Manners, Manners

Manners are a big deal in my house. We use please and thank you so often that it sometimes sounds like a verbal tick. I grew up in a very quiet, polite home. My husband grew up in a very loud, polite home. His family wasn’t soft spoken (and isn’t) but they were always quick with a thank you. When we had kids we weren’t exactly sure what the “rules” of our house were going to be. We kinda just made it up as we went along. When we heard other parents talk about the things that their kids were allowed and not allowed to do – sometimes we felt horrible for the kids living through that regime, and sometimes we stole their ideas and rules. But not a lot of them. The only thing I really worried about was stranger danger and not-so-stranger danger. Other than that – we were open to most things. And unlike my parents house, our house is not quiet. We yell. We scream. We laugh. We cry. The full spectrum of the emotional rollercoaster is experienced on most days. We’re human afterall. 

When my daughter was born and I went back to work, we carefully picked a nanny we thought would follow our small list of rules. When we discovered that she was letting a 1 year gnaw on a hot dog while swinging in the park and then washing that down with a milk shake from an illegal visit to Mickey Ds – we were horrified. Just because we weren’t helicopter parents didn’t mean we wanted our kid eating that crap. We lived in NYC for goodness sake – the park was on the Upper East Side. Other nannies were bringing blenders to puree fresh smoothies in the park. If you’re wondering how she got caught, I’ll give you one word. Wrappers. My husband found the paraphernalia in our garbage of all places. Not only was she breaking our sad little list of rules, but she was a moron to boot. Suffice it to say, we gave her the boot. I was young back then and didn’t enjoy a verbal conflict like I do now, and my husband for all his tough guy demeanor can never be mean to anyone he pays for a service. So we let her go without addressing the problem. That’s how we rolled back then.

As she got older and then we had our boy, we held fast to only a few of those early family laws. I don’t want to alarm anyone but we never once bought a lock for our kitchen cabinets and our corners were never padded. Anywhere. My kids were allowed to play on the street. They were, and are, allowed to ride their bikes pretty freely. My daughter has navigated the public transit system alone – something a few of our adult friends don’t do. My son often rides a skateboard or scooter on busy roads. Do we worry about that stuff and pray for their safety? Yes we do. It’s like a full time job. Praying and worrying. But do we say they are “not allowed” to do that? Nope.

You know what they aren’t allowed to do? Speak rudely and not be polite. Manners are numero uno, followed by kindness, and just ahead of humor in terms of importance in our house. We don’t ask for something without a please before or after. When someone hands you something – anything – it should be followed by a thank you. In our house, if you are in the downstairs room all the way to the right and someone in the upstairs room all the way to the left sneezes, make sure they hear you say bless you. In fact you usually know if someone in the house is mad at you because you’ve sneezed and it was followed by silence. The horror!

I don’t go around expecting everyone to follow the same rules as our family, and I have no doubt that even with our politeness rules – my kids, my husband and I are are rude sometimes. Perfection – incase you haven’t read my blog before – isn’t what I’m aiming for in life. I’d like to just get through the day and maybe laugh a bit. Those are my goals. And to eat carbs with reckless abandon. But that’s another story.

And although I’d like to go on a tirade about how rude the world outside is, the truth is that most people are polite. For example, this morning on the train into work, in a very very packed car – a woman walked in with her two small kids and a big bag. Instead of looking down or staring out the window, no less than 4 people stood up to give them seats and offered to help with the bag. One man even offered to give a woman who’d gotten up for the other woman his own seat! I mean, come on! This is politeness gone wild. I would have happily given up my seat but I was stuck like a sardine next to an older Asian woman. It’s a well-known fact to those who ride a commuter rail that older Asian women do not give up seats. No sir. I don’t care if they are from China or India or Nepal. It’s not a racist observation. It’s a Continental truth. And since I will eventually become one of those older Asian women, I can say that. Although you can argue that if you are older, you deserve the seat. You’ve earned the seat. Asian or not. Fair enough.

I was just so happy to see that this group of strangers on the train took care of this woman. These were probably also the same people who would help a tourist in need without rolling their eyes, or wave when you let their car go first at an interection. These were good people. 

When the woman finally sat down and situated the kids, one of them sneezed, and there was a symphony of bless yous in the train car. I wasn’t surprised at all. 

The Tiger’s Mother

Tomorrow my first born starts her junior year of high school. She’s in her room right now excitedly packing for the morning and humming a happy tune. Ok, not really. But she is getting ready. I cannot believe that at the end of this year she’ll be 1) driving a motor vehicle 2) thinking about which college she wants to go to and 3) be on the edge of 17. Just like the white wing dove.
If you believe in astronomy, and I do, she’s a Scorpio. To a capital T.
I also happen to believe the Chinese calendar, she’s a Tiger in that one. A born leader. Brave and warm-hearted. Sensitive and easily hurt but also fiercely protective of those around them. Yeah, that’s about right. She’s all that. And more. 
But tomorrow she’ll just be my little baby, going off to 11th grade.
I’d like to show you a picture of her leaving the house in the morning, in her uniform, ready to face to world – but I won’t be allowed to take a pic. Tigers and Scorpions aren’t exactly easy to photography. But she can’t stop me from posting these! 
Here’s my world from 1998 to present. In a blink.

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Wasn’t this just us?

Dear Julie, 

I was driving somewhere yesterday, and saw these two ladies walking in the neighborhood.

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You know what I thought about right? Us, circa 2004, walking our neighborhood in upstate NY with our babies in tow. Thank goodness for those walks and for you. I would have gone crazy. Actually I did go crazy but you were just my kind of crazy, so it all worked out. Our boys rode along as we hiked the ‘hood. They heard us talking and laughing and being totally relieved to be with each other. I hope these gals are doing the same. I hope they are talking about politics and religion and racial/gender equality, because we did. After days and nights spent with kids and husbands, whom we loved, it was so nice not to talk about homework, dinner or family. I imagine these ladies feeling like we did, like we were in college again with our best pal – except with a baby or two in tow. Those were such happy days! 

Now we live in different states and see each other less often – but often enough to stay on the same path. I was a bit jealous when I saw these gals, wishing to have some of this back, but then I realized it’s only gotten better. The boys we pushed around together act like brothers and we can still talk the talk, even though we don’t walk the walk. 

xoxo

Blog interrupted

So I meant to write a really coherent, interesting blog as always (ha ha), but then this happened…. My boy got his brown belt!! Yippee. Thank goodness he got some distant relative’s athletic gene.

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And then I had just 18 minutes to shower and get ready for a night out with friends – and then this happened..

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Which led to this…

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And then it was 10pm and I had to go to bed. Kidding! More like 10:15pm.
#livinthethuglife

Why so mad?

A lot of people are getting pissed off about the ALS challenge.
What up with that?
I know I know. People are doing it for other reasons, they are missing the point. But are they? My 10 year old knows what ALS is. That can’t be bad. It’s silly and goofy. And it’s become a game for celebs to see who can do a better one. But so what? I’d rather see that then butt selfies. Butt selfies are all the rage.
Also – why do people get so pissy so fast?
Here’s what I know. I know that I’d rather see your aunt/husband/brother being doused with water for a cause than a news story about ISIS. Or Ferguson. Yes those things are happening. Yes those things are evil incarnate. And yes I read about them. But afterwards, I need something else. To function, to wake up tomorrow and know that this world is ok for my kids, I need something else. I need to see ice water dumped on Anna Wintour or George Bush. On a side note – I love Retired George Bush. He’s so warm and kind and…not dumb. I may have even voted for Retired George Bush. Maybe.
Anyway. Dump the f’ing water. Donate to ALS. Cool down and lighten up.
Here’s me and my crew doing it.

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June?

Wasn’t it just May? And February? Where does the time go?? Wondering what’s up with all these question marks? Sorry. I know I haven’t written in a bit, but absence makes the heart grow fonder right? So you must be very fonder by now, right? Right? Sorry again.

Here’s what I’ve been up to:

- I haven’t been working out or doing a cleanse. Shocked?

- We finished up 10th grade and 4th grade. Piano lessons with Ms. Tatyana are over. Dasvidaniya!

- We started camp. Slept until 2pm. Started complaining about camp. Have already been to a beach, a mall and an amusement park in the 2 days that we’ve been off. Notice that I don’t incriminate anyone. I use the royal “WE”. I’m a good mom like that.

- Since I’m all caught up with The Good Wife, I needed another binge show. Hello Walking Dead. The zombie apocalypse, blood, gore and old fashioned romance. What’s there not to love? Although I’m not built for that. I know my limitations. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I’d never make it if the world ended. All that fighting-to-survive stuff seems exhausting. Here’s a quote from my other summer obsession, The Mindy Project, that explains it best – “You know my plan in an emergency is to count to ten and wait for death’s embrace.” Yep. That’s about right.

- After 42 years of obsessing if food is vegetarian or not – I’m eating Cesar salad now. To hell with anchovy paste! I’ve probable had 5 or 6 little fish by now. I’m a rebel. Not really.

- I’ve been taking random sunset pictures. From planes, trains and automobiles. Cause why not? Sorry, had to finish with a question mark. Is that annoying?

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Jump!

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We finally set-up the trampoline that we got the kids got for Christmas.  I won’t tell you how much fun we had setting it up. The sheer joy when we thought we were almost done and then had to completely start from scratch – even though we watched 1,000 YouTube videos on how to put it together. And then, once we restarted, had to undo and start again! Did I mention it was 10 degrees out and my husband was fighting a cold? Good times.

In the end – we did it. Because we had no choice. We couldn’t have a half done, 15 foot trampoline in our backyard. We have neighbors ya know. But the kids love it. It’s what they’ve been begging for since 2008. Literally. We’ve decided that when the kids are done with it – when they’re like 30 – we won’t even bother taking it apart. Again. We’ll just move.

(I just noticed that my girl is still clutching her cell phone. Mid-air. Incase she gets a call. Or tweet. Or text. Sigh.)

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