Posts Tagged ‘life lessons’

Then, Now, and Later

May 24, 2009

DSC_6309Think back to when you were in early elementary school.   What got you excited?  Who were the most important people in your life?   What were your favorite foods/games/shows/things?  How did you feel about your parents; the opposite sex; adults?

Now, think about how you feel about all of those same things now.  Are your feelings the same; or have they changed?

You’ve experienced a lot since early elementary school.  You’ve learned that adults aren’t as perfect as they seemed when you were younger.  You’ve found new things to replace your favorites.  And, the opposite sex can cause some really exciting things to happen to your thoughts.  You’ve grown up some.  It’s the way you were made to be.  You’ve met a lot more people; Done a lot of new things; Been let down and brought right back up again.  You’ve done it all!

Not so fast.  What about later?  What about all the new people you’re going to meet when you finish school or go to college?  Will they affect the way you think and feel?  What about the first time you live on your own?  Will you learn new things; Have new fears; Change how you see things?  Of course you will, it’s all a part of growing up.

The person you were as a child is very different than the person you are as a teenager.  The same holds true for adulthood.  It all depends on your experiences, the people you meet, the things you try, and the things you learn (and not just in school.)  Life experiences don’t come to a screeching halt when you become a teenager.  You just see things differently.

The little kid who always wants to please may become the angry teen who thinks they know everything.  The smart little boy may become the too cool for school high school stud.  The little girl who has lots of elementary school friends, may become the moody loner in high school.  The silly little girl may become the high school prom queen.  Who you become depends on so many things you experiences.  And as a teenagers, you’ve only experienced a very small part of what life is really about.

The high school football star may find them self as a nobody as an adult.  The prom queen may become a divorced mother who feels alone in the world.  The loner may become the most popular person at their job.  The high school stud may finally realize that partying too much eventually leads to a beer gut and a lonely life.

As a teenager, you really don’t know who you’re going to want to be as an adult.  Unfortunately, you can do things as a teenager that will alter just that.  A teenager who has a baby does not become the adult they would have if they hadn’t gotten pregnant.  The kid who decides that driving a car is like a game, won’t become the adult they might have if the game they played in a car with their friends, ends up killing someone.  The teen who drops out of school will not become the adult they might have become if they stayed in school.  Think about this.  You are a teenager for seven years of your life.  You’re an adult for a lot longer than that.


Would your friends go to jail for you?

May 22, 2009

DSC_8009You’ve just turned 16 and finally have the freedom you’ve been looking forward to for years.  You know that there’s a group of kids (mostly older than you) who get together every Saturday night and you’re going!  No one can stop you.  Your parents won’t even know.  Being cool is worth the risk anyway.  You don’t realize that the risk is far greater than you could have ever imagined.

The “party’s” started by the time you get to the apartment.  Several of you friends are already there.  The minute you step in you know you’ve made it, you’re a part of an exclusive club, one of the cool kids. Empty beer bottles litter the coffee table and the ashtrays are full.  The guy you’ve been trying to get to notice you is sitting right there.  Smoking a cigarette and you are almost sure that he smiled when you walked in.  Your heart races, and you hope you hands don’t get sweaty.

Within minutes you’re in the mix.  You grab a beer and sit on the floor between two of you friends.  You keep glancing over at the boy you like to see if he’s watching you.  A new guy arrives and everyone gets excited.  Much more excited than they did when you showed up.  He pulls out a bag of extacy and passes it around.  A couple of kids pass it up but the guy you like grabs a couple of the pills and pops them with a sip of beer.  The bag gets to you and you know you can handle more than two.  You’ve done it before.  You grab three and wash them down.  The guy you like is definitely watching you.  He’s impressed; you’re not the goody-goody he thought you were.  The party is on!

At first you’re fine.  You feel strong, powerful, and uninhibited.  Music’s playing and the most perfect guy in the WORLD gets up, grabs your hand and pulls you up into his arms to dance.  Who cares if your hands are sweaty, it doesn’t get more perfect than this.  He presses up against you and you know that he wants you.  You don’t want the dance to ever end.  But god, you’re thirsty.  It’s hot, you’re hot, you have to get something to drink.   You pull your partner with you to the kitchen and grab a water out of the frig.  The two of you go back into the living room and sit on the floor.  He’s got his arm around you, you’re his girl.  He’s picked you and it’s even better than you imagined.  Except, you’re not feeling so good.  Actually, you’re feeling pretty bad.  You get up to go to the bathroom and on the way out you stop one of your friends and tell them you’re feeling sick.  They tell you to have another drink and blow you off.  You go back to the boy of your dreams, and wait for the sick feeling to wear off.  It doesn’t wear off, instead, it gets worse.

You can’t let this happen.  You are not going to be one of those wimps who can’t handle a few drugs.  It’ll get better but you’re finding it harder and harder to think beyond the thirst and discomfort.  Finally, you tell your guy that you’re not feeling so good.  You get up and find a couple of your friends munching out in the kitchen.  “Hey guys, I think I’m sick.” They pull you over and try to get you to eat something.  “No, I’m not kidding, I’m really not feeling too good.” you say.  They start to giggle, pull you into their arms, and tell you you’re going to be fine.  You leave and go back to your “guy.”  You can wait this out.  You are not going to make a fool out of yourself.

The boy settles you back against him, you rest your head on his shoulder, but you are now feeling too bad to even get any pleasure out of it.  You’re really starting to get scared.  Your head is killing you.  You’re wondering if you can even move.  Finally, you whisper, “I need some help.”  but no one hears you.  The music’s too loud.  You try again.  The boy your with looks down and asks what’s wrong.  Again, you whisper “I need some help.  I’m feeling sick.”  He smiles and pulls you closer, then turns back to a friend sitting on his other side.   You start to cry.  You’re going to ruin everything but you’ve got to get some help!  You force yourself to scream.  “Please help me!”  Everyone is looking at you.  An older guy, one of the high school football players, yells out “Oh, do we have a baby here?  Someone need their mommy?”   Suddenly, nothing matters to you except getting help.  You don’t care what anyone thinks.  The only thing you can feel is fear, and pain, and it’s got to stop!  “Please, someone help me.” You whisper.  You’re friends come over.  They finally realize that you’re serious.  Everyone’s staring.  Again, you don’t care.  Your friends ask you what you want them to do.  They seem angry with you.  Finally one of them says “What, you want us to take you to the hospital?”  It’s like a joke to them, but it’s not to you.  “Yes!”  you quietly beg.  “Please.”

They pull you up, and help you into the car.  You’re not even thinking about the scene you’ve caused, all you want is to be somewhere safe, where someone can help you.  The drive takes forever.  Finally, you see the lights of the emergency room entrance.  It’s like a beacon.  Things are going to be fine.  You have your friends, they’ll make sure you’re ok.  But your friends aren’t really with you.  There’s no way they’re going to go into a hospital where adults will see how wasted they are! You’re Their friend but they’re not willing to get into trouble just because you can’t handle yourself.  So they get you out of the car and you watch them drive away.

You’re alone.  You’ve never walked into a hospital by yourself before.  You’re 16 years old, and there’s always been someone there to take care of you up until now.

A male nurse sees you through the glass doors leading into the emergency room.  He comes out and you’ve never seen a better sight.  He asks if you need help but you can’t answer him.  You feel yourself crumbling to the ground.  Everything is going so slow.

Your friends stand out in the rain watching them lower your casket into the ground.  Some are crying, others look scared.  An orderly at the hospital saw the car that dropped you off.  The police are looking for that car.  No one’s talking.  You’re dead, they can’t do anything for you now.  You’re not worth getting into trouble for.  Unlike you, they’ve still got too much to live for.

Road Runner

May 12, 2009

In an earlier blog I mentioned that the cartoon Road Runner was like real life.  It’s true in more ways than one!

Let’s take the Road Runner himself.  He’s just running down the road, pecking at small things to eat.  He’s taking care of himself, not bothering anything or anybody except of course a few bugs.  Unless  he’s just picking up seeds which would mean he really isn’t bothering anyone.  Ok, he’s smiling, happy, going along his merry way, but just around the corner is trouble!  The Coyote is waiting with an elaborate plan to stop the poor Road Runner in it’s tracks.  Usually this involves some type of major catastrophe.  The Road Runner rounds the corner, see the danger, and goes into fighting mode.  Oh wait, that’s not right!  What the Road Runner does is out smart the coyote with clever actions.  The only character to “get it”, for about the millionth time, is the coyote.  The Road Runner continues on his merry way, and the coyote get’s smashed by his own mean scheme.

Now, let’s look at the coyote.  He’s been raised to hunt in order to survive.  He’s obviously learned that not killing his prey means he will starve.  (Have you ever noticed how skinny that poor coyote is?)  He has been taught to be “mean” by both example and necessity.  All this poor, skinny coyote can do is keep going after the Road Runner.  (Apparently there are no more animals within hundreds of miles.)  Is the coyote really bad?  Does he have a choice in the actions he takes?

Finally, my real life analogy.  The Road Runner is the average person.  He’s been raised to take care of himself and not bother anyone else.  Success makes him happy.  He’s also very clever.  He knows that fighting with the coyote would be a waste of time and he’d probably end up getting hurt.  Instead of fighting, the Road Runner outsmarts him, goes around him, or avoids him completely.  In turn, the Road Runner walks/runs away from the encounter with a smile of his face, and the coyote gets it!  Just like the Road Runner, the average nice, clever person avoids the mean guy/bully.  He uses his brain to win in an encounter.  The “good” guy wins, and the “bully” fails.

Now for the bully/mean guy.  This is the person who has been taught that he’s not successful, or in control, unless he’s bigger and badder (I know it’s not a word but it works!)  than others.  He’s learned these lessons at a very young age.  He knows that if he doesn’t kill and eat something, he’ll hurt horribly.  Most kids who grow up to be bullies are taught the same thing.  Maybe they’ve been physically abused and know that letting anyone else be in control can hurt.  They’ve been made to feel weak and miserable unless they’re making someone else hurt.

The lesson here is that the best way to beat a bully is to not let him be in control.  You can do this by ignoring him, outsmarting him, or avoiding him.  If you fight back you will almost always lose.  Plus, that’s what he wants.  He wants to know that he’s gotten to you.  If you get angry or let him hurt you, he’s won.  On the other hand, the bully has been created.  It may not be who he really is.  Instead it’s what he’s been taught in one way or another.  Understanding that will make it easier to not be bullied.  It’s hard to be hurt by someone you pity,  and a bully is pathetic.  He can’t make himself happy, instead he counts on others to make him happy and that’s NOT your job.  Counting on others to make you happy and feel good about yourself, is bound to fail.  That’s why most bullies grow out of it.  You see, the only person you can count on to make you happy is you.

Teen pregnancy

May 10, 2009

Bristol Palin is making public appearances advocating abstinence for teenagers.  The message is a great one, whether it’s realistic or not.  My problem is with the messenger. While Miss Palin is traveling around spreading her message; Where is her baby?  I can remember being a new mother.  I remember having to sleep when my baby slept and even then having to be ready to jump up at her first cry, since her diaper would be soaking wet and needing changed.  Going to the grocery store was a major production with the constant worry that my baby would decide that it was her time to be miserable, tired, or hungry, and I would end up dealing with a wailing baby the whole time.

Going out and having a good time was even more of a challenge.  Getting dressed up, doing my hair and nails, even taking a shower was more difficult when dealing with an infant at the same time.  And if I did manage to do all of that, I’d have to consider the extra expense of going out.  Dinner and a movie cost a lot all by themselves, now the cost of a babysitter was tacked on.  I’d come home tired and maybe get a few hours sleep before the baby woke up and demanded, with her cries, that I get up and take care of her.  A simple date was not simple any more.

Forget dates, daily life changed radically and it got worse when my baby started getting around on her own.  Suddenly, I couldn’t even go to the bathroom by myself!  If I did manage to sneak in alone and close the door, there was the chance that my sweat child would find her way to the door and scream for me until I finished up (and that was when my husband was watching her.)  My baby became a deciding factor in everything I did.  There were NO exceptions.  Imagine having to take care of a new puppy for several years.  Having to clean up it’s messes, take it out every few hours, replace all the things it destroys or simply lose some favorite possessions.  Then, multiply that by a hundred.  You can’t lock a new baby in a crate and go somewhere, you can’t leave out food for the baby and have it feed itself, you can’t attach a collar and leash and walk outside with you baby.  Again, you have to consider the baby in EVERYTHING you do!  Don’t expect to be able to sit down and watch a TV show without any interruption.  Don’t expect to go hang out with friends at the drop of a hat (the baby may be really cool to your friends for a while but then they’ll realize that having an infant around really crimps their style and those invitations to hang out will stop.)

Having a baby is a commitment that will change your entire life.  Their presence will affect everything you do and have, even the friends you make, the boys you date, and the places you go.  So, if there are things in your life that you are not willing to give up, then consider carefully before you have unprotected sex.  If you hate having someone always telling you what to do, then realize that a baby will be dictating what you can and can not do for the rest of your life.

Bristol Palin’s message is fine, the image she presents is not.  If she presented her message with a baby crying in her lap, with no makeup on, and several breaks for taking care of her child, her message would be much more effective and realistic.  Miss Palin traveling around, making speeches is not a realistic picture of a teenage single parent.

Show up: Get a prize

May 8, 2009

My daughter was born in December and for her 11th birthday party I decided to have all her friends paint a sweatshirt for the holidays.  I went out and bought the shirts, paint, and patterns and the kids seemed to have a great time decorating their shirts.  The party was a huge success and I was patting myself on the back for coming up with such a great idea until the first kid left the party.  She walked to the door, carrying her new sweatshirt, and asked “Where’s my party favor?”  Maybe I’m being too critical but:  What the heck!  I can remember my mother buying prizes for my birthday parties growing up.  There were games played and the winner of the games got a prize.  There was no rule that said everyone at the party had to leave with a gift.  I remember this was the case at all the birthday parties I attended as a child.  You weren’t entitled to something just for showing up.  I’m now wondering if that is the opposite of what we are teaching our kids today.

Look at peewee and little league sports teams that young kids are involved with now.  At the end of each season, everyone gets the same trophy no matter how proficient they played or, more importantly, how hard they tried.  The child who stood out in the field staring into space every practice and game is rewarded in the same way that the child who listened to the coach and became a better player did.  I can understand every child getting the chance to play their fair share no matter what their skill level is, but should the kid who decides that paying attention and really trying isn’t important, get the same “prize” at the end of the season as the one who at least made an effort?  Again, are we teaching our children today that the benefits of working hard are no better than those of just showing up?

Finally, are we setting our kids up for failure?  What happens to the kid who got a trophy every sports season when they were younger, decides that it would be cool to be on the high school sports team?  We’ve been teaching them for years that they can win the trophy/prize no matter what their effort.  Now suddenly the rules are completely changed.  They can’t just show up anymore.   They have to earn their place on the team and we’ve been teaching the exact opposite.

I can remember once when my young son was competing as a dancer.  He was a great tap dancer, good enough that his instructor gave him private lessons for free since we couldn’t afford them at the time.  He loved to perform but hated to practice and didn’t understand the need to learn things that he didn’t find as interesting.  At this particular competition, he was up against several really talented dancers.  One little boy in particular was really great.  He had obviously been working hard at several different types of dance, and he justifiably blew the competition away, including my son.  After the award ceremony, where this other little boy won the big trophy, my son came up to me and said; “I’m as good as he was mom.”  I wanted to say “Yes  you are sweetie.”  I wanted him to feel good about himself.  Instead I said one of the hardest things I’d ever said.  I told him that he wasn’t even close to as good as that other little boy.  Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t tell him that he couldn’t be as good, only that he would have to practice a lot more to achieve that.  My son is now a college student and he still likes to goof off and avoid work, but he has learn that the harder he works for something the greater his reward will be.  Feeling good about yourself, proud of what you accomplish, and winning the prize, takes a lot of effort.  You can’t expect those things just for showing up, at least not in ”real life.”