A Young Man of Many Questions

At the Science Center (photo by Wendy Kennar)

He’s strong too! At the California Science Center, my son is lifting the truck that helped tow the space shuttle Endeavour!

Earlier this year, RoleReboot.org published one of my essays titled “7 Reasons Why My Son Is Smarter Than I Was At His Age.”  (You can read it here).

More and more, I’m convinced it’s true.  My son is smarter than I was at his age.  At eight years of age, he has such an awareness about the world around him.  I’m pretty sure I was much more self-absorbed at his age.  And he wonders about things and asks questions, that many times I don’t know the answer to.  (But due to the magic of Google, answers are never too far).

Here’s just a small sampling of what he’s asked about this past week:

“Who gets ready faster — men or women?”

“Who invented bras? And when?”

“How does wind form?”

“Did Grandma and Grandpa buy their house before or after they got married?”

I love the fact that my son asks questions.  I love that he’s curious and interested in such a wide variety of subjects.

And I love that he knows that it’s always okay to ask his questions.  Because he knows his questions will be listened to, will be considered, and will be answered (to the best of my ability).

Living My Life


mug (photo by Wendy Kennar)

I found the mug you see above at the Barnes and Noble Cafe and was immediately offended.  And I knew that this mug, innocently sitting on a shelf waiting to be purchased, would be the topic of this blog post.

“Live the life you have imagined.”


As if my life must be pre-planned, and I wasn’t allowed to deviate from my imaginary blueprint.  How limiting would that be?

It got me thinking that most of my life isn’t anything like the life I had imagined.  I had never imagined I’d be married weeks before my twenty-third birthday.  I had never imagined that I would be the mother of one child, not two.  I had never imagined that my adult home would be ten minutes away from my childhood home.  I had never imagined that by the age of 40, I would have only once traveled internationally.  And I would never have imagined that I would have retired (due to a disability) from my teaching career after twelve years.

That isn’t to say my current life is worse or better than the one I had imagined.  It’s just that when you’re young and inexperienced, your imagination starts to run wild.  I envisioned trips abroad (to visit my pen pal in Japan and to eat pasta and gelato in Italy) and a semester studying in France.  I imagined owning a house instead of being a life-long renter. 

But, you get older, and you get out into the world and start experiencing life, and realize that your imagination and your reality don’t always match up.  And you realize, that different than originally imagined isn’t bad.  Different than originally imagined can be fine.  Actually, more than fine.

Handprints of Hope


handprints (photo by Wendy Kennar)

Dear Readers,

On Sunday, Mamalode.com published my essay “On September 11, 2001 We Made Handprints of Hope.” You can read the essay here.

I’m asking you all to please read my essay (on all your devices) and then share the link with others. Mamalode compensates writers based on the number of views a post receives. (Minimum payment requires 500 views within 30 days, but of course, the more the better).

Thank you so much for your support!



Reading Year of Yes


year of yes book (photo by Wendy Kennar)

I’ve recently started reading Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes. I’m at a slight disadvantage because I don’t watch a lot of television, so I’m not familiar with any of the shows Ms. Rhimes references.  (Though I do understand that they’re her shows).

Putting aside my television ignorance, so far, I’m right there with Ms. Rhimes.  I want to see where this year takes her.  Because there was something she wrote within the first thirty pages of her book that really spoke to me.

“Whatever that spark is that makes each one of us alive and unique … mine had gone.  Stolen like paintings on the wall.  The flickering flame responsible for lighting me up from the inside, making me glow, keeping me warm … my candle had blown out.  I was shut down.  I was tired.  I was afraid.  Small.  Quiet.”

Sometimes I fear that I will become that person — the always tired, always afraid, always quiet person.  And sometimes I fear that I have already become that person.  And that’s not the person my husband married.  That’s not the person I want my son growing up with.  And that’s not the person I want to see when I look in the mirror. 

So the reading continues.  I’ll go with Ms. Rhimes on her journey, and maybe, it’ll help me with mine.

It’s All Material


Norton Simon Garden (photo by Wendy Kennar)

Sometimes something happens and I’m inspired to write.  I don’t initially react, but the event stays with me, and I react later, the best way I know how, by writing about it.  That’s what happened recently when my son and I were out and we heard a mother tell her young daughter to “shut up.”  (You can read that essay “7 Reasons Why It’s Not Okay to Tell Your Child to ‘Shut Up’” here.

Other times, I write in response to a particular call for submissions.  That’s the case with two recently published anthologies.  One of my personal essays was recently published in Tomato Slices — An Anthology of Tomato Stories, Poetry, Art, and Recipes.

And another of my personal essays was published in So Glad They Told Me: Real Women Get Real About Motherhood.

After all, that’s what happens with writers.  Nora Ephron has credited her mother as saying “‘Everything is copy; everything is material.”  I agree.


Third Grade Memories

third grade school photo (photo courtesy of Wendy Kennar)

My third grade school photo

My son started the third grade last week.  He’s a “big kid” now, taking his recess and lunch with the fourth and fifth graders.  And, for the first time, his classroom is located in the main building, on the second floor.

And, as has become my tradition, this week’s post involves memories from my third grade year.  (In case you missed it, you can read about my own second grade memories here, and my first grade memories here.)

My third grade teacher was Mrs. Chisnell.  She had orangey-red hair, was a Bruins fan, and wore sunglasses that were decorated with small sticker-letters spelling out “U-C-L-A.”  My elementary school wasn’t air conditioned at that time, except for one building.  Two rooms upstairs, two rooms downstairs, and, luckily,  Mrs. Chisnell’s room was upstairs in this special, air-conditioned building. 

I remember we had to learn multiplication that year.  There was no question about it; every student was expected to master the times-tables.

When going through my papers to find my third grade school picture, I also found a thank you note from another teacher at the school.  She thanked me for helping with the “little ones.”  Apparently, even when I was nine years old, I had the desire to help and work with children.

It makes me wonder about what path my son’s life will take.  Will the things he’s passionate about now be the things he’s passionate about in his professional life?  We’ll see.  Meanwhile, I just feel lucky to be his mom and watch him grow up.