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Teach Them Well

9 Aug

I’ve been trying to come to terms with the unsettling fact that I cannot shield my children from the wrongs of the world – nor can I keep them from contributing to them. I’m worrying I’m not doing enough to make sure they make the right decision or react the best way when mom and dad aren’t around or watching.

Recently, two things happened to Nate that hurt his heart. Other kids caused the pain. One involved a group of kids surrounding him while repeatedly calling him a word that should not have a negative feeling/meaning attached to it but obviously they’ve been guided to think that way. We do not think that way and Nate and Nia both know that. Nate was overwhelmed and didn’t know how to respond. The other situation was because he likes a little girl who one child said wasn’t Nate’s “type.” The child said that to Nate because the girl has darker skin than Nate. Apparently, the child’s parents made him write sentences for liking a girl who wasn’t his “type.” (!) This made Nate sad. (Heck yeah it should!) He didn’t understand. I told him we don’t think that way. “Is your girl friend nice to you?” I asked him. “That’s what matters to mommy and daddy. Not what a person looks like. You like the person you want to like. Don’t worry what others say. We do not judge whether we are going to like someone because of skin color or hair color or size or teeth or …” He told me he knew and then went on to be happy about this little girlie who makes him feel special.

These are 7-year-olds. They are taught this. I can only hope our teachings speak louder to Nia and Nate than what others are taught (or not taught for that matter).

I want them to remember to be kind, caring and considerate. Protect those who need it. Consider how their words or actions affect others. Have a helping heart. To instinctively know how to react when they witness – or are the target of – a hurtful act. Don’t turn to anger first as a solution. Think through their thoughts and be smarter than the pain and hate. Apologize with an excuse. Forgive without conditions attached.

Among the kindness, I want them to be strong and stand their ground when they know it’s the right thing to do. Fight back when absolutely necessary. Make mistakes and work to fix them or do better next time. Don’t let a fear of failing – or not being 100% at something – keep them from trying. Make the best/most of things. Find the bright spot through the darkness. Don’t be bored. Savor the still moments among the adventures and appreciate the challenges and tough times because they are blessings too. Be grateful.

I think through all those hopes for them and then realize – that stuff is hard for me to do as an adult and I want my kids to remember do it? I can hardly control my own responses to things. How can I control theirs? They are going to mess up. I know I’ve had many selfish and road rage moments of regret. All I can do is teach them well and hope they hear the guidance over all the wrongs.

I will try to remember too.

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All Heart

8 Jul

Barrow County 7U All-Stars

They went out there and never gave up. Never. Two games played. Two games lost. Two games full of heart.

This was the first year for Barrow County to have a 7 and under All-Star team. The first year for the 7U to place in the district tournament. The first year for the 7U to make it to the Dizzy Dean State Tournament.

No, they didn’t win. In fact, they didn’t score a single run in either game. What they did though was keep playing with all their heart. They kept that heart in the pouring rain and after a two-hour mid-game rain delay where they had their concession stand hot dogs and french fries passed to them through the dugout fence. They kept that heart as their side of the board still glowed “0” inning after inning. Diving for catches, hustling for hits to outfield, swinging away, earning each base they ran or slid to claim. In the end, Nate didn’t cry because the team lost. He cried at dinner, hours after the game, because “I don’t want my season to be over” and “I won’t get to see my friends for a long time now.”

I’m beyond proud of these boys. They had so much fun playing the sport they love and hanging out as a team. They became that team within days after playing against each other in the regular spring season. Watching them on and off the field, you would never think they were ever opponents. They swam and laughed together, hunted slugs together until way past their bedtime, enjoyed a funny movie together, ate meal after meal together … On the field, they cheered each other on during the games and always showed support and concern for each other.

Nate can’t tie his shoes. He needs help cutting his steak. He can’t reach the hotel sink to brush his teeth. He can, however, track a hit baseball in the air and know exactly how to move to make the catch. They all know what they need to do to try to stay on that dirt for just one inning more. These little boys are so remarkable. Sure, they will lose games – but I have a feeling they will never lose their heart.

He Caught That

He Caught That?!

She Made Me “Aunt Cole”

25 May

In a few days, the first baby I ever loved, held and missed will graduate from high school. I feel so lucky that my sister wanted me with her when her first daughter was going to be born. Savannah Nicole entered the world with classic red hair and greeted us with her first baby sound. I swear she said, “Hi.” She’s just that cool too.

A talented musician and artist. A clever and creative personality. Kind, considerate, funny and unique in every way. I couldn’t be more proud of her accomplishments and ability to overcome. She captured my heart with her first hello …

Therapy
(Written by me about Savannah in 1998)

She makes me smile when I feel sad
Thinking of her, looking at her picture
Because I miss her, miss her goofy
Miss her loud, miss her maniac, miss her “fier”

Bundles of screams, giggles and whines
Running around the room, spinning circles
Watching her do crazy baby things
Wishing I could see her now

Hours away, her giggles through the wire
“Where Aunt Cole go?” echoes in my mind
Puts a dimple in my cheek and a warmth in my heart
I don’t feel sad anymore
She is therapy

I love you, Savannah. Congratulations on your high school graduation. Can’t wait to see what’s next for you.

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Who’s Your Superhero?

12 May
Love Their Heroes

Love Their Heroes

I am under no superhero code or secrecy so be careful what you email me. It might become a blog. The words below are Andrew’s in an email to me after I asked him which superhero he’d be if he could pick from any of them.

So, I put some thought into the which superhero question and I have expanded my answer.

Why Batman? Mostly, Batman had no super powers and yet is a super hero. Superman — is Superman. Spider-Man — Spidery characteristics. Green Lantern — has the ring and stuff.

Batman is just a guy with cool toys and training that works in his favor.

If I were to rank order though:

1. Batman

2. Iron Man (He has the powered suit and stuff but his real strengths are his brain and his character.)

3. Spider-Man (The boy-next-door hero is what I like most about him.)

4. Wolverine (Mostly his personality and the super healing is cool.)

5. Green Lantern (I blame Ryan Reynolds.)

With all that shared, I hope Andrew knows there are two kids and a lady who think he’s pretty super. Just as he is.

Sleepy Soldier Taking a Break

Sleepy Soldier Taking a Break

Daddy & Daughter Love

Daddy & Daughter Love

Rough-n-Tumble Boys

Rough-n-Tumble Boys

AthHalf

Daddy’s Biggest Fans

Caution: Bridge May Ice in Winter

21 Apr

So many life lessons exist for the kids within the miles and hours spent in a cocoon on wheels with other people.

  • We need fuel to run. This can be taught by the amount of gas fill-ups needed or snack food fixes you’ll require. Even though we know they aren’t good for us, we will most often invite things we don’t eat on any other normal day – chips, beef jerky, Combos, giant pickles in bags and Swedish Fish – to be an additional travel companions.
  • Sleep happens.
  • Interstate billboards offer you plenty of knowledge nuggets about religion, sex, eating habits and laws we should follow to make society better and safer.

21 is the legal drinking age.

Litter is bad.

Speed limit is slower than you’re driving.

Seat belts even keep a picture of the state of Georgia safe.

  • Stretching is important.
  • Too much time trapped with the same people causes fits of laughter, whining, tested nerves and lunacy. Such are the emotions many of us go through on a given day.
  • The road trip games we play can offer quite a few lessons. For example, we enjoy the alphabet game. We play ours by finding words on signs, billboards and cars that go in alphabetical order. You can’t say the same word as another person unless it’s for Q, X and Z. (The toughest to find.) First person to find the Z word, wins. This most recent road trip showed me how this game wad teaching the kids:
    • Patience – sometimes you need to wait for 20 minutes and few signs before finding your word.
    • Things don’t always come easy – daddy was driving too fast by signs, some signs were blocked by other vehicles, one person would say a word faster, etc.
    • Make the best of a situation – when you are the only one still looking for a G word, sing a silly song about the letter G and how it is hiding from you. (Nia had a lot of original tunes.)
  • Be ready for the speed bumps. Traffic, accidents, car issues, items accidentally left on the roof, wrong or misread directions, a threatening wasp unexpectedly trapped in the small space with you, a spilled drink, and/or extra pit stops will attempt to throw you off course and shatter your spirit. How you handle these situations is a glimpse at how you’d handle problems at school, work or relationships. Proceed with caution.

Faces Among Us

19 Apr

You walked by children, women and men all gathered for a joyous event. You brushed by bright yellow balloons being held in the hands of a lady waiting to celebrate someone she loved. You almost touched one person as you made your way to the point in your plan.

I saw you standing next to a group of people. You spent time in their presence and likely heard their conversations. Did someone give you a smile? Did you make eye contact with anyone? Maybe even exchange a few friendly words we often share when we’re standing next to strangers momentarily connected because of the time and place? How could you stand among them – be so close – and still want to hurt them?

None of that would’ve been good enough to change what happened though, right? You were determined. You had a mission. The faces around you weren’t going to make you think twice. You were a robot. No. That would actually mean you wouldn’t feel emotion after what you did. But you did feel emotion, didn’t you? Is that when you were happy? Did you feel as though you accomplished something? Proud?

I don’t know why I’m trying to understand something that’s incomprehensible to me. With every heartbreaking act of violence, I try to grasp the why of it even when the why may not change the sadness caused. I look around at people I encounter on any given day and I wonder how many people are having insincere pleasantries with me. They make me think they must be ok because of that reciprocated smile or brief elevator conversation but in reality they may be hiding something dark.

No, our smiles or positive energy may not be enough to stop people from wanting to cause us harm. In some way, it may actually fuel their desire to hurt us. Some of the faces among us are a dangerous mystery but we can’t let them steal away the things that makes us different. Our consideration and compassion for others. Our heart. Spirit.

I will continue to smile at strangers and offer kind (and often awkward on my part) words to them. I have a hope it will do more good than harm.

Laugh Track Humor

24 Feb

funny“Why do they keep laughing at everything she says?”

It’s a valid question, Nate. Especially since 75% of what comes out of her scripted sitcom mouth is not funny. (Or is it?)

“It’s called a laugh track, buddy. Basically, the people who make the tv show have a sound that makes it seem like an audience is laughing. They use it so we know something was meant to be funny.” Even when it’s not.

That got me thinking about the whole chicken versus egg thing and questions started ping-ponging around in my brain.

How much do we learn about humor from the laugh track cues on sitcoms? (Are many of us are trained to laugh at things because of what we absorbed watching tv punchlines that producers led us to believe are hysterical because of an audience reaction?)

Why do you want to teach my children to laugh at the sassy little girl on your program? Do you know how hard I’m working to teach them not to sass? Sure, I know we don’t have to watch your show but I actually do find that sassy little girl comical – probably because of the early laugh track humor invasion established in my brain at an early age. Instead, I’ll just watch the show with them and when her line hits I’ll smirk in my head and then reinforce to the kids, “We shouldn’t talk to people that way.” I’m so conflicted and hypocritical over here.

How much of our humor comes naturally? Some are just born with a fabulous sense of humor? Maybe we learn it from the adults we had around us as we grew up? Funny friends? But where did they learn that someone tripping over a chair and into a pile of garbage is funny? Banana peel on a head and then a quirky line to cut to commercial? Bwa-ha-ha! (I only laugh at these scenes on special days.) What makes me laugh so hard at the zany things Amy Duncan does on Good Luck Charlie? I laugh at her daily and only feel a little ashamed about it. And why the heck do I think the drunk driving scene in 40-Year-Old Virgin is funny? It’s so wrong. So wrong. But it makes my laugh go silent and tears fill in my eyes because it strikes me as hilarious. Surely I can’t connect that demented sense of humor to laugh tracks?

Are emoticons the electronic equivalent to a televised laugh track, helping readers know when they are supposed to smile? How will we know when to chuckle or that someone is just kidding unless they give us a 🙂 or a ;)?

Of course, I am ridiculous and these are all just the inner-workings of my mind as I was doing the dishes one night. It does make me laugh when I think about it all though. Which makes me wonder …

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