Archive for June, 2009

“That Damn Yankee”

June 30, 2009

DSC_5802Some of you may remember me talking about Yankee, our little black quarter horse.  Well, his register name “That Damn Yankee” now seems to be even more appropriate.

When we first got Yankee, we found that he had some rather frightening habits.  I can remember the trainer we used calling me just after we got him and telling me.  “I’m going to kill your horse!”  She wasn’t serious of course, but she was truly upset.  You see, Yankee had some stall issues.  If he was in his stall, and you, or anyone, went in to get him, he would do several things.  He would pin his ears back (a really bad sign), turn his back end to you (an equally bad sign), and then spin around so that his back end was always pointed in your direction (a potential sign or things to come, ie. a good kick in the gut!)  The first time I walked into the stall with him he did the same thing.  I of course, being the person who feels the need to fix things, decided to try some of the “horse whisperers” techniques I’d seen in a movie!  I turned my back to him and stood by the stall door.  I was amazed when it worked.  Yankee turned towards me and eventually let me approach him.  Wow, I’m a miracle worker.  Not really, but it did help me to realize that I didn’t have to be afraid of Yankee no matter how scary he acted.  Mrs. Hernandez can attest to that.  I think she would have dragged me out of Yankee’s stall (if she hadn’t been too afraid) the first time she saw me go in.  What I eventually deduced was that Yankee was trying to hide when a person approached him in the stall, He wasn’t actually turning his back to you in order to kick you, he was turning his face away from you in a effort to disappear, (if he can’t see you, then you must not be able to see him.)

The situation became even worse when our trainer let Yankee out in a paddock.  I arrived at the barn and the first thing the trainer said to me was “Go catch your horse!”  You see, once Yankee was let out of his stall, the last thing he wanted was to go back in!  I could have bribed him with a bucket of carrots and he wouldn’t have gotten close enough for anyone to catch him.  We eventually had to literally corral him into a corner to catch him.  This led to Yankee not being allowed out of his stall unless it was for exercise or riding.

Something had happened to Yankee that made him this way, and it probably happened in a stall.  Maybe he was beaten, or abused in some other way that made him behave this way.  His anger, or fear ended up making his life a lot more restricted than all the other horses at the barn.  He never got to go out and just run, or feel free.

Eventually Yankee seemed to get over the bad habits when we moved him to a new barn.  He was still afraid when someone walked up to him with something in their hands (camera, hat, etc.) but he would go into his stall at feeding time, and he would let you walk into the stall without acting like he was going to try to kick the crap out of you.  DSC_3213

Things got even better when we brought him to our new house.  There were no stalls, and Yankee got to run free with our other two horses.  He became the sweetest animal.  He would be the first horse to come to you.  He’d lick your hand, and follow you around.  Things were going great, until we realized that Yankee was losing weight because Ben, our bully horse, was not allowing Yankee to eat all his feed.

We decided to build a stall for Yankee to eat in.  This would keep Ben from pushing him away from his food.  Yankee could eat in peace.  Unfortunately, it has also brought out Yankee’s bad habits again.  Last night, we went out to feed the horses, and spray them with fly spray to keep the flies from biting them.  (Flies attack a horses eyes, and can cause a lot of pain and problems.)  Yankee would not let us catch him to put the fly spray on.  My husband finally managed to get his arm around Yankees neck (an approach used to halter a horse,) but when he tried to lead him out of the stall, Yankee jerked so hard that he slammed my husband into the stall wall.  It was frightening,  Yankee weighs over 1000 lbs. and can do a lot of damage.  I decided to try to catch him.  I closed the stall door so he couldn’t get out and tried to approach him.  He turned his back to me.  This continued for several minutes.  I finally started purposely trying to shoe him away from me.  I stood along his side, and waved my arms at him.  We ended up going around in a comical circle for quite a while.  After this went on for several minutes, I simply stopped following him around.  This surprised Yankee, and he stopped spinning and turned to look at me.  It was then that he allowed me to approach him and attach a lead rope.

The lead rope seemed to be the key because Yankee allowed me to walk him out of the stall.  Our problems weren’t over though.  As soon as Jim (my husband) started to spray him with the fly spray, Yankee tried to bolt, jerking the lead rope almost out of my hand.  I was able to hold him but at the expense of some considerable pain in my hand.

Afterwards, Jim and I talked about what had happened.  He told me that when I was in the stall alone with him.  He was imagining how he would get me out if Yankee attacked and hurt me.  He was seriously afraid for me.  I think that Jim is very close to being ready to get rid of Yankee.  I have a hard time thinking about that.  What might happen to this sweet horse if he gets into the hands of someone who thinks that beating a horse is the way to make a horse behave.  Believe me, there are many people out there that would do exactly that.

Yankee definitely has some serious issues.  Where those issues started I can only assume.  Unfortunately, the habits he has developed as a result of those issues, may become his biggest down fall.  Jim and I were really trying to help him last night with the fly spray, but Yankee’s fear and anger almost kept us from doing that.  That same fear and anger may force us to give him up.  Something I really don’t want to have to do. DSC_3232

Kids, the same type of thing can happen to some of you.  Fear and anger can lead to some very bad habits.  Those habits can keep you from some of the good things that might come.  We were trying to help Yankee, make his life better, but he was too afraid/angry to let us.  I’ve seen that same thing in some of you.  You won’t listen even when someone is trying to make things easier for you.  You don’t trust adults enough to let them lead you in a positive direction.  Your anger, fear, and bad habits push away the very people who could do you the most good.  Most adults want to help make your life the best it can be.  Give us the chance to do that.

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Michael Jackson

June 27, 2009

I can’t begin to fully understand the childhood of Michael Jackson, but I can imagine what it might have been like.  I picture a very young boy with amazing highs and terrible lows.  There would have been times when he felt like he was on top of the world, and times when he felt like he was stuck alone in a locked closet.

I grew up with Michael Jackson.  Now don’t misunderstand me, I didn’t personally know him, I was born just a few months before him, and grew up during the same time.  I would have never been allowed to invite him to my home.  Two things would have kept me from having him over; one of course would have been his fame, the other unfortunately would have been the fact that he was black.  In the 60’s, at least in the south, blacks and whites did not have much of a social interaction.    Was it the same where Michael lived and worked?  Was it ok for him to make money for a group of white men, but not ok for him to go to their kid’s birthday party?  Every child has limitations on the friends they make because of where they live, and their social status.  How limited was the young Michael Jackson?  Could he have realistically had any real friends?

I imagine that a pop star has to stay in the spotlight to maintain his or her status in that world.  It’s a competitive market and hard work, constant traveling, and overwhelming pressure must be all a part of daily life.  Michael Jackson was in elementary school when he was immersed in that life.  He once said in an interview that he loved performing.  He was the center of his world when he performed.  Thousands of people wanted to be with him, touch him, be a part of his life.  It’s no wonder he felt on top of the world.  But, what about when he wasn’t performing.  He still had to work.  He still had to practice, record, learn new things.  Who was sharing that time with him?

Michael Jackson lived an adult life before he had the chance to learn how to be an adult.  He didn’t have the opportunity to be a child, and being a child is how you learn how to be an adult.  That’s the time you learn how to interact with others.  It’s when you learn what works and doesn’t work in social situations.  Mistakes are constantly made by children and the lessons learned during childhood are very important.  They are also excusable.  A child can make a bad choice, and the only excuse he or she needs is that they’re too young to understand their actions.  Michael Jackson didn’t get the chance to learn those childhood lessons, at least not during his younger years.

It seems pretty clear that Michael tried to become the child he was never allowed to be after he was old enough to control the life he lived.  He created Neverland.  A place where kids would, and to some extent did, enjoy being.  He was able to finally play with kids.  Unfortunately, kids playing with kids is seen as perfectly acceptable, even good for them.  An adult man playing with kids (with the adult acting like a kid) is not.  Sleepovers are always suspect.  Two ten year old boys sleeping in the same bed during a sleepover is perfectly normal.  A man and a ten year old sleeping in the same bed is taboo.  A ten year old boy who can’t wait to get outside and play with his friends is normal.  A man who can’t wait to get out and play with a group of children is seen as disturbed.  No matter how hard he might have tried, Michael Jackson could not relive the childhood he missed.

If, Michaels interactions with children when he was an adult was as innocent as he professed, then I can only imagine the horror and pain he must have gone through when he was accused of so many ugly things.  If, as an adult, he finally became the child he was never allowed to be, then the world’s reaction to his actions was totally unfair and cruel.  He was attacked for things that would seem normal in a child.  He was targeted for things that any child could have done.  Did he finally get to experience childhood, only to have the world, who had once idolized him,  make him some type of monster?

Teen Sex

June 21, 2009

Sex is a natural process that every animal is driven by in order for the species to survive.  This is one of the reasons why teen sex is so prevalent.  That drive can make teen sex difficult to refrain from, especially for teenage boys.  They can become obsessed with thoughts of sex, and emotions can be completely out of the picture.  The same is not always true for girls.  Girls tend to see sex as a form of commitment and love.   This difference can and does lead to a lot of pain, anguish, and feelings of low self esteem, especially in young girls.

Whether we want to admit it or not, there is a different standard for boys and girls where sex is concerned.  A boy with experience may be seen as acceptable.  A girl with a lot of experience is seen very differently.  Think about the slang words used for boys who are experienced; stud, stallion, player, they are all words with a positive connotation.  Now, think about what a girl with a lot of experience might be called; slut, whore, tramp; all words with a very negative connotation.  Teenage boys might appreciate being label one of the slang words attributed to them, but I can’t imagine any teenage girl feeling the same about the slang associated with them.

So many teenage girls have self esteem problems.  For some, sex becomes a way of proving their worth.  Girls associate sex with the word “love”.  They assume that teenage boys have those same feelings.  That may be true in some cases, but by no means most.  A teenage girl may believe that if a guy wants to have sex with them, then the guy must have feelings of love for them.  If someone loves them, then they are worthy, good, popular, etc.  The teenage boy can see it very differently.  They may simply see an opportunity to do something they want.  The feelings and emotions of the teenage girl may only be a means to an end for the teenage boy.  Those feelings become a lot less important after the boy gets what he wants.  When that happens, the teenage boy will move on to “new” territory.  Leaving the girl to feel like they weren’t good enough, pretty enough, smart enough, or that they failed somehow.  An ugly and painful cycle can then start for the girl.  Her self worth can become even lower than before.  Finding someone who loves them becomes even more important and since sex is associated with love, then they have sex with a new boy.  If this happens over and over again, the girls since of self worth takes a beating.  Everyone she’s ever “been” with has left her.  She is a total failure, and now her reputation is shattered too.  Remember those slang words?  They become a description of who a young girl is.

The above scenario doesn’t have to be the case, but I’m afraid that it happens way too often.  There are so many different problems with teen sex; STD’s, teen pregnancy, long term physical and psychological damage.  Unfortunately, most of these things are most detrimental to the young teenage girl, and the girl is the one with the most power to control what happens to them.  Girls, you do have the ability to control how people see you, and who you become.  In order to do that, you have to understand the consequences of your actions.  Realize that sex is a physical drive that really doesn’t have to have any emotional connections for the teenage boy.  Realize that teenage sex with multiple partners can have both short and long term effects on you physically and psychologically.  Girls, know that it’s not your job to solve a guy’s problems through sex.  Instead, your biggest responsibility is making yourself happy, and finding yourself labeled in a derogatory way is NOT going to make you happy.  Finally, it’s never too late to become the person you want to be.  Don’t let sex become a part of who you are, and if you feel it already has, then know that you have the ability to take it out of the picture.

Another Year Gone

June 6, 2009

2008 03 03 Alix 013I had a really great last few days with you guys!  Hopefully I’ve taught you all a few things.  I know that I have learned a few things from you.  Even old ladies like me have a lot to learn.

Some of you surprised me the last day of school.  You made me feel like I was appreciated and will be remembered, and I can’t thank you enough for that!  Know that I will remember you too, (some more fondly than others:)

I’m counting on you to remember the “life lessons.”  Remember Andy and Wes, and Shelby.  Think before you treat driving like a game, or drugs like a safe choice.  Remember Cameron, don’t make fun of people, or bully people just because they’re different.  You don’t know what has made them that way, and you don’t know who you would be if you had lived their life.

Know that your parents love you even if they don’t act like it sometimes.  Respect them and realize that they are people too with their own problems and worries.  Try not to add too much to those worries.  When you do get into trouble, realize that the getting into trouble was your choice and only you can keep it from happening again.

Finally, remember that you guys are going to change a lot between now and adulthood.  The choices you make now may seem like the right ones at your age, but you may regret them when you are older.  I see the adults you can become.  You need to start “seeing” that person too.  Know that the things you do now are all a part of becoming that adult.  You can have fun, make mistakes, make and lose friends, even live through battles, and pain.  Just remember to learn from those things.  Become the adult you were meant to be.

  1. No matter how bad things seem, they always get better.
  2. Anger is the worst emotion you can hang on to.  It hurts you more than it ever hurts the one you’re angry at.
  3. Don’t expect other people to make you happy.  That’s up to you, so do things that make you feel good about yourself.
  4. Don’t hate someone, instead be glad you’re not them.
  5. Surprise people in you life with kindness.  You’ll get more from that than they do.

I’ll miss you guys!