped pack her stuff for the two numbers she was dancing today.  I could have sworn I checked for every item. I had also asked Meg to double check.  She did have her tan tap shoes for the second routine but needed the black ones for the first.  Seeing that they were neither in the suitcase nor at home, they could only be at the dance studio where she had last worn them during rehearsal last week.  The studio, unfortunately, was closed for the weekend due to this competition.

At this point, I had a choice to make:

A.  Let Meg suffer the consequences for forgetting her tap shoes.

B.  Rescue her by going to the local dance store and buying a new pair.

I went through all the lessons I learned years ago at my Active Parenting classes.  They strongly encouraged us to let our kids experience consequences for their own actions; otherwise, they turn into entitled brats and we fail as parents.  However, they also emphasized that we parents be able to live with those consequences. For example, you just don’t say, “Johnny, we’re canceling our Hawaii vacation if you don’t stop hitting your sister,” if you truly want to go to Hawaii.

So, I took a deep breath and went step-by-step:

1.  If I let Meg experience her mistake, then what are the consequences?

Well, she could just not dance with the team at this competition.  There will be other competitions (like one next weekend, in fact).  Or, she could wear her black jazz shoes instead on stage.  Sure, it doesn’t make any sound, but with over 25 kids tapping on stage, who’s really gonna know?  Alright, so maybe the judges who will deduct a few points…

2.  Whose responsibility was it to make sure the tap shoes were packed?

Both of ours.  Although dance is Meg’s own thing and she is normally very responsible for her age, she still is only 12.  With four different dance routines, it is hard for anyone to keep track of all the costumes and shoes, let alone by a 7th grader. We both should have been more careful.

3.  If I rescue her by going to buy new tap shoes, what are the consequences?

For one, I would be $65 poorer buying the same tap shoes I had just bought recently for this competition season.  Meg could also think that mommy will always be there to rescue her and not learn responsibility.  She could take me for granted and continue to think that money grows on trees.  Or she could be eternally grateful and someday look back at this competition fondly at mommy’s love in action.

Okay, that does it.  I called the local dance store to reserve those tap shoes in her size, then I hopped in the car.   What should have been a 10-minute drive turned out to be 25 heart-thumping-blood-pressure-rising-white-knuckling minutes in Friday traffic.  I was able to buy the shoes and return with only minutes to spare. Meg then got on stage with her team and danced fabulously.

Just as I predicted, Meg was very grateful.  She also said that she was not worried at all about it because she “knew you’d be back with the shoes on time.”  (Yikes!  I wasn’t so sure…) Even when the other dance moms were stressed out (i.e., freaking out) over the situation, Meg kept calm.

“I mean, what’s the worst that can happen?  I could have just worn my black jazz shoes, and no one would have noticed,” she explained.

I love that things don’t rattle her like they did when I was her age.  I wish I had learned long ago the truth from 1 Peter 5:7:

Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.

If this incident taught Meg the true meaning of this verse, then I just might have made the right choice.

And you, parents — what would you have done?

I’m Done With My Minivan. Now What?

I'm following my minivan being towed by a tow truck.  It was a weird sight to behold.

I’m following my minivan being towed by a tow truck. It was a weird sight to behold.

My minivan is starting to show its age.  It is 7 years old now — that’s 49 in car years — and needing more love and care than I prefer to give to a middle aged car.  I drove another minivan prior to this one, so I have officially been a minivan mom for over a decade.  It just might be time to move on.

But now what?

I enlisted my facebook friends for some input on what type of car I should graduate up to.  SUV?  Sedan? The answers were as varied as my friends on facebook.

First off, I had to immediately disqualify Bill’s input, “I hear that the Partridge Family bus is for sale,” even though that would have been very groovy.  Also, I had to laugh with young mom Meredith who chimed, “We get to graduate someday??? Wahoo!”  In only about 20 years, Meredith.

Brian and Polly suggested big trucks, F-150 and Tahoe.  I’m happy for them both, but I don’t think I’m really a big truck kind of a girl.  Er, mom.

A few moms celebrated their sedans, such as Lorie, Anne, Jessilyn, and Felix’s wife.  I’m sure they appreciate the gas mileage of these cars as compared to the gas-guzzling minivans.  And my friend Ally, mom of two teenagers, enthusiastically replied, “MINI Cooper!”  As much as I think MINI Coopers are really cute and zippy (which describes Ally perfectly), it is so small and low to the ground.  You know how it is, minivan moms — once you get a taste of riding high and mighty in that minivan, you never go back down.

Several folks like Jane and Amy went to a crossover sedan/minivan, such as Honda Fit and Mazda 5.  However, dad Shawn says, “When our kids got out of child seats, we sold our minivan and I said we’d never get one again. We got a Mazda 5 which is like a cross between a minivan and station wagon, and we loved it, but it was totaled when we were rear ended by a hit and run driver. We looked at everything and every kind of vehicle. In the end, what did we get? You guessed it, a minivan. The Mazda 5 just didn’t have the extra space like a minivan does, and we missed that.”

Likewise, my friend Erin added, “Prius V wagon. We still have the minivan, but it’s our second car and I love it.” Hmmm…crossovers might be best, then, as a second car.  I need to find myself a first car right now.  And is it just me or do some of these crossovers look like minivans that were in the dryer too long?

Not surprisingly, SUVs got the most votes.  Kristin, who got a Toyota RAV4, claims, “I felt liberated…like a ‘person’ again!” I get you, Kristin.  Both Melissa and Gayle love their Honda Pilot, and Wendy and Karen adore their Kia Sportage.  (Evidently, Kias are addicting or at least hereditary, because both Wendy’s and Karen’s daughters drive Kia Soul, aka “the hamster car”).  Laura loves her “MDX…roomy like a van, seats 7 but drives like a car.”  Diana drives a mid-size SUV and “loving it!!!” while Betsy swears that her Lexus RX is the “best car we’ve ever had.” Christy never did minivans and also doesn’t like sedans but prefers her CX-9.

I’m making a list of the desired features of my next car:

  • Roomy
  • Extra row of seats for more passengers
  • High ceiling
  • Lots of trunk space
  • Leather seats
  • Sliding side doors

Hmmmm…

It’s starting to sound a lot like a minivan.  Maybe I should keep my Odyssey after all.

What do you recommend?  And what type of car did you move up to after your minivan days were over?  Please comment below and help out this poor Panda Mom!

My Daughter Won’t Someday Be Wearing My Wedding Gown, And It’s Okay.

20130508-212042.jpgI saw this wedding dress at the laundromat, professionally cleaned and encased in a box, taxidermy-like, preserving the memories of that beautiful day for the bride to whom this belongs.  Maybe she hopes to someday have a daughter who will be wearing this dress on her own wedding day.  Or maybe she just couldn’t part with the dress she paid so much money for, only to wear once.

I do know one thing for sure: my daughter won’t be wearing the dress I wore on my wedding day!

Like any bride, the first thing I did after David and I got engaged was to go find a wedding dress.  I went to several places and fell in love with this one.  WeddingIt had just the right amount of lace with a long train which I could hook up at several strategic places to make it a normal floor-length dress for the reception afterwards.  After I had already made up my mind, I saw that same dress featured in a bride magazine.  I knew I had found a gem.

It was rather pricey, of course — $1600, and that was many years ago.  But I only paid $400 for it.  Why?  Because I rented it!  I was the first one to wear that particular dress, so it was brand new.  They fitted the dress to my size, and I had a beautiful time at the wedding knowing that I had saved a ton of money…er, that I had married the greatest guy in the world!  After we came home from the honeymoon, I simply returned the dress back to the store.  No cleaning it, packing it, or storing it.  It never even crossed my mind that I might someday have a daughter who might wear that dress on her wedding day.

My friend Jane actually did wear her mother’s wedding gown when she got married.  It was a simple but elegant dress that fit both Jane and her mother perfectly.  They were both about the same height and size on each of their wedding day, so the seamstress had little work to do.  The hem was a bit dirty, however, due to the rain on the day that Jane’s parents got married.  Back in the day, they didn’t professionally clean and box wedding dresses like they do now.  The little bit of muddy stain at the hem actually made it more authentic, though, bringing a bit of historical significance to Jane and Steve’s special day.

My daughter Meg is only 12 years old, so I don’t need to be thinking about her wedding dress anytime soon, but seeing the boxed dress made me think: would Meg have worn my dress if I still had it?  Knowing her unique taste in fashion, she probably would have refused.  I mean, I think my dress was in wonderful taste, but it’s not the trend now and certainly won’t be in 10 or 15 years.  Besides, she is already three inches taller than me and proportionately larger than me all around.  The seamstress can only do so much magic on a piece of fabric already cut to size.

I’m sort of glad that we won’t someday be having that awkward conversation between a bride and her mother:

“But honey, don’t you want to wear my dress?  It would be so special for your father and me.”

“Mom, this dress is so, so…dated.”

“I’m sure we can spruce it up a bit.  Wear a different veil, add a necklace.”

“It’s just not me, mom.”

“You know, all my life I have given to you over and over again.  The least you could do for me is to wear this darn dress on one single day of your life.”

…and so on.

Yeah, it was best that I rented my wedding dress.  I can just enjoy the photos and relish the memories.  And no guilt trip for my daughter Meg!

Anybody out there also wear your mother’s wedding dress?  Anyone have your dress stored securely for your daughter someday?

Trials and Tribulations, Part 3 — Houston, We Have Normal Again!

Fans, dehumidifiers, and temporary water heater, oh my!

Fans, dehumidifiers, and temporary water heater, oh my!

One thing you learn when you have water damage in a home is that there is a whole team of specialists ready to clean up any mess.   For these guys, it’s everyday stuff.  For me, it was my very first time using them or even hearing about their profession.

These guys are the clean-up people.  Not exactly glamorous, but to me they are my Justice League.

After the plumber came to shut off water, he sent for the mitigation specialist who promptly began the clean-up.  By that, I don’t mean just mopping up the wet floor.  Nay–they’ve got the tools to cut away at drywall, pull out soggy and moldy insulation, and rip out damaged wood on the floor.  They know to make the cuts beautifully and up to industry specification so that the patch work would go smoothly by the next specialist, the restoration guys.

After the cutting and removing, my mitigator began the work of drying out the place.  He set up several gigantic fans around the family room and garage along with several dehumidifiers and let them rip for five days and four nights, nonstop.  The noise was deafening and the electric usage went through the roof, but there was no doubt that these dryers were working, as was evidenced by my indoor plants which quickly dried to a crisp.

He also set up a temporary water heater so we would have running hot water again.  That’s when I almost bent down to kiss his feet.  But I held back.

“I’ll be back after the weekend to retrieve the fans and stuff.  You have to keep them on at all times.”  With that, my hero rode off into the sunset.

Meanwhile, David and I had plans to go to Seattle for the weekend without our children to celebrate our wedding anniversary.  We originally had planned to leave them at home to fend for themselves — they are 15 and 12 now — for the very first time, thinking that they are mature enough to handle the weekend on their own, but I started to have some reservations after our episode with the busted water heater.

What if the fans caused an electric fire?

What if there is another water leak?

What if the kids lose their hearing by the fan noise?

I began to wonder if our second honeymoon plans were all going by the wayside.

That’s when our friends stepped up to help us.  They each volunteered to take in a child for the weekend so David and I could go away.  Bless their hearts!

After we boarded the dog, we hopped on a flight to Seattle.  It was remarkable how the noise of the jet inside the cabin sounded just like my family room back home.

On our way to Seattle!

On our way to Seattle!

Well, we’re happy to report that David and I had a wonderful time celebrating our anniversary in Seattle.  The kids survived at home, and our home was completely dry when we came home.  Josh did have several nose bleeds over the weekend, though, due to the completely dry air in the house.

As our short season of trials and tribulations come to a close, we have all become a little more appreciative of…normalcy.

We are grateful for the simple things in life, such as

  • A running car
  • A functioning laptop
  • A pinky toe that is not broken
  • Health
  • Running water
  • Hot water
  • Proper water pressure
  • Quiet in the home
  • Helpful friends
  • Plumbers, carpenters, mitigation specialists, and others in the trade.

Maybe God sometimes makes us experience hardships simply so that we would appreciate the little things in life.  It’s so easy to forget that everything we have is a gift from God in the first place.  In no time, we begin feeling entitled to everythings.

May we never take life — nor plumbers — for granted!

Trials and Tribulations, Part 2 — Going Without Running Water for a Day

20130424-120101.jpg“It’s the hot water heater tank in your garage, ma’am. It blew a hole in the back,” said the plumber, who promptly disconnected the crippled unit and turned the water source back into the house. Great–at least we have running cold water again!

We had spent the previous 24 hours pretty much without running water. We could tell there was some sort of a water leak in the house but didn’t know where. In order to avoid more damage to our drywalls and wood floor, we just shut off the water valve into the home and only occasionally turned it back on in short, 2-minute intervals until the plumber could come the next day.

Going without running water is eye-opening for those of us who live in the developed world. During one of our brief “water-on” moments, we’d fill up as many pots, pans, and buckets we could with water so that we could 1) wash hands, 2) flush toilets, and 3) wash dishes and utensils until we could get to the store to buy disposable paper and plastic goods.

I ditched my plans to cook dinner at home that night and skipped past even the thought of take-out. Instead, we went out to eat at a nearby Marie Calendar’s, reminding everyone in my family to please stop by the bathroom afterwards at the restaurant. We would have washed our hair in their sink had we remembered to bring our shampoo to dinner.

Flushing toilets became an artform. You can get two flushes out of the commode even without running water, but after the second time you will have to eventually refill the cistern. It was a chore to pour water into it without splashing, but the floor was already ruined downstairs anyway. The toilet tanks are not designed nor well-positioned to be refilled by hand.

“Kids, use the downstairs bathroom only, please! It’s too much work to haul water upstairs to refill,” became our mantra.

When it was time for us to shower, David went to the garage to turn on the water valve and started the stop watch. We had the kids take the quickest showers on record, but even then we could see the water seeping in through the walls during the few minutes we turned water back on. I chose to skip the shower until I could get to the gym in the morning. David then shut off the valve again, we mopped up the extra water splashing on the floor, and we all went to bed.

20130423-114601.jpg

When the plumber arrived the next day, I almost wanted to hug him. As you can see in the photo above, the wood floor was already pretty much ruined.

I have always known that many people worldwide live everyday without running water, but now I got a little taste of that kind of a lifestyle. Up to 6,000 children under age 5 die every day from illnesses related to a lack of access to clean water. A lot of children spend their days hauling water from the nearest water source which might be a mile or more away, weighted down with heavy buckets of water, missing school. And their water could be contaminated! Our problem was quite temporary; theirs, permanent.

We as a family have a renewed appreciation for clean, running water. We think every child of God deserves to have clean water — don’t you? If you want to help provide relief for someone somewhere in the world who needs a better life, click on this link to find how you can work with World Vision to help give someone access to clean water. You could do this for as little as $20 a month.

So, now that we have cold running water, life was improving for us. Will we get HOT water again, ever? For that, you’ll have to stay tuned to my next post!

Trials and Tribulations of a Panda Mom, Part 1

By all accounts, it has been a rather crazy last few weeks at the Cheng household. One thing after another kept going wrong, costing us time and money in the process. While realizing that nothing we experienced compares to the true suffering that many others are going through at this time, I write this post as a way of explaining why I have been silent these past few weeks, and maybe get some sympathy from you in the process :-).

Earlier this month, we had a lovely lunch celebrating Josh’s 15th birthday.  We ate at a nearby all-you-can-eat Korean barbecue place, Josh’s favorite.

20130422-133323.jpgAfter the celebration, we came out to the parking lot and got into my minivan.  To our surprise, the car wouldn’t start.  Good thing we weren’t far from home.  My husband and kids walked home while I waited for AAA to come help jump my battery, which is what I assumed was the problem.

20130422-133239.jpgUnfortunately, it was not the battery.  It was the starter, which required a tow to the shop. I have never been towed before.

I'm following my minivan being towed by a tow truck.  It was a weird sight to behold.

I’m following my minivan being towed by a tow truck. It was a weird sight to behold.

The starter, I’ve learned, is way down deep in the engine, so they had to do a lot of diggin’ to get to it.  In the process, of course, they uncovered several other problems which required immediate attention due to “some safety concerns” (hate it when they pull out the “safety” card because I know nothing about cars).  Of course, it was just after my 7-year/70,000 mile warranty ran out, so I had to shell out $1375 to get my car fixed.

Then, Meg spilled water on her MacBook Air. We now know that AppleCare does not cover water damage. Total cost: $800.

As I was on my way to pick up the said MacBook, I got a text from my husband who took Meg to get some X-rays on her pinky toe which she slammed into a doorway a few nights prior.

Yup -- a broken pinky toe.

Yup — a broken pinky toe.

A fracture. Meg’s dance competitions start in a few weeks, so she will have to go easy but continue dancing until she is healed.

Just when I thought things couldn’t get any worse, one day last week as I was walking back into the house with the kids after school, Josh pointed at some water seeping up from under the wood floor downstairs.

“Mom, what’s this?”

Water in the garage, water on our floors, water everywhere...

Water in the garage, water on our floors, water on our fireplace hearthstone…

We weren’t sure what it was, but we knew we had to shut off water into the house until we figured out what the source of the leak was.  Was it in the pipes?  Slab leak? The insurance company said that they we would get an emergency response to this leak…at noon tomorrow.  Evidently, our coverage defines “emergency” as anywhere from 24 – 48 hours.  Okay, so we had to go with no water for one night.

We saved water in buckets so we could occasionally flush the toilet by manually refilling the cistern.  “Use the bathrooms downstairs, kids.  It’s too much work to haul water up the stairs,” I proclaimed.  First world meets third world.  We hunkered down and went to bed.

“It’s only money.  Honey, it’s only money,” I kept repeating to David, but mostly to myself.

What will the morning bring?  What will the plumber say?

What are the kids thinking as they watch their mom and dad’s reactions to all these things?

Stay tuned for my next post…

Disney’s New Policy and My Spring Break Dilemma

599630_10151104064574866_450922753_nI read in the paper recently that Disney will now require children to be accompanied by a chaperone who is at least 14 years old (Los Angeles Time, 3/19/2013) at their Southern California Disneyland parks.

Gasp!

This is going to spoil some plans I had for spring break for my 12-year old daughter Meg.  I was going to dump her and her gaggle of preteen friends for a day (or two.  Or three) at the park at some point during their 3-week spring break.  Yeah, I was counting on Minnie and Mickey being their sitters.  My kids have been going to Disneyland on the Southern California passes since they were babies, and they know the place like the backs of their hands.  Admission isn’t exactly cheap these days, but it’s still better than flying to Hawaii for a vacation like we did last year.

Now, what am I going to do?

Disneyland might be the happiest place on earth, but I can’t imagine my daughter being very happy having her mother hang around her and her friends all day.  No matter how cool I may think I am as a mom, I am one of the dorkiest human beings alive in her adolescent mind.  She certainly wouldn’t want to be seen at Disneyland with this middle-aged lady trailing her, what with my wide-rim hat protecting my skin from age spots, sun glasses attached to Croakies hanging around my neck, and a fanny pack around my waist keeping my hands free to take pictures and dispense hand sanitizers on the ready.

Call me ignorant, but I still believe that Disneyland is one of the safer places on earth.  I wouldn’t send an 8-year old without a parent there nor would I allow my 12-year old to go there alone.  But the place is clean, family-friendly, and there are patrons and workers just about everywhere you go.  When I was her age, I often spent days during school breaks at Disneyland with my 6th- and 7th-grade friends.  It was a right of passage to go there on our own for the first time without a parent.  We’d giggle our way to Tom Sawyer’s island, scream our heads off on the Matterhorn, and order whatever we want to eat at the Carnation parlor.  It was so freeing, but it also made us behave a little more responsibly, a little more maturely.

I’m afraid I’m going to have to send my 14-year old son Josh to chaperone his sister and all of her girlfriends.  If that doesn’t give him a headache, I’m not sure what will.  The only way to bribe him into this torturous assignment would be to pay for one of his friends to keep him company, which will then triple my cost of daycare during spring break.  Then, of course, the boys will want to go on different rides than the girls, and the group will split into two along the gender borderline, defeating the whole purpose of sending these bodyguards with the group of girls.

I would, of course, make it a rule that everyone stays in the group and that they never go to the bathroom alone.  But they’re girls, so that’s pretty much a given.

Yikes — this spring break is getting pricier by the minute.  I wonder if my daughter would like to stay home with me and work on some crossword puzzles instead.  Okay, maybe we’ll go shopping. In either case, my kids are growing up fast and my days of spending rich times with them are going to end sooner than I can imagine.  I should enjoy the precious time I still have to spend lots of quality time with them during this break.  Maybe this is what God is trying to tell me through Disney’s new age limit policy.

I just wonder if my kids have the same desire to spend quality time with me.  Yeah — not so much!

What do you think about the 14-year age limit for unsupervised children attending Disneyland?  Is it fair and right?

 

Josh’s Visit with His Best Friend Sam in Texas

711695_10151345662789866_1582439481_nMy son Josh had a great time visiting his best buddy Sam in San Antonio.  Sam’s family left California to move there over two years ago.  This visit was one of our Christmas gifts to Josh, and it was a good one.  When they got together upon our arrival, it was like they’ve never been apart.  In fact, thanks to the internet, they really haven’t left each other at all.

When I was young, a friend’s move out of the area pretty much meant the end of that friendship.  They might write letters for a while, but sooner or later they would eventually become just another Someone I Used to Know.  Because my family moved so often when I was young, there were countless such former friends.

Yukako and my family during our visit in Japan last April

Yukako and my family during our visit in Japan last April

When I left Japan in third grade to move to the States, my best friend Yukako and I swore that we would keep in touch everyday, and for a while we did.  I would send a handwritten letter to her in an envelope adorned with colorful stickers then spend the next few weeks eagerly checking the mail box for a reply letter from her.  I guess international mail took too long for young girls with short attention spans, and soon we drifted apart.  The only reason why we eventually got back in touch was because her parents continued to live in the same house all these years (and still do), and I was able to track her down during my year as an exchange student at a university in Tokyo.  Today, I keep in touch with Yukako more regularly than ever via email.

My daughter Meg, on the other hand, has a friend who recently moved to Austria with his family.  Thanks to social media such as Instagram and YouTube, Meg and her friends have become even better friends with him in the past year.  He’s currently in the States for a visit during the Holidays, and the whole gang is back together creating more fun videos for YouTube.

I often find Josh playing online games in his room with Sam.  Of course, Sam is in Texas and Josh in California.  They have each other on FaceTime as they battle it out on their laptops.  “Hi there!” Sam says to me as I walk by.  “Oh hi, Sam.  How’s it going?”  I can see even through the small screen that Sam has grown taller, just like Josh.

These two boys have been best friends practically since birth.  They were playmates in the church nursery when they were both in diapers, and they were inseparable during Sunday School and VBS each year.  They would have sleepovers and would always get along. Josh was brokenhearted to hear that Sam was moving away.

That’s why it warmed my heart to see them pick up right where they left off as soon as we saw them upon our arrival at our hotel for the weekend.  We went out to dinner with Sam’s entire family whom, of course, I also really enjoy.  He came over to our hotel the next day, then Josh went over to his house for the rest of the trip while I worked.

Do you know what the boys did almost the entire time they were together in the same room?  You guessed it — they played games on the computer, sitting side by side.  The same online games!  The only difference was that they were not FaceTime-ing each other half way across the United States but were sitting next to each other.

Oh well — there’s still nothing like really being there.  And there’s nothing like a great friendship that lasts through time and distance.  I’m so glad for both Josh and Sam that they have each other as they navigate through life.

One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin,
    but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.

- Proverbs 18:24

* * * *

Do you or your kids have friendships that last through the ages?  How do you stay in touch?

Would You Give Up Your First Class Upgrade Seat to Your Son?

14-year old Josh

14-year old Josh

So, you’re traveling with your 14-year old son on a busy Holiday travel day. The flights are full, but you both have been placed on the upgrade list. Suddenly, one and only one seat opens up in first class. As the adult accompanying this minor, you have to decide: Which of you will get it?

I faced that situation today, and to be perfectly honest, it was not an easy decision to make.

My son is old enough to sit in the plane on his own. By golly, he has been a seasoned traveler since he was two. He knows the drill at security, and he knows the etiquette of flying. He stopped kicking the seat in front of him a while ago.

No, the issue wasn’t whether he could handle being in a cabin — coach or first class — alone. The issue was me. I was torn between my strong desire to sit in first class versus not being a heel of a mom to my teenage son. Selfish or selfless. There’s no middle ground.

I travel quite a bit for my work, so it’s extremely nice to have the rare opportunity to sit in the comfort of the upgraded seat with its premium service. The flight attendants are much kinder up there, and they still serve meals. On fine china!

I was ridden with guilt that I would even consider abandoning my child in economy while luxuriating in my cushy seat in first class, but I was still not ready to give it up too quickly.

Once Josh gets a taste of first class, he’ll never go back! I don’t want to spoil him for life…

His bottom is much smaller than mine. Surely he won’t mind squeezing into the economy seat, would he?

Truth is, he probably wouldn’t have minded, but he might also remember that his mother threw him under the bus…or, in this case, the plane. I thought of a compromise: he can sit up front for the first half of the flight, then trade places with me. But who will go first? They serve the breakfast during the first half, you know.

I desperately explained our situation to the lady at the gate, but she wouldn’t budge. “We could seat you two together back in economy,” she offered. We both balked at the idea. At least one of us is going to be in first class. But who?

After a few moments of soul searching, I finally decided to do what any good mother would choose to do in this situation:

I gave up the first class seat to Josh.

He seemed a bit apprehensive about sitting by himself but also grateful.

“Mom, are they going to serve breakfast?”

“Of course.” I had gotten him out of bed at 5am, and he was starving by the time we were boarding. He deserved a good breakfast.

“Probably omelettes, and on fine china, Josh.”

The non-budging lady at the gate did allow me to board early with Josh during premium boarding just so that I could make sure he is all settled. I introduced myself and explained the situation to the flight attendant on board, faintly hoping that she would have mercy on me and sneak me in.

“We’ll take good care of him,” she said. “Maybe even introduce him to a nice girl in first class,” she laughed.

I smiled and turned right towards my scrawny seat in economy, only a few rows away from Josh. I had a good view of the back of my son’s head.

“Thanks, mom,” he mouthed while waving at me from his seat. He looked happy.

I could fly first class some other time by myself. For now, I’m going to enjoy making my soon-to-be-grown son appreciate his mother just a little.

And that’s a priceless upgrade in this journey through motherhood.