Dear Blessed Mother...
As we navigate through these uncertain and unprecedented times with fear and questions, please help me to be thankful every day for my health, and that of my friends and family and to pray for those who are not so fortunate.
As a mother, now firmly planted at home, please help me to:
HAMILTON: A Guide for COVID-19
Hamilton. Lin Manuel Miranda’s combination of operetta with hip-hop and rap, telling the story of our forefathers’ battle to win unity and independence over a corrupt England.
Yeah, yeah, we all have the basic third grade history lesson about the Boston tea party, the pilgrims, maybe a dash of the revolutionary war, blah blah. But, as much as I cave to Lin’s creative genius, I am not a fan of his political views, and
definitely not his wife’s.
However, Hamilton forces us to recognize that people are people are people. They hated each other, had affairs, did weird shit, smoked weed with the French (yeah, Thomas Jefferson), but the political goal was one: to cement and nurture our infant nation, and become one DESPITE differences.
So, what have we got here? Instead of taking the incentive of COVID19 to unify, we use it to bash our lawmakers and grow even further apart so that when our country is healthy enough to open its doors again, embrace and support our businesses and economy, we have murdered each other’s confidence, self esteem, personal choices and instead of unification have chosen dichotomy and disorganization.“If there’s a fire you’re trying to douse, you can’t put it out from inside the house…”. We need to band together regardless of our internal thoughts and struggles with the present regime…both sides.
I was never political. But being forced to stay home and submerged in the news every day, every hour, every minute, is really an eye opener. I happen to be more enamored with the candor of our president. He is brazen, agreed, opinionated, agreed, but he shoots from the hip, and it’s a lesson in lessening the BS, circumventing contrived, organized speeches just to sound “right” to everyone. There is no “right” here.
COVID19 is our new plague, for which we had no information, no experience. No answers, no vaccine, no treatment. Coming together as a country to respect boundaries, cater to those in need no matter our political views. Could you imagine
if the doctor attending to you while you were helpless on a ventilator said, “Um before I treat you any further, I need you to sign a disclaimer stating your political views, then I will decide if I’m the right one for the job.” OMG, if that were you, clinging to life, you wouldn’t give a shit who he/she was, who they voted for…gender or no gender, whatever… why can’t we do this now and save the political BS for November when you
have a right to pick your candidate.
I did not vote for Phil Murphy. Liberal, democrat, not my style. I thought Andrew Cuomo was a disappointment to Italian Americans with his liberal morals, pro choice stance and give aways. But, I am impressed with the way he is handling our present crisis, holding hands with Mr. Murphy, and focusing not on political gain, but on the health and welfare of our people.
Platforms are irrelevant right now. It’s about beating the shit out of this virus…but no matter what, you will find that ass holes abound, and nobody can seem to get out of their political straight jacket…so concerned with their views, their rights being violated. Hey, what about my right to toilet paper and hand sanitizer. We are all just fighting to live right now.
The President of the United States is trying to send you FREE money…and you bitch. He comes forward with a possible treatment, and you laugh. Do you think he sits in bet at night and turns to Melania and says, “Hey, what do you think of trying the Malaria drug? Hmmm…and I love Pepto Bismol.” NOOOOO…he is being advised by the TOP medics in the country.
He does not need to be a hero right now…he needs just to do the right thing for the people of his country who are out of work. If you think he wants to be in this health hell right now, think again. No president would. He’s for big business…right…because big business creates jobs…unemployment is at it’s lowest in decades, our economy was at a magical, inexplicable, unarguable peak, oh, but let’s bring him down because we have internal, personal issues with him, and COVID19 is all his fault. Stop the conspiracy B.S.
Now is the time to say, ok, so his hair is really bad, his self tan is even worse, his twitter is hysterical but disrespectful. But, really, who cares. There are presidents who were so gross, so immoral, so limp, but I respected their position, and no matter who was at the podium at a time like this, would turn to their advisors and guide the American people as best they could. At least, I would like to think so.
There will always be a political agenda, but for now, put it in your pants and have reverence for what we are going through as a country. Respect what your governors are expecting from you, heed their new rules of decorum, social distancing, and understand they have no secret elf under their desks with the magical answer who they are consulting.
“A house divided against itself cannot stand.” So amazing how a speech from Abraham Lincoln in 1858, though the script has been revised, is still our problem, crisis after crisis. Lincoln was shot because John Wilkes Booth could not embrace democracy, equality, and see beyond his own views in order to unify a nation? Are we really any better?
“Look around, look around, how lucky we are to be alive right now…” Eliza Hamilton repeats this phrase at several times during the musical, pertaining to several personal challenges she was facing as her life moved on, sometimes in shambles. But, it is not trite. Think about life, our liberties, and at this time, the most important thing, our health.
“Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness…we fought for these ideals and shouldn’t settle for less…” rambles Daveed Diggs as Thomas Jefferson. We did, and still fight for these, but if you want to do it alone, there are several islands I can sell you. Or some countries that would love to have you.
“One nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.” ONE nation under God…not YOUR nation. During these times, remember that. And, remember God... we have no control over any of this.
The world as we all know it has changed drastically since last week.
COVID19, better known in the vernacular as the Corona Virus has literally taken over our every move, our being, our lives. From information from a scared doctor in China, to a warning, to the infestation and unbelievable quarantine of my beautiful Italy, to now, the United States. Corona is now our very complicated reality. It’s no longer a perception of what could be. It’s living here.
We wait in anticipation of every word from our government, which now guides everything from Church to school. All dictated by this plague similar to a prediction from George Orwell’s 1984. And here’s the kicker…we cannot change any of it. But we can learn. We can adapt. We can accept. We can laugh. We can smile.
I do have to give yet another disclaimer that I am fully aware, with now six children being homeschooled that the situation is extremely serious and bounding every day.
But if we break down and cry, so will our bodies, and most importantly, our minds. We need to have a sense of humor and embrace silver linings. Without humor and love, we will decline under any circumstance…even the most healthy of them.
WHAT I HAVE LEARNED FROM CORONA:
HYGIENE: People’s hygiene really sucked before the outbreak. There has been a discovery of toilet paper that is beyond the human imagination. WTF, people? Didn’t you wipe prior to this outbreak? And, for those of you who are uninformed, this is NOT a GI disease. It’s upper respiratory. You do not need more toilet paper than you did three weeks ago. Or, maybe now you decided to use it. Not really sure.
Hand washing seems to be very fashionable right now as well. Hand soap was purchased by the same pigs who are purchasing toilet paper for the first time along with Purell and wipes. Thirst seems to be an utmost worry as well, which may have something to do with the toilet paper and hand sanitizer. I am trying to put it together. Stay tuned.
I have heard of college students who binge steal from public bathrooms, so they don’t have to buy any toilet paper. This goes beyond. There were other diseases you were exposed to prior to Corona. Maybe you just didn’t know?
FOOD: Did you eat prior to the outbreak? I get it, just like a snowstorm, milk and bread in a stockpile for a month’s worth of French Toast. Because my home is infested with little germies, I tend to buy paper towels and food at a predictable rate, so we don’t run out. But, my Lord, I thought there was an apparition of the Blessed Mother near the fresh mozzarella at Uncle Giuseppe’s today. I get it, and with the kids home it’s so tempting…but food stores probably won’t close…as a matter of fact food and pharmaceutical are the stocks to buy right now. Making money every second because we are in a panic, and no competition…no distraction. Food shopping, as I discovered this morning ( because I Instacart everything) is a substitute for entertainment. Can’t go to the gym…Uncle Giuseppe’s. Can’t drop the kids at school…Wegman’s…can’t get your ped anymore…Shop Rite. They can now take advantage of boredom…as is usually the case when we have to hunker down for anything. And, we eat. Well, admittedly I did overbuy on the scamorza today, but cooking is my hobby anyway. But, I am not making anything with scamorza, so I fell victim as well to fantasy eating.
DRIVING: The worst “you should never have gotten a license in the United States” drivers seem to be infesting the area. I have never in my life been behind, next to or near worse drivers. I always questioned whether certain makes of vehicles even had gas pedals. Now I am questioning if they have steering wheels or drivers. Maybe they are taking advantage of no one being on the road and trying it out for the first time. I feel like I am on the Tomorrowland Speedway in the Magic Kingdom. You can’t go over 20, you can’t pass them because they swerve in and out.
I passed some jerk yesterday, albeit it on a double line, and he followed me to the nail salon because they would be closing for weeks.
If I had an extra loaf of bread and toilet paper in my car, I would have just given it to him and said, “have a nice day.”
SCHOOL: Amazingly, this has been quite a delight! Ok, I’m only into day three, but now I get why homeschooling is becoming the mode du jour. I’m in my workout gear. Kids are in their pjs. Dirty underwear…no one knows. Haven’t brushed your teeth yet? Who cares? Scrambled eggs during math? No problem. Feel like some chips and salsa during social studies…go right ahead. Tic Toc for gym…great athletic challenges and ramped up cardio. Gianmarco’s only complaint is that he dropped a piece of cheese on his fact family. If that’s the worst complaint I hear all day, wow…let’s do this again! No administration…no one complaining about teachers, no choking down toast while trying to tie your shoe…no obligation to be dressed and ready. Their only classmates are their siblings and they bitch about them as a daily routine anyway. It’s all about an 8:00 log in with messy hair. Lunch time? It’s like a bunch of refugees on the shore awaiting a care package. But, I gotta tell you, so far, so good. My little ones have their work done fast, they can be creative, play, and be kids. The wave of the future, maybe?
EXTRA CURRICULARS: Yippee kay ay!!! No driving from school to dance, to basketball, to dance, to voice, to track to home .. .ahhhhhh. Admittedly, the worst part of a parent’s day is the after-hours driving. Yes, the ECs are important to a child’s future (I am all about that), but I am so excited to not have them until further notice. This doesn’t mean sitting around getting fat munching on Samoas…it means a run in the park, basketball OUTSIDE, a board game fiesta.
Whatever your little creative heart desires…now is the time to explore. Now is the time to do. Now is the time to talk to each other…talk more to your kids. We have had the best laughs and conversations because nobody had to get dressed or be anywhere…no obligation. Family meals are family meals. It has been a spa for the soul…and I see it in all of them. It’s La Dolce Vita right here in NJ.
HUMANITY: On a more serious note, I have seen and heard many stories about the good people are doing for each other. The time we used to spend on ourselves, going to the gym, shopping, driving, etc., has disappeared. It kind of forces the down time and expands our mind to help those who might really be confined and need a meal or a hand. There is no excuse to say no, or I’m busy…doing what?
God has forced us to become more aware of family, of the time we didn’t spend before because we were too busy running to hockey or softball to do a puzzle or Legos. Last night, at some wee hour, (wee hour to me is 9pm ), I heard my husband downstairs with all my kids doing Friends trivia and then Legos he promised to build…from Christmas. If we can stay healthy and aware, this time is a gift to make us more cognizant of time we were not giving and become selfless. The world has come to a complete halt as we know it, and maybe that is something we all have wished for at one time or another. Be careful what you wish for…and when you get it, utilize it for the reasons you wished for it.
Why Corona Went to Italy
I have to make a disclaimer before publishing…I am not making light of this horrible outbreak. Although my thoughts are similar to most, that it will pass, there’s really more to it, and less to it than we know, etc …
However, as much as I love my Italian peeps, my heritage, my ancestry and my own immigrant family as well as the zillion trips to the motherland I can never forget, it only punctuates why Italy is the perfect partner for Corona hysteria.
Italians freak over many things. Germs and illness are one of them.
Let me explain:
1. You will not drink anything with ice…ever in your life. Why? There is no real medical reason except anything cold will kill you…possibly within minutes. If you ask a waiter for ice, immediately they converse with the other waiters in a secret enclave and decide if this is a good move or not. Most times you are quickly labeled a cretino, and basically…buona fortuna.
2.Air conditioning is your neck’s worst enemy. Italians do not believe in air conditioning…ever. Visit Rome in August, and you will know I’m not lying. Air blowing on any part of your body is dangerous, but if you allow it on your neck, this might result in un “Colpo d’aria” which is literally a blow to the neck, (from the air). and you could be paralyzed from the neck down. That is probably a lie, too. I’m just guessing. Cold air from an artificial man-made device might put you in traction, and not allowed. My mother told me the story of her visit to Zia Maria in Genoa in the heat of the Italian summer. Her bedroom was a stifling hot box and she and my Aunt Lena opened the window at night but forgot to close it. Big mistake. Zia Maria found the open window and started screaming. “Chi aperto la finestra?!!!” To the dungeon with you…if you survive the blow to your neck.
3. Italians have an obsessive love affair with “I reni” or, the kidneys. These blood filtering organs are of the utmost importance to every Italian activity. Everything you do that’s bad will cause you to become labile with a kidney disorder…especially a wet bathing suit. I remember as a little girl, swimming at the beach in Riccione, my mother’s friend, Silvana, would count the amount of times I went in the ocean to remind my mother to change my bathing, suit. Every dip in the Adriatic warranted a change. They would count :”Ha fatto un bagno…due bagni.” Literal translation: One bath, two baths. Not changing of suits could result in dampness which would penetrate to the kidneys and have you on dialysis within hours. Not really true. I think the beach merchants just wanted you to keep buying bathing suits.
4. Cover your head at any temperature below 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Heat escapes from your head at all times, and even a slight night breeze could send you to the hospital with pneumonia. And, never, ever, ever go out with wet hair. This is the kiss of death. My mother’s uncle, Zia Nicola, married to draft dodger, Zia Maria ,used to wear a ski cap to open the refrigerator. He died from a cold. In addition to head gear, one must always wear socks to bed, really for the same reason. If you go to bed every night dressed like La Befana, you will fight off many germs which might come to kill you in the wee hours.
5.Never go back to a store and purchase the same thing twice…in the same day. You might be talked about. My Aunt Lucy wanted to purchase more focaccia for a train ride, and Zia Maria would not let her go back to the same bakery for fear they might wonder why she came back in the same day for more bread. Is someone sick? Do you have a focaccia psychosis? Are you giving it away? Why would you need more? The nun who purchased more focaccia might be an imposter. Of who? Not really sure.
6. Too many grapes will give you diabetes…but wine is ok. Diabetes doesn’t find you if you eat too many grapes. Nobody can really control whether or not they are prey to diabetes. The Italians say sugar begets sugar, unless of course it’s red wine, which if it’s homemade wine from Zio Pietro’s itty-bitty grapevine which contains alcohol, which naturally cleans out the body’s systems. It’s because of Zio’s grapes you are healthy and viable. Grappa as well, especially when taken in the morning with breakfast is the Venitians’ homeopathic version of “Raid.” Kills anything on contact.
7. My good friend, Nick, whose household is just a Barese territory tells me he still cannot shower after dinner. Why? Digestion. Right. Digestion. Any movement after dinner can cause unresolvable dysentery, cardiothoracic emergencies, angina or “appendicicte” (appendicitis). He also has fear of going into any body of water, even if he remains motionless for at least two hours after a meal. You could drown if your saltines were not digested properly. Nick is 42 years old.
8. Pastina in brodo. Always the answer. Corona: pastina in brodo. Cancer: Pastina in brodo. Pneumonia: pastina in brodo. Pastina in brodo was the answer to any ailment. My nonna taught my mother, and I, too, have swallowed the Kool-Aid…I mean brodo. Whoever is sick in my house not only gets pastina, but now they are so conditioned to ask for it first. “Mom, I hurt my ankle at basketball. I need some pastina.” “Mom, I failed my Algebra final. I need pastina.” The Italians might actually be working on a pastina vaccine with ubiquitous cure-all antibodies. Don’t laugh. It might work.
There you have it. This is exactly why Italy was the WORST country to get a Corona outbreak amidst all the hype. My nonna would have been there with corn starch. She found that a topical analgesic for just about anything. One day I’ll tell you the story about when I was seven and had a UTI…
Go throw on some socks, a hat, eat some pastina and maybe, just maybe you might be the answer. But, remember to thank the Italians. As my mother used to say to the other cultures “we were using forks while you were still swinging from the trees.” Never doubt an Italian.
WHY PLEASE AND THANK YOU ARE THE MAGIC WORDS NOT ONLY TO EXPECT FROM YOUR KIDS, BUT FROM YOU AS WELL.
“Please and thank you, they are the magic words, if you want nice things to happen, they’re the words that should be heard.” Thank you Barney, purple dinosaur of the 1990s for those deep words of wisdom. When in doubt, listen to big purple dinosaurs … just don’t tell your therapist.
There was a stigma long ago, that children should be seen and not heard. Children should do as they are told, and STFU if you have other plans. Those parents are never wrong.
Alex Trebek: Is that your final answer?
Old parent from the 1970s and before: Yes, Alex.
Alex Trebek: So sorry.
I have bumped into that older generation, especially those who parented my generation who think that children are made into brave, God fearing ,fearless adult warriors, or actually statues and rule followers by making sure they suffer at the hands of parent egos and tight ass rules that are never bent. I certainly didn’t grow up this way.
My parents kept strict moral guidelines, curfews, household rules of respect, general social decorum, standards (or more like the “it better not pass your lips or your vajayjay…ever,) regarding sex and drugs. Education was important, providing for your family both financially and emotionally were also top runners.
We were also so proud of our Italian heritage and given to me both subliminally and outwardly were the love of family, country, Catholicism and tradition. Coupled with this was the allowance to be a free thinker…not a pot smoking hippie …a free thinker: permission to have a thought or idea and express it without being told it was stupid or crazy or ridiculous.
My father said that dreaming was the seed to success and paired with passion was the ultimate win. But there were caveats always and seeing it through and preparation for it’s possible failure was paramount. But he said to me “always dream. No idea is stupid until you try it and realize it’s stupid. Then you move on to plan B. People don’t achieve one success without 100 failures. The next dream should always be around the corner.”
So, where do the manners and please and thank you come in? Basically, while still setting realistic parameters and rules, remember to treat your child how you would like to be treated, and how you would like them to treat others, and your future grandchildren.
PLEASE AND THANK YOU:
I have heard so many parents say they don’t thank their kids or give them a pat on the back when they take out the garbage or complete a task because “that’s what they are supposed to to.” Ok, but don’t you want to be thanked when you drop your little ballerina off at dance or Pele off at soccer practice? Or do you like it when they slam the door as they arrive at their den of activity without saying goodbye to Mommy Cellophane? Even though as a parent, that’s what you are “supposed to do,” feeling appreciated is a human need. You don’t have to go overboard like you do when you are training a puppy “good boy, good boy, yes, mommy loves you. You want a treat?’ A simple “Thanks,” or “I appreciate that, “will do. Remember, a kid’s “scope” is as old as they are. A nine-year-old can’t run seven errands for you and drive a younger sibling to voice lessons. But they can take out the garbage or unset a table or make a bed, or clean up a playroom. Those tasks to a seasoned adult may seem minimal, but they are herculean to a four-year-old.
Verbal appreciation will make it worthwhile to do the task again, and it will become habit. The best part, as the kid grows, so will the magnitude of task. My older girls are the BEST helpers in so many ways, mostly without asking. And, I start and end every sentence with “Please,” and “Thank you.” Respect begets respect, from day one.
PRAISE IS GOOD…BALANCE IS BETTER
This generation of younger parents loves to give their kids a yummy for every GDamn thing the kid does. A frieking chart, sticker, gummy bear just for existing. Knock it off. Your boss isn’t going to be waiting at your desk with a Starbucks Americano and a bagel with fresh lox just because you showed up. He is going to expect you to be on time and earn your keep.
However, to a child who has been potty trained for six months and still basking in praise with treasures from the dollar store because they made a poop the size of an amoeba, will expect a sticker, a bag of Gummy Bears, or whatever the currency is…every time, everywhere for the rest of his/her life. Try instead moving on to the next level or teachable moment and take it from there. Gianmarco, my six-year-old has learned that putting the “fizzy” waters in the cooler and helping to put stuff in the snack bin is a good thing. This escalated into putting dirty clothes in the hamper and self-dressing. And, I will still say, “Thanks, that makes my job easier.” Wow! He has pleased the love of his life and all without roses and a box of chocolates.
Overpraising, I feel can be almost poisonous. Balancing praise with critique is also very important. Don’t be afraid to say to your burgeoning bundle of joy…” That was good, but this could be better.” Or, "I don’t think you had good judgement here,” or, “You raced through this,” or “I didn’t like your tone, your language,” or, “That was mean, and I don’t expect that from you.” “Your breath smells…brush again, this time with toothpaste.” “You only brushed half your hair…finish it.“ Parents have become afraid of their children, and children become very aware, stealthy and manipulative at an early age. I was afraid of my parents! LOL
Every time I cower because I hate the confrontation I always remember the daunting task the Lord has given me: to raise, healthy, nurtured, loving adults who treat themselves and others with respect, and who can also take out the garbage. Nobody is perfect, but my job is to take this empty slate and fill it with positivity and production. I’m not always going to be here to put detangler in your hair or throw away the underwear with skid marks.
JUSTIN BIEBER: IS IT TOO LATE NOW TO SAY SORRY?
Not a fan of the long haired hippie raised, ungrateful millionaire baby boy, but I love his lyrics. The answer to this is :No, and you better.
Some parents think that slamming down the gavel and calling in the guards is the grandest and most powerful way to exercise your parental license. Negative, oh powerful, omnipotent one. Quite the contrary. You are mortal and fallible, and your kids should know that.
Guess what, you are human and so are your kids. Teaching them that you are, sensitive, and very importantly, accountable, and contrite is one of the best gifts you can give them. It promotes compassion, responsibility and forgiveness.
Always remember “I love you,” even without a response from the eye-rolling teenager are the most important words of your day, even if they follow an unresolved argument, a confrontation or a bitchy ride to school. You don’t know what the day will bring. Until you see each other again, make those your final communication even if the response is a car door slam.
We all make parenting mistakes…every single day. But, in the end the parent who can teach their child to take care of themselves, welcome judgement, recognize mistakes, respect themselves, others and learn early on how to weave all the loops and bobs into an adulthood, is an adult who will learn to fish for a lifetime.