lisamedway

“The Bold, Bad, Beautiful & Boring”

In Uncategorized on June 6, 2017 at 11:01 pm

 

I’m not proud of what I’ve done. Okay, I’m ashamed. And yes, I feel a little dirty. But it’s over. I’m done. I gave it up and I stand before your tonight to admit that for over 29 years I was addicted to THE BOLD & THE BEAUTIFUL. In case you don’t know, it’s a half-hour soap opera on CBS that debuted in 1987. Maybe I started watching it because it was on before THE GUIDING LIGHT – a soap that my grandma, my sister and I watched. It was my grandma’s “Story.”

It didn’t matter what she was doing or where she was – Grammy would look at the clock and say, “Oy! I gotta go! My Story’s on!” She, my sister and I lived in three different cities and had conference calls about what was happening on GUIDING LIGHT. My mother thought we were nuts – but she was addicted to MATLOCK & MANNIX & MIAMI VICE (she was in love with Don Johnson). She’s always been judge-y.

THE BOLD AND THE BEAUTIFUL. From the same people who created THE YOUNG AND THE RESTLESS. But I never watched that. THE BOLD AND THE BEAUTIFUL. Maybe it was the alliteration? Maybe it was the promise that the characters would be bold and beautiful? Maybe because it takes place in L.A. I’ve been to every exterior shot on the show.

It was a curiosity that turned into a guilty pleasure and morphed into a habit. 12:30 – a perfect timeslot for Lunchtime T.V. It wasn’t a noisy, embarrassing game show, or gruesome breaking news or cringe-y porn – just a little, harmless, soft-core porn-bon bon of afternoon delight.

I’m not the only one who was lured into a decades-long addiction. Millions of stupid people still watch the show – it’s a sensation all-over the world. Only one out of a handful of soaps that’s still on the air. THE GUIDING LIGHT was extinguished 8 years ago. “The BOLD & THE BEAUTIFUL” must be doing something right, right?

Wrong! It’s horrible. It makes no sense. In my defense – there were years that I didn’t watch it (at least when it aired) – because I was at work. But once VCRs were invented – I taped it. Yes I did! I’d watch it after the kids went to bed, filled with self-loathing. Filled. To. The. Brim. With self-hate.

The story-lines are ridiculous; the writing is terrible – It has to be because it’s translated into like 40 different languages. The dialogue has to be super-simple so when the actors open their mouths – when they’re not making-out, it can be dubbed.

It’s on the air in Dubai, Latvia, Sri Lanka, Kenya, France, Iran, Indonesia, Poland. It’s a global phenom. It has out-lasted presidents, wars, pop-stars, marriages, countries, prison sentences and hundreds of prime time shows that bit the dust after two episodes.

For thirty years this show has been a bigger weekday Valentine to Los Angeles than LaLaLand will ever be.

Technically, due to the absurd number of commercials, a half-hour episode is never longer than 19 minutes and 4 seconds. But the aerial shots of LA before the show, during the show, after the commercials – shots of Downtown, Beverly Hills, The Griffith Observatory, Malibu – gobble-up about 5 minutes of air-time reducing the running time to about 13 ½ minutes per episode.

It’s on five days a week, pre-empted only by basketball, elections and car chases. That adds-up to approximately 4,900 minutes watching this stupid soap; time I could have done something, anything – or nothing better with my time.

I could have taken a nap. Read a book. Written a book. Cleaned my house. Cleaned somebody else’s house. Taken a shower. Taken a walk. Meditated. Anything but watching that show would have left me with higher self-esteem.

I knew by the Summer of 2016, that if I were still enmeshed in the little big 2-D lives of Brooke and Katie, Eric and Bill, Ridge and Steffy, Liam and Wyatt and  comic relief Pam  and her  signature “lemon bars”  – in 2017 (AKA today), when the series would celebrate its 30-year anniversary, I would be The Biggest Loser.

But I am happy to say that I broke-up with the show. It’s over. I won’t go back. Even though it’s tempting to find-out who Brooke Logan Forrester, Forrester, Forrester, Forrester might marry next. It would be her 8th, 9th or 10th marriage.

“Brooke Logan” is a poor girl from “The Valley.” In 1987 the San Fernando Valley was like it was a trailer park in Barstow. Brooke is the eldest daughter of a single mom – a caterer – majoring in chemistry. Her dad abandoned his wife and four kids.

Brooke’s one of two characters in the almost 30 years of the series who went to college. One night, in 1987, Brooke’s life changes forever when she takes a break from studying to become a bio-chemist to help her mom and be a server at a fancy, formal party at the Bel Air mansion of The Forresters where she meets “Ridge” the handsome, privileged playboy son and heir to the Forrester Creations empire – a world-renowned fashion house. It’s a 20th century Cinderella story that has survived the turn of the century.

Oh! – And in the first episode of the series – Brooke’s been raped on her way home from school and makes her little sister, Katie, vow to keep it a secret. Forever.

Even though she looks like a Victoria Secrets model, Brooke becomes a brilliant chemist. She’s a Central Casting prom queen blonde who’s treated like an angelic, virginal goddess of goodness by everyone except Ridge’s domineering, manipulative mother, Stephanie, the Forrester matriarch who calls Brooke “The Slut from the Valley.” Stephanie says this around 600,000 times before the actress who plays Stephanie quits the show.

Stephanie was furious that slutty Brooke and dreamy Ridge fell in love, but Ridge is her favorite child – which is no secret to her other three children. Brooke and Ridge get married for the first of many times and all they do is make love in an oversized twin bed in a tiny bedroom filled with enough candles to light-up the Grand Canyon; nearly-naked, a soundtrack of sultry saxophone music and tight shots of their lips, his abs and her yoga-toned legs.

The slow-beating heart of the show is Stephanie’s murderous hate for Brooke and Brooke accidentally – due to FATE: sleeping with, marrying, and being impregnated by ALL of the Forrester men – along with a few randoms. She marries Ridge 3 or 4 or 5 times. They have a son. Marries Ridge’s father, Eric, Stephanie’s husband, has 2 kids with him, seduces her daughter’s husband, has a daughter by him. And after all these births, continues, three decades later, to have a stomach as flat as a desert.

She marries Ridge’s brother. No kids. Has sex with Ridge’s son from his marriage to Taylor, whom Stephanie adores and is the only other college graduate – a brunette psychiatrist. She may have been written off the show because that beautiful actress had so much plastic surgery, she looked like her face was melting and her lips were going to explode if they were touched.

But although Ridge and Taylor have three kids, Ridge can’t keep it in his pants and is always swimming up-stream to Brooke. Why she is irresistible to men is never explained, but the spell Brooke casts upon the Forrester men is something out of a Grimm fairy tale.

Brooke is Ridge’s destiny – except when she’s whoring around. But it’s all because Brooke is a romantic with a heart as enormous as the Forrester’s net worth. Ridge has a few short-term marriages when he and Brooke are on the skids.

It’s all so inane – it could be high camp –  Daytime DYNASTY but it’s so hypnotically repetitive that watching it day after day, month after month, year after year, can actually lower your I.Q. It did mine.

They never use the word “sex” – maybe it’s a CBS Standards & Practices legality that an actress can wear a thong and a bra or maybe just a bed sheet, while the camera’s fixed on her cleavage or a butt cheek, however the word “sex” is not allowed to be spoken during lunch.

Instead they say, “Cross the Line.” ALL the time. As in, “I swear! It was just a kiss! We didn’t cross the line!” Or, “Please believe me, Ridge, Bill and I never crossed the line.” Or, “Tell me the truth! Did you and Brooke cross the line?” “I would never lie to you, Ridge, so yes… we crossed the line.”

When a character goes away to work “in “International” it means they’re working out of a  Forrester office in Milan or Paris. It’s handy when the actor is on vacation to send them “to international.” In the case of the Prince character, “Ridge” – the actor had been on the series for 25-plus years. In the storyline (that lasted almost a year) Ridge is furious when Brooke “crosses the line” with someone. This happens all the time because Brooke always follows her heart. She can’t help it. It’s because “her heart is so big.”

“It was an accident, Ridge! Please! Don’t leave L.A. and go to International! We can work this out! You’re my Destiny! Ridge? Ridge! Come back, Ridge! O… Ridge……”

Ridge returns to Los Angeles (from “International”) a year later and he’s a new Ridge. A different actor is now playing the lead role after two-and-a-half decades and everyone calls him Ridge, is thrilled that Ridge has returned from Paris, and in the flashbacks of all his previous weddings and “crossing the line” scenes – they either shoot around the original, old Ridge, or digitally remove his head. OMG!!!

All the women on the show want to be the Forrester Matriarch now that Stephanie’s dead (the actress quit the show), and all the men want to be the CEO of Forrester Creations. You rarely see a dress or a runway show or the Forrester Boutique on Rodeo Drive. Once in a blue moon you get to see a sketch of an evening gown that looks like a drawing on a Simplicity Pattern. Everyone “Ooohs & Ahhhs” over the sketch like it was the Shroud of Turin.

It’s just yak, yak, yak – characters re-hashing what happened 2 days ago for 2, 3 weeks. There’s a wedding every month. A food fight 3 times a year, a fashion show every 9 months, a plane crash, car crash or motorcycle crash once a year, a pregnancy twice a year, a miscarriage once a year, and in-between a LOT of Martinis and Wine and Crossing the Line.

The most egregious omission is that it’s about the fashion industry and it takes place in Los Angeles and there is only one gay character on the show: a neutered British fashion journalist who shows-up in an episode three or four times a year.

Saint Brooke – touted as being BEST MOM EVER – sends “RJ” (Ridge Junior) her 7 year-old son off to boarding school in Ojai. Why? “Because RJ wanted to go to boarding school.” Are you f-ing kidding me? So now it’s Christmas and the entire Forrester family’s together but no RJ. Why? Because RJ “wanted to stay at school over the holidays.” Really? Sooooo low-budge!

The show created headlines right before I went to BOLD AND THE BEAUTIFUL Rehab last year when a character turned-up as transgendered. Maya, a beautiful girl with a mysterious backstory falls in love with Rick Forrester and although she’s had a rough life in Chicago, ran away from home, has served time in prison, and lived on the streets – Rick falls for her — hard. He’s in love. Maya becomes the lead Forrester model and is soon engaged to Rick: a Forrester!

Before the wedding her much-younger sister Nicole shows-up. There’s tension. Bad blood. A secret. Maya doesn’t want her there. Turns-out Nicole knows Maya’s secret and threatens Maya that if Maya doesn’t tell Rick THE TRUTH before the wedding – she will. Maya begs, protests, pleads, “Please! Nicole! Don’t! Rick can NEVER know my secret. My Life is a fairy tale. He’ll never forgive me – I’ll be out on the street again – or worse. RICK. CAN. NEVER. KNOW. MY. SECRET! Nooooooo!!!!”

Nicole is ready to implode. “You HAVE to tell Rick. Be honest. Tell him who you really are, Maya. Tell him you’re NOT “Maya” my sister – you’re my brother, MYRON!”

Okay. Stick a fork in me: I was DONE. As shocked as Rick was when he discovered that Maya was transgendered – even though they had CROSSED THE LINE in many, many episodes – he was STILL shocked. AND he married her. But redemption in cheap in Daytime. He also killed Steffy’s twin sister while driving drunk. After a long time in Paris, in “International” Rick returned to L.A. a new and improved man proving that a couple of years in Paris is the magic cure to all character flaws and expired contracts.

So why did I kick the habit? Why did I walk-away after an almost three-decade investment? My son walked-in on me watching it and casually, with zero judgment said, “watchu watching.” I was ashamed – like he’d walked-in on me watching THE REAL HOUSEWIVES OF BEVERLY HILLS – which isn’t that different than THE BOLD AND THE BEAUTIFUL.

As he settled-in to watch with me he started asking questions like “is she sleeping with him?” – Yes. And “is she the evil one?” – Yes. And why is she hiding the wine bottle? IS she a drunk?” – Yes. And as we watched and bonded and I explained each dumb character’s backstory I felt worse and worse and worse.

I knew everything about every character. It was sad. “Who’s that?” – her? That’s Brooke. “Mom your nail polish is the same color as Brooke’s!” And I look at my nails and he was right. Brooke, THE SLUT FROM THE VALLEY and I were wearing the same color nail polish. And that was all it took for me to quit. Cold Turkey.

Since I’ve freed-up those 18 ½ minutes a day, Monday- Friday, I feel like a new woman. I get out into the day, walk in the sunshine. I never wear red nail polish – the color Brooke Logan Forrester Forrester Forrester Forrester Forrester was wearing the day my son busted me. And who knows – I might start dating again – I may be ready to meet someone and “cross-the-line.” I may not be beautiful, but goddammit – I AM BOLD!

 

“The Height of Flashin'”

In Uncategorized on October 15, 2016 at 8:02 pm

It starts with a WHOOSH like an unseasonal arctic wind. You grab that ratty cardigan that’s always within reach. You can’t wiggle into it quick enough. It’s eighty-five degrees, but you’re shivering. Your heart sinks, your smile turns upside down. You know what’s coming. O, the dread. Before your arm is in the second sleeve your body begins to turn into your own private rainforest. You are Jeff Goldblum in THE FLY. You tremble. And…it’s here! Ice turns to fire. Is it malaria? The tsunami of sweat starts at the top of your head. Gravity drags rivulets of perspiration through your scalp and down your forehead. Your face turns from a semi-life-like flesh-tone to CGI pink neon. Wetness drips down your face. Splat. That book you were reading looks like it fell it the toilet. Lucky you learned that waterproof mascara keeps you from looking like a cheap hooker after a sixteen-hour shift.

There’s a flash flood in your cleavage and puddles in your armpits. Is it dengue fever? Scarlet fever? Yellow fever? You don’t have a fever. You’re not dying. You’re not even sick. You’re having a hot flash. You rip tissues out of the box: one, two, three, four, five, six. Dab, dab, dab, blot, blot, blot; dab, blot dab, blot. You’re moist. You’re a mess. You blame it on the weather. On the halogen lights. On the broken thermostat. But it’s you that’s broken. YOU. And that flash is called a flash because it’s gone as fast as it came. Like a stealth graffiti artist it sneaks in, tags you with a gallon of sweat, then disappears. But it will be back. O, yes. It WILL be back.

You will have approximately fifteen to fifty more hot flashes in the next twenty-four hours and for the next fifteen years. You will donate your collection of gorgeous wool sweaters to GOODWILL. You will never wear wool again. And no turtlenecks until you’re at least seventy years old. Cheer up, Dearie. It could be worse: you could have 5,000 hot flashes a day for the next 1,000 years. I’m being silly. This hormone hell won’t last forever it will only seem like eternity.

I’m an adult female woman person. I have three children and pets and a job. I have a mortgage and pay taxes and still get my period every month along with the cable bill, electric bill, gas bill and phone bill. I have insurance for health, cars, property and my life. I know how to drive an SUV and use a computer. Now I’m crying for no reason! And I have pimples! I haven’t had a pimple since the 80s. And what the hell is that? A pine needle is sticking out of my chin. It’s… it’s… a hair! WTF????

Calm down. Take a breath. It’s not menopause. You’re only forty-three. It’s peri-menopause. Shut up. Just shut up! You’re not done. You can still get pregnant. It’s a fact. So what if your oldest child is leaving for college? Google, Google, research, research. You will take Black Cohosh. Done. Phew. Homeopathic is the way to go. No chemicals. Pharmaceuticals are poison. Relief is a bottle of Black Cohosh away. Sweats-Be-Gone! A month later, Black Cohosh: go fuck yourself. Black Cohosh is like a capsule full of nutmeg. Supplement scam. You’re Old Faithful. Why is it so humid? There’s zero humidity. It’s you. You cry at ATM machines. You yell at telemarketers. Your SPANX feel like a haz-mat suit. You walk-around with a fistful of Kleenex. Dabbing, always dabbing. You look crazy. You use that Flamenco fan you bought in Madrid. Ole. Fan, fan, fan. You’re getting carpal tunnel from fanning. You’re a peri-menopausal Willy Water Bug.

Tomatoes! You read an article that swears that fresh tomatoes stop hot flashes. Fat red tomatoes! Eat them. Eat a dozen a day. You hate tomatoes. And you’re flashing and growing a beard. Pluck. Pluck. Pluck. What’s with the fucking hair on your chinny-chin-chin? And the zits? You’re using Clearasil again for the first time since tenth grade. Pluck. Pluck. Pluck. Weep, sweat, pluck, dab, blot, fan. Fuck. Fuck. Fuck.

You are a greasy, sweaty, steamy mess. Your hair is no longer a ‘do. It no longer has a style. You pull it back, up and high in an industrial clamp – you’re ready for the next Category five hurricane that’s headed for your head. You wear cotton T-shirts under everything and wear nothing when you go to bed. You wonder if they still make dress shields. Your grandma used to use dress shields. SON-OF-A-BITCH MAKE IT STOP!

Every morning your sheets are damp. You haven’t peed in bed. You know this for a fact because you haven’t slept. You flashed the night away, naked. You’re exhausted. You’re cranky. You wish you’d been born a boy. You give-up coffee, red wine, Indian food. This Equatorial rollercoaster of blood, sweat, tears, whiskers and pimples is the cruelest hoax Mother Nature has ever played. When you cry, it’s like your eyeballs are having their own mini-sub-hot flashes.

The doctor! You have a doctor! God bless your fabulous, darling doctor. She is a genius. She went to medical school and became a doctor. She will fix this (minus the chin hairs; laser hair removal will fix that. And the pimples; a dermatologist will fix that).

Dr. Darling knows your misery. She has a chart full of misery with your name on it. She prescribes a little patch that looks like a tiny square of Scotch tape. Your insurance doesn’t cover it. Of course it doesn’t. You don’t care. It’s a cure! You’ll sell a kidney for a cure. It’s called The Vivelle Dot! How great is that? Even its name is adorable – it should be the fourth Power Puff Girl. Sorry horrible hormones, you nasty bastards. You let me down and I am replacing you with The Vivelle Dot.

Alas, still no wool sweaters, no turtlenecks (maybe when I’m seventy?), no silk shirts or scarves – it’s cotton, cotton, cotton my life is all about cotton. The touch, the feel – it’s the fabric of my life until this nightmare is over. The Vivelle Dot works! It’s a miracle! Thank you, darling doctor. Thank you, V.D. (that’s its nickname)!

It has been a year. I’m occasionally schvitzy and my hair, when I wear it down, feels like a Navajo blanket – but it’s great in the winter, I don’t need a hat. And it’s like wearing a pashmina when a room is a balmy 46 degrees. What a relief! No more unwanted facial hair (which seems redundant when you’re a woman because other than eyebrows isn’t all facial hair “unwanted?”). My skin is glowing and pimple (and for now, wrinkle) free.

These are happy days. My fabulous forties. I put the Flamenco fan away. It’s a souvenir, again, not a necessity. I won’t chance it and wear SPANX. Belly fat: come to Mama. Most of the time I sweat when it’s appropriate. On my terms. I glisten, instead of looking like a hairy, zitty, blubbering flood victim. And I could still, if I wanted to, get pregnant. I guess. It’s not too late. Besides, this is only peri-menopause. This is just the coming attraction, the teaser, the appetizer. I must prepare for the real deal; the main course. The full-length feature. Sometimes it’s hard to be a woman. Like all the time.

“How To Grow A Child”

In Uncategorized on June 3, 2014 at 3:53 am

O My God. My children are 36, 38 and 40 and they’re still speaking to me. It’s a miracle.  I used to dream that it would be like this, but how often do dreams come true?

Where did I go right?  Being a parent got easier when I laughed more and demanded perfection less. Raising children is like crossing the street: Stop, Look and Listen. Parents get a do-over every day. Tomorrow is filled with chances to be more patient, more present, and more creative than you were today.

Our kids are our best teachers and our biggest fans. They want us to succeed. They don’t want loser parents. They need to feel like they’re in the hands of an expert. They’re rooting for us.

They don’t need to live in a big house or a fancy house but they deserve to live in a clean home. They need healthy food and decent clothes. You’ll never run out of toilet paper, paper, pencils, batteries and food. They have to go to museums, get exercise, make friends, read books and be loved by you, forever. You can give your kids too much stuff, too much candy, too many parties, presents and promises, but you can never give a child too much love.

“No” is the most important word in the English language. “No” is the parent secret handshake. A child needs to learn that “No” means “No.” If they don’t learn it when they’re little, they will grow-up and go to prison.  “No.” Say it firmly, lovingly and once. Or say, “I don’t think so.” “Not-so-much.” “What’s Plan B?” “Not gonna happen.” “In your dreams.” “That’s a joke, right?” “Maybe next time.” “Who do you think I am? – Grandma?” The great thing is that after they grow-up you get to say “Yes” to everything.

Our children are not ours to keep. If you’re lucky like me – you still have a front row seat, after forty years, to watch them navigate the world, have professions and make a living and a life for themselves. And you can exhale because you did it! You kept them alive and thriving for all these years. You taught them how to eat with a fork, you potty trained them (eventually) and put them through school, and taught them how to drive and play the piano and draw and paint and do laundry and respect women and wear natural fibers and cook! You raised good men who are funny and smart and loving and kind and tall, who buy you presents and call to say “hi” and ask how you’re feeling and tell you about their day and crack you up.

There are a million books on parenting. There are thousands of experts. But there is no instruction manual on how to raise your children.  Today, as a M.O.M. (Mom of Men) I continue to evolve. My sons are my family jewels. When I think I could not love them more, I do. And when I think I could not be more proud of them, I am.

Here are my Top 10 Parenting Tips.

1. You’re Their Mom, Not Their Friend

I wanted to be a mother.  I never wanted to be friends with a baby.  I had my own friends.  What did we have in common besides DNA, a bunch of relatives and the same last name?  There’s a difference between  “friend” and “friendly” and the minute your child suspects that you need to be the cool, popular parent – you are Dead Mom Walking.  They can smell your fear and will use it against you. Accept your authority. Embrace it.  A family is a benign dictatorship.  A self-sacrificing Madonna Martyr Mother inspires guilt, not independence.  Children need to feel safe – in your uterus, in your car, in their lives. They need to know that you are their Safe Place; that they can count on you – no matter what.  Act your age, dress your age, be authentic. Earn respect by respecting yourself and your children.  You’re the grown-up. You’re driving the bus. You’re large and in charge.

2.  Just Listen

Be an active listener.  Listening is the most powerful skill in any relationship. My children taught me the difference between being a Sounding Board vs. a Suggestion Box. “Just listen.”  It’s simple to say and hard to do.  It’s difficult to resist the urge to give advice.  Listen. Turn-off your freakin’ phone. Ten minutes of quality communication is better than an hour cluttered with interruptions.  Give your child the gift of your full attention.  You will teach him to communicate and problem-solve by allowing him to express himself.  Nothing is more important than what your child is telling you. Texting, cellphones, e-mails, smoke signals, sky writing – nothing compares to focused listening and be heard is an act of Love.

3.  You’re Their Role Super Model

Your actions speak louder than your words. How you act and what you do set an example for your kids. They are little human sponges.  Like a baby chimp, your child will mimic you – good behavior and bad. Pick “good.”  If you’re going to go to all the trouble to give them Life, why not give them one more gift: a happy parent.  They will face enough stress – don’t add to it by making them worry about you. Children of manipulative, insecure, emotionally insatiable parents become mistrustful, neurotic adults.  A mother who doesn’t love and take care herself can’t love or take care of her child. The way you treat yourself and other people is the model you show your children.  Feed your family food as well as fun, culture, love, time and attention.

4.  Calm Down

A calm, confident and happy mother has calm, confident and happy children. Excluding colic, exhaustion or a fever, cranky babies usually have nervous mothers.  Kids are psychic.  They have Babydar.  They were anatomically connected to you for nine months, or in the case of mine

, 9 ½.  Decades after the cord is cut, they remain connected to you, intuitively.  We’ve all watched the powerless parent begging their terrible two-year-old to “Stop that this minute!”  When you want your child to be still, be still.  If you want your child to be a screamer, scream.  Rational children have sane parents who know how to behave.  19th century writer, Josiah Gilbert Holland, said: “Calmness is the Cradle of Power.” Rock your baby’s cradle, serenely. Chill out.  Be rational and reasonable.  Children wouldn’t be children if they didn’t make a mess, spill, act-out, break stuff.  I’ve used the Lamaze relaxation breathing technique more since they were born, than I did during labor and delivery. Give yourself a break. Relax.

5.  Home Sweet (Smelling) Home

Create a warm, comfortable home.  You are the (house)keeper of the castle. Make your home the happiest place on earth. Don’t be a slob and live like a pig. Your home is a metaphor. The way you take care of it reflects the way you take care of yourself and your family. Your cooking, laundry, bathroom, pets and yard can make or break your home’s appeal. You could live in a mansion, apartment or an Airstream trailer. Just remember to clean the litter box. Change the paper in the bottom of the birdcage. Scoop the poop.  A cozy condo can be a comfortable, uncluttered cocoon. And never underestimate the power of The Nose.  Aromatic sense memories like cookies, flowers and laundry fresh from the dryer, or sewage, mildew and mold – are etched in the olfactory cortex, forever.   Make your house the place your children want to live, spend time in and bring their friends.

6.  Your Home is a Gallery

Display your child’s art like it’s museum quality – because it is.  Frame it. Hang it.  Show it.  Beautifully. Every finger painting doesn’t have to be stuck on the door of the ‘fridge, under a magnet, but once in a while, your child will create something breathtaking.  You will be proud to show their work.  Out of all your pricey art and fancy designer stuff, your ChildArt will be the most meaningful and will get the biggest compliments.  What it does for your gifted child’s confidence is priceless.

7.  In You They Trust

“In Mom We Trust.”  Earn their trust by trusting them.  Earn their respect by respecting them.  To every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. That basic principle of physics is the basic law of parenting.  To win your approval, your children will validate your opinion of them – good or bad.  Don’t be a snoop.  Butt OUT. Respect their privacy; don’t betray their trust.  Be grateful when they confide in you.  Worry is an empty gesture; an unproductive, ego-driven pastime.  Worry, like money and stuff, is not a substitute for Love and Trust.  A parent who is constantly worrying about everything is a cliché.  Worry erodes a child’s self-worth.  Worry diminishes, trust empowers.

8.  Your Children Are the Funniest People You’ll Ever Meet

Your kids are hilarious because all kids are hilarious.  Laugh with them, not at them.  Nobody you will ever meet will be as entertaining as your children are to you. There’s a high probability that people, who aren’t you, will not share your opinion of your children. When your child becomes and Rhodes Scholar or wins a MacArthur Genius Grant, the world will be notified of the fact that your child is a genius. Until then, keep your opinion to yourself.

Nothing is more validating than the kick your child gets out of making you laugh.  It’s meaningful because 1. You’re Listening.  2. You’re connecting through laughter 3. You’re giving praise. Keep a journal of their best quips, dialogue and escapades.  When he’s 25 years old that journal will mean more than the Atari you got him on his 9th birthday. When your kid can laugh at himself, he will be able to appreciate the absurdity of the world.  This isn’t something they’ll learn in school. A sense of humor is the best gift you can give your kids – besides yourself.

9.  Your Children Are the Most Fascinating People You’ll Ever Meet

They’re complex, talented and curious – because they’re yours.  They are smarter than you.  It’s a fact.  Every generation out-smarts the one before.  Be interested in what they do, what they think and what they say.  They are not your mini-me-clones.  Your children expand your universe in ways that didn’t exist when you were their age; when t.v. was in Black & White. When phones were rotary and had cords and fast food was a Swanson’s t.v. dinner and we watched “The Jetsons” to see what the future would be like. These are the iMac, iPhone, iPod, iPad, iiiiiiiKids. The few, old fashioned things we’ve mastered are obsolete and quaint to them.  Be a good sport.  Celebrate their intelligence.  They will leave you in the iDust before they’re in double-digits.

10.  Your Child is Like a Snowflake

Each child is unique. Even twins, triplets, octuplets. You’ve got to customize your parenting style for each one.  You gave them different names for a reason. Acknowledge their individuality. They’re different in a million ways: age, birth order, looks, gender, talent, temperament, IQ, EQ, hobbies, dreams, attention span, favorite color, music, movies, taste buds.  One hates tuna, but loves sardines, another wants cheesecake, not carrot cake, but everybody (but me) loves lamb chops.  They need different lunch boxes, toys, clothes, and terms of endearment. Make each one feel special. Respect their individuality. It’s a family, not a cult. Speak their language and never, ever forget to say “I love you” no matter how old they are. And they will grow-up, they always do — if you’re lucky, like me.