Tuesday, October 11, 2016

stop this mudslide before we are buried

I just read a very disturbing article (see link below). It caused me to think back to my own childhood, and remember some things that happened. I also began to look at my own values, beliefs, and behavior. Then I decided to put them down in writing. These are just my thoughts...

The article in question came from the Washington Post:

I compared what I read in the article to my own childhood. I grew up in the 60's mostly. It was a time of unrest. The struggle for civil rights was in full swing. Viet Nam was raging, as were the protests against the war here in the US. The Cuban missile crisis made me feel like we weren't as safe as I always thought we were. It was a time of great turmoil. Here are a few of my memories from about the 5th-8th grade (age 10-13):

I remember taking canned food to school, where we stockpiled food and water in case of a nuclear holocaust. We practiced getting under our desks if a bomb dropped. We talked about it like it could happen any time. This was the reality of the Cuban missile crisis for me. I lost a lot of sleep and worried a lot.

I was 11 years old when we found out in class that President Kennedy had been assassinated. I remember thinking that our country was going to be lost without him. He was the President after all, and nothing like that was supposed to happen, right? I had learned about the Lincoln assassination in school, and being an avid reader, knew about the Garfield and McKinley assassinations too. But that was history, remote and unreal to me. When Kennedy was murdered, I remember feeling like the ground had dropped out from under me.

The main thing I remember feeling was that even though there was so much turmoil in America, we were still strong, and would figure it out. I knew there was a lot of disagreement. Even my classmates and I would disagree sometimes about current events. But underneath it all was a feeling (for me) that the disagreements were healthy overall. I don't remember kids fighting or mistreating each other because they didn't agree about the news or politics. We fought about more personal things. We weren't perfect. But we got along. Mostly.

I don't see that now. I see articles like the one above with kids mimicking what they see on TV, and parents trying to shield their kids from what they see going on with this election. I know one thing. It is our responsibility to shield kids from things that are unsavory, until we can explain to them that what they see is not something that should be mirrored by them. The level of anger I see on both sides of this campaign is unnerving, and disappointing. The candidates should stick to the facts, and stop slinging mud. Just because one person slings mud doesn't mean you have to sling back. It brings to mind one other incident in my life when I was about 10 or 11.

I was being bullied by a girl at school. She was just mean. I would be taunted every day at recess, and one day as she circled me, saying the same nasty things to me I had been hearing for days (maybe weeks), something inside me snapped. I was sitting on the grassy area of the playground with some friends, and I reached up and yanked her skirt and told her to stop. Yelled at her actually. There was a small tear in her skirt, because I had yanked so hard. She told me she was going to whip my ass after school because I had torn her new skirt. Her exact words. I was terrified. She was taller than me and I was not a fighter by nature. (That was probably why she had picked on me in the first place.) After school, I raced home (I walked to school every day, about a two block distance). I remember seeing groups of kids here and there on the way, from school to halfway home, waiting to see "the fight". I think it was the longest distance I had ever run. I burst into my house screaming that this girl was going to beat me up. Mom grilled me, found out the girl had been tormenting me for a while and what I had done that day. She marched to my class the next day, and indignantly told my teacher what her thoughts were about bullying, and the bully who had been picking on me. When she finished, my teacher calmly pulled out a note I had passed to a friend at some point that year, and showed it to mom. It had an ugly word in it (hell, I think) and Mom read it and after not much else being said, she left. That afternoon, when I got home, Mom's wrath fell on my head. She had been humiliated defending me, and told me that because of being blindsided by that note, she would never defend me again if I got into a fight. My teacher had muddied the issue with a fact unrelated to what had happened. And it caused my mom to stop believing me. 

I see so many things that should have gone differently, but I was not in control. Mom should not have lost trust in me. My teacher should not have slung my past behavior into the discussion and muddied the issue with it. The teacher should have sat both of us down and explained to her that bullying was not ok, and told me that reacting in anger wasn't the best way to resolve the issue. She should have made us talk it out.

That incident is similar to what I see happening in this election campaign. Get hit by mud, get angry and sling it back. Then sling more mud, faster. Social media enables this, and that is sad. It is time to see what we are doing to ourselves, taking part in this. Where is the sense in all this anger? What does it resolve? It isn't ok to say whatever you wish when you are running for the highest office in the land. Both candidates have plenty of mistakes in their backgrounds. But at some point (and that point is now for me) we become saturated with all this and just stop listening. I am to that point. Overloaded. I think it is time to stick to facts, promote the positive and stop the mudslide. If one candidate takes down their own campaign with a mountain of mud, the other should not follow suit. We should all take that high road. We are better than what is happening, and should demonstrate this for our children. Because they are the ones who will ultimately lose in this. I remember when I lost, and what I lost, as though it was yesterday. So will the children watching this now.

So will the children. Let's show them the high road.

...life is good...
i am @jonesbabie on twitter

Sunday, April 24, 2016

the ghost of gma mary

A couple weeks ago I woke up to my first cup of tea and some quiet reading.

Or so I thought. What actually happened was that I entered the living room and got sucked into a skirmish. The kid variety. Gramps had already been sucked into the vortex. This was how it went down...

Maddie: Grammy, Duncan and John lost the key to my 4 wheeler and I can't find it.
Me: Can you ride without the key?
Maddie: No. I looked all through the couch, but all I found was popcorn. (Last night was popcorn movie night...Duncan misses his mouth more often than not, but that's another story.)
Me: That could be a problem then. (I'm not the sharpest knife in the drawer before my morning tea.)
Maddie: Grammy will you help me look?

So that was when I felt that first gentle tug into a situation I had accidentally stumbled blindly into. We searched between all the cushions, and I ran my hands down into areas of the couch I hadn't felt in years. We found a missing sock, but no key. Gramps lifted the couch and turned it over and we searched every nook and cranny. We did the same thing to his chair for good measure.

No key. But the floors under the couch and chair got vacuumed nice and tidy, sans popcorn and other unidentifiable food and garbage.

By the time I finished that (still without my first cup of tea), I was a bit irritated at two boys who had spent the whole time we were looking for the key THEY lost, playing in the bedroom with army men. That was when the ghost of Gma Mary materialized inside me. I marched into the kids' bedroom and informed the boys that they needed to use their brains to remember where they had left the key, and find it.

Both boys looked at me like I had sprouted two heads and was speaking a foreign language. I repeated myself, and told them to get UP and come and look for the key. They moaned and groaned and dragged into the living room. John had to recover from two feet he said weren't working before he could get to the scene of his crime.

John said he had left it on the couch and that was all he could remember. Dunc said John had the key last, trying to absolve himself of any connection to the crime. I told him his alibi didn't work, because he had started the chain of events by removing the key from the four wheeler.

After a half hearted search, the boys thought they were free and clear. I upped the ante at that point, thinking they would make a better effort to FIND THAT KEY. I told them they could not ride on the four wheeler anymore since the key was gone. They wouldn't be able to start the engine.

John: Dat's ok. I got my own four wheeler.
Dunc: I don't care. Doesn't matter to me.

This was when things started to escalate. I decided to hit them where it hurt, because Maddie was the only one upset by the missing key and loss of four wheeler riding time.

Me: Ok then, no more video games when you are here too.
Dunc: Fine.

Hmm, Dunc was playing tough guy. While I thought about my next move I looked for John, who was so crushed he had locked himself in the laundry room. My next statement was meant to win a stunning victory, but it worked out somewhat differently.

Me: John, there are mice in the laundry room. (Actually there are only traps.)
John: I am getting a chocolate milk. (YooHoo, a drink made mostly of chocolate, water and sugar.)
Me: You can't have a YooHoo if you didn't eat breakfast.
zombie grandkids- yes that is a YooHoo in John's hand
Gramps: He ate a cinnamon roll. (WTH did that come from? Now they were triple teaming me.)
Me: A cinnamon roll does not count as breakfast. It is sugar.  (Giving Gramps the stink eye)...Now he wants to follow sugar with sugar.
John: I will eat my egg then have chocolate milk.
Me: The egg that was on the table? I threw it away when I cleaned the table off.
John: But I wanted that egg. (Chin quivering and pitiful eyes.)
Me: (Gma Mary standing firm.)Then you need to eat it when breakfast is served. I don't leave food on the table all day.

I could feel myself gaining ground. I was ready to zoom in for the kill, play my ace in the hole. Then John started to cry. Which of course made Gramps totally crumple. I was breathing hard by this time and my eyes were beginning to bulge. Gramps took a breath to say something but I shot them both down before anything could be said. I included Dunc in this shot. I was going to overwhelm them with THE TRUTH.

Me: Have you ever heard of nutrient dense and calorie dense foods? Nutrient dense means that there are lots of vitamins and minerals in the food you eat and calorie dense means...

I noticed their faces. John was looking at me like I had sprouted a third head, Dunc had one eyebrow raised almost to his hairline and a smirk on his face, and Gramps' eyes were rolling in his head like he was having a seizure.

Then the ten year old slipped in and struck the final blow.

Dunc: I don't know and don't care.
Gramps: I was going to say the same thing.
John: (speechless and staring at me...)
Me: OK THEN. Since my money is what buys most of the food around here, I just won't buy any more CINNAMON ROLLS. EVER. And no more YOOHOO either.
Dunc: whaaaaat? Fine then, I WON'T COME ANYMORE.
John: (crying...suspiciously fake sounding sniffing)
Gramps: (seizure continues)
Me: FINE THEN, Maddie can come alone. Maddie, the next time you come, we will do lots of fun things together. We can shop, and go to the park.
Maddie: There is a park here?
Me: No, it is in Jasper. In fact there are LOTS of parks in Jasper. (I see Dunc is unimpressed, and I know I have to dig deep and find his Achille's heel.)
Maddie: ok Grammy that sounds fun.
Me: Oh, and we can go fishing Maddie. Lots of fishing. LOTS. (Dunc's eyebrows shoot up, and I am pretty sure he is buying this.)

So I play my trump card.

Me: Oh, and Gramps, sell Dunc's fishing rod, since he won't be needing it anymore. (Duncan has forgotten he doesn't own a fishing rod here, he uses Gramps' tackle.)
Dunc: WAIT...WAIT!!!! YOU CAN'T SELL MY FISHING ROD! I need it to fish!
Me: No you won't need it, since you won't be coming anymore.

At that point, I began to grin, and saw Dunc starting to smile, Gramps started to chuckle, and Maddie was laughing. I looked around for John, who had been strangely quiet...

He had downed a nutrient rich banana in 2 seconds. While we were skirmishing. He was going to do whatever it took to get that YooHoo.

Gma Mary had won again. She taught us well.  Jones women never lose a skirmish.

And John got his YooHoo.

...life is good... Cath
i am @jonesbabie on twitter