Parenting a Singer

 

Photo Courtesy of Ibiza

Photo Courtesy of Ibiza

I recently wrote a post about parenting a designer, and in the interest of harmony, love and equality this will be a 3-part series. Yes, I’ll admit that I religiously counted the Teddy Grahams to make sure that each daughter had exactly the same number.

Parenting a singer is a joy, and will move you in ways that you never expected.

It may show up early.  You may suspect you have a singer on your hands when other toddlers are struggling to sing “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star” at play group and your budding diva regularly entertains you with a repertoire of show tunes. She may not have perfect pitch at age 3, but then again – maybe she does. Some kids seem to be born with the gift of song. With encouragement and support, you and your singer can develop and enjoy this gift for a lifetime.

All the world’s a stage.  Your little singer may or may not be a performer. Most likely, though, they can’t help humming or bursting into song. It just happens. Don’t be surprised when they belt out favorite movie theme songs at the library or just perform regularly at the dinner table. Bath time is another favorite time for singing and you’ll always know when your singer is in the shower (from anywhere in the house). There must be some primal connection between water and vocal chords. Be an appreciative audience and store up these memories. Someday you’ll miss their daily performances.

A song for all occasions.  As your singer grows, they may discover that any situation can be turned into a song. They may not remember later on, but singing to your baby will get things started. Cookies in the oven and timer going crazy becomes “I’m gonna beep beep beep ‘til you take me out.” A hot summer day with nothing to do but melt inspires a song called “Lemonade.” Then there’s “Fish Boy,” a catchy number about some guy hanging out in front of a seafood restaurant. A song can lighten any situation. Just laugh and sing along.

Prepare to be moved.  My family will tell you that I cry at movies and am a wreck at concerts. My advice? Bring your camera, carry Kleenex and invest in waterproof mascara. Your kindergartener’s premiere at the school talent show may astonish you, and high school choir solos may leave you in tears. Music touches us in an emotional way, and when it’s your kid… good luck keeping emotions in check.

Prepare to be annoyed.  I can guarantee you, with absolute certainty, that sometimes your singer will get on your nerves. On purpose. When she discovers that the song you dislike most in the universe is that beloved theme song from “Barney & Friends” or the 1982 Rocky III anthem, “Eye of the Tiger,” you will hear it 10 times a day for an entire week. Then she’ll get creative and make up new lyrics – and invite her sister to sing along. Music is a beautiful gift from the gods. It can also be used to torment.

Feed the fire.  It may seem obvious, but singers and musicians of all types like music. Encourage curiosity by surrounding your child with music of all styles and genres. Irish whistles, Japanese Taiko drumming, majestic choral concerts, bluegrass, classical jazz and chill out – it’s all good. Attend concerts and performances regularly and try something new.

Your singer may be challenging and changeable at times, but great musicians express emotions and move us in a way that no one else can. Singing is also a gift given freely that will add joy to your life.

Ride the waves, encourage daily practice and most of all, enjoy.

Wisdom and Trust

Rumi

Let yourself be silently drawn
by the strange pull of what you really love.
It will not lead you astray.

 ~ Rumi ~

So many times when I’m in transition, I push and pull and thrash about – only to find I’m on the wrong road or forcing something that’s not meant to be.

Then it’s time to be still, pay attention.

What makes your heart sing?  What is your path?

Gifts from the Heart

giving hands

Are these hands giving, or are they receiving?

This holiday season, and every day for any reason, share these gifts and enjoy many happy returns.

  • Attention – take the time to put other things aside and to truly focus and listen.
  • Laughter – appreciate humor and laugh until you’re in tears (I do it regularly).
  • Sharing – most of us have more than we need – keep resources of all kinds in circulation and share your time if you have nothing else.
  • Growth – keep learning, exchange knowledge and invest in yourself and others.  Recognize and nurture potential, mentor and encourage others.
  • Warmth – Stop for a moment to see those around you and share a smile, a kind greeting or a hug.  Become a bright spot in someone’s day  or a radiant beacon.
  • Patience – Take a deep breath.  Instead of impatience and anger, offer assistance.
  • Forgiveness – This is the most difficult, but the best gift to yourself.  Let the anger go, or use the energy to help others through your experiences, wisdom and understanding.

These gifts cost nothing but time and intention, are easily shared and make a lasting impression.  Share freely and watch the results!

I’m Dreaming of a Skype Christmas

I'm Listening

I’m Listening

When I was growing up, my dad’s family lived in a small town where relatives lived within a couple of square miles of each other.  Mother lived next door to daughter, separated by an alleyway.  Aunt lived next to nephew and down the street from her sister.  The family whose house was just beyond the tiny bridge that defined the city limit was considered “out of town.”

Those days are gone.  Or, should I say, they never existed in a real way for the family beyond that small, geographically limited cluster.  Now, family members are dispersed across the U.S., North Africa and Europe and tiny factions of our extended clan will be dining together.  But we will take a few moments to reach out and Skype someone this holiday.  The image may be less than optimal and the connection and quality may waver.  The computer may even crash, as it does on occasion.  But thank goodness for Skype, Google Hangout or whatever the means to see and hear our loved ones far away.

Everyday Shrines

When you think of a shrine, you may envision a holy place of worship, pilgrimage and sacred relics.  In some parts of the world, people have household shrines dedicated to a deity.  I also see them in businesses like my favorite Asian restaurants – little altars with offerings of food, tea and incense.

I have everyday shrines; places of magic that contain memorabilia associated with revered people and places.  These are small corners where sacred relics disguised as ordinary objects gather and lend some of the personal energy that makes our house a home.  Here are some sacred possessions and their stories.  What are some personal objects that have meaning for you?

A Kitchen Shrine:  Silver and lapis ring from a small shop across from Albrecht Dürer’s House in Nürnberg, Germany; Opal ring purchased on my first business trip to Boston; Sandstone oil burner and Satsuma oil from The Body Shop (Anita Roddick is a personal inspiration); Stone and Bergamot oil from the beautiful Grüne Erd (“Green Earth”) store in Nürnberg.

 

Portraits and Cards:  Portrait of my husband painted by my daughter for his birthday; photograph taken by my mother when I was 17; birthday cards from my mom and my friend Els.

Kitchen Tools can be sacred:  Marmalade crock from the 1930’s found at a stall on Portobello Road (where I used to walk each day); wooden spoon from my mother by way of my grandmother;  kitchen tongs from Germany; assorted utensils I use to cook every day.

The items in my kitchen are well-worn and ordinary, but I use them with care to make good food for people I love.

Are you thinking about your everyday shrines now?

Boxes:  Handmade wooden box from Costa Rica; special handcrafted box with a circus motif – a gift from my husband from a trip to New York; inside the circus box are earrings from my mother and grandmother.

Shells and Stones:  I gather shells and stones wherever I find them and keep them in a clay bowl.  They have been collected from all over the world and airport security is sometimes interesting with a bag full of rocks.

Last but not least are the letters and artwork from my family.  I think I’ve kept every one.  Probably my most precious possessions.

24 Secrets to a Long and Happy Marriage

In honor of our 24th anniversary on September 24th, I’d like to share 24 secrets to a long and happy marriage.

24 Secrets to a Happy Marriage

 

  1. Consider each day together as a gift.
  2. Start the day with a walk and a talk.
  3. Listen.
  4. Mind your manners.  After 24 years, we still say please and thank you.
  5. Laugh often.
  6. He mows, I trim.  We each do our part and appreciate each other.
  7. Be honest but not hurtful.  No poison darts.
  8. Discuss your ideas.  After all this time we still haven’t run out of things to talk about.
  9. Encourage each other to dream and grow and even change.
  10. Difficult times and decisions are easier when you share your fears and are supportive.
  11. Plan together and look forward to shared experiences.
  12. Be here now and appreciate the moments that make up a marriage.
  13. Treat each other with respect and consideration.
  14. Take care of yourself and make healthy choices that promote wellbeing and positive energy.  It’s good for you and good for your relationships.
  15. Value individuality and a different perspective and realize that soul mates still have separate minds.
  16. It’s ok to disagree and even better to meet somewhere in the middle.
  17. Open your eyes and truly see the person your partner is and has become.
  18. Celebrate family as often as possible.
  19. Enjoy intimacy.
  20. Share plenty of time together but have some time apart.  It’s nice to miss each other.
  21. Find new interests and try something different.  Boredom is not sexy.
  22. I don’t call him at work and we don’t share a toothbrush.  Respect boundaries.
  23. Marriage is not ownership.  Consider it a partnership that you have to keep earning.
  24. Show and tell.  There are many ways to express your love (including blog posts); find them and use them.

24th anniversary