Raising Magnolias

Because it's never too late for happily ever after…

Archive for the month “October, 2014”

The Night The Lights Came On

IMG_9692My husband of almost 15 years is a world traveler. He literally has friends all over this great world. He said to me once, “Of all the cultures I’ve experienced, none is more different (from Nebraska) than The South.”

On the surface Midwesterners and Southerners have much in common.

There is Faith.

Family.

And friends.

But sometimes I underestimate just how different our cultures can be and sometimes I feel trapped in both.

And in neither.

Earlier this fall I had a conflict with a colleague who was critical of how I had taught her class.

Earlier this week the police showed up at my house and I listened to another colleague completely un-dress me over the phone. I cried all day. As in, I could not stop crying.

Over dogs.

And I can get a little worked up.

And I’m smart enough to realize that the common component is me.

A few weeks ago at my yearly physical, my OB, whom I love and adore was asking about my upcoming wedding.

OH!! I may have forgotten to mention that.

I’m getting married!

Anyway, she was wishing me well and I mentioned that I was still struggling with how hard life as a divorced mom can be.

Even with the happiness.

And she said something to me that has changed everything.

Or rather is changing, has the potential to change.

She said.

“Your life was in crisis for so long that your body’s automatic response to criticism, challenges, etc is that of crisis.

I didn’t teach the class well. She completely hates me. She’ll tell everyone else that I”m a horrible teacher because “not being good enough” is all I’ve known. Of course this is a crisis!

Except, ya know, it’s not. It’s a class. One class.

So this week.

I woke up to lights. No-one can seem to understand that I didn’t hear the dogs.

I didn’t hear my phone.

I didn’t hear the doorbell.

I’m pretty sure Matthew Mc Conaughey had shown up at my house and I was serving tea.

It was 3:30 in the morning!! I was asleep!

So finally it was the lights. The swirling blue and red. You only see those lights when something bad has happened.

I tried hard to gather my thoughts. The doorbell was ringing.

I have this great shirt that I love but never wear in public.

It’s from a run sponsored by Lucky Beer and it says, “Drink Beer. Get Lucky.”

And it’s tight and all I can think about as this officer is lecturing me (kindly) on being a good neighbor and shining the flashlight in my face was “Oh my gosh. Hello tiny little breast in the spotlight.”

And now I’m scared to go to sleep. I’m scared that I won’t hear the doorbell. I’m scared that I need to wear appropriate clothes and bras and—

Well, I won’t got that far. I don’t wear bras very much even during the day.

I was embarrassed. I was wrong. I was very much the bad neighbor.

I later found out that before the cops came, the live-in boyfriend came.

Beating on my door in the middle of the night is not the best way to get my dogs to be quiet.

I live alone with two children. Really think I’m going to answer the door to a stranger in the middle of the night?

Idiot!

Wait. I’m trying to apologize.

See? A crisis. My dogs woke you up. I’m sorry. I’m like really, really sorry but it’s not a crisis.

And to be honest, the fact that some people just don’t like me is also.

Not a crisis.

This morning I asked my client if he wanted to run outside.

“Is it warm enough?” I asked.

“Yes! It’s warm enough. I saw Amy running. ”

“Well, Amy is a life-long Midwesterner. She’s hard-core. I’m just a delicate Southern—-

And I paused looking for the right words and the lady at the front desk interrupted and said,

“WIMP!!”

Well, I was going with Belle or Princes but yes.

Maybe so.

But that’s what reminded me of my husband’s words so many years ago.

Southerners are just different.

Not better. Different.

We “flower-up” our talk and we have a more beautiful way of saying things. 🙂

A midwesterner might say, “Wow. She is such a bitch.” (Sorry, I know that not any of my midwestern friends would say that).

A southerner would put it differently. “Oh, bless her heart. She is really just not a people person. I think she  just needs more of Jesus.”

And if your dogs were annoying the CRAP out of you? She wouldn’t call the police. She wouldn’t send her live-in boyfriend to bang on your door. (We don’t live with our boyfriends down south.) 🙂

No. A southerner would bake bread.

From scratch.

She would take it to your house .

And she would say.

“Bless your heart. Oh my goodness, I am so sorry to have to mention this, but your dogs, bless their hearts, precious as new-born babies, well they are just a tad bit loud and if it wouldn’t be too much trouble, I would just, oh bless your heart, I would just really appreciate if you could kindly get them to shut the HALE up.”

Then. If they didn’t. There would be less police and more shotguns.

I was wrong. I was a bad neighbor. I love my Midwestern friends and family and I love my little Midwestern town.

Sometimes, though, I have to remember that everything is not a crisis, not everybody has to like me and yes, when you hurt my feelings or when it’s too cold outside, I’m a southern little—

WIMP.

And now, I’ve got some apologies to attend to and some bread to bake. It’s just what we southerners do.

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So. Much. More.

Ok. So, I’m a little bit done this week.

And it’s only Tuesday.

And orange is not my color.

But here’s what we need to know. Or, at least here’s what I know and what I need for you to know.

Ya know, in my humble opinion.

Football?

Cross Country?

Soccer?

Volleyball?

Yes. They’re more than “just a game.”

It usually happens when we’re on the losing team.

After all, it’s only a game.

Ya know, because we lost and we don’t want to make it more than that.

Or I also love (don’t really love), “Well. They are only 9.”

They’re only 5.

Oh well, dang. Now they’re “only” 17 and have no clue how to win or lose or accept graciously or accept humbly or how to work with a team or how to self-discipline and shoot.

When is the right time to start?

In my kindermusik classes, we all get to be winners.

But at some point, right? At some point we have to teach other skills?

Other lessons?

Raising our children up “in the way that they should go so that when they’re old they will not depart from it, ” that starts now, right?

What am I missing?

A few months ago a blog post circulated about the most important words our children need to hear in regards to sports.

I love watching you play.

Oh my gosh, how I love watching my kids play.

And I’m loud about it.

Loud joy.

Right now it’s football.

I love it when he tackles. I love it when he runs. I love it when he hits the shoulder pads of his teammates congratulating them on their play. I love it even more when he gets tackled and he gets.

Back.

Up.

I love the whole. dang. thing.

Raising our children?

It’s so much more than a game.

I get that parents can take it too seriously and push too hard and I understand the sentiment but, y’all—

XBOX is just a game.

Fake little football people running across the screen is just a game.

Candyland.

Is just.

A game.

But my son? Our children? Learning respect? Learning teamwork and cooperation? Learning humility and sportsmanship? Learning how to win well and how to lose even better? Learning that you have to show up and stand up and get.

Back.

Up.

That, y’all. Is not a game. That is life.

I didn’t encourage Coulter play youth football because I’m training him for a life of professional football.

He weighs 65 lbs soaking wet.

I encouraged youth football for his life, right now.

I encouraged youth football as a tool for learning and as an opportunity for some pretty cool guys to build into my son.

I asked Coulter last week if he thought his coaches yell too much.

He looked at me as if that were quite literally the dumbest question ever.

Uhm, no.

Ok, well does Coach Dan yell?

Uhm, no.

OK, well does Coach Mike yell? (Mike is his future step-dad, fyi)

Uhm, no.

Well-wait.

When Coach Mike gets mad, he usually just throws his clipboard down. But then, well, he can’t bend down to pick it up and so he has to kind of lean down (Coulter gives me a play-by-play)visual and by now we are both hysterical, laughing.

Yes, I can see my strong, little, non-flexible man throwing a clipboard for effect and then being humbled as he tries to figure out how to pick it back up.

You see, here’s what I’m thinking.

We’re lying to our children.

Everyone gets a trophy.

Everyone’s a winner.

You’re only nine and it’s just a game.

But what if we set a higher standard?

You are nine years old!

Not only nine.

But all.

Of.

Nine.

What’s that phenomenon called when we set the bar high and they rise to reach it?

Yes. That!

What happened to the bar?

It’s like we’re all in that game where you dance under the bar (limbo?) and they keep lowering the bar and lowering the bar and why don’t we stop—

Lowering the bar.

Raise it up.

This sport? This activity? Artists and gymnast and pianist and athletes? What is it they love?

Love to watch them play. Yes-And.

Quit telling them it’s only a game.

Play is a child’s work.

Watch a child in the sandbox. Watch how hard they work. Watch them on the monkey bars. That is hard stuff!

Telling them it’s only a game doesn’t make them feel better.

It diminishes who they are and what they are and how they spend their time.

Y’all.

This is their life! Let’s build them up and raise them up and cheer as they throw that football up.

Or over.

Or whatever it is that they do with it.

Football. I didn’t write a $150 check for six weeks for  “just a game”.

Basketball. I didn’t write a $90 check for six weeks for “just a game”.

I wrote those checks as an investment in my child’s life.

And investment that says, “I’m proud of you and I believe in you and if this is important to you, than it’s important to me.”

Last week he came out of a big ‘ol pile of boys with the ball. He held it high in victory. He showed it to the crowd. I started screaming, spilling my tea on everyone around me. “He has the ball!! Coulter has the ball!!”

I don’t know how he got it and the play got called back but do you think for a second I thought about cheering,

“DON’T WORRY!! IT’S JUST A GAME!”

No! I yelled. Look at that kid.

That kid? That #32! Look at him! He has the ball.

When he’s all grown up, what will his “play” look like? Who knows?

I don’t care what he chooses (or what the Lord chooses for him). All I care is that I raise a son who fights hard to get out of a tackle still holding the ball.

And when he does, I’ll still be cheering.

Loud Joy.

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