Tags Posts tagged with "Daughter"

Daughter

We all have our routines. We go to certain restaurants, drive certain routes to work and support certain gas stations, where we know we’ll get a competitive price, a friendly response from the attendant and rapid service.

When we travel, everything changes. We sleep in unfamiliar beds, flick the channels on television stations where the stations aren’t the same numbers as they are on Long Island, and navigate along routes that aren’t our familiar pattern.

Breaking the routine offers us a chance to step away from our lives and to experience something new. Maybe we’ll go to a museum in a new city or visit a place we’ve seen in a movie, which blends both the familiar and the unknown.

Our level of adventure and appetite for risk — as in, what happens if I don’t like the experience — can rise or fall depending on our travel companions.

Recently, I visited another city for a weekend with my daughter, who was traveling with a group of her teenage contemporaries and their parents. We all managed to get to our designated stops in our cars and to return to a hotel chain so ubiquitous that, with the blinds closed and without access to the local weather on TV, we could have been in Anywhere, USA.

We each had a GPS and an address for our activities which reduced both the stress and the adventure that came from the unknown.

While we could have gotten lost, the probability of that seemed slim. Getting lost, nerve-racking as it might have been 20 years ago, is almost an impossibility with navigation systems built into cars, phones and watches.

Following an afternoon activity, several of the girls decided they were hungry. One of the members of the group suggested a national pizza chain, to which the others readily agreed.

I wrinkled my brow at the suggestion and wondered, as a cellphone order was quickly placed, whether we might want to try a local pizza restaurant instead.

“No, that’s OK,” I was assured. “This will be better.”

I waited in a packed car until the order was placed, at which point the girl in the back transferred the address to her mother, who was riding shotgun during my weekend away with my daughter.

“Honey,” the mom said, “are you sure you dialed the closest restaurant?”

“Yes,” the daughter grumbled, shaking her head at her mother.

“I just checked the address for this restaurant and it’s two hours from here. You sure you want a pizza that far away?”

“Wait, what?” the daughter said, double-checking the address and the phone. Sure enough, the restaurant was on the other side of the state.

“Wait, before you order from a closer one,” I said, as she was already searching her phone for a nearby restaurant, “we’re sitting right outside a pizza restaurant. Don’t you want to try this one?”

“No, thanks,” she said, trying to be polite to someone else’s parent. “We want this one.”

When we got to the closer restaurant, we ran into another parent who was picking up pizza for his family. With so many other local choices, how did both families make the identical choice?

I suppose they might have discussed their food preference during the day. That was unlikely, given the social split in the group.

Alternatively, they have become so accustomed to the familiar that they prefer it, even when traveling.

I suppose when the opportunity for something new and different knocks, people don’t always feel the urge to answer the door.

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Remember those punching dummies from years ago? They were like Weebles wobbles, where you could smack them as hard as you wanted and they would come popping up for more.

I think we need some kind of equivalent device for modern technology. Sure, cellphones allow us to talk to each other from anywhere in the world, see each other’s faces and share pictures on our way to school, to restaurants or to the most mundane places, but they and their cousins, the computers, can also be like sand in the bottom of our socks.

My daughter sends pictures of herself from the car to her friends. Why? What do they see in these pictures? In many of them, she doesn’t even seem to be centered and her eyes are closed — maybe that’s a generational complaint. Anyway, if these friends were in the car with her, they wouldn’t be looking at each other. Rather, they would be sending pictures of themselves to other people in other cars. Modern technology has encouraged parallel play to such an extent that phone users prefer to interact from afar. When I see my daughter smiling at these ridiculous pictures while mumbling something incoherent to me, I’d like to remove the phone from her hand and toss it out the window.

It would cost way too much money to do that every time she annoyed me and, worse, I might hit someone with her phone.

That’s where the new device comes in. I’d like to have some version of her phone that I could pretend-smash into a thousand pieces.

That frustration doesn’t just involve technology with my children. I have had numerous problems with my computer when I’m on deadline and I can’t afford to stare at a colorful circle that’s freezing my system or a cursor that refuses to respond to my movements across the page.

Sometimes, I feel as if technology is experimenting with me. There’s someone sitting behind a monitor, using my phone or computer’s camera and is waiting for just the moment when I have no extra time and is sending a “kill” signal to my computer.

“Wait, no, no, no!” I shout at the disobedient machine. “Please, please, please, I have to send this now.”

“Heh, heh, heh,” a mischievous elf who decidedly does not work for Santa Claus is thinking as he watches my panicked face.

Instead of pushing the same unresponsive button a thousand times, I’d like an inflatable computer that I can throw across a room, kick as hard as I can or punch without injury. I’d also like to hear the sound of breaking glass as I’m doing it, as if the destructive force I’m applying is somehow damaging the computer as much as it’s upsetting my psyche.

I know breaking real glass and destroying real technology would not only be bad for me and my bank account, but it would also create waste and pollute the environment. I need something that can give me the faux satisfaction of my caveman instinct to strike back at something that’s bothering me.

I can type pretty quickly on my computer, but my thick fingers and the small keyboard on a smartphone, coupled with a spell-checker that hates the last names of my contacts, are a combustible mix. Maybe the next time the computer autocorrects something and then adds an error, I can hit a button that can give me a virtual sledgehammer so that I can virtually shatter my screen into a million pieces. Of course, I’d need the phone to work almost immediately after that because someone, somewhere needs me to send a “LOL” to their mistyped text message.

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We are all proud of our children. It’s part of the perks of becoming a parent. We beam when they can walk, we celebrate what they say. We applaud their gold stars on their homework sheets, positive comments from their teachers, and their contributions to transformative musical performances that echo long in our minds.

Recently, I attended one of my daughter’s volleyball matches. She is on a new team and I didn’t know most of the other players. As soon as the first set started, it was clear that two of the girls were the leaders, covering tremendous ground to get to a ball, setting the ball from impossible distances to the net, and flying high in the air to spike a ball onto an open spot on the floor.

These two girls were inspiring their teammates with their play, even as they seemed to demand more from themselves with each set.

During the downtime between sets, parents came over to share congratulations, to offer apple slices, and to step away from the loud gym where other girls and their parents were screaming at and applauding each point.

Recognizing this will be a long season and that we’re in this together, I started chatting with several of the other parents, especially when all the children dove headlong into their cellphones during their downtime.

“My daughter is No. 7,” said a beaming woman whose daughter was about 4 inches taller than she was.

“Great,” I nodded appreciatively. “How long did it take you to drive here?”

The conversations were fairly mundane until one of the fathers of the two stronger players shared a plug to charge his iPhone.

“Your daughter is a great player,” I acknowledged.

“Thanks,” he said with a smile. “She’s a survivor.”

“Excuse me?” I asked.

“Yes, she had cancer when she was 1 year old. The pediatrician was doing a routine exam and found something. We sent her for tests and, sure enough, she had cancer.”

“Wow,” I said, stunned that the conversation wasn’t about the weather, if a ball was in or out in the last set, or what we should all do for dinner if we had to stay much longer.

“We went to a bunch of doctors and, finally, we decided to have surgery. Good thing we did, because it was malignant,” he offered.

She probably doesn’t remember it, I thought, because she was too young.

“She actually got cancer again when she was 6, and had to have surgery and chemo when they found out it was malignant again,” he said.

“She’s recovered well,” I admired.

She isn’t particularly tall, but she flies around the court, setting the ball from almost any angle without ever seeming to tire.

“Oh, yeah, well, she goes for testing regularly now, just to be sure,” he said.

She volunteers at a hospital where other children have cancer. She encourages other children and tells them that she knows how they feel. When they seem to doubt it, she shows them a copy of a picture in his wallet of his two daughters when they were 8 and 6. The older girl towers over the younger one, who is impossibly thin and bald.

Looking into this father’s face, I could see that he wasn’t only proud of the difficult journey his daughter had taken but he was inspired. So, too, as it turns out is someone else in the family.

“Yeah,” he said with a nod. “It’s why her older sister is now going to school to become a nurse.”

Sal and Gina Mingoia perform at the Sound Beach civic’s Pet Adopt-A-Thon on Saturday, Sept. 26, at the outside of the Hartlin Inn. Photo by Giselle Barkley

Sal Mingoia grew up in a musical family, and now, so does his 17-year-old daughter and performer in crime, Gina.

The daddy-daughter duo began performing together five years ago after Sal Mingoia invited his daughter to one of his gigs. Gina Mingoia showed an interest in music at a very young age, according to her father, and her interest sparked his idea to invite his then 12-year-old daughter to the bar where he was scheduled to perform.

“I’m nobody’s warm-up act,” Sal Mingoia said.

Since then, the Shoreham pair took the stage together — Sal Mingoia on the guitar and vocals and Gina Mingoia as the lead singer — performing country and original songs the daughter writes. While Sal Mingoia is no stranger to the music scene, as he started performing in bands at 14 years old, he and his wife Denise never thought their daughter would perform.

“She was the shyest kid,” her mother said. “She would be hiding here behind me.”

The first time their daughter sang for an audience was during a family event. Her mother remembered her sitting on a chair in front of the refrigerator looking at a sheet of music as she played the guitar and sang for her family. This was before a teacher made her a lead character in a school play, which helped Gina Mingoia combat her shy demeanor.

Last year, her voice and determination took her as far as “The Voice.” After auditioning for the show last July, the judges told her to come back and they would automatically put her through to the second round. She has yet to go back and try out.

For Sal Mingoia, entering the music scene was not as nerve-wracking. His father was a jazz guitar player before he passed away, and although Sal Mingoia never received formal lessons, his father tapped into his musical abilities when he was a child. The father’s three brothers and sisters are also musically inclined. Family functions like birthdays and holidays such as Christmas are never a dull moment for the Mingoia family as each event allows the family to perform together.

While singing is fun for the family and the daddy-daughter duo alike, practicing and performing is a balancing act for Sal Mingoia and his daughter. The summer months are busier for the pair as they regularly perform at the Baiting Hollow Golf Club. However, during the academic year Gina Mingoia, a Shoreham-Wading River student, balances school and other activities while her father’s availability is more limited, as he also serves as a Suffolk County policeman and a performer for a folk rock band.

“It’s not easy — I have to schedule myself a few days in advance,” Mingoia said regarding scheduling practice with his daughter.

The two admitted that practices can be stressful.

“Singing is easy, you just have to hear the song once and then you can sing,” Gina Mingoia said. “But to learn the guitar part, you have to play around with [the song] and find the notes you’re looking for. It stresses me out when he doesn’t know what he’s going to do ahead of time.”

Finding appropriate songs to perform is another issue. When it comes to performing cover songs, the pair needs to find a song that works for them, both musically and lyrically. The song must be appropriate for the two to sing, but they also need to transform the piece. On the radio, the music incorporates several instruments, background singers and other levels, but for the daughter and her father, it’s just them and a guitar.

Performing at sensitive events like fundraisers for Gina Mingoia’s former friend, Tom Cutinella, a Shoreham-Wading River High School football player who died last year after suffering a fatal injury from a collision during a game, are also difficult. The two usually “feel out the crowd” to see what songs might work best.

While the duo figures out their plan as they practice for gigs, Sal Mingoia said he doesn’t mind if his daughter goes solo.

“For me, I’m just kind of her back-up band,” he said. “I think it’s a unique thing that it’s a father-daughter thing. Not too much of that is happening, but if someone wanted to sign her and throw me aside, that’s perfectly fine.”