Attention Whores, Get Over Yourself, Growing up, Let kids be kids, Lies, Making life interesting, Manipulation, Self respect, Storytelling, Teaching Responsibility, Uncategorized

Big Little Liars

I have students who tell outrageous stories (lies), and manipulate situations to get what they want.  Of course, part of it is that they have active imaginations, and they are only 6 and 7 years old.  As entertaining as the stories may be, they do need to start realizing that their words/stories will have consequences.  Just this year alone, I have been told that a student’s mother wakes her up in the morning by putting snakes in her bed, a child claimed she had gone to Disney World the day before…..Disney is 7 hours from us, and she hadn’t missed a day of school, “I got braces yesterday, but the dentist took them off again,” etc, etc, etc…….  So many times I just have to tune out the stories, but they can be very entertaining!

These are funny coming from children, but when adults lie, make up stories, embellish, or manipulate, it isn’t cute anymore.  There comes a time when we have to grow up and tell the truth.  We all want to sound more interesting than we probably are.  I have always thought I’ve lived a pretty boring life, until I talk to other people, and realize that through moving a lot, having a large family, and traveling, I’ve been able to experience some pretty awesome things, and my life has been very full and interesting.  Maybe those who haven’t led particularly interesting lives feel the need to gain attention by lying or manipulating events and people.  You know them…..attention whores.

I’ve known adults who thrive on drama, and with the drama, usually comes some sort of embellishment of the stories they’re relaying.  I mean, I get it….they need to make it as interesting as possible to hold someone else’s attention.  The longer they can hold an audience, the more likely they can gain sympathy, and let’s face it, they soak up any kind of admiration, no matter how they have to get it.

I guess my comparisons here have to do with maturity.  It’s fairly common, and sometimes cute, for children to tell (and sometimes believe) big stories/fabrications.  But there comes a time when everyone should outgrow this.  We slowly start correcting them, and helping them to understand that they can’t keep telling falsehoods for attention, or to hurt someone else….these are the first ones in my class who accuse others of doing something that hurts them.  These are the children who are busy talking, and when you call them out on it, they deny it’s them.  You see it with your eyes, and you hear it with your ears, but they’re looking right at you, denying it’s them.  I know we can try to channel this imagination into some type of creative writing, because they DO have great imaginations!  It would be a shame to completely waste it as they grow up.  However, some adults never reach that level of maturity, where they care about the consequences of their statements, or who they might hurt.  I hear it nearly every day in the political world, and even those claiming to be of some religious faith, manipulating scripture to fit their agenda.

Everyone wants to have their way.  Everyone wants to impress someone.  Everyone wants and needs a certain amount of attention.  But let’s try to do it honestly, without having to make up stories, manipulate, or embellish to satisfy our cravings for attention and sympathy.  Be fair, objective, diplomatic, compassionate, cooperative, and honest!  Leave the big entertaining stories for a novel or blockbuster movie, or just let the kids entertain us.

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Be Happy, Christmas Stories, Family, Growing up, Happiness, Holiday Spirit, Holidays, Laughter, Love, Season's Greetings, Uncategorized

My Favorite Christmas Story

Everyone has their favorite (or least favorite) Christmas stories, right?  Certain Christmases stand out more than others, or you remember getting something very special that you had really been wanting.  I have a few of those memories, mostly from childhood, but a few as an adult too.

I remember my grandparents taking their first trip on an airplane, coming from Alabama, to celebrate with us in Sikeston, Missouri.  That same year, I got a little high chair for my dolls (I still have it).  My grandpa gave me a piggy bank at that time, which I also still have.  I remember the year that all I asked Santa for was a box of crayons, and I got it!  I’m not sure why they were so important to me that year, but as a 6 year old, it’s all I wanted.  I’m sure my parents were thrilled that I didn’t want much!  “Santa” still brings me a box of Crayola Crayons every year!  I remember the year that our Boston Terrier, Pepper, ate my chocolate candy cane, leaving the foil in little pieces all over the living room carpet, and I cried.  I remember Christmases at the farm in Alabama, in Wichita at my other grandmother’s house, and in many homes that my family lived in during my childhood.  We had a lot of good food, and played games, but we also always got to hear my favorite Christmas story…..I know what you’re thinking……it must have been about a little baby born in a manger in Bethlehem, right?  Well…..yeah, that’s a pretty nifty story, but the one I always looked forward to hearing was about the time my dad shot Santa Claus.

If you knew my dad, you know he liked to tease, and was very funny.  He was also a great story teller!  I’m not sure how old he was in this story, but I think he would have been in his late teens or early 20’s.  Daddy had two nieces, Martha and Bobbie, my Aunt Estelle’s daughters, who were maybe about 5 or 6 years old, and they were at the farm for Christmas.  The family had gone to Christmas Eve services at church, and my dad and uncles decided to play a trick on my cousins.  They put rocks and sticks in Martha and Bobbie’s Christmas stockings! The girls were obviously upset, and crying, asking why Santa would have done that to them when they had been such good little girls.  Daddy and his brothers announced that he couldn’t do that their nieces, and decided to “take care of him.”  Daddy grabbed a shotgun, and they went outside.  He fired a shot in the air, one of my uncles let out a yell, and they came back in, declaring, “Well, we got him!” My cousins were a LOT more upset then, and so was their mother!

By the time I started hearing this story, my cousins were adults, and Bobbie was telling me she would never forget when my dad shot Santa Claus.  She was, of course, laughing about it.  I’m not sure my aunt ever forgave her brothers for that, but I think she probably did.  I am completely anti-violence in any way, shape, or form, and I’m not crazy about guns, but I think this is a pretty cool story…..how many of you can say that your dad shot Santa Claus?

Acceptance, Be Happy, Childhood Innocence, Growing up, Growing up too fast, Innocence, Let kids be kids, Self respect, Uncategorized

Protecting Innocence

Yesterday at school, one of my little girls ran up to me at recess to tell me in an exasperated manner that her mother won’t let her wear high heels.  She had a friend with her, who exclaimed, “Can you BELIEVE it???” I think they were telling me this in hopes that I would talk to her mother, and convince her to let her wear them.  They also informed me that her mother won’t let her wear makeup.  Now, we are talking about 6 year olds! I remember playing in my mother’s lipstick, and wearing her heels, and playing dress up with some of her old dresses in the toy box. Little girls love pretending, and love imitating their mommies.  That’s natural (please no one start a gender identity argument with me….this is not about that).  I think I surprised (and disappointed) these girls by telling them that I agreed with her mother!

I have real issues with encouraging our children (especially girls) to grow up too soon.  The innocence of childhood lasts for such a short time.  Why do we want to rush them through it? Make up? High heels? To me, this feels like we are sexualizing our little girls, and teaching them that the only way to be cool or lovable is to have them dress like Barbies for attention.  Am I being too critical?  Maybe. Yet, I have a student who comes to school in 1″ heels at least two or three times per week.  She can barely walk in them, she slips on the tile floors, and she can’t participate in PE or recess the way she should.  These shoes would be fine for a special occasion or church, but not at school.  I have students who wear makeup.  Why?  Their skin is so perfect and pretty at that age.  Their bodies are like little babies.  Why do we want them to look grownup?  It’s creepy.

I didn’t allow my daughters to wear makeup until they were in middle school, and even then, it was very basic.  They’re pretty girls…..why would they need much makeup?  They’re also pretty enough without it to get attention from boys! Fortunately, I feel like I have been able to help them see that their inner beauty, and the way they conduct themselves, is much more important than any outward beauty (or the mask of a ton of makeup).  They’re REAL.  They’re genuine.  They’re originals.  They’re nice.

My oldest daughter got her belly button pierced when she was 18, and sent me a text to tell me because she was afraid of my reaction.  I guess I’m scary!  Ten years later, she has let it close up, and realizes it was just one of those youthful phases that really doesn’t fit her personality. I’m glad it was something that could be easily remedied!  Everywhere we look, there is pressure on our girls to grow up too fast, and to be looked at in inappropriate ways!  Makeup, heels, piercings, inappropriate clothing…..there’s even a television show that glamorizes teen pregnancy.  There will be plenty of time for all of this, as childhood goes so fast…..it really does slip away.  Why are mothers doing this to their daughters?  Let the girls make their own bad decisions when they’re old enough (like I did)!  Don’t make the bad decisions for them!  Grow up, moms!

Give your daughter the confidence to be herself without wanting to hide behind an artificial mask.  Teach her that brains, ambition, sincerity, and genuine care and love for others will carry her much farther than wanting to look like every other sex object in the world.  Teach her humor.  Teach her compassion.  Teach her humility.  Teach her to value her own self worth, gifts, and talent WITHOUT needing to pretend to be something else.

There’s nothing wrong with wanting to look pretty.  We all enjoy it, and it’s fun to get dressed up.  There’s nothing wrong with makeup and having your hair done.  There’s nothing wrong with heels.  But there’s also a time and place for it.  Once the innocence of childhood is gone, it will NEVER come back!  Value your daughter’s innocence and natural beauty.  Protect it.  Let her know that she’s just fine without it.

And last of all, here’s a shout out to those moms who say no! Good for you!

Be Kind, Bleeding Kansas, Chicken Annie's, Coping, Growing up, Happiness, Home Sweet Home, Kindness, Passion for Living, Respect, Uncategorized, You can't go back again

Thankful for Small Town Roots

Last week I learned of the death of another childhood classmate from my hometown in Kansas.  It seems like there’s been so many…..I’ve actually lost count.  For a small class, it’s been a lot.  These are the people I grew up with, and even though I moved away before graduating with them, they still mean a lot to me, and we share so many of the same experiences of growing up in a small town.

There is so much anger and hatred in our world right now. and the loss of this classmate has made me yearn for a simpler time, and a time when things seemed easier.  Growing up in a small town in the Midwest had it’s pros and cons, but I hold so many wonderful memories from that time.

My hometown, at one time, truly did feel like Mayberry.  It was an historic old railroad town in Southeast Kansas, about an hour from Kansas City, and an hour from Joplin.  It was divided down the middle of town by a highway and railroad tracks….the division having racially motivated reasons dating back to the 1800’s, and the time of “Bleeding Kansas” and the John Brown raids.  It had a dark history of racism (for more on this, look up the author/poet/photographer/director Gordon Parks, and the movie “The Learning Tree”). Yet, in the 70’s, I wasn’t aware of that dark past so much.  I had both black and white friends.  They were restoring the Fort from the 1840’s, had beautiful old Victorian homes, brick streets, and a quaint downtown.  It still has one of the most beautiful parks I’ve ever seen, Gunn Park.  It had two elementary schools (one on the east side, one on the west), a junior high, which sat prominently in the middle of town, and a big old high school, which is now gone.

The town was a bit run down in some areas, had it’s nicer neighborhoods, but it was safe just about everywhere you went.  It was safe to ride our bikes, go for walks, and explore. One of my friends and I used to walk to the end of our street, which was a dead end, and we would climb down the embankment to play at the river banks while our parents were at work.  I could walk to my father’s office at the church where he was a minister, only a few blocks away.  My mother’s office was a block from his office.  I could walk downtown to the library, to stores, and to the movies.  On Saturdays, another friend and I would meet at a certain corner, and we would walk to the library, then go buy a lot of candy with our little bit of allowances we had. In the summer, I would walk or ride my bike to the swimming pool.

The people in our church were wonderful.  Because my father was the minister, we were invited to so many homes for Sunday dinner, on trips to Kansas City, or to our favorite chicken restaurant, Chicken Annie’s (Southeast Kansas is known for it’s chicken restaurants!).  My sisters and I had babysitting jobs for many families in our church.  Our doctor and dentist both went to our church.  My piano teacher was our organist. Everyone knew everyone, or had some sort of connection to them.

Going back there today is different.  My parents and almost all of their friends are now gone.  The church is closed.  It isn’t safe in a lot of areas.  The old homes are in disrepair.  The brick streets are not in great shape.  The downtown is empty and sad.  Most of the manufacturers are gone.  Walmart is the biggest store in town…….

Even though I know we can’t live in the past, and I’m glad I don’t live there today, I do miss a lot of that innocence today.  People really cared about each other.  Small towns are not for me at this point in my life, and I’m glad my parents showed me that there was a world out there through travel and books, but growing up in a small town in the 1970’s was special.  I didn’t realize then what a wonderful thing it was.  I raised my own children there too, but it was already changing, and it wasn’t the same.

Life was easier then.  Times were easier, or seemed to be.  Maybe it was just easier for parents to protect their children from the cruel world without the influences of 24 hour news and social media.  Sometimes I really miss the days when I had no worries, plenty of friends, my parents, a kinder, safer world…….  We can’t go back, and we can’t bring back those we’ve lost.  We can only be more appreciative of each other, treat each other with respect,  be kind to each other, and not take anyone or anything for granted.  Life is too short to not appreciate who and what we have in front of us.  It might not be there tomorrow.