About Me:

Aloha! I'm Wendy Kennar. I'm the mother of a seven-year-old son and a wife living in Los Angeles. I was a public school teacher for twelve years until a chronic medical condition made it necessary to leave my teaching career.

I've always been described as "quiet" - really, I'm just biting my tongue. I've got lots to say, and lots of thoughts to share, I just prefer to write them. That's the purpose of this blog. Each Wednesday, I post a personal essay offering my observations and thoughts.

A few fun facts about me: I've wanted to be a writer since second grade, when my teacher, Mrs. Jones, made me a "book" with a yellow construction paper cover. I have never learned to whistle, have always preferred sunflowers to roses, and have spent my life living within the same zip code.

Through the years, my writing has been published in the Los Angeles Times, Christian Science Monitor, United Teacher, GreenPrints, L.A. Parent, DivineCaroline.com, RoleReboot.org, XOJane, and Brain, Child Magazine. Additionally, my personal essays have been included in several anthologies, including: The Barefoot Review, Beyond the Diaper Bag, Lessons From My Parents, Write for Light, Being a Grown-Up: A User's Manual for the Real World, Ka-Pow!, How Writing Can Get You Through Tough Times, Breath and Shadow, The Grey Wolfe Storybook, and Sisters Born, Sisters Found.
I am a regular contributor at MomsLA.com, and you can also find me at Goodreads.

Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Feel free to comment and share my blog with others!

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

I'm Thinking Of ...

   My son, husband, and I often play a guessing game.  It’s a great way to pass the time when we’re out at a restaurant waiting for our food.  It requires no batteries, no extra parts; just the three of us, thinking and talking.  

   We give each other riddles.  I’m thinking of an animal that can swim in the water and hop around on land.  When it’s younger it has a tail.  It has a long tongue.  (A frog).

   Recently, I adapted the game so it became a biography version.  I’m thinking of a man who has a very important job.  He is also a husband and a daddy to two daughters.  He’s lived in many places including Hawaii and Indonesia, but now he lives in Washington D.C.  (President Obama)

   The biographies version was new which meant that my son wanted to keep playing it.  Over and over.  The longer we played, the more I had to really think about who I could translate into clues.  I thought of people my son has learned about in school (Andy Warhol, Rosa Parks), and people he’s learned about at home (van Gogh, Monet, Dr. Seuss, Eric Carle, Michael Jordan).  And I noticed that almost all my clues began with “I’m thinking of a man.”  

   Because I’ve taught for twelve years, I had plenty of women I could have described; after all, I used to make my upper-grade students complete a Women’s History Month Project each March.  But my son is in first grade, and school hasn’t exposed him to many  influential women.  (Yet).

   And that’s when I felt like I had shortchanged my son.  Have I somehow dropped the ball by not exposing my son to more women?  Is it my fault or am I being too hard on myself (something I am apt to do)?  I thought about what we’ve introduced him to, what’s in our home.  There are the Baby Monet and Baby van Gogh DVDs from the Little Einstein Company that first got my son interested in the work of those great artists.  And truthfully certain figures, such as Dr. Seuss and Michael Jordan, are incomparable.

   On the other hand, I never did go through our home and count the number of male artists that are represented by the pieces hanging on our walls, and I’ve never tallied up how many female authors have written the books that are on my son’s bookcases.  So while there’s a part of me that doesn’t feel it’s overly important (he is only six after all), I do want my son to understand that men and women, of all different backgrounds, are capable of, and have produced, some fantastic work. 

   And someday, he’ll be one of them!

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

My Monica-esque Ways

   Friends went off the air ten years ago.  (Gasp - has it been that long already?)  Yet I still refer to it, often.  And it occurs to me that I have my own peculiar “Monica Geller-like” qualities.

   Remember Monica?  She was the “neat freak,” the “compulsive cleaner,” the one who categorized her towels.  And while I don’t think I’m compulsive, I do think I’ve got my own unique set of cleaning quirks.  And I really don’t know if they make me any neater, or our house any cleaner.  I do know that while I am a fan of short-cuts and tricks that make life easier, I can’t seem to let go of these unusual habits of mine.  I know they make more work for me, and yet I am compelled to continue doing them.

   Here it is -- I need to rotate things.  Things as in -- Shirts.  Underwear.  Plates.  Dishtowels.  Linen napkins.  Bed sheets.  Flatware.

   Let me explain.  Freshly laundered shirts and underwear are folded but not automatically placed in my son’s dresser.  Instead, they are each placed at the bottom of their respective piles -- underneath the shirts and underwear that have yet to be worn.

   Dishes and flatware out of the dishwasher are not just put back in the kitchen cabinet and drawer.  Instead, the clean plates come out, the freshly washed plates are placed in the cabinet, and the as-yet-unused plates are now at the top of the pile and will be first used during our next meal.

   And on it goes.  Same steps, same process for the towels, sheets, and napkins.

   On the one hand, I think my rotations make sense.  Rotating items means I’m not over-using any one item.  But because I’m a thinker, I wonder if there’s some sort of deeper psychological motive behind my need to rotate objects.

   I am a middle-child after all, a fact that can be “blamed” for my need to please, to be diplomatic, and easy-going.

   Maybe it’s because I was a public school teacher for twelve years and spent considerable effort making sure all my students were treated fairly and were given the same opportunities to read aloud, come to the board, and be an office helper.

   Whatever the underlying reason, it’s “how” I do things.  Maybe the “why” isn’t important.  After all, Monica didn’t run around that expansive apartment of hers justifying all her cleaning habits.    

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Wanting to Avoid Perfection

      My son likes his first grade teacher.  It’s a good thing.  I breathe easier knowing he’s spending so many hours of his day with someone he feels comfortable with.

   And his teacher likes him.  She’s told me that he’s a good worker, that he does everything he’s asked.  But ... 

   (You knew there was a “but” in there), but, she called my son “perfect.”  

   She meant it as a compliment, but I bristled.  I wanted to take her aside and request that she never use that word when referring to my son. 

   When my son was born, I called him perfect.  I don’t think I’ve used that adjective since that night six years ago.  (Here’s the link to an earlier blog in which I wrote about Perfection:  http://wendykennar.blogspot.com/2013/10/perfection.html)

   There really is no such thing as perfection.  I used to tell my students that I was less concerned with perfection and more concerned with effort.  

   Being called perfect is dangerous.  It’s a lot to live up to.  I know.  I was the “perfect student” -- quiet, well-mannered, smart, neat, obedient.  I was the kind of student every teacher hopes for.  And I am pleased that my son is behaving so well at school.  But perfection isn’t easy to maintain.  You’re either perfect or you’re not.  So, I often worried myself sick -- I cried in class, couldn’t sleep at night, and didn’t eat my lunch at school.  It was how I handled (or mis-handled) the responsibility of maintaining my perfection.  And I did it.  I stayed perfect.  Perfect and unhappy.

   Right now, my son is happy.  He likes school.  He likes learning.  He likes recess.  He likes playing with his friends.  He likes p.e.  He likes homework.  Everything is fun.  And that’s the way it should be.  He’s six years old, after all.  

   We’re just getting started on his academic career.  Ryan will be in school for at least the next dozen years.  And I don’t want him spending his student years concerned about being perfect and afraid to make a mistake.  So, I consciously try to praise my son’s efforts rather than his outcome.  “You followed all the directions.”  “You were paying close attention to your teacher.”  “Wow - you finished that whole worksheet.”  “You wrote so neatly.”  

   My son is many things -- creative, funny, serious, smart, happy, affectionate, curious.  He doesn’t need to be perfect.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Sneak Peek: Sisters Born, Sisters Found

Dear Readers,

Keep your eyes out for a new anthology expected this November.  Sisters Born, Sisters Found includes the work of 75 authors (including me) who have written about sisterhood.  To give you a sense of what the book is about, click on this link to watch the editor explain the project.  Also, if you wish, you will have the opportunity to help contribute funds towards this project.

As always, thanks for reading,


(Trying To) Love My Legs

“I think you have to develop a style when you’re ill to keep from falling out of love with yourself.  It’s important to stay in love with yourself.”
- Anatole Broyard, Intoxicated by My Illness

   The problem is I never was a woman who walked around feeling completely in love with myself.  I was a woman who had days when my level of self-appreciation was higher than others.  

   And now I have this medical condition that has changed the way I see myself.  I now consider myself somewhat powerless and much less vulnerable.  On my bad days, I’m weak, I’m damaged, I’m bruised.  On my not-so-bad days, I’m challenged, I’m tough, I’m resilient.

   Back in my teaching days, I usually wore slacks and once a week, a skirt, just to mix it up.  I thought of my legs as strong and thought that with the right A-line skirt, I looked rather attractive.

   Now, though, I don’t see my legs as strong.  I see them as betraying me and playing cruel tricks on me.  Not strong enough for me to walk my son to and from school.  Not strong enough for me to walk around the zoo without contemplating renting a wheelchair.  And, my legs are scarred -- with an actual scar from my muscle biopsy and with a multitude of veins that are crisscrossing my legs and thighs at a rate that alarms me.

   Rationally, I know that prominent veins on my legs is a superficial preoccupation that doesn’t necessarily translate into my general health and well-being.  It is more important that I feel well, rather than my legs looking well.

   However, summer days exacerbate the problem.  I see women, many older than me, who are out and about in cute skirts with nary a vein on the back of their legs.  I never owned many pairs of shorts, but since my leg issues, I own no shorts.  I have resorted to a few capris and rolling up old pairs of jeans to almost-mid-calf.  But even then, there are days when the thermometer climbs, and I don’t want to be hindered by long fabric.  

   On days when the thought of long pants seems unbearable, I bravely wear a skirt, sans panty hose.  When I taught, panty hose and a slip was a requirement for any outfit that didn’t involve slacks.  Today, as I pen these words, I sit in a cafe, bare legs crossed under the table as I wear a knee-length black skirt.

   I’m a bit self-conscious, I’m not used to having my legs exposed.  But my skirt-wearing is my way of celebrating.  These legs of mine, under attack and dealing with daily pain, are still well enough to get me in and out of the car today, and walk me into the cafe.  

   It’s oh-so-easy, to let the pain on bad days overtake everything else -- my mood, my self-confidence, my self-esteem.  I certainly don’t always feel in love with myself, but wearing a skirt is a way of showing my legs some much-needed love.