Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Don't force my hand, Beiber!

Last week I did it. I bought my son skinny jeans. And he loves them. *Forehead hitting desk*

I'm glad I made my boy happy and all, but Beiber and his dumb skinny jeans forced me to come to terms with a reality I've been avoiding for a while now: I am getting old, my style is stuck in the mid- to late-90's, and I need to get with the times.

My son often accuses me of being picky about what he wears. I don't actually think I am all that picky, but I do have criteria, and I honestly don't think its unreasonable.

* No holes
* No stains
* It has to match
* It can't look so strange that people think I let you get dressed in the dark

And, I'm realizing, apparently it has to fit my style too. *sigh* My heart is in the right place though. I just don't want my kids looking like slobs or doofs when they go out in public. There's nothing wrong with that, right?!

But like I said, I'm realizing that I'm getting old and need to get with the times. And that means that I have to - quite begrudgingly - accept "Beiber nation" and let my son wear his ridiculous skinny jeans. Because my ridiculous is apparently his uber cool. I'll never understand it, but sadly, I must accept the stupid skinny jeans and other bizarro fashions of my kids' generation.

In my world, pants need to have some room in the legs. That, and boys pants should look distinctly different than girls pants. And therefore, from behind, you should be able to distinguish a boy's lower half from a girl's. I like to think I am a flexible and accepting person, and don't think I'm generally that rigid in my thinking, but I do think there are lines that shouldn't be crossed and, well, boys skinny jeans cross a line.

However, in the world of 2011 nine year old boys, skinny jeans are the epitome of coolness. I'm not even kidding, but my son actually swaggers in his skinny jeans. I mean, really?! Son, you're nine! Save the swagger for when you're....okay, never. Just don't swagger. It pours salt in the fashion wounds of your mother.

So who do I blame for this fad, and for forcing me into finally accepting that these pants that I will never see as cool are, in fact, very cool if you're 20 years younger than me? That's right. The Beib.

You forced my hand, Beib! And made me feel old and lame. Not cool.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Don't drop me

On Father's Day our family went on a hike. It was around nap time, and was a long walk for our almost-3 year old. She did a great job getting to our turn-around point, but was stumbling and walking like a drunken sailor on the walk back, so my husband lifted her onto his shoulders and piggy-backed her the majority of the way back to the van.

When my husband lifted her up, I noticed that she didn't flinch or show any sign of fear. She was more than five feet above the ground, balancing on a set of moving shoulders, barely hanging on, and yet showed no signs of trepidation whatsoever. If she fell, it would be a painful experience. (Not that I doubt my husband's ability to hang onto her.)

In contrast, if put in the same situation, I would have freaked out. I'm not afraid of heights, but the thought of falling terrifies me. Even falling from a relatively short distance of five feet.

As I thought about that, I had a much more abstract thought: I don't trust like my daughter does. And I think it has to do with age and life experience. Distrust is learned through experience with let-downs, heartaches, and pain (both physical and emotional).

As babies we come into this world knowing and depending on nothing but trust. We have to depend solely on others to take care of our needs; food, warmth, clean diapers, security, etc. As we move into toddlerhood, we depend on others for safety, mental stimulation, and the freedom to begin developing some autonomy. In these stages, we depend so little on emotional responses. As long as our primal survival needs are met, we're okay.

As we move into preschool and elementary ages, when we begin experiencing and understanding more about human behaviors and interactions, this is when mistrust begins to emerge. As we grow older, and more experiences reinforce our mistrust, it develops into the more concrete distrust.

Mistrust means "to doubt, to lack confidence in." Distrust means much the same but adds suspicion to the mix. (The Columbia Guide to Standard American English. 1993.)

The older we get, the less we are able to fully trust certain people and situations. I think with every new relationship (friendship, business, romantic, etc.) or experience, rather than going in trusting, as we did as children, we go in automatically mistrusting, if not fully distrusting. We have to re-experience trust in order to override our mistrust/distrust.

I doubt many people go into a first date assuming it will go perfectly. We go in knowing the other person is flawed or that the experience will have at least a few glitches. We don't feel comfortable with a total stranger enough to divulge everything about ourself - our deepest fears, our greatest aspirations - afraid that we will be wounded as we have been before. We don't want history to repeat itself, so we do everything we can to guard our vulnerabilities. If things go well, little by little we begin to bring those walls down and take the risks of getting hurt. But the Catch 22 is, we often don't care about the pain inflicted by people we aren't invested in; we care about the pain those who know us well can inflict.

So life, as we age, becomes a cycle of mistrust/distrust, followed by slowly reprogramming ourselves by regaining our trust through learning that we're safe with a new person/experience, only to have an experience that makes us distrust again, and this time even deeper.

So no wonder I am terrified to ride on someone's shoulders! I am afraid of the pain of falling - I know it physically hurts - and the greater pain of deeper distrust. I don't trust people to carry me. (Except God.) Not physically, and certainly not emotionally!

But my daughter isn't there yet. I am inspired and humbled by her full trust in her dad to carry her and not let her fall - physically or emotionally. She doesn't see the capability in him (or anyone) to hurt her yet. And in the same token, I am saddened for her, because I know the day will come when she has had enough painful experiences that she won't fully trust anyone and everyone to treat her carefully and not drop her.

And I am sad for myself. I am sad that I have been emotionally dropped enough times that I am afraid to take a chance; even a chance on being a mere five feet off the ground. And its not even the physical pain I'm afraid of.

So I suppose my challenge for myself, and anyone reading this, is to try not necessarily to trust others more, but to allow others to trust you. I am asking myself, and others, to have a soft touch with others; to be kind, dependable, tender, and responsive to others' needs. To do everything in your power not to drop the people who depend on you; to keep from wounding them at any cost. I know this is really hard to do. Really hard. But the only way we can eradicate distrust is to allow people to have faith in us. And I believe any step in that direction, no matter how small, is a step in the right direction. Everyone possesses the ability to make their world better through their positive actions toward others, so there is no reason not to be mindful of this, and at least try to make the world a better, safer place.

How do you think we can rebuild trust in the people we love? What types of actions do you believe it takes to preserve peoples' trust in you?

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

34 cents of honesty

~~ Character is doing the right thing when nobody's looking. There are too many people who think that the only thing that's right is to get by, and the only thing that's wrong is to get caught. -J.C. Watts ~~

I had an aggravating thing happen this afternoon. But aggravating as it was, I learned a valuable lesson, and as I reflect on it, the more powerful it becomes.

I ran into the grocery store this afternoon to grab a few supplies to make end-of-year deliciousness for the teachers and staff at my kids' school, with all 3 kids in tow. I only bought about 8 items, so I decided to just go through the U-Scan lane and check my own groceries. While I've gotten very good at juggling groceries, purse, club card, and children, its no easy task when your 2 year old is determined to squirm in the back of the cart to the point of traveling every last millimeter of it in a 5 minute time span.

So I scanned my groceries. Red potatoes...beep. Heavy cream...beep. Mini marshmallows....beep. And so on and so forth. I pressed the pay button, slid my credit card through, scolded my boy for leaning on the scale and making the machine angry at me (for the 12,548th time, give or take), grabbed my groceries and loaded them into the cart... Only to then realize the little one was sitting on a lemon.

Great. Fabulous. I forgot a lemon. My little one is being a pill, my middle one is across the aisle looking at gum she knows I won't buy, and the big one is touching everything...including the scale again. I looked at the lemon. I looked at the kids. I looked at the door. I looked at the people around me. I looked at the inattentive U-scan line clerk. I let out a frustrated sigh. I dug in my purse for money. 14 cents in change. Great. Fabulous. I have to use the debit card for one lousy lemon.

I'm not going to lie. For a fleeting second, the thought did cross my mind to just smuggle the lemon out. It would have been a whole lot easier and time-efficient than restarting the dang machine, wrestling with my kids for another 2 minutes... Ugh.

But alas, I am honest to a fault. I just don't like to lie. Never have. I just don't like the guilty, icky feeling I get from being dishonest. So, hassle that it was, I restarted the machine, let out a few more frustrated sighs, punched in the sticker code for the lemon, swiped my club card (on the upside, I saved 45 cents on my dang lemon), and put a whopping 34 cents on my debit card. 34 cents. 34 cents on a debit card. I felt like a total fool. I honestly was probably blushing over my 34 cent debit card purchase. I mean, who doesn't carry at least 34 cents?

But the more I think about it, despite the extra hassle, time, and embarrassment, I know I did the right thing. And as a mother, I don't want my children to pick up the social norm of dishonesty. I needed to set a good example, and show them integrity and honesty in practice.

So now I wonder, what is honesty worth anymore? Sure, most people won't go and steal something large or expensive. But I don't think most people would bother to be honest over a "oopsie" lemon left unpaid for in the bottom of their cart, especially if it was a hassle and you were in a hurry. I don't think honesty is worth 34 cents to most people. It may not even be worth a few dollars. I think that's sad.

Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe people are more honest than that. Maybe integrity, character, and honesty are principles in everyone's life, no matter how trivial the circumstance, how much of a hassle it is, or any other variable. But unfortunately, I kind of doubt it.

What do you think? (And since this is an honesty post, answer honestly.) Would you have gone back and paid for the lemon? Is 34 cents worth being honest about, even if its inconvenient? Do you think most people would be honest about it?

Sunday, June 5, 2011

5 things Facebookers do that drive me bonkers (and maybe you too)

So maybe I'm a little disgruntled because my 2 year old has been a pill all day long and I've reached my limit. Or maybe its because I haven't done a sarcastic post in a while. Who knows? But I feel its high time to write a sarcastic blog about the things people do on Facebook that drive me bananas. And hopefully I am not the only one who feels this way. And, just so you know, I am not targeting any select person(s) here. These are just things that my friends and I complain about to eachother. And, also just so you know, I fall into a number of these categories too. Guilty as charged.

#1 -- Super duper lovey dovey couples
I appreciate that people have good relationships and all, but come on. Sometimes I just feel like saying, "Get off Facebook, and get a room!" You know who I mean; the lovey dovey couples who write back and forth to eachother almost every day, praising their mate for every little thing. "You are the greatest wife and mother. Thanks for making me waffles for breakfast." Excuse me while I gag. If you need to share your lovey dovey-ness with all your mutual friends on Facebook every single day, then I begin to wonder... Who are you trying to convince - your friends, or yourself? Because, and maybe this is just me, I think those who are secure in their relationships don't constantly have to reinforce their love for their partner daily and publicly, and praise them for things like making waffles for breakfast. My husband thinks my waffles rock, but he doesn't have to tell all his friends every single day about every single thing I do that he likes. And honestly, I wouldn't want him to, because I think its lame.

#2 -- The non-chatty chatters
You know who I mean; the people who pop up on your chat feed constantly - like, every single time you log in - but never say anything more than hi. You try to put the ball in their court and engage them in conversation, but you know you're only going to be given one word answers to your questions. And they never fail. "How are you? How are the kids? What did you do today?" "We're good. Had a good day." to elaborate? No, apparently not. Thanks for wasting my time.

#3 -- Friends that friend you to "catch up," because, "it's been AGES since we talked," but ignore you instead
Again, you know who I'm talking about; your BFF from 7th grade who you were stuck like glue to, whom you haven't talked to since your freshman year of high school, who is dying to catch up with you - they said so in their friend request - but no matter how many times you comment on their statuses, write on their wall, send them a message, or "like" the things they posted, they never seem to comment back, answer your wall posts, write more than a sentence in return to your messages, or "like" anything you post. Okaaaay... I thought you wanted to catch up. So...let's catch up. If you don't really want to, then why did you request me in the first place? I'm confused...

#4 -- The pot stirrers
I admit, sometimes I am one of these people. But I don't think I am that bad. I am talking about the people who constantly turn anything and everything into a debate and/or something negative. You post, "I went clamming this morning," and they say something like, "I hope you used a shovel because clam guns can break their shells and are inhumane." Thanks for the tip, but I think I'll do it my way. Then an entire debate breaks out over clam guns vs. shovels, things get ugly, and its just darn right uncomfortable because you are trying to be diplomatic, and everyone wants you to pick a side. I'm a lover not a fighter. Go pick a fight on someone else's wall, please. Especially if its over something as trivial as how I catch my clams.

#5 -- The extremists who hate to hear others' opinions
I can sometimes fall into this category too. This mostly applies to religion and politics, but I am sure everyone has these types too. The Republicans who rip apart the Democrats (or vice-versa) just for believing one little thing they disagree with, so they must all be discredited and told they're stupid. Or the atheists who think Christians are a collective group of brainwashed people without brains, and Christians who treat atheists like they are calloused, unfeeling heathens. Now, I love me a good debate (I really do), but keep it civil, and bear in mind that your opinion is just that - your opinion. Others are entitled to theirs too, and you need to give them and their viewpoint at least some respect and consideration. Nobody has all the "right" answers to everything, you'll just look like a jerk if you act like you do, and nobody is going to take you seriously. Trust me on that one.

I know I have more, but these are the 5 I could think of offhand. Please, nobody be offended by this, because its not directed at anyone in particular. Its directed at the ridiculousness that Facebook can, and too often does, bring out in human behavior.

So, do you fall into any of these categories? Which habit do you find most annoying? Do you have any to add to the list?