Friday, September 1, 2017

34 percent...

When I got the phone call this morning, my first thought was that the kiddo had been in an accident. He's only been driving a month and while he always texts to tell me he's safe at school once he gets parked, he's never called.  As a result, it was several words past hearing he was safe that I really started listening.  Five police cars.  Two fire trucks.  An ambulance.  As it turns out, the kiddo rolled up to a four way stop in a neighborhood at the same time local authorities were arriving on the scene of an accident at the house on the corner.  So it was there, on his way to school down a path we’ve driven a thousand times, that the kiddo witnessed his first fatality complete with the all of the sounds and activity and gore that accompanies such a thing.  I just sat there, mom.  There was so much equipment coming from every direction...  I didn’t want to get in the way.

On Wednesday our community learned we’d lost yet another teen to suicide and it was the kiddo that reminded me that not a year has passed since he started 7th grade that we’ve made it from start to finish without a fatality.  Five years in a row, mom.  Five years!  When do people get a clue and starting fixing this mess?  It’s been a tough week.

I don't know what you think but I'm going tell you the reality: whatever your kids are talking about is likely only a third of what’s really happening with any given situation.  Leading psychologists and child welfare experts that have studied teenage behavioral patterns and bullying and suicide and mental health disorders and self harm behaviors all report that when your kiddo shares a situation, it’s highly probable you’re only getting about 34% of the whole story.  It’s not that your kiddo is necessarily lying to you, which could be the case for some.  Rather, it’s that between a lack of experience in sharing how they feel, “flooding”, which is a teen brain phenomenon that happens when kids become emotionally charged, distraction, and distance (time) from the event, you’re lucky if you get 34%.

As parents we need to hit our knees and pray for guidance so we can find better ways to connect with our kids because we’re losing children in communities all over this country at an alarming rate.  They’re running and they’re making harmful choices and they’re hurting themselves and we don’t know until it’s too late because we’re working on 34% fact.  It’s not enough.  What we’re doing isn’t enough.

I taped CMT CrossRoads this week because I like Florida Georgia Line and the Backstreet Boys.  While I know the kiddo likes FGL, I didn’t expect him to come upstairs while I was busting moves and singing at the top of my lungs to I Want It That Way.  Sure, he laughed at me for second, then he kicked off his shoes so I followed his lead.  Which is how we ended up breaking out our cheesy 90’s dance moves and jamming right alongside the music until the band broke into a ballad.  And then suddenly it wasn’t about the music at all.  It only took a few moments before we were both misty eyed, slow dancing in the kitchen in our bare feet, him pouring out his heart and processing a traumatic week and me reassuring him that we’ll always find a way.

Our kids may only be giving us 34% but they need to know we’re giving 100%.  They need to hear that there’s always a way to handle a problem differently than the obvious.  They need to hear that it’s never wise to make a permanent decision regarding a temporary situation.  And they need to be reassured that we won’t stop trying to find ways to connect.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Cheap and Easy...

What is the source of your holy discontent? You know what I mean… That topic that makes your blood boil every time it gets mentioned.  That image that makes you cringe and look away when you see it.  Is it pornography? Is it child abuse?  Lack of prison reform? AIDS orphans?  Corporate greed? Poverty? Sexual slavery? Illiteracy? Religious persecution?  Addiction?  Lack of school funding? Mental illness? Incurable disease? Religious persecution?  Homeless veterans? Any form of slavery? So what is it? What makes your blood boil? Now tell me what you do about it.

Do you post graphics on Facebook? Do you quote alleged scholars? Do you share your opinion on every issue that comes along?  Do you judge others for their opinion?  Do you scoff when someone disagrees with you?  We live in a free country so you have the right to do any of those things - they're cheap and they’re easy so I can see the appeal. But that's just it. They're cheap and easy. "There we go," we say to ourselves after we hit post before closing down our Facebook app.  "Now they know how I feel about XYZ."  Great. Thank you. You're right. Now I know how you feel. Now tell me what you really did that might affect the issue.

Did you help free a ten year old girl from wondering not if she’s going to be violated in the wee hours of the night but how many times?  Did you save a five-year-old little boy from being thrown over the side of a boat and told to swim or die?  Did you help a child who has never hugged his/her father due to incarnation get to spend an afternoon visiting his dad?  Did you put a hot meal in the tummy of a child that’s gone without food for several days?  Did you go to the hospital and lay an abandoned baby across your chest so they could feel the joy of skin-to-skin contact before they took their last breath?  Did you drop off that bag of unwanted craft supplies and that bundle of box tops to your local elementary school because you don’t need them but you know kids in a nearby district can’t afford crayons?  Did you snag an extra package of underwear when you were doing your back to school shopping to donate to the homeless veterans drop box? I could go on and on but I think you get the point and you're not going to like the next thing I have to say so buckle up.

I've heard it said that if you look at a man's checkbook, it doesn’t take long to see what he values and while part of me wants to push back against that because there are bills to pay, another part of me knows it’s true.  Many of us are all in when it's cheap and easy. In fact, the human race has proven that we have an incredible propensity for destruction largely because it’s cheap and easy. 

Spray painting a sacred monument doesn’t cost much to the person holding the can. Tearing down a statue doesn’t cost much for the person that brought the rope. Spewing hate via pithy graphics on Facebook doesn’t cost much to the sender of the post. While these displays of holy discontent seem active in the moment, the truth is they’re largely passive because save for the participant who might snag fifteen minutes of fame or feel better for a second in time, they really don’t help anyone else.  I mean seriously, what do you say to the person who thinks they’re helping the cause by acting in such a cheap and easy way?  “Way to kick the crap out of a piece of bronze?”  Or maybe something like, “You really know how to use a spray can?”

When you’re talking about affecting real change, cheap and easy rarely gets the job done because the sad truth about the world we live in is that action and advocacy come at a cost.  Whether it’s your time or your money or your energy, fighting your holy discontent can stretch the limits of your resources.

We’re so quick to toss out an opinion and take a side regarding the things that bother us to the core, yet many of us are so slow in acting in a way that has any chance of making a real difference.  Sharing your opinion may make you feel like you’re doing something and it may gain you some attention, but who is it really helping?  The world won’t become a better place until the day arrives when we’re as quick to leverage our resources toward the cause of our holy discontent as we are to share our opinion about it.  

What really makes your blood boil?  I hope you have an answer because there’s something you can do about it…

Do you really want to help end slavery?  Check out International Justice Mission: 

Want to help Aids orphans?  Check out Horizon International (right here in Indy):

Want to help incarcerated men and women?  Check out God Behind Bars:

Want to help those in the chains of sexual slavery?  Check out Red Umbrella:

Want to stand against religious persecution?  Check out Samaritan’s Purse:

Want to help with addiction recovery?  Check out Lighthouse Recovery Center (right here in Indy):

Want to help the homeless?  Check out Circle City Relief (right here in Indy):

Want to help active duty men and women?  Check out Adopt A Soldier:

Want to honor Veterans?  Check out Indy Honor Flight:

Friday, August 11, 2017

The Tears Didn't Attack Until...

Everyone that knows me guessed I’d cry on Wednesday as I stood in the driveway waving furiously while the kiddo smiled and pulled away.  Driving himself to school for his first day of junior year.  Alone.  Without me.  Without our legendary morning commutes filled with jam sessions and debates and history lectures and mom lectures and planning and strategizing whatever needed to be worked over at the time.  Gone was the old routine and with it went the traditions we’d spent years honing.  And while I teared up a bit, I’ll have you know I didn’t cry.  Instead I waited patiently for him to text me that he was at school safely then I went to breakfast and spent an hour laughing with my bestie. 

And I didn’t cry yesterday as we repeatedly the process.  Safely to school.  Safely back home.  Everything flowing according to plan.

And I didn’t cry this morning, either.  The kiddo and I had a terrific summer that included the start of new routines for he and I so yes, our mornings are forever changed, but we’ve got new things to share and look forward to.  When my bestie called today to check on me, I think she was proud that I was holding it together.

It wasn’t until this afternoon that the tears attacked and I didn’t even see it coming.  When the kiddo got home today, we talked and tackled chores and I made brownies while he started his homework.  All in all it was a normal afternoon right up until the kiddo asked if he could go out tonight.

“Sure!”  I said without missing a beat.  “Where are you going and what time do you need to be there?”

“The crew is getting together from seven until eleven,” he offered then he stopped and gave me an odd smile.

“That’s fine, babe.  Does anyone need a ride there or do we need to take anyone home?”  I went on, utterly clueless.

“Hey, mom?  I don’t want to hurt your feelings but I was planning to drive myself.  Is that okay?”

Right.  He’s driving himself.  Which means the downsizing is real and it’s not just back and forth to school he goes.  Of course it isn’t.  It’s everywhere he goes now.  And while it’s exactly as it should be, the adjustment is real. 

Friday, July 14, 2017

The New Baby...

My dad has played guitar since the "old man across the street" taught him You Are My Sunshine when daddy was five which means the kiddo has grown up watching and listening to daddy play. When the kiddo's first electric guitar showed up under Pops and Grandma's Christmas tree seven years ago, I knew we were on a path. While he's inherited one of his Pops favorite acoustics, Pops came over Monday and confirmed that the kiddo has finally outgrown his old Christmas gift. I loved the look on his face as he watched his Pops play today. And then again when we surprised him with a trip to the guitar store. Needless to say we brought home a new baby. #thesearethedays #priceless #LesPaul

Today lunch (translate that to a reason to eat carrot cake) was the only way I could get the kiddo to give it a rest and stop playing guitar long enough for me to re-up the Advil. Seriously, I’ve lost track of how many hours he’s played since Monday but spitballing it gets me close to forty. I love to listen to him, I really do. But I also work from home so that means my office floor is vibrating since the main area of his new studio in our basement is right beneath my space on the main level. On a positive note, there's only been one song he's learned that I really don't like (Paranoia by Black Sabbath, which he assures me he only likes because it's in one of the Ironman movies). Other tunes he’s learned this week include the theme song to Sons of Anarchy, the love song (my term) from The Good, The Bad and The Ugly, and Crossfire by Stevie Ray Vaughn as well as a few from the Eagles, Fleetwood Mac and Bob Seeger. He’s tossed in some Brad Paisley and Taylor for good measure and last night I even heard him playing the main riff from Staying Alive. 

Then there’s his main focus, which is any and everything by John Mayer. Like. All. John. All. The. Time. We’ve watched every minute of John’s Any Given Thursday (Live from Oak Mountain, 2002) concert and his Where The Light Is (Live in LA, 2007) concert as well as his VH1 Storytellers session (2009), which leads me to this thought… I sincerely hope John's mom had to listen to as much Clapton (John’s idol) as I am Mayer (the kiddos idol). #InYourAtmosphere  #CakeForLunch

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Music Wars...

You may have heard me mention that every so often, the kiddo and I end up in a music battle.  We take our tunes very seriously in these parts and while we share similar tastes, there are days the mood hits and one of us just can’t help goading the other about a particular song choice.  Such was the case this morning.  I had the tunes cranked while making my bed; a chore I DETEST and would never do it if the hubster didn’t appreciate it.  Talk about Felix and Oscar!  As a result, on days I make the bed, I usually turn up the music to ease the pain. 

The kiddo couldn’t resist commenting on Natalie La Rose’s Dance with Somebody as he stepped in to my room and snagged the speaker, promptly redirecting the Bluetooth to play something called Lean On by Major Lazer.  “That song is so last summer,” he offered to my Natalie choice.

“And this song is so awful,” I countered a minute later as I looked over at him as if to say 'find some taste' and regained control of the speaker, only to hit him with DJ Snake and the Biebs crooning Let Me Love You.

“You don’t play fair,” he smiled as he started to bop before grabbing the other side of the comforter I was wrestling in an effort to help.  “You and I both know no one can resist the Biebs.”