This past fall, I agreed to coordinate an art competition for my son’s elementary school. The oversight of this program included working with school staff, budget mapping, recruiting volunteers and judges, event planning, marketing, public speaking, and data management. Some may say, “But it’s for kids, right? Small scale?” I suppose. However, I think of kids as our most important shareholders in a way, so the stakes were high in my mind. Oh, and by the way, I’m not actually the “artistic” type. So the project management piece of this was just fine, but the actual getting-kids-jazzed-about-art was something that I hadn’t thought about before signing on. Yet with all of that, what concerned me most was whether I still had my grown up chops. I’m talking about being able to hold my own and remain verbally agile in adult dialogue over a multi-month project.
For the past 7 years, I’ve been a stay-at-home mom with two young boys (by choice, and I love it). So most of my days are spent discussing the merits of dinosaur vs. oval shaped chicken nuggets or perfecting my living room fort building skills. I talk kid-speak constantly. When spending time with adult friends, I’ve accidentally reverted to my mommy-mode and announced I needed a “potty check.” My husband has greeted me with “Hi, Tara,” and I have responded on auto-pilot with “Hey, buddy.” I perpetually walk around with my hair in a wet knot while clothed in semi-clean jeans and a fleece top.
So entering into this project, I was a little nervous. What if I asked a professional photographer if her dinner was “nummy” ? Or what if I ended a talk with the principal by saying, “Sure thing, big guy.” These things just spray out of a stay-at-home parent’s mouth like a geyser. (more…)
If something happened to you, have you ensured the future of your children?
Recently, I heard the story of a single mother who lost her battle with cancer. One of her three children went to my son’s school, and coincidentally my step-sister was friends with her and her son babysat the children for the past few years. The children are 5 and 7 and went from being very well taken care of, from a financially stable, loving home to being all alone in this world. This is a very sad story, and although the children are currently being cared for, their ultimate fate lies in the hands of the courts and strangers, since she did not have a proper will in place.
Last week, a colleague and friend who was scheduled for surgery had a brain aneurism, and is now in a coma. She is a mother of 2 teenagers, a high school senior and a college freshman. She was always on the go, working hard, going to the gym, cooking huge holiday meals. Now she lies in bed, her fate lies in the hands of her medical team and G-d. (more…)
As I write, the kids (and my husband) are glued to the TV, watching the weather, trying to determine when and where Typhoon #17 will make landfall, carefully calculating whether or not they will have to go to school (and work).
I’ve spent the morning doing laundry while I can (having no dryer puts the laundry at the mercy of the heavens), doing the grocery shopping while I can, and bringing inside anything that might be blown away or blown into a window. Been there, done that, paid 5000 yen.
The winds have picked up a bit, and the air has turned heavy and humid. The children have to periodically brush away the curtains that keep being blown into their faces as they play by the open window on the floor.
They will go to bed tonight, excited and anxious, like American kids waiting for a snow day. Except of course there will be no playing outside in a typhoon! They’re looking forward to staying home, watching daytime TV, building a metropolis out of legos, and (I’ll be honest) fighting with each other. (more…)
The Author’s Mother
She had one leg shorter than the other. Not in such a glaringly obvious way that one would immediately notice, but you could tell if you studied her walk or she pointed it out to you, like she did to me when I was little.
I couldn’t fully understand the story as a child, but my mother had contracted Polio when she was around three years old, and almost died. I remember that part because she had two names. Mildred was the name she was given at birth, and Goldie was the name she was re-named after she had recovered, as is customary in the case of near death experiences in the Jewish religion.
By the time I was born, the Polio vaccine had been developed and was administered widely to children in the United States. Polio was nearly eradicated in this country by then, and so the story of my mother’s near death from Polio became to me a long-ago folk tale from her childhood.
Sadly, that has not been the case for the rest of the world. Sure the numbers have dropped 99% since 1988 when there were 350,000 known cases around the world, to the 218 reported cases in 2012. Still, the fact is, that as long as Polio remains in even one child, children the world over are at risk of contracting the disease. The victims of the highly infectious Poliomyelitis virus that attacks the nervous system are usually children younger than five years old.
Knotted Gun sculpture outside UN Headquarters in NYC.
Here, in South Korea, as in every other part of the world, there has been grief and shock over the shootings in Connecticut. The loss of so many young lives in such a vicious act of violence is incomprehensible across languages, religions, and cultures.
After tragedies like this one, which are all too commonplace in the US, people want as much information as possible about the shooter, their family, their upbringing. Any clue at all as to how this could have happened, even though we all know that no answer will ever satisfy us. There is nothing we could discover that would make this ok or comprehensible.
As people across the world ask why – why on earth would someone do this? – in many places people are asking why this young man had access to weapons that could fire 6 bullets per second. (more…)