I know many of you are waking up today the same way I rose from my slumber. My heart is heavy, my thoughts are everywhere and I have lost some of the Holiday spirit. If you are a parent, you squeezed and hugged your children extra tightly this morning before getting them off to school. If you are an educator or school administrator, you walked into your building with a little apprehension today. Does it really matter the reason or motives behind such a crime on innocent children and educators who care for our children everyday?
What may matter more than anything is what happens, right now, this day forward. We are not going to have the answers overnight or by the New Year, but I know what was in my cup this morning, and I pray I never have to experience that again.
Sometimes before turning off the light at night and resting my head, I curl up to a good book with a steaming, hot cup of decaffeinated coffee. I usually only have a few sips but I love it at night as much as I do upon rising. So when I proceeded this morning to take my half full cup from last night to the kitchen, started a fresh caffeinated pot and then made off to get some laundry started, I anticipated that first sip. As I poured myself my first cup o’ Joe, I ran back to the laundry room to finish up the load. Then I grabbed my cup and took a big sip. In my cup was twelve-hour old coffee with cream that sent chills down my esophagus. It was cold, bitter and down right nasty.
The experience alone makes me never want to dive into that pool of nasty, bitterness again. Yet, this horrible taste got me to thinking. What if we can change the world one parent at a time? I grew up in the 1980’s where not everyone made the team. That you had to work hard for a place. You couldn’t just be on a roster or show up to get a trophy. Only the winner walked away with the silver and the rest of us had to accept the defeat. It taught me to work harder and never give up. It showed me that being defeated is not the end but a means to success. It emphasized teamwork and what I, as an individual member of the team, had to do to help us achieve our goals. It gave myself and my team time to ponder our strengths and work on our weaknesses.
It helped prepare me for adulthood by allowing me to deal with shortcomings. That a good work ethic and determination can overcome a loss. I was able to process that a lack of a trophy didn’t mean I was a loser but just not the best. I was okay with that because my parents made me deal with it. So I dealt.
There were no status updates to share about how we lost or tweeting about how bad it sucked. There were no computers. There were three channels, 3, 5 and 8 that I could grab a pint of Rocky Road and try to indulge my grief in. So, I went outside and played. I ran to my friend’s house and we ran to another friends house. We rounded up the neighborhood and played tag and lawn games. We laughed and played and moved on. We faced reality and dealt with it.
So, now that I am a mother, I naturally wanted to be a coach. I loved the good old days of sports and competitions. When I was asked to be a cheerleading coach when my oldest was two, I was delighted and honored. I was given a ten page packet of the rules. Starting with 1) Every Kid Makes The Team. So if 28 children, both boys and girls, signed up for cheerleading, they would all be on the team. 2) Only 8 Children On The Field Or Courts At Any One Time. So I had to pick and choose who would be paired up with who. Do I aim for like kind or an equal balance of skill? Would holding the better athletes accountable for the less experienced athletes hinder them from performing at their full capabilities? Would those with little or no skill try to be better or just float through the season because they were all members of the team?
Needless to say, I turned the position down. I decided eight years ago that whether I had one or ten children, I would prepare them for the real world. Not in drill sergeant format or anything but good old-fashioned common sense parental guidance. I would want my children to work hard and earn their place. I wouldn’t want them to just go through the motions because they would never be cut from the team. If I can buy them anything they want, I won’t. Unless they work hard to earn it. They will get jobs if they want a car. They will have responsibilities around the house with and without an allowance. This way they can learn their value in the household and that we as a family, all work together. I will be honest with them. Not to hurt their feelings but so they understand there is no sugar-coating in the real world.
Parents, caregivers and guardians, what if we went back to the 1980’s? Are we setting our children up for failure in the real world by giving them everything? Are we taking away enough of their computer, text and handheld game time to get them out in nature? Are we enabling our children so much that they get rewarded for bad behavior as well as good? Are we really helping our children by shielding them from everything? Perhaps, we are telling them too much. So much to the point that they are losing their sense of respect for authority. Are our children so used to having no consequences for their actions that they have become fearless? Are we setting the appropriate boundaries for our youth?
What’s In Your Cup? How are you raising your children? Naturally, we only want the best for our children. I am just worried we are giving them too much, enabling them too much and taking the fall for their mistakes. We have to give our children a backbone. Think of how we were raised. Our parents both worked, even if mom was just part-time. We had chores and received nothing for it. We went out for sports and either made it or didn’t. We rode bikes to our friends to hang out rather than secluded in our rooms chatting on Facebook. We had jobs and got grounded for poor grades and bad behavior. Our teachers tapped us on our hands with rulers and we were scolded by our parents in public.
This taught us respect, work ethic, love, humility, perseverance, and empathy for humankind. This post has been brewing for some time just like the day old coffee in my cup this morning. I want our children safe, our educators and school administration to go to work without fear. I want to go to the movies with my pals and shop in the malls with my family. I want peace on earth. I know it starts with me, at home and what my calling as a parent means. I want my children to be prepared for the real world, be able to handle defeat and realize some things in life are just not fair. I want them to be strong but able to empathize with others. I want them to not be selfish by putting others before themselves.
I am not sure if we can ever make sense of recent events. I am not sure what the answers will be. I cry, I hurt and I fear but if we can give anything to those precious babies, their families and the teachers and staff it is a silent promise that we will somehow make a difference. No deed, no matter how small or large, goes unnoticed. It’s more of a personal committment to me. It starts right now, for them, for you, for us and for our world. So please let me know if I am out of line here, way off the beaten path or maybe onto something. I want my MTV back too!
- Making a Difference in a Child’s Life
- How To Talk To Your Children About Tragedy (dfw.cbslocal.com)
- 10 Tips on Supporting Children through Crisis (pragmaticmom.com)