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, February 26, 2014

First I Was, Now I Am

   My son is learning about community helpers in his kindergarten class.  He came home and proudly read me the little book he had made in class.  The book, “I Can Be Anything,” is the motto I want my son growing up and believing wholeheartedly.  

   During their early years, children believe everything is possible.  No one has told them that they are too short or too slow or too-anything for any one particular career.  When my son was three-and-a-half years old, he began telling me he wanted to be a firefighter when he grows up.  Now, he tells me he first wants to be (fill-in-the-blank), then he wants to be (a different-fill-in-the-blank).  His fill-in-the-blanks have included:  firefighter, teacher, scientist, doctor, and astronaut.  I love his confidence, the fact that by merely stating it, he firmly believes it can be so.

   People who know me well know that there were two professions that held my interest as a young girl:  astronaut and teacher.  I wanted to be an astronaut for most of my childhood.  However, while in high school, I volunteered in an elementary school classroom, and fell in love with teaching.

   But those weren’t the only two careers that sparked my interest.  Some were random ideas I entertained, ideas that seemed so far-fetched to me, but so intriguing, that I never shared them with anyone.  Until now.

   - Horses.  I realize horses aren’t a career.  I just wasn’t sure what I wanted to do with horses.  I just knew I liked horses (with my experience being limited to the Griffith Park Pony Rides and a couple of riding lessons) and thought I would enjoy spending my days working and being with horses.

   - Marine biologist.  I didn’t know this term at the time.  I just knew whales fascinated me.  Their size, their family loyalty, their strength, their gracefulness, their intelligence.  I wanted to be out on a boat, in the middle of the ocean, studying these “gentle giants.”

   - Air Force Pilot.  I wanted to learn to fly a jet, to soar and zoom above the Earth.  I also knew I didn’t want to be a soldier, engaged in combat missions or anything that wasn’t peaceful.

   I began my teaching career believing, unequivocally, that “teacher” would be my only answer to the question, “What do you do?”  Now, I know that I don’t have to limit myself.  Without realizing it, my son has helped me see that I too can have one profession and then another.  First, I was a teacher.  Now, I am a writer.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Reading the Lines

   When I was enrolled in the chronic pain group, the neurobiologist I met with was quite concerned with the lines on my forehead.  Apparently, I have lines on my forehead that appeared during many of our conversations.  I can’t see them.  They were, undoubtedly, bothering her a lot more than they were bothering me.

   I tried to dismiss the topic, informing the doctor that these lines were the least of my problems.  Big picture -- I’m thirty-seven years old and enrolled in a chronic pain program.  The lines don’t cause me pain, after all.  I thought that first mention would be the end of it.  Surely, we had more important matters to discuss.

   But, apparently I was wrong.  Each time I privately met with the neurobiologist, she commented on my forehead.  (Thankfully, she didn’t address the issue during our group sessions).  She told me she observed them on my forehead when I seemed to be in deep thought, when I was preoccupied, and when I was in pain.  

   I went home, very self-conscious, and went on the hunt for these lines.  I didn’t find them on any of the pictures hanging on the walls of our home.  I didn’t see them in the mirror when I gazed at myself.  Maybe, sitting in a doctor’s office, attending a chronic pain group, having a medical condition that resulted in chronic pain, had something to do with the appearance of my lines.

   At subsequent meetings, the doctor would inform me that I needed to make a more conscious effort to relax my forehead, to smooth away the lines.  She warned me that these lines could lead to wrinkles.

   I think that the lines on my forehead display what my mouth isn’t saying and what my leg isn’t showing.  I have always been described as “quiet.”  As I got older, I knew I was quiet because I was smart; my quiet often kept me out of trouble.  I bite my tongue quite a bit, and keep things to myself -- or will write about them.  As for my leg, aside from a multitude of veins and a scar from my muscle biopsy, it looks okay.  But it’s not.  And I know that when I’m in pain, I can’t always “give in” to the pain.  I’ve got a young son to care for and responsibilities and obligations that don’t go away simply because I’m in pain.  So I’ll grimace, purse my lip, and, evidently, have some lines appear on my forehead.

   Perhaps I’m in the minority, especially in youth-obsessed Los Angeles, but I don’t know why wrinkles are such a bad thing.  Wrinkles show I’ve lived.  Wrinkles show I am living.  Wrinkles show experience and emotions.  Wrinkles show I’m authentic.

   I have been told that I am a stoic.  It’s not necessarily a compliment.  But, let’s be honest, complaining doesn’t get me anywhere.  It won’t make the pain go away.  So I do tend to quietly suffer.  

   But those closest to me, will look at me and see me.  And they’ll know.  They’ll watch my mouth, or my eyes, or the lines on my forehead.  And they’ll know.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

I Do - Fifteen Years Later

                                      Paul and I on our wedding day, February 14, 1999

        When my husband and I were married almost fifteen years ago, finances governed our wedding ceremony.  We were both shy of our twenty-third birthdays, and didn’t have much money.  My parents were going to help pay for a ceremony, but again, we weren’t given an infinite budget.  And I was too practical for that.  I didn’t want to spend thousands of dollars on a dress that would be worn for a few hours; I didn’t want to spend hundreds of dollars on flowers that wouldn’t last more than a few days.

   I wanted to spend money on our honeymoon in Maui, a trip for my husband and myself; I didn’t want to worry about feeding a bunch of people dinner.  We already felt married.  We’d been living together for a year.  The wedding was just the official ceremony; the requirement necessary to legally change my last name.  And because we had been living together, and had established our apartment, we didn’t register for gifts.  We weren’t looking at our wedding as a big “money-maker” (no dollar dances) or a “money taker” (no open bar).

   I wasn’t one of those girls who had spent hours imagining my wedding.  I didn’t grow up fantasizing about the color of my bridesmaids’ dresses or the music that would play.  I had no preconceived ideas in my head except that I knew when all was said and done, we would be husband and wife.  Once we became engaged, I still didn’t go out in search of bridal magazines or articles online.  I was more concerned with logistics -- missing a week of classes and arranging for time off work.

   I bought my wedding dress, off the rack in a department store.  A few days before my wedding, I went to my local supermarket, stocked up on flowers, and turned my kitchen into a make-shift flower shop, where I created bouquets, boutonnieres, and corsages.  My mom and I went shopping for wedding-themed paper plates, for the cake we would eat at the reception in my parents’ living room.

   Our wedding was sweet and heartfelt, and not pretentious at all.  Because when all is said and done, regardless of whether guests are served cake and champagne or steak and potatoes, two people go home married.  

   Now as we approach our crystal wedding anniversary, I do fantasize about what my dream wedding would look like.  When the time comes and my husband and I wish to renew our vows, I won’t be counting every penny, and I will make sure that I get just what I want.  Now, I know what I want.

   Instead of a ceremony in a small chapel on a busy street, I want to have a renewal ceremony on the beach.  Instead of pastel-hued flowers, I want to be surrounded by vibrant, happy sunflowers.  Instead of my hair swept up in a combination of hair spray and pins, I want my hair down, with loose waves.

   And I want music.  I want to walk down the sand to a song that has meaning to us.  I want to dance with my husband, my son, my dad, and my mom.  And I want our playlist to include “Forever” by the Beach Boys and Sade’s “By Your Side.” 

   We really didn’t know what the future had in store for us, but we had faith in each other and us.  Along the way during these fifteen years, that faith has been shaken and tested.  But it’s still kept us together.  And neither one of us would be who we are today without each other’s influence throughout the last fifteen years.

   We left our wedding blissfully content and full of hope.  Whenever we do choose to renew our vows, the ceremony will undoubtedly be different.  But, I’m after the same outcome.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Super Bowl Sunday

   My almost-six-year-old son and I watched the Super Bowl together on Sunday.  Earlier in the day we had gone grocery shopping, and he had seen a multitude of footballs -- large, football-shaped helium balloons and miniature footballs on top of cakes and cupcakes.  I explained to him that there was a big football game, the Super Bowl, on TV later that day.  And Ryan decided he wanted to watch.

   I am not a football person.  I don’t understand the rules of the game.  Players run and try to catch the ball.  Someone catches the ball, hopefully, they’re tackled, and suddenly a bunch of grown men are falling on top of each other in a big pile.

   To my son, those pileups resembled the game of squish we often play.  Squish is a bit of tickling, a bit of wrestling, a lot of love.  Periodically, my son would become inspired by a pile-up he witnessed and try to re-enact it with me on our bed.

   My son watched the game and had a lot of questions.  He wondered why it was dark there while it was still daytime outside here.  I explained to him that the Super Bowl was happening in the state of New Jersey, on the other side of the United States of America, where it was already dark.  He asked what the flags meant, why a whistle was blown, again, and what “3rd down” meant.  I had no answers for those.  

   My son is quite adept at numbers, and he recognized that the Seahawks were scoring while the Broncos remained at zero.  He told me his prediction was that the Seahawks would win.  I took this opportunity to turn the situation into a “teachable moment.”  Yes, the Seahawks were scoring.  A lot.  But the Broncos weren’t giving up.  They kept trying.  They cooperated and worked together as a team.  The game wasn’t over yet.

   Our biggest problem was the commercials.  During the “scary” commercials, Ryan and I turned our heads and looked at the wall.  My son asked me why there were so many car commercials.  We saw Bruce Willis, Bob Dylan, Laurence Fishburne all advertising cars.  And we saw beer commercials.  My son, thankfully, doesn’t understand it all, but I had a problem knowing that too many people drink and drive and yet the majority of the commercials we saw were for liquor and automobiles.

   My favorite commercial was actually a “controversial” one.  Yes, in the year 2014 with an African-American President serving his second term, a cereal commercial featuring an inter-racial family created an ugly controversy.  

   As a parent, I was thankful that my son watched the game in a state of blissful ignorance and naivete.  I was overwhelmed by the images and the mixed messages our country is sending to our children.  We want them to be responsible and take care of the planet, yet we’re advertising cars.  We want them to drink lots of water and be healthy, yet we saw commercials for soda and liquor.  We want people to be treated fairly and equally, yet a commercial with an African-American daddy, a white Mommy, and a mixed-race child (a family that resembles my own) created controversy.

   That’s what happens when someone like me, a person who doesn’t really understand the game of football, watches the biggest football game of the year.  I think too much about it all.

   My son had a good time.  And really, that’s the only reason we watched it in the first place.