Friday, November 30, 2012

What They Don't Know WILL Hurt Them

The other day, I was talking to my Daddy about the trips he used to take to Northern California. He went up every summer for a few years, and I believe he was pretty popular, because he knew people who could supply marijuana to him. It was the seventies, after all, and he was never without company. At thirteen (if I heard him right), he had more suppliers than most grown adults. Our conversation hit a bit of a wall there for a second... it was kind of a shock to me that he would have such exposure to drugs, especially at the young age of thirteen. Not that I thought he had an innocent life growing up... I just didn't realize it happened to him so young.

Then I started to talk to him about the trips I'd taken up North. Thinking I'd already told my father about it, I abruptly said, "Yeah, at that seminar thing you sent me to for a week, some dude put his hand down my pants."

"What?" my dad said. It was clear he was holding it in... under that "What?", a "WHAT???!!!" was dying to come out.

"Yeah... I was just sitting and talking to him, with a pillow in my lap, and he stuck his hand down my pants."

"What'd you do?"

"I was in shock. I was embarrassed. I thought, 'How did I ever give this guy the idea this would be OK?' so I froze. Finally he said, 'So, how do you feel right now?' and I said, 'I....'m feelin' pretty uncomfortable right about now.' so he took his hand away... and I got up and moved away from him."

The look on my Dad's face said that he wanted justice served. "Did you tell anyone?"

"No... I was embarrassed, I felt ashamed."

 My Dad looked so hurt... like I'd just ripped his heart out. Or at least, that's how it felt to me. "That's what they do, honey... they make you feel like you did something wrong."

"You know what made it even worse, dad? His first name was the same as yours."

I could tell my Dad wished he were there to protect me. He probably thought, in that moment, that he shouldn't have sent me on that trip. I felt awful for not telling him sooner, and apologized to him. "It's OK.. I just wish I'd known." he said.

I wish he'd known, too. It seemed a weird thing to tell my parents about at the time, but when I finally did tell him, I wanted to dig out his information (we got a packet with everyone's addresses on it afterward) just so my dad could get some kind of closure on it. So we both could. Plus, it woulda been great to hear my Daddy givin' a kid a hard time over the phone, or even better - drivin' up to punch him in the face. haha. Just sayin'...

I mean, don't get me wrong: it didn't scar me or anything. It was an almost-isolated incident. There was something similar that happened earlier that week and freaked me out more... although it was a lesser issue. We were doing a "trust-building exercise" (oh, the irony!), with everyone crowded around, and someone kept touching me. I had NO idea who it was because I was surrounded by people... THAT freaked me out. And again, I was too chicken to tell anyone. I'm sure it was the same kid who (what do you call it? molested?) me, now that it happened.

Now that I'm a mom, I wonder if anything like this will ever happen with my own kids. I pray not... it's unbearable to think about. I hope that they would have the confidence in themselves to know that they are not at fault, and that they can (and SHOULD) come to their parents. What I don't know WILL hurt me... I'd be fooling myself to think they'll tell me everything, yet at the same time: oh, how I wish they would!

Have you ever kept something from someone for years, and then revealed it to them? How did they react? Do you wish you'd told them sooner?

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Captivating Filthiness

Wild. Messy. Uncontrollable. Frustrating. Thankless.

These are all words I'd use to describe what it's like to work with kids, whether they're my own or not. And judging by the baby bans that have spread throughout hotels, airlines, restaurants, and even grocery stores, many feel that they just aren't worth all the trouble.

As a mother, it feels like when I step into a grocery store or even my own church with a squawking child, the stares of fellow shoppers (or members of the congregation) are saying, "Keep them silent! If they make noise, you must be an AWFUL parent."

This is the thing... I don't get why kids aren't allowed to make some noise. They're KIDS. I make noise when I'm excited, don't you? It was interesting, when I was working my first few years at the job I have now (which I call my new, old job): we had training meetings with a psychologist/speaker and we were working on an exercise she gave us, being very noisy. Suddenly the speaker piped up and said, "Do you hear how loud you're being right now? Learning is loud. Yet we tell kids all day, "Be quiet!". It gave me a good little chuckle, knowing I'd done that to kids already. She constantly asked us to put ourselves in our kids' shoes... and it really opened my eyes. They go to school, constantly being told what to do, and not being allowed to direct themselves as far as free play until lunchtime (and even at lunch, there is no imaginary play that involves anything pseudo-violent, such as "army" or other games that we, as kids, got to grow up playing). Then, if they have daycare or something of the like afterschool, they have another 3 or more hours being told what to do and where to go. They come home starving, just in time for dinner, and then maybe some TV/video games and bedtime. I say TV and video games because by the time they come home, it's dark out.

When I was a kid, life was imaginative and wonderful; even when things were going crazy in my home life. I got to play outside, let out my energy, and daydream. My parents weren't overbearing, and they didn't hover over me to watch everything I did. I wasn't constantly supervised by adults, and of course, I got into trouble sometimes. I realize that this day and age is different from the one I grew up in (technology is so prominent, it seems hardly anyone gets out anymore), but I still think it wouldn't hurt to take some time to let kids be kids... not to excuse bad behavior, but just to lighten up a bit and stop taking them so seriously. Eating candy once in a while won't turn a kid into a diabetic... if we let them free play a little, they're not going to kill each other...

I know a lot of people don't want to deal with kids. I don't agree with them, but I can sort of understand where they're coming from. It's just easier not to be exposed to loud, muddy, snot-covered wild things that hop around like a bundle full of energy. It is easier.

But aren't most of the worthwhile things in life just a little bit difficult?

There is beauty in the painstaking things. I believe this as a mommy, and as a child care provider. And I hope you believe it too.

What messy, difficult things are you intentionally taking part in? When you feel like giving up or think you're not making a difference, what keeps you going? Please let me know in the comments section, and have a wonderful day!

Monday, November 26, 2012

Scottish People and Bullying

My husband is related to a very famous Scot with a common last name, and recently received threats on a new profile he'd created with his name. A Scottish man warned my husband (on facebook) not to harass his son (by the same name, but a different spelling as my husband's) anymore... and he did so in no uncertain terms. My husband was initially upset, then he thought it must have been spam. He replied to the message, in the off-chance that someone may have gotten him mixed up with someone else, saying that he was an adult, not the twelve-year-old that some others on his profile had mistaken him for.

My husband is very proud of his Scottish heritage (as it should be), and we recently got to see the movie "Brave" with our two daughters. They love the movie, and my oldest pretends to be Merida. I found the movie absolutely hilarious, and started to become curious about it. See, in the movie, there's one young man who is very difficult for us Americans to understand... so in an attempt to discover what he'd said, I stumbled across interviews with the character's voice actor. He made a comment in one of his interviews that Scots are "messy"... and I loved that. It made me think of my husband... extremely passionate, and, well - messy. This Scotsman who contacted my husband seemed the same way: although we didn't know what had happened to cause his angry response, I could tell that there was something more at the heart of it. 

When I came home, I checked my husband's profile (at his request) and found that the man promptly apologized... a very sincere, kindhearted apology, and explained his situation. His son (again, having the same name as my husband, but a different spelling) had moved away, but was experiencing intense bullying in his new town. The poor kid! I don't know him, but everyone deserves to be at peace in their environment.

Bullying is a real epidemic lately, it seems. I think it starts with pride... kids think they're somehow better than the other kids, and rather than accepting one anothers' differences, they cruelly point them out as faults. I don't think I struggled with bullying growing up (other than picking on my own siblings), but I did sometimes think I was better than others. Humility can be a beautiful thing... and it is like healing balm on a wound. If only more people would embrace one another rather than judging, and be unafraid to apologize to one another (as beautifully modeled by this Scottish father), the world would be a far better place.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Why I'm Thankful For Facebook

I was hesitant to write this (because it seems so typical of blog posts around this time of year), but I feel it's more important for me to be grateful than to be original (especially since hardly anything is truly original nowadays).

Therefore, I'm going to list the things I'm grateful for. It may not be profound, but simple gratitude is enough.

I'm thankful for Scotland, because my husband is Scottish, and he's proud of his heritage. I'm thankful for my husband, who has been there for me through everything, including my recent hernia surgery. He's the best caregiver I could have asked for; both gentle ("Go to bed and get some rest") and firm ("SIT DOWN and quit doin' stuff!").

I'm thankful for my children. I'm thankful that they are shining lights to me, despite the shadow that neurofibromatosis tries to cast on things. I'm glad that they are here with me, and that I am able to help them by fighting for them to make it to their appointments.

I'm thankful for facebook. Not only do I have some amazing friends, but I also recently connected with my uncle on facebook.

You see, when I was eight years old, lots of changes came to my family all at once. In the same year, we moved 2 hours away, my grandmother died, and my uncles came to stay with us. One of our uncles was just out of prison, and the other had a very tough time grieving my grandma's death. Before she died, my uncle Darren started to behave differently, but it was further aggravated by her death. He began talking to himself and sounding paranoid. As an eight-year-old, I didn't quite understand. I didn't know why he would stand in the same spot all day, muttering to himself. Finally, my mom got him to sit down... and so he sat all day. He only got up for food and to relieve himself. I didn't understand why, when I asked him to do his "Donald Duck voice" which I cherished, he responded with a heart-rending, "I can't do that anymore." The anguish in his voice penetrated even my young, naive heart, and I chose not to ask him anymore... because I didn't want to hear him in so much pain again.

My mother was concerned for my uncle, and she debated over what to do. Finally, one day, she gave him an ultimatum, believing it would be a wake-up call to him. "Get help or get out," she said. She was sure that if it meant he had to leave, he would get help instead. She didn't realize how deeply his paranoia went, and was shocked and saddened to see him pack his things and be gone that morning. From that point on, we saw him maybe once... and then never again for eight years. All we knew was that he was homeless somewhere, in Orange County. Through that time, I forgot all the negative, unpleasant aspects of what was happening to Darren, and remembered only the good, and the fact that he couldn't do the Donald Duck voice.

Finally, when I turned 16, we decided to check and see how he was doing. We were worried he may not have even made it all those years, but we inquired at a police station and after he was cited for jaywalking, they let him know we were looking for him, and he agreed to meet us. We drove to see him in anticipation: my dad, mom, uncle Dean, sister, and brother. When we saw him, we were pleasantly surprised by how good he looked. Dean commented that Darren looked even better than he did, which was true (Dean had lost a few teeth since Darren last saw him). I had always loved Darren's gorgeous dark, curly hair, and it was dark and curly as ever... and he looked clean and well-fed.

We were so excited to see him. My dad said, "Where do you wanna go?" and Darren responded, "I could use a drink."

They chose to take him to a pizza parlor, since they usually serve alcohol in big pitchers for their customers. Unfortunately, the place started to get crowded. It was then that I was reminded of what it was like at eight, all over again. Darren, who had appeared completely sound of mind, began to mutter to himself. Dean told Darren, "Don't listen to them, man... listen to us. We're your family, and we love you." We then took Darren to a bowling alley, hoping that leaving the crowds would be good for him. He didn't do much better there, though, because as my mom sat in the bar with him, she heard Darren telling the voices, "I can't do that... she's my sister!".

My mom and dad decided it would be best to tell Darren goodbye at that point, and we all told him we missed him and loved him, giving him hugs. My dad made sure Darren had a phone card and some money (just in case) and we left...

Since then, I have wondered about him. Through the years, any time I've run into a homeless person, it feels like there's a gaping void in my heart there... it's like I'm looking at Darren. People have commented before on how kind and generous I am to the homeless, but it's not true. In reality, I'm being quite selfish. I feel an intense need to help the homeless, because I fervently hope that someone, somewhere, is taking care of my uncle. Those people have stories... lives they've left behind. It frustrates me that, sometimes, people don't see or care about that.

When I was young (perhaps ten), I had a dream that I was on my street, getting ready to take the bus to school, and I spotted Darren. He was holding a stack of packages, quickly walking somewhere. "Darren!" I called out, but he didn't answer. I wasn't able to get to where he'd been with the packages until later... and by then, he'd already gone. He left behind that huge pile of Christmas presents for us, though... one for each one of us. These gifts weren't just any gifts, though: they were spectacular, expensive, thoughtful gifts. It was as if he knew exactly what everyone would want for Christmas. In the dream, I was thankful for what he'd given me, but I was so saddened that I couldn't just be with him. I didn't know why he left those gifts there, without a word, but I so deeply felt like I wanted to give up everything he'd given me... just for him instead.

This year, I finally got that gift. He is not with me in person... but I can talk to him. I can call him up on the phone. I can finally KNOW where my uncle is... how he's doing... instead of wondering.

And for that... for THAT, I will always be grateful.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Stupid Mistakes

Have you ever been called a name? Did you actually LIKE any of your nicknames? When I was a teenager, I purposefully wallowed in my Dad's lap, completely preventing him from being comfortable when he was watching his show. In exasperation, he finally yelled, "Get off me, you MOOSE!" The name stuck. For some reason, I just loved that he called me a moose. It fit, too. To this day, I'm rather clumsy and ungraceful.

The word Christian was originally meant as an insult to believers. The phrase meant "little Christ", and it was to be a mockery. Of course, followers of The Way picked up on it, and decided to adopt it themselves, much as early Americans would adopt the "Yankee Doodle" song, centuries later.

I love being a Christian. I love the meaning of the word. The thing is, I am AWFUL at being a little Christ. Ask me about my life, and I can give you countless instances of where I failed to radiate the love and joy of Christ, or cowered behind an untrue, "agreeable" version of Jesus.... a Jesus better suited to the liberal masses. A Jesus who isn't Jesus at all, but a false idol; a caricature of the true, intensely loving and intensely zealous Jesus who was Truth and Love all at once.

When I want to take a stand for Truth, I slaughter the masses with my cold, impersonal, and unloving remarks, and when I want to model love, I stand idly by while others destroy Truth. It's a terrible fight: how do I stand for truth in love, and how do I love in truth?

I recently had the chance to do the right thing. Actually, I had several. A friend of mine was mentioning another friend of mine (in a somewhat negative way), and I COULD have kept my mouth shut. I could have ignored what he was saying, and chosen to stay out of it. After all, it didn't really have anything to do with me. Instead, I chose to tell him something that only helped reinforce his poor opinion of my other friend. See, this other friend had done something that hurt me. I SHOULD have gone to her and said, "Hey, this hurt my feelings," but instead I was quiet about it. I spoke to her about it, but I didn't tell her the truth of how it made me feel. I was worried she'd react negatively to me, and that she'd be angry at me, so I stayed out of it. (You heard right: I stayed out of it when I should have said something, and I got involved when I should have stayed out of it.)

I KNEW I did the wrong thing. I knew immediately that I should not have opened my mouth and said things about my friend. In fact, I was awakened at night by this nagging feeling that I'd made a terrible mistake and that I needed to apologize to the man I told for getting involved. After all, the Bible says we are to be peacemakers. What I said created more strife, more tension... not more peace. Yet I couldn't call him at 12 am... so I waited. And when I waited, I forgot. There was so much going on... so much filling my days, that I didn't think to apologize... until night, again, when it would be too late. This went on for almost a week, and I finally saw my friend again. I was going to apologize to him, but I decided to do some things first. Besides, he looked busy.

By the time I saw my friend again, he had talked to the woman I'd told him about, and she left. I don't think I'll ever see her again. There were a lot of things that went into their parting, but I can't help but feel responsible for it all. God tried to give me ways out of it... the guilt I'm feeling right now. But I was always too busy, too forgetful... it was always too late and someone was too busy. I have asked God to forgive me for my stupid mistake... but I'm going to miss my other friends.

I know it's too late now, but I think I'm going to apologize to my guy friend tomorrow. It won't change anything, but at least I'll have finally said what I should have said weeks ago.

I need to strive to be more of a Christian. I need to find that line... the line between truth and love. I need to learn to listen to that still, small voice inside of me, telling me to be a peacemaker, and not to open my mouth every time I'm inclined to do so. I'm going to get better at this: I have to. That's why I'm putting it out there right now... because I need to be held accountable. I need to remember the times when I fall short so I can  be less likely to make those mistakes again. And also... writing about it seems to heal the pain a little, as if perhaps someday, my friend will see this post and know that I am sorry for the dreams of hers that were crushed that day.

Have you ever felt like you missed the mark in your walk with God? Have you ever known you should do something, but you didn't? Why didn't you? How did you handle it? Leave a comment and let me know.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

I wanted to post it NOW. :P

Why is it so tiny??? Darn.

Oh well... hopefully you guys can read it... it's big on my computer. lol

Adventure Acrostics

Soo... I started doing this new thing I call "Adventure Acrostics". I take someone's name, and I make a story out of it. I've written a few so far (one for my friend Aimee, one for my sister...) and they are SO MUCH FUN! My sister had recently asked my talented anime artist niece to do a commission of herself and her boyfriend as Poison Ivy and Batman... so hers is batman-themed. She liked it a lot. I'm thinking of doing more... for Fiverr, maybe. I'm a little hesitant because I don't know how much to say I'm willing to do (how many letters is my limit? How much gimp-ing should I do?), but I think it'd be fun, if I could pull it off. I was going to do a sample on Fiverr (using fiverr as the acrostic) but I don't know how to personalize it. Hmm.

What do you guys think? I would TOTALLY put my sister's on here, but it has her full name and I'm not sure she'd like that. I guess I could do a blogspot version... I'm gonna give it a Walking Dead theme, since I'm in that kinda mood right now. Gonna try to go off Season One so I don't spoil it too much for anyone. :)

 Battered and bruised, Rick kept thinking about the bicycle girl zombie he'd seen in the park.
"Lori, Carl... where are you???" he wondered aloud.
 Only silence.
 Groans soon replaced the quiet, and he knew it was time to move again.
"Shoot!" he said to himself, as a hoard came his way.
 Pulling out his gun, he shot several of them, but the noise of the shots alerted more.
"Out of ammunition," he moaned, frustrated and worried.
 There was only one strategy left for Rick Grimes: use blunt force on them and hope for a miracle.

Hey... I should find a picture to go with this. Maybe I will... and post it later. :)

Friday, November 2, 2012

I'm Gonna Wreck It!

I am a discourager.

It's probably contrary to what most people would say of me. See, I make every effort I can to encourage others, especially my more supportive friends. I find myself pouring into their lives with reckless abandon.. I'm unable to see them or hang out with them, usually, so instead I choose to do it via facebook. Lots of my friends say, "You're so sweet!"

They have no idea.

They don't realize that in my head, I am constantly degrading myself for every little perceived failure (and there are a lot of them). I'm not sure if this is something women do in general, or a side effect of having a personal history of depression and a family history of mental illness. I'm not sure what ingredients go into it, but I do know how it makes me feel.

Here's an example. Yesterday, my daughter and I were talking as we got ready for our "Mommy-Daughter (speech therapy) Date". I can't remember why, but as I was leading her by the hand, I said, "Don't you trust your Mommy?" I was frustrated with her (probably because she was asking a lot of questions I'd already answered), and I didn't pay attention to where she was going and she ran into a rearview mirror in a car. Right in her bad eye. RIGHT after I'd gotten onto her case for not trusting me, I lead her into a mirror. Wow. Mom of the Year award, anyone?

I don't do her hair cute. It's a good day if I brush it out. I don't bake bread from scratch (in fact, for years, I didn't even make dinner... someone else made it for me). I can't sew on a sewing machine and I get irate far too easily with my kids. My house is usually a disaster and I snap at my husband if he even remotely seems to hint that I've done something wrong. Stress gets to me in a ridiculously vast way, and if my husband hints that I ought to do something, I snap at him because it's easier to do than hate myself for a full three hours because I disappointed him. I am SO worried about disappointing him. In fact, I feel like I somewhat conned him into marrying me, and I need to do all I can to "save face" and keep him from leaving me (he has never done anything to make me feel like he'll leave: it's my own paranoia).

SO imagine how it felt to me, knowing that my husband requested two and a half weeks off work for my hernia surgery. I felt loved. I felt cherished. I felt... like I didn't deserve it. Yes... I still struggle with this frustrating self-loathing that I'd hoped I killed as soon as my teen years had passed. I think of my job, which I love, and my wonderfully sweet boss, and I think to myself, "They must secretly hate me there. I don't do my job right. I'm a lousy employee." The truth is that I stress far too much.

In fact, I'm sort of nervous about this surgery. Not only am I nervous I'll be in pain, or how hard it's gonna be not to pick up my kids (not to mention no driving for two weeks!), but I also think about how bored I'll be. How will I ever survive not stressing myself to the point of frantic panic?

I watched "My Sister's Keeper" the other day, and I came upon a realization: I am high-strung. I'm almost as bad as the mom in that movie! I related with her and cried as she freaked out about her kids. The thing is, though... my kids aren't dying. They have a condition called NF that CAN be fatal, but it hasn't affected them too much.

So why do I freak out so badly? And will I be able to check myself through prayer, before I wreck myself?