I’ve been doing a lot of research on the pros and cons of sending kids back to school. There are a lot of different opinions out there. Depending on who the opinion is from, sending kids back to school is either imperative or tantamount to child abuse. Even the medical community doesn’t have a consistent message.
There are a lot of competing factors: parents who need to work or just need a break from their kids yet wanting to keep their kids safe; teachers who need to work but worry about their own health and that of their families; administrators who aren’t getting any guidance now suddenly tasked with making these life or death decisions; and of course, politicians who have their own agendas. The most conflicting discussions are the ones debating the importance of children’s physical health versus their emotional/social health.
Why do we have to chose?
These thorny, convoluted questions have made a bramble of my mind. But one thing I am sure of – we will never be able to go back to how life was before.
Peter looked at the crumbling foundation of his house. Just yesterday he had completed all four walls. He had left the worksite proud of his accomplishment. This morning, his house was a mass of rocks. He sat down on what was once the front steps and picked up a stone. He laid his forehead on the jagged surface feeling the pricks on his skin and his pride. He breathed in and out and emitted a moan like an autumn wind high in the lonesome treetops. He continued to wail, not noticing the liquid splattering on the stone. “Why did you chose me?” his lament rose to the sky, as the September sun shone gently on his face, the wind now ruffling his hair. The sound of a jazz band slid into his ears. Peter felt the moan rise again, like he wanted somebody terrible.
I had listened to a talk about Simon Peter, the apostle who denied Jesus three times, yet was chosen to be the “rock on which He will build his church” this week. This talk focused on how Jesus often chose people, who were not perfect, to be leaders. It was only through the love of Jesus that these imperfect people were still able to lead. These leaders were humble, self-less, and motivated by a Higher Power and not by their own self-interest, greed, or pride. When they faltered, or when things went wrong, they turned to God for help, inviting God into their lives to fill the parts that are broken.
There are many theories about what makes a good leader, especially in the business world.These qualities include being a good listener, being compassionate, being a good communicator, being able to see the big picture. Unfortunately in our current political world, our leaders seem to be severely lacking. What about in our personal world?
I won’t go into the pros and cons of mask wearing here. It shouldn’t even be a matter of political beliefs. I will just point out that comic book superheroes wear masks to protect their loved ones. And our health care heroes definitely wear masks.
There’s no need to read between the lines – right now, when you’re leaving your house, everyone should just wear a mask!
Another beautiful prompt from Sadje’s “What do you see?” #38. This one has a Merlin/Harry Potter feel to it, but for me, it spoke more in terms of the “Ivory Tower” and thinking of the disconnect between those making the rules and those who have to enforce the rules and the those who are meant to follow the rules. So often, those three groups are not the same people.
As a social worker, one of the first things that I learned is to “start where the client is,” meaning that people are the experts of their life and that in order to effect change, we need the input of our clients as well as their buy-in to what that change will be. It can’t just be me/the therapist making rules that I expect my client to follow. Good therapy means that the client makes their own rules, enforces these rules and (because they made it themselves), follow these rules to make improvements in their lives.
On a macro level, it always amazes me to see how many systems don’t follow this format. For example, all the men who are making rules about what women a can and can’t do with our bodies or all the non-teachers who are deciding what whether or not to re-open schools during the pandemic. I see this happening on a personal level with my children’s school where the administration is making plans for re-opening without consulting teachers or parents/families regarding needs and concerns.
When will we require our leaders, the rule makers in our lives, to come down from their ivory tower and bear witness?
It is 1 AM where I am and I’ve been thinking all week about Patrick’s Pic and a Word Challenge #239 – Winding. I was just about to give up when this little cinquain popped into my head. I love playing with words and sounds and the “W” sound in winding, whining, winning and winging, made me happy. Also – all those W words have all the same letters except for one! I’m sure there’s a lesson somewhere in there about perspective and mindset (how changing one thing can change the whole meaning, etc.) but we won’t get into that today.
If you haven’t noticed from my previous posts, being a parent in the middle of a pandemic is HARD! However, there are days that feel less hard and there are also days that feel incredible.
Today was a less hard day.
As I look at my “To Do” list for this coming week (reading blog posts and responding to comments are on there!), I was reminded by my Papa, that I’m doing the best I can. My kids are doing the best they can. We all are doing the best we can with the resources and information that we have.
This cinquain was written for Sadje’s “What do you see?” picture prompt. This is the first cinquain that I’ve written. Like haiku and other forms that have a syllabic structure, I was really drawn to the challenge!
When I saw this picture, I was reminded of the Bible verse, Matthew Ch. 6, verses 25-34. Truthfully, this verse has been on my mind a lot. It’s mid-July and our school hasn’t said anything about what their plans are going to be for the fall. Are they going to have in-person classes? If so, what are the plans for preventing the spread of the coronavirus? What will they do if a child or teacher gets infected? If they decide to not have in-person classes, how will they structure virtual classes? Since I am not working outside the house, having to “homeschool” the kids won’t be that difficult of an adjustment, however, I know my kids miss the social aspect of going to school.
There have been so many unknowns in terms of what to do to mitigate the effects of this pandemic. The lack of leadership in the USA, coupled with the lack of compassion and long-term thinking of the population has made this worrisome time even more so. None of the articles that I have read and none of the experts I have listened to have given me any insight into what to do to keep my kids safe when school starts in the fall.
I hate feeling helpless. I don’t want to feel hopeless.
So, I’ve been praying – which doesn’t help with coming up with a solution, but it does help relieve some of my anxiety. Oh, to be a hummingbird, right now!
This week, my Honey and I celebrated 18 years of wedded “bliss”! Yes, “bliss” is in quotes because like any other couple, we have had our ups and downs. But dealing with this pandemic as a couple and as a family has shown us that we are pretty well matched.
We celebrated by enlisting my parents to watch the kids while we went on a hike. What would have usually been an easy date night turned into a lesson on risk taking and selflessness (or maybe it was selfishness?). We hadn’t seen my parents since the shelter in place back in March so my kids were ecstatic to spend some time with them. Of course, we went through the pros and cons of whether to allow physical contact, use masks, etc. Sigh. There was no right answer, only love and prayers as we left the house for a few hours.
We took two short hikes – one a sun-filled trail that ended by a man-made lake surrounded by fields. The area is protected land for birds and other wildlife. A groundhog crossed our path as well as two beautiful iridescent blue birds who didn’t even move from their perch when we passed. The second hike was in a park in the middle of the city – a hidden gem that had well-marked hiking trails that traversed up and around a wooded hill and an unmarked trail that led down and long the river. We ended up getting lost and reluctantly had to use our cell phone map to guide us back to the car. An adventure with my Honey – fun and excitement for me (“We’re not lost, we’re exploring!”), exasperating for him (“Let’s use the GPS already!”), but overall we had a wonderful afternoon!
It was great to be able to “escape” for awhile – no work, no kids, minimal thoughts of the pandemic. We went during the week so the trails were pretty empty – no need for masks or social distancing. We didn’t go out to eat at a fancy restaurant which is our usual anniversary outing, but spending time together, in nature, breathing fresh air and feeling the sun on our skin was refreshing, healing and connecting.
Here’s to another year with my Honey and wherever our path takes us.
My ignorance would call me explorer, pioneer, pilgrim
But what would the inhabitants put on my headstone?
So how can a traveler earn a good name
When going on a long awaited expedition?
My traveling advice is simple yet hard
Check your behavior and not your intention.
This week, Patrick’s Pic and a Word Challenge #238 – Vagabond has a new twist! He has introduced the Thesaurus Game rules, where instead of using the actual word prompt, you use a synonym of that word. Well, I went a little overboard with the synonyms (what can I say, I’m a competitive over-achiever deep down inside!) and I might have snuck in a little bit of social commentary in there (not quite against the rules, but toeing the line), but I did have fun writing this poem!
I love word play – whether it’s a game with words, like Scrabble or Bananagrams, or puns or any other wittiness that involves words. Growing up, I had an old Pringles can that I covered with white paper. Anytime I learned a new word, I would write it on that can. I had a dictionary and thesaurus by the can and would try to use the new word or a synonym or antonym at least seven times before I could check it off and claim it as “Mine”.
My love of words lead me to wanting my kids to also have a love of words. To make sure they had good vocabulary, I never talked to them in baby talk. I read to them when they were still in the womb. I explained and defined words for them. I made sure to pronounce words clearly and concisely. I think my efforts lead to having very articulate children – which has it’s positives and negatives. While my kids all love to talk, I have one who reads a lot but struggles with spelling and vocabulary and one who doesn’t want to read or write at all (despite being able to). This boggles my mind as these are the things I love!
I also wanted to make sure my kids had a chance to travel and really wanted to instill in them a love of travel. The picture above is from our cross-country trip four years ago. It’s one of my favorite memories of all time. The excitement of traveling made the trip easy. We didn’t use any electronics during the drive; instead, we relied on “old fashioned” games like I Spy, Car Bingo and of course, Looking Out the Window.
Driving across the United States, I was amazed at how the landscape changed from arid deserts to tree topped mountains, from boring straight line roads to stomach churning curvy roads. I loved the wide open spaces and imagined how it would have been to experience these places before an interstate highway and concrete cities were built. These thoughts lead to the heartache of accepting the fact that Native Americans were forced off the lands that we were traveling through. While I can enjoy the view of these majestic landscapes, Native Americans might feel differently, acknowledging the trauma and loss they suffered so we can travel in comfort.
The United States of America is a land of contradictions – it stands for the highest ideals of what people can accomplish yet cowers to protect and hide the basest behaviors perpetrated by these same people. Can I love the physical beauty of it’s landscape while also mourning the cost of being able to experience that beauty? Can I advocate for Black lives while still supporting police officers? Can I experience racist micro-aggressions yet still wish my neighbor a good morning? As a traveler, an immigrant to this country, I would like to answer with a hopeful, “Yes”.
But I can’t be responsible, if I don’t have a clue
This poem was written for Sadje’s “What do you see?” Picture Prompt #36. I thought this was an excellent picture as there are so many interpretations as evidenced by the numerous writers and poets who submitted their verses for this prompt.
I originally started this poem and thought it would be about love, how love changes your life, adding color and vibrancy that would be gone once that love is gone. Basically, how it felt when Elvio told me was taking Sally to the 8th grade dance instead of me.
But as I wrote and edited and wrote some more…and as I read and thought about the 4th of July celebrations this weekend… another thought manifested itself into the poem.
There are people who would rather not know what is happening in the world – if it doesn’t affect them, it’s not on their radar. Sometimes they focus on other things in their life. Sometimes they think “ignorance is bliss.” Sometimes they know, yet still chose to ignore.
Our world is filled with so many different colors and shades and hues! We can chose to notice them and marvel at their beauty. Or we can chose to ignore them and live monochromatically. If we chose the latter, what would we be missing?
“The world will not be destroyed by those who do evil, but by those who watch them without doing anything.” – Albert Einstein
Note; Apologies to any readers who may be color blind and who might have been hurt/insulted by this post. My metaphor above pertains to race/ethnicity and to nature. In no way do I mean to suggest that people without the physical capacity to see color perpetuate racism or that they are unable to experience the fullness life.