With all the new cooking shows currently on TV, you’d think any person watching would be like ‘a child in a candy store.’ But, if that person happened to be me, you’d be sadly mistaken.
I was never a great cook but the meals I prepared were pretty good. I certainly never poisoned anyone. But I also, for instance, never learned how to make a turkey. Why should I? Mom always had that particular honor (still does) and, ‘if it ain’t broken, why fix it?’
My parents now get meals-on-wheels a few days a week because even Mom doesn’t feel like cooking anymore. And, when visiting friends, why bake a dessert to bring over when they make exceptional ones in your average, local supermarket? I just don’t see the point.
So, if I can get away with buying already-prepared food from any other source (as long as it’s reasonably priced), I’m doing it!*
*In full disclosure… I DID bake cookies and cupcakes for my kids’ bake sales and classroom celebrations for years.
Sunday morning I decided to take the train into NYC to visit my boys. What a mistake. Not the visit but the method of transportation at that particular day and time. I didn’t realize it was a Yankees-home-game and that suburban families from upstate NY would be making the long journey with me. And I didn’t even bring headphones…
Toddlers cried incessantly and crawled all over the seats until their indulgent parents gave them their very expensive phones to play with… Men, way too old to still be wearing the names of other grown men on their Yankees jerseys and t-shirts, strutted around the aisles ‘replaying’ past Yankees highlights.
Look, I have nothing against America’s favorite pastime. I think it’s an overpriced day out but to each their own (the train ticket price alone was staggering for these families and I can only assume the stadium ticket price was well beyond my monthly car payment).
But where was the ‘old time’ fun? I remember going to games with my parents and older brother. It didn’t bankrupt us and we needn’t bring our own food from home because it was mostly affordable. And actually keeping score was a skill we perfected after repeated attendance and something that made us feel like a part of the entire ballgame experience.
Somewhere along the lines the rules changed. Prices skyrocketed and manners plummeted. I wouldn’t bring a young child to a game today – they’d hear foul (pun intended) language; reek of warm, spilled beer and be exposed to a world of entitlement, rudeness and bad sportsmanship.
But, hey, how else will they learn how to act on their own school turf?!
As a small child I remember thinking the ‘old guy’ that always sat at his window, looking outside to make sure no one stepped on his perfectly manicured lawn, was a bit creepy. In his defense, neighborhood kids did make it a point to purposely throw balls onto his lawn and (before we were taught to pick up after our dogs) dogs regularly used his front lawn as their own public pooper-scooper.
Since living back with my parents I’ve noticed that they, too, spend an awful lot of time sitting in front of THEIR window. They watch for the mailman (they don’t get much more than medical bills); the meals-on-wheels delivery man (with whom they’re on a first name basis); the UPS truck (when I tell them I’m expecting a package but it probably won’t arrive for weeks); and their grandkids (as if wishing for it will actually make it happen).
I realize they have little to look forward to on a daily basis but it seems a bit paranoid of them to watch out for, say, impending snow when only an inch or two is predicted and they have nowhere to go in it anyway. But I suppose it does make the days go by faster and maybe, in their minds, it might even make them feel more a part of their surroundings now that they spend so much of their time indoors.
As I think back on that ‘old guy’ next door and remember how my Dad used to call him a busybody and a cranky old man, it feels as if time has come full circle only now it’s my Dad who has earned the title of ‘crotchety-old-dude.’
But, if truth be told and years of hard living give you some street cred, he’s truly earned it!
It’s hard for anyone under the age of 40 to understand how things used to be. They never had to get up off the couch to change a channel on their tv; they never had to fight over the one phone in the house that was attached to the kitchen wall; they never knew how much a stamp cost or how big a deal it was when the price increased (usually by a cent or two) and they never had to carry around gigantic copies of their MRI films. Today, everything is conveniently stored on computers. Doctors can view your entire medical history with the click of a mouse.
They don’t even hand out illegible scripts anymore.
I’ve always liked writing*. I’ve written numerous music books and a series of YA stories. Even as a young child I remember writing absolutely everything down – my favorite foods, my favorite songs, my favorite outfits, my favorite movies… As a bored middle-schooler, I often created detailed polls for my classmates to vote on – and, yet, I still managed to graduate (ONCE, at the end of my senior year, not every few years as kids these days do – starting with Kindergarten).
Much like my Mom tells me how she likes the feel of a good book in her hands (I’m a proud 3rd-generation-Kindle-r myself), there’s just something about holding a freshly sharpened pencil (with a working, not chewed up, eraser) in your hands and knowing that there’s an infinite world of possibilities lying at the tip.
So whether you’re an academic, an artist or just a doodler, a simple pencil and a blank piece of paper can add hours of entertainment and great accomplishment to your life without the need of an electrical outlet!
*Hope you’ve enjoyed my first 100 hellomuddahhellofadduh blog posts…
While reminiscing with my son a few weeks ago, I recalled various moments from his childhood that I realized he, sadly, had no recollection of. As young parents, we clap for and record and retell all our friends and family about every single accomplishment in our child’s life.
Some people use the New Year as an excuse to send out letters to their friends describing events that took place within their family in the previous year. It’s sort of like a ‘highlight reel’ but on paper.
I’ve listened to so many of my Dad’s dream sequences in the last year that I could write an entire 4 hour movie script and still have enough material left over to pen several sequels. The problem is, while he’s seeking an eager ear to listen to all his rantings, I’m looking for an escape route back to reality.
It’s one thing to create and recount memories but it’s a whole other thing to expect others to respond positively or enthusiastically about someone else’s life (or dreams – events that never even occurred).
So, feel free to clap every time a toddler blows a kiss or shows you how big he is… SOOO BIG. And, by all means, clap at your teenager’s school concert – even though some kids are singing or playing instruments out of tune. But don’t wait for that elusive round of applause after your latest rendition of dream works!
We spend countless hours on our looks and on our bodies – lotions, spas, gyms, power drinks – so why don’t we spend any time trying to improve our minds? Yes, we play games on our computers and do crossword puzzles and the like. But, since graduating from school (be it HS or college), we haven’t properly exercised our brains.
Try these experiments:
Say the alphabet backwards
Play the old car-trip game (by yourself) where you think of alphabetized foods you’d like to take on a picnic
Try to remember the names of all of your teachers by grade
How did you do? I was visiting my son some weeks ago and, all of a sudden, I remembered a name we had both drawn blanks on in a recent phone conversation. We laughed. But it just goes to show you… It’s easy to forget but it’s redemptive to remember!
I love going to the mall (except around this time of the year).* There, I’ve said it. The very best time to go is first thing in the morning. There are no teenagers skulking about, no loud music coming from the stores** and no lines. The most you will see are the velour-clad mall walkers and the new moms pushing baby carriages.
But all that changed when I decided to take my Dad along with me. First, we needed to find the bathroom (which we needed to do several more times during our venture). Then we needed to avoid every single crying or whining child. Finally, of all the many and varied types of delicious, multi-cultured food found in the food court, we needed to get… a Nathan’s hot dog. I kid you not.
So, next time I think about going to the mall I will slip out, unnoticed, and bring back some small token as a ‘thank you’ for allowing me to have my day at the mall!
*I try to get all my holiday shopping done before the end of October. No sales? Oh well. It’s worth it to avoid the holiday frenzy.
**I’ll take any other loud music over Xmas music, any day – you know, that stuff that plays on endless loops for months before the actual ‘day’ that it’s supposed to represent. And that’s why you’ll never see me in a store (even the grocery store), from now until the middle of January, without my handy-dandy, sanity-preserving earbuds.
Today I saw a young mother outside chasing after her toddler. She said, “stay on the grass,” so, naturally, the child ran toward the street instead. I thought, “well, at least she’ll get that baby weight off faster.”
Now that my own kids are grown, I have no incentive to run around and lose weight. Oh yeah. I forgot. Of course I do. It’s called constantly-running-errands-for-my-parents. Don’tget me wrong… I exercise for a few hours every day anyway. Of my own free will. I always have… (and when I say always, I mean since having children).
If it wasn’t so time consuming I’d say it was almost funny – how, as soon as I return home from running their errands, my parents remember something else I need to get for them. And, for those errands that are so close by that it’s almost easier to not have to drive and then park my car, I generally just walk. So, technically, I’m still being run ragged – although, now, I get to choose when and where I’ll lose those extra few pounds!
*** 3 simple ways to lose weight without really trying:
Eat less (try eating dinner on a dessert plate rather than on a much larger and more gluttonous dinner plate)
Move more (drive less, if possible – the planet will thank you)
Repeat (or, if you’re young and in love, have more children – that’ll keep you on your feet)*
*4 out of 5 dentists recommend it… (and, why wouldn’t they? They stand to make even more money!)