I just finished a book at record speed. Why? Well, because it grabbed my attention from page one, and I couldn’t get enough. The title is “The Day John Died” by Christopher Anderson. John, as in, John Kennedy, Jr.
First, the story grabbed me because I, and anyone with eyes in my age group, had a crush on John. He was like your forbidden best friend’s older brother crush. You don’t have a chance, but it’s fun to gaze.
Secondly, I had no idea that John was “a spirited boy” or in today’s terms probably had a little ADHD going on. I prefer spirited boy.
Oh, how do I know this? Well, because I raised one as well, just not in the public eye.
John’s early days in the White House were described as “active” and “curious.” Running the halls like he owned the place and asking any adult, including Secret Service agents, every question a toddler could wrangle up. Yup, he’s spirited all right.
I’m not going to lie here. I was getting envious thinking of Jackie’s help in handling her handful. I know I could have used a couple of agents and a Nanny during those primitive years.
I imagined meeting Jackie at a parent-teacher conference, realizing we were in the same boat. FYI: My boat is a raft and hers a yacht.
Throughout my son’s education, it was obvious that the mothers of these little spirits also magnetize towards each other, and remain lifelong friends. The cry for help must be written all over our faces.
There are two scenarios: Jackie and I would have been best friends, or I would have been served with a restraining order. It could go either way, but I’m leaning towards friends. I know me, and I know I would be starstruck, so there are no guarantees.
On one of our many playdates at the park, we could discuss the need to have our colorist on speed dial to touch up the never-ending grays caused by the shenanigans of our little overactive, curious but lovable boys. A girl can dream.
As everyone knows, Jackie was very protective over John, and rightfully so, considering the circumstances surrounding him at every corner. Still, her protection from the many, many Mrs. Kennedy wannabes had me dreaming of landlines. You go, Jackie!
One of the perks in raising a child in the ’70s was the ability to screen their calls, and Jackie had no problem telling an unfamiliar female voice, “I’m sorry he’s not here right now.”
Unfortunately for me, my little spirit was born into a world of cell phones and the knowledge to press charges for invasion of privacy if I even tried such a move.
Of course, this story is all in jest. I would never have been in the same circle as my girl Jackie, nor would I ever be screening my son’s calls, hmm, well maybe, but I found it very interesting through the words of Christopher Anderson that our sons, had such similar spirit and curiosity. Just another reason for me to love Jackie.
Enjoy the Ride!
The other day I was walking through Target looking for another hundred things to purchase aside from what I actually needed when I overheard a mother/daughter interaction.
The mother was walking ahead of the daughter, who could not have been more than 4 years old. Her micro fashion was on point, and her pink sparkle purse did not disappoint.
Mother: Maddie, keep up you are too far behind.
Maddie: I know. I’m really slacking today. This is what got my attention. How doe she know the term slacking? She’s just a peanut!
Mother: You sure are slacking.
Maddie: Mommy! You’re not supposed to agree with me.
Mother: Well, you’re not keeping up with me today.
Maddie: I know that, but you’re supposed to tell me it’s ok that I’m slacking.
Mother: It’s not ok.
Maddie: I know that, but I don’t want you to say it because I already know it.
Me: Good luck.
This made me take pause. What was I doing at Maddie’s age? Probably eating dirt or glue.
Not looking like a miniature rock star that’s for sure. I just wore what my sister wore but in a different color.
Not using words like slacking. I don’t think it was in the dictionary yet.
Not having an adult conversation with my mother in the middle of a store. I did not speak adult at age 4, and we did not go to stores.
Honestly, I don’t think I could handle the likes of Maddie in my house. It was hard enough trying to control real children, let alone a micro adult. Yes, Maddie, once upon a time, in the United States of America, kids were second-class citizens, and they were all the better because of their status.
Without sounding like a complete fart who thinks things were better “back in the day,” I’m going to go out on a rooftop to scream it loud and clear today.
Parents need to take a step back to realize that their only function is to raise their youngins to be solid citizens. Not superheroes.
They don’t have to be the best student or athlete. They do not need to be micro adults. They do not need to be held up on a pedestal 24/7. It’s “ok” to be second.
They just need to be a benefit to the world, and believe it or not there is a straightforward lesson plan. Consistently treat others the way you want to be treated. Bam! Mission accomplished.
Now, let me go find that rooftop before the Maddie’s of the world take over.
Enjoy the Ride!
via Daily Prompt: Neighbors
Hmm … where do I even begin? I grew up in a city neighborhood where the typical household held anywhere from 4 to 12 children. How we were all conceived and raised in a three bedroom, one bathroom rowhome is still a mystery.
The best part of this upbringing was you were never without entertainment. There was always an active pulse ready to play.
We were never indoors. Never wore protective gear while riding our bikes. Never played organized sports, unless you count the games we organized via our imaginations, and we never had to worry about our parents hovering over us every second of the day. Ever!
We had an understanding with our parental units. Kids play outside until the street light comes on and then you scatter like roaches into your homes. Simplicity works.
Neighbors from my youth rocked! It didn’t matter if it was a sickness, new baby or death the neighbors organized meals, money, and services better than the Red Cross. No questions asked.
If you had a problem with a neighbor, you knocked on the door and dare I say expressed your concerns. Hey Bill are you hurt or just not keeping up with your lawn?
Life was simple.
Today I live in the same type of close-knit city dwelling and my oh my how things have changed. Now there’s a neighborhood FaceBook page.
The kids on my block if they come outdoors on their downtime from being carted from one organized activity to the next, are usually huddled around a tablet playing a video game, watching YouTube videos, taking selfies or snap chatting. Missing out on their surroundings.
I do on occasion see kids riding their bikes, running, playing on swings and giggling with joy, but the parents ruin it with their “rules,” and the parents who don’t participate in the rules are crucified. Stop running, slow down, stop screaming, not so high, get off the grass, get out of the street … nag, nag, nag.
Now, as for the adults, I’m speechless at times. A lot of the time actually.
Instead of knocking on doors to settle concerns we now call the authorities. Oh, yes. The neighbors find it easier to call 911 on their fellow neighbor than to walk across the street, knock on the door and say “hey, could you move your car so I can’t get out.” Having your neighbor ticketed is better how?
Oh, please for the love of God do not have a sickness or injury that prevents you from cutting your lawn, because there’s a number to call for that too. The city will send a service over to destroy your lawn and give you a fine. The days of asking “do you need help with your lawn? I’ll send Bobby over to provide you with a hand are over.
Worse than these two examples would be the dreaded neighborhood FaceBook page. Don’t get me wrong the page is great for recommendations on home improvement repairs, lost or found pets and keeping us in the loop on activities in the area, but unfortunately, it has also become a place where free reign bitching is allowed.
Recently there was a post regarding an older neighbor installing a bright lightbulb on their porch. The post read “what should I do? My neighbor installed a high wattage bulb, and I’m blinded when I come out of my door.” This is what I’m dealing with people.
There were plenty of suggestions; however, none of them included knocking on the door to inquire about the bright light. This “man” was considering replacing the bulb himself. I just don’t get it.
As for me, well, I will continue to live by example, share responsibility and Enjoy the Ride!
Father’s Day has been different for me over the years. My father died on Father’s Day in 1994. It’s ok, don’t be all sad, he planned the big exit so we would never forget. 23 years ago on the 19th of June.
Honestly, I always thought it would be Christmas, the big guns of the holidays, but having your father die on Father’s Day…well-played Jim, well-played indeed.
This was a man with a very large presence, who wanted to be remembered in a very grand way so I would say…mission accomplished dad.
My dad was almost 58 when I born..oops, which made my childhood a tad interesting, to say the least. It’s funny because I never thought my dad was old, he was just my dad. Until that Summer afternoon in my driveway when my best friend invited me to come to her Grams surprise 60th birthday party. She informed me it was going to be a big party because 60 is really old. This moment was equivalent having a friend fill you in on the whole Santa hoax. Wadda mean really old?
Needless to say, the lightbulb went off, the calculator in my head was hard at work and 68 is the final answer. Should I be afraid that the Grim Reaper is lurking in the shadows? Yes, which is exactly what I did from that moment forward. Side note: My mother was 20 years younger, just in case you were going to look me up in the Guinness Book of World Records as the baby born to the oldest woman or something.
He certainly didn’t act old. We went to the shore, amusement parks, and rides to Lancaster, just because he liked chicken and dumplings. We drove for ice-cream on a whim to a special place 45 minutes away, because it was better. We did everything the kids with a young dad did, just with more gray hair.
As I said my dad had a big personality. He was a Jimmy Hoffa/Archie Bunker (without the bigotry) all rolled into one. If he had something to say, he said it. If you crossed him…be afraid. If there was wrong to be righted, he got the job done. How? Who knows and it’s probably better to leave some things to the imagination.
He was a feisty free spirit who lived his life according to his own set of rules. He was loud, stubborn, demanding, certainly not boring, full of life and definitely had a good sense of humor. He never smoked or drank a day in his life, which most likely helped him in the end. I couldn’t even imagine an alcohol induced Jim…I think I just got goosebumps at that thought.
He was a Teamster and drove a truck for a living, but retired when I went to first grade. So in 1971, he became the stay at home dad and my mother went to work. Let’s just draw some more attention to ourselves as being different, shall we?
Both of my parents were very politically active during my childhood, so although he was retired from his job he always had something going on politically. He did go back to work part-time until he was 81. His motto was “always work hard, but remember you’re only a number” and today my siblings and I are all incredibly loyal hard-working adults, despite being a number.
When my dad was 81 he lost part of his foot to diabetes. This was after Dr. Jim decided he would remove his ingrown toenail with pliers. Feel free to read that line again, yes you did read “pliers” and yes, as in the tool in the garage.
Of course, no one knew how bad it was until it was too late. My mother had to retire at that point to care for him for the next 7 years. She refers to that time as “serving her sentence.” The woman is a saint! There isn’t a jury in the land that would convict her if she accidentally sat on that pillow on his face…trust me.
Jim was the worst patient in the ENTIRE world. Try telling an old free spirit …” you can’t”. The sentence “you can’t drive anymore, we need to take your license” was a million times more deadly than that gangrenous foot … for all of us.
Although, I know there were highways out there cheering with joy that Mr. Magoo was finally parked for good. Sitting in the passenger seat could cure even the worst case of constipation.
Honestly, when the man behind the wheel is saying “I’ll drive wherever the hell I want..I pay my taxes” as your entering the street with the red and white DO NOT ENTER sign, you know why your bowels are rumbling!
Although I was born to an older dad, I was fortunate that he hung around long enough to meet my daughter. I found out I was pregnant with my son the day before his funeral. This was a huge surprise, considering I had no recollection of having sex. But, according to that blue plus sign on the stick, I did. My first thought was “Oh, shit!” and rightfully so, because sure enough, there is a stubborn, demanding, free-spirited, outspoken young man who looks very much like my dad, living in my house.
Just remember folks, at 58 my father lived another life. He died when I was 30 years old. So he raised me, watched me get married… twice, became a grandfather for the 7th time and taught me a valuable lesson … you’re never too old to Enjoy the Ride!
You’ve been asked to do a five-minute presentation to a group of young schoolchildren on the topic of your choice. Describe your presentation.
Kids: In unison …. G R E A T!
Me: Today I’m here to fill you in on some truths about being a grown-up. Oh, no not the lies the world is selling you, the TRUTH. Growing Up Is A Trap. How many of you already knew it was a trap?
Kids: The sound of chirping crickets filled the air.
Me: First of all don’t be in such a hurry to get there, you’ll be very disappointed. Honestly, it’s not that great. Of course there are some perks like driving, sex & drinking….but, you know what kids? They don’t last forever and if we’re being honest here, which we are, they’re not all they’re cracked up to be…seriously. All of these things can be great, but they can also get you in BIG trouble. Not the “go to your room” kind of trouble, but the “time to go back to your cell” kind of trouble.
Kid: My mom said ….
Me: Your mom is lying.
Me: But nothing kid! I told you I’m here to fill you in on the big secret of life. Are you ready? Every grown-up you see, even good ole grandma & grandpa, mom, dad, teachers … all of them, wish for ONE thing….Interruption…What? You with the hand waving like you’re putting out a fire…what?
Kid: My grandma wishes she could walk faster.
Me: I’m sure she does kid, I’m sure she does. Do you know why? Put your hands down, there is no need to guess because that’s what I’m here to tell you…All grown-ups wish they were kids…just like you. That’s right guys, they want to play in the dirt without a care in the world.
Kid: My dad doesn’t like when I get dirty.
Me: Yes he does, he’s just jealous. I bet your parents don’t like when you run around the house like energizer bunnies do they?
Kids: In unison …. NOOOOOOO!
Me: That’s because once again they are jealous. Do you get it kids? Every time you do something they can’t do, because they’re too big and it’s no longer acceptable, they get angry at you. Have any of you ever destroyed something in your house, but because you are so darn cute you got away with it? You, all the way in the back with the pointy tail and horns..what did you do?
Kid: One time, I um, emptied a case of bottled water in the driveway to make mud for my trucks and when my mom asked me “what happened to all the water?” I told her “I drank it” with a straight face and she smiled.
Me: Great example kid and kudos for the straight face…well-played, well-played indeed. Now, just imagine if your dad did that, what do you think would have happened? Ok, don’t get your pigtails in a knot, what would your mom do?
Kid: First she would tell my dad how stupid it was, then she would probably post about it on Facebook so all her friends could agree that my dad did a stupid thing and then she would just talk in “one words.”
Me: Your mom sounds lovely and pretty much dead on in this case. See, when you’re a grown-up you’re no longer cute…your just big, hairy and well, stupid. So, do you understand the message here kids?
Me: Do you see how important it is to be a kid as long as you possibly can?
Me: So what are you going to so about growing up kids?
Kids: Respectfully decline. Never forget our inner child. Learn how to act in public. Have the courage to become who we really are and Enjoy the Ride!
The Tooth Fairy (or Easter Bunny, or Santa Claus . . .): a fun and harmless fiction, or a pointless justification for lying to children?
This is a great question, one I have been pondering for quite some time actually. I will be the first to admit that the single, childless me may have frowned upon setting the wee ones up for a disappointment. However, the married mother of a 3-year-old me found herself asking “Why can’t Santa make an appearance during all 4 seasons?” Santa threats are what mothers consider…. Leverage.
Oh, put your judgments away folks. I don’t care what anyone says, there is NO and I repeat NO negotiating with a 3-year-old who made the executive decision to let you know in a big way, that they no longer want to be shopping with you and NOTHING gets them out of their human plank position in the middle of the Mall faster than those 2 glorious words…Santa’s Watching.
Personally, I was never a fan of the Easter Bunny. The thought of a giant rodent coming into our house really didn’t bring on the warm & fuzzies, it sort of just scared the crap out of me. I never elaborated on his existence, probably due to my own phobias about that big ugly impersonator they have at the mall. If you ever need a good photo of a frightened child, just spend a few minutes at that display. I don’t find this one fun, harmless or a useful parenting tool…it’s just weird & scary.
Ah, my girl the Tooth Fairy, now this little lady rocks. I love the concept of a little fairy bringing cash in the middle of the night. Sadly she only works for teeth. I know when I was a kid I couldn’t wait to wake up to a nice shiny quarter or dime under my pillow. However, just this week I heard she is handing out an average of $2.50 per tooth. Makes one want to consider some extractions now doesn’t it? It’s 80.00 for a set of chops in case you were digging out the calculator.
My FAVORITE Tooth Fairy story is when I broke the news to my son. He was sitting in the back of the car, drilling me as if I were on trial, about the whereabouts of the Tooth Fairy. My daughter, who is just about 2 years older, let out a “Mom, just tell him!” Lord knows that’s all curious George had to hear before the “Tell me mom” chant entered the vehicle. This kid is notorious for wearing down the strongest pillars of parental strength with his piercing repetitive chanting. So, I broke the news that I was in fact the Tooth Fairy. Immediate silence came over the car.
Ugh, I felt so bad looking at his little face in the rearview mirror. He was so cute with his little glasses and toothless grin that my heart was just melting. Finally I asked “Are you ok Zac you’re awfully quiet back there?” I NEVER saw this coming …”I’m ok mom, I can’t wait to tell my friends that you work, you make the best cookies in the whole world and YOU’RE THE TOOTH FAIRY!” Needless to say we had to take our conversation a tad further until it all sunk into that cute little head. He was actually relieved I wasn’t going into strange homes.
Now back to the question on hand. The only real problem I have with this “lying” is it doesn’t last too long today. Parents don’t get nearly as much mileage out of the farce as their parents did. Kids today are hip. I was so gullible believing well into 7th grade, so breaking the grim “There is no Santa, Giant Rodent or Fairy” news to a 13 year-old really wasn’t a big deal. Parents today are discussing drugs, alcohol & sex to their 13 year olds. Which to me is a much bigger deal!
Lying about fun and harmless fiction is not an issue, however lying about your child’s age to open a Facebook account is. The legal age is 13! Children today are already lacking a childhood, or my definition of one anyway, so lets hang on to what we can these days. We already have technology & academic pressure pushing the fantasy of childhood right out the door as it is, so if telling a few tales to ignite some good old imagination, I say bring it on. There’s plenty of time to be grown-up…let kids be kids and Enjoy the Ride! (In the slow lane)
Today marks quite a milestone here at Life With The Top Down. One year ago today I decided to take the plunge into the great big world of blogging. I nervously hit that big blue Publish button and sent my first post The C-Word out into the blogosphere. I had a love/hate relationship with that button for quite some time, but we’re cool now.
Yesterday I took a little trip back in time and discovered that I really have come a long way through this journey. The first thing I noticed was that my overall well-being and my writing skills have both grown quite a bit in the last 365 days. Along with my ass, but that’s another story.
It was also nice to discover that my girl Miss Four Eyes was the first and only person to like my words. We all know how important it is to be acknowledged. MFE is a breath of fresh air. She is no doubt an old soul who expresses her youthful, yet wise self perfectly both in and outside of her posts. Thank you MFE!
No matter how things go down, you never forget your first and that stands true for followers as well. My very first follower or followers are Daryl and Devon. Do the math, yes it was a threesome. I have laughed, loved & learned quite a bit through their views on politics, current events, black history & music. They certainly keep things real, which was an immediate attraction for me. Thank you D&D!
Of course, the list of people who have sat shot-gun with me on this ride and were kind enough to bring their support, inspiration and encouragement along, have certainly grown over this past year. They include my real life family & friends, along with a new group of virtual friends that I would consider family. You all deserve a great big thank you, thank you and one thank you very much for the road!
I wasn’t sure what my expectations were for this venture, but I did know it was something that was absolutely necessary for me… for so many reasons. I was at a point in my life where my kids suddenly left me in the dust…they decided to grow-up and I was finally handed the pink slip. Of course they call me back occasionally for advice, assistance and we can’t forget the big one …money, but all in all they were doing their thing and I needed to do mine. It was my time to shine!
Sometimes things just pop into our lives to help us along the way, like Kathy over at Friday Night Family, who I hadn’t seen or spoke to since high school did! There she was, this blast from the past, encouraging and inspiring me to find what makes me happy. Well done Kathy…well done indeed!
“You can’t reach for anything new if your hands are full of yesterday’s junk.”
So, I finally decided to unloaded some junk mostly fear and give birth to Life With The Top Down on March 4, 2012 at 12:58 pm. Her first year was a quite a challenge, but I think she is ready to enter year 2 with vigor and excitement.
Hope you will all continue to join me as we … Enjoy the Ride!
Write about what you did last weekend as though you’re a music critic reviewing a new album.
This album features a ROCK STAR that rarely flies solo. He loves to be surrounded by his entourage, which seems to grow each year. Zachary turned 18 last weekend and celebrated in true Rock Star fashion. The house was packed as he took center stage to debut his new album appropriately titled … It’s Finally Official.
We celebrated the release of his new-found freedom album by treating him, the entourage and a couple of groupies to dinner at a Japanese Steakhouse. The paparazzi swooned in and captured this shot of him performing a duet of Happy Birthday with the chef.
Zachary will not disappoint his fans with this latest release. His uncanny fusion of teenage boy, young man and complete goofball can be heard within each track. His hit single I Can Do What I Want Now soared to the top of the charts this week when he came home with a tattoo.
For most of his life, we knew him as an unfiltered energized boy, the kind of kid who just loves to have fun. But lately he’s showing signs of re-birth – taking things a little more serious. Not completely ditching his hands in the air like you just don’t care attitude, but showing glimmers of responsibility that have left us all in a state of…Huh? This comes through loud and clear when you listen to the lyrics of One Less Gray Hair For Mom on track 3.
When Zachary crossed over that imaginary threshold into manhood he learned to appreciate the wisdom that went into the two special tracks cowritten with yours truly…Adult Is A Four-Letter Word and my favorite … Being Grown-up Isn’t Half as Fun as Growing Up so Enjoy the Ride!
Sure, you turned out pretty good, but is there anything you wish had been different about your childhood? If you have kids, is there anything you wish were different for them?
The 70’s were a great time to be a kid. We played outside from sun up to sun down using dare I say our imaginations. We put on shows, had carnivals, jumped rope, played house, tag, freedom and manhunt for hours on end. We rode our bikes, skated, hula-hooped, hop scotched and bottle capped our days away without a care in the world. We played stick ball, wiffle ball, kick ball and dodge ball without ever being short a player. Kids were everywhere! Most households had 5 or more kids which gave us an abundance of able bodies. We entertained ourselves and lived to talk about it.
I grew up with Watergate and a whole new meaning to drinking Kool-Aide after the Jim Jones fiasco. I was around for the Iran Hostage crisis, gas rationing and the bombing at the MunichWinter Olympics. Bad things were happening, but we weren’t consumed by them…we were busy being kids.
I had the pleasure of sporting a crocheted poncho, POW bracelets, mood rings, Dr. Sholl’s & clogs. I was introduced to Rock, Disco & Punk all in one decade. I loved watching Kojak with my dad, Happy Days, Lavern & Shirley & Eight Is Enough with my friends and The Carol Burnet show with my mom and sisters. Without sounding like a fossil, things were simple.
I walked to school, came home for lunch, did homework without help and presented projects that I created from things around the house. There wasn’t an overkill of competitiveness surrounding me. My parents didn’t drive us anywhere …. ever and our weekends weren’t consumed with sitting on a field, they were spent with family. What the hell happened?
I’m not sure how we survived, but we did. We didn’t use seat belts and there were no air bags. Our homes were not child poof in any way, but I never recall anyone being electrocuted. We played in the mud and on rusted swing sets, without ever getting a life threatening illness or injury. Even our toys weren’t safe! We could buy sizzling snakes, fire crackers and cherry bombs at the five & dime and use matches to set them off. No bubble wrap for us…we were real kids.
When I think back at the amount of freedom I had as a kid, I wonder if my parents would be reported to the authorities by today’s standards. Having faith & trust in our kids is unacceptable today. I wouldn’t change a thing about my childhood, it made me who I am today.
As for my own kids, I wish they had the pleasure of experiencing the freedom I had as a child. No worries, no pressures, just kids being kids as they Enjoy the Ride!
Happy Birthday to my Mom!
Whether you have a great mother-daughter relationship or a mother-daughter relationship that can be improved, you probably know that mother-daughter bonding can start at an early age.
When I was 4 years old, I remember watching Pixie Ann, professing my love and vowing to marry my mom when I grew up. I walked around mimicking her every move, wanting to be just like mommy. Then I discovered boys around 14, ironically around the same time she became the most ignorant, unenlightened, out-of-touch creature on the planet. The next five years were spent rolling my eyes followed by a single word, “Mooooooooooooommmmmmm!” And then, somewhere around twenty, she became human again. It wasn’t until I had children of my own that I recognized, she oozed the wisdom equivalent to Yoda.
I’m sure you’ll all familiar with that wonderful saying “What goes around comes around” well, it most certainly does. Now that I have a daughter, I can attest to this truth. Thankfully my daughter is heading towards 20, hopefully she will soon recognize that I just may have a clue. I long for the day when I am recognized as all-knowing and all-powerful again. Until then….
So, in honor of this very special lady, on her very special day … I think Tom Jones sums up best with this classic hit. Enjoy the Ride!