Category Archives: Parenting

New York State of Mind

“Some folks like to get away, take a holiday from the neighborhood.  Hop a flight to Miami Beach or to Hollywood.  But I’m taking a Greyhound on the Hudson River Line. I’m in a New York state of mind.”

~Billy Joel~

ESB NYC

They say it’s a city of lights, a city that doesn’t sleep. It’s true what they say. There is an energy that fills the air and warms my spirit. Of the many places I have been in my life, none affects me moreso than my favorite place on Earth, New York City.

Eldest is visiting her boyfriend up in the Big Apple this weekend. It’s the first vacation she’s taken on her own and it’s over 1,700 miles from “home.” But she loves the place as much as I do, there’s family there and if all else fails, I will hunt down anyone that hurts my baby and they will meet the Hudson face to face.  Can you tell I worry?

I’m trying to get my stuff together for a weekend in my hometown about 6 hours away. Yoda and I have had a really sick dog so this should make the trip that much more exciting. 2 people. 2 dogs. 1 Vehicle. Joy. But I get to see family and the new grandbaby so that’s okay, I think.

Enough for now… just thought I would ramble for a little bit.

Sweetest of dreams…

 

 

 

 

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The Joy of Adult Parenting

“Parents can only give good advice or put them on the right paths, but the final forming of a person’s character lies in their own hands.”
~Anne Frank~

Sage-Corkscrew Swamp, Naples, FL
Sage-Corkscrew Swamp, Naples, FL

Anne Frank had it right. You can only give good advice and try to teach your children the path to walk down. While our children may inherit or mimic their parents actions, the one thing we have to remember is they are not us and will choose their own lives. But the “remembering” is not so easy and we often find ourselves with adult children who blow our minds with actions and decisions made that “we” would never do.

The first thing as a parent I have to consider as they are both adults, though still young, is sharing my wisdom (such as it is) and insights without being critical. I also have to now respect each of their differences. It’s truly a balancing act and I don’t know that I will ever have it down, but I do so try.

As I have a solid relationship with both of my daughters, I am and will be forever blessed. As they age, I’m learning  they will  (or is it still?) come to me if they need help during a “crisis” and that I need to keep clear of unsolicited advice.  But the discernment from “crisis” to “chronic” is murky at best sometimes – especially if chronic things have escalated into a crisis.

For example: The ongoing struggle between my sun and moon daughters over cleaning their apartment is a chronic situation that often turns into a small crisis filled with yelling and bitching. But learning to live with others and respecting each other’s choices as adults is something they have to do which means I struggle not to interfere unless called upon by one or both parties. I offer the requested advice and a shoulder, but as young adults, they must learn how to deal with “difficult” people. And each of them finds the other difficult and they have for years.

Again – the whole issue is about respect. They need to respect each other despite their obvious differences. Yoda and I have worked hard to show respect to them and to each other as a model for our lives. They each have to learn they are not the other and will choose their own paths. If they can respect that and respect each other, I believe that at the end of the day, the sun and the moon can come together to create something truly beautiful.

The path we all follow is not easy. It is a lifetime of learning and growing. But in choosing to be a counsellor and friend to my adult children instead of their coach or referee is a better option. In the end, they will each have their own strengths and their own character to be passed down to the next generation.

Almost Five Years….

The older I get, the more I find myself acting like my mother or father – especially my father. This is good because even though he’s been gone for almost five years this month, I still have parts of him with me. You see, some memories have begun to dim a little and I cling to those I remember with crystal clarity.

My pops was a baseball player, umpire and minor league manager. He was with the Yankees, Braves and Brewers in various capacities over a 14 year career, yet never made it on the field in the majors. (Thank you Lou Gehrig.) I bring this up because when I was five, pops and I were in the backyard and he was teaching me how to throw and catch a ball. Apparently my aim at a young age was spot on and his catching sucked because I felled him like a giant Redwood. We didn’t play any more games after that, but I learned the inadvertent power of an accidental curve ball at an early age.

Thought: Dad’s favorite movie was “Pride of the Yankees.” He loved “Hogan’s Heroes” and couldn’t stand watching anything bloody or gory in movies or TV.

At thirteen, when I was nearing the peak of teen angst, my father morphed into a big, bad knight in shining armor. Now, he was an actual knight – bestowed on him by King Peter the Second of Yugoslavia. But this day was awesome. I had a teacher who believed yanking my hair when I got an answer wrong, spoke up/out or under my breath or even silently wished her dead was a good idea. As a result I cut my hair ridiculously short and punky (as it was the 80’s) to mitigate the damage. She actually pulled my hair out this one day and when I told pops, he marched on the fortress of that school and threatened to throw her out of her 3rd floor, un-air conditioned classroom window. She never yanked my hair again. My hero.

Thought: Pops did this one other time at his agency located near the top floor of a bank building. This led to an early “note to self” – don’t lie, cheat or try to steal your way to success.

Sixteen brought an accident on Halloween night. I BADLY burned my hands at work and the man that couldn’t deal with medical stuff sat in the room as the doctors helped heal my hands. The night he brought me home, he set a green glo-light next to the bed so I could see so as to not bang my useless appendages against anything and sat in his office outside my door for hours. He helped with a lot of things I had taken for granted.

Thought: Pops HATED purple with a passion – especially lavender. Mom and I occasionally wore it to tick him off. Purple became my favorite color.

The man that drove more than 2.5 million miles before his first accident taught me to drive. He was not a patient man and I STILL hear his voice in my head while parallel parking, breaking or backing up.

Thought: He loved Obsession cologne and I can’t ever smell it again without his face coming to my mind.

He walked me down the aisle when I was 23 and held my first daughter the following year. Eldest was soon followed by Youngest and he loved the girls in a way I couldn’t imagine until five days ago when I held my grandson for the first time. I just wanted to scream to Heaven, “Hey Pop! I get it now!”

I saw my pop slowing down, his back stooping over and his gray hair turning silver then white as time trudged on. His once big frame leaned out as he couldn’t really eat much any longer. He lived on milkshakes from Malcolm’s. I remember the day my dad became like my child and I loved him even more. I no longer took the knight for granted. It was my turn to care for and save him. But you can’t save someone from the grave.

When it came time to say goodbye, we had his friends come by hospice. My mother came. My sister Chris and her husband came. But…My oldest sister came and together we stayed with him at the hospital. We told him stories and sang to him for a couple of days. The night the nurse brought in a roll-away bed was the first night I slept in days. Dad waited until Ker and I were asleep to whisper his last breath.

I have hundreds of memories and moments throughout any given day when I suddenly do or say something that is “him.” God knows he wasn’t a perfect man nor a perfect father. He tried though and I think that’s what counts. But I wanted to share these with you because memories are better when shared.

Continue reading Almost Five Years….

Sleep Deprivation… Not Just for a New Mom

And these children that you spit upon as they try to change their worlds are immune to your consultations. They’re quite aware of what they are going through.

It’s been a wicked-busy few days. Yoda and I left the Metroplex about 2230 hours and arrived “home” in Amarillo about 0430 on Saturday morning. Necessitating this midnight run was the pending arrival of my first grandson. Jess went into labor about 0700 Saturday… (after we got a combined grain of sleep from the Sandman…) Baby J finally decided to stop loitering in my daughter’s womb and made his appearance at 2256 hours Sunday night.

I find Squishy-Face (Baby J) incredibly cute and healthy; Jess is home recovering as well. She’s a little, sometime a lot, sore and has the energy of a sloth.

Frankly, I too could use some recovery time. I’m exhausted. From last Thursday when I woke at 0900 until I went to bed Monday morning at 0100, I got about 17 total hours of sleep. Jess and Baby J are worth it, but it seems like since then all I have done for days is run errands and I’m a wee bit on edge.

This brings me to:
I have been up since 0500 today. (I only woke because the bladder apparently contained the contents of Niagara Falls.) However, Yoda and I are bunking with my other daughter, my eldest, as well as Jess, Baby J and Ryan, J’s boyfriend. 5 adults in a 2 bedroom apartment. I wanted to put this into perspective because I’m feeling homicidal at the moment. Oh? Indeed.

Eldest has to work today. I’m sharing a room with her as she has an additional twin bed in her room. For the love of all that is pure and holy, there was almost a brutal killing as her alarm went off at the butt-crack of dawn and she hit snooze 85 times. Not only did I have to listen to the opening bars of a Taylor Swift nightmare, she apparently programmed several other alarms to wake her in case THAT failed. As I didn’t know what time she actually has to be at work, I didn’t know whether I should kill her or dump water on her.

The reassuring constant is misery loves company. I’m sure Jess didn’t sleep long or well either as a new baby tends to have that affect on new parents. God willing, we shall get some much needed rest before long and commiserate over breakfast and snuggles with the latest addition to the family.

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Thoughts on Grandparenthood

“Calvin: Dad where do babies come from?
Dad: Well Calvin, you simply go to Sears, buy the kit and follow the assembly instructions.
Calvin: I came from Sears?
Dad: No you were a blue-light special at K-Mart – almost as good and a lot cheaper!”
Bill Watterson

6a00d83451f25369e200e54f14c7ca8833-800wi My baby is having a baby. It’s weird to say, even more bizarre to think about. J is due tomorrow, October 8th. I don’t know if the new arrival will come on time, early or be delayed because he needs a little longer to bake at 98.6 degrees.

One of mine was a few days early, the other was about a week late. I know that at this stage in pregnancy, there is nothing more miserable than the heat of summer and the readiness that comes with a child sitting on your bladder. There is a special feeling when you are kicked in the liver or spleen or when a foot / elbow lodges itself under your ribs. Yes, indeed. And those moments when your mammary glands leak at the most unsuspecting times or when you want to tie your shoes and you can’t find your feet are the stuff memories are made of. 

But through all of the discomfort, there is a little life inside that makes it all worthwhile. And my baby, my youngest, is about to experience the “joy” of motherhood for the first time. 

Pondering “advice” for months now, I can’t decide what to say, what to do. It’s her child, her life and I’ve offered some “suggestions” about the actual delivery. But as all grandparents before me, I figure I have to offer some words of sage advice when it comes to parenting. When my girls were born, my parents were fairly mute at the time and doled out advice through the years. I think this may be the safest and best course of action. 

The only advice I can safely give her and to all parents is to love that child with all of your heart. You will make mistakes and will grieve decisions you have to make and cannot change. Love will make it better, but never easier.  Love… the best advice I can give, the only thing TO give. 

It’s a Hard Knock Life

Lately, it seems as if my job has become more social worker, psychologist and Peanuts-style-Lucy-advice-giver than investigator. I’m okay with that because it means maybe I can help a family before law enforcement actually has to step-in and take action that is more permanent in nature. I’m not trained in any specific field, but I’ve done a lot of research and I’ve had two kids of my own who are doing okay. Combine that with the fact I was a bit of a hellion as a teenager (and from time to time today),  I can see the world in a perspective that is sometimes unique.


I had a conversation the other day with a parent who has done everything for their child, has battled all of their battles for them and now is having problems with him. I had to ask them, “Why did you do this?”


I know it’s hard as a parent to see your child suffer, but there are natural consequences to one’s actions and I believe it’s not to early to start teaching your children that. If you touch a hot stove, you will get burned. Depending on the age of the child, you might pull their hand away and spank it. For older kids, they might actually touch the stove and realize, “When I touch it, it IS hot.” If you don’t follow the logical progression of teaching a younger child natural consequences, then when that child becomes a teenager, problems ensue.


This parent called me because he couldn’t get his son up for school. He’s gone so far as to set his own alarm an hour and a half early so he can start the process of nagging, scolding, yelling, yanking the covers off the bed, turning the radio up loud, using water as a wake up device, pulling his son out of the bed and dragging him to the closet…. well, you get the idea. I asked him why he was doing that. He said if he didn’t do that his son wouldn’t get up and would miss the bus then he would have to take him and be late to work himself.


Excuse me?
Can you say enabling?


I understand the school district’s policy on tardies and absences and a parent’s responsibility to take one’s child to school. However, this kid is almost 17 years old. At what point do you say enough already? And that’s exactly what I asked him.


He was stunned by my question so I asked him again and was met by silence.


I explained. In another year, this kid will graduate and then probably go to college. He’ll get a job. I asked him, “Are you going to be getting him up for college or awake in time for work everyday? Are you going to call his boss and explain to him that he’s late or write him a note or take him to his job because he just couldn’t get it together to get up on time? At what point do you say, ‘Enough?'”


I also asked him what time this kid goes to bed. He said that it’s anywhere between 10pm and 2am. I have teenagers, one of which carries a heck of a course load, but there is NO need for a regular 2am bedtime when you have to get up early for school. Teenagers need a recommended NINE hours of sleep a night. (Resource: National sleep foundation) Obviously that’s not going to happen and things are going to suffer. No wonder that kid can’t get out of bed. He’s working against a biological drive to sleep.


He said I made a very valid point he hadn’t thought about and thanked me for my time.


A few days later, he called me back. He told me that night when his son came home he basically threw down the gauntlet and told him to set his alarm and to be in bed no later than 10pm on school nights; he was no longer waking him up for school and if he missed his bus, he could walk. Apparently his son didn’t buy it. His son woke up about 11am and called his father at work to take him. Dad stood firm and told him, “You have two legs. Use them.”  The day after that, he didn’t wake him up again and the son again missed the bus. He called his father and apparently begged him to pick him up and take him to school. Dad told him, “Son, I can’t do that because you need to learn to do some things on your own. This is one of them. Do it.” On the third day, his son was up and ready to meet the bus.


I’d like to say that all is going to be perfect, but we all know that bad habits are hard to break. I’m glad that this father is working toward instilling new, healthy ones in his son before it’s way too late.


The School of Hard Knocks isn’t an easy one. However, I believe that as our children become older, we have to give them more responsibility to do some things on their own and make their own mistakes. After all, if we don’t do that, we haven’t properly prepared them for the adult world that is to follow and that’s not the School of Hard Knocks. It’s the World of Hard Knocks.