It’s such a pain finding a new dentist, isn’t it? But I really liked this one. My brother-in-law recommended him and I was pleasantly surprised by the office’s organization, professionalism and friendliness.
The glass is half full.
Here’s your Saturday Sunshine! Lord knows we need it.
Hannah was in an unusually joyful mood yesterday following a bang up performance at school and being chosen for a special “Drama Day” presentation next week. Then she decided to look at the grade portal to see what she made on her math test.
“Don’t do it,” I warned.
“I just want to know,” she said.
“But why? Why do we need to know that right now? Just be happy for the happiness,” I advised.
She looked anyway. And it wasn’t good.
“I shouldn’t have looked,” she admitted. “What does Brené Brown say about being afraid of experiencing joy?”
“She says we are all afraid to lean into the joy too hard because we are afraid it will be taken away. I wish you would have just let yourself be happy without feeling the need to thwart it with math. We don’t need to know about math today!” I said.
I felt like she was trying to head the joy off at the pass. The self sabotaging we all do, consciously and unconsciously. When we lose our tolerance for vulnerability (“Don’t get too excited, this thing might be taken away”), our joy becomes foreboding. We are always trying to dress rehearse for tragedy …trying to beat vulnerability to the punch.
“Yeah. Oh well there’s nothing I can do about it anyway,” she replied.
Driving, driving, driving. We stop at a light next to some gorgeous flower beds.
“Look at those pretty flowers,” I pointed out to her, changing the subject.
“Flowers don’t have to do math,” she mused.
“Yeah they just get to hang out in the sunshine, look at the sky all day and be admired,” I added. “But I bet it gets super hot. And what if you’re trapped there with other jerk flowers you don’t like. And I bet you have to hear the same conversations over and over again.”
“Kinda like at school,” she said.
Kinda like life, I thought. But we won’t let that get in the way of our joy! Long live JOY!
Have you ever stifled your joy? Or thought about what might go wrong to ruin it?
“There’s this kid at school who is different and people always bother him,” Hannah told me on our morning drive to the bus stop.
“Like different how?” I asked.
“I dunno. Like he’ll sneak up behind you in the hall and scare you. And he doesn’t really talk much. I dunno…” she trailed off.
<imaginary question marks popping out of the top of my head>
“Mornings in the courtyard are getting so annoying because people won’t leave him alone. He likes to sit under the palm tree and save the ants and bugs and things. He builds them these little houses and tries to take care of them and then idiots just come up and step on them. They purposely taunt him until he reacts. So then he gets upset and chases them because, duh. But then the idiots turn it around on him and act like he’s crazy and they’re a victim,” she went on.
“Do you say anything?” I asked.
“Yeah Trista and I told them to leave him alone and that they could go be someplace else,” she said, getting worked up. “And the teachers tell them to get away from him, but don’t really do anything about it. This is how school shooters are born!” she exclaimed, her voice rising.
“Why do you think they pick on him?” I asked her, wanting to see what she thought.
“I guess people like to pick on the weak to make themselves feel stronger. Or maybe they need attention. They’re showing off. It’s SO ANNOYING!” Hannah sighed.
My heart broke for this kid, protector of the ants.
“Yes, people tend to pick on those who are different. They’re easy targets. I hope you stand up for him every chance you can. Maybe if they know someone is going to confront them when they harass him, they will be less likely to do it,” I said.
I realize we are at a fork in the road and wonder if I should call the principal. I play out different scenarios in my mind. Still cannot decide.
“I just don’t understand why people have to hurt other people for no reason,” she said. I like that she doesn’t understand this. I like that she questions this. I like that she chooses the path of growing toward the sun. I like her moxie.
To all the moms who:
listen to the stories
dry the tears
bake the cakes
agonize over decisions
drive the carpools
pull together the costumes
lose the sleep
fix the boo boos
brave the unpopularity
guide the projects
throw the parties
pass on the wisdom
cheer the victories
empathize with the losses
sit through the shows
clean up the messes
nurse the sickness
muster infinite energy
steer the ship with unrelenting determination
And to all the mothers who have passed on, we thank you and love you for showing us how to do all of these things. ❤️
“I decided this is going to be the year of risk,” Hannah told me as she briefed me on her first day of school. “I’m not going to be afraid to talk to people or answer questions in class or try out for things,” she continued.
I smiled to myself. “You’re going to do like Brené says and dare greatly!” I cheered.
“Yeah!” she confirmed.
Man, I am so lucky I got a kid who is open to all the Growing Towards the Sun talk. A kid who really takes our conversations and runs with them. I often think about how I could have gotten a kid who kinda glazed over when I spoke about intention …or who complained about having to go to Oprah’s Best Life Weekend …or who just got sick of me talking about being vulnerable and daring greatly. But I didn’t! I got Hannah.
Over the next several days, she would tell me about what “risky” thing she did that day. One day it was reading a passage in class when the teacher asked and no one else would raise their hand. Another time it was starting a conversation with a girl in her science class she’d never spoken to before.
Then it was time to try out for the Fall musical. Ugh. Am I allowed to say I hate auditions? Because I’m saying it. I hate auditions. They’re such a roller coaster. Hannah told me (SHE felt) hers didn’t go well and lamented the fact that she never gets the parts she wants and will probably never get the part she wants. <Insert quick pep talk here>. Then she told me about a girl a grade below her who was at auditions and sitting alone.
“She seemed sad so I went over and asked her how her audition went,” Hannah explained. “She said she didn’t think she did very well. I told her a lot of 6th graders don’t even try out and that, when I was in 6th grade, I was too scared to. I said she should feel proud of herself for that. That really seemed to lift her spirits!”
Wow. Proud. “Hannah even if you never, ever get on that stage again, it is these things that make me the most proud of you,” I told her. The next day I put this Theodore Roosevelt quote in her lunch box. She got a kick out of it. And now she knows she’s in the arena.
Layoffs Sabbaticals are full of triumph and tribulation. One day you feel like a superstar taking over the world, removing long put off tasks from your to do list….the next you’re in your uniform pajamas eating an entire bag of cinnamon toast crunch and wondering if things will ever be right again.
It was a cinnamon toast crunch kind of day when I decided I needed to do something for someone else. Hannah and I had done volunteer work before, but it’s challenging to find opportunities that allow kids her age. The few things that we had done together were one offs, not regular. I signed on to a volunteer web site to see what I could find.
Almost immediately, I found a great opportunity serving dinners on Christmas Eve at our local rescue mission. I thought it would be a great chance for Hannah to see that everyone’s lives aren’t easy and that it’s important to help where you can.
The email I got confirming our commitment said to be there at 9:00. There was some mumbling and grumbling that morning (not by me, of course), but we made it. We were waiting in the lobby with a few other people when a woman came out, welcomed us and told us we were early.
Well how early can we be? I thought.
Um, how about two and a half hours early. Yah.
The room was packed with volunteers when the coordinator began to assign tasks. It seemed to me that there were way too many volunteers for the number of vacant duties. But what did I know? I was sure they knew what they are doing.
Then we hung around. Patiently. Then not as patiently. Until 11:30 when it was finally time for everyone to come in and have Christmas lunch. Guests filed in and were immediately accosted by volunteers all trying to do their jobs.
Hannah and I had placemat duty. We both stood there waiting for our turn to help, but there were so many people there that we could barely see the tables we were supposed to be setting. More aggressive families moved about rapidly as we all “competed for placemat dominance” (Hannah’s words).
After about 20 minutes, it became clear to us that there was nothing for us to do there but be another 2 bodies crowding up the joint and loitering over the guests as they ate. It seemed better to me that we leave and ease some of the traffic and crowd that was surely taking away from the dining experience.
As we were walking back to our car, Hannah was talking about how she had been watching a mom with children and said, “I see homeless people in a whole new way. They’re just on a path that they may not have even chosen. But they’re just trying to live.” So I guess while we didn’t physically do much that day, my little girl’s already big heart was opened just a little more.
So Hannah has this “friend”, Sonya*. I knew the Sonya was bad news from the very beginning of this dreaded friendship. I’m 40. I’m an expert troublemaker spotter by now. But it took Hannah time—and many discussions about how this girl was definitely not growing toward the sun—for her to figure this out.
It was confirmed when Sonya educated Hannah waaaaaay too much about the birds and the bees (covered in one of my previous posts). Finally I told Hannah she’s not to hang around with Sonya anymore. She was fine with it.
Fast forward several months and one grade. Sonya has changed, Hannah informed me. “Can I pleeeeease be friends with her again? Really, she apologized and she has really, really changed. For real.” Ohhh, well shoot, if it’s FOR REAL then suuuuuure.
Truth is, Hannah’s school is very small and Sonya will be around most likely through high school graduation. Lucky us. So I told Hannah she was old enough to make her own decisions about the types of friends she wants to have and so it was up to her. I set aside my feelings…my KNOWING….that Sonya was Sonya and she gots issues that would reveal themselves once more. Hannah would have to learn again.
Sonya was on good behavior for a few weeks. Then Hannah started not wanting to go to school. I finally got it out of her that Sonya was up to her old tricks which included, but are not limited to, manipulation, undermining and planting seeds of self doubt and inferiority. Hannah could see it much quicker this time. I listened as she told me story after story about Sonya’s latest betrayals.
It was hard for me to convince Hannah that Sonya acted out of fear and insecurity until I stated a quote I heard on Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday:
“People act on the outside how they feel on the inside.”
Hannah gasped. “Wowww, that is really good.” I watched as it sunk in. I threw in “When someone shows you who they are, believe them!” to close out the lesson.
We agreed that we would not give Sonya any more power over her. Like Glinda the good witch told the Wicked With of the West, ““Oh, rubbish! You have no power here. Be gone, before somebody drops a house on you, too.”
*not her real name
The older I get, the more deeply I understand that communication is underrated. I just looooove talking to people about stuff. Most misunderstandings can be avoided if people would just speak up, clear up and man up.
I can’t stand speculation, wondering, fretting and fuming over an issue as I build a story about—or even a case against—the person or event currently festering in my never-turns-off mind.
I’ve been called a troublemaker or mean and who knows what else but, truthfully, I just try to be as genuine as possible in my day to day interactions. This means if I have a question, I ask it. If I don’t understand something, I get an explanation. If I feel misunderstood, I go to that person and clear the air. It seems so easy, I don’t get why more people don’t do it.
When Anna was breaking into her 14th year of the pitiful ‘Do You Want to Build a Snowman?” performance, I was all caught up in why her parents couldn’t just get real up in that castle.
“Anna, the reason Elsa can’t come build a snowman is because she has freako hands and almost killed you once.”
Or Elsa could have taken the bull by the horns after her parents died and yelled at Anna through the door, “I can’t come build a snowman because I have this really weird affliction where everything I touch turns to ice. If I were to build a snowman with you, YOU’D be the snowman. Capish? Also, don’t tell anyone.”
It’s kind of funny that I work in a corporation where I must function amidst endless red tape, mountains of forms and layers of people who are assigned to each and every task. My coworker and I were working on a powerpoint presentation together and were receiving art direction through a layer of people.
<groan> I haaaaate that.
Some of this direction was clearly not going to work and so we began to stew. “Why does he want the graphic that way? It’s going to look so cheesy.” “Why does he want a map of England there? That makes no sense”.
Then I remembered, ohhhhh yeaaaaah! We have a mouth that allows us to communicate directly with people. And a phone on which to call anyone we wish. So we called our creative director.
My coworker was reluctant, but went along. Afterwards, we managed to get the creative director to see our way. My coworker even told me she felt so much better after that call. And it only took 5 minutes to totally change our perception of the project.
Another time, a coworker told me that another coworker was asking, in front of my boss, if I had a problem with them. I didn’t. So I lined up a meeting with that coworker, my boss and me. In 5 minutes we all understood that there was no problem and we were free to go on with our lives. Not having any problems with eachother.
I will never be accused of being a woman of few words, but I wouldn’t (and quite possibly couldn’t) have it any other way.