While were in London, I had the great joy of seeing Matilda with my mother and my girls.
My mother always gets the hottest tickets in town.
For instance, she also took me to see Peter & Alice, starring Judi Dench. Unfortunately, Peter & Alice sucked, which is odd, as:
a) I believe that Judi Dench is a god among us and
b) it was about the fortuitous meeting of Alice Liddell Hargreaves, the model for Alice in Wonderland, and Peter Llewellyn Davies, as in Peter Pan, and I have a ridiculous soft-spot for anything about Peter Pan.
There are two reasons for my Peter Pan obsession.
This is one:
This is the other:
Peter Pan was the first musical I ever saw, on Broadway no less. With Sandy Duncan and her glass eye. (Yes, I am old enough that Cathy Rigby was still in the gymnastics game back then.) I was taken to see it with my grandmothers.
Both grandmothers. Who normally didn’t hang out much. So that was a BIG. EFFING. DEAL.
And I have NEVER forgotten it.
So forgive me for getting a little misty-eyed about the fact that WHEN I WAS IN LONDON LAST WEEK MY GIRLS SAW THEIR FIRST MUSICAL!
IN THE WEST END!
IN THE COMPANY OF THEIR GRANDMOTHER!
AND I GOT TO BE THERE TOO!
It was really, really, REALLY good.
I cried the whole time.
Joyous, happy, nostalgic, heart-wrenching tears.
Especially at this part. If you don’t cry at this part then you have no soul. (Fast forward to 0:50):
I have been so obsessed with Matilda since I got back that I tracked down that You Tube video, and I read a New Yorker piece about the composer / lyricist, Tim Minchin, and I bought an ACTUAL CD of the London cast recording.
Yep. A CD, PEOPLE.
Because I JUST HAVE TO HAVE TO HAVE TO listen to it in the car, and I have no effing ipods anymore, apparently — though I do have, oddly, about eight ipod speaker sets — and my phone no longer effing works for anything so mp3 transmission would be a stretch.
SO YES. I BOUGHT THE CD.
And I drove around laughing and crying to it ALL DAY YESTERDAY.
And it was awesome.
I haven’t loved a musical so much since a billion years ago when I was young and single and living in the West Village and John Cameron Mitchell was doing Hedwig and I went and saw it over and over and over again.
You may not understand this compulsion if you’ve only ever seen the MOVIE of Hedwig, which just isn’t good.
It’s just not.
The musical, however, is THE BEST THING EVER.
IT IS THE BEST.
Except now there is also Matilda.
And I intend to listen to it ALL THE TIME until my kids can sing every word and we can all sing to the CD together in the car like we used to sing every word of Les Mis and Miss Saigon and Evita and Chess and A Little Night Music and Into The Woods with my mom when I was growing up.
Like crazy people.
Crazy happy musical theater geek people.
This summer Diddy is doing two weeks of musical theater camp – Guys and Dolls! –and I could die of joy.
Many years ago, I was struck by something I read in the NYT about death and home organizing.
What on earth has death got to do with home organizing?
I give you Lisa Whited, a professional organizer in the NYT piece who entered the profession when her kids were young and she thought she was going to die:
… one of her first worries was about her husband and three small children: “How is Pete going to know where everything is?”
She … began labeling the clear plastic bins she stored everything in. Children’s medicine. Adult medicine. Bread. Waffles (In a plastic bin in the freezer). Candy. Cat treats. All the stuff in the cellar: Caulking. Paint thinner. Linseed Oil.
This rang very true for me.
It is very likely, should I ever have to tell my children I was going to die before they were very very very old, that I would probably make them each a personalized, tabulated, color-coded binder with labeled instructions for everything I could imagine they would possibly need to survive day-to-day without me.
I would probably fixate on these binders so deeply that I’d miss out on other, incredibly important, conversations we could have.
I’m not good at big, messy feelings.
So I went and made a neat little list on this topic, instead.
Next week, I ought to start examining my less-examined life.
This week, I give you:
This is the second part of a three-part series I’m running about Talking to To Kids about Death and Dying.
When my mother was my age, her friends started getting sick. Cancer and MS and lupus descended upon her social circle. At the time, I assumed this was happening so much among her friends because they were old.
Now I’m old, and it’s happening to mine.
My mother was lucky – she made it through our childhoods healthy, our family remained unscathed. So far, my young family remains similarly lucky, though even typing that tempts fate and flips me out beyond belief.
It’s scary, imagining all the terrible things that might happen, to imagine an illness so terrible it would take me from my kids. (The thought of an unexpected tragedy like Boston, or some terrible accident, is equally horrible – but there is so little we can do to protect ourselves or our families from that. While we’re on the subject though, teach your kids their phone number!)
What we can do, though, we must.
That includes, should the worst happen, leveling with our children about serious, life-changing illness, about terminal diagnoses, and about death.
This isn’t just me talking.
Again: I have no early childhood / psychiatric cred.
But my friend Barbara Benoulid does. She’s an LMFT working in Los Angeles, a mother of three, and an incredibly smart, funny, and tapped in friend. You can find out more about her practice here.
So I went and talked to Barb and she put together a HUGE dossier of info for me. Much of what follows are her EXACT WORDS, simply edited down and re-organized a little bit by me for easy, bullet-point consumption.
THIS IS JUST A STARTING POINT for what may be the most difficult conversations any of us will ever have to have with our kids. Continue reading “How & Why To Talk to Your Kids About A Loved One’s Serious Illness” »
Happy Tax Day, everybody.
… in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes. (Ben Franklin)
This week, in honor of Tax Day, I’m doing a series of posts about talking to your kids about death and dying — with an emphasis on how to talk to YOUR kids about YOUR death and possible dying.
Let me be clear here: I’m not a child development experiment. I do not have a background in psychiatry.
But over the last few years, MrBigIdeas and I have started losing friends to illness and accident. Some of them have left kids behind.
At the same time, our kids have befriended other kids with sick parents, or parents who have died.
That’s got them asking questions about what a sickness or death in our family would mean for them, and it’s got MrBigIdea and I asking questions about what that might mean for us, too.
So I’ve spoken to a few people with better cred than I have in this area — a great rabbi, and a fabulous psychiatrist specializing in family care — and I’ve put together a few “best practices” posts about how to discuss a parent’s serious illness or death with kids, and how to help them cope with grief and mourning.
But I’m starting light today — we all have enough on our plates this particular morning, with taxes looming, to dive right into the Big D without some light relief. Hopefully this will serve as some light relief.
I give you:
Shortly after my grandmother died last fall, Gaga, then nearly 4, started asking questions about death and dying.
She only did this when we were driving around.
At first I thought this was odd, that every time we got in the car she got morbid – my driving’s not THAT bad – but then I remembered Continue reading “Driving Around With My 4 Year Old, Talking About Death” »
My grandmother used to tell the story of a Mom in her neighborhood in upstate New York who had a LOT of kids (which must have really meant A LOT OF KIDS coming from my grandmother, who was the youngest of seven). Anyway, this Mom of Lots of Kids was famous on the block for not feeding her brood dinner until she’d served herself first. They’d literally all have to wait around watching her eat before they could sit down.
As a kid, I thought this mother totally monstrous.
But now I get it. It’s genius. It’s the exact same idea as you hear on airplane safety videos about “afix YOUR OWN OXYGEN MASK FIRST before helping others.”
Even the Federal Aviation Administration knows Mama ain’t no use to nobody if she can’t breathe herself.
But I gotta say, it took me some time to figure out how to make all that actually HAPPEN … like, six years into motherhood, we’re talking. I mean, I only just figured out, TWO DAYS AGO, how to even eat breakfast in the morning, and this is despite me being the most logistics-minded Mama on earth.
Luckily for me — and the rest of you stressed out parents out there — there are people trained to coach new parents back into control of their lives and pursuits of happiness. People like my friend Cortney Chaite, who does that everyday as the mission of her business, Cortney Chaite Coaching.
Read on for little insight into how Cortney helps Moms get happy — complete with a checklist! Continue reading “Guest Post: If Mama Ain’t Happy …” »