Rules are to keep us safe…

So my daughter got into a bicycle accident at a friend’s house.  I was almost there.  Almost.  There.  I got a call from a number I didn’t know while standing on the porch of her friend’s house.  Now, be warned.  We have rules at our house.  What do you get when you have a military raised dad and a teacher mama?  You get a few rules.  Wear closed toe shows at all times when riding a bicycle.  Wear a helmet.  Simple enough.

What do you get when you go to a friend’s house with perhaps not the same kind of rules.  You get a phone call.  On the porch.  Then they said come in and your child is bloody.  Not cool.  I tried really hard to be cool.  But I was so not cool.  I was way beyond not cool.  I was furious.  Furious at this other momma for letting my child get hurt on her watch because my child rode her daughter’s bike without closed toe shoes and a helmet.  Furious at my child for forgetting our rules at another person’s house.  Furious at the blood.  Furious at the toenail that was no longer on her foot.  And furious I had to do this alone because my husband was in a class all day.

It was all perfectly rational in my head.  But at that moment, all I could do was be calm.  I could only say “What happened?”, and thank you. I’ve got it from here.  We never let her ride a bike without a helmet and closed toe shoes so I am taking her to urgent care.  Thank you.  I think I did a pretty good job of being cool.

She knew I was mad.  My daughter knew I was mad.  But mostly I was worried.  Upset and worried.  I could not let that show through because there was so much blood.  When it was all said and done, my daughter’s knees were torn up.  One so bad I could hardly look at it.  Her toes were all damaged on her right foot and she was missing a toenail.  I hope you can read this…sorry.  But you have to know.  Please, please, please understand that if anything happened to another person’s child at my house I would never forgive myself.  So I had to calm down.

The momma called me later and I said, it’s ok.  She knew better.  She did.  She was upset as well, so I felt better.  I also felt better knowing the momma was going to buy helmets for all 4 of her little children.  How did they not have them already?  I have no idea.  So I extended grace because I needed to come at this from a place of mutual understanding.  She did not want my child to get hurt.  I know this.  I know how I would feel; however, she did need to remember that wearing a helmet is a law for a reason.  So maybe I saved her children’s lives.  I don’t know.  All I know is I had to be calm.  Look at my hurt child.  And tell her it’s going to be okay.  She’s going to have one heck of a scar on her knee, but we all have scars.  They help us remember. 

Scar

And cue hilarious sitcom…

Sometimes, I think there is a show being written about my family.  I know at any minute someone is going to pop out of the bushes and yell “cut!” or maybe just tell me that was best take ever.  I really wish someone had been around my folks house yesterday getting all on video.  Since there was no one hiding, I’ll tell you about it…right after I tell you about my dad.

Growing up, I swear I had the meanest, most strict dad in the universe.  At least, I was sure I did.  I couldn’t get phone calls from boys, he embarrassed me to pieces.  When I hung up my Sean Astin posters, ahem, I was afraid he was going to say something to make me take them down.  They were near my Lord of the Rings poster and calendar, NO LIE, how funny is that now?  Ha, but anyway.  So he was a bit overprotective.  JUST a BIT.

I was told to do “girly” things and not mess up my knees riding a bike (we didn’t do helmets, knee pads, or bubble wrap on you back then), and of course, I might have done some stunts on my bike once or twice.  We were ALWAYS outside.  Imagine that.  And I wanted to learn to skateboard after my brother got one for Christmas, but I might get hurt and girls didn’t ride skateboards.  Says dad.  I couldn’t ride the riding lawnmower, YES, this was a sore spot, because girls didn’t do that.  He taught my brother.

But maybe, just maybe, it was because he loved me and wanted to keep me safe.  I didn’t see it that way.  I distinctly remember calling him a “male chauvinist pig” one day and perhaps oinking at him.  But he was okay with that.  He played games with us, took us places, and pretty much tolerated every crazy thing I did.  I hiked in the woods all day and came back looking like a Lord of the Flies reject.  My mom had to cut burrs out of my hair once.  I had a leech on me once, ewww.  And ticks and chiggers and mosquito bites, and umm even a snake bit me once.  Long story on that one.

So I actually was a mess.  I have two girls now, go figure, and my mom said “I hope you have one just like YOU.”  Like it was an omen.  You could hear it echoing after it was spoken like Maleficent had just visited me.  So my pop wanted the girls to spend the whole weekend with him.  Plus my brother’s daughter spent one night.  Okay dad, you asked for it.  They were having a rousing game of hide and go seek, a favorite among the girls, and my oldest daughter, who happens to look exactly like me, was hiding behind my dad’s hot tub.  They saw him coming, so she ducked down and must have hit the flap.  According to her, all of a sudden, wasps came out of no where and started attacking her.  She was screaming bloody murder and the top of her lungs, but thank God she only got stung 2 times because my mom said it was horrible.

Long hair can be a pain sometimes and one was apparently even caught in her hair.  Anyway, she got inside as did the little ones, and my dad apparently went ballistic.  From what I was told, he ran outside with a broom and was screaming to the top of his lungs “Nobody hurts my granddaughter” and began smashing the wasps in a fit of rage.  I am actually laughing as I type this.  Sorry.  Ahem.  So here is my dad, with his giant bouffant of white hair, beating wasps to death with his broom, yelling at them, and the girls are watching from inside.  Bwahahaha.  I mean, it was serious.  He apparently broke his broom in two, and my mom was yelling “step on them!!!” and the girls were just staring in shock I think.  They had no idea about “overprotective” poppop.  They had NOOOO idea.  So after it was all said and done, mom says and then your dad was holding his eye and going “my eyeee, I got stung” and I was ahem, laughing.  She thought he was kidding, but he really wasn’t.

So my youngest runs to Google, you know that extended family member who knows everything, and Google says to use vinegar.  Good ole’ Google.  So the next time I think about how “overprotective” my dad was, I will remember this story.  This one takes the cake.  Ha.

Two

Motivational Monday…

A long time ago, in a hood far, far away, I was a teacher.  During November, I talked about a few of the hard stories.  I had a student once who had “selective mutism” in first grade.  His parents didn’t act concerned at all and were wonderful and very supportive.  They said, “Oh, he talks up a storm at home.”  The problem was, that didn’t help me in the classroom because I knew I was going to have to do oral exams such as this new test called Phonological Awareness.  It’s kind of hard to hear the phonemes when someone won’t speak. 

I had “G” team up with this other child I thought would be a good role model.  I had the moms exchange phone numbers and I told them what I was doing.  Little by little “G” began to talk.  At first, it was in a whisper.  Then he whispered to his new friend.  He would whisper to me when people didn’t look at him.  The first time he raised his hand to answer a question I almost cried.  I stayed very calm and pretended I wasn’t going to call on him so I didn’t scare him.  When I saw he was ready I said his name.  He answered and the whole class stopped and looked at him.  They gave him words of encouragement.  I almost cried.  Ahhh.  Little “G”, you kind of still are my favorite story to tell.

I just looked through my photo album tonight.  I see you and your friend in almost all of my photos.  I was probably a tad bit obvious that year about favorites, but who could blame me.  It was my very first year and I managed to do something right.  I was a wee bit proud of myself.  Plus I made it through the year without quitting AND the next year, I came back an entirely different teacher; however, that’s another story.  So for my room One first graders, ummm you might be in college, but you know, I am still the same age, anyway, I love you guys and hope you are doing well.  Three of my girls are my Facebook friends so I do check on some of you.  You just don’t know it.

Difference

Motivational Monday…

I started thinking about the ultimate motivator.  The thing that everyone wants at the end of the day…happiness.  If the word “money” flashed in your head as you read the first line, well, think again.  Don’t get me wrong, in my head my conversation with money goes a little like this:

Mr. Simms (money): Do you have any experience?

Robbie (me): No, sir, I have no experience, but I’m a big fan of money.   I like it, I use it, I have a little.  I keep it in a jar on top of my refrigerator.   I’d like to put more in that jar.  That’s where you come in.

Fine, so that isn’t really me, but I do use that line from The Wedding Singer.  You see, I want my kids to be happy.  However, I remind myself that more money does NOT equal more happiness contrary to popular belief.  You might be thinking about this, and how you would be happy if you could only do X,Y, and Z…which involves money.  I’m going to break off here with a short story.

Years ago, I taught at a private school for a brief time.  After seeing so much poverty, it was extremely difficult for me to work in this environment and see the peacocks walking around with their plumage on display.  The cars, the houses, the clothes, the donations of FAKENESS started to get to me like I was an extra in Jerry Maguire, but the sad thing was, this was their idea of real life.  One of the kids came to school in clothes that hardly fit him.  You might be surprised.  His hair was never combed, his shoes might be a little tight, and this, ohhh this, was something I knew about from my previous school.  His father was working on wife number five I believe.  The babysitter, I mean “nanny” brought him to school.  I was told that by all means necessary I had to be nice to this father as he was a big supporter source of money for the school.  Ha.  They really didn’t know who they were dealing with, did they?  I was nice.  Very, very nice, when I asked him about how much time he spent with his kids.  I was nice when I mentioned this child bought lunch every single day, and was still hungry, so perhaps he wasn’t getting enough at breakfast.  I was nice when I mentioned his work was sloppy as he did it all by himself and no one checked it.  And I was extremely nice, when I said, please read with your son every night.  After two years of being at this school, I could take it no longer.  I will have to tell you about the other things that went on at this school later, but needless to say, I realized that the kind of money these people had, the kind I will likely never see, did strange things to people.

So happiness my friends, is what I want you to focus on today.  But if you need money, I will leave you with this thought:

Borrow

Memories…

Memories are a slippery substance meant to be held for a moment in your mind, acknowledged, then set free again.  They are there when you need them, but you can’t dwell in those moments as they are gone.  If I close my eyes, I can remember the smells of my grandma’s kitchen.  I can remember the pattern of the wallpaper, the tiny ducks walking around with bows on, and the door leading into the magical garage where my grandfather let me pretend I knew Morse code.

I can remember looking through the little window as he said his call sign, and he put his headphones on to “talk” to other Ham radio operates who had their “ears on”.  Playing with that microphone and pretending I was doing the same thing.  I would eventually end up back in the kitchen, as my grandmother was always making something wonderful.  The Kitchen Aid mixer would be whipping up icing, and cakes would be in the oven.  After I had eaten entirely too much icing out of old Cool Whip containers, I would wander off to play.  I started writing a series of children’s books based on my adventures, and of course, have not published them.  In fact, I only read them to my children just as I’ve always done with all my stories.

It hardly seems fair at all that my wonderful, generous, magical, yes magical, grandmother passed away at only 68 years old.  Today would have been her 89th birthday.  Over Thanksgiving, my Aunt remarked about how much my grandparents would have loved being there.  We all smiled that knowing smile even as our minds thought back to different memories for each of us.  Memories have that way of taking us back to the time and place of our choosing.  We can use them for good, or for bad.  We can be remorseful, resentful, or sorrowful that our loved ones were taken from us too early, or we can swallow the lump down and remember the good parts.  We can NOT go back and fix things, change things, or invent cures for cancer.  So stop that right now.  The hardest part of facing your memories is remembering the good without getting a lump in your throat, the tightness in your chest and the urge to cry.  After 21 years, you would think I had mastered that.  Writing this post has proven me wrong.  However, there has always been reason to celebrate today, because God also put my best-friend in my life at 5 (we always debate the earliest date, but we think kindergarten), and her birthday is also today.

Memories

Statute of limitations…

As a parent, you sometimes have these events that happen in your children’s lives and you don’t hear about them until later.  Much later.  At that point, you have to decide what to do.  Apparently at the end of one of my child’s soccer games, where the players go to shake hands and say “good game”, a boy made his hand into a claw and raked it along my child’s arm and said “bad game”.  If she had told me right then, I would have gone over to his parents and said something.  Unfortunately, I didn’t hear about it until later.  At that point, I talked it over with my husband and we decided the moment was gone.

My child saw this boy another time and he was not very nice to her again.  He was saying things that were rude and generally trying to make my girls miserable.  I didn’t hear about what was said and what went on until I was tucking them into bed that night.  At that point, I thought it was too late so say something yet again.  I did the best I could at that time and said what I thought was good advice, if he can’t play nice with you, don’t play with him.  Period.

To be honest with you, what he did to her on the soccer field was unsportsmanlike conduct and I was floored by it.  I wish I had known then, but I had to make a judgement call and decide if I could just call this mom out of the blue and tell her what had happened.  I should have.  I really should have.  I would want to know.

The thing is, I let other people tell me to avoid conflict.  My husband doesn’t handle things the way I do, and would rather avoid talking to them altogether than deal with this.  I don’t know if saying something would have changed anything…it would have made it uncomfortable for a while.  But sometimes conflicts are needed in order to grow.  If you are always avoiding situations, things will stay the way they are.  So even though the self-imposed “statute of limitations” is over in this situation, I know I should have been a grown-up and tattled.  Where is my parenting handbook?  They forgot this section.  Sigh.

teamwork

Lean on me…

Some of you might not want to hear this kind of message, so you can move along if you are looking for something uplifting tonight.  Imagine you are 4 years old and your father is in jail.  He came at your mom with a knife…well, he actually wounded her.  In the neck.  I have 3 more stories like this, but each gets worse.  So I want you to look at this:

I wish that man had given this speech to the parents of the children I taught this year.  I wish he had told them that they were demoted and he was in charge.  From now on they had to do what he said.  The majority of my motivational posts this year were to help me work through some of the things I so often would like to say, but can’t.  I have worked with many families over the years.  Some of them requesting me for siblings, some of them wishing they didn’t have someone like me telling them the truth.  In the end, the majority of them seem to understand that what I do, I do for their children, not for them.  This year was one of the hardest classes I have ever taught because of the lack of parental guidance.  There were a few parents who cared, but most seemed unaware I existed.  Manners seem to be a thing of the past.  Not in my room.  I teach social skills, manners and politeness.  So my tiny friends who have witnessed so much in so little time, please remember what you learned.  To my little helper, I am counting on you not to be a gangster when you grow up.  Please don’t break my heart for you have so much potential and will do great things.  To my angry child, thank you for hugging me when you were mad.  Remember to use your words.  Lastly, to the family I have been part of for two years, your mom is watching over you.  She hopes you know that.  It is time for all of us to move on.  Including me.

“Nonviolence means avoiding not only external physical violence but also internal violence of spirit. You not only refuse to shoot a man, but you refuse to hate him.”  ~Martin Luther King, Jr.