Mom, Were You EVER a Kid?!

Whenever I don’t laugh at something my 16-year old son thinks is funny, he asks me if I was EVER a kid.  Just last week he told a friend that he believes Grandma delivered me as a “grown up”.

The truth is, somewhere along the parenting-teens years, I have admittedly grown more serious.

Why my son doesn’t think I was ever a kid:

1.)  I am too much of a deep thinker, and not enough of a laugh-er.

2.)  I am humor-challenged.  This is the residual of my ever-running, analytical mind.

Example: Last December, my daughters and I were at a Christmas craft fair. They told me a joke.  I didn’t get it.  They laughed even harder watching my eyebrows furrow, my head tilt, and my blank stare prevail.  I asked them deep, thoughtful questions, attempting to understand.  They rolled their eyes.  25 minutes later, I burst out laughing in front of several cashiers.  I finally “got it”, and because it took me so long, I laughed even harder, until my daughters were both mortified at how I was carrying on.

3.)  I don’t play like they do.  When my kids were little, I was out the door every summer day by 9am, rollerblading behind a triplet stroller, and days were packed with play time.  For years, I played all sports with them, swam, acted out pretend shows and participated in hours of hide-and-seek.  They don’t remember much of it.  Now that they are older, my kids think my idea of play time is reading a good book or visiting a museum.

4.)  I believe my children should be somewhat-versed in American history and current politics.  I argue that knowledge makes us better citizens, and me a wiser teacher and parent.  History and politics in teen language: BORING.

5.)  I like order.  Labels.  Symmetry.  Clean counters.  This makes my kids crazy.

How I’m becoming a little “lighter” this year, and getting in tune with my “teenage-self”:

1.)  Instead of reaching for a book because “I should” read (when I’m in the mood to watch something mindless on television), I turn on the TV.

2.)  I’m on the lookout for funny:) things and, I purposely began my year in January by going with my family to see Tim Hawkins.  If you have not heard of him, you must follow him on Twitter, look him up on YouTube, and see his comic show asap!

3.) My son dressed up in his street goalie pads the other day and I took shots on net.  We played basketball for an hour (limping around on my bad ankle).  I’ve been playing games and swimming (even after rain cools down the water!).

4.)  I’m watching less national news (I’m an admitted news junkie).  I’m still informed, but I’ve (almost) completely ceased spouting remarks at the screen.

5.)  I close my son’s bedroom door when company is coming.  I tell myself the floor is a great place to keep freshly washed clothes.  Who needs drawers?

Throwback Thursday from 7/29/2013

Stuff Mom’s don’t want to say out loud. Sometimes we do, but many times we don’t… :)

Well, our pre-Mom lives certainly didn’t always look like the photo to the left, and our post-Mom lives certainly don’t always look like the photo to the right. But, wow, sometimes it does get crazy, right?! (Photo courtesy momtastic.com.)

Stuff Moms sometimes say out loud, but more often, we don’t:

Is this what I signed up for?

How did I ever like cooking?

Does my husband seriously think he does more than me in this house?!

Did I really like this guy when I married him?

Who am I?

I don’t like my teenager right now. I hate myself for even thinking that in a bubble thought.

I’m lonely. Yes, I know I’m NEVER alone, but I feel lonely.

I need to get out of this house!

Is anything I’m doing of value at all?

Is this kid absorbing anything of what I’m saying?!

This is freaking hard.

I thought I was more than this.

Cleaning no longer feels like “home-making”. Now I feel like I have a PhD in maid.

What happened to my wardrobe? 😦

Does Violence Really Make Games More “Fun”?

A significant number of my 19-28 year old male college students would give a resounding “yes!” to that question. I asked an informal research question in one of my classes, asking the guys if their Xbox violent games were more “fun” when they contain more violence, more killing and more blood. They laughed out loud, nodding manly at one another and yelled, “heck yeah!”

Many NFL and NHL season ticket holders would say the same. I wonder: is there a fun-level difference between participating in the act of violence and simply watching the violence?  I agree with those who argue that people who play violent video games and watch violence in sports are participants, particularly the gamers. But, my question centers on the issue of “fun”.

Driving my son to school after a doctor appointment, the radio news confirmed that a 16 year old boy in a neighboring area died after a head on collision during his Varsity football game. Friday night, his school and community were cheering on their team. Today, their schools are closed, all sports are cancelled, and a community mourns.

I’ve never found myself an advocate for safety in sports. Honestly, I don’t believe much will change no matter how many millions the NFL has to pay out. But, will the Dad of the young man who died from a high school hit, ever again jump to his feet on a Sunday afternoon, throwing fist-punches into the air, cheering at the hit he just saw in a Dallas Cowboys game? Will he ever again view a “great hit” as fun?

A Dad on the sidelines of my daughter’s soccer team last season mentioned the need for some sort of helmet in soccer. Since my son is in a highly competitive ice hockey league, and has had a concussion, I somewhat shrugged off the Dad’s comment. Ice hockey is brutal for me to watch. Seeing my daughter in soccer all these years was far less stressful.

This season, where my daughter is at a higher soccer level and my son just started playing, my view changed. Watching kids jump 3’ in the air and hit heads instead of the ball, is intense. In sports such as soccer, girls’ lacrosse, and field hockey, perhaps the question should be, “will the sport be less fun if we institute helmets?” As Mom, I say “protection keeps the “fun” in sports!”

There is the ongoing helmet debate, but the bigger issue simply lies in contact sports. Fans won’t pay if hitting is taken out of hockey and football. Players don’t feel as competitive without the physical violence. And parents promote the fierceness. I’m one of the quieter hockey Moms, but wow, have I sat next to the crazy ones, who literally scream to their boys, demanding hits on their opponent. Better yet, I had a Grandma who set me straight on the importance of hitting in hockey:

When my son was 13 and just began body-checking in hockey, he took a wicked hit when playing in Canada one afternoon. I winced and said to my daughter next to me,  “jeeze, he needs to get used to this now that they are checking. That hit was horrible!”

No kidding, a Canadian Grandma turned to me and snarkily quipped, “Maybe you Americans should get your boys hitting as Peewees like we do. Then they would be better players by now.”  Hmmm. Better players? Or better hitters? FYI: Canada recently banned U13 body-checking. PS: I love Canada <3.

Does violence really make games more “fun”?  While I personally say no, (as I cringe in the stands), America yells, “heck yeah!” to the tune of ONE BILLION DOLLARS – that was in two weeks from one game, not arena sports.

Violence in games has been a form of entertainment since before the gladiator games in Ancient Rome. We can squawk about having evolved as parents and grown more educated and sophisticated as humans, and less barbaric in our entertainment, but the truth lies in America’s family living rooms: Black Ops II day one sales made $500million, reaching $1billion in sales 15 days after its launch. This week, Grand Theft Auto V made $800million in 24 hours. Kids 5-20 years old didn’t fund that entire $800million, but they’re playing. Mom and Dad are buying.

Grand Theft Auto III gave the player ability to hire a prostitute, have sex with her, kill her, then steal her money. What must Grand Theft Auto V give the player the ability to do?

Heck, if that’s how we Americans are defining “fun”, hockey body-checking and football collisions must seem downright boring.

You’re More Than Your Looks, My Daughter, Friend, Sister…

(Photo:aliexpress.com)

One of my daughters is a major fashionista. From the moment we said “yes” to makeup at 13, she wore it daily. Now 19, her wardrobe far surpasses anyone else in the house. I’m fine with it except for the now and then when she begins focusing too much on the “outside”. This leads me on a rant about the true value of a woman – just as I do after seeing someone as revolting as Beyonce be recognized as a role model for young women – I throw up, and then I give my girls yet another lesson in what it means to be a beautiful woman.

Important disclaimer: I’m a highlighted blonde, wear makeup, and enjoy cute clothes as much as the next girl. I enjoy all things “girl”. I offer this disclaimer because people tend to believe that only women who are makeup-less or attend parties in sweats truly believe that “you are more than your looks”.

Us girls in my house like clothes, makeup and shopping. But, genuine beauty comes from within. Period. Regardless of how old we are, we want to – and should – take care of the outside. But, our society has lost its mind telling us and our daughters that we really are only the sum of our sultry, sexy, skinny and sassy.

What about being fun? Interesting? Interested? Confident? Well-read? A person with hobbies and passion and curiosity about the world? Silly and sweet and thoughtful? These and other qualities make people truly attractive.

This societal lie transcends generations. I know a grandmother who actually suggested her granddaughter buy a shorter skirt, despite the fact that the girl felt like a princess in a flowing skirt below her knees. The grandmother would also prefer trendier clothes on the teenager. Well into her 70s, the woman remains focused upon appearances. She will leave a legacy of superficiality instead of accepting, loving and caring for others. 

Do we love? Do we hold the tongue when appropriate and tongue-lash someone when that is appropriate? Yes, taking a stand when needed is strength and that’s beautiful.

Here is what I have above my daughters’ bedroom doorway: Does a gal’s new outfit or new mascara put a spring in her step and lift her posture? Of course! Heck, we all know that when we feel like our skin and hair are a mess, we would rather hide behind the sales rack then run into someone we know. When the outside is looking good, we walk taller and hope we’ll run into someone we haven’t seen in years!

Nothing wrong with that. What’s wrong is a society, celebrities, and endless trails of filth telling our girls they are only their appearance. Women who any one of us would identify as “stunning” are just as susceptible to believing they are unattractive. And, there are women who are initially stunning in our eyes who eventually become the ugliest humans we have ever met. The beauty of kindness – or not – shows up in a woman’s face.

I’m on this topic because I have two daughters. Because I am a woman living in this society – in the world though not of it – and there is pressure. While I can bemoan this as an adult, nothing matches the pressure of the American high school.

So, how do we convey this to our precious daughters bombarded by middle school and high school hallways full of rebellious, scantily-clad, hair-tossing peers?

Tell them. That their bodies are sacred. That happy girls really are so pretty in any room…at any party.

Tell them they are beautiful. The sisters, friends and daughters. Over and over and over…because they ARE.

 

 

 

Paying for Other’s Bad Behavior Is Making Me a Little Cranky

Lucy courtesy Charles Schulz via Cafe Press

Lucy courtesy Charles Schulz via Cafe Press

Now in my mid 40’s, I’ve officially experienced enough of life where paying (in time or money) for other people’s bad behavior, no-show tendencies, and last-minute procrastination is making me cranky. Over my adult life, when I or my kids have received unfair treatment, I’ve definitely handled it firmly, but always with respect toward others, even when they might not have deserved it. I’ve followed policies that were ridiculous because I “understood”.

Why have I attempted to do the right things? I have hoped to be a good example to my kids. I’ve thought that it would please God. Because I’ve observed that the senior citizens who are still nice after 80 years of living on this planet have made the effort to remain kind. Now that my kids are teenagers, I’m a little worn out from always doing the right things.

– For example, my son had his wisdom teeth out recently. I had written proof (and so did the office) that my insurance would cover the cost. The “policy” was that I had to pay $700 cash up front and wait 2 months for the office to write me a refund check. I was a little cranky. When I questioned the policy, the response was, “Well, so many parents weren’t paying their balance not covered by insurance.” But I’m not that parent!

– For years, the same 15% of the congregation at church did 100% of the work. Instead of being grateful, the 85% often complained about something. This makes volunteers a little cranky. The followers of the “serve your church” rule get piled with more until they learn that sometimes, you have to say “no”, and they hate to say no.

– One of my children takes instrument lessons and the teacher sent out a lengthy handbook about new policies. The book’s theme hinted: ‘I’ve been burned and now-no more.’ Extremely specific guidelines were printed and parents were asked to sign. Why? Because some Moms call to say they’re not taking their kids out of the pool for lessons. I’m not that parent. I’m a rule follower. I’ll bring my tired child to lessons even if they need a day off to rest because I respect the teacher’s time, not because I’m a Tiger Mom.

Other parents are paying late? Yes, I’ll be happy to pay in advance, even though I just paid the oral surgeon $700. But, when I’m asked to pay for days when I know 6 months in advance that I won’t be there – and, when I have to pay a mandatory fee for events my child isn’t participating in, I’m a little cranky. Guess what? The non-payers will still pay late or not at all. The same parents will still blow off their lesson times without a courtesy phone call.

– Three days ago, I applied for a new job online. I embarked on completing a tortuously-long application form, which took me over an hour and a half to finish. Every other paragraph inserted a “WARNING” that “IMMEDIATELY” after completing the application, a personality test was required, or the information would NOT be looked at. I submitted the application, resume, cover letter, and rights to a 4th child if I ever have one. Then, I began the insanely time consuming personality test. I followed the directions – “immediately” beginning the personality test, when really, I should have ignored the “warnings” like most everyone else apparently does.

The test was getting so complicated (I was doing algebra), I took a quick break and scanned my email. I emailed the application at 1:03pm and began the long assessment. At 1:05pm, I received an email from said company that after careful consideration, they would not be pursuing my candidacy. Two minutes after I submitted part one of a “mandatory” two-part process, I received the automated Dear John letter. I was already an hour into the personality assessment.

Not sure if I should laugh or cry at how I had just spent an afternoon of my life, I emailed the Corporate Recruiter a friendly suggestion about how his Human Resources division could operate a little more respectfully of qualified candidates who actually read and follow the directions. After a little investigating with them and another large institution, guess why testing is required? So many people lie on their application forms, they need a “better” assessment than a resume. Guess why automated “not selected” responses are sent 2 minutes after submissions? The companies aren’t always recruiting for an existing position, they are bulking up their files to demonstrate a “commitment to diversity” for possible future examination.

– I’m sure you have countless examples of your own frustrations. I won’t torture you or myself with the broader issues of national health care and the number of people living in America who impressively avoid paying their taxes for 20 years.

Those who brag about “beating the system”, and who circumvent every other routine responsibility that is a normal part of being a grown up:  have mercy on us do-gooders that you mock. Please obey the rules. Be honest. It’s getting really hard for us to stay sweet toward you. 🙂

“We can’t allow ourselves to get tired of living the right way.” Galations 6:9 GWT