20 Years Ago

Twenty years ago I was about to turn 20-years-old and a college student.  I was newly engaged and my now husband was my personal aide in school.  The 9/11 attacks happened while we were on the way to school that morning.  We had no idea what happened until we walked into the office where I was allowed to get extra time to get my homework done due to my severe cerebral palsy.  Everyone was quiet and in shock.  My tutor asked if we had heard what happened and we said no.  She told us and led us to the television.  We watched in shock as the towers were on fire and eventually fell.  It felt like I was watching a movie.  I didn’t know how to process it and trying to get my work done was stressful.

As time went on and I watched it all unfold, I got emotional. And my birthday 48 hours later was somber despite my turning twenty.  Everything was somber for a while and the skies were so quiet from the airplanes being grounded.  We didn’t know what was going to happen next.  It was a very hard and scary time.  My husband’s friend from grade school was one of the casualties of that day.

But what I remember most, except for a few conspiracy theorists who were ignorant, and still are, about the attacks, the country actually came together.  People were kinder. Drivers had more empathy for each other.  Definitely a total contrast from today’s current reaction to the pandemic.

Children got comforted and observed the adults coming together to help each other deal with the trauma.  Oh how I long for that type of empathy and compassion again.  Social media is probably going to be the destroyer of the world since it allows people to become even more ingrained in their beliefs and argue with everyone.  It is now spilling over into the real world.

Tennessee teen talking about grandma who died of Covid heckled by adults at school board meeting.

DD2E6DA5-3A85-4DC8-B6DC-90794EA8121F

“Let The Children BREATHE!”

As Covid is raging on and affecting our children more due to the virus mutating and “learning” how to infect yet even more vulnerable people, once again we hear parents who don’t care about the well-being of their children or others scream, “Let the children breathe!”  Some states have enacted  laws banning schools from mandating masks.  Thankfully,  an increasing number of school districts are defying those states’ laws that ban mask mandates in schools.   Here’s what is already happening as children are back to school full time.

And some schools have already had to go remote due to Covid.  Children are being hospitalized at higher rates as the Delta variant is ravaging the country and world.  The very people who are supposed to protect them are arguing about masks being mandated and are even getting violent over it.

As of this writing, children are not yet eligible for the vaccine if they are under twelve years of age in the United States, and yet, after over a year and a half of this pandemic, people refuse to accept the fact that this pandemic is dangerous and deadly.  Some people may get lucky and have a mild case, but not everyone is that lucky.  Look at the hospitals and talk to the healthcare workers.

1E8373B4-7953-4FEE-9B5A-C4104BBBE80B

It turns out that children are more accepting of  wearing masks than adults.  The adults are, sadly, teaching aggression and selfishness by fighting (sometimes literally) over masks, vaccines, and other mitigations to try to stop the virus.  This is the wrong direction for all of us.  We need to stop politicizing the health crisis and come together.  Our children need to see us caring enough about our fellow man that we wear masks and get vaccinated if possible.  Otherwise, this world will never be healed.  

People talk about selfishness all the time, especially when it comes to raising children and not wanting the children  to become “selfish little brats.”  However, the parents who are arguing about wearing masks as well as getting vaccinated and protesting against mask/vaccine mandates are teaching the children how to throw a “fit” and be “defiant” to get their own way.  These parents, ironically, tend to be pro-spankers.  It is so sad that their children are getting spanked/hit for similar behavior that goes against the parents’ wishes.  This makes no sense.  We have to model appropriate behavior for children.  They are mimicking us!

0B2C06D9-AAA0-4436-8420-41C2AD224335

Another thing is that as soon as infants are able to get into dangerous situations, we teach them about danger.  An infant doesn’t know that an electrical socket is dangerous, but we tell him/her it is and move him/her away from the outlet.  Young children can’t see the danger of running out in the street until we panic and scoop them up out of the street while saying, “DANGEROUS!”  There are so many dangerous things from which we have to protect children.  They must take our word for it or suffer possible horrific consequences.  It is just the same for Covid.  Just because we can’t SEE the virus floating around in the air, does not mean it’s not dangerous!

E7104E55-209E-43C7-9CC3-77F787D4FDCC

We need to step up and do what is right for the whole world instead of the individual.  We must protect our children and everyone else by looking beyond our own wants to the needs of our society.  Let the children breathe.

 

4161550E-62BA-4363-B848-530AAF33FE42

Disappointment, Competition, And Community. The Value In Learning About All Three.

Being an author, artist, athlete, or any other professional in which one is forced to compete is not an easy thing. As an author, I continue to have to deal with rejection and disappointment.  And sometimes, as a part of business, I must reject and disappoint others.

Writing books and finding an illustrator for my children’s book about my life with Cerebral Palsy has turned out to be much more difficult than I thought.  I hope to be able to contractually secure an illustrator for my children’s book this summer and still have it published in the fall, but nothing is guaranteed.  I may be disappointed again and/or have to disappoint someone else if the samples of illustrations don’t fit my vision of my children’s book.

Since this is a children’s book about me, it’s an absolute requirement that the cartoon character depicting me both as a child and adult is accurate.  I want young children to see what severe cerebral palsy looks like while showing them how much one can accomplish despite the disability.  I also want other children with cerebral palsy to be able to relate to the book.

Processed with MOLDIV

All of this got me thinking about disappointment, competition, and community.  I am 36 years old and I still don’t handle disappointment as well as I would like, yet we expect young children to deal with it better than we do. When they have a meltdown due to disappointment, we punish them instead of helping them learn to cope with disappointment.

And, at times, we even set the children up for disappointment by expecting them to do things that they are not ready to do like compete at a young age or go to a candy store without getting any candy when we know they can’t control their impulses.

Children are put in sports or other competitions and are expected to compete.  Even going to school has become a competition to see who can get the best grades and who can be the most popular.

While there’s a movement to give everyone trophies in competitions, I’m not sure if that’s the answer either.  I absolutely hate the way many conservatives talk about this; that giving everyone a trophy is turning them into “snowflakes (too sensitive).”  Yet, this culture and life requires hard work and earning things through hard work and talent.

Plus, children should be able to enjoy the journey towards their goals and accomplishments.  It is often the journey—whether or not it results in success or failure—that teaches us all important lessons.  We should not take this away from children by making everyone a “winner” or trying to shield them from all rejection and disappointment.

I love this meme from Calm:

B75F0D30-AB0E-4139-813E-DF081BE3AD79

I believe that learning to work hard and how to cope with disappointment is very important for children. I also think for young children, there’s nothing wrong with getting a certificate of participation for participating in an event.  Teaching children that while everyone may not be able to be the best and win, it’s still important to be inclusive.

Then there’s community. Community is very important to teach children.  Having a communal attitude can go along way in helping this society to be more united. Children must be taught that, in basic human terms, everyone is equal no matter what!  Celebrating individual talents is fine but that doesn’t mean anyone’s “better” than the other when it comes to simply being a human being.

In many other countries, the culture is alll about community and putting others first. Children learn this from a young age and have been known to run together to reach a prize and then share it.  The children don’t believe that one can be happy if the whole group isn’t happy.  This is another great argument that children are not born sinful!  They act how they live. We are their teachers.

I recently attended an event with my husband and friend which was very community oriented. Everyone was happy, loving, and peaceful. It was very refreshing that there was no judgment or anything negative. We did play a game but it was all in fun and we were happy for the people who won.

I guess there’s a time for disappointment, competition, and community. However, we must teach children how to cope with disappointment and not push competition on them. Playing should be fun while teaching children about teamwork which is community. Disappointment is a part of life. We must teach them how to deal with their big feelings in a kind, compassionate way.

I must also point out that the Church is failing in community because the Church tends to pick and choose who they allow to be a part of the Church. The Church has been known to reject, be oppressive, and even abuse weaker groups of people of all ages.  Yet, Jesus calls us to love, help, and include everyone in the community.

But most of all, may we teach children community and inclusion. That looking out for everyone is what truly matters.  Working hard together and understanding that everyone has different talents is more important than anything else.

BE55AE1A-F9E9-4F7D-A467-B69C50CE7F4F