Tag Archives: Children

Remembering

Remembrance Day July 15 2045

A man about 70 years old is sitting in a backyard chatting with his eight year old granddaughter as their family is preparing for other family members to arrive.

Grandpa, did we celebrate Remembrance Day when you were my age?

No, not when I was your age. I was closer to your mom and dad’s age. This day has only been a national holiday for a little over twenty years, w,ell before you were born.

Mom and Dad say we get together because of a bad virus that spread all over the world and we remember so we don’t forget. Why do we want to remember a virus that got lots of people sick?

Well, it’s not so much the virus we remember but those who were most affected by it. We remember the people who didn’t get better and the people who helped us get through that time.

You mean like doctors and nurses?

Yes, like doctors and nurses but so many more who risked their own health so that others would remain safe. People like first responders, police officers, firefighters, and those in the military. There were so many.

They’re always the heroes, right?

Yes, they are, but there were many other people who put their own health at risk so the rest of us could live our lives safely at home. Before that time, we never gave much thought to truck drivers or people who worked in food stores as heroes, but those drivers transported food to the stores, even though it was risky. And the people who worked at those stores showed up everyday so that the rest of us were able to purchase food.
Teachers made sure their students continued to learn, people who worked in pharmacies made sure people continued to get their medicine,  restaurants stayed open so that some people could order food if they couldn’t get to the grocery stores. Maintenance people made sure the hospitals stayed clean and those who worked in banks kept coming in so people could get money if they needed it. I’ve probably not mentioned nearly as many heroes as there were during that time.

So that’s what today is about?

Partly, yes. We want to remember all those who lost someone and we want to give thanks to those who helped us get through that period of time.  We don’t ever want to forget any of them.

Do all countries celebrate this day?

Well, a few other countries remember this pandemic in their own way, but they don’t call it Remembrance Day since that name means something different for other countries.

Mom and Dad said things changed after the virus. Did they change a lot?

For many, yes. Others just went back to the same routine and the life they lived before this happened.

What kind of things changed?

Well, you know we lost our way of life for a while; our freedom to go where we wanted when we wanted. To see and hug  the people we love the most. You really don’t know how much you miss something until it’s been taken away from you. Then you realize you miss it even more than you could have imagined.
People used to live very busy lives. Many families never had dinner together, were pulled in different directions and missed family celebrations or birthdays, because of commitments they thought were important.

People really missed birthday parties and celebrations?

Sadly, yes. But a strange thing happened after this was over. Some people came to understand what was really important in life. That you can’t get some days back. There’s only one of them and when you miss it, it’s gone forever. Just like people. Unfortunately, some people learned that the hard way.

So people changed?

Like I said ,some did. But not all. You see, during that time you really couldn’t go anywhere and families were forced to spend a lot of time together. So instead of rushing around with other commitments, they went for walks, played games, ate together, talked a lot more, went for bike rides, read books, watched movies, cooked meals together and just hung out. They had time to make time for each other. Sometimes they got on each others nerves, but when it was over and they were able to do the things they did before, some realized they would miss what they had during the time they were forced to stay home. They decided they wanted more of their down time and less of the craziness they had before. So they changed the way they lived their lives. They made compromises and adjustments so they could have the best of both worlds. They realized it was easy to do if they just focused on what was most important to them.
But like I said, not everyone felt them same way.

Did our family change?

Eventually yes, but it took a little time, which was probably true of most people.

Mom and Dad said people who used to work in offices had to go in everyday. That must have been weird for kids. I couldn’t imagine not having mom or dad home almost everyday.

Well, it wasn’t weird before the virus. In fact, that was pretty standard. But two things happened. People realized they could work just as efficiently from home and be able to spend more time with their families. And companies realized if they allowed that to happen without it affecting their business their employees would be happier and they could cut down on the amount of office space they needed and save some money on rent in the process. So there was a compromise of sorts. Some people began working in the office one to three days a week on rotating shifts. Not all jobs could do that, of course, but quite a bit more than people realized just a few months earlier.

So the virus wasn’t all bad?

Well, for some it was terrible. Many people lost family members and some nurses and doctors had a tough time healing after what they experienced. But people also became kinder to one another. If you went for a walk during that time, people who were strangers would wave to you and ask if everyone was okay. If someone needed help, they received it. People sang, and danced, told jokes, made crazy videos and raised money for those who were less fortunate and needed support.
So to answer your question,  there was some good that came out of something that was bad.

That happens a lot doesn’t it.

Yes, that happens a lot, if we pay attention and just look hard enough.

For several minutes, the little girl said nothing, looking past the people who started to arrive. Finally, she asked her grandfather if he thought  a virus like that could ever happen again.

He hesitated before answering, putting his arm around her and holding her close.

It’s possible, I suppose, though we’re much better prepared in case it ever happens again. But if that period of time taught us anything, it was to live in the moment and not worry so much about tomorrow. And our moment is coming through the door as we speak. Your cousins, aunts, uncles and grandparents are all here. How about we go remember and celebrate this day with them.

The little girl looked up at her grandfather and smiled.  I think I’m going to give them all big hugs so they know how much I love them.

The grandfather pulled the little girl close, hugged her tightly and whispered softly in her ear.

I think that’s a great idea.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Deconstructing A Life

So it’s been a couple of days since I’ve last been here. What, you think it’s been more than a couple of days? Really? Maybe you’re right. I’ll have to count on my fingers to check. Sometimes life gets in the way or I get distracted.

My mother in law passed away this past fall at the age of 93 and so we spent the rest of the year going through her home and preparing it for sale. Not an easy task. My father in law passed away twenty-six years ago and so she’s lived in this home for the last sixty years. Up until recently she was able to take care of herself but the last year and a half required some help. Her home was always meticulous, even at the very end. The only problem was, she never threw anything away. I think that’s somewhat common for that generation, who came from a time when everything had value. Nothing was wasted or discarded needlessly. Nothing had a shelf life. It’s something I understand but it didn’t make the process any easier.

We sometimes didn’t know, going through her belongings, what had real value, sentimental or otherwise. Did it have special meaning to her, was it worth something, or was it an item that was given away for free at gas stations back in the day. Some things were obvious, some not so much. And what about the photos of people from so long ago that we didn’t recognize. Did the people in the photo hold special meaning to her? Did they remind her of a special time? What do we do with them now?

And here’s where deconstructing a life comes into the conversation. Here are the decisions we had to make, whether they seem logical or not. We kept quite a few things, as did our children, who wanted remembrances of their grandmother. We donated quite a bit to various charities. We sold a few things. And unfortunately, we ended up tossing some things. For some reason, the photos were sometimes the toughest decisions to make. It seems sacrilegious to throw them out but why keep photos of people we don’t know, and if we do keep them, you just leave it for the next person to deal with when we’re gone.

The whole thing was just so surreal. I’ve known my wife since third grade and have been going to that house for over fifty years. I spent more time there over the years than in the home I grew up in. I knew every corner and almost every story. To take it apart seemed like a violation of her life. Every day another piece was gone, until nothing remained but the shell. Until the home became a house. A property to be sold.

But it seemed even more than that and I’m not sure it’s easily explained. It’s like someone who existed a short time ago, no longer does. Her “stuff” is gone. I understand about the memories we”ll have to hold onto and the items we have to remind us of her life, but there is a big difference between the body and the soul of a person. In certain homes, filled with years of love and memories, I believe the same holds true. Strip away what made it special, and the deconstruction is complete. Emptying that home was like emptying a life. It’s a strange feeling and I’m sure many of you have gone through similar moments over time.

When we were done, I joked with my wife about what our children may think or say when their time comes to do the same thing. What questions they’ll have that may remain unanswered. What photos they’ll find and wonder who those people were. What decisions they’ll have to make and if sentimentality or practicality will be the deciding factor. Probably a little of both.

I just know that a few days after we finished up we started going through our own home. If we can make it a bit easier for our children when the time comes, all the better. I just don’t want to make it too easy. After all, what fun is life without leaving  some mystery and unanswered questions about your parents. I might even plant a few things around just to keep the conversation interesting. I wouldn’t want them to forget us easily.

It’s nice to be back.

 

Norway’s Answer To Youth Sports

I recently watched a show on HBO that explored Norway’s approach to youth sports. It was eyeopening. Anyone who has participated or been associated with youth sports in this country during the past thirty or so years will tell you, if they’re being objective, that the model is out of control. We train, pressure and attempt to develop eight year olds as if they’re pro athletes, so it should surprise no one that a study performed by the National Alliance for Youth Sports found that 70% of American children quit sports by the age of thirteen. One of the main reasons given for dropping out is that sports in no longer fun.

Enter Norway.

They basically take the approach that the United States is using, and do the opposite. Back in 1987, Norway adopted a statement called Children’s Rights In Sports. It governs how kids participate in athletics and all national sports federations are obligated to abide by the rules. The basic premise centers on making sports available for all kids with the goal of having fun. Instead of the pressure for kids to participate in one sport year round at an early age, like we do in the United States, Norway wants kids to play sports because its fun and they enjoy it.
By the way, 93 percent of children grow up playing organized sports in Norway, where there are no economic barriers, travel teams aren’t formed until teenage years and adults don’t begin separating weak from strong until children have grown into their bodies and interests. Leagues don’t keep scores until the age of 13, there are no national championships for teams younger than 13 and no regionals until 11. Once a child reaches thirteen, has begun to grow into their bodies and expressed specific interests, Norway’s sports federation make top coaches available to athletes skilled in those sports, but until then, it’s only about participation and letting kids be kids and have fun. Their belief is that it’s impossible to say at 8 or 10 who is going to be talented in school or sport. All children develop, physically and athletically, at very different ages.

What a concept!! Letting a child have fun, living their lives and playing sports for the pure enjoyment of it.

One would think that a system like this would come up short compared to our system of national championships for seven year olds, parents hiring coaches for nine year olds and families traveling across the country for tournaments. But Norwegian athletes get just as much physical exercise without having to play the same sports day after day, year after year, while they’re young. Their development is all encompassing and they are able to enjoy friendships and family without the stresses and commitments we see in this country.

Their goal is not to develop the best college or professional athlete, but the best well rounded person.

Oh, and if anyone thinks this approach doesn’t breed success, take a look at the last Winter Olympics in 2018. With a population of only 5.3 million people, Norway took home 39 medals, more than any country in the history of the Winter Games. And yes, they also have the best female soccer player in the world.

Is it any wonder that Norway always ranks as one of the happiest countries in the world?

Youth sports in this country is a 16 billion dollar industry bankrolled by parents who just don’t understand the long term impact on their children.

In a country where money speaks first, parents dictate direction and children have become a secondary priority, there is little chance that we will ever see the type of youth sports revolution Norway adopted.

And once again, children lose.

 

 

Road Trip-Disney World

As a longtime Bruce Springsteen fan, I learned many years ago that there are two camps. You either like him and his music or you don’t. I’ve never heard anyone say, yeah, he’s just ok.
I’ve found the same holds true with Disney, You either enjoy going there or you don’t. For many I think it’s impossible to be a take it or leave it type of person with Disney. Some people are made for it and some are not.

Look, Disney isn’t for everyone. It’s not. You have to believe. You have to have the mindset of a child, not be bothered by ridiculous crowds, brutal heat during  summer months and holidays, long lines, being cramped into shoulder width space during fireworks, long lines, exorbitant pricing, ridiculous crowds, and in your face marketing and commercialization. You have to be flexible, overlook and understand irritable kids, (most of whom are not your own), not blink at the price of a burger or drink, be patient with the transportation system and be willing to plan days and times for rides. Did I mention long lines and ridiculous crowds?

So why go? That’s a good question. One that everyone who enjoys Disney answers for themselves. You really do have to see it through the eyes of a child and not through the logical brain of an adult because logical adult brains would scream at you to stay away. But in some strange way, if you approach and plan it well, it can be a blast. For as much commercialization as Disney is rightfully accused of, they do so much well. Considering the number of people who move through the parks on a daily basis, I’m amazed it runs as well as it does the majority of the time.

When we went in November with one of our daughters, her husband and two young granddaughters, we caught the last few days of the wine and food festival at Epcot, which was a lot of fun. Crowded, but fun. The parks were being decorated for Christmas so we also got to experience that for the first time and it was really special to see. The music, the snow falling around you at night as you walk through lighted streets in different parks. Yes, it was crowded. But if you have the ability to overlook some things and focus on the magic through the eyes of children, it becomes very special.

Here are just a few photos of the different parks.

Outside of Magic Kingdom.

Hanging With a Friend in Animal Kingdom.

Boardwalk At Night

Castle During Fireworks Night (yes the crowds are crazy)

Christmas Tree In Hollywood Studios

 

Main Street After Fireworks

Making A Gingerbread Carousel

    

With The Following Ingredients

For me the best of both worlds would be walking the parks with Springsteen playing throughout. But I realize I can’t have everything I want,  so I’ll settle for Disney music, hundreds of characters and princesses,  smiles on the faces of children and Dean Martin singing Marshmallow World.

Disney is not for everyone and it doesn’t make you a bad person for not wanting to come. Just leave the bitter beer faces at home. You’ve been forewarned. My public service announcement is now complete.

You’re welcome.

Scattering Love

                   It’s not what you gather but what you scatter that tells what kind of life you’ve lived.
Helen Walton

I was thinking about my childhood the other day and trying to remember how far back my memories went. I settled on somewhere between four and five years old but there were only a handful that were clear to me. That bothered me, especially when I took what was then and applied it to now.

Making memories with the people you love or care about is one of life’s greatest gifts. Some of the times we’ve laughed most were with our children and grandchildren, especially during their early years, when everything is on the table, learning is a daily adventure, innocent words  are a sound byte and your sense of wonder sometimes equals theirs. Those are memories that we’ll keep with us forever. Unfortunately, it’s all one-sided. Because in those early years it’s not anything they’ll remember. Influenced, yes. But all the things that were said or laughed about until there were tears in our eyes will not be a definitive memory for them.

That shouldn’t bother me because it’s just another cycle of life, but it does. I remember things that we did with our children and now our grandchildren that were special moments, and though we can relay the stories, it’s not the same as being there in our mutual minds. I sit and have conversations now with our grandchildren, play games, tell stories, laugh at the silliest things, hold them if they cry and sit back and wonder if they’ll remember any of it.

I’ve always understood this but I suppose as I’ve gotten older, Helen Walton’s quote has taken on a different meaning. You want those you love to remember every last laugh and cuddle and hand holding because you know that time of innocence, like life, is so short. Eight or nine comes too quick and soon they’re moving on. Parents will always be more invested in the lives of their children/grandchildren than the other way around. That’s just the way it is. It’s not a matter of loving or caring, it’s just the emotional investment that begins long before they open their eyes and never goes away.

So selfishly you want them to remember it all. Every amazing moment. Big and small. Hoping that you’ve scattered enough love and joy into their lives that one day they may laugh at something silly for no reason at all. You may not know it or even be there. But if it brought them happiness, then maybe something in their two year old lives stuck, and you’ve scattered enough.

And maybe, just maybe, the shade of a memory will not only be yours.

 

Reality Check

When you’re dancing with your three-year old granddaughter and she suddenly stops, looks at you with a serious, concerned look on her face and says, “I think you should sit down now grandpa.”

 

I think she wanted the stage all for herself. At least that’s what I told myself. The fact that I might be embarrassing her didn’t enter my mind. I didn’t ask. Didn’t want to know the answer. You know, the whole ignorance and bliss thing. I chose that route.

 

Sign Sign, Everywhere A Sign

I love looking for fun sayings which are placed on almost anything these days. Here are some which I’ve been gathering the last few months.

I think many can attest to this one.

At least it’s something..

Yeah, well…

Don’t we all know at least one person like this!

Not a political statement but it’s hard to deny sometimes..

Enough said!

I think wine can be inserted into this also.

Okay then…

Any arguments? Didn’t think so..:)

True enough.

No argument here.

I bought this t-shirt with someone in mind…:)

I don’t know who they’re taking about..:)

It’s still a pretty long list!

It’s why I love chocolate!

This might be my favorite..:)