Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Crosswalks the root of all evil?

Crosswalks, can they possibly be the root of all evil?  It boils down to following the rules and being a good citizen.  Now this is a topic that has been of great concern to me for quite some time.  I haven't felt "qualified" to actually write this post until a particular incident that happened last night.  For you to fully appreciate it, I must take you back in time.

We absolutely LOVE our hometown of Bentonville, Arkansas.  There is a beautiful downtown area with a town square complete with a fountain, courthouse, bank, incredible places to eat, giant pink snails and of course Walton's 5 & 10!  It is the epitome of of small town and symbolizes everything we love about living here.  You never know who you'll see on the square--the Mayor strolling through picking up small pieces of litter, the mother with her kids playing at the fountain, the yoga class working on a new pose or perhaps the dance class taking it outside for the day.  So now you have an idea of what it looks like, now imagine the same idyllic setting crowded with traffic.  It's not bad, just different.  A lot of cars funnel through this downtown area.

Now just a few steps from this picturesque square is the dance studio where my sweet Jessica twirls, spins and taps!  There are hundreds of little girls who dance in this studio because the owner is absolutely amazing--we have watched her grow up through the years.  (When she was in high school she taught Anna jazz so we feel kind of partial toward this young woman who has created an amazingly successful school.)  Her studio is nuzzled between a restaurant and another business with limited parrallel on street parking in front however there is a grocery store across the street with a rather large parking lot where most of the parents park.  Sadly, there is no crosswalk in the middle of the street for the children to cross so they must walk ALL the way to the end of the block in order to cross in a crosswalk with a stopsign.   Needless to say very few parents and students take advantage of the safety of the crosswalks, most just rush right across the middle of the street assuming that traffic will stop.  (We all know what happens when you assume something...)

Now my blood really started boiling one day when I was driving in front of the studio when a mother with children in tow stepped in front of my vehicle and I had to slam on my brakes to avoid hitting them.  All my children were safely buckled in the van and I went into a rant.  It went something like this:

"That is the problem with society today!  No one uses the crosswalks.  They think they are entitled to cross the street wherever they please and the world will come to a stop for them!  These parents are teaching their children to disobey the law!!  Jaywalking is a ticketable offense and there needs to be an officer here writing them!  One of these days one of these kids is going to get hit!!"

I continued and told the girls about a boy I knew as a child.  He grew up to be a young man attending Oklahoma State University.  One bright, beautiful fall day, he and his friends had finished class; they were laughing and talking-backpacks heavy with books but a day full of promise of all the things life had before them...until Brad and his friends failed to walk the half a block to the crosswalk and began crossing the street without looking.  Brad had the misfortune of being closest the the vehicle that was coming and couldn't stop.  The car hit him and he died.  Yes, he died because he didn't take the time to walk to a crosswalk and cross the street properly.

Not only are crosswalks the safe place to cross, it's the law.  Parents please teach your children to respect the laws.  We are crazy blessed to be living here in the United States!!  If we teach our children that it is okay to break this law, then speed down the highway and show it's okay to break that law, we let them have Facebook accounts when they're too young to understand the social pressures and implications/power of what they are writing and posting--what are we really teaching them?  If they don't have to obey laws then why should they have to obey their teachers, bosses, etc.  We complain that people are feeling entitled to so much like food, insurance, housing and money from the government...something for nothing.  Have some pride, stand tall and teach your kids to obey the rules.

P.S.  My reason for writing this blog that has been on my heart for sometime is my sweet Anna.  As you know, she is involved in drama and 9 months of the year since she was 14, we have traveled that specific stretch of road referenced above to play practice--last fall, she started driving herself.  She was so nervous each night (especially during the dark winter months) because there were so many children crossing in the middle of the street-darting out from between cars.  Last night she was on her way to rehearsal at NWACC and she called me in a panic--"Mom, I almost hit a girl!!  There was a large vehicle and she stepped out in front of me!  I had to swerve to keep from hitting her!  She was probably 12 or 13 and she just looked at me like it was all my fault!!!  Mom, I'm so careful driving through there because I know there are so many kids; I can usually see legs or a head but it was different tonight.  The car was so tall and I couldn't see her at all until she stepped out."  My Anna is seventeen...I can't even begin to imagine the heartache she would have to live with for the rest of her life if she hadn't been able to swerve and had hit that girl and injured or worse killed her.  Please, please take the extra 30 seconds and walk to the crosswalks--no matter how hot or how cold it is!!

 ****FYI the sweet young dance studio owner has requested time and time again for everyone to use the crosswalks.  I have heard it from her verbally and seen it in newsletters.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Advice from a recovering doormat

Like all families with children, there will be fighting...not always the yelling, slamming doors kind of fighting but the other kind...the kind that strikes much deeper, the kind that sticks with you for ever.  I'm talking about the little jabs that hit you where it really hurts, the phrases muttered under the breath and the times we ignore pleas for attention.

Okay, go back and re-read that last little bit, I'll make it easy and just copy it below:

...the kind that strikes much deeper, the kind that sticks with you for ever. I'm talking about the little jabs that hit you where it really hurts, the phrases muttered under the breath and the times we ignore pleas for attention.

Think back to your childhood, while all of us have many happy memories I would bet that just as many of us have memories of that kind of hurt.  While we do forgive and move on, that little bit of pain will always be there--lingering.  If that hurt was too frequent, we continue to live in fear of when it will happen again. 

As a recovering doormat, I feel uniquely qualified to speak on this subject.  My siblings were pretty great--I was significantly younger so by the time my memories really kick in they were in college.  I said great, not perfect.  There are memories of that hurt occuring a few times but not enough to make me skittish of them today.  However siblings and immediate family aren't the only ones who inflict  that hurt.  Often times we find ourselves being treated this same way by friends and acquaintences.  I was once at a conference where the speaker referred to this as the doormat syndrome.  When we put out the welcome mat to our life and allow everyone (or anyone for that matter) to wipe their feet on us, we become the doormat.  You know the person--the one who when you leave their presence you feel just a little worse about yourself, filled with a feeling of self-doubt and insecurity.   There is absolutely nothing you can do for these people because odds are they are doormats themselves who have been "wiped" on for so long that they are simply a product of their own self-doubt and insecurities!  Keep your doormat out but wash it off often--don't let their problems bog you down!!

So if there isn't a way to cure these folks, why mention it at all?  What can you do?  You can join me in recovery!!  When there is a "wiper" in your life, distance yourself from them, be aware and don't let their negativity bog you down and more importantly, don't be a "wiper" yourself!! 

The picture I always verbalize for my girls is a nice clean board, much like this.

When you take that little jab-hitting where it hurts, muttering under your breath or ignoring someone, you are driving a nail in their clean board.

Sure, you may apologize and remove the nail

but look at the board--there is a gaping hole where the nail was placed and no matter how many times you apologize for driving that nail, the hole never goes away.  Sure they may forgive you but you have damaged their essence, the very core of their being.

So today and every day, be mindful and watch your words.  Make sure you aren't driving nails into someone with your words.  We are all crazy blessed to live great lives; every person we meet can either be crazy blessed for having known us or full of holes.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Time to fly

 I'm now the parent of a high school graduate.  I'm now the parent of a high school graduate.  I'm now the parent of a high school graduate.  There, I said it three times that makes it real and makes me feel better because the last few weeks have seemed somehow surreal.

There are a few things I am tired of hearing from well meaning people.  So if you see me, please don't use either of the following phrases:

1.  I bet you're so sad that Anna has graduated and is going off to college.

2.  At least you still have two daughters left.

In regards to the first statement--no, I am not sad!!!  I am so proud of Anna and everything she has accomplished.  For those who were there Friday night, you saw an outgoing, well adjusted, clear spoken, beautiful young woman who has been groomed for seventeen years for THIS time in her life!!  She is supposed to finish high school and move on to college; I'd be sad if she wasn't!  I am oh-so crazy blessed that she has drive and ambition, goals and dreams, and her sights set on something bigger and better.  I am thrilled that she is going to college.  My heart leaps when I look at her and see how strong her roots are and I pray every day that her wings are just as strong.  It is her turn to fly and like that saying from the 70's, I'm sure she will come back-not to stay but to visit often!  ("if you love something set it free, if it comes back to you it was yours if not it never was...")

Response to statement #2--yes, we are crazy blessed to have three wonderful, unique, and individual daughters.  One leaving doesn't mean I won't miss her.  Those of you with two or more children will fully understand that no two are alike (even twins, right Nancy?).  Anna was an only child for seven years, my only child to have that experience and as such our relationship is just a bit different than with the other two.  I will miss Anna--the sharpness I feel in my chest at this point in our lives isn't lessened by the fact I have two more children.  However I am looking forward to the new relationship I will develop with Melissa and Jessica as they get to experience home life with our adjusted daily family life with only four at home.  My time will be less divided as Anna exerts her independence at college while I can devote more time to Melissa and Jessica on an individual basis.

I may be confident that I have prepared myself mentally for Anna going away yet I'm a mess when I think about the little daily things that I will miss, the sweet good morning mama said in her morning voice, the jumping in the van and holding my hand as she bubbles on and on about whatever event she has just finished.  But mostly, I'll miss her presence, you know that time when nothing is being said but you just know the one you love is close.  So when you see me and there is fluid flowing involuntarily from my eyes, you'll know--I'm not sad--I'm actually overjoyed at this new phase in my life but I'm also a little nervous after all I am a Mom!

So my advice today for all you parents with kids whether they're two months old or entering their senior year...spend every moment you can with them.  When they cry-hold them, when they ask you for your time-give it to them, when they begin to fly-be the wind that carries them to the next place in their lives.  Take advantage so when it is their time you can say "I've been crazy blessed and know I've done my job well; go now and be what you are supposed to be."