the struggle is real

Injuries can be very frustrating.  Whenever I feel the first bit of pain, I tell myself I need to just run through it…it will pass.  When it does not pass, I tell myself…you just need to stretch better.  Next, I tell myself…you just need more ice and some ibuprofen.  This cycle of pain and mental struggle continues for this runner for weeks before I ever consider that there may actually be an injury.  I mean, suck it up, right?

Well, I recently had a hard landing on an obstacle course rope swing.  So stupid.  I simply did not realize the earth was so close and my feet hit before I was ready for them to hit.  The left one hit first, then the right – and my knees bent a way in which God did not really intend.  I did not realize it, but I had just won a slight sprain in the left and deep bone bruise in the right.  Of course, it will be almost 2 months before I get that information.  I assume I need to just “walk it off”.   In fact, that very day,  I then proceeded to repel down a 50 foot wall and continued to walk for hours.

Fast forward two weeks or so.  I am teaching, coaching track, and still trying to run periodically.  My husband counts on me for his workouts.  He doesn’t like to run alone.  I even wrote about what I was experiencing here, so I will not rewrite it.  I will tell you that I thought I was just still recovering from my marathon.

Finally, after 3 weeks of rest and the pain not really going anywhere – I went to see an Orthopedic Surgeon.  At this point, the team trainer fell rather confident that I had torn my meniscus.  After x-rays and an exam, the Dr. felt that was a rather good assumption.  “Let’s get the MRI to be sure and I can do the procedure on Friday.”  (you see, I was pushing for him to go through the process quickly because … well…do I need to explain that?)  When I went back in on Thursday, expecting to get prepped for a procedure on Friday – I mean, I even already took the day off – he told me the actual diagnosis – deep bone bruise.  I sat in shock – all of this for a bruise?  “What kind of wuss am I?”  I asked him.  He assured me that I was no wuss  and that I had a very serious injury of the right tibia.  Unfortunately, no quick fix – more rest, then, more rest.  UGH.

So, I am very grateful that I do not, in fact, have to have surgery.  I am also glad to know that I was not setting some kind of record in the marathon recovery time needed department.  My third blessing here is that I had a team trainer that took great care of me and sent me to the doctor.  I would have NEVER gone to the doctor on my own – such is my suck it up nature.

Before the diagnosis I had set the goal to run my next marathon on October 31st.  He said that he felt I should still be able to meet this goal.  I will keep you posted.

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274593211-running

 

the few…the proud…the incredibly sore

Educator’s Workshop at Paris Island March 1-4, 2016 for the Recruiting Station of Columbia, South Carolina…holy cow…what an amazing experience.  The sign that speaks 2016-03-03 07.20.02 (2)the mission of the base really says it all.  “We Make Marines”

My participation in this workshop tops the list of professional development experiences and learning  about what I can do to help young people to find their paths, wherever they may lead.2016-03-01 15.26.41

Our group of 30 educators stayed in Beaufort and traveled to the base daily.  We met Marines and recruits and learned what it takes to be a US Marine.  We also were able to experience shooting the M 16, repelling down a 50 foot wall, running the obstacle course, and of course, visiting the pit.

The PIT – a sandy spot that looks like it is ready for a beach volleyball game, but I assure you this is not a fun spot.  PIT, I believe stands for “personal incentive training”.  Now, I don’t know if that is an official breakdown or one of affection.  I know we all thought that some “personal incentive training” could be very effective in our classrooms.

The repel wall… one marine at the top and one at the bottom.  These 2 men are there to make sure you go down safely.  You could pass out and drop and still be lowered without harm.  This did not assuage my fear AT ALL!   So, here is the whole story.  When we first arrived, they put us in formation and said “those that have no intention of repelling please go to the back fence”.  I did not move.  I was in.  The instructor explained what was going to happen and told us to go get our gear.  I walked with the group, but in the room with the gear – I bailed.  I came out empty handed…I just could not do it.  My fear of heights was going to win today.

2016-03-03 09.51.43The Marines that we were working with over the course of the 4 days expressed their dismay as I passed by to join the non-participants.  I stood to the side for the 20 minute preparations of the group – anger growing and frustration brewing.  Not only was I battling my fear of heights, but I had just hurt my knee on the obstacle course (read about that here).  Still, I could not take it any longer and I walked up to my Drill Instructor and said “I don’t want to wuss out – is it too late?”  No it was not.  They went and got gear and got me ready in 60 seconds flat.  As I climbed the stairs the shaking began.  I tried not to think about it as I watched educator after educator disappear over the side.  It was finally my turn.

Marine number 1 hooked me up, told me to step back, and then, just lean back.  I tried and tried.  We were to put our heals over the edge – half on, half off sort of thing.  And then, keep legs straight and do a trust fall – 50 feet in the air – with the guy that is going to “catch” you 50 feet below.  I kept staring into the eyes of Marine number one and listening to the voices of those below – trying to distinguish  that of Marine number two.  I had my first heal over the edge.  As I tried to inch my other foot back, I rocked back and forth, left to right, not really making any progress.  As the anxiety level rose, I had to step from the edge completely again.  UGH!  I repeated this twice.  Seriously?  I was so frustrated that I could not overcome this.  I wanted it so badly!  My Marine was so patient and so good and calming a woman on the edge.

Again, I get my right heel over the edge.  “Now, just move your left foot,” he said.  Sure.     “I’m trying!”  I screamed.  Mental note – do not piss off the Marine holding the rope.   Deep breath.  Finally, I edged the foot back and he said , “you are there – now just lean back.” and in one fell swoop I dropped over the edge.  The exhilaration at all time high in this 46-year-old life – I made it half way down the wall before they stopped me.  My fingers were dangerously close to the rig and we needed to reposition before they lowered me the rest of the way.  Whew.  When I hit the ground it was hard to even think straight because the adrenaline was so high.  I do remember, however, giving a great big hug to Marine number two.

2016-03-03 14.14.57-2

I can see why they make recruits to this.  A trust and confidence builder for sure.  I am so grateful for the experience and to two very special Marines that I will never forget.

Batter up!

I just sat through the first scrimmage of our girls softball team for this season and boy was it cold!   So, after coaching track and going on a run with my husband, the weather seemed tolerable enough – oh no — no, no.  The lack of clothing on my body and the failure to stretch after my run, and the (what felt like) 20 degree drop – not a good combo – I have some tight muscles!

Anyway, I enjoy going to the sporting events of my students.  I try so hard so go at least once every season to every sport.  My goal is 2-3, but sometimes I just cannot make that happen.

As I looked at the softball team tonight I realized I either currently teach or have taught every girl on the team, by far the highest volume of students of any sport.  And, although my fingers maintain little feeling still as I type this post – my pride for these girls knows no bounds.  Although I left after 2 hours and they still had more game to play, at one point they were down zero to 7.  They fought their way back to an 11-7 lead.  Nothing makes me more certain that I am in the right place when I see young folks rise above and conquer.  It had nothing to do with me – I was merely a spectator.  But, boy it felt good to see them fight and find that success.

I do not know at this time if they won the game, but they definitely won my heart (too much?).  Well  it’s true – and I know that I am a big sap!  If you get a chance to attend a sporting event at a local high school I encourage you to take it.  These kids work tirelessly at their sport.  We often hear comments like “this generation is so lazy”, “these kids are so entitled”, “no one wants to work for anything anymore”.  But these kids go to school all day, maintain their grades with homework (sometimes hours), and practice every single day for 2 hours after school – not to mention friends, jobs and chores.  And yes, I put friends on the list because, let’s face it, relationships of all kinds are work.  These kids work hard. These kids have drive.  I was so tired after work today…but then I just remembered how tired my students must be, too – and so I go and sit in the cold.  Way to go girls!

***update – I wrote this a few days ago – the girls won the game.  I have since been to a few more games and they continue to thrive! Go Canes!

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the wrong kind of goodbye

As a teacher I am used to saying goodbye.  Students move in and out of the district, always coming and going.  Farewells naturally occur at the end of every school year as I pass along my little cherubs to the next lucky soul that gets to touch their lives. Often times I ignore my feelings of loss and try to focus on the next batch of students that lie in wait.  However, when I lose a student to death…well, that is just the wrong kind of goodbye.

I recently attended the funeral services of a sweet young lady named Danielle.  A senior at my high school, she had yet to see her 18th birthday, had yet to recieve her diploma, had yet to live her dreams.  I taught Danielle when she was a freshman and although there is a certain detachment that occurs between student and teacher when the student is no longer a regular in the classroom – there is always a connection as our life paths have crossed.

Filling the needs of students drives me as a teacher.  Sometimes I fill their minds with knowledge and growth.  Sometime I fill their heart with love and acceptance.  Sometimes I fill their bellies.  Sometimes, honestly, I don’t know what I am doing or if I am making a difference in their lives at all – but they always, always make a difference in mine.  I carry hope for all students that enter and leave my classroom that they live long lives, find joy and love, reach their goals, and live free from despair.  So, when I say goodbye to them because they move on to another grade – I never really say goodbye – until it’s the wrong kind of goodbye.

Danielle drove off the road and into some trees.  Two passengers also died.  One survived.  Danielle’s speed led to the accident and an unforgiving road on a sharp turn sealed her fate.  Our community loses too many young people to these roads.  We say too many of the wrong kind of goodbyes.  As I sat at her funeral service and looked at all of the beautiful flowers, I was surrounded by current and former students. Oddly, I focused on a wasp thavasflowers-colorful-sympathy-casket-spray_maxat had found his way into the chapel.  This wasp, rather than hovering on the mounds of colorful blooms that were gathered around the coffin, sputtered at the ceiling as if trying to escape the pain and suffering in the room.  I remember thinking that his flight path was staggered and haphazard; misguided and misdirected – simply all over the place, as if a strong, shifiting wind kept him from going his intended direction. It seemed so symbolic of life sometimes.  Determined, however misguided, he pounded himself into the white ceiling again and again to no avail – no escape.  Eventually, he gave up and landed on the chandelier and remained motionless, as if he had found peace.  When the preacher began to speak I lost sight of the wasp as I focused on the words of the man.  Tears do not scare me, nor do I shy away from public displays of emotion, especially in a situation like this.  But, I was trying to be strong for the students around me.  So when I found myself overcome with emotion I searched for the wasp again in an attempt to distract myself. However, much to my disappointment, I could not find the wasp.  The wasp was gone.  The wasp had found his way out; he was free.  Right then, as my eyes swelled with tears, I realized that Danielle is also free.  She is free from all of this pain and suffering.  Her struggles have ended and she has found peace with her Savior. Still, I remain, looking at her grieving parents, and cannot help but feel that this is the wrong kind of goodbye.

When I returned home I did as expected – I hugged my chldren, cried into their shoulders, and told them that I love them.  I spoke to them about speeding and reckless decisions.  They are teenagers, afterall.  “Please don’t ever do that to me,” I told my son.  “I would be lost without you,” I told my daughter.  They heard my message; they felt my love and despair for Danielle and the wrong kind of goodbye.

 

**The featured photo is of a banner that the students signed as a way to help them greive and say goodbye to their friend, their classmate. Sadly, this has becomre tradition.

 

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Dear New Teachers:

Dear new teachers,

We need you.  This difficult job will reward you in many ways.  Please stick with it, even when  you want to quit – it does get easier.  Well, not easier, but you figure out how to be better at it and find balance.  Our nation faces a crisis in the classroom.  We need good teachers, like you.  Compassionate, giving, selfless, hard-working.  Go next door, to the next classroom and ask for help.  If you mistakenly entered the wrong room, the room where that negative energy resides – just go to the next door and keep going until you find the support that you need. Do not try to do it on your own.  Also, make yourself leave on time and do not take work home with you.  It will get done.  I promise.

We have all been there – have all felt overwhelmed and wanted to throw in the towel.  Keep at it.  You are valued.  You are needed.  You are our future.

Sincerely,

the nation

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Dear Social Engineers:

websterDear social engineers:  Dear manipulative members of society and micromanaging social climbers:

According to Merriam-Webster, social engineering is simply “the practice of making laws or using other methods to influence public opinion and solve social problems or improve social conditions.  [Also,] management of human beings in accordance with their place and function in society:  applied social science. Simplified even further by Urban Dictionary.com – “the attempt to control social behavior”.   And finally, on a digital security website we have “the art of manipulating people so they give up confidential information…exploiting your natural inclination to trust”.  But, my personal favorite: “the art and science of human manipulation”.  WOW.Puppet-On-A-String

I wonder how this very volatile phrase has morphed and has been trivialized to mean controlled and purposeful manipulation of a child’s life by a parent, as he or she tries to improve his or her own social status through the life, friends, and activities of the child.

While I appreciate that the human condition lends itself towards selfish behavior, wrapping others up in one’s own twisted reality of an imaginary hierarchical realm really depletes my life force.  Fake friendships and phony smiles – simply exhausting.  Please exclude me because I choose to be excluded, not because I have succumbed to the inane attempts to make me feel lesser.  And while I understand the parental right to protect one’s child from hurtful relationships and detrimental environments, I will never reconcile the vicarious living that occurs through the lives of children by their parents as anything but sad.  Furthermore, I do understand that society has classes and that in every scenario there is a pecking order.  However, it seems the reality of the order, often disputed or unclear, remains abstract and truly unimportant when considering other human beings.  As I teach in my classroom, I will continue to see individuals and not members of cliques.  I will continue to exhaust myself to make the invisible child visible to all.

social engineeringSo please back up and look at the big picture.  Please stop “managing human beings in accordance with” YOUR idea of THEIR place and function in YOUR life.  If you want to bring about improved social conditions for everyone, your child included, simply treat the world and individuals in it as though they all matter.  Please stop trying to micro-managing the lives of others and get one of your own.  You will be a much happier person.  Thank you.

Sincerely,

Everyone.

 

 

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Slushie to the face!

Wow – what a way to end a brutal 10 work hour day.  Tonight after a day of teaching, an afternoon of coaching, and an evening of parenting teenagers – my other half seemed to be having some philosophical questions as to the purpose, and perhaps futility, of parenting and vented them my way:  “What does it matter?  They are just going to do whatever they want when they get out on their own.  None of this matters – they are who they are.”  That was the gist.

My insides kind of imploded as I tried to understand the harsh feelings I was having in reaction to his comments.  Don’t get me wrong.  I, too, go to this dark place sometimes – wondering about the futility of it all…trying to train teach teenagers/children how to be responsible, productive citizens.  How to teach them to be kind, generous, honest, and humble (and how to write an outline).  I want them to learn how to take care of themselves without being selfish and I do my my very best to lead by example.   But today I sort of needed  a rock to lean on  when I got home, and instead, I got a slushie in the face.  All day today I stood in the library with high school students telling me that there were no books…that is a post for another day.

Now, I try to raise my students with all the love and patience I give my own children, but, of course, with the added dimension of trying to teach research skills and strategies – and boy do I fall short sometimes.

So – my husband did not say that I am worthless.  Not those words.  He is not responsible for my reaction to and interpretation of his words.  And when I told him what I was hearing…that my whole life has been dedicated to teaching and raising children on the premise that they can be nurtured and molded and he is telling me that it is all for nothing (ie I am worthless)…well… he felt badly and immediately stopped speaking,  gave me a hug, and told me he loved me.  He tried with all his might to fill the love bucket he had just accidentally kicked over.  he started laughing and went downstairs to bed. Ugh! Gracie!*

All people are the products of nature and nurture.  The two are forever entwined.  Some personalities clearly reside in nature and some abound with learned behaviors.  Some bad and some good.  If I did not believe in the effects of nurture I could not teach, nor would I have children.  However – I also believe that most kids people are average – and that is okay.  I do not need to raise the valedictorian, or the sport superstar, or the trophy winning whatever.  You don’t need to be the next President, you don’t need to make a million dollars, and you don’t need to be famous to live. Have aspirations – but be grounded.

I want my kids to know love, family, and hope.  I want them to know joy and have faith.  I want them to experience life and not fear it – even the bad parts.  I want them to find success – however it is defined.  If they do these things then, really, they will be anything but average.  As a parent, as a teacher – I can give them these things – show them how to find these things for themselves.  Maybe along the way I can teach them to read, write, and make an argument.  I have worth.  Indeed, I have worth.

*Gracie is the name that I gave my marriage years ago.  After having kids and realizing how much work motherhood is and what having a solid marriage requires, I decided to treat my marriage like one of my kids.  I try to give it just as much attention as the other kids demand.  It is easy to loose your spouse in the family,  put date nights off, and fail to connect as you push through raising those little cherubs.  By giving it a name – Gracie – it helps me to remember to treat my marriage with patience and love.  Tonight, Gracie is in a time out!

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***Update: My husband totally redeemed himself the next morning.  As I explained to him the day ahead included attending a softball game to watch my students play I followed it up with “I know, I know I could just say no”.  To which he replied as he made the bed, without missing a beat, and with nothing but compassion, love, and understanding in his voice, “no you can’t, that’s why you are a such a great teacher”.  What I heard:  What you do matters.

Successfully Setting Expectations for Group Travel

Group travel can be stressful when you are the one in charge of everyone having an enjoyable and positive experience – while staying in the group and remaining safe.  Most unhappiness in our lives comes from unmet expectations.  Sometimes that is because we did not know what to expect and we were left to our own limited experiences to set the level of expectation.  This is disastrous for group travel.  I do my very best to make expectations very clear before students and parents even enroll.  However, they need to hear them again and again – I promise.

I have three departure meetings for every trip.  These meetings serve several purposes.  First, the travelers begin to get comfortable with one another.  After all, it is going to be close quarters for about two weeks.  Second, the parents not traveling can begin to feel a little more comfortable about sending their student abroad – in their eyes alone.  Third, these meetings allow foparents late busr repetitive statements about the rules and consequences.  Fourth, multiple events still need to be decided upon as far as optional excursions, extensions and the like. They need to know they have a voice and are part of the decision making.  Fifth and final, all of the nuances of student group educational travel need to be addressed. (Like, early is on time, and on time is late.)

The two photos used in this post are of students and parents waiting outside of a Paris hotel for a bus that is over an hour late.  Preparing them ahead of time for such a possibility (of things sometimes go wrong) kept their attitudes positive and we all found a way to entertain ourselves while we waited.

The most important discussion I have with them is about the contagious attitudes of the group.  You can either choose to sit and nit pick every little thing, or you can find the beauty of everything around you, embrace the experience, and remain positive so that everyone can enjoy the trip.  Of course – I then point out that this a great way to live life, as well.   We had a choice – stand around and complain to one another about the wait – or make fun, unforgettable memories.

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Simply, love the child.

So, as District Teacher of the Year (DTOY) I was given several opportunities to address all the teachers in the district.  This particular occasion was the summer institute – the 2 first days of summer for the kids.  Every year these are optional staff development days immediately following the end of the school year.  Well, the second one is optional, and the first is required.  On one hand, the training provided can allow us to prepare for the following year with the new information/strategies/tech – whatever.  On the other hand, by the time the day comes the burnout rages through the crowd and enthusiasm remains elusive.  The purpose of this speech rests somewhere between inspiration, motivation, and exasperation.  With the 1:1 technology implementation at the end of its first year, teachers are ready for a break.  However, the theme of the event is transformation – not just using the tech in the classroom, but transforming the way we teach.  As you can imagine, the audience ranges from the technology proficient to the technology resistant to the straight up technology noncompliant.  After a year of mishaps, frustrations, network issues…and I am to bring them all together and motivate them to take the next step, now, on June 5th.  (deep sigh)

Our superintendent went about 20 minutes long – I was immediately told to cut mine short, the tech did not work right away for the next presentation (the technology department), several others spoke briefly.  It is unusual to have the DTOY speak at this event – so it was unexpected.  I was the last one on the stage, just when the whole group thought they were out of there.

Here is what I said:

Simply, love the child.

Good morning. So, today is about transformation. Wow, that can be a scary word because that means change. And what do we know about change? I know change can be downright horrifying. It can be exciting.  I know that sometimes trying to change the behaviors of others is like talking to a brick wall, right? We have all had those experiences.

But change from within – It takes effort. It takes risk. It takes perseverance. Change takes knowledge and learning, right? Well then – we’ve got this. Because I just describe the traits of every hard-working, life-long learning, stubborn teacher in this auditorium. We’ve got this – one step at time.

As you go through the next two days, feeling frazzled, overwhelmed, inspired, confused, enlightened, exhausted, satisfied, hopeful, and just plain tired…..just remember the reason you are here, the reason we are all here – and no I am not talking about your contractual obligation – I am talking about the child. We are here today and every day because we love the child. Now, I say child and not children because I want you to get a picture of one special child in your mind. That one child that you want to help or that you may have already helped. Take a moment to think about that one child you want so badly to reach – no matter how tired you are, no matter what new initiatives or new standards are thrown your way, no matter what extra duties you get at work or extra chores you get at home, no matter what the time or the date is – this child always stands out in your mind. This child may even haunt you.  Maybe you had him in class this year or maybe you are already anticipating him for next year. Perhaps you taught this child years ago – but he still haunts you. Keep that child in your mind as you go through the next 2 days and gain your motivation to transform and learn from him. One step at time.

You know, it takes a lot of energy and commitment to transform these little cherubs into productive citizens – from pre K to senior year – and to get them across that stage every year. And I am moved to tears every single year at graduation. High school teachers in the district are required to go to graduation. We may grumble about this that or the other about this requirement, but when it comes right down to it – that is the prize – seeing that child walk across that stage – I wouldn’t trade that for anything. It is a shame that every teacher, at every feeder school  does not get the opportunity to participate in graduation the way we do at the high school – to see that child cross the finish line. Now I am not recommending a change in policy – I am just trying to make a point. Each and every educator in this room had a hand in all of those success stories that I have had the privilege to witness and celebrate every year. So let me take a moment and say thank you. Thank you to all of you for giving me a better future. Thank you to all of you for transforming the child, that child in your mind, into a high school graduate and a productive member of our community – one step at a time.

So, over the next 2 days simply look within for your inspiration to change, to transform with this technology. You are all already able to inspire that transformation and change in the child. I believe the same power, the same energy will get you through these next two days and into the technology proficient classrooms of tomorrow – one step at a time. And if that can’t get you going, then just remember to simply love the child, as I know you do, and you will continue to accomplish great things.  Thank you and have a great day.

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Please Pull Up To The Cone.

Orange coneEach day on my morning drive I encounter three schools – elementary, middle, and high.  My commute spans four to twelve minutes, depending on the parents in the other cars.  The days of dropping off at the elementary school ended a few years ago.  I will save those days for another post.  Now, my youngest of three attends middle school.  I drive her to school mostly because of her large Baritone Saxophone that she carries back and forth to band and home.  Sometimes, it is so she can get there early to practice in the band room.

In the car circle at the middle school there is a very large, bright orange cone.  The simple, well established rule that we all learn during the first weeks of the sixth grade – pull up to the cone.  This very simple rule allows for the maximum number of cars to safely unload the precious little cherubs and keeps the line flowing at a tolerable pace. In the early part of the school year the administrator remains dutifully in the area, waving his arm, ensuring all parents learn the rule and all cars pull up to the cone.  This complex pull to the orange cone system has been in play for years at the elementary school, as Orange conewell.  So this concept should not be a shocker to anyone.

As the school year progresses the arm waver begins to disappear, leaving parents on their own to follow the rule.  Inevitably, parents fail to pull up to the orange cone in order to drop their own child off at the optimal point.  To be honest – the arm waver never really deterred the determined parents.  He served more as a reminder to those that try to do the right thing.  Clearly, not pulling up to the orange cone slows down the line, backing it up into the street, forcing unsafe traffic maneuvers by those not dropping off, and, quite frankly, takes a little more time off my life.  Rather than five or six cars unloading at once, only one or two let out their cargo before the line moves again.  This is not a new phenomena – parents thinking that their kids are too special to have to walk the ten to fifteen more paces than a less deserving child (see the aforementioned orange cone at the elementary school).

So why do we have rules?  Let’s go back to the basic of common courtesy.  Rules allow a society to function and exist.  At every school I see parents breaking the simple drop off rules for their particular school – and don’t even get me started on the chaos of daily pick up.  These are likely the same parents that get the email or phone call home that their entitled child cheated or cut class or hurt another child or was insubordinate….and they immediately take the side of the child, failing to even consider the ideas of integrity or honesty or true consequence.  Not only do these parents have the “not my child” attitude because they sit with blinders on, they also have the “my child is special and does not have to follow the rules attitude”.  After all, the rules are for the “lessers”.  Why should my child have to follow the rules?  They see me break the rules for them daily.  The rules clearly do not apply to us.

Orange cone

Similarly, why have rules in the house?  So kids know how to function within the parameters of the rules of society.  Life is not a free-for-all.  By not setting reasonable boundaries for kids and leading by good example – parents are setting their kids up for failure (or to be jerks).  True, there are successful liars and cheaters and jerks all over the world.  Everything in life is a trade off and I suppose, once again, it depends on perspective…what it means to be successful.  I want my kids to follow the rules, be considerate, have compassion.  I want my children to show empathy, help others, and be courteous.  I want my family to know love, security, and pride.  I do not want my children to think that the world owes them something.  I do not want my children to be entitled buttholes.

The demise of  our society begins at not pulling up to the orange cone. We teach our children through our actions.   We teach them humility and fairness, or we teach them entitlement. So I choose to pull up to the orange cone – every time – giant instrument and all.  She will survive walking the extra fifteen paces carrying that thing.  I promise.  This is why I pull up to the orange cone, every time – because it is such a simple and courteous rule to follow, to model for my daughter.  How could I expect my kids to follow the hard rules, if I can’t even follow such a simple one?  Pulling up to the cone shows my daughter that she is not the center of the universe; she is not entitled to any special treatment. Choose to pull up to the orange cone  – both literally and metaphorically – and teach children accountability, consideration, and humility.

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