A Dream Deferred: A Reflection and a Resolution

No, this was not the summer we envisioned.

God is in control, but that doesn’t mean we aren’t disappointed, sad, frustrated.

Proud of my girl’s response (her blog post below) and thankful the outpouring of support by friends and pianists near and far.

A Dream Deferred: A Reflection and a Resolution.

The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.”  – Psalm 34:18

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Countdown to Summer…

Ah… April in Arizona.  The time when “spring” temps start to creep into the upper 90s and kids begin their countdown to freedom.  As of today, we have only four weeks left of school.  Four weeks full of tests and projects and papers and assemblies and concerts and fieldtrips and… how in the world will we survive it all?  Something is sure to slip through the cracks.  At least, if you are at all like me it will.

Last week (in my excitement over surviving another tax season – Boo-ya!), I forgot kid #2 at school.  Not forgot a little, forgot a LOT. Forty-five minutes after school got out I looked around and realized “something” was missing… apparently it was my brain.  Sent the DH out to get him and found that he was nearly home, drenched in sweat, and slightly sunburnt.  (I did point out that if he had remembered his cell phone, he could have called to remind me that he needed a ride that day… so maybe technically it was HIS fault I forgot.  He didn’t buy it, but you can’t fault me for trying.)

Later, same kid reminds me that he needs materials for a big science project they were starting in class in the morning.  “Tomorrow?  And you’re telling me this at 8:00?!”   Yeah… he had given me the supply list two weeks earlier and I had promised to get right on it.  Strike 2.  Good thing Target is open late.

These things never would have happened in September. September Mom would have been early; April Mom is much less responsible.  I will admit, it’s good to know that at least I’m not alone.  Enjoy this hilarious blog post from last year and hang in there, moms; it’s almost summer!

http://jenhatmaker.com/blog/2013/05/30/worst-end-of-school-year-mom-ever

A Dash of Color

What color are YOU reading?

A Bookish Charm

When we think about books, especially about what type of books we prefer, we tend to categorize them into genres, time periods, literary movements, etc. Today, during a visit to the library, my school librarian commented that The Maze Runner and Divergent are silver. This seemed a completely logical statement to me and I added that I needed a silver book as ebony (such as the works of Charles Dickens) was too deep a tinge for the moment. Then, I realized: books truly can be described simply through colors (and the occasional pattern.) This sounds whimsical, but to any serious reader, whimsy and sense are actually quite similar.

Anyway, my thoughts took the loveliest turn this evening as I considered which of my favorite books are best represented by which colors and I came to some entertaining conclusions. For example:

Anne of Green Gables– a pale, minty green speckled with purplish…

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The Trophy Generation

The year was 2002. A tall blonde girl with colorful ribbons tied in her hair that matched her jersey stepped onto the basketball court for what would be her first and last season. She “played” in every game, yet never scored a point. In fact, she only attempted two shots and rarely even touched the ball since she would duck and scream every time a teammate made the unfortunate choice to pass it her direction.

“Shoot it! Shoot it!” We screamed idealistically. Game after game. Alas, it was not to be.

If you are expecting a great comeback story or a tale about the triumph of the human spirit, you’ll need to look elsewhere. The truth is, this kid just wasn’t good at basketball and she couldn’t have cared less.

League rules required that each player participate for a minimum amount of minutes per game, so she was guaranteed time on the court. League rules also guaranteed a trophy at season’s end – win or lose – for every player. So the girl proudly stepped forward, posed for the team photo, and accepted her prize.

ball

For what? Attendance? Heavens, give me the trophy. I’m the one who drove her to practices. I’m the one who sat through loss after loss with the forced smile and the “you’ll get ’em next time” attitude. I’m the one who organized the team snack schedule. I’m the one who avoided making eye contact with the parents of kids who actually knew how to catch and throw…Where’s my trophy?!

We’ve all heard the saying “If everybody’s special, then nobody is.”   Well, that’s only partly right; no, everybody can’t be special at EVERYTHING, but everybody can be special at SOMETHING. The key is to find out what that something is. And not all somethings give trophies, but that’s okay.

You see, the ribboned girl who was miserably bad at basketball would have much rather have been home playing piano or reading a book. So, not surprisingly, those are the areas in which she has excelled.  She’s earned numerous awards for music, writing, and academics. But you know what? She tends to question their significance. “Well, there were only ten other entries.” “I don’t think they must have been scoring very hard.” “I’m not really sure I deserved this.”

What have we done? Perhaps the “prizes for all” approach has more damaging effects than we imagined.   Perhaps giving trophies for everything affects our perception of accolades for anything. Maybe those early “wins” designed to spare littles’ feelings have resulted in making them feel that there really aren’t honors to be earned, but rather that every certificate, ribbon, and medal lacks true significance because so many are simply tokens of participation.  Not only are legitimate prizes devalued, but often the work needed to achieve an actual goal is undermined.

I get it. We don’t want six-year-olds to cry. But perhaps we should worry less about hurting their feelings and more about preparing them for life. In the real world you don’t get a trophy for showing up. In grown-up land, you are expected to show up and accomplish things.  In fact, you are PENALIZED for not doing so. Better to learn this lesson early.

I fear that society is already reaping the rewards of the “trophy for participation” generation.

I work with young adults who want to enter the teaching profession. To be fair, some of the twenty-somethings I work with are really, really impressive. For example, I supervised a young man last year who was bright, articulate, responsible, wise … oh, yeah, all while battling leukemia. He never made excuses. He never missed a deadline. He was never anything other than mature and competent.

Give that kid a trophy.

Actually, he doesn’t need one. He’s got something better going for him. He’s earning a living and establishing his professional reputation. How? By being really good at what he does every day. By showing up when others don’t, but not expecting any special recognition for doing what people have been expected to do for generations – their jobs.

Sadly, this young man seems to be a rarity among his peers. It has been my experience that many twenty-somethings expect to be given an “A” for effort… and sometimes not even that. They don’t seem to realize that when they don’t show up, complete the work, meet the deadline, or work well with others, it reflects badly on them and affects other people. They expect to be told “great job” regardless of how many mistakes they make. They want a pat on the back for doing the bare minimum academically or professionally and sometimes even CRY when their errors are pointed out. Seriously.

They seem to believe that “really wanting something” is the same as “really earning something.” It’s not.

We would do well to teach this generation about working hard and that includes expecting failure from time to time and growing from those experiences. And maybe we should think twice about just giving them all trophies so that they will know what it feels like to actually earn something of worth… so that when they do, it will actually have value and mean something rather than just being another mass-produced token of nothingness.

As the old Smith Barney ad used to say, “We make money the old-fashioned way. We EARN it.” Hmmm…maybe they had something there. We can’t afford another entitlement generation. Something’s got to change.

Oh, and don’t be surprised if you see a teacher-of-the-year named “Jake” in a few years. Because there are still good reasons for trophies. I’m okay with that.

Golden

I’ve enjoyed watching the competitions in the 2014 Olympic games, but the back stories are often more interesting than what happens on the ice or the slopes.

Scott Hamilton’s glory days may be behind him, but he’s certainly a great example of a true winner… and one who happily and humbly takes second place.

Do you want to be a model? Well, now you can be…

This short video demonstrates how easily images that show “ideal women” can be manipulated… and how easily we can be manipulated as a result.

 

The women’s responses were fascinating:

“Once someone else has done your makeup and someone else has done your hair and someone has directed the way your body looks and taken away your imperfections, then there’s not much left of who you really are.”

“It’s natural to be critical of yourself… but you have to know that the ideal just doesn’t exist.”

What a powerful reminder.   For true beauty, no photoshop is required.

“You are altogether beautiful, my love; there is no flaw in you.” Song of Solomon 4:7