Archive for August, 2009

If they say I never loved you…

August 31, 2009

Hills are filled with fireAs Jim Morrison sang in LA Woman:

I see your hair is burnin’

Hills are filled with fire

If they say I never loved you

You know they are a liar

In these late summer days of the locust, I find myself thinking about one of the smartest kids I ever worked with… a sweet-looking boy with an open face, aqua-marine eyes and the kind of blondish hair meant for affectionately tousling, although I doubt it had gotten much of that in his fourteen years on the planet. 

It was just a few weeks into his being a resident of the group home for which I was therapist that I got an emergency call from my staff informing me that the boy had lit his own bed on fire.

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District 9

August 30, 2009

bird totemI don’t like scary movies.  I must admit that I’m highly sensitive and despite all attempts to tell myself that, “it’s just a movie,” they have a way of grabbing me and swamping my defenses; I end up inside the movie’s world and get spit back out with nerves frayed.

My younger son loves scary movies.  In the past he tricked me into seeing I am Legend by telling me that it was about a scientist in New York City trying to cure a disease, and that it got good reviews.  All true, but he left out the fact that the good scientist was the only human in New York City and that the rest of the population was flesh-eating zombies.  Now amongst horror movie monsters, I fear zombies the most; just something about being eaten by the undead that creeps me out.  It was a rather good movie—just a little embarrassing to be more scared than my twelve-year-old.

So when my kid recently suggested that we see District 9, I was savvy enough to read the New Yorker review first, scanning for zombies.  While the review did say that the film eventually becomes something like a zombie movie, the themes and general set-up were intriguing enough (the review ends by saying that the film “suggests that sometimes the only way to become fully human is to be completely alienated.”), and so I found myself tempted back into the sci-fi horrors of the black lagoon on a hot summer’s matinee… and it ended up being one of the best movies I’ve seen in a while.

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Do I blog with an accent?

August 29, 2009

Rose and Benjamin WeissA fellow parent  shared the notion that when it comes to technology, we parents have been likened to “digital immigrants” while our children, the teens and tweens, are the “digital natives”—natural speakers of the tech language, raised on the stuff since they were little and never knowing any other world.

Suddenly, in my intrepid naiveté to learn to blog, facebook and twitter, I realized that I am finding a bonding experience with my mentally still-living (although in reality gone more than two decades) Austrian-Hungarian “Bubby” who I see gazing at the road through the narrow strip between the dashboard and the arc of the steering wheel of her Pontiac (she was big in heart, but diminutive in stature); she was probably still tickled to get around by something other than a horse.  Did she feel very modern and adventurous while looking to me like some centuries old Baba Yaga (although she was a “great beauty” she said, in her youth)? 

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Floor Time

August 28, 2009

aunt marylin's rainbowThe “spectrum,” as it relates to autism and Asperger’s (a disorder typified by poor social relatedness, repetitive behaviors and, often, extreme interest in a highly narrow range of topics—i.e. a kid who knows every species of spider, but little else), is a widely used term that I fear has failed to convey one of its most important meanings:  that all social relatedness falls along a “spectrum” ranging from Rainman at the extreme “leave me alone” side to Paris Hilton and Britney on the “never leave me alone” side.  If we put the far ends together we have a big Hollywood movie (autistic card counter, Dustin Hoffman, and slick hustler, Tom Cruise, hit Vegas); if we try to parent either one of the extremes we’re in for challenges.  And if we are parenting somewhere in the middle, we can still learn a few things from “spectrum” kids and some different ways of thinking about differences in general.

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Not drowning, waving

August 27, 2009

bucketsTina Bryson, a colleague interested in mindfulness, the brain and parenting writes:

“When your child says ‘I can’t make this Lego snap on’ with their teeth clenched, hands in fists, in an intense and loud tone of voice, and brows furrowed, it clearly communicates frustration and probably (ital. mine) a plea for help. If the same words are said in a deflated quiet tone of voice, head hanging, it clearly communicates discouragement and perhaps even the message of “I can’t do anything.”

Read her useful post on cultivating awareness of right-brain, non-verbal communication (, but I wanted to take up the topic of when to intervene (and how), and when to hold back and let a child figure things out for herself—“helping” by accurately understanding, reflecting and facilitating learning.

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What do troubled kids have to do with our kids?

August 26, 2009

skateboardersYesterday’s New York Times featured a prominent article on abuses in the youth detention facilities in New York State, but seemed relevant to concerns kids face in the “system” in California, as well as a number of other states. 

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From jealousy to healthy ambition

August 25, 2009

Candy PhotoUnderstanding the differences between jealousy and envy can help us facilitate our childrens’ development while at the same time furthering our own.  While none of us like to feel jealous, it is a very human feeling and it boils down to not wanting someone else to have what they have.

Jealousy may be natural, but it is developmentally “younger” than is envy, which could be understood as wanting something that someone else has, while not particularly wishing the other to lose what they have.  Envy is less toxic or destructive than jealousy, as it doesn’t wish for the other not to have, just for ourselves to also have.  

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Cooking, blogging, narcissism and parenting

August 24, 2009

P1020178I recently saw “Julie & Julia” and I found I had a lot of ways to relate to it.  Firstly, cooking is a bonding experience in my family; my kids love to watch cooking shows ranging from the cruelty of “Hell’s Kitchen” to the kitsch of “Iron Chef.”  And we all probably reveal much about ourselves as we debate whether Bobby Flay is getting nicer, not nicer or just pretending to be nicer…

In “Julie and Julia” I related to Julia Child through aspirational fantasy, at least as far as a love for Paris and a wish to be as emotionally brave and intrepid as she was.  I’ve also been told I bear a passing resemblance to Stanley Tucci, which gives me a great middle-age-balding-could-be-sexy feeling and helped me fantasize that I too could one day be unfailingly kind, enthusiastic and supportive like Julia’s husband (as my wife, Andy, evokes from me every bit as much pedal-to-the-metal adoration as far as I’m concerned, but my performance is piss-poor compared to Monsieur Tucci).  But then I’ve also been told that I bear more than passing resemblance to a goat.

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Tadasana, or standing mindfully for what we believe

August 23, 2009

feetPlease stand up, really, literally.  Take off your shoes and socks and feel the ground with your feet.  Let’s not just sit here, let’s at least stand here.  Root down with the four corners of your feet.  Bring your knees in line with your ankles.  Draw your tailbone subtly down and your pubic bone up; melt your shoulder blades back and down, away from your ears.  Feel your crown lifting to the sky, and at the same time your feet rooting more deeply down.

Breathe in all the way to your belly, breathing in love—and breathe out worry, emptying everything.  Dedicate today to loving who you are and loving what you  have.  Consciously place yourself in the service of whatever’s on your horizon for today.  Consider doing this in the service of your child, or children, and/or anyone else you love—we are all somebody’s children.  We are all, ALL our children.  This will make you a better parent.  This will help you have GFTL (good feelings that last).

Namaste, Bruce

We’ve Known Rivers… and they’ve told us how to parent

August 22, 2009

a river runs through itThe following poem is so full of spirit and wisdom that simply reading it can help us stay connected to our deepest and best Selves as parents.





I’ve known rivers:

I’ve known rivers ancient as the world and older than the

flow of human blood in human veins.

My soul has grown deep like the rivers.

I bathed in the Euphrates when dawns were young.

I danced in the Nile when I was old

I built my hut near the Congo and it lulled me to sleep.

I looked upon the Nile and raised the pyramids above it.

I heard the singing of the Mississippi when Abe Lincoln

went down to New Orleans, and I’ve seen its muddy

bosom turn all golden in the sunset.

I’ve known rivers:

Ancient, dusky rivers.

My soul has grown deep like the rivers.


-Langston Hughes, The Negro Speaks of Rivers 1926


So, let’s dedicate today to the one river that flows eternally through the veins of being and non-being, briefly through each human life, flowing from parents to children, and flowing upwards from children to parents.

Namaste, Bruce