You are the gatekeeper of your life- don’t fall asleep on the job

Okay girls here is an analogy – you are a security guard.  You work at the front desk of a very important financial institution that houses millions of dollars of accounts.  Do you think your job is important?  You bet it is.  Do you think it is a good idea if, as a security guard, you should get very intoxicated and fall asleep on the job?  Yeah, probably not.

Now pretend that this isn’t a building, it is a VIP you are guarding – perhaps a movie star or a senator.  How long would you keep your security job if you frequently smoked weed?  Or if were taking a selfie every couple of minutes, or zoned out on your phone?  Or walked around wearing headphones will Skrillex playing SUPER LOUD?  We will mail you your last check because you are fired.

Risking Your Life with Headphones

Okay here is the point of the analogy- that VIP is you.  When you are drunk, or high, or zoned out to your phone or wearing those headphones that render you TOTALLY DEAF while walking down a busy street – who exactly is watching out for YOU?  Are you not the VIP of your own life?   If you aren’t you SHOULD be.   It won’t matter how important you think your boyfriend, husband, child, phone, or musical choices are – if you don’t take care of you, there is no one else who can.

No one walks around in your skin, wears your shoes, or looks out from your eyeballs.  Your mom might be an overbearing, ever present fountain of wisdom for you on a daily basis, but she isn’t wearing your pants and she isn’t driving your car.   Mom or dad are not going to be able to fix the problems that your failure to pay attention in your own life will create.

It is sad that this actually has to be said, but the only time when you should be wearing headphones is when you are alone and in a safe place where you don’t need your hearing.  That of course is pretty rare.  It is much like the criteria for getting “drunk”.  You should be in safe place where you are surrounded by people who will not resent having to take care of you while you are incapacitated.  That is even more rare.

Be Smart

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Having a cocktail doesn’t make you a drunk.  Having six shots, two margaritas and eight beers in three hours when you weigh under 150 lbs is going to make you sloppy drunk.  Please for the love of GOD will you young girls stop bragging about how much you can drink!  Stop telling those guys you can drink them “under the table” when you know, deep in your heart that they think you are crazy and the only thing they want under the table is you.   Honestly what kind of bizarre job interview are you applying for anyway?  Town drunk or village idiot?

It is great to have fun, but where are your boundaries?   Is your life so disposable that you will risk everything you are, your entire body, because you need to want to party?  Why would you put yourself into a disabled and vulnerable position with strangers?  By the way girls, if he/she isn’t on a first name basis with your Mom – THEY ARE STRANGERS!  I honestly cannot figure out why a girl can meet someone and a week later believe in her heart that she “knows them really well”.  That’s not being trusting – that’s beeing reckless and stupid.

One true fact of life is that real friends are formed over time, after going through real life experiences with them.   If you really don’t know each others history, then those people cannot be trusted to take care of you if you become intentionally disabled – nor should they have to take that responsibility.

Would you dump your toddler off on someone you just met a week ago?  Of course not because you care about the toddler and wouldn’t expect to impose on a veritable stranger that way.  But when you get sloppy drunk away from home, aren’t you kind of dumping yourself on the people around you like an irresponsible overgrown toddler?  Think about it…

Here are some common examples of the natural progression of the evening when you choose to get disablingly drunk and fail to protect yourself-

  1.  You Dress up really nice to go out.
  2. You put on expensive clothing, jewelry, shoes and perfume.
  3. You take a considerable amount of time doing your hair and make-up.
  4.  You arrive at party/bar/event.download
    (Notice at this point you actually like yourself, perhaps you’re even proud of how you look – and would be UPSET if someone so much as messed up your hair.  This is the point where if you make bad choices for yourself you really will become your own worst enemy)
  5. You Drink Alcohol
  6. You talk too much
  7. You Drink more alcohol
  8. You piss off someone close to you without knowing it – you will find out in a couple of days and won’t remember so you will blame them for being touchy.
  9. You Drink more alcohol.
  10. You laugh inappropriately and make fun of someone at top volume.
  11. You smoke something
  12. You argue with people you don’t know over nothing
  13. You drink more alcohol.
  14. Video is taken of you screaming or dancing on furniture or in the road – you will lose your job in a couple of days over this, and some magazine in Mexico buys the video for their “American Girls Gone Wild” series.
  15. Guys are watching and see you are drunk and circle around hoping to get lucky.
  16. Guy(s) encourage you to drink more alcohol or offer to smoke weed with you.
  17. You get emotional and cry about your grandpa who died eight years ago.
  18. A girl in the bathroom consoling you for your grief becomes your new best friend.
  19. You drunk text your ex and tell him that he was the love of your life.
  20. You take a crooked blurry selfie that you think looks super sexy.
  21. You send selfie, along with drunk text to your ex and tell him to suck it because you are way hotter now.
  22. You take a ride on a motorcycle and scream at the driver to GO FASTER!!!! Although he is also kinda buzzed.
  23. You get back to party realize your friends are gone.
  24. You bump into people, fall down stairs, flip over balcony, fall in bathtub
  25. You get photographed in various states of undress
  26. You get photographed in compromising positions with people you wouldn’t even talk to if you were sober.
  27. You throw up on your friends new couch.
  28. The photo of you with your head in a toilet goes viral.
  29. Persistant suitor with questionable motives tells you how pretty you are even though you smell like puke, an unidentifiable stain on your dress and gum in your hair.
  30. You lose your purse or phone.
  31. You lose your glasses, contacts, shoes, coat, etc.
  32. You get thrown out of the party/bar or other public establishment
  33. It’s cold out and you have no shoes or coat
  34. You pass out in a public place
  35. You get photographed by a whole bunch of people who don’t know or care about you.
  36. You have sex and don’t remember it.
  37. You wake up with no pants on.
  38. You are lost and cannot find your friends, your car, or your way home.
  39. If you’re lucky you get arrested for public intoxication -or-
  40. You take a ride with a stranger.
  41. You dissappear

The above can have minor to major complications.  You might just pass out at a friends house and wake up really hung over.  Or you could lose your best friend, your job, or the respect of people who used to count on you.  Or you could wreck your car, kill yourself or kill someone else and not even remember it.

But it was fun right?

Be Present

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Two words that drive my daughter crazy every time I say it.   It means tune in – pay attention to what is happening.  Talk to each other.  The simple rule in the house is that the people in the room are more important than those people who are not in the room.  As a mom – I use social media.  It has value and serves a purpose.  Of course it does, after all, I am blogging right now.   But is it your LIFE?  Do you really need to tune into some device every two minutes to see what everyone else it doing in order to feel like you have a life? Do you really need to reply to that text THIS SECOND?   Should you really be listening to The Weekend over and over and over again for two weeks straight?   Is it any wonder you are totally annoyed when anyone tries to actually talk to you?

You react as if others are RUDE for interrupting your constant barrage of noise and data and photos and videos that make up your electronic world.  But do you realize that this is not your world?  This constant stream of data and noise is, in fact, stealing your very present world from you one minute, one hour, one day, one year, one relationship, one experience at a time.

I was with my youngest daughter at a yogurt shop recently.  She was sullen that I had made her put her phone away as the price for her free dessert.  But after a couple minutes, as usual, she got bored with the silence and started talking.  As we were talking casually, I looked over at a young couple at a table nearby and my jaw dropped.  They had the most adorable little 2 year old daughter who was standing on a chair and trying desperately to get her parents attention.  They both were completely absorbed in their phones and only looked up to scold her if she tried to grab something on the table or climb on it.  It was an effort of my will not to walk over to them and say “Look up you fools – you are missing it – your daughter has was one childhood.  Why did you bring her here?  To ignore her?”.  I took out my camera to snap a picture when my daughter stopped me.  She is the one who hates confrontation after all.

This to me was nothing less than heartbreaking.  One day those parents are going to look up and their daughter will be wearing a push up bra and eyeliner and that cute little girl who wanted them to see her will be out the door.  Probably wearing headphones so she cannot hear them as they yell out the door “Where are you going?”.

 

Teaching Determination to Teenagers – This is gonna hurt

I found myself fighting yet again with my 15-year-old daughter about an issue of character recently.   It’s becoming quite a hobby of ours.  My daughter really enjoys sharing these moments with me (sarcastic emoji).  On the bright side – with all the energy I’ve been expending I am pretty sure I have lost a few pounds.

The argument of the moment was over removing a tree sapling from our flower bed.  It was a nasty thing that had sprouted up fast and was now over my head.  The worst part was that it was growing squarely between a Lilac bush and our neighbor’s fence so it clearly HAD to go.  The fact that this would be a tough job was not lost on me.   We have almost an acre of land which is quite large for the suburb we live in and this is not an uncommon occurrence. These “weed trees” as I call them have a couple different varieties, but what they all have in common is their ability to grow to large sizes before we catch them.

At ten a.m. on a ridiculously hot and humid July morning – after pointing out the enemy tree to be removed, I handed my daughter a spade shovel (which she is well adept at using) and recommended to her that she start before it got too hot.  I also warned her that if she wanted to go to her friends birthday party at 2pm – she shouldn’t wait until the last minute to do it.

What my daughter actually did was clean out a couple weeds in the immediate area, sweep the sidewalk, and then go inside to watch yet another episode of Gray’s Anatomy on Netflix.    I was busy with my own stuff so I figured she must have gotten it done.  Well as you can guess,  I was wrong.

Most parents would say “well she did do a lot – you should let her go to the party”.   I am not most parents.  If I give my kid a task and she does less than her best than it is not “a lot” it is a slack job, period.   When I inspected the area around the tree – she hadn’t even broken the ground with the shovel.

My daughter who was already showered and dressed for her party made several attempts to dissuade me by making declarations such as “it is impossible to even get to that tree” and “it’s ridiculous that you would even expect me to do that” and “You dig it out – go ahead and try because you can’t!”

I am no stranger to hard work, but considering that I just turned fifty and that I have two able-bodied children,  most of the work that I do around the house usually is more of the academic nature.   I am the parent and I have no guilt about this.  Kids are strong and have a lot fewer miles on their knees and elbows.  Hard work is good for them.

I admit that it was not pleasant being challenged by my daughter this way.  I had a project of my own that I was working on,  but I guess I was feeling a bit feisty.  I decided to show my daughter that tree was going to know who was boss around my home.  After much wrangling and sweating, I did, in fact, remove that tree, three-foot root and all!  But wait – my audience had already gone back inside to watch Netflix!  So I marched proudly into the living room,  sporting my prize and flaunting my victory.   Take that you nasty weed – no one tells me I can’t do something!

You’re probably right – it wasn’t really punishing her by doing her work for her – but you just cannot imagine how good I felt that I did it.  I felt a little like Scarlett O’Hara in the book “Scarlett” by Alexandra Ripley 1991.  This is just a synopsis from memory, but I remember a part in the book when the workers she hired to clear the fields of Tara in Ireland were whining about how hard the work was and that it was impossible.  Scarlett was very pregnant but she got down off of a ladder she was standing on, walked over to the man, squatted down, ripped out a huge weed at the root, handed it to him and said, “There, now it is started – you finish!”.   It was that kind of determination that I have always wanted to impart to my daughters.  I wanted to be unstoppable and I wanted them to carry that spirit on in their own lives.

For that day, however, there was only punishment for the bad choice my daughter made in her decision to wait until the last minute to argue about the job I gave her.  She probably expected me to just take her at her word that she had “done all she could do” and then get in the car and drive her over to her friend’s house.   Well children, that was not to be.

My daughter was immediately grounded from television,  her phone, laptop and tablet, and although she really threw down and even begged me – she did not attend any birthday party that day or anything else for the rest of the week for that matter.  I felt worst of all for the birthday girl who was expecting my daughter to be there.  But I am not about to feel bad because she knew from the beginning what the consequences were.   I wish my daughter had made a different choice.  Standing my ground was even harder than digging out that tree if I am to be honest with you.   I looked like a mean mom that day – and I even had to listen as  my older daughter told me “you should just let her go”.   I looked her square in the eye and made it very clear that this was none of her business – and that she could spoil her kids any way she saw fit when it was her turn.

That is when I got to thinking – whatever happened to the lost value of determination? Did my daughter have any guilt about not completing the task she was asked to do? Or did she feel that she was smarter than I was because her words provoked me to to the job she refused to do?  If so, is that the kind of character we should be rewarding in our kids?

Why is it so easy, even honorable to quit these days?

If you stick with something that is hard, that requires the full extent of your energy for more than the duration of your average spin class, you are frowned upon as a zealot.  You are laughed at as being a fanatic.  And God forbid  that you ask your child to push themselves to their limits doing work around the house.  Shhhh!  The neighbors better not hear you or they will be whispering “Abuse!  Someone call protective services these parents are brutal and unfit!  Someone get that little girl a juice box and a snack she has been working in the hot sun for almost an hour!!”

If this continues to become the norm, what will happen to our world?  Without the dedication of artists like Michaelangelo, and the perseverance of scientists like Isaac Newton and Copernicus,  and the lifelong commitment of Beethoven how much less would our world have today?

Our kids are living in a time when if it takes more than two sentences to say you are a bore and irrelevant.    If the work takes more than five minutes – it is unreasonably hard and considered punishment.   If the job requires thoughtful attention – well you just better do it yourself because you just can’t expect that from kids today.

Guess what?  I do expect it. In fact, I don’t just expect it, I demand it of my children and if I don’t get it the first time, I am perfectly okay making them do something over, and over, and OVER again till they get it right.  Bring on the tears and tantrums because you are not going to leave till it’s done!

So what does that make me?  Demanding?  Yes.  Bossy?  Yes.  Bitchy?  Probably.  A mom with anger issues?  You bet.  But my kids go so far as to say I am “insane”.  I think this is because they simply do not know anyone who expects as much of them as I do.

And why is that?  Why aren’t schools, coaches, pastors, teachers, and other organizations setting the bar high enough that our children might have to stretch a little?  Why is this society so against watching young people work their butts off?  Child labor has a bad rap.  When exactly is a child supposed to learn to work anyway?  When he or she is sixteen?

I have always felt that child labor has a bad rap.  My kids have worked as long as they can remember.  There were folding laundry and cleaning their own rooms since they were 4.  By the time they were 8 they could cook with supervision and do their own laundry.  After all – when exactly is a child supposed to learn to work anyway?  When he or she is sixteen?

 

Sorry to you “super” moms out there who did EVERYTHING for your sweet little darlings.  You are probably gritting your teeth at me right now  because you are feeling a bit judged.   But it is not too late to change.

Why are you driving your kids to school when you live two blocks away?  Why are you driving them to work at all?  What is wrong with a bike? Or walking?  Or has that become unreasonable punishment these days? Why are you filling out their financial aid applications and filing their taxes for them?  WHY???

Do you think if you don’t help them they will fail?  Maybe they will.  And if they do, that is exactly the lesson they need to build real character,  not more dependency.

Is it funny that your daughter didn’t know how to put gas in your car the fist time you let her after getting her drivers license?  So is Arby’s supposed to teach your kid to use a broom properly because you never made him clean?  Is it Love Culture’s job to introduce your child to the advanced skill of folding a shirt and using a hanger because your kid never did their own laundry?  These examples would all be REALLY FUNNY if they weren’t actually true.

Is it any wonder when you go to Taco Bell, the kids are just standing behind the counter staring out into space until the manager says “hey could you go pick up the garbage in the parking lot?”.  Why did this even need to be said?  Didn’t that kid just get dropped off outside the door by his mommy?  Didn’t he SEE THE GARBAGE blowing around in the parking lot?  Probably not – he was probably texting.

Even GOOD coaches, the kind that will mold your kids into leaders cannot bench your kid when she doesn’t show up to practice because sometimes it’s your fault.  You  were the one who thought that skipping practice to go to a doctors appointment or get a hair cut was no big deal and she agrees with you.  Where is the value of commitment when this is what they are learning?

Schools can’t give your kid detention for having bad attendance skipping school because it was YOU who wrote the note because the kid overslept, or how about when you sent the message that school was secondary to staying up all night to see the latest Harry Potter movie.

Teachers can’t waste all their time arguing with your kids to put the phone away in class when you let them text while you are talking to them.  They learn early on that adults don’t really care if they listen, so why should teachers be any different?

What is a tough mom to do when she is raising kids in a world that expects almost NOTHING from them?

She reminds them that they are DIFFERENT.  That they are made of tougher stuff. because she expects MORE of them and sets the standard that they will follow long after the work is done.  She demonstrates for them that honesty and character are of the highest value and that integrity shouldn’t be sacraficed for convenience or popularity.

She reminds them that true leadership is about service, and that if you cannot take instruction, you are not equipped to lead anyone.    She also reminds them every day that things like discipline, determination and hard work are gifts,  not curses, and that a good job is its own reward.

A tough mom does all of these things while swimming against the tide of popular opinion, because she is not simply caring for children, she is building extraordinary men and women who one day will change the world.