Thursday, February 16, 2012

Thoughts on twos - not so terrible -

Recently, in a conversation I had with a friend regarding the early stage of a child's life, I was left wondering why those early years, two's and three's and four's…years of which I thoroughly enjoyed, have been dealt a bad hand. A stage of development now stigmatized in the culture as the terrible twos.

If you think about the amazing opportunity one has when dealing with a toddler going through that stage, I'm sure you would see it as a blessing. Think of this; at no other time in a child's life will you have a greater impact on their self-esteem, sense of being, as well as their ability to deal with the unknown and to help shape their courage.

Most of us have decided that a child wanting to climb on the counter, run outside, jump off high places, put everything in his or her mouth or never stop with the questions are somehow all bad things. It's not though. You are their first teacher.

You can become the captain of their voyage. You can show them how to jump off and still be safe or how to find an alternative passage to get from point A to point B. There will be plenty of things that will be difficult and at times frightening later in life but if in the beginning, you're always there, a few steps behind, encouraging them to taste what they have found or to teach them to smell it first, hold it in their exploring hands and to look around and find where it came from, they will know how to cope with the unknown when confronting the world that awaits them.

To a grown-up, a daisy or grasshopper or broken twig is uneventful and ordinary and bland. But to a child, things are new and full of color. Things are animated and make sounds they've never heard before. To a child who has spent the first part of his or her life in a predefined space, the awakening of the possible has begun, the crib has opened its door and the sedentary existence relates no more. A whole new world awaits and we should walk a few steps behind their awakening.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Morning in America

"I have come to realize that I will not make a million dollars. I won't make a million dollars, Anthony…I just won't."

And so she began her speech as my retreat ignited. I'm sure much poured from the tininess of her mouth; her enlightened mind and grasp of life, though now I know to be poignant and thorough, then only threatening to me and my beliefs. Like the black heavy metal flashlight papá used to prove the absence of creatures in closets (marking the end of tall tales). The grasp of the cigarette between my middle and index finger only fused closer as she continued her rant.

My lower back, thin as my waist would ever be, pressed against her steel sink -painted in white and dressed with maroon cotton hand towels-, I sealed my sight on one of the pictures on her refrigerator door. She wore a black bikini and snug blue jeans. Her hair was long and curly and there was a lot of it, undoubtedly held by Aqua Net hair spray. It seems her generation helped push the economy out of that current correction through Aqua Net purchases alone. She smiled like she would be twenty-two forever. The birth of 1984 roared and so did her hunger for more. It was Morning in America then.

I think of her often now, especially during and after the Republican debates. She hated them, Republicans, with such fervor that it was easy to taunt her. All I had to do was express approval for NAFTA or Senator Dole, at the time campaigning for the presidency, and her breathing and heart rate would escalate. Uncle Jack and Uncle Patty, the O'Brien's from down the street, the Bobby's and the Joey's and the rest had changed their futures and altered their pasts through the ballot box. Carter was as responsible for the malaise as he was for the rain that year. Her Pennsylvania town had disappeared under the Morning mist.

Our votes reflect who we are not as people, nor individual voting units, but rather, they will always reflect a turning point in our lives, emanating from a fear or longing. In that respect we are all conservatives. We are all attempting to conserve a life built on that turning point. As a nation, as a collective; we are at a turning point again. We've been at one longer than I've been alive. We are all trying to conserve the American Dream. That Morning in America that spin doctors draped our hearts with is what we all want and desperately need.

The press is a circus as is often pointed out most loudly by John Stewart and the cast of The Daily Show, so to look to them for guidance or truth about which Republican candidate on that stage will conserve the nation as a Republic is like watching thirty clowns try to climb into a VW Beetle. Though entertaining a feat, the object of all climbing into that car is not happening. If she, that Pennsylvania lover, were to ask whom of the men on that stage I'd recommend to the Bobby's and O'Brien's, I'd tell her two things: One, a million dollars can’t by you the morning. Two, after the morning, comes the night.