Saturday, June 20, 2009

Spare the rod, spoil the child...

About eight months has passed since Jennifer last wrote in her diaries. In July of 1982, Jennifer turned twelve. She is now in 7th grade at Bowditch Middle School in Foster City. She still lives with her dad and her brother. Her mother is living in Alaska. There are four major changes in Jennifer's entries. 1) She now writes in cursive 2) She named her diary "Ophelia" and the diary becomes an imaginary "friend" (who is triangle shaped?) 3) Her new best friend is Lara and 4) her new crush is Randy!

The picture Jennifer drew of her diary friend "Ophelia"

December 2, 1982

Dear Ophelia,

"Today Wendy was in a bad mood. She pretended like she did not want me around. I really like Randy. He is very cute and I hope he asks me to go with him. All the animals are doing fine. Today I almost decided to get my hair cut short but I chickened out. Chipper's cage was cleaned and I can tell he is happy. Lara was sick today. Well I must be going now. By Ophelia. Your friend, Jennifer. P.S. I love you."

I think Ophelia was Jennifer's stand-in for female confidant, best friend and more importantly, mother. Jennifer spoke to her mother on the telephone maybe once a week. She saw her once or twice a year. She lived with two males--her brother and her dad. Now that Jennifer is twelve, her need for a live-in mother is growing.

December 3, 1982

Dear Ophelia,

"Today I got my hair cut and I look really pretty. I have no homework. I went to Lara's today. Lara is always bragging about herself. I wish I had some designer jeans or alligator shirts. Well I have to go, bye Ophelia. Your friend, Jennifer."

Jordache, Guess and Alligator shirts....Jennifer longed to don the uniform of the cool!

December 4, 1982

Dear Ophelia,

"Lara is spending the night. Daniel and Allen are watching the Rush concert. We ate pizza at Round Table and tonight we are watching movies on Showtime. We are having a ceremony and cursing Adrienne T. My hair still looks nice. I still like Randy, he is very cute. I think you are beautiful. Well I have to go bye Ophelia. Your friend, Jennifer. P.S. We watched Caveman on Showtime. Lara went with me to my horse back riding lesson. I am riding Jewel right now."

Lara and Jennifer had a few ceremonies. It no longer occurs to Jennifer to pray. Instead she burns candles and makes wishes with Lara. Adrienne was a "mean girl." One of those perfect girls gifted with looks, money and a body. Adrienne ended up with a modeling contract in junior high.

Jennifer can't remember what Adrienne did to Jennifer and Lara, if anything, but there was animosity between the girls. Jennifer and Lara wished ill on her. Obviously no harm was brought to Adrienne--the harm was done to Jennifer. Her bitterness caused ill only to herself.

December 5, 1982

Dear Ophelia,

"How are you? Today I saw The Jerk on TV. Me and Lara watched 9 to 5 on Showtime. Cocoa made a mess in my room. Mom is coming either the 14th or 15th of this month. Muffin is very cute. It is 11:00 PM so I have to go. Bye Ophelia. Your friend, Jennifer. P.S. You are beautiful."

Jennifer's dad did not really enjoy having all the pets. He couldn't stand animal messes in the house. He also found the smell of a litter box unacceptable. Adjustments had to be made. He bought a training kit and, in a few short weeks, he taught Cocoa to use the toilet....

Take heart parents--if she can do it, your three year old can do it!! (ha,ha)
December 7, 1982
Dear Ophelia,
"Today I had two tests. I think I did good on them. Muffin was groomed today. I have a lot of homework. I went to bed really late. I have to go, bye Ophelia. Your friend, Jennifer. P.S. Paula came over. I got a present from Becky."
Muffin was a miniature poodle. She was a great family dog by Jen and Dan's standards (she did make messes in the house, eat food off the table and run away if you left the door open--but Jen and Dan didn't have to deal with that side of her!) She was friendly and flexible. Daniel nicknamed her "Flex". She was easily crammed into t-shirts and dresses. She roughhoused with Daniel and submitted to Jennifer's babying with equal enjoyment (or so Jennifer imagined).
The fun part of having a dog with hair rather than fur, is that hair never stops growing. So there were two sides to Muffin. The shaggy mutt side and the fancy poodle side. Here is Muffin before a grooming and after...

Muffin in the tree (see how compliant she is!) and Muffin on the mounting block at the horse trainer's barn on Turkey Farm Road in Woodside, CA
December 11, 1982
Dear Ophelia,
"Today we went to Fashion Island to buy Christmas presents. I bought Daniel a tape and a book for about $8.00. Me and Daniel bought mom earrings for about $5.50. Me and Dan bought Dad a shirt for about $15.00. I bought Chipper some chew sticks and Cocoa a catnip mouse. We are getting Muffin a big bone with meat on it. Well bye Ophelia, Your friend, Jennifer."
Dan and Jen took public transportation or their bikes all over Foster City and San Mateo. They went to Fashion Island (the mall) alone and bought their gifts. Jennifer often went out for dinner or lunch to restaurants by herself or with Lara. Round Table was her favorite place to go. Her dad left a stack of $20 dollar bills in his dresser. Jen and Dan helped themselves to spending cash as needed.
Jennifer often grabbed a $20, her friend Lara and her bike and headed off to Round Table for dinner and some video games. Oddly enough, she did not steal money from her dad. She only used what she needed to eat. She used her own money for make-up and presents (or she shoplifted...not good!) Interesting where people draw the line....
I cannot exit this entry without talking about Fashion Island--the best mall ever, except for the Mall of America in Minnesota. Fashion Island opened in the early 80's. It was a 78 acre mall with a movie theater and an indoor ice rink (and a really cool name). This mall should never have failed as miserably as it did. By 1995, the mall was dead. The main competitor mall was Hillsdale. Hillsdale was older and was a pain to get in and out of by car. Fashion Island had plenty of parking and was easy to get to by car and by bus. Here is an aerial photo:

Fashion Island, San Mateo, Ca

The two malls, Fashion Island and Hillsdale competed to get the store, Nordstrom. Hillsdale won. Hillsdale also updated their store and went on an advertising blitz. They sunk Fashion Island. I'm sure some heads rolled over that fiasco.

An old directory of Fashion Island stores

December 13, 1982
Dear Ophelia,
"Today we went to Fashion Island and Daniel got me my Christmas presents and some things for his friend. We got home at 9:43 PM. I got a B- in Mr. Mountain's class and an A in Mr. Waller's class. I'm not sure about my other classes yet. I have to go because it is very late. Bye Ophelia. Your friend, Jennifer. P.S. Lara is in P.E. with me."
This was a Monday night, a school night--Jen and Dan were out alone until almost 10pm!
December 14, 1982
Dear Ophelia,
"Today I cleaned the house since Mom is coming tomorrow. I like my new classes. I gave Cocoa a bath and Paula watched. Now Cocoa is shinier than ever. Dad got mad at me today for leaving out the milk glasses, but I did not. Usually I do, but this time I didn't. Dad spanked me because I told him the glasses were not mine. I'm twelve years old and very responsible when I feel like it and dedicated. Well I have to go, bye Ophelia. Your friend, Jennifer."
Jennifer barely remembers this incident. She can't be sure if the glasses were really hers or not. There are two things to notice about this entry--first, Jennifer was disciplined now and then. Her life was not all unsupervised chaos. And second, this flare-up from her dad came the day before her mother's visit.
Although the divorce was amicable--it wasn't mutual. Jennifer's dad did not want the divorce. He was hurt. Her mother's visit may have brought up some buried feelings in her dad. Most of the time, he was easy-going and slow to anger. Jennifer's bad behavior usually just confused him.
Did your parents spank you? Do you think it was helpful?

Top Grossing Movies of 1982
An Officer and A Gentleman
Star Trek-The Wrath of Kahn
The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas
The Verdict
The Toy
First Blood


  1. I cant believe your cat was really potty trained. Thats amazing!

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.


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