Thursday, March 23, 2017

Kids: The Importance of Sleep

Social media changes our perspective of things. An event takes place at noon and some post about it at midnight. An event takes place at noon and some post about it at noon. We're not all the same, but we all tend to do the same thing. Meaning, if someone posts in real time, they tend to always post in real time and vice versa.

When "we" were kids, our parents understood the importance of a good night's sleep and while special occasions called for a late night, our parents tried to time these, as not to upset our routines. Kid's today, and their parents, seem to have thrown one of the most important lessons handed down from generations away. Sleep is the single most important part of a child's life. Sleep allows them to grow, both mentally and physically. It allows them to recharge a battery that appears non-stop, but actually has a very short lifespan. It allows them to think, because while most kids view their tossing and turning as torture, it actually allows them to rethink and reset. Sleep allows their tiny immune systems to work, because we tend to heat up when we sleep and kill those germs. Sleep also allows their metabolism to set. Sleep is, without a doubt, the most important thing in a child's life.

So what does social media have to do with this? Well so often, I see parents posting pics of their kids in their PJs, watching TV, doing homework, cleaning, bathing, playing, in the car, the park, the movie theater or wherever they may be and it saddens me. I see the time of the post and wonder, "Was this just now? It's 10:10. This child should have been asleep two, maybe even three hours ago." Children, all children need to get sleep. The little ones 14-16 hours a day and once they're in preschool, 12-14, naps included. Once they hit school, they still need a good 10-12 hours. So if a child is up at 7am, they need to be in bed by 7pm. I know parents are saying "You don't understand," but when I was a kid, almost all my friends were asleep, not just in bed, but asleep, by 8pm. Our night's consisted of dinner, the Muppets, brushing teeth and sleep.

One of the things I have realized from working with kids for so long is that they need three things. Sleep, proper food and exercise. The kids that get these three things, almost all excel in school, are healthy and most importantly, show a happiness, both within their families and within their friendships. They are more thoughtful, patient and in many ways compassionate. I think sleep allows them to view things clearly, to appreciate experience and to take their time with things.

I don't know what it's like to try to put a child down to bed every night, but I do know what working with those who don't sleep are like. I know that the "bad" kids, the "dumb" kids and the ones with tons of social and physical issues all tell me the same thing. They don't sleep.

And like all cause and effect situations, there is collateral damage and collateral benefits. When kids sleep more, guess who else gets to sleep more. Guess who else is more agreeable, patient and compassionate. Guess who else gets to appreciate the tiny moments in life and actually experience them. Even better, is when an entire family sleep, they get to share in each other's health, happiness and energy. Positive energy.

If you've read this, realize another thing. I'm 46 years old and I sleep about 4 hours a night. I've had chronic insomnia since my mother was diagnosed with cancer and it never went away after she died. I tell myself I only need 4 hours, maybe five. I tell myself I'm happy. I tell myself I'm healthy, energetic and emotionally there, but you know what. On those rare occasions, I get seven, maybe even eight hours of sleep. I'm reminded of a much different time in my life. My childhood. When I experienced everything fully. Makes me hope that every kid is experiencing that, but I know better and that saddens me.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Enough Already! Why Do You Care?

I post about politics a lot. I do it on purpose and I do it for numerous reasons.

The main reason I do it, is to get back at the people who have posted so much racism, sexism and religious prejudice over the last eight years, my head was spinning. It took me removing myself from Eastchester, to realize just how many of my friends are filled, sorry, overflowing with ignorance. That may sound harsh, but let's be honest, bigotry isn't about hatred, it's about ignorance and the inability or resistance to understanding another.

I hate cherries, but I understand why people like them. I hated tofu, curry and cauliflower at one point in my life and now they are staples of my diet. Why? Because I hated them based on texture, smell and the reaction to eating them. When I realized they could be prepared in so many varieties, I realized they were just the same, if not better, than those things I already liked.

But what do I get out of these political posts on social media. A voice. My voice was taken away when Trump won, just as my friend's voices were taken away when Obama won. So there's my second and third reasons to post. The second is, it gives me a voice, but the third is, I get to articulate my feelings on every point. Unlike my friends, who didn't like Obama because he was 1. A democrat and 2. black, I am not that shallow. I disliked Obama for his drone strikes, keeping Guantanamo open, pumping out oil like a Texas baron and ignoring the resistance on pipelines and not being more forceful with the Supreme Court nomination. There were others, but those were petty personal issues. I kept those to myself. The positives, not for me, but for the nation, outweighed those dislikes, and therefor, I liked the man. That combined with the fact that he represented the family values we Americans covet, made him a good president. Time will tell if he's great, but I highly doubt he'll ever get that dubious distinction.

So why else do I post? I'm scared. I'm scared for the environment, because despite what social media has said, Trump hasn't actually done much. What he has done though, is open up pathways to set back eight years of climate change reversal. Imagine for one second if the most skeptical scientists are right. We have 100 to 120 years left on Earth as is. That means our generations kid's will have children who will die, because of us. Their kids may be young when they perish. Sadly, it may not matter, because they'll be so indebted to our system and so vastly under-educated, they won't know what hit them.

Why do I post? Because people enjoy it. Despite what many thing, for every person who hates me, tells friends they're going to kick my ass, even kill me, there are people who appreciate my care and the fact I take the time to make sure what I post is true. Something in this day and age is unimportant.

People think I'm abrasive and combative, but the reality is, I have a young niece, who is going to grow up in a difficult world. She'll face sexism, racism, religious persecution and possibly gender or sexual preference scrutiny. She'll be paid less for the same work, she'll have to worry about walking alone at night and she'll have to worry that every man in her life doesn't have her best interests at heart. And here's the best part, she'll have all these hurdles to face, despite being privileged. Imagine if she started out with the world not in the palm of her tiny hands? That's why I post. For her and for those who don't and won't have her opportunities, despite being created equally.

Monday, March 20, 2017

First Day Of Spring

A week into springing forward, we try not to look back. Snow covers the my world, breath is visible in the cold air and the bones still ache as the wind hit my knees. The snow will soon to turn to rain and old saying of lions and lambs will fill our ears. As the air warms and the days get longer, the time to do things is near. The evening jogs, cocktails on a deck, childhood games and all the positive things we associate with Spring will arrive. Rebirth! Spring, seasonally, religiously and metaphorically is viewed as a new beginning. Long after the calendar pages increased in number, the real "new year" begins. I have few, if any, wishes for myself, but hope this year proves bountiful for those who I've watched struggle. I hope happiness blooms for those so deserving of so much more, than simply having more daylight to deal with, well, life.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Is It Caring?

When do they bathe? If they're here on Friday and leave on Sunday, did they shower Friday morning? Will they shower Sunday night? It's been two months. Sixty-Six days to be exact. A persistent cough still lingers. The near midnight bedtime. The junk food snacks. Fruit alternatives it says on the box. They ask for fruit, Less expensive. Comes with it's own wrapper. A happy meal and the cough persists. Every other week, but then those weekday nights. The change of schedule. Cute pants. A princess dress. Crying. Knocks on the door. Walking in without awaiting confirmation. It's allowed, their children. The odd sense that "NO!" isn't so much a command, but an affirmation of attention. Discipline threatened, but never doled out. Is it their place? The cough persist. No "nightmares" this evening. 6:40AM and the first one is awake, but how. How has this child managed to recharge with seven hours of sleep. No nap will take place. Fruit Loops, Pop Tarts, Nuggets, Pudding, Pizza and Fries. At two and four, supersizing was foreign to me. I was 41 when I first tasted Cap'n Crunch. The cough persists. So common, I wonder if the taller folks notice. Come to think of it. It's nine and a half weeks and they're still coughing too. In my adult lifetime, I don't believe I've been sick for nine weeks. This is constant. The cat looks at me, confused by my concerns. I adore children, but only when I can make a difference. What does that say about me? Self righteous or caring?

The cough persists. He's two.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Peter, Paul and Judas

Rob Peter to Pay Paul

It worked for a bit, but the person short changed was me. The timing, the situation, the mounting pressure from Paul made me flee. The intent was to come back, appease Paul, maybe not, but definitely take care of Peter. Peter, in my mind, would understand. The problem was Peter wasn't Peter, but Peter(s) and Paul stayed silent. I don't know where I stand with Paul, not do I know where I stand with all of the Peters. Some have forgiven, but I'm sure not forgotten.

What Peter didn't understand is that Paul had a power over me. Paul protected me, despite the abusive relationship. When I fled Paul's abuse, I couldn't explain it in terms Paul understood, because Paul didn't know about Peter's abuse. Well, he did, but not in terms he could relate to.

What nobody could have foretold was that I fled into the arms and home of Judas. Now, four years later, I'd rather face Peter's scorn, Paul's abuse, than deal with the result of Judas' betrayal. The cold of this winter's snow, is nothing to the chill I feel, thinking back, to the last time Peter and I laughed, ignoring Paul and never once, not in a million years, thinking Judas would be the worst of the three.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Snow Day

As a small child, these words brought so much joy. Not so much in that I was missing school, but that I got to spend the day with my mother, play outside, smell the aromas of some soup, stew or roast, my mother was preparing and the idea that change for routine was upon us. The following day, I'd march into the sloppy hallways, wearing some awkward boots, change into my sneakers and life returned to normal.

As years went by, snow days meant watching my brother, digging out a car to get to work and freezing my butt off. Somehow the past still brought a smile to my face. Nowadays, I look out the window and watch plows and the angry neighbor, cursing Mother Nature and wishing for this Global Warming would act more like its namesake.

Two evenings ago, a bright moon and the already fallen snow illuminated the country road I'm on, giving me this almost Normal Rockwell moment. Pushing the drapes aside, mug in hand, cat on the bed and my nightly reading atop the nightstand. I pulled comforters up and fell asleep to the soft purr of my confidante and best friend. Knowing that despite what was going on, or about to, I had to be prepared for his day.

This morning he awoke early, Maybe anticipating some seismic shift, or more likely, awoken by the sound of salt being laid down. He meowed a little more and I attended to his needs fitting my own within his important schedule. It dawned on me that while the morning has a different feel, the day will be much like my last few. I won't get into my new definition of few, but it dawned on recently, we use the word disabled when describing the effects of large snowstorms. Have I been living a blizzard. I wish that was a metaphor, but many days it's a reality. One not noticed or acknowledged by others. Disabled, crippled, incapacitated. All extreme words to describe being "stuck" with one's family for a day. Being confined momentarily seems like such a chore, but many do nothing more on a vacation than they would on a snow day. Is it crippling to lay in bed and do nothing, when it is by choice?

So I sip my coffee, eat my fruit, two spoons of peanut butter and gaze at the cat at my feet. He's not as antsy now as he was before. His belly full, he will rest for an hour, maybe two. I will go about my day, looking for a break, a chance, an opportunity, to alleviate that which disables, cripples and incapacitates me. Physically, mentally and emotionally, or is it metaphorically, I've been preparing for this blizzard, every night when I go to sleep and each morning when I wake. Some mornings I shovel, but most i simply let it accumulate and hope for the plow.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Communication

Letters
E-Mail
Texts
Messenger
Comments
Message Boards
Etc

It's getting to the point where we have so many ways to communicate, we've lost the art of conversation. Through this, we're also starting to lose the skills to relay messages via the written form. What happens is, we have no way to be interrupted, so the shy wait, the angry rant, the humble listen, the sad don't respond and the happy gloat.

And then there is one person who is no a microcosm of all the narcissism in the world today. Someone who has realized they can simply make a comment, whether it be via Twitter, a public statement, a speech or any other means and they can say whatever they like and not have to deal with the response or the repercussions. Yet, he didn't invent this and to be completely honest, he doesn't even do it very well.

The other day, I open an e-mail and read a death notice. It saddened me, for two reasons. One, the person did more for me during my youth than most. He afforded me the luxury and yes, I know it was a luxury, of going to the best school in NYC for five years. It saddened me, because I think of his hilarious wife and my mischievous friend, their daughter. A woman, who I've heard went on to be a huge success. It saddened me because the message was followed by negative and how it affected the conveyor of the message. Why would you tell someone of a death and make it about yourself, while others still suffer?

Communication is our most important ability. Every species has their ability to convey so much with a look, a gesture, even a grunt. And yet, there are still some humans, who have walked this Earth for 70 or 80 years, who can't convey a message, because they fear a response of any type. A response takes away their power, because in that very second, the topic is no longer controlled by them and ceases to be about them.