Wednesday, March 23, 2011

You have 7!

Not long ago, when looking for a way to contact my old basketball coach, I found an email address for an old high school acquaintance. I was surprised to find her on my old high school website where she teaches now. She and I had been in the same level in school all the way from junior high to high school. Although we were never good friends, we were always pleasant to each other. There were times I wanted to kill her though (even though she never knew it).

She was the type of person who was good at everything I wanted to be good at. Most of these things I wanted to do well were things that I was pretty good at doing, but that never seemed to be enough. When I went out for the volleyball team in 8th grade there she was, the star setter of the team. When I tried out for hurdles on the track team – there she was fast as lightning, and there I was eating her dust everyday at practice. So, I decided to try out for basketball hoping she wouldn’t be there. You guessed it … she was the star point guard.

Having already given up volleyball and hurdles, I refused to give up basketball. I stuck with it even though I was in her shadow all the way. I did my best and it was enough to stay on the varsity team, but I usually rode the bench. She, however, set school records and was team captain. Somehow none of my accomplishments meant anything because they always paled in comparison to hers.

Years later I heard a quote by Eleanore Roosevelt. It goes something like this: “No one can make you inferior without your consent.” All those years I was the one beating myself up about that fact that she was good at everything and that I sucked at! I had consented to feeling inferior.

I digress though. I meant to talk about the SHE of today.

So, having found her email address I sent a short email asking about our old basketball coach. She replied rather quickly giving me the info I wanted. She also told me a little of what her life is like these days, and asked about my life, work, and family. She had told me that she was married and had one son and one daughter. It was her perfect dream family.

I later replied with some answers to her questions including that I didn’t work, I was married and had seven kids. At the time I had a nephew living with us and explained this to her and then explained how we had adopted a girl and then I also had five of my own.

She replied with what amounted to this: “Wow, you have seven kids!!!! [gasp – I hope it’s not contagious!] That must keep you very busy. [Do you even have a life?!?] Well sorry this is so short – have to get back to work [but you wouldn’t know about that].” That was the last I heard from her.

Did I feel inferior to her again as in days of old??? No way. I realized that who I was (and wasn’t) was who I was happy to be. I had always wanted to be a mother. I was content to have “no life” away from home because home is where I love to be. For the first time in my life I felt I had it better than she did. I had it all!

I Googled myself

Have many of you have googled yourselves and liked what you found?

I did it and was shocked.

I never knew public records (such as driver’s license records, telephone records, public school and university records and other such information)were so PUBLIC! I mean, they were just plastered all over the internet for any Tom, Dick or Harry to find me and find out everything they want to about me. How clueless I was. I found online basically my life history for the years I spent in Colorado. I am surprised it didn’t show a daily log of what I ate every day!!!

It is no wonder there are so many Americans and others from developed nations who scream about privacy of personal information!!!

I am so grateful that on my little rock in the Pacific they do not put public records on the internet. It’s one thing for someone to be able to look you up in a local phone book or something and something else ENTIRELY for someone in China to pull up all your info and do what he pleases with it.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

High school

For some High School brings up wonderful memories. Maybe yours are memories of sporting events like football games, with the cheerleaders waving their pompoms the excitement of a close game, and the cheering of parents, students, and friends in the stands, or the band blasting out the school song.

Or perhaps yours are memories of swim meets; the smell of chlorine stinging your nostrils, the blare of the starting siren and subsequent splash of the swimmers as they enter the water; or the excitement and disappointments, but mostly the fun and the team spirit.

Maybe your memories are of basketball games with the smell of nachos and popcorn from the concession stand wafting thru the air. The band blaring once again and the mindless screaming and cheering from the stands. The thump, thump of the basketball, and the thrill when it swishes – nothin’ but net.

What about the memories of other activities like homecoming dance, or prom?: The preparations and anticipation; the balloons, streamers and other decorations; you and your date enjoying the enchanted evening, maybe even a first kiss.

What about pep rallies, track and field meets, volley ball, yearbook, math and science quests, drama, debate, choir, band, talents shows, or the school musicals? Good memories…

I know for some there are memories that are not so good. Memories still smart from embarrassing moments, bullying, or teasing. Going out for a sport or the school musical and getting cut. Ex-boyfriends or girlfriends – those early relationships that can tear your young heart out.

What is it about high school that can have such a lasting effect on our personalities, self worth, and future lives?

Maybe it’s because we are beginning to discover our independence and our “true” selves. Maybe it’s because we have so many opportunities to develop our talents and discover our likes and dislikes, abilities and inabilities, our strengths and weaknesses. Maybe it’s because it is such a transitional time in our lives and we have many opportunities to test our wings in a still relatively safe way while we are still at home and under the watchful eye of our parents. Maybe it’s because we are beginning to make decisions with long-lasting tentacles that intertwine themselves into the fabric of our future lives.

Personally, whatever the reason that high school is so memorable and lasting, the biggest part of it was the teachers who chose such a difficult job as teaching high school - hoping to make a difference, but probably never realizing how much difference in the lives of young people they really made. They are what made high school so formative for me. That is what I really started out to talk about: the lasting effect that high school teachers can have on us.

When I think of the teachers I had in high school I realize that a big part of who I am today is because of what they taught and how they taught it. I remember the life lessons I learned from my high school teachers (and coaches for that matter). Here are just a few I want to mention:

Barbara Sinclair – freshman English. Mrs. Sinclair had a list on her wall and she always said to us that if we learned nothing else in her class, she would be content if we simply learned the lessons on “The List.” Here are the things I remember from “The List”. 1) Yoda’s advice to Luke – “Tend to where you are.” I remember always thinking of this when my concentration would wane or when I was distracted and had to refocus on where I was or what I was supposed to be doing. 2)Act as if…then you will become….” She told us, “If you want to be an ‘A’ student, act like one and you will become one.” She would also say that it works the other way too. The fastest way to be a loser is to act like a loser. 3) Delay gratification. If it’s worth having; it’s worth waiting for. A lot of sadness in this world is rooted in the quest for immediate gratification of our wants, desires or lusts.

Dennis Hall – varsity basketball coach & school counselor. He taught us girls on the basketball team the importance of being ladies in our thoughts, speech and actions. He taught us that when we play basketball, we are representatives of our school and win or lose we should conduct ourselves appropriately. Lastly he taught us that winning is most definitely NOT everything. We can lose a game and hold our heads high if we did our best and represented ourselves and the school well in all we said and did.

Mary Ann Poe – JV basketball coach & Spanish. She taught me that it’s okay to say no to your friends if you know it’s wrong. She taught that the only safe sex is ABSTINANCE!

Madaline Floyd – calculus. Mrs. Floyd taught me to always be prepared (especially for her pop quizzes.)

John Abrams – chemistry & swim team coach. He taught me that laughter and kindness make life sweet.

I don't know where you all are today, but to you my high school teachers - I honor and thank you. Thanks for the memories, and the lessons!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Maybe I’m Just a Sucker

I have a nephew who is always a victim; usually of his own imagination, but occasionally a real need or injury is present.

What do you do with the boy who cries wolf all the time?

How does a person perceive the real need and ignore the false cries for help?

When should I step in to help; when should I let him learn from life experience; and when do I simply ignore his blubbering?

I think every parent (or person in place of a parent) struggles with things like this. My problems are: 1) he doesn’t live with us, but he used to and I still feel like I have to rush to his rescue. Besides, my brother-in-law (his father) does little or nothing for him; 2) I am not always in a position to know or ascertain all the facts; and 3) as my oldest son tells me, “Mom you’re a sucker for a sad story.”

So here’s an example. He comes to me and complains that his younger brothers don’t listen to him and are disrespectful. He wants to move back in with us to escape his brothers. They don’t let him do his homework because they think he should do all the chores because he is the oldest, etc., etc.

I tell him that things are no different in most families, he needs to have patience and that respect is something that is earned rather than demanded. His eyes begin to glaze over, and “blah, blah, blah,” is all he hears.

I have taken the hook, though, and he is reeling me in. He seizes his opportunity and begins, “My brothers always spend all the money so we don’t have food money for breakfast and lunch. I only get to eat one meal a day. Look at my face, I am so skinny now.”

So what do I do?

I start to feel sorry for him. (He really does look thinner to me.)

I tell him to come over every afternoon to do his homework; I give him some money, send him some credit for his phone and tell him to stop by the house for lunch tomorrow.

Reflection time:

Was most of what he said true? Sort of. I found out that there was a grain of truth and a sprinkle of accuracy, but most was just exaggeration or making the exception seem like the rule.

Did I do too much? Probably.

Did he take advantage of my sympathy/pity? Definitely. Pity is a powerful force. This nephew is a master at soliciting pity and sympathy. He can wring every last drop of it from someone and walk away richer for his troubles.

Will it happen to me again? Probably. Like my son said, I’m a sucker for a sad story.

I think of it this way: I’d rather be a sucker than be too selfish and fail to do enough for him. So, here’s to all the suckers out there.