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I find men fascinating. This is not something my husband has to worry about. It isn’t that I want to meet more of them; I’m just interested in them kind of like Jane Goodall is interested in chimps.  Unlike Jane, however, my study of the species is unscientific, unquantitative, and unobjective. Nonetheless, I have reached what I think is an irrefutable conclusion: Men are far superior to women in sustaining important emotional attachments.

Wha-at? Yes, indeed, and here is the evidence that proves my point.

Women have strict requirements when it comes to bestowing their affections, but none of these barriers gets in the way of men. Start, for example, with the biggest obstacle women impose on relationships – they seem to think it is important to fall in love with other human beings. Men are far more open-minded. They become passionate about abstractions. I’m not talking here about the founding fathers and abstractions like life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. I’m talking about the average guy who is head over heels in love with a Team. Pick any sport, pick any country, and it’s the same thing over and over again.

This all became clear recently when, for our grandson’s tenth birthday, my husband and I took him to see a baseball game. It was bobble-head day at the stadium, meaning that if one stood in a ridiculously long line, one could obtain a free bobble-head of the home team third baseman. As we walked past the thousands of (mostly) men inching their ways forward, I found myself hoping that there is a huge secondary market in bobble-heads, that these guys have customers lined up on EBay and Craig’s List to sell this junk to, and that by reselling bobble-heads they are at long last able to make their mortgage payments. In my (femaie) point of view, there would then be a purpose behind this otherwise nonsensical waste of time.

But, clearly, there can’t be enough secondary market bobble-head buyers to provide an economic rationale for this behavior. These guys were standing on the line not for profit, but for Team Love.

Team Love falls way outside the experience of most women. Team Love is abstract, unrequited, unidirectional, and impersonal in the extreme. Team Love is pure and selfless love.

And therein lives another obstacle that women face in forming relationships. Once the female of the species passes early adolescence and evolves beyond a one-way attachment to teen idols, she tends to require that the person she chooses to love actually knows that she exists. In a word, women make demands upon their loved ones. That just ain’t so with Team Love. Those who experience Team Love fall for other people who don’t have a clue that their would-be Lovers are alive. I grant you that guys on the diamond, the rink, the court, or the field, may feel energized by the roar of the crowd, but that doesn’t mean they know or care one whit about their Lovers. Who among us can know, much less love, 35,000 screaming lunatics? Who would even want to? Yet not being known to or loved back by the Team is absolutely irrelevant to the stomping, chanting Lover in the stands wearing a jersey with some other guy’s name on his back.

Here’s another restraint females adhere to in relationships. Putting aside hook ups and self-delusional crushes, women tend to think it is a good idea to have relationships with particular individuals with specific identifiable attributes. Some women like good bodies, some fall for big brains, some go for fat wallets.
The Team Lover, on the other hand, is able to uncouple his emotions from any human characteristics that his love object may possess. The archetypical fan – say a guy from Providence -- loves the Red Sox. He loves them in his teens, twenties, thirties, forties, etc, etc. The faces on the team are forever changing, but the lover’s passion is steady. Loving a team amounts to loving a concept.

I’m just not that open-minded. If a stranger showed up one day in my husband’s suit, I couldn’t transfer my affection to the new guy without missing a beat.
But, hey, not so the Team Lover, who feels emotion based entirely on clothing. Dress a complete unknown in the right jersey and the Team Lover is hopelessly devoted. On the other hand, however, when the once-adored goalie, center forward, shortstop, or right end changes his uniform, the guy becomes a traitor, a creep, and a bum.

There’s yet another way in which Team Love surpasses women’s love. Women can’t share and Team Lovers can. A woman will despise another person if the two of them happen to have a passion for the same love object. Team Love is the opposite. Lovers who love the Team also love each other. In fact, they feel a sense of community. There’s a reason they call it Red Sox Nation.

Finally, the aspirational models of monogamy and family impose constrictions upon women’s love. Societal norms press women into having one love object at a time, with a few children thrown in for good measure. Team Lovers are omniamorous. They are able to love more than one Team at a time, when they are lucky enough that post-season play extends into the next Team’s pre-season schedule. They love their Teams, fellow Team Lovers, and non-Team Lovers, so long as the latter group is merely neutral and not aligned with some other Team.

And this all describes my husband, which is why I am so sure of my conclusions. Unlike me, he loves selflessly and purely, never making a demand, asking for notice, or wavering in his devotion. He is loyal under the most adverse circumstances, and cares little about human foibles in his loved ones. He is openhearted and forgiving. He never gives up on his love, no matter how little evidence there is that it is deserved.

He is the perfect Red Sox fan.

Stacey Brodsky has practiced law, been a stay-at-home mother, and taught middle school English over the course of the 17 years she has lived in Scarsdale with her husband, daughters, and a succession of dogs.

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A full auditorium of Scarsdale parents gathered on April 19 to hear Rachel Dretzin, producer of Growing up Online and Digital Nation, speak about the profound effects of technology on the human experience. Dretzin said the parents in the audience would be the last generation to remember what it was like to live without computers. In fact, technology is changing so rapidly that Dretzin could chronicle changes in parents concerns from 2007 to 2010. She noted the evolution of parents’ reaction to the Internet and new technologies, saying that in 2007, parents’ main concerns were digital predators. But today, most children are well aware of the dangers of meeting people online and the majority will avoid contact, by email, phone or in-person with those they meet online. Though there are still children at risk, she noted that most kids who get themselves into trouble on the Internet tend to be children who have problems in other areas of their lives. Dretzin argued that the Internet only amplifies issues already at play.

She then turned to the “daily bread” of growing up online for the majority of children. The Internet is changing the way children learn, process information and engage with others. She has found that science is in its infancy when evaluating the effects of technology on the way we learn and act. But one thing is for sure – everyone is more distracted by phones, blackberries, instant messaging and email. As a result, she feels it is important that parents carve out time where screens are put away to foster human contact. A recent study found that children complain about their own parents’ preoccupation with computers and phones and Dretzin suggests that as parents we set an example by focusing on children when they speak and looking kids straight in the face.

What is the impact of our myriad distractions? Are we successful at multi-tasking and juggling? Dretzin went to MIT to find out, where she spoke with professors and students about the effect of laptops in the lecture hall and the change in student study habits. Professors were vying for student attention in class, competing with instant messaging, and Google searches. According to Sherry Turkle, clinical psychologist and Director of the MIT Initiative on Technology and Self, kids need more and more stimulation due to the overload of information that surrounds them. In order to capture the audience in a class, professors have to come up with dazzling presentations that can outshine the laptop on the student’s desk.

A study of multi tasking was done at Stanford University, which showed that students were significantly slower at completing tasks when juggling several tasks at once. Though people think they can effectively multi-task, in reality they are not giving their undivided attention to any one area. When jumping from one task to the next, they had a sense of accomplishment but much fell through the cracks. Clifford Nass, who lead the study said, "It turns out that multi-taskers are terrible at every aspect of multi-tasking. They're terrible at ignoring irrelevant information; they're terrible at keeping information in their head nicely and neatly organized; and they're terrible at switching from one task to another." He added, "we worry that it (multi-tasking) may be creating people who are unable to think well and clearly.”

To combat distraction, Dretzin suggested that parents designate times where all technology is put away to give children time to reflect and relate. She bans all screens at mealtime and is attempting to extend the ban on technology to the Sabbath. She also recommended sitting with children who are composing or answering emails to point out how their words might be interpreted. Without feedback from the respondent, children may not realize the impact of their messages.

However, she cautioned against assuming that all technology is bad. The internet has extraordinary potential; information and answers are readily available and technology facilitates collaborative work. Even video games can be educational and we should not let our generational bias prevent us from embracing new advances. Are books necessarily better that information read online? New teaching and learning methodologies will develop in the 21st century and though we have lost some things in this massive shift, we have clearly gained as well.

As a mother of three school age children, Dretzin was able to develop an immediate rapport with Scarsdale parents and offer keen insights on parenting in a time of rapid change. You can watch the documentary Digital Nation which is streamed online here.

The program was sponsored by the Scarsdale PT Council

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Hartsdale resident and award-winning author Dana Perri has launched her own company to publish her children’s book series and products, www.thinkthenjump.com. Dana had been in the TV production industry for 20 years before turning her business and creative energies to writing children’s books. The fast paced lifestyle of production and NY living prompted her to create Think…then Jump™, a motto for living thoughtfully. She noted that in this ever rapid world of instant message, texting, Twitter and all the rest, we often find ourselves typing in, shouting out, acting out before we think of our behavior, and our children are following in our footsteps. For Dana, Think…then Jump™ is more than a children’s book series. It’s a way of life; a mantra that we can use as a gentle reminder to stop, take a breath and not just react. She acknowledges that it is important for children to learn about taking action, but feels it is equally important for them to learn about being mindful of the things they do and say. The goal behind the Think…then Jump™ concept is to focus on some simple but important things in life – kindness, sharing, thoughtfulness and responsibility for one’s actions. Think first; a simple yet often forgotten concept. Dana’s debut book, The Grumpy Frog, is a celebrated winner of the iParenting Media Award. Her second book, The Careless Frog, received an honorable mention from DIY Book Festival Awards.

Here is an interview with entrepreneur Dana Perri:

Tell us about your children’s book series.

The book series, which is mainly geared toward children 3-9, focuses on a little frog named Rana, who in various situations finds that he often jumps too quickly and doesn’t always make thoughtful decisions. With the help of his wise bird friend, Lulu, Rana the Frog learns that taking the time to think about his words and actions helps him make better choices. That is the basis behind Think…then Jump™, taking action but taking the time to be mindful about the splash we make in life.

What makes these books different?

The books are unique in their simple, direct stories and the vibrant, bold illustrations that children are completely drawn to, especially since they have a playful, child-like quality to them. The illustrator, Juan Carlos Casas, who by the way is my husband, used an interesting technique and was able to deliver the exact visual impact that I was looking for: Big, bold images with a splash of color that is not neatly colored within the lines. There is also another unique aspect to my books. I have included questions at the end in a section I call “Questions to Ponder”. These aid in opening up a dialogue with children, revealing their comprehension of the story as well as helping them to verbalize their feelings. This section has been very well received by the children, and especially the parents and teachers. My goal is to spread kindness and thoughtfulness, one word, one act, one leap at a time.

You were a TV production executive for many years, what spurred your career change?

For several years I had been trying to devise a new career path. Although I had a great deal of success and fun working in the TV industry, I found myself yearning to follow my heart and try to make a meaningful contribution. I suppose in a way I had Oprah’s ‘Live Your Best Life’ proclamation ringing in my head. This became even more pressing after I was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2005. By that time I had already written 5 stories in the series but just hadn’t done anything with them. My diagnosis made me realize that there is no time like the present to strive for and achieve your goals. And so began my glorious journey. The fact is that I have been writing in some form or another most of my life. Television production is a form of storytelling, so in some ways all I did was simply tweak the medium for telling my stories. At first, it was scary leaping into a new career, but mostly it is exciting to find joy in pursuing what makes my heart smile and feel like what I am contributing in a meaningful way.

Why did you choose to use your own company to publish these books?

There are several reasons and these are in no particular order of importance. The world of big business has been changing for some time and that is in part due to all the technology readily available. I first noticed this within the music industry, as that was my main focus in my TV career. I saw a radical change in how people made their music purchases. I think the publishing industry is feeling that same trend. I even noticed that here in Scarsdale, the Barnes and Noble shut down, which in my mind represented a big change. You can now get books downloaded anywhere, anytime through a multitude of devices. It completely alters the usual book buying/selling experience and thus the methodology has shifted. Entrepreneurs with good ideas now have the tools through technology and social media outlets to promote, sell and sustain a complete business entirely through their own efforts. I saw an opportunity to publish my own books and jumped on my lily pad. I did my due diligence. I tested the stories with children and had them reviewed by parents, educators, librarians and copywriters, each giving me excellent feedback, which I incorporated. I felt the product was strong and that I could market it on its merit. Another reason, publishers usually do not allow authors to collaborate with the illustrator. At the time, I didn’t feel I could work in that paradigm. I had a clear vision for the books and simply could not be absent from that part of production.

One other important aspect to publishing myself was to inspire my nieces and nephew. Since my husband and I don’t have children, they are an important part of my life. After years of hearing my stories, they continually questioned why the stories couldn’t be made into books. Their innocent and positive view of a world without obstacles or boundaries made me realize that anything is possible if you put forth the effort. And so, in a way to prove to them and myself that with passion, determination and hard work anything can be accomplished, I took the leap (of course, after a lot of thinking!!)

Where can people buy your books and shirts?

My products can be found on my website, www.thinkthenjump.com. The books can be found on Amazon and locally at the following locations. I would also like to add that I am an approved BOCES artist and available for Author School Visits.

Greenburgh Nature Center
99 Dromore Rd?
Scarsdale, NY 10583
www.greenburghnaturecenter.org

Reading, Writing & Wrapping
30 East Parkway
Scarsdale, NY 10583

Stone Barns Center
630 Beford Road
Pocantico Hills, NY 10591
www.stonebarnscenter.org

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Two experienced area teachers have launched Sociable Kidz LLC to help children ages 5-15 to navigate friendship, problem-solving and communications skills. Based in Mamaroneck, the teachers will hold sessions of 3-5 students after school and on Saturday mornings. Through role-playing, social stories, hands-on-activities and games, the teacher’s will work with students to teach them how to successfully manage many of the difficult situations they encounter. In addition, weekly parent support groups will be held to review the social skills taught to the children. Included in the eight-week sessions are free initial consultations with each family and the child.

Teachers Susan Hendler and Monica Weber together have 28 years of experience working with children. Hendler holds a masters degree in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Illinois and Weber has her Masters in Special Education and Early Childhood Education.

For more information, email sociablekidz@sociablekidz.com visit www.sociablekidz.com or call (914) 374-5024.

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I just returned from the famed spring break trip to the Bahamas, an annual rite for some entitled high school seniors. This year it was a trip with a twist – parents decided to go along with their kids in an effort to assure their safety.

Though my older children had taken similar trips and I had read Principal John Klemme’s article warning against it, I thought that if I was on the scene to supervise, my daughter could enjoy her break and I could be sure that she enjoyed it my way. Not wishing to make an example of my daughter by denying her a break with her friends, I put aside my reservations and booked the trip. However, I now realize that it's impossible to protect a teen in the Bahamas, whether you're on the scene or a thousand miles away at home.

When I set eyes on the Atlantis I was stunned. I had never seen an island resort of this scale and was awed by the expanse. A cross between Las Vegas and Disneyworld, splashed with aqua features and floor-to-ceiling fish tanks, Atlantis offered a stunning array of options. If gambling was your thing, there was a dazzling casino directly off the lobby. An underwater explorer? Go downstairs to see collections of sharks, stingrays, jellyfish and tropical fish. An epicurean? There’s island outposts run by Nobu, Mesa Grill, Carmines and even a restaurant from Jean- Georges. A thrill seeker? Climb up the Power Tower and hurl yourself into the deep Abyss.

Tasteless, tacky and inauthentic it is, but once you find the lost land of Atlantis you can easily get lost in the maze of attractions.

And the parents did try it all. Blessed with gorgeous weather we arose the next morning and embarked on the serpentine paths to find a place to sit. As there were few direct routes, we found ourselves walking in circles, dead-ending at gurgling hot tubs and spending precious minutes trying to get from one pool to the next.  The Moms spent the day sunning while the Dads were drawn to a nearby golf course and the casino. We spotted the men a few afternoons after they had emerged from the blackjack tables, their pockets bulging with bills. At the beginning I didn’t even notice all the water slides and rides as the architects have cleverly submerged “the lazy river” below grade as it snakes through the property. Though I heard screams from the Mayan Temple, it never registered that those were the voices of the riders.

One afternoon, one of the Dads roused my friend and me from our lounges to encourage us to try one of the rides. Reluctantly we got up and waded into the “river” to grab a raft. In minutes we were shooting down the rapids, forward and backwards, screaming in fear and delight. Through a maze of dark tunnels and tidal waves we toured the entire property and enjoyed the sun.

Initiated into the world of water attractions we decided to try something more daring and timidly clutched our rafts and ascended the Tower of Power. Up and up we climbed, getting shakier by the minute, especially when we reached the top of the stairs and saw the terrifying angle of the chute. With nowhere to go but down, and not wanting to be called a wimp, I boarded my raft and heeded the instructions of the Bahamian operator at the top. “Grab the handles, cross your legs, and keep your butt up.” With that, my friend and I flew down a 90-degree shoot in a double raft, airborne at times, and we quickly found ourselves twisting and turning in a dark tunnel. Ultimately we plunged into a pool of water, floated down and the fun continued. At one point, we were shot up a long ramp, powered by rushing water only to be hurled downward at terrifying speeds again.

Screaming at the top of my lungs, I could not remember getting an adrenaline rush like that ever before. I was hooked.

What happened to the kids? There were hundreds at Atlantis from all over the country, with and without parents. From what I saw, neither the water rides, nor the shark tanks seemed to hold much allure for the teens. Many seemed focused on drinking …whether it was planning the nights’ events, securing the liquor, plotting to get into the club or sleeping off the previous night’s hangover. Surrounded by myriad attractions and pleasures I was surprised that the power of a drink could trump it all. They often stayed out late, slept late and spent the rest of the day recovering from their hijinks. Though I tried to convince my daughter to avail herself of the daytime attractions, evening activites were much more compelling.

While the adults were busy acting like kids, the kids were making an attempt to be grown-up. We discovered the joy of the rides and enjoyed the fitness classes, walks, the dolphins and the ocean. The kids stayed up all night pushing their limits. Though most of the high schoolers on break in the Bahamas made it through the week without incident, there were scary reports of a drug bust, and students who drank too much and ended up in the hospital.

All in all did this model work? Should you take your kids on a spring break? In my view, unlimited alcohol and an unsupervised vacation is more freedom than 17 year-olds can handle. Though the days passed quickly, at night I found myself in my room sick with worry that my daughter would have a bad encounter with a strange man in the casino or get drunk and lured away from her friends at the bar. How would I locate her in this vast facility? With thoughts of Natalie Holloway in mind I wondered how I had endorsed this vacation. Putting aside the potential dangers, I realized that by paying for this vacation, I was enabling and encouraging this five-day binge.

The most terrifying slide at Atlantis is called the "Leap of Faith.” On the last day, as a veteran of “The Surge” and “The Drop”, I thought I could take that leap. I waited on line for a half hour and asked the photographer to take my photo before I took my final jump. With wobbly knees I sat down to go and peered down the chute. In a flash I realized I couldn’t do it. I scrambled back on my feet and retreated to a less terrifying slide.

In retrospect, taking my daughter to the Bahamas for this bacchanal was a leap of faith – and if I had to do it again, I would not take the risk.
 

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