Parenting

Two Kinds of People

There are two kinds of people in this world.

Surprisingly (not really) there are lots of sayings out there on the internet that start with this phrase. I have done some research and I can’t find anything that resembles what I am about to say, so I apologize to whomever if I am stealing your words. I have no intention of stealing your words, so if you said it you can claim it here and I’ll give you attribution.

There are two kinds of people in this world,

those who give life and those who suck life right out of you.

I have known this for a long time. However, there are stages in my life that I realize as I look back on them that I have either been one of them, or both. I hope that I haven’t been the latter as often as I have been the former, but I guess that really isn’t up to me to judge. I also know, as I look back, that I have most certainly had both kinds of people in my life. I haven’t always recognized it as quickly as I should have. Lessons learned.

I have two pieces of advice. First, evaluate the people in your life. Do it honestly (this will be tough!), and do it quickly. The sooner you realize who the givers and the suckers are, the better off you’ll be. Second, get rid of the suckers. They aren’t worth it. That’s not to say give them a second chance and to have grace with them, but after a while the sucking overrides the giving and that is when it is time to cut them loose.

Where do you fall? Be honest with yourself. Are you a giver of life or a sucker of life?

Feel free to comment or to add your own “two kinds” statement.

 

I choose life

cg52dfd07233857

There is so much to say about this topic and I just can’t process all there is to say, so I will say it in a rather short, blunt manner.

New York, you’ve got it all wrong. I suppose you were outraged by the news of Dr. Kermit Gosnell, but honestly this just puts you on a similar level – only now you make it legal.

Apparently, in New York, the definition of life involves which side of the vagina a baby is on, inside or outside. Outside the vagina, you’re good, kid! Inside the vagina, well, you’re SOL! Doesn’t anyone (ok that is a generalization) in New York recognize that mere seconds doesn’t make life? A baby is a baby. Inside or outside. There is no difference.

It hurts my heart to see that people actually cheered for this as it was signed. The level of stupid has reached new heights. You seriously need to question your morals if you think this is even remotely a good idea.

Get this contradiction: In New York, it is illegal to kill a convicted criminal but it isn’t illegal to kill a completely innocent baby.

Yeah, let that sink in.

Nice work, America. You have managed to tarnish that whole “LIFE, liberty, and pursuit of happiness” thing.

 

Small Windows of My Daughter

low angle photo of white painted room

Photo by Colin Schmitt on Pexels.com

I was scrolling through articles on my Google news feed a while back and came across the article at the bottom of this post. I have to say that it struck a chord with me that I didn’t expect and I actually cried. The reason is because I can identify with what the writer was saying, but in different ways.

Social media is all we have and I honestly devour each and every post she makes because it feels like I am with her.

I too get a small glimpse of who my daughter is and of her daily life via “small windows” she posts on social media. Instagram and Facebook being the main avenues of those glimpses. I am sure she has other social media that she uses (and that scares me to tell the truth) and I also know that what I see on her accounts might not actually be what is going on in life since teens tend to have one account for everyone and then an account for just close friends where they can “be real.” I don’t know if she has any accounts like that for sure, but what I do know is that each time she posts something my heart jumps.

The author of the article (at least from what I can tell) RESIDES in the same home as her daughter and sees her on a regular basis, albeit as much as a teen likes to interact with their family. But, she does get the day-to-day interaction, even if not always the most pleasant.

For me, well, I am a divorcee and like many, many fathers I got the usual “short end of the stick” when it came to visitation. I probably get more than most fathers, but honestly is still isn’t enough. That is the reason the article resonated and was painful for me.

As a father who gets limited time with his daughter it just exacerbates the issue of trying to get to know your child. I think we have a pretty good relationship but it still is hard to KNOW her when she is going through the years of teen growing pains. I long for the discussions about life and for the discussions about what her future might hold and I long for the times of silliness when she was little and I long for…well, I just long for HER.

While most parents likely are tired of the mundane battles of getting kids up for school, and making sure homework is done, and making sure that their friends are “ok” to hang out with, and…I don’t get any of that. Or, at least,  I get very little of it. I want it. I want it.

So, when I saw this article and read the pain the author was experiencing trying to get to know her daughter, even when she lives in the same house, you can imagine how parents who are divorced and don’t get the same exposure to their children feel when it comes to truly seeing who their children are. Social media is all we have and I honestly devour each and every post she makes because it feels like I am with her. I am close.

It’s a consolation prize in a race I so desperately want to win. I hope the seeds I have sown will one day be fruitful and that one day she will feel like she can open up with me and show me the real her. Until then, I’ll keep looking through those small windows and watching my little girl grow. Watching as she reveals a little of herself in each post. Watching….and waiting.

**I recommend you read the article below to understand how this blog post was prompted.

The Decline of American Society: Cause and Solution

analysis blackboard board bubble

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Ok, guys, this is a pretty serious topic and it warrants a long discussion. However, I am going to let the article speak for itself and reserve my comments for a discussion, should one actually occur.

This topic doesn’t just apply to American colleges, but at all levels of education and society in general. We have trained out students incorrectly, done them a huge disservice, and I have been saying it for years.

Before I share the article, I would like to suggest that microaggressions don’t actually exist. I would posit instead that they actually should be referred to, and focus on the opposing source, as microsensitivities (not hypersensitivity), meaning one is so sensitive that anything and everything could cause an individual to over-react in nearly all situations. In essence, one is so fragile that they believe they and others should be protected from reality. We have an entire segment of society that avoids anything that causes discomfort and if it is challenging they won’t even attempt it.

I ask that you read the WHOLE article below before making a comment  (it is a long one). It is well written, well reasoned, and well supported. We need more of this type of journalism and thought.

 

The Coddling of the American Mind

 

What are your thoughts? Share them in the comments.

What if you could rewrite your life?

img_4095

Ever have one of those days?

Ever have one of those days where the “What ifs…” begin to wander in and you start to think about what you would have done differently? What you would do if you could go back and start over?

I may or may not be having one of those days; but, as my pen layed on the notepad in front of me, I had a moment of creative inspiration with an app on my phone so I decided to record it and create. I guess, for a moment, I was being philosophical.

So, tell me, have you had one of those days? Or, moments? Tell me your “blank page” moment/story in the comments – what would you do if you could rewrite your life?

School Picture Thievery

shakedown-280x300

It’s that time of year again, folks!

This school picture thing is a pretty big racket if you ask me, and if you’re a parent you know what I am talking about. If there is any place you know it and can feel yourself being ripped off but can’t do anything about it, it is definitely with school pictures and sports team photos.

I have felt this frustration in the past, but it kind of boiled to a head this year when I went to order my daughter’s school pictures. It usually isn’t a big deal trying to order them, but being the “non-custodial” parent who usually gets the information second-hand sometimes it takes a while to get it done. (Yes, I realize I could just have photographer friend take the photo and avoid all the trouble so I guess I am a glutton for punishment).

Anyway, I logged onto the website with my special code and wanted to just download the image to my computer and then go have them printed in the quantities and styles I desired. So, I selected the outrageously overpriced digital image – $22. Say what? Yeah, you read that right…let’s do some quick math…

If a school has 300 hundred students and the photographer can get 60 students through a line and photographed per hour, then the photographer would work for five hours. The photographer is, most likely, using a digital camera to take said digital images @ $22 each, therefore making $1320/hr, or $6600/day. That is of course presuming that each parent purchases just the digital image, let alone one of the other overpriced packages they offer. Now we know not all parents purchase the pictures, but you get the idea.

So, after choosing the digital image for download I get to the check out page only to see that I am going to be charged a “Shipping and Handling” fee of $7. Uh, wait, what? I am downloading a digital image. Why is there a shipping and handling fee? What’s worse is that I can’t remove the fee either. The radial button is greyed out. I either pay the fee right now, or wait until the next day to call them. So, I opted to call the company the next day since surely the fee for a digital download isn’t $7 bucks…

I called the next day and waded through their automated answering system until I got to a real person to talk to. I explained my situation and asked if there was some kind of error on their website that wouldn’t allow me to remove the shipping and handling fee. The response?

“No, that is a flat fee we charge for all late orders.” 

Late? Yes, it is true I didn’t order when the pictures were taken in the fall, but your website says they can be ordered at any time until the following fall AND there is nothing to indicate this is a “late” order on the website. I was a little dumbfounded. I said, “You’re joking right? How does downloading a digital image warrant a $7 late fee or even a shipping and handling fee?”

“Well, we do have to mail you the rights release so you can have the picture printed.”

So what you’re saying is that you are going to charge me $7 to mail me a sheet of paper and an envelope that costs, at best, a stamp or maybe two? I said, “Listen, I understand it costs money to send a piece of paper and envelope out to me but I have ordered digital images from other photographers in the past and they didn’t charge me an extra fee for the rights release, they included it with the digital image download. Surely you have the ability to do that right? So, why would I need a piece of paper mailed to me? It takes less than three minutes to compose a generic email and attach two image files to it.”

“Ok, I suppose I could waive the shipping and handling fee. What email address would you like the images sent to?”

Thank you. Now was that so hard and how about you waive all shipping and handling fees for all digital downloads from here on out? I probably speak for everyone who has encountered this ridiculous fee. There is no reason for it other than you can, and you have families over a barrel. I would venture a guess that many people just pay the fee, which is sad.

Highway robbery, I tell ya, only there was no highway and the bandit holds parents and other family members hostage every dang year around school picture time.

highway-robbery1

The Debate: What is “Life”?

This is, apparently, life.

This is, apparently, life.

This, apparently, is not life.

This, apparently, is not life.

Science is an interesting thing. Much like math, you can pick and choose how to use it or interpret what it means.

It always amazes me that scientists can define “life” as a microscopic microbe (literally had to use an electron-microscope to see it because it is so tiny) and yet fail to see a fetus in a womb as “life”. The definition of “life” on biology-online.org seems pretty clear to me.

This article, “Critters found in Antarctic ice show how tenacious life is,” has me in a feisty mood. “Life” as they claim can apparently exist in the most inhospitable environments (including space, maybe) but “life” can’t exist in the most protective and nurturing of places, like a woman’s womb. At least, that is if you are someone that supports abortion.

Here is another one of those weird (not really, but we’ll call it that) things that seems hard to justify. If you are a criminal and happen to kill a woman who was pregnant, you can be charged with murder of the fetus in 38 states in the United States. However, if you are an abortion doctor, you apparently exempt from these laws? What gives?

Ok, I’ll get off my soapbox, for now. Anyone else not understand these obvious inconsistencies?

Wanna join me on the box? Add your two cents below.

Bullying – Do Children Need to be Taught to Cope Better?

*Originally posted on the blog 10/21/2013

I had an interesting conversation with my senior students (this is a Contemporary Issues class) this morning. We were watching the NBC Nightly News broadcast from October 20, 2013. There was a story about a student who was bullied and how it was handled, including how it is helping others around the country. Following their viewing of the broadcast, I asked them if there was anything that that caught their attention, something that they wanted to discuss further. One student raised his hand and asked, “Should we be teaching our students to cope better with bullying?” What do you think? Is this a valid question or just insensitivity?

They are, of course, aware of the case, and others like it, where a middle school student jumped from the top of the abandoned cement factory because of the bullying she endured from kids at school.  Some of them also admitted to instances in their past where they were being bullied and how they dealt with the situations. But, many of the students agreed with the first student that asked the question. Many agreed that if students were taught skills to cope with adversity in life, kids might not react so drastically.

Before I get too deep into that part of the conversation, let me also mention that the students, nearly to the person, said that bullying was a problem in society and that is has rightly gotten the attention that is deserves. Several students brought up the fact that there is a fine line between playful teasing, something that can happen between friends or family, and becoming mean – usually where bullying resides. They acknowledge that students need to be sensitive to others’ feelings and they also agreed that laws protecting those who are being bullied are necessary.

However, many of the students said that we live in a hypersensitive society. Too many people today, they felt, are too quickly offended, too quick to sue, too quick to play the victim. They said that we have become “soft” and that one of the reasons we are this way is because we have failed to develop “thick skin” when it comes to what other people do or say to us. Several examples they used (again, we watch the news) to demonstrate their point were the case where a school banned balls of any kind on the playground, the school that banned playing tag on the playground because children get hurt, or even from their own school where a former superintendent banned dodge ball because a student broke his wrist in a freak accident be stepping on a ball as he jumped out of the way. All of these cases, they felt, were from people overreacting to incidents because they were afraid that someone might sue. While these cases don’t have a direct connection to bullying, the point was well taken. Adults have been a bad example of how do deal with instances of conflict and our kids see how it has been handled and they act accordingly.

So, how do we teach our kids to have thicker skin? Better yet, how do we, as adults, begin to demonstrate that trait? Surely there is a need in our society to have thicker skin.

I am short and I get short jokes all the time. I have always been teased, maybe even ridiculed. But it hasn’t ever bothered me. It is a fact of my life. It isn’t something I can change so I accept it and make jokes about my own height as well. How did I develop the skill to cope with such treatment? I am not sure. But I am sure that there must be some value in teaching others the skills to cope in similar situations as well.

Admittedly, we all are different and what might set one person off doesn’t set another off. We all have different “breaking points” or we all have a threshold for tolerance. But why is that threshold so low in some and so high in others?

I would like to hear your thoughts. What do you think? Did my senior student have a valid point or was he just being insensitive?

Not Just Fishing – An open letter to my dad

img_4935

Sunrise @ Nootka Sound, Vancouver Island, BC, Canada

7/22/18

Dad,

I just wanted to take a moment and let you know how much I really appreciated the fishing trip to Canada this year. I know I said “Thank you” in person, but it just didn’t seem like enough. I have so much gratitude for what you have done and the chance you have given me and my daughter to do this together. There are a lot of things I want to say, so I will do my best to convey them concisely so I get them all in.

Thank you for the work you put in so many years ago. Thank you because the work you did in the past, owning a business and investment properties, has paid off. Over the years there have been many fishing trips with you, and typically there is very little cost to me or my siblings when we have decided to go. You have always covered the majority of the costs, leaving us with minimal expenses to and from the fishing location. I realize this isn’t without a substantial cost to you. I also realize that you have the means to do it because of the wise choices you have made in the past and the hard work that was involved with that. God has blessed you because of your choices and your faithfulness. Thank you, because it hasn’t gone unnoticed

Thank you for the memories you created in the past. As I mentioned before, there have been many times in the past that you have taken me, my siblings, or all of us at one time

img_4934

Another sunrise.

or another on a fishing trip. Whether it was individually or together as a group, there was something special about it. We had time to talk, to share, to be in God’s great creation. We’ve seen the beauty of His wonder and marveled at the spectacular sights. We’ve laughed at situations we have found ourselves in, we have laughed at each other, we have grumbled a little (ok, sometimes a lot), and we have felt loved no matter what. As I sat on the boat, waiting for a fish to take the bait, I realized that all the years of trips to remote places are some of the best memories I have. They aren’t necessarily specific, though there are many of those, but they all just kind of blend together to create a collage of memories that involve a fishing pole, water, and fish. Whether it was standing in the rain next to a stream or baking in the sun on the ocean, those are memories to be carried for a lifetime. Talking about life, playing games together in the camper or lodge, dragging in small fish and big ones too, those are memories that have an impact.

Thank you for letting me include my daughter this year. I have to admit that I was a little apprehensive to have her come along since she would have to get up early, not have much access to the internet and her friends, and that sometimes fishing can be boring. I know she can be difficult, especially now in her teen years, as the attitude can run amok and make things not so enjoyable for those around her. I was excited, however, for her to experience the things I did when I was a kid. I have memories of fishing with you, obviously, but there are also memories in my head of fishing with grandpa and grandma too. Those memories are a little fuzzy as I was really young, but they are there nonetheless and they make me smile. So, I was anticipating this trip and having a chance for her to fish with you. I could not wait for her to have what I had as a kid.

As the trip unfolded, and now as I look back, I think there is some obvious evidence that she had a good time, despite the challenges I was anticipating. There was some grumpiness, but not nearly to the level that I feared. I think a large part of that was because of you. You were patient with her, spoke to her with love, and didn’t push her to do too much. How do I know she had a good time? Did you hear those giggles and see those smiles? She did a lot of laughing, at us mostly, but it was worth it! And the smiles? img_4932Well, who can’t help but smile after working hard to get a fish in the boat? The fact that they were her first ocean fish makes it even better! She reeled in by herself a giant Yellow Eye she couldn’t keep (and her disappointment in that) was surpassed by the joy in getting her first King salmon. Regardless of whether she did it by herself or not, you were there the whole way and coaching her with patience and love. It was awesome to watch you two, working together, to make that history happen. Thank you. It is another special memory for me to tuck away and hold onto. I also know that she will do the same, though she may never express it.

Another thing I realized while sitting on the boat this time around is that we weren’t “just fishing.” I couldn’t help but think of a country song by Trace Adkins that has been on the radio for some time now and as I ran through the lyrics in my head I couldn’t help but relate to the song on a deeper level. I think it not only relates to the experience my daughter just had, but I think back over my time fishing with you and it also applies to me (though the details are obviously different). Sure the words may not apply directly to her, or to me for that matter, but the message of the song clearly does. There was always more to this trip than just fishing. In fact, it has always been that way but it took this trip for me to see it. This time for me as the father.

The fish were not plentiful this time and the frustration of not getting them in the boat may have shown a time or two, but what was plentiful were the memories being made and that is what really lasts forever. Thank you for taking the time to make those memories with me so long again (and continue to make) and for taking the time now to make those similar memories with my daughter, your granddaughter. They are incredibly special and I appreciate the chance to make them with her.

img_4933

First King salmon (Chinook). 16 pounds of rod & reel fun! Look at the smile!

Who knows what the future holds? No one. We may never get to do it again, or at the very least she may never choose to do it again, but either way the memories will endure. There will come a time when we can look back and remember those times, those laughs, those smiles, those giggles. I hope there are more chances in the future to make more memories like that, but if not then I am happy to tuck these away and cherish them as priceless treasures.

Thank you. Thank you from me. Thank you from my daughter. Thank you.

Love,

your son