Archive for October, 2008

Hen Pecking

Friday, October 31st, 2008

Hens don’t peck outcast chicks to somehow make those chicks better at conforming to the group.  They do it to destroy the chick.  Often times the chicks are pecked and bloodied for no more reason than being themselves.  It’s devastating to watch.  You try to distract the hens and coach the chicks, but there is often little that can be done other than completely isolating the targeted chicks.  Watching nature take its course is tough.  Seeing the proud chicks, heads held high with feather remnants dangling from their beaks, is one of those things you never really get used to.  Although, getting used to it would mean losing yet another thread of compassion that makes humans so special.

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.

DOW-ner

Wednesday, October 15th, 2008

Did you hear?  The Dow dropped today on news of sluggish retail sales and growing fears we are indeed in a recession.  Huh?  I call baloney.  No one expected a strong sales report and everyone has known for sometime we are in a recession.  You’d have to be under a rock not to know and those who live under a rock typically don’t influence the Dow.  Methinks it is more about profit takers who are making the decision to sell when the Dow manages a spike.  I think it will happen over and over again for some time.  The Dow will likely look more like an EKG than a kite string to heaven.  To expect otherwise would be silly at this point.  Blaming a downturn on news that really isn’t news doesn’t make sense.

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.

Please Tell Me

Monday, October 13th, 2008

Please tell me what the escape button (ESC) on my laptop is for.  It has yet to get me out of any cyber mishap!  I don’t think it serves any real purpose.  It’s just one more option to try before hurling the bloody computer at the wall in frustration.

How Not To Drown

Friday, October 10th, 2008

One of the most important nuggets of wisdom when you find yourself in over your head and unsure of your ability to swim is not to panic.  Panicking burns energy needed for survival and distracts your mind from seeing a path to safety.  Even though we know this, when we find ourselves in life or death situations staying calm takes work.  Add to the mix a crowd chanting doom and gloom messages and I’d say it’s impossible.  It’s really strange when that crowd was supposed to be in the same boat as you, the one that sank and left you doing the dog paddle.  Somehow they are walking on water and have more time to focus on whose fault it is the boat sank versus how to get to shore.

Just Write A Check

Wednesday, October 8th, 2008

When I was a kid my family didn’t have a lot of money.  My sister and I were raised by a single mother.  Our father was spotty with child support payments.  There wasn’t money for things other than necessities.  Of course, kids have no concept of money.  It was frustrating to hear mom say we couldn’t afford something when my sister and I both knew fully well she had a check book ready and waiting.  “Just write a check” we’d tell our mom.  Wow, wouldn’t it be great if life worked that way.  If you could buy things you didn’t have the money for by simply writing a check!  Now we know you can’t write a check for something unless the money is there to back it up.  We owe are mom a big thank you for our understanding of that concept.  I wish Uncle Sam’s mom had taken time to explain like our mom did!

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