Why Disney is Magical for Tweens

IMG_1378

Last week I spent 4 days at Walt Disney World as a guest of Disney at their Disney Social Media Moms Celebration.  The event is an annual conference of sorts where Disney invites mom and dad bloggers from across the country to learn, get inspired and take part in a truly unique Disney experience.  Our families are invited along too – but they don’t attend the real conference part of the schedule, just the straight up park-filled fun.

This was my first time at the Disney Social Media Moms Celebration, and I have written before about how I grew up with Disney, and how totally dorky I can be about the Walt Disney World experience.  I never out grew it.  But, seeing Disney Parks through my kids’ eyes is a totally different experience.  While everyone talks about the their little ones seeing a princess for the first time, or running up and giving Mickey and Minnie a big hug, I think there is something equally magical that comes over the older kids too.

My daughters are 11.  They are now firmly in the tween space –  that awkwardly wonderful time when they are on the cusp of real emotional and physical change, but still wide-eyed and happy to be with me.  They can be moody, they can be super sweet, they can be ridiculously mature and then do something so bizarrely immature that I wonder how they make it through the day in one piece.  But, something wonderful happens at Disney – they move pretty squarely into that kid space – yet still have the stamina of an older kid.  They regress in the best way, holding on to their childhood with both hands.  Equally happy to see Minnie Mouse now as when they were 4.

 

And they are equally excited to share the whole Disney experience with me as when they were little…

And the regression isn’t only for tweens and teens.  Disney is the only place where your entire family can wear matching shirts, sparkly ears or full-out princess costumes and no one cares.  In fact, it’s encouraged.

I’m glad my daughters got my Disney gene, and now that Star Wars has really, truly been brought into the Disney family, my husband can get on board too.

I’ll be writing more about the Disney Social Media Moms Celebration, but in the meantime I leave you with this picture:

IMG_1376These are Disney cast members that searched high and low to try to retrieve my daughter’s birthday button that had fallen down a grate.  They couldn’t get it out,  they disappeared for about 20 minutes, and showed up with a brand new one – I have no idea from where since we were in a closed off area of Hollywood Studios, but they did.   Now that’s some serious Disney magic.

It’s Testing Time in NYC!

I found this card in my 5th Grade daughter’s backpack yesterday.  It’s a good luck card from her kindergarten book buddy wishing her well on the New York State standardized tests – all 6 days of them.  It’s so sweet, but also so sad to me that even the kindergarteners know that testing is happening and feel the stress in the school.

good luck card

 

Lean In, Lean Out: Sheryl Sandberg and Doing the Feminist Hokey Pokey

Lean In book cover

Last week I ordered Sheryl Sandberg‘s book, Lean In.  It wasn’t something I initially thought I would read since my reading time is limited and I really hate to waste it on these kinds of self-helpy memoir books.  But, after two weeks of endless posts, articles, news segments and Facebook updates from people I respected – and some I didn’t – I felt like I couldn’t really participate in a conversation about the Lean In debate without having read the book.

Though that doesn’t seem to have stopped most people.

And now, after reading about half of the book, it has become very clear that most people are taking sides and reposting articles they “agree” with even though they have no clue what is actually in the book.

First, I have only read half the book because I stopped.  I was bored.  Really, really bored.  If you have been paying attention to women’s issues, work/life balance, sexism, gender issues in education, took a women’s history class – anything! – then you will already know the issues laid out in Lean In.  And guess what, despite all the criticism being levied at Sheryl Sandberg for being elitist, having help, etc – she mentions all of it, almost apologizes for it – over and over again.  I don’t understand the anger about this.  She is the COO of one of the most successful technology companies of our time – she has help!  She has a husband who sees himself as a 50/50 partner.  SHOCKER.

And yes she went to Harvard.  Was she a legacy whose father bought her way in?  No, that would be true of some of our past U.S. Presidents, but she got in on merit.  She had a mentor – Larry Summers.  Can you imagine anything worse than a woman who was seen as hard-working and smart enough as to be chosen as a worthy mentee for Larry Summers?  For some people, I guess not.  Everyone I know who went to Harvard ended up with incredible access to high level connections in all areas – finance, the arts, medicine, etc. That is what makes Harvard, Harvard.  My good friend had Spike Lee as his screenwriting teacher – and then as his first boss.  He is now a major TV producer, writer and series creator.  He is crazy smart and talented.  He also had an incredible mentor.  Don’t like it?  Take it up with Harvard.

I have to be honest.  As the co-founder of a tech start-up I was hoping for real nitty-gritty business advice.  I suppose other women are reading this for the miracle solution to work/life balance.  One piece I read in Slate asked Sheryl Sandberg to be more specific about how she does it – how much her husband really helps, nannies – details!   I don’t need to see her monthly calendar to understand it must be crazy complicated, involve nannies, a personal assistant, her husband and more.  I don’t think anyone asked Bill Gates to see his schedule of how he did it, or Jack Welch, or any male CEO.  And trust me, their wives weren’t doing it all.

There is one way that I think Sheryl Sandberg has been “lucky.”  She is passionate about what she does, where she works and what she wants to do.  This week’s cover story in New York Magazine is all about feminist women Leaning Out.  This is nothing new either.  Some women don’t want to work 80 hours a week, travel non-stop, and devote themselves to a career.  They’d rather be home with their kids, especially early on, and are pretty okay knowing that they may not achieve their initial vision of corporate success.  I had one good friend who ran an equities division of a large investment bank before her daughter was born, and then for the first 3 years of her daughter’s life.  You don’t get more testosterone filled than equities trading.  Then one day when she was running out the door in the morning at 7am her daughter wrapped herself around my friend’s leg wailing and begging her not to go. The way she tells it, she peeled her daughter off of her leg and basically yelled at her out of frustration.  On the subway she felt terrible and had a moment  – an AHA moment I guess Oprah would call it – that her daughter just desperately wanted to be with her, and that she made her daughter feel bad about it.  She was in a position financially to quit her job – and she did.  And she didn’t want to have to apologize for it. She leaned in, then she jumped out.

Someday she may choose to lean back in.

That’s what many well-educated women are doing.  A hokey-pokey of leaning in, then leaning out, then jumping to the right, to the left, maybe falling on our asses, and leaning in again.

I will be giving Lean In to my ten year-old daughters to read.  To me it was all old hat and cliché.  I had my Lean In moments; particularly in college fighting it out as a film major when only 20% of students were female and there were only 2 female professors in the whole department (now the head of the department is a woman.)  I have no problem leaning in – running a company I have no choice but to lean in and sometimes use a megaphone.  But, I already see some of the doubt in my girls.

In preparation for parent teacher conferences one of my daughters had to do a self-evaluation and she wrote that one of the things she had to work on was not calling out.  During the conference her teacher told us that she never called out and wasn’t sure why my daughter wrote that.  Her teacher said she raises her hand, contributes great ideas and is always enthusiastic.  But somehow my daughter has started to feel bad that maybe she talks too much in class.  She just came up with this on her own.  As middle school approaches the last thing I want my daughter to do is start to hang back.

So, for that reason I’m all for leaning in, and Sheryl Sandberg, and Marissa Mayer and Hillary Clinton, and every other high-powered public woman who has to not just lean in but also bear the angry stares of millions of judgemental eyes.  And I hope my girls grab the hands of a couple more girls and pull them into the circle too.  That way their generation of young women can learn to do the dance together.

What a New Mom Should Know (But No One Tells Her)

This is a Maternity Monday post by guest blogger and photographer, Jess Levey.  Jess covers all thing baby almost every Monday on Beccarama.

week4ink'tan carrier_1Maternity Mondays is back with exciting news of our baby girl’s birth! Baby S was born on January 23, 2013 in Brooklyn, NY.  23 has been my favorite number my entire life, not just because my birthday falls on a 23 as well, but also because of its many auspicious meanings.  For example, there are 23 chromosomes in a human sperm or egg, the angle between the earth’s magnetic and rotational axis is 23, the number of flavors Dr. Pepper claims to be a blend of is 23, the number of distinct orientations of Tetris pieces is 23, and I could go on and on or you can just Google it instead.

I had secretly hoped that S would be born on 1-23, being that I am a bit into numerology, but that would mean she would be 11 days late so how could I ever hope for such a thing?! Well, I guess she heard me, if only her birth had been as easy as 1-2-3.  I don’t want to go into great lengths about my traumatic birth experience but in brief (if there is anyway to be brief about a 36 hour labor) everything that I had initially feared happened.  Well, that’s not fair to say since we have a beautiful healthy baby girl at the end of the horror story.  I just re-read a Maternity Monday post that I had written when I was 38 weeks pregnant about the unknown and letting go of control. In this post, I wrote,

“ I can practice my hypno-birthing meditations every night, do my squats, begrudgingly do perineal massages, walk and walk and walk, insert and ingest primrose oil, eat my greens and omega 3s, talk to baby, stay positive, drink my pregnancy tea, and visualize the ‘perfect’ birthing experience, but in the end, something major or minor can occur and I can end up with an emergency C-section, or maybe I won’t be able to breast feed, or maybe our baby will be jaundice for a few days. As much as we can try to prepare and control what is to come, I know deep down that placing too much attachment on this ideal labor is dangerous.”

Funny enough (but not HA HA funny) all three of these major and minor occurrences that I had mentioned happened to us, and now that we have gone through them (still dealing with the breast-feeding issue though) I am that much wiser about the ability to truly let go of expectations and move on without regrets.

Nobody tells you how difficult the first few weeks are, just like they don’t tell you that once you bring your baby home (and even in the hospital) you will cry at least twice an hour; that you may look back at the day your child was born as the worst day of your life due to the fact that you back labored for 36 hours followed by an emergency C-section; that the recovery from a C-section is almost as bad as labor itself and lasts for weeks; that you may not instantly bond with your baby mostly due to PTSD or Post-Partum anxiety/depression, or that breast-feeding can be frustrating beyond belief and that most babies, regardless of whether you had a C-section or not, need help latching on, that all nipples will get blisters, and maybe even blood blisters too, yuck. All anyone ever tells you is that you will be tired, but that’s the least of it!

Maybe we keep this all a secret to protect soon to be moms, but I am happy to tell everyone every minor and major detail if it means that they may be prepared just a little bit more for one of the most trying times in a woman’s life, or that they will ask for the help that they will need, even if it is just for someone to come over and bring them some food, or maybe even feed it to them while they feed their baby. The good news is that this difficult period passes rather quickly!  I am now entering week 5 and love each and every day with my new baby. She is already cooing and is more alert and attentive and I am pretty sure that her smiles are not just from gas anymore. Also, thanks to Tracy Hogg’s famous book, The Baby Whisperer we have her on a predictable feeding and sleeping schedule that helps us know her cues/cries so that we can give her what she wants immediately. This was not the case for the first couple of weeks when every time she was over-tired and screaming we figured it was gas and would give her gripe water or massage her tummy when really she just needed to be put down in her crib and shushed. The gripe water did seem to work though, I think mostly because fructose is a main ingredient, oh well; I will just add that to my list of “things I never thought I would give my child.” Speaking of, here is a helpful list for new moms that I wish I had been given when we first brought S home.

Things I could not live without during the first month (and after)

  • Kangaroo fleece sling for the cold winter days!
  • with kangarookorner fleece sling
  • Gripe water for gas
  • Ktan carrier
  • Medela hospital grade pump
  • Zip up footies (anyone who tells you to buy those damn gowns are wrong!)
  • week3withbrestfriend
  • Baby Whisperer book
  • Rectal thermometer (much easier to insert than I had thought_
  • Baby comfy nose nasal aspirator (seems kind of gross, but works very well)
  • Soothie pacifier (never too young!)
  • Baby poop, eat and sleep log
  • White Noise App (specifically “pouring rain”) 

Things I never thought I would use:

  • Formula
  • Pacifier
  • Baby poop, eat, and sleep log
  • Pharmacy bought gas reliever AKA gripe water- easy to make your own without fructose, but who has time?!
  • White Noise App

My, What Big Clean White Teeth You Have: The Listerine 21-Day Challenge

listerine challenge

So, three weeks ago my family took on the Listerine 21-Day Challenge.  My husband has always used Listerine so for him this was really the continuation of the last 20 years.  But he liked the new Ultraclean with the Everfresh technology that basically wipes out everything bad in your mouth and leaves it super fresh for the whole day – or at least puts up a super valiant fight against New York onion bagels.  My daughters however were the ones who really needed to kick their dental care into high gear since they now have mouths full of metal and rubber bands.

listerine_benefits

When I wrote at the beginning of the challenge about my tween daughters’ particular dental challenges we had been relative newbies in this world of braces and dental appliances.  But, I am happy to report that after 21 days of serious attention to brushing, flossing, and Listerine-ing with the Fluoride rinse, both my girls got a super high thumbs up from their orthodontist.  And, knowing that we helped other kids attain healthy smiles and overall better health through Oral Health America with a goal of connecting up to 210,000 children with needed oral health services in 2013.

The Bonus

It’s never too late to start improving your oral care, and using Listerine is an easy way to get started.  Plus, for kids, they loved the idea of taking on a “challenge.”  Plus, there’s a super cute “Pet Mouth” on the Facebook app that your kids can adopt and that will remind them to swish every day.  (Just make sure you’re using your account – kids under 13 aren’t allowed to have their own Facebook account)

Start your own 21-day challenge with Listerine, and help kids across America get the dental services they need! Get a Pet Mouth and Sign up here.

I received products from Johnson & Johnson Healthcare Products Division of McNEIL-PPC, Inc. and The Motherhood as part of my participation in the LISTERINE® 21 Day Challenge. All thoughts and opinions expressed in this post are my own.

Supporting Art in Schools with Blick Art Room Aid

Blick Logo

As someone who has invested way too many hours in my daughters’ NYC public school and education issues beyond those four walls, I have come to realize that the worst thing educators and administrators can do is look at various subjects – math, literacy, science, art, music, gym, social studies – as isolated fields of study.  But, unfortunately that does happen, and more often than not the arts are deemed “extras” instead of integral to bringing alive math, science, literacy and the other “core” subjects.

In my daughters’ school the parents pay tens of thousands of dollars to supplement the meager art budget in the school.  We cover supplies for the art teacher, a separate art program through Studio in a School for the 4th and 5th Grades since they don’t get a dedicated art class, art supplies for the classroom teachers so they can do curriculum based art projects, and fund the school art show, chimes music program, dance programs, and more.  We are lucky.  Our parents have the means, time and know-how to fundraise this kind of money.  Most schools are not this lucky.  So, I was thrilled to participate in the Blick Art Materials Art Room Aid program.

Art Room Aid was created in 2009 by Blick Art Materials. As a company focused on educational and professional art supplies, Blick has also consistently supported arts education in diverse ways. Whether sponsoring art scholarships or creating lesson plans that address national standards of learning while easing the burden on busy educators, we at Blick understand just how important collaboration is. And we know that big dreams start small- after all, Blick is a family-owned company that began at Mr. and Mrs. Blick’s kitchen table in Galesburg, Illinois, 100 years ago.

Today, we’re continuing to nurture that deeply rooted investment in the arts and in educational communities with Art Room Aid. As the world becomes increasingly linked, skills like visual communication and creative problem-solving are more important than ever.

I knew I wanted to find a teacher who worked at a school that didn’t have the kind of support that my daughters’ school has and fortunately, my sister connected me with Laura Pawson, a Visual Arts and Special Education teacher at Juan Morel Campos Secondary School in Brooklyn.  The school’s population made up of  low-income students, including many homeless children, and almost 25% English Language Learners.

Ms. Pawson immediately jumped at the opportunity to stock up on supplies for a mosaic project she has been developing for her students.  She created a wish list through Blick Art Materials Art Room Aid that you can now help fund and fulfill!  In addition, she will be given $100 by Blick Art Materials to help kickstart this campaign and get these kids creating amazing art!

So, please click on over and help fund this fabulous project.  You can click here: Juan Morel Campos Mosaic Project and give as little as $10 to bring art into a child’s life.

My Daughters are Film Makers – Take Two Film Academy and What Makes a Great After School Class

As New York City 10 year-olds my girls have taken a huge range of after school classes.  From sports to cooking, arts to performing, we’ve covered pretty much every venue on the Upper West Side.  I’ve found that some classes are harder to do well than others, cooking for example is often nothing more than baking, often involving Pillsbury Crescent Rolls or assembling of ingredients rather than real cooking.  And I won’t even discuss the disastrous swim class we took where they put kids back in the pool after another kid had thrown up in it. So, I was definitely skeptical of Take Two Film Academy, kid focused film program, since most of our experience has been a “film” class that consists of a non-film teacher making videos on iMovie and the kids merely actors in the teacher’s script or ideas.  But, Take Two Academy seemed a lot more professional and worth a shot.

The first thing that impressed me about Take Two and their fabulous teachers was that they use real professional equipment. The cameras, boom mikes, and Final Cut Pro editing software challenged the students to make higher quality and richer movies.  But what I really loved was how they focused on the process and on collaboration – two things that are essential to good filmmaking.  The kids range in age from 8-15, not an easy group to get to work together, but they did.  They broke down into smaller groups, but each took bigger or smaller roles within each group – from writing, to acting, from directing to editing.  In just 5 days they produced 3 short films – each of them unique, interesting, and completely from their own voices.  And, they were all really proud of each other, the teachers took a total backseat to the students at the final viewing.

Here’s what one of their students (and star KidzVuz Reviewer) has to say about Take Two Film Academy:

And here is sample of one of the films my girls made:

It’s not cheap – but classes of this quality rarely are in Manhattan. I highly recommend checking it out for your budding film maker, actor, writer or performer.

Disclosure: I received a discount on the one-week film class in exchange for a review.  All opinions (and those of the kids) are unbiased and our own!

Braces, Brushing and Other Tween Tooth Issues (plus a Listerine Challenge)

listerine challengeMy daughters wear glasses. They’ve worn them since they were 5.  So when they heard they were going to get braces this year it didn’t go over so well.  Glasses AND braces – a tween nightmare.  But, luckily for us we found a fabulous Orthodontist, Dr. Jennifer Stachel – whose purple painted office, incredible patience, tween-erific assortment of cool rubber band colors, and all around great demeanor made the process not quite as traumatic.

girls and braces

She sent the girls home with a whole little kit of toothbrushes, bracket brushes, floss, wax, dental mirrors – you name it.  Because here’s the one thing that is overwhelmingly true once your kid gets braces – they have to super clean their teeth and gums, at least twice a day, or they risk serious tooth decay, staining and worse over the next 2 years.  Also, all that trapped food makes for horrendous tween breath.

Things went very well the first week.  The braces were new and exciting.  Teeth brushing with all the new little gizmos and doodads was kind of fun.  Then that wore off.  And we still had at least 104 weeks to go.  Not good.  So, we had to find some new incentives and new products in the arsenal.  Now we’re taking the Listerine Oral Care Challenge to amp up everyone’s oral health.

First, I scared my daughters with some facts like these:

  • There are more germs in your mouth than there are people on earth! 
  • Oral disease is now the most chronic childhood illness in the U.S.
  • Millions of children are suffering and experiencing pain so severe, it affects their ability to eat, sleep and learn.
  • As many as 130 million Americans lack dental insurance, including more than 15.4 million children.
  • More than 51 million school hours and 164 million work hours are lost each year due to dental disease, leading to increased educational disparities and decreased productivity. 

So, after freaking them out, I also incentivized them with doing good.

For every person who signs up for the challenge, the LISTERINE ® Brand will make a contribution to help Oral
Health America’s Smiles Across America® program toward their goal of connecting 210,000 children with
needed oral health services in 2013.

I love the idea of kids doing good for other kids.  And this is a really easy way for them to develop better habits for themselves and give back to other kids who don’t have the same access to great dentists and Orthodontists like they do.

It’s still a battle to get my girls to carefully and completely clean their teeth and braces twice a day (I had to give up on the after lunch brushing at school.)  But, I’m hoping with the whole family taking this 21 day Listerine Ultraclean Challenge they will see that we are all dedicated to good oral health.  And by swishing and rinsing twice a day with Listerine, I’m hoping their Orthodontist will notice a difference too.  (I’ll let you know after their check up in a few weeks…)

You can sign up for the Listerine 21 Day Challenge on their facebook page to get tips, and an app to help you improve your oral care, and help connect kids with dental providers across the country.

I received products from Johnson & Johnson Healthcare Products Division of McNEIL-PPC, Inc. and The Motherhood as part of my participation in the LISTERINE® 21 Day Challenge. All thoughts and opinions expressed in this post are my own.

On A Mission: Playing the Ingress App Game (and getting powered up at Duane Reade)

Ingress Android App

I was recruited into a top-secret mission, and it involved a new Android App called Ingress and Duane Reade.  Sounds bizarre right?  But this is NYC and anything and everything can happen.  Here are the details behind my mission, and the highly addictive Ingress Game:

A team of scientists in Europe has unearthed a mysterious energy called Exotic Matter (XM). The origin and purpose of this force is unknown, but some researchers believe it is influencing the way we think. Our future is at stake. And we must choose a side.

“The Enlightened” seek to embrace the power that this energy may bestow upon us.

“The Resistance” struggle to defend, and protect what’s left of our humanity.
Once they have picked a side, players will have to move through the real world using their Android
device and the Ingress app to discover and tap sources of this mysterious energy. They will be able
to acquire objects to aid in their quest, deploy tech to capture territory, and ally with other players to advance the cause of the Enlightened or the Resistance.
The struggle is being played out globally. Players will be able to track the progress of other players around the world, plan their next steps, and communicate with others using an Intelligence map.
An Investigation Board (http://www.nianticproject.com) filled with cryptic clues and secret codes
awaits. The story evolves everyday. Powerful secrets and game tech are there to be unlocked.
The struggle to save the planet spans the entire world. Cooperation across neighborhoods, cities, and countries will be needed to achieve the ultimate victory.
For the first time in history,the World becomes the Game!

Like any good secret agent the first thing I had to do was set up my code name.  Sorry, I am not going to reveal it here. The Ingress App looks cool, futuristic, and immediately makes you feel like you are truly on an undercover mission, but it is also tracking your location continuously in order for you to be able to find clues and compete.

That has an upside – great immersive game play, and a downside – you are literally being tracked. As a woman, I’m not entirely comfortable with that.

Still, I was up for trying the game, incognito.  I had no idea what to expect, but set out on my first mission to Duane Reade.  On the lookout for a special window cling that let me know there was something special relating to Ingress in the store, I set out to my nearest Duane Reade…

And there it was.  The sign I was looking for.

Ingress window cling

Of course the next trick was figuring out where the actual game tag was inside Duane Reade.  Turns out it’s right in the section I would normally avoid – the ICE CREAM and frozen meal freezer!!  Seriously.

IMG_0848

I have a suspicion that my children were in on the placement of this tag.

The game is very addictive.  I can see how using this all over the city would be really interesting and could allow for amazing scavenger hunts and other branded tie ins.  I somehow resisted buying ice cream during this trip to Duane Reade, but I see the potential for both companies that participate and the players to connect in this virtual game space that allows for real life interaction.  This is not a game for kids.  Location tracking is on all the time, and the tie-in to consumerism wouldn’t be great either.  But for an adult who wants the experience of gaming that meshes the real and virtual – and has the potential to add a dimensional twist into their every day walks, drives and shopping – it can be very, very fun.

Check out my full Google + album of my Ingress adventure (and shopping spree for Valentine’s Day goodies)

There are a lot of bloggers out trying the game.  You can follow Duane Reade on YouTubeFacebook, and Twitter using the hashtag #IngressDR to see all the fun tweets, posts and insights into the game.

I am a member of the Collective Bias™ Social Fabric® Community. This shop has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for Collective Bias™, but all opinions are my own. #CBias #SocialFabric

True Story: Mayor Koch Made My Sister a 5-Year-Old Deputy Mayor

Ed Koch sits in the office of his campaign manager, David Garth, in New York, U.S., in this Sept. 1977 handout photo. Photo: The New York Post via Bloomberg
Ed Koch sits in the office of his campaign manager, David Garth, in New York, U.S., in this Sept. 1977 handout photo. Photo: The New York Post via Bloomberg

Mayor Koch was mayor of New York City for my entire conscious childhood.  He was such a part of my young New York life that I thought his first name WAS Mayor.  I can’t tell you who was mayor before him, and Dinkins is just a dull blur too.  Mayor Koch embodied my New York of the 1970’s and 80’s.  Loud, heavily accented, aggressive, funny and a showman – he just completely made sense for the chaotic, kind of broken, dirty, noisy and brash New York City of the time.  He also became a pivotal character in one of my family’s legendary stories – the kind you tell over and over again because it just so totally and completely captures everything going on in a family at a point in time.

In the early 80’s there was a drought in NYC, and the mayor launched a campaign to convince New Yorkers to save water.  One part of his campaign was a TV PSA that aired during after school and Saturday cartoons.  This is the “kids” part of the PSA that I found on YouTube, but it’s missing the beginning where Mayor Koch said something like this, “Hey New York Kids, This is Mayor Ed Koch and I am making you my Deputy Mayor in charge of helping New York save water.”

My sister was around 5 at the time, and she watched A LOT of TV.  I was 9 years old at the time and spent most of my after school time in ballet class.  I also decided that I really didn’t feel like taking showers very often.  You can imagine what a great combination dancing every day and not showering was.  This not showering stance basically drove my dad insane and became a huge source of fighting in our home.  And then, because I was 9 – almost 10 – and a total smart ass, I took it one step too far.  I decided I would out smart my dad.  So, one night, I stuck my head under the sink faucet and wet my hair thinking that it would look like I had taken a shower.  Did I mention that my hair looked like I had melted a stick of butter in it prior this stunt?  Yeah, that’s a key point.

So, I trotted downstairs in my pajamas with my hair wrapped in a towel, thinking for sure that I had pulled one over on my dad.  Of course he took the towel off my head and lo and behold there was my hair – wet on top, dry underneath – an obvious attempt to bluff my way through a shower.  So upstairs he marched me.  He turned on the shower and started yelling at me to get in.  I of course held my ground and kept insisting that I had showered.  And we continued this insanity for a good 5 minutes until we realized that my sister was standing there hysterical crying.

A little 5-year-old, with chubby cheeks and big tear filled brown eyes, bawling at the top of her lungs and wailing, “I am Deputy Mayor and you are wasting water!!!  I have to tell and you are going to go to jail!!”  We just stared at her, not quite sure what she was saying.  “Mayor Koch said I am Deputy Mayor and sisters have to take short showers and we have to save water.”  She was inconsolable.  And needless to say, her crying, and the ridiculous things she was saying with such pure and heartfelt belief brought the full ludicrous nature of this battle to full relief.

I can’t even remember if ultimately I showered that night, though I think I did.  But I will never, ever forget my little sister with tears flowing and snot running out her nose, taking the words of Mayor Koch so seriously that she was convinced she was a Deputy Mayor with a real job to do to help save our city.  I don’t think Mayor Koch intended kids to listen to him so wholeheartedly, but he was our mayor – the only one we knew – and he governed the only city we knew – NYC.  For young New Yorkers who became defined as Generation X New Yorkers, he was the leader that dominated our evening news, newspaper front pages and even our cartoon time.  With his passing it seems official that that NYC is gone – for better or worse.  There is a tiny of bit of true New Yorker bravado, chutzpah, moxie, that something that puts the snap in street hot dogs and bite in New York bagels (it’s the water right?), that will die out with Mayor Koch and his generation of New Yorkers that my generation will miss, and my children’s generation will miss out on.  For Mayor Koch I hope there’s really good Chinese and a really cheap movie theater in that NYC in the sky.

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