Mothers and Fathers

Today I have as my guest Melissa from Motherhood is an Art Melissa is the mom to two school age children and one toddler. She is from Wisconsin and believes the key to motherhood is creativity and lots of humor!

I was extremely happy when Larry asked me to be a guest blogger on his website. I have known Larry since he became one of my first followers on my blog Motherhood is an Art. He has always been a very encouraging fellow blogger. However, I must admit I always cringe when I know that he has read a post of mine knowing that he is an English teacher. I am well aware that my grammar and punctuation ain’t no good (okay, the “ain’t” part is a joke but it’s true that many grammar and punctuation principles elude me). So I can only imagine that he is mentally red circling most of my stories!

It’s also notable that Larry is probably my only male follower. I realize I kind of slotted out this demographic when I named my blog Motherhood is an Art. It certainly doesn’t scream, “Come read this you testosterone-laden males.” In retrospect, I probably should have named it something to do with “parenting,” but in all honesty I do think there are distinct differences between Motherhood and Fatherhood and “parenting” generalizes the two. My voice is about being a Mother. I know about this particular side. I have been doing this mothering thing for almost 8 years to a daughter and two sons.

Let me break down for you how similar situations are dealt with by my husband and me in our household to further illustrate my claims that mothers and fathers are different creatures.

Beans Up the Nose:

My approach to this is to gently tell my child that you do not put beans in your nose. I explain that by putting a bean in your nose could cause it to get stuck in there and then it would proceed to sprout and create a twisty vine that grows throughout your sinus cavity.

My husband’s approach is to simply say, “Do not put beans in your nose!” There is no need for an explanation. It is just a fact that you cannot put beans in your nose.

Dinosaur Play:

My middle son and I used to play with his plastic dinosaurs together. I would hand him one and tell him it was the baby dinosaur.  I would then grab one and say it was the Mama dinosaur. Right away he would start roaring and make lunges to eat Mama dinosaur’s feet off. I would tell him that baby dinosaur needed to apologize for trying to eat feet and that it was time for baby dinosaur to eat his carrots and go take a bath. Needless to say, I didn’t get an overwhelming amount of requests to play dinosaurs with him.

When my husband and him played dinosaurs, there was only roaring and eating feet. There was no story line and the dinosaurs didn’t have to apologize for anything. My husband had more playing requests than me.

Danger and Messes:

I encourage my kids to make messes and to take risks. I was somewhat of a tomboy growing up.  I think the messes I made and risks I took make up an integral part of who I am today.

My husband shakes his head any time he comes home and finds the kids playing outside in just their underwear and covered in mud from head to toe. He nearly had a heart attack the first time our daughter climbed up the monkey bars at the park and went rushing to her side. I sat on the grass calmly taking it in with a smile across my face. He is the one who put a halt to the kids walking on rocks to cross a stream last year after I already gave them the go ahead.

I encourage my kids to play in the rain and get dirty

I encourage my kids to play in the rain and get dirty

So yes, I am convinced that there are clear differences between how mothers and fathers approach parenting, just as every mom is different and so if every dad. The common core is that we are parents. We are responsible for our child. We want the best for our children. We want them to be happy. We want them to grow up and be responsible and smart. We have no idea if what we are saying or doing is the right way, but we are trying the best we can.

Today I will say “Parenthood is an Art.” It takes a lot of creativity and humor to make it through!

The Afternoon Show

As a child, I loved the Three Stooges. I laughed at their slapstick humor. Because I was such a big fan, I read a book about them. While reading the book, I learned that they first began on Vaudeville. For those who don’t know what Vaudeville is as I did not know when I first read it, here is the definition according to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vaudeville

a theatrical genre of variety entertainment popular in the United States and Canada from the early 1880s until the early 1930s. Each performance was made up of a series of separate, unrelated acts grouped together on a common bill. Types of acts included popular and classical musicians, dancers, comedians, trained animals, magicians, female and male impersonators, acrobats, illustrated songs, jugglers, one-act plays or scenes from plays, athletes, lecturing celebrities, minstrels, and movies.

    The Three Stooges Courtesy of google.com

The Three Stooges Courtesy of google.com

I recently wrote about my commute to work (http://larrydbernstein.com/breakfast-on-the-go/) which includes a ride on a New York City Subway Train.  At the early hour of 6:45, the ride to work is generally sleepy save for a few odd characters.  The ride home on the other hand is much more lively and crowded.

I typically board the A train in the East New York section of Brooklyn at around 2:45. I find a seat and start off with something to read. Typically my reading time is cut short as my eyes get heavy, and out I go. I am traveling through neighborhoods where it would be wise to keep my eyes open and be alert.  Thankfully, nothing has ever happened to me during my naps. By the way, some of the naps have been so sound that I when I wake up, I forget if I am going or coming to work.

When I am awake, I am often treated to a show whose only ticket required is a seat on the train. Now, the performances are very uneven, but I suppose, as they say, you get what you pay for.

I have heard many different musical performances from rap to gospel to R&B to reggae. Some of those performances inspire the line from Billy Joe’s Piano Man – “Man, what are you doin’ here?” and others leave me looking for the gong (remember the Gong Show) to end the performance.

The Gong ShowCourtesy of google.com

The Gong Show
Courtesy of google.com

Is comedy your thing? There is one homeless comedian who I have heard on and off during my commute for many years. He has some funny lines, but many of them have not changed since the first time I heard him. He always ends by asking passengers to clean up as one would expect him to clean up if he visited their house.

Then, you have the fights. Some are verbal and some are physical. While some are into boxing, it is not my style. I worry the fight will turn deadly violent. The vocabulary used during the verbal fights would make a jailor blush.

Then, there is dancing. There are some dancers who could dominate Dancing With the Stars while others look like they are stumbling off a bar post rather than dancing. Every performance ends with a handout and a request for generosity.

Dancing With the Stars Courtesy of Google.com

Dancing With the Stars Courtesy of Google.com

Of course like any show, there needs to be snacks. Don’t fear there are candy men  regularly walking through the train selling Famous Amos Cookies, Fruit Snacks, and Nature Valley Granola Bars (you know how I feel about those). These guys always have some sort of rap that includes them saying they are selling the candy to make an honest dollar.

Now, there are more types that appear on the train – beggars, fortune tellers, preachers, jugglers, and more.

In truth there are plenty of days when the ride home is pretty quiet save the music from the mp3players, loud and excited school kids, and business men in suits. However, you never know when a show will break out. Vaudeville lives.

Questions, Questions

The former wife of a friend of mine once said she felt that talking to me was like being interviewed. She said talking to her husband was like being interrogated. I guess it is no wonder their marriage did not work out. Anyway, I am pretty sure she did not mean the comment about me as a compliment. I don’t care.

While I won’t find myself in the Small Talk Hall of Fame (where do you think such a place would exist – hmmm), I am good at asking questions. This skill has served me well over the course of my life. People generally love to talk about themselves. It is often their favorite subject. When I was on the dating scene, I spent many a first date asking questions and listening. Many girls appreciated it even if she or I did not want a second.

Asking questions is essentially what I do for a living. Or at least it’s one of my favorite parts of my job. I enjoy engaging the students in discussion. Often the discussion will stem from a piece of literature and then get into something on a deeper more personal level. For example, in Stephen Chbosky’s Perks of Being a Wallfower, there are a number of big issues. However, it ultimately comes down to accepting one’s self and others. This is a ripe area for questioning.

 

Book Cover - courtesy of Google.com

Book Cover – courtesy of Google.com

 

This past weekend my wife and I have been preparing for the holiday of Passover. Anyone who celebrates the holiday can vouch for the fact that it is a labor intensive holiday (not to mention expensive). It involves cleaning, changing dishes, and a lot of cooking. However, ultimately, the holiday is about the retelling of the Jews exodus from Egypt.

This retelling of the story happens the first two nights of the holiday (unless you live in Israel where it takes place only on the first night) at what is called a Seder. Seder can be translated into order. There is an exact order how the night goes between the retelling and the food that is to be eaten as part of the tale. We Jews are big on rules and instructions.

Seder table courtesy of Google.com

Seder table courtesy of Google.com

Anyway, some things are done at the Seder simply to inspire questions from the children.  For example, the person leading the Seder (customs vary) has a pillow on his chair, so he can recline.  A natural question a child may have is, “Why do you have a pillow on your chair?” The child is told that we are no longer slaves but free men and women. In fact, this is how royalty used to eat.

The Seder is a chance for a child to be engaged. Not only can a child ask away, it is encouraged and enlivens a Seder.

So, as my family and I sit down to our Seder, I look forward to hearing questions from BR and SJ. Yes, part of the reason is so that I know the private school tuition is going somewhere, but also it will give us a chance to talk, consider, and learn together.

To those who celebrate, Chag Sameach.  To those who are looking forward to the holiday of Easter, Happy Holiday.

Any more questions?

Breakfast on the Go

I have a rather lengthy commute to work. On a typical day, it takes me one hour and thirty minutes door to door.  My occasional attempts at sleep are futile, and I am very much awake despite the early hour. So, I try to make my commute productive.

I pray. I read. I work. I check email.

And I eat. I eat the same breakfast in the same restaurant every morning. My restaurant is steel and mobile. It includes seating for many. The décor – plastic orange and yellow seats – leaves something to be desired. My fellow patrons are very diverse. I am not sure what rating this restaurant would get from http://www.zagat.com/ Anyway, it’s called the New York City Subway System (http://www.mta.info/nyct/subway/).

Courtesy of Google.com via packnpack.wordpress.com

Courtesy of Google.com via
packnpack.wordpress.com

So, you may be wondering what is that typical breakfast I eat? Thanks for asking. I drink a Hansens Clifford Apple Juice box. Yes, I am drinking a 4.23 ounce juice box with a big red dog on it. You gotta problem with that? And for my meal, I eat a Nature Valley Granola Bar. I am impartial to flavor.

courtesy of google.com

Have you ever eaten this brand of granola bars? While I like them very much and they are relatively healthy, they are a mess. It is impossible to eat them neatly. As soon as you bite into one of the granola bars, they start to crumble. So you either A: let the crumbs go and lose part of your food or B. You pick up the crumbs and get every delicious penny’s worth.

courtesy of google.com

courtesy of google.com

Guess which option I choose? You got it. I choose B. This man is hungry for his breakfast. Those crumbs are mine, and I am eating them damn it! A quick aside: When I was dating, I used to say if you still find a woman attractive after you see her eat, you are really attracted.

If my wife also used this as a basis of judgment and saw me eat my breakfast on the train, I’d be single. Between my kiddie apple juice and my finger licking granola bar, I aint a decent sight. In fact, it is downright embarrassing. However, this is where the beauty of my mobile restaurant comes in handy.

You see on a New York City Subway, anything goes. When, I look around me in the morning, many people are sleeping or at least are closing their eyes to the world. Then there are the beggars, preachers, unstable, and bums. In addition, you have the wanna be rappers. They blast their mp3 players so that the music is loud enough for those of us that are awake and in range can hear. Their heads bob with the music. Some sing to themselves and others treat their fellow riders to a song whether they want to or not.

And I worry about eating my breakfast? Okay, so some people might find the way I eat my breakfast a bit uncouth. So what? Look around. I might be the most unassuming person around.

Now, let me eat my breakfast in peace on my mobile restaurant.