Shithole Countries

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Shithole Countries

“Shit is the tofu of cursing and can be molded to whichever condition the speaker desires. Hot as shit. Windy as shit. I myself was confounded as shit…” David Sedaris

In case you missed it, President Trump used the word shithole in an immigration discussion behind closed doors. Someone walked out of the meeting and quoted it to a reporter.

I spent that evening watching many different newscasters and assorted panelists on different channels, repeat the word. It is blasted across the screen. Two newscasters mentioned that their children were watching but this is what the President said so they had to repeat it…and repeat it and repeat it. The words hit the air hard and fast. They go right to the emotional center of the brain and get a reaction. Profanity arouses strong feelings. Repeating these word are destructive because “they really are built to offend, to cause harm, to divide and to denigrate,”

I was a late curser. No one cursed in my house growing up. Son of gun and dirty rotten lice were as bad as it got. There were some questionable words floating around in Yiddish but I never heard the English equivalent.

I started dating a curser when I was in college. i still remember  the first time that I cursed. It was an early spring afternoon and we were walking through campus. I was wearing blue elephant bell bottoms and a short rust colored sweater. It was the perfect combination of trendy and stylish. He stopped to say hello to some friends and I fell off my very high platform shoes. The adrenalin rush of cursing definitely masked the pain and embarrassment. He thought it was cute and out of character for me. Obscenity was my final childhood rebellion. I married into a family of cursers. The words quickly shifted from taboo to normal. They can be used as any part of speech and work well as adjectives.

Kids love them because they know they are taking a risk and will use any opportunity to say them in front of you. When my daughter was three and my son was six, we were in the car stuck in traffic. My three-year old daughter said “Why aren’t we moving?” I said. “Traffic.” She said “Just say asshole and go around.” Hmm. I wonder where she learned that asshole meant stopped car. They are like sponges. My son knowing that was not ok, managed to use the word asshole twenty times in five minutes while admonishing her not to use the word asshole.

It was very emotionally potent for me to see a profanity across the screen. I never knew how that one was spelled. Was it one word or two? I know now. I visualized my deceased parents reaction to this. They believed that using profanity was a sign of a lack of education and knowledge. Every night before we went to bed we had to say what new word we  had learned and what it meant. I often had to look one up in the dictionary five minutes before. I think the plan was to have a rich vocabulary or at least good SAT scores.

I pictured all the kids watching at home. “Mom, the president just said shithole. I mean the newscaster said shithole because the president said shithole. It says shithole on the screen. Why does it say shithole? Why is the president saying shithole? Look I changed the channel. It still says shithole. If the president says shithole, can I say shithole? What about if Anderson Cooper says shithole?” My son would have said it as much as possible.

Are parents responding with something like what my parents said when I tried out a curse word on them? “Your language is a reflection of you. Maybe the president’s friends make him think that cursing is cool. Maybe the newscasters think that repeating it over and over is the right thing to do. The reality is that cursing a lot is not classy or intelligent Was that the best word you could come up with?.” Hopefully they remind their kids of this when they are sending their language out on social network and online communities.

He is not the first president to use profanity. He spoke this way about immigration during the campaign. He has made racist remarks throughout his presidency and has said that there were some good Nazis. He wants to cause chaos. This is not breaking news.  It is a dirty, f–king job.

Fly safe,

JAZ

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It Is Like Your Mom’s Facebook Page

It is Like Your Mom’s Facebook Page

“Can we go back to using Facebook for what it was originally for – looking up exes to see how fat they got?” Bill Maher

I heard two twenty-somethings having this conversation I didn’t hear the question but the answer was, “You know, it’s like your mom’s Facebook page.“

Hmmm. They couldn’t be talking about me. I’m totally cool and of course, you are too if you are reading this. I’m a parent and I love parents. But Facebook does broadcast our lives across the internet. Here are some things that might be bothering your kids.

1.The good news is that your parents have actually learned how to work a computer. As soon as we get on Facebook, our first friend request is always our kids. Your kids grudgingly accept because they have no choice. How do you not accept your mom’s friend request? Mine had rules. “Do not like or comment on my page.” Without those rules, I would have commented on every one of their Facebook statuses and retagged their photos on friends and relatives pages.  I would have left embarrassing personal messages for everyone to see. That is what they believe. Then we add their friends who also don’t really want to say yes but do.

2. There are parents who post way too many pictures of their kids. I get it. B being a parent is life-changing. I have flooded social media with many photos of L and K at different stages of their lives. Moving brought out a ton of the old photos. I have no ground to stand on. When I’m not posting my kids, I’m posting my dog because you know the internet needs more cute dog photos.

3.There is always an alarmist in every group of parents. Giving overprotective parents who don’t use Snopes a social media platform is a disaster of misinformation. “If you don’t post this legal copywrite, Facebook can steal your photos”. I mean don’t you think they can do that anyway?

4.Bragging on social media is part of the deal. “Look at my son’s cute Harvard sweatshirt.” “Really, fifth grade already?” “I love our family matching outfits.” “My son in law has another song out.”Everyone has a perfect life on social media.

5. And then there is commenting which could be worse than bragging. “Oh, your son or grandson is walking at one year. Mine walked at eight months. All kids are different.” “Where are you getting married? My daughter got married in Africa but everyone is different.” “Your daughter is a comedian, that is so cool. My son is working at Google and has great insurance’ ”Oh, you traveled to New Zealand alone? Here is a photo of me with my family in New Zealand.”

6. Facebook is a safe place for parents to vent their frustration about their kids. “Anyone else sitting in the emergency room at 11pm because their son decided to climb out the window?” “Here is a photo of my son driving cross-country on his motorbike.” “Here is my daughter crying on her first day of camp.” “Anyone else’s kid’s college dorm room look like this?”  We don’t want advice from other parents. We just want to vent about our kids who are also on social media. 

7. Hipster parents and ”cool” parents (There is no such thing’) Hipster parents are always showing photos without kids. Here we are in Cabo or Vegas, having dinner at Nobu, at yoga, training for the marathon etc. If they do pose with their kids, everyone is hipster dressed. Older parents are always doing something cool. Here I am at a rock concert, climbing a glacier, at Hamilton (everyone posts that photo-including me finall),, at the Vanity Fair party, in Hawaii, Paris or on Safari.

9. Perfect Facebook Families. They have beautiful houses, smiling faces and luxury cars. They travel all over the world together. Their children are flawless and brilliant at school or in their careers.  They either look like supermodels or haven’t aged or gained a pound since they had kids or became grandparents. They have beautiful family dinners and holidays.  No one has ever seen them fight or worry about anything.

The reality is once we started joining in large numbers, Facebook stopped being cool. I guess like your mom’s Facebook page is not a compliment. I believe that this has been the downfall of Facebook and why the teens and twenty-somethings have moved to Instagram, Twitter and Snap Chat. These are things that many of us have not mastered yet though I love Instagram. When you are in high school, parents are the least cool people imaginable.  We stay on Facebook because it is a comfort zone and most of our friends aren’t on Twitter or Snap Chat.  Parental embarrassment on Facebook is becoming less of an issue because everything is always changing on the internet. 

Fly safe,

JAZ

What Kids Said When Donald Trump Won

What Kids Said When Donald Trump Won

“Grown-ups never understand anything by themselves, and it is tiresome for children to be always and forever explaining things to them” Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince

“I don’t think he will make a good president. He doesn’t know how to use his Twitter account and so I presume he will be hopeless at nuclear codes.”

“If Donald Trump deports my mom can I come live with your family?”

“He seems very bossy.”

“This is a hijab. It’s really hot. I don’t sleep in it. If you have questions, ask me. Don’t say terrible, scary things.”

“I don’t think he will be on the list of good presidents in the history of good presidents in the US.”

“If the president says bad things about Mexicans, then other people will too.”

“If he is a bully, how did he get to be president?”

“I woke up to find out that Trump was President and my sister was using my expensive shampoo.”

“I really like it here. I don’t want to leave.”

“Will I have to be a slave?”

“He might be a good president if he controls his anger.”

“Will I have to wear numbers on my shirt?”

“I’m not speaking to white people today. It is their fault,”

“He gets angry and interrupts people. He goes bankrupt a lot. I don’t thing that is good for a President.”’

“Im worried my brother who has leukemia will lose his health care.”

“I am hopeful that Donald Trump will not end the world or the country.”

“He got the most votes. He won fair and square.”

“I hope he is a great president and he doesn’t build a wall and send my friends home. I hope he is the best, kind, amazing president.“

“I’m scared people will hurt me because I am a girl.”

“Im ok with the outcome as long as he makes America better again.”

“Black people don’t vote for white people unless they’re like cool. He said what people wanted to hear, and they voted for him. Also, don’t tell anybody this, but I cried in the bathroom this morning when I found out.”

Children are listening, Speak to them. Let your intelligence and not your fear guide your words.  Hear them. Listen to what they have to say. Make them feel safe.  Read to them.  Encourage them to read books by authors and about people who are different then you are. Teach them about the world.

Fly safe.

JAZ

Travel Advice From An Eight Year Old

Travel Advice From An Eight Year Old

“Row, row, row your boat. Gently down the stream. Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily, life is but a dream.” Alice Munro

My daughter wrote me a letter when she was eight years old before leaving for sleep away camp for a month for the first time. I recently found it and thought it was really good advice.

1. Always carry a picture of me around with you at all times.

That is an easy one now that every cell phone has a camera.

2. Even though I’m not there and it is summer, still wake up early. It is good for your body.

Did she think I was going to sleep all day when she left? Little kids can not imagine your life without them.  It is always a good idea to keep the same routine when someone is gone for a while.

3. I know you will miss this one. I will record it.  “Can you buy me this?” or write it and you can take it out of your purse when you want to say no to something I want.

Everyone wants to be missed  and remembered for something. 

4.Just a reminder. DON”T DRINK DIET COKE.

 We all have vices that we need to be working on whether our kids are there or not.

5.DON”T EAT CHOCOLATE AT NIGHT. It’s not good for you.

Some people have more vices than other people do. 

6. Oh, and please remember that I still exist when I am at camp.

 Please remember that I still exist when I am traveling.

7. Write me letters and send me packages.

Texts, emails and travel gifts work too.

8. I love you and DON’T LOSE THIS PAPER.

I aways say I love you to my loved ones when I get on a plane.  I didn’t lose this paper for twenty years.

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Fly safe,

JAZ

More Packing Tips

More Packing Tips

“When a resolute young fellow steps up to the great bully, the world, and takes him boldly by the beard, he is often surprised to find it comes off in his hand, and that it was only tied on to scare away the timid adventurers.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

My son is brilliant and creative  Unfortunately, he was  packingly challenged. The suitcases used to be at my house so he always needed to come home to pack for a trip when he was in school. He has figured it out by now.

Here was how the scenario went:

11:30 PM:  My son enters the house and  begins to empty his car bringing in almost his entire wardrobe. It doesn’t matter if he is going for a week or a month. He hasn’t decided  what to take yet so he brings everything. I am trying to travel with less and less and feel it is my job to impart this wisdom. Thus began the negotiation.

Mom:  Why are you taking so many sweaters? (Substitute any and every article of clothing here. Several answers ensue. Pick your favorite.)

Son: This one looks good on me. My girlfriend likes this one.  It’s my lucky sweater. I gained/lost weight. I always wear this one.

Mom: It is going to be ninety degrees. Did you check the weather?

Son:  No I haven’t had time. What is it that you think I do all day?  I’ll just take these two.

Mom:  But they are wool sweaters.

Son:  I always bring these. They look good on me, my girlfriend likes them etc,  ( We’ve heard these before) Ok fine. Just tell me what you think I should take. (Mom picks a few things) Those, not these? Don’t you think these look better? Not take my lucky sweater? I just checked the weather. It’s going to rain for half the time so I need two different wardrobes.

12:15 AM  As it gets later, he starts to not care so much about what he is bringing.

Son: How many shirts should I bring?

Mom: Four.

Son: Four? Last time I brought six.

This goes on for every item except sox and underwear. Our family doesn’t wash clothes on vacation. We always bring a lot. We have different rules for the cleanliness of our clothes  also. You can always wear something with a little stain on it when you are traveling as long as it doesn’t smell. My son has adopted these rules when traveling as well. I get this.

12:45 AM: ‘”Mom, I’m really tired. Do you think that you could just fold my shirts?”, he asks. No mom likes to hear that their kids  are really tired – no matter how old they are. I’m not  sure which one of us  is handicapped at this point. I proceed to pack. Folding the shirts properly and putting them in a packing case takes the longest. He knows this.

1:15 AM: Now he is packing his toilet articles. The son is not someone who believes in the 3 oz bottle rule or travel sizes. He brings everything from his bathroom that he needs no matter how big it is and puts it in his suitcase.Next he pulls out four books to bring with him. Obviously he is also someone who doesn’t care about the weight requirement of luggage. He begins carefully perusing them to see which he really wants to bring . He settles on two.

I have this theory about the creative brain. It just doesn’t function well when it comes to the mundane dealings of everyday life-like packing. That is why so many people in the movie business have personal assistants even if they don’t seem important enough to need them. Or perhaps he just didn’t inherit the packing gene.

!:40 AM: He closes the suitcase. “I have stuff to do before I leave and I will sleep on the plane.“  I didn’t inherit the sleeping on the plane gene.  I know my son will be asleep as soon as the plane takes off. At some point the person next to him, will give up trying to push his head off their shoulder and he will wake up as the plane is landing.

Fly Safe

JAZ

Can You Blame Your Parents If You Turn Out To Be A Terrorist?

Can You Blame Your Parents If You Turn Out to Be A Terrorist?

“Honestly, if you’re given the choice between Armageddon or tea, you don’t say ‘what kind of tea?” Neil Gaiman

Parenting is the one job that anyone can do. There is no age requirement, training or qualifications necessary. As human beings, we bring our pasts, fears and our baggage into our children’s lives. We give up our dreams, desires and independence and put our children’s needs before our own. We try our best to shelter them from harm and point them in the direction of morality and compassion.

We can only steer them toward the good and hope they don’t get caught up in the bad. We wish that they will find their path. I think we do the best we can with the resources we have. Whether it is nature, nurture, hard work, inherited, genetic or environmental,  most of us just get on with the job of being parents.

There are many people walking around with diagnosed and undiagnosed mental illness. When a teenager or young adult commits a horrifying act many times on themselves as well, it does not always turn out to be a kid from divorce, single parents, violence or abuse.  All parents have moments where they lose their tempers, say things they regret, and create unloving situations that they want forgiven. There are some evil parent stories out there but most are not like this. Are kids just born hardwired? Or were they good and something just set them off?

Every one of us has the capacity to make good and bad choices. Do you love and protect your child no matter what or do you take a harder line when you see them acting out?Times change people. I believe we are all hardwired.  Dysfunctional, abusive and broken families always make a kid with problems worse. Our choices are ultimately who we become. When I see a teenager/young adult open fire on a school or mall, a suicide bomber or a terrorist, I always think, “that’s somebody’s kid.”

Fly safe,

JAZ