Round Of Applause

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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!

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Once Is Enough

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There’s a saying: Everything old is new again. The older we get, we start to really see the value of this statement. As a mom, I always found it quite amusing when one of my kids would ask if I’d heard of a particular band – one that was still around but that I remembered (with all its original members) from my own childhood.

Sometimes, when going through my closets, I know I should be gathering up items that I haven’t worn and taking them to Goodwill. Instead, I’ll try them on, see that they still fit and convince myself that they’ll come back in style someday. Remarkably, they usually do.

So… Music can still sound good after all these years. Clothing can suddenly be ‘in’ after being ‘out’ for a spell. But one thing that you should never hold onto – even if you think you’ll use it again – is the dreaded tissue.

I remember my grandmother always stashing tissues in her sleeve for possible later use. My Mom (her daughter) continues in that tradition because you never know when the world might run out of them. Granted, tissues are useful for a number of things:

1) Blowing your nose
2) Wiping off lipstick
3) Stuffing your bra (when you’re prepubescent)
4) Crying at funerals (or sad movies)

But, mostly, they’re a disposable item and (since they’re fairly easy to come by) should not be stored inside your long-sleeved shirt. Ever. Seriously, how many other ‘cleaning wipes’ do we keep on our person after they’ve been used?

The answer is an astounding None. Zero. Zilch. Tissues are light, airy and small because once the job is done… you roll ’em up into a ball and you throw them out! 

Summer Survival Guide

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Summertime… and the livin’ is easy. Oh, Mr. Gershwin sure had it right. That’s how I remember my childhood summers – playing outside in the warm sunshine till it was time to come in for dinner; eating dripping ice cream cones before they melted down my arm; and going to ball games where the sounds and smells were like coming home.

Huh… funny how times change.

Now, as I sit inside my air-conditioned home, I can hear the visiting grandkids of our neighbors running around outside, screaming and having fun. And then I hear my Dad’s voice – yelling at them to be quiet from the comfort of his lounge chair in the living room (“bratty kids”“why can’t you go play somewhere else?”).

Later on, when the sun starts to set, we go out on our terrace to relax and breathe in the cooling air. I look over at my Dad and see him not sitting still but, rather, swatting away at the pollen endlessly blowing from the trees and the bees that have moved on from the flowers to our private domain.

When we finally surrender to the natural order of summer and come inside to watch the ball game on tv, we’re barely into the first inning when I hear Dad yelling at the screen (“you moron” – “I coulda caught that ball” – “are you blind?”).

Ahhh, the sounds of summer. The only thing missing is the smell of stale beer and sauerkraut.

And if you listen really hard, you can almost hear yourself thinking, “how many weeks till fall…?!”

Raising Healthy Parents

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Never in a million years did I think I’d be back, living at home, taking care of my family. Only this time, I’m not referring to my awesome, talented and successful sons. I’m talking about my parents.

But can you really raise parents?

They’re certainly not children although, listening to their colorful banter, you might think their behavior merits an old fashioned ‘time out.’ The parents, in this case, are my very own much-loved, well-respected octogenarian ‘muddah’ and ‘fadduh.’ They brought me into this world, gave me unconditional love and support and (all too often) unsolicited advice.

That said, I literally owe them my life. 

In the last few years, it has become more and more evident that my parents, while still independent (but with curmudgeonly tendencies), have begun slowing down and are showing signs of needing a bit of help now and again. To that end, I agreed to live with them, part time, while also continuing my musical career and still maintaining a personal life – that of a woman in her 50’s.

Here are a few things I’ve already noticed:

1) Kids are not the only ones who say the darnedest things
2) I’m now the most savvy and technologically skilled person in the room.
3) Child-proofing has an entirely different meaning.

About that… I’m sure I’m not alone in wondering about the point of childproofing bottles of pills. Sure, when your children are younger, you want them to be safe. But, seriously, any child worth his weight can open one of those bottles in under 5 seconds. Not so for many older adults – due to crippling arthritis and bad eyesight.

One of the most popular elder-friendly items in the drugstore these days (after Depends) is a pill box divided into days of the week. You simply put all their colorful, shapely little pills into the appropriately labelled compartments at the beginning of each week and allow them the dignity of taking their own meds. After all, they’re only ‘sightly’ challenged. And I can’t even imagine how frustrating that must be.

So, on those too long days when I feel like my temper and patience fall just a hair too short, I try and think back to my own childhood – when my parents had to put up with my brother and me and the 16th year of my life that Mom still lovingly refers to as anything but sweet – and remember that, at the end of the day, this too shall pass.

Most importantly, I now realize that one day my future happiness may rest in the hands of my own children and they damn well better remember… I called them awesome!