As a child development consultant and parenting expert, mother, wife and friend, I often wonder if texting is really a good and effective form of communication. We are just in the beginning stages of looking at the research on the pros and cons of texting. Even though we are in a virtual world of texting, video games, social networking, and web communities, what does our future look like for the next generation?
According to the industry research 61% of our children between the ages of 3 and 11 are “virtual world visitors“. 22% of our children, between the ages of 6-9 years of age already have cell phones (YIKES!). According to Parenting.com, 58% of our children of the ages of 10-15 listed texting as a major form of communication.
In order to better help you and the young children, teens, and other adult kids in your life, I have compiled some of the field research on the pros and cons of texting.
- Between 8-13 years of age, kids spend a majority of their online, and over the phone time with the same people they know in real life.
- Kids love it!
- Subscribers under 12 years of age exchanged 3 texts per call to stay in touch with their friends.
- Teens 13-17 years of age were 7 times more likely to text.
- It allows a buffer according to Nathan Freier, PhD at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, against “feelings of awkwardness during this emotionally frightened age.”
- Short text messages help relieve anxiety in some children.
- Much of the texts, according to researchers, is that kids build each other up by making positive statements.
- Kids see technology as extending communication, rather than replacing time with a friend.
- Marion Underwood, a researcher, stated “Kids stay more in touch with their families through texting.”
- According to Underwood, mothers are the first person a child texts.
- Parents enjoy sharing funny faces, comments, and ways to interact with their tweens by texting or online messaging.
- Oftentimes parents are grateful to hear that their kids are doing fine in terms of safety and happiness.
- Cell phones should be removed from children’s bedrooms because kids do not know when to stop texting during the night and become sleep deprived.
- Communication with strangers can turn into very frightening situations because of the naivety of a child, tween, or teen.
- It is less likely that families will eat dinner together and talk in person due to social media.
- Families feel less connected when there has been an increase in total time spent over the phone versus in person.
- If parents role model texting in front of their kids by being on the phone and taking phone calls, then it decreases their time spent talking to their children and they will repeat the same pattern in their own lives.
- The term Ambient Intimacy is when social media, electronic devices, texts, calls, etc. can take the place of living out real life moments together with people.
- Dating can become an uncomfortable situation by being asked out through texting and not on a telephone to clarify and uphold accountability. This is a casual method to connect face to face. Intentions can also be misconstrued.
- Breaking up through a text or a social media message can also be considered a rude, and disrespectful.
We, as a nation, need more research on the effects of social media and the way we relate to one another in terms of our children’s future. Only then can we conclude on whether or not texting is helping or harming our children’s, and family’s communication skills
Becoming a mom is one of the biggest life changing events that will ever happen to a woman.
Not only do you sacrifice your body; almost every other one of your goals is put on hold. You’re faced with making some of the hardest decisions, like whether you should get a job, go back to school, or simply stay at home.
To society, the most logical thing to do would be to stay at home. People believe that devoting all of your time and energy to your household is the best choice, but that does not always mean not following your dreams.
Having a baby at such a young age I faced not only criticism from the community, but hard decisions that I had to make that not only would be beneficial to my life, but to my daughters as well. Should I continue my education, get a full time job or stay at home and watch over my child 24/7?
To most people, the most obvious answer would be to stay at home. Being raised in a Hispanic culture, I have seen women devote their whole lives to their families. Not that there is anything wrong with that, but what happens if one day the financials of the family fall on your lap? Don’t let the man be the plan.
I decided that I didn’t want to depend on a man to take care of me. I want to be able to say that if times get rough, I’d be able to take care of my family on my own. That is why I chose to not only stay in school, but get a part time job doing what I love so much… writing!
Ladies, don’t let society tell you otherwise, you can do whatever you put your mind to. Going back to school or getting a job doesn’t make you a bad mother; it makes you a mother that is willing to make sacrifices for the better of her family.
So change the status quo. Be more than just a caretaker. Do what you love. Learn to knit, play a sport or find any hobby that makes you the special person that you are.
There is no right or wrong way to be a mom, change it up a little.
Remember playing the game “He loves me, he loves me not” while picking one petal off the daisy for each phrase to validate the affection of another? Valentines Day gives us a special day for the whimsical fun of LOVE with sugar hearts carrying secrets messages.
This designated day dedicated to the celebration and expression of LOVE provides us with a time to reflect on our love for others and especially love for ourselves.
Some might consider loving yourself, “love me”, selfish. The word “selfish” suffers from a bad rap. But I would challenge you to think otherwise. Be selfish with your time, your energy and your concern. Learn to love yourself first, and then you will have something special to share with others.
As I was growing up the “golden rule” of treating others the way that I would like to be treated entrenched in my mind. “Love your neighbor as yourself” served as the basis for most of my decisions. Always, others first. In reality, I didn’t have too many decisions to be made, but when I did get a chance to make a choice, taking care of others motivated my options.
Not wanting be considered selfish, I put my own personal wants and sometimes needs, on the back burner. My decision making process was stifled with others’ wishes, others’ happiness, and others’ needs topping my “to do list”.
I now ask myself, as Dr. Phil would pry: “Now how’s that working for you?” Admittedly, it did not work for this “guilt sponge”. I missed the ”everything in moderation” class in school taking the idea of caring for others as a mark of “loving your neighbor” to the expense of losing myself.
Now I would ascribe to a reverse in the old adage. I think that we should all love ourselves as well as we love our neighbor. Be greedy with your time – limit the energy spent on email, texts, and phone calls. Take care of yourself, not just an occasional message, but carve out daily time for exercise, meditation, or whatever feeds your physical and emotional health. Know you have choices and do not have to rationalize them to others- only you are responsible for yourself. Keep an eye on your circle of “friends”. Certain relationships can drain the energy right out your very being. Clean out the psychic “junk drawer”.
Remember the flight attendants admonition: If the aircraft loses altitude the oxygen masks will come down: PUT YOUR OWN MASK ON FIRST AND THEN TAKE CARE OF YOUR CHILDREN!
Remember you DO have a choice…Love me or love me not.
So when the game of life asks love me or love me not…don’t be fearful of choosing “Love me”.
February Challenge: Do something each day just for yourself. Learn the art of self-love.
Follow my daily inspiration at PattyKogutek.com for the “Cure Your Anxiety with a Guilt-Free Tip”. http://pattykogutek.com/cure-your-anxiety-with-guilt-free-tips/
We all know that getting sleep is crucial in a child’s life. But what happens when you can’t seem to put them to bed? When their fighting, kicking and screaming become unbearable that you just give up.
From personal experience, I know that it is not easy. It takes a lot of hard work and dedication, but trust me; it is worth it.
Here is a list of steps that worked for me in setting up a bedtime for my daughter.
- Decide on a bedtime. Whatever bedtime you decide on, stick to it. Consistency is key in creating a bedtime; so make sure to be firm on the time you have set.
- Try to not feed your toddler any heavy foods two hours before his or her bedtime. A full stomach makes it difficult for a child to be able to fall asleep. If your child asks for food, try small snacks like fruits or vegetables.
- Give your toddler a bath, preferably with lavender shampoo to help them relax. This works wonders with my toddler.
- Invest in a couple pairs of pajamas. Not only will it make them excited to go to bed, but it will also help them sleep longer since they are more comfortable than regular clothing.
- One very important step to remember is to brush your toddler’s teeth. Adding this step to your list will build consistency, and help them remember something that is usually forgotten.
- The next step is one of the most crucial. Reading a bedtime story with your toddler with help them exercise their mind and help them relax before going to sleep. It is never too early to teach your child new things.
- The last step is to lay them on their bed, crib, etc. Make sure to let them know that it is their bedtime, and that you will be leaving the room so he or she can get some sleep.
*If your child refuses to go to sleep and begins to fight it; put them back to bed, leave the room and check on them every five minutes. Continue doing this until your toddler goes to sleep. This is key in showing them consistency. Don’t give in to their crying and whining. Trust me, it will be worth it, and it will only get easier as days go by.
I’ve always had an affection for cats. Throughout my life, I’ve been very open with my fondness; however, it wasn’t until my late 20′s when people started referring to me as a “Cat Lady.” Which is of course that old stereotype that defines any woman over the age of 25 who admits to owning, loving and occasionally taking pics of and with their cat(s), a very sick person. Cat Lady implies that as each year passes, I will become more and more interested in cats, so much so that I will start to collect them. My house will then become overrun by felines of all shapes, sizes, stories and personalities. I will eventually bury myself in their fury love so much that it negatively affects my personal hygiene and is the reason for why I am without a human mate. Eventually my cats will back me into a small section of my apartment. My only personal living space will be a mere corner of my dwelling; most likely the bathtub. There I will sit in a constant state of anxiety about how I will financially survive day-to-day now that I’ve quit my job to become a full-time Cat Lady, depleted my savings (exactly $46.27) and cashed out my 401k in order to support my feline family. Even my personal financial consultant won’t be able to help me (Financial Consultant: aka my cat who enjoys napping on my calculator).
I will lose all contact with the outside world. When I am in need of emotional support, I will have “meaningful” conversations with my cats. Their indifference to my feelings is clear when they begin licking their butts as I discuss my deep concern that Mrs. Butterworth and Wally Wee will never get along with each other.
However, if I’m one of the lucky Cat Ladies, they’ll make a documentary about me. I’ll welcome cameras into my fury home as I try to justify my lifestyle by explaining where my love stems from. I’ll recall the guilt I have for the way I treated my first cat, Aunt Bea. She was named after a character in my mom’s favorite television, “The Andy Griffith Show.” Andy’s Aunt Bea was a sweet and loving yet stern and logical woman of a certain age…most likely 68. She was a good baker, but a better communicator and problem solver. She spoke volumes in both her tone and body language. She could say a mouthful in only a few sentences. She was nothing like our cat. The cat version of Aunt Bea was a quiet loner who was afraid of the first two floors of our home and instead chose to live a simple life behind the water heater in our basement. This was most likely the residual effect of being born to a cat owned by a screwball cousin on my mom’s side of the family. I was a baby when my parents adopted her and I fear that I made the first years of her life hell. When I was able to walk, I’d hunt for her behind the water heater. I’d squeal as I pulled her toward me by her tail. Finally when I was three years old, Aunt Bea stood up to me. She scratched my face mere hours before my parents were taking me to get my pictures taken at Kmart. Despite it being my fault, my parent’s blamed Aunt Bea, “Bad kitty. Bad bad kitty,” they said while pointing at her with stern faces. It’s what all parents do. They blame the cat instead of the jerk face they spawned. It’s easier this way because blaming their kid is ultimately blaming themselves since they’ve passed down their DNA to this little human demon. In a situation such as this, a cat has no choice but to respond with a warning shot (a swift swipe to the face) to their hostile perpetrator. I deserved the scratches across my right cheek, but my parents were afraid it’d be my eyes next so they had poor Aunt Bea declawed. “We had to prevent her from scratching your eyes out,” my mother explained as I grew older and asked where Aunt Bea’s claws went. In my thirty plus years on this planet, I have never heard a story of anyone’s eyes being scratched out of their head by a house cat, but I guess my parents weren’t going to mess around with one of the most ridiculous urban legends…only second to the one that claims if you flash your car’s high beams at an oncoming car, they’ll follow you home and murder you.
Ultimately, the impact my past had on my future will lead to my untimely death. I will die alone after choking on a hairball, which will then cause my parents to sue Iams Cat Food Company for false and negligent advertising since up until my death, I had been eating Iams ProActive Health Adult Hairball Care cat food. My legacy will be that I was the girl who tried to right the wrong she did to one cat by trying to save a world of cats, which led to the destruction of her life. I will be to cats what Marilyn Monroe was to pills and fame.
Luckily, I won’t have to live out the fate that others have bestowed upon me because I’ve realized that I will never be a Cat Lady. I know this because I only care about one cat, my own. I have no allegiance to any other cats nor do I want to. Sure your cat is cute, but I’d jump in front of a bus to save my cat. However, for your cat, I’d simply yell, “Hey, watch out! A bus is about to hit you.” Or in Catonese, “Meow meow. Meow meow meow. Hiss!”
One of the many perks of having a baby girl is being able to dress her up in fun clothes and accessories.
The older she gets, the more input she has on what her outfit of the day will be. As a single mom, I like to give my daughter all the love and attention that she can take. One thing we love to do together is shop. While she is under two years old, she already knows what she likes and dislikes. At such a young age, she already has her own sense of style.
With Christmas right around the corner, I decided to put a spin on our outfits. My daughter and I went shopping for matching outfits. While some believe that is a very cheesy thing to do, it is another way to spend time with and connect with your child.
Don’t worry about getting the exact outfit for the both of you. It is not easy to find matching outfits for two completely different age groups. Try to find outfits with the same design, pattern or even color. In my case I found two dresses that came in black and red. I accessorized both our looks with stockings and black shoes. Ladies, don’t be afraid to throw on those pumps with an outfit, there is nothing wrong with adding some extra glamor to it.
Don’t feel that you have to spend your whole paycheck on two outfits that you will only wear once. Pick items that can be worn in different ways. Adding accessories like a scarf or stockings can give your outfit a completely different look and allow you to wear it in many more occasions.
Remember; try to take your child along with you when shopping. Allow them to have a voice and show them that they can have an input in something like choosing what to wear. A simple gesture can show your child that they are just as important as you tell them they are.
Happy Shopping and Matching!
I developed an obsessive compulsive ritual at a very young age. I started checking to see if my family was breathing while they slept. In the middle of the night was when I felt we were at our most vulnerable. I’d creep into my parent’s bedroom and stare over them until I heard a sigh, snore or could see their chests moving up and down. I don’t exactly know why I became obsessed with making sure my loved ones were still breathing throughout their slumber, but I think it could have something to do with my dad’s incessant fear that one day a gas leak would kill everyone in our home. This was his biggest fear. His fear manifested in the form of me regularly waking up to make sure that our gas stovetop was turned off. My nose led me throughout the house hoping and praying that I didn’t pick up the slightest scent of our toxic nemesis.
My brother was a sleepwalker, which made it easier for me to tell if he was breathing. We’d regularly wake up to find him sleeping near the backdoor of our home. And sometimes what he thought was the toilet was actually the doorway to my parent’s bedroom. There he stood taking a leak on the horrific green shag carpeting. Carpet so ugly that the piss made it more attractive. And because of that and the fact that I knew for certain he was breathing, I am forever grateful for sleepwalking.
In 2010, my boyfriend moved into my Scottsdale, Arizona apartment. Everything was going great. We were happy and enjoying doing that thing that couples do when they first move in with one another, nesting. And soon after we realized that we had the exact opposite taste in home decor. I couldn’t believe he wasn’t a fan of the “Dream A Little Dream” movie poster I hung in our dining area. Did he not know that this 1989 classic was the BEST movie the Corey’s had ever starred in together? For those of you who may be unaware, the two Corey’s consisted of the late, great Corey Haim and the still rocking in this free world, Corey Feldman. I adored them. Especially Corey Haim. And this movie defined my childhood. Everything I learned about being a teenager in high school, I learned from this movie. In my obsessive compulsive nature, I memorized every line in the movie and acted out each scene in my bedroom hoping no one would walk in on me and expose my passion for living in cinema.
My childhood bedroom was an alternate reality where I was a famous singer/actress/tap dancer. I spent most of my time singing and reciting monologues to the large collage of pictures of teen heart throbs, actors, bands and pop singers that I cut out of magazines and taped upon my walls. I’d sing Mariah Carey to a picture of Mariah Carey, and let me tell you, she loved it. My rendition of, “Make it Happen” always made her smile. Granted she was always smiling, but I had this feeling that when I left the room her smile turned upside down. In my bedroom I was safe to be as delusional as I wanted to be. It was where I concocted the story that Corey Haim and I were married in a previous life. It was loosely based on the Beetlejuice death scene.
Basically, we were happily married and then one day, BAM, we ran our car off a beautiful country road and into a pound where we drowned together. Romantic, I know. Then we were reincarnated. Me as an aspiring attention-whore living in St. Paul, Minnesota and Corey as a successful, yet tormented child star turned teen heartthrob turned drug addict. Unfortunately, I was the only one who remembered our previous life. I wrote countless letters to his fan club hoping it would remind him of the love we once shared, but sadly I received no response. After a year of writing letters, the fan club did send me a wallet-size autographed picture of him, which I took as a sign that he remembered. After spending many years in my pocket and fanny packs and then taking a couple of trips in the washing machine, the picture wore so thin that all of the color faded from it. His once crooked grin and head full of mouse was now just an unrecognizable white blob, which coincidentally is what I often resemble when someone takes a picture of me while I’m on stage. More proof of our love or as Mariah Carey would say, “we belong together.”
Soon after moving in with my boyfriend, I began waking up numerous times a night in order to make sure that he was still breathing. Sometimes I would put my finger under his nose and other times I would just stare at him until I could see his chest move. And on occasion, just to be sure, I’d put the tip of my finger inside one of his nostrils until he swatted his hand against his face. For the first couple of months, he had no idea that I was checking his breathing while he slept. I was in the clear. I could maintain my image as a somewhat sane girlfriend, but then it happened. He caught me.
There I was face to face with him. My eyes were perched wide open staring intensely at him waiting for that sign of life. Then as if out of a horror film, his eyes popped open. He appeared startled. “What are you doing?” he asked. “Oh nothing,” I replied hoping he’d believe this was a dream and fall back asleep. “Why are you staring at me like that?” I paused and then replied, “I just can’t stop looking at you.” At the time, I thought this was a better answer than, “Oh, nothing. Just making sure you’re not dead.” It wasn’t. It made me seem very creepy. “How often do watch me while I’m sleeping?” I didn’t know how to answer that, but before my brain could string together a good answer I said, “Four to six times a night.” I then spent the next hour trying to convince him that I wasn’t planning to murder him.
The next day I decided to come clean. I explained that I wasn’t watching him sleep because I was obsessed with him, but rather I was obsessed with my fear of waking up next to a lifeless boyfriend. Surprisingly, he seemed relieved. That following week I asked my psychiatrist to increase the dosage of my anxiety medication. It helped. Sometimes I do still watch him, but please don’t tell him that.
The term “Sandwich Generation” refers to a generation of people who support their own children, while caring for their aging parents. According to the Pew Research Center, just about 1 out of every 8 Americans between 40-60 years of age is raising a child and caring for a parent at the same time. Also, between 7-10 million adults are caring for their parents from a long distance.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Statistics, older Americans ages 65 and up will double by the year 2030 to over 70 million. This indicates that more families will be caught in a Sandwich Generation. The term Sandwich Generation was coined by Dorothy A. Miller in 1981.
Carol Abaya M.A., an expert on the Sandwich Generation, described 3 scenarios of this definition:
- Traditional: Those sandwiched between aging parents who need care and or help as well as caring for their own children.
- Club Sandwich: These are people between the ages of 50-60 with aging parents, adult children, and grandchildren or those in their 30s and 40s with young children, aging parents and grandparents.
- Open faced: Refers to anyone else involved in elder care.
It can be very difficult to save for your own retirement and pay your own bills during an economic downturn. It is even more difficult to juggle responsibilities in providing for your own financial future while helping your elderly parents and children simultaneously. Americans 55 and older say they expect to provide for aging relatives for their adult children (according to the Retirement Reset Study by Sun America Financial group and Age wave). If you choose to take time off to care for an elderly family member, then you risk lost wages and 401(k) match benefits and health insurance. This can be a quandary.
Our seniors are struggling to cope with long term care, expenses, and medical costs. Our children, who attend college or grad school, tuition also may need extra financial support. This can also affect one’s own nesting egg, stress level, and emotional well-being. Sometimes you are in a cross road between keeping a full time job and caring for your family.
There are many emotional issues involved in caring for an elderly parent and your own child.
Often times the adult or primary caregiver is trying so desperately to find solutions to both generations’ needs that it can be very difficult when we lose sight of our own personal needs. We need the support to juggle all the different balls in the air. Becoming knowledgeable about elderly care and the resources available can be beneficial in problem solving. Also, guiding our own children throughout the teen years by attending parenting workshops and educating one’s self can get us through the roller coaster times.
If you are feeling overwhelmed in making these critical decisions in your life, consider speaking to a financial adviser, as well as a counselor in family therapy. This can help you decipher what path to take. Attend a group therapy session that can help you in not feeling alone since millions of Americans are struggling with the same issue.
If you are searching for more information on this topic or solutions/strategies, visit Carol Abaya’s website at www.sandwichgeneration.com . This may be very helpful to hear from an expert on the subject.
Rich and Karie Dozer are the loving parents committed to creating something better for families afflicted with cerebral palsy who want an alternative to institutionalizing their children.
The United Cerebral Palsy Laura Dozer Center opened in June of 2003 thanks to the generosity of the Dozer’s and their community supporters. During the last 10 years the facility has set their main focus on maintaining a family unit and has assisted hundreds of children. The center also hosts services for children with disabilities such as autism, down syndrome and others.
Recently I had the pleasure of a personal tour of this facility. The center is beautifully decorated and houses a first rate daycare center which is well staffed, state of the art, and open to the public.
The idea that integrating children without disabilities with handicapped children at an early age is beneficial to both as it fosters compassion, understanding, and lessens the problem of bullying in the future.
To say that I was impressed with the staff and facility of the Laura Dozer Center would be a serious understatement. There are four buildings at the center appropriately named Hope, Nature, Imagine and Believe, which aptly represent the fabulous center.
In addition to children there is an increasing need for adult programs. United Cerebral Palsy expanded its facilities in 2007 so they could provide life and employment skills to the ever growing population of adults with disabilities.
United Cerebral Palsy of Arizona has grown so much from its inception and is serving over 2,500 families on an annual basis. Please donate your time and dollars to this worthy organization which does so much for so many.
I can tell you that I had a smile permanently affixed on my face for the entire day after seeing all those happy little faces at the Laura Dozer Center.
Up until I was lifted out of my mother via C-section, I was supposed to be a boy.
My name was to be Joseph Paul Lunzer. Paul after my dad’s first name and Joseph after his middle name. So clearly my dad was thrilled to be having a son. A son just made sense to a guy like my dad, who is the definition of a Midwestern “guy’s guy.” He built himself a man-cave in the basement of his home equipped with a bar (stocked full of whiskey, vodka, bourbon and a “fine” Arbor Hill Mrs. Brahm’s Very Blueberry Wine that he purchased one Christmas to add a touch of class; however, I just don’t think my family was ready for that much class in a glass). My dad’s man-cave also has a tiny bathroom with just a toilet so that he is freed from the social pressures of putting down the toilet seat and washing his hands. My dad believes that fancy couches consist of two reclining seats connected together by storage-type unit in the middle that holds his sacred remote control, a half-eaten bag of chips and empty peanut shells. And let us not forget the importance of cup holders on said fancy couch. Without cup holders my dad would be expected to actually hold his beverage…with his own hands!
Mounted on the walls of his man-cave are several award-winning fish he caught in various Minnesota, Wisconsin and Canadian lakes. These prized fish hang upon the walls with their mouths open and shock in their eyes. As if their last thoughts were, “Damn! I promised myself that I wouldn’t fall for that minnow on a hook again.” My dad has an array of plastered and molded dead Walleye, Bass and Northern fish for all of his friends to marvel at when they visit. “That’s a nice looking bass you got there, Paul.” Once his friend Hokey had a few too many shots of whiskey and forgot to pronounce the B in bass while giving my dad this compliment, which I think only made their friendship stronger. My dad’s just the kind of guy who only has friends named Hokey, Corky, The Old Indian Guide and Peterson. In the Midwest there’s always a Peterson.
So on that cold day in February of 1980 while waiting for his son’s arrival, my dad sat with my mom while she powered through contractions with no epidural. Instead she chose to play the songs of Diana Ross and The Supremes in her hospital room to get her through the pain. Several hours into her labor, the doctor made the announcement that I had gone breech, which was the first indication of my stubborn nature. When I could have easily rewarded my mother for her hours of hard labor by finally exiting her body, I chose to instead do somersaults in her belly as I attempted to come out butt first. Because of this, they rushed my mother into the operating room for an emergency C-section. My mom was pretty doped up during the surgical procedure, which she remembers fondly. “That was one of the best highs ever.” So when then the doctor lifted me up and announced, “It’s a girl!” My dad was the first to hold me. “Are you sure it’s a girl?” I imagine he asked over and over and over again. But there I was in all my female glory. The scariest thing my dad had ever seen, a baby girl whom he had no idea what to do with.
After the initial shock wore off, my dad devised a plan to raise me as if I were born a boy. He taught me how to fight, spit, successfully slide into third base, play hockey and do push-ups. “Not the girly way,” he’d say as I did push-ups for allowance. I could even do one-handed push-ups and the kind where you clap your hands together on the way up. I was the only 10-year-old girl at my elementary school with biceps. I dominated the presidential physical fitness tests and could flex arm hang until the dismissal bell rang. My dad couldn’t have been prouder of his daught-son creation.
However, once I turned 14, an even bigger fear of his came knocking, boys. Not many boys, but a few and his advice on dating was more terrifying than helpful. “Remember Jo, if one of these guys gets too close, just count down the buttons on his shirt. One, two, three buttons down and then BAM! Hit him in his chest. It’ll knock the wind right out of him.” And then once I started high school he’d say things like, “Sure you can have sex in high school, but then you’ll be forced to move to an island far away with the rest of the people who have leprosy.” What? I didn’t even know what leprosy was until I looked it up in the set of Encyclopedia Britannica’s that my dad purchased as a gift to the family in 1990. For those unfamiliar with an Encyclopedia Britannica, it was the paper predecessor to Google. They were giant books you’d open and look stuff up in. If it wasn’t in the EB, it didn’t exist.
I was an emotional teen girl going through drama and he had few solutions to my problems besides, “Just punch ‘em in the face, but never throw the first punch,” or “Calm down. It’s not like it’s the second coming of Christ.” He said this after coming home from work only to find me in a fit of hysterics on the floor after my first “love” had broken up with me. However, my father’s piece de resistance was what he said when I came home crying (again) after being picked on by two 14-year-old boys at the local rec center. “Dad, they kept saying ‘you’re ugly’ and pointing at me in front of everyone. Why do I have to be so ugly?”
My dad just looked at me confused. Rather than advising me to knock the wind out of them, he said, “What are you talking about Jo? You got such a strong neck.” I didn’t know what to say. A strong neck!?! That is not what a ninth grade girl wants to hear about her body. Then he cupped his hand around the back of my neck and looked at me with sincerity in his eyes. “And you got that strong Lunzer chin,” which only meant that there were more chins coming.
The boys who called me ugly didn’t stop once I informed them of the beauty of my “strong neck.” Instead they said I had a hump on my back and laughed in my face, but I never told my dad. Instead I kept him happy by continuing my push-up regime and prepping for my “one, two, three buttons down” moment. It made my dad proud to instill a physical strength in me and I didn’t want to let him down. I was reminded of this on Father’s Day when I inadvertently gave my dad the best present ever, I carried a one-hundred pound rock from my brother’s backyard to the backseat of his Nissan Sentra that was parked in the driveway. “You’ve still got it,” he said with a huge smile on his face.