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

Symbols

Meaning is hidden everywhere. Places. Signs. Memories. That little park you pass on the way to work every day is the place where someone proposed. It is also the place where some friends had a huge fight. It’s the place where a kid broke her arm and ended up in a cast. Maybe it’s even the place someone first learned to drive, smoke pot, who knows. Countless scenes in countless stories have taken place there. All in the little park you pass each day without thinking.

Meaning, symbols, roadblocks are everywhere. We stumble over the hearts and sometimes heartaches of others without even knowing it.

Music is potent for memories with me. I grew up singing and listening to tunes all the time. Paul Simon, the Statler Brothers, and Dolly Parton on my parents’ 8-track tape deck in our conversion van. Show tunes and standards I belted out with our player piano in the basement. And then the love songs I would pine over each night, wishing in vain someone would dedicate something to me. It took decades for me to listen to the music of Chicago without bristling or quickly switching it off. Even today, there are songs I may never listen to again. Places I may never go. Overly sensitive? Perhaps. After all, it is just a place, a song, who cares?

Maybe I’m just too much. I willingly embrace being labeled sentimental. Someone watching closely may see the quick shadow roll across my face when that potent memory pops up. Most will miss it.

Just part of what makes me me.

For some people, cardinals are a special symbol. A reminder or even a visit from someone departed and dear. A symbol more purposeful than just happenstance…a place you used to go, a song you used to sing to. This is more of a sign. For me, it’s ladybugs. They always pop up at the most unlikely times. They bring me back to myself. A reassurance. A reminder.

Recently, someone new in my life called me ladybug as a nickname. And it stuck. Sometimes when she says it, it makes me smile, sometimes tear up, sometimes just makes me hold my breath an extra beat. She could never have known that ladybugs are so special for me. Just a sign that she has some role to play, a scene to share. A hand reaching out of the day-to-day doldrums to remind me of the bigger picture.

What it all means.

3Splitz Farm

Rain

5:00 am wakeup call. The faint sound…you hear it on the rooftop. Pit pat pit pat or maybe its thrummmmm. Rain. Do I drift back to sleep?

Some may say they hate the rain. For a long time, I was one of them. Rain on marching band performances made our heavy wool uniforms stink. Rain on Disney days had us dragging out the dreaded ponchos. Rain on Halloween meant a raincoat over my costume. Rain is taking things away.

Then the rain took on new meaning.

During my mother’s funeral luncheon an enormous storm came out of nowhere. We were at the Stone Mountain Women’s Club. Picture a series of long foldup tables with every variety of salad: chicken salad with grapes and almonds, macaroni salad with bits of ham and roasted peppers, bean salad with vinegar dressing. Allllllll the mayonnaise. Then the hot dishes…chicken rice casserole with peas and melted cheese, macaroni and cheese with toasty breadcrumbs, pineapple casserole under a blanket of buttery Ritz crackers. And the desserts, oh the desserts. Cookies, bars, bundt cakes, and light green pistachio fluff. A meal fitting for one of the members of the cookbook committee.

We sat at the long tables, all gathered to honor my mother. The old wooden A-frame with the floor-to-two-story-ceiling windows. I looked over with my full plate and plastic silverware.

The trees twisted, branches ready to slip off their bending trunks. Leaves and pinestraw flying. Back and forth with abandon. If we had phones back then I’m sure they’d have all been buzzing with warnings. Summer storms come quickly in the South. We all just watched the sky turn green and the rain pour down on that summer afternoon. Wondering if the windows would shatter. Eventually it calmed down, but the storm stayed with me.

Ever since that time, rain is a comfort. But still an inconvenience. My mother is gone, why shouldn’t the sky cry?

And now today. Rain…

makes traffic worse

is a hazard on the trail

keeps me from having fun outside

makes the dogs antsy

messes up my hair

creates an endless need to sweep and mop the floor

matches the sadness inside

and and and. So while the rain seems appropriate, it still brings its challenges.

Then, a life change brings yet another shift in thinking.

This time it’s…

tulips,

daffodils,

crocus,

ranunculus,

anemones.

We’re on our way to flower farming. We just finished our first bed of spring flowers. Row after row of plump bulbs, tucked into the soil with fertilizer, peat moss, and hope. I don’t see them every day so I find myself wondering about them…are they happy in their new bed? Now my peeks at the weather forecast aren’t so much about what I should wear but about the bulbs. Like babies away at boarding school. Do they have what they need? A bit of sunshine and enough to drink?

Rain is their friend. I think of how thankful they must be for the nourishment. The refreshment. I smile when I look through my windows at work and see the rain coming down. It takes some storms and inconvenience in order to grow. Storms may bend us but not break. Welcome every season and the nourishment it brings. A change in my mind. One of many lessons from the blossoms.

Teddie Aspen

Oh Teddie

Oh Teddie we miss you so!

Today little Teddie Aspen went in for doggie surgery. She had to be fixed and microchipped for safety. I was a little spacey about the process.

I didn’t bring her favorite blanket for comfort. I didn’t realize she was spending the night and and and. I was pitiful the whole morning.

I was also completely weirded out that the vet was now like Chick-fil-A. Official car parking spot signs. I felt like I needed to ask for fries and a coke when I dropped off. This really made me think of how much things have changed since corona hit us.

A few hours later the vet tech called for an update. All was good but she had an ear infection they noted so she needed meds for that. Poor baby is alone. Her first sleep away night and it wasn’t to grandma’s. It was to a cage. She is going to be so sad and she has the cone of shame on.

I asked for a picture so I wouldn’t feel so bad. It made it worse. She looks so pitiful. She misses us. We miss her. We are counting down the minutes until she is home recuperating in her own environment. Nobody likes to be sick in a hospital alone so I’m assuming she feels the same loss from us at the vet’s.

See the sad Teddie pic below. As soon as she is back with us we will be spoiling her of course. Hope she can avoid shredding her cone of shame!

family

Missing You

The last few days I have been missing my dad or the spirit of my dad.

Grief is a funny thing. It creeps up on you at unexpected times. It can be just a flutter in your heart or a vivid memory jerking the tears.

For me I have a night time shirt. An XXXL-type shirt bearing his photo. Not one I would wear out but one that’s comforting for those sleepy days. Maybe the visual on the shirt sparks the memories. Maybe it was the card in the mail from hospice on grief. Maybe it’s just the dust settling. I’m really not sure the nature of its source but it can take your breath away.

No matter the source I miss my dad in all forms. His younger vibrant days as my dad when I was a kid. The middle of the road days where he helped me navigate adulthood. To the end days when he needed help eating his dessert. I just miss him. There is really no replacement.

As life lessons need to be passed to my kids I find myself thinking what would he do. For now I cherish the memories and honor his spirit as I push forward.

I may never say goodbye to grief but I can push through the sadness. He would expect me to. Writing is a great form of therapy for me. If you lost somebody close to you, journaling your thoughts is always a great opportunity to push through the sadness.

I also have a great bestie named Teddie to hang with me as I write and today it was a nice cold glass of almond milk to wash away the woes.

Until next time…