You Can’t Handle …..

One of Husband’s favorite movies is “A Few Good Men”.  Every time it is on TV he has to watch it, no matter what part of the movie he catches.  So needless to say, our household is very familiar with the iconic Tom Cruise/Jack Nicholson scene which goes something like this

JN: You want answers?

TC: I think I’m entitled

JN: You want answers?

TC: I want the truth

JN: You can’t handle the truth

I recently wrote a blog about honesty and friendship, about how we all say we want honesty in a relationship, but, well, you know.  Many readers thought that people deserve honesty, but they don’t actually want it.  And sometimes, we don’t want to be totally honest with a friend or relative.  We all agreed, dishonesty with the sole intent to deceive is bad under any circumstances.  That is the kind of honesty we want all the time.

But

I was recently invited to an event.  I thought the invitations were hideous.  But when I got to the event and someone (the parent of the host) exclaimed how gorgeous they were, and asked what I thought, I could only say “Yes.  Unique.”  I didn’t say that they were the most ostentatious thing I’ve ever seen.  I just simply agreed, because it was my opinion they were ugly.  I wasn’t trying to deceive anyone.  I was trying to spare someone’s feelings.

Which brings us to:  Do we really want to hear what our friends think, or do we just want them to agree with us?  Let’s give some examples:

  1. Your friend is dating a guy.  You saw him flirt with another woman at a party.  When asked “What do you think of “M””,  what do you say?
  2. Friend gets engaged to M.  You think he will cheat on her but you have no proof.  What do you do when she says “Isn’t M wonderful?”
  3. Friend is married to X.  You see him kiss another woman.  When she says “He is absolutely the best husband, right?”  How do you answer?

How truthful are you in any of these situations?  Do you worry that your friend will never speak to you again?

Leading to:  Some friends will drop you like a hot potato if you tell them the truth because it’s not the  truth that they want to hear.  So many people have vowed never to tell the truth to a friend, because the truth is just not worth it.  Especially about a significant other.

Now let’s skip to a different honesty situation:  Your kids and their grades.  Many schools have adopted a loosey goosey attitude towards grades.  A child should not be based on how well they perform in a classroom situation because it might not be a holistic indicator of a child’s strengths and weaknesses.  Ok.  Whatever.

Now I want you to think about it like this.  Do parents not want to see grades because they really don’t want the truth about their child’s academic abilities?  Does a parent really want to know that their child is below average in math? Gee, do parents want to know that their offspring is average at math (fact: most people are average: that’s the definition of average) Every parent thinks their child is exceptional, and that is truth.  Every child is exceptional, to a parent.  But in the world as a whole, well, that just may not happen.  A child may not be exceptional in everything.  But does any parent want to hear that their child might not be the greatest thing in the world?  Do we really want honesty about our children and how they perform?  Better yet, if someone says our child is not the greatest whatever in the world, do we come up with excuses?  Do parents say there was some sort of conspiracy involved? That the coach/teacher/instructor was jealous, or something equally inane?

I’m betting that I will write on this topic again.  I may even review that Jim Carrey movie- I think it’s called “Liar, Liar” but I’m going to fact check that.  But think about how much honesty you really want in your life.  And at what cost.

Can you handle the truth?

 

 

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Too Independent

I recently read something along the lines of “You should let people help you because that means you care about yourself.”  (FYI- from a magazine article not a blog)

Hmmm

I’m not sure how I feel about this statement.  So I’m going to write a few hundred pithy (hopefully) words about what this statement means to me.  I get what the writer was aiming for:  in a world where women do too much, they need to ask for help.  I know that the family work flow is often tilted towards a woman, with women doing the lion share of household duties.

But…

Is it fair to say that women who do not ask for help don’t care about themselves?  What is the correlation?  Why don’t women ask for help?  Let’s write a list of possible reasons why women don’t ask for help:

  1. It’s just easier to do it themselves
  2. they like it done a certain way
  3. they don’t trust someone else to actually get it done
  4. they don’t have anyone else to help them
  5. they don’t want to bother someone else
  6. they are the only one that knows how to do something

Do any of these statements directly correlate to  women not caring about themselves?

I am not a fan of blanket statements that assume that all people that do X are Y. (unless I’m making the statement)  There is a tendency to categorize and label people, and this is a problem.  Why do we go out of our way to make if/then statements?  Shouldn’t each individual be treated as just that, an individual?  Sure, there might be some women who don’t ask for help because they feel unworthy, but to categorize the entire bunch?  And what about the opposite thought:  What does it say if someone asks for help all the time?

I have much more to say about this topic (shocking…) but I’m going to split it up into instalments because otherwise the post would be all over the place, with less cohesion than I normally have.

So…

Does not asking for help mean that you don’t care about yourself? (and you can cite men or women)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Brooklyn Botanic Garden

Here are some pictures from my April trip to the Brooklyn Botanic Garden.  I was there for the Cherry Blossom Festival, but alas, the cherry blossoms were not as luxurious as usual.  But a day amongst the flowers is always better than a day doing anything else.DSC03309DSC03327DSC03328DSC03352DSC03375DSC03392DSC03398DSC03404DSC03409

Gratitude Saturday May 26

Look at everything as an opportunity. Don’t dismiss something because it seems small.

  1. The men and women who have died in the service of our country- Memorial Day is not just for picnics
  2. Pride and Prejudice
  3. book clubs
  4. Living Proof Full Thickening Cream
  5. movie soundtracks
  6. air conditioners
  7. classical music that transports you
  8. friends who let you send them your chapter in progress when you’re unsure how to proceed
  9. my daughter making my life parenting a teenager relatively easy
  10. being able to run 13 blocks because I was too busy reading and I missed my subway stop and I had to get to appointment
  11. the elevator being in working order when I had to run to appointment and there was no way I could walk to the fifth floor
  12. finally winning HQ
  13. The AP exams being over so I no longer need to hear Presidential trivia
  14. socks being handed out at b’nai mitvah parties
  15. mango shave ice

Pride and Not so Prejudice

My daughter recently read “Pride and Prejudice.”  As many of you know, this is my favorite book.  I aspire to be Lizzie Bennett.  Well, a modern day version because I’m rather fond of indoor plumbing.

There’s a little backstory to my daughter reading this novel.  For AP Lang, they were required to read the first three chapters of a book from a time period they had trouble with, which is the 19th century for her.  And she was not loving the book when she began to read it, and couldn’t understand why I loved it so, but she chose to keep reading it.

Proud moment.  My daughter chose to voluntarily read this book. (and it’s a requirement for college English next year so she’s a bit ahead of the game)

And we began discussing the book, my daughters perspective that Lizzie was a boy hungry gossip, and my perspective was that my daughter was nuts.  But for arguments sake I tried to pretend that she might have a point in certain respects.  A very small point, but there’s nothing like a good debate.

Not so proud that she found this book to be the first recorded chick lit novel.

One morning I got a text from her when she was on the M101 on her way to school.

DAUGHTER: OMG Char marries Mr. Collins???

Proud moment.  My daughter texting me about a plot point in the book.

It’s amazing that my daughter reading my favorite novel could bring me so much joy.  It was wonderful to see the novel though her eyes, to discuss certain plot points and reasons why Austen chose to portray certain things in certain ways.  We analyzed the book as scholars, referred to it as a historical point of reference, and bonded as mother and daughter.

Bonding.  That was the best part.  Sitting at the table, or walking down the street, we were able to communicate with one another on a different level than just Mother/Daughter.  As my kid is smarter than me, and often more astute, we were able to discuss this novel as equals. Our relationship had just reached a new level.  I began to really see my daughter as the woman she will soon become.

Pride.

I am proud of the child she was, and I am proud of the woman she is becoming.  There are times, especially during middle school or teething, when a parent feels like they are failing at parenting.  They feel like they are the worst parent in the world, and things will never get better.  And then you hit a moment….and you exhale.  You realize that though not perfect, you did some things right.  You realize that you’ve raised a decent human being who you are now able to have an actual relationship with.

Proud.

When you hit one of these moments, savor it.  Because you know there are still going to be bumps ahead.  But take advantage of this small victory- this moment when you see your kid in a new light.

Allow yourself to spend a moment being proud.  You deserve it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’ve Got The Feeling in Me

In April I saw Pink live at the Prudential Center in Newark.  I happen to love Pink- she is talented and brilliant and empowering. She wears her individuality proudly: she is who she is, and doesn’t care what you think.

But here’s the funny thing I noticed about the Pink concert: the amount of people there who looked like Pink.  I don’t mean facial resemblance: I mean people who have imitated her look.  Same haircut.  Tattoos.  Clothing style.  Everything.

This aesthetic is not solely devoted to Pink fans though.  I live close to a live music venue, The Gramercy.  As The Gramercy is standing room only, I often see the attendees lined up outside, waiting to get in so they can procure the best spot.  More often than not I can tell exactly what type of performer is playing without googling the name on the marquee by how the crowd is dressed.  The crowd often mimics the musicians.

So.  Are people fans of the music, or devotees of the musician?  Are these things mutually exclusive?

I am not going to dress like Gene Simmons circa KISS.  I am not going to cut my hair and dye it so I can resemble Pink.  But what makes people mimic the style of a performer?  Is it the Oscar Wilde statement about imitation being the sincerest form of flattery?  Or is it something else?  Do we feel more comfortable adopting a style if we see someone else wearing it?  Is there something deeper?

Music plays a very large part in many peoples lives.  Music helps define moods and feelings in ways other things can not. So I understand why it’s easy to idolize a singer or a band or a performer- they are relatable and make you feel, and often verbalize all the secrets that you keep buried deep inside.  You listen to their music and you don’t feel weird or lonely: you think, wow, this person is just like me.  And you revel in the thought that you are not alone, there are others who share the same thoughts and ideas and feelings.  I get that.  But is there a point where it goes from a healthy outlet for the mind to a dangerous obsession?  What is the point where idolizing a celebrity goes too far?  Are you dressing like Pink because you think “Wow, that’s a great look, and I know that would work for me” or “Well, Pink does it, so I guess it’s fine if I do it too.”

There’s nothing wrong with copying a style: there’s an entire industry devoted to that.  We all do it to a certain extent. But remember, you can  wear anything that you want- it’s window dressing.  But you have to be comfortable with the way you are on the inside.  Your clothes, your haircut- they don’t really make you confident.  How you feel about yourself does.  Don’t adapt a look just because you think it will make you awesome..  Do the things that will make you feel awesome.  And that may. or may not include dressing like a pop star.

 

 

 

Date Night

I’m a big believer in couples date night.  It’s very easy to stop looking at your partner as a friend/lover/person when you become enmeshed in household things.  Once you’ve seen a guy floss his teeth or scrub a toilet, a little bit of the macho allure is gone, so you need something to remind you why you fell in love with someone.

Enter date night.

Our goal is three date nights a week (though technically, we love date afternoons) There is usually one meal, one activity, and one outing with at least one other couple.  The meal is our time to talk – our rule is we do not talk about our daughter or anything household related, unless it’s something fun.  This is not the night for airing of the grievances or reminding each other to change a lightbulb.  The activity gives us a shared experience and lets us help each other if needed.  Or laugh at each other- we each have strengths and weaknesses, and I’m sorry, but it’s really funny to see my Husband try to shoot at arrow at archery.  And the couples outing is just fun because it gives us a chance to socialize with other adults.

Back in April, we were scheduled to go to an off-Broadway play.  Four days before the play, my Husband said:

“Can we invite my Father to the play with us?”

I was not amused.  First off, it was supposed to be our “date”, but the one for just the two of us.  You all know I don’t do well with change.  Secondly, I wasn’t up for a family outing.  My FIL is trying under the best of circumstances: bringing him to a tight 50 seat theater in Greenwich Village to see an Agatha Christie play was just not going to work.  Thirdly, even though it’s off Broadway, the tickets are still pricey, and I’m cheap.  There were other things I’d rather spend the money on.

But

How horrible do I look if I tell my Husband that I don’t want him to include his Father for an outing.

So I thought about it.

And I told Husband that I didn’t want him to include his Father.  I was honest in a situation I felt I needed to be honest in. Husband was not pleased. An then we were both annoyed with one another.

Were we honest with one another? Yes.

Did honesty help? Not really.

This is one of those relationship situations were we both wanted different things.  Was I wrong to not want my FIL included?  Ten people will give you ten different answers to that question.  All I can go by is how I felt, and I made that clear to him.

Was he wrong to ask to include his Father in our plans?  Again, ten people will answer that question differently.  But he told me what he wanted, and that’s the cornerstone of a relationship, communication.

Did communication help us in this situation?  Did honesty help us?

Unfortunately, relationships are going to have moments like this, where the participants are playing by the “rules”, but they’re sort of playing with the parameters of the rules.  They think they are “asking”, when really, they’re “telling”.  Though the words were “Can I ask my Father”, the message behind it was really “I’m asking my Father”.  I wasn’t expected to say no, so when I said “No” I switched the rules.  Yes, I’m supposed to be honest and tell him my feelings, but I wasn’t supposed to say no there (well, in his mind anyway)

Alas, there is no rule book for how to handle situations like this.  Couples muddle through the best they can.  They hope the fights and annoyances can be forgiven and forgotten, or at least put to the back burner. But you have to be careful how you recover.  Remember, in relationships, it not so much the transgression, it’s about how you recover.  Did Husband and I recover from this incident?

Well, the day of the play was the day I began my long journey into pneumonia, so maybe there will be a post or two about how those three weeks played out…

 

 

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.

 

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?