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 remember when my Dad used to drum. Long after he retired from teaching and playing club dates on the weekends – weddings and Bar Mitzvahs – he continued drumming, almost as if his fingers had a life of their own. I never did that. My oldest son, also a drummer, occasionally does that. Maybe it’s a guy thing.
For years my Dad’s fingers would drum and drum and drum. Every surface had permanent dents or dings; every tabletop was worn of its natural patina of wood; every arm chair’s upholstery was permanently thinned – some worn right down to the material below.
But I haven’t heard that familiar sound in ages. At some point, Dad just gave up. When he finally decided, “enough is enough,” I’ll never know for sure. Was it when the phone stopped ringing for gigs or when the students stopped needing lessons or when time just passed by and all those years of experience and knowledge stopped mattering?
I know he sometimes has dreams about those days of working and teaching. He says they’re quite vivid and he remembers them all. The mind is a funny thing – focusing on some events, no matter how trivial, while fogging over others that seemed so important at one time. So maybe, in hindsight, enough is never really enough!
As I celebrate my birthday, I can honestly say that love does conquer all. Or, at least, it gives me the opportunity to spend this one day, my day, exactly as I want to.
For years, when my oldest son was little, we celebrated our birthdays together because his falls the day before mine. We would share a cake (always a Carvel cake – with mint chip and coffee ice cream instead of the vanilla and chocolate ice cream it usually comes in) even when he eventually switched over to one of those giant chocolate chip cookie cakes.
Sometimes we even shared parties – he would have his friends downstairs in the playroom while the parents of those children joined my husband and I upstairs for a ‘grown-up’ party. This went on for many years and, at this point, I couldn’t even tell you exactly when it stopped.
But, through it all – the planning, the cakes, the themes, the booty bags – it was all done with love and I never regretted sharing my birthday. Now, however, every birthday has a different, deeper meaning and I have a particular routine that I refuse to deviate from. I never work on my birthday and I treat it and myself with special care. It’s the one thing I do for myself, unapologetically, because… Amor Vincit Omnia!*
Giving credit where credit is due, the song, “Hello Muddah Hello Fadduh” was written by Allan Sherman in 1963. But it’s hardly original. That is to say, the lyrics are but the popular song, itself, was a parody of a classical piece written by Amilcare Ponchielli titled, “Dance of the Hours.”
In this Grammy Award winning novelty song, based on a letter of complaint sent to his parents by Sherman’s son while attending summer camp, the son describes unpleasant and even dangerous situations (in his humble opinion). The song (letter) ends with the rain stopping, the fun activities starting and the son stating, “kindly disregard this letter.”
We’ve all experienced good and bad times and none of us are exempt from exaggeration. So, when reading my posts, I hope you will take some of it with a grain of salt, learn valuable lessons from those personal experiences I’ve tried to share and remember, always, to love your life… And all that jazz!