TLCs (Scattered) Thoughts

Location: Gilbert, AZ

I am a writer, a photographer, and a Dork Chop FO-tog. I can be found on FB at and also on Flickr at Mostly I capture what I see from my perspective.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Butterfly Kisses...

Hannah is upstairs right now tossing and turning thinking about her first day of High School. I used to tell her bedtime stories that would help ease her mind, and send her off to dreamland with a smile on her little chubby cheeked face. Tonight I was woefully unable to ease her fears, or release her butterflies. She does not have a little chubby cheek face anymore, and my funny stories complete with cccchhhussssun accents (russian accents) didn't get me more than half a smile. When she started kindergarten, I prepared her very well. We talked about it, we went to the school, we walked around the playground, tried out the swings (her fav), and the night before school started, when I was tucking her in, I can still hear her sweet little girl voice telling me that she was ready for school, and that she was going to be brave. She told me 'Mommy, I am going to be a big brave girl. I might cry, but only a little.' *sniff* The magical first day, she cried two little tear drops, then ran off to meet her new best friends, and her teacher Mrs. Barclay. I stood out there, staring at the closed door with twenty other mothers with tears rolling down our faces at the gigantic step that our children had just taken. Now... wipe your eyes and fast foward ten years. Now you have a sullen teenager who tells you on a regular basis that you are not needed. She tells you that you are unwelcome within her circle of friends, and you are now a gigantic source of embarassment at the high school open house for the sole reason that you are a parent. It is a relationship straining time. And yet, I still want her to be unafraid, and to know that even though she thinks she doesn't need it- my support and love is right there with her whether she wants it or not. I tried to think of what I was thinking about the night before my first day of high school. Good old Marcos De Niza.... It was probably something like...gosh I hope Bruce Butler isn't going to try to sit on me again! Bruce Butler was a hired fat kid who would sit on people for money. Nancy Cohen paid him two dollars to sit on me in the sixth grade, and we were mortal enemies after that. I was a tiny (and fast) girl who was able to avoid Bruce due to a combination of my swiftness, and his obeseness. I highly doubt that is what has my daughter biting what is left of her nails and beginning to munch her cuticles. She was wearing bandaids and neosporin on her thumbs this morning due to having picked these fingers into red raw signs of a nervous Hannah. This is what we do when we are nervous. Anyway, having watched High School Musical 1 and 2 way WAY too many times, I told her to close her eyes and imagine Zac Efron waiting for her, where he would take her hand, and they would run singing from class to class singing songs, and doing dances that the whole school magically knew. This did earn a smile with a snort. I told her that for me, the dream was Rydell High and John Travolta. Of COURSE she has no idea who I was talking about! I told her to dream that she is about to become a wildcat with a bunch of singing classmates.
Now I am downstairs with Ellie (the dog), and am faced with writing her first day of school note. This is a tradition that I don't take lightly. I don't have any idea what to write about this year. Usually I have an idea...a theme at least. This time, I am blank. Today while I was working on my pond and watching my Koi, I waited for inspiration. None came, but BOY do I have some good looking fish! So here it is...almost eleven. I have to get up at five to begin the process of getting her up and going at five thirty. I better wrap this up huh?!? I just hope that the radio stations don't play 'Butterfly Kisses'. That is a cheap mean thing to do to parents who are just barely holding back the tears that at any moment could well up and escape. One year (it was her second grade year) I walked her to her class, smiled and gave her the wave and the thumbs up, wiped a quick little girl tear- without shedding any of my own- and made it back to the car. A few deep breaths, a moment of reflection, and I was good. I started the car and on came this song about butterfly kisses and a girl growing up. It is a tender sweet song and it made me cry. I was sitting in the parking lot thinking that this year I had made it without any tear streaks on my face. Damn radio people! The were probably laughing at how many people they had just made cry.

I think that tommorow- although I won't be able to hold her hand or walk with her to class (because she would die of embarassment!), I am pretty sure that I will be consistant in my first day of school tradition. I would bet that I will pull up to the curb, watch her jump out, be given the quick sullen teenager wave, and then watch her run off to be a high school student. I will then be left to try to not cry, but who are we kidding...we all know I will. Just thinking about butterfly kisses. Curses upon whoever wrote that song! **sniff**


The Family Idiot

When I was little I had the unfortunate fate of being born second. This would not have been so bad if my older sister hadn't been a teachers' dream student. She was eager to learn, smart, studious, quiet, organized, and timely with all her homework. She never got in trouble for anything. She never cheated, she never asked to go to the bathroom to get out of class, she never faked a fever with a heating pad hidden under the bed, and she was a successful learner. She was a naturally talented student. She loved school, and learned easily. My mom was very particular about the teachers we had in school, so when she found a teacher that worked well for my sister, she had hissy fits at the district if she couldn't get the same teacher for me. Heaven knows that little goofball me needed only the best teacher possible, and it stands to reason that since my sister did well, then so should I. I am sure that these teachers salivated in eager anticipation of having the opportunity to teach yet another historically superior student. It was…a Sellers girl. The day would arrive whereupon I would inevitably stumble into class, get my name on the board within the first hour, and at least three times a day right up to the last day of school. You could actually read the question in their mind...which one is adopted?!? How could these two people have the same parents, the same home environment, the same schedule…yet be so completely different? How? My sister never fibbed, never disregarded assignments, and ran home from school in eager anticipation every nine weeks with her report card. 'A joy to have in class' in the comment field and all 'A' marks. When you have a situation like this, it is impossible to pretend that you didn't get your report card too. There was no reprieve. I learned early on in my elementary educational career, that every nine weeks, I would be grounded for the following four. I could actually plan my events and activities around the nine week report card schedule. I knew which things I was going to be grounded for based upon the school calendar. I learned that there would most likely be a spanking, there would be yelling, and there would be the unanswerable questions that my mother was famous for. 'What is WRONG with you?' was my favorite. There is no way to be asked this question without appearing to be a mute idiot. There is no good answer, and if you don't answer…what do you do instead? I was never able to figure out what a good answer would be for my irate mother who appeared to be at wits end. The comment on my report card: 'is smart but does not apply herself'. I hated this comment, yet it was slapped on all my report cards from kindergarten to twelfth grade. What kind of comment is this? What kind of teacher would tell a kid EVERY YEAR that she wasn't trying hard enough. Why didn't THEY try harder? Why didn't one of them see that I was struggling with a learning disability? Shame on any teacher who ever gave this label to a kid without first trying to find out WHY the student was having trouble. No student wants to be the misfit who feels like they are not capable of learning. I hated school until I got to college. By then, I had learned HOW to learn (without anyone's help), and I built up my confidence one class at a time. I began to realize that I was not dumb. For the first time in my life, I felt like I could learn, remember, and take tests with success. An added bonus was the absence of the comment boxes on college report cards. :) A great irony that gives me a very dark satisfaction in the vindictive part of my soul, was this little nugget of knowledge: My super smart sister flunked out of college her first year. She sank like a rock in the university atmosphere, and flunked. In her defense, she was so busy pleasing my parents, who heaped praise on her schooling abilities, that she failed to tell them that she did not want to be an engineer like my father. She was not strong enough to voice her opinion and chance disappointing them. I had the benefit of them being chronically disappointed in me. I grew accustomed to the yelled question 'What is WRONG with you?' every nine weeks for 13 years. Sixty one times I fielded that question lobbed in anger and disappointment while clutching a pink piece of paper with letters in boxes representing my dismal school abilities. Poor sis…she was caught off guard! She had no experience with angry parents clutching any of her school papers with this horrific reaction. I had the benefit of 208 weeks of being grounded to contemplate my educational incompetence. Poor sis was woefully inexperienced at this added bonus feature of educationally disappointing our parents. After she had that unfortunate educational breakdown, it was decreed loudly, and repeated often, that there would be no more funding of college educations for any children now or ever. It stood to reason if my brilliant sister couldn't succeed in college, there was no hope. My parents aged at the prospect of having raised educationally incompetent children. A few years later, I did work my way through college paying for my education. I must say, it was the most satisfying money I ever spent. It felt very good to be vindicated, and released from my long running owner of the title 'family idiot'. I was able to generously hand the role off to my sister, where she took her new roll seriously. Life is gloriously ironic isn't it? To wrap up, as a new school year begins, I am begging teachers and parents to be very careful not to categorize children. Don't ever assume that your child 'is smart but does not apply him/herself'. Don't assume that your kids will have the same needs from their teachers. Because of my treasure trove of knowledge regarding the horrific-ness of sibling comparisons, that is ONE mistake that I know how to avoid, and I avoid it like the black plague. My children are kept completely separate educationally because my daughter is my older sister, and my son is me. Full circle. My son has wandered many halls out of boredom, he has tried to fake sick to avoid going to school, and he grows weary of the frustration that accompanies watching everything come easy to his sister, while he has to struggle to learn. He is me.


Asian Youth

When I was in school and report time rolled around, every single teacher would tell the class that the topic of youth in Asia was off limits. Not having even an ounce of curiosity regarding the youth in another country, I simply wrote reports about other things. I can remember being remotely currious, but the short attention span always won out. The question of WHAT these crazy Asian kids were doing that caused them to be an off limits topic every year, was to go unanswered until I was in English 102 at Mesa Community College. I was sitting in class when the teacher instructed us to exchange papers with our neighbor, and offer editing tips. I traded with a guy who looked strange, and his paper was about a word I could not pronounce. It started with an EU... and it was.... OMG! It was YOUTH IN ASIA!! spelled differently. I had only read about a page when I began to realize that all my life I had wondered about the youth of a nation unneccesarily. I was, in fact, a knot head. I worked backward in my mind wondering how many people would have caught on to my unfortunate misunderstanding. I tried to remember any discussions that may have taken place, but seeing how I can't remember what I said YESTERDAY, it was unlikely that even if I had said something, I would not remember. I just had to hope that no one knew.

Today I heard the topic brought up again with the raging debate over the health reform issues. I think that there will be a few innocent folks who sat up and said to themselves 'well THAT is strange...why would the youth in Asia need to be included in our healthcare, and why is President Obama denouncing the idea of these youth in our insurance?!?'. I'm certain that at least a few people will spout off that they believe that youth in Asia should be covered...but only if they are American! I am so glad I went to college!


Sunday, August 2, 2009

I am a Tigger

I have been pondering something lately. Can an optimist become a pessimist? Can the optimist lose that buoyancy that keeps them with high hopes? Is it possible that the bubble of hope can dissipate completely? Or, is it like an air bubble that travels to the surface of the water no matter what the circumstances? Air bubbles do become trapped sometimes, but by physics and nature, they must rise.

I have always been an optimist. Either it had to do with my incredibly short memory, my even shorter attention span, or is it just an ingrained thing in my DNA? I have always been a happy go lucky optimist. I believe that people are basically good, I believe that everyone has a purpose for their life. I believe, too, that everyone falls into the characters of whinny the pooh. You have Pooh - a forgetful bumbler, Rabbit - a pragmatic no fun grownup, Eyeore -an eternal pessimist, and there are tiggers who are happy. I am a tigger, married to an eyeore, raising eyeore children. Sometimes I feel like I am losing my tigger'ness. Some days, the eyeores around me sap my strength, and I begin to feel like a tigger who has been eaten by an eyeore. So... I have been wondering, can a Tigger become an Eyeore? I think about how I see things that are going 'wrong'. I tend to reevaluate and find a way to accomplish what I want/need to accomplish. I nearly never give up, and have a dogged determination that is a blessing and a curse. My air bubble of hope does get stuck from time to time. Minor setbacks that seem big at the time, nearly always give way to being able to find a way to 'keep on keepin' on'. I simply don't see any other options. Is it possible to just let go and give up? I wouldn't know how to do that. Is it possible to just hide in a closet and hope to never be found for longer than an hour or so? I have never found a way to do that either. My closet is where I sit sometimes. While it usually starts as a way to hide and quit, it usually turns into a 'what is the answer to this problem' party where the voices in my head fight it out. Like that classic cartoon where on one shoulder is the devilish version of yourself, saying negative bad things; and on the other shoulder is the angelic version of yourself offering reassurance, and telling you what the good choice to make would be -and you are left to be the judge of who you are going to listen to. Only in my closet, when I am upset by something that has gone wrong causing me to need to hide out in my closet, there is a tigger on one shoulder reminding me that 'tiggers bounce', and an eyeore on the other side reminding me that for eyeores, 'nothing ever works out'. Sometimes I wish I could fast forward through the tough times, just to find out who wins…did I bounce through it? Or did I give up. I look in my son's eyes, and watch him when he is up, and watch even closer when he is down. I watch the storms come and go in his eyes, and I watch him use his strength to fight off the disappointment, and the hurt that comes with being different from other kids. I remind myself that if HE can' keep on keepin' on', then by golly, so can I. I may have to hide in my closet more often than he does, but I do it for him. I am the tigger in the family for him. Now that I have thought about it, I will be the tigger as long as I am alive. I bounce. It is what tiggers do best.