Dear Young Person between the ages of 19 and 29,


I want to tell you something that was told to me at times in my life that I didn’t heed until the day I HAD to accept it . SLOW DOWN AND BREATHE. There’s no reason to rush and you can’t control an unpredictable future, so why not take life in stride and see what it presents to you? You will miss so much if you life your life by a plan laden with benchmarks and goals and if you pressure yourself because others have achieved something you haven’t yet. So, if this is you, an over-planning, over-achieving youngster, staring at life through eyes-only-on-the-prize glasses, please stop and read my words and understand that I know what I’m talking about.

When I was growing up, adults loved asking children what they wanted to be when they grew up. Considering it is the business of children to grow at their own pace without agenda, this is the most stupid question an adult could ask a child. How can someone who hasn’t spent much time on a planet filled with so much to discover and experience answer such a question? Some adults forget what being a child is like because they have lost the creativity of their childhood and don’t know what to ask kids. As a result, they come up with a question about something they can relate to — the soul-sucking world of work and highly regarded careers, thereby unconsciously tampering with the natural programming of being human where we learn with our senses, thereby sparking curiousity. Posing questions about the future to a child, infiltrates their mind with pointless benchmarks and a man-made need to have a life-plan bombarded with goals for success without failure.

When I reflect upon my my mother’s younger years, I can see she did the best she could with what she had, living by society’s rules. I remember she would coach me to give impressive answers to the what-I-wanted-to-be-when-I-grew-up questions. I was coached not to speak my truth of wanting to be a creative person but to say I wanted to be a linguist working at the United Nations headquarters, a lawyer or a doctor. When I was young, I wanted to be a nurse who was also a dancer who painted and wrote stories to read to her patients for fun in her spare time. While I was praised for dancing beautifully with incredible expressiveness, lauded for my ability to move people with my writing, or complimented on the impecable first aid I lent to others, I was also told that certain pursuits (mine) allowed only a chosen few to find success and that the rest of us (me) needed to pursue not what we loved but what was sensible(things that were considered lucrative). After a while, I believed that any compliment I received for anything creative I had done was a polite lie. Disenchanted, I started buying one liner greeting cards instead of filling blank ones with my heartfelt words. Writing wouldn’t make me any money, dancing would mean I was an academic failure and since I was the firstborn and had to “set a good example” for my sister, I set aside what the adults in my life saw as “fairy tale”dreams and forced myself to find a profession that would not make me become a disappointment in a world that was “not going to get any easier, you know”. It was so confusing being encouraged to put my mind to doing anything I wanted to do, so long as it was the sensible thing to do. I had no clue what I wanted to do with my life at eighteen, nineteen or twenty (I’m hard pressed to believe anyone does) and in my my haste to choose something to study at University, I choose to study for a career in Television and Radio like my father. And even while at the embassy applying for my student visa, my father, whose footsteps I was about to follow, told the man who was processing my application that he thought I was stupid to choose what I had because at sometime I would have to give it up when I had a family. Forgive my late father’s statement. I have. He was a product of his arrogant generation’s oppressive thinking and he also did the best he could with the tools that were available to him. I knew he loved me but I don’t think my father ever recognized when he hurt my feelings or made me feeel small. That’s just how fathers were then I suppose. To this day, to protect themselves (or rather be on the offensive), my family likes to brush off or pretend to forget the things they did wrong (because they are never wrong) and they all wish I would just let things go but I can’t. However, I use these things I can’t let go of not to be bitter towards them, but to be a better person and parent and offer better guidance to my sons and the young people I encounter.

There was only one adult in my life, a university professor, who made a statement about life and careers that stuck with me and perhaps my entire graduating class of 1992. He said, “Do what you love and the money will come later,”. If I could have my youth back, that is exactly what I would do, because success is not about titles or money earned but it is about soaking up what life offers us every day. Living is about experiencing moments, seeing things, meeeting people,trying new things, scary things, tasting new food and finding comfort in the familiar. It’s about helping people, feeling emotions, being selfless and inadvertently finding out who we are and what’s our purpose. Life provides experiences that fuel ideas and innovation and invention while art inspires and uplifts our souls and sometimes, we feel like we are soaring instead of sinking and it feels good, if only for just a moment. Life is short…even if you live to a hundred …life is short; too short to live by a plan or a ridgid schedule. It is okay to not know what you are doing tomorrow or next week, next month or next year. If you live life by a ridgid plan you will have more disappointments than achievements and you will not be happy. Now, let’s not mistake disappointment for failure. Failure is a reset button. Failure is the greatest teacher because you can’t improve or achieve anything great without the mistakes that lead to failure. Failure is the foundation and stepping stones to success. Failure is temporary, really, if you use it as impetus to try again. Disappointment tends to linger and sometimes never goes away.

I have learned that in life, (and to be successful you’ve got to believe this) you have to do what makes you happy and though sometimes you have to do what you have to do to get by, it does not mean you have to put aside or not do the thing that is the essence of who you are — the thing that comes from your soul. You also can’t find happiness if you hold on to regret. I suppose I could say I regret not doing this or that, but I realize I can still do some of those things now. I couldn’t when I was younger but I have the chance to re-visit some of the things I had postponed now. It’s up to me to do them. I have no reason or excuse not to. I had so many plans that were laid on a shakey foundation that consisted of what I was told would make me a successful. It was a plan laid on a foundation I made based on what other people had in mind for me — people in retrospect, who were not more intelligent than I was. It is quite surprising and a little unsettling when you realize you are far more intelligent and intuitive than the people that raised you — after all, they were supposed to know best and yet their guidance was often wrong. I know that nothing they did was malicious but rather were ideas that were formed out of fear because they could see the world changing, becoming harder and that human beings were becoming more ruthless and selfish and to protect us from being ravaged by the world, they felt they had to steer us to choose paths that would make us financially able to survive. After all, money has always made the world go round, but I see loopholes of hope. Having missed the opportunity to pursue my passions in my youth, I see that there are no age limits or rules that say I can’t at fifty four.

When I was in my twenties I had a life plan set on a time frame. By twenty-five I’d be working at this place earning this much. By twenty-seven I would own my first house in such and such a neighbourhood and I would be driving this specific car and be taking vacations in country X and Y. It was a tough, rigid, impossible plan, really. Back then, I didn’t have the extra tools like the internet or a smart phone to help out with these grandiose plans of mine but I was determined to stand out in any way that I could to get it all. And then, life happened and I became just like any other ordinary grunt out there. I wasn’t special, famous or succesful or financially rich. Life happened and I had a baby who would later be diagnosed with a life-long condition that would determine everything we would do, say, think or feel forever. And while I was suspecting something was worryingly different about him, I was pregnant with baby number two who, upon birth would be colicky for six months and susceptible to both bronchiolitis and bronchitis. Quickly, my life-plan was a vague speck of an idea created for some other woman from some other time. My husband and I bought a house much later than our peers, shared a very basic four-door sedan for a very long time and we spent more time worrying about the future of our one child while busting our asses to create a “normal” life for the other.We didn’t have a lot of money back then and when we did have extra life threw us major hiccups like a broken down furnace or kitchen appliance. We seemed to be perpetually climbing out of a very deep hole, shaking off the dirt that landed on our heads as life tried to bury us. Ours was a life set before a backdrop of constant chaos, constant change and movement, perpetual tiredness, brain straining days and nights of thinking outside the box to create the best environment in which to raise these two little boys while everyone our age in our neighbourhood was worrying about which tiles or hardwood they should buy to increase the value of their homes.

By the time I was thirty-six, my husband and I quietly understood that we had been placed in fixed roles. He would work outside the home and do other other lucritive work on the side to pay the bills and put food on the table and I would be at home with the boys, overseeing our special son’s therapy while raising the other and the only job I could do kept me inside the home, babysitting other people’s typically developing children and pretending to like the ones I really didn’t. I learned to re-use and re-purpose things and replenish the basic needs of our family with a budget based on what I called a creative banking system. It goes without saying that life was grinding us down back then and I could absolutely relate to Lee Lawrie’s famous sculpture of the plight of Atlas. I had to make a concerted effort to find joy in each day so that I could face the next. I was often bitter, angry, hurt and just so sad because at the time, I felt that my child was ripped off by his diagnosis and that we were ripped off as a family. It felt like we had to work so hard for the simplest of things; work so hard for peace and happiness.

Dear People between the ages of nineteen and twenty-nine, I can sincerely tell you that ALL my plans went down the drain. I couldn’t remember what they were or why they were important and I had no idea who I was. But, I survived and I truly lived because I got out of bed every day and sometimes went through the mundane motions and sometimes I experienced heaven before my eyes or in the palm of my hand and eventually, when the grief and pain subsided; when I stopped letting myself believe the medical community who kept telling me I had a short window to help my child develop; when I quit frantically rushing around trying to fix my son and fix our lives from something bad that I believed was lurking around the corner…. when I stopped to breathe and take life more slowly, I started to see and I mean really see what was life was all about and just how magnificent it all was. I understood that there was no plan that was going to make me happy. What was making me happy was what I have been doing for the past twenty one years. I had to get to the end of my parenting road to realize my value. I had to become an empty nester before I could say I understood the puropse of my life and now, it’s time to write a new chapter for myself at fifty-four — it’s time to see what other purpose I will fulfill.

I spent too much time doing what I thought I had to do in my twenties and not doing what I loved. Circumstance made me shelve my passions but I was able to take all the mistakes and poor advice that I spoke of earlier and make sure I did better as a parent and a person. I had the wisdom to break the cycle of haste and planning and mapping out a life that surely none of us could predict. In life there are only a few sure things — you are alive, you need food, water and air. You need love, joy and a sense of belonging and purpose and then, one day, you die and your life is over. So, don’t you think we should make the most of the time we have?

I encourage my boys follow their passions. I try to expose them to everything by taking them everwhere and showing them what this world of ours has to offer. I give them love and affection and I give them my ear, always. I think truly listening to a person is one of the most valuable gifts you can give to them. I welcome their ideas and opinions and love when they teach me something new. I have given constructive criticism and I have known when to hold back and let them fail. I have learned to be patient whenever I watch them flounder before they rise again. I have wiped tears and offered words of encouragement more times than I can count. I try to make them confident and strong knowing that some days, they can’t be strong and they just need time to be emotional puddles — but they are my puddles, my boys, two important contributors to the planet that I have had the great fortune and privilege of raising and propping along the way. I was there for every first and every struggle and every heartbreak when life was not fair. I have been there for every achievement and I am proud not just of who they’ve become but of what the four of us have been able to achieve as a family. I might not have become anything I dreamed of but my husband and I continue to take on the twists, turns and sudden drops of this roller coaster life of ours. We look at the short comings of our parents as teaching tools because we know we are able to do something better — we can support our sons as they shoot for the stars and we can encourage them to slow down and be patient and see how life unfolds amidst a world society that still bases success on archaic patterns of generations gone by. We try to do better by our boys because we know what it is like to not get the opportunity to try and pursue our passions.

I might not have gotten the promotions and important corporate positions I thought I wanted. I live in a simple house that is a glorious home. There is enough money in the bank and there are even some well-performing investments and we’ve since upgraded the sedan to two more reliable and comfortable cars. We are at the point in our lives where we are looking to do and see more and possess less. I didn’t become famous for anything earth shattering but my husband and I have been complimented repeatedly for helping nurture two incredible human beings. As we lived through those tough, tough times, we became passionate about helping our sons and other young people embrace their talent, live their truth and follow their passions and it continues to be extremely rewarding. What we feel every day is something money could never buy. I know now that if I was working for some powerful corporation when my son was diagnosed, my family would not have turned out as wonderfuly as it did. I cannot imagine doing all that I did with my sons and working in a demanding environment at the same time. All those moments I devoted to raising them would have been split with and lost on a career and I don’t want to imagine what kind of person I would have become . I don’t have material accolades to show that I am indeed successful. Truth is, I never needed them and I was able to get the necessities of life in the long run. It didn’t matter that the things I needed came when I was twenty-five, thirty-five or forty-five, the point is, we got what we needed and what we don’t may still come, or not but I don’t care because there is no benchmark or deadline. We have our health and we have a bit of wealth but most of all we have love and an openess to receiving and accepting all that is to come or that is to be denied.

Take it from a middle aged woman about to start new things — slow down, be patient, take it all in. Breathe, lie back and stare at the sky, dip your toes in the water, taste all the flavours, listen to all the music notes, take a walk in the rain, feel the sunshine on your face, jump into a pile of leaves, make a snow angel. The planet isn’t what she used to be, there are no starter homes that young people can afford and higher education is more expensive when it should be free. Choose to follow your passion and follow it your way because it is okay to break the mould of stringent path of elementary school to high school to college and university to hopefully high paying job. It won’t work because it can’t work if you haven’t allowed yourself to experience life. If you don’t allow yourself to live, how will you ever know what you want to do in life? Life will deal you several hands, be flexible enough and love yourself enough to be able to play each hand you are dealt. If you just want to be alive, stay on the carousel. Jump onto the roller coaster if you want to truly live.

Learning my place in society (and loving where I have found myself)

Isle ChileJust now·9 min read

I am fifty four. I am active, I take care of myself and I do what is interesting to me. I am using the time that has been returned to me, to learn new things and to get back to hobbies I’d put aside. It is really nice to get to this point after years of evolving into a person who cares not what others think, while respecting the fact that everyone is entitled to their opinion and their space on the planet.

I do not have conversations with or read posts made by people who can’t get over that things have changed since they were young. I do not waste breath or time with people who don’t realize that the problems the world faces today has SO much to do with the way things were done in the time of their heyday.

Human Lifetime Evolution Stock Image

I remember my husband’s grandmother asking us how much we earned, when we started off with our first “real” jobs. When we answered her, she looked at us incredulous and asked, “Where are all the starting professional jobs? You know, the hundred thousand dollar starting salary jobs?” and all we could tell her was, “Your son’s generation took em all! They enjoyed the spoils then implemented cutbacks and downsizing, Grandma,”.

You see, what the older generation forgets, is while things may seem different, not much has changed. We still live in a world where things are convenient and abundant for a certain few. Colour, creed and race still determine who rises to the top and who settles like sediment beneath. We still live in a time of status symbols and where race and gender can determine whether you fail or succeed and the world still operates on having that “in” because of who you know. Society still has dangerous addictions and status associated with certain brands is still a thing, but at least we no longer see ads like these where being successful was only associated with being male.

Source: Kenwood

People had two to three point five children, drove huge polluting automobiles fuelled by oil that often spilled in transit into the oceans and lakes. They put food in a can and filled it with preservatives to get mother out of the kitchen and off her feet so that she could be considered a modern woman. As a woman, I am really glad I was around to see that type of advertising change.


I know progress has to start somewhere. I know that advancement comes with it’s problems but every generation has to take responsibility for the fallout it caused and we must show support and encouragement and assist the generation trying to repair the damages. I am tired of hearing derrogatory comments from older people regarding young people and they way they live their lives, their taste in art and music, their likes and dislikes and the way they access information. I am tired of hearing them complain that X-treme sports are included in the Olympics. I am tired of them disregarding and disrespecting the things in the world today that they cannot use because they don’t understand how to navigate a virtual, digital world. I am tired of hearing about the “good old days” and how much “better” it was “back in my day” and I am tired of the criticism that young people don’t know the value of a hard days work. If they don’t know, it’s because my generation, the children of the grumpy old critics, didn’t teach them because we were so busy trying to not be like our parents, some of us forgot to pass on the valuable stuff that we were taught. If our young people cannot cope, if they feel overwhelmed, if they lack confidence it is most likely because we did not teach them how to develop these abilities. Do not dare call them entitled, if you had a hand in entitling them. Do not call them unmanerly, if you spoiled them and forgot to teach them kindness, humility and gratitude.

The world has never been perfect. The world has always been evolving to make life better. Before you generalize and judge our youth for always being on their phones, remember that the radio and television was your “cellphone or tablet”. Before you criticize their demeanour, remember the generations before took away the well paying jobs giving way to a time when it took two working parents to sustain the basic needs of a family, removing a parent from the home whose best gift to a child is presence and loving guidance. No generation is perfect and every generation has it’s share of complete mis-informed idiots. But take a look around. This is the generation that is calling out abuse of law enforcement and authority. This is the generation who accepts differences in gender, ability, race and culture. This is the generation who is making us mindful of our adjectives …mindful of the way we phrase things. This is the generation that says, “Hey wait a second, I need a break. Things are a bit much right now,”. This is the generation forcing politicians to at least sound mindful when they address of the eclectic society of the world in which we live.

Living beings, especially human beings are adaptable. If we choose to not be left behind, we won’t. I’m not saying to make your way onto every social medium and interract with it exactly as young people do; what I am saying is be openminded and accepting.

Shakespearean English isn’t spoken on the daily anymore. We don’t whip out our stone tablets to chisel a letter to someone; we dont have to pound away on clunky typewriter keys and thankfully, in a pinch, when we need information, confirmation or money instantly, it is possible to receive it instantly. Isn’t that kind of nice? So what if news papers are becoming a thing of the past and fewer and fewer people have a landline and maybe we only know one person with a rotary phone. So what if I don’t need to have a paper dictionary anymore? Yes, jobs have been lost to downsizing and AI, but new jobs are and will be created and we will evolve. I mean, isn’t it fantastic that we don’t have to print, or save information on a floppy disk, writable disc or thumb-drive we can misplace because we can upload our stuff to the cloud? Isn’t it nice that there is so much less stuff to physically collect and figure out where to store? Dealing with waste is an on-going problem on our planet, which by the way is a problem that was created generations ago.

Please understand I do not believe everything in the past is archaic and worthless. We must have a past to have a present and attain a future. We have to learn what to keep and what to archive and if we choose to be left behind, we must not complain about the way things are or criticize the people who function just fine in the state of the world. I am fifty four and my children are grown. I have time now to think about what I want and what kind of senior I would like to become if given the opportunity. I want to continue to support young people in their determination to speak out against inequality, racism, sexism and bullying. I want to continue to applaud their innovations when it comes to sustainablilty and environmentally conscious ways living. I want to help them repair the planet and maybe, when they get tired, feel anxious or overwhelmed , when they feel depressed, maybe I can be there to talk to them, lift them up, and teach them ways to cope without a prescription, because they are human and they inherrited a lot of troublesome baggage from the generation before me. And my generation? Well, I think we spent a lot of time getting angry at it all, but didn’t do enough to clean up the mess. I know I could have done more.

Now, I have an opportunity now to do better by the younger generation. I don’t want be someone who constantly criticizes everything they do. I also know I don’t fit into or understand every aspect of their world, and that’s perfectly fine. We can’t be a part of everything that changes in society, all the the time but we don’t have to cut it down because we are not capable of adapting.

Stock Image

As I always have, I look forward to technology yet to come. I may not be able to immerse myself in all of it, but I am looking forward to being a part of whatever I can. I want to be able to live comfortably in my senior years and have technology be the reason I live without the physical and mental hassle of the silly stuff of daily living. I want to be the senior my children don’t have to be concerned about. I am fortunate enough to have been able to put things in place for when I am unable to care for myself so that I will never be their burden. It is not my children’s duty to take care of their mother while simultaneoulsy caring for their children, their jobs and the problems they will face in their lives. I want my children to want to visit me and not make time to see me out of guilt or loyalty. I am watching my parents’ generation and I am learning what NOT to do. I want my senior future to be all it can be. I want to live life with the same openmindedness I posess now. I want to see what these young people are going to do next because I am in awe of them, I believe in them and I love them. I am fifty four and I hope to be blessed with as many healthy, happy years on the planet as I have had in adulthood. I am not perfect. Things were not better back in my day and most of all, by learning and accepting my place in society, I am still able to be excited about the future. I know my place and accept that I do what I want to do, whenever I want to do it. I accept that my way of doing things may work for me but not for my twenty-something-year-old sons. I accept that my role is one of quiet observation, thought and decision making. I accept that it is possible to have a quiet role and still be impactful by throwing my support behind those charged with finding the solutions and make the changes that will save our species and planet. I accept that I do not have all the answers and I accept that things “back in my day” have become and will continue to be, my memories to share, but not begrudgingly compare to the things that “kids these days” do.

I am fifty four and I am choosing to NOT be a fussy, frustrated, frumpy, furrowed, conspiracy theorist, fosil. If longevity means becoming some paranoid, old-way-is-the-only-way, crazy,conspiracy theorist, then I’d rather die sooner, thanks very much. I remember my friends mother telling her grandmother once “Oh, gosh, granny, stop griping about everything people younger than you do! Be nice, let people like you!” Those last six words? ….Ones to live by!

Hover, Hinder and Somehow Interrupt My Day.

I’m 52 years old and I am beginning to live in world that I am struggling to understand. It’s not because of technology or anything like that. I am happy to advance in the age of smart devices. What perplexes me the most is the devolution of parents and parenting. My children are almost adults and maybe I should not have an opinion on this but it is hard not to when it is all around me. Much of the next generations are being raised in a manner that is making them incapable of doing anything on their own. They have no boundaries, they are always the centre of attention (mostly when they are unremarkable) and they have no regard for others. They also have little to no coping or problem solving skills and no manners and it is sad and very concerning that they are indeed our future. Now you will probably say that my statement is unfair so let me re-iterate, I said much of the next generations. Certainly not every child is like that but I urge you to look around and observe and you will see, many children have the behaviors I’ve described.

Earlier this morning, I stopped for a young woman and her toddler to use the cross walk. I was not in a hurry and she was with a really little child. She proceeds to cross with the child and I realize she is not holding her hand. The kid is really young so her gait is slow and wobbly. As the mother gradually moves ahead of the child, she doesn’t realize the little one is sitting on the cross walk. Oh yes, bum planted firmly on the asphalt and she ain’t moving.  The mother walks back to the child and begins to talk to her, never acknowledging that there are now 3 cars waiting on her and her child to cross. I took myself back to when my boys were toddlers. If someone motioned for me to cross with my toddler, I would have scooped him up in my arms and crossed the street. Once I was safely on the sidewalk, I would have put him down (my boys were heavy) and taken his little hand in mine and led him safely to the car. When did parents stop reacting like I would have? When did we stop holding a toddler’s hand? And when did we think it was okay to negotiate with a 2 year sitting on a cross walk to get up and get moving? That situation this morning was unsafe, inconsiderate to the three waiting drivers and stupid. I have no problem acknowledging children, listening to them and explaining things to them but there are times when a child has to be told what to do, when they have to be picked up and have their hand help to keep them safe. I finally drive by and she motions for me to roll down my window and she tells me that the little one is at the age when she chooses to walk. Okay…I have no problem with giving kids a choice. They can choose whether they want to wear the blue or the yellow pajamas and they can choose a bedtime story but they cannot choose their bedtime. They can choose to have an apple or a pear but they cannot choose candy instead. Children are children because they need to be parented. They need to be guided and they need to be taught. We love our boys. We are friendly with our boys but we are their parents, not their friends. We speak to them with respect and we expect that respect in return. We speak openly to each other but there is a distinct difference between the way they address us and the way they address their friends. There is a clear, healthy divide between us and our children are no worse for it. The 20 year old, lives on his own and though autistic, runs his own life and his aides, his father and I support the way he chooses to live. The 17 year old still lives at home, and needs our permission to borrow our cars and go to parties and have friends over in addition to all the things a teenager needs permission to do, have or attend. My husband and I are still the authority figures in our home and our son at home respects our guidance, our home and property.

The cross-walk fiasco over, I am sitting in the exercise studio monitoring the participants. Through the glass wall I can see the participants of three in a row toddler dance classes. These classes are designed for ages 2 -5 and cost parents way-too-much-plus tax for the session which consists of ten 30 – 40 minute classes. I have noticed over the weeks that none of the participants are ever on time for the first class which starts at 9 am. Then there is at least 10 minutes of crying or screaming and kids running out of the class into their parent’s arms who carry them back into the class time after time, the drama only ending when the parent stays in the room with the child. Those who don’t go into the room, are glued to the glass tapping it and waving to their now distracted child. Then there is the parent that goes into the class suggesting alternate dance moves and specific music requests of the teacher. My close observation of these humans makes me understand the high turn around of teachers for these classes.

The second class of participants arrive about 15 minutes before the first class begins and they are allowed to spread their toys all over the floor outside of the class which is also the walkway to the studio where I’m sitting. I watch in awe as adults and seniors coming into the workout studio gingerly navigate their way through a spread of dolls, miniature cars, Lego and  a version of Pick up Sticks with no attempt from the parents to clear the path for others, no telling their kids to move into a corner so that others can get by them, no apology for taking over the entire walkway. One child not interested in the toys on the floor, is finding joy in spilling water from the drinking fountain all over the floor because the obstacle course created by the spread of blocks isn’t challenging enough for the adults and seniors to navigate. Excuse me for a moment while I go to the utility room to retrieve a mop to clean up said child’s mess. And in case you were wondering, I’m not mopping the floor. My children didn’t spill the water.

……Okay, I’m back. The water is being mopped by the child’s father and the precious angels have gone into class and there is a repetition of the running in and out of class to mummy and daddy.  Oh dear, one father just got a premeditated back hand to the face and he is responding by hugging his child who continues to strike him. Wow. I have no words.  One little girl from the previous class is playing with the Lego on the floor as her mother tells her over and over that it is time to go. The child screams a loud shrill “NO!” Mom, holding a baby just smiles and waits and repeats her request to leave. I think they are going to be here a while.

Call me archaic but I think in addition to laying down some guiding rules and some consequences for their actions, we also need to give children a chance to grow and be independent and to learn from and be guided by other people. They don’t sit beside them all day at school so why are they in the dance class with them? Children need a chance to fail so that they will have a chance to succeed. They need to learn that mom and dad can leave them to learn from someone else and that they will be fine until they return for them. There are three parents right now doing the dance class with their child. Three parents who look like they can use a break, so why aren’t they taking one?

The classes are over and the little darlings have gone. The custodian is shaking her head as she mops up the sticky spots of juice and picks up the fruit roll up wrappers off the studio floor. The hallway looks like a tornado came through it and so does the gallery to the pool where the siblings of those taking swimming lessons are left to run wild and wreck the place.

I don’t know what books, or websites these new parents are reading nor do I know who is giving them bad advice but here is what I know –

It’s okay to take the weekend back and empty a trunk of toys on the floor and let your kids play. It’s okay to play with them for a while then walk away and let them play on their own. Having a friend over or going to play at another kid’s house is a healthy activity.  Video games in moderation isn’t the worst thing in the world. In fact some kids develop excellent hand eye coordination from playing video games. Whatever happened to Saturday morning TV? That used to be a great thing. I remember many winter mornings when Thomas the Tank Engine and the Clone Wars made for a cozy time indoors. When the shows were over many hours were spent by our two little boys creating their own versions of the stories they had seen  in our basement with all the make shift costumes, props and noises of children at play. Very often there was a sign that said “keep out” or “kids only” that let us know that this was their parent free time to pretend and we respected that.

Maybe we can go back to keeping things simple. You know how little ones get a fancy present and they are more interested in the box? It’s because kids are simple people. No need to make things with them over complicated. My husband and I didn’t get suckered into expensive toddler classes that pretended to promise cognitive and motor skill development. We knew these skills were important but our kids got all that stimulus at home and eventually at school and through sports.

Parents, it’s okay to give yourself a break from your children. Learn to take turns. Both parents and kids don’t have to be everywhere together all the time. From time to time we did take our kids shopping or to run errands with us but there were also days when we took turns staying at home with them while the other parent did the errands and such. Alone time is good for mom and dad and kids have a lot of time ahead of them to go shopping when they are older and more tolerant of crowds, noise and other stimuli. To keep our sanity we knew it was not possible for both of us to be present at all times at our children’s’ activities. We did not all have to go to the store all the time. We took turns going to the gym and to church. We gave our boys boundaries. We told them “no” and they learned to be disappointed and they learned that disappointment passes. They learned to be in a class or an activity without us and today at 20 and 17, I have 2 happy, independent, generous and polite young people (one with autism) with jobs, commitments and responsibilities and they are turning into very respectable men of whom we are extremely proud. I look at our autistic son (who has his own apartment going on three months now) and I am thrilled to see that all my instincts were right. Nothing in any book about parenting ever applied to him and I am so grateful he is a part of our family because having him made us better parents and it allowed us to raise him and his brother with our minds wide open without getting caught up in this overprotective, micromanaging, coddling style of parenting that seems to persist.

I once asked my 17 year old how he felt when I dropped him off at Kung Fu when he was 5. He said sometimes he felt a little scared that I was leaving him but Sifu didn’t allow other parents to linger and no one cried for their mom or dad and he didn’t want to be the baby that did. He said, me not being there helped him focus on Sifu and the moves he was being taught. He said he learned how cool it was to stay quiet and be still and focus on the move he was about to do. He said he liked learning stuff without us there so he could surprise us by showing off his moves when he got home. He also told me he always knew one of us would come back and pick him up and he never felt that we would forget him. He also said, when he was little he sometimes felt like everyone was a big kid – better than him, bigger than him and faster than him (he was a short, stocky little thing who is now a lean 6’3″) and that learning to be in a Kung Fu class with mixed ages and heights made him feel like a big boy; made him feel proud that even with his size, he could sometimes take down someone much bigger and taller than he was. He said it made him confident and taught him that if he tried his best, he could take on anything. He does not practice Kung Fu at the moment (maybe he will get back to it one day) but that activity combined with all the other sports and activities he participated in allowed him to learn from other people and given him skills he would not have developed if we were constantly by his side.

By trying to be all inclusive parents, trying to be the perpetually positive parents trying to make life perfect for your kids, you’re setting them up for failure. Isn’t it exhausting doing everything in your power to make every moment of every day a successful one for your child? Take it easy parents. Say “no” once in a while and hold your kids accountable when it comes respect and give them rules and boundaries so they can actually successfully live in society. Loving them does not mean doing everything for them and giving them their way all the time.. By hovering over them all day, you stifle their independence and creativity. Helping them every step of the way does not set them up for the bump in the road that will make them stumble. If they don’t stumble and fall they will never learn to pick themselves up, dust themselves off and try again. I know it’s hard to not jump in and help them every chance you get but what you are actually doing is hindering them and making them unprepared for that roller coaster journey that is life.

Finally, be considerate of others. Your children are lovely and all children are gifts but they are not lovely gifts to everyone. My children are grown. I put in the years with the sleepless nights, the worry, the teaching, potty training, the feeding, healing, reassuring …all the verbs that go along with parenting and even though they are grown, I still am concerned for them and concerned about things I cannot control. But I know my husband and I have put in the time and work and love and all I can have now is faith that they will make the right choices and that they will be safe. My husband once said, parenting is 50%what you teach them and 50% what they do with it and we need to give them the chance to exercise their 50%.I don’t have little children anymore and the few kids I know between the ages of 1 and 12 have really great parents with a strong, admirable parenting styles so when a poorly parented child comes into contact with me it usually leads to an inconvenience to my day somehow. I don’t want to be subjected to poorly parented kids, yet I am on the daily with the hovering, over helping and hindering parents everywhere I go. Because I don’t need to hear you negotiate with them at the top of your lungs, I grocery shop listening to music through earbuds. I don’t appreciate them running around my grocery cart, randomly stopping and starting, yet you let them crash into my cart anyway. I don’t always want to have a conversation with your kid who can barely talk. I am a complete stranger. Why would you let your child wander around talking to complete strangers in an arena? I am there to watch my son’s team, I don’t want to miss the game because your child whom I don’t know, wants to talk to me. And for the love of all that is right and just, please don’t allow your child to linger in the entrance of a busy store. Don’t let them play with the doors and don’t let them lie in the aisles of the grocery store. No one enjoys that…plus, it’s unsanitary.

Dial up the discipline and tone down the hovering and path paving. Prepare your child for their path. Do not prepare the path for your child. Keep it simple and it will be special. Sign your toddler up for less activities and let them enjoy being active through play with their friends, with you and on their own. Take the time to breathe, Mom and Dad, guide them, teach them and take more time to enjoy them. You don’t need to take them to organized classes when they’ve barely learned to walk. Kiddies are simple beings. Don’t make raising them more complicated than it needs to be.



“Come Again?” – Trying to Live in the New World Society.

2018 drifted into 2019 and so far so good. I believe in the grand scheme of things if you find yourself in an upright and breathing state, you’ve won.  My 52 nd is just 4 days away and I’ve made plans, albeit not extravagant ones, and I am looking forward to celebrating. Two years ago, I counted down my year to 50 and documented and shared the things that left an impression on me. I wrote about the things I learned and the ways in which I found myself evolving from one phase of my life into another. I felt that I had grown in so many positive ways and was happy to work on the things I could do better. That year, I shed a lot of people and things from my life, happy to move on without them, basking in a new found freedom. I didn’t think in 2 short years I’d find myself feeling as unsettled as I do now and looking to perhaps shed even more and point myself in a new direction.

This year and the next 2, actually, I find myself in the process of launching my sons into their adult lives. Adam is 19 and yes, still autistic, still has some struggles and is still unique, quirky and wonderful. He is learning the ropes when it comes to asserting himself as an adult, learning to live his life without us in the home and learning to cope with the responsibility required by this transition. I never thought when he was 3, or 6 or 9 that he would be able to be independent, but the time is here and he is almost ready to take the giant step away from Mom and Dad. His father and I always planned 4 years ahead when it came to raising him and helping him achieve his life skills goals. We always challenged him by raising the bar every time he made progress and we are so glad he chose to join us on this journey to his maturity and independence.

Logan is almost 17 and his age is like a shackle holding him back from flinging into his adult life on the horizon. As much as he is comfortable at home, he is like me and wants so much more than what this time and space he finds himself in, has to offer. He is so comfortable in a crowded city and drinks in every experience and each moment a new place has to offer that I am comfortable saying he is ready to fly and he will fly far because he absolutely should. How I envy his youth for the energy, curiosity, enthusiasm and time it offers him. He has no limitations placed upon him. We have never told him what to do, what to like, what to try and which path he should follow when it comes to his life. We have placed no time limits or boundaries on him when it comes to discovering what he likes and what he wants. We expose him to various situations and opportunities and once he makes a choice, he works hard to achieve the goals such opportunities are able to yield. He has chosen to be a spiritual person and he wants to be the best he can in whatever he is involved in and has committed to. He ain’t perfect, but watching him grow up is like reading a very engaging book and I can’t wait to witness the chapters to come.

But while launch mode has me somewhat occupied, I am finding more than ever that I have phased out of or rejected many things the world presents to me and I am surprised that it’s happening so quickly. I find myself reading things online and seeing things on the news that make me say, “Come again?” I love technology and advancement and all good that they offer but I feel the people of the world don’t know how to cope with the simplest of things. I don’t understand this age of imbecility that has come about. I don’t understand why a spoiled rich 19-year-old would toss not one, but two patio chairs off a high rise apartment into traffic some 38 stories below. I cannot see the fun in such an act. I don’t understand why those involved have no regard for other people’s well-being, their property, their life. I don’t understand the thought process of the friend who was recording the moronic act and I absolutely am floored by the fact that she had not just the best criminal lawyer money can buy, but a smile on her face as she walked handcuffed before the news cameras while her lawyer told reporters she was embarrassed and remorseful. This is is just one example of the new world behavior I cannot comprehend or accept.

Everything in this era is a problem. Everything is an outrage and everything is offensive to the point of ridiculous. We say there is freedom of speech and freedom to choose. How is it then that many of us can’t decide to not support something or someone who offends us without picking a fight on social media? Ever notice that no one just says “fuck it” and moves on anymore? Everyone has to jump in and get in on the backlash bandwagon without becoming properly informed. Too few people dig deeper anymore. Too many are prompted by vague headlines that make them take up arms without knowing the facts. Too few think things through these days because the go-to response today is not to think but react. We broadcast everything about ourselves online. Nothing is private anymore. Not our meals, not our conversations, our personal decisions, our bodies, nor our possessions. While social media has re-connected old friends and forged new friendships and improved communication among people, it has also tainted us. So many people cannot go unnoticed because they desperately need approval. More people, more than ever need copious amounts of attention and yet the social media society has no problem cutting down someone or something else because the keyboard has made some people too bold.  That certain amount of anonymity cyberspace affords; not having to face a person as we type our comments, have given us big iron balls and when we feel that strong, it is easy to judge and we are empowered to hurt. Yet, we all condemn Jussie Smollet, right away. If indeed he orchestrated an attack on himself, he has done what almost everyone else does on social media every day. He found a way to get people to notice him. He found a way to get not just 15 minutes of fame but a way to be a victim. He wants this kind of attention for some reason – the attention that acting on Empire just isn’t giving him. I remember the Smollet kids acting on TV when they could barely walk. They were adorable and talented and had many fans. They are no strangers to the spotlight, yet, Jussie has a void to be filled. What happened to him between his role in The Mighty Ducks and now? What has happened to so many of us? Why are so many of our young people anxious and depressed? They should be embracing youth and checking out new things and pushing boundaries towards greater things and we should be supporting and guiding them not spoiling them, ignoring them or cutting them down. They should not be staging attacks or throwing chairs from high-rises. Have we forgotten how to be okay with who we are? To be satisfied with our opinion of ourselves? I think so. Sadly.  It is ironic, the term, Social Media. Being social is supposed to be a good thing. A social person is thought to be friendly, outgoing and a person who enjoys the company of others and enjoys lifting themselves and others to a higher level of happiness. Social media to me seems more like social slaughter at times and some of the things that are said require not just a thick skin but a suit of armor.

Taking in the way life is being lived around me now, makes me unsure of where I fit in. I used to care about so many things. I used to love to write. I loved speaking up and sharing my thoughts and loved when I got a chance to see an awesome movie with a great script and talented performers or be moved by the lyrics of a well written and well-sung song. Lately, I’ve not found things that spark my interest. I look and I listen and I am finding that I roll my eyes a lot and then I get to the stage where I don’t care. I just don’t care. To me, that is a frightening statement about myself. I don’t care enough to voice my opinion, to tolerate the lack of effort put into where I sought entertainment (if you can burn it, blow it up or bury it you don’t need meaningful dialogue). I don’t care enough to even attempt to comment on a post I may have read. I got to a stage where I’d start typing and then I’d delete and move on…now I just move on. The thing is, I want to care. I want to be a part of things but I can’t seem to find anything substantial to take part in.

I know the onus is on me to re-invent myself. No one can get me out of this rut but me. I won’t try to care about things I really don’t want to include in my life. I’m not a part of the instant gratification movement of the youth and I don’t want to throw my arms in the air and make everything an issue like many late 20 something to 30 something-year-olds. I don’t want everything to be a situation or a problem and I’m not floundering to stay afloat after a full day of work and family like some forty-somethings. I’m not ready to join any one group in solidarity and go against “the man” and I am not interested in topics about raising children because I raised mine very differently from the way people raise children today. My children are grown and capable and I all I have to say to the hovering parents of young kids today is “good luck”. I know I’m not ready to sit still and wait for my life to end but I am truly searching for something, somewhere and some way to become passionate again and find a new happy niche in the current world. I’m not sure where to start but I know I’ll get there. I know I will find a way to fulfill my soul again even if it means meandering about the absurd obstacles this world presents on the daily.  Maybe when I find it, I’ll tell you what it is …then again…. maybe I won’t.