It Really Does Start At Home


I actually began blogging around this time of year, almost a decade ago when I had a harder time than I expected dealing with my empty nest. It blind-sided me so much that I felt as if I was slowly drowning in a montage of feelings I didn’t understand. I mean, I’d gone through all of the firsts. Leaving  both of my babies on their first day of school and all of the milestones that came after.  Before I experienced it, I’d read a few articles about empty nest syndromes and kind of felt a little judgie when I read about how immobilized some of these parents found themselves and surprised that it was both mother’s and fathers.

I think that in reading the stories of other people’s experiences, I realized that it helped to know that others felt the same way and to learn how they dealt with things. And as I began to find my own ground again, I realized that sharing our hearts in several different circumstances  really helped. And so I began writing about “LIFE” and in turn, started getting messages from people I’d never met, thanking me for making them not feel so alone. I figured that if I could help one person feel better about what they were going through, I would share my stories. I tried several different forums before I landed here on WordPress and when I created this blog, I totally felt at home, almost as if the readers and writers that found their way to my doorstep were like a little family.

I have written about love and heartbreak, faith and depression, appreciation and kids, friends and family, life and death, living in the past, pushing forward to the future, disappointments and blessings and today because it is this time of year that prompted me to start writing, I wanted to write to the parents as they send their kids off to school. There is a saying that I have grown to love:

Teach your sons to be gentlemen and your daughters to accept nothing less.

hugging kids

As a parent of adult children I have really reflected on what this means. Some of us feel that they have succeeded at this, some of us feel that we have failed. Some of us feel that we may have gotten it right with one or a couple of our kids and have a hard time understanding what happened to the other (s). Today I would like to encourage the young moms with kids just starting out and starting new years to really talk to their kids about kindness. Because it really does start at home.

When my daughter was in first grade at a Christian School. The program was amazing. I shake my head at how amazing. The Director of her pre-school and the Principal of her Elementary school as well as staff and some of the moms are still my good friends. Life changing friends. I love them. I think that we were all praying moms with a strong faith and yet, I watched the clicks and the gossiping among the little girls and realized that though we needed to set them free as moms, we also needed to guide and teach them to pray for things together.

It  touched my heart when we moved and my daughter came home from her first day of 4th grade in a public school and said in a horrified voice. “Mom, they DON’T even pray before they eat!”  It brings tears to my eyes now because I liked it when she was protected in that sweet little cocoon at Harbor Church School. But I knew that even there, Though the staff watched out for it as much as they could… there were little bullies. And no matter what, we can’t protect our kids from them.

But we can teach them to be kind and aware. To not judge because someone is not like them or doesn’t have the same clothes or backpacks or whatever the differences are. If they see someone sitting alone or hear someone else not being nice, to try to invite that person to be part of their group. I think we need to teach our kids at a very early age, that it is not okay to leave someone out, or laugh at them or to talk about someone or make fun of them. We need to get to know their stories and where they come from. To look out for the underdogs and be their hero. You never know whose life you may change by being kind.

If every parent and every teacher would make a point of teaching our kids why bullying is wrong. And encouraging their acts of KINDNESS and making it a fun project in every elementary school, just think how different the world would be if the adults took the responsibility of the kids and taught them the true golden rule. Because you know, in the end… Bullies grow up to either be angry adults or gentlemen.

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Being nice… IS as Simple as That


bullying

When I was little I used to look at the mean kids and think when they grow up and look back, they will be so ashamed. But as I have lived life I know that more than likely, they just grew up to be mean adults. Funny how small our worlds are when we are young. We don’t automatically understand things objectively. It is all so simple before we are about eight or nine. We don’t understand about egos yet. But if we are blessed, we have adults that can teach us that it isn’t what others think about us but what we ultimately think about ourselves.

My dad grew up in a family of five boys. He was a twin and most of his life didn’t have a toy of his own. And the ones he did have are stories he tells about seventy years later. He recently told me a story about a big old mean coach in High School that told the class that nobody better return without gym clothes. He had $5 to his name and a horrible tooth ache. He went to the dentist and was told, “$10 bucks to fill and $5 bucks to pull.” Needless to say he returned to school without gym clothes or “that” tooth. He said that all the kids were standing there in new shoes and gym clothes and he was the only one dressed in school clothes. I won’t even give that horrible coach room on this page to say what he said. But my dad never went back to that school and later joined the Navy to be able to eat and get an education there.

In my life, I have discovered a lot more about mean adults. As Jane Austen said: “I was quiet but I was not blind.” in observing them, we  learn how  to deal with them. As kids we knew them as bullies. As adults we call them difficult.  I have strategically positioned my life around those people, avoiding them as best I could. I’ve viewed them a little like “land mines”  and tried to surround myself with amazing people and must say that I’ve been pretty successful in doing so.  Though, we all know that even though we choose most of the people we spend our free time with, there are a few who slip by that we can’t control, work related, family, and a few that we let in on our own omission.

Sometimes we have to look deeper and understand that hurting people hurt people. That where we see the two choices, to be nice or not, and  two paths that seem pretty obvious which to take, we must realize that in their pain, they are only seeing one. In the past, it has been so hard for me to not say what I am thinking. Let’s just say that the filter has been slightly in need of adjustment for a long time. I have to intentionally realize that the guy who cut me off or cut in line, has no idea who I am or is personally doing anything to me in particular, and that I have no idea what is going on in their life. It isn’t always easy to just be nice, to stay on the high road, to keep my joy and not give anyone else the power to to take my joy away. Nor is it my responsibility to punish them for their bad behavior.

Being nice is as simple as that. We can conquer negative energy with our peace.  But what about the ones in our lives that is not a stranger that we may never see again, but someone that we have to deal with daily? It takes practice not to react. It takes even more to be “nice” and understanding. Because sometimes the ones that challenge you more, teaches you the most. That people and situations are both powerless without your reaction. I remember once I accidentally cut someone off who was in my blind spot. I saw it all unfold in my rear view mirror as all I could do was hold my breath and pray. It was a near miss.

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As the guy pulled up next to me, I knew he deserved my eye contact and I gave it to him as I mouthed as sincere a “SORRY” as I could without him hearing it. It totally diffused the whole situation in less than a second. This big burly guy got a soft look on his face and accepted my apology all inside the magical moment of respecting each other. I was wrong. He deserved my recognition of that. How easy would it be if that happened every time on the road. No matter who we are, regardless of age, gender, race, we need to respect each other. It’s as simple as that.

In the end, the only power we have is to set an example. To realize that everyone deserves kindness and respect, even the ones being rude to you. Not because they are nice but because you are.

If I Let You In… Please Don’t Break Anything


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terri-scott-and-i In San Mateo… in my front yard… I wonder if I never moved who I’d be today… ?

At a very early age, I learned how to put up walls. Probably because… when I was younger, I was always the “new kid.” My dad was up and coming. A Mattel Executive, right when they were introducing Barbie and Hot Wheels. He rode the wave  and then in the 70s he seemed to settle into a computer Company called CSC in El Segundo and remained there for several years as one of their Vice Presidents. When I was nine, we finally landed in a Southern CA Community called;  Palos Verdes Peninsula, where other up and coming daddies also brought their families.

Being a Mattel tester kid was fun. During our first move I met Terri. My first best friend, who ended up being the best thing about all of my dad’s transfers,  (& remained my best friend until she died a few years ago) admitted that she was jealous of me. She told me once, “Your dad went on all of these business trips and always brought you something back.” Little did she know, I was jealous of her. Her dad came home every night and she lived in the same town all of her life.

palos-verdes-peninsulaPalos Verdes Peninsula

 

Maybe it takes a kid with a better backbone to go to four elementary schools before nine, but I never really mastered the art of making friends back then, basically it was just plain awkward, coming in the middle of each school year. And kids can reeeally be mean. In turn, I tried to teach my kids to seek out the underdogs and welcome them into their group. Kids learn how to be bullies at an early age and I feel that if more parents would take the initiative and teach their kids to be more aware of the friendless kids, I think they’d ALL have a head start on becoming amazing adults.

The thing that saved me is that I loved to read and write and I always had Terri.We bought funny stationery and sealing wax and wrote to each other often. And where ever I went, I knew I had a best friend “somewhere.” Who knows if I’d remained across the street, if we’d have stayed best friends or even traveled in the same crowd. But there was something magical for both of us…  To her, I was the girl across the street that traveled all over and for me…  well, she didn’t even know. She just made me not feel so alone in those times of being the new kid and arriving after everyone had already made their friends for that school year.

Looking back as an adult, I see that every circumstance and experience made me into who I am today. And I am grateful for them. But back then it just seemed to suck. I think that is why I only need a few good friends now. And perhaps why I love my blog friends so much. It is a safe place and in my neighborhood here, I rarely have run into a bully. Most show up as the kind of friends I wish I could have found in my elementary school days. And for a magical moment it is just you and me. When I read yours and you read mine.

vallonVallon Drive… Street I grew up on since Junior High…

Today, I wonder who I’d be if I’d always lived across the street from Terri, and we never moved. I wonder if my kids would be the same kids, or if I might have had a totally different life. All I know is that  I over think things. I scrutinize the whys and try to figure out what makes others tick. I know now that as a kid, when I’d feel as if I wanted to disappear, I really wanted to be found. Though, over the years,  where I used to care, I have learned to not trust that many people. I appreciate people who are honest, those who keep their word, are not judgmental and especially are not bullies. When I was younger, I used to wonder how the bullies would turn out. As an adult, I’ve realized that a lot of people just end up being mean adults. Though a few have surprised me and had the depth to change and we have become good friends. I think that knowing where people came from helps and I don’t think that I could ever not accept an apology.

Over the years, I’ve learned to embrace the adult perspective and move past my insecurities. And I am still a work in progress. An “I LOVE LUCY” episode comes to mind where Lucy thinks that everyone has forgotten her birthday, while in reality Ricky and her friends are waiting at a surprise party for her as she goes out and joins “Friends of The Friendless.” As adults we see the irony in the humor of LUCY. And I think I have grown from that little awkward NEW KID into embracing my friendships…

But…. If I do let you in, please don’t break anything.

broken-heart