Friday, January 31, 2014

Be Careful What You Say and What You Do

Every day is a day for learning and for teaching no matter what your age.  As much as I like to believe I'm smarter than a 5 year old I realize that perhaps I'm not.  My 5 year old grandson has an i-pod, yes an i-pod.  That child can maneuver through that thing faster than I can maneuver through my phone.  I consider myself tech savvy but kids these days just seem to know a lot.  The thing is they can learn a lot from us grown ups and we can learn a lot from them.

Whenever my grandchildren ask questions I try to use that time as a way to teach them something new.  Often they simply want a one or two word answer as do most children but I still trudge onward into that teaching mode.  You should try it sometimes because, once in a while the child will become interested in what you're saying and truly listen.   Sometimes however my youngest grandchild will simply say, "OK, Gigi" and take off to his next adventure before I've finished the eloquent speech I had planned in my head.  

Many times I've heard the expression, "Children are like sponges."  And you know what, it's true; they soak up so much information whether good or bad.  That's why I like to talk to my grandchildren about everything; I don't want them to absorb false information or information that is too worldly for their age.  We've discussed manners, baseball, football, sewing, painting, drawing, washing hands, kindness, ethnicity and religion.  Children may not always be eager to listen but they're often eager to voice an opinion.  Ask them questions that can't be answered with a simple yes or no.  Give them  your undivided attention and truly listen.

Many years ago I worked in a day care and I listened carefully to the children when they talked.  Their simple wording or emphasis on words could give you an insight into their home life, or their personality.  Below are a few of the conversations I remember well.

One day in my classroom of 2 year old children I thought it'd be nice to make Mother's Day cards by having each child comment on "What is a mommy?".   We sat in our circle and I asked each child one by one and wrote their answer on a piece of construction paper along with their name for them to color later in the day.  Below are a couple of the responses I got when I asked my students, "What is a mommy?".
LJ:  She grows (I found out her mom was having another baby)
AM: She cooks, (me: What does she cook?)  AM: Soup & crackers (perhaps mommy isn't a gourmet cook or perhaps A.M. just likes soup and crackers)
That session went so well I decided to do it again for Father's Day.  However I got more than I bargained for that time. Below are some of the responses I got from that day.
My question was, "What is a Daddy?"
KJ:  He takes a sh*t. (I was shocked and my knee-jerk reaction was, "WHAT?"  KJ, kindly repeated the answer as I tried in a flustered manner to change the direction of the conversation.) It was obvious that KJ had picked up Daddy's term for bathroom activity.
KC: He beats snakes and he beats em real hard!  (I found out that KC's daddy had recently killed a snake at grandma's house.)
WG: He takes me to the car wash (WG said this because it was actually her favorite place to go at that age.)
Sometimes our children or grandchildren discern who we are by what we do, what we say or where we go.

My husband recently rededicated his life to the Lord and has stopped cursing.  While my youngest grandson was riding in his truck with him a few weeks ago he turned to my husband and said, "Granddaddy, you haven't said a cuss word in a long, long, long, long time."  Children listen and watch all the time even if they don't tell us so.

Be careful little ears what you hear (Be careful big mouths what you say.)  Be careful little eyes what you see. (Be careful big people what you do.)  Because the Lord up above is looking down below.  And children will repeat what they hear and what they see. whether good or bad.


Monday, January 27, 2014


Beauty is not simply the outer shell; it goes deep within to the very soul.  Social media and most of society has taught us that we must look a certain way, dress a certain way or speak a certain way to be considered beautiful.  Why should we accept the opinion or standard of a few select people to define beauty?

For most of my life I've had a complex about my body.  In the fourth grade I began to develop more than most of the girls my age and it made me feel a bit awkward.  I didn't know how to tell my mother and I didn't know what to say when other girls made comments about my size.  By the sixth grade I was taller than many of the girls and some of the boys.  There was one girl in my class and I thought she was so pretty and well dressed and carried herself so well.  It seemed everyone just adored her.  But one day as we sat together talking about "girly" things she asked to see my fingernails.  When I held out my hands her response was. "Ewww, you bite your nails!  My mom says that you're a tomboy if you do that."  I was horrified and heartbroken.  Her comment caused a lifetime of bad feelings for me.

My daddy was often making comments like; "You're not fat, you're just pleasingly plump," or no guy likes a fat girl.  One night when I was about 14 or 15, I was sitting on the sofa and my daddy told me, "Girl you've got ham hocks big enough to feed a family.  I was crushed.  I didn't realize I was that big.  So I began dieting, an extreme diet of boiled eggs and lemons.  I drank lots of water too.  I lost quite a bit of weight but, the diet took a toll on my body causing me to become anemic and weak.  I fainted before school one morning.  

Once I had lost the weight and was able to keep it off my daddy started telling me how "Guys don't want a bag of bones to hold, they want a girl with some meat on her bones."  He criticized the way I wore my hair, the way I ate, the way I walked and the clothes I wore.  My self esteem was so low I could never think of myself as pretty much less beautiful.

To this day I can't find beauty in myself.  I'm ashamed of my body even more now than ever.  I've been guilty of making negative comments about myself in front of my children and even my grandchildren.  I realize what a mistake this is and I hope I can rectify it before any more damage is done.

Parents let your children find their own beauty and build up their confidence.  It's our job to encourage them to grow and become confident.  Go to www.dove.com and watch their videos and read about their statements and view their mission to encourage women to find their beauty.             LOVE YOURSELF

Friday, January 24, 2014

Missed chances

Today I found out that a childhood friend went to hospice.  It tugged at my heart.  I've missed another opportunity to be a friend and to have a friend.  It's sad that life is slipping pass me while I wallow in self deprecation or self pity or whatever you want to call it.  I've let people down, I've cut off friendships and other relationships and I have no one to blame but myself.

Nearly 5 years ago I was happy to get dressed up, put on make-up, and style my hair.  I was happy to get up and go to work; I enjoyed my job.  I loved working for the University and I enjoyed the atmosphere.  I enjoyed taking classes and learning more and more. I enjoyed going out to shop or watch my grandkids play baseball or softball.  But all of that's changed now.   Tonight, I used the excuse that the weather is just too cold for me to get out simply because I didn't want to get dressed and style my hair.  It is extremely cold but I realized too late that I wanted to go.  I wouldn't have time to shower, dress and do all the girly things I once enjoyed doing for myself.  I cried because I've let yet another opportunity slip by.

I keep telling myself, I'll ask my high school friends over.  But I continue to find excuses; the carpet's too dirty, my furniture isn't good enough, or I'm too fat, I'll ask them after I loose some weight.  But I know in my heart, I'm not going to loose the weight anytime soon and I'm not going to get the carpet cleaned anytime soon.   So what is the real reason I don't ask them to visit?  It's selfishness.  Plain and simple I've become too selfish to share my time with others.  I'm ashamed to say it but I simply didn't want to go that extra step to be a good friend.  

Now here I sit 58 years old and feeling a bit lonely.  Sure I have family and they are important but I don't know if I have a true friend.  I don't know if I have one female in my life who considers me a true friend.  Is there one person out there who can call me anytime of the day or night to tell me her fears, her joys, her goals, her hopes and dreams?  Is there anyone out there who knows that she can depend on me to offer her comfort, prayer or support?  I think not.  But, I have no one to blame except myself.

Tonight as I reflect upon the sad news about my childhood friend and remember her kindness to me in younger years I hope I have the courage and strength to change my life.  I want to be a friend so I will have a friend. May this be the night my life changes, may this be the night I stop making excuses and stop being so selfish.  

Rest peacefully MKS