Silent Screams (and other odd sounds)

This is what I'm thinking RIGHT NOW. It may not be what I'm thinking tomorrow.


1 Comment

Bad Things Only Happen to……

Image

Bad things only happen in “bad” neighborhoods.  People who rob, kill and rape are only from poverty stricken areas.  Only inner city areas have brutal crimes.  If a child goes to a good school and participates in sports, they will never harm or be harmed.  The nice boy, girl or child next door could never harm anyone.  The time for delusional thoughts is over.  The war of all people, of all neighborhoods, of all schools has trespassed  into my back yard while I was dreaming of white picket fences.

Friday evening may find most of a community watching the high school football team as young athletes run down the field toward the goal posts and victory only to party hardy on Saturday night at the expense of a young girl who had been drugged, awakening the next morning with her brutal rape filling the airwaves of a social media.  Young lives, innocent and not innocent, will never be the same again.

A young boy enters a high school cafeteria donning a gun where students are resting from their morning studies and catching up with the usual high school social pleasantries.   Suddenly, a spray of bullets rip through the chatter; the distinctive sulfur smell filling the air as the students scurry for cover only to see their classmates fall to their death in front of their eyes.  Not one of those students will be the same again.

A young man engages in a relationship with a young woman.  The dating scene between the two of them starts off pleasant at first but eventually fizzles out.  The young woman begins to obsess about the young man; her mind perhaps changing slowly from affection to pure jealously ends up leaving him in a pool of his own blood.

Two pre-teen boys sneak up on a mother and her infant son demanding money while waving guns.  When the money was not forthcoming because the mother had none to give; the young boys threaten to kill the infant if no money is given over and they follow through on their threat, leaving a mother to mourn her dead child.

These stories are a few of the “news-worthy” items that sounded from my television just this morning.  None of these events occurred in “bad neighborhoods.”  None of these events occurred in poverty stricken neighborhoods.  None of these events happened in bad schools or inner city areas.  They all took place in your back yard.  They all took place by the child who lives next door. 

 

 

 


Leave a comment

Hats Off to the Working Mom

Image

I entered the work force long before my children were born and stayed in the work force long after they were born.  I have worked weekends, holidays and birthdays.  I could be found at work caring for other people’s children while my mother watched my sick children at home.  I have worked the grave yard shift so I could attend all those “special” school events.  I have gone hours upon hours without sleep so I could attend a softball game or a band concert.  I caught a few hours of sleep here and there on the fly so I could be “in attendance” in my child’s life.  I have been criticized for being a working mother and I’ve been told that my child’s life would suffer because I chose to go to work.  I’ve been told that a “good” mother sacrifices her needs and wants to stay at home with her child

Hmm.  I struggled with the guilt of being a working mother for years and years.  I felt guilty when I couldn’t attend the Parent Teacher Organization meetings and I felt less than a “good mother” when I couldn’t be a Home Room Mother for my child. I felt the pang of guilt when I had to decline from being a chaperone for field trips and I felt a little “different” when I attended school functions dressed in my scrubs while some of the other mothers looked as if they were going to a high-class restaurant.  When I look back on my appearance, I saw me without make-up, my hair a little messy, and my work shoes costing more than than the stiletto hills of my peers (but looking far less classy), and my fingernail short and not painted.  I saw the other mothers as beautiful models who wore designer clothes, fine perfume and well manicured toes.  Yes, my perception was skewed.  I just didn’t see it that way back then.  I was programmed to believe that mothers stayed at home and catered to their children.

Although I was a horrible mother for working during my children’s formative years, I was also a “fool” for carting them and their friends to and from school functions, softball games, soccer games, athletic practice, school dances and chaperoned parties.  My peers who stayed at home to care for their children did not seem to have time to drive their children to and fro to various activities.  It seemed that the schedules of the parents who did not work seemed to have multiple conflicts with their children’s activities.

Although being a taxi for my children was inconvenient at times, I was more than glad to do it.  I always (to my knowledge at least) knew where my children were and what they were doing. I learned that being the taxi driver to a bunch of children allowed me to fall into the background which allowed the children to say more than they normally would have if they remembered I was driving.  Out of guilt, and out of love, I wanted to do what I could for my child to be a part of their life.

My children are now adults and I have had the time to reflect on the damage I have done to myself and my children.  First I will address the damage I have done to myself.  In feeling guilty about my career, I conceded that I was a bad mother.  Looking back, I was not the type of mother who actually wanted or would have liked to be a Room Mother.  I preferred to interact with children on my terms not the terms of others.  This interaction was more beneficial to all involved.  It made me happy and I hope, it made them happy as well.  How did my working adversely affect my children.  I’ve thought and thought about that question.  Being a working mother made my children more independent and enabled them to make decisions on their own. Yes, they made poor decisions at times; but those poor decisions enabled them to learn and make better decisions in the future.  To be honest, I can’t see where my working harmed them; in fact it molded them into adults that could trouble shoot and make good decisions.

I have often asked myself, “Why did you work when your children were young?”  That answer is easy.  I needed to work.  I didn’t have the luxury to be a stay at home mother.  My children needed food and clothing which would have been sparse if I stayed at home.  Working enabled my children to participate in activities they would have not been able to participate in had I been a stay at home mother.  Working enabled my children to pursue activities which they may not have been able to participate.

In a perfect world, I probably would have been a stay at home mother because that is what society thinks I should have done to be able to label myself as a good mother and role model.  Now that I am older and I have the luxury to look back on my life I don’t need labels. I can honestly say that I was and am a good role model BECAUSE I was a working mother.  Working enabled my children to grow into productive citizens who value others as much as themselves.

Each mother needs to do what is right for them.  Each mother needs to search inside of themselves and ask the question, “Am I doing the best I can with what I have?”

Working mothers juggle life.  My hat goes off to those mothers who work endlessly at juggling being in the work force and managing a home.  Loving the child…..that’s the easy part.  Don’t feel guilty.  Know that what you do is as close to being a super hero as you can get.


1 Comment

Love in the Driver’s Seat

Image

My husband and I took our children out to dinner this evening.  It was such a wonderful experience.  There are few things that can fill your heart with joy and love more than watching your children laugh and experience the complete joy that being a part of a family can bring.  I don’t know if I was being nostalgic or what, but the experience of merely eating dinner with my family nearly brought me to tears.  I loved watching the interchange of loving conversation between my daughters.  Tonight, even “touchy subjects” didn’t bring angry words but a compromise of being at peace in the moment with each other.

After dinner, my husband and I drove home in relative silence.  Our silence was not from anger but of perfect contentment of being comfortable with each other.  The wordless conversation between us was born of the realization that we did not have to entertain each other with meaningless chatter; we knew instinctively that the silent conversation was the utter ease that we felt with each other.

As my husband drove home, I looked at him in utter awe.  Sitting beside me was a man who loves me despite all my imperfections.  In fact, a little piece of me thought that he might actually like those flaws in my character that make me uniquely me.  My heart swelled with gratitude that God sent this man to me.  God chose this man for me.  He chose him specifically for me.  Wow!

As I sat beside my husband and gazed at him, I thought about his multitude of loving attributes.  He is kind, considerate, compassionate, loving, caring, giving, and so many other things.  The list is endless.  He caters to me endlessly and thinks nothing of going that extra mile to make me happy.  He hurts when I hurt, he laughs when I laugh, and he loves God.

Watching his face as he drove, I thought, “What did I do that was so good that God gave this wonderful man as a present to me?”  What possible good could I have done to have such a gift bestowed upon me.  I am certain that what my husband does for me is greater than anything I do for him. 

My thoughts turned to his relationship with our children.  He is the perfect father.  In fact I have told my children that when it is time to pick a mate, they should let the way their father treats me be their guide; if they do so, they will not go wrong.

Does my husband have anything that he does that irritates me?  Of course he does; but those same things that irritate me are also the same things that make me smile when I think about them.  Those irritating flaws in his character are the same characteristics that makes him endearing to me.  Those “irritants” may just be the same things that I will miss if he should happen to go away. 

My heart swelled with pride and love as I just gazed at the side of my husband’s face.  I am truly blessed just to be a part of his life. 


1 Comment

What To Do About Today’s Youth

Image

As I pass my mid-50’s the words “What is happening to the youth of today?” echos in my mind as words so many “older” people said way back when I was young.  I thought the words were meant to be demeaning to the youth of then but now I am not so sure.  I hear myself saying those words today, but I say those words out of concern and fear of what is happening to the youth of today and what will be happening to our youth in the future.

As I look back upon my youth, I remember it being pretty simple.  I wasn’t concerned with designer clothes, purses or shoes.  I lived simply and so did the majority of children with which I went to school.  There weren’t an abundant amount of local malls to hang out in with my friends and I didn’t have “older” friends who could drive me around town.  We didn’t have beepers, smart phones or computers.  The World Wide Web hadn’t infiltrated my daily activities and I got dirty playing tag football with the neighbors.  Life was good.  I was fortunate.

Years later, when I became a mother, things were a little different.  Most mothers worked outside of the home as did I.  Things changed from working for “need” to working for “want” but we deceived ourselves in thinking that those “wants” were needs” and I include myself in that category.  After awhile, all those “wants” did become “needs” in the eyes of our children and we became helpless to turn back the hands of time. For many parents, perhaps we did this out of a sense of guilt that both parents worked outside of the home and the “traditional” home of our youth was altered.  Lovingly, we gave our children our money because our time was too scarce. In confusing wants and needs, could we, as parents, have raised a nation of children who lived in an time of instant gratification which was and will be unable to be fulfilled in their future?

Parents my age, for the first time in history, will probably have a greater income than their children will obtain.  Many children have moved into the same house they grew up in with their parents, bringing with them their children as well.  The grandparents, who are making more money than their children, are oftentimes supporting not only their children and spouse, but their children’s children as well.  Five year old grandchildren, living with grandma and grandpa, have televisions and X-boxes in their room, bought by the grandparents. In many elementary schools, it would not be uncommon to see a 7 year old girl dressed in the most fashionable shoes with lights that flash or carrying a book bag with the Vera Bradley brand.  If the income of the our 25-30 year old parents are less than their parents how can this be?  Could it be that Grandma is buying the clothes?  Could it be that Grandpa is supporting the extended family? 

So, where is all of this mumble jumble going?  It brings me back to my fear and concern for the youth of today.  What happens when our generation becomes too old to support our children and our grandchildren?  What happens when the expectations of our children will be unable to be met?  By giving our children their wants instantly, how much did we help them?  By giving our grandchildren the best of things, how will that color their future?  When a generation has lived in abundance not created by their own hands that abundance is oftentimes not appreciated but it becomes an expectation – something deserved. 

I believe that each of us, as parents, did the best we could with what we knew.  Each of us did what we thought was the best for our children and we did it with love.  I have two daughters.  As with all things hindsight is 20/20 and I know I have made mistakes in raising my daughters.  I have done some good things as well.  I do not have grandchildren but I don’t have to have them to see that so many grandparents are doing to their grandchildren what they did to their children – giving them all they can whether they need it or not.

I was fortunate.  My children didn’t ask for much growing up.  They were not tempted by everything new and glitzy.  Since my children did not ask for much, when they did they generally got it.  Perhaps they didn’t get it that day, or that week, but more than likely they got it.  I say I am fortunate because I could easily have fallen into the “give them all they want” syndrome.  I am not immune to loving my children monetarily.

I love the youth of today.  I just hope they can survive our parenting.


Leave a comment

From Christmas to Giftmas

I wish, for once, I could accurately articulate the multitude of reasons that I wish Christmas and the entire Holiday season would pass from my eyes unnoticed.  Christmas is not a joyous time for me.  It can be a time of pain and sorrow as we remember what once was and what will never be again.  Many suicides are attempted at this joyous time of year and that mere thought makes me sad knowing that those who attempted to die feel they had absolutely no one they could have reached out to to give them one moment of comfort that could have lead them into a new year and possibly a new hope.  My heart breaks for them, and for their families who have now lost a loved one.  The hurt breaks both ways.

For me the “Holiday Season” begins right before Thanksgiving and ends shortly after the New Year.   Yes, I say, “Happy Holidays” but it is not to take Christmas out of the season, it is to include Thanksgiving and New Years into their rightful places in the festivities.  I do say “Merry Christmas” on Christmas Day, and I say Happy Thanksgiving on Thanksgiving Day and I say Happy New Year on New Year Day, so why do so many people want to correct me?  I am wishing all people a festive holiday SEASON, not just happiness on one particular day.

Christmas has changed over the years for me.  Perhaps it is because I’ve grown up; perhaps it is because I haven’t grown up at ll.  For me, the anticipation of Christmas was never the shinny gifts under the Christmas tree or the brightly wrapped packages; it was the smell, hustle, and bustle of Christmas – said simply – it was the electric energy that traveled through every person – pure excitement.  I would wake up early on Christmas Eve and my mother would already be slaving over a hot stove making pies and cakes and all sorts of “Christmas” goodies that we, as children, had grown accustomed to.  “Merry Christmas Eve,” I’d excitedly shout out to her and she’d return my salutation with a big kiss on the cheek.

About noon, Christmas Eve guest would begin to trickle in.  Some were relatives, some were friends, and some just wanted to give us a few of their cookies they had baked to thank my mom for all she has done for them throughout the year.  Some stayed a short time, some stayed a little while, and some stayed until the Christmas Eve festivities began.  As my mother spoke to her guests, she’s pop out a couple of pumpkin pies here and some apple pies there, along with her Philadelphia Cream Cheese Pies that have never been completely duplicated to this day.  It was all good to her and the more people that dropped by, the more festive she became.  My mother was the center of Christmas.  She knew how to get things done AND enjoy all the holiday had to offer.  I never learned that from her; I wish I had listened or watched more closely.

When the official start of Christmas Eve started, the feast of the 7 fish commencement……and stunk.  My aunts and uncles from all over would congregate at my house to begin the eating of the fish.  Yuck!  I stuck with tuna fish which for me was the least of all the evils; but as I grew up, I came to realize that shrimp and and crab weren’t too bad either.  Christmases of past were special, they embodied all of what Christmas should be.  They did not have the “what did you get me for Christmas” present attitude.  Christmas was about helping, having, loving, and being with those you cared about.

Christmas is gone.  It is now merely Giftmas.  Giftmas says, “How much am I going to get from you for Christmas and are you going to like it?”  Giftmas says, “How close to the time can I get to your house before it’s actually time to eat so I don’t have to help you set the table or put out the food”  The real sad thing about Giftmas is….”How long can I stay away from those I love or profess to love so I don’t have to feel the true meaning of Christmas.?”  It is just so much easier to thank someone for a gift.


Leave a comment

I Don’t Like Brown Eggs

I don’t like brown eggs.  Eggs should be white with the “EB” stamp on them.  My father likes brown eggs.  He tells me they taste fresher; I don’t believe him when he says that.  Chickens lay white eggs; if they lay brown eggs the chickens are probably bad.  I don’t want to eat brown eggs from bad chickens.

I don’t like to go grocery shopping either.  Since I don’t like to shop for groceries, I usually go about once a month; which means I have two grocery carts full of groceries.   It takes me about 3 hours to shop for food.  I hate it and its a waste of time.  My husband likes to grocery shop.  He tells me its relaxing; I don’t believe him when he says that.  Pushing around two huge shopping carts loaded with groceries is not my idea of relaxing.

My grocery bags do no look like this when I bring them home.  The only time I’ve ever seen groceries look like this is in the movies.  Only people who live in New York City and are in the movies have grocery bags that look perfect.

My grocery bags look more like this….

My children used to love washing the dogs…until they grew up.  They used to tell me how much fun it was to wash the dogs and get all wet.  I didn’t believe my children when they told me that.  The only time washing a dog is fun is when you actually take them to the groomer.

Washing a dog might be a little more tolerable if  you could do it this way…..

Why do people eat brown eggs?  I just can’t figure it out.


4 Comments

Teacher….I Hope You Learn

Image

Yesterday, I read a post at All Access Pass about how teachers leave impressions on their students.  I can’t tell you how much I agree with the post.  Each adult, especially those in positions of authority leave lasting impressions:  some good and some not so good.  I’d like to relate a story of a first grade teacher who left a lasting impression on my youngest daughter.  The impression was such a strong one that my daughter can vividly recall it to this day; twenty one years later.

One day in early February, my daughter jumped off the bus at the end of our driveway, ran past me and quickly took something out of her book bag and threw it away.  Thinking she was acting rather strangely, I went to the trash can and picked out of the trash a paper “groundhog” that she had cut out and colored at school.  I turned and held up the ground hog to her and asked her why she wanted to throw it away.  “It’s ugly,” she said.  “I hate it.”

“Well, I absolutely love it.  I’m hanging it up on the refrigerator,”  I replied as I cut a piece of tape and hung it to the refrigerator.

“No you’re not.  You hate it.  I hate it.  It’s ugly.  Throw it away.”

“Absolutely not!”  I replied firmly.

The conversation was over and she went off to her bedroom to change clothes.  She never mentioned the ground hog again until her friend since birth, Heath, and his mother came over for a visit later that evening.  Since Heath’s mother and I were close friends, the children saw each other frequently.

Heath’s mother and I settled into tea and conversation when my daughter’s young friend ran into the kitchen to tell his mother some exciting news and stopped dead in his tracks when he saw the groundhog taped up on my white refrigerator door.  “Ohhhhh…we weren’t suppose to bring our ground hogs home, you’re going to get into trouble” he said to my daughter in a sing-song fashion as he turned around to see if she was following him into the kitchen.  Suddenly his demeanor changed as he said, “Oh, that’s right, you were allowed to bring yours home.”

I stopped talking to Heath’s mother so I could ease drop more clearly on the children.  “What in the heck was the deal with this darn groundhog?  Was it going to come to life and eat us all while we were asleep?”  I stood up and un-taped the groundhog and called both of the children to my side.  “Which one of you is going to tell me the story behind this groundhog?” I asked both of them.  Both of these innocent six year old children stood silently for what seemed to be a long time before until Heath spoke up.  “She was allowed to bring hers home, none of the rest of us were allowed.”  Still confused by the whole situation I asked him why my daughter was allowed to bring her groundhog home and the rest of the class was not.  Waiting for an answer that I thought would involve my daughter acting out at school or doing something terrible with her groundhog that would make her teacher want to send her home with her groundhog in tow, I was heartbroken with the next words I heard Heath speak.

“Our teacher said her groundhog is too ugly to hang up with the rest of our groundhogs so she let her bring it home.”  My daughter eyes filled with tears.  I looked at her then at Heath and then at her again.

“Is that true?”

She just nodded her head and began to weep a little bit harder.  I froze.  I hugged her but didn’t know what to say.  I couldn’t take back somebody else’s words.  I couldn’t make right what a teacher had made wrong.

When I regained my voice and the anger and resentment started to build in me I asked Heath to tell me exactly what had happened.  He was reluctant at first to spill his guts about his teacher but the friendship he and my daughter shared won out.  He explained to me that each child was given a picture of a ground hog that they were to color and then cut so that the teacher could hang it on the wall for when the parents came to meet the teachers.  He said that my daughter was having a hard time cutting her ground hog because the scissors she had didn’t work.  (She was using right handed scissors and she is left handed.)  He said the teacher got real mad and grabbed her ground hog and held it up so we could all see how ugly her ground hog was.  He said she kept saying, “Isn’t this the ugliest ground hog?”  Then he said the teacher told her she could take hers home because it was just too ugly to look at.

My hands curled into fists as I listened.  My lips tightened.  I could feel my whole body tense.  I had made my plans. The next morning, the teacher and I were going to have a little face to face and she was going to see things from a whole new perspective.  My husband, being the voice of reason after I explained to him what had transpired, asked me to wait until the end of the week when I had a pre-arranged parent teacher conference scheduled and I would be a little less angry.  (He was hoping I’d be a little less angry.)  Much to my chagrin I complied with his wishes.

That Friday couldn’t arrive soon enough.  I was not less angry.  I was, however; more in control of my emotions.  I walked into my conference with confidence and a smile.  I sat and nodded my head so sweetly as this “teacher” told me how wonderful my child was.  She went on and on about how much of a joy it was to have her in her class room.  Her words ran out of her mouth like Mrs. Butterworth’s syrup over a stack of hot cakes.  It was incredible.

I stood up and walked the short distance to all the beautiful groundhogs that were hanging on the locker doors.  “Did the chidren do these groundhogs?”  I asked just as sweetly as I could.

“Why yes, aren’t they adorable?”  the teacher replied.

I nodded my head looking at each and every one until I came to the last groundhog.  I turned to her and said, “I don’t see my daughter’s groundhog.  Where is hers?”

“Oh, she was sick the day we did those.  She wasn’t in class.”

“Really?” I replied.  “I don’t recall her missing any school this nine weeks.”

“Yes, she missed this day.  I asked her if she wanted to do one but she said no.”

“Really?”  I once again replied.  “Hmm, funny.”  I turned and looked her square in the eye.  “Wait, I know where her ground hog is.  It’s on my refrigerator at home.”

“Oh, that’s right.  She brought it home but she wasn’t suppose to,” explained the teacher.

I shook my head.  “No, that isn’t what happened.  She was allowed to bring it home because you told her it was too ugly to hang up with the groundhogs the other children did.”

“She’s not telling you the truth.  She’s lying.”

I smirked at the teacher and said, “You know, I might have believed that but she wasn’t the one who told me about her ugly groundhog.”  I had her.  Busted!  Get out of this one you fine specimen of a teacher.

The teacher, in all her babbling glory, attempted every explanation to ease her discomfort.  I looked at her and didn’t say a word as she babbled on and on.  She knew I wasn’t buying a thing she said, and I didn’t have to tell her.  The truth was out there in the form of an innocent boy’s words.

After her attempt at explanations I folded my arms across my chest and said to her, “Care to try again because I’m afraid I just don’t find you credible at this point.”

Was this teacher done?  No.  She went on to tell me how many times my daughter did NOT wear a dress to school.  She told me that my daughter lets her friend Heath carry her books for her; and what is worse, SHE carries HIS books at times too.  She went on to tell me how she gets Heath’s coat for him if he is running behind at the end of the day and he does the same for her.  She explained that she’s a tom-boy and likes boy things.  She hinted that her playing basketball, baseball, football, and tag with the boys would probably lead her down the road to (gasp) homosexuality.

She was in deep.  The more she rambled the more I couldn’t believe that she was molding young minds.  The thought sickened me.  It still does.

Years later how does this affect my daughter?  Every time I asked her to cut things using a scissors she tells me she can’t because she has “cutting” issues.  We smile at each other because we both know what that means but the reality is…after 21 years she really does avoid cutting things out with scissors.

So, what kind of grade do I give this teacher?

Image