Every Memorial Day we go to the Rhode Island Veteran’s Memorial Cemetery to pay respect to my grandfather, grandmother and all the other veterans that are buried there. It is actually a very impressive sight as you drive through the cemetery. There are flags lining the drive and all of the plots, and it looks like a sea of American flags. It is emotionally overwhelming, as you can imagine. My grandfather was a very proud man as many of his generation are. He was a Naval officer and was stationed in Newport during his service. Those of you who are in the military and may read this will notice the lack of details I have to give you.
I have no excuses for not knowing more. My grandfather lived until he was almost 91 years old. During his last years he suffered from Alzheimer’s and all that accompanies that disease. Before that I was a newlywed and a new mother busy with baby business. I wasn’t thinking that time was running out.
I wish I had taken the time to listen to him tell me about his life and his experiences. There is so much we can learn from our past generations. I know my parents probably have more understanding and knowledge about him, but it would have been great to hear it first hand. As I think about him and my grandmother too, on this Memorial Day, I am deeply grateful for all the sacrifices their generation made.
I want to thank them and all the men and women from a generation that cared and listened and did what was right for our future.
I don’t like to give advice, but one thing I feel comfortable saying is that if you have the opportunity to talk and listen to a grandparent or great grandparent, please do it. Write it down too. It is an important piece of your family history that someday you’ll be able to pass along. We can learn from them. We can take their stories and teach from them in hopes that it helps our future generations. I have often heard that understanding our past is the key to shaping our future. As I get older that seems to make more and more sense to me.
So on this Memorial Day try to take some time away from soccer tournaments and baseball games to honor your own family that has passed on, as well as our service men and women that fought and still fight for our future.
My daughter has the perfect body. She’s a lean mean 11 year old soccer playin’ machine! Her little belly is as tight as a drum. And, I think she even has a six pack. She’s perfectly perfect. But she doesn’t think so. She thinks she’s too straight. She should have curves, she says. The other girls do. She actually asked me if she was fat and that was why she didn’t have curves yet!
FAT. I hate that word. Oh, and DIET that’s another. Since my children arrived, I’ve been ever so careful about using those words. Girls and boys today are so body conscious, at such a young age. When my son was in first grade he asked me what “diet” meant. He’d heard it at school. I told him it was what you ate – that a giraffe’s “diet” consisted mostly of leaves. That was good for a while. A few years later my daughter asked what “calories” were. Her friends were checking them on their snacks at recess, in third grade!
Kids today are surrounded by body image issues. My daughter’s 5th grade class goes to “fitness” class and uses adult sized treadmills and elliptical machines. We didn’t have fitness equipment when we were kids! We played outside. All of the time.
My husband and I try to lead by example. We teach our children that the key to being healthy is to be active, eat well and get the proper amount of rest. Yet, somehow, they worry that they are fat or that they will become fat. Something bigger than us is getting to them. Peer pressure? Advertising? Television?
I don’t know what it is. But here’s what I do know: My children are perfect just the way they are. I will continue to tell them so day after day. And hope that as we approach the teenage years, my words will somehow become louder and stronger than anyone else’s. People come in all shapes and sizes, and what’s inside is really what matters. I will continue to lead by example. I will continue to treat them as children; encouraging outdoor play, serving healthy meals, setting appropriate bedtimes. I will continue to offer them treats, encourage them to lay under a tree and read a book, and allow them to stay up late for special occasions. I will never use the words “fat” and “diet” in front of them. And, however they turn out, they will always be perfect to me.
We had a lot of response to this blog post – as many of you are experiencing the same things with your kids. We came upon an article recently which is very relative to this post and extremely well written and insightful and wanted to share it here:
I was folding clothes tonight and I came across my son’s hole-in-the-knee jeans. He wanted to wear them the other day to school and I told him he couldn’t wear ripped pants to school, but they were great for playing outside. He was not happy about it, but he took them off and wore something else. I took the ripped jeans and put them behind some towels in a closet. I wanted to decide when he could and couldn’t wear them. Low and behold he had those damn things on the next day. I said where did you find those jeans and he said he had LOTS of pairs with holes in the knee. I tossed up my hands like “you got me”! HA! But then I stopped to think…I never had a six year old SON before. This must be one of those stages that they go through. Just like not pronouncing R’s and asking “WHY” all the time. I just had to deal with it.
But tonight as I came across yet another pair of hole-in-the-knee jeans I suddenly had pangs in my heart and a lump in my throat thinking about how much I will miss those ‘hole-y’ pants someday. I will wish for those six year old days when all he wanted to do was play outside and rough house with the dog, throw a ball or just run around. These are the moments that catch us and stop us in our tracks to realize that this time with our children is not ever-lasting. In actuality, it is a very short time we have with them. How much do I really care about a ripped hole in the knee? If I was old school I would put a patch on it and they would be like new, but I am not old school and I don’t sew.
So today, when my six year old came down the stairs dressed for school in yet another pair of ripped hole in the knee jeans, I let it go….
I want to savor this stage before it is gone and I never see a ripped knee again. I know this is melodramatic, but all you moms out there know exactly what I’m talking about. Take this stage or any other and it translates to the same thing. Time moves us on and we need to do our best to live and breathe right now.
1. It must be at least 5 o’clock. Unless you’ve had an exceptionally bad day. Then, as long as it’s 5 o’clock somewhere.
2. Preferably, there should be no children around.
3. There is no such thing as “beerthirty” and don’t let your husband tell you otherwise.
4. You must be sitting in a relaxing room somewhere.
5. Any kind of wine will do. New wine, old wine, wine in a box, who cares?
6. You must drink it in a glass. A plastic party cup just doesn’t do it justice. You can still drink it, it just won’t really be winethirty.
7. There may NOT be any whining at all!
8. The name “mom” doesn’t exist…if only for a short while.
9. You must be holding the remote!
10. Feel free to refill your glass at your leisure.
11. You may not complain…unless you have a glass of wine in your hand, in that case, bitch all you want!
12. You may add to or change the rules as you see fit.
Town Politics. Now that is a mouthful if you live in Norton and my guess is it’s the same for a lot of towns lately. I have lived in Norton for 12 years and I have come to love this town as my own hometown. I love the people, I love the teachers, I love the sense of community we share. We are a very giving and supportive town in many instances.
But for some reason we cannot all come together on spending money for the schools. In this case we are as divided as you can be. We have an election coming up to decide whether we are going forward with our plan for a new high school or not. We are getting a huge reimbursement from the state for doing this now and getting our school up to code. If we don’t do it now, we still have to get it up to code and it will still cost people money.
I overheard a man talking at the baseball game saying, “a building doesn’t make a good education.” Ok, those of you who know me know that I couldn’t let THAT one go by unanswered. So I politely said, “Hi! Are you talking about the high school building project?” And as you can imagine, I gave my two cents about why a building does make a difference. Our teachers have been doing without LONG enough. They can only go so far and they are hitting their limit. You can feel it. They have always gone above and beyond, but at some point and I think that point is here, they are going to get frustrated and start saying I am only doing this or I can’t come back for that. And who could blame them? I am fully aware that a building alone does not make a good educational experience, and believe me, so are the teachers in this town. However, it’s time they have what they need to reach their full potential and in turn give our children a chance to reach theirs.
I commented at one of our meetings that I didn’t understand why people would vote “NO” on this issue. I thought we were a strong community. I was told that it is about the bottom line. I respectfully disagree with that because if it is about the bottom line then they should be voting “YES”! But I maintain that it is about community and making ALL parts of our community strong including the schools. You take care of us and we take care of you. That’s how it works and otherwise it will turn to gridlock. I hope we can finally come together and show our support on June 6th and June 11th and finally be proud to call ourselves a community again.
- I shall not match socks.
- I shall not turn inside out clothes right side out.
- I shall only wash clothes brought to the laundry room.
- I shall not seek the dirty laundry.
- I shall wash by person, not by color.
- Should you require clean clothes, you shall plan ahead and bring the dirty clothes to the laundry room.
- Each person shall be given a laundry basket with his or her name on it.
- It is each person’s responsibility to put away the clean clothes and to then fill the laundry basket with the dirty clothes.
- It is each person’s responsibility to carry such laundry to and from the laundry room.
- Last, but not least, each person is required to at least mutter a “please” at the time of the laundry drop off and a “thank you” at the time of pick up.
*This procedure is effective immediately. Should you have any problems and/or questions about this procedure, you may expect to do all of your own freakin’ laundry.
It sucks to get old. What sucks more is watching your parents get old. Mine are only in their 60’s, but things are changing, and they’re changing fast. My dad’s gone from a very “manly” man who could fix anything and make anything to a guy who has trouble keeping his balance. He’s been shaky for years, so much so that he gave up writing. He can’t sign birthday cards anymore, so his girlfriend does it for him. But she spells “grampa” wrong. Those were the little things, things that bothered me but weren’t such a big deal. But now he has trouble maintaining his balance. He chokes when he’s eating. His voice is so soft I can barely hear him sometimes.
He used to blame it on the heart and blood pressure meds until my son overheard one of my dad’s longtime friends say that he had Parkinson’s Disease. When I confronted him about it, he told me it was “atypical” Parkinson’s. Not a big deal.
Then this year he fell off of a ladder (in Georgia) and broke his wrist. He fell from such a distance that they did a complete body scan; they were surprised he survived. He couldn’t drive and could barely care for himself. His girlfriend took care of him at home and I drove him to his many doctor’s appointments. Eventually the wrist healed, but there’s always a new bruise or scab from a fall he’s had. Today we got a call that he fell from a ladder again. This time in New Hampshire at his summer home. No broken bones, but he won’t be able to drive home. My brother and husband are heading up to get him.
We’ve had to talk about selling his house in New Hampshire. The house he loves. The house he’s almost got just the way he wants it. The problem is that now, he can’t really take care of it. And he can’t be there alone. But just because he can’t physically do all of the things he once could, doesn’t mean that he’s going to let us tell him what to do. He’s a stubborn old Yankee, he’ll do as he pleases, even if it means falling from ladder after ladder.
This year I’ve had to face the reality that my dad may not be around much longer. He’s never going to be the kind of guy to sit and relax his way through retirement. He’s going to keep doing all of the things he loves, even if there’s a risk that he’ll hurt himself. At first, the parent in me wanted to make him stop, for his own safety. But I’m not his parent. And hard as it is, I know that I can’t make him do anything.
Nobody knows how much time they have left, and everyone deserves to live happily. So I guess that these falls, as hard as they are to watch, are just going to be our reality if we want my dad to live out the rest of his life happily.