Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Age Discrimination Does Not Apply to Heros

A new friend of mine who recently found out I have four sons and one big kid in a husband's body asked me if I was going to the comic book and entertainment expo in Chicago.   I hadn't planned on it because I didn't know about it.

Politicians have been using this tactic for years.  They don't want to know information because once they know it, it is harder to lie about knowing certain information.

But since I knew about it, I felt obligated to share it with the boys and Don over dinner.  Parker exclaimed "What!?" and the excitement snowballed down to Oscar who was screaming but didn't even know why. We decided to go on Sunday since it was kids day and tickets were $5.

I don't dislike comic books or fictional super heros.  I dislike conventions.  Which is ironic because my dad built his design business around conventions and trade shows.  I just don't like the red carpet, the people, the booths the lanyards.   Then you add a comic theme to the mix and you have people in costumes.

When we were walking in I didn't know if we were at a Furry convention or a Comic convention.   We were greeted with a huge sign that read COSTUMES DO NOT MEAN CONSENT, KEEP YOUR HANDS TO YOURSELF. Seriously? I understand a kid wanting to touch a costume, but most kids who can't even read yet know better. This sign was for adults.

Once I got in, I understood why people might be tempted to want to touch something that they shouldn't.  There was a Princess Leia doing circa de sole.  Numerous people wearing underwear as outerwear.   A woman holding a log like a baby. Despite all of this, we allowed Finegan and Parker to venture off together after I wrote my phone number on their arms. I know they know it, but if for some reason they are unable to speak I wanted someone to be able to get a hold of me in case they confronted with kryptonite.  Even though the two younger ones were with Don and me, we wrote my phone number on their arms as well.  It  was legal to tattoo it I would, and never change my number until the day I die. It sounds crazy, but if you have ever lost a child in a crowd it is terrifying. I can't even imagine losing a child in a crowd of villains.

Within 30 minutes Oscar was overwhelmed and underfed and ready to go home.  I had surprised Jack with the promise of meeting his favorite superhero, Stan Lee.  Jack has loved Stan Lee since he was 5. He knows everything about him.  His birthday: Dec. 28, 1922.  His wife and daughter's names.   What he eats for breakfast every day.  When I found out Stan Lee was going to be there, I knew that Jack would love to meet him.

Jack has always been interested in the back story. His favorite website is IMDB.  After he sees a movie, he looks up the actors, director and producers and finds out what year they were born.  After he saw The Wizard of Oz he was shocked to learn that Judy Garland was born the same year as Stan Lee and wondered if they knew each other.

Jack loves the process of pretending.  Stan Lee represents everything he likes.  A creator in the true sense of the word.   So I purchased the opportunity for Jack to get a picture with him.  At age 92,  I wasn't sure how many more opportunities we would have.

We stood in line for 35 minutes even though we had a reservation.  Behind us was a tool shed who kept burping and singing Jimmy Buffet songs trying to impress his girlfriend. I wanted to turn around and tell her to run as far away from him as she possibly could, but I decided to focus on Jack.  In front of us was a family of four who were nervous to meet Stan Lee and rehearsed what they were going to say.  I was drinking a green smoothie out of a mason jar so I'm sure if those people have blogs I'm mentioned as the weird lady drinking her vegetables in line.  Jack was patiently sandwiched between all of us and probably the most normal thing about the entire convention.

When we made our way to the front of the line a woman gave us specific instructions.   No touching, No hand shaking and No conversation.  The family before us must have been disappointed.
As we rounded the corner something amazing happened.  Jack lit up and slowly walked over to Stan Lee.  Stan Lee got up and gave Jack a hug, put his arm around him and asked his name.  Jack told him and they took a great picture, Stan shook his hand and told him to have a fun day.  The only thing Jack said was "Hi!" and "Okay!"  We were then escorted to yet another line to wait for our picture.

As we were waiting Jack got a little teary and said "He remembered me."  I know that sounds lofty, progressive, new age, whatever you call it.  Maybe Jack had a dream that they had met. Or maybe he was thinking that Stan could see him through his computer.  I don't know.  Or maybe at that moment the two of them found a common ground despite the 85 year age difference.

I couldn't help but think of a three-year-old Jack talking to me shortly after Oscar was born.  He asked where Oscar was before he was in my arms.  I told him that the baby was in my tummy.  He then told me that before he was born he was a happy old man, and has always said that even to this day.  The funny thing is, I believe him.  He has an old soul.

I got a little emotional just seeing how happy Jack was and thankful that I was able to give him this experience.   When we were given the picture he put it in his tote and went about his day.  I was wrong about Stan. I don't think he is going anywhere any time soon. This man has more life in him than people half of half his age.

We finally all gathered in our meeting place next to the giant  poster of characters I wasn't familiar with and decided we had had enough.  Oscar was now moving at a snails pace and repeating "Stan Lee" at a escalating pace.  Even though he had no interest in meeting him when we arrived.

We stopped for ice cream on the way home and for a suspended moment, all was well in our galaxy.  I'm glad to have been able to share this experience with the boys even though I did not want to even tell them about it in the first place.

Sometimes it is cool to be adventurous. Try something new and to not act your age, whether you are 7 or 92.









Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Ordinary

This morning I passed through the kitchen in the normal rush that fills our house on a school day.  For some reason I heard an inner whisper which told me to stop and take a look.   When I turned around I saw this.


It looks pretty ordinary. But today it felt extraordinary.  This average Wednesday morning in April feels like a gift.   They are sitting quietly eating yogurt and fruit.  Neutral emotions. Not asleep, but not yet awake.   

There are moments that they will remember, such as birthday celebrations, Christmas or family trips, but the simple things when you are idling in neutral  while eating breakfast on a school day will be forgotten. Possibly by tomorrow.  I don't remember having breakfast as a kid. I mean, I know we did, my mom certainly didn't send us to school hungry but I never had a picture of it.  Sometimes I wish I did.

Things change so fast.   In just 15 years these boys will be men, either in college or recently graduated, maybe even married.  Scenes like this won't happen very often, if ever.  It will be different, and great in it's own way but it won't be like this.  Getting together with your siblings when you are older is complicated and impossible and truthfully, unlikely to happen.  

I grabbed my phone and took this picture but more than that, I stood and watched them for a minute.   I hit a personal pause button and took it all in. In that single moment there was no other place in the world I would rather be.  So I captured it. 

Within seconds we were back in motion.  Even fast motion. Rushing to get dressed, pack backpacks, brush teeth and get to school on time. Back to the typical roar of the morning. 

I don't know where the notion to stop came from and it doesn't matter. What does matter is that I listened to it and I am grateful for that.

Today, just take an ordinary moment and hit the pause button, celebrate it with a picture.  The image may not take it's place in a frame on the mantel, but hopeuflly it will take a place in your heart. 




Monday, April 13, 2015

Is honesty the best policy?

Sometimes I don't want to go to work.  Sometimes I say this out loud in front of the boys.  Sometimes one of my sons visits me at work and repeats those words in front of my boss.  My first response is to cover his mouth and shove him  into the janitors closet but I can't do it. My second urge is to act like his is crazy and must have misheard me.

It's really a horrible position to be in.  I laughed uncomfortably and escorted my son to the bathroom. I don't think that my boss assumes that I love every single moment of every day, but he does take our office morale to heart.   After my son left he came into my office and asked if I was happy and if everything was ok.
I lied.  I said I loved my job. Truthfully, I'm just tired and it is unbelievably hard for me to come into work when the rest of my family is on Spring break. I didn't explain how much it pains me to go home for lunch to find them still in their pajamas, not because they are being lazy, but because I want to be at home in my pajamas too.

If there is one thing I try and teach the boys, it is to be honest, even when it's hard.  I have been lied to and it hurts. His name was Alex and he was charming and funny. He had a great career. We met in Hollywood in an acting class.   He was a very good actor. So good in fact that I had no idea he was married. Not a clue. Ironic, I know.  But we dated for a good month before I overheard him talking to someone else about his wife.   I couldn't believe someone could be so stupid, (me), to trust someone so completely.  After class we went for coffee and I didn't tell him I had overheard him.  I decided to leave my lipstick slightly under the passenger side seat.

The next time I heard from him he was angry and said that his wife had found out about us.  When I said I didn't even know he was married, he said that I never asked.   I just wish he would have been honest from the beginning. It would have saved a lot of time and not to mention, a brand new tube of lipstick.   It ended up hurting 3 people and it didn't need to.

Honesty is something that is crucial to character building.  I want my boys to be honest but they are fed so much conflicting information, and most of it comes from me.

Last weekend I took my son (the same one who told my boss I didn't like to work) to a concert I had to attend for my job. A concert that my boss invested money in. A concert that at intermission my boss asked my son what he thought. To which he replied " meh".  MEH.  It's not even a word! But his expression that went along with "MEH" said it all.  Truthfully I wasn't impressed either, but I lied and said I loved it.   Which my son knew was a lie.

When is it okay to be completely honest vs. being polite, and how in the world can I teach the boys that?  If not sharing information was a lie with Alex from Hollywood,  is it still a lie when you just don't share how you felt about a particular concert?

When you receive a gift that you are not exactly fond of, I have been told you mention one thing about it that you do like. That way you are not being dishonest, but polite.  For example, I received a weird gift from a weird guy that  I worked with at at a coffee shop.  They were Victoria's Secret pajamas.  I believe they were the ugliest things I have ever seen in my life. They were sailor themed silk and butt ugly.  After I overcame the initial urge to laugh, then the following urge to vomit, I said I appreciated the thought.   I didn't, but it was the only thing I could come up with.  My biggest regret was that I didn't keep them, so people could see how ridiculously ugly they were.

At this stage in my life,  I wish I could have figured out a balance. I wish I could be honest 100% of the time but the truth is, the only time I am completely honest is when I have had too much wine.  And that can be a good and bad thing, but mostly an embarrassing thing.  

Then there are times when I have been so honest, even though it hurt and lost friendships because of it.

As a parent though, I feel like I lie all the time.  I tell them that Santa is watching. I close all the blinds and turn off all the lights and change the clocks in the summer and tell them it is time for bed. I tell them "I'm working" but I'm really on Facebook.  I tell them that if they eat too much candy will make them sick as I hide my third Dove chocolate wrapper.  Or if they make a wish when they blow out a candle it will only come true if they don't tell anyone. The list could go on and on.

I know as the boys get older their questions will get harder and harder to answer honestly.  Maybe seeing an imperfect mother who made major mistakes as a teen that almost landed her an an all girls boarding school, will be a good thing. Or maybe it won't.  We can cross that bridge when we get to it.

The only thing I can do now is be honest that I don't always know if honesty is the best policy, especially when your boss is involved.