A Heartfelt Thank You

I posted this same sentiment last year on this day. I can think of nothing stronger or more appropriate to say to those who deserve our utmost respect, so I will simply repeat my heartfelt thanks and hope that it is enough.

Thanks go out to a myriad of family members for their service to this great country of ours…including no less than five uncles (4 of whom were brothers). But a very special thanks go to my Dad and my Brother. I have respect for you both in so many ways, this being just one of them. I love you guys. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for your service.

 

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to family, friends, and ALL who have served — thank you

Being a Kid is Tough Work

It’s not easy being green…or a kid.

Lots of adults – too many adults – think that childhood is an easy time.  They think that kids are carefree and have nothing to worry about.  Well, childhood should be an easy time, with no cares or worries, and in a perfect world it would be, but we do not live in a perfect world.

Kids face stressors of all kinds and always have. They have to go to school – and if they are not good students that’s one type of stress, and if they are good students, that’s another kind of stress, and if they have to deal with bullies that’s another type of stress, and if they are shy and have difficulty making friends – even if they aren’t subjected to bullying – that’s another type of stress, or if they’re popular and have to maintain a certain circle of friends even if they don’t want to because “it’s expected,” that’s another type of stress.  Well, you get the picture. Stress.

Nowadays there’s more than ever for kids to be worried about. Take for instance, the chat my daughter’s teacher had with her class last school year about possible shooters in the school and how they’re basically all screwed anyway.  And then there’s the fact that my daughter went to a college conference in Baltimore recently – one of her concerns included whether or not the convention center would be shot up…given Baltimore’s latest activities in that regard. Many kids face this fear in this day and age and truly, that’s just a sad testament to our society as a whole.

Then there’s home life, which can be more complicated now than ever before, considering the proliferation of different family units – single parents, same-sex parents, step-parents and step-siblings, and so on. Which can be just fine and dandy inside the home or it can be incredibly complicated depending on how the family meshes – but the external stressors that kids in these situations sometime face can be overwhelming.

And then there’s the parents. Regardless of the type of family unit, most parents are loving and treat their kids well…but there are always the exceptions. And while the percentage of “bad parents” may be low, that still means there are hundreds of thousands of parents who have no idea how to treat kids, and shouldn’t be parents in the first place, frankly.

And all that brings me to the real subject of this blog entry, which is how frustrating it is for teenagers to be lumped into a single mass.

“All teenagers are sullen.”

“All teenagers are moody and antagonistic.”

“All teenagers have teenage angst.”

I disagree with all of these statements but none more than the existence of “teenage angst.” Not all teenagers have teenage angst! And what the hell is teenage angst anyway? There’s no “adult angst” and believe me, I’ve seen plenty of adults that ought to have it.

Oh, and just because a teenager doesn’t want to be social or outgoing, even among family, does not mean they are sullen or moody or antagonistic. Perhaps they’re introverted. Perhaps they’re shy. Perhaps they have a lot going on in their mind and life and they’re distracted. Perhaps they just don’t like you. They should be allowed to do their own thing so long as they’re not being outwardly disrespectful. Speaking of which, I’m a firm believer of “respect is a two-way street.”  There is no minimum age for deserving respect. All too often adults think that kids, simply by virtue of being kids, do not deserve even a modicum of respect, thereby completely invalidating their feelings, and this is just wrong.

But how should we treat teenagers who do have angst? (Note the intentional lack of “teenage” preceding the word angst.)

Are they to blame for giving into their feelings – when adults certainly never hesitate to give in to theirs?

Kids have a lot to be anxious about. For some, it’s worse than the norm.

Having anxiety and depression is like being scared and tired at the same time. It’s the fear of failure but no urge to be productive. It’s wanting friends but hating socializing. It’s wanting to be alone but not wanting to be lonely. It’s caring about everything then caring about nothing. It’s feeling everything at once then feeling paralyzing numb.”

That’s a quote to think about, and to remember.

All of the stresses that affect kids are magnified a hundred fold if they do suffer from anxiety and/or depression.  First off, anxiety and depression are medical conditions. That’s what a lot of adults don’t seem to understand. Oh, they might “get it” regarding themselves or other adults.  They just don’t seem to understand that kids can suffer from these same conditions.  I mean, why would they?  They’re kids, in the prime of their carefree days for goodness sake.

Second, a lot of this angst is caused by external forces.

Take girls, for example. It’s well documented that boys and girls do equally well in school until they get into their teens, when the scores for girls (speaking overall here – there are always exceptions) go way down in certain subjects. Like math and science. Why? Because even today – even today! – girls are not expected to be good at math or science! And they are treated accordingly. No wonder their scores go down.

Then there’s the fact that once girls become teenagers, they “blossom” as the saying goes, and all of a sudden they’ve got to deal with the “opposite sex” coming onto them (or not). Not to mention ridiculous dress codes that make it abundantly clear that their education is much less important than a boy’s and instead they should focus on not distracting the male students from their studies.

Of course boys have a similar and equal kind of stress when they hit puberty, as there’s a blinding rush to turn them into adults and no innocence seems left to any kids anywhere!

Bad parents also cause their kids a lot of stress and anxiety. Some parents emotionally abuse kids, even if they don’t physically abuse them, threatening to withdraw their love if the kid fails a test, for example…or irrationally and insistently pushing the kid into sports when he or she would rather be on the stage let’s say, just so they can relive their old high school quarterback days.

Something else to think about: When parents have a bad day, who are the first ones they take it out on?  Their spouse, sure, but who’s next? The kids. Right. (I’m not talking abuse here – that’s a whole other issue – I’m talking about being in a bad mood, snapping at the family, being curt or short in your tone, and having no patience for anyone.) When kids have a bad day?  Who can they take it out on?  No-one. Why? Because they get punished. For belligerence. For having a bad attitude. If they go to their room and try to stay to themselves because they’ve had a bad day? They get punished. Why? For being sullen.  For being anti-social with the family. For ignoring their parents. For bringing the mood of the family down. Kids are expected to be on perfect behavior at all times or face the consequences.  Who can live sanely under those kinds of expectations!? Yet many adults expect them to do it.

My point in all this rambling?  Simple. Let’s cut our kids some slack, shall we? Kids have feelings and personalities all their own just as adults do. They shouldn’t be dismissed just because they’re kids.

 

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A Special Thank You

Thanks go out to a myriad of family members for their service to this great country of ours…including no less than five uncles (4 of whom were brothers). But a very special thanks go to my Dad and my Brother. I have respect for you both in so many ways, this being just one of them. I love you guys. Thank you for your service.

 

Veterans-Day-2015

Kids and Noise: Go Together Like Peanut Butter and Jelly?

Well…another week…another entry about bad parents getting on my nerves.

Maybe it’s not so much that some parents don’t have parenting skills, but that they don’t seem to understand their responsibilities to their kids and society as a whole. They have this idea in their heads of what “kids will be kids” means, and if it’s the wrong one – and I think it is – they never know it and will ignore anyone who tries to educate them about the proper way for kids to behave during certain situations.

I was reading an article awhile back about this woman in England who had apparently spent several weeks apologizing for her kids being so noisy – everywhere they went. And she was upset because none of the adults her kids came in contact with seemed even the slightest bit tolerant of her kids.

And I’m thinking…well, just how tolerant do you expect these adults to be?

I mean, when you describe your own children with a myriad of adjectives that describe noise and chaos…it sort of makes me wonder if they even know the definition of “inside voices.”

That’s the thing – young kids need to be taught the difference between outside voices and situations where they can yell and scream all they want. There are no walls outside, so there are no echoes of those shrill little voices just searing into your brain. And then there’s the inside voices, which kids – and adults for that matter – are supposed to use when they are inside and around other people who should not have to be bombarded with a “wall of noise.”  Oh, and that’s just one description the author gave of her children entering a room. Wall. Of. Noise.

As a fellow parent I’m not looking for an apology for noisy children – I’m looking for less noisy children in spaces where noise is not really appropriate.  I have children too, so yes, I’m speaking from experience.

Maybe it’s not so much that people are intolerant of children in general (the author’s claim), but just HERS.  She even said herself:  “Others who are less charitable might say they are, well, just loud! As they battle to be heard over one another – the noise level often escalates to multi-decibel levels.”

Multi-decibel levels?  Something she is apparently used to with her own kids and may very well be able to ignore – yet she blames other people for looking askance at them and their “wall of noise?”

I don’t think this woman needs to apologize all of the time to complete strangers for her kids being noisy. Instead, I think maybe…perhaps… a novel idea, I know, but…she could actually just control her kids in the first place.

If they’re galloping through an airport singing at the top of their lungs causing EVERYONE to look at them, then there is definitely something wrong. It’s not that everyone else is intolerant.  It’s the kids.

The whole point of the article was that this woman had gotten tired of apologizing for her kids. BUT she wasn’t going to teach them manners or respect for others or “inside voices.” She was just going to let her kids be kids.  In other words, allow them to continue to run roughshod over the personal space of others, bombard the public with their wall of noise, and completely disregard the discomfort of everyone around them.

Frankly, it’s lazy parenting. And it’s not fair to the rest of us who have to put up with them.

There is a time and a place for roughhousing and loud behavior. An airport, a doctor’s office, an airplane (all scenarios in the author’s article) and many other shared public places are NOT IT.  Whatever happened to teaching inside voices, respecting others, and plain old manners?

What’s in a Name?

Okay, so I just came across yet another parenting article.  No issue in the child-rearing world seems to go untouched…every little thing apparently needs to be hashed out, which really makes me think I should get a gig writing for one these publications, because I could seriously give out some good advice.

But I digress.

The writer of this particular article takes issue with the fact that her kids’ friends call her by her first name.  In fact, her “biggest pet peeve” is any child calling any adult by their first name, which she apparently takes as a sign of grave disrespect.

She gets her point across in a joking manner, but makes her point just the same (which I can truly appreciate). What I found funny though is she doesn’t like the idea of being called Ms. or Mrs. either.  So what exactly is a child supposed to call her?  The author is unsure.  She just knows it shouldn’t be her first name only. A modern quandary indeed.

Personally I never had this problem when my children were very young. I didn’t have a name then, you see. I was simply Jacob’s mom and Sarah’s mom for the longest time.  As in, “Hey Jacob’s Mom, can Jacob come out and play?” Or “Hi Sarah’s Mom, can she go to the park with us today?”

When I eventually earned a name for myself, I requested they call me “Ms. Wendy.”  It was my choice, not theirs. I mean, kids won’t know what to call you unless you tell them, right?  One of my son’s friends (who has been around since forever) still calls me “Jacob’s Mom,” and does so with quite a bit of mutual humor and nostalgia. Would I ever consider him disrespectful?  Heck no!  The boy is a hoot.  Hearing “Hi Jacob’s Mom!” coming from a strapping 24-year-old as he yells across a crowded room without a care in the world is always comical to behold, and interesting to explain.

My view is, if you want to be called Mr. or Ms. or Mrs. insert first or last name here, then simply tell the child that so they know. Don’t leave them to their own devices or their own choices in the matter if you care that much about what you’re called. But don’t expect them to respect you simply because of what you choose to name yourself.  Respect isn’t a “given” based solely on a title.

Beyond the whole name dilemma, which each parent has to figure out for themselves (hopefully before the kids get to college), I did find one thing about the article that was disconcerting, in a sort of a red-faced, wow, okay, that sounds like me, kind of a way.

She did it to be humorous I’m sure (although probably serious too) but the author wrote out a detailed list of the reasons why she will never ever be friends with her children’s friends and therefore, why they can’t be on a first name basis.

The list consists of things that adults – that is to say, peers – wouldn’t or rather, shouldn’t, do, you see. And, I have to admit that I failed her list by half. That’s right. Half. So. No new friendship on the horizon for me. But that’s okay. I’m sure we’ll both survive.

When you think about it though, following Southern custom (calling on my family heritage here), the author would have to call me Ms. Wendy cause I’m older than her. (Okay, so I’m guessing here at her age, but it’s a good guess –her children must be young given the topic of the article and she knows who the hell The Tings Tings are and I suppose LIKES them since she knows the lyrics to their songs – all of which points to her being way younger than me.) BUT since I failed her test, I’d end up having to call her Ms. So and So or whatever it is she decides she wants to be called…this name game, it’s all so very confusing!

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Death Comes to the Drive-Thru

Got an important funeral coming up and you just don’t want to run into Aunt Edna? Or you just know your ex is going to be at the cemetery with his new stick-thin blonde girlfriend? Or you can’t bother to be hassled by Grandpa Barry’s old-school sexist comments? Well, thank heavens for Paradise Funeral Chapels, one of the first funeral homes that comes complete with a drive-thru window. Hallelujah! Drop off your deceased at Paradise and come funeral time you won’t even have to bother trying to find parking. You can just roll right on up to the viewing window where sad, mournful music kicks in from an overhead speaker. Then you and your loved one get three whole minutes of alone time (separated by thick glass, of course) for you to deliver any heartfelt goodbyes.

Gone is the need to actually be in the same room as your family members if you don’t feel like it. Paradise Funeral Chapels understands that people are getting busier every day and has designed their parlor for those on the go. Pay your respects to Grandpa on the way to Timmy’s soccer game without missing a second of the first quarter. Don’t miss a second of that conference call with your firm’s partners as you blow a kiss to dearly departed Nana.

So if you don’t know how the heck you’re going to squeeze in your last goodbyes and still make it to Nordstrom’s in time for the big sale, look no further than Paradise.  Oh and no need to worry about that last-minute beach traffic either, you’ve got that covered! Pop on over to Paradise to say adieu to Cousin Fred and be on the road to sun and surf in no time at all!

In all seriousness, I can almost, sort of, slightly see how a drive-thru funeral option would be maybe “okay.” Some families have “issues” when they get in the same room together. I suppose this could be a way to avoid any potential fisticuffs between brothers that just can’t get along. And as the article states, maybe this is an easier alternative for those who are disabled. Perhaps it has some practical causes. Maybe. Sort of. Kind of. But in reality, it just sounds tacky…especially when there are more respectful, and just as practical, alternatives to choose from: such as separate viewing times for family members (since acting like adults is apparently out of the question), handicapped accessible areas, etc.

Of course there’s nothing that can be done – no real compromise to be made – for those individuals who just don’t want to take five minutes out of their day to go inside and pay their respects to the dearly departed because they’re simply too busy or too lazy. For those people, it would seem these windows were ideally invented.

As for me, I’m still wrapping my head around drive-thru Starbucks. It’s going to take some time to absorb drive-thru eulogizing.

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