Tuesday, October 28, 2014

I don't like that kid

I distinctly remember my mother and father not liking certain friends I had.  I remember this because they were vocal about it.  Of course many of the kids they did not like I liked for all the things they saw in them that I disagreed with them on  - Supreme Court judges have maybe heard the level of detailed argument I often made on these friends' behalf.

I also remember the superiority argument that I told them and told myself even older before having kids that " I would never do that with my own kids".  Yeah that is a long list of the "parent" I would be which includes; will never yell at child, will always negotiate, will have perfectly mannered Tiffany for Teenage Table Manners worthy fork and knife holding by age 8, will never say because I said so .. yeah you know we all say these things in our balcony view of parenting.  I will admit that I do try to adhere to some of them but I have long ago learned that parenting is about understanding in a flash what is needed in that moment and sometimes "because I said so" is the right answer.

My mother was right - I am old enough to be ok with admitting that even to her - about the kids she did not like as my friends.  There were not many, I have been incredibly lucky to have made friends since my first steps into the States at 8, then in high school, a few in college and even as an adult (particularly as a mom) that are just really amazing people.  My network of these friends is one that is full of memories, of support, of admiration for who they have become and the tighter even years after that first "hi" regardless if we see each other as often as we would like to or not.  The friends she did not like -- yeah funny thing they are not part of my life.   I think somewhere deep inside I knew she was right - but we all know that a teenager will not admit that even upon threat of water boarding style torture because that would mean, shudder, that we were not all knowing at that age.

Now it easy to control the friendship circle when kids are little - after all 1) you are the one that sets up these friendships at first via story time or activities and you select not based on child but on parent that you would like to hang out with so all is good (and should little adorable Jenny suddenly become bride of Chucky during said play date well you just don't do more) 2) you are their main mode of social set up - slightly different then when most of us were kids, especially city kids where this occurred bit more organically via the went outside and played with pattern 3) they cannot communicate except through you so oh well you see a child who is actively pushing children off a slide in the stair not slide direction you can opt never to call that parent for a play date.   Then day care, school, the school bus and suddenly they are making choices.

Now I know there are parents who believe in full democratic process but I am of the "I am the parent and I need to make the hard choices" school.  I pick my battles of course - you want to wear two different pairs of socks ok  - you want to lock of your bedroom door yeah not happening - I also reserve the right to check your email, texts and online activity, my kids are young some of these rules will maybe get a little leeway as they get older.  There are friends recently though that I am not liking so much - exactly for the reasons my son likes them for.  They are allowed to play video games that I do not allow - they somehow have more access to adult tv content and language and they are a draw.   I get it.  I did some myth busting with son about how "everyone is allowed to play Call of Duty" type games that is his age by asking in front of him how many moms allow it - none.  I also took him to Game Stop and asked the guy who works there what is the age for those, full confession I hate those games the realistic graphics are disturbing considering they involve killing, and he said 14 or 15 start but not before.  I wasn't going to let him play at this age anyway but it felt good to be in the right - he rolled his eyes said he got it and then told me that he understands that real killing is bad but video games are not real (you know he thought duh but he knows better than to vocalize it).

So they are still young enough that I could ensure minimal contact but that only made me hang out with the kids I got the "I do not like" about.  I also realize that essentially the kids seem like ok kids with more graphic vocabulary than 10 and 11 year olds should have.  I want to teach my sons to make the choices that I eventually made on my own - to select the friends that enhance their lives and not are a momentary flash of firework.  To know when to walk away and when it is just part of understanding good and bad choices that all kids and teenagers make.  The boys are meant to learn to judge people on character or lack thereof.  I can easily ban these kids but I would rather have the boys start to make decisions not based on what these kids are doing but by the old adage "show me your friends and I will tell you who you are".

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

You know you're getting older when....

I was watching Scandal the other day - hint number one that I am getting older I fall asleep earlier and get up earlier.  Therefore, watching one of my shows usually means On Demand, DVR or Netflix/Amazon Prime because I also now like to watch on my own time.  It rarely means actually seeing it on the day it airs even if I am up say past 10 pm.  So as I am folding laundry, sign 2 that I am getting older I tend to multitask those things that I used to rush through so now folding laundry is done while catching up on said shows, watching the last episode I had missed and they reference a teenager making a consensual sex tape with boys (yes plural) her own age.  Here is how the "you are no longer twenty" hammer came down in my head 1) oh that is someone's child 2) kids today - they make a bad choice and zoom through the ether forever haunting them - not like getting your number written on a bathroom wall somewhere with a crap rhyme about something that rhymes mouth 3) what does Eiffel Tower mean?  The last one was the act that she was filmed doing.  

Now a younger me would probably have heard the term, a teenage me would have wanted to see the tape just so I could talk with my friends and say how we would not do that or stuck up for the girl just to piss off the adult that would be telling me the tale of caution.  Me at this age was just bit confused about what it meant along with the other 2 things I mentioned.  Any age me did what I did - I looked it up.  Kind of what I thought, go ahead blog will be here you know you want to Urban Dictionary it if you do not know it.  Ahh you are back .. I know right??  By the way one of the cast members, a man closer to my age and super cute Jake on the show, also had to Google the term -- man what a rocking assisted living facility that would be if he and I wound up there together. 

I am so much more liberal at this age than I was in my 20s about certain things.  I am less afraid of judgement and therefore, after looking it up the first thought was that I was so past the age of doing anything like that.  I also think there should be no amateur videos, no one wants to see that people not even you after.  The reason is because the world will judge and especially a woman for doing things that a man does still.  It shouldn't, after all in said video there were boys and a girl, but it does. One of my favorite parts of that episode was when the mother character says just that - they get high fives we get beat down for the same act.  I know I was getting older when the feminist in me got really pissed off that it was still like that for women. 

I know I am getting older when I was not worried about what anyone would think cause I asked what the act was. I am older and there are things that scare me about that - I cannot remember a song sometimes like an hour after I heard it and my greatest irrational fear takes over that I will get dementia/Alzheimer's.  I worry that the time bandit is just getting better at stealing the time I need to see places that I love or want to see, to be spent with my amazing sons, to write the book that keeps swirling in my head (ok may be books not book), to be with my friends, to tell someone who I just care so deeply about that they are that person.  I worry about getting older for all of those things but not because I laugh with lines, they are my treasures of memories that made me laugh and my time with my face to the sun and feet to the waves.  I embrace the knowledge that I have gotten through the years through good times and bad. I know I am getting older in my need to have more comfort (ok camping was not in my young self's good zone either) where I go, where I eat because I have earned it.  I learned to be ok with being 10% athletic but loving 100% of the tennis and time I spend doing athletic things.  

Yep am getting older -- I may have looked up what the Eiffel Tower was but I did not blush or pass judgement when I found out -- c'est la vie. 

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Billy Joel and Me

There are times when I look back and think my life can be told in Billy Joel songs.  I like Billy and find him sort of a broken, funny, gifted musician whose songs never get stale for me. 

In the my teenage years it definitely would have to be "Only the good die young".  I mean really who is not invincible at those ages???? Everything you have to wait for that is just right at your fingertips, is right there but slightly out of reach and there is a point where every moment, which at the time seems like forever, is about why oh why should I wait ?? What's the point of not doing something ?  Some of those choices were correctly "no" but the whole world of possibility and discovery is as great as when you first learn to walk and talk.... Come on Virginia!

In my late teens to early 20s which were in the height of the 80s, height being the word for hair, for shoulder pads, for heels, for shortness of skirts that showed heights of leg, for Bonfire of the Vanities moments it would be "Uptown Girl" and "We Didn't Start the Fire" as the Iron Curtain came down.  Oh the stuff I couldn't reach in the previous years was here with flair and "Dynasty'' and "Dallas".  It was fluff but it was fun. 

Then the crash and Billy got put away because after all angst came from Seattle not from a Long Island boy.  I wanted more Soundgarden and Nirvana more of Eddie Veder and his ProChoice writing on his arm then "Downeaster Alexa" but in all of that shoving, flannel and fallen hair along with the economy there was still "Allentown" which told the same story but not for the point of view of only the youth but how the dire economy was destroying families. 

I remember driving home from having lived in San Francisco and as I got to that place where the Lincoln Tunnel is almost in sight I saw the skyline, at night shining and when it is magnificent, and I cried.  Cried like I had just been reunited with a lover .. which in some ways is what NY is for me .. and wouldn't you know "New York State of Mind" came on -- Billy knew what an East Coast girl needed after trying to be a West Coast resident. 

There are the songs about being a woman "she only reveals what she wants you to see"  oh yes only what I want you to see, the vulnerable spot only few get a glimpse of.  That moment when I loved someone and hoped that what they were thinking "she's got a way about her I don't know what it is but I know that I can't live without her".  There is "Just the Way You Are" - cause I hoped he wanted to change nothing about me even when I was being everything for the guy and losing a lot of just the way I actually was.  

As a mother "Vienna" or "Lullaby" were songs I actually sang to my babies as I did not know that many, ok with my oldest none, actual lullaby songs.  

Now as I get so much more past the point where I care what people think, where I am ok with who I am more than when I was a teenager or even up to my 30s, now I think I am all about "You May Be Right" .. after all I may be crazy but it just may be a lunatic you're looking for .

I cannot imagine my life without music, Billy's and others of course, my tastes are very varied but it is the music that I turn to for a smile, a memory, to make a memory, to cry and just to belt it out along with.  Thank you Billy for providing so much of the soundtrack. 


Tuesday, October 7, 2014

The Talk .. yeah that talk .. birds, bees and queasy parents

On a show that I watched recently, Blackish - which is only mildly funnish so far, the topic was having the talk ... I mean "the talk" with your children.  The mom mentioned she had it, had dealt with the son's questions.  The Dad felt that this was his domain, though he is by far more inhibited then her, his father who lives with them (some of the best moments of the show Mr Fishburne) basically felt today's generation needs to stop having so much talk with their kids. 

So it got me thinking about my own 10 year old son.  I know that kids are moving toward sexual experimentation much younger then my own generation. I do not actually think they need to move faster and it is not because I am a prude thing, cause of the many things I may be that is so not one of them.  It is that I genuinely believe that it is ok for kids to be just that kids for a while longer then they seem to be.  We were, am sure faster than our parents, unless of course your parents were hippies living in the 60s with the free love generation.  My parents were living in the 60s .. nothing free about it, not in a Communist country, not in my mother's upbringing.  Though I grew up in the States there were many rules that I and immigrant children seem to have imposed on us that were less a reflection of how the home country was currently behaving and more of a reflection of the country our own parents had grown up in .. a roughly 20 or more year divide.  We had the talk .. umm not sure if at all.  My parents were not particularly uptight but we were like mostly everyone I know .. ya just did not need the details to be a convo topic. I had info in school, from friends, from books but there was no need to have my parents tell me the motions. 

All of this was happening in stages and while it seems that we went from 7 minutes in heaven to things like oral sex at about the same ages I still think developmentally both boys and girls are more ready for the 7 minutes then the other.  

So how to have the talk - when to have the talk  - who should have the talk ?  My boys tend to come to me for more things - their father is ok with this.  A few years back my older son, who was maybe 8 at the time, asked me if he could ask me about something inappropriate.  I nodded and when he told me he knew what sex was I turned down the radio, I was driving at the time,  and in the age old custom of avoidance said " excuse me what did you say?" you know hoping the question went away.  It did not, it was a turning point -- what the hell do I say?  So I asked back what he thought it was.  His explanation was partially right - man gets on top of woman, they hug and kiss poof baby.  I took a deep breath and said, "Well that's kind of right but they have to love each other and hopefully be old enough to marry if they want to".  He asked nothing more -- it was enough.  It was the school bus, that den of mischief on wheels, where someone had told him this.

At 10 I have opened the door a littler more and here is why ... I do not condone sex of any kind at this age or even before teenage years and by that I mean later teenage years.  I understand that these things will happen but I want to lay a foundation.  A lot of our small talks are more about self respect - for his own body and for his partners'.  Talk about how you should not do something or say you did something for the bus crowd ... still a den of potentially dangerous conversations.  We have talked about if he has questions as his body starts to change that he can come to me or his dad.  

I am not ready, and phew so far he is not yet either, for the full on talk.  I am prepping just like telling him about smoking or drugs.  Topics that may come up and that at this point I want to teach him to avoid in a way that he can with the peer pressure he will be facing.   The day that I need to talk to him about things like deadly or lifelong STDs, my own college age intro to AIDS was brutal but I was old enough to understand it on my own.  He needs to be comfortable with his choices and supporting choices for women.  He needs to learn as he gets older to take responsibility for his actions.  

We are not ready yet but it is not about my readiness but identifying both of my boys "ready to have the talk" time.  How did we go from learning to go potty to this so fast ?  I told my older son if he wants to he could have the sex talk with his dad and he had this reaction "umm no, would rather talk to you, after all what would Papa know about s   e   x?" .... maybe I should have a talk with Papa too :).