Archives

I See You

A few weeks ago, I was at the beach and I saw a young woman walking with her two little boys and her husband.  Her husband was disabled, walking with a cane and appearing to have lost some muscle function in his arms and legs.  I keep thinking about the woman and what I would have said to her at the right time, in the right place.  This blog post is for that woman, and the other young people who are caring for an ill or disabled spouse, while raising a family.

To The Woman on the Beach:

I see you.

I see you enjoying a day in the sun with your family.

I see you including your husband, who is clearly finding it a challenge to walk in the sand.

I see you take his hand, silently letting him know you are there for him.

I see your little boys, enjoying the sand, seashells and surf like all little boys would at the beach, happily oblivious to what you and he are going through.

I see you trying to make life as normal as you can…for your boys and for your husband.

I see you putting on a happy face, even when you aren’t happy.

I see your concern for the man you love.

I see your heartache and your heartbreak…watching the man you love suffer, wondering what your future will be like, wondering if you will someday be alone.

I see your worry…worry for your husband and his future, worry for your boys and their future, worry for yourself and your future.

I see your exhaustion.

I see your resentment and your guilt.

I see your loyalty.

I see your commitment.

I see you lying in bed in the wee hours of the night, waiting for the darkness to pass and the light to return.

I see your sadness.

I see you taking one step after another, walking through the storm, hoping that someday there might be sun again.

I see you trying to find happiness wherever you can.

I see you being grateful for all the little things.

I see you wishing for things you may never have.

I see you laughing.

I see your tears, cried silently when you are alone.

I see your appreciation for the moments you have together.

I see you taking care of everyone’s every day needs, while putting your own aside.

I see you wishing you could have time to yourself.

I see you keep going even when you think you can’t.

I saw you on the beach that day.  I saw you, and I want you to know, I understand.

 

Advertisements

Beyond The Cover

You can’t judge a book by its cover.  How many times have we heard that phrase?  We know what it means…you can’t judge something based on its appearance.  Yet, it’s human nature to do exactly that.  How many times have we seen a dirty, homeless person on the street, and thought to ourselves how lazy they are, or perhaps mentally ill, or just plain losers?  How many times have we looked at someone of a different race and made assumptions about them based on stereotypes?

A little over a year ago, we were on vacation in Sunset Beach, North Carolina.  My daughter, Hannah, was 14 at the time and had brought a friend with her for the week.  One day, they decided to walk down to a group of gift shops because her friend wanted to buy her younger siblings some souvenirs.  As they walked through the store, the owner followed them around, and then finally kicked them out and told them not to come back.  Both girls were shocked because they had been doing nothing but looking around.  They weren’t bothering anyone, or acting suspicious, or trying to steal.   What were they guilty of?

Both girls were teenagers.  Both were wearing black, perhaps one or both of them had a skull somewhere on their clothes.  Both of them had numerous piercings in their ears, and Hannah’s friend had gauges that enlarge the earlobe.  They may have been wearing black eyeliner.  Did the woman feel threatened by them because of their appearance?  Did she judge them as shoplifters because they looked different?  That’s a shame if that’s what she did.  Not only did she lose a sale that day, but she also made two nice, honest  girls feel offended by her actions.  They felt what it was like to be stereotyped and judged, based on their appearance.  Both of them were upset and didn’t understand why they were being judged when they weren’t doing anything wrong in the store.  I explained to both of them that the woman likely judged them by their appearance, and even though I know, and they know, that they are good girls, the woman saw only their style, and reacted based on that.

Hannah is now 16, and she wants to get her nose pierced…a small stud on the side of her nose.  I have always told her that I wouldn’t allow her to pierce her face, but I am allowing this small piercing.  Why?  Because I think it looks pretty.  All of her piercings have small holes so that they can be removed when she wants, and they won’t leave large holes in her body.  Hannah wants to go to nursing school, and eventually she will be going to interviews for jobs.  She has seen first-hand how appearance affects people’s opinions.  She understands that it’s okay to have your own personal style, but that there are times that you may have to tone it down in order to get to where you want to be.

There are some people that have told Hannah that it’s “wrong” to have piercings, or that the way she dresses is wrong.  She’s been told by family members that she is ruining the body that “God gave her.”  She has been made to feel bad for what she likes as her own personal style.  She has been judged based only on that style.  She has been given gift cards for her birthday in past years for places like Aeropostale, or Hollister by people who think the preppy look is the “right” look.  Isn’t that a not-so-subtle way of telling her that her appearance is wrong? I think that a lot of us look at the people close to us, and feel that their appearance reflects on us.  If she is wearing black and has her nose pierced, what does that say about me?  It says nothing.  It’s not about the rest of us.

People overlook her amazing qualities, and allow her appearance to overshadow them.  Hannah is a person who is open minded, doesn’t judge others, and is quick to speak up when she feels someone else is being judgmental.  She has no tolerance for intolerance.  She is loving, and caring, and wants to spend her life caring for the sick.  Yesterday, Hannah and two of her friends saw a large amount of garbage left in the woods near our house.  They filled three garbage bags with someone else’s trash, brought it home, and put it in our garbage pails.  Are those the actions of a person that deserves to be told she is ruining what God gave her, or to be kicked out of a gift shop for doing nothing but shopping?

Never judge a book by its cover.  Hannah’s cover is beautiful, regardless of a few holes, or the black clothing it wears.  Her cover encases a beautiful soul that shines wherever she goes.  Don’t miss the soul because of the cover.  Wherever you go, take a moment to look beyond the cover, and see the soul inside.  THAT is what counts.

How Not To Raise An Unlikable Kid

I’ve worked in an elementary school for the past 6 years.  It’s probably the single most entertaining job I’ve ever had.  Kids crack me up, and I am that person who is likely to giggle for a little too long when someone’s little darling innocently makes some innuendo filled statement that only an adult would notice.  Kids can be adorable, and wise beyond their years…or they can be little dicks.  I’ve had multiple conversations with multiple adults about how disrespectful children can be these days.  You used to be able to count on one hand how many kids were poorly behaved and disrespectful.  Unfortunately, the tides have turned and it’s more likely that you can count well behaved, respectful kids on one hand.  With this in mind, I give you my advice on how to prevent your kid from being on the ugly side of that statistic.

 

1.     Teach them that it’s not amusing to be a little punk who ignores the directions of adults.  Believe me, we know they find it amusing because they tend to have a smirk on their face that makes even the most even keeled of adults want to slap it off their face and into next week.   It’s not cute, it’s not because they’re young, it’s because they haven’t learned to respect adults.

 

2.     Teach them that the adults at school are NOT blind.  When we see them do something right in front of us, it means WE SAW IT!  No matter how many times they say they didn’t do it, WE SAW THEM DO IT!   This might be a good time to start teaching them accountability.  When they punch a co-worker in the ribs in front of their boss someday,  they won’t get away with saying they didn’t do it.

 

3.     Teach your child some independence.  Show them how to open a friggin straw, or wipe their mouths.  For the love of all that is great and holy, teach them how to wipe or blow their nose!  It’s unbelievable how many kids need help with EVERYTHING.  It’s not because they aren’t capable, it’s because they never have to do anything for themselves.  I’ve seen parents come to school for parties or lunch, and they literally spoon feed their child!  PLEASE, let them do things for themselves.  They will be okay.

 

4.     Teach them not to be wimps.  Seriously.  Life is a lot easier when you can suck it up and move on.  There are so many kids who whine over trivial injuries, invisible cuts,  and act like they are crippled for life when they have  microscopic booboos.  Then you have the kids who suffer daily with hourly stomach aches.  A lot of this is for attention, so for everyone’s sake…especially your child’s…give them the attention they need.

 

5.     Teach them to be a good friend.  Nobody likes a tattletale, and there are kids who make it their job to rat out every other kid in sight, for even the slightest of transgressions.  Unless a classmate is going to get hurt, it’s usually okay to let things slide.  Teach your kids that manipulating others, talking behind people’s backs, ranking friends, and being visually disgusted when someone sits next to them, is not going to win them friends.  Teach them to be kind.  It’s not okay to be mean and hurt people’s feelings.

 

6.     Teach your kid that not every damn thing that is said and done “hurts their feelings.”  A lot of kids like to use that phrase to get other kids in trouble.  They tell the adults at school that so-and-so hurt their feelings, usually with an annoying smirk on their face. Refer back to rule #4.  Tell them to get over it.

 

Clearly, this is not an exhaustive list.  It’s just a starter guide, if you will.  It boils down to teaching kids that school is a place for learning, and that teachers and other adults are to be listened to, responded to, and respected.  Stop babying your kids, stop assuming they are always innocent, teach them how to do for themselves, and to treat other kids the way they want to be treated.   Ultimately, it will make your child a better member of society, a better friend, and a better person.  It will also prevent you from being the parent of the kid that nobody likes.  Don’t be the parent of THAT kid.

Let Kids Do Nothing

It’s Friday.  The day the world rejoices because their work week is over.  It’s the only day of the school week that my kids don’t mind getting up.  Weekends are full of possibility and free time.  To me, the beauty of the weekend is sleeping in, and enjoying my time at home.  It’s also a chance to do laundry (just enough to get through a couple of days), clean the house (just enough to avoid a ‘condemned’ notice from the health department), and perhaps cook a meal that doesn’t involve french fries and the microwave.   Mostly, I just enjoy being home.  I am a homebody.  I like going out sometimes, but my home is my oasis from the craziness of the world.  I don’t need my weekends full of social events and gatherings.  In fact, being out and about all weekend would stress me out.

Unfortunately, my kids disagree.  Right after the school buses come rolling by to drop off my little darlings, the pestering starts.  “What are we doing this weekend?”  “I’m bored.”  “How can you stand being home and not doing anything?”  “Can we do something?”  Granted, it’s fun for kids to have places to go and things to do on the weekend.  And we DO do things.  They spend a lot of time with their friends, and we occasionally go out to eat, or to a kid-friendly entertainment spot.  But the incessant requests for entertainment from Friday night to Sunday night is a little much.

I tell them all the time that when I was a kid, we didn’t spend all weekend going to places to be entertained.  Once in a while we would do things like that, but for my generation, weekends were spent with friends from the neighborhood.  Our days were filled with riding bikes, going to the park, and hanging out at each other’s houses.  It was the 70s and an awesome time to be a kid.  Even when we were home, we did things like hang out in our rooms, playing by ourselves, drawing, or reading.  We even went outside alone, or with siblings, to find things to do.  I know it isn’t the 70s any more and times have changed.  But when did it become the norm for people to spend weekends, school breaks and summer vacations endlessly entertaining their kids?

On a very frequent basis,  my kids tell me about all the fun things their friends are going to do and the places they go with their parents.  I see it myself on facebook at the end of almost every weekend.  Many parents post multiple pictures of their kids out at restaurants, the skating rink, the trampoline park, the theater, hotels, rock climbing, bowling, the movies, etc…and these are people who do several of these things EVERY weekend. When are the kids getting time to just hang out and BE?

When did we turn into a society that makes entertaining our kids a priority every weekend?  How will these kids learn to cope with quiet and solitude? How will they learn to cope with being bored, and finding something to do by themselves?  How will they learn to be their own friend?  The need that so many kids have for constant stimulation makes me sad.  Having down time and finding creative ways to entertain themselves now, will be of benefit to them as they get older.

As they say, “to each his own.”  They also say, “everything in moderation.”  In my opinion, it’s important for everyone…kids and adults…to learn to stop and smell the roses.  Go out to that restaurant, or to a party, but save just a little bit of time for doing nothing.  Doing nothing sparks creativity, and gets the brain thinking.  It leaves time for imagination to be used.  It lets the brain rest.  The world still needs creativity, imagination and new ideas.  Doing nothing leaves time for those things.  It really is okay to do nothing.

The Corgi, the Chihuahua, and the Pit Bull

Facebook has been inundating my page with all kinds of quizzes.  Which Soprano are you? Which Family Guy Character are you? Which Seinfeld character? And so on.  I admit, they’re fun to take, and really pretty accurate for something so…corny.  The latest one I took was “What type of dog are you?”  I assumed I would get some cute, lovable breed like golden retriever, based on my penchant for chasing balls, eating cookies and looking cute.  But no.  I got Pit Bull.  Those of you who know my opinion on the killing, maiming breed will see the hilarious irony of that.  The description wasn’t so bad…it said that I am sweet and lovable, but misunderstood.  Thankfully, it left out my violent tendencies toward innocent toddlers.  But I digress.

My daughters saw this quiz while annoyingly reading over my shoulder while I was on Facebook last night.  Being dog lovers, they wanted to take the quiz.  They went through the questions and answered them as well as they could.  I’m really glad that neither one of them picked “sex” as their favorite exercise.  But again, I digress.  One of them turned out to be a corgi and one of them, a chihuahua.  The descriptions were relatively accurate, but they are irrelevant to my point.  My favorite question on this quiz was “What’s your biggest pet peeve?”  Both of my girls answered with, “People who are judgmental.”  That happens to be the same pet peeve I picked in the quiz.

I sat here as they finished taking their quizzes and thought about their intolerance toward judgmental attitudes.  I knew they both had a disdain for that particular character trait, and we’ve discussed why people are the way they are in the past.  My oldest daughter is always quick to come to the defense of someone she feels is being unfairly judged, and she has frequently called people out when they’ve been judgmental.  She also looks at the people in her life without noticing color, culture or sexual orientation.  I am incredibly proud of her for that.  It’s one of my favorite things about her.  People are proud of their kids for all kinds of things, as they should be. I am proud of my kids’ accomplishments and talents as well, but the pride I can have for good character in my children is far more important to me than grades or sports scores.  They will take good character and loving hearts with them through life, even as they leave school, grades and sports behind.  So far, my corgi and my chihuahua are off to a good start.

The fact is that we are all judgmental sometimes.  It’s just part of being human.  We are constantly judging other people’s choices and situations, not necessarily in a negative way, but more in a comparison of how we would handle the same situation or make the same choice.  It’s hard to judge someone’s situation without judging the people involved.  However, I think the world would be a better place if we could look at other people as doing the best they can in the situation they’re in.  If we could all just look at people as human beings…not their color, sexual preference, culture, clothing, tattoos, piercings, attractiveness, weight or intelligence…we could all live a little happier.

The corgis and chihuahuas of this world make no judgments and love unconditionally.  I will keep my judgments to myself regarding the pitbull.  I would prefer to be a golden retriever.