Monthly Archives: August 2016

We All Need Help Sometimes

If you’ve been on social media at all the past couple of weeks, I’m sure you’ve seen this photo by now:

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The sign posted in a private boys’ school in Arkansas. I don’t remember the name. Bootstrap High or something.

Let me tell a story on myself. One day last week, I was checking out at the store with more than $100 worth of groceries when I realized I didn’t have my wallet. Everything had been rung up and bagged already. Thinking back through my day I had a pretty good idea where my wallet might be. I called my 21-year-old, who was home at the time, and asked them to find it and bring it to me. My offspring came through immediately and without complaint, saving my bacon. I suppose they could have said, “Well, Mom, this is really your problem to solve…”

The best part of the story is that the store employees didn’t try to shame me in any way. (I had that one covered all on my own, thanks, apologizing to them approximately five times.) The clerk even offered to put my food in a cooler while I waited if I thought it might take a while.

Have I ever taken anything to my kids at school after they forgot it? You bet. Have there been times they forgot something and I didn’t take it to them? Of course. A couple of times, one of them went off without a piece of homework or a book and I was at work, so I couldn’t bring it. Similarly, I wouldn’t have called my kid out of a college class to bail me out of my situation.

We all need help sometimes. We’re all human and fallible. Can’t we cut each other a little slack? I’m a person who has a hard time asking for assistance from anyone, ever, for anything. It’s a great failing of mine that I work hard to overcome. I didn’t want to raise my kids to be that way. Yes, sometimes I felt hassled and frustrated, but last week I received a payment in kind.

I understand some parents feel their kids get into a bad habit of taking advantage and they need to say no to requests like this. That’s cool, too. Because the parent involved knows their child and family situation the best.

What’s not so cool is the public shaming of parents and their kids so a school principal can feel smug. Maybe this shows me to be a terrible person, but my immediate reaction on reading the sign was a fervent hope that the principal would lock his/her keys in the car by accident and that all the parents, students and school staff in the vicinity would refuse to assist in any way.

How about we let parents and kids figure out for themselves how they want to handle these situations? How about we not hold children to higher standards than we hold ourselves? How about we offer each other more encouragement and support than scorn and ridicule?

 

 

The Last Week

This is the last week. The last week of my son mowing the back yard. The last week of asking him if he has any requests as I fill out my grocery list. The last week to remind him to wear his retainer when he goes to bed. The last week to go to sleep knowing he’s safe under my roof. The last week of the cat who’s grown old as he’s grown up spending an evening in his lap while he works on game design.

We move him into his dorm this coming Saturday, and we’re in the last-minute flurry of getting it all together. I check and re-check my list of what I think he’ll need: first aid kit, plenty of socks and underwear, towels and bedding, deodorant, plates, cups and bowls. Oh, plus, how about a shower caddy to carry all of his soap, shampoo and shaving supplies down the hall? And how about some shower sandals to help him avoid foot fungus? Better throw in a package of toilet paper, because who knows how often they restock in the communal bathroom. I cross-check my list with his: ethernet cable, USB hub, extra computer keyboard… I ask if he’s done any preparation at all. He says yes, he’s backed up files from his laptop to an external hard drive.

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Photo of my son from eleven minutes ago. Or eleven years. Something like that.

I know he still has plenty of nights to spend under our roof in the future, on holidays and breaks, and the occasional weekend. I know I can visit him easily enough. He’ll be less than two hours away, after all. I know in the age of cell phones and Skype, we can be in touch as much as he’ll allow. But I know it won’t be the same as it was before he left. I’m pretty sure the new reality will bring a combination of freedom and pride and sadness and nostalgia and happiness and worry and hope.

 

We Voted

It’s Primary Day here in Missouri and I participated in one of my favorite parent-child activities. This morning, my 18-year-old accompanied me to the polls to vote in his first election. If my future is in the hands of young adults like him, I’m not overly worried.

I Voted

He not only researched every ballot issue and every candidate, but also the job duties for each office. What does the public administrator even do? Because he asked, I bothered to find out and now know that she (it’s been a she) handles the settling of estates left without a will and manages the affairs of people who are incapacitated with no family to help.

We should all be as conscientious with our votes. If having a toddler can help you appreciate anew the beauty of a daisy, having a new voter in the house can help you appreciate anew the beauty of democracy.