There is only silence in the Soundgarden today.

By | 2018-04-07T23:19:13-04:00 May 18th, 2017|anxiety, anxiety disorder, anxiety relief, brotherhood, brothers, childhood, children, classic rock, death, depression, drug use, drugs, family, gratitude, grief, inspiration, Life, loss, mental health, mind/body, motherhood, Music, parenthood, parenting, rock and roll, rock n roll, sadness, stress, stress relief, suicide, suicide prevention|

I woke up this morning to the news that singer Chris Cornell had passed away last night. I was, and  continue to be, in total shock. Shock is one of those emotions that encompasses so many feelings, sadness, anger, surprise, confusion, and many others, that all get rolled in to one numbing category, shock. I immediately think of my kids, especially my two older ones, who rocked out with me at the Beacon Theater in 2015, to Chris and his magical voice. I am reminded of the moment Chris brought his daughter on stage to do a beautiful rendition of “Redemption Song” by Bob Marley.

“None but ourselves can free our minds.”

I remember loving that they could perform together, and I related to it because of moments I share with my children, when we are either at a concert together, or home singing and harmonizing with each other.  And now, now I would have to tell my kids that another musician, another rock star, another beautiful voice, has left us. I messaged their Dad because the boys were with him last night, and he decided that it would be best to let them get to school first, rather than upsetting them on their way to school. So I’ve been waiting for the texts that would inevitably come as they found out the news.

My oldest messaged first: “Chris Cornell, 52. I can’t believe it. I’m so angry.” Anger is good, anger is helpful and therapeutic, I still end up in tears because I know how affected he will be. I wait. My middle messages moments later in a group text to his brother, his Dad, and me: A link to the story followed by “This sucks so much. It’s sad.” I do my best to validate both of their feelings and share my own, and then I have to do the job of inspirational leader, which is not easy when you’re hurting, so best I can do is be honest. I write “I want to send you some positive, uplifting, inspirational text right now, but the only thing I can come up with is that I love you so very much and hope you will always be open and find strength in difficult moments and ask for help. Channel the anger and the sadness into creativity and hope. Easier said than done, but we go on.”

Always create together!

My boys, jamming together, creating together, making music together, being…together. They give me hope. They make sad news like this, shock like this, a little easier to manage, partly because I have to keep it together for them, but also because we have each other. I will hug them a little more tightly today, as we all process the passing of Chris Cornell, who impressed us with his vocal range, and his seeming ability to rise above. It’s not clear how he died, and I’m not sure that it really matters, I just find gratitude that he graced us for as long as he did and that he finds peace wherever he may be.

Stay well.

 

Happy Mother’s Day from Totem Tamers!

By | 2018-04-07T23:19:14-04:00 May 14th, 2017|brotherhood, brothers, childhood, children, family, inspiration, motherhood, parenthood, parenting, Uncategorized|

As a mom, I’m grateful for all the moments I have with my children, even when I’m angry, disappointed, nervous, scared, worried, etc.. Because along with all of those feelings, I also get happy, excited, proud, awestruck, and love, lots and lots of love. Some of those feelings come from moments where I’m not involved, and only witnessing. Like this one from a while back:

Freeze this moment!

They sat in this hot tub for a little too long perhaps, but it was long enough for me to watch them giggle, argue over who is the best soccer team in the Premier League, decide who was going to get out and turn the bubbles back on, and more. I just sat and watched in awe of my three wonders, my greatest gifts, and that’s why I snapped the picture, because I wanted to remember the moment forever. In that moment, I also found gratitude for my own mother, who gave me life and the capacity to be a great mother to my children. Thanks Mom!

Happy Mother’s Day to all who mother, whatever you may mother!

Stay well.

 

The next one’s gonna be a King or wisdom from my 10-year-old.

By | 2018-04-07T23:19:14-04:00 April 27th, 2017|anxiety, anxiety disorder, anxiety relief, bears, birds, brotherhood, brothers, bulldogs, childhood, children, Creative, creativity, education, family, gratitude, inspiration, Life, mind/body, motherhood, motivation, Owls, parenthood, parenting, sharks, single parents, stress, stress relief, totems|

It’s really incredible when a life lesson happens when you least expect it and manage the divinity to recognize it! Now I will attempt to translate it to you as it happened to me. Hang in there for it.

My 10-year-old has picked up the card game Solitaire. It’s fun for me because I grew up playing card games, especially Solitaire, which reminds me of my Grandmother. However, watching my kid play a card game on his iPad was starting to make me nuts! I pulled out a brand new deck of cards and sat him down to teach him how to play with actual playing cards. We then both remembered a game his awesome 4th grade teacher had taught the class, called Clock Solitaire! It’s fun and simple, a total  game of chance and a perfect tool for procrastination. If you want to learn how to play click here for rules and visuals. Bottom line, your cards get laid out like the face of a clock with one stack in the middle where the Kings land. The game ends either when you have uncovered all the cards and placed them on their appropriate piles and you win, OR you have turned over all four Kings before turning the rest of the cards over and you lose. Got it? Hope so.

Watch the clock!

Now my son is totally reanimated by Clock Solitaire and is playing over and over again, with actual cards, and I’m having fun watching him and listening to his play by play. Then it registered what he was saying every time he was about to turn a card over, “next one’s gonna be a King, next one’s gonna be a King, next one’s gonna be a King.” What struck me was the seemingly negative attitude my son had, assuming that the next card he turned over was going to be a King and therefore leading him closer to losing. So I interjected and said “well that’s a pretty negative attitude, thinking that every next card is going to be a bad card. Maybe you should think positively and think that the next card will be a good card!” The look he gave me required no words, and that’s when the lesson smacked me right between the eyes! I was trying to teach my son about positivity, but he was actually doing it already, just in reverse. I’ll explain.

My way of playing, the “positive” way, encourages me to think that each card I turn over will be a card I want, as opposed to a King which is what I don’t want. Right? The next card WON’T be a King. I’m all happy and content turning the card until BOOM, it’s a King, and I’m all dejected and disappointed and frustrated. Darnit, it was a King.

My kid’s way of playing, the “negative” way, encourages him to think that each card he turns over will be the card he doesn’t want, so the assumption is that EVERY card will be a King. He’s focused, and intent on his game while turning the card and BOOM, it’s not a King! Whew! Relief, celebration, motivation to keep going and to keep playing. Wait, what? That sounds like positive feelings. Well I’ll be! Those ARE positive feelings. Lesson learned!

So with that, I take my newly discovered perspective, thanks to my 10-year-old, out in to the world with the mantra that the next one, IS going to be a King!

Happy playing!

Stay well.

The push and pull of parenting.

By | 2018-04-07T23:19:17-04:00 February 4th, 2017|anxiety, anxiety disorder, anxiety relief, brotherhood, brothers, childhood, children, co-parenting, family, friends, friendship, gratitude, Life, mental health, mind/body, motherhood, parenthood, parenting, stress, stress relief, teenager, teenagers, teens, therapy|

The push and pull of parenting starts immediately upon birth as your infant is pulled from a dark cocoon of safety and pushed into the light of the world. We coo and cuddle and marvel at their perfect little fingers and toes and those plump cheeks and their smell and even at the impressive size of their poops! Yes, you know what I’m talking about, don’t deny it! Then what? Well, then we start pushing them to fall asleep on their own and that’s usually when the first heart-pull happens. Any parent who has done sleep training with their infant can tell you how painful it is to listen to their baby scream their head off until at last they pass out from sheer exhaustion. It seems cruel, hell, it is cruel to all parties involved, but the lesson is that if we don’t push them to self-soothe, then they will never be able to fend for themselves. I don’t know if this is true, but I can tell you that I’ve gone on some dates with men who clearly still have apron strings attached to mommy. Scientific data right there.

Next on the “push list” is the simple act of your baby reaching milestones like crawling and walking and eating solids. Nothing is as gross as going to your “mommy & me” class and having to defend why your kid isn’t up to peas yet, while all the others are chowing down on homemade organic sustainable kabocha (whatever the hell that is.) So we push, because somewhere on the parenting journey someone thought competition was a good idea. The best part of this stage is when you find the other parents that are like you and you “pull” apart from the wacky ones. You join your parent gang because they don’t see anything wrong with your cleaning off the pacifier that just fell on the ground by actually sticking it in your mouth to get rid of any potential germs. My peeps! I love that I am actually still really close to several of my old gang members. ‘Sup guys?

Now for some more pulling. Pulling them out of the playground for example, after they’ve thrown sand in some kid’s well-deserving face and you’re trying to show that you’re disappointed when inside you’re beaming with pride that your kid stuck up for themselves. Ice cream! Pulling them out of the store where some evil manager decides that a ride-on sesame street car is a great way to torture parents. Your kid is freaking out and won’t leave and you and Dad are pulling and then pushing, no, shoving him in to his carseat as he strong arms and stiffens like a California Redwood. I feel you, we’ve all been there.

Then there’s the normal push and pull that happens in the middle. The pushing to eat more veggies, the pulling the crumpled homework out of the backpack, the pushing to take a shower, the pulling of dirty socks from in between the couch cushions. That’s all the physical stuff, it’s the emotional stuff that’s really hard. You push your kid to say hi to a kid he doesn’t know so that maybe he’ll make some new friends. You pull your kid in close when he suffers his first heartbreak because the girl he liked decided she wanted to go to the dance with someone else. You push your kid to try out for the basketball team, and then pull him in for the victory dance when he makes it!

This is all pretty basic parenting, but sometimes it isn’t all that basic, or normal, or average, and sometimes it’s pretty freaking hard. As we push and pull our kids, we feel the push and the pull a thousand times more, it all just happens to our hearts so no one really sees, but man do we feel it. I’m usually pretty good at keeping my shit together when one of my kids is going through something tough, but it’s not easy. There’s that constant inner turmoil I experience, do I push or do I pull? There’s moments when I have to call on alter-egos like John Madden, when I need to do the gruff football coach yell of “Get out there and do it! Don’t be a wuss! You’ve got this”! Then there’s my Mother Teresa (a nickname I earned from one of my early parenting gang members) and that’s when I open my arms and cradle my baby and tell them everything is going to be ok. Two very different parenting styles, but both incredibly effective, and both so vital to getting through this parenting journey.

I will continue to push and pull my kids, and sometimes I will even apologize for making the wrong choice, pushing when I should have pulled or pulling when I should have pushed. The end game is that my kids will be the ones pushing me around when I’m old and frail and pulling me close when I need them most.

Am I pulling them close or pushing them away?

Stay well.

Sake to me!

By | 2018-04-07T23:19:20-04:00 October 9th, 2016|anxiety, anxiety disorder, anxiety relief, brotherhood, brothers, childhood, children, co-parenting, divorce, family, food, gratitude, Life, liquor, motherhood, parenthood, parenting, rock and roll, rock n roll, sharing, siblings, single parents, teenager, teenagers, teens|

I have three kids whom I adore and treasure for all their uniqueness and sameness and all the rest of the ness’s they might encompass. We get along most of the time, and I mean as individuals and as a unit. Occasionally there’s a fracas or two that threatens to interrupt the status quo of the day, but they are short-lived and usually long-forgotten by the time everyone’s calmed down. It’s not easy to carve out time with each one separately, but I try my best, and even the few minutes I may get here and there are meaningful. The other night I was lucky enough to have dinner with my oldest boy, while my youngest was at a birthday and my middle was off with his friends. My oldest, or #numberoneson, is 16 going on 28, which can definitely be hard to contend with, but also allows for some really great conversation. We are both talkers so it can be challenging, but we always manage to have substantive chats. We talk about a lot of stuff, his video games, his music, his acting, his friends, his girlfriends, you name it! And of course the requisite sex, drugs, and college. Ha! You thought I was going to say rock ‘n roll, didn’t you?! Yep, college talk is on the table now, but currently it’s mostly one-sided, with me talking at him, and him denying that the conversation is happening. That’s ok, I’ll just keep talking because eventually he will hear me and eventually he will participate in the conversation. The best way to get him to participate though, is to occasionally stop talking and start listening. It’s amazing what a kid will tell you when you just let them talk! Of course, that requires treating him with the same respect that I wish to be treated with, which means putting the phone down.

Ooooooh, barracuda!! (That's really red fish, and it was delish!)

Ooooooh, barracuda!! (That’s the really red fish, and it was delish!)

Anyway, we decided to go back to a Japanese restaurant we had discovered months ago, Nare Sushi. The last time we went it was all of us, and the kids tried things they had never had before, like Mentaiko, which is basically marinated fish roe, and they loved it! This time around, #numberoneson and I, were definitely eager to try new things like grunt, striped jack, and barracuda (that was my fave). He ordered a soda, I ordered a sake (cold, it’s way better), and asked for two glasses. I’m all about letting the kids have a sip of an alcoholic beverage here and there, because I believe it takes away the mystique. We shared a toast and I sat back and just let him talk. It was incredible when he found himself going on and on and realized he was about to tell me something he hadn’t planned on sharing and was caught off guard by it!  Lately, he’s found it more and more comfortable cursing around me, so he suddenly said “oh shit, I’m about to get crazy honest here.” I couldn’t help but laugh, but I could see he was truly concerned as to what my reaction might be, so I reassured him that nothing he could tell me would change my love for him, and that honesty is the most important aspect of our parent/child relationship. He shared. I shared. There was no judgment, no anger, no consequence, only growth and a deepening bond between my son and I.

When the manager of the restaurant came over and extended a sample of a new sparkling sake to us, it occurred to me that he thought my son was a grown man, and in that moment, it also occurred to me that he wasn’t entirely wrong.

Kampai!

Heart on a cutting board!

By | 2018-04-07T23:19:24-04:00 September 9th, 2016|anxiety, anxiety disorder, anxiety relief, brotherhood, brothers, bulldogs, childhood, children, coffee, dogs, food, gratitude, Life, motherhood, Owls, parenthood, parenting, school, sharks, siblings, single parents, totems|

So there I am going through the daily routine of waking up three kids to get them ready for three different schools and three different start times. I manage to brush my teeth, walk the dog and somehow pour a cup of coffee, while everyone is straggling around the house in a morning haze. The only time I short-order cook is in the morning, even though they mostly eat the same things, but either way I’m barking out options and getting grunts for answers. Then I prep their lunches. Again, three different kids, three different taste buds, three different lunch preferences. Yes, I know, I could have them make their own lunches and be responsible for their food choices, thanks for that epiphany. But you know what? I’m freaking grateful that I get to make my kids lunch. Am I so grateful that I put dorky little notes in their lunch bags with smiley faces and x’s and o’s? Ok, fine, every once in a while I succumb to a smiley face. And every once in a while I do get pissy about having to make lunch, but then something incredible happens, and I am reminded what a blessing it is to have these three different kids, three different taste buds, three different lunch preferences.

totem heart

Heart to heart for lunch!

I’m packing lunch, juice box, fruit, snack, and I look down and see this heart just staring up at me! It gave me the millisecond I needed to stop, take a deep breath, smile, and smear on the mayo for the 3,467th time! Put some heart into everything you do and the impact will last a lifetime. It’s morning and breakfast time as I write this, but you know what? I think I’ll make some lunch.

Stay well.

Totems are a great reminder to take that millisecond to breathe. Get your Totem today at www.totemtamers.com/shop

T(each) his own!

By | 2018-04-07T23:21:42-04:00 April 15th, 2016|addiction, anger management, animals, anxiety, anxiety disorder, anxiety relief, brotherhood, brothers, bulldogs, childhood, children, creativity, death, drug use, drugs, education, family, harm reduction, health, heroin, Life, loss, mental health, mind/body, motherhood, overdose, overdose prevention, parenthood, parenting, prevention, school, sharing, stress, stress relief|

I am fortunate that I get to pick up my youngest kid from school most days. I love the look on his face when he sees me, it’s like an instant heart-warmer. I am also grateful that I can connect with other parents and check in with his teacher when necessary. There are those moments though, that I have to hold my breath. You know the ones I mean, when your child comes up to you and says “Mom, the teacher needs to see you.” Breathe. I always ask my children, and I highly recommend this technique for you, what they think the teacher might want to talk to me about. Sometimes they know, and they tell me right away, and other times, they don’t. Either way it helps me determine potential guilt or innocence. Yesterday afternoon, my sweet boy greets me at pickup and tells me the teacher needs to talk to me. I ask my question, and he has no clue why she wants to talk to me, and I believe him. Finally, most of the kids get dismissed and I approach the teacher. She’s magical by the way and engages children like I have never seen. A smile crosses her face as she sees me, but I can tell that it’s a heavy smile, like we are definitely going to talk about something of substance related to my child. She tells me she wanted to give me a heads up about the stuff my son is working on in class for their poetry unit. Immediate relief washes over me, because I actually already know what my son is working on because he told me. He’s writing poetry about addiction, substance use, overdose, overdose prevention, and family. My son is 9. I smile back at the teacher because I realize that she’s likely telling me because the poetry books will be revealed to all at an upcoming publishing party for the class that includes parents. I reassure her that this subject matter is regular conversation in my house, and that if she had any questions or need for clarification I would be happy to oblige. I did have a moment where I was concerned that it might be too much for the other kids and their parents, but that concern quickly turned into gumption and hope that my son being this open will spur his friends to ask questions and maybe even their parents to ask questions. It’s all about the conversation, and that my 9 year old is talking about Naloxone, “a life saving drug that his grampa made to help people who use drugs”, is miraculous. It’s also heartbreaking.

poetry and lyrics

My kid asked me for a journal the other day which is how I know about the poetry unit in class. He’s calling it a lyric book. He wrote his first poem and it’s called “Quit”. There’s a line in it about my brother who died of a heroin overdose a few years before my son was born. He refers to my brother as “the uncle he never had.” He also uses my regular statement of my brother’s death hopefully saving him from the same fate. I told him how beautiful the poem was and thanked him for sharing it with me. He seemed proud of himself and was eager to write more. This is how I know how important these conversations are with my kids, and how important it is to keep the lines of communication open. I am grateful that my son’s teacher didn’t freak out and didn’t tell him that he couldn’t write about this topic, instead she marveled at his depth and encouraged him along, and let me know what I can expect at the upcoming publishing party. I’m not too worried, I’m pretty good in a crowd, and who knows, maybe I’ll bring my overdose prevention kit for show and tell!

Stay well.

If you have questions, Harm Reduction Coalition and Drug Policy Alliance are wonderful resources. Feel free to email me, too: julie@totemtamers.com!

Sometimes being apart together is where the beauty is!

By | 2018-04-07T23:21:43-04:00 March 26th, 2016|anxiety, anxiety disorder, anxiety relief, apartment, brotherhood, brothers, childhood, children, family, Life, love, motherhood, parenthood, parenting, siblings, teenager, teenagers, teens, Uncategorized|

I’m sitting in my teeny office on a lazy Saturday morning. I’m checking in on the baby eaglets on the DCEagles Cam (I’m obsessed), I’m enjoying a second cup of coffee (sssshhh, don’t tell my GP), and I’m keeping myself “hidden” so I can enjoy the symphony of my children in the living room. You might already know that I have three boys, 16 going on 20 (he lives for independence), 13 going on tomorrow (he lives for the moment), and 9 going on 40 (he lives to tell everyone how it is). They are all so uniquely different, but those times they come together are the most amazing ones. Currently, the three of them are in the living room watching some wacky-sounding video and cracking up. I’m talking belly-aching, sore cheek, tear-inducing laughter. The temptation to go in and investigate, participate, and celebrate, is so strong, but I know that my presence will only alter the experience and change the vibe. So I sit here apart, but as together as I could ever want to be. Sure we have whole family moments where we all giggle, sometimes to the point of falling over, and those are awesome, but hearing my boys enjoy each other is what makes me whole. The three of them will (hopefully) be together long after I’m gone, and what gives me peace in that morbid thinking, is that they will all able to comfort each other and make each other laugh. These are the moments that build their relationships and the best place for me to be is not with them. Consider that the next time you hear your kids from the other room and the desire to join them hits you, give them the space to add the mortar to their foundation without you telling them where to lay every brick!

three boys and a fountain

I was tempted to go in and snap a new picture of the boys, but I know they would not have wanted that, so here’s an oldie but goodie from the Lincoln Center fountain!

Apart, but together, is actually pretty special.

Stay well.

The day the music died…..again.

By | 2018-04-07T23:21:51-04:00 December 4th, 2015|addiction, anxiety, anxiety disorder, anxiety relief, brotherhood, brothers, childhood, children, classic rock, creativity, death, drug use, drugs, family, harm reduction, heroin, loss, Music, overdose, overdose prevention, parenthood, parenting, prevention, rock and roll, rock n roll, stress, stress relief, Uncategorized|

Score another one for the Demons as we wake up today to the news that former lead singer of Stone Temple Pilots, Scott Weiland, was found dead on a tour bus yesterday. This one is devastating, well they’re all devastating really, but this one hits closer to home. We are a musical family, there’s always music happening in one form or another, whether it’s my two older boys jamming in their room, or my little one tapping out a rhythm or humming a tune. Stone Temple Pilots has been a band my kids have enjoyed a lot lately, plucking out acoustic versions, even my son and I harmonizing on some songs occasionally. Telling them this morning was hard, especially for my older one. It reminds me of when I had to tell them that Cory Montieth, of Glee, had passed away. That one wasn’t easy for my middle son, who was a big Glee fan. I talk about my brother often, he lost to the Demons as well, and as hard as it is to talk about him, it’s important. So this morning when I told my boys about Weiland, I could only offer them my hope that Weiland’s death, like my brother’s, like Monteith’s, would somehow help them make better choices in their lives. I could only feel the frustration that the life-saving drug Naloxone, invented by my step-dad, isn’t more widely available and easily accessible. So I talk about it, and I talk about it some more, and hope that people will be shocked to hear that overdose deaths topped deaths from car accidents in 2013, because that is shocking and a lot of those deaths, likely preventable.

Scott Weiland earlier this year. wrkr.com

Scott Weiland earlier this year. wrkr.com

This image of Weiland gives me shivers because I see my sons in it, and my brother, who also played guitar and sang and loved Stone Temple Pilots. This image gives me shivers because it’s another ghost added to the horror story of drug users who couldn’t be saved. This image gives me shivers because until we realize that the “War on Drugs” has only created casualty after casualty, we will continue to lose more and more beautiful people, like Scott Weiland. I hope he finds peace and that the Demons are satisfied, for at least a little while.

Stay well.

PS:If you are a drug user, or know someone who is, and you would like access to an overdose prevention kit, email me at julie@totetmtamers.com

There’s more to #givingTuesday than cash!

By | 2018-04-07T23:21:52-04:00 December 1st, 2015|anxiety, anxiety disorder, anxiety relief, brotherhood, brothers, charity, childhood, children, donation, education, family, friends, friendship, gift, gifts, gratitude, holiday, inspiration, Life, motherhood, motivation, parenthood, parenting, strangers, stress, stress relief, totems|

First, there was Black Friday, then Small Business Saturday, Cyber Monday, and now, Giving Tuesday. All of these “days” are centered around money. Black Friday has everything on super sale after Thanksgiving, so you’re encouraged to buy, buy, buy. Small Business Saturday is all about supporting small businesses (duh), so buy, buy, buy! Cyber Monday means you can sit in your PJ’s and what else? Buy, buy, buy! Now we come to Giving Tuesday, which encourages you to take any money you might have leftover and donate, donate, donate. It’s a grand idea and there are countless worthy organizations that need support by way of donations. I know I have several that I support year-round, but there may be a new one or two that I help out this year. (If you’re looking for some ideas, shoot me an email at julie@totemtamers.com, and I’ll happily share some needy organizations with you!) Over the last couple days though, something occurred to me, there is plenty of giving that doesn’t actually require spending! You can certainly give time, like my family did on Thanksgiving when we served dinner at a homeless shelter run by The Doe Fund.

Aren't hairnets awesome?

Aren’t hairnets awesome?

Giving can be as simple as a smile to a neighbor, or an extra hug to your kids. I had a birthday over the weekend and so many people gave me time and well wishes that it moved me to tears. Giving feels good and it works in both directions! The giver and the receiver end up rewarded, and there’s no better gift than that! So, if you have some spare change and/or a cause near and dear, go ahead and make a donation. If you don’t have money to spare, that’s ok, because you definitely have spirit and good will in abundance, and that’s free! Use it! I think you’re awesome and you will too, when you give.

Stay well.

Theater of the absurd.

By | 2018-04-07T23:21:54-04:00 November 18th, 2015|animals, anxiety, anxiety disorder, anxiety relief, artists, broadway, broadway musical, brotherhood, brothers, childhood, children, creativity, family, Life, lions, mental health, motherhood, musical theater, nyc, parenthood, parenting, stress, stress relief, Uncategorized|

IMG_4071 (1)

Cue lights. A hush falls over the audience. The first actor takes position on the stage and the first note is heard, crashing like a wave over all of us: “Ahhhhh-segon-ya babba-di sebabba” or whatever it is Rafiki calls out in the dramatic opening of The Lion King on Broadway. No matter, it’s beautiful, and the african jungle comes to life before your eyes in the middle of Times Square. The opening of the show still chokes me up because it’s so exquisite and masterful, and not many shows have an elephant move so gracefully through a theater. I’ve given you the show setting, now picture me sitting with my three boys, who, living in NYC, are lucky enough to experience the theater on a regular basis. My three boys understand that the actors spend hour upon hour rehearsing, and then hours putting their makeup on, that the least they can do is wear clean socks to a show! (I do try for the occasional collared shirt, too.) My kids have been going to theater since they were fairly young, and respect for the actors on stage was something instilled from their very first show. My two older ones have seen The Lion King before, and they were super excited for their younger brother to experience the magic. Back in the theater, gazelles are prancing across the stage, birds flying above, the elephant makes its way through the house, and it starts, “Where Simba?” “Is that Simba?” “Mommy! Mommy! Mommy! Where Simba?” These are not the sounds of animal calls deep in the african jungle, these are the sounds of the unrestrained 3 year old in row L, orchestra left. I took a deep breath and thought, he’s just excited, he can’t wait to see his pal Simba, he’ll calm down once the dialogue starts. Right? WRONG! When the little boy wasn’t talking, even trying to be quiet with what I will refer to as “whisper-screaming”, he was bouncing in his seat. That meant bouncing on the not one booster seat, but two booster seats that propped him up right in front of my kid (my boys switched seats so my youngest could see.) I am incredibly tolerant, and generally very patient, and I tried very hard to remind myself that theater, especially family theater, is a wonderful blessing to enjoy. I realized that getting angry and complaining wouldn’t help, because we were surrounded. There were chatty little kids everywhere!!!! Even the website for the show has an FAQ that reads:

Does my child need a ticket? Is there a minimum age requirement to attend the show?

All guests require a ticket, regardless of age. We recommend that children be at least six years old to attend a performance of THE LION KING.

For younger children, consider one of these exciting Disney touring productions: Disney On Ice or Disney Live.

Which is why I decided I would take to the internet with this simple theater primer for families.

  1. Do NOT bring children under 6 years old (probably even under 8 years old) to a Broadway show where other patrons have spent well in to the hundreds to escape into some other world, and not to be assaulted with your child’s pleas of “pee-pee”  and “soda”, “Now, MOMMY!”
  2. If you do bring a child, make sure that they are prepared to sit for an hour and a half at a clip without making any noise, other than the appreciative clapping after every number. Maybe even a respectful hoot and holler.
  3. If your child normally goes to bed at 7pm, for goodness sakes, DON’T bring them to an 8pm show and expect them to behave!
  4. Consider buying a less expensive seat, perhaps in the mezzanine, so that if your child is struggling to sit still (and it’s a struggle for most under 8), you won’t feel terrible having to leave midway through the show, out of respect for everyone else in the theater!
  5. Start with shorter theater experiences. New Victory Theater has great children’s programming and is perfect introduction to the wonder of acting.
  6. Be respectful of others around you, and hey, even apologize for what you know is distracting and detracting from the experience.

I could go on and on with rules and such, but I won’t. I will add the suggestion that family shows should consider offering those with youngsters a special section, so that other theater goers can choose their seats accordingly. FAR, FAR, AWAY! Hey, aren’t matinees tailor-made for the family set?

Stay well.

Beautiful noise!

By | 2018-04-07T23:21:58-04:00 August 30th, 2015|brotherhood, brothers, childhood, children, divorce, Life, marriage, parenting, siblings, single parents|

Divorce has its goods and bads, positives and negatives, and hopefully it can at least be an easy transition for everyone involved. One of the positive aspects of divorce for me, is that I get built in “break time”, when I can tend to my own needs first, as opposed to the needs of my children. I can’t say enough how blessed I am (and how blessed my kids are), to be in the post-divorce situation that I am in. I get a couple breaks a week, every other weekend, and a few full weeks out of the year. My kids benefit just as much from the breaks as I do, and spending that kind of quality time with their Dad is brilliant and so meaningful. Sure, I always have these elaborate ideas of what I will do with my break time, especially when the kids are gone for a week, for example. I fantasize about flying to some far-off island, cleaning out my closets, cleaning out their closets, getting rid of the toys they say they want to keep but haven’t played with in years but can’t bear to let go of, yeah, those kinds of plans. Sometimes I manage to pull some of it off, and other times, it’s just awesome being home without much of anything going on. This past week, my kids were gone, and I definitely took advantage. I took naps, had massages, walked around nekkid, sang out loud (well, louder than I usually do), ate what I wanted when I wanted, had friends over without complaint. I got to lounge by the pool without having to worry about anyone drowning!  (That’s huge!) It might not have been as productive as I would have liked, but the chilling out was lovely and much needed. And it was quiet. So quiet, that every time the AC kicked in, I jumped a little. So quiet that when the ding from the elevator down the hall sounded, I wondered who might be coming. So quiet that I realized as much as I was enjoying my downtime, I missed my boys. Sure I have my pup, and he’s great company when he’s not begging for food or begging to be pet, but I realized he missed the kids, too. That was painfully obvious yesterday when I mentioned their names, my dog started wagging his tail and headed straight for the door. Here he is patiently waiting the boys’ arrival.

Zeke, lying in wait!

Zeke, lying in wait!

The boys finally arrived, all three a bit taller, and a bit tanner, and as miraculous as ever. Yes, miraculous, because they’re mine, and my heart explodes every time I see them after they’ve been away (well, every time, really.) Within minutes, the dog was barking, my middle and my youngest were quibbling, my oldest was playing the guitar. There were shoes and flip flops strewn across the floor, computers zinging to life, and televisions offering discounts if you ordered now. It was loud, it was chaos, and it was the most beautiful noise I had heard all week.

Stay well.

My boys are like Totems to me, because I am certainly calmer when they are around, but it always helps to have an actual Totem as a reminder to keep calm. If you need a Totem, head over to our store, and get one today!