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Being grounded takes different meaning for adults

As children transition into adulthood, at some point they need to embrace the notion that to be grounded is a good thing.

If you look the word up in the dictionary (do people still do that?), nowhere will you find a definition of "grounded" that describes a scene where a child gets in trouble, hissy fits are thrown by several parties, doors are slammed and precious toys such as cellphones and cars are taken away.

No, grounded is defined as "well balanced and sensible." As in ... it is a well-balanced and sensible idea for me to take your toys away and you to not repeat that offending behavior.

Ever since the kids were small it was always my instinct to want to ground them as soon as school lets out for the summer, and at the start of Christmas vacation. In Kidville, these times create a peak of frenzied activity, big dreams and exhaustion that results in a meltdown or two, primarily from the parent, who is running and trying to catch up with this kid who has the world by the tail.

After a hectic week of holiday chaos, Sunday brought a commitment to get up at 5:30 in the morning and hit the road for a 200-mile round trip excursion so the girl could dance and Mom could sit in a freezing gym and watch her for five hours.

When I found out this was coming up, my question was this: What am I supposed to do while you're dancing all day? The answer ... WATCH ME.

Now, I have sat and watched my kids all their lives. There have been many times it was my favorite thing to do. But somehow, as they get their driver's licenses, boyfriends, attitudes and personalities, they require less attention. In fact, sometimes that's the way they want it. To fly under their parent's radar.

So when my senior in high school  the one who will shortly leave me and never look back  wants me to watch her, I will gladly watch her. I even took along an extra kid to watch.

I recorded them on their phones (again and again and again), provided snacks and assured them they were the best and the brightest. Just like the other mothers did for their own kids. At one point the audition was closed, so I waited in the lobby and put my head down on the table, where I took a hard nap with my neck in a very painful and unnatural position.

Five-thirty a.m. should be illegal, that's all I'm saying.

It was a full day, and once we got home we each had another hard nap, and the day finished in that kind of surreal way where you drift around and don't get much done but know that you should.

When I went to wake her up, that's when I saw the need to ground my daughter. The hectic week and all its fun culminated in a slathering of clothes that covered the carpet from wall to wall. There were college and scholarship applications to complete and conversations to have just for the sake of catching up.

While protesting weakly that I was ruining her life, the kid was compliant, and knew it was time to surrender to being present and stop running, even for a minute.

It was quite a lovely day.

The grounding will continue until Mama's short list is all checked off, but we both know it's a narrow window and we'll all get back to the madness soon.

I think it was Snoopy who said "hooray for life's little victories." Gotta take 'em as you can.

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