Have Dental Floss, Will Travel

Mapping the world, one waxy strand at a time…

Parenting 101

A brief digression from my usual ramblings…

When I was three or four years old, I learned the word “shit.” And, like any good three- or four-year-old, I took to using it every chance I got. In the grocery store. At daycare. Over dinner with my grandmother. I just couldn’t get enough.
One day, my dad sat me down and explained that “shit” was a word that people used when they were really frustrated about something. And it was okay to get frustrated, he said, and even okay to say “shit,” but it wasn’t appropriate in public, and definitely wasn’t okay in front of my grandmother.
My dad told me that when I felt sufficiently frustrated, I should go into my bedroom and shut the door, and then I could say “shit” to my heart’s content. For months after, so the story goes, I could be heard pacing back and forth in my bedroom, muttering “shit shit shit shit shit shit shit…”

Over the past several months, as the light at the end of the grad school tunnel has gotten brighter and I’ve begun the process of transitioning into the real world, I’ve had my share of “shit shit shit” moments to contend with. But it all became worth it a few weeks ago, when I got the phone call that I’ve been anticipating (or rather, hoping for) since I began my Ph.D. five years ago.
This week it became officially official, and come September, I will finally be joining the ranks of the gainfully employed, when I begin my post-grad school life as an assistant professor of African American history.
What’s more, after years of uncertainty as to where we would be living (and whether we’d even be in the same state as each other), Brent and I can finally enjoy a sense of stability – in our own home in Philadelphia. My commute will be long – about an hour and a half each way, probably three or four days a week – but it’s 100% worth it for Brent to be able to keep his job here and for us to be able to stay in our house and in our community. Not in my wildest imagination did I expect to be able to say that, entering into the world of academia.
All of this still feels incredibly surreal, but I think it’s beginning to sink in, as I start to put together course syllabi and place book orders for my soon-to-be students. I’m getting a sense of what the next several years will look like, and while I know it will be an incredible challenge, I can’t wait to hit the ground running.
“Shit shit shit” moments and all.

10 responses to “Parenting 101

  1. N.D. April 3, 2010 at 3:09 pm

    I love that story. I wonder what words Nick will come up with. So exciting about the future plans. I'm thrilled for you guys!

  2. Keith Fahlgren April 3, 2010 at 3:12 pm

    That's wonderful news! I'm sure you're especially pleased given the current economic and academic climate, but most of us never doubted…

  3. Jill April 3, 2010 at 5:25 pm

    Congrats to you and you upcoming new position – I am VERY pleased for you that you get to stay where you are currently located and your husband can keep his job! So exciting you are almost finished with your education!!!I love your *shit* story and am going to go into my room now and say a few myself. You're the best, Abby! Thanks for constantly inspirting me making me realize that there is a bright light at the end of these long, sometimes shitty, journeys.

  4. Kim April 4, 2010 at 11:19 am

    Congrats!!! That has to be a load off!I love your story. I think you're dad did a really neat thing and did a great job of explaining it instead of just telling you no…don't say that.

  5. Amanda - RunToTheFinish April 4, 2010 at 5:15 pm

    that is such a cute story and really very smart I think! I'm excited for your new journey.So couldn't find your email to get back with you on DC. Mine is amandacbrooks at yahooI am actually in meetings each day from 9-4 and then fly out Thursday. I will then be back the follwing Monday…not sure how long you are there?

  6. The Happy Runner April 5, 2010 at 3:46 pm

    Love the shit story! What a great way for your dad to handle that.Congratulations on the job! Excellent, excellent news.BTW — you asked about my book project. It is nothing exciting at all. I'm revising a test prep book. Woo hoo! It may very well be the most boring book project going, but it pays well 🙂

  7. Angela and David Kidd April 5, 2010 at 4:11 pm

    Congrats! That sounds like an amazing situation.And I'm going to use your dad's technique when Zach undoubtedly learns to start saying shit from me.

  8. X-Country2 April 5, 2010 at 9:34 pm

    Ha! What a great story. :o)

  9. Denise April 6, 2010 at 8:27 am

    first off, congrats!!! i'm so glad you get to stay put, too. that must be a huge weight lifted!! and second, that story was too cute!!

  10. prashant April 11, 2010 at 8:28 pm

    So exciting about the future plans. I'm thrilled for you guys! home jobs india

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