ODE TO HARRY THE TALKING DOG
I think sometimes, or actually, I know always, that when we choose to love an animal, to knit their little paws, or big ones into the needlework of our family, we put aside the macabre and untouchable thought that they will, with nature’s law intact, go before us.
This past week, my big brother, Steve lost his twelve-year companion, Harry, a snow white Golden Retriever who boxed himself in as an only child. Well, really, he was. Since puppydom, Harry was raised inside the hallowed halls of Perillo Tours, family owned and operated since 1945. So, it would only seem right, that Steve, now CEO, would raise his “dog son” surrounded by marble from Carrrara and authentic wood bannisters from Abruzzi. I mean, shouldn’t every puppy be raised the Italian way?
Harry loved his treats, and his humble and obedient servants always provided. His office traipse always lead him to those snackers who just happen to have dog treats, and he was relentless: don’t leave unless you come back with a treat. Almost like the Wizard demanding the witch’s broomstick. He would sit, and dance on his paws, and his message was clear, without speech…I need a yummie.
I “babysat” Harry for many years when Steve would go on business trips. I loved him because he was my brother’s dog, but with seven kids at the time, and two other dogs, he would come barreling in like “where is my room,” with his virtual suitcase and entourage of doggie supplies. He could care less about incorporating himself in the dog world of then Lello and Blitzen, and more about getting my attention as doggie mom. He reminded me a little of Stewie from Family Guy the way he would bark at me, and then just want me to say “WHAAAAT HARRY?” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aOLxQGLJouI. He would wait for me at the bottom of my stairs and growl at my own dogs like they had no place there.
Steve and I both have “canine fences” for our dogs since our properties are not hard fenced in. As Harry got older and knew his boundaries, when for whatever reasons his collar wasn’t on, he would appear at my front door, at any hour of the day or night, and just bark. I had to let him in, and he just wanted to hang, and bark. Steve would pick him up on his golf cart, (Harry’s favorite mode of transportation), and go back to doggie palace. Once, I was five months pregnant with Gianmarco, and I had to get Harry across the street at my brother’s house and bring him to mine. I drove the five seconds, because I knew…as predicted, Harry would be temperamental about going on his leash and coming. BINGO! There I was, ready for YouTube reality, pulling the shit out of this full grown Golden Retriever to get him into my car. I lifted him like a Volga boatman pushing cargo onto a ship, and he sat in the passenger’s seat. I felt my uterus dilating by the second. It was a 10 second ride to my house, and he would not exit. Ok, Harry, just sit there…and he did. Until he realized he was not getting chauffeured anywhere. He just came to the door and barked…he was done, now.
Kudos to my brother for walking Harry on every beautiful day to and from the office. He loved to journey back and forth, and was, for sure a faithful friend to my brother, who probably prefers dogs over people.
When a dog starts to deteriorate, there is no mistaking it. Harry survived a knee operation, a hip operation, and was strong like bull until recently. Lello, Blitzen then Stella and Harry used to bark at each other across the street for many years, every morning. At the crack of dawn, the Harry howls and choppy bark of my shepherd used to mimic the IPhone dog bark alarm. But recently, Stella would bark, and there would be no response from across the cul de sac. I knew Harry was slowing down.
So this past week, we said goodbye to Harry, who sadly passed away at the age of 12 after a short bout with pneumonia. The saddest part was that my brother was away with my son when his spirit crossed the rainbow bridge. But, you know, God has a plan, and if Steve had to make hard decisions for his buddy, that would have broken his heart even more. God made the choice, and Harry, a wonderful companion to my brother died in happiness. Steve buried him in the backyard Harry loved so much, with a cherry tree to shade him. He will forever be part of the Apple Ridge scenery, as my sister, Chris said.
I learned from Harry that animals need no voice to communicate. They can get their point across without knowing how to speak your language. But, alas, they have taught you theirs, which is one of the most beautiful to learn.
Here is my favorite tribute to Harry:
This was waaaay too easy. I guess Trisha Yearwood had a gig somewhere. No time to even bake.
I was dubious since it was a no-bake with five ingredients, but go figure. Whip it up fast and bring it to your next play-date or 'what do I bring' event.
Yummy to the end! Keep 'em in the fridge ... even better.
Check out the full recipe on Food Network here.
I often think about how much Catholic school bled into my life especially since I send my kids there, which really punctuates how much how much of those years formed so much of what I think and who I am, on both on a spiritual and indelible, impressionistic level. For those of you who attended Catholic schools. (I went through college), you can relate to the mint or vanilla covered cinder blocks that were the cornerstone of your brick home away from home.
UNIFORMS: Let’s talk plaid. Though very much a fashion statement now, plaid is still the fashion trend of every Catholic teaching institution. It has such an alluring come on that some public schools have adapted the concept as well. It could be tartan plaid with green over and undertones. Grey plaid with red threading. Heavy red with green, or many combinations. Either way, it was a symbol, much like an orange jumpsuit is today. “I am in prison. “ I go to Catholic school.” Not that I equate prison with Catholic school, but the similarity that everyone is equal, and fashion individuality is not allowed in these hallowed halls is evident. I remember my “jumper” in St. Margaret’s, which really could not accommodate my growing boobs, really, but first grade or eighth grade, we all wore the same. The first graders just looked like shrunken version of the eighth graders, with no boobs. I remember my side pocket housed dirty tissues, Halls cough drops, and maybe a pencil. I had these synthetically woven navy blue socks that I used to flick the elastic on my calif for entertainment in seventh grade social studies. I used to watch the dust and dry skin particles exfoliate and fly into the atmosphere. Good times. Our gym uniform was not a uniform. Unlike the sweats and logo paraphernalia of today, we separated into gender appropriate classrooms, and learned how to change our white Peter Pan collared blouses into our chosen gym shirt, using a contortionist movement similar to a Cirque De Soleil trapeze artist, so no one could see your bra. We put our pants on underneath our jumper, took that off and headed to Dodge Ball Mania.
As a parent, I understand now that uniforms are important. Not only for laundry purposes, but in pulling students down to a level playing field. “The clothes make the man,” but not in a Catholic school. They make us equal. Nothing to show off or promote envy. And with five of my eight children being girls, well, need I say more?
OOOOO…THAT SMELL. I’m not sure if it’s just me, but every Catholic school I have been in just smells the same: “Eau d’Rosary.” They say that smell is one of the strongest memories, both bad and fragrant that remain with you from baby to senior citizen. I’m not sure if it’s a combination of 1960 plaster, paint, or the cedar chips they throw on third grade vomit, but it never, ever changes. I visited my grammar school not that long ago, and just the first whiff when I walked in the door brought me back to Sr. T’s first grade classroom. As I perused the hallways, the emanation of the aroma of glossed over paint chips, just brought me back. And the gym always seemed to smell like flan. It must be the same generic hardwood gloss provided by the Archdiocese, because it’s in every Catholic school gym I’ve been in. Our cafeteria was also used for Sunday Mass back then, so in the middle of the cafeteria barracks, (Our lunches then were massive and similar to an army mess hall) was an altar…right..an altar. There was no sacristy or host present, but the combination of extinguished candle, frankincense (especially during Holy Week), peanut butter and jelly with a dash of bologna on Wonder Bread has cemented in my brain. Only occasionally on pizza day, and I could swear Fr. McKenna showed up with a thurible that housed a powdered version of burnt pizza crust, was there a change in cafeteria redolence to promote the next “Pizza Day: 2 slices and a can of Jamaica Cola for a dollar on the cheapest paper plate you can find east of Bethlehem.” Imagine 200 kids at one time drinking cartons of WHOLE milk, then chucking them in massive garbage pails. That was the dessert smell before we headed out on the “blacktop.”
TAKE ME TO HEAVEN: This is the title of one of the first tracks in the musical “SISTER ACT,” but, trust me, from 1974-1981, none of the nuns I had were singing. I think they were so confined in their habits with attachable headpiece that they got nodes on their vocal chords. They could yell, though. I was taught by Dominican nuns, and my aunt was an educator, principal and Franciscan nun, but their get-ups were different. My sisters were still donning penguin-like hues, and if you put them in a line up with their backs turned, well, literally, sorry sister, you are all going down. They seemed ageless…like Sister A.L. She taught third grade, and was actually very sweet with one of those wobbly nun singing voices three octaves above her actual key which sounded like she was crooning while riding a locomotive. She looked like she was about 106, but in retrospect, she was about 50. Sister A. taught the other first grade and was hip rebel of the group…no headgear…just the billowing white polyester a line habit.
She seemed really young to me then, but she could have been 73 for all I know. Unfortunately, having heard my principal, Sr. Anne Connolly just passed away, whom I loved, I realized our sisters must have been waaaay younger than originally predicted in seventh grade. I will say this, they had a devotion to our Lord that remained in me since I was six, and a devotion to Our Blessed Mother, drilling in the Mysteries of the Rosary into our little noggins like one of today’s rap ballads, with a monotonous cadence that sounded like we were marching into battle. But, it was this monotonous cadence that stuck with me my whole life and is glued to my soul as the anthem and gold standard for any Catholic prayer. When in doubt: Always pray the Rosary. And try not to have nightmares about the first sorrowful mystery: The Agony in the Garden.
NO FREE LUNCH…LIKE EVER. My kids have it so easy…the luxury of “ordering in” …in school…Catholic school. We have several lunch options and programs available for even the pickiest eaters, and yes, all with the swipe of Mommy’s credit card. I asked my second grader, Camilla, “What did Federica order you for lunch today?” She just looked at me with those huge brown eyes, with a matter of fact, Mom you are really dumb, look “the special.” The special. The special? Do you know what the “special” was in St. Margarets’s in 1976? Whatever my mother could negotiate shoving into a black Bamberger’s bag with a very neatly sliced orange. I wasn’t allowed crap like Wonder Bread and peanut butter and jelly from my very classy Italian born mother. But, that seemed to be the uniform lunch, just like the plaid uniform to match. Kids had uniform brown bags pulled from the 100 count multipack at Shop Rite …or then, Grand Union or Finast. They would have an old pill bottle filled to the brim with Nestle Quick powder to add to their uniform white milk. I used to drool at the processed foods, especially the bologna sandwiches, when I had a meatball from Sunday on Branola bread or “tonno in olio” on wheat. But no matter what you ate, it seemed to be an uninflected sundry of lunch options prepared by weary Catholic school moms who packed lunch the night before.
A DECORATOR’S WORST NIGHTMARE. I can recall my first grade classroom as clearly as my present bedroom. I think that’s because from first to eighth grade everything looked the same, except larger as the years went on to accommodate larger butts, legs and whatever else grew on you in eight years. Every classroom was equipped with the big wooden crucifix at center stage, with the copper plated Jesus hanging in the middle. The Lord is watching. At every angle…he is there. The Blessed Mother was usually perched on a plainly painted white pedestal to assist her son, and you with day to day tribulations. Her arms were open and giving, with never a sour look. This is why to this day, she is my surrogate mom. Today, it’s a very spiritual, warm concept. Then, it was like “Oh shit,” I better not cheat on this spelling test. There was bulletin board molding that decorated the upper edge of the wall, equipped with thumb tacks to hang up cardboard decorations announcing the seasons. Sometimes if you scored a 100 on a test, that might go up there too, heralding your elementary brilliance. But, that was the end of the glitz, or personality, if you could even call it that. Every room was the same…mint green or vanilla walls, institutional like desks made of probably very toxic metal, with the paint peeling from the book pocket from overuse. There was a very handy pencil holder carved right into the top of the formica topped faux wood finish…for modern convenience. There was a girl in my class who wrote in her notebooks and on her tests with the force of a jackhammer penetrating macadam. She would make holes in anything she could. She found her talent so compelling that she carved S-H-I-T into a fifth grade desk, and of course every kid prayed that would be their assigned seat. The teacher’s desk was a simple block of wood with four legs, and a block of wood called a chair to match, with a skinny cushion for comfort. I mean like how “blah.
SO WHY NOW? Anyone who attended Catholic grammar school can relate to even a modicum of my memories which is exactly why I send my kids to Catholic school…even Catholic college now. I consider most kids who can afford any private education at all, to be quite privileged. This generation as a whole is very privileged and the competition on the best highlight and Instagram posts alone is quite riveting and actually distressing as a parent. So , for the six hours of your learning life, stay simple. Stay equal. Stay fair. We start an end our day with a prayer to the Lord, and I know they are receiving Christ at every moment in those six hours when I’m not beating it into their head. Everyone is God’s masterpiece, and a parent’s masterpiece whether you are an honor student or struggling to stay afloat. Catholic school brings soon to be, burgeoning, judgmental adults to an even playing field, where we hope they see each other for what they are as friends and people before they graduate. The Kumbaya concept and hand holding doesn’t have to be so dramatic. You can’t connect with everyone. You don’t have to like them, but you have to love them as a creature of God.
This is a pretty tough concept when kids are innately cruel. Not that they won’t be cruel or taunting when they get home to their sibling,or make fun of the worst batter on their little league team or the chubby kid who wears a shirt boasting, “Eating pizza is my cardio,” but at least we can give them less to taunt about. We may lack the modern glitz of other educational facilities…but Jesus wasn’t exactly a flamboyant individual. He was as simple as a tunic woven from top to bottom in one piece, and handmade leather sandals. His message was not judgmental, critical, mean, boastful or self-serving. It was about the challenge of accepting one another for the imperfect beings we are, and remembering we were all created in the same image…that’s why we all wore plaid.
I just started baking more. Why? I don’t know. I love to cook as you
know, and I enjoy baking. (There is a difference, lol). I think I’m just
really into batter. And, no matter how healthy I cook during the week to maintain my new biceps, I can’t break up with my girl, Paula Deen. You have to make these, because truly, it doesn’t get any more “why did I just eat that,” than four sticks of “buttuh” and three other ingredients. One of them being potato chips. I am giving you full permission to cheat on these. They are quick, and melt in your mouth yummy. We don’t say fattening. If you can get past the batter and into the oven, well, impressive.
Click here to see the full recipe!
Growing up in an Italian household means a lot of things: lots of tomatoes, left over meatball sandwiches from Nonna’s Sunday sauce, smelly lunches, pasta with almost anything in it, stories of poor immigrants and how much polenta they consumed. The red, white and green list is endless. But, I do remember how magical Christmas always was. Christmas Eve was celebrated to the extent of a non-Italian’s New Year’s Eve, and it was just magical. Except for, well, all the fish.
As years went by, my tastebuds matured and I was not only able to stomach baccala’, but actually enjoy it, and Christmas miracle of Christmas miracle, cook it now for my family. Yet, I remember one dish I did eat, and that was fried spearing. What is a spearing? It looks like chum, or bait for a bluefish, but it’s cheap and when it’s fried, it’s as yummy as a McDonald’s fry.
And, in typical Italian fashion, it’s incredibly easy to prepare:
In a colander, throw a handful of clean fish, as dry as possible, with a handful of flour, salt and pepper.
Shake the fish and the flour until there is only a coating on the fish.
Have a VERY HOT deep fryer ready to go.
Fry the fish until golden brown and crunchy. Salt to taste.
These little babies were my seafood gateway. I still hate baccala’, but you can’t have everything! LOL. Buon Natale!!!!
As time marches on, I find myself digging very deeply into the depths of a magical time in my life, my childhood. And, as every child does from January 1st of the new year, until December 24th, 11 long months of the same year, I dreamed of Christmas. Italian Christmas is filled with a lot of fun and edible stuff, but mainly fish. However, my mother was an immigrant from Vasto, Italy and there is one Christmas season Sunday which will forever be embedded in my head just like sugar plums and the Polly Puff house I got when I was six, the making of the cicerchiata. (CHEE CHER KIATA).
It's actually a very simple dessert, similar to the more popular Italian recipe of struffoli.
Both are made of fried dough balls, glued together with epoxied honey and the cici with melted chocolate. The cici (as we so lovingly called it) could break off a denture or filling if it wasn’t made correctly, but Nonna, the Cici lieutenant, carabieniere, and overall supervisor made sure you didn’t make crap. She oversaw every ball dimension, every sprinkle, every drop of honey.
At the end of the process, it was formed into a wreath, and if you needed a trip to the burn unit while trying to form hot dough balls and honey into a perfectly frozen wreath, well, then you did your job.
As most Italian recipes go, the simple yet tasty combination of just a few simple ingredients epiphany themselves into something rather delicious.
Mix when frying dough:
Basically, the dough is refrigerated and then rolled into snake like tubes with your hands. Then you cut them into balls or little cushions.
Once they are at room temperature, heat the honey and the chocolate in a HUGE pot until boiling. Really boiling. Then add the dough balls, and with all your might, and a huge wooden spoon, you stir, stir, stir until it all makes a very sticky, large honey ball.
While it is still extremely hot, dump the pot’s contents onto a big table, preferable a kitchen island which is easily cleaned. Then, start making wreaths. Any size you like. Once the concoction is in the shape and size you prefer, decorate with Christmas sprinkles and let cool.
My memory, my favorite, which always brought my family together … every one of them, was more cherished than this delicacy. Make food … make memories, and always teach your kids to make both. Buon Natale!!
I had a great lady, Carol Weinberg, who I featured in my shop section because, well, she brought spray tanning into my home. Literally into my home. She showed up with her blow up tent, we went downstairs, and in 10 minutes it looked like I time warped and went from Saddle River to Ibiza. I love having a year round “glow.” For one thing, tanning makes your legs look thinner, which I’ll take any time of year, and the tan thigh and your thigh high boots don’t look like chicken cutlet against licorice. Covering a few varicosities didn’t hurt either.
But, Carol’s schedule got so hectic it became tough to keep up with regular bronzing sessions. I don’t want to look like that mom who 'over tanned' ... and although we share the same state, we don’t share the same thoughts on parenting or when tan looks like the side of a FRYE boot. So, in order to kick it up a step from natural winter, I found a new friend, JERGENS NATURAL GLOW MOISTURIZER (JNGM).
Now, nothing comes between me and my True Blue Moisturizer, except three or four days of JNGM. I look evenly tan without looking like a Cheeto. One thing I will tell you is to buy up a shade. I’m white girl and I purchase MEDIUM TO TAN skin tones, rather TAN to FAIR skin tones.
I am happy to say, my “sunny” disposition and white body still crave my summer sun, but we don’t look like we are.
So, a Gold Star to this Jergens Gem … give it an even rub on your need-a glow body, and I promise you will be in love with a new in-between moisturizer.
The night before last, my mother came to me in a dream. Usually she comes to me when she’s mad or upset, so in the 22 years she’s been gone, she only came to me twice … but one of them was two nights ago, and last night Jean Nidetch came to me, too. Now I know why.
If you know me at all, you know that as much as I am a “foodie”, I am also a “watchie”, and portion control is my greatest weapon against hip enlargement. But last night’s dinner, I mean come on Sunny Anderson, ravioli for the crust of a cheeseburger casserole? Swiss cheese and American … with heavy cream and beef? Holy shit. Yup, welcome to hog heaven, and boy was it good.
Now, I’m pretty quick on the draw when it comes to a weeknight meal. I did find this recipe a bit time consuming because it was step-heavy, but can I assure you, after you slobber all over it when it comes out of the oven, you will be happy you slaved a little. I had two casserole dissenters … but I consider this a worthy hit time wise and taste bud wise. I also loved the little pickle juice side salad.
Side salad … lol
Here’s the link!
Give it a sauté … I bet you will love it more than your Aunt Helen’s tuna casserole.
There was a recent incident in my daughter’s middle school class involving outside school use of the internet which took on a life of its own, resulting in unfavorable side effects for those involved. Now, I am not a prude by any stretch, and my addiction to my phone and my laptop is probably equivalent to that of any thirteen year old. So, I understand it’s captivating powers, similar to Linda Blair in the Exorcist. But, parents, there is a way around it’s superpowers, I think, and again, only my experience and my voice, where there is a balance between weapon and an encyclopedia.
The handful of times I have been interviewed about mom paraphernalia, the internet, and the phone always come up. Like, come one, you have eight kids, what’s your take. For what it’s worth, here’s my thought on phone and electronics usage for Generation Z.
1. Alaska has the highest gun ownership rate at 61.7 %. Sweet little unassuming, quiet, salmon capital, Alaska. Like do you even know anyone from Alaska (my uncle Elio moved there to be a logger)? Right…you probably don’t. But the ones who do live there seem to like guns, all different types. Be careful of the quiet ones. Seems peaceful enough, though, the Aurora Borealis and all. Consider the fact that if Alaska had no rules, no strictures on who could purchase a gun without proper education and documentation, Alaska would be a glacier of dead bodies with its only inhabitants a bunch of mackerel and penguins cooling it on a glacier. I liken this to cell phones, (I am using cell phones as the catch-all for pads, computers, etc), without teaching them how to use it. Before any kid puts this proverbial pistol in their tiny little baby hands, show them what it’s about, and what YOU expect. It’s really that simple. Let them know big brother is watching, and some impromptu target practice might be in order. Be very, very clear of the mishaps that can occur, the devastation created by its mishandling, and even the most minor written infraction can and will be held against them by you, a friend, a college or future employer or even the police.
Yes, scare the living shit out of your little bundle of joy and remind them that sending anything written, or screen shot is INDELLIBLE and IMMORTAL, and if not aimed or handled correctly can cause irreversible damage both for the sender and the receiver.
2. I think we would all like to keep our kids in a Habitrail.
A little food, water, come out to play, TLC, exercise … it’s all good, and it’s all under our control, and babyface is well protected, never to be bothered or assimilated in the outside world. Guess what … GAME SHOW BUZZER … not realistic. Each generation has their “thing,” and as time marches onward, communication and electronics are no longer a luxury, but a necessity, and are the smoke signal pow wows of today’s teen and pre-teen. When Devin and Brynn were in middle school, Al and I discussed phones. We both agreed that no child would be given a phone until their time had come, which to us meant eighth grade. At that point, they would have cemented time with their family, learned about pitfalls and apps that could do them in, and not be so easily seduced by this inanimate contraption that could lead them into the Garden of Eden, and away from your parental grip.
However, as the years moved on and the phone became a necessity rather than a luxury, it was clear to us that Valentina, next in line for Maxwell Smart’s shoe, needed a phone not only for all her theatrical pick-ups and drop-offs, but for socialization as well. If we did not allow her a phone, we were ostracizing her from her cohorts who communicated by text, Instagram, Snap Chat, etc. We allowed her to use her phone for a certain amount of hours each day to communicate with other pre-teen chatter boxes, and we set limits, but we did not forbid. It’s hard for a child to assimilate and be socially accepted and normal if they aren’t communicating the way the rest of the tribe is. To my dismay, this electronic disseminator was as much a part of their lives as my rotary phone and Sony Walkman.
BTW, YOU ARE NOT GOD, A PHONECIAN SCRIBE OR J. EDGAR HOOVER
3. I have chatted with so many parents who pride themselves on knowing “everything” their little angel is doing on the computer or the phone, tablet or whatever the purveyor of information may be. Really? Well, I’ve been at this gig 22 years, and I just found out a few things my third grader can do with his Xbox that raised my recently shaped eyebrows. I’d love to see how these parents pull this rabbit out of a hat and manage to eat and shower every day.
Face it, it’s almost impossible to know everything they know, every app, every download every everything. Unfortunately, they have one up on us here, and no matter how much you think you know, you really don’t. I consider my kids pretty well behaved and savvy, and every once in a while, when I witness those Jack Be Nimble fingers tattering across the keyboard or banging on the phone like a baby chick running for its feed, I realize I can never keep up. If they wanted to do something dastardly they probably could.
Don’t beat yourself up but be aware of what’s out there. Unless you take phones away at night, you probably have no clue about the cyber party going on in an upstairs bedroom. Lord knows, unlike me, my kids are night owls, and the silent guest that sleeps with your kids is very influential. Your choice here is to limit activity, (or have none at all) based on the keyboard banger. Trust your judgement, and intuition and as indicated above, have clear cut conversations about what goes on in screenshot land. And, btw, lol, learn some lingo and throw it into a text with your kid. Subliminally, they will get the message that you are cool enough to send an emoji, and probably know what you are doing.
OMG! WE’RE ENGAGED!!
4. Sounds excitedly romantic! However, in this case an idle mind is the devil’s workshop and a kid who has no time, will probably use his internet time wisely or not at all. Keep your kid engaged with a passion or pastime and nurture it. A child who has something to commit to and be responsible for in his/her off-school hours is less likely to turn to the phone or pad for companionship. A bored kid will seek adventures and play dates without any physical contact. Help your offspring to choose an activity that is healthy and exciting for them. They will be less likely to hibernate and get lost in space.
5. Every parent sets boundaries (or not) according to what they feel is paramount in their family’s life. Although I do not agree with a child younger than middle school having a phone, each parent has reasons beyond any of my business or yours as to when their kid is bestowed this privilege.
I won’t judge. But a universal rule at any stage is communication, discussion and consistent checking in. Empower your child with the knowledge and fear of how to use their device and it’s destructive abilities coupled with its productive mechanisms so they may gravitate towards the positive usage of their new appendage.
DON’T BE A VICTIM
6. A good lesson to teach your kid is if they see something, say something. The minute something starts going awry on the internet, and they have a modicum of involvement just from being an innocent bystander or an unwanted participant in a group chat, or an admitted player, they need to tell you with no judgement. Stop the tears and take action. Dismiss yourself immediately and seek parental refuge. Don’t be cyber bullied by cowards or seduced by a stranger. Let your kid know it’s ok to tell you what’s going on if they feel something isn’t right and together you will plot accordingly based on the degree of rogue involved. The teen set is especially notorious for not realizing they have taken something too far. They think everything is just hilarious.
In the end, it’s about you, your child, and the choices you make about how to handle this powerful stranger. Be smart. Learn as much as you can and educate your child to the max. You can’t be everywhere, see everything, hear everything read every text or unearth every history or link. I always say the best gift I can give my children is judgement. I certainly don’t know it all out there, but I will be as aware as I possibly can and teach them the same. And never say, “not my kid.”
MORTALITY DISCLAIMER: Before you read what's ahead please know that I do not put any more “weight” or degree of sadness on anyone’s loss over another. I steered clear of mentioning children because to me, as great as my losses have been in my life, those who have suffered THAT particular loss need their own forum. From what I understand from those who have walked that path, comfort comes in waves that never really reach the shore, and I respect that, and pray to God every day to watch over my blessings, and those families who have treaded in unimaginable waters.
Every January and February, this eerie, peaceless, Tower of Terror drop feeling comes over me. To say it’s just winter doldrums is a little dramatic. It’s a spin-off of the feelings I had when my parents died … eight years apart, but the time of year mirrored each other. It’s been 22 years since my mother passed, and 15 since my dad died. Each is the equivalent of one of my births, first Devin (1995) and Valentina (2002), each born around the time of my parents’ deaths, cementing in my soul that God gives you joy even when there is grief. He gave me two new babies at a time when I needed them. But, the wounds are still healing.
A good friend recently found herself in the once unthinkable position of caring for aging, ailing father whose health and time are extremely compromised. I’ve been there, twice, and lost both parents by the time I was 35. And, not to be callous to those who lost parents at a much younger juncture, like my brilliant childhood friend who is now a star pediatrician, who lost her mother, my mother’s best friend, when he was 17.
I find myself wallowing in anger for the last twenty-two years since I lost my mother. That extended into my father’s death, and I’ve been admittedly hateful at those now and in the years before who have parents. I really have no use for aging parent stories, having lost my mother at 61, and my father, oddly enough did slightly better even with Marlboro lungs at 76. I really could care less to hear, see, or know anything about how your parents interact with your kids, how they pick them up at school, buy them Christmas gifts and attend basketball games and concerts. I had none of that. My father was able for a short while, but even then, he was dead in the box by the time my oldest was six.
I tried to be compassionate and understanding towards those who did enjoy the hugs and love of their parents even as adults, and I asked God to show mercy on me and give me the gusto and fervor I needed to be understanding and smile at the grandparent and kid stories, or, the restraint not to proverbially punch the shit out of someone when they complained about their parent because they had too many ailments or didn’t know when to shut up.
But, this past week, God came to me and tapped me on the shoulder, twice. I realized that my job was outlined 22 years ago, and that was to help others get through grief. Grief is not only born through death, it is born though watching a loved one fail and dissolve into something unimaginable. My experience would be cultivated over 20 plus years of being pissed off at the world, but here is what I learned: