A Lesson Learned From My Mother

A mother and her family

My mother surrounded by her family (one son is not in the photo)

Last month my mother had a special birthday. I would tell you the number, but she’s sensitive about such things. So, I’ll leave you to speculate.

In honor of my mother’s birthday, her four children and their families got together.  We spent a couple of days at a resort in the Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania.

We hung out at a waterpark, watched football (yea Eagles – they won but really made us sweat), and ate cake. It was quality family time. Lots of fun.

While we were together, I shared a story about my mother. I’d like to share it with you as well.

My friends and I spent loads of time on our block playing sports. However, there was also a good deal of down time. We would sit on the steps in front of my house and talk about whatever young boys talk about.

We had a neighbor who lived around the block whose name was P. P. who was about 10 years older than my friends and me, was mentally challenged. During the summer, he used to enjoy riding his tricycle around the block.

P. would stop his tricycle in front of my friends, and me and say “hi.” His hi was loud and slurred and he kept waving his hand. P. would repeat “hi” a few times before eventually taking his leave and cycling down the block.

While my friends and I would mutter, “hi,” in response, we were embarrassed and didn’t know what to say or how to act. We were relieved when he left and would reengage in our conversation and act as if P. had never appeared.

Around the summer I turned 11, P. went through a phase. P. would kiss random women, smile, and go away.  Yes, P. had become the kissing bandit.

One summer afternoon, my friends and I were hanging out on the steps in front of my house. Someone came up and told me, “P. kissed your mom.”


“Yeah, he just kissed her and went away.”

“Oh.” I was embarrassed for mom, but I didn’t know what to say.

My friends were abuzz over the news. However when my mom approached the house, everyone scattered.

As my mother walked up the steps, I fell in next to her. “Hi mom.”

“Hi dear. How was your day?”


“Mom, did P. kiss you?”

“Yes, he did.”

“What did you do?”

“I didn’t do anything.”

“What? Why not? Aren’t you upset? ”

“No. He didn’t mean anything by it.”

“But Mom he’s been kissing girls all around the neighborhood.”

“He is just trying to be friendly. He’s not able to communicate with people the way you can. He doesn’t understand.”

But I did.

And in that moment my mother taught me some lessons that I carry to this day. I learned about appreciating others. I learned that not everyone is the same. I learned about empathy.

My mother is the humblest person I know. However, I gained wisdom from seeing her act.

May she have many more years of good health and joy.

I have much more to learn.

Best Minion Birthday Party. Ever.

Post by Ms. MMK.

Minion wishing SJ happy birthday.

Minion wishing SJ happy birthday.

It all started with one question. SJ (who starts thinking about his birthday about 7 months in advance), asked, “Mommy, I want to have a minion birthday party.”

In case it hasn’t come through yet in Mr. MMK’s blogs, SJ’s enthusiasm is boundless and wonderful, so the prospect of giving him what he wants and enjoying the reaction is quite appealing.

I felt my inner Martha Stewart rise (come on, you know she’s in all of us – some of us just squeeze her into our toes).

I started Google-ing. Minion cupcakes made out of twinkies? “Easy peasy lemon squeezy,” as SJ would say. Oh, but you have to start with cupcakes and frosting, cut the twinkies, delicately make the goggles out of….never mind. That many Twinkies won’t survive that long in a kitchen with me.

Minion bowling? Cool. Spray-painting soda bottles half yellow and half blue? I’m having visions of my children painted half yellow and half blue because they got in the way of my madness.

So I turn to face inner Martha. Calm down there, Miss M., we’re going to do this my way. And here it is: The full-time working Mom’s version of the Best Minion Birthday Party. Ever. Continue reading

Let Them Talk and Play

Author, Freelance writer, and educator - Margie Gelbwasser

Author, Freelance writer, and educator – Margie Gelbwasser

Today, I have a special guest. Margie Gelbwasser is the mother of SJ’s best friend (which counts for a lot in my house). She is also a real live successful author in addition to being a freelance writer and teacher.

Margie has written for a variety of magazines including SELF, Ladies’ Home Journal, Writer’s Digest, The Parent Paper, and Parents. She is also the author of two young adult novels. INCONVENIENT and PIECES OF US. You can find out more about Margie and her projects on her website, www.margiewrites.com

This is what my son was able to do by the end of kindergarten:

  • -explain the difference between square, rectangles, hexagons, and octagons
  • -read a pie chart and bar graph and make his own bar graph
  • -survey people and record their responses with tally marks
  • -read and explain main idea and main characters and draw connections to his life and the world from the stories
  • -write simple sentences

This is what I did when I was in kindergarten:

  • -napped
  • -played Pop Goes the Weasel
  • -rode around on those plastic sticks with a pony head at the end
  • -built picture frames out of popsicle sticks
  • – learned letters and numbers too

It’s a different world today, isn’t it? And while my kid had an awesome year with a fantastic teacher, the differences in what kindergarten is today compared to what it was makes me sad. The intense academic push starts so early. Kids should be socializing and building with blocks and playing, but with the push for more and more testing, all that stuff falls by the wayside. And what happens to the kids who are not ready to distinguish between hexagons and such at 5? There’s no data that shows feeding them so much so soon creates brighter kids. In fact, studies show the opposite (here’s a link to one such study: http://hepg.org/hel/article/479).

Continue reading