Archive for the ‘Parenting’ Category

Mother’s Day 2016

REB & ADB

My mom entered her 98th year a couple of months ago.  I posted it on her birthday but feel it’s worth re-posting for Mother’s Day

My mother was the first born child of immigrants. She was born Alice Della but has been referred to by her nickname, “Del” for most of her life. Mom’s mother was from England and her father from Canada. Except for a few months during World War II when she and my father lived in Washington state and California, she has always lived in Rhode Island. Mom was the eldest of five kids the youngest of whom she was frequently responsible for babysitting. I always thought that her parenting skills were honed during those days when she was taking care of her little sister and brother.

Mom grew up during The Great Depression and, like many others, her family struggled financially. When she was 15, my mother quit school in order to take a job in her uncle’s mill. I’m not sure how she felt about that but, as an intelligent young woman, I suspect that she wasn’t happy about it. Yet, I’ve never heard her complain about having to quit her education in order to help support the family. She felt it was her duty and she did it.

Mom was raised a Catholic but for reasons about which I’ve never been quite clear decided to leave the Catholic church and began attending youth group meetings at a Methodist church where she met my father. Apparently, the pastor of the church, a Dr. Metzner (sic) was a charismatic man who had a great deal of influence on both my father and mother. I remember them both smiling in obvious enjoyment as they told my brother and I stories about the doctor and their adventures with the youth group. I believe he was the minister who married them.

Mom and dad met when they were 16 and it was apparently love at first sight. Except for the years when Dad was away during World War II, they were never apart. And they always seemed to enjoy one another’s company. Every morning that I can recall, Dad would stroll into the kitchen, bellow “Good morning, Alice Della!”, sweep Mom into his arms and give her an enthusiastic kiss. Her return kiss was just as enthusiastic. It was the kind of overt display of affection which provided a strong sense of security for an impressionable young boy like me.

Like any married couple, they’d sometimes quarrel or disagree often when Dad would take a detour down some unchartered route to see which way it might take us. Mom preferred the known to the unknown but I think that she secretly enjoyed Dad’s sense of adventure. Recently, Mom observed that they’d never had a fight. (Imagine how warped my perspective on married life was coming out of that environment!) .

As was normal in those days, Mom was a housewife. She didn’t even know how to drive. In fact, she didn’t get her driver’s license until she was in her 40s. However, when I was in elementary school, Mom became the first woman president of the Smithfield (RI) PTA. Smithfield was a small New England town and that was a big deal. My father was well-known in town because of his business activities and memberships in the Lions Club and Volunteer Fire Department but it also made me proud when I saw the respect with which teachers, school principals, and prominent members of the community treated her. My mother is not an ambitious person so I suspect that she was nominated for the PTA presidency by people who wanted someone in the position whose opinions they respected and integrity they trusted.

One prominent memory from my younger days is Saturday nights at our house. As the big sister and surrogate parent, Mom always hosted her younger siblings and their families on Saturday nights. Invariably, we males would congregate in the living room to watch TV and banter with occasional conversation. But I can still see all the women gathered around the dining room table to get my mother’s opinion. It’s not that she sought to impose her opinions on them but that they seemed to value her insights and advice. My observation was that they always thought of my mother as well-grounded and a source of common sense. They trusted her opinion.

Dad died just after Thanksgiving in 2006. After all their years together, it’s hard for her to not have Dad but she’s adapted well and has realized how self-sufficient she really is. With age have come some challenges but she is still surprisingly alert and present. Since I take after my mother and her side of the family, I find this especially encouraging!

I know that everybody feels this way about their mother but my Mom is a very special lady. I’m proud to be her son and especially pleased that I was able to bring a granddaughter into her life.

Happy Mother’s Day, Mom !

Happy Birthday, Mom !

ADB-Teenager-Photoshopped-1

I wrote this a couple of years ago. Mom celebrates her 97th birthday today, so I thought it was worth re-posting. Mom's Christmas Outfit

My mother was the first born child of immigrants. She was born Alice Della but has been referred to by her nickname, “Del” for most of her life. Mom’s mother was from England and her father from Canada. Except for a few months during World War II when she and my father lived in Washington state and California, she has always lived in Rhode Island. Mom was the eldest of five kids the youngest of whom she was frequently responsible for babysitting. I always thought that her parenting skills were honed during those days when she was taking care of her little sister and brother.

Mom grew up during The Great Depression and, like many others, her family struggled financially. When she was 15, my mother quit school in order to take a job in her uncle’s mill. I’m not sure how she felt about that but, as an intelligent young woman, I suspect that she wasn’t happy about it. Yet, I’ve never heard her complain about having to quit her education in order to help support the family. She felt it was her duty and she did it.

Mom was raised a Catholic but for reasons about which I’ve never been quite clear decided to leave the Catholic church and began attending youth group meetings at a Methodist church where she met my father. Apparently, the pastor of the church, a Dr. Metzner (sic) was a charismatic man who had a great deal of influence on both my father and mother. I remember them both smiling in obvious enjoyment as they told my brother and I stories about the doctor and their adventures with the youth group. I believe he was the minister who married them.

Mom and dad met when they were 16 and it was apparently love at first sight. Except for the years when Dad was away during World War II, they were never apart. And they always seemed to enjoy one another’s company. Every morning that I can recall, Dad would stroll into the kitchen, bellow “Good morning, Alice Della!”, sweep Mom into his arms and give her an enthusiastic kiss. Her return kiss was just as enthusiastic. It was the kind of overt display of affection which provided a strong sense of security for an impressionable young boy like me.

Like any married couple, they’d sometimes quarrel or disagree often when Dad would take a detour down some unchartered route to see which way it might take us. Mom preferred the known to the unknown but I think that she secretly enjoyed Dad’s sense of adventure. Recently, Mom observed that they’d never had a fight. (Imagine how warped my perspective on married life was coming out of that environment!) .

As was normal in those days, Mom was a housewife. She didn’t even know how to drive. In fact, she didn’t get her driver’s license until she was in her 40s. However, when I was in elementary school, Mom became the first woman president of the Smithfield (RI) PTA. Smithfield was a small New England town and that was a big deal. My father was well-known in town because of his business activities and members hips in the Lions Club and Volunteer Fire Department but it also made me proud when I saw the respect with which teachers, school principals, and prominent members of the community treated her. My mother is not an ambitious person so I suspect that she was nominated for the PTA presidency by people who wanted someone in the position whose opinions they respected and integrity they trusted.

One prominent memory from my younger days is Saturday nights at our house. As the big sister and surrogate parent, Mom always hosted her younger siblings and their families on Saturday nights. Invariably, we males would congregate in the living room to watch TV and banter with occasional conversation. But I can still see all the women gathered around the dining room table to get my mother’s opinion. It’s not that she sought to impose her opinions on them but that they seemed to value her insights and advice. My observation was that they always thought of my mother as well-grounded and a source of common sense. They trusted her opinion.

Dad died just after Thanksgiving in 2006. After all their years together, it’s hard for her to not have Dad but she’s adapted well and has realized how self-sufficient she really is. With age have come some challenges but she is still surprisingly alert and present. Since I take after my mother and her side of the family, I find this especially encouraging!

I know that everybody feels this way about their mother but my Mom is a very special lady. I’m proud to be her son and especially pleased that I was able to bring a granddaughter into her life.

Thoughts of Dad on Father’s Day

It’s hard to believe that it’s been 9 years since my dad, Earl Brindle died in December, 2006.

Earl N Brindle-official Army AirForce photo-1941

Over the past few years, I find myself having conversations with my father especially during my morning walks. I’ll be thinking about some problem or concern and, suddenly, I’ll be asking Dad what he thinks. He doesn’t talk back but, in some way, I do feel his presence. He’s also shown up as a participant in my dreams. I’ll wake up and have to remind myself that Dad’s no longer “here”. I’m not sure what that means but were I to visit a psychoanalyst I’m sure that they’d have a field day with that information.

It’s odd because I didn’t have that many conversations with my father when he was alive.

As I’ve grown older, I’ve started to notice similarities between myself and my father. Our body types are more alike than I’d once thought. I like learning new things and sharing information with others that might help them to increase their understanding or improve their life. Although perceived by some to be an outgoing socializer, my nature is to be somewhat of a loner. At home, I’m not handy. Neither was he. But I know it and hire experts. He tried to do it himself. Then we brought in the experts!

My mother had been mythologizing Dad for my brother, Alan and me ever since we were kids. In Mom’s eyes, he was perfect in every way. And my father was a terrific role model: self-educated, intellectually curious, ethical, compassionate, generous, friendly, self-deprecating, great sense of humor, civic-minded, concerned citizen, loyal & devoted husband, interested & involved parent, honest, reliable, trustworthy, helpful, courteous, kind, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, and reverent. A solid, upstanding role model. As the first born son of a role model like this, it’s not a total surprise to me why I’ve had a problem with authority figures all my life!

Dad grew up during The Great Depression. He would have easily done well in college but his parents were poor and couldn’t afford to send him. So, he did his best, served his country during World War II, worked hard, provided for his family, weathered adversity, and lived a productive, honorable life. We Baby Boomers may feel like we’ve been having a tough time during these past five years but my father and most others of his generation lived through and survived during much tougher times. Somehow, they made it through and managed to thrive. Rather than whining and bemoaning our losses, we need to learn from their example, do what’s best for our country and humanity, and get on with our lives.

Through his actions and his words, Earl N. Brindle taught me about being a generous and compassionate friend and neighbor, about being a trustworthy and equal partner in marriage, about being a good parent and about being focused on getting the job done right. I’m still his work in progress.

My father is one of the reasons I ended up in Saratoga Springs. Dad loved to ride horses, a skill he picked up in Wyoming during his stint with the Army Air Forces, and enjoyed watching them race. Along with such sporting events as the Saturday night boxing matches, NY Giants football, and Red Sox baseball, we would always watch the Triple Crown races together. (He would have loved watching American Pharoah win it this year!) When I moved to Saratoga and took Dad to our legendary race course in August to watch the morning workouts, he was in heaven. Along with being able to give him a granddaughter who he adored, I’m glad that I was able to give him those experiences at Saratoga Race Course.

I’m grateful for the time that my dad spent with me at the baseball field trying (unsuccessfully) to help me become a better player, trying to teach me how to fish (again, unsuccessfully), and risking his life and his sanity as he endeavored to teach his 16 year old eldest son how to drive.

Thanks, Dad, for setting such a great example for how to be a good parent. Hope my kids feel the same about me one day.

Earl-N.-Brindle

April 19th, 1995

On the morning of April 19th, 1995 my first born child wasn’t yet one year old.

oklahoma-city-bombing-1

 

I had never been a father before and had never experienced nor understood the emotions that one can feel about their children. But I did that day.

When I saw the picture of firefighter Chris Field rushing out of the ruins of the Federal Office building in Oklahoma City with the limp and damaged body of little Baylee Almon in his arms, I immediately began to think of the pain that Baylee’s parents were feeling and I began to weep. My eyes just started welling up as I’m writing this now.

I imagined that the little body in the firefighter’s arms was my own child and I felt so scared and hopeless and vulnerable. I’m not a particularly religious person but I prayed for Baylee and hoped that she would survive to live a happy and productive life. But she didn’t.  Nor did most of the other small children who were in the building’s daycare center that day.

My daughter is about to turn 21. If she’d survived, Baylee Almon would have been in her early 20’s today. Perhaps, she would have graduated from college. Or, she might have decided to pursue another path after high school. But she never got the chance.

So, today I’ll think about Baylee Almon and try to be a better person in honor of her memory.

Halloween Trick-Or-Treat Tips

Halloween-Hero-1-H

 A few reminders which you might find helpful as your kids get prepare for some Halloween fun:

*Feed them a healthy meal before they leave the house.

*Make sure costumes are non-flammable.

*An adult should accompany elementary school-aged kids. Older kids should trick-or-treat in pairs or groups and carry a working cell phone.

*Set a curfew. Stick to it!

*Reminds kids that its hard for drivers to see them even when they can see an oncoming car.

*In neighborhoods where cars are parked on the street, remind kids to not enter the street between two parked cars.

*Trick-or-treaters should carry a flashlight, glow stick, or wear reflector tape on their costume.

*Kids should only approach homes that have lights on or a lighted display.

*For ALL trick-or-treaters, they shouldn’t eat anything until it’s been inspected by a parent.

Happy Halloween

Father’s Day 2013

Lately, I seem to be having more conversations with my father. I’ll be on a morning walk thinking about some problem or concern and, suddenly, I’ll be asking Dad what he thinks.

Earl Brindle died in December, 2006.

It’s odd because I didn’t have that many conversations with my father when he was alive. Especially, as we both got older.

When my brother and I were kids, Dad always made it a point to be home for a family dinner at 6pm. He would ask us about what we learned in school or about our days and, if we asked him a question, his Dad’s response would be: “Look it up in the World Book”. [ World Book was the Encyclopedia Britanica for families of more modest means in those days but a useful reference source, nonetheless.] Dad’s response became a bit of a family joke. Whenever my brother or I asked a question, Dad would smile and we’d respond, “I know. Look it up in the World Book.”

My father is one of the reasons I ended up in Saratoga Springs. Dad loved to ride horses, a skill he picked up in Wyoming during his stint with the Army Air Forces, and enjoyed watching them race. Along with such sporting events as the Saturday night boxing matches, NY Giants football, and Red Sox baseball, we would always watch the Triple Crown races together. When I moved to Saratoga and took him to our legendary race course in August to watch the morning workouts, he was in heaven. Along with being able to give him a granddaughter who he adored, I’m glad that I was able to give him those experiences at Saratoga Race Course.

On this Father’s Day, I’m grateful for the time that my dad spent with me at the baseball field trying (unsuccessfully) to help me become a better player, trying to teach me (again, unsuccessfully) how to fish, and risking his life and his sanity as he endeavored to teach his 16 year old eldest son how to drive.

Thanks, Dad, for setting such a great example for how to be a good father.ENB in Wyoming circa 1942

Earl-N.-Brindle

Irony & Ecstacy

I was running errands this weekend and listening to the audiobook of Michael Chabon’s “Manhood For Amateurs” when I was surprised to hear Chabon talking about KFRC-FM, San Francisco and how its format change which essentially eliminated the Motown-British Invasion-Beach Boys music from the station’s playlist had affected him.

Chabon pointed out that most of the songs which he listened to on KFRC were already on his iPod but he observed that his reaction to the music in that context just wasn’t the same. “No medium is so sensuously evocative of the past as radio.”

That particular observation caused a low-level ecstatic reaction within my soul since the majority of my career has been invested in radio broadcasting. The irony, of course, is that I wasn’t listening to the radio in my car. I was listening to an audiobook which was talking about the radio listening experience.

But the real surprise for me was when Chabon mentioned that, while living in the Washington, DC area in 1972, his mother’s favorite radio station was WMOD-FM (“Stereo Gold”). I was an “on-air talent” on WMOD, (OK, a “DJ”) at the time.

In this chapter of “Manhood For Amateurs”, Chabon talks about how he listens to music radio virtually every day and about how that experience impacts his life.

For some reason, I feel grateful

Chabon-Manhood

Considering College

Our youngest began her college career this Fall but the process started over 10 years ago when we first invested a significant chunk of change in her 529 college fund. Unfortunately, when it was time for her to enter college, rather than multiplying in value that fund was worth about the same as it was when the money was first invested. Of course, that situation impacted her final decision on which college to attend.

Fortunately, she attended a high school which provided terrific guidance in planning for college. Her counselor provided her with a list of 40 schools, including stretch, reach, and safety schools which might be a good fit for her skills and career aspirations. We visited 18 of those campuses over the course of 18 months. Fortunately, most of them are within a 4 hour drive of our home.

During our campus visits, I made sure to have a conversation with the college rep about how a 4 year undergrad degree today is worth about the same as a high school diploma was when I entered college. So, the question was: Does it make any sense in this economy to spend close to a quarter million dollars (tuition plus room & board) on an undergrad degree? Or, would it make more sense to spend the first two years in a much cheaper community college to earn those credits which are the basis for most of a college student’s first two years and then transfer to a four year school to complete the degree?

There’s also a consideration for those teens whose interests and aptitudes might make them less suited for a typical 4 year college degree than to pursue a path which places them in a community college for two years with the goal of joining an organization which will pay for the remaining two years of their education and train them in a thriving industry where their skills, talents, and passions are sorely needed. We’re hearing a lot these days about companies who can’t find the workforce with 21st century skills that they need to compete in today’s economy.

It’s something to consider.

Presented by Degree Jungle “Is College Still Worth It”

I’d also recommend that, along with the U.S. News & World college rankings, you check out the Washington Monthly’s reviews.
http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/college_guide/toc_2012.php

Happy Thanksgiving !

May your blessings outnumber your regrets.

Norman Rockwell’s “Thanksgiving”

Your Cheatin’ Heart

A few months ago, I posted a blog piece about cheating on taxes. That prompted a response from Allison Morris who sent me the infographic below created by Online Colleges in a blog piece about how cynical members of the Gen X and Gen Y generations feel about cheating and lying. They appear to think of these behaviors as necessary for basic survival. How much these attitudes are created by media exposure from television police procedurals, movies and music would be an interesting topic to pursue.

Check out the infographic below and let me know what you think.
Rise of the Cheater Infographic

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