I hear a lot of parents complaining that they can’t get their teenager’s attention. It’s really a simple task. However, like anything with kids, you need to approach it in the correct manner. I’m going to give you a few tips and you can use as many or as few as you like.
Pick up a book you’ve been dying to read and look interested in it. It seems obvious because it is - nothing draws your kids faster than the appearance that you may actually be enjoying yourself. Of course, this technique has resulted in some injuries as kids have resorted to attacking one another in order to punish you for taking time for yourself. They know that nothing gets your attention faster than their fights. Thus, this technique is occasionally too effective.
Wear something completely age inappropriate and revealing. Short shorts, a halter top, and high heels are particularly effective in getting your kids to pay attention to you. It works even better if you’re a man. Do this in public and talk loudly with a bad accent that shifts from one ethnicity to another. Bonus points if you do this in front of people they know.
Bake something. It’s the smell that draws them, so you might want to simply purchase a scented candle that smells like freshly baked cookies and then just sit back and wait in the kitchen until the kids show up. Note that this will draw them, but when the food proves to be bogus, they’ll try to run away. If the food does exist, they’ll attempt to take the food and then run away with it. Thus, you may want to have a restraining device handy for when they arrive on the scene.
If you're out in public, randomly choose strangers to point at and loudly say, "Isn't that the boy (or girl) you like?" This will usually cause the child to become withdrawn and quiet. Then you can finally read that book you were trying to read in Tip One.
Feel free to embellish these to “make them your own.” And, of course, please post pictures and/or video online for the rest of us to enjoy. Happy parenting!
Thursday, September 27, 2012
Tuesday, September 18, 2012
Last week I met John Ford Coley at a party and really enjoyed talking with him. John is an interesting guy who told me that he gives two pieces of advice to musicians who are new to Nashville. The things he said could be beneficial to a person in just about any industry, so I thought I would share them here.
He said that there are basically two rules that you need to follow. My apologies to John for not remembering his exact wording, but here’s the general sense of what he said to me:
1. Don’t say anything negative about anyone else.
You might think that you’re “safe” talking about someone behind their back, but these things have a way of coming back on you. The person you’re talking with might even agree with you or might not have contact with the person you’re talking about, but it’s very likely that the person you talked to will talk to someone else. Nashville really is a small town and word gets around. Even if you work in a larger city, most professions have small communities and if you badmouth one of the members of that community it’s likely to get back to the person or to someone who knows the person. If you talk negatively about other people you may be burning bridges you didn’t know existed because eventually no one wants to talk with you.
2. Don’t get upset if someone less qualified or less talented gets a job that you thought you deserved.
This is a difficult one because in just about any profession you’ll see hacks making a lot of money doing poor quality work while more talented individuals get ignored. However, griping doesn’t change the situation and only makes you look bad. You may not like the work that someone else is doing, but calling attention to that person’s deficits will only make you bitter and appear less attractive to work with. Let it go and realize that your time will come. We can’t all be successful at the same time or in the same way, so be glad for someone else when their star shines. Eventually it will be your turn and hopefully others will be just as gracious with you.
John has a lot of maturity and wisdom. He knows that it takes more than talent to make it in any industry - it also takes being the sort of person that other people want to be around. Take the time to develop your skills, but also develop your character because even the best qualified people can't be successful alone.
Thursday, September 13, 2012
Sound Advice from a Master
Stephen King published this book in 2000 and I had never read it until someone loaned me a copy this past month. If you think you want to be a writer, then I highly recommend this book to you. It contains a lot of wisdom as well as “street smarts” about the craft. Many of the tips in this book I learned the hard way and I’ve found them to be useful. The best thing about this book is that it is practical and down to earth.
This book not only gives some of King’s history on how he became a writer, it also mentions his struggles and what he did to make things work. The bottom line, if you want to be a writer you need to be committed and take it seriously even though you may never earn enough money to support yourself from it. Not everyone who makes this commitment will make it as a writer, but you have an even lower chance of success if you don’t take it seriously.
My Review: I highly recommend this book to individuals who want to write professionally.
My Final Advice: Don’t Wait for the Mood
I write in a different genre and don’t have the same level of audience, but I have one additional tip for struggling writers that may be useful. If you have a full time job or other responsibilities (such as kids) and can only find small bits of time to write (an hour here or there), don’t use this as an excuse not to write. You should be writing every day. Even if you don’t keep everything you write. Don’t wait for the mood. Just do it.
One thing that can help to put you in the right mood or frame of mind is music. When my schedule gets crazy and I only have small bits of time, I will select an instrumental CD that reflects the mood and tone of the piece I’m writing. This drives some people insane, but I can listen to the same song over and over and not get bored. That’s because most of my attention is on my words. Every piece of music has a color and this hue gets reflected in the passages that I write. This helps to quickly focus my mind and also serves to block out ambient noise (like kids asking when dinner will be ready).
I don’t do this with all my books, but it has helped a lot in the past. Songs with words can be appropriate, but it depends upon the project. In fact, I wrote my entire Master’s thesis in about a week while listening to the soundtrack from Beauty and the Beast. “Kill the Beast” seemed an appropriate anthem for writing a 65 page research paper that was the monster keeping me from graduation. It obviously worked, because it was later published in an APA Journal.