Efficient Morning

I am especially efficient in the morning.  In the hope of making my morning preparation as easy and thoughtless as possible, I lay out my clothes the night before, make my lunch and place each item on the same shelf in the refrigerator, place my toiletries on the sink, take my ticket out of my wallet and leave all my essentials – phone, wallet, keys, and watch – in a pile on the table. Do you remember how in certain Three Stooges episodes the guys would wake up and get out of bed all dressed in their suits – well, I’ve considered trying that. Anyway, I feel proud of my morning routine – up at 5:31 and out the door at 6:09. It is not give or take a few minutes. However, there is a big variable in completing the morning rituals.

I lied there are two big variables – Thing 1 (BR) and Thing 2 (SY). At that point of the day (and many others actually), all the children want to do is go and watch television. They don’t seem especially interested in eating at that hour, content to wait for my wife who sees them off in the morning.  So other than their standard stomping around the house and smashing open of doors, my calm and gentle boys don’t make much impact.
Yet, they do. Let me backtrack. I am not a morning talker – never have been. By the time I was in high school, I was pretty much on my own in the morning. My mother would be on her way to work by the time I awoke, my father would still be sleeping, my two oldest brothers were already out of the house, and my next older brother would be burrowed in his room – only to emerge when it was time to walk to school.  I was effectively alone in the mornings and quite fine with it.

Fast forward to today. I am used to being alone in the mornings. I like the quiet of the house. I like the space that this time of the day affords me. So, despite the fact that the children are self-sufficient for the most part at that hour, the serenity I feel is upended. Do I have time to get them breakfast, did they flush the toilet, did they wake my wife, do I have to talk to them (perish the thought)? Yeah, I love my children, but in the morning, I want to hear the house hum and proceed in my efficient way.  See you later kids.

Where’s the Flag?

Memorial Day has come and passed. For many people, the day marks the unofficial beginning of Summer and is celebrated with outdoor activities galore. However, many of us know few details about the official reason for the holiday other than it is a day set aside to honor those who lost their lives in battle. According to the website www.usmemorialday.org, “Memorial Day was officially proclaimed on 5 May 1868 by General John Logan, national commander of the Grand Army of the Republic, in his General Order No. 11, and was first observed on 30 May 1868, when flowers were placed on the graves of Union and Confederate soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery.” How many of us honored those who fell for our country?

I remember my parents – my father in particular who served in the Army during the Korean War (but was stationed in Germany) – used to always make sure he had a flag hanging from our house on those special days ie. Memorial Day, July 4th, etc.  Many of our neighbors did the same thing. I liked walking along and seeing all the flags up and felt a certain pride in my family and in the country. However, not only do I not put up a flag at my own house on those special days, I forgot we even had a flag in my house till my wife reminded me. My only celebration of the holiday that in any way hearkens to its original intention is to go to the parade in the small town my family and I reside in. The local fire company, policemen, etc. march along with the veterans. I clap out of respect when the veterans pass along the parade route.

I consider myself a patriotic person and feel proud to be an American. My background is right out of a history book and can be told to the tune of G-d Bless America in the shadow of the Statue of Liberty. Here is the short version: my maternal grandparents, along with their immediate families, escaped from their small shtetels in Russia and ultimately came to America for religious freedom and economic opportunity. For my father’s side, change grandparents to great-grandparents, and the rest is the same. Therefore, I have every reason to be grateful to this country and those who lost their lives while battling its wars.

SY and I were walking to synagogue just before Memorial Day. A funeral home is on our route and it was covered in American Flags. I asked my son what did he see and when he said the American Flag. I proceeded to ask him if he knew why there was so many. He did not know. Not surprising. I tried to explain a bit about Memorial Day and what it means to be patriotic.

In the high school where I teach, the pledge of allegiance is read aloud over the PA system. Prior to reading the pledge, the reader asks that everyone stand. In my nearly 9 full years of teaching, I have never seen any person get up other than a few freshmen who stop standing before it hits October. I, on the other hand, stop class, stand up and face the flag. The class which is made up of 100% minorities, many of whom are first or second-generation Americans, are completely disinterested. When President Obama, a man of a mixed racial background became President, I hoped that students would be inspired. They were for a few days – wearing buttons and proudly watching the inauguration. However, that enthusiasm has waned and the students have lost what little interest they had in the country they now call home.

So, I wonder about the drop off in patriotism. Will the next generation feel any pride in their country? If so, how will they express it? What can I do as a parent and a teacher to instill that pride? I hope at a minimum they will recognize the great sacrifices that some have made and continue to make for this country, so that they can express pride while they freely take all the benefits that are available to them.

Again and Again

Wife: Go upstairs and brush your hair.

8 yr old BR: But I brushed my hair yesterday.

Me: Hahahahahahhaha

BR was convinced he had a good point. When I noted he had dessert yesterday and still wanted to have some today, he did not quite get the logic. Actually, he probably did get the logic but was not interested in hearing it. This conversation got me to thinking about how some tasks most people are happy to repeat over and over again. Here are 5 of mine:

1. Eating chocolate: I love chocolate and I am happy to eat it whenever presented with the option. I am really flexible like that.

2. Tickling my children: I love hearing them laugh. It brings me a joy that I never knew existed before they were born.

3. Reading a good book: When I come across a book that I find engaging, I am thrilled. Sometimes, I walk around Barnes and Noble and wonder what it would be like to have time to read all the books.

4. Waking up after a good night sleep: This is a beautiful thing. That feeling of being rested and refreshed is just plain sweet. It makes me want to run and accomplish something.

5. Hearing my wife laugh: When I can make my wife laugh, particularly those type of belly laughs where noise stops for a moment, I know that although we may get some things wrong, we are okay.

Yup, you will not hear me complain about these things. I am happy to do them over and over again. Give me Groundhog Day (an underrated movie – in my humble opinion). On the other hand, there are some tasks which I would be fine to never do again. I know, I know, never is a strong word and be careful when you use it. Understood. Never! Here are my top 5.

1. Mowing the lawn: I’ve written about mowing the lawn before. I like when it looks neat (even ours looks okay with all the rain we have had lately) and enjoy the smell of freshly cut grass. However, I would enjoy the smell of the freshly manicured lawn much more if I wasn’t the one bringing it to the pristine state.

2. Making the bed: I would not call myself a neat freak. However, I am on the verge of this semi-flattering title and feel uncomfortable in dirty places. I think having an unmade bed makes a room look sloppy. So, I always make the bed. In fact, I even make the beds (not completely) when I am at a hotel. However, I would be happy for the bed to automatically make itself. I don’t hold out much hope – not even the Jetsons had such a device.

3. Doing homework with BR: When I send my children onto the school bus, I tell them, “Have fun and get brilliant.” I have tremendous respect for knowledge and appreciate those who have gotten an education. Yet, doing homework with my son is a big pain. I never know if I am doing it with Dr. Jekyll or Mr. Hyde. The explosions come out of nowhere.

4. Waiting for the morning bus: My commute each morning requires me to take a bus and then a subway. If I miss the bus or it’s tardy, I will be late for work. Each morning, there is a part of me that worries the bus won’t show up.

5. Wiping SY: He is 5 ½ years old. Shouldn’t he be wiping his own but by now? I should be patient with him as he has O.T. issues and some delays. However, hearing him call out, “Can somebody wipe me?” freezes my wife and me. Sometimes, he’ll ask for her and other times me. I have no idea how he decides who to call for and I am not sure if I want to know. Of course, if I did, maybe I could rig the system, so that he would always call my wife. Hmmmm.

Well, I guess I’ll have to take the good with bad. So, what about you? What’s on your list?

The Journey to 100!

My father used to love to watch Willard Scott wish people Happy 100th birthday. While he missed out on the magical triple digit by 35 years, he still appreciated the number. I suppose it was the accountant in him. Anyway, something about 100 is magical. Television shows like to celebrate their 100th episode. In fact, if you google 100th episode, you will note 14 million responses. It generally occurs in the 5th season and means syndication and money. I like those 100th episodes – it’s the ‘look-back’ episode. You watch it and find yourself saying things like, “Wow they were young,” or “That episode was hilarious,” and “I remember that one.” Again, something about the number 100 seems to be meaningful.

Well, on that note, this is my 100th blog entry. It has been just over 10 months since I entered the blogosphere. I have learned a few things in that time. Firstly, there are so many good writers out there. I am on WordPress all the time (every one of my computers pulls up WordPress as soon as I hit the letter W) reading other people’s blogs. Many of them are touching, funny, sad, uplifting, or some combination. As there seem to be more women than men blogging, I have also learned about my wife. She is not the only mom who is crazy for her kids and sometimes just plain crazy. Anyway, I subscribe to a number of blogs and enjoy each post sent. However, there are three blogs that I want to mention in particular.

robertjhorton: The blog is actually entitled My Secret Garden. Based on his blog, Robert is a very busy person and somehow finds a way to blog every day. It is definitely worthwhile reading as he spans many topics. Each post is well written and often thoughtful and funny.

allthingsboys: I can especially appreciate this blog as I come from a family of all boys and my wife and I have two ourselves. I also like that this blog talks about kids older than mine – I get a sense of the future. Uh-oh!

linneann: The blogger is a very talented writer who often touches on very personal topics and handles each in a compassionate and sensitive way. I also appreciate the awesome comments she has made on my blog.

One of biggest reasons I started my blog is for the opportunity to have people read my work and get feedback. I LOVE when people make comments and I so very much enjoy the dialogue that often ensues. So, I would like to think all of you that have stopped by and given this blog a look see. I especially appreciate those who are followers. It amazes me that some read each entry and look forward to it. Awsome, just awesome.

Three people were especially helpful and encouraging when it came to starting the blog. Firstly, my wife has encouraged me to write a blog for a long time, “You’d be good at it.” She was right though she may regret it now as I don’t know if she is quite as comfortable being ‘out there’ as I am. By the way, she is also an incredibly talented editor. A friend of mine, R, also had been encouraging me to start a blog. He gives excellent feedback. Don’t worry buddy – I’ll get to a website one of these days. Lastly, a friend of mine who I met last summer – A – insisted. He pushed me to start a blog and would not take no for an answer. He is a very motivational person, and I appreciate the help he has given me.

Lastly, I thank my children – BR & SY. They are my inspiration.

Now, for those who may be reading for the first time, welcome. For you and longer time readers, I will catch you up a bit – kind of like they did on Grey’s Anatomy.

1. I am amazing at food shopping – possibly the one skill where I have Olympian-like potential.

2. I still have not been back to the doctor and am not looking forward to that ‘moment.’

3. I have grown more attached to my phone but am still not cell phone obsessed.

4. I have yet to hang the kitchen door in my house.

5. I am still sleep deprived like every other parent of young children.

Well, you are sort of caught up. I hope each of you will continue to stay tuned to memyselfandkids. What the hell – tell a friend. Keep the comments coming and THANKS.