Tuesday, November 30, 2010

One Never Truly Grows Up

This nearly-300 page book is a funny, yet practical, guide showing moms and dads how to handle adult -- often sticky! -- situations with their grown kids.

You want to be a parent or you want to be a friend? Sometimes it's tough to be either one of those, and you simply play good cop, bad cop.

The book is written by bestselling comedy writer Gail Parent (The Tracey Ullman Show, The Carol Burnett Show, Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman, The Golden Girls) and psychotherapist Susan Ende. What do you get when you have a comedy writer and psychotherapist giving their advice? Funny/serious conflicts and funny/serious conflict resolutions!

These women advise parents in these areas: Money/ College Years/ Family Rituals, Holidays, Weddings and Divorce/Grandparenting/In-Laws. So many parenting books out in the market today deal with parenting babies, toddlers and teens; they don't go beyond that. Adult children these days have their own set of problems and parents are still parents, trying to help out their children. This book will help those parents along the way.

The book features real questions from real people, followed by Gail's and Susan's answers. Gail's answers are fun and edgy, filled with practical advice; Susan's answers are steeped in psychology and more serious. It's up to the parent reading the book to decide whose advice to follow -- if any.

"Mother Knows Best"/"Father Knows Best" are both familiar expressions. With this book in hand, and the advice given, Mother and Father really will know best.

Joan Rivers, Carol Burnett and Tracey Ullman praised the book, and so do I (if that counts for anything; after all, I am an adult child, too!)

Published by Hudson Street Press, a division of the Penguin Group, How To Raise Your (Adult) Children should be put on your bookshelf beside the family Bible and  the What To Expect... series of books!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

On a Day Like Today

I was feeling somewhat nostalgic and quickly just whipped off this poem...

On a Day Like Today

On a day like today --

a cool, overcast and damp fall day

my father would have been standing

alongside my mother

at the kitchen counter,

newspaper pages open and laid out,

paring knives handy,

a pot ready to be filled,

baskets of red juicy apples, handpicked, washed and waiting to be undressed.

Classical music would have played in the background –

Chopin always welcome in our home.

With paring knife in hand, he would have proceeded.

Slipping the tip under the apple’s skin, and peeling, round and round and round,

turning the fruit as he peeled off its red coat in one long strip.

One after another, the apples were left naked.

Cut and cored, seeded too,

then tossed into the pot to await their duty.

For an hour or two, my parents stood there,

 comfortable in the silence,

not needing to make conversation, just doing this task,

that was done many a Sunday in the fall in our home.

Applesauce. They would make applesauce.

Into the pot and onto the stove element went the apples.

On a low flame, for hours at a time, they were stirred, then they simmered.

A touch of sugar added to enhance the natural flavours.

Applesauce. They would make applesauce.

And when the apples had simmered and softened and cooled

they were jarred.

Jar upon jar. Lidded and labeled.

Placed in the basement refrigerator for

each time a jar was called upon,

a jar was needed.

I miss those days.

I miss their applesauce.

Sunday, November 07, 2010

At What Point Are We Considered Older?

"Everything old becomes new again."

I'd like to think that about myself, but I don't think it'll be happening anytime soon...unless I get Botox and color my hair and drop quite a number of pounds to get me looking like my teenage daughter does...which is how I once looked.

But this season, when I saw the fashions, I wondered exactly how many times/cycles I'd seen these same fads: faux fur; leopard prints; wedgie-heeled boots, etc. I didn't like those styles then -- whenever then was, whatever decades these styles appeared -- and I certainly don't like them now.

Am I old?

There was a time that I used to love getting the Toys 'r Us flyer to peruse through... once upon a time, I liked seeing what kinds of toys I'd have enjoyed having as a kid. Later on, I would look what I could buy my own three children. These days, I skip to the high tech toys in the flyer, gawk at the price, then recycle the flyer.

Am I old?

I couldn't understand when my dad retired and kept busy  in his later years by going grocery shopping with my mom. They'd examine the supermarket flyers, make lists, and then make an expedition of it, going from store to store to pick up the necessities. I'd always hear of the friends and acquaintances they met in these stores and caught up with. Was that the new social life for them? I'd wonder.

These days, I can't wait for my weekly flyers so that I can peruse the different deals at the stores, assemble my stock of coupons and head out -- usually with no cash, save some coinage, but lots of store credit cards.
I average about 2-3 hours on my multi-supermarket getaways, walking up and down the aisles, looking at the displays, discovering new sales...and basically frittering away valuable time that could be used for household chores. I often run into people I know, stand there catching up while my refrigerated and frozen goods start to thaw. (How many times have I had to go back to the frozen gefilte fish display and exchange a slowly-but-surely defrosting couple of loaves, for newly frozen ones?!)

Am I old?

I was thinking about it the other day and decided I've always been a bit of an "older soul." My nurturing and mothering instincts were evident when I was still quite young, always looking out for other people and worrying about them if they were hurting.

When I was around eight years old and again when I was twelve and thirteen, my family went to Jewish resorts, both in Southern Ontario and in the Catskills. What did I really enjoy doing? Playing shuffleboard! And in the Catskills, I'd go both to teen club and also to adult sing-a-longs that featured American standards geared to a middle-aged and aging population.

From the time I graduated university until about six years ago, I volunteered with a cataloging committee for Ontario Jewish Archives. I brought the average age down by a good thirty-five years. Always the youngest, enjoying doing this volunteer work with seniors.

I was gathered with friends today for a close and longtime girlfriend's 49th birthday. Talk quickly touched on our birthdays next year: our 50th. One friend who turned 50 this year assured us: "It's okay. It's really okay."

No, I have no problems with turning 50; I'm still young looking and think very young. It's just the energy levels and body that ain't what they used to be. But I'm ready to meet that half-century mark -- when I can look both back and ahead.

Will I still ask: Am I old? Or will I  state: "I'm not old. I'm simply....older! ....And lovin' it!"