Random thoughts

I haven’t written anything on here in a while. I’ve been struggling with pulling my thoughts together and staying focused on one topic. But my mind is cluttered with a variety of things and happenings so I decided to just share some thoughts that will actually make sense or not by the end. 

The year was 2006, I was newly pregnant with my fourth baby and had not made the announcement to friends and family. I had a nursing infant and as the office staff of my OBGYN had indicated on my folder,  I was “advanced maternal age.” My then dear husband, the three kids and I were visiting with a pastor, his wife and they’re gaggle of kids. I realized during the visit this was an interview or recruiting session for me. My dear ex husband wanted to join this church (read cultlike body of believers) and this dinner with them was his way of convincing me this was the way to go. 

One of the rules of their church was the children were watched or monitored at all times. This was done to keep them from sinning. Because we all know that you can’t sin with your parents or church elders watching. (Have you ever had an inappropriate thought?) 

Some time during this visit the mother came to us to apologize for her young daughter’s actions. The little girl had given my 6 year old son a note stating she wanted French kiss him. The parents were extremely embarrassed. The kicker to me was the apology offered by the mother. She said if she had been in the room with the kids this would have never happened. She blamed herself because it was her duty to watch her children and keep them from sinning or behaving inappropriately. 

I knew right then that I was not joining this church and as far as I was concerned these people were nuts. I grew up with a single mom with zero adult supervision. It’s a wonder I survived. I hoping to achieved a happy medium with my kids. 

Have you heard of, glanced at or dared to read on of the many articles about millennials leaving the church? Every single article I’ve ever read places the blame on the church. Have you ever heard the phrase, employees leave managers not companies? Okay… stay with me. What if they aren’t leaving the church but leaving their hypocritical parents? Hang on… The children are the witnesses to what their parents are living and doing when they aren’t at church. They hear the conversations and see the truth day in and out. They hear the arguing, gossiping, racist comments and other words that don’t align with the pretense shown on Sundays and in life groups or Bible study.   They know the truth. Perhaps they are choosing to live an authentic or at least alternate life that is not encouraged at church. 

When I was upset with the ex, I still sat next to him at church. Eventually, I sat on the other side of the room. I stopped pretending for the sake of others. It felt good to me but I’m sure it was awkward for people who asked me where he was and me telling the truth. I didn’t want to sit next to him. 

I don’t know where that couple or their children are today. But I’ve spoken with other children who lived under similar conditions or saw through the religious sham and not only walked away from the beliefs of their childhood, they walked away from relationships and some from their parents as well. Marriage? No thank you. They saw the lie their parents lived. Pray. No. They didn’t see any positive results as children. Read, worship, attend church? No, no and no. 

 What do you think? Are children leaving the church or are they leaving their parents?

Teen Dating

Let me give you a quick review. I have four children. I’m divorced. I prefer to say we are co-parenting rather than single parenting. I refer to my children collectively as the fan4 or fantastik4. The oldest will be 17 soon and I lovingly refer to him as The Teenager. Second up is my daughter who is now 14 and she is my Honeygirl. The third one, who has the qualities of the attention grabbing middle child, is 11 and referred to as Little Dude. The last one in our line up is my baby boy who is nine. He acts like he’s 39 most of the time. He’s the self appointed referee for Little Dude and often finds himself blowing the whistle, throwing flags and explaining the rules of life to him. From now on we shall refer to him as Ref. I determined early on to protect their identities since I share things that occur in their lives. 

Dating… (Insert eye roll and a deep sigh) (after I typed that I realized I should use some really funny meme but since I don’t have a stock pile of them to flip through and select from I’m using good old fashioned words) I will not lie, I’m not a fan of teen dating. After polling my daughter and her previous bff, we determined that from middle school to high school the average relationship lasts about four weeks. We have six six week grading session during the school year. By the time they begin middle school in sixth grade until they graduate they could potentially have “dated” 63 people at the rate of nine per year. 

But what is dating at 11 or even at 16? 

When I think about my daughter and her friend excitedly discussing dating and boys in general it made me sad and a bit anxious. 

Sad because the friend felt incomplete and was upset with her parents because they wouldn’t allow her to date. She really wanted her very own boyfriend. This disagreement sparked a rebellion and she began running away. My daughter has been asking me about dating for years. She asks her dad and me to define the timeline and allowed activities. His standard answer is 36. Mine is based on maturity and decision making ability. She is enamored with dating. I refer to it as the Disney effect. After watching those popular teen shows she thinks dating has perfect lighting, a laugh track, great clothes, hair and make up as well as a great ending. Periodically I like to dash their dating dreams on the rocks of reality and talk about kissing, hugging, touching and what if that’s not what you want? What’s your exit plan? How do you protect yourself from a person who may overpower or manipulate you into something you aren’t ready to do?

I was anxious because a lot of adults don’t have the cognitive ability to select a good partner and remain committed. If after years of education, reading articles, blogs, after video viewing and talking to other people we as adults make questionable relationship choices then how are they expected to make sound decisions at such a young age? Each dating partner is given a tiny piece if not large chunk of their hearts. They aren’t looking for spouses. They are looking for good times. They aren’t searching for anything deep and long lasting. It’s fleeting and shallow. 

Exhibit 1- the teenager went on a first date to the movies recently with some girl he met through a friend. He asked her to be his girlfriend the next day. She asked him to join her at church on Sunday, meet her parents and have lunch with her family afterwards. She prepped him on what her parents would say and how to respond. I texted his dad with my concerns of how quickly this was moving. She broke up with him the next day. 

I’m glad I never really learned her name or got attached. I don’t even want to know the newest interest’s name until they make it past the four week mark. 

I’m not into the whole bring people home so I can meet them thing. My two brothers ruined that for me. They brought everybody by the house. It wasn’t something special it was normal. I have a male friend who whole heartedly disagrees with me. He wants to meet any and everybody his daughter dates. The one time he and is ex found out she had a boyfriend they planned a family dinner and invited him over. They broke up after the invite but before dinner. 

I understand the desire to have somebody to call your very own.  Who doesn’t want their very own George or squishy? I have friends who met the loves of their lives in high school. It happens. Is it possible to somehow bypass the other 62 people to get to that one? Yes, it is. Serial dating does not have to become their norm neither does looking for someone to define or complete them. 

How are you helping your teen manuver through the obstacle dating course?

Lost and Found

There is nothing like digging through other peoples’ property. In case you had not noticed we all have our own distinct smell. Image a small space cramped full of coats, shoes, socks, shirts, shorts, lunch bags, and even some underwear. Yes, you read that right…underwear. Ugh!!! The smells emanating from all of that stuff makes my stomach turn. Yet, at least once a month I find myself in this room looking for a jacket, lunchbox or book. It’s not my stuff. Nope. It belongs to my third born. The one I lovingly refer to as Little Dude. 

He’s absent minded or completely distracted. Last year he lost three jackets, two lunch boxes and a couple of books. I recently learned he lost about $40-50 on a field trip. He took the money just in case he wanted to buy something nice. We were at a fast food restaurant not long ago and he left his wallet near the condiments. I walked up behind him and picked it up. 

What do I do? I get frustrated. I talk to him about being responsible. I try to get him to develop a routine. It hasn’t worked yet. Do kids grow out of losing stuff? In the mean time I continue to enter the lost and found to dig through all that stuff to locate his missing items. He has a jacket missing right now. Off to the little cramped room we go to search through the piles of odorous things in search of Little Dude’s jacket. 

Speaking of Education

I have just complete classes 5 and 6 towards my master’s degree. I have six more classes to go. I have never had a concern about my education. I always knew I would go to college. My dream was to attend law school and become a Supreme Court Justice. I distinctly remember standing on the porch of our house looking out over the horizon and having this thought. I was in the second grade. A lot of things have deterred me from that path but the desire is still in my heart.
I grew up and attended schools in the Dallas Independent School District (DISD). I was always highly motivated to study and learn. We had Talented and Gifted (TAG) classes for kids like me. We left the regular classroom to meet in a different class to work on more advanced lessons. Looking back, I don’t know that we learned anything the rest of the class couldn’t have learned but I’m thankful for the experience. My elementary school teacher recommended I attend a TAG school within the district for junior high school students. That didn’t workout for many reasons. I was accepted to Law Magnet for high school. For many reason, I did not attend. Immaturity will cause you to make poor decisions.
I went to college, earned and bachelors degree and was accepted to a Master’s program at that same school. I didn’t attend. I moved back home.
Fast forward to today. I am in the process of achieving a goal of getting a Master’s degree.
When I look back on my education, I was never in a panicky state over whether or not I would have the opportunity to attend school. I never had to wonder if my school doors would be locked and all the teachers laid off. I never had to wonder what would happen if my school district could not afford to buy me a diploma or what they had done with the funds for my cap and gown. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/05/09/buena-vista-graduation_n_3248553.html This story not only breaks my heart, it also raises some concerns.
What is going on with the educational system in some of our cities? Please note I said some. I know there are some fabulous schools out there. The ones my children attend are included in that number. My youngest attend a charter school and the oldest attends our local school. I appreciate the ability to have several options available for students in my state. We have the standard local and private but we also have a good selection of charter and a number of my friends home school.
I never had to worry about my quality of education. I don’t worry about the education my children receive. They attend a great school with manageable class sizes. The teachers care. The teacher’s talk to each other about the best way to handle the students. I know because the Little Dude who is in second grade still gets to visit his kindergarten teacher when he is having a hard day. She loves on him, talks to him, encourages him and sends him back to class. We love her! She referred to my youngest three as her personal fan club. She couldn’t be more right.
Back on topic. Not everybody has the educational opportunities we have. I don’t know what I would do if I had to enter a lottery or if I felt the need to lie about my address or if I just felt hopeless and helpless to do anything about the education my children were receiving. Reading stories and seeing movies/documentaries about children and their families wanting better but being caught up in other’s agendas and power struggles is appalling to me.
No Child Left Behind? That’s an untrue statement. There are lots of children being left behind. I am not even hinting at the government getting involved. I don’t think we need more of that. We do need more understanding of what is going on with our educational systems that are not working and figure out what’s happening.
I hear a lot of blame on the teachers. Their classrooms are crowded and full of kids who either think they are the class prince or princess or who are bullies and everything in between. Teachers are not miracle workers. They are humans who are undervalued and blamed.
I keep thinking about Laura Ingalls as a teenage teacher. Yes, I am referring to a tv show. What happened to the one room school-house where the students were taught the basics? The good old days.
I don’t have the answers to my many questions. I want to understand why we are falling behind. I want to understand why some of the teenage young men I know are uninterested in school. What is the disconnect for them? Why do young ladies start falling behind in science and math?
I am passionate about education. I want the best schools for my children. Who doesn’t? What do you do when the best is not available to you. What do you do when sub par is all that is available? What do you do when your child’s name is not pulled in the lottery and you can’t afford private school? What do you do?