For Better or Worse

They say that you don’t know the power you have as a mother, as a father, as a parent. You have all the power and time in the world in order to build them up, to help your child become everything.

You also have the power to destroy them utterly before they even have a chance with only a few words said at the worst possible moment.

There is no manual, no guidebook in what to do and what not to do save those that you have faith in and trust. Sometimes, even that isn’t enough due to wildly different circumstances and personalities.

And that’s why it’s so important that we watch what we say and how we act, because we don’t even know the power that is there when dealing with children, especially your own children.


These are the words that came to mind when I was watching an episode of the show “Code Black.” In the episode two brothers had been in a car accident that had taken the life of the younger brother. The older brother was driving drunk and was destroyed that he had caused his brother’s death. When their mother came, she was angry and grief-stricken and told her elder son that she had wished he had died instead.

Grief is a powerful thing, a dangerous thing, but something that we must go through if we wish to find peace.

In the show, the mother refuses to leave the hospital even if she won’t go and sit with her last living son. In fact, she denies that she even has another son for a good half of the show.

But she won’t leave the hospital, because no matter what she has said, her son, her eldest son, is still there.

In the end, she is able to overcome her anger and realize that her eldest son is already teetering on the edge of whether he wants to live anymore or not just with the knowledge that he helped to cause his brother’s death. One of the doctors (someone who had lost her husband and both children to a drunk driver before) tells the mother that she needs to let her son know that there is a reason for him to live.

Because the mother’s son has been asking the hospital to just let him die, because there is nothing left for him.

I don’t know all that the mother thought, because she wasn’t a main character in the show and the odds of her showing up again in a later episode aren’t very good, but I do know that the last scene we have of her is her holding her last son and telling him that he didn’t kill his brother and that she loves him.

She was crying and he was crying, but they were together and holding on to one another.

Once you are a parent, you are a parent until you die and likely even beyond that as well. Whether you are a good parent or a bad one isn’t static and it isn’t fate. It’s something you have to work for, something that you have to strive for and you will mess up, you will make mistakes and hurt your children. But that doesn’t mean that it has to be the end.

Don’t make it the end, no matter whether you have been a good parent or a bad one. There is always hope so long as you don’t completely give in to despair.

This child’s life is in your hands and your life is no longer about just you.

Now, it is about them.

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Happy Birthday, Dad

Honor thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord they God giveth thee. –Exodus 20:12

 

I would like to take today to honor my dad. Today is his birthday and he will be 69 which means that next year he will be the big 70. I had not realized until this moment that he was so close to being another decade older than the last time I checked. (In fact, I had to check his age against my mom’s. He is four years older than her and that is how I have always calculated their ages. I figure out how old one is in order to get the others. It always changes depending on who I need to check.)

My dad is not perfect. He never was and he likely never will be.

That’s just how the cookie crumbles.

But he has tried his best to raise me and to do what he believed was right for me even if I (very greatly) disagreed.

I would not be who I am today without him and for that I am grateful to him.

I love you, Dad, and I hope that this next year is full of wonderful memories just as others have in the past for even sorrow can bring you joy.

Sister Starts – Thankful Thursday

Today I am grateful for many things, but mostly I’m grateful that I’m still here and that I have my family with me. Today is a little different because today is sort of the day that we begin.

It’s not my parents’ anniversary, it’s not the day they met. No, today is different.

Today is the day that my eldest sister, the first of my parents’ children, was born. We, the children (or the Siblings, as we call each other now that there are children running around our feet too) began today and we lasted a good long while (my parents had children for over a decade).

But my eldest sister was the first.

 

So I am grateful for her, even when we don’t get along and we just want to throttle one another, I love her and am thankful for what she has taught me throughout my life. (She is the reason I know how to do hair in any way, though I still have a lot of practice to do.)

Look for the original Thankful Thursday here: http://mithriluna.wordpress.com/2014/05/29/thankful-thursday-a-bright-future/

See the World, Don’t See An Ocean

To go the distance is a wonderful thing!
Remember all the moments that had you smiling…
Away we shall drive, across the continent
Vows to make it the the next graduent.
Even though it’s the middle of the week
Live while you can and don’t be too sleek.
Sometimes it’s cheaper just to drive rather than fly.
To California now! The other way,
How long are we going to stay?
Even though we’ll be together  all the way.
Everyone will help when only one moves away.
Wow! You’ve scattered all over the place!
One to the West and one to the East states.
Recall that you’ve sent another to the South.
Let me know what it’s like going that route.
Don’t forget that wherever you go, you’re always home.
Home is where the heart is.

Written for Suzie’s Weekly Word Challenge this week: http://suzie81speaks.com/2014/05/26/weekly-word-challenge-travel/

When I was 12 years old, my family decided to drive across the Continental U.S. to see my second eldest sister graduate from boot camp. It was the middle of exams and we only had a little money. We went anyway and made up all the exams the week after.

Five or six years ago, another of my sisters was moving to California. So the majority of my family got time off, packed her up and we headed out. Nevada is a beautiful place, but once you get through the mountains and into California near Sacramento… There are practically no mountains. I spent the entire time completely lost. I grew up surrounded by mountains, without them I have absolutely no idea where I am. Having a compass didn’t help at all. (I have slight panic attacks when I have no mountains for an extended period of time.)

I’ve been to both the East Coast and the West Coast and yet have never seen an ocean.

I’ve had a panic attack and had to spend all day under a blanket while driving through Arkansas.

Many of my family have been all over. At one point I had a sister in Germany (stationed there), a sister in Hawaii (college student), another down in the bottom corner of Utah in the middle of the National Parks there (college, again) and my elder brother over in Baton Rouge, Louisiana (mission). They were all gone at the same time and the household was the smallest I’ve ever seen in my family (there were only five of us at home: one mom and four pre-teens/teens.)

My parents did all their traveling before they had us passel of kids (Dad was in the Air Force when they first met and he was stationed in various places) so I know about places, but other than reading, I haven’t actually been to very many of them.

Well, my imagination has always been up to snuff enough for me  and I do so love to look things up and then picture them in my mind. Maybe someday I’ll actually see an ocean in something other than through a lens, but until then, I’ll listen to the stories my family can tell and enjoy every moment of my travels through my mind.

Beautiful Accident

Whenever you get involved in something with children, no matter the age, there is bound to be one (or several ) who are different. A lot of times this difference can bring about teasing, taunting and bullying. When that child (or children) go their parents and ask about it they are told that they are beautiful, special, important in a way that the others can’t understand, don’t want to understand or are envious of.

I had this happen to me as a child as well as having watched it happen to children I babysit and to my nieces and nephews. It’s not likely to be something that will go away at any point in the future, near or otherwise.

It’s going to keep happening no matter what.

But consider this:

Minecraft, which has become very popular from what I can see (and what I have played and watched on YouTube…) has an original mob (monster/non-player character) known as a ‘creeper’ or scientifically Creepus Explodus is an accident.

It was originally supposed to be a pig mob, but something went wrong with the coding and instead the creeper was created. Originally going to be taken out of the game, when it became so popular it was decided to leave within the game.

It is now the icon for Minecraft.

Even a defect can be beautiful, special, important.

Don’t let anyone tell you differently.

Stop me?

Music has always been an important part of my family. My father plays the trumpet, the french horn and sings in his church choir when he has the time. My mother plays the piano and trained to be a professional opera singer (though she decided to have children instead of going into it as a career in the end.) She also writes and arranges music or the piano, voice, string and woodwind. My mother taught all of us some piano and how to sing correctly (posture and breathing and all that). None of us escaped picking an instrument to learn on the side.

My eldest sister learned a little guitar and flute, though she never went farther than the basics with those two. She did learn to compose and write her own piano and vocal music.

My second eldest sister learned the trumpet and was in every band available from ninth grade on. She is also very skilled with the piano and her voice.

My third eldest sister learned a little bit of everything as she majored in Music Education in college and actually taught orchestra, band and a little choir before having children. She still teaches piano and violin and has her own drum set (among other instruments: flute, clarinet, organ, etc.)

My elder brother learned clarinet. He didn’t go very far on the piano because he just didn’t want to. (You can make a child sit at the piano for an hour; you can’t make him press any of the keys.)

My fourth elder sister learned trumpet and a little guitar. She was fairly good at the piano, but loved her art more than her music. She was in the A Capella Choir in her senior year of high school.

My youngest sister is very talented musically. She mostly learned the trumpet and singing. She did take some piano but quit because of other interests. When she was a teenager, she taught herself to play the piano by ear using only what little she remembered from grade school. She also was in high school choirs and bands with her trumpet. She learned a little guitar and a little flute and learns most instruments fairly quickly. (Lucky girl…)

My youngest brother (the baby of the family) learned the trumpet and voice as well, but he did not pursue either beyond middle school (although he does sing in our church choir as well.)

I learned slightly more piano than some of my siblings, but never got to the same proficiency as my eldest three sisters. I learned the flute and all but mastered it though it was a very large struggle. (I once spent three months learning how to play three notes. And at least one month before that on my posture alone.) Like the others I also learned some voice and took part in choir in high school and then the church choir.

The flute, on the other hand, was hard. It took me several years before middle school with a private teacher (friend of one of my elder sisters who played beautifully and was a great teacher!) Many people thought later that I was a genius with the flute. I was not. I hated learning that instrument and it left me many times in tears, in frustration, in the physical need to chuck that thing at the nearest wall screaming.

I didn’t, but some days it felt like a very near thing.

I had initially picked the flute because my eldest sister had played it for a bit and then given it up. I had loved the sounds she could coax out of it and thought that I would learn it easily enough.

That did not happen.

I spent the first year only having learned one note and that from the other players in my little elementary school band. The teacher, a man that wasn’t the best teacher, didn’t like me. He didn’t do very much with the flute players in his band (he mostly ignored us even though we were in the front of the group). He informed me once that I would never learn how to play the flute.

I don’t like being told I can’t do something like that.

I decided that I was going to learn that woodwind if it killed me.

It didn’t, but it was still a great pain in my neck. (Have you ever had to practice holding up a rod on metal for thirty minutes without the end dipping too high or too low? My teacher used a pencil in the end and if it moved then I had to start all over again. I had to do this for practice every single day until I could do it and play and not dip the end of my flute and wreck my posture and breathing.)

The only thing I had going for me with music was that I had perfect pitch. I had to learn everything else the hard way. I didn’t mind doing so as my mother taught me that if you really want something, you will see it through and do it right.

No power in the verse can stop me. -River Tam, “Firefly”

On the bright side, my parents had purchased most of the instruments prior to ever having children when my dad was in the Air Force. Even with little money as children had a nice selection of musical instruments to learn from without having to worry about rental costs.

Music comes easily to some of my siblings, but we all have a passion for learning it even if our reasons differ.


Written in response to today’s Daily Post prompt: https://dailypost.wordpress.com/2014/02/25/daily-prompt-we-got-the-beat/

If you have the persistence to learn something that you’re bad at (and trust me, I was truly awful) then you have the guts to do just about anything with your life.

Mad Teaching Skillz

I’ve read a lot recently about education in the news lately. How teachers are stepping up in the classroom to make a difference in the lives of their students. These people may or may not be parents themselves, but even if they have no children of their own, they are just as important in the lives of their students and the lives of the parents of those students.

A teacher in Utah several decades ago saw that one of her students was having some difficulties at home and with kind words helped to teach her things that the child’s mother wasn’t able to at the time. Something simple like how to take a bath and wash your clothes as well as knowing that there was an adult who was able to be there for her to rely on. This teacher had helped other students with their self-confidence by being a generous grader with their homework when she realized that the student would do better once she had a little faith in herself.

Another teacher, in Texas, changed the life of her former student so much that when the now grown-up student found out that her former choir teacher was suffering from Lewy body dementia, she took the now elderly woman into her home. The student had been in contact with her teacher for several years before that and would often come over and help with something should the teacher call. The teacher, Martha Hayes, had no children and no family left by the time she was no longer a teacher, but Carolyn James, her student, was quoted as saying that ‘her students were her children.’

At a middle school in Utah recently, when football coaches found out that some of their football players were taking part in less than stellar activities (cyberbullying and skipping classes, some even failing classes) they decided to make a stand about it. They disbanded the football team and told their players that they would have to ‘earn the privilege to play’ back. They were very open about why they were taking this course of action and the team reacted. Within one week, many of them had earned their jerseys and the right to play on the school football team. The team was told that they would need to do community service, attend their classes and take a class on character development. Those that weren’t doing so well in their classes were told that they needed to improve their grades.

The students, the football players, they took what their coaches had been saying and made it a reality. They responded positively to being told that they needed to straighten their acts. Within one week all but 9 of the original 41 players had earned their privilege to play on the field back.

I’d mention everything that I have read about, but then this entry would be twice as long as it already is. So I will leave off with a few experiences that I can’t place a a link to about because they didn’t make the news. But these teachers still deserve some recognition, because they have mad teaching skillz.

When I was in the first grade, I was always late to class. It wasn’t because I was actually late to the school, but because I was easily distracted and didn’t want to leave what I was doing just because the bell rang. My teacher, Mrs. Beers offered me a deal: if I arrived on time to class every day for a week, I would win a small prize. A pencil or eraser that wasn’t the normal school issue, maybe a new notebook to write in (I was always running out of paper after writing). If I was able to come on time to class every day for a month, I earned a candy bar. I haven’t been late to any class if I could help it since then even though none of my other teachers had a reward system. I learned that I liked being on time because of her.

And that brings us to today and why I started writing this post at all. I had spent the morning trying to find something that I could get into my head enough to write about, but I was coming up blank on most everything. What prompted this entry wasn’t because of all the awesome teachers in the news this month, though if they hadn’t also been mentioned I likely wouldn’t have remembered to write this at all. My eldest nephew got a 95% on his math test today and was the second highest score in his class. We found out about this because his teacher took the time to call and let his mother know in order to let Chris know just how important a feat that was. After learning of this, all of the other articles and instances jumped from the back of my head into the front and I knew what I had to write about.

We often hear about the lame teachers when talking to students, but maybe we should pay more attention to the ones with mad skillz instead.

Research:

Teach to clean: http://www.ksl.com/?sid=27091871&nid=1010&title=woman-reconnects-with-teacher-who-changed-her-life&fm=home_page&s_cid=featured-5 and http://www.ksl.com/index.php?sid=26890135&nid=1010&title=35-years-later-woman-searches-for-teacher-who-changed-her-life

Choir teacher: http://www.today.com/news/full-circle-woman-cares-beloved-childhood-teacher-8C11299078

Football team: http://www.deseretnews.com/article/865587020/Taking-a-stand-Union-High-coach-suspends-entire-football-team-in-lesson-about-character.html?pg=all#cxrecs_s and http://www.deseretnews.com/article/865587112/National-attention-support-overwhelm-Union-High-coaches-administrators.html