Trader

The most frustrating case I ever had as a defense attorney was a simple case of forgery. My client, a woman named Robin, had been married to a man who was convicted of running a “chop shop” of stolen cars. Robin was charged with forging her name on three different documents. Robin was in her fifties and had no criminal history. She insisted on her innocence and said her husband knew how to sign her name because she was the treasurer of the business and he often signed her name on checks. The prosecutor, “Dave,” was known for being, well, an asshole. After a three day trial, a jury found her not guilty. Dave, a very sore loser, decided to charge her a few weeks later with forgery on two additional documents. Another jury trial, another not guilty. And so, she was charged again with two more documents. For fun, Dave had her arrested for a bogus traffic violation during the trial the night before she was to testify. After this trial ended in a hung jury, she was exhausted and broke from missing so much work. Dave re-filed the charges and set the case for a fourth trial. Robin decided instead to take a plea to a misdemeanor charge to make it all end. In a rare move, the extremely frustrated Judge ended up filing a complaint to the Arizona State Bar against Dave, for malicious prosecution and erased the misdemeanor from Robin’s record.

During one of the trials, I went into the bathroom and cried. What kind of person gets so much pleasure in harassing people? How can I deal with him? Then I realized: I knew exactly who he was. He was the school bully. I knew how to deal with him because I had dealt with people like him my entire life. I stopped letting his actions get to me, and did what I always did as a kid. I told myself that he was a jerk, laughed at his antics, and decided to let the universe take care of him. (It did: he was fired a few years later for similar antics and escorted out of his office by police officers.)

Bullies are part of life. Assholes are here to stay. The most effective skill we can develop as we are growing up is the one in which we learn how to deal with them. This will be a lifelong skill and it will unfortunately always come in handy.

This week, there were four different children who were punished in school for their behavior. These children were generally well-behaved and most had not seen the inside of a principal’s office. A 4th grade boy did a cartwheel on the way to P.E. and, put in detention, had to call his parents from the principal’s office to apologize; a 6th grade boy touched a girl’s bra strap and he was sent down to the principal for sexual harassment; an 8th grade boy told his friend privately he thought a girl was ugly: a friend of the girl who eavesdropped on the conversation reported him for “inappropriate language.” And a 6th grade girl, upset that a friend left her at lunch to sit with new friends, sent her a text that said she was a “trader” for moving tables. She was called to the office for cyber-bullying.

And so, it appears we have officially stopped bullying in schools. How? We have officially stopped kids from being kids. We will make sure that only “appropriate” language is spoken and that no unkind words are ever spoken. Everyone will be sweet and nice to each other and hands will be kept inside the rides at all times. Yes, we are living in an era in which no one loses or flunks or experiences disappointment of any kind. We will make sure that the babies whose pacifiers never fell to the ground because it was attached to a string and whose tushies never got cold because their wipes were warmed will still never feel confused or upset or cold.

In our future generation of tattletales, the helicopter parents will continue to swirl around so that their grown up sons and daughters will never be in a situation in which they feel sad, angry, frustrated, or disappointed. They will fly around in their helicopters until they can no longer fly. Then, our new generation of adults will have to navigate the world on their own amongst all of the other kids who grew up in a sea of approval and success.

Yes, I know this is a different world than when I grew up. I know there are school shooters and crazy, strange people out there. I get it. But raising a generation of kids who can’t deal with an insult or embarrassment is not what we need. We need strong, resilient fighters who can take down those who do wrong. We need independent thinkers to come up with new ways to stop the violence and the war.

There are bad kids. Really, really bad kids who deserve that trip to the principal’s office. Their parents need to know what they are doing. They are the ringleaders of the bullying, or are violent on the playground. There are ones doing drugs, or, just as bad, selling them.

However, in a world where the kids are supposed to only use nice language , it is ok for the adults around them not to. Insulting and berating kids that throw off the curve is almost the norm these days. The adults around our kids should set a good example as often as they can, and to do this, they have to be as respectful to those imperfect kids as our kids are expected to. I’m just not sure many coaches, teachers and parents are getting the message.

Not that I am a perfect parent, by all means, but I do like what I have recently told my kids: I don’t expect you not to feel pressured to follow a bad kid, and I won’t be shocked if you do. It takes a lot of strength to stand up on your own, especially in middle school. But, what I do expect is you to not BE the bully or the ringleader and to develop the skills to learn to stop following them. Kids will be kids: some are nice and some are mean. To expect that this won’t happen is completely unrealistic. What you need to do is try to not BE the mean kid.

Even though we tend to think that helicopter parenting is new, I have found that it is already rearing it’s head in the workplace. People who run businesses or are employees cannot handle any amount of criticism. Most of the time, if I feel that many in the work force today feel as if they are doing everyone a favor by simply showing up. They can’t take it if they are told that what they are doing is not perfect. I’m not sure what happened to “the customer is always right,” but it doesn’t exist anymore. Very few people are able to say, “I’m sorry you feel that way.” That is a skill that is developed when you are learning how to navigate a world that is not so easily traveled. More and more people seem to have been given one direction down life’s road and that would be: it’s my way or the highway. (I know: it’s a pun inside a pun.)

If I grew up today and had to face “Dave,” what I understand is that I could tattle to my boss that he was being “mean.” I would fill out a report that said he is hurting Robin’s feelings. I would also have my boss call his mom so she was clued in. Dave would come in and miss two hours of the trial to analyze. Robin would miss two additional hours of work and the county would charge the taxpayers for the two hours that everyone sat and discussed this. Dave would agree to be nice and then he would go back to the courtroom and change absolutely nothing. He would still lose three trials and he would still get fired. It’s just we would have wasted two hours talking about it.

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Grateful?

There appears to be some sort of challenge going on in which a person is supposed to list the things they are grateful for. I have yet to be challenged, and perhaps that’s because no one thinks I could come up with such a list. But I have and I will share, thank you very much.

1. I’m thankful for homophobic chicken. I know that we are not supposed to go to Chick Fil A, and I totally apologize. I am a huge supporter of the gay community. But you guys: it’s so convenient. They have drive thrus and I’m so sick of McDonalds and sometimes I don’t have time to get out of the car to feed all the people living in my house. Also, they grill their chicken nuggets.

I’m so sorry guys. I hope you forgive me. (If it helps, I don’t really think it’s always a great day at Chick Fil A. I think they are depressed and someone makes them say that.)

2. I’m thankful I only have one daughter. I already went through female puberty once from the offensive angle and now I’m working defense. I am scared of her. She apologizes a lot, though, and then asks for money.

3. I’m thankful that there are so many songs lately praising big butts. Even Anaconda is back on the radio. I’m all about the bass too.

4. I’m thankful for Joan Rivers. I will never have to apologize for saying what I really think. That wouldn’t have been possible without her.

5. I’m thankful that my 6 year old’s obsession has switched from Legos to the Beatles. He woke me up one night to tell me that he had done some online research and that I was wrong. John Lennon wasn’t the only one who had died. George Harrison did too. I apologized and told him I always forget about George.

Every day that I drive him to school he says, “Let’s hear some Abby Road” and he hums “Come Together” while doing his homework. He’s currently my favorite child.

6. I’m thankful for the song “Bailando.” I love it. It’s so much fun to sing even though I have no idea what I’m saying.

7. I’m thankful that the fall TV season is starting next week. I was really running out of things to say to people in my house.

8. I’m thankful to all of the people who bought my e-book so far. I think most of them are my friends and I love you guys because most of your kids do sports. I promise the next one will have a lot of bad words in it.

9. I’m thankful that I was able to go online and buy front row tickets to Katy Perry next week. I knew I would be the coolest mom when they arrived in the mail. I just didn’t realize that I bought us tickets in the mosh pit.

10. Finally, I’m thankful that musical theatre people don’t turn every album into a musical. While it does work for some albums, I can tell you that it doesn’t work for Alannis Morisstte’s Jagged Little Pill. I saw this musical last weekend, and I can tell you it was very stressful. Most of the songs were about how angry she is at the guy who dumped her and all I kept thinking was that this was a whole show about how the guy was Dave Coullier and there should not be a whole musical about a girl going down on Uncle Joey in a theatre.

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Who is ready to curl up with a good book?

You’ll be swell! You’ll be great!
Gonna have the whole world on the plate!
Starting here, starting now,
honey, everything’s coming up roses!

Clear the decks! Clear the tracks!
You’ve got nothing to do but relax.
Blow a kiss. Take a bow.
Honey, everything’s coming up roses!

Now’s your inning. Stand the world on it’s ear!
Set it spinning! That’ll be just the beginning!
Curtain up! Light the lights!
You got nothing to hit but the heights!
You’ll be swell. You’ll be great.
I can tell. Just you wait.
That lucky star I talk about is due!

Honey, everything’s coming up roses for me and for you!

“You’ll Be Swell” : What To Expect When You Expect Your Child Will Be A Star

By Allyson Ochs Primack  (I kept in the Ochs in there to make it easier on my parents to explain to their friends how to buy it.)

Available on Amazon, Kindle and Create Space

https://www.createspace.com/4984595

Password: momontour

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Expiration Date

I had a really good idea for our Fall Fundraiser for my Foundation. My board members liked it too and we got the place and date all booked. It was a huge undertaking involving hundreds of people. We had media coverage and lots of guests attending. And then, slowly, things went a little crazy. My house, sitting on the market for months, sold, closing and moving dates being set a few days before the event. The lives of my co-chairs for the event turned: one for the better (her 11 year old son got a National Tour and she only had a few weeks’ notice) and one for the worse (her father passed away.) As with all things in my life, I was in way, way over my head.

There was no time for panic in this chaotic world of mine. It was time for our Swiss Family Robinson-style family to pack up and move down the road to embark on a new life in a zip code five minutes away. However, life does not stop just because you can’t find your deodorant. You must use Febreeze or Glade under your armpits so that the new neighbors don’t know that you haven’t showered in several days. Drop a 40 pound metal griddle on your foot right before you need to drive your son 30 minutes downtown for a callback? No problem. You can easily have it examined in the theatre laying across a row of seats by a fellow parent. Yes, moving, working, and parenting go together like 9 year old girls and Uzis. It is just a very, very bad idea and something is bound to go horribly wrong.

But first, you must pack it all up. Cleaning out a kitchen when you are moving to a new home is like looking at a boulevard of broken dreams. Sadly, you look at the fancy Trader Joe’s frozen dinners that you were intending to make a few years ago, now covered in frost. One finds spices like marjoram or thyme that were purchased for a recipe that was never made because it was easier to order a pizza. There are water bottles missing tops and Tupperware missing bottoms. Your wedding china and crystal sit there all dressed up in their fancy jackets that they were in when you got them, wondering when anyone is going to take them out.

In fact, wandering around a home that you are packing up is like visiting a museum of missed opportunities. And for me, our home was like the hall of fame of chances that passed us by. The medicine cabinet was filled with prescriptions and Tylenol with signs that say “best by February 2010.” The hallway closet, packed with shoes that, at the time, I thought would eventually be comfortable, but never were. Purses shoved in the corner of a closet that had been cleaned out, except for the pennies covered in gum at the bottom. The purses, still sitting there, because I was “not done cleaning them out,” ranging in colors from light black to dark black.

There were expired coupons and gift cards we forgot to use, to places that had long since closed. Receipts were shoved into the back of a drawer for purchases made at Best Buy in 2011, for the broken DVD player that I could never return because I couldn’t find the receipt.

Broken umbrellas that I kept because it seemed silly to throw it away (someone will know how to fix it.) Art projects that I attempted to do with your child, but never finished because one of the two of us had a temper tantrum.

Socks of all shapes and sizes, but none that go together. A wide variety of clothing ranging from tiny lingerie to giant sweatpants to yoga pants that I wear to the grocery store because I don’t do yoga. College t-shirts, stained yellow with age, that I can’t seem to throw away because they connect me with my youth. Underwear for moments of happiness and for those moments that say “Can’t you see I need to be alone?”

Plastic containers for organizing things when I was really motivated to organize things but now only hold an old mascara and a pair of tweezers covered in baby powder. Appliances like bread makers and rice cookers that seemed like a good idea at the time. (See also, salad spinners and Nambe silver bowls.)

And then, on the day of an unseasonal monsoon filled with storms so intense my movers had to stop moving us because it was too dangerous, we get to move into our new home. Sure, the power went out at our old house, leaving us to move in the dark in 110 degrees with no air conditioning. And sure, it only took them double the amount of time to move us due to the severe weather costing us double the original price. But, eventually, we were in the new house and it had power. And that’s something right there

So, I pushed on and a few days later I pulled up to our Event. I had no idea what to expect and was down to two co-chairs. I also had really bad hair because I couldn’t find my shampoo. But then, magic started to happen. Friends appeared out of nowhere to help. The guests arrived and the Event flowed better than I could have dreamed. Everyone raved and we got two offers from several sponsors to hold the event for us for free next year. I’m not sure if it was someone helping orchestrate it from up above or whether it was just the power of a loving community surrounding me down here on Earth. Either way, despite all of the sleepless nights, stress, and sheer terror that it would all go wrong, everything worked out.

As I sit here in my new home, still surrounded by boxes, I am not sure if I like it here. There are problems that I can only explain by stating it’s possible I bought the Poltergeist house (I really hope Lauren doesn’t end up in the TV.) But, I have a spirit cleansing occurring this weekend involving the spreading of sage, and hopefully that will rid our house of the invisible bugs that are biting us all over our bodies, the force that dropped a 50 pound window valance onto Aidan, the overflowing toilets and the strange smell coming from the basement.

If I have learned anything this week, it’s that even when life seems completely overwhelming and out of control, someone will help you make it better. Whether it is a father passing away or the constant uncertainty of something new, there are spirits here on Earth and possibly some beyond, guiding us and helping us through. Friends, family, and the people who are there for you and support you, can see you through anything. The chaos and confusion will eventually end, and you will clearly remember the love and friendship that helped you get through.

These are the things that we will never get rid of, never throw away, no matter where we live. The love and support of your community will never expire.

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The Giver

According to books like “The Hunger Games,” “Divergent” and “The Giver,” in the future, we will all be spared the pain of emotion. We will be told by our leaders what to do and what we must become. We will not be allowed an opinion or a belief of any kind. We will all wear grey and do as we are told. There is something very appealing about not needing to feel any joy or pain, and not having to make tough decisions.

For myself, I can see the appeal. I look really bad in a lot of colors, especially green. I really don’t like my teeth when I smile and I have a very ugly face when I cry. I have also been known to express an opinion or two that get me in trouble. I have a problem with over-sharing, and if I knew that I would be “released” for blogging about my boobs, I would probably not do that.

I have read all of the books in the above series and, as of today, have seen all of the movie adaptions. “The Giver” was always my favorite because I like the notion of one person’s ability to store all of the world’s memories and to protect us from the pain of terrible things like war and disease. No one in the world of the future knows what it is like to feel love, to laugh, or to cry. No one is popular and there is no deadly poverty or extreme wealth. We are all the same. The Giver is the only person who holds the ability to create happiness or sadness.

This week, the world lost one of most beloved “Givers,” Robin Williams. Growing up, I loved him for many reasons. I loved that he grew up in suburban Detroit, he seemed like a regular guy, he was extremely charitable, and that he could make me laugh hysterically (Mork) and could make me cry for hours (T.S. Garp is still my all-time favorite movie character.) (I would also like to point out that Pam Dawber, ie “Mindy” went to my high school which has nothing to do with Robin but yet made me feel more connected to him in a way that only makes sense to me.)

Robin Williams gave everything he had inside to the world. He was the ultimate giver. The problem, it appears, is that he had trouble ever giving any of this joy to himself. This is very common in entertainers, and it is common in writers. We expose ourselves to the world to make sure that people feel the things that we do, yet when we achieve what we want, we find ourselves completely empty. We want to hide from the world until we find that motivation again and create new experiences for people to enjoy.

If you haven’t read or seen the Giver, please be warned because I hate when people ruin things for me in advance (and I’m talking to you people on Facebook who watched “The Good Wife” last year.) But in the end of “The Giver”, everyone receives back the memories of the past. With that, they remember happiness, and they remember fear. They remember the beauty of birth and the sadness of death.

In my life, I seem to experience these highs and lows quite often. I hate feeling sadness, betrayal and anger as much as I enjoy feeling exhilaration, surprise and true friendship. This is life. There is no way to feel happiness and love without feeling hatred or disappointment. These emotions coexist whether we like it or not.

So thank you to Robin Williams, for giving so much of yourself to us. You made us feel a rainbow of emotions and we hope that, if there is an afterlife, you will finally be able to receive the happiness and joy that you gave us.

And thank you to all of my loyal followers and friends, who let me voice my opinion, share my embarrassing stories, and feel my silliness, confusion and frustration. It is a true gift to be acknowledged as a giver. I hope that even if you disagree with me or do not enjoy everything that I write, that you will still let me share & entertain for years to come.

Nanu Nanu.

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Apology

imageFor those of you who attended my wedding on September 5, 1999, in Scottsdale, Arizona, I owe you an apology. It was over 100 degrees, and, per my insistence, it was held outdoors. The only memory that any of you seem to have is of that day is the sweat that was dripping off of the Rabbi’s face during the vows, the groomsmen’s black leather shoes melting in the sun, and my bridesmaids whipping off their dresses and standing half-naked under the bathroom hand-dryers when the ceremony ended.

No one should have to be outdoors in Arizona in the summer. So, being that Arizona is the most ass-backwards state in the nation, it makes total sense that we end school before Memorial Day and start back up at the beginning of August. Yes, we end school before most of the Country, so that we can twiddle our thumbs waiting for camps to begin throughout the country at the end of June, and then start back up in August when the temperatures are so high there are “heat advisories” telling us to stay indoors. No need for the fun, traditional back-to-school clothing shopping, as it is still the same season as when you left school last year.

Here are some Arizona school facts for you for those of you not currently melting here with us: Arizona is ranked in the bottom five nationally in per pupil funding and has been consistently for years. Arizona had the highest rate of decline in educational spending in the nation at negative 21.8 percent during 2008-2012.

I have 3 children, and two of them start tomorrow. Two of them attend our local school district, because they are your “typical” kids. Not too high, not too low. So, they are just fine to attend. Child #3, for anyone who knows him or who reads this blog, is different. I could sugar-coat it or try to say it differently, but he is “gifted.” I don’t say this to boast as I find him to be the most challenging child I have ever met. I was told last year that our school could not accommodate him, and unless I wanted him to skip a grade, we needed to go elsewhere to find a gifted program. “Where do I go?” I asked. “To any other district in the state,” they said, “because they all have gifted programs. Just not us.”

So now, we are in two different school districts that have two completely different schedules. They start and end on the school year on different dates; one has fall break in October and one does not. Spring breaks are different weeks, as are half-days for teacher training and for conferences. I am one of the lucky ones because I can work from home, and can adjust to the fact that I basically have one child home for at least one day a week. What about the parents that can’t do this?

This week, our school district has spent lots of time slapping themselves on the back because they got an “A” rating from the State. This is based on the fact that the kids in the district took the same standardized tests last spring and got the same standardized answers that makes them all meet the standards of the state. The administration is using this as a fact to remind all of us how fantastically standard they are.

They may have forgotten about the fact that they had to make serious cuts this year due to the voters in our district, who did not vote to pass an override that would cost them about $100 a year in taxes. The kids in our area who want to have band in 5th grade now have to go to the middle school on a bus because it was cut out of elementary school. “Specials” at the elementary level were reduced by half this year (Art, Music, PE and Band /Strings at middle schools). To make up for this loss of planning for our teachers, elementary school will end early on Wednesdays.

The people of our school district have decided that this is a hopeless cause, and they are leaving in throngs. This is fantastic news for the charter and private schools around town. They have waiting lists in the hundreds and people are desperate to get their kids in. The incredible, amazing, wonderful teachers of our district are losing their jobs because there are fewer and fewer students to teach.

I am angry and I have a blog. I have a voice and I have a vote. A lifelong friend of mine recently told me that she realized in first grade that she would never win an argument with me because I never give up when I’m convinced I have a point. This is as true now as it was when I was arguing with her in the 1980s about who was cuter: Ricky Schroeder or Kirk Cameron.

I am going to make sure that the people who are elected to my school board this fall will represent my interests, and not their own. I will make sure that the people in my district realize that a “no” vote on this year’s override will guarantee that your home will decrease in value when you try to sell it. You don’t want your kids to go to your public school-that’s fine. You have the funds to pay for them to go to private school or to a charter school? Good. But don’t punish the rest of us with your “no” vote. Trust me, it will come back to you when you try to sell your house. I will make sure that the administration knows now and continues to know that there is a family out there that has no choice but to exist on two school schedules for the next 8 years, and that we are hanging on by a thread. We are by no means the only family like this out there.

I am sorry that all my kids can’t share the joy of the first day back to school tomorrow. I am sorry for my youngest child that he will watch them go off to school, and he knows that he can’t because he’s “different” than they are. He thinks that this is all his fault. He is 6 years old. It’s not his fault.

I am owning up to the fact that I shouldn’t have had my wedding outside 15 years ago. Now it’s your time to tell Aidan whose fault it is that he can’t start school tomorrow.

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Lincoln

There was a war in our family this week…Primack style. While in New York City, we had one night for a Broadway show. We were a family divided. The kids wanted to see “Les Miserables” and the adults wanted to see the Carole King Musical “Beautiful.” So, we divided up. Yes, the kids went alone to a Broadway show (and to dinner) and we went to ours. Then we all met back at the hotel to go on to the next family argument: who got to sleep on the pullout bed.

And so it went. For 10 days, in 3 different cities, the Primacks traveled on, dealing with many small wars along the way. Included in these arguments were: where to eat, where to sit, who is mean, who is the favorite child, and who snores/farts the most.

Due to bad behavior, Aidan was put in time-out at both the Statue of Liberty and at the Washington Monument. Craig got mad at me during the White House tour because I let Aidan pee on the White House Lawn instead of taking him to a restaurant nearby like the Secret Service asked me to. Sam is still mad at me because I told the Capitol tour guide all about The Addams Family. And no one in my family talked to me after our tour at The Mint because I kept singing “Money Money Money” really loud.

But when we got to The Newseum, a museum dedicated to the news stories of our lives, I was reminded about the horrors the world has experienced because of differences of opinion. Walking through exhibits about the Klu Klux Klan, the Oklahoma City bombing, The Holocaust, the numerous school shootings and 911, it’s a lot harder to view it when seeing it through a child’s eyes for the first time.

I wanted to be able to tell them that it was all in the past. That this was the end of the exhibits on horror. But today’s world is overflowing with violence and death based on a difference of opinions or beliefs.

I have realized that the problem today is that we cannot just agree to disagree anymore. There is no compromise, no middle ground. We can’t seem to just peacefully protest or strike. Gone are the peaceful sit-ins and love-ins of other eras. It’s all about violence.

Wouldn’t it be great if Israel and Hamas could just argue and tell each other how much they think they suck, give each other the silent treatment, stop talking for a few days, and then later make up? What if we could just put the Russian militants in time-out for awhile until they calmed down and were ready to talk?

I have a blog, which means I can loudly voice my opinions about whatever I want. I can fight with those who disagree, and I can ultimately even admit when I’m wrong. No violence is necessary and anyone with a voice can tell us how they feel in a variety of ways. Freedom of Speech still exists and we should all use it more.

I have used my blog to complain about issues big and small. I can use it to question the world around me every day. Questions like: What exactly does Scott Disick do for a living? What if I don’t know anyone named Kate to share my Diet Coke with? Can I still drink it? The movies this summer mostly sucked. Why are Orlando Bloom and Justin Bieber fighting and why do people care? How awesome is Uber? I love it!!! Why does my husband seem to think that “everyone” is all packed for a trip when really, he’s just referring to himself? I miss Regis. I just don’t like that Michael Strahan on Live with Kelli. Do they actually sell the Ulysses from Masters of Sex and if so, where?

Traveling with a 6 year old is tough, as is traveling with a 43 year old husband with no patience for said 6 year old. They bicker over everything.., many of which I feel said 43 year old should just let go but he cannot seem to drop anything. Ever.,

But both stubborn Primack faces lit up when they saw The Lincoln Memorial last night . The shining beacon to a man who believed in non violent resolution was filled last night with people from all walks of life, from different religions and countries.

We may not agree on everything, but he seems to be the one thing we can. It seems we all agree that a man who believed in loving and accepting each and every person was a very important man to our society. We all wish we still had more like him in our Government today.

Maybe, if we all use the power of non-violent speech for peaceful and lively debate, we will help be able to help world peace in some small way.

And so, if you want to tell us it was dangerous and irresponsible to let our kids wander the streets of New York alone, we understand. But we really think you are wrong for your differing opinions. We’re just not going to shoot you for it. We are all going to go to Ben and Jerry’s and have Cherries Garcia with you (our treat), because those guys, too, believe in non-violence and peace.

Really really delicious peace.

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