Sandwiches & Privilege 

14 03 2016

Had an amazing conversation with my 8 yo in the car tonight. We were at a Subway restaurant where there were several frustrating dynamics occurring simultaneously. As we arrived at 8:15/8:20 we were told they only had two types of bread left, then 8:25ish as we sat down with our meal they asked a group of people at two tables next to us to please leave since they weren’t paying customers and only there for the wifi. They also asked those of us who were paying customers to eat quickly and wrap it because they were closing the restaurant due to bread shortage. At 8:35 some young men were still at the table studying and the employees again told them they needed to leave since they hadn’t purchased anything. One of the guys called the employee names using derogatory words and said he was staying until 9pm because that is what the sign says and their power was out and they needed to complete an assignment. The male employee threatened to call the cops and there was more interaction. Eventually the quiet guy offered to buy a drink and they refused to serve him because of the friend’s attitude. 

While that interaction was occurring there was a homeless woman also in the restaurant who spoke up loudly saying “Guys, Burger King is open for awhile so just go there” they argued about whether or not there was wifi and decided to stay and stand their ground until police showed up. 

There was a point the women got up and went over to the drink area and grabbed a bunch of sugars. The female employee started yelling from behind the counter “Lady, lady, you need to stop and get out of here”. Then some device she was carrying dropped and the batteries fell out near us, Katie helped pick up the pieces. Meanwhile I could hear the employee loudly commenting to other customers that she came in to buy a drink and then continues to sneak over for more and is just drinking and drinking the water. 

At 8:40, a customer who just got his food (and likely the last load of sandwich bread) sat down at the table next to us and as he was going to bite his sandwich the woman employee came over and said “Sir you need to leave now because we have no more bread and are closing the store.” The man looked up and asked “Seriously?” and she said “Yes, we are closing the store you need to leave” and she gave me a look as well. So he got up and left annoyed and I wrapped up our food and told Katie we needed to go. She asked “Why – didn’t they say the are open until 9p?”. She is loud in her questioning and kept asking Why mommy? And as we went out the door I said “You can ask them if they want, but they say we can’t stay because they are out of bread.” 

At 8:43 we were in our car and they had turned out their lights and the young study buddies were still there. Katie noticed and wondered if the police were going to come and she called the Subway employees evil meanies. 

From there on our drive home we talked about why the Subway employees were upset about the wifi non-paying customers and the homeless woman. She wondered why employees at restaurants haven’t asked her to stop when she took extra sugars for her lemonade and I said it was likely because they assumed your family had money to pay and a knowingly homeless person gets judged differently because there is assumption they don’t have the money to be paying customers. She asked why they couldn’t give wifi to someone whose power was knocked out by the weather. She asked why places can’t let homeless people stay in when it was cold – we talked about various perceptions in society and different reactions. We also talked about some models of businesses who do choose to help or offer assistance and how sometimes there are a few persons unfortunately abuse and take advantage of the offering that kind of ruins it for others.

Another part we talked about was how to be arm respectful customer if you are not being treated well. For instance I think the study buddies were rude, but the Subway employees didn’t exactly have the best behavior either. 

I love my daughter’s heart. I told her even though we don’t always have the extra money for things we do have a home, food, cars, jobs, school, and this makes us rich compared to others. This gives a privilege and it isn’t something we are always aware of. Of course there are privileges we don’t have but we have more privilege than others. I talked with my 8 yr old about the privilege she has and how we need to be aware how people see us compared to others and we need to be aware so that we can speak up for injustices or learn how to right wrongs and difficult privilege-based situations in society. She wants to be a change maker and I pray her heart won’t be jaded. 





Insecurities and Being Mom to Active Girls

8 03 2016

I keep thinking I’m getting better at not being  competitive or anxious mother, and then something happens with my daughters and I realize I have all the feelings of anxiety turned up on high and wonder how in the world did I allow myself to get there?

I think I land in a space with other parents who are ramped up for their children and it rubs off on me. Plus, all my own insecurities and experiences from childhood pop up and I reflect them on my girls – despite all the times I tell myself I’m NOT going to do that. It just happens and takes me by surprise!

This month is intense for me as mom and Doug as dad. Some people might ask “why do you let yourself get SO busy” and it just works out that these middle two weeks of March are the moment at which every activity collides and all chaos ensues in our household – including my competitive parenting anxiety.

  • So softball started up last week for both girls – check!
  • It is girl scout cookie selling season – thankfully only for one girl this byear – check!
  • The school play in a week auditions (wondering if they’ll get in or not)/rehearsals/performance – check!
  • Getting close to martial arts testing for one girl – check!
  • School music concerts galore for both girls – check!
  • colds and ear infections keeping kiddos home from school – check!

Then let’s add mom and dad’s list:

  • Final papers, group projects, and take-home essay exams two weeks for my seminary program – check!
  • Structural engineering season in full swing meaning extra pay (yay!) and extra hours for Doug at work – check!
  • Easter is coming in a few weeks (ministry fun times for our family!)
  • Washing machine dead and finding time to bring in a repair person, order parts, bring in repair person again – check! (thank God for generous neighbors sharing their machines!)
  • Doug is semi-acting as interim interim church choir director for our church choir
  • Doug is coaching Katie’s softball team
  • We decided on no nanny this year to save some money, which means Doug is coming home early when I have my classes in the evenings twice a week

Um… there is more, there has to be because that is just how our life works in March! Can I apply the “March comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb” weather metaphor to our family life?

I’m noticing the parent list is a little longer than the kids list – ha! What the heck am I worried about then when it comes to our girls? It is interesting because when I think about my childhood experiences growing up – I tried for several things and I was ‘OK’ but not ever really the best at anything. I was involved in a lot of activities but I was going to places where people encouraged me to try or empowered me in leadership. It wasn’t perfection but I’m glad I had opportunities to learn – sometimes very painfully – about myself. Most of the things I did on my own volition as result of being a child of a single parent family and my mom rarely was able to be a part of my activities either because she worked full time at the hospital or finances. My dad usually lived too far away to participate. Maybe I had to prove myself by just trying and seeing if I could actually do something.

I wonder if because I don’t expect perfection from my children – just want to see them do the best for themselves even if they aren’t the best at what they do? And when they are good at what they are doing, because I have a hard time having confidence in my own abilities, I have difficulty accepting and allowing myself to believe they truly are talented at what they do. I think I also get anxious and competitive when I see it in other parents because I’m a people-pleaser and I want others to accept and like my kids – even if they aren’t the best at whatever activity they are pursuing.

Maybe competitive isn’t even the right word to use, maybe concerned is a better word. I’m concerned that my children get to have a variety of experiences, I’m concerned that they have a positive experience or at least a parent or other trusted adult to fall back on who will still accept and encourage them even when they aren’t the best – I think this is what I missed sometimes in my own childhood activities, even with plenty of mentorship in faith and getting through school. I do remember my mother wanting us to do well and was sometimes sad if we weren’t the best and sometimes upset at the one who did better – usually because of their standing in society. I wonder if I reflect my standing in society  that I sometimes think people don’t know what to do with – mom, church childrens and youth minister, and now forever seminary graduate student – and worry how that affects my children’s abilities in their activities. So I play the comparison and anxiety game without realizing until it is too late.

Goodness, the things we deal with as parents, without even realizing it, when dealing with the rest of our family’s happenings!

Praying for peace for this annual season of chaos. Amen





Help me: Children Verbally Abused by Peers

20 05 2014

This happens in communities all the times – I see it in the children/youth ministry and I see it among my almost 10 yr old daughter and her friends – and it breaks my heart.

Child # 1 just happens to be friendly to others and tries to be understanding in tough situations and then by chance and sometime “on purpose” because she gets along with others well – she gets paired up or simply stuck in a group with Child #2.

Child #2 is maybe jealous , can’t handle the niceness or Child #1, or maybe gets frustrated in their own shortcoming but knows Child #1 won’t lash back so passive aggressively blames the failings and frustrations on Child #1 – privately or in a group setting.

I’m in an odd place in trying to figure out how to be the adult in these situations – because:

1) often the children come to me to report, Child #1 is hurt by child#2 and doesn’t like it and needs it to stop. Child #2 claims they’ve done nothing wrong and it is the fault of Child #1.

2) I don’t always see or hear the interaction.  Other friends chime in to support child #1, and no matter what Child #2 keeps up the shenanigans.

3) Child #1 knows all the others are on their side, but that doesn’t matter when you are a tween or a teen = because you’ve been embarrassed in front of them, so there must be something wrong that you are the one verbally abused.

In church, school playground, and “team work” related activities parents have committed children to participate in Child #1 has no real way to get away from or ignore Child #2.

So what do you do? I can see why child #1 might actually love participating in a ministry program or attending church, or avoid going on the playground during recess, or not want to be in an extracurricular they really love – becasue if they go it is more than likely they will be attacked (in a way the adults won’t see) by child #2.In a few cases, I KNOW it is NOT the fault of the parents and in other cases , it is more than  obvious the parents have modeled this behavior for their children.

Also what do you do in group settings where child #2 gets ostracized by others, after they have repeatedly been reprimanded by the community of friends of child #1.  In church, the school playground, other activities — these kids need the interaction with others, but they become unwanted after damaging the hearts of other one too many times.

How do we love Child #2, while protecting/supporting/empowering Child #1? How might both be engaged without  both dropping out  because they’ve been hurt.

When is it OK to talk to parents as an adult who hasn’t been an eye-witness but has children eye-witnesses?

How do you talk withthe parent of Child #2 when they are a leader of the group, or not willing/to embarrassed to  admit their child could have been so hurtful to another?

I get stuck in the middle as a parent (my kiddo is so often the Child #1 and it breaks my heart). Tough when I am usually the leader of what ever program Child #1 and Child #2 are participants of…. “Your child is picking on my child” – They see me as the leader who thinks their child is perfect and can do no wrong.

Please share your suggestions and similar experiences in the comments below.





Bouncing Back into Blogging

27 03 2014

I’m coming out of  a long dark blogging hiatus… My blog has been silent for a while. Somewhat unintentionally and somewhat intentionally.

A crazy hard tragedy struck my extended family in November last year in an incredibly exponentially emotional manner. I wanted to write about it, but I in the midst of my role as a caregiver, supporter, and mourner I didn’t know how. I could pour out my emotions, but I didn’t want to hurt anyone in my family any deeper. I could write about what had happened, but I didn’t have all the details and I didn’t know if I had permission.  I have posted little bits and pieces via Twitter and Facebook, but more as a plea for prayer rather than a place to process.

As time has passed, I have almost blogged: a few months ago I typed into my iPhone WordPress app which then didn’t post a thing and deleted everything I typed up. Ah, well I guess it wasn’t the right time. I decided I’d be okay with that.

Next, the Seattle Seahawks went to playoffs and the SuperBowl, which consumed a lot of family energy. My husband is one of those hardcore born-in-Seattle sports fan – and our daughters are following suit. I’m happy just to help clean the house and play hostess while others come hang out and have fun together watching a sport I’m still trying to figure out in the almost 20 years I’ve known my husband.

THEN, it was my season of craziness as a mom – chaired the committee to host two PTA Science Nights at my girls’ school, launched into a first year of selling Girl Scout cookies with each girl in a troop, (I really wanted to blog about these things, but alas no remaining time or energy!), and Softball season began for both girls. All this in the span of 2 weeks time. I pretty much was crazy. Did I mention my husband and I both work full-time jobs and already chauffer them to piano lessons and one to martial arts class and the other took up playing cello in her 4th grade orchestra (oh yeah, she played basketball in Fall/winter too)?? What. Was. I. Thinking?!? I clearly wasn’t.

Ah well, I guess it is good to get all these experiences out of the way early on so they can be well rounded and figure out what they want to do in life. They’ll need to figure it out now, so they will have the time to help their own children (should they be parents!) in the future. Sheesh!

Only took a little insomnia and a Pinterest inspired brownie recipe that is seriously yummy at 1:30 a.m. to get me going. You must try this Fake Betty Crocker Brownie Mix! It took longer to heat the oven than it took me to pull out the ingredients and mix up the batter. My next goal is to see if I can create a gluten free, vegan version that is potentially just as easy and delicious to make. Any suggestions??

In my next post I’ll talk about my family tragedy. Because it needs to be documented and I need the processing.





Saying Goodbye to the School Year

19 06 2013

Ah the emotions that come with the end of the school year.

Katie had kindergarten “graduation” today and is sad that tomorrow is the last day with a great teacher and class. She is nervous to be a first grader. Which is the same thing that happened when she transitioned from PreK to Kindergarten. She went kicking and screaming from one awesome experience to another. Katie has had her ups and downs with friendship, staying quiet in class, and trying to put more words than colorful drawings on her weekly journal entries. Math has come easy for her, reading has been rocky but she’s starting to love it, and writing/spelling is not her strong suit but she still gives us little notes and makes lists all the time.

Ellie doesn’t want tomorrow (last day of school) to come because one of her really good friends is leaving our school. She has shed a lot of tears over this. A LOT. I want her to just accept it and get over it (because the distance between Bothell and Lynnwood is not very big). But, I have to bite my tongue and let her grieve and try to give her hope for the future. She says it isn’t fair, every year since Kindergarten (she’s finishing 3rd grade)a really close friend has moved away from her. I prayed with her asking God to help her stay connected with her friend, but also to help her open her heart to allow others to be friends with her. I’m a little concerned she might simply shut down and not let others get close because she is afraid she’ll lose them. Alas, on to the fourth grade for Ellie

My emotional tank has given a lot to them and I know they still will need more listening, consoling, hugging, encouraging, and glimmer of hope tomorrow morning and night.





Dignify Anyone in a Few Seconds

21 03 2013
Image

Photo courtesy of NBC

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/07/23/disney-world-security-guard_n_1695034.html

I love the photo in this article! Not because it is DisneyLand, or a princess, but because someone is taking their job just a step further out of the box (in a positive, non-creepy way) to tell children they are important and loved.

My mind just naturally starts asking:

* What if we could make sure every child knew they were noticed and loved (not necessarily a famous prince or princess) simply – acknowledged?

* What if we did this with everyone – teens, young adults, middle-age adults, older adults, the “untouchables” in our community?

How much better a place this world would be? Give some one a smile, hello, hug, or high five today!

 





Rest In Peace “Sticker” the Plecostimus – childhood pet death

5 01 2013

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Our eight year old daughter has gone from complete joy to utter disappointment and grief in a span of a week. She acquired her first aquarium from “Santa” at Christmas. A few days later we ventured to PETCO to guide her in choosing some fish for her tank. We talked with a “fish specialist” who was very helpful – and we talked with one at another store when purchasing the aquarium kit. She first chose a Marble Molly and a Common Plecostimus (little tiny catfish that can grow up to 2 feet long!). We have done everything they told us and Ellie has been responsibly caring for her pets every single day. We also have a cat, a box turtle, and have pet sat for neighbors, but this is her first pet she isn’t sharing with family.

Unfortunately, I think we unintentionally starved the plecostimus she affectionately named “sticker” because it just stuck to the ground and side of the tank eating up algae. There likely wasn’t enough algae and I looked up more information to find a few more things Sticker required that we hadn’t been told. This is how we learn.

This is first death of a pet in our household (she is aware of family and friends who have died, so not a first death experience for her). I asked what Ellie would like to do with the fish and she said “bury him”. My husband suggested a “burial at sea” via toilet might be appropriate for a fish and she just glared at him. So with trowel in one hand, and deceased fish in a ziplock container in the other hand, she dug a little hole in our backyard. As Ellie put Sticker’s body in the hole, I asked everyone to share their favorite memories of our short time with this little fish, then we said a prayer thanking God for allowing him to be in our family for a little bit. I mentioned that stickers will help fertilize the yard and bring new life in the spring. My husband tried not to laugh at me, then we walked back up our house with our arms around Ellie. She did very well, and tomorrow we’ll look for another Plecostimus and try again at our new life as fish owners.

Rest In Peace Stickers. Know you were loved by a sweet little girl named Ellie.

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