Lenore Hirsch invites readers to laugh along with her as she shares her insights as an aging Baby Boomer. A retired Napa educator, she also writes poetry, memoir, food and travel pieces, and her dog's blog. See lenorehirsch.com.   

As an educator of elementary school age children, when asked about appropriate dress, I always avoided laying down rules. I still say, “It all depends on the body.” A skinny 11-year-old girl in a tank top isn’t going to raise any alarms. An already developed girl of the same age in something…

Knowledge and experience about grief come in handy as we age. Serial pet owners have a rich history of dealing with the loss that is felt when a pet dies. Although my own story may have more tragedy than joy, I am simply glad to have shared my life with the pets who have loved me.

Fellow boomers, have you suffered the annoying experience of being in a diner or needing assistance at Target and the staff person says, “Be with you in a minute, hon,” or “Any seat you want, sweetie”? Does this bug you the way it does me? I don’t recall being addressed this way when I was i…

The wine has been flowing, and I might be overdoing it. I don’t practice a daily cocktail hour, but when a social event arises or I have an opportunity to sip something new or exotic, I imbibe with enthusiasm.

The year is drawing to a close. How is that even possible? I’m still looking for Easter eggs, I haven’t moved my summer clothes from the bedroom closet, and Halloween pumpkins are rotting on my front porch. I’m beginning to understand why some people leave their Christmas decorations up year…

I would never have predicted that thoughts of a bathtub full of warm water and lavender bubbles could call forth the same anguish I associate with doing the splits or a backbend. That is, my body just can’t do this!

Of the millions of sensory memories stored in my head, the magic of touch, smell, taste and sound, I am amazed at the power of some to lift me from my everyday plodding existence into a form of joy I still don’t understand. Today I am talking about the Beatles, about their harmonies, lyrics,…

Can you believe a third of baby boomers are single? The internet says so. What a boom for Match.com and all those other sites promising your next soul mate. Sounds like an opportunity for those of us who are alone and pine for an honest, loving relationship, but how do we find each other? A …

Most writers are in love with the written word. All of those synonyms and antonyms. Beautiful metaphors. The rhymes and rhythms of language. It’s all great until you can’t remember the word that is on the tip of your tongue. Or your dear friend’s name, as he stands next to you waiting to be …

Collecting must be part of the human condition, because we all accumulate things we don’t need and don’t use. Moving always provides an opportunity to sell or give away some of the collection, but too many of us stay rooted in one place, adding to the storage of useless stuff and never takin…

I always thought those restaurant early-bird dinners were popular with grandmas and grandpas because the prices were low. Now I know it has more to do with falling asleep in your chair at eight o’clock or wanting to get home to watch Lawrence Welk. Plus, I didn’t know back then that nearly a…

If you’re in your 60s, your kids are probably at least approaching 40. So what’s someone who’s maybe 30? Perhaps an immature pretender to adulthood and recently out of hospital residency.

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When I was 30 and living in San Francisco, my roommate and I one day set the oven to 500 degrees to cook a frozen pizza — such gourmets we were — and then decided on a whim to fly to Reno for the weekend. We quickly packed and rushed to the airport.

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Do any of these sound familiar? “I drive just fine.” “My vision is as good as when I was 18.” “I’m fine but other drivers are in too much of a hurry.” Regardless of what we say, we all know in our guts and have probably been reminded by auto insurance companies, family members and those brav…

“Heads, shoulders, knees and toes, knees and toes.” Remember that song? It seems like all those body parts are involved in a chronic dance of pain. It was no fun trying to write with my left hand while my right sat aimlessly in its splint recovering from thumb surgery. The first joint to go,…

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As we approach old age, friends are a precious commodity. You never know when you may desperately need one, so it’s important to keep them on your radar. And forgetting their special day is not a good idea.

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I’m starting this new column with great enthusiasm, but with dismay that I must announce my age to the world. Please promise to forget this fact as soon as possible. If you’re a baby boomer, that shouldn’t be a problem.

I am a huge proponent of sex education in the classroom. I understand the desire of parents to be the ones to explain sexual behavior to their children, but I would guess that nine times out of 10, the kids know all about it long before Mom or Dad bites the bullet and sits them down for a co…

It’s one of my favorite times of year. All the pink and red, hearts and flowers, homemade cards, sweet kisses, and chocolate. What’s not to like?

Is it a good idea to pay students for good grades? I recently saw this question posed for high school and college students, but it’s a good one for any age. Research suggests money for grades doesn’t improve learning, but I believe motivating students with rewards depends entirely on the ind…

What is a test or assessment? Whether you’re a kindergartner or an adult who’s learning new professional skills, it’s the same thing: a process to find out what has been learned and what still needs improvement.

Dear Lenore: My high school senior isn’t very good about planning ahead. Now he has to do a senior project to graduate. How can I make sure he completes it on time?

Every school principal deals with weird people and events on a regular basis. In honor of Halloween, I thought I’d share some experiences that have been scary or embarrassing. They might give parents something to think about.

I never thought I’d get a column idea from a pope, but here it is. Pope Francis teaches the world humility by passing up fancy digs and red shoes. On his recent visit to the U.S. he took time to pay attention to individuals in need, and skipped a congressional lunch to dine with the poor. He…

It’s hard to believe parent-teacher conferences are just a week away for elementary and middle school students in the Napa Valley Unified School District. Parents should have received an invitation from their schools to sign up for a time. Oct. 5-9 will be early-release days with conferences…

In June, Gov. Brown signed Senate Bill 277 into law, requiring California children to be vaccinated in order to attend school. Until this law takes effect a year from now, parents can get an exemption to immunizations based on their “personal or religious beliefs.”

During the week before school started, I passed school parking lots packed with cars. I knew what was going on: Teachers were preparing. No matter how happy I was as a teacher when June rolled around, by the middle of my summer vacation, my creative wheels would start turning on their own an…

By the time school starts, parents across the state will be receiving reports on the new computer-based tests administered in classrooms in the spring in grades 3-8 and 11. This is a whole new ball game, and it will be helpful if parents know how to read the reports.

It’s that time of summer when the kids are looking for something new and interesting to do. Thanks to its Office of Communications headed by Elizabeth Emmett, Napa Valley Unified School District (www.nvusd.k12.ca.us) has put a selection of links on its home page to help parents find great su…

Most parents want their young children to experience a variety of learning activities growing up: Scouts, music or dance lessons, camp, museums, sports. It’s all about giving them opportunities to learn new things and explore their interests. Something changes when those kids approach college age.

At Napa’s human trafficking conference in March, I heard survivors tell how they were first abused by someone in their home and told nobody. What an eye-opener! If you were a 6-year-old and being abused sexually by a parent, sibling, or baby sitter, what is the likelihood you would tell someone?

With all the recent news about the police and citizen rights, I want to share some myths, information about juvenile court, and tips for your kids about dealing with police.

“Feeling is healing” is a phrase Irit Weir uses often. It could be the tag line for her Napa acupuncture clinic and it has led her to offer her expertise to Napa teens, helping them to change their lives in positive ways.

All administrative professionals get their special day on April 22, but I want to dedicate this column to our school secretaries and clerks without whom our schools would be in chaos. Our elementary school secretaries often provide the only full-time office assistance for the principal, teac…

Dear Lenore: The teacher wants to meet with me about my son’s work. I think he’s doing the best he can. I don’t want to go to the meeting, but I know if I don’t, the teacher will be upset.

This title may bring to mind annual spring testing or ongoing testing on core curriculum standards. Is it enough to review test scores and read your child’s report cards several times a year to know how he is doing? I don’t think so. Parents who really want to understand their child’s growth…

Dear Lenore: I dragged my seventh-grader back to school today. Is there anything I can do about his apathy toward school?

Dear Lenore: If teachers love their jobs so much, why are they always counting the days until the next vacation?

Every December, I take my turn standing in front of Trader Joe’s and ringing the Salvation Army bell, along with my fellow Sunrise Rotarians. It’s an hour of camaraderie, chatting with shoppers and thanking folks for donations to the kettle. Some years, I bring the dog in his holiday finest …

Let’s be honest. The only thing we look forward to more than the Thanksgiving dinner itself are the leftovers.

After most kid disputes, a day later both parties have forgotten what happened and are friends again, but not always.

Dear Lenore: The teacher told me my 7-year-old gets very stubborn when he has offended someone and he won’t say he’s sorry. I’ve noticed this at home too.

Rolling my cart past the high pile of candy bars — miniatures in 5-pound bags — I realize it’s that time of year. For a few Halloweens I’ve handed out colorful pencils and stickers, but I succumb to the temptation and buy the candy.

A common criticism of parents, especially among adults who no longer have kids at home, is the way some parents constantly praise their children. Organizations that eliminate competition or that award trophies to every kid who participates in an event, all in the service of self-esteem, seem…

Dear Lenore: My fourth grader has already missed two days of school because he had a sore throat. We are going on vacation for a week at the end of September — it’s the only time my husband could get off from work. Should I be concerned about attendance?

In the aftermath of the Napa earthquake, it is inevitable. Whether it is friends who haven’t seen each other since BQ (before quake), strangers in the supermarket, or business people called out to fix this or that, the earthquake stories abound. A psychologist might say that talking about it…

Dear Lenore: I just started sixth grade at middle school. I love being able to buy a snack at the morning break, but I’m afraid I’ll be late to class.

Passing by the aisle of school supplies, I inhale a whiff of new pencils and feel a tingle of anticipation for the new school year. Classes begin in Napa, Yountville and American Canyon on Aug. 13, in Calistoga on Aug. 14, and in St. Helena on Aug. 19. That’s just around the corner. Don’t wa…

I doubt there is a parent or 10-year-old who hasn't heard of "sexting"and the many dangers that may await children on the Web. Do your teens know what to do if they receive a nude photo of a friend or acquaintance? Talk about this before it happens. The last thing they should do is forward s…

A spring trip to Eastern Europe made me really sensitive to graffiti. It was everywhere. In Berlin especially, the displays were huge, even on rooftops. I've spoken to young folks who admire the social justice messages of graffiti artists like Banksy and emulate his work. Fine with me, as lo…

School's out! The kids will soon be looking for things to do. It's always a good idea to keep their noses in books during the summer, as skills decline when they take a complete break. Lucky for you, the Napa County libraries, from American Canyon to Calistoga, have a schedule of special eve…

I just returned from a trip to Eastern Europe to locate my grandfather’s birthplace. That’s what it took to verify that the location printed on an old photo, now Kosice, Slovakia, is where his parents lived. How I wish I had asked my parents and grandparents questions about their youth while…

Dear Lenore: I am just too busy with my job to attend school events. I know my kids are disappointed, but what can I do?

When parents first hear a teacher say how bright their child is, they’re usually thrilled and proud to know that their youngster has been identified as smart. As a former teacher, I can tell you that having a very bright child in class, one who asks stimulating questions or understands humor…

Dear Lenore: When I try to find out how my 10-year-old’s school day went, all she’ll say is “fine.” How do I get her to talk to me?