Make People And Time Count

make-time-count-jpeg

So there was an article in Slate about how kids think these days.


And it’s a reflection of the adults, of course. 


When 10,000 middle and high school students from 33 schools across the country were asked, what’s more important–80% chose high achievement or happiness as their top priority vs just 20% who picked caring for others.


The kids who chose their happiness and achievement over helping others tended to score low on empathy and were at greater risk of being “cruel, disrespectful, and dishonest.”

Bottom line is that these are our values that we impart when we recognize and reward our children for things like good grades and extra-curriculars, but not for helping or caring about others. 


Pretty much, I think parents worry that their kids should be able to support and care for themselves, because that’s what’s considered our primary responsibility as parents–to make sure the next generation survives and can go on physically and materially once we are gone. 


In a way, it’s Darwinism and survival of the species and of the fittest. 


The problem is survival of our physical manifestation is not equivalent to the thriving of the spiritual being inside all of us. 


It’s not enough to live, but we have to live a good and descent life.


Our bodies wither and die, but our souls learn, grow, and go on to the afterlife. 


Yesterday, I had this freakish accident, going through the turnstiles on the Metro in Washington, DC.


The person before me went right through the gates as they opened, but when I put my pass down and went through, the gates had a glitz and closed suddenly right on my legs (and my artificial hips) and I went tumbling forward hard to the floor. 


Amazingly, two wonderful bystanders (not the Metro employees who didn’t even flinch or care) came rushing over to me, and literally lifted me up by the arms and handed me my wallet and glasses which had fallen to the side. 


One of the people that helped was especially nice to me, and he asked me how I was and really seemed to care that I was alright–imagine that a complete stranger in the Metro! 


The two people who stopped to help could’ve literally hopped right over me to rush for the train at the end of the day like everyone else, but they didn’t.


To them, caring was more important than their own time. 


Maybe I got the 20% yesterday, but it made me realize AGAIN how terrific some people are and they truly make time count–by making people count–like unfortunately many others may never ever bother to. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal) 

Aging Yet (Hopefully) Always Helping Each Other

Aging

I just love this drawing of the parents and child. 


My daughter found it on Instagram and sent it to me. 


As a little kid, my wife and I used to hold her hands and swing her between us when walking (like in the above illustration)–she loved that!


Now as we get older, we still try to be good, helpful parents (not too intrusive or helicopter-like–well maybe a little), but we can certainly see a day down the line when the cycle of life goes full circle. 


My daughter used to joke (I think) about putting me in an old age home–she knew that after seeing what my mom went through there with Parkinson’s, that is truly the last place I would want to end up. 


Of course, sometimes there really is no choice when a person just needs so much care that it is beyond what the family can do any longer. 


Frankly, what I have learned is that the most important and precious thing that parents and children can give each other is…time!


So is that child in the bottom illustration helping his aging parents along or is he dragging them off to the nursing home?  Perhaps, we’ll never know until it’s too late. 😉


(Source Photo: Rebecca Blumenthal from Instagram Unlimited Knowledge)

Shockingly Hungry

Parenting

So a funny part of my personality is that I can be a little bit of a joker sometimes.


I am a study of human nature, so it can be fun just to get a rouse out of people, by doing something unexpected or even shocking. 


Today, going through the airport with my daughter, the TSA security lines were a lot better than what had been advertised lately.


As we get through and are getting our stuff together, my daughter says to me (around breakfast time now): “I’m hungry, can we get something to eat?”


So, I jokingly turn to her with a serious face on and say, “But you already ate yesterday!”


This strange man next to us, stops dead in his tracks overhearing what I said, and gives us the craziest look.


So what do I do having a ball with this?


I repeat even louder and with more emphasis, “Why do you need to eat again?  You already ate yesterday!!”


I am having to hold myself from cracking up laughing as I know this guy is listening and I almost can’t wait to see his facial expression. 


I look at my daughter who gets it and is playing along and she is also pretending and putting on a sour face like she can’t have any food today.


The guy looks like he is about to explode and say something, but decides I suppose to just make a real disgusted kvetchy face and move on.


I was sort of disappointed that he didn’t want to help (in his mind) this kid and say something like, “How can you do that–and not feed her every day?”


I would have admired him for actually caring enough to try to help and intervene for someone else, even a stranger. 


But I guess the pent up shocked look will have to surface for today’s human antics. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Take Your Family Issues To Work Day

Cartoon

So we all love Take You Child(ren) To Work Day.


It’s a great idea to bond with our children and share our work life with them.


This way they know what mommy and daddy do and also a little of what work is like. 


But one of the funny things I noticed is how uncomfortable most parents seem with their kids around them in at work. 


They have this worried and kvetchy look on their face.


They are crossing boundaries between personal/family/home life and professional/work life. 


What is at once two-faces, two distinct roles is now combined for a single day a year. 


Perhaps personal problems from home and between family members is entering the workspace or the problems of work life is evident to your close family members. 


Maybe mommy or daddy really doesn’t get along all the well with little Johnny or Rosie all the time or perhaps little Johnny or Rosie is not that perfect little kid you’ve been showing around in pictures and talking up in the office. 


Similarly, mommy or daddy may not be “all that” in the office that they come home and portray to their family about–that big management position and corner office could be just another run of the mill job and situated in a long row of cubicles deep this way and that. 


In any case, the barriers are being crossed and even if there have been no outright lies told and caught, different sides of the person that are typically kept separate and sacrosanct are converging and the alternate egos and varied personas come head-to-head.


The good news is that the organization usually gives the parents leeway to not really do any serious work when the kids are around for the day and to mostly schlep them to special kids’ events in the workplace–everybody get to meet the CEO and have ice cream?


Thus, the unveiling of dual natures and embedded conflicts is kept to a manageable minimum, if not an uncomfortable merging of work and family life. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal) 

STEM Lost And Found

Discovery

ASPIRATIONS.JPEG

So this was a shirt of a local college campus that I took yesterday. 

It shows aspirations to be all sorts of things…from a doctor and lawyer to a cowgirl and princess. 

However, in this list of  22 professional aspirations there is a noticeable lack of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). 

Yes, doctors do have to know science, but not necessarily the type that opens up the world of discovery and innovation like a researcher or scientist!

STEM are the fields that over and over again have been reported as grossly lacking in this country. 

America Desperately Needs More STEM Students” (Forbes 2012)

Americas Lack of STEM Students is Bad News For National Security” (US News and World Report June 2015)

Another article in IEEE Spectrum (August 2013) claims that while the “STEM crisis is a myth,” still “we should figure out how to make all children literate in the sciences, technology, and the arts.”

From my experience, while I certainly get to see a lot of awesome technical talent, I also see and hear too many moans and groans when it comes to a lot of basic skills in STEM.

One colleague said the other day (and in a public forum), “Oh, don’t depend on my math skills for that!”

Others that I know have difficulty with everything from simple spreadsheets, backing up their computer files, or even balancing a checkbook, and other such fundamental skills. 

Growing up with a dad who was a math whiz, a sister with a PhD in bio-medical science, and me majoring in accounting, business, and later diving into IT, I learned to appreciate, on many fronts, how important basic STEM skills are, and I in turn used to drill my own kids with workbooks and worksheets–and they perhaps at the time resented me for it, and maybe only later in life, started to love me for caring and trying.

In school, I found a lot of the education in STEM to be lacking coming across too often as esoteric and disappointingly devoid of day-to-day meaning and application in the real world for the regular people not building bridges or spaceships, so I certainly understand the frustration of young people who while they may be interested in pursuing these critical areas of education, may be turned off at the way it’s being presented to them. 

We need great teachers who not only know the material, but love what they do and know how to make the material come alive to their students. Also, we need jobs that pay commensurate to the value of the talent and not nickle and dime the developers, researchers, and engineers while lining the pockets of the executive suite. Finally, we should focus the hearts and minds of our people on the real meaning of the work they do and how it helps people and society, and not just on what often comes across as isolated tasks or the organization’s free dry cleaning and all you can eat buffet lunches. 😉

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Why Yell And Intimidate The Child?

Child.jpeg

So at the table next to us this morning at breakfast was a mean looking lady and a fidgety young child. 

The lady as we found out over the course of their dialogue was the child’s grandmother. 

And she wouldn’t stop berating this kid, maybe 5-years old. 

Grandmother: “Don’t you dare get up from the table until I’m done with my coffee, [and then this weird chilling] thank you.”

Child: Obviously looking to run around and have some fun, “But I just want to go.”

Grandmother:  Who has finished her breakfast and coffee and is just making a continuing point, “You’ll wait until I’m done, and I say we’re ready, [and again, the long controlling pause and then] thank you.”

Child: “I’m tired.”

Grandmother: “Then you’ll go upstairs, get back into bed and go to sleep, and no tv, just sleep–you will not move!”

Child: Looks up helplessly sad.

Grandmother: Now the truth starts to come out, “You know I don’t like the way you treat you mother. Your disrespectful! And that won’t go with me.”

Child: Appears to not really understand what she is saying and legs dangle anxiously off the chair, but clearly very afraid to get up.

Grandmother: “You’ll learn to be respectful to your mother. You will learn!”

Child: Head leaning sideways on table, says nothing. 

Grandmother: Makes child wait some more and more, and finally, “Now we can go.”

Child: Child picks head up and runs to take her hand. 

Grandmother: Sneers and smirks with her power over the child–she looks like a freakin’ witch. 

Whole scene was sort of heartbreaking. 

My wife and I look at each other, and shake our heads.

This was not teaching or loving, but something else and it wasn’t normal or nice. 

I say, “Perhaps, when a child is abused this way–day after day, year after year–this is why they grow up and then do horrible and hateful things.”

It’s amazing how adults take out their issues on children–and they think it’s legit–but deep down you can see it really isn’t–and the children and society pays for the sins of the adults. 😉

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Parenting@CVS

Baby In Basket
This photo was taken in CVS.



The baby looks like it’s trying to escape from the red shopping basket, but presumably the mother at the cashier is going…



“And I’ll take one baby with the bottle of milk and Chiclets, thank you!”  



Hey look at all that candy kid…this is better than Charlie and the Chocolate Factory!



(Source Photo: Dannielle Blumenthal)

Everyday, A Catch-22

Catch-22
I took this photo of this guys’ cool Catch-22 bag on the Metro in Washington, D.C. yesterday. 



Catch-22 was made famous in the book of the said name by Joseph Heller.



Essentially a Catch-22 is an unsolvable problem.



In the book for example, military servicemen in WWII can apply for a discharge if they are verifiably crazy, but the sheer act of applying for a discharge shows you are not crazy. 



Other examples of a Catch-22 are locking your keys in the car and you can’t unlock the door to get them or losing your glasses but now you can’t look for them.



In life, it seems like we are constantly facing Catch-22’s, however not solving them is not an option…we must come up with a workable solution.



At work and in school, we compete to get ahead, yet we must team, cooperate, and collaborate with those very same folks that we are competing with. 



At home with children, we need to teach our children often difficult lessons of right and wrong, patience, discipline, and safety, even while we have overflowing feelings of love for them and just want to hug them and give in to them. 



With spouses, as our love and lives build over the years, we grow together and become ever more interdependent on our partners, yet we need to maintain some healthy independence and self at the same time. 



With career, are we advance ourselves so that we can provide well for our families, we must balance work-life, so that we aren’t just bringing home a paycheck, but are actually emotionally there for our loved ones. 



The list of life’s conundrums goes on and on, but rather than throw up our hands in defeat, we have to fight on and come up with solutions that are best fit to the challenges we face…there is no discharge just because you feel crazed or need to confront something hard…you need to solve the dilema and then you can go home. 😉



(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

From The Bronx To Jamaica

manischewitz
So as a kid, I remember the older folks joking that “wine is fine, but liquor is quicker!”



As we went for some wine for Shabbat in Fort Lauderdale by the beach, we had a whole bunch of surprises in one evening…



– First, I was more than a little surprised to find a bottle of Manischewitz Concord Grape wine–in of all places, CVS!



– On the way to CVS, we ran into the Jamaican Man, from our last vacation, who makes straw hats on the corner by the beach, and he sees me and somehow recognizes me–next thing I know he is practically embracing me as if I am one of his best friends, high-fiving and fist-bumping me–yeah, me the Jewish boy from the Bronx (this was a riot)!



– On the way back, there is a lady with her kids in tow on the street, and all of a sudden she turns to one of the younger kids and says in her accented English, “That’s almost a $100, you little SH*T!” We could barely believe our ears. 



What a lot of surprises all in one evening from the Bronx to Jamaica. 😉



(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Didn’t Do It

Ice Cream Kid
My elderly father retold a funny joke to us yesterday when we visited him at his assisted living home.



It goes like this…



A teacher in school asks the classroom of children, “Who killed Abraham Lincoln?”



One little child in the front of the room meekly raises his hand, and when called on by the teacher answers,”I didn’t do it!”



The teacher is taken aback at the response, and after class calls the child’s father and tell him to come in after school to discuss this. 



After school, the father shows up and sits down with the teacher, and listens to him repeat the story about what happened in class.



The father is visibly annoyed, and when the teacher is done staunchly says, “If my son says he didn’t do it, then he didn’t do it!”



Ah, I suppose one could take this as a sad commentary either generally-speaking on the state of our education system or in particular of this family that is quite clueless–and where it’s clear that the apple does not fall far from the tree. 😉



(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)