No Offence, but…

no offence 2

Have you ever noticed that when someone prefaces a statement with “No Offense, but…” what follows that but is bound to offend.  That this is really just shorthand for, “What I’m about to say is going to piss you off,  but keep in mind you‘ve been forewarned.”

I’ve heard this saying fired off over the years, and while talking to a friend recently I found myself looking down the barrel of her loaded mouth. Like a sociopath lacking empathy, she fired the words out, then completely unphased, watched as the sting of those words pierced through me.

This ‘friend’ of mine was in the market for a new house.  She and her husband are pretty well off.  When I suggested she look at a house for sale on my block, similar to mine, she had the nerve to say, “Your house is great, and good for you.  No offense, but we’re just looking to move somewhere a little bit more upscale.”

Translation: You live in a shit hole we wouldn’t be caught dead in.  We’re social climbers, and need to live among other tight ass people like ourselves.

I was shocked with the ease of how these words flowed out of her mouth, softened only by the phrase ‘No offense, but…’  I couldn’t help think if I had been the perpetrator of this offense in the past.

Let’s face it, “No offense, but…” is nothing more than a wolf in sheep’s clothing; a trap waiting to spring and impale unsuspecting, hubris free individuals with hurtful or opinionated comments.

No offense, but, if you begin to hear the words, “No offense, but…” coming out of your mouth, do us all a favor: Shut your pie hole, and walk away!

by Jean James Reposted courtesy of  http://www.inthepowderroom.com

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NY vs. Boston

Duane Hoffman/MSNBC.com

Duane Hoffman/MSNBC.com

Unless you live under a rock, everyone knows the longstanding rival between NY and Boston, the Yankees vs. the Red Sox. I live it in my own family. It’s the rival to beat all rivals. That was, I thought until 9/11. Could rivals still be as hateful in times of tragedy?

Three months after 9/11 I found myself in a shop in Chinatown looking for I Love NY kitsch for my nieces and nephews. It was Christmas time and I was feeling especially sad knowing how many people were never going to know the joy of waking up on Christmas morning (or whatever holiday they celebrated that season) with their mom or dad, brother or sister, grandma or grandpa, son or daughter. I couldn’t help but overhear a woman asking the clerk if he had any I hate NY T-shirts! I thought she must be kidding, but she said it again. So in a joking tone I said to her, “You don’t really mean that do you?” She said, “Yes, I’m from Boston.” I was stunned. She wasn’t joking. I then proceeded to unleash a few expletives, followed by a get the hell out of my city, and cried that someone could be so hateful in the wake of a wounded city.

Yesterday terror was unleashed upon the beautiful city of Boston on what should have been a happy Patriots’ Day, and the Boston Marathon. Two I.E.D. type devices were deployed in a crowd waiting at the finish line of the marathon, causing mayhem, traumatic injuries, and death. My NY heart goes out to all the people affected. I understand how unbelievably horrific and heinous this crime is.

Rivalry is only fun until someone gets hurt. I’m not laughing, and I won’t be looking to buy any I hate Boston T-shirts either.

NY loves Boston

Will the Real Mrs. James Please Stand Up?

Anne-Taintor

Anne-Taintor

Have you ever noticed that there are women out there who were born to be grown ups.  They always seem to know what they’re doing; they know everything that’s going on in the neighborhood, or at school.  They usually volunteer for everything, like class mom, cafeteria monitor, or field trip volunteer.  Everyone knows them as Mrs. So and So.  They seem to have it all together.  Well I’m embarrassed to admit that I am not one of those women.  I’m not sure if I ever will be. But I find the older I get, the more I covet the skills required to fill those shoes.

When I was younger, my mother, and all the mothers I knew seemed to possess those skills.  It was what they did.  They got married, had kids, became moms, stayed at home, and became Mrs. So and So’s.  Their roles were so clearly defined; they didn’t think outside the box.  But then came the next generation of mom’s; the working mom, and roles changed, identities changed, and women didn’t want to wear aprons over their carefully pressed dresses, while pouring their husbands an evening cocktail.  Women wanted to be independent, liberal, divorced (if need be).  They didn’t want to Mrs. Anybody, they wanted to be Ms. Somebody, or better yet, just call me by my first name.

Somehow the formality of being a mom shifted into an unknown gear, and expectations were as out of fashion as that evening cocktail with the hubby.  When I was growing up, I didn’t think much about calling my friends moms by their last name, but when I entered my twenties, it seemed a little too formal.  What was the big deal calling someone by their first name?  And as I partied my way through my twenties and into my thirties I grew into a much more relaxed person (maybe a little too relaxed).

As my friends started to have children, I insisted they call me by my first name.  I knew when I had children I wanted to be the ‘cool mom’.  I thought I would be the kind of mom that would have lots of boys, and have all the children at my house.  I wanted to pull my kids out of school, and travel the globe with them.  I used to roll my eyes when my sister wanted her kids in bed by a certain time.  And why can’t you have ice cream for dinner?

Then I had kids…I could probably stop here, but I won’t.  I ended up having two boys, and a girl.  Let’s just say, if they could bottle the energy of boys, we would have no need for fossil fuels.  As for all those extra children in my house,  No Way!  And bedtime, well that’s just the nectar of the gods, and ice cream is for dessert, on special occasions, not including a school night.  I would still like to take my children around the globe, but only if I can be properly medicated.

As I’m learning the do’s and don’ts of motherhood, I still don’t feel like one of ‘those’ mom’s.  I hear my kids calling their friends parents by their first name, and I cringe.  I’m not the class mom, the cafeteria mom, or even the field trip mom.  I have, however, mastered: the disorganized mom, the late mom, and the non-showered look mom.  And when I forget to wear that apron, I then become the food stained mom.  When my husband gets home from work, I’m asking him to pour me that cocktail, and I’m guzzling it down while throwing together some kind of meat paste disguised as dinner.

I have these fantasies of the future where I’m in my sons school helping out and everybody knows my name, and I’m always the first to arrive.  My hair is neat, my clothes are clean, and I’m carrying freshly baked goods, that I made myself.  My children are well behaved, and their manners are impeccable.  And by 7pm, all three wee ones are soundly tucked in their beds, while I’m pouring my husband that long overdue evening cocktail, and we sit together in our his and hers chairs and discuss our day like two real adults would…

Anne Taintor

Anne Taintor

Then, off in the distance, I’m pulled from my reverie, back into reality and I  hear this loud question ringing in my head, “Will the real Mrs. James please stand up?”  I look left, I look right, then I look straight ahead.  Where is the real Mrs. James?

She’s still stuck somewhere between being almost on time, and just about out of cocktail mix.

by Jean James Reposted courtesy of   http://www.inthepowderroom.com

Diagnosing Puberty

picture for puberty post

About a month ago my 7 year old daughter (soon to be 8), came to me one night, with a nervous complaint of a lump behind her right nipple.  With a slight sense of unease, I got up, palpated the spot she was pointing to, and sure enough there was a hard, pea sized nodule lurking under her skin.  Thinking the lump was probably normal breast development, I sent my daughter back to bed with a kiss and an “everything is normal” hug, then immediately jumped on my computer Googling 7 year old girls with breast lumps.

To my relief, most of my research pointed me in the direction of early thelarche.   Thelarche is the development of breast tissue, otherwise known as breast buds, and is one of the signals of the onset of puberty.  According to a study in the journal Pediatrics, American girls are maturing earlier.  What was once a normal pubescent age of 10 or 11 is now being seen in 7 and 8 year olds.

However, when these signs and symptoms of puberty occur before the age of 8 in girls and 9 in boys, then precocious puberty could be to blame.  Early puberty has its problems and could lead to shorter growing times, and shorter overall height.  The psycho/social problems with early puberty could lead to poor body image and low self esteem.

Signs of precocious puberty in girls:

Breast growth
First Period
Pubic Hair
Rapid Growth
Acne

Signs of precocious puberty in boys:

Enlarged testicles/penis
Body odor
Deepening voice
Pubic Hair
Rapid Growth
Acne

The following morning I placed a call to my pediatrician, and after explaining to the nurse my daughter’s finding from the night before, I expected her to say, “That’s normal, nothing to worry about.”  Instead she said my daughter was too young for breast development, and needed to come in and see the doctor.  My stomach did a little flip as I made the appointment.  Was I missing something?  Was this normal development, or a new anxiety to keep me from sleeping at night?

My daughters experience got me thinking about my own development, or lack thereof.  I have no memory of breast bud development; I would have been horrified to touch my own growing flesh, let alone go to my mom about it.  When I was growing up girls didn’t do that sort of thing.  I was twelve when my period came, and I remember the shock and embarrassment that brought on.  I was horrified by the painful, hemorrhaging happening between my legs, and there was no way I was going to my mother.  My sister, (through my tears of objection), did it for me.

My daughter is a different breed, thank God.  She is the daughter of a nurse.  I don’t lie, or make up silly names, much to the chagrin of my husband and father.  When my daughter was three, she used to run around my parent’s house singing, “I have a vagina; I have a vagina!!”  My father, not quite understanding her sing song, turned to my smiling mother and asked, “What is she saying?”  To which my mother replied in her best sing song voice, “I have a vagina, I have a vagina!!”

There’s a look that father’s, not men, but father’s give when they hear the word vagina that makes them squirm in their seat, roll their eyes, and huff and puff a little bit as if some sort of taboo has been broken, fearing the word period, or perhaps feminism might slip out next.  This was the look my father gave that day.  It’s no wonder I was afraid to get my period.

So thankfully my daughter is comfortable in her own skin, and so far, not afraid to come to me for help.  But could she be facing puberty at age 7, when I could barely face it at age 12?

The pediatrician examined my daughter later that day, and felt the pebble like nodule of what?  She didn’t know.  “Wait three weeks, if it’s still there then I would like her to see a pediatric endocrinologist.”  Really, I thought?  Was this necessary?

With anxious weekly reminders from my daughter, we got to week three, and the lump was still present, along with what appeared to be soft breast tissue, or as my daughter likes to call it, “the hill.”  After a thorough examination by the endocrinologist, we were still no closer to an answer.   She too agreed that the lump seemed odd, but thought we should run some tests to determine if she was entering puberty.  Since when did the normal transition from child to adult become so complicated?

So what are the tests for puberty?  Here is a list of the most common ones:

  1. Blood work is first collected to test for the hormones of puberty: LH (Luteinizing Hormone), FSH (Follicle Stimulating Hormone) Estrogen Levels, and Thyroid levels, (Testosterone levels in boys).
  2. A bone X-Ray of the wrist is performed to measure the growth plates and determine bone age vs. stated age.
  3. An MRI of the brain may be done to look for any abnormalities.
  4. An ultrasound of the ovaries may be done in girls to rule out a cyst or tumor.

If the tests are positive and early puberty is diagnosed then there are treatment options which include a monthly injection of a hormone that blocks the onset of puberty.  This hormone is given until a more reasonable pubescent age and then discontinued, allowing the body to take its normal course.

This treatment option was discussed with me by the endocrinologist, and I have to say it weighed heavy on my conscience.  Medicate my child to prevent early puberty, or let nature take its course?  I was more than hesitant to have to make that decision.

After blood work and a wrist X-Ray, it was determined that my daughter was not in puberty; a relief on the one hand, but leaving me with the question, “Then what is that pea sized lump in her breast?”

Only an ultrasound will be able answer that question.

In the meantime I wait and I worry (a little), about what I’m putting my child through, and if I really have anything to worry about at all.

I can’t help but wonder if after all this testing, we’ll come full circle to find out her breast lump was nothing more than premature thelarche, and the premature wanderings down the inevitable path to a diagnosis of puberty.