Enough

The world tells me to just be me

But then it says my shirt isn’t tight enough

My skirt isn’t short enough

My waist isn’t tiny enough.

 

Politicians tell me to vote with my head and my heart

Then they claim I’m not pro-murder enough

I’m not woman-enough

Not tolerant enough; while they are utterly intolerant of me.

 

Public education claims it offers more than enough

While U.S. students rank lower than other developed nations.

We haven’t taught them to think independently or problem solve enough

How much mindless testing is going to satisfy the administrative fools enough?

 

Enough with being able to name every Kardashian

but not one Chief Justice in the Supreme Court.

 

Enough with being able to name 7 reality shows,

but not the 7 natural wonders of our beautiful world.

 

Enough selecting friends and presidents because they are our same color or gender.

Enough accepting and promoting liars, cheaters and those who simply don’t believe the rules apply to them – all the while you are forced to follow them.

Enough television, more books.

Is It Fair That We are Judged by How We Look?

GothThis is a question that I have asked my college students over the years.  Inevitably, they will argue that it is absolutely “not fair!” and without my intervention, end up sharing countless examples of when they, themselves immediately judged by physical appearance.  Therefore, determining that while “unfair”, it is unequivocally, indisputably, inevitable.

Recently, my 16 year old daughter and I were swimsuit shopping for spring break.  She is a small, petite, clean cut girl with long strawberry blonde hair and a spunky spirit.  When we approached the fitting room desk, my daughter asked the 50-something female attendant how many items my daughter could bring into the room.  She cheerfully glanced at our mini mountain, totaling about 15 items, smiled, and said, “Go ahead, just bring everything out when you are done.”  My daughter entered the room, and I sat down waiting for the fashion show to begin.

Four minutes later, a youthful looking grandma along with her granddaughter, surely my daughter’s age, and also quite petite, approached the same fitting room attendant with her pile of items and held it up to the woman.  The woman curtly sniped, “you can only take in 6 at a time. How many do you have?” The young girl answered, “7”. The woman took the pile out of her hands, counted the clothes one by one out loud for all to hear, until reaching the number 8 with a huff.  Handing her back only six of the items and practically tossing the girl a fitting room tag, she announced that the rest would be held at the desk.

The woman clearly showed preferential treatment to my daughter.  Why?  Not because I was with my daughter, as the other teenager had her grandma with her.  My guess is the teen’s outer appearance.  Multiple nose and earrings, jet black dyed hair, with wide sections dyed platinum, black nail polish, a sour frown, and Goth clothing greeted the fitting room lady.

I’m honest enough to tell you that I certainly judge on one’s exterior, most often when my children are involved.  Evaluation in this depraved society is essential for our safety.  By external appearance, we can draw countless conclusions about someone.  Many will be accurate, and a few utterly wrong.  Either way, the pre-vacation shopping experience left me humbled. 

As a woman who has judged wrongfully and endured judgment, I’m still training myself to be cautious before labeling and stereotyping.  That doesn’t stop me from staring (hopefully, inconspicuously!) if someone has decided to cover themselves in ink, piercings, and adorn their clothing with a variety of clinking, shiny chains – like a toddler, I’m mesmerized.  Regardless, giving someone a chance to reveal who they really are through conversation is always my goal.

The dark-dressed girl slinked away into a fitting room, without a smile, and I couldn’t help but think that I wouldn’t want to be yet another person contributing to her already sad expression. Insecurities exist in all of us, whether or not they are concealed in neat, well-groomed packages.  If teens experience enough unfair treatment, they have a natural tendency to believe they’re not worthy of good treatment.

Photo: drprem.com

Throwback Thursday article from 5/6/2013

The Difference in One Year THEN and The Difference in One Year NOW…

Between birth and one year of age, my kids:

Rolled over, crawled, pulled up and walked by 9 months

Ate solid food

Said all family names

Eventually spoke in choppy sentences

Followed book pages with their eyes and hands

Always toddled toward Mama and Dada.

Between 16 and 17 years of age, two of my three kids:

Got their driving permit

Secured a job

Began independently driving a moving vehicle (a.k.a. license)

Brought home a significant other

Starting dating

Attended high school parties and dances

Began walking a little farther away from Mama and Dada….

 

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

Tiny Teacher

(Throwback Thursday from something I wrote in 2011 before the inception of this blog.)

My eight-year old daughter has been “teaching” since she could utter words. Our basement is complete with white boards, workbooks, and her most prized possession: an overhead projector with genuine second grade transparencies! Everyone from neighbors to Nana’s have taken their turn as students while my youngest directs her wooden pointer at the colorful images on the playroom walls. While always adorable and entertaining, I never anticipated how powerful her lessons could be.

Driving home a few months ago, I was deeply hurt over an unpleasant conversation with someone. For about a mile or so, I explained to my three children how thoughtless the person was and commented, “they acted rude and were very unfair.”

My youngest suddenly yelled from the back seat of the mini van. “Mama! I don’t like that about you!”

What? There’s something my baby doesn’t like about me? Just this morning, I was the best Mama on planet earth and she wouldn’t trade me for a million Webkinz. “What don’t you like?” Foolish question to ask a child who has zero ability to ease the blow which follows.

“When you say unkind things about people.”

Ouch. I swallowed hard, my cheeks turning warm.

Ignoring her mistaken assumption that I was being too harsh on the person, I continued in my sweetest-Mommy voice that my child didn’t buy for a second. “Honey, I’m not being unkind, I’m merely saying…”

My baby interrupted loudly, lecturing me in a series of run-on sentences without taking a breath. “You always say we have to be nice to everyone because we never know if someone is mean because they have a hard life, or maybe something bad happened to them that we don’t know about! You tell us that some kids are nasty because not enough people love on them! You say that we’re supposed to bless mean people with our kindness and that might make them nicer!”

I gripped the steering wheel in silence. I do preach kindness, and most of the time I try to practice grace. But not today. My daughter caught me being unlovely, and I was mortified. Why couldn’t she have noticed one of the million times I chose the noble path and kept quiet? Because disgracing another is never okay and my teacher didn’t let me get away with it even once.

Regardless of the adult issues that my daughter was unaware of, her assessment of my behavior was right on. Her pointer was her tongue and it pierced my heart. As God’s timing would have it, the following Sunday our Pastor happened to be listing ways parents can be good examples for their children. While my daughter had long forgotten the regrettable words, my mother-guilt swelled to the height of Mt. Everest.

As the Pastor began sharing a few things that parents can do to be great role models, my youngest tugged on my shirt, her eyes bright blue and excited. She whispered happily, “just like you, Mama! You do all those things!” I blinked back the tears stinging my eyes, reminded by my teacher that although we Moms may blunder, it’s our better behavior that shines more often than not in the eyes of our children. Thank God!