Liking the sound of my own writing

We gathered at my brother’s house this past weekend. We were celebrating the high school graduation of my brother’s daughter. All my siblings came to the celebration, so the house was full.

At one point, everyone got together while my niece opened her cards and presents from the countless well-wishers. After the 50th (or was it the 50th gabillion) card, the peanut gallery became slap happy. Facial expressions, rolling eyes and hand signals were used when the lengthier cards were read aloud. Read more

Just Another Opinion …

Have you ever found yourself talking to the television during a reality TV show? Perhaps you are watching Survivor, and you cannot understand why the team doesn’t see this one certain person as the manipulative and dishonest person that s/he embodies. Or, perhaps you are watching Big Brother, while someone is talking about their personal plan in the diary room. You wonder how this person can get away with what seems to be such an obvious plan. How do the others in the house not see it?

Yes, when you are removed from a situation, it is easy to see the whole picture. So we think. When it comes to unkindness, I believe we are like the casts of reality TV shows. We are so involved with getting around in life, we fail to see the most obvious things.

I have ‘bully’ on the brain. Though the word ‘bully’ is starting to irritate me. And, I fear the word ‘bully’ may become overused, which may desensitize folks about this real issue. Plus, I don’t think the word ‘bully’ encompasses enough. When I think of bully – I think of one person. Whereas, a word like ‘browbeating’ covers greater territory, in my opinion. And, during this campaign season in the good ol’ US of A, browbeating is commonplace. Regardless of your party, regardless of your interest, browbeating runs rampant throughout politics and throughout your home life.

Where does the browbeating start? Bad things happen all over the place. Situations as big as suspicious packages on board cargo planes intent to do harm or situations as small as a preschool child calling another preschooler ‘stupid’. Now, you may say my examples are on two opposite sides of the spectrum. And, I don’t disagree. However, mean is  mean – and bad is bad. The only difference is the number of casualties. And, if children are speaking ugly to other children, each child has the potential to become a casualty through the browbeating.  A kid, once optimistic and happy, could become bitter and pessimistic because s/he was the receiver of browbeating. Going back to political campaigns, negative ads are not composed from a happy and kind place. Again I ask, where does this – for lack of a better word – crap start?

As I have mentioned, it is election time. (At least, it is election time here in the United States.) Hate speech and negative ad campaigns have been spewing freely for weeks … for months. Negative ad campaigns fill the radio and air waves. And though we may express frustration with the use of negative ad campaigns, we are quick to promote the discretion of our candidate’s opponent, somehow thinking it is okay to promote the negative, as long as it isn’t about your candidate.

How can we, as humans, expect our kids to grow up nice, when we continue the cycle of negativity and hate? We want our politicians to play nice – yet we buy into and help spread their negative. Negativity and browbeating are seeds that grow into ugly trees. And, these trees spread, creating one ugly forest.

Yes, we live in a world of differences, and we live in a world of right and wrong. But honestly – can we not agree to disagree? Can we not learn to compromise, just as we try to encourage our children to compromise?

You have strong political views. You have strong religious views. You have strong views about not being political or not being religious. Great! Sit down. Let’s talk. And, when it comes to making policies, let’s work to find middle ground. There is always middle ground. Always. And, we don’t have to be mean. The browbeating can stop. For some, being nice is harder than being mean. For some, smiling is harder than frowning. Fine. Work at it. Say something nice to someone different each and every day. You can do it. And you can disagree without being nasty. Really, you can. And, you should. Look behind you – your kids are watching you and taking notes. And yes, that is where it starts.

Off to School

Joe starts kindergarten in August of this year. My husband and I are joining the hundreds of thousands of parents before us, as we enter the phase of kids in school. And, much to my surprise, I’m concerned about sending Joe to a public school. Never, in my wildest dreams (which consisted of a motorcycle, Sam Elliott and – never mind), did I imagine I would think twice about public schools.

I ain’t never been a real good student. Math be not my best subject, but I think I done speak and write pretty good, on Tuesdays anyway. In all seriousness, school was never my favorite place. And, I rarely performed better than average in school. The one thing I may have excelled at in school was writing notes and falling asleep in class. On super good performance days, I was able to write notes and sleep in class, all at the same time. I was happy to make it to college, and I was happier to make it through college.

I believe my hesitation, rather my straight up aversion, to public school comes, in part, to the current economic situation within this here United States of America. The education system is facing cut after cut after cut. Taking money away from the education system which supports educating the future folks of this country seems counter intuitive to me. Alas, they didn’t ask this ‘C’ average student for my opinion. And, I don’t want to make this a political post.

In addition to the cutbacks taking place within the public school system, I worry about kids these days. Yes, I know, kids are in private schools, too. Moreover, kids in private schools typically (stereotypically) come from affluent families, which may or may not mean more trouble from the kids. Let’s face it, stupidity does not discriminate based on economic status. And, really, I’m taking this to a place I’d rather not take it. Suffice it to say, there are a veritable plethora of reasons why I find myself leaning to private schools – specifically Montessori schools.

As I have researched, I’ve also checked our financial situation. Like many families, enrolling our boys in a private school will lead to our own cutbacks. (Who needs the gov’t for cutbacks?) Rob and I have to sit down and figure out what we are willing to do without, so we are able to do what we feel is best for the boys. Realistically, sacrifices will have to be made. Many sacrifices. I will have to give up – gasp – my ice cream splurges! But wait – there’s more! I’ll have to give up purchasing Yankee Candles! Hmm . . . maybe public schools aren’t so bad.

Once again, all kidding aside, choosing to enroll the boys in a private school will hit our budget hard. But, as I talk with others, I find comfort hearing about how they have made it work. While it is true, we will have to curb our spending, I don’t think it will get to the point where we have to decide whether we pay the electric bill or put food on the table; and, I am thankful for that fact. We’ll see what happens. We register Joe on Thursday for Kindergarten. We want to make sure he is registered, in case he doesn’t get into a private school; his Mom graduated from UGA, and the private school elders may hold that against Joe. (At least she didn’t graduate from University of FL.)

I’m still surprised about how I am playing the role of a parent. I was too busy passing notes and falling asleep in class and having wild dreams about Sam Elliot to think about what I would want for my kids. And, I’ve never been an overachiever. I’m lazy. I like shortcuts. What’s up with me wanting something other than a public school education for my boys? What I know for sure is the fact that I want to invest in our kids’ education, and if the government is pulling funds away from the future generation, then I had better wake up and pay attention. Pardon the drool on my desk. I hate it when that happens.