An Open letter to teachers who get frustrated with specific students

I originally posted this as a note on Facebook.  However, I do feel strongly enough about this subject that it warrants a place on my blog.  Maybe this will inspire me to add more here again.
Dear Teacher who got frustrated with my child again today,

Thank you for your time and commitment to teaching all our children.

Parents like myself respect you.  We respect your career choice as we know you are in it for the love of children.
We know you are not in this field for the life supply of Purell and holiday mugs filled with Hershey Kisses.

I have compassion for your frustrations with children in your class.  I only have three children I “work” with on a daily basis and I too sometimes lose my patience.  I can only imagine how difficult it is for you to keep it together and practice restraint when your students are driving you crazy.

As a mother, I constantly try to put myself in your shoes and understand what you must go through on a daily basis when you have 18 personalities at a time in your classroom.  I would imagine in every bunch there are a few who are the most challenging.  I know you do your best to treat all of them with kindness and I know you are only human and you too have emotions, feelings, frustrations and likes and dislikes.

I understand that most teachers have favorites and least favorites in the classroom.  I am grateful that most teachers are also able to keep that a personal secret they only share with their closest friends and confidants.  I have even experienced one of my children being a least favorite of a teacher and then had another of my children have that same teacher only to be treated like royalty.  I saw what it was like to be on both sides with one specific teacher and found the experience enlightening.  It definitely gave me a tremendous amount of compassion for the children in the class.

Respectfully, I ask you to take some time to think about your impact on a child who you know deep inside you do not care for.

Children are smart.  Children are incredibly intuitive. Even if their verbal skills don’t show their understanding of complex emotional feelings, their little hearts feel the damage of hurtful words and that damage will stay with them for the rest of their lives.  I have been out of school for over 20 years and I can still quickly list the teachers who were unkind to me in elementary school.

I want you to really think about the damage you do to a child’s self esteem when you tell a child he is “the sneakiest child” you have ever had in your class.  Or when you announce at the end of a chaotic class that this was the “worst class you have ever taught”.

I lose my patience with my children too.  I sometimes say things I wish I had not said.  I do understand you are human too and you make mistakes.   What I implore you to realize is that while you may forget what you said to a child the minute the bell rings, that child does not forget.

Your words are the first words the child repeats when he gets in the car after an entire day at school.  Think about that.  The child is at school for 7 hours and your 3 second statement is what his selective memory holds onto from that day’s experience.  That is his reality.

Your words are what stay with him as he is getting into bed that night and reflecting on his day.

You teach the subject you teach because you are passionate about it.  I know in your heart you want to share your passion with others and help children to enjoy the field you love.

You need to know that the child you don’t like will not remember the presentations you taught.  He will not remember the activities you planned.  When asked about your class in a few years, he will just say, “Oh, that teacher hated me.”  Trust me, I know.  I have seen it with many children aside from my own.

The next time you look at this child, I ask you to see more than the behavior.  Try to see more than  a rowdy boy who is frustrating you to no end because he will not stop talking to his neighbor.  Try to separate the behavior of a developmentally normal adolescent boy who is goofing off.

Please look at the human being you are teaching.  Think about him as a person and not a behavior.  Know that he has so much more to him than these habits which you find annoying.

He is a boy who needs to hug his parents just one extra time before he goes to sleep at night because he knows you should never pass up a chance to hug someone you love.
He is a boy who at a very young age has so much compassion and empathy for other humans and animals that it keeps him up at night thinking about others.
He is a boy who writes complex essays about love and feelings when he can’t sleep and looks for ways to improve the world around him.
He is a boy who will see billboards posting the lotto jackpot and talk about what he would do with the winnings.  Without fail,  everytime he contemplates his windfall, he comes up with a new charity he would start BEFORE he would spend the first penny on a trip to a theme park.
And, he is a boy who will always be someone’s baby no matter how many years pass.

Lastly, while this sounds like I am asking you to give special consideration to a specific child.  I am actually asking you to give special consideration to EVERY CHILD.  Every child who walks through your door today has a list similar to this one.  Every child has some wonderful qualities, love in his heart for the people around him and a need to feel valued.

You are a teacher because you care about children.  I ask you to remember that later today when you are selecting the words you are using during a frustrating moment.

do you really want to know?

Would the world be a better place if we were absolutely honest 100% of the time?  I am not sure.

Anyone who knows me well knows the one thing I hate more than anything in the world is DISHONESTY (“people who are so blinded by their own personal opinion that they can’t ever see another view” runs a close second).

That said, I have to admit I am not completely honest all of the time.  I guess it is because I do have a filter.  What I mean is, I have the intelligence and maturity to know I don’t always need to tell everyone what I honestly think at all times – though sometimes my filter has a power-outage and I say much more than I should. Luckily though, for myself (and my husband), the majority of the time, my filter is working properly.

Here is the big HOWEVER.  Sometimes, I wish someone would be willing to state the truth and get it out there.  In these cases, no one is brave enough to be honest because no one wants to be the bad guy.

Sometimes it is as simple as telling a friend that he smells or has bad breath.  You know it would be helpful if you told him.  Yet, you are too embarrassed to let him know.   Your embarrassment in telling him would be so much less than the embarrassment for him to be walking around smelling like a sewer.  (excuse me while I insert my own public service announcement: regular flossing can curb the bad breath problem).

The most obvious and life-altering “not saying the truth” event in my life was the time when someone (if you read my earlier blogs, you know who I am talking about)  close to me was having an extra-marital affair.  The innocent spouse was not the only one who suffered from these events yet, no one cared enough to get involved.  Everyone looked the other way.  Not one person wanted to get his hands dirty.  Even though the affair was obvious to everyone, no one felt it was his place to interfere.  Not even his closest friends would say “What the hell are you doing?”  Who knows if it would or would not have made a difference in the outcome but I still look back and I am amazed that not one person had the balls to speak up.

Currently, I am experiencing a non-life-altering but still annoying “not speaking the truth” situation.  Since it is summertime, my children are having many more play dates than typical.  While I love to have other children over and usually it is quite pleasant and painless, I am trying to find a way to minimize the “adult play date” segment of the date.  If you are the parent of a child old enough for a drop-off play date,  you know exactly what I am talking about.

Let me set the scene.

I have already had a long day with my own children as well as someone else’s child in my home (or at the pool, beach, movies, bowling alley, Magic Kingdom, etc…).  When the other parent arrives to pick up her child (which is typically at least 30 minutes past the designated pick-up time), there is the obligatory visit.

I need to interject a point here for I fear, if I do not, my innocent children may not have another play date until we have a Jewish-African-American-Lesbian-Woman serving as our President.  I really do like most (not all -I can’t lie) parents of my children’s peers.  Remember we are talking about extended parental visits after I have had a long day entertaining at least 4 children (my 3 plus the visitor).

Okay, so it is late, I am trying to get dinner on the table but need to wait until the other child leaves (also note: I have most likely invited the child to stay for dinner but he cannot stay for whatever reason – allergies, dietary restrictions, he only eats one type of organic-all-natural-chicken nuggets that his mom has to special order from the Netherlands for him….).  At this point, it is way past our regular dinnertime.  The mom finally arrives to pick up her child.  Now remember, if I ran into this woman at a school event, she would talk to me for a maximum of two minutes until someone more interesting arrived.  However, now I am standing in my family room trying to be polite.  I am making never-ending small talk with her while also trying to explain to my 5 year old that he does not need 11 fudgesicles before dinner – even if they are very small.  I am flabbergasted because even with all the madness around me, the woman continues to speak.  She is continuing her monologue describing her upcoming 27-day trip around the world.  Just when I think she is done, she continues and now tells me about her husband’s new promotion, the vacation condo they have just purchased in Telluride and the four-hour spinning class she attends on Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

All the while, “the truth” is bubbling inside me to the surface.  I am desperately trying to think of a way to politely tell her to “please, please, please, I beg you.  Please leave so I can feed my family dinner” – but I don’t.  Oh, and of course, since my child and her child see that we are still talking, they suddenly have newfound interest in playing together.  Let’s not forget that for the hour before the mom arrived, my child and the other child were bored out of their minds and could not agree whether they should play Super Smash Brothers Brawl on the Wii or Super Mario Galaxy on their DS – so they did nothing but complain they were bored.  Yet, now they have decided to put their bathing suits on and jump in the pool.  I am now thinking, “I need to do something or I am never going to get my kids fed in time to get them in bed, shower and get my new blog written before the new episode of Swingtown airs.”
Finally, a miracle occurs, her husband calls her on her cell phone and asks when she is coming home for dinner.  She has to employ coercive tactics to get her son out of my pool but she finally makes her long overdue exit.

So, I pose the question again.  Why is this so hard?  I am an outspoken honest woman.  Yet, I have not yet found a way to stop this from happening.  And since I don’t want to be rude, I am not able to say, “I think it is time for you to leave.”

Wow, that was a huge digression from our original topic of telling the truth. Time to wrap this up.

Whether it is telling someone they need better hygiene products, a more honest spouse or a quicker exit from my house, I have a hard time telling people what I think about their behavior.

I find it much easier to tell you the truth about myself.  That said, I might as well list some things right now:

Here I go…….

  • I love my husband but sometimes I want to strangle him just because he gets crumbs from his morning Cuban bread all over my kitchen.
  • I love my kids yet sometimes want to lock myself in a room and watch re-runs of Law & Order instead of playing with the newest Hot Wheels monster jam toy.
  • Now that I wear a thong to the gym, I am constantly worried I may have a hole in my yoga pants and the person behind me will discover I have the whitest tush in all of Central Florida.
  • When I am on the elliptical at the gym,  I can’t help myself but stare at the gorgeous young blonde guy who – although an adult –  is probably young enough to be my son.
  • I get a bit of pleasure in knowing that many of the girls who endlessly teased me for being a redhead, now spend an enormous amount of money trying to get their hair the same shade as my natural color.
  • I love watching The View a little too much and truly believe I could hold my own if I had a seat at the table.
  • I waste an enormous amount of personal effort trying to “win over” women who clearly don’t like me – even when I really don’t like them either.  (Note to self: goal to accomplish before you turn 40 – “stop being so concerned with what other people think of you”)
  • While I am currently back down to a comfortable size 6, I spent about 3 years eating everything I wanted and gained a ridiculous amount of weight.  As the number on the scale was climbing up and up, I knew I could not blame it on my slow metabolism.  It was the cheeseburgers I had for lunch not the genes passed on from my parents.  ( If my mother is reading this, I bet she is thrilled there is something I don’t blame her for.)
  • I like to think I finally have a healthy relationship with food – but does anyone?

Wow, this is fun, I think I will keep going…

  • I love facebook because I can post current pictures and not-so-secretly  I hope the boys who didn’t give me the time of day in high school can see I did grow up to look better than I did at age 16!
  • I love getting comments on the blog and find it exciting when friends, acquaintances or strangers tell me I entertained them.
  • My cousin made me a facebook fan page but I only have 16 members and feel silly.  (If you want to make me feel better, you can use this link and join 🙂  http://www.facebook.com/pages/A-Crazy-Redhead/21849151916
  • I get a little too much guilty pleasure knowing that the same guys who wore “no fat chicks” t-shirts in high school are the ones who showed up to the 20-year reunion fat and bald.
  • When I was in England the summer after college, a beautiful black woman tried to pick me up.  I should have been flattered but stupidly, I was so freaked out that she got the gay vibe from me.  I sometimes wonder if I missed out on a fun experience.
  • When I was in third grade, another child told me that marijuana was illegal and I responded, “No, it’s not!  My parents smoke it.” Yes, that was the truth and you will just have to wait for future blogs to hear about that part of my childhood.
  • I am currently feeling incredibly guilty because I just spent way too much time writing this blog instead of interacting with my children who are now watching a marathon of the show Wizards of Waverly Place.
  • And the last one for today, I still hold out some small ounce of hope that one day I really will get my dinner date with Rob Lowe.  Honestly though, I know I won’t even enjoy myself because I will spend the whole evening worried I have something in my teeth or bad breath and no one told me.

So, girls, now it is your turn

Do you feel the same as I do on any of the above topics?  Do you have your own opinions you want to share?  You can be anonymous if you want.

Leave a comment with a “truth” you want/need to share.

circle of friends

I always hear women in their 40s and beyond state how great it is to get older. When I hear this, I am cynical. You see, I have women all around me fighting the aging process with a mixture of eating healthy, Pilates, botox, Restylane, plastic surgery, Mona vie, etc..…   So, I wonder, “How great can it really be to look into the mirror and start to see your mother looking back at you?”

Then I realized I needed to take a step back and really think about what getting older means to me.

I can just say that “take a step back” should be my motto in life. Whenever, I am able to take that step back and look at things a bit clearer, life is much more enjoyable. Sometimes it is as simple as taking a step back from the negative behavior my child is engaging in. In this situation, I take a deep breath, count to a billion, look around the aisle at Target and realize my child is actually one of many children having a tantrum because he does not understand why he cannot have the newest Hot Wheels set this very minute. You see, by taking that step back, I realize this crazy moment is very temporary. This is just five minutes out of the day in which I want to send him on the next shuttle to outer space. I am then able to acknowledge that the majority of the time, I really enjoy him as well as the rest of my crew and I feel blessed to have such amazing kids. Other times I have had to step back and take a good look at my life and realize I need to let little things go.

In any case, taking that step back and forgetting about the vanity all women have about our appearance, I realize how much I love getting older. Although I still am about five seasons shy of 40 years old, I am starting to really embrace the idea of being older. I finally feel like a real adult – well, most of the time.
I am encountering many great things about being older and looking at life from a more emotionally mature perspective. For me, one of the most satisfying is finally gaining the ability to de-clutter my relationships with other women. I have been able to get to a point in which I rarely waste my time with friendships that drag me down emotionally. In doing this, I have been able to focus on the wonderful women I do have surrounding me.
I am thankful for my circle of amazing girlfriends.
I have written quite a few blogs, which talk about the not-so-wonderful women I come across in my daily life. Now it is time to mention the positive women in my life.
I am incredibly blessed. I have spent years and years weeding through friendships, which were not always very healthy. In the past, I was determined to give certain undeserving women a chance (and another and another). Somehow, I have finally landed in the midst of a wonderful group of women. Now, don’t get me wrong, we all have our “things”. Starting with myself, we all have at least half a dozen strange little idiosyncrasies that could drive anyone crazy. (I am so tempted to give examples. However, if I do even list a few of the nutty things my girlfriends do, I will spend the next week responding to email inquiries from my friends asking “were you talking about me?”)
As I get older and my kids get older, there are so many things we have to do and there is a lot less time for the things we want to do. I have to prioritize my time in order to get everything done and I am less tolerant of things that waste my time. In my younger years, I was very guilty of spending too much time worrying about the social drama (“she said I did this”, “this one said this about you” etc…). I thought it would just stop on its own. I thought women would get to an age in which the junior high cattiness would end and everyone would just grow up. Unfortunately, I was wrong. Recently, I came to the conclusion that there are probably women in retirement homes sitting in wheelchairs, attached to their oxygen tanks that still manage to blackball other women from the newest Mah Jong group.
So I knew it was up to me to stop it in my life. I am done. I am done with the nonsense of some (not all) women. I am done with women who want to bring others down. It does not make sense to me. Some women act as if it is a “zero sum game”. What I mean by this is that I often think that some women feel if you are going to be happy, it will take away from their happiness. On the other extreme, there are the women who swarm to women to try to feed off their lives. By this, I mean the phenomenon in which women want to be friends with someone because of how much money her husband makes, how expensive her clothes are or how big her house may be. This is the funniest one in my opinion. Unless your friend is going to lend you her designer clothes or throw your child’s B’nai Mitzvah in her backyard, why do you care what she has?
Okay, I need to stop myself from the negative rant. The point I am making is that I used to accept these things in other women and try to still maintain a friendship.  Thankfully, I have come to this conclusion.

Life it too short to have bitchy friends.

Yes, I know we have so many other things to worry about in our lives that to some this may seem trivial. It is not for me. It is just another piece in the puzzle. In the midst of all the chaos in my life, it is important to know I have a network of wonderful women who support me in different ways.   It may be as simple as a friend to keep me company at the gym or help me pick out a new color for my walls. On another day, I may need a friend to help me get through a crisis. No matter what it may be, I can count on my girlfriends.
So that is my new way of approaching friendships. Of course, I can still be tolerant of the silly stuff. I know none of us are perfect. Yet, I have decided to set my boundaries and stick to them. I encourage you to do the same.

De-clutter your emotional life.

I am encouraging you to take your own step back and look at all the wonderful girlfriends you have in your life. Be thankful for the ones you have which are solid, healthy friendships. Then, take another moment to ask yourself if there is anyone in your life who needs to be let go. It does not have to be drastic. It could be a slow and gradual parting. However, if you find you have allowed someone into your life who is somehow draining you, maybe it is time to say goodbye. Don’t allow someone to bring foolish negative energy into your life. In an ideal world, we could sit down with this person and put it all on the table and hope to work things out and keep the friendship. However, here on Earth, I do not believe that is really an option if the overall friendship not a healthy one. It may be best to cut your losses.
I have found there are too many good people in the world to waste time with the bad ones!

Now go write an email telling one of your dearest friends how much you appreciate her!  And, the next time the “drainer” friend calls, let the machine pick up.
Have a great weekend.

my wall list

Most of the time, I really do love my life and feel very fortunate for my blessings.

However, a blessed life can often be quite a monotonous existence.

In these moments of monotony, I find myself imagining a “what if life” which may have led to a much more exciting “alternate universe” (think Gwyneth Paltrow in the movie Sliding Doors – what if I missed that subway…)

In an alternate universe, my wardrobe is not ruled by yoga wear, dozens of trendy flip-flops and running shoes.

In the more exciting universe, my hangers are filled with “grown up” clothes which need dry-cleaning.  My closet shelves are home to shoes which will reveal sexy red-painted toes which climbed the corporate ladder for the last 20 years.

Most importantly, in this alternate universe, I am actually married to Rob Lowe.  (No need to worry about my real-life husband. Since I am so giving, in my alternate universe, he and Rob are close friends.  Of course, his wife  Angelina and I get along really well.)

Back to reality…

When sitting in carpool line or while tuning out the Target lady’s offer to “save me 10% on today’s purchase”, I have been known to drift subconsciously into this exciting alternate universe which most importantly allows me the opportunity to kiss Rob Lowe whenever I want to.

While I spend the majority of my (waking) time in my real world and I am (on most days) a happily married woman, I like to keep a small piece of my alternate life close to my heart.

That is why I have my list.

You know, the unwritten list most women can rattle off quickly of all the celebrities we would love to smooch. And, for me, when I say smooch, I really mean just smooch. I don’t really think of the fantasy past that. Honestly. Now realize, when I am thinking of kissing Rob Lowe – which I kind of do a lot, I don’t mean a “kiss your mom on the cheek” type of kiss. I am envisioning something like those scenes every Diane Lane – as a bored housewife having an affair with the artist she meets at the market – movie contains. You know what I am talking about. Her love interest never just kisses her. It is always the same scene. Diane’s lover grabs her, throws her passionately against a wall and kisses her with one of those incredible kisses we dreamed about as young pre-teen girls. We learned about these kisses in one of two places: Judy Blume novels or the 1980s Molly Ringwald movies.

With that explanation, it is no surprise I refer to the list as a woman’s WALL LIST. And by the way, since this is my fantasy, it is not just the actor himself on the list. I get to pick which character I want him to be at the wall.

I know you have a list.  I bet you are thinking of yours right now…

my wall list includes (but is not limited to):

  1. Rob Lowe: in pretty much any role he has ever done.  However, my top request is as Billy from St. Elmo’s Fire. I know I am not the only woman who had many dreams about that scene with the blue paint.  (note: If I can’t have Billy, I am thrilled with Sam Seaborn)
  2. Michael Vartan: as Agent Michael Vaughn from Alias
  3. George Michael: in his Wham! days, before the bathroom incidents. It is my fantasy, I can pretend he is still on my team.
  4. Josh Holloway: In real life, I only love clean-cut pretty boys but in my fantasy, oh how I love me some Sawyer!
  5. Jerry Seinfeld: before he met Jessica. Really ladies, I am not an adulterer!
  6. Chris Noth: of course, as Mr. Big.
  7. Vincent D’Onofrio: Detective Robert Goren on Law & Order Criminal Intent. His brilliance does something for me.
  8. Matthew Morrison (a.k.a. Mr. Schuester): I can’t even put into words how giddy I feel when I watch him dance.
  9. Jimmy Fallon: Funny does it for me every time.
  10. Jeremy Piven: Agent Ari Gold in entourage. Adrian Grenier may be gorgeous but Ari Gold reminds me of those obnoxious guys in my college’s fraternities. Those guys never gave me the time of day but against my better judgment, they always appealed to me.

Okay, I know this list is long but I don’t want to leave anyone off. Remember that Friends episode when Ross left Isabella Rossellini off the list? That is how I feel. What if I don’t put Matt Damon on the list and then I meet him tomorrow and that ruins my chances with him? (oh come on, it doesn’t matter that he and I are both married to other people)

Think of your WALL LIST the next time you are starting to think of something that really aggravates you and need to take your mind off of the negative thoughts and re-direct.

Here is where I ask all of you happily married (or unmarried) women ( or men) in this universe to share with me.  Who is on your WALL LIST?  You can answer anonymously if you want to – then you can safely list your gorgeous co-worker, your favorite tennis pro, that beautiful guy at the gym (or beautiful girl, this is an equal opportunity site.  Seriously, I was this close to adding Portia de Rossi to my list.  I would not ask for a pre-nup either if I got to marry her.  Oops, I think I have I said too much.)  You get the idea.  I am only asking for you to tell me and the world who does it for you.

Leave a comment and let me know!

I am sorry, was somebody just saying something to me? I was just picturing myself against a wall with Matthew McConaughey. Darn, I forgot to put him on my list. Oh well, I am glad my list is not laminated!

* this is a revised publication of my original blog because I have been day-dreaming about Sawyer & Schuester and just had to add both to my list 🙂

because I knew you

Quickly, can you name a friend who was once very much a big part your life but is not anymore?  If so, I imagine the end of that friendship was not pretty, right?  Was it a bad breakup – and don’t kid yourself, friend breakups can be harder and more painful than romantic breakups?  Like most people do, do you harbor bad feelings about that former friend?  I used to.  However, at this point in my life, I have decided to look at those friendships as blessings no matter how toxic they were.

While it is common to have a friendship fizzle out at some point, unfortunately, I have had a few friendships that ended a bit more dramatically than a simple parting of ways.

For years, I would look back with anger when thinking of what they “did to me” in the friendship.  However, when I was able to realize I was accountable for at least some of the unpleasantness that occurred, I could make peace with the memory of the friendship.  That was the point in which I realized that my former friend had indeed given me a great gift. 

You also may realize each of these very crazy un-healthy friendships have brought something wonderful to your life.  Some gifts may have been small and others huge.  One friend may have turned you on to your daily non-fat-half-caff-mochachino fix.  Or, maybe she was the first one to introduce you to the song For Good from Wicked the Musical.  While another friend might have helped you learn things about yourself you never realized before.

One notable educational relationship drama took place my freshman year in college and featured Gus in the starring role  (as you may have guessed,  names have been changed to protect innocent).  It was overall just a platonic friendship but I fell for him the moment he walked up to me and said, “You have the most gorgeous hair I have ever seen in my life.” 

Please excuse this interruption to the original blog BUT, I must insert a mini-blog within the blog. 

mini blog:  the gay boyfriend

I had to pause the other blog discussion for one moment.  Are you thinking, “most heterosexual men do not attempt to pick up a woman by asking about hair products.”  Yes, Gus was the rite of passage most women have in their lives – the gay boyfriend.  When I met him, Gus was in the closet.  However, the doors to the closet were wide open and you could see his legs and feet sticking out behind the shirts.  I just chose to ignore what was right in front of me. 

Obviously, there is no judgment here that Gus indeed was and is gay.  I only wish I would have known that back then.  I have always felt like an idiot for not realizing that obvious minor detail.  Our friendship would have been much less stressful because we never would have “tried dating.”  If I had known then, we would probably still be as close as we were back then.  I should have known I was prancing into a Will & Grace scenario at “gorgeous hair”.  If not there, I should have definitely known when he introduced me to the music of The Cure, Morrisey, New Order and ABC.  When he taught me how to contour my cheeks with blush, I just accepted it was something all guys learned in modeling class (oh yeah, he was a model).  And lastly, when I saw him kissing another guy about 5 feet away from where I sat, I assumed my brain was just fuzzy from an evening filled with Boone’s Farm wine.  To fulfill my fantasy of denial, I decided I must have hallucinated that event.

In any case, I spent almost a year trying to be “just friends” while trying to squash my romantic  feelings for him.  Looking back to those college days, I realize no matter how hard I may have tried, without the Y chromosome in my DNA, there was nothing I could have done to make him fall for me as hard as I fell for him.

I write about Gus because I know most women can relate to this.  If you poll random women on the street,  I am willing to bet a very large percentage of women have a gay boyfriend in their past.  I am also confident that looking back the woman is kicking herself for not realizing she could never ever, no matter how hard she tried, no matter how beautiful or charming or skinny she was, she could never have made him fall for her the way she fell for him.

now back to our original blog already in progress

Unfortunately,  Gus and I had an ugly falling out.  We stopped being friends when I started dating my first “real boyfriend” – a real-live heterosexual man (can I call him a man if he was only 21 years old).  For years, I had such bad feelings about my “friend breakup” with Gus.  With time, memories of the bad stuff faded away and the good memories are what appeared at the surface.  I was able to see that Gus helped me come out of my shell for the first time in my life.  He helped me transform myself in so many ways.  He introduced me to great music and expanded my cultural palette.  We had such amazing times cruising around town together.  He and I went “clubbing” on South Beach before the editors of People magazine even knew Ocean Drive existed.

Going back to the hair comment (which by the way, is really the first thing he ever said to me).  He helped me let go of being an awkward little redhead girl and pointed me in the direction of enjoying my uniqueness. It was Gus who opened the door for me to enjoy being a redhead. In addition to everything else he may have brought to my life, I have to thank him mostly for that. (Before Gus, I spent my days longing for two things:  Rob Lowe and Marcia Brady stick straight blonde hair.  Currently, I spend my days longing for three things:  Rob Lowe, Marcia Cross stick straight red hair and peace in my  house.)

As one more example, I have to mention my former friend Hedy.  You can guess – her name is not really Hedy.  However, that is the name of Jennifer Jason Leigh’s character in the movie Single White Female.  My husband always referred to her as single white female because he is convinced the screenplay is based on her life – Hedy even became a redhead at one point in our friendship.  Yes, I know you are thinking, “Wow, she has some pretty bad taste in friends.”  Really, I don’t – I was just a bit too forgiving.

In the past, I would force myself to overlook really big huge ginormous flaws in people in the name of acceptance.  Now I realize acceptance is only supposed to go so far.  It took me quite a few years to realize  acceptance is about “getting over it” when a girlfriend forgets to call you on your birthday because she is dealing with her own plate full of issues on that day.  Now I know, acceptance is not about “getting over it” when you discover your girlfriend planned a night out with the girls “on your birthday” and “forgot” to invite you to go out with the girls!  That is pretty much the kind of monkey business I dealt with for a few years with Hedy.  Without going into boring long drawn out details, I will just say that Hedy attempted to sabotage my life in a manner which would make Erica Kane proud!

I admit I was relieved when the Hedy years had passed and she moved away and was completely out of my life.  At that point, I was able to be thankful for having her in my life.   When she was not pre-occupied with schemes to break up my marriage, she was actually a really fun girl to be around.  She was witty and clever and well read.  She helped me discover the witty and clever parts of my personality even if I am not as well read. (Can I consider myself well read if I have indeed read all of Jennifer Weiner’s books as well as Candace Bushnell’s collection? ) Seriously though, it was a very difficult relationship but I am still able to see what she did bring to the table. 

Maybe Hedy was the biggest lesson of all.  If someone that incredibly toxic in my life was able to leave a positive mark, then it should be easy to find the benefits to other relationships gone awry.  It definitely makes life lighter and more fun to let go of the anger we hold towards the people who we think have “done us wrong.”  So, instead I offer you another option.  Find that one good thing that person brought to your life and put the rest of the file in the trash on your mental hard-drive.

I do have to confess I am still trying to figure out what positive lessons my first college roommate was supposed to bring into my life.  That is one that even has me stumped! 

Even if you can’t wear a belly shirt, you can still learn new technology!

Congratulations!  You are not afraid to read a blog.  I would guess you also may Twitter, Facebook and even know how to send a text message.  In short, you are not afraid to use your computer for more than email.  Chances are you even know how to upload photos onto iPhoto, Shutterfly or Snapfish.

Welcome to the year 2009!

Even though I am getting painfully close to my fortieth birthday, I do try to stay current with what “those crazy kids are into these days.”   I may be a bit square when it comes to body piercings and tattoos but I believe technology benefits everyone – even those of us too old to wear low-rise jeans and belly shirts.  I am a woman who loves learning how to use the latest and greatest tools available to the average computer user.

I was excited to jump on the Facebook bandwagon in March of 2008 (back then, the majority of the users were college students and Canadians – I am neither one).  Once I saw how great it was to be able to re-connect with old high school and college friends, I tried to sell my friends on the idea.  The typical response was (and often continues to be), 

“I just don’t have time for that.”  

” You must have so much more free time than I do.”  

Or  

” I could never figure out how to do that.”

At first, I tried to explain how easy it was and why Facebook can be fun.  I thought others should get to enjoy it as much as I do.  The feeling of wanting to share cool technology is very much like wanting your friends to try Pinkberry yogurt for the first time.  It is not going to benefit you but you want to share the experience.  You want your friends to enjoy the same things you enjoy.

Of course I know it is not my business what other people choose to do.  However, it is the closed-mindedness that irks me.  I am always shocked to encounter well-educated intelligent people unwilling to explore something new.

I am shocked when I experience OUR GENERATION acting like our grandparents. I imagine these reactions are similar to how my Grandfather must have reacted the first time my father brought home rock music on an 8-track tape. 

I recently attended a committee meeting with approximately 40 parents from my child’s school.  I must have been high from the fumes of the yummy hazelnut coffee because I foolishly attempted to introduce a new idea.  I stood up and suggested creating a Twitter account for the parents on the committee.  I thought it would be a great idea.  I had prepared to explain how easy it is to sign up.  It is FREE and one can receive a text message once in a while with pertinent information.

A simple Twitter account could replace the old fashioned “phone tree” our parents used in the 1970s and 1980s.

The instant negative response I received was unbelievable – and honestly quite upsetting.  I may not have heard actual “boo-ing” but the objecting chatter sounded eerily similar to a scene I witnessed recently on CSPAN.  It was the same reaction heard from a group of Republicans when Obama started discussing healthcare policy.  I felt like Nancy Pelosi attempting to introduce a gun-control bill in a town hall meeting in the heart of Texas.

Amidst the chorus of objections, I was able to clearly hear a few specific complaints.  The overall response was a mixture of, “I barely know how to use email” or  “I don’t text” and my favorite “I don’t have the time.”

” I don’t text.”

What?????  These are parents of pre-teen children.  Can you believe they don’t text and have no interest of learning how?  You better believe each mom will be learning how to text very quickly.  It will happen just as soon as she realizes how easy it is to communicate with her 12-year-old daughter via texting.  It is much easier to text a teen than to try to talk on the phone when she is in the middle of a swarm of other teen girls.

” I don’t have the time.”

The majority of the women who tell me they don’t have the time to learn to text or “Tweet” are the very same group of women who frequently send me Facebook “Flair”, virtual Starbucks lattes, requests to join the group “Save the original Bloomies logo”, and challenge me daily to beat their high score on Bedazzled.

All these thoughts went through my mind and I was about to scream,

“This is not your father’s computer!”

Luckily, I have more self-control than my six year old.  I am able to contain my frustration – sometimes.  I calmly sat down and thought to myself, “If your children spoke out in class in this rude manner, you would be getting a call from the Dean telling you your child is sitting in his office for disrespecting his teacher.”

I took a big breath.  Exhaled.  Took another big breath and then, I let it go.

I sadly have to realize I cannot force my peers to remain open to change.  I cannot shake them and tell them they are positively absolutely unbelievably missing out on great and amazing technology!

I will accept things I cannot change (sorry, I know that is so corny and cliché, but that was too easy. I had to stick that in there).

And truthfully, there is a HUGE benefit to these women being unwilling to grow with technology.

If I want to vent about them in my blog, they will never know.  They don’t read my blog.

Those women only use their computers for email.

They don’t have the time to read my blog today because at this very moment there is a Bedazzled tournament on Facebook!

different house same parents

Do you ever wonder how you and your siblings are so different?

You ask yourself,

“How is it possible that two people raised in the same house grew up to be such completely different human beings?”

Well, a wise person once answered this question very easily.

You did not grow up in the same house.

Yes, you may both have been raised in that same yellow house under the same red Spanish tiled roof.  You opened the same refrigerator and reached for the same orange juice.  You boarded the same planes for the same vacations.  You were even spanked by the same hands and hugged by the same arms.  However, the house you were raised in was a very different home for each of you.

I often speak to one of my siblings and am amazed at how we remember similar experiences so differently.  My older brother has memories of events, which I never knew occurred.  My younger sister is often surprised when I discuss events I remember so clearly yet she did not even know the event took place.

In my own family, each of us had different privileges bestowed upon us at a variety of ages.   One of us may have started driving at 16 while another one of us was not allowed to drive until a later age.  One of us may have had a 11 o’clock curfew at age 17 while another had no set curfew at all.

You get the point and I would guess you are already thinking of examples of this from your own childhood.

Now my husband and I are the parents.  We are the ones making the different choices for the different children being raised in the same house.  I clearly see how parenting styles change within a short time and also drastically change from child to child.

It is amazing how much you can change as a parent within just a few years.  I was much more neurotic and controlling with my first child.  I laugh at myself when I think of my behavior with my first.  The choices I made and the things I did seem funny now.

When my oldest went on her first camp field trip, I drove alongside the bus to their destination.  I even went into the skating rink myself to keep an eye on her.  I went on so many field trips with her in her early years.  Now, with my third child entering first grade, I am so happy when I am NOT picked to go on a field trip.  Fortunately, there are many first- time moms vying for the chaperone spots on the field trips.
Another example is the first day of school. First day anxieties vary from child to child.  I remember my oldest starting her first day of preschool.  I clearly remember the tears (mine and hers), the worry (mostly mine) and the anxiety (all mine).  Visions of me peeking through the window to make sure she was happy and sitting with someone she knew.  Oh my, how I remember the guilt of leaving her with another person.  I remember counting the minutes until I could pick her up and re-assure her “Mommies always come back!”

Years later, my third and youngest child FINALLY started preschool.  I knew he would be fine.  I had errands to run.  I was so excited to finally have a block of time to myself to grocery shop in peace.  As I walked him down the hall to his classroom, I was distracted with the fantasy of unloading groceries in a quiet house without someone whining and begging to eat every snack we just purchased.  The only guilt I remember feeling when I dropped him off at school on that very first day off was the guilt of being so happy to be dropping him off.

Now, before you judge me and think I love this youngest child any less, please know this:

The youngest also gets the longest bedtime routine, the most privileges and he is the only child who has ever been allowed to come sleep in our bed in the middle of the night. (and don’t forget, according to my other two, the youngest “always gets anything he wants!”)

You see, even though my oldest is only 12 years old, I already clearly see that I am raising each one differently within the same walls of the same house.  My older two kids were watching Dora and Rugrats at age 6.  My ‘baby’ was quoting lines from the Simpson’s’ movie before his sixth birthday.  We did not travel much when the older two were little. Yet, the ‘baby’ will be seeing the lights of Las Vegas before his first visit from the tooth fairy.  The older two were much more innocent for a much longer time.  For instance, the ‘baby’ was watching a kid’s movie recently and noticed a woman’s cleavage.  He said, “Mommy, what is that line ladies have on their chest?  I like that!”  (As if we needed more proof that male appreciation of boobs is a standard option with the Y chromosome package – and don’t be tempted to blame it on breastfeeding because all three of my kids were 100% similac babies)

There was an analogy in the movie Pieces of April in which Katie Holmes’ character is the oldest child and the self proclaimed black sheep of the family.  She refers to herself as the “first pancake” and explains the first pancake gets thrown out.  The first pancake is used just to test the temperature of the griddle.  The point obviously being that parents make all the mistakes on the first one in order to know what to do with the next child.  I find this comparison to be incredibly sad and also incredibly untrue.

In so many families (especially Jewish families), the first child is the golden child.   Even as adults, I often see the oldest child to continually be treated as the chosen one no matter what the reality is.  While I admit to a difference in the way we parent each of our three kids, I am not convinced one is better off than the other.  There are advantages and disadvantages to the different techniques we use with each child.

This point reminds me of a strategy I recently heard about long-term financial planning with children.   When you are putting money away for your children’s future, place half the money in an investment account for college and the other half in an account to pay for their therapy.

I am not a psychic but I can clearly see the future.

In the year 2029, my daughter will be telling her therapist through tears and whimpers,

” I have just never understood why my brother got a cell phone at age 11 when I had to wait until I was 12.  And….. He even got a better one than I did!”