Oh the quotes I remember

Ich hob dir lieb! I love you!
Ich hob dir lieb! I love you!

You know, sometimes, forgetting, it’s a good thing. Not when you are searching your brain for a missing word mid-sentence, or for the name of the person quickly approaching with open arms. Then, it’s a little scary — am I already an Alta cocker (old fart) losing my marbles? Oy vey. Some memories, good or bad, come rushing back at you with a smell, a sound, a familiar face, a feeling in your gut (shpilkes), or reading a great post about a national movement to battle body image for young girls.

Please know , that this post was inspired by Allison at Mad House Mom. She wrote an amazing post, Be Real (istic) in early February that dislodged the floodgates that fed (that is some effing pun) my inner voice as a kid. Hell, this voice was feeding me well into my thirties before I started fighting back. Before I wanted to fight back. And it was some battle.

If you are a woman in this world, chances are pretty damned good that you have had a bout of feeling a bit ‘less than’ throughout your life. If you grew up as a people-pleasing perfectionist, that sponged up all the dysfunction in a family to make it all seem okay, well let’s just say, that really sucks that is meshugenah (crazy) making.

Having mr t in the big office, bragging about ‘grabbing women by their ‘pussies’ (this has happened to me) after popping a few tic-tac’s; suddenly earning 21.4 cents less per dollar isn’t your biggest worry. How do I parent and protect my girls, my babies from what can be a cruel world?

Here are just a few doozies that broke the damn dam for me:

“Both girls, they’re too fat. I’ll allow two cookies a year. One on Christmas, and one on Easter.”  Our pediatrician said this to my mother with my shvester (sister) and me in the room when I was 5, maybe 6 years old. The age of my Little. A doctor really said that in 1969.

“Lisa, come here. Look in the mirror with me. When you put your legs together, you should be able to see three perfect diamonds. This is a problem.” My mother, she brought me into her ‘dressing room’ in the summer of 1974. I was wearing my, “I’m Lisa. Fly me.” t-shirt. You baby-boomers may remember this overtly sexist campaign from Delta, that actually sold the allure of the flight attendants as an absurd, racy extension of the actual airline. I had on my favorite matching yellow shorts. I saw no diamonds in that room, wall-to-wall mirrors, showing every possible angle of ‘diamondlessness.’

1979, said to my parents by a person I had never met, as we stood in line at the Rascal House for dinner: “I had no idea you had another daughter, Morty? I only knew about your sports all star!” Then my mother interjected in a very faint whisper, after looking from side to side to make sure no one of stature was listening, Lisa likes to paint. She’s an artist.” Insert shame here.

Lisala, you're cheeks are a little chubby, no?
Lisala, you’re cheeks are a little chubby, no?

 “I apologize, my daughter is wearing her glasses today, and I just   don’t know why? Then under her breath, she looked directly at me and sneered, Why would you do this to me?”  Mom again.  We were meeting for dinner, maybe 1987-88? For the record, I was at least 25 years old, my glasses were brand spankin’ new and my eyes were irritated from a flight from Philadelphia to Miami earlier that day. She spent the rest of that evening with her back to me. Never once looking at me or speaking to me during the entire meal. 

“Don’t you ever share food with her again, she has cancer. You’ll catch it. When you go to the bathroom, in her house, don’t sit on the seat. In fact, try not to go at all.” 1986, mom again. We were  in NYC and I took a bite of dessert from my most favorite aunt   in the entire world. At this point, she should have been pleased   I took a bite of anything at all. I would go days at a time eating absolutely nothing. Seeking invisibility and gauging my worth  by the numbers on the scale.

“Lesbians, like Martina (Navratilova), have a genetic mutation, just like retarded people. That’s why she is gay. It’s the mutation.  And, she is obviously the man in the relationship.” This gem, also from my mother, was declared over dinner at the TGI Friday’s in the Princeton Market Fair, NJ. Circa 1992-ish. ‘Dear old dad’ went on to pontificate about how she (Martina) disgusted him, and he couldn’t even watch her play tennis. Don’t you worry Martina, I defended you from this incompetence.

These couple of quotes, just the tips of the iceberg that tried to sink me like the Titanic. My dear friends, don’t you for one second be sad for me. I am alive and well, living and loving a life free of toxicity. My Mrs. and me, we met at a group for women with eating disorders. Good luck / bad luck. We worked through our shit hard in therapy before having little ones.

We do our best and bend over backward to raise our shana maidelehs (sweet girls) with love, respect, and self-esteem in a world that tries too hard to steal it from them. They will never hear what I heard or be subject to the pernicious parental spiel (empty jabber, talk) that formed my invalidating inner voice.

We want for them to learn to love themselves first and foremost. To know they are loved by us, no matter who they are, what they do or how they look. They will understand the value of being a good person on the planet, helping others and living a life with empathy and a strong voice. They will learn how to take their space and own it. We will not let them succumb to the vile sexist and misogynistic messages of the media, or mr t. That the ‘P’ word (perfect) only sets you up to fail.

We want to build their house on a strong foundation, ready to weather the storms that blow in and out of our lives. Mighty girls become brave women.

I wish that I could have pain instead of you my child. Mir zol zayn far dir, mayn kind.

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Timeless, retro PLAY: We all need it!

Meet the Lego's
Meet the Lego’s

Plato said, “You can tell more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation.” You know what, Plato (sounds a lot like play-doh?), I couldn’t agree more. One of the greatest things now going on in our apartment is P-L-A-Y! I know this is in part due to the amazing progressive school the girls attend, The Miquon School, where I often long to restart my education from the beginning, in nursery school, or even kindergarten. My kinder have it so very good at this magical place where childhood is literally hands-on fun. The kids enjoy learning by doing, exploring, experiencing and well, playing. Independence is vital; curiosity is encouraged; respect for all is absolute. This isn’t just a community; it’s a diverse shtetl for greater childhood development and collaboration!

domino

So, I digress and kvelled a bissel about the magic that takes place daily at our school! Nu! This enchanted, natural, outdoorsy place has an effect that is phenomenal on kids (and their families too). Why? Let me tell you. We live in a crazy, fast paced, over-connected, yet very dis-connected culture. It’s scary how little we really relate to each other now, despite all our techno advances in communications. I remember a time when you met a friend for coffee to ‘tawk,’ or just went to the bathroom in your own home without having to bring your iPhone along. Maybe that ages me more than my now gray-mop of a hairdo. But it’s true. I also remember the delight of receiving a letter by snail mail. No acronyms—all real words, handwritten with intent. How about seeing a photo in print, holding it, watching the colors fade over time. Enough!

jackAbout my kinder and play. The things that they are doing together are absolutely thrilling to me. The hottest stuff from our holiday haul: Classic dominoes, an antique porcelain American Indian doll, who of course, we said was Kaya’s kid-sister (yes, American Girl Kaya), a weaving loom, Lego’s, the original Spirograph deluxe set, and Jacob’s Ladder (yes, the one rumored to be in the tomb with King Tut himself!). Color me silly, but this is the stuff I played with a few too many moons ago. No batteries, no noises, no electronics (not that there’s anything wrong with them), no drones, no bones about it!

 

The giggly-fun that Little and Big have when setting up the dominoes, deciding whose turn it is to tap an end, and starting it all over again. Allo of our right cerebral cortexes are humming the happy dance. Their play is about discovery and the experience. It’s incredible.

jacob

Try if you can to get Jacob’s ladder from the Mrs., who has been dominating that little wooden wonder since the first unwrapping. One night, Big got a hold of it, figured out how it works, and went along to teach the Mrs., Little and me how it works. The gears are spinning in these brains. Curiosity isn’t killing any cats around here. It’s contagious.

 

And Spirograph! How many pens have we been through! The pleasure is all ours! Now, in true Mighty-Girl spirit, we can whip out the snap circuits and Big and Little rush to the floor to get started. Playing with circuitry, light switches, transistors and diffusers, building fans and lights…bring it on and add some more! My little Rosie Revere, Engineers (love that book) can’t get enough. We look around us and easily apply these newly constructed pieces to the ceiling fan, the volume on the radio, the lights. Voila! Questions, inquiry and thoughts are flowing…

 

Most important to this whole equation, I see my bubelah’s growing up to be innovative and creative, critical thinkers who will always love learning. Doctor. Lawyer. Engineer. Who cares? This Jewish momma will not be kvetchin’ or hockin’. They can become whatever it is they want to become, and they will work hard because they know and feel intrinsically that learning is an ‘F’ word—F-U-N. That is pretty damned amazing!

 

As play is concerned, it’s a wonderful time to be a kid. As the world is concerned, well that’s another post altogether.

 

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