Dont tell me I should be happy!

Ok so here it is, 5 days since my boy headed off to college and now I am seeing on Facebook and hearing through conversation there are hoards of children cleaning out their rooms, packing up boxes, loading up trucks, trains, planes and automobiles, all to adorn the entryways of higher learning.

Since my boy left early to attend a freshman backpacking trip (super idea), my personal experience with watching our son vanish in the rear view mirror gave me a bit of a leg up in the separation anxiety arena and the raw emotions associated.

None of which I was prepared for in the least! It pretty much has gone something like this over the last several days.

  • Cried at the thought of him never really “living” here anymore
  • Cried at my burnt toast
  • Cried at the sight of the dog licking its ass
  • Cried over feeding the fish
  • Cried because the coffee I was drinking was the same as his
  • Cried when I looked into his room (oh wait that was because I was going to have to clean it)
  • Cried at the prospect of dying alone (whoops an unrelated topic, sorry)
  • Sniveled at the thought of mowing the lawn

Went to bed, woke up the next morning (yes that was the first day)

  • Cried at the thought of crying
  • recited over and over again: I am so sad, why am I so sad?
  • Transferred money into his checking account (you guessed it cried again)
  • Cried while cleaning his room (not out of sadness but disgust! It was really gross!)
  • Cried because I couldn’t remember just how in-depth our “sex talks” were? Lord knows we can’t afford to be grandparents quite yet or have him come home and ask if that “thing” looks like a rash!
  • Heavy sigh over whether or not he will take care of himself. Yet with the food plan we purchased he better come home a little chubby! (secret note-he can eat all the cereal he wants when he wants it at no extra cost! Uh SCORE!!!!)
  • Cried just to cry, hey its my emotional breakdown I can do what I want!

Seriously though, it has been an adjustment and although there have been some wonderful, caring responses to my irrational dilemma there is definitely one thing I have learned through this entire process.

Dont tell someone who is grieving over their kid going to college to; Be Happy!

Note I said grieving.  You see I have come to this conclusion after several days of watching Cody “ghosts” walking around our property. We parents who are sending our first born out into the world are in fact grieving.

Grieving or to grieve: 

grieve verb \ˈgrēv\
: to cause (someone) to feel sad or unhappy

: to feel or show grief or sadness

Yeah that second definition fits pretty well!

So when a parent says: it’s just so empty without little Jonny at home. or I see little Jonny around every corner in our house or I feel like a part of me is missing without my son at home.

Responding condescendingly: Well aren’t you happy for them? I mean this is what you worked all those years for isn’t it? Is in no way the proper response.

Yes I am incredibly happy for them, ecstatic,, euphoric, jubilant, seriously over the moon! But that is not the point!

I am sorry if your plan was to have kids and ship them off the very moment they turned 18. Got your little tax deduction all those years and now OH BOY I see a new office in the house or that bar/game room the wife and I have always wanted! Well that wasnt me, it was never me. I had children because I wanted children. To be a part of their lives, invest in everything they do, watch with pride when they succeed and coach them when they fail. I had children hoping to leave a better legacy than before and something strange happened along the way. I fell in love with them first, parented them second and after they grew, became their friend.

My son means everything to me, I am incredibly proud of all he has accomplished, I know for a fact he will succeed at what ever he applies himself too.  But he is still a part of me, he is still a face I look forward to seeing every single day. A smile and laugh that can erase even the harshest of days from burdened shoulders. I can’t turn back time and say yes to hunting trips when I had to say no, I can’t turn back time to sit a while longer in his room chatting about everything and nothing at all, I can’t turn back time and laugh while he annihilates me at Halo, I can’t do anything, but sit in his empty room, listen for a voice that’s not there, wonder how he is doing at that very moment and if it’s all he ever dreamed it would be.  The sadness is not for him, the sadness is for me…

The only thing I can do is have a sense of humor and faith.

So as you run into these “newbies” yeah that’s right 5 days puts me in veteran status y’all! Tell them you understand, listen with compassion, feel their pain, and let them know you are there to talk if need be.  Because they just shipped a human being that took 18 years of hard work, molding, love, dedication, devotion, grey hair, and lots of tears out into this world.

Turn on the news if that thought doesnt scare even a childless couple I don’t know what will..

Alright, enough sniveling. Be happy everyone!!!

 

 

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It is your time….

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Fear resides as the devils left hand while hope lies within the depths of the right.

As a young man I would lay in bed wondering what would become of my life. Not just the normal glossary topics such as marriage, children etc.. But what would BECOME of my presence here on earth, both in the present and long after I am gone. There has always been a yearning to become more, a feeling as though there is more for me to accomplish, left gazing to the heavens wondering what more could be out there and hoping that one day all would reveal itself to me. You see fear has always kept me from being exceptional at anything and hope has continued to keep those dreams alive through wild daydreaming and at times pointless planning. But in the end my inability to control my fears have left me with nothing more than hope and for that an empty feeling deep within my soul remains.

As we enter the final days until Cody leaves for college, it has occurred to me this conversation has never taken place between the two of us. Is he prepared to strike out on his own? Does he have a true vision of what his life will become, where he is headed, and if he has a plan? Or does he even need one?

Do his daydreams have meaning, has anyone ever told him they are part of the fabric for which his inspiration will evolve. When we are young we should be encouraged to follow those dreams to strike out on our own, throw caution to the wind, find out who we are by testing the very mettle molded by our parents and the experiences held up to this point.

As a child I was constantly warned that daydreaming was a complete waste of time. But it was where I went, or could go to be whatever I wanted to be at any moment. As a child I was also terrified to daydream out of fear of punishment, chastised for the very waste of time others felt my mental trips to be. As an adult I believe daydreaming, contemplation, to meditate is the mystical treasure map of our lives. Where do we want to be? What do we want to become? It’s all right there, trapped within our magnificent, organic, computers (the brain). Stare into the distance; let your mind take over and what do you see? Are you on a beach in Tahiti or piloting an aircraft? Can you feel the warmth between your toes as you stroll across a cobblestone path or are you closing big deals in the heart of New York’s financial district? Can you hear the applause of a packed theatre as your performance brings down the house or the cold sting of a winter’s night as you walk carefully up the side of a car you just pulled over for speeding, no back up, alone? Does a fire engine race by as you gaze into the unknown whilst its sirens leave you with chills, or do you feel empathy and an inner strength as though you could perform that very job? Can you smell the dirt roads of an impoverished country and see yourself guiding those in need or walking across an unknown landscape with no destination in sight until you unknowingly stumble across a new challenge, or fortune.

Do you see yourself doing GREAT THINGS!

There is an old adage that our parents told us as youngsters; when you grow up you live in a country that will allow you to be whatever you choose to be. Personally I prefer: There is nothing you can’t do once you put your mind to it. But my personal favorite is: if you can dream it, you can be it.

So to my son, his friends, every boy and girl heading out into the world I say; this is your time! This is when you take a moderate amount of responsibility and huge dose of dreams and find out who you are, what you are, how much you really like yourself, then squish it all together and become whatever you want to be too this world! Yes! It won’t be perfect! Yes it will be messy at times and involve meeting new people, understanding those you have nothing in common with and occasionally like a sculpture in the works need a little molding from time to time. Yes you will leave behind people you care about as well as those you don’t, but have learned something from just the same. Yes! It will take work, hard work, so hard at times you will feel like quitting but you won’t because you have a dream. Leave a legacy, a mark, have a moment in time that will forever be yours and remember to never, ever quit daydreaming.

To every adult out there who reads my blog. I have never stopped daydreaming, but I have allowed my inability to control fear keep me from accomplishing my dreams. Hopefully life, burdened with all its responsibilities has not left you stunted in the same fashion, unable to dream big, achieve those dreams then close your eyes and smile wide; for now that you have done your job as a parent; it is “your time” as well.

Dream big, open your eyes and see what happens when you push fear aside….

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Junior High National Finals Rodeo-Iowa 2014

 

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“Never approach a bull from the front, a horse from the rear or a fool from any direction.” – old cowboy proverb author unknown

8 months spent practicing, working hard, traveling, keeping our horses and children healthy have all led to this one moment in time.  Jake and I standing in awe at the spectacle that is the Iowa State Fairgrounds. The Junior High National Finals Rodeo! A compilation, a cross-section, a melding of all the very best junior high students who have competed their hearts out in multiple divisions! Some have bested competitors and friends in several categories, some made here in only one, but they are here and ready to do battle!

Just so you understand why we are in “awe” here is a sample description of what our eyes behold, straight from the ISF web page. No better description could have been penned.

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The internationally acclaimed Iowa State Fair is the single largest event in the state of Iowa and one of the oldest and largest agricultural and industrial expositions in the country. Annually attracting more than a million people from all over the world, the Iowa State Fair in Des Moines is Iowa’s great celebration, a salute to the state’s best in agriculture, industry, entertainment and achievement. It is the true heartbeat of the Midwest, unequaled and reduplicated.

The Iowa State Fair, the inspiration for the original novel State Fair by Iowan Phil Stong, three motion pictures and Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Broadway musical, is without a doubt the country’s most famous state fair.

National media frequently rank the Fair as one of the top events in the country. In 2004, USA Weekend named the event the #2 choice for summer fun in America, topping New York City’s Times Square, Cedar Point Amusement Park Resort in Ohio and Disneyland in California.imagesIMG_0910

Midwest Living magazine named the Fair one of the “Top 30 Things Every Midwesterner Should Experience.” The Fair is also the only fair listed in The New York Times best-selling travel book, 1000 Places to See Before You Die, and the subsequent travel book, 1,000 Places to See in the U.S.A. and Canada Before you Die.

Iowa’s Fair is also known as “America’s classic state fair” because the event features all of the traditional activities associated with state fairs in a park-like, 450-acre setting (the Fair’s home since 1886). The grounds and the adjoining 160 acres of Campgrounds are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Most of the buildings pre-date World War I; many are priceless examples of American exposition-style architecture.

Throughout its history, the Fair has been a unique institution, serving to educate, inform and entertain people from all walks of life. It is an outstanding agricultural showplace, boasting one of the world’s largest livestock shows. Also home to the largest art show in the state, the Fair showcases visual and performing arts with a variety of special exhibits and activities.

We (the California team) have been graciously welcomed to Iowa. The people here are fantastic! Polite, friendly and caring.  The show that has been put together for these IMG_0928kids is without a doubt unrivaled! From the moment we arrived on Saturday each and every contestant (all 1000+ of them) have been treated as if they all had gone pro! Nowhere have I seen such generosity towards giving each and every child “their” moment. Yes at the end of the week there will be winners, and there will be losers, but each child will have had “their” moment in the sun!

It starts with a green lush campground, where care has been made to keep each state together, golf carts have been provided (at a fee) to help travel across these expansive grounds with saddles, feed and nervous competitors.

Moving to the center of the fairgrounds, the entire area is closed of to traffic (golf carts only) to lessen any chances of injuries to spectators, competitors and animals.  Every manufacture is here in one gigantic pavilion, showing the latest in rodeo gear, tack and animal care products! There are numerous raffles, covering clothing, boots, saddles and yes even a new Dodge truck! Practice roping stations are everywhere for fun and another large building is set up inside as a kids zone for competitors and their family members to go play games, shoot pool or practice roping some more!

The California team consisted of the top competitors in their divisions determined at the state level (just as with every other state). This band of misfits have banded together and for those who didn’t know each other they all are becoming fast friends.  Many of the other states are joining up as well cheering each other on and everyone (parents included) seem to be having a great time.

Sunday morning started with a two-hour meeting which filled the main arena. The rules were laid out and policies explained. The grounds are filled with eyes and any infraction will cost a participant the chance to compete! Sitting in the stands you could feel the electricity as the building was filled to capacity with rodeo kids, friends and family! Flags from all the states represented are flying, including Canada and Australia! Each performance is comprised of 5/6 states with next Saturday being the short go!

The first go was Sunday night, it was a real testing of the waters as far as competition goes and man did the kids live up to the hype! The performances put forth were outstanding! Large groups of parents cheering for their states, kids cheering for friends and the ability to watch everything from both arenas on a large split screen television overhead made the events very entertaining for all involved. By the end of the evening it became clear it was definitely going to be a long week but one they all would remember for the rest of their lives!

 

More to come!

 

Graduation Day

This week has come and gone, a moment in time a memory for recollection. 13 years of life, tied so closely with friends, teachers, sleep overs, field trips, sporting events and many peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. I cant believe this day arrived so soon and left in such haste. Your school life started out simple enough; tears of separation, happiness upon returning home from a half day of school. Full days and mounds of homework, new friends, old friends, friends who moved, sadness and joy. Skinned knees, new bikes, scooters, baseball, the park. Swim meets, wrestling, cross-country events, awards, disappointment, contentment and successes.

Days where I felt we were losing you, days were we knew it was all going to be alright and days of unbridled pride watching you do what you do. Time spent, heart-broken, filled with sadness as reprimanding you or having to raise my voice while losing my temper as a last resort secretly brought me to my knees. Reflections of my father I choose to leave hidden in darkness. Time wondering if I spent enough time with you, if you needed me and I just didn’t pick up on it or if you are content with the time we have spent together? Happy with how it has all turned out?

Here we sit third row up, middle section staring directly at a stage you shall soon cross with pride. I didn’t sleep last night, worried I would over sleep and miss the opening of this venue to stake out my territory, claim a prime vantage point for this most important of days. 5 am I rose, fed our animals then slipped off into the morning, ensuring our seating success.

It has been a hard year for our family, we have all struggled, physically and emotionally and you son have not been immune. Yet somehow you kept a level head and completed this 13 year journey all on your own.  I sat staring at that stage, wondering how it must feel for you? What emotions are worming their way through your brain?

This is after all a very special day, no pressure or anything. The 100th class to graduate from Dixon High School, The first in our family to head off to college and thirty years to the day from when your father finished high school. To say I am proud of all you have done, accomplished and survived at such a young age is an understatement. You are my hero son, there is nothing more I could ever have asked for in regards to you.

A friend at work asked if I was going to cry during the ceremony, and of course a terse “no” came quick and fast.  Not losing any man points within the confines of my firehouse, no way! In truth, I didn’t cry, but not because any lack of emotion existed, or due to a hardened soul. Instead my chest was filled with immense pride, for you had done it! You graduated high school, you applied to and were accepted by the colleges of your choice, you asked for help when you needed it and handled any issues you felt you could handle alone.  You son don’t need us to hold your hand anymore and that is nothing to cry about! Instead it is a sign of success for us as parents, it is what this entire journey is all about! Creating, molding, testing, and yes being frustrated with this living being, this boy you brought into the world. Hoping and praying in the end you have done all that you can to ensure when he walks out the door he will do the best he can, stand upon his own two feet and find a world not molded by callous misplaced prejudice, but one molded by his own experiences, using your guidance as a key. Nothing more.

You walked across the stage, the principal read your name; cheers from family and friends erupted and echoed through the stands. Cody James Franceschi high school graduate. A summer lay before you, a weight has been lifted and the relaxation of a job well done is definitely showing across your face. I love you son and I always will. Your mom and I have done everything within our power to help create this person you see in the mirror. We know you have become your own man, but know this. The phone is always in your pocket, we will always be at the other end of the line and just because you will no longer be able to walk out your bedroom door to ask us a question doesn’t mean you cannot find a quiet place and call us, anywhere, anytime. For though we have worked hard to get you to this point, your mother and I have countless reams of knowledge to share with you still. In the end my hope is you will still need us, still feel as though you can ask us anything, whether near or far, what ever it takes we will be there. You are our son, there is no other like you and for that we are incredibly thankful to God! We love you…

Now lets talk about the second week of August when you go off to college.

Wait! What is this wet stuff streaming from my eyes? There is something in my eye! There is something in my eye! “sniff sniff”.

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A fathers love…

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Nine days until life comes to an end.

Ok not really, but when I ponder the ramifications of this emotional moment in time, nine days from right now; it feels as though a portion of my life, one held so closely to my chest will inevitably come to an end. My heart is breaking, even though my exterior is strong, even though I show no care in the world towards the upcoming moments, even though it is how things are supposed to be and even thought this is what we have prepared for over a very long period. Like a sliver you hardly notice at first, time passes and it slowly augers into your skin a little farther with every movement until eventually you can’t help but notice it, notice it’s agonizingly minute annoying pain. Then a week maybe two, it’s in far too deep to do anything now. It is beginning to hurt.

July 11 1996

A baby boy was born into this world. He was pale, screaming, shivering, with 10 fingers and ten toes. He was perfect. Six months straight he screamed, six months straight he cried, I swore I would never have another child; this was it for no adult should endure such torture as this child provided for six long months! Then one morning I awoke to find we had slept the entire night! Oh it was a glorious feeling, an entire night’s sleep, no rocking a child for hours on end, no midnight cup of coffee and long car ride to reignite his sleep filled head, no sir, all night long just me and my sheets all bawled up into one!
Jumping out of bed in a panic! Heart rate busting through my chest! Scared to death as I acknowledged the real reason sleep had been with me all night long! Rounding the corner into the nursery, Bear my Rottweiler by my side nervously barking, I was expecting the worst! Oh how the imagination wanders in a matter of seconds when fear is involved! Smothered by his own pillow, SIDS death, head wedged in between side rails of our crib. The evil of a first time parents fear (especially a firefighters) was reigning king upon my psyche! Yet standing, pajama bottoms on, dog by my side eyes gazed upon this infant jail cell, there laid our boy, happy, pink cheeks, cooing. All was right with the world.

He never cried at night again.

Just kidding, but after those first six months Cody James Franceschi never made a huge 321613_2371954104839_641442329_nfuss over anything again (ok except for saliva). YES there was a small period after a biology class where he learned about saliva that an unexplainable debilitating fear overtook his body and every time he felt saliva forming in his mouth he thought he was going to die! It was hilarious!

Growing up he remained fairly quiet, studious, with a shy charming way about himself. He traveled through elementary school with many of the same struggles as most children, Sixth grade being the hardest for him; un-organized, frustrated with his grades, but somehow he just became quieter, figured people out and what they needed from him. Cody began to read nonstop, anything and everything he could get his hands upon and he grew. He played sports; baseball, basketball and once he entered Jr. High cross-country his athletic course was plotted.

We slowly watched this quiet child develop this wickedly dry sense of humor that many of his friends enjoyed. During jr high I realized he was the Ferris Beuller of his group. On campus talking with teachers and other students it became rapidly clear there wasn’t 200116_1004284233947_3369_nanyone who disliked this kid. No fights, no quarrels, every social group knew of him and not one person had anything bad to say. He was and is; “a righteous dude”
He became interested in hunting, fishing and archery. Cody remained surrounded by a very core group of friends including one he shared the very same birthday. In eighth grade he was voted male student athlete of the year, it was an amazing moment, but our Cody downplayed its significance, just like he has downplayed every single activity he has excelled at since.7525_1231633557538_3887792_n

High school held no surprises, no serious troubles with his studies, no girl problems to speak of, he continued to run cross-country, eventually making it to state his sophomore year, then again his Junior year only to give his spot away to a very close senior friend stating; we were so close in time, I ran for him earlier in the year and it just seemed right, it is his last chance ever to go to state and run. I have a chance to do it next year. I have 1962732_10203278372304070_1868046438_nnever been prouder of my boy than I was at that moment. He traveled to Haiti with me that year on a mission trip. Watching this boy become a man before my very eyes, kind and gentle with the locals, yet labeled by the Haitian people we worked with as:” the boy who works like a man”. At a meeting with the local town’s people one evening we held a question and answer period and one of the men stood up and wanted to know in a very aggressive voice why Cody never spoke. It took some creative wording on the part of our interpreter to calm this man’s emotions as we suspected he felt it was disrespectful to not speak or engage in such meetings. But we all stood strong that Cody was just shy. Once the village figured this out to be the truth, is when Cody’s work ethic became one of much discussion. The men accepted him and all of them wanted to work alongside my son.
During his senior year he was voted team captain and he did a very good job. Boosting people’s spirits and quietly, silently with his dry sarcasm, saying just the right thing at the perfect moment to get the very best out of someone. He also ran his personal best at every cross-country event, but as he improved so had many others across the state and in the end, he went to state, but only to support the two runners who made the cut. He was proud of what he’d done this year on the XC courses, but Cody’s pride is a silent one and once cross-country was over, it was over and out of his mind. On to the next challenge life will bring. 217942_10151147319311649_1513114350_n

Cody obtained a driver’s license at 16 and took right to the roadways. My fears of adolescent lead foot syndrome for which I had been afflicted where not to be as friends would tell of seeing my son driving around town to which he was affectionately referred to as: driving Miss Daisy. 424626_4540849645872_1564129365_n

He has wanted to be in law enforcement since 6th grade. One time he met with a family friend who works at UC Davis and participated in career day on campus. Our son sitting with a FBI recruiter at 12 years of age in a suit and tie learning every step it takes to become a member will forever be a story I cherish.

Taxidermy, archery, shooting, raising pigs, riding motorcycles, quads, mountain bikes, wake-boards, off-road skateboards, hiking, are just a few of the things he loves to participate. He is much more adventurous than me, much more assured of his direction, yet leaves conversation about himself locked up like a vault. 59253_1507280874813_2469541_n

Cody will head to Humboldt State University in the fall. He has finally chosen a plan A and a plan B for his education. His major will be criminal justice with a minor in environmental sciences. Plan A; finish the four-year college, obtain his degree and apply for CHP. Plan B; finish the year college and become a game warden.
Either plan sounds fantastic. I am so proud of our son, for years I have touted the strength every man wishes they held deep inside, that unbreakable, solid as a rock man who won’t shed a tear over his son moving on with his life. Walking out that door to the world we tried so hard to protect him from while educating, preparing and hopefully guiding him in the right direction when this moment came.

The day is growing closer.

Strangely as of late I no longer see the man he has become. When he walks into the house, I hear his prepubescent squeaky voice talking to me. His cheeks are round; he’s small and needs his daddy. My heart breaks as I realize how long it’s been since I was able to cuddle him on his bed and help him get to sleep after a bad dream. Stroking his hair while telling him no bad monsters can get past me, I promise! He doesn’t cry anymore when he is hurt, he builds things on his own, fixes things on his own and even though he is messy as hell and it drives his mother and I crazy, he cooks on his own!

He is my first-born; he will always be my first-born! A vision I dreamed of over a 9 month period, wondering what he would look like, who he would become, praying this little life308369_2387626496639_979319657_n would grow to be just like me, but in the very same breath praying to God he wouldn’t. As he progressed, learning from his successes and mistakes there were many restless nights where I was left wondering if I was failing him or leaving him with good advice, solid guidance. Nights spent outside away from them all (there are 4 children total) head in hand sobbing, feeling overwhelmed, disgusted with myself for yelling, screaming like my father had done to me, punishing, demeaning, saddened, worried I was screwing him up permanently. Yet finding solace in showing him it’s ok to admit when you are wrong by apologizing when those moments had gone too far with harsh words.

251527_10150300192451649_2825994_nI look at him, watch his soft emotions change on a dime, from sweet and funny to harsh and jagged, noting the very same attitudes shown from myself at his age. The need, desire to spread his wings and fly, but not knowing how without actually having to leave this home, his sanctuary, his place of solace all alone in his room, beloved dog cricket by his side.
He must go. It will be far away and his mother and I will hate it at first. Overtime it will become easier as our family gets accustomed to his absence. Yet his spirit, his soul will always live in our home. I know the very first night I open his door and he is not there I am going to cry. It will be very reminiscent of when I drove a stick shift for years. After purchasing my first automatic, I spent the better part of a month still slamming my left down to an empty floor. No clutch in sight.

I am pretty sure I am going to spend the better part of a month, shutting a door to an 250602_4091191164691_1963527086_nempty room and longing just to say goodnight while giving him a hug that only he can give back (and if you have had one of Cody’s hugs you know they are awesome). 18 years gone in a flash, a whole lifetime to him, a moment in time that’s come and gone way too fast for me. His father, the most important man in his life, I have stood strong for 18 years, showing him how to hopefully be a good man.
I cried tears of joy when he came into this world, into our house, into my heart.
I will cry tears of joy when he heads off to college and quietly I will cry tears of selfish sorrow for the empty space he will leave behind.
One day hopefully he will understand.
It is a fathers love….

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I have finally discovered it’s a lie!

 

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It’s a lie, it’s all been one great big fat lie! I don’t know what to believe anymore! My inner self-worth has been annihilated, any resemblance of an ego obliterated and then there is the whole trust issue! Yeah that’s right I said it, T R U S T….. How on earth am I to trust anymore? Huh? Huh? What? Yeah I know, its like impossible now!

Maybe I better go back to the beginning.

(flashback mode) diddledoooo, diddleeeedooo, diddleeeedoooooo

Fourth grade and Mrs Schultz asks: Betty what do you want to be when you grow up? Now first of all its a really nice Norman Rockwell image but COME ON!!! What kid in fourth grade truly knows what they want to be when they grow up!

I throw out the only answer that comes to mind. Now before I tell you let me just preface by saying these where the days of TV shows like B.J. and the bear, White line fever and of course my personal favorite Smokey and the Bandit! “10-4 good buddy, come on back you got the Schoolboy 9 on this end!”

So if you havent guessed it, my choice of all the wonderful far-fetched career paths to be pie eyed and moon struck over was that of the truck driver! 18 wheels, coast to coast, my adventures would be never-ending.  Hauling materials to those in need and maybe even solving crime along the way.  My truck was going to be a cab over Kenworth (red) with more chrome than a 57 Chevy! Yep I had it all figured out.

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Unfortunately Mrs Schultz didn’t see it that way. For as soon as I spun my web of fantasy over the 18 wheeler I then heard from her terse red lips the common denominator that would haunt me for the rest of my educational experience. A truck driver? Are you kidding me? Son this is America, where you can be what ever you wish to become.  A images-18smart kid like you could be a doctor, or scientist, a policeman, fireman or heck if you work hard enough at it one day maybe even the President of the United States! Apparently according to everyone elses standards becoming a truck driver did not fall into the parameters of becoming what ever you want in America!

So whats a lad to do? I did what any other young man in my position would do, I tried to become everything but a truck driver. Farm hand, dishwasher, construction worker, salesman, cowman, delivery driver, dairyman and so on. You know what? I hadn’t become educated at all.  I struggled all through school, I was never tested to see if I had a learning disability or if the courses were above my comprehension level.  Always scolded for poor grades and reminded by my parents alongside administrators that with a little more effort maybe I would amount to something. Reminded constantly that in America you can be what ever you wish, as long as it isn’t a dishwasher or farm hand, construction worker, salesman, cowman, dairyman etc…. All the things I actually enjoyed doing.

When high school was over it felt as though a giant burden had been lifted from my soul. No more daily disappointment, no more struggling through classes, trying as hard as I could only to receive a C or D grade. I didn’t graduate with my class, I finished at a community college over the summer, testing and passing my GED with outstanding scores in every subject! Confusing huh? Either way I had that paper in hand, and it was time for me to enter the world, where I worked as a construction worker, dairyman, car salesman, cowman and overall farm hand.  I was happy. It suited me, I didn’t make any money but I also didn’t care.  My family was confused with my choices, these jobs to them had no future, no means of long-term sustenance.  It wasnt what parents wanted for their children in America! Nope, here in the states anyone can be anything and do what ever they choose.  Want to be a doctor? Just find the funding, go to school and whala! You are a doctor, revered by all who see you and the talk of every mothers book club! She must be so proud! He works on a dairy? Oh honey I am so sorry he let you all down. (must be a sign of poor parenting)

I finally got the nerve one day to ask my boss if I could drive his 10 wheel tank truck. He said yes and after two years of hard work, long hours and very few days off I earned the opportunity (key word being “opportunity”)to get behind the wheel of his 18 wheel hay truck. A few more long days of practicing backing it up, moving it around the dairy both loaded and unloaded and before long-wait for it-wait for it- have you guessed yet? THATS RIGHT MRS. SCHULTZ I WAS DRIVING A SEMI-TRUCK ALL OVER NORTHERN CALIFORNIA!!!! WHOOP WHOOP! She was blue and chrome and covered in shiny aluminum and she was all mine!!!

I spent ten years driving hay trucks, logging over a million miles. When I decided the dream wasnt all it had been cracked up to be (no crime fighting you know) I went back to school and after 5 years of working 90 hour work weeks, volunteering at one fire department while working part-time on Sundays (the only day off I had) I landed a full-time gig as a firefighter for the department I continue to work for to this day 18 years later.

So I am sure you are scratching your head wondering where the lie is? Betty acquired a respectable job after all? What the heck?

Today I am surrounded by children of all ages. Helping at schools, my wife being a teacher, having taught High School Fire Science for 5 years, 4-H, FFA etc… And what I see scares me. Scares me to the very core of my being, and because of this lie perpetrated upon myself and generations of children it is only going to get worse.  I see children walking around with their heads full of shit! I see a school system developed to check the boxes, not explore the possibilities, I see bright inquisitive minds  molded, compressed, held back, all to meet a systems ideal of how children should be taught.  As if all minds worked exactly the same, all brains absorbed information at the same rate, all eyes see exactly the same information you the teacher have so carefully placed upon the school board.

When I look into a classroom or gaze upon a group at practice it’s so obvious there little gears are all turning at different levels.  Ask them to perform, if you are truly paying attention then you will see one maybe two get it the first time, three-nine get it the second time and 3-5 are still processing with one or two so utterly lost they use humor or anger to hide their mistrust of the educational system, coaching and the adults who have lied to them all along.

Why are we as a society standing by, allowing this to happen? We preach children are our future then walk away, dropping the most precious soul we have at the school door hoping a state-run system will prepare them for the world! The United States ranks 17 in the world for education. That is 17th out of 40 countries, I am sorry not everyone gets a trophy on this one people! Wake up! Our children are learning how to check the boxes, they no longer have the ability to think for themselves, they need multiple choice answers to make an attempt at anything and I am sorry if this pisses anyone off but why aren’t we testing them early to determine what they ARE good at instead of filling their heads with shit! Lying to them constantly by telling them its ok, you can be what ever you want to be! Just try harder next time! No matter how hard you try or don’t try, everyone will get a trophy, everyone will get our prescribed education, everyone needs to understand you can have what ever you want or need because you are an educated American which leaves you automatically entitled to it all!

Liars!

How much better would our society be if all children were tested, thusly developing a plan to educate them accordingly. Children from 1-12 grade would develop a stronger sense of pride through accomplished work.  Work that not only do they have the ability to understand but actually excel at! WOW what a concept! Educators knowing who has the mental acuity to thrive in college bringing our countries A game to the highest level.  Educators also knowing who will thrive in trade schools and wow what a difference they will make with workers proud of their jobs, bringing careers to the highest of levels because they have found success through hard work and understanding of the processes associated with these career choices.

Listen I know it’s not that simple, but I also know whats happening now is not working. It didn’t work when I was a child and it surely isn’t working with 30 years of revisions. I spent the better part of my childhood ashamed that I was stupid, terrified of tests (something I still struggle with as an adult) and mentally not prepared for the world by my parents or my teachers. To this day I feel lost when I can’t figure something out, ashamed to ask for help, in fear of being reminded of just how dumb I really am. Why? Because that’s the education system I was raised in, told to sink or swim, toe the line or be towed, then patted on the head and reminded I can be what ever I want to be! It was all a lie.

images-16You cannot be anything you wish to be, and a society that frowns upon those who wish to become part of the blue-collar group is a society destined for failure through the creation of uninspired and lazy human beings. Chastising them will only push them away from what they love, not teaching them the basics of blue-collar work and cheering their successes will only develop more animosity and hatred towards society.  At some point a person tires of hearing how their choices are a failure and they just quit. It’s an ugly circle and you can see its effects daily in the news.

On the flip side how many children who are naturally quiet, reserved and fearful of the monster that is our 40 child classroom one way of learning educational system are freaking geniuses? How many undiscovered talents quietly sulk in the rear of classrooms across this country because fear keeps them from learning? Future Mensa card holders never to discovered due to a system that would never find them.

Lets stop the lie. Lets go back to fostering young minds, drawing out creativity, celebrating the individual, and developing unashamed, caring human beings filled with knowledge, empathy and love.

So yes today I finally figured out it was all a lie and no matter how hard I try I am not going to become the President of the United States, but if we could just become fifth in the world of education, then maybe everyone can have a trophy….

“A young head filled with shit, will eventually become an older self entitled shit which in turn will blossom into an adult piece of shit! Useless to themselves and society as a whole because they just dont give a shit.”

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Dont touch me! STRANGER DANGER-STRANGER DANGER!

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You know, lately I have been feelings as though our world has been going to hell in a handbasket! ( Yeah I know it’s a dated expression) 

But nothing and I mean nothing has sent me further over the edge than the following story!  It received little coverage, little debate and apparently WE as a society have said this is ok!

Really?

Before Betty fires up her stove as smashes down her ladle please read, enjoy and if, as a parent, future parent or aspiring to be parent you don’t feel sick to your stomach than maybe I am just getting to old and outdated for today’s society.

 

Huffington Post D.C.

Maryland School Bans Hugging: St. Mary’s County Public Elementary Schools Ban Hugs, Birthday Party Invitations And Homemade Food (UPDATED)
Posted: 03/18/2013 1:22 pm EDT | Updated: 03/21/2013 4:51 pm EDT

From the same state that suspended a 7-year-old for turning his Pop Tart into a Pop Tart shaped like a gun, comes a ban on hugging.

Southern Maryland Newspapers Online reports on the new guidelines for visitors, parents and students for St. Mary’s County public elementary schools:

Birthday invitations should not be handed out at school, Hall said, because students who are not invited could have their feelings hurt. She said school PTAs could develop phone and email contact lists, with parents’ approval, to distribute.
Foods for celebrations should be limited to store-bought items that contain ingredient lists so as not to interfere with children’s food allergies, according to the rules.

Parents visiting the cafeteria should not hug or touch children other than their own, nor should they discipline other children, the guidelines say. Parents should also not walk with their child when he or she leaves the cafeteria.

Other changes include limiting recess visits for parents, prohibiting visits from siblings and a new ban on approaching teachers in person to schedule meetings. Visitors must also now check in with the front desk and have their photo taken. The complete list of rules can be read in the Best Practices on School Visitors document.

The rules were chosen by a panel of parents and teachers over four meetings.

To the best of our knowledge, the school has no current plans to ban Flamin’ Hot Cheetos or award-winning books.

This isn’t the first school hugging ban. Schools in Oregon and Florida banned two people wrapping their arms around each other in 2010. For a variety of reasons, the act of expressing emotion with physical contact was also banned in schools in New Jersey, Brooklyn and New Zealand in 2012.

Are you freaking kidding me! I cannot walk with my child, I can only hug my child and not his best friend who looks to me as a father figure! I cannot comfort a child who has fallen and is crying in the hallway as a concerned adult! Or assist the lost and crying child out front who can’t find their mommy! I am sorry but what the holy HELL!

Yes that’s right ladies and gentlemen your local PTA and school board are taking our little futures and pushing them one step closer towards assimilation! Lets teach our children to continue down a mired pathway of insensitivity, callousness and just plain cold emotion! Dont you dare point that bony finger of judgement at me for being angry! You all want to persecute the bullying child yet in the very same breath teach that love and compassion are forbidden within school walls?

You say we need to embed kindness and diversity but let anybody hug a child other than the proposed finger printed and background checked parent during a prescribed time and place tells of the exact opposite! We all need to emphasize the importance of sharing, giving, and respect! But unfortunately now when your child needs love, attention and emotion, a teacher can only remove them from class, point them towards Broom Hilda the school nurse ( no offense to all the wonderful school nurses out there just a reference since your hands are now tied as well) who then sets them on a cold fiberglass chair while mom or dad are notified of their childs emotional needs!

No that’s OK American school systems! Lets continue down this blasphemous path of callousness, coldness and anguish! Yes sir! Move forward (separate subject but tied to this subject just the same) with more of everything is the “teachers” fault! No personal responsibility on the parents behalf! Lead the way school administrators with your obvious collective of higher educational thought process by continuing to pander to a lowest common denominator by punishing the caring, the thoughtful, the loving, and the watchful eye of parents who care about not only their children but all children because we know, and remember the pain and hurt associated with being a small child alone in a large place such as school! Now not only will little ones become callous and cold but as they age they will have learned to show no emotion or caring when another child is hurt or scared! Instead laughing, pointing fingers, verbal assaults and even pointing thier little cell phone/cameras to video, then placing this travesty on You-Tube for amuesment!

Oh wait; that is already happening! I digress….

Heres and idea, and yes I am now going to lump my hatred for our school system allowing parents to blame their teachers for the lack of education their precious little bundle of joy may or may not be receiving as opposed to reprimanding parents who cannot be bothered to raise their own children with manners such as, oh lets shoot one from the hip here; RESPECTING YOUR FREAKING TEACHER AT ALL COSTS!!!

Yes I am wandering off again, grrrrrr, so back to my brilliant simple idea: There is an old saying which I still adhere to this very day. “It takes a village”.  If a child needs a hug-ask if you can give them a hug! Then point them in the right, responsible direction! (I know images-1shocker huh!) If a child is misbehaving in class; give the teacher back the power to reprimand said student! Man if I was rude or disrespectful to a teacher in my day… POW! I got it when I got home! If we don’t teach our children to respect teachers RIGHT NOW they are going to grow up disrespecting all forms of authority! It starts with parents, then teachers, moves up to bosses, cops, firefighters, employees, and right on down the line until we (society) just ends up having no respect for anyone or anything! This is simple human nature people!!!

QUIT QUIT QUIT ALLOWING OUR SYSTEM TO PANDER TO THE LOWEST OF THE LOW! Yes the boogy man is out there! Yes everyday a child will disappear, be molested, murdered, hurt, and bullied. Do I want that? NO! Does it make me furious? YES and it should you as well! Is the answer taking away human compassion from their little psyche’s? NO! The answer lies within us! Stop thinking about how this (raising our children properly) inconveniences us as adults! Quit expecting the school system to do it for you! Stand up for your children! Put away child molesters for life! Anyone who harms or murders a child needs to be put away for life! Send the message this society will not run scared! This society will not allow this to happen anymore without dire consequences! This society will no longer tolerate bad or inappropriate behavior from children as well as adults.

UnknownWe all need to put our foot down and say: I AM MAD AS HELL AND I AM NOT GOING TO TAKE THIS ANYMORE!!!!!!

These children are our future! Do you want our future filled with continued callousness, disrespect and hatred for all who walk this earth! If so then I see no other alternative but to lay down and let the Terminators bring us to extinction.

Where are you John Connor when we need you?

Am I crazy, am I wrong? Lets get to talking about this for I feel as though we are on the precipice of social collapse and all we are willing to do, is stand by; let it happen and point a bony finger, because it is obviously someone elses fault.

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Betty needs a hug!

UPDATE, March 21, 4:45 p.m.: Southern Maryland Newspapers Online reports that the no hugging rule was only meant as a suggestion.

St. Mary’s public schools are backing off immediately implementing rules for visitors that initially limited homemade food and hugs for students from anyone other than their own parents, Superintendent Michael Martirano said this week.
What were called “best practices” for school visitors outlined at a school board meeting last week should have only been recommendations, he said, and they were incorrectly announced as new rules that would go into effect immediately.

Lets keep it going people! This school district came to thier senses but others remain in effect and even more have implemented or are about to implement this type of distorted thinking!