A Letter to My Dad on Father’s Day

Dear Dad,
2loB0O1pIQN9ieovpkPWs5CUBrMYeamC5XotVKH1oxo,KUqHVUDintg3vopLPlTTd43cyTfiEkn6sA-WYJ3PXm0,OkL-uelFihkqsFhd7MUQZ5yxvzDkVImAuCNA3_dP8ek.jpgI know I don’t really say it that often, but figured with Father’s Day right around the corner, I wanted you to know how much you mean to me. From as early as I could remember, you have always been the driving force in my life who has inspired me to do what I love, perform in front of hundreds of people, push myself to the limits and never give up. I live my life by following your lead and throughout your life, you have always managed to do the things that make you happy. Whether it’s performing in a show, tap dancing, playing tennis or doing the hustle with mom, you have lived a life anyone can truly be proud of.
You’ve also been one of my biggest supporters — whether it was cheering or letting out audible sighs in the stands during a tennis match, attending all my singing performances and shows and being that voice of reason in my life who has told me not to take crap from anyone and truly share what’s on my mind. I know I’m more like mom in that I keep things bottled up until I spontaneously burst, but I do want you to know that as I’m getting older, I am getting more bold about sharing what I truly feel and it actually feels good when I give people a piece of my mind.
On the career and community front you have always been a pioneer and a leader. I still remember how you played an instrumental role in being one of the original educators to become involved in the Special Olympics back in the 1970’s. At work, you were always known as a tough cookie, but for your close friends and co-workers, you were a total mush. And at home, you managed to always land the job as President of the Neighborhood Association. Everyone in the community could always count on you. So much so, that they even have confused you with being the “Super” – calling you when the plumbing went, a window needed fixing or if they had lighting issues!
Dad, you and I have shared some incredible memories – especially when I took you to Nashville for the CMA Awards and you helped me out on the red carpet – handing bottled water to Brad Paisley and all the other country stars and even wrote a song called the Jewish Cowboy.
And speaking of your poems — they are truly legendary. I’ll never forget the poem you wrote for me on my wedding day — I have that one framed in my bedroom and am grateful that I inherited your knack for finding ways to tell a story or re-write a lyric with a clever rhyme.
Let’s not forget your fabulous gift for storytelling. You even started to write a few children’s books when the kids were little and we surprised you on a special birthday by publishing Grandpa Fix-It. Sure it may not have been a bestseller, but among the Feldman and Stollers, it’s a family favorite.
I also know that you tend to have a short fuse when things don’t go your way and honestly, that has led to some of the most memorable and comical moments in my life. Like the time you used to start our humongous Plmouth Fury with the words “Son of a Bitch.” Or the day Eric and I got caught shoplifting fishing equipment at Jamesway in Port Jervis and you smoked about three packs of cigarettes in an hour. Okay, maybe that’s a memory that should be left in the fishing pole section. But I digress.
There’s also another amazing trait that you have that was once embarrassing for me that I now use along with my husband Darin when we are unhappy with the way we are treated. I remember cringing whenever you’d complain about the service or food in a restaurant only to be amazed when the waiter or waitress gave us a free item or lowered our bill. But the best time was when we went to Italy on Perillo tours and after a friend told you to use his name because he had had an awful experience on the tour, you made sure to call Mario Perillo and explain you were concerned and he told you not to worry, they’d take good care of us. When we arrived at the airport the day of our trip, you told the woman at the check in counter, “You must be expecting us. We’re the Stollers,” and to our surprise, she said yes and upgraded us to first class!
IMG_3104.JPGDad, you know exactly how to live life. On your terms, telling people exactly what’s on your mind, all while doing what you love. You’ve been performing since you were a toddler and still do it to this day. You are 75 years old and still can run me ragged on the tennis court. You can still save us a bundle at a restaurant if a waiter trips up or the food doesn’t live up to your expectations, and you have always been in my corner throughout my childhood, my career and my life as a wife and mother.
I love you very much and want you to know that you are an amazing dad who has instilled a sense of creativity and curiosity that I plan to take with me throughout my life. For that I am grateful and wish you the very best Father’s Day.
Love always,
Beth

Is Your Kid Telephone Challenged?

teens and mobile phonesHow many arguments did you get into with your parents growing up about not monopolizing the house phone? Call waiting was the greatest invention as far as my mom was concerned. I could no longer be oblivious to the fact that someone else might be trying to contact her while I was yapping to friends about nonsense. Parents and kids just don’t have those fights anymore. The busy signal has become virtually obsolete and since anyone and everyone has their own mobile phone, there is no need to quibble about whose call is more important. And while technology has eliminated that problem, it has created one far more severe. Those smartphones are creating a generation of socially awkward misfits that only know how to express themselves with their thumbs and not their mouths. I am shocked and somewhat dismayed by the inability of most teenagers to talk on the phone. I don’t want to pat myself on the back too much, but I have actually been able to get my daughter to talk to her friends on the phone and even call potential employers for summer job opportunities. I’m still working on it with my son, but it is definitely moving in the right direction.
Emails and texts undoubtedly have a very useful and important place in social circles. But like with everything else in life, the pendulum has swung way too far. Our kids are hiding behind texts and social media tools to express themselves instead of intellectually and emotionally challenging each other through verbal communication. We all know tone and intent is lost in texts and emails. Of course one can add the annoyingly silly emoticons to help convey sentiment in the written messages, but is that what our next generation has been reduced to? I have grown tired of seeing teenagers take cover behind their phone screens. It has become way too easy to shoot your mouth off without ever saying a word. Verbally spewing hurt and stupidity is a lot more difficult to do than to write it. And the bigger problem for kids long term, is that they never develop the appropriate filters of what to say, how to say it and who to say it to. They have become accustomed to having a blank writing canvas to communicate whatever is on their minds.
I cringe when I hear about boys asking girls out on dates via text. It’s pretty safe to say the break ups usually occur that way as well. Information gathering, whether it’s for school or social events, always seems to be via text. My daughter has gotten so much better about calling her friends to relay important information and details to me about social and educational activities. In the past, the conversation with my daughter went like this; “did you find out the info for ….” and she would say “yeah”. I would ask, “what did she say?” My daughter’s response was, “oh she texted me”. I said, “uh uh, call her up and find out everything that you know I want to know.” Now we no longer argue about it, she just does it. I’m not naive enough to think that texting as the primary means of communication is just temporary and I certainly do it enough myself. But we need to make sure that our kids are equipped with the ability to talk on the phone when the situations call for it. I’m afraid most teens just aren’t and just sound like bumbling buffoons when forced to do it. So what can you do to help prepare them?
1) As a parent, refuse to communicate with your own child via text. If they need to tell you something or vice versa, force them to talk to you on the phone.
2) Have your child call a relative, grandparent for distant friend at least once per week.
3) Next time your child wants to be taken to a store for something special, make him or her call the place first to find out the hours they are open and if they have the desired item in stock.
4) If going out for a family dinner and need a reservation, have your kid call the restaurant to make it. And no, do not allow them to go on Open Table.
5) Do not allow your kids to text while they are driving as passengers in the car with you. Tell them they are allowed to communicate with their friends, but only by phone.
6) Next time a telemarketer calls your house, force your kid to answer it and talk to the person on the other line. Tell your kid that you are too busy to take the call but that you are actually interested in what the telemarketer might be offering.
7) Encourage the use of FaceTime, Skype and other forms of communication that actually require talking to and seeing the person live.
8) Have your child call someone he or she knows when the time is appropriate, to either offer congratulations for a happy occasion, or extend their condolences or sympathies for something sad or unfortunate.
9) Have your child call someone for directions. “Can’t you just use GPS? ” will most certainly come right back at you. Be strong and insist that it doesn’t work.
10) And finally, I can’t believe I would suggest this. I will deny it if anyone ever asks me if I actually recommended it. Give your kid the okay to make a prank phone call once in a while. The call should be harmless and in good fun where the only thing that was lost was a person’s time. But the prank can’t be a ring and hang up. It has to be well thought out dialogue that wants the person on the other side of the line to feel compelled to stay on the line. By the way, you probably will do just fine with the first 9 tips suggested, but since top ten lists are so big, we threw this one in here.
If you have some tricks of your own to get your kid on the phone instead of texting, by all means, do whatever it takes. We as a society need to get the gift of gab back and the only way that will ever be done is with practice.