Are You Kidding Me?!

Are You Kidding Me?!

Monday, July 28, 2014

MVP (plural?)

A few years ago, my son's teacher had this brilliant idea to give out stars to her students. Sounds okay so far, right? The stars were big. Bright yellow. And said “I AM A SUPER STAR!” on them. When we had a meeting, the teacher said all her students were “super shining super stars!” All the students were the best. Isn’t that special?

No, it’s not.

I called my friend with "Seriously?!" and “Can you believe this?!” and “How preposterous!” and so on until she cut me off. I could practically hear her roll her eyes. She said, “That's nothing. Last year, my kid’s entire team got an MVP award. Every. Single. Player.”

So, “most” valuable player is now everyone? How does that work?

Why is it that coaches, teachers, daycare providers, principals, et al. feel this need to include every single child in the “best” category?

They are not doing these kids any favors. 

Children have strengths and weaknesses. We all do. Why are we telling them they are the best at everything?

Is this a confidence-building thing? Because, I have to say, if you told me I was the best singer you'd ever heard and I went on stage and humiliated myself, not only would my confidence be shredded but so would our friendship.  

I refuse to tell my son he is the best baseball player I've ever seen when he can't catch a single ball. I'm not praising my other son for being the most incredible dancer when he trips over his own feet just walking. (You don't want to hear about his dancing.) So there. I've said it. My kids are awesome. They are loved. And both of them are stars at a few thingsbut not at everything.  

Not every child is the cutest, smartest, most athletic, most musical, best this, best that, best everything in the world. They are not. This is something we must accept. They will too. And they'll be better off for it.

Methinks I'm not going to get a Most Valuable Blogger award for this post. What are your thoughts about this "every child is the best" attitude?

Monday, July 21, 2014

The Power of Growing and Gathering

Last year, I got out the shovel to dig up my lavender plants and throw them in the woods. They looked like giant dead spiders—thin, dry bare branches sticking out at all angles. Not a purple flower in sight. The summer before that, I only harvested a handful of stalks. These lavender plants were gone and I had to face it. But I couldn’t. I put away the shovel and watched them get buried under all the snow that fell on us this past winter (and spring).

My (pathetic) harvest
Why didn’t I get rid of them? Part of it, I’m sure, is because I love lavender. Maybe another part of me didn’t want to "kill" them. I wanted to be absolutely, positively certain they were already dead. I think another part might be my feelings about these plants. Weird, I know. And I’m just getting started.

I don’t garden. I understand that many people like gardening and find it relaxing. I don’t. I find it work. Hard work. I also have a notoriously brown thumb and cannot keep a house plant alive for more than a month.

A few years ago, I had healthy lavender plants producing fragrant purple flowers. The skinny stalks grew so tall, I thought they would break but they never did. They were strong. Teeny, tiny, purple flowers started opening, a shade deeper than the buds that hadn’t yet bloomed. And that smell…heavenly. Did I mention how much I love lavender?

I’ve always purchased dried lavender in shops but these were mine. I got to see them grow, water them, and harvest them. I enjoyed the process from start to finish. Reaching into the plants and picking a full stem of lavender, gathering them together, hanging bundles around the house to dry, filling a bowl with dried lavender.

When I pick fresh stems, my fingers are lavender-scented for hours. When I sit in the sun and gather stems together, tying them with string, I feel a connection to these things. (I said this was going to be weird.) When I hang bundles up, I appreciate the charming beauty of drying herbs. When I strip the stem of its dried flowers, I fill my special “lavender bowl” with fragrant buds and I completely zone out. The whole experience is so grounding, meditative, and rewarding.

A few days ago, I was playing in the backyard with my kids when I saw some purple peeking out from behind a whatever shrub (I have no idea what it is). I scurried back to my four little lavender plants and what to my wondering eyes should appear? Bright, beautiful flowers smiling at me. Don’t mock. It was a moment. I had a moment. I plopped on the ground in the middle of the plants and just kept picking stems until I couldn’t hold any more. I handed a bundle to my son and continued harvesting. It was like my own tiny miracle in the midst of the mess of a summer I’ve been having.

I have no real point here. Just sharing some joy. I hope you have some lavender bloom in your life soon.

One day's worth. More is blossoming out there...

Monday, July 14, 2014

Spiderman? Is that you?

I have a serious phobia. Tons of people are afraid of spiders, I know, but I think I’ve discovered a new form of this: Arachnohairophobia. The fear of spiders landing on your head and not being able to find them and the nasty things crawling around in your hair.

So we spotted a spider today. From across the room. It was BIG. I’m talking like quarter-sized. And fat. I didn’t want to go near it but I did not want to leave and come back into the room and wonder where the hell it was. So I sent my little one upstairs (we are careful to make sure my kids watch out for anthills so they don’t step on the ants by mistake) and I grabbed the nearest thing, which happened to be a cute animals coloring book, walked over to the spider and thwacked it. I swear, when that thing landed, it made an audible *plop*. A loud one. I have never actually heard that before. There was…stuff on the coloring book, too. Lots of it. And that frickin’ thing was just sitting on the chair like a dead body I’d have to wrap up and stuff in the trunk of my car. It was disgusting. It took seven tissues for me to pick the remains up and, even though I knew I had gotten the thing, I was compelled to run upstairs and take a shower. My skin was slightly pink and my scalp tingled in an unpleasant way due to my manic scrubbing.

My 7-year-old son takes karate. He’s awesome at it and I love that because I worried about him not doing well at sports. I am not extraordinarily athletic. I mean, I can drive and play Angry Birds and stuff but I’m not super strong or anything. But, when I see a BIG spider near me or I walk into a spider web (those frickin’ things are, like, invisible!) I could mop the floor with any of the kids in my son’s class. Don’t scoff—these are trained karate kids. Ones I would not have been able to take if it wasn’t for the spider-phobia thing.

I feel badly that my little boy heard me shriek (and quite possibly heard the spider hit the chair with that loud plopping), that I ran upstairs all flushed saying over and over to him how "Okay!" I was, and that he didn't eat lunch until after 2 PM because I just had to wash the non-existent spider out of my hair. I feel badly about all these things but sometimes you just gotta do what you gotta do.