Say “Yes” to the…

In February, A Utah elementary school told its students that they were not allowed to say “No” to anyone asking them to the Valentine’s Dance.

The school later overturned this decision due to parental complaints.

Ya think?

Telling girls and boys that they must say “YES” to a someone because the asker might feel bad if declined?

Seriously?

Let me let you in on a secret. You don’t have to like everyone just because everything in our society includes a like button. (FYI- you still must like my posts, because I exist outside of these boundaries)

Think back to my post yesterday. I discussed how some parents try to pave the way for their child so that the child has no set backs or disappointments.  This dance thing- this is what happens when you try to clear the path: ridiculous rules meant to save a child from suffering.

Does anyone really think this is the right path?

The problem is, we’re focusing on the wrong issues.  Yes, we want our children to feel good about themselves, but there are better ways to do that.  Think about the ramifications that a “must say yes” mentality has?  Besides the fact that it is not realistic at all.

Instead of making children “like” one another, why don’t we focus on being kind to one another.  Kind.  That’s a concept that our children should be taught.  Be a kind person.

How about respect.  Teach your child to be respectful to those around them, whether they are teachers, or students or anyone.  Tell them to respect the ideas of others whether or not you agree with them.  Tell them to stop the shaming, and the eye rolling and the trolling.

We have a generation of children raised on everyone gets a trophy, and everyone must be invited to everything.

How’s that working out?

Instead of worrying that someone might not feel confident if they are told no, let’s work in building self esteem the proper way.  Work hard, do the best you can, finish a task once it’s started.

Let’s work on teaching children to be kind to others.  This doesn’t mean they have to like everyone.  It just means that they treat them with dignity.  Let’s teach our kids to be respectful of others.  Again, not like, but accept.

And remember the most important thing: learn to like yourself.  Teach your children to like their quirks, their strengths and their weaknesses.  Because that ‘s the person to like: yourself.

 

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Don’t Hurt Their Feelings

Last week I talked about naysayers: people who tell you why bother to try something new or go for your dreams.  We all agreed (ok- I decided we all agreed) that these people were toxic and we should ditch them.

But there’s another type of person that persuades others to not go for something and to stay in the neutral zone: overprotective parents.

Yup.  Parents.

The worst part about this scenario is that the parents truly have the child’s best interest at heart.  They really want what is best for their child.  Alas, they are operating under the misguided notion that their child remaining unscathed is the best course of action, that never getting hurt is the best way to make a child happy.

Bad move.

We’ve all seen these parents.  At certain points, many of us have been this type of parent.  They hover.  They hand out hand sanitizer and masks when you want to go near their child.  When a child trips in the playground they exacerbate the situation by racing over, scooping the kid in their arms and checking for concussion and broken femurs.  The crying is usually a direct result of the parent interference as opposed to the boo boo.  They begin to do their child’s homework in first grade because they don’t want the child to receive a bad mark, because you know, a wrong answer could permanently damage a child’s self esteem.  They are the parent buying 10 year olds participation trophies, because everybody wins….(please don’t let me get started on participation trophies given to children after kindergarten)  They have birthday parties of sixty kids because someone might get sad if they are left out, yet they conveniently forget about said child when they are actually at the birthday party and are sitting in a corner because they are either anti-social or being ostracized- because I guess it’s better to be ignored at a party instead of not being invited at all.

And as the child gets older, though the situations change, the parental pattern of behavior remains the same.  Don’t try out for that, you may not get picked and then you’ll be sad.  Don’t apply to that school, because you may not get in, and then you will be sad.  I could keep going, but I think you get the idea…

Here’s the bottom line: your kids are going to be sad and hurt and disappointed no matter what you do as a parent, because sad and disappointed and hurt are a part of life.

Yes.  I said it.  Bad stuff happens.  Every minute of every day.  And instead of shielding your children, hiding the reality of from them, you should be explaining things to them, teaching them how to recover from disappointment, showing them how to navigate the crap that makes up life.

Think I’m wrong?

Is your life completely perfect?

Does everything in your life align properly so that you have no worries or stress?

If the answer to the above is YES, please send me the link to your book, workshop or blog, because I would love to know the secret.

Allow your child to have the opportunity to fail at something.  Teach them how to recover.  It’s that simple.

 

 

Choice A or Choice B

I recently got a letter from author Jessica Knoll.  I also received one from author Curtis Sittenfield.  No, not real, stamped in an envelope real, but rather a generic email sent via Goodreads.

Dear Waking,

Hope you enjoyed my last book.  I just wrote a new one.

Love,

Best Selling Author

So, here’s the question: do emails such as this work as a marketing tool?  Upon receiving this email, does one get all aflutter and immediately put the tome on their TBR?  Or does the email go directly to the symbolic trashcan?

Which brings us to the next question: How do we choose the books that we read?

I am a hands on sort of girl.  I love trolling around bookstores- the real brick and mortar ones.  I love to walk the aisles, look at the covers, read the blurbs. The blurbs are very important to me- I can usually get a pretty good idea if it’s a book that would interest me, and if it’s the type of book I’m in the mood for. I peruse the staff favorites, the new and notable, the best sellers.  I find most of my new reads in this decidedly old fashioned method.

Another way I find new books is the newer age Amazon.  I punch in a book that I enjoyed, and I scroll down to the section that shows other books similar in style and/or genre.  And then I go back to the blurb method- I read the paragraph summary.  I also check the star rating- I like to see a solid “4”.  While we’re in this paragraph, let’s chat about the recent headline that Amazon reviews should be further reviewed.  How can one trust a review?  I try to use common sense:  too many 5’s is a red flag that something is a plant.  I almost never give out a 5 star review: there are practically no books that I consider perfect.  I am also wary of too many 1’s.  Really?  The book was that bad?  I look for books that have the majority of their reviews somewhere in the middle.  That seems more reasonable.

So, since many of my blog friends are reviewers, you’re thinking:  Does she read reviews.  Yes.  I do read reviews, BUT I am really careful of the reviewer because I don’t like spoilers.  Basically, I want to know if something was good, bad or indifferent- I don’t want to be told the story- I want the story to unfold naturally.  But, I am an avid reader of reviews AFTER I have read a book.  I love to see what someone thought was important, or interesting, or worthless.  I like reviews because I like the discussion aspect of a book (as evidenced by my participation in two book clubs, and being always open to talking about a book)

My yearly reading goal is 50 books, about a book a week.  But here’s an odd little fact: I have a relatively short TBR.  I think I have about 5 books on my Goodreads TBR, and maybe three or four pages ripped from the NY Times or magazines.  If I like a book enough to jot it down,  I read it fairly quickly.  I get excited when I find a book that interests me, and just want to get on with it.  I know this is a departure from the average avid reader.

So, because it’s Friday, and I am not looking forward the weekend because I have family obligations, I am hoping you all make my weekend better by telling me your methods of choosing books.

Do you read marketing emails?

Blurbs?

Recommendations from friends?

Reviews?

Throw a dart?

Also: how long is your TBR?

 

 

 

The Dishwasher

I am cursed.  No, not by a witch or a spirit.  I am cursed by extraordinarily bad luck with dishwashers.  For a family of three, who runs the dishwasher once a day, we seem to need a new dishwasher more often than normal.

Last month, right before I was sick (I believe I’m going to think of my life as BP-before pneumonia and AP- after pneumonia) our dishwasher broke.  You may remember that I burned my arm whole trying to fix it. Now of course, the warranty had ended about six days before the dishwasher washed its final dish.

The same thing happened with the last dishwasher.  Warranty ends.  Dishwasher breaks.  In twenty years, this apartment has gone through five dishwashers.  We’ve had two stoves, two refrigerators and two microwaves, and the only reason we had two was because we remodeled and upgraded.  We’ve had one mixer and one blender and one food processor and two coffee makers.  And five dishwashers.

BP, I was researching dishwashers.  Then I got sick (see how I keep reverting back to that).  So, what I’m saying is, while I was sick, there was no dishwasher.  Get out your little violins and play, because I realize this is the worst thing to befall a family- the workhorse is sick and the dishwasher is broken.

My daughter tried to get out of dishwashing by saying that we were sure to get dysentery if she washed dishes.  My husband went the passive aggressive route and just did a lousy job of washing dishes.  And me. I would wash my one plate and one bowl and one mug and one glass, dry them, and just stare at the amount of crockery and utensils my family could accumulate in a tiny sink.  It sort of became a game.

Which brings us to today.  I have not researched dishwashers.  I have not thought about replacing said dishwasher.  I am enjoying watching my family squirm.  I have enjoyed watching them wash and dry and put away dishes every night.  Enjoyed watching them get to know a sponge and a scrub brush, liquid dish soap and a dishtowel.  Everyone needs a little fun in their life.

Will I eventually get a new dishwasher?

Yes.  I like a dishwasher because I love to cook, but cooking requires getting stuff dirty, and seriously, does anyone like washing dishes by hand?

But for now, I’m enjoying teaching my family a little lesson about what it takes to make a household run.  I should have done it sooner.

90%

One of my favorite Momism’s is “90% of success is showing up”.  I think Woody Allen said it originally, and even though I don’t really like him, I find this to be a pretty handy quote.  I often say this to my daughter, and she has taken it to heart.  She shows up.

From the time she was little I have also stressed the companion quotes, you may not win everything, but I can guarantee you will not win if you haven’t entered.  She competes in things.

Show up and join the game.

Seems so simple, right?

Yet, how often do we do it? How often do we talk ourselves out of competing, or entering or showing up?  How often do we let others talk us out of things?

My kid wants to intern in a law related field this summer.  This is a really hard proposition:  there are not many intern positions in law for high school students.  In fact, one of our friends said “Why is she bothering.  She’s not going to get anything.”

Why is she bothering?

Because if you don’t even try, you’ll never know what is out there.  So she’s applied for five internships.  She got four interviews with four different programs.  She didn’t get one of them.  She’s waiting to hear from two of them.  And she’s entered the training portion of one program (she doesn’t know if she actually had a placement, but is receiving invaluable mentoring advice in the meantime).  She’s in this position because she showed up.  She tried.  True- she may not actually get anything, but at least she was in the game- she put herself out there.

And right now, you’re thinking, what a good Mom.  Look how she motivates her kid.

Which I do.

But

My daughter likes to write, mostly poetry and essays, but writing is writing.  A few months ago she read about a 10 minute, 1 act play contest.  She loves the theater, has been a stage hand/tech person since sixth grade.  But writing a play?  She’s never even tried.

So she started writing a play.  And it was pretty lame.  The writing was OK, but the dialogue and story were awkward and clumsy.

So she started thinking about other ideas.

And she was coming up blank.

Then, she had an idea.

Problem?

It was three days till the contest deadline.  Easter.  Our trip to DC.  There was very little time to actually write a play, no matter how short.  I told her not to bother- how was she going to do it?

She didn’t listen.  She just began writing the play.  She figured out how to add the little things that make it a play.  And ten minutes before the 12am deadline, the play was emailed.  The confirm receipt came shortly after.  The play was entered.

Will she win?  Who knows. Does winning matter?  Well, it depends on your definition of winning. Winning a prize?  Well, this particular contest will have 3 “winners” and 2 Honorable Mentions.  They get to put it on the resume.  That’s one version of winning.  The other version of winning is having the tenacity to finish something- the ability to take an idea, flesh it out, and submit it.

So, I’m giving my daughter the win.  She did what she needed/wanted to do.  The prize at the end will be icing, but she’s already got the cake.  She had a goal, figured out the steps and did it.

So what’s the point?

Just show up.  Get in the game.

That’s  how things happen.

 

Me and Daughter go to Washington

Last month, my daughter and I went to Washington DC to visit some schools.  We had a wonderful time.  Here you get my random thoughts of DC and the schools we saw, and just thoughts in general.

  1. DC is a great city.
  2. Our biggest problem with DC was the transit system.  I know- we know how to commute in NYC.  We figured out how to commute in France.  But DC?  Nope.  Different stations cost different amounts of money.  Two people can’t share one fair card.  The whole city is not accessible my subway.  I’m sure if we lived there we would figure it out.  But we found it frustrating.
  3. The museums are spectacular.  And free.
  4. The art museums were quieter than the other museums.  This was odd to us, because we’re used to lone lines and big crowds at the NYC art museums.  I’m guessing it’s because of the amount of tourists with young children.  Why see paintings when you can see planes.
  5. We never figured out how to get to the Jefferson Memorial.  We saw it.  Just couldn’t get there.
  6. Kennedy Center.  To be able to house a few different theaters in one location, with its perfect location on the water.  Wonderful.  And they have free music in the lobby at 6pm.
  7. Georgetown.  My kid loved this school.  Great pre-law.  The funny moment was when we got to the gates of the school.  We got out of our Uberpool, and the first thing she said was “This might be too rural for me.”  Georgetown.  In DC.  Where you can see the Washington Monument.  Too rural.  I just looked at her and she could see the WTF in my eyes.
  8. American.  She really liked this school.  Phenomenal pre-law school.  Gorgeous campus.
  9. George Washington- Foggy Bottom campus.  My kid did not think she would like this school because she was looking to top out at 10,000 undergrads and GW is larger, but she was pleasantly surprised.  Also great pre-law.
  10. When we visit museums on vacation, we do what we refer to as the highlights tour,  Before we get to a museum, we research which works we want to see.  We find it impossible to look at an entire museum, so we pick our faves and concentrate on 10-15 works.  This worked really well with the exception of National Portrait Gallery.  My daughter thinks Alice Paul is wonderful and she read that NPG had a portrait of her.  Alas, it was not on display when we got there.
  11. Dorothy’s ruby slippers were also not on display.  A little bummed, but life goes on.
  12. Disappointed in the spy museum- thought the NYC one was better.  But, as this is a really popular place, if you choose to visit, buy tickets in advance.  You’ll thank me later.
  13. DC is an awesome food city.  We did not have a bad meal.  Founding Farmers for breakfast and Ted’s Bulletin were our faves though.
  14. If you go to DC, wear good shoes.  We walked about 20 miles a day.  When we got to the hotel my whole leg area was crushed.
  15. Cherry Blossoms.  One of my bucket list items was to see the cherry blossoms over the tidal basin in DC.  A highlight of my life.  It was wonderful.

That is the brief summary of our trip.  I’m going to regale you with pictures tomorrow, assuming my internet isn’t playing the games that it’s been playing for two days.

Gratitude Saturday

This was my birthday week.  Yay.  This was a really easy week to be grateful.  I was surrounded by love, and there is really nothing better than that

  1. My Birthday
  2. grocery stores with a close proximity to my house
  3. 5$ Tuesday movies at AMC theaters
  4. Mille Crepe cake from Lady M
  5. my friends, whether they be from college, work, the neighborhood or blogging
  6. subscription boxes
  7. Teachers, and their ability to help students realize their dreams
  8. Nurses- it was nurse appreciation day- let’s remember them
  9. all those who took time out of their day to send me birthday wishes
  10. washing machines with extra large capacity
  11. surprises that are truly wonderful
  12. US Postal Service and UPS
  13. outdoor food markets
  14. birthday greetings, no matter how they are transmitted
  15. US News and World Report High School Rankings
  16. love

Post Birthday Post

Thank you all for the birthday wishes and the wonderful comments about my daughter!!  There’s nothing like the internet for making a birthday wonderful!!!

I had a wonderful birthday.

One of my friends took me to lunch at an outdoor foodspace.  I love eating outdoors, and I love the inventive and delicious food that is being created in foodtrucks and similar environments.

The highlight of my birthday was a complete surprise.  Now, I’m sort of a control freak, which roughly translates into me hating surprises, but this was different.  And it also made me feel like sort of an idiot.  See, when people asked what I was doing for my birthday, I told them I was going to my daughters school guitar concert.  But I didn’t say it like “Yay, I’m going to my daughters concert!!!”  it was more like- “”ooh.  I get to spend an evening with a bunch of kids who didn’t choose to go to a performing arts high school.”

So how surprised was I when I got to the concert and opened the program and saw that my daughter and her two best friends were performing a song that they wrote themselves?

The school guitar concert is mainly groups: advanced guitar, choir, jazz band and beginning guitar are all school groups and perform one or two songs as an ensemble.  Only three acts showcasing small groups of children are chosen.  And daughter and her friends were chosen.

It was surreal watching my daughter sing and play electric guitar while her friends sat beside her playing bass and acoustic.  Just one of those moments that i will always remember and will be forever connected to my birthday.

And the rest of my birthday was pretty awesome too. We went to my favorite Thai restaurant for dinner: jungle curry with chicken.  Yum.  And we came home to my favorite cake in the world, mille crepe.  Mille crepe is not really a cake, but really about a million crepes with crème in between the layers.  I meant to take a pic for the blog but we were too busy eating it.  The best version of this cake I find to be at Lady M bakery here in the city.  This is their specialty.

I also received a physical gift.  Now, I’ve said before that I hate gifts, but I’ve sort of become obsessed with subscription boxes. Seriously.  If I ever win the lottery, the winnings would go towards subscription boxes.  So, my family got me the Introverts Retreat box.  It was perfect!  A chick lit novel, bath bomb, face mask, socks and peanut brittle.  Perfect for my spa night sundays!!

So how do I feel about getting older?

Honestly, my life is pretty good.  I have a great family.  My health is good (pneumonia is just a one off) I love where I live.  I have amazing friends.  I have made so many friends blogging and feel like we’ve become an awesome community.  I have hobbies i enjoy, and things I love to do.  Best cat and dog.

Maybe I move a little slower, and maybe it takes me a little longer to recover, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything.  54 is a new beginning.  Thanks for joining me on the journey.

Guest Post- My Daughter Writes my Blog

Today is my birthday!! So as part of my birthday present, my daughter has written today’s post!!

Here it is:

May 10th marks a very special day. On May 10th, Amerigo Vespucci left to discover the New World. Benjamin Franklin began his kite-flying experiment, Halley’s comet had its closest approach to earth, Winston Churchill succeeded Neville Chamberlain, Nelson Mandela became South Africa’s first black president, and, most importantly, the queen was born.

And by queen, I mean my mom.

In honor of her 16th birthday, here are sixteen things you may not know about my mom.

  1. Although I will not disclose her real age for various reasons (surprise, she isn’t 16), she would not care. She embraces her age and appreciates getting older. This confidence inspires me as I struggle to accept growing into my late teens.
  2. She is beautiful. While she may complain about her darker eyes or tired skin, there is an unmistakable glow. Every time she smiles, I am in awe.
  3. She is an amazing cook. As someone who cannot live without a recipe, my mom can scare me in the kitchen. She throws in a dash of salt, two spoons of this, two spoons of that-it’s crazy! However, it works. My favorite recipes are her classic mac and cheese and her homemade whipped cream. A must try!
  4. She always knows what to say. Whether I am sad, stressed, or excited, my mom can say the perfect thing. I don’t know how she does it.
  5. She works harder than anyone I know. She takes care of the house, the pets, and any issue that may arise. She works from six am to ten at night. Stay-at-home moms like mine are not to be taken for granted.
  6. She is the best person to care for you when you are sick. I am sorry to anyone who isn’t provided with her abundant care. She buys me the special brand of orange juice, the special brand of medicine, and sits with me for hours. When I am sick, she dedicates her whole life.
  7. Meanwhile, when my mom is sick, the entire house falls apart. We all wake up late, the house is messy, and we try to figure out how to cook: unsuccessfully. On the scary occasion when my mom is sick, I truly recognize how much she provides.
  8. She is willing to help me with anything. She helps choose my clothes to wear (including shoes and accessories) while also helping me study. She is the perfect person for me to recite my entire Law Team speech or the entire United States History curriculum.
  9. She goes out of her way to make sure I am okay. More than once has she come to my school in order to give me something I forgot at home. More than once has she went across the city to pick up an item that I needed in the next hour.
  10. She is tenacious. She gets what she wants and she won’t let anyone stop her. She taught me from an early age that extra-credit is not optional; when you work hard, prosperity will come. My determination and drive that teachers consistently note about me all derive from my mother.
  11. She taught me how to read: a skill that will last forever. For a recent AP Language assignment, I was asked to consider where reading originated in my life. The answer: my mother. Through my first book, Green Eggs and Ham, to our meaningful discussions about King Lear or Pride and Prejudice, my mom has always been my reading guide.
  12. My mom always encourages me to do my best and fulfil my potential. She supports all my achievements and continues to support me with all my failures. I persist because my mom allows me to.
  13.  She is competitive. Sometimes it is threatening, but usually it is exciting. Her competitive nature is evident on family game night or the annual corn maze. I love competing with her and against her.
  14. I sometimes think she is a magician. She always knows where to look for the shirt that’s been missing, she knows how to fix the bed so I can fall asleep, and when I was younger, she knew how to shoo the monsters away.
  15. A note to anyone who may be left- she loves her blog. Ever since she began blogging last year, I have watched her find herself and become more confident in her expression. Whoever you are, her blogging friends have made a significant impact on my mom’s life. For that, I thank you.
  16. My mom is the best. If you still don’t believe me, respond in the comments. I will defend this argument for the rest of my life. I may not always express my appreciation but I love my mom more than sixteen reasons can portray. She is my mom and she is perfect for me.

Happy birthday Mom. I don’t know where I would be if Amerigo Vespucci hadn’t left for the New World and I don’t know where I would be if I didn’t have you. Thank you for everything you do.

Here’s to another year of screaming, hugging, and passionate debates about British works of literature. Drink tea, have cake, and enjoy. You deserve it.

Love,

The Daughter