How I Became an Accidental Helicopter Parent

By Angela Noel Lawson

February 19, 2019

Jackson and I rushed through the school hallways careful not to slip on the rivers of melted snow and mud on the linoleum floors. We were late for our scheduled conference with his fourth grade teacher.

Though I’d left work right at 3:00, planning to pick Jackson up on the way (they had the day off school), I was behind schedule. By the time we arrived at school we were ten minutes late for what I thought was our 3:30 appointment. When we finally arrived at the classroom I peeked in to find a couple already sitting at the table, talking to the teacher. Then I looked at the posted schedule. Instead of 3:30, we were scheduled for 3:00 My heart sank. We weren’t just a little late; we were a lot late.

Unfortunately, I had something I wanted to discuss with the teacher. Something I thought was important. Continue reading “How I Became an Accidental Helicopter Parent”

Awesome Nuggets: Winter 2019 Edition

By Angela Noel Lawson

February 13, 2019

I grew up in California. Winter meant off-the-shoulder sweaters, jean shorts, and UGGs. But all that changed when I moved to Minnesota. So much so that I measure my years in the Midwest by the winters I’ve spent here. This will be my fifteenth.

The first freeze left me struggling to understand how to scrape the ice from my windshield. My boss at the time, a Canadian, told me to use the edge of my credit card to scrape my window. This was not great advice. But I’d never heard of a “scraper.” So that’s my bad.

It took me 12 winters to actually live in a home with a garage. I never fully appreciated the humble glory of parking beneath a roof until I moved here. Now I do.

I also learned that extreme cold causes cancelled school. My son was in kindergarten for the first “polar vortex” when temperatures dropped to -18F. Jackson struggled to understand that Mommy was on a conference call and couldn’t play just then. But even in those days I rejoiced in the fact that I worked at a company that allowed for remote work. This alone was and is something to be grateful for.

In the past few weeks the Midwest has experienced crazy cold temperatures. Here in Minneapolis we hit -28F, and that wasn’t counting the windchill. But Awesome Nugget posts aren’t about the hardships. They’re about the fun moments of surprise and delight that offer me a moment of pause. Being grateful for all the wonder and joy brought on by circumstance is one of the best parts of being a living, breathing human being.

So without further ado, here’s a few  of the little moments I’ve noticed so far this winter. Continue reading “Awesome Nuggets: Winter 2019 Edition”

Parents Judging Parents: I’m Afraid I Don’t Know What I’m Doing

By Angela Noel Lawson

February 4, 2019

Recently, my son hosted a friend for a sleepover. Around six in the evening, I began to think of dinner for the kids. I opened the closet where we keep cans of soda and the odd extra can of soup. Then I pulled from its depths two cans of diet root beer. As I handed a can to my son’s friend I said something surprising. Something that, on the surface, was a non-event. But when I looked deeper I found the seeds of an insidious parenting problem.

“Well,” I said, remembering my struggle in the soda aisle between the regular and diet option while at the grocery store the day before, “I guess you have to decide between the sugar and the chemicals, am I right? But, of course there’s no caffeine either way, so there’s that. Anyway, I went with the diet.”

Meanwhile, the fourth-grader waited patiently, hand outstretched for his drink. Feeling vaguely foolish, I dropped the can into his open palm.

The rest of the evening proceeded as sleepovers do. They  watched movies, built forts, and dumped Legos pretty much everywhere. But it was my non-event comment that bothered me. I couldn’t banish a simple thought: Why had I burdened this young man with my reasoning on diet versus regular?

Only one answer seemed right: I’m afraid of being judged for my parenting choices. Continue reading “Parents Judging Parents: I’m Afraid I Don’t Know What I’m Doing”

An Unbroken Oath: The Truth About Belief (And Santa)–NOW on OTV Magazine

By Angela Noel Lawson

January 28, 2019

When did you first discover the “truth” about Santa? This past holiday season brought this revelation to my fourth-grader. And while the Christmas season is behind us (at least until next year) I wanted to take a moment and reflect on the value and purpose of belief.

The truth is, Jackson wasn’t the only one who experienced a rite of passage this past season. Explaining the nature of belief and magic to my child evoked all kinds of emotions in me as well. I wrote about the whole experience and am honored to have it featured on OTV Magazine. Please take a moment to read it: An Unbroken Oath: The Truth about Belief (and Santa. Share your thoughts and experiences about magic, belief, and the idea of wonder.

To the Lady Who Said, “We Speak English in America”

A Guest Post by Angie Riascos
October 31, 2018
My husband and nine-year-old daughter browsed the wares at an estate sale not long ago. While they shopped, they spoke to each other about everyday things. Then you, hearing their voices, came up to my husband and scolded him. “We speak English in America,” you said.
I’ve been thinking of that moment, wondering why you felt it was okay to say this to my husband and daughter. 

Continue reading “To the Lady Who Said, “We Speak English in America””

The Moment I Fell in Love My Eyes Began to See–Now in Heart and Humanity Magazine

Love changes us in unexpected ways. It builds bridges, mends fences, and fortifies us against adversity like nothing else in the world. When I fell in love, I had no idea how important the gift of that love would be.  Continue reading “The Moment I Fell in Love My Eyes Began to See–Now in Heart and Humanity Magazine”

Error Cascade: How I Messed Up a Lesson in Laundry

By Angela Noel

August 6, 2018

A funny thing happened recently in my laundry room whilst teaching nine-year-old Jackson to wash and dry his clothes. It reminded me of the danger of cognitive biases and the error cascade they can create.  Continue reading “Error Cascade: How I Messed Up a Lesson in Laundry”

Queen in the Quiet of My Child’s World

By Angela Noel

March 27, 2018

Lying close to my son as he slowly drifts into sleep is the most cost-effective therapy I know. But I know it can’t last.

Most nights, at least lately, after we snuggle and he reads a few pages from a chapter book, I say goodnight and exit his room. Then he reads a few pages of a comic book (Garfield or Calvin and Hobbs) on his own before flipping off his reading light and heading to snooze-town. But one night recently, we turned off the lights and I stayed a bit longer. He flung his arm around my neck and nuzzled a little closer. “Tonight,” he said, “you’re my stuffy.” Continue reading “Queen in the Quiet of My Child’s World”

Co-Parenting: Confessions of a Part-Time Mom

by Angela Noel

August 31, 2017

It happens every time. Jackson waves good-bye to me and walks with his dad into the car or into his dad’s house. I drive away or close the door and get on with my day. Then, about an hour or two later, I feel it. A physical pang, like hunger mixed with loss, strikes me. The twinge lasts only a few seconds, but I’ve come to know it well: I miss him. Continue reading “Co-Parenting: Confessions of a Part-Time Mom”

A Parenting Dilemma: Trust, Safety, and Respect

By Angela Noel

June 8, 2017

I called up the stairs. No answer. I walked up the twelve steps and knocked on the door, calling his name. No answer. I tried the door. Locked. I banged on the wood with my knuckles. “Jackson, you open this door right now!” I shouted. No answer. Panic. Blind panic made me rattle the door in its frame shouting, “Open this door!”
Continue reading “A Parenting Dilemma: Trust, Safety, and Respect”