challenges, mental health

A Tragedy

It was spooky season. Fall in the air. Football on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. It’s fall y’all. In the south fall is intertwined with football, cheerleading and tailgates. Fall is fun with friends this time of year. Sometimes too much fun. Sometimes the fun clouds our judgement.

This spooky season tragedy hit too close to home. A beautiful girl. A kind spirit. A smile to light up the room. A friend to many. A good one gone too soon. A community left distraught. So much lost in an instant. One who will never make it to graduation. Such a loss for her family and friends.

One decision ended in tragedy. One momentary lapse in judgment. We all have them but many don’t understand that choices can have devastating consequences. This hits less than a year after another young life was lost in the same community. Different circumstances yet same outcome. A young life was lost. Just barely 16.

Some of the same kids are dealing with grief again. The same school system shocked. The same counselors rallying to support the young lives dealing with the chaos. Social media memory reals. So much to process. All the while life is expected to go on uninterrupted for many. Sadness lurks. Loss is ever so present. Death is not kind.

As you read this post, think of those you love. Cherish the moments. The memories. Take the pictures. Save the voicemails. Record the giggles. Don’t wait. Tomorrow may be too late. Also be aware of how loss lurks and impacts those around you. Check in on others often. Do your part. Ask questions. Be ready to listen and share in the burden of pain.

Make time for others. Choose empathy over sympathy. Be present with those who need support. Remind young lives of the importance of safety in and around vehicles. Seatbelt priorities. Number of kids in one vehicle. Driver experience. The list goes on and on.

Be cautious around holidays when many celebrations take place. Being alert on the roadways can be a life saver. Parents make sure your kids have lifelines to reach out to in case of an emergency. Consider location tracking even if your teen feels it’s a violation of their privacy. Keep communications open.

High school.

College.

Young adulthood.

It’s all the same for parents. A parent will always worry. It’s because just one tragedy could be their life sentence without their loved one. One day at a time is all we really have. Live your life to the fullest. Every day.

Pray for the community, family and friends of this young girl. Now and in the future. Sadness is hovering on my home front. It tears me up but only time can help feelings settle. A new normal. All I can do is support and help process the loss. Not an easy task with a teen.

adventure

Sand For Days

As part of my coastal Oregon series, this particular writing is dedicated to the amazing experience I had on the Oregon Sand Dunes. So much fun that I had to write about it in just one post. All by itself.

I really didn’t know what to expect. I really didn’t visualize the beauty of the dunes or the depth of how far the dunes stretched. I did however catch a glimpse of the dunes roadside where there was an enormous hill of sand with a four wheeler going down it. I silently thought to myself no way. That is way too high for me.

We were lucky to get on the ATV tour as that was the best way to see the shore and the dunes in what I called the safest option for our trio to navigate the dunes as first timers. 30-40 mph on the climbs and the descents were so fast I didn’t even check the speedometer. 26 miles we rode round trip. Nobody flipped. Nobody got stuck. It was a success. This Bay Bridge photo is hard to capture in a photo meaning the in person view seems 1,000 times nicer. 

So much beauty. Such a thrill ride. One of travel buddies said this is definitely a top 10 experience. I would have to agree. I will definitely find my way back to this coast to tackle the dunes again. Not sure when but I will make time for sure.

We had a great guide and we even did some bowl rides at the end. It is hard to explain but you ride the dunes sideways up and down like you were in a bowl. You have to hit the right speed and maintain or your could roll! Just an exhilarating experience. This is also very different from the straight up climb to the straight down descent where you actually can’t see what is ahead of you when you then begin this descent.

This adventure covers the dunes and plenty of play time riding. From the natural bumps or jumps on the main road trail to the coolness of passers by. Everyone added flair to their personal rides with cool flags, political flags, neon lights, and so on.  Our adventure also covered the trip to the ocean to ride along the water. This was another breathtaking sight to see. The large ocean waves were just feet away pounding the shore while you zipped by. There was a fog in the air making the visibility low but the air was cool and crisp off the water. 

This adventure comes with a few $$$ on the review but if you take into account gas prices, the equipment used on the terrain and the guide it is well worth it. The family that owned our rental company was super focused on customer service which I also appreciated.

Can’t wait to come back to this coast and hit more spots along the way. Such a beautiful place to spend some time off the grid.

anonymous letters, awareness

Crazy Train

Whoot! Whoot!

The crazy train has arrived. 

This special little train has arrived in your community. Who is on the train? Who is talking about this? Who isn’t talking about it?

Is this scenario real or is it fake news? This story simulates a real life drama you see on television but you are starring in the grand show. What on earth am I about to share with you? I am talking about a helicopter parent dropping her bat shit craziness literally on your door step. Yes this happens more than people want to admit. I don’t have any idea why either nor do I want to speculate.

My story is based on events this week in a suburb of a major metropolitan city. A mom literally lost her marbles and went rogue when her child didn’t win a coveted county athletic award. I kid you not, she lost her ability to see how silly her actions were and how her negative behavior could scar those connected to her, including her child. 

I was in shock. I was awe struck. My mouth might have been left wide open at one point. A helicopter parent actually created a fictitious award for her high school athlete who did NOT earn her own award. That’s right folks. A parent created a phony award. The woman went to the highest extent to recognize and celebrate her child in the most bizarre fashion. Colored graphics, high resolution photos, prior coach recommendations, prior teammate validation from across town, fancy words describing her athletic prowess, good sportsmanship, and so on. So much effort was put into this award that wasn’t earned. The award was a parental masterpiece in their mind. A mere joke to others. Of course I can’t post the actual award as it would be insensitive to the child.

The helicopter mom even went as far as posting online on the day peers received awards at an actual banquet where athletes received their own merit award as voted upon by other area coaches. The helicopter parent posted this self-proclaimed award on social media for the community to see. For the entire community to see her overshadow those who actually won an award fair and square. And if that wasn’t enough she blamed the coach for overlooking her child publicly. The helicopter parent didn’t care who’s reputation she tarnished.

This was funny since it’s other coaches who vote, not the actual coach of the home team the kid plays on. Can anyone say meddling helicopter parent? Have you ever encountered this kind of crazy train in your local community? I wish I could go back to my childhood and see if such behavior ever existed around me. I don’t recall.

In the good old days, I played sports for fun. I spent many hours a day outside playing. I spent my summers at the park learning fundamentals in many sports as part of the youth recreation program. We had pick up games. We won and lost but nobody ever complained. Never once would a parent pick a fight with a kid or cause a ruckus over child’s play. It simply wasn’t important.

High school athletics is more competitive. It was then and it is now. Parents were proud back in the day but they didn’t fight their kids’ battles. College athletics is the same as well. It’s the athletes that put in work not the birth givers. Therefore it’s the athletes that earn their spot on the field or their play time and of course their award. It’s their name on the plaque not the birth givers. No parent should have the ability to influence their child’s place on a team in a competitive sport when one reaches high school. It’s absurd. It’s not fair. It doesn’t teach the athlete to compete. It teaches them how to complain to win. It’s bullying.

Let’s dial back to mental health for a moment. What benefit can a parent receive from their child receiving a coveted award that is not earned? Does it fulfill a void from their childhood? Does it win loyal friendships for their child? Does it gain confidence among coaches and peer athletes? I seriously doubt it. 

What I don’t doubt is that it will create a backlash. A derailed train. The child becomes at risk. Said child can be made fun of. Said child can become depressed and withdrawn. Said child can be angry and retaliate as they learned such a skill from their parent, all of which leads to challenges that may not be able to be reversed. This could also create scars that are not physically visible. This could lead the child to suffer in silence. Was the mock award worth it? I doubt it.

As a parent we need to just do better. Kids today are already under pressure due to today’s social norms. These kids don’t need parents adding strain to their already stressful life that is pretty much available 24/7/365 online.

Twitter, Instagram, facebook, group chats, instant messengers, etc are all outlets young adults use to share information. If you don’t want your story on the front page of the news, don’t post it online. It’s that simple.

I know when I post on this blog site not everyone will like what I post. It is okay. There may be some that benefit from my rants. I unfortunately can’t share the outcome of this crazy train as it makes frequent stops in the general community I may or may not call home or homebase. One day it may be your house. Another day it may be a friend’s house. Next week it’s the newbie’s house. Sooner or later the crazy train runs out of stops.

At that point the train parks itself or fixates itself on one poor soul. The train is set for the long haul. Behaviors escalate and those around get scared. What’s next.  A shooting? A fist fight? A shift to private school from public? I don’t have the answers.

What I can say is hard work pays off. Those who fail should work hard to get noticed the next time around. They should ask a coach what should they do in the off season to see success in the future. Display resilience. Be eager to show one’s worth. Don’t run to a birth giver and ask for recognition. An athlete has to be mentally and physically tough. They need to have the ability to push through the hard stuff. Sometimes the hard stuff comes daily.

If one was in the NFL and made a mistake there is a consequence. You get fired, fined or relocated. Your birth giver wouldn’t be able to fight your battles. I could write a whole book on the subject of parents and entitlements. Kids today need to learn to problem solve on their own.

A teacher isn’t going to change the kid’s report card if they fail their class. That’s unheard of. The same principal should apply for awards. If you fail in a season a coach can’t be expected to give an award for less than stellar performance. 

Helicopter parents need to get a hobby. Take up knitting. Buy a coloring book. Find a way to entertain yourself that doesn’t involve living in your kids shoes. It will never work out well for you or your kid. PSA #404.

I would also refer back to “Lessons” post from back in May. It’s one worth rereading a couple times a year.

author moments

Cel-e-brate

The unexpected happened. I was completely and utterly surprised by my mini.

She wrote something extremely genuine to a friend in need. If I could have written it myself I wouldn’t have changed a word. I had that “oh wow” moment. I did something right! She does listen. I’m really not talking to a teenage wall.

I am celebrating in my mind. In my body. As a mother many days go by when you have a thankless job. Too many actually. This one day made up for the 100 crappy days before.

For today I will take a deep breath and feel the joy associated with this moment. This writing helped a dear friend over a life hurdle. My cup is overflowing in joy for her. For me. For the receiving party.

Now on to the day to see what doom or gloom comes my way. No matter what my heart is full from this one little moment. The moment of words. The wisdom of words. The power of words whether written or spoken. 

author moments, family

Got Wheels Will Travel

Ah, to be sixteen again. Fresh wheels. Gas in the tank. No “have tos” as it’s the weekend. Where to go. Who to see. Back. Forth. Back and forth. Back again. Around again and again.

This about sums up the life of my youngest. Fridays mean off with friends. Time to blow off steam. Sleep in Saturday as it was a long week (in teenager eyes). Need to rest the mind and the body.

Mid-day rise on Saturday. Nothing on the calendar so off she goes. Zoom. Zoom. Here, there, everywhere. An errand. A drop off. A visit with a friend. Some food. Back to home base for a quick change. Evening plans are in motion. 

Off again. Social life calls. Sleepover calls name. I must. I must. Snuggle up Sunday is here. Lazy time thanks to the busy go-go-go that began Friday. A few chores, a quick favor for another, a car wash, a pick up at a friend’s. Zoom. Zoom.

5pm hits. Dinner time is approaching. Maybe it’s time to see the teen for a few minutes and share a meal. Maybe some conversation or maybe not. Head phones. Social media. Homework. Prep for the week is now here.

Where did the time go? Once a teen gets a set of wheels or gets independent by way of driving, relationships change. Mommas are no longer needed. Well they are needed but not in the same way. It’s beautiful to watch but it’s sad at the same time. The time you once spent together is now replaced with time with others.

When it’s your youngest or last it hits a little harder. Empty nest syndrome is near in sight. You look for opportunities to savor the time that remains before college or adulthood. Once the 18 number hits your value fades. You are needed but not as much as the sisterhood of a sorority, of a sports team, or a love interest.

The relationship in my mind drifts until 26 years of age. At this point the need resurfaces. Maybe for financial guidance. Maybe for grandparenting time. Maybe for help of some sort. Whatever the reason it’s a long wait.

I think my favorite age of kids is 8-11 years. Fun to play with. Old enough to listen. Not too much sass talking. And overall it’s a time they still need you. To get here or there. To buy this or that. For food. And so on.

Parenting doesn’t have a rule book. It’s expensive to say the least. It’s full of memories, both good and bad. Parenting shows your flaws as well as your strengths in your offspring. That might be the hardest part of parenting. Looking in the mirror.

Seeing the stubbornness.

Seeing the attitude.

Living with a mini version of oneself.

I still wouldn’t change it for the world but I do miss the favorite age I mentioned above. I have three kids in three different stages. They all give me joy, stress, and aw shit moments. For this rant I’m just putting it on paper. A way of confirming what life is for me now.