Category Archives: Family

Dinner with Children

Growing up I was taught that children should be seen, but not heard. The only place appropriate for shrill giggles was outside. I have three siblings and we did run wild around the neighborhood. We could get loud, very loud. The rules were strictly enforced so when we passed the threshold of the back door our voices lowered and our giggles hushed. Unfortunately, the golden rule of not being heard was enforced more than I liked. The freedom to express opinions, talk politics, religion, or sex were all off the table.

I am a parent now, but unlike me, my children have been raised to be seen, heard, and expressing their opinions is encouraged. Our religious beliefs are openly discussed, we grumble about the state of politics, and we get loud together. My kids are now young adults so going out for a sit-down dinner is getting more rare. When we do get an evening out we put our cell phones away and enjoy each other’s company.

The other night, we had one of those rare evenings that brought not just my family, but also my brother, his wife, and my elderly mother to the dinner table. Unfortunately, we were seated next to one of “those families”. I assumed that they were a husband, a wife, and a female friend, along with four kids under four feet tall.

Having four pint sized kids is a wonderful mix of riotous behavior. I love watching a pack of kids run and squeal. Their joy is so contagious and I can’t help but smile. That is, I love it when they are zealous at home or outside. At some restaurants, like Chuck E. Cheese, it is expected that kids are running everywhere. Screaming laughter should fill those types of restaurants, but at a casual steakhouse where the atmosphere is quiet and patrons want great conversation, kids should be seated and hushed just like everyone else.

“That family” next to us was the epitome of what should never happen at a peaceful, sit-down restaurant. The mom and her female friend were fully engrossed in their cell phones. I can only assume they were texting one another because they couldn’t hear each other with their children running circles around their table screaming. Their male companion (I’m guessing Dad) sat in stupor like an overwrought father who has spent the past four years under child-induced distress.

When the kids actually did sit down they turned on their own cell phones and watched cartoons with the volume set to maximum. In the mean time, we patiently sat and tried to have fun. We did attempt “the looks” in hopes the moms would catch a hint that the kids were bothering us, but in the end that failed. My mother, who is 87, turned to the mom sitting at her back and said, “You need to control your children. They are being very disruptive and rude.” The mom was quite put off about the whole affair. She immediately packed up her kids and tersely informed my mother,  “Your opinion was so helpful,” then stormed from the restaurant.

We were happy to enjoy a quiet meal, but it left a negative taste in the air that took awhile to clear. Once the staleness settled, I noticed another table near us. There were four adults and five kids (three under four feet tall). The children were coloring and talking quietly among themselves, and the adults were having a lively discussion. I scanned the rest of the room and everyone, young and old, laughed and talked with one another. It reminded me that most families are not out of control, and that “those families” are in the minority. The vast majority of children will grow up to be great parents and their children will too.

Put the cell phones and iPads away. Enjoy dinner out with the kids. Let them be seen and heard in all the appropriate places. This is a fun world to be human in and even more so when you have dinner out with children.

Advertisements

1 Comment

Filed under Arbitrary Thoughts, Family

Send it Snail Mail

Not too long ago I celebrated a birthday. Before you ask, I’m not saying how old I turned, but suffice it to say that I remember watching the Vietnam War on television and seeing Father Knows Best in black and white. I also remember the day when birthday cards would come through the mail and each one was a gift in of itself.

Whenever I got a card or letter in the mail I would get a charge of excitement. The return address was the first thing to check and then see the postmark and stamp. Anything from overseas was the best (my brother served in Korea and he sent me several letters from there), but mail from anywhere was plain grand. After learning the distance the letter or card had come I would turn it over to carefully open the envelope.  I never ripped into a letter, and I would either get a knife to cut a neat slice across the top, or very carefully lift the paper along the glued edge.

Anticipation was the best part to opening a card or letter that came in the mail, actually it was the best part about going to the mailbox everyday. As I celebrated another step toward being ancient I made my daily trip to the mailbox and was pleased that I actually got two (count them, one, two) cards in the mail. There was a time that ten was more the normal, but now it is two. I did receive several e-cards, along with a slew of Facebook one liners, “Happy Birthday.”

On the one hand I was thrilled that anyone remembered my birthday at all (usually everyone forgets). I had a wonderful time going to lunch with friends and my family took me to dinner as well. On the other hand, it bothered me that I only received two cards in the mail. I miss the old days. I miss that anticipation. I miss going to mailbox everyday. Don’t you? When was the last time you received a nice letter from your Aunt who lives in New Jersey? Did you get very many cards in the mail for your birthday this year? Wouldn’t it be nice to get one?

I work for a greeting card company and I hear a lot of stories from customers who’s day was brightened just by receiving a real card made out of paper tucked in an envelope and sealed with a kiss. These are the things that make our world a better place and I, for one, will be sending more cards out this year. Let’s spread some cheer around and send a card, a note, a letter. Better yet, maybe some sand from the beach you live on, or a pressed flower from your garden. Be creative. Just send it snail mail and make someone smile.

Leave a comment

Filed under Arbitrary Thoughts, Dust Bunnies, Family, Holidays, Letters, Writing

A Work in Progress

I recently completed editing my Great Grandfather’s book that was about his life as a railroad man in the early 1900’s.  It was inspirational to read his words and be a part of something he started to write when he was 70 years old.  Grandpop was 70 while he was writing his book and is now long dead. It is only now, in 2013 that his book is nearly ready to publish.  As I sit to write my own book I wonder about his time writing. He wrote everything in longhand and then my Great Aunt would put the words to the typewriter.  Correspondence was by snail mail so each leg of the writing was done over months rather than the minutes.

Today, we have spell check, auto correct, email, blogs, tweets, friends, and a plethora of other outlets.  The overwhelming variety can be blissfully tiring.

The railroad business was mixed with brutality and bliss and he had a unique perspective as he was one of the builders who found the lay of the land and supervised the workers who laid the track.  It had rainbows of color that are perfect for story writing.  His detailed descriptions of the mundane brings his time on the railroad to life.  He loved this work and it took him through hostile lands both here and abroad.  He fought swamps and deserts, along with rebels and farmers.  He went so far as to be a founding father of a small town just so a railroad station could be built there.  He had moxsey.

Here’s to my Great Grandfather.  I will dedicate my book to you.  It will be done before I’m 70.

2 Comments

Filed under Arbitrary Thoughts, Family, Writing

Honor in Thy Family

Honor in Thy Family is a way of being.  Where you come from is where you too shall go, and without honor your path will be filled with doubt and confidence meant for the meek.  Honor lives in the heart and soul of you and until you find that honor you will wander through life without direction spinning in circles that do not end. Spiraling out of control.  When you find yourself on the ground, dizzy, you will ask, “What happened?”

Reverence for family has been grotesquely twisted into something unrecognizable.  Fathers beat their children and rape their wives.  Mother’s destroy their children and bring shame to their past.  Self perpetuating is this monster and passed from parents to children spreading like a disease leaving honor  in the mud squirming as a chopped worm.  Even splintered, a worm grows again into another worm and another and another.  It wreathes and arches it’s ugly back and grows again.  There is no honor.

Ripping the guts from the monster is a display in what lies within.  When splayed open and revealed you can see what rots within.  Look upon it and examine the details.  The grey mass is filled with worms that have yet to re-grow, and worms that are full size.  To cut them from the sickening mass is not enough.  Gently remove each one with a careful touch.  Breaking even the tiniest segment will leave a portion to re-grow.  Find every piece by reaching in without fear.

This is honor in itself.  Honor to self.  With honor to self then honor to family will be born.  Bring forth your honor by drawing the worms to the surface and laying them into the mud under your feet.  They will revel in the mud as you will revel in the sun.  This is as it should be.

Leave a comment

Filed under Family