Archive for the ‘Treatment of Others’ Category

Grandpa’s Secret

Sunday, October 26th, 2008

My Grandpa has always been a busy body.  He’s a few days away from 87 and does a little more couch sitting now then before, but he’s still pretty active for a man of his years.  As a kid and young adult, I often wondered where my Grandpa’s inner drive came from and why it didn’t get passed down to me.  I like to do things from time to time, but I don’t seem to burn with the same desire to fill every moment of my life with something.

Recently my Grandpa faced a health challenge that could have been the beginning of the end.  Not wanting to risk losing him before knowing him better, I asked him some questions in a letter.  One question was about his inner fire.  Where did it come from and why didn’t he pass it down genetically?  My Grandpa was very candid with his answer.  It wasn’t something cellular.  When he was young he wasn’t all that motivated or driven.  WWII changed him.  He saw many of his comrades die beside him and had a few close calls himself.  At the time he was a poor farm kid without a wife or family.  Men dying beside him had a lot more to live for and yet he was the one to come out intact.  When his foot hit American soil again he promised himself he would live his life for those who couldn’t, for those who never came home.  Reading his words I knew it was the blunt truth.  His life was a mission.  It all made perfect sense.  He came home from the War, but he never stopped being a soldier and comrade.  Never.

This knowlege has made me wonder if some of us are missing out on life because we’ve never had the opportunity to experience just how precious and valuable it is.

Not Yet

Saturday, October 18th, 2008

I know when someone does something crappy and apologizes it is best to accept the apology and move on.  As a fan of peace and harmony I usually don’t like to drag things out too long.  If the “I’m sorry” is sincere, that is typically enough.  There are times when I feel like being mad for a bit, however.  It’s this inner need to give whatever assinine word or gesture that occurred its due attention.  When apologies come immediately, it’s like you are stripped of the chance to enjoy a full blown moment of pissed-off-tivity.  It doesn’t seem fair to subject someone to stupidity and not allow a chunk of time for them to shove things around violently while muttering all the jungle animals you are likely kin to.  The very act of furiously cleaning my house is a crucial step in the process to closure.  I need that experience to be able to embrace the apology and truly move past whatever happened.

So, to the person who screwed up today, I appreciate your apology.  I will eventually forgive you.  Just, not yet.

Brown

Tuesday, October 14th, 2008

My 2 1/2 year old pointed out today that our neighbor is brown.  She was making a general observation.  There was none of the nonsense adults can incorporate into the recognition of differences amongst us.  Still, it felt like one of those significant moments in parenting.  My daughter is surrounded by diversity and I’ve often wondered how her processing of these differences would play out.  Part of me believed her exposure to diversity would somehow dull her need to notice differences.  Yet, she did notice.

My mommy brain started swirling with all of the important lessons and messages I should give her at this key moment.  I only paused for a second or two.  I had an eloquent speech to organize on the fly.  In that time of pause my daughter had the nerve to move on to another subject.  She wanted to talk about bugs on the window when I was finally ready to share valuable words of wisdom and insight.  She was ready to carry on with her day as if nothing significant had happened.  And that’s when it hit me, nothing significant had happened.  My daughter noted our neighbor was brown and it was no big deal…to her.  And I was foolishly ready to make it a big deal.  He was still our neighbor to her.  He was still a person.  He was still great on a bike.  He was still someone to wave to.  He was all of the things he was before.  She already knew the lesson I was preparing to teach her.  She already knew our differences were of little concern.  She said he was brown as she says my toenails are red.  She was talking through her eyes; not judging with them.

I learned a valuable lesson today.  I realized that letting our kids observe their world at times without inserting our own thoughts and insight may be the best way to have what isn’t supposed to be a big deal stay that way.  Down the road, there may be a time when that eloquent speech I’ve stored in my mind will come in handy.  Until then, I’m going to do my best to calm down and remember I’ve got years to produce a good world citizen.  I need not try to pack everything in at the tender age of 2 1/2.

The Hypocrisy

Tuesday, October 7th, 2008

It makes me twitch a bit to listen to media personalities pontificate to the candidates about how their negative rhetoric is turning off the American people.  I don’t disagree.  I do find it hypocritical the masters of negativity have saddled up their high horse, however.  How about the candidates and the media both do what they can to be respectful and treat the American people as if we have brains.  Perhaps if they do the American people will then remember to use those brains.

Journeys

Sunday, October 5th, 2008

For those who have known me for a while or who have followed my blog, you know I have a daughter with a birthmark on her face.  She has a benign tumor of capillaries on her lower lip, upper chin and inner cheek called a hemangioma.  At 2 1/2, hers has begun the process of involuting and going away.  It is still quite bulky, but it is losing its deep red color and turning to a pale gray.

I like to write about Olivia’s birthmark from time-to-time because I’ve learned so much from this journey that I want to share with others.  My awareness of how others process differences in themselves and each other has evolved.  The way I look at my world and it’s unique features is no longer the same.

I can’t remember if I wrote about it here or not, but a while ago I was reading a cat book to Olivia.  The book was a thick collection of photos of all sorts of feline friends.  One of the cats in the book had no hair.  Hairless cats have always been icky to me.  I’m not sure why.  Probably because I’m just not used to them.  In any event, while going through the pictures with her we would always point at the cat together and go “eeeeeeeewwwww.”  She didn’t do that on her own.  I taught her that reaction to this particular cat and we’d laugh each time.  To my horror, it dawned on me on one of our trips through the book I was teaching my daughter to react to a physical difference the way some have reacted to hers!  It was one of those ah-ha moments that knocks you in the head and socks you in the gut.  Though I couldn’t undo what I had taught her, I changed gears and we now talk about how unique the cat is.  I’ve managed to stop her from saying “eeeeeeeewwww” and now we say “neat!”

That experience has stayed with me and now I am overly sensitive about the messages we give our kids.  It’s so clear to me how much of our kids’ inclination to react negatively to differences is modeled for them through adult’s behavior or what is being shared through books and movies and such.  Now I can’t seem to read a book without the themes that groom our beliefs of what is normal, attractive and good jumping off the pages at me.   Villians so often have facial imperfections.  The ‘ugly’ duckling has brown feathers instead of white.  The prince who is under an evil spell is hunched over with gaps in his teeth, big ears and warts.  Of course, the second he is no longer evil he is dashingly handsome.  His physical appearance changes.  Why would we read our kids these messages and not assume they would carry a belief evil is something driven by appearance or looking different than the other ducks in the pond is ugly?

I’m not sure what I’m saying with all of this.  So many of the classic stories we tell our kids have these kinds of messages.  They weren’t put there to be mean.  The intention was to tell a good tale.  I’m torn because stories I’ve loved through the course of time now make me want to cry.

On a more positive note, I thought I would do something I rarely do here and share a picture or two.  Many here have followed my daughter’s progress and I’d like to show you a photo from early on when her birthmark was growing aggressively and a recent photo so you can see the amazing change nature is working on for her.

Olivia 7 Months

Above is Olivia at 7 months and below is Olivia at 2 1/2.

Olivia 2 1/2 Years Old

It’s Just Nature

Friday, October 3rd, 2008

Have you heard the story of the old man who kept trying to lean over and pass gas while seated on a sofa?  His caretaker kept thinking he was tipping over and would prop him back up with a pillow so he could sit up straight.  This went on for an entire day and when the old man’s daughter returned home and asked how his new caretaker did he explained she was nice and all, but she wouldn’t let him fart.

That story popped into my head this morning when I realized I was doing the same thing to my son that the caretaker was unknowingly doing to the old man.  She was getting in the way of nature and thinking she was doing him a favor.  My son’s issue isn’t with farting.  He pulls that off with ease.  When it comes to nature for him, he has a deep need to put himself in danger.  Simply put, my son likes to fall.  He likes to press the limits.  He has no problem stumbling and needing to pick himself up again.  Like the caretaker, I run around after my son while surrounding him with as many pillows as possible.  It’s created an interesting dynamic as we are both increasingly frustrated with one another.  I’m frustrated he can’t see I’m trying to keep him safe and he is frustrated I am replacing adventure with cushions and sterile environments.

It is clear to me we need a compromise.  I need to find a way to embrace his nature while making sure he comes out on the otherside unscathed.

Doing The Wave

Thursday, September 25th, 2008

I waved to my neighbor tonight.  Not that big a deal, except he’s not on my good side right now.  It’s a long story and I won’t bore you with the details.  Typing them out would likely give me twitches and clicks anyway.  Behind closed doors I’ve had a few choice words about him.  It’s tempting to carry the sentiment beyond the confines of my home, but I know it serves no purpose.  It certainly wouldn’t improve the situation and would likely make a temporary difference of opinion turn into long term friction.  So I am taking the high road and doing what I can to show my friendly side even though we are currently at odds.  He waved back.  Imagine that.  Our waves didn’t solve our current dilemma, but it does show me we are still capable of being on the same page with the big picture even though we are butting heads over the small stuff.

Monsters

Tuesday, September 16th, 2008

My daughter knocked my socks off tonight.  My heart about burst.  I took her to a story hour at the local library that was geared for 2-4 year old kids.  My daughter is 2 1/2.  Olivia loves to sit and listen to books so she was hanging on every word the librarian read.  One book was about a monster.  It started with a blank page.  When you turned the page eyes appeared.  The next page added a nose.  Then a mouth.  This went on until a full face of a scary monster had formed.  The remainder of the book was about telling the monster to go away.  With each page of doing just that, a different facial feature would disappear until you were eventually left with the blank page you started with.  The librarian got the kids involved by having them yell “Go Away Monster!” with each page.  The premise was to get kids to learn how to tell the things that scare them to go away.  My daughter took it an entirely different way.  The first time everyone yelled “Go Away Monster” she was noticeably aggitated.  By the third time she was crying.  She stood up and started crying and screaming for everyone to stop yelling at the monster.  She said he was sad and scared.  Isn’t that just something.  In my 2 1/2 year old’s mind those who appear to be monsters have feelings and should be treated kindly.  How did I get so lucky for her to see the world this way?  I wish more people understood monsters should be determined by actions and not by appearances.

Politically Correct

Tuesday, September 9th, 2008

We have a nation focused on being politically correct. Thing is, politically correct is something applied to the spoken or written word. It doesn’t touch the mind. Just because people aren’t saying things doesn’t mean they aren’t thinking them. I’m beginning to question if the push to be politically correct is hampering our nation from seeing where our challenges still exist. We can’t repair what is under the surface if we aren’t encouraging it to be expressed. Many feel we are fine as a nation in terms of race, gender and age because you just don’t hear some of the garbage of yore. That doesn’t mean it isn’t still there. That doesn’t mean those who don’t believe what our society pressures them to say out loud aren’t using their beliefs to undermine progress.

The presidential election has created an interesting situation. We have a woman, a senior citizen and a black man front and center. Comments are seeping out that could be viewed as sexist, ageist or racist. Those commenting are subject to public scoldings and censorship. I wish this weren’t the case. Even if it is rude or tacky, people need to hear and understand the reality of others’ beliefs. We can’t keep living in la-la land for the sake of our delicate sensibilities.  Protecting feelings at the expense of masking hateful views gets us no where. We can’t attempt to change an opinion we aren’t aware exists. Denial generally serves no purpose.  What good is a nation that sounds civilized and fair if it is just a show of carefully placed words?

I Love To Talk

Thursday, September 4th, 2008

I love to talk. It is something I do whenever given the chance. My mom jokes I came out babbling and never quite stopped. That said, even I know how to zip it when someone is giving a speech or presentation. As I’ve watch the political conventions it has bugged me to no end how much chattering is going on as people attempt to speak and convey heartfelt messages. Good grief. It’s just so rude. Perhaps these folks have never had to deliver a speech in front of a large group. I’ve done my fair share of speaking engagements and know first hand how distracting even an errant cell phone ringing can be. I’m not sure how I would feel to be speaking to a room of inattentive chatter bugs. I’m sure part of me would be tempted to just stop, say never mind and invite the crowd to continue talking about their crucial matters without concern of my interrupting them.  Of course, there is another part of me who would probably get a kick out of inserting ridiculous statements to see how long it took for people to catch on.  Things like “growing up with Elvis as a father” or “I’m reminded of an experience I had 3 lifetimes ago while a deckhand on Columbus’ ship” come to mind as potential insertions.