Today's post is in memory of a young person, gone too soon. I didn't know him, but he was a schoolmate of Annie's. I wrote the words below following the tragedy of another young person leaving life behind in a way that no one seemed to be able to explain. She was 16. The young boy who died last weekend was just 14. I cannot even imagine what it must feel like for his family.
I'm sure the blog analytics experts would say here is the place where I should insert links to the previous posts. Maybe, but you might not click those links and what I have to say -- again -- is something I think is important. Important for my kids, for yours. So here they are. Please take the the time to read them. Then go hug your kids or your friends' kids or the kids you see at church and tell them you are there.
Dear Annie, Charlie & Robbie --
Have someone, an adult, in your life that you can talk to. Of course you
can talk to me or Dad. But I was a teenager once. I know that sometimes
your parents are the last people you want to talk to. And that's ok. We
don't have to know everything. We might want to, but we don't have to.
But have someone who you trust to tell those things to. Have someone who
you can confide in; who will keep your confidence and who will also
know how to take care of your heart; who will know when to just listen,
when to step in and do something more.
And to your friends who might be reading this, if you need someone to be that person in your life, I am here.
I feel like I should go on here to say how much you are loved, how much
joy and pride you bring to my life. Those things are true and I hope you
already know that.
But I think I just really want to say have someone, because no one could replace you in my life.
After I wrote that, my brain and my heart kept churning, until I realized there was more I wanted to say. And that was this:
Be someone who is willing to walk across the cafeteria or the playground
to talk to the person who is always standing alone, no matter what
others might say.
Be someone who steps outside of your circle to partner up with someone
you don't know very well for the science project or the sit-up challenge
in gym class.
Be someone who smiles and holds the door open and says "I like your hair" or "You are a good artist" or "How was your weekend?"
Be someone who really listens -- puts down the cell phone, the video
game remote, the laptop and listens with your ears, your eyes and your
Be someone who hears what others are saying...and what they are not.
Be someone who refuses to laugh at another person's expense.
Be someone who isn't defined by a group or a label like "hipster,"
"jock," or "nerd." Instead be someone who has friends in all those
groups and who can bring people together.
Be someone who is honest, who doesn't sugarcoat your own life. Be real
so other people can see that we're all in this human-ness together, that
we all struggle.
Be someone who lets others know that they matter.
Be someone who isn't afraid to break a friend's confidence and go to an adult if you think they are in danger.
I know it sounds like a tall order. But I know you can do it.
I believe in you.
Monday, March 25, 2013
Sunday, March 10, 2013
Since I was a little girl, I've wanted to be a writer. I remember a now really embarrassing episode when I was in the bathtub. I called my mom in, crying because I was so happy to tell her I knew what I wanted to do when I grew up -- I wanted to be a writer. Then to show her how good of a writer I was going to be, I proceeded to sing a song I'd written..."Blowin' in the Wind." She tried to tell me that someone else had already written that and suggested maybe I'd heard it somewhere. But I was insistent and she was loving enough to not squash my dreams like a little plagiarized bug. I'm not sure how she kept a straight face.
Fast forward 30 years and I am a writer. Not of songs or great works of literature. But I make my living via the written word and I'm thankful for that. I'm also a parent of three kids who have their own dreams. In the not too distant past, one wanted to be an actress, one a NBA star and one a Target worker. "Great," I thought, "They will all be living with me for the rest of my life."
But I didn't discourage them. I talk to them about the realities of those choices, what it would take to get there. Like my mom, I don't ask them about plan B.
As Annie has gotten older, she's started to understand the challenges and realities associated with acting as a life choice. As the college pitches have begun to fill our mailbox, she's thinking about majoring in psychology and minoring in theatre. We've talked about the need to go to graduate school to be a counselor. Yet, she still has a dream to be on Saturday Night Live.
"Go for it," I've told her. And why not? The world is filled with miserable people who are punching a clock, selling things they don't believe in. It doesn't have to be all or nothing. She can do both -- create a career that pays the bills and pursue her dream in the off hours. She just has to be willing to be put in the work to do it.
Then there is my NBA star. Oy. That one is a bit further of a reach. I'm encouraging him to concentrate on making a high school basketball team first. But that NBA dream drives him outside to practice his head fake and jump shot. Mike's been talking to him about the idea of writing about sports if playing them for a living doesn't pan out. Yes, there are a zillion sports writers out there. But if that's his passion, then who are we to tell him to forget about it? It's our job as parents to recognize his passions and help him set a course for creating a life built around them. Besides, he's 13.
As for my little Target worker, if that makes him happy -- and he shares his discount with me -- that's fine by me.