Adorable Argument

Poked heart

You poked my heart.
(Still taken from Tara Willmott’s Youtube video. Link to video below.)

This video, in addition to being adorable, I think contains a lesson (or a few) for many of us “grown-ups.” Here are some parallels I see to adult life and disagreements:

  1. These children are arguing over something that they feel is a very important distinction, which in reality is of almost no consequence.
  2. The argument is based on a simple misunderstanding, based on a difference in terminology which none of them yet understands. Since they are all unaware that there is anything they don’t know, it seems the opposing party MUST be wrong, and apparently must be convinced of it.
  3. They are all basing their stance strictly on loyalty to the source of their information (in this case, Mom.)
  4. They each continue to repeat the same points while not producing any evidence, only hearsay (Mom again,) and get nowhere.
  5. One stands by quietly holding on to the clothing of a contender (bigger girl in yellow behind girl in green on the right) as if to keep her in line, but saying nothing and having no real impact on what happens.
  6. Another tries to make peace, (girl in green on the left) turning from one side to the other, sweetly urging one to apologize, trying to calm the other, and finally, when unable with these tactics to prevent someone from being “poked in the heart,” goes to the aid of the hurt party and offers compassion and protection, standing between him and his offender (even though that offender is dressed identically to her.) “It’s okay. Turn around and I gonna get ahind you, and her can’t do that.” Thank goodness for the people who play this role in life.
  7. Something that does not look like it should hurt anyone (and perhaps was not intended to) really, really does – because of the way that person perceived what had been done to him. Everyone has their tender spots.
  8. Because of this argument over nothing that really matters, people were upset, and time was spent unpleasantly that could have been spent laughing, swinging, and playing in the dirt (or in the rain.)

Hopefuly, and likely so, as soon as this video stopped, these precious children were taught the meanings of the two words they were arguing over, were directed to hug and make up, and then spent the rest of their time together playing happily as friends, instead of turning their backs and never speaking to each other again.


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Johnny Carson and Bangs

One of the stories I taught to my 10th graders this week (“Everyday Use” by Alice Walker) prompted a discussion of what makes things valuable, and what one possession they would choose to save if they could only save one thing. So, I told them about when our house burned when I was 19 years old.

When I told them the year it happened, (1982) you would have thought I had said I was alive in the 18th century! “Whaaaat?!” They were shocked and astounded; one of them put his hand on his chest and leaned back like he was having a heart attack. Then — once they finally absorbed the fact that I was actually alive in the 1980s — they were fascinated. And what was the first thing they wanted to know about?  In more than one class period mind you, when faced with this mysterious time traveler from the magical 80s – this was the big question: “Did you have those bangs?”

Yeah. They wanted to know if I had those crazy 80s bangs. I told them, “Well, that was a little later in the 80s, but . . . yes, and if I can find the picture I’ll show you later.” They are looking forward to that.

Then . . . the story mentioned Johnny Carson.

Who is that?

What? . . . Raise your hand if you know who Johnny Carson is.

Not one.  Approximately 130 students (I asked in each class period) all around age 15, had never heard of the dude.

So, I asked, “Do you know who Conan O’Brien is?” Yes. At least some had heard of him, or Jay Leno or David Letterman. So I explained that Johnny was them before they were them. I showed them a picture of Johnny and the intro to the old Tonight Show – “Heeeeeeeere’s Johnny!”

Funny the things a good story will lead to.

Funny how old teenagers can make you feel.

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I see you.

Tonight at a restaurant, I saw a young man (30ish) sitting at a table across from an older man. Could have been his dad; I don’t know. They spoke very little. The younger man sat facing my direction, just a few feet away, so I could see him clearly.

Something was wrong. When I glanced up and saw him, I recognized, connected deeply, with what he seemed to be feeling. I have felt it too, or at least something very similar to it.  And I think I’ve had that exact same expression and posture while feeling it. He sat, seemingly paralyzed, with a look on his face of pain, shock, despair, confusion, hopelessness, hurt, or some combination of those. He did not move. Not even an eyelash. He appeared lost in some terribly unpleasant place, staring through his physical surroundings into nothing, or into something that only he could see. Maybe someone he loves just died. Maybe someone just broke his heart into a million pieces. Or maybe he is just completely overwhelmed with more responsibilities than he can possibly handle and is afraid to face tomorrow.

As soon as I saw him frozen there, I was frozen with him. I sat motionless, and stared at him, while he stared into space. I could not move or avert my gaze from him until he moved, or at least broke the stare-down he was having with something invisible, and returned to his dinner companion . . . Oh, what’s wrong poor fellow? I know whatever it is, it hurts so badly, and no one can make the hurt go away. I’m so sorry . . . Finally he kind of flinched and as he did he looked up and our eyes met for a split-second. I quickly looked away and tried not to look his way again.


Why did I look away the instant we connected? It was just a reflex? I didn’t want to invade his privacy, make him uncomfortable? Maybe all of that, but where did that reflex come from? What is it guarding against? Tonight as I was trying to fall asleep, it occurred to me that I should have held the eye contact just a little longer – not a long time, just long enough to admit that it wasn’t an accident and to give him a little smile. Maybe he would have felt my caring for him, just as I had felt his pain. What would be so wrong with that? Why must we all be strangers when really we are all part of the same fabric?

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Are you blessed? Or are you bragging?

Look what Dad gave ME!

Some days I feel it more deeply than other days – the empty, achy feeling caused by the lack of something I’ve always wanted desperately, but cannot have. It doesn’t matter what it is; my point would apply to any heart’s desire denied.  I’m sure I’m not the only person who has one of those.  We just don’t get everything we want.  I’m a grownup.  I know this.  I accept it.  And I try every day to focus on other things and not think about it, because it breaks my heart a little bit when I do.  Some days it’s easy, some days a little harder, some days impossible.

One of the things that makes it more difficult is to constantly hear (or read) other people who have this precious gift declaring enthusiastically that the REASON they have it is because God personally arranged for it to be that way for them. Yep, HE made the decision. He chose them personally and made it happen for them. They usually use the word “blessed.” It wasn’t luck or just the way life worked out for them. No, it was a deliberate act of God.  They are THAT special.

I know they think they are just being grateful, “giving God the glory” as they say, and it has never once occurred to them that what they are saying could be hurtful to anyone. Indeed, most of them are good, kind people who wouldn’t be purposely hurtful to anyone on their worst day.  But, if you just stop and think for half a minute, it isn’t really that complicated to see why it is indeed hurtful.

When I am assaulted with one of these “Look what God did for me!” raves, the response that often occurs to me is, “Wow, that’s great for you. I wish God loved me that much.”  And no, I don’t really think that’s the reason.  But that is the logical conclusion if you combine their statement with my life. If I have to acknowledge that it isn’t God’s CHOICE for me to be lacking and hurting—and I DO have to because how much worse would it hurt to think there was someone claiming to love me and doing this to me on purpose?—then why must I accept that your good fortune IS His choice?

My vote would be that we all admit that life just happens. Sometimes it goes your way and sometimes it doesn’t, and we can love and support each other through the ups and downs.  Be thankful, yes.  If you want to direct that thankfulness to God, consider doing it privately.  And I will be happy for you. And I’ll always try to focus on the other good things in my life.  Just please stop telling me that God specifically chose you to bless and me to ignore, because that is the essence of what you are saying.  Either that, or that you are doing it right and I am doing it wrong.

Maybe you just can’t be talked out of the belief that every single tiny little thing that happens everywhere in the world is God-ordained, that there is no circumstance He lets take its own course.  Maybe you honestly believe that God does good things for you and not for some others purposely—for His reasons which are not for us to understand.  If I will accept that stance, just for argument’s sake, can you at least see how it is still rude to flaunt His decisions that favor you over others in front of those very others?  You wouldn’t say to a starving person, “I am so blessed.  God has provided plenty of food for me and my family.”  Or to the parent of a seriously ill child, “God is so good.  He gave me healthy children.”  Right?  No, of course not.  You would just be quietly thankful that you aren’t hungry and that your kids are ok (and maybe do something to help these less fortunate people if you are able.)  So why is it ok to flaunt other “blessings” that not everyone has?

If this initially offends or angers you, or you think I’m just bitter or crazy and completely wrong, please sit with it a while and really think about it before landing solidly on that conclusion. I realize I’m criticizing a habit that most of us were brought up with from the cradle, and taught that it is the right thing to do, so it may be difficult to consider the possibility that it might just be wrong all over the place.  But, it just might be.

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Daddies Matter

There is just no substitute for Daddy.  There is nothing else that can fill the space meant to be filled by a good, loving, father who is actively involved on a daily basis in his child’s life and on a continuing basis into their adulthood.

If you have one of these rare treasures – a father who from your earliest memory has been a constant presence in your life, whose love for you has never been doubted for a moment, who continues to love you, to be interested in your welfare, and ready to help you with anything at any time, you probably think you adequately appreciate it.  And you probably think you understand how important and precious this gift is.  But you don’t.  Not really.  No one COMPLETELY understands the importance of that gift except those who don’t have it.  Because it has always been there, you are not even consciously aware of the firm foundation on which you stand and walk that is missing from underneath so many others.  But you do your best.  Be as grateful as you can, show him appreciation every chance you get.

If you are one of these fathers – these great men who adore their children, show them lots of affection and gently but firmly teach them what they need to know about life, and are always there for them when they need you – you may think that you are just doing your job, and even more it isn’t even work because you just love your kids so what’s the big deal?  It IS a big deal.  You probably think there is nothing impressive about what you are doing.  You probably think that you feel good enough about yourself.  But you don’t.  Feel even better.  You just can’t overestimate the importance of what you are doing.  You are changing the future for the better.  You are making better and happier adults to be a part of society.  And maybe – if you are one of those who missed out on having this gift of Daddy yourself – you are breaking a chain.  You are stopping pain in its tracks before it gets to your children.  You are changing the course of your family’s future and guiding them to a better place.  As long as your children live – even when they are old and you have gone on – they will be better off, whether they know it or not, just because you were their Daddy.

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Silver Lining? No? Oh.

Once, years ago, I noticed this beautiful head of hair in front of me in a public place. I thought it was a young woman with platinum blonde hair. Then she turned around and I saw that she was – though quite lovely – not a young woman, but probably in her late 60s.  I realized her hair was gray, not blonde.  Wow, so pretty, I thought – why would anyone ever dye that?  Over the years I’ve noticed other similarly lovely heads of completely, naturally, silver or white hair. As my hair started to get, as I call it, “sparkly” on top, I started admiring these beautiful natural gray heads even more. I began to wonder what a full gray head of hair will look like on me, and how my gray hair will be different from the way it is now other than color – maybe it will seem thicker like when I highlight it. How interesting it will be to watch my hair completely change color all by itself without having to pay for it. It will be sort of like when it changed from almost white blonde when I was little to strawberry blonde by high school (and then whatever color this is by this age.)  I don’t remember ever having any worries about going gray anyway, but if I did, they dissipated as I looked at the pretty gray heads I saw here and there. Eventually, I even began to look forward to going gray.  And THEN, I became PROUD of myself for looking forward to it! As I shared this enlightenment and healthy attitude with my lovely hairdresser, Annmarie, she listened silently, examining my hair all the while I talked.  When I finally shut up, she responded with, “Yeah, yours isn’t gonna do that.”  Poooof.  Sigh.  Guess I’ll have to find something to like about getting wrinkly.

blonde, strawberry blonde, gray

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I Am You, You Are Me

We are all connected, joined together by invisible threads.

When we hurt one other person, we hurt ourselves, hurt humanity.

Each of us is all of us.

Love each other.

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