Back to school anxiety……sale!!

By | 2018-04-07T23:19:11-04:00 September 17th, 2017|anger management, animals, anxiety, anxiety disorder, anxiety relief, bears, birds, birds of prey, childhood, children, education, Life, mental health, mind/body, motherhood, Owls, parenthood, parenting, school, shopping, stress, stress relief, Uncategorized|

No, we aren’t selling anxiety, silly! But we are selling Totems that will help with any anxiety you or your kids might be experiencing as they go back to school. You might be saying “Hey, we’ve been back to school for almost a month, you’re a little late!” Well, all kids are different, and I learned this with my own, especially around back to school time. First day, usually a breeze. First week, pretty much unscathed. Second week, the “I don’t want to go to school dance” begins. My kids, all of them, would be fine for the first couple weeks, and then the s*%t would hit the fan. Sometimes it’s the excitement of a new beginning that helps hide the anxiety that kids might be feeling. Sometimes it’s the realization that this is the new normal that kicks the anxiety in to high gear. Either way, Totem Tamers can help. Anxiety typically leaves people overwhelmed and feeling out of control and powerless, more so for children, who struggle verbalizing these feelings. So, we want to make it easier for you and/or your kids, or anyone you know that might benefit from some simple coping techniques, and we are putting our Totems on sale!

sale

Limited Time Only Sale!

Visit our shop at www.totemtamers.com/shop and choose from Owl, Bear, Shark, or Bulldog and empower yourself to find calm when you need it most. Every Totem comes with a super soft microfiber bag (which doubles as an eyeglass lens cleaner), a handy guide card that gives you simple steps on regaining calm, and a beautiful, weighted Totem that feels great in your hand and not too bulky in your pocket! We have an incredibly illustrated booklet available as well, that can be really helpful for children, who might benefit from visuals when trying to explain how they feel. And, if you’re feeling super generous, we can even add a gorgeous natural wood box if you want to give a Totem as a gift! Get on the road to calm, and get your Totem today!

My kids stash Totems in their backpacks, because knowing it’s there is sometimes all they need to know when they’re feeling anxious.

Stay well.

 

Happy Labor Day from Totem Tamers!

By | 2018-04-07T23:19:12-04:00 September 4th, 2017|anxiety relief, labor, labor day, labor movement, Life, school, stress relief|

Labor Day typically marks the end of summer and back to school for most, but we shouldn’t forget its real meaning!

“Labor Day, the first Monday in September, is a creation of the labor movement and is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers. It constitutes a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country.”

According to that definition, I think Labor Day is a perfect reason to celebrate anyone in America that works, has worked and eventually will work!!! So Happy Labor Day everyone!

Here are the Totems hard at work today, honoring our country and it’s rich history of labor and the progress that’s marked by all that we have become and continue to become.

Totems that labor!

Totems that labor!

Stay well.

If you need a Totem to watch and support while you labor, visit our store at https://totemtamers.com/store

Parenting through eyes of the past.

By | 2018-04-07T23:19:12-04:00 June 30th, 2017|anxiety, anxiety disorder, anxiety relief, childhood, children, gratitude, inspiration, Life, mental health, motherhood, parenthood, parenting, school, single parents, teenager, teenagers, teens|

When I first became a mom, I had lots of ideas about the kind of parent I would be. Organic food was just taking hold, and I was going to make my baby food from scratch! Nothing processed. That was my goal at least. What ended up happening was a combination of prepared and homemade food, and my kid is now 6 feet tall, so I think it was a good mix. Hey, at least I tried!

I was also going to be the kind of mom who didn’t resort to “the magic box” of screens to babysit my kid while I was eating bon-bon’s on the couch! That was my goal at least. Until at two months old, I noticed something wasn’t right with my baby and he couldn’t quite turn his head to the left. An MRI and diagnosis later (torticollis), the only thing that helped exercise my son’s neck and essentially repair this condition, was that darn magic box. My kid is now on his way to a very respected pre-college program, so I think it wasn’t too damaging. Hey, at least I tried!

My 17-year-old and I are heading out on a 6 hour drive to the pre-college I just mentioned. I can’t help but remember when I went to pre-college, ahem, just a few years ago, ahem. It was the summer before senior year in high school, and I wanted, no, I needed to get out of my house, and fortunately for me, Syracuse University still had a couple spots left for their summer program. Next thing I know, I’m on a plane with a duffle bag and my sheer will. The summer at SU changed the trajectory of my life, for all intents and purposes. It was a great summer, and I met some really incredible people and ended up going to, and graduating from Syracuse University. Go Orange!! I can’t help but wonder how my son’s experience this summer at Carnegie Mellon, will shape his future. I am beyond excited for him, and I can’t help but relive the feeling of walking around a college campus for the first time on my own, and how freeing it felt. Then of course, I imagine my son enjoying that same feeling and my eyes fill with tears. My baby is growing up, and the internal wrestling I’m experiencing between the recognition of how much time has passed for me, and how much more time my children have in front of them, is like a steel-cage match between Hulk Hogan and Andre the Giant! I’m already exhausted and we haven’t even left yet.

I’m going to be the kind of mom that helps my son unpack his bags and makes sure his clothes are put away. I’ll be the kind of mom that takes care of renting the fridge for the room while giving the speech about cleanliness and not attracting bugs. I’ll be the kind of mom that buys the school sweatshirt because I am damn proud of my son. I’ll also be the kind of mom who won’t cry until she’s well out of sight of her boy.  Hey, I’ll at least try.

my baby

My wide-eyed baby boy!

Stay well.

Here’s one case for NO separation of “Church & State”!

By | 2018-04-07T23:19:16-04:00 March 14th, 2017|activist, anxiety, anxiety disorder, anxiety relief, broadway, civil rights, Creative, creativity, death, donation, education, elections, family, grief, gun violence, hate crime, inspiration, Life, loss, mental health, motivation, nyc, politics, prayer, relationships, religion, sadness, school|

I don’t talk much about politics in this space, although if you have been a reader of this blog, you can pretty much gauge what side of the dais I would sit on. Don’t worry, this post isn’t going to be about politics….really, well, not really, but sort of, maybe a little bit. This post is going to be about theater, drama, comedy and friendship. I went to theater the other night with a group of friends, to see a play that was written and produced by friends, and it had equal parts comedy and drama. The play is called “Church & State”, and it’s in previews now at New World Stages. While I was watching the play, I was struck with imagery of a heated tennis match, because my emotions were being slammed across the net between laughter, anger, fear and sadness. In less than 90 minutes, I was moved to a point of paralysis. Yes, moved so emotionally, that I couldn’t move physically for a few minutes after it ended, because I was taking it all in and letting it wash over me. I was having varied experiences, mind you. I had just watched a play that someone I know wrote and someone I know produced, and it was good. I mean, not just like “Oh wasn’t that sweet” kinda good, I mean “Holy crap, that was impressive” kinda good. And, the content was just so relevant, and important, and crucial to the current state of affairs of our country and our communities, that I wanted to get up and holler that something needs to be done!!! So here is my holler, GO SEE THIS PLAY!

Powerful new play!

I can tell you that this play is about a lot of things including politics, but also faith, speaking your mind, marriage, community, and death. I can tell you that this play is already making an impact and it hasn’t even opened yet! Politicians and celebrities are not only coming to see it, but some will even be participating in panels throughout the run of the play to further conversation about the controversial subject matter. I guess I’m being a little vague on purpose here, because I want to protect the power of the play and if you go in knowing too much, it might color the way you receive it. Even thinking about the play now, I get choked up! Of course, you can click on the link above and learn a little more about it and what inspired it, or you can take a chance and see something that will undoubtedly leave you thinking, if not shaking just a little bit.

Off my soapbox!

Stay well.

 

It’s a personal foul for one ambitious football player!

By | 2018-04-07T23:19:19-04:00 October 29th, 2016|activist, childhood, children, civil rights, family, friends, friendship, Liberty, Life, motherhood, motivation, nyc, parenthood, parenting, school, sports, teenager, teenagers, teens|

Some girls just wanna have fun, and some girls just wanna have fun playing football! What happens when some school rules get in the way of that? Well, we talk about it, and make some noise!  Especially when it’s the daughter of a friend who is being denied the chance to play  for her school even though she played last season! Once again it comes down to equality, the boys take a physical fitness test once and are on the team, for some reason, there’s an extra test for girls to take! An article detailing this young lady’s story can be found here!

Looks like a football player to me!  Photo cred:Sean Hale

Looks like a football player to me!
Photo cred:Sean Hale

I’m sure plenty of you are balking at the idea of a girl playing football, but I assure you Alison can hold her own. Heck, she’s been playing roller derby for years!!! This isn’t a question about safety, this is about fairness, and Alison, because she’s a girl, isn’t being treated fairly. So rather than give in and take this extra fitness test, she’s standing her ground like a solid linebacker, and not taking the test. She’s been kicked off the team as a result, and as her father says it “cost the school a good player.”

While we watch a woman juking and dodging every massive hit come her way as she runs for President of the United States, I can’t help but see that same resilience, courage and strength in Alison, and it gives me hope for the future. This “girl” should be able to play whatever sport she wants to play and be subjected to the same rules as her male counterparts. I’m sure the kid that was taken down by Alison last season by a massive hit, is probably relieved that she’s sitting this one out, but she’s doing anything but sitting, she’s standing up for herself and there’s nothing more important than that! Go Alison!!!

Stay well.

Totem Tamers presents WARRIOR WEDNESDAY or Tears for Jacob.

By | 2018-04-07T23:19:21-04:00 October 4th, 2016|anxiety, anxiety disorder, anxiety relief, childhood, children, death, family, friends, friendship, gratitude, grief, gun violence, inspiration, Life, loss, love, mental health, mind/body, motherhood, parenthood, parenting, politics, prayer, sadness, school, teenager, teenagers, teens, victim|

This is not a political post about gun control or mental health treatment (lack thereof), this is not about our current election crisis, or the state of the union, this is a post about a little boy who dreamed of superheroes. This is a post about Jacob Hall.

Fly on Jacob....

Fly on Jacob….

This is about a smile that will now only live on in photos and the hearts of Jacob’s family and friends. This is about a life lost way too soon. 6-year-old Jacob was shot by a teenager last week in South Carolina, and succumbed to his wounds this weekend, you might have heard about the story. Jacob will be laid to rest today in the outfit of his favorite superhero, Batman. Even a replica of the Batmobile will accompany his procession.

Jacob’s parents, who are the WARRIOR’s we honor today, have encouraged mourners to show up in costumes, dressed as their favorite superheroes. Not only to honor Jacob, but in the hopes of not scaring the many children that will attend the funeral to bid  goodbye to the their lost friend.

This isn’t a post about propaganda and polling, this is a post about parents and children, about love and loss, and about making the most of the lives we are granted. I will keep my children close today with my invisible lasso and hope that my cape will keep them safe and all the while I will think of Jacob’s smile and his family’s tears and the unwitting WARRIORS they have become.

Stay well.

Help a small child today!

By | 2018-04-07T23:19:22-04:00 September 23rd, 2016|accessories, animals, anxiety, anxiety disorder, anxiety relief, childhood, children, education, friends, friendship, loss, motherhood, parenthood, parenting, pets, school, stress, stress relief, therapy, totems|

Ok, maybe it’s a dramatic title, but I guarantee that there is a little kid somewhere devastated that he or she is without their bunny right now!

Rescue this bunny!

Rescue this bunny!

I wrote a post a long time ago about security objects and seeing this stranded bunny, which was actually in the middle of the street next to a car, I was immediately heartbroken for the child who is most definitely longing for this stuffed animal. That’s why we have these connections, they are grounding to us and let us know that everything is ok, or at least will be ok as long as these objects are with us. It’s just like having a Totem in your pocket! A lot of our Totem owners say they don’t go anywhere without their Totems, and part of that is just the comfort of knowing it’s with you in case there’s a situation that may become overwhelming. Of course, it’s always best to have more than Totem, or security object, because you never know when you might lose one or need to lend yours to someone else in need. Get a Totem today at https://totemtamers.com/shop! Let’s see if we can reunite this bunny with it’s caretaker and I will gladly award the child with a Totem of their choice!!! This is of course in NYC near the PS 199 school playground. Share and hopefully by this afternoon we will have good news!

Stay well.

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

Sticks and stones…..

By | 2018-04-07T23:19:25-04:00 August 13th, 2016|anxiety, anxiety disorder, anxiety relief, childhood, children, education, family, friends, friendship, mind/body, motherhood, parenthood, parenting, relationships, school, totems|

You know the old rhyme! “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me.” Most kids are taught that one early on in childhood when they have their first experience with name calling. “Mommy, Janie called me a poopy-head!” “Well dear, it’s just a word and as you know, sticks and stones, sticks and stones.” There are others we had too, like “I’m rubber, you’re  glue! Whatever you say bounces off me and sticks to you!” That one was always bizarre and never really made much sense as a comeback, almost as weird as this exchange: “You’re a poopyhead”, said Mikey. “I know you are, but what am I”, retorted Billy. What? I know you are but what am I? What does that even mean and why do we continue to perpetuate these comebacks when they don’t really deal with the bigger issue at hand. Words can and do hurt! I mean, ok, someone calling you a poopyhead isn’t a big deal in the scheme of things, but there are plenty of harmful words out there that are sometimes used against our children and we are doing them a disservice if we don’t equip them with the tools to handle them. Namely sticks and stones! I’m kidding!!!! Physical violence is never an answer. What I’m getting at though, and what’s super important, is validating your child’s hurt if they come home sad because someone called them “stupid” or “fat” or “ugly” or a “prude” or a “loser” or a “geek” or a “nerd.” What doesn’t work is telling your child that the perpetrator didn’t mean it, or they’re only saying those things because they’re jealous, for example. What your child needs is for you to recognize that no matter what was said to them, they are feeling hurt by it and they need to know that it’s ok to feel hurt. It’s dialogue waiting to happen! “Mom, Timmy called me stupid today in the yard.” “Oh honey! That sounds awful. You seem upset, and that’s totally understandable. Do you want to talk about it?” You can even take it a step further and use the incident to teach some compassion. Talk to your child about what might make “Timmy” want to call other kids hurtful names. Maybe even suggest that “Timmy” might have been having a hard day or tough times at home, and that usually name-calling is a reaction to something deeper going on inside the perpetrator. Sure this might be going a little deep, (and “Timmy” might just be a grade-A jerk) but you can likely gauge what shape your child is in and how much they need from you. It might be enough for them to just hear you say “yeah, that probably sucked a whole lot and I’m sorry it happened.” Bottom line, and this is for any situation, not just when your kids are hurt but when anyone expresses their hurt, validate, validate, validate!!!

Sticks, stones, Totems!

Sticks, stones, Totems!

Stay well.

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!

Totem Tamers appreciates Teachers!!

By | 2018-04-07T23:20:47-04:00 May 5th, 2015|anxiety, children, education, Life, mental health, school|

It’s National Teacher Appreciation Day!!! Thank you to all the teachers who influenced me along the way (both in good and constructive manners), and for helping me navigate some of the trickier years of development. Now as I watch my three boys navigate their way, I am grateful for the teachers that have taken the time to get to know them and care about them and school them. I am also grateful for the ones that haven’t done right by them. Yes, even them. It helps my kids (and me) really take notice when a teacher cares, and actually makes an effort to connect and engage.

Appreciate your teachers!!

Appreciate your teachers!!

When you get the chance, give a shout-out to the teachers that pretty much act as co-parents right along with you.

Stay well.

Give the gift of a Totem to the teachers in your life, to help them stay calm anytime, anywhere! Just click on any of the Totems on the side of the page and buy one today!

Triumphant in parental genius*!

By | 2015-03-26T10:39:27-04:00 March 26th, 2015|childhood, children, Life, mental health, parenting, school|

I might as well explain the asterisk before I go any further. *Anyone who refers to anything they do as “genius”, is likely not a genius at all, but someone simply hoping that the tactic they used will turn out for the best.

A good half hour of my morning today was spent psychologically manipulating my oldest son. I will admit that I enjoyed myself way more than he did, but that’s because I knew what I was doing. Report cards came out this week. I had to ask him to hand his over, which he had definitely not wanted to do. The report card was not horrible really, but when I consider why he got a lousy grade in his best subject, then it becomes horrible. If he had been struggling with the content in the class, different story, but his bad grade was apparently the result of him deciding that he just didn’t want to do his homework all the time. Yup. This conversation could have gone many different ways. I could have screamed and yelled. Punished and ridiculed. Instead, I apologized and promised to do better. Yes, you read that correctly. I looked my son in the eye and said “I am so sorry. I must have done something wrong to have this happen.” Of course, he looked at me like I had two heads, but I didn’t stop there. I went into a thorough explanation of how he wasn’t having an issue with “school-work”, but only having an issue with “home-work.” So if there’s an issue with homework, there must be an issue at home. I asked, “What are your father and I doing or not doing, that you aren’t getting your homework done?” At this point, my sweet, handsome teenager is cocking his head at me like a dog that has heard an odd sound come out of somewhere he can’t see. Finally, he said “You didn’t do anything wrong, this is all on me.” And with that, I am genius.

Stay well.

Anxious over your child’s report card? Maybe you need a Totem, and a dose of reverse psychology! Click on any of the four Totems on the page to help keep you calm while you confuse the heck out of your child, just to make a point!

Of deities and third graders.

By | 2018-04-07T23:22:46-04:00 February 6th, 2015|anxiety, childhood, Life, mental health, school|

Nor snow, nor ice, nor snot, nor sneeze, would keep me away from son’s third grade field trip today. I’m pretty much out of the contagious phase, but with ears clogged, and nose clogged, the idea of getting on that big yellow school bus, was a tad unpleasant, but being with my kid, and getting to go the Rubin Museum was worth it! I knew I made the right decision to push through, when we were getting on the bus and I noticed the teacher off to the side talking with a child who was in tears. Ahhhh, the fear of getting “bus sick.” Simple things, like sitting near the front and next to the window were certainly good to know, but I had a secret weapon, well four of them really, and was more than happy to share. I approached the child with Totems in hand, and explained that the Totems are made just for situations like this one. I offered a choice and thankfully had one of the colorful booklets to go along with the choice! The seat mate chose one too, which was helpful to the anxious child. I couldn’t have been more pleased when I heard a kid in another seat repeating “Breathe in, Breathe out.” The Totem was helpful and there was a quiet thank you when we arrived without incident.

Buddah and the third grade!

Buddah and the third grade!

The kids were so observant and asked so many questions, it was a pleasure to see them so engaged! They had all kinds of ideas and curiosities and were able to answer a lot of the questions posed by the tour leader. I beamed with pride as my kid gave a rather elaborate explanation of meditation, he even put his hands into a mudra, which gave a chuckle. I would like to take credit for his knowledge because he sees me meditating on a regular basis, but alas, I simply talk about it, which is at least a step in the right direction!

Om Totem, Om Ganesha!

Om Totem, Om Ganesha!

Ganesha, is one of the Hindu deities that has resonated with me for years now. Known as the god of new beginnings and remover of obstacles, among other attributes, Ganesha helps remind me that obstacles are just doorways for new beginnings when we work to remove them. I also think the story surrounding Ganesha is pretty cool, too. So all in all it was a wonderful outing and interestingly enough, my cold didn’t bother me once while on the trip! Hmmmm, oooommmmmmm.

Stay well.

Want to have a Totem handy? Just click on any of the Totems on the page and get yours today!

Not the wake up call I asked for!

By | 2018-04-07T23:22:53-04:00 October 22nd, 2014|education, family, health, Life, mental health, parenting, school|

A couple days a week, I get to sleep past my typical 6:15 am wake up call. Only by about an hour, but an hour is a gift to most of us who struggle with getting good quality sleep. So imagine my horror when my phone rings at 7am this morning right when I’m at the denouement of the dream where the guy gets the girl, just as the bomb goes off not injuring anyone, but safely preventing the bad guys from getting to the hero couple! As soon as I looked at the caller ID and read “Board of Ed, City of New York”, I heard the shell casings fall to the floor. “Is this the mother of —-?” Otherwise known as my oldest, the teenager, the kid who breaks my heart when he sings, the baby who was my first foray in to the wonderful minefield that is parenting, my sweet boy who is now towering over me? “Yes, this is she.” Here it was, the phone call that gets threatened to the kids in the honors English class, from the first day of school. It was really happening. My immediate reaction was to defend this child of nicknames and cuteness, but I took a deep breath and decided to listen to his teacher instead. (Let’s not forget that the dream images of Jason Statham carrying me to safety are still lingering in my head, so I was a tad distracted.) This is a teacher whose reputation precedes her. For example, school officially begins at 8am, but she implores her students in first period to be there at 7:30. Trust me, this annoyed the crap out of all of us at the start, but I began to understand her logic. When school starts at 8, she wants kids in their seats ready to go, not just getting in to the room and sorting their desks and checking instagram feeds with their friends. She wants, and deserves, a room full of kids who have gotten their willies out, and are settled in for the lesson of the day. So fine, we push for our kid to get there as close to 7:30 as possible, which coming from Brooklyn a couple days a week isn’t always easy. I knew the phone call wasn’t about that, so why was I chatting with Dr. Teacher so early in the morning? My boy wasn’t doing his best, plain and simple. There wasn’t anything that this teacher said that surprised me, in fact her dedication to these kids, her waking up at 4:30 every morning to make sure she’s in the classroom by 6:45 for those kids who want to get their even earlier, made me frustrated with my kid more than anything! I was then able to imagine the scores of parents who I’m sure challenge Dr. Teacher, and defend their kids and complain about her practices etc.. I was tempted, don’t get me wrong, because my kid is a superstar in my book, but I realized in that moment, he wasn’t a superstar in her book, and that was unacceptable! I thanked Dr. Teacher for the call after we came up with a plan of action, and expressed my frustration that she isn’t getting to see the “superstar” that I see everyday. She assured me that with us collaborating, that “superstar” will make himself evident soon enough. Of course, she didn’t use the word superstar, and neither did I, but I know, you know, just what I mean! We are all parents of superstars, and all we can wish for is that everyone sees our kids for the superstars they are and can be. Working with the teachers, who once our kids hit school age, will spend almost as much time with them as we do, is the best way for our superstars to shine!

Stay well.

PS: He’s totally grounded if he doesn’t get his grades up!

I’ll encourage my superstar to carry a Totem with him for times Dr. Teacher pushes his buttons. Maybe your superstar could use a Totem as well? Order one today by clicking on any of the Totem images to your left!