By Not Giving Honest Feedback, Are We Creating Generations of Wimps?

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My daughter had a swim meet this weekend. After every event, she excitedly strolled over to her coach to check in. Her coach would tell her what she did well (ear-to-ear grin), point out any weaknesses in her stroke (shoulders slump), and conclude with a high five telling her, “Nice job!” She then came to check in with my husband and me and she said, “How did I do?” WELLLLLLLLL….We too would tell her she did very well at some aspects of the swim, point out her areas for improvement, and tell her nice job. However, after one of the heats in particular, as I was telling her things that she could work on, she said, “Mom, are you criticizing me?” (She is so clever). “Well, yes, I guess I am. I would rather call it feedback. I have already told you how well I think you did. I also told you how proud I am of you. Regardless, you still have areas to improve. Mommy and Daddy give each other feedback, ahem, on a regular basis.” (Of course, I am not about to let her know that neither of us readily accept it. She will figure that out on her own at a later date.) Why is it that her coach can give her feedback, but if we tell her anything, it is criticism? As individuals, why do we take feedback from employers, customers, etc. more receptively than a spouse or parent, who loves us and truly has our best interest in mind. We bristle with defensiveness often retaliating by pointing out one of their flaws.

In our “everyone-gets-a-trophy” culture, are we doing a disservice to our children by not allowing them to receive an honest evaluation of their performance? Taking it a step further, are we preventing them from experiencing disappointment thus disallowing them to learn essential coping skills they will need throughout adolescence and even adulthood. Without feedback, how are we to get any better? I believe these actions are creating generations of wimps. To my point, in recents months, I heard of schools that were no longer going to have special receptions honoring those who achieved academic excellence, because they didn’t want the other children to feel bad. BOO HOO!!!! WORK HARDER OR GET OVER IT!!!

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A lack of feedback, i.e. not giving a trophy to the best prepared team, can potentially disincentivize individuals from giving their very best effort. If they know beforehand that they are going home with the same hardware as everyone else, what is the motivation to bring your “A” game? It reminds me of an interview I watched where college kids, having grown up in this culture of everyone getting the same regardless of performance (i.e. wealth redistribution), being asked if they would mind averaging their grades with others who didn’t do as well. For example, would an “A” student mind taking a “C” because another student, who made an “F” hadn’t made a good decision to study and prepare himself for a test, but, instead, decided to stay up all night partying like a rock star? The looks of shock on their faces were priceless. There was a mixture of flabbergasted horror and incredulity. “No way! I earned that grade!” Interestingly enough, having had no real life experience, they don’t equate that scenario with the progressive income tax rate. Due to Liberal indoctrination and propaganda, many college students believe those who have made good decisions, studied hard, taken great risk, and worked their whole life sacrificing family time and even their own health to achieve comfort in their later years should “pay their fair share”.

My husband does everything with high energy and great attention to detail. He is particular about keeping a well groomed yard. He is the lawn guy, I am in charge of keeping watch over the flower beds. A couple of years ago, we opted to pay a more expensive landscaping company because their reputation warranted it. He came home recently from a meeting and the landscaping crew were there working. He wanted to discuss a few brown, bare spots that were randomly scattered in our lawn. Mind you, he schedules his day such that there isn’t a lot of leeway in between one task and the next. In his dress shirt and slacks, he walked around the yard pointing out different things that were concerning him about the lawn. For him, he was just checking off his mental list of areas that he wanted to be addressed.

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A few days later, my husband received a text from the owner of the landscaping firm telling him that his employee felt my husband had berated him, and his employees will not be subjected to such treatment. Granted, I usually am the one dealing with the crew and have more of a warm-fuzzy personality; he is more direct. I am more about relationships, he is more about finishing a task….we complement each other well that way. For example, it takes me thirty minutes to say my farewells at a party; it takes him 5 minutes tops.

Luckily, I was outside watering my flowers, so I heard the tone of the conversation. My husband was merely giving feedback to an employee of a landscaping firm that he pays considerable money to maintain our yard and landscaping. He didn’t make it personal. Doesn’t he have the right to give input? Are people so thin-skinned that they cannot accept it as an opportunity to improve? In the workplace, most employers give an annual review assessing your performance for the previous twelve months. If there is an area that the boss thinks needs improvement, you either get better or get overlooked for a raise or a promotion. In a worse case scenario, you get demoted or get your walking papers.

Feedback, a.k.a. criticism, is a necessary element to a productive and thriving society. We should all put on our big boy/girl pants, sift through the information, and use what applies to become our best selves. Come to think of it, maybe we should think about an annual review in our marriages. Just kidding! I somehow don’t think that it will lead to matrimonial harmony or bliss.

Swiper, No Swiping!

Let’s face it…it doesn’t take long for children to learn that if they are at risk of punishment and they bend the truth a little, i.e. lie, it keeps them from realizing consequences. As egocentric and selfish as our little angels can be, they can become little masters at nudging the truth to get what they want. If it isn’t nipped in the bud, is it a sign that there are bright orange jumpsuits in their futures? Knowing that little children are notorious fabricators of fiction, should we accept it as a commonality and overlook some of their twisted tales, choosing instead to “pick our battles”? I can clearly remember telling stories when I was little, and, just as clearly, my mom flipping out and exacting a tough penalty. Thankfully, at some point in my maturation, I evolved into someone who abhors dishonesty, sneakiness, and manipulation. Did it happen when I became an independent adult and could do as I please? Was it because I no longer had the need to twist the truth to get my way?

This past Saturday night, I sent Grace to bed at 11:00. After reading my e-mail, I went to check on her to make sure she was all tucked in. The little stinker was laying there with my still-lit iPad (the screen shuts off in 20-30 seconds) pretending to be asleep. I took the iPad without saying anything. The next morning, I told her that she had lost the privilege of using it and my iPhone for the week because she didn’t go to bed when I asked. It was a pretty minor offense, but if there isn’t a consequence, why would she bother with obedience the next time? She said, “Mom, I was asleep!” After demonstrating how quickly the screen shuts off, I said, “Look at me. Do you think I am stupid???” My very literal child said, “No Mom! If I thought you were stupid, I would tell you!” I told her that she might sadly find herself on the losing end of that statement. During my daughter’s swim practice a couple of nights ago , I relayed the story to another mom. She said, “Good for you! I can’t make it more than a couple of hours before I give in and return their devices so I can have my peace and quiet!”

Teaching a child lessons about honesty takes firm tenacity and follow-thru.
A few summers ago, my husband, daughter and I went to visit his family to celebrate the Fourth of July. His dad and stepmom have a lovely lake-front home with irreplaceable towering shade trees that are worthy of a silent prayer for protection during a violent storm. They are very old and sprawling, offering the perfect amount of shade and respite from the blazing sun on a hot summer day. There is a sandy beach that has traditionally been the source of hours of entertainment for high school buddies, college kids, and in more recent years, grandchildren. One child, Cameron, had brought with him little cars that were modeled after the clever characters in the animated film Cars. The kids would bury them and then dig them back up, only to bury them in another spot.

When it was time for Cameron to leave, he was very sad to realize that two of his cars went missing. Grace said she buried the cars and they must be under the sand. From the deck, I looked out as her dad, her grandfather and Cameron’s mom were raking the beach in an effort to find the missing toys. Dripping with sweat, they raked one spot after another while Grace stood by pointing to different areas trying to direct them to the sunken treasures. After 30-45 minutes, they gave up and decided the missing objects would eventually reappear. They eventually reappeared alright… God works in beautiful and mysterious ways.

Early the following October, my husband “suggested” that we get rid of some of the old sporting equipment in the substantial and overflowing toy bin in the garage. There were old footballs and basketballs that were low on air, old baseball gloves and bats, including a Dora the Explorer softball set (it is always a little sad letting go of old toys). I think when I went to Goodwill, I dropped off 10 balls, 3 bats, rubber baseball bases, etc. This toy bin was like the great abyss. When I reached the bottom of the bin, I saw two little toy cars. I would have thought they were remnants of my stepson’s youth, but the cars had eyes eerily familiar to those from Cars. As a matter of fact the one car had “SHERIFF” on its doors. EUREKA…I have found them!!!!

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When I came back into the house, I could hear my little angel singing happily in the shower, while my husband was on the back patio enjoying a magazine. When I explained to him that I found the missing cars from Fourth of July, I asked what he thought we should do. (I am a little ashamed to admit, I am still quite impressed with her marked stealthiness. I think I see a bright future for her in the CIA.) He suggested that because there were two cars that she took that were someones favorites, we take two things that she holds near and dear. I thought it was ingenious and couldn’t wait to confront my beautiful little liar.

I went into her bathroom where she was gleefully belting out a tune while gallons upon gallons of hot water wastefully ran down the drain. She was drawing sweet little stick figures on the steamy glass doors. I said, “Grace, do you have any idea who these cars belong to?” Looking like she was seeing a ghost, her smile faded as she said, “No. I have no idea.” I said, “Really? If I were to send pictures of these darling little toys to Cameron and ask if he recognized them, do you think he would say no?” She stepped out of the shower, draped a towel across herself and stood there like a deer in the headlights dripping a small pool on the floor. The dams burst, and she cried, “I am so sorry Mom! I was a lot younger then!” Vacillating between anger and laughter, I said, “Grace, that was only three months ago!” I had to regain my resolve because she did look pretty pathetic. I steeled myself and said, “Hmmmm. Because you took two of Cameron’s toys that he really liked, your dad and I are going to take two toys that you really like. Would you like to help me pick them out, or would you like me to do it myself?” She hung her head and dejectedly said, “I will help you.”

Of course, the items she wanted to give up wouldn’t have made her flinch or leave any impression. I said, “Nope, those aren’t going to be painful enough for you to lose.” Resignedly, she gave me her green puppy; it is her lovey that she sleeps with still to this day. I scanned her room and landed upon the much-awaited, mail-order Geisha Girl Halloween costume that she had proudly draped across her chair. I pointed to it and said, “That is mine.” Still soaking wet with the towel draped across her, she wailed, “NO!!!!!! Not my Geisha costume!!!!! I love it!” I said, “I am sure that Cameron LOVED his cars that you thought you needed to take from him.”

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After letting her stew on it for a a couple of weeks, I said, “Here’s the deal…(after doing this for years, I have created quite a keen negotiator…I think I am going to have my work cut out for me). You may earn them back ONLY after you write a letter of apology to Molly, your dad, and Grandpa telling them what you did, and that you are very sorry for making them rake the beach when you knew that they weren’t really buried in the sand. You need to wrap the cars up so that we can mail them back to Cameron with a letter of apology. When all of those letters are finished and in the mail, AND I feel that you are truly sorry, I will let you have them back. If it isn’t done by Halloween, I guess you won’t be going as a Geisha Girl. Until then, they are mine.”

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I sent a text to all of those involved, letting them know what had been discovered and signed off as “Swiper’s Mom”. She took her punishment and paid the “fine”. In retrospect, that I found those two little cars in the dark recesses of that toy bin all those months later was truly a gift. Who knows, maybe it saved my little dumpling from a future life of high crimes and misdemeanors.

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My Name is Lauri…and I’m a Bossypants

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WARNING: The post you are about to read may contain offensive language that is unsuitable for the weak-kneed. One might need to put on their Big Boy/Girl Bossypants and check their fears at the door.

I have often heard the expression, “Show me someone who doesn’t mind losing, and I’ll show you a loser.” Show me a man/woman who isn’t bossy and I’ll show you a doormat that gets taken advantage of throughout his/her life. You won’t see a competent leader, that is for certain. You will see a man/woman who helps to promote those who are bossier to higher status while he/she meekly recedes to the shadows. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think you should ever intentionally try to squash someone to benefit yourself or improve your position. If so, you simply have a callous, self-interested, egocentric and heartless nature; you aren’t being bossy. “Bossy” knows what direction he/she needs to go and confidently deems it unnecessary to coddle any teammates.

Currently, there is a discussion being promoted by the Left and Hollywood about getting rid of the word “bossy”. They base their argument on the idea that the word has a negative connotation towards women. Since when has the word only referred to women? Let’s see…I have been called a myriad of names, some of which I won’t put here in case my daughter reads this. “Moptop”, “Fuzzytop”, “Dorky”, “Quirky”, are just a few that quickly come to mind. You can only imagine the blonde jokes to which I have been subjected. Some apply, some don’t and others are hysterical. What ever happened to the expression, “Stick and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me”? We all have baggage from mean things that have been said to us. They linger inside of our conscience, and we revisit them when we are mentally beating ourselves up or we are feeling especially vulnerable. More than likely, it was said in the heat of the moment. Does it make it right? No. Do they have the freedom to say it? Yes! Conversely, we all have had moments when we have shown our lesser selves and used hurtful language toward others. Should our society alter our vocabulary so as not to offend? Absolutely not!

I have a great reverence for our nation’s Constitution. For 55 men, of vastly different backgrounds, to have gathered and created a document that has been as timeless as it has, is nothing short of a miracle. I wouldn’t be alone in saying that I believe it was Divinely inspired. To compare, the proud French have written five Constitutions since the birth of ours. One of the freedoms listed in the First Amendment of the Constitution’s Bill of Rights, due to its importance, is Freedom of Speech. If you have lived other than a solitary life in a cave, you have probably been offended by someone’s speech at one time or another. When we start limiting what people can hear with their tender little ears, we gaze toward the slippery slope of when Hitler gave “his” radios to the German citizens and made it illegal for them to hear any station other than his own. He was able to shape the citizenry at will.

Political correctness has hampered honest debate and truth in our nation. The Left has brilliantly used “racism” to stifle free speech. The Libs can’t make up their minds. They frequently give mixed signals about what they determine to be acceptable or unacceptable. Though it is a variation of the “n” word, many celebrity black rappers want to marginalize and “own” the word “nigga”, saying it is okay amongst themselves. The offensive slur is now referred to as “the -er word”. How inconsistent is that????? George Orwell warned about this “Newspeak” in his book 1984.The Black Community is calling foul and are trying to disallow use of the “racist” word “thug” because “EVERYONE KNOWS THEY ARE REFERRING TO BLACKS AND ARE STEREOTYPING”. Who is stereotyping? I don’t know about you, but when I think of a thug, a Chicago-style gangster, no offense Chicago, pops into my mind. No, he is not a black man or even a young black man. If any stereotype might be drawn, it would be of a 35-year-old Italian mobster. I apologize to Italians everywhere! I can say that I love Italians! It is absurd! I wouldn’t use the word “thug” to describe any of these lawless teens, whether they are black or white. I would simply refer to them as punks, because that is EXACTLY what they are.

I remember a few years ago when a little girl was riding in my car with my daughter on our way to a field trip. My daughter referred to something as “lame”. The other little girl gasped, almost as though my daughter had dropped the F-bomb. She said, “You can’t say that. That is a bad word.” Of course, then my ears perked up and I pictured myself getting a bar of soap to wash her mouth out (not a technique that I have used, but I know it was proven to be quite effective for my grandmother when my mom once told a lie). I said, “Gracie, what did you say?” She looked like she was in trouble because she knows that we make choices not to use bad language. She said, “Mom, I didn’t say a bad word, I promise! I said lame.” I said, “That isn’t a bad word.” The other little girl said, “My mom and dad told me that it is a bad word.” I told her that if her mom and dad told her not to use it, by all means, she shouldn’t use it, but it isn’t a bad word. Her dad works for a large corporation and has been schooled, I am sure, on political correctness. On the other hand, my husband is a self-employed entrepreneur, and I am a stay-at-home mom. Neither of us are overly fond of political correctness. We don’t believe one should purposely say anything hurtful, but sometimes you’ve got to call a spade a spade (I promise, no slur intended here).

Being a bit of a word-nerd, no offense meant to any nerds out there, I just so happen to have the ol’ handy-dandy dictionary in my glove box (like I said, I am a total word-nerd). I whipped it out, and looked up the word. The definition for lame read “weak”. The example given was “He gave a lame excuse.” In my almost 50 years of life, I have never thought of a person in a mean way as being lame. If someone is wheelchair-bound or handicapped in any way, I don’t make derogatory remarks toward them. Period. I pray to God to lighten their load and then thank Him for my many blessings.

Sometimes name-calling is well deserved. Driving on the road, if I have my head up my butt and miss a red light turning green, you can honk your horn and call me “Butthead”. It’s okay…I would deserve it! I would then humbly wave an “I’m sorry” and know that I earned any new moniker they may have chosen in their aggravation with my oblivion. If people have their heads up their butts and aren’t paying attention, I might say something in the privacy of my car or my mind, and, in most instances, it is deserved. If I have to resort to using my own horn to startle a driver out of their reverie, I could only hope that they would roll down the window and yell, “Hold your horses, Bossypants!” I’m not gonna lie, it would feel good!!!!>

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Packed Lunches: Love in a Sack

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There are many ways that we show love to one another in our family. On a frigid morning, my husband might surprise me by starting my car, putting the seat warmer on, and having a steaming cup of coffee waiting for me in the cup holder next to a note telling me to “Have a great day!” Yes, I feel the love!!!! For years, Grace has shown me her love by bringing me flowers that she has found outside. Sometimes, the beautiful blossom might include the root system of one of my newly planted annuals. Gasp! Occasionally, in my coat pockets, I find dried-up, crumbling little daffodils that she had given me when we used to spend our summers at baseball fields cheering for her brother. Ironically, these little treasures are more precious to me now than when she had first given them to me. What sweet tokens of love! My showering of love includes hot breakfast for my husband and daughter almost every morning to start their days off on the right foot. I am a little laundry-obsessive making sure that their clothes have the freshest smell so when they put them on they can inhale all that love! I am crazy for Downy Unstoppables! I am also an ironing fanatic (I used to iron the sheets) who is starting to give in to some of the wrinkles due to a lack of time. Grace actually referred to me as an “Ironing Super Hero”. I fold underwear into sweet little packages that are lined up in the drawers. It may sound a little crazy, but they look like rows of little hearts!

One of the ways I show my daughter that I love her is packing her lunch every day. It started with packing her lunch for first grade. The night before, I would take great joy in my quiet time after she went to bed decorating her paper lunch sack with her class’s letter of the week. For example, if the letter of the week was P, I might write “The Proud Purple Penguin Put up her Polka-dotted Parasol”. Then I would take great pleasure in drawing an illustration to match. It was the epitome of dorkiness, but it was a stage that felt bittersweet to leave behind. Her lunch sacks were sadly replaced with a Barbie lunch box. Currently, my little fourth grader is sporting a Vera Bradley lunch sak that she threw in as part of a negotiation for a new VaVa Bloom backpack for achieving straight As all year. After all, they must match!

I would say that she enjoys a wide variety of lunches. In first and second grade, I would alternate between American cheese sandwiches or PB-and-Js. Occasionally, I would throw in a thermos filled with cottage cheese, sliced turkey, and pineapple or peaches. She really loves to takes leftovers with her, and I am amazed at how she bravely opens her thermos and isn’t swayed by peer pressure. One of her personal favorites is grilled rosemary seasoned lamb chops with saffron and Parmesan risotto. She told me about her tablemates asking her what she was eating. “EWWWWWWW!!!!” You’re eating dead lamb!” She continued undeterred. It reminded me of my own experiences in the lunchroom when I was in school.

My mother is a fantastic cook. She is also wonderful at stretching the dollar. My lunches were creative to say the least. My personal favorite was egg salad sandwiches on fresh white bread. It was pure heaven biting into the creamy texture and having to use my tongue to pry the bread off the roof of my mouth because it was so soft. I remember being in Mrs. Pillow’s first grade class, and the class squealing, “What is that smell? Did somebody fart? Ewwww!” I couldn’t have cared less!

I think my mom thought that peanut butter and jelly was either too expensive or too beneath her culinary talents. I’m not sure. She would send her little darlings to school with a variety of tasty sandwiches: green olive and cream cheese, roast pork or roast beef, tomato and cheese, cucumber with mayo, and baked bean. Yes, I said BAKED BEAN!!!!!!! As I said earlier, my daughter wasn’t bothered by any reproachful looks or comments from her peers. It wasn’t the same for me. I would wait until everyone pulled out their PB-and-Js and I would sneakily slide my sandwich out of my lunch box and try to eat it without garnering a lot of attention. It wasn’t something that I could get away with when eating the odorous egg salad, so I wouldn’t even bother trying to hide it.

Nowadays, when my brother and I tease my mom about the myriad of unusual lunches, she defensively responds, “I always tried to send you to school with a healthy and nutritious lunch!” My thought…ISN’T PEANUT BUTTER MORE NUTRITIOUS THAN CUCUMBER??? I used to babysit a child that ate nothing but peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for breakfast, lunch, AND dinner and she lived to adulthood! Mom, just kidding! I LOVED those cold baked bean sandwiches!!!! They were really awesome, ESPECIALLY if I had been vegetarian!(Gag)

I now realize how fortunate I was to have had a mom that put that much thought into providing my brother and me with such a tasty lunch. Most mornings, I don’t feel like being all that creative with the menu. If I have a little stretch when I put the same PB-and-J, apple, chips and FiberOne bar in her sak too many times, she lets me know. She says, “Mom, can I PLEASE have something different for lunch today?” Growing up, I never had to ask for a change to the routine. My mom could just as easily have made the same thing every single day. After all, “Variety is the spice of life!” Thanks Mom! Thanks for all the love!

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Betcha’ Didn’t Know!!!

Betcha’ didn’t know…the Speaker of the House DOES NOT have to be a sitting member of the House of Representatives to hold that position. In my very humble opinion, who better than the fearless Constitutional scholar, Mark Levin, to articulate and defend Conservative principals? He would certainly activate the pulse of the Conservative base!

Betcha’ didn’t know…after being ACCUSED (not proven) of voter intimidation 1982, the Republican National Committee LEGALLY consented with the Democratic National Committee to not question the results of an election of any voting district that has a minority majority? A Jimmy Carter appointed judge, Dickenson Debevoise, who has since retired, has decided to continue to control the case. The decision requires the RNC, but NOT the DNC, to “refrain from undertaking any ballot security activities in polling places or election districts where the racial or ethnic composition of such districts is a factor in the decision to conduct, or the actual conduct of, such activities there and where a purpose or significant effect of such activities is to deter qualified voters from voting; and the conduct of such activities disproportionately in or directed toward districts that have a substantial proportion of racial or ethnic populations shall be considered relevant evidence of the existence of such a factor and purpose.” In other words, in the swing states where every vote counts, especially during the General Election, some districts can have 105% turnout with EVERY vote going towards the Democrat candidate and the RNC is legally banned from questioning those results. We certainly witnessed it in the 2014 Presidential Election. I think the nation was stunned when the election results were announced because anecdotally a different outcome was predicted. Our country had never re-elected a sitting President with numbers as bad as Obama’s.

Betcha’ didn’t know….contrary to popular belief, Civil Rights legislation was actually introduced by President Dwight D. Eisenhower. He introduced the Civil Rights Act of 1957 which was weakened by Congress due to a lack of support among Democrats, in particular then Senators John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson. When President Johnson decided to hijack the Civil Rights movement, he introduced the Civil Rights Act of 1964. After a 57-day Democrat filibuster, the Republican Leader in the U.S. Senate, Everett Dirksen (R-IL) condemned the Democrats and ended the filibuster. Leading the opposition to the bill was former Ku Klux Klan recruiter Senator Robert Byrd (D-WV) and, quite remarkably, given his history, he served in the U.S. Senate until he died.

Betcha’ didn’t know…after three attempts to pass Republican-proposed, common-sense welfare reform, Bill Clinton signed into law the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Act in 1996 which moved nearly 3 MILLION families off the government dole was basically gutted with the stroke of a pen by President Obama in July 2012. He removed the part of Temporary Assistance for Needy Families that called on able-bodied adults to work, look for work, take classes, or undergo drug and alcohol testing.

Stay tuned…there is more to come!

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Do We Allow Our Kids to Reap What They Sow?

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My daughter and I recently attended a fabulous high-school production of The Children of Eden. It is a play based upon two main stories of the Bible. The basis for Act 1 is The Fall from Grace; Act 2 is based upon The Flood. It was an interesting study of parents (God, Adam, Eve, and Noah) and their relationships with their children. Throughout the play, there were many references to “letting go”. There was even an analogy of rescuing a baby bird that had fallen from its nest. After the bird became strong enough to fly, it pecked and scratched its caregiver to the point of injury. The bird was “let go” and it was able to become stronger, flying away to live on its own. I found it to be quite impactful, because, at times, I struggle with letting my own child fail and learn from her mistakes. As a matter of fact, it has been my observation that many moms appear to have the same issue, almost wearing it as a badge of honor. Maybe, as mothers, we feel our success is tied to our children’s achievements, and their mistakes, just as equally, reflect poorly on us. On the other hand, dads seem to have an easier time allowing their kids to make mistakes and suffer the consequences. Do we keep our children from experiencing the lessons necessary to learn essential character building, coping skills, and problem solving for “life after Mom and Dad”.

A very dear friend of mine recommended a WONDERFUL, scripture-based book called “Boundaries” by Drs. Henry Cloud and John Townshend. It stresses the importance of having personal boundaries with those who might take advantage. They might include spouses, friends, co-workers, bosses, parents and CHILDREN. I envision a hula hoop around the heart. We easily get into relational patterns with others that can become damaging if there are no established safeguards. In the book’s introduction, an alien, from a zero-gravity planet, where all of its fundamental needs for existence were provided, got dropped out of the mothership and landed with a “THUD!” on Earth. “Ouch!” It was the first time it had felt any pain. It noticed an ache in its belly. A local yokel helped it to identify the feeling as hunger and kindly directed it to a restaurant down the street. After eating a very satisfying meal, the alien got up, tried to leave, and was surprised by the anger of the restaurant owner who suspected the foreigner of trying to skip without paying. The alien had no money and shortly found itself handcuffed and hauled off to jail. This scenario quickly draws a familiar picture (hopefully not the jail part) of when our own parents pushed us out of the nest. Who knew life could be so hard! The book further details that even though one might have grown up in a home with no boundaries, the world DOES have them. One will either choose to succumb to them or have to deal with the consequences. Let’s be honest, what kids, especially teenagers, like rules (boundaries)? From a parent’s perspective, it takes so much more energy to maintain boundaries in the home, but, in the end, the payoff is well worth the effort.

Being an older parent who doesn’t have the same financial stresses as those who are just starting out, I know how much easier it would be to say yes to my child’s every whim. However, based upon my own upbringing, I see the merit in kids learning to appreciate the value of money and how hard it is to earn. When I was eleven, I started babysitting for a family every summer making a whopping $.50/hour/child. I thought I was living large when the family grew to having three children! If I wanted to go roller skating, I would wash my parents’ cars or mow the grass to pay for it. I was a little surprised that my dad entrusted me with the lawn mower after leveling two of the five randomly planted dogwood trees that he had proudly purchased in a “Super Saver” 5-pack. When I was old enough to drive, I filled out an application, got the one-on-one interview, and excitedly landed my first real job…at McDonald’s! Today I see kids applying for these starter jobs that look like absolute slobs! It is like they have no concern about making a good first impression! Where is their pride? They look like they are entitled to the job before they have even been interviewed! I worked most weekends and all summer at “The Golden Arches” until I was in my senior year of high school. It was truly some of the most fun I ever had in a job! These starter jobs are very important in encouraging kids to do well in school so that they won’t have to flip burgers into their adulthood. I laugh when I hear of protesters wanting $15.00/hour. Maybe if they got the orders right, customers wouldn’t mind paying $10 for a Big Mac! There is a lot of mobility in the fast -food industry as well that promotes really good employees to different levels of management. Sadly, I see kids whose parents don’t make them work and I think both the parents and the kids are really missing out on a lot!

My daughter loves anything related to mermaids. She wanted to buy a $30 mono-fin a mere two weeks after insisting that her life would definitely end if I didn’t buy a mask, snorkel, and fins set at Costco. I told her that she didn’t need two types of fins. I made her dig in her piggy bank to pay for it. It is ironic that kids don’t like parting with their own money but have no problem spending Mom and Dad’s! The following summer she found a Magic Fin Mermaid Tail that the actresses used on the Nick series H2O. She wanted me to get it. I asked her to show it to me. $200! I said, “Are you out of your mind? Absolutely no way!” She said, “Fine. I will ask Santa to bring it to me!” I said, “Go right ahead, but don’t be surprised if you don’t get it. Santa only brings cold weather toys like snow boards, skis, ice skates, and sleds.” I know, I know..it was just a little white one! Sure enough, the following summer, she decided to go for the more economical version that included a two-pice swimsuit (which was insufficient the summer before because it lacked the very authentic scale pattern). It totaled $90; she decided she needed it badly and couldn’t possibly wait any longer. I informed her that she had to pay for it if she wanted it. Agreed. When the credit card statement was due, I reminded her that she needed to pay her dad so he could pay the bill. She carried all the wadded up bills to her father and they counted them together…too cute! We could have bought it for her, but she took so much pride in buying it for herself. The lesson and consequence came when, shortly afterwards, she saw something else that she had to have and she didn’t have the money to buy it. As a result, she has negotiated $20/week allowance. She gets deductions for chores that are overlooked, so she doesn’t often get the full amount. After getting her money’s worth out of her cheaper mermaid tail last summer, she has her sights on the expensive one and she almost has all the money saved to buy it herself. MY LESSON in all of this: not bailing her out by giving her the money to buy the beloved MagicTail taught her the value of money AND the art of negotiation, two very important life skills.

The Medusa Scale

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Hi guys! Thanks so much for such a wonderful response to my post “The Medusa Scale”. I have gotten some wonderful anecdotes from other people about “losing it” themselves or their moms going off the deep end. If you have a story and would like to share it, please comment here or drop me an email:

Lgoodwin@4atc.com

I won’t attach any names, I promise! However, if you post a comment here, it is set up for public viewing. There is just something comforting in knowing that we aren’t alone.

Again, thanks for the stories!

Princess to Patty Cake

Lauri Goodwin

Do We Go Through Life Dispassionately?

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Recently, a friend of mine was at the doctor’s office to get a colonoscopy and overheard a couple of nurses having a conversation about the Civil War. They were questioning one another about who was President. One said, “I think I remember something about Gettysburg.” The other emphatically said, “Grant was President.” One of them said, “I studied science and math because it was concrete. History is always changing.” Now, this particular friend and I happen to be equally passionate about the world’s current state of affairs and, more importantly, that of our nation. We are also just as equally concerned. I asked her if hearing that made her backside pucker; I know it would have had that effect on mine.

I must admit, when I was in my twenties, and even halfway into my thirties, I didn’t have a lot of interest in what was going on around me. My biggest dilemma was what city I wanted to schedule my layovers, how well or how often I wanted to play golf, or what shoes and purse would best match my outfit. I was living the life of Riley and that life was basically all about anything that concerned me. The first time I was old enough to vote in the General Election was an exciting milestone.  I knew President Carter had been a disaster and President Reagan was doing a great job. I cast that vote for Reagan establishing myself as a Republican. I didn’t really know what it meant, nor did I care; I just blindly wanted my team to win.

Growing up, I remember my mom recalling stories of the Cuban Missile Crisis. She, my dad, and older brother (I wasn’t born yet) lived in Tampa, Florida. Their home was located near the intersection of Dale Mabry Boulevard and DeLeon which was home to the McDill Airforce Base. She would be awakened in the middle of the night by the ground trembling and the loud sirens that were mounted on the huge military transports hauling missiles from Tampa to Miami to stave off the threat of the Soviet-owned Cuban-based missiles that were aimed at the U.S. She shared stories about her being terrified that she would be at work if a missile was launched. How would she get to her one-year-old son at day care?

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In school, I remember that tensions between the Soviet Union and the United States were nothing to be overlooked. It was something that was taught and discussed.One thing that I DID love about Reagan was that he showed so much resolve against the big, bad U.S.S.R. There was never any flinching or signs of weakness. Little did I know that what goes on around our nation and world should concern us all. Unfortunately, AND frustratingly, it doesn’t. After Ronald Reagan famously cited, “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down that wall!”, we thought the Cold War was over, and we were lulled into a complacent false sense of security. We thought Communism was dead and that the “Evil Empire” was debilitated and no longer a threat.

It has been so long ago that a large majority of the forty-and-under crowd don’t remember the Soviet Union being such a hostile threat. Pearl Harbor, the Cuban Missile Crisis, and September 11, 2001 have all been frightening times in our nation’s history that bonded us together as a brotherhood of patriots. Now, just as worthy of our collective attention is a government that is no longer representing the will of the electorate.  Sadly, too few of our citizens know, or even care, enough to do anything about it.

We have gotten to a point that Americans, regardless of political party, dispassionately stand by while their countrymen are targeted by the IRS for having a belief system different than their own. I have been to a TEA Party rally. Contrary to how the complicit Main Stream Media paints them out to be, they are mostly military Veterans and their wives. They proudly sport hats or T-shirts emblazoned with their platoon or ship numbers. Many of them have witnessed horrors that we have been lucky enough to have only seen in the comfort of a cushy, climate-controlled theatre while eating popcorn and sipping our Big Gulps. If anyone deserves a say-so in our government it is our Veterans.  The Tea Party is mocked and described as a bunch of racists. They couldn’t care less about the color of a person’s skin! Barack “the Great Uniter” Obama has used the sexually vulgar expression “teabaggers” to refer to this group of patriots that choose to hold our elected officials accountable. Talk about a slur! Their platform is: Lower Taxes, Less Government, Free Market Principles. Wow, what EXTREMISTS! Maybe we all should be assembling with them so we don’t go the way of France. Check this out:

http://www.cbn.com/tv/3255110732001

At their rallies, the TEA Party’s love of country is palpable. Unfortunately, they have become a target of Obama’s IRS-Gestapo. If they try to organize and raise money to support candidates that represent them, they are put through full-blown IRS intimidation and are unable to get their tax-free status to do any fundraising. Groups with “Tea Party,” “Patriot”, “9/12” etc. on their applications were audited and/or placed in indefinite limbo not allowing them to receive donations to combat the large government Progressives (both Democrat AND Republican). Yes, they even have to battle the Establishment Republicans who have been in office too long to be effective or who have become a part of the problem. I recently heard on a commercial that Kentucky’s senior U.S. Senator and Senate Minority Leader, Mitch McConnell, has been in Washington since Michael Jackson’s Thriller was on top of the charts! That is too long!!!! Do those on the Left or in power naively think that at some point they might not find themselves on the wrong side of those crosshairs?

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Barack Obama is trampling willy nilly on the very document that he, Congress, the Supreme Court and our military have taken an oath to defend and uphold! If our citizens were to take an interest in history, they might learn that other tyrannical despots gained power using similar tactics. The end results are startling: Mao Zedong (50-70 million Chinese died), Joseph Stalin (20 million+ Russians died), and Adolf Hitler (12 million Jews died) are among the most widely known. Did their citizens turn and look the other way? If they had gotten involved, could it have changed the outcome for the better? History is concrete, but sometimes those in power embrace our short memories and alter it to further their agenda.

We have a very weak-kneed, inexperienced community-organizer for a President who is playing marbles while a take-no-prisoners, former-KGB Russian President is playing chess. Putin believes that the end of the Cold War “was the worst geopolitical catastrophe of the twentieth century” and would like nothing better than to resurrect the stature of the “Evil Empire”.

Since Barack Obama has become President, think of how much our freedoms and world status have eroded while our citizenry is merely existing in a hypnotic, catatonic trance. Have we not learned that history repeats itself? Maybe instead of watching Honey Boo Boo, we could pick up a really good book about history. I don’t know…perhaps something about the first Republican President who ALSO held office during the Civil War…Abraham Lincoln?

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It Started with the Little Blue Dress

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Growing up, I never would have thought of myself as a prude. I loved to go to the discos and dance with my girlfriends or go out on a date for an evening of wining and dining. Don’t get me wrong, I would “Shake my Groove Thing” to Peaches and Herb, “Celebrate” with Kool and the Gang, and dance “All Night Long” with Lionel Richie, but other than a little too much white Zinfandel, it was mostly clean fun. YES, we did drink that pink wine back then, thought we had it goin’ on, AND we liked it! I don’t remember seeing a lot of behavior that I found to be offensive. If someone made a spectacle of themselves, people would either eyeball them until they chose to go elsewhere, or the police were called to escort them from the premises. There was a code of conduct to which our society adhered. Recently, I was talking with a mom who had thrown a birthday party for her daughter’s sixteenth birthday which included a DJ playing music. The mom was telling me that she couldn’t get over the fact that these high-schoolers were dancing so sexually, AND it was all in front of the attending, and gawking, parents and grandparents. The kids showed no signs of being uneasy. It seems as though propriety has become a distant memory.

In our current culture, I believe that decency began its decline with the infamous little “blue dress”. Of course, we have had presidents that haven’t exactly left behind stellar legacies, but Bill Clinton’s takes the cake, or so it would seem. For the first time in our nations’s history, the Presidency was reduced to playing saxophone on late night television, “not having sex” with a White House intern in the Oval Office, and newspapers and magazines were filled with headlines about the creative use of a cigar. It was all over the news. Everywhere. During the summer of 1998, I was on a cruise ship in the middle of the Mediterranean having dinner at the captain’s table and the topic of conversation was Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky. Contrarily, instead of him being stigmatized and made a pariah, the Main Stream Media celebrated him, and, in many ways, still does to this day. It is confounding, yet very telling, about our society’s moral standards and just how far they have fallen. I distinctly remember that it was about that same time I started seeing at the nightclubs heterosexual young women kissing each other trying to turn on the guys that would be watching them. It gave me pause then as it still would today if I were into the bar scene. I guess I thought that kind of behavior was saved for when you were behind closed doors…if that is what floats your boat.

The entertainment industry, minus a few exceptions, has become a cesspool of freaks. Years ago, they used to be showcased in the traveling circus. Now, the more vulgar their behavior, the more they are exalted. Last Fall, during Prime Time television, Miley Cyrus, dressed in a nude-colored bra and panties, dry-humped Robin Thicke at the MTV VMA awards all after she made “twerking” a household word. Within the week, my relatively sheltered ten-year-old daughter came home from school and showed me how Miley did her tongue and told me about her dancing on stage naked. Though she is legally an adult, the former Disney darling is making decisions to market herself looking through the lens of an impetuous child.

Not to be outdone, a skimpily-clad Beyonce opened the Grammys a couple months later, again during Prime Time, giving her husband a lap dance while singing her song “Drunk in Love”. I thought you used to have to show an ID to get in to see entertainment like that, but in that Fairyland that I fondly recall, you also used to have to show a picture ID to vote in elections. In her current song “Partition”, Beyonce sings about going out in a limousine and having the driver raise the partition so he can’t see what is going on in the back: “he popped all the buttons then he ripped my blouse; then he Monica Lewinsky-ed all over my gown.” Wait a minute, I don’t have a degree in sex-education, but shouldn’t that be “Bill Clinton-ed” ? This section of the lyrics is mild compared to some of the rest in the song. The difference between Miley and Beyonce is that Beyonce is a 32-year-old mother of a little girl. Shame on her! She used to be so classy before she got involved with her husband, Jay-Z. Sadly, it appears she has started going down the same downhill path as when the late Whitney Houston married Bobby Brown. He was ultimately her demise.

I once spoke with a Vietnamese woman working in a nail salon and she was telling me that her father was a violin teacher. We were both praising the beauty of the instrument because my daughter had been taking lessons for a year and a half. She said her father had once told her that as the culture goes, so goes the music. Wow, if that isn’t the truth! Maybe I’m really not prudish. Maybe I just have good taste in music.