Kids are always teaching us how to spell love

May 7th, 2017

A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away a man named George Lucas wrote a story about a western set in the future. No one believed in his story except one Hollywood studio that gave him a movie deal. George opted to take less money in exchange for something quite futuristic called licensing rights.

The rest is retail history.

Also, a long time ago in another galaxy (the East Coast), a different George named Carlin had a futuristic view of people having too much stuff.   This concept is one of the reasons the retail industry is in its current death spiral – not to be confused with the death star.

In their never ending quest for product sales, retailers lost sight of what matters more than things, and that is experiences.

About ten years ago I realized my nephews, much like my own kids, had too much stuff. I wasn’t the biggest fan of gift cards because I felt they were a lazy form of gift giving.   With their birthdays and Christmas relatively close, I stopped giving gifts in favor of an experience we call ‘cousins’ weekend’.

Our nephews would gather at our house and play games all weekend, ranging from basketball in the park, to teaching them Brooklyn classics like ‘moonies up’ to card games, board games, bowling and BBQs always ending on the Saturday night with letting them (finally) play video games. As they got older, the games changed to include an escape room, and a trampoline park.

The short-term gift was the fun they had with each other. The longer-term gift was the relationships they formed. Even after ten years, they still love this time together.

Retailers can’t package and sell these experiences, but caring families can.

After all, children spell love T-I-M-E.

Have fun!

Tina Nocera, Founder

Parental Wisdom®

 

Why Moms Don’t Actually Need Gifts

April 27th, 2017

I was listening to a podcast by Simon Sinek, whose TED Talk is the third most popular presentation of all time; he often talks about givers vs. takers.

It dawned on me that’s why mothers are universally loved – because they are unconditional givers.

As givers, they don’t want anything in return except to see the manifestation of their selfless acts reflected in their children, which can often reveal years down the line.

But they patiently wait, continue to give and model the behavior they want their children to emulate.

The ultimate gift is when the giving is passed on. It’s the 5th grader whose teacher compliments his kindness to the new kids, or the college student who puts family over partying, or the new dad who simply adores his baby.

So what does mom want for Mother’s Day?

More of these gifts, though some time alone, a bottle of wine and a spa gift card wouldn’t hurt!

Happy Mother’s Day to all the wonderful moms out there!

Tina Nocera, Founder

Parental Wisdom®

 

 

How kids backyard theme parties matter years later

March 15th, 2017

Well before videos went viral, our family was famous for birthday theme parties.

You may wonder how we got everyone to make and wear costumes, memorize scripts and perform. It was easy – – no one ate until after the show! The oddest thing is that they all had a part, which meant we actually had no audience.

In celebration of the opening of Beauty and The Beast, here are photos of our production for Noelle’s 4th birthday on Saturday, August 21st 1993 .

Unfortunately, we weren’t able to find pictures of the entire cast.  One of my favorites, was Priscilla, an amazing person always impeccably dressed, smoking a long Virginia Slim cigarette, and wearing her very high heels. She was our very own Auntie Mame.

For our production, she wore a large refrigerator box because after all, she was the wardrobe, Madame Garderobe.  Although she complained that her heels were digging into the grass, she still flawlessly delivered her line, “The master’s not so bad, once you get to know him.”

What our kids learned is family and friends play a role in our lives, just as they played a role in our backyard productions.  We needed to fill all kinds of parts, which is why our differences help enrich our lives.

Our parties mattered not only for the memories they created, but appreciation of the people that mattered.

Enjoy the show!

Tina Nocera, Founder

Parental Wisdom®

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These little wolves are all in their late 20’s now. Andrew, Ryan, Michael and Vincent.

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My brother Michael as Cogsworth, Gerard as the horse, Bobby Clinton as the cart and of course my husband Mike, wearing a rented beast costume on a 95 degree August day. I’m the only one without a role. After all, I directed!

After an amazing birthday celebration, a little girl goes to sleep in her matching sheets.

After an amazing birthday celebration, a little girl goes to sleep in her matching sheets.

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Rosie as grown up Belle and the spin around costume she made for herself and Noelle as little Belle. Quite clever!

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Kenny and Anthony play Gaston and LeFou. Kenny gets credit for the dishwashing gloves to look like his character, but loses credit for not memorizing the script.

Do we now understand you can’t multitask?

February 28th, 2017

The drama of the 89th Annual Academy Awards was not due to the actors or motion pictures being honored. The drama occurred as a result of a blunder caused by the accounting firm of PriceWaterhouseCooper. Accounting firms are not normally known for drama.

Brian Cullinan, one of the two PriceWaterhouseCoopers partners who handled the Oscar envelopes on Sunday night, was tweeting photos from backstage minutes before he handed Warren Beatty the wrong Best Picture envelope.

Multitasking caused this error. Multitasking simply doesn’t work; it just isn’t possible to do two things at once.

The most incredible part was when the accountant jumps up and says, ‘He (presenter Warren Beatty) took the wrong envelope!’ and goes running onstage.”

He took the wrong envelope? Nope. You gave him the wrong envelope.

Now, imagine all the times children need their parents attention. Parents are so often on their phones, children feel less important than the Snapchat stories parents are creating, text messages they are sending, or Facebook posts. It has become such an epidemic that a nursery school post asking parents to pay attention to their kids went viral.

What the incident at the Academy Awards demonstrated was that sometimes the effect of our inability to multitask is immediate.

What we won’t know for some time is the impact multitasking has on our children. If Cat Stevens’s lyrics hold true as written in Cat’s in the Cradle, then I’m gonna’ be like you dad, you know I’m gonna’ be like you.

Finally, how do we define irony? While mentally composing this blog post, I got on the wrong train.

 

Tina Nocera, Founder

Parental Wisdom®

The value in finding a common enemy

January 29th, 2017

To me… it appears that there have been differences of opinion and party differences, from the first establishment of government to the present day, and on the same question which now divides our own country; that these will continue through all future time; that every one takes his side in favor of the many, or of the few, according to his constitution, and the circumstances in which he is placed. – Thomas Jefferson

Action

This is a call to action to move from divisiveness to finding common ground, which can be achieved by addressing common societal enemies.

Background

A few disparate events in my life highlight the challenges we have listening to each other.

  • My six-month old grandson Matthew was ‘talking’ to me in baby babble. I had no way to understand what he was saying but nevertheless I listened because it was obvious what he had to say was quite important.
  • My daughter Noelle’s wedding was exactly one month before the Presidential election. We strongly discouraged political conversation.
  • We had a Thanksgiving rule at our house. At the dinner table, phones and politics were not allowed. It was a lovely dinner!
  • I have good friends that attended the Inauguration on January 20th, and I have good friends that attended marches on January 21st.

We are not able to communicate with each other because we have vastly differing points of view and refuse to listen to each other. We gravitate to those with the same point of view, but don’t engage in conversation with those who don’t see things the same way. With a few notable exceptions, such as Hitler and Osama bin Laden, people are rarely pure evil.

Yet when there is a crisis, such as a multi vehicle car wreck, we don’t ask about political affiliation, but immediately jump in to help. People are amazed at their strength and ability to work together.

It is that thinking that we need now to creatively solve distinct and different problems to demonstrate how we can work together by starting with things we agree on. By engaging in real conversation, you know the kind where one person is talking and the other is really listening…we can create persuasive arguments.

Here is one to get us started; there is a crisis in quality childcare for many working parents, isolation for many elders, and college costs so high that it is impossible for students to even consider college.

What if we combined the challenges of those groups, and found solutions so they could help each other?

Closing

If you’ve got a better idea how to fix this, I’m listening.

 

Tina Nocera, Founder

Parental Wisdom®

  

What are the things we really need?

December 29th, 2016

Your children need your presence more than your presents. Jesse Jackson

When answering questions on the TV show Jeopardy, you must phrase your answers in the form of a question.

Assume the category was, “Things that matter,” the answer properly phrased would be “What are the things we really need.”

Our needs are simple. Our wants are much greater. I love to subscribe to this philosophy for buying gifts for children:

  1. Something to wear
  2. Something to read
  3. Something they want
  4. Something they need

Plus one more gift; something to give. As we celebrating our grandson’s first Christmas, we bought him:

  1. A Santa outfit which you will see in the video
  2. The classic Polar Express book
  3. A toy selected by his parents
  4. Money for his college fund

We made a donation to Doctors Without Borders in his name. As he gets older and understands more, we will let him select the charity of his choosing. I personally don’t know any needy children, but if we buy them too much, we will raise greedy children.

Now that my children are adults, I realize we could have bought them less. The children won’t remember all the gifts they opened on Christmas morning, but they will remember the things they need; the time you spend with them and traditions and memories you shared on this and every holiday.

Enjoy the fun we had and memories we are building.

Have a happy and healthy New Year!

Tina Nocera, Founder

Parental Wisdom®

How sweet potatoes can keep our traditions yet change our view of the world

November 30th, 2016

We had such an amazing Thanksgiving, and loved sharing our traditions and stories with our new grandson.  The videos are below.

But here is an interesting connection related to something we love as a tradition, yet take for granted – sweet potatoes!

Four scientists have been awarded the 2016 World Food Prize for enriching sweet potatoes, which resulted in health benefits for millions of people. Please read this incredible article to see science and parent education can have transformational effects on millions of pre-school children in 118 nations.

And to us, it was simply a traditional side dish!

Enjoy the holiday season!

 

Tina Nocera, Founder

Parental Wisdom®

 

Food fixes everything, especially problems with society

October 30th, 2016

 

If you can’t feed a hundred people, then feed just one. Mother Teresa

If you’re like me, you want to disconnect from all election news.

Why do we hang our hopes on a leader for societal improvements?   Are we going to have these same conversations four years from now? Eight years from now?

What if the changes were easier than we thought, and we don’t need to wait for anyone?

I believe we can, and change simply begins with food.

Think about when you are happy?   It usually involves, family, friends and food, and connecting with each other around the table. It so happens there are grass movements (ha ha literally!) going on in the country to make sure everyone has access to healthy food.

  1. It begins with school gardens, community gardens, and rooftop gardens.
  2. It’s as simple as making sure a child has a good breakfast before school.
  3. It’s as real as a billionaire believing in chickens.

These powerful movements can grow with a single seed.  What do you say we each plant one?

Have a great week!

Tina Nocera, Founder

Parental Wisdom®

Leaders with no followers are just taking a walk

September 25th, 2016

On the eve of the presidential debate, we are reminded of the crisis in leadership that presently exists in this country.

In the case of Wells Fargo, words serving as their mission statement and values were carefully constructed yet meaningless catch phrases, “Everything we do is built on trust. It doesn’t happen with one transaction, in one day on the job or in one quarter. It’s earned relationship by relationship.”

Statements no doubt prepared by expensive consultants and approved by Wells Fargo’s leadership team.

America’s Most Valuable Bank is a title Wells Fargo will no longer hold as the revelation that thousands of their employees were creating bogus checking and credit card accounts in order to meet their strict and unrealistic quotas the only way possible – by cheating.

This fraudulent practice has been going on for years. Over two million fake accounts were created and, as a result, over 5000 people were fired. Clearly this scandal reveals cultural and management problems at Wells Fargo. There are lessons to be learned from this crazy story, and one is: The Misuse of Metrics.

With over two million accounts opened, and no further activity on those accounts, the only metric that mattered was opening accounts.  Where was the compliance monitoring?

Best said by Senator Elizabeth Warren who challenged Wells Fargo’s CEO John Stumpf at Banking Committee Hearing.

Let’s also consider Mylan’s CEO Heather Bresch who testified in front of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.  The price of the device, used in emergencies to treat severe allergic reactions, has increased more than 500% since Mylan acquired it in 2007.

Let’s model real leadership for our children.  Hopefully their generation won’t play a game of words.  We can do better; we must do better.

Tina Nocera, Founder

Parental Wisdom®

 

Boys will be boys is hardly true

August 27th, 2016

boys will be boys

 

Sports do not build character.  They reveal it.

John Wooden

The phrase ‘boys will be boys’ has become synonymous for men getting away with unsuitable behavior such as the the ever-changing story of the alleged Rio robbery of four Olympic swimmers — Ryan Lochte, Gunnar Bentz, James Feigen, and Jack Conger.

The Rio Olympics spokesman Mario Andrada, showed the IOC isn’t too worried about the severity of Lochte and friends making up a robbery story that quickly stole the nation’s attention:

I do not regret having apologized. No apologies from [Lochte] or other athletes are needed. We have to understand that these kids came here to have fun. Let’s give these kids a break. Sometimes you make decisions that you later regret. They had fun, they made a mistake, life goes on.

Unbelievable!

That was the only negative story to come out a country that had a dangerous image prior to the Olympics.  Why give them a pass, and not even require an apology?

This is not a case of boys will be boys.

But there are cases where boys should be boys, such as five-year-old Omran Daqneesh who was photographed sitting dazed and bloodied in the back of an ambulance after surviving a regime airstrike in Aleppo highlighting the desperation of the Syrian civil war.

He should not be covered head to toe with dust and disoriented.  He should be playing with other kids his age, and I have to believe that is what the term boys will be boys was originally intended to convey.

Ryan Lochte can wordsmith the event all he wants, but the rest of us have to stop making excuses and exceptions for athletes. They should transition from boys to men just like everyone else.

Have a great week!

 

Tina Nocera, Founder

Parental Wisdom®