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Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Sometimes you just have to let a ship sail and a kid walk on his own.

Anchored in!
We all have a little bit of a perfectionist in us.  We want things to be just so.  If we build things, we want them built just right.  Although I have no desire to build sailboats, I find people that build them fascinating.  There are so many ways and styles to build a sailboat.  And even after you pick and choose and build the actual boat, then there is the sanding and shaping of the hull.  Boat builders take great pride in the way their boat cuts through the water.  Often, spending as much time sanding and shaping the hull as they do actually building the boat.  I read an article about a man that spent twenty six years of his life perfecting his sailboat before taking it out to sea. I mean really, at some point you just got to put her in the water and let her sail.

We as parents do the exact same thing with our kids.  When we first teach them to walk we often hold own to their little hand longer than we need to.  Yes they are going to reach for our hand.  It's always the easy way out.  But sometimes the easy way is not the best way.  The truth is, this is the first big test of trust.  Not trust of the child.  Trust of your own parenting skills.  Sooner or later, you just have to trust that you've taught them what they need to know and they will be able to navigate the skills of walking without you holding their little hand anymore.  Then a few short years later, you find yourself running behind a bicycle.  You're bent over with your hand under the seat because you've taken the training wheels off in an effort to boost your child's self esteem.  You can feel it in your hand that your kid is ready to take off on his own but your just not quite ready to let go.  It's a matter of belief in the lessons that you have taught.  It's an exercise  in self doubt. You can repeat yourself over and over but sooner or later, you just have to let your little one ride on without your hand.  But with the confidence of all your knowledge safely instilled in him.

The end of Parenting.
It's no different when we get to the end of our kid's childhood.  You've done your job.  You've warned against the dangerous things.  You've given the driving lessons.  Discussed uncomfortable subjects such as drinking, drugs, sex, and bad company.  You have had your had at the steering wheel for eighteen years, all throughout school, relationships, sports clubs, and every aspect of their lives.  You've instilled all that is in you into them. It's a massive leap of faith to just let that kid sail off into the waters.  But here's the beautiful part.  That kid was shaped to cut through the water by your hand.  As long as your hand was active in shaping that kid, I can assure you, he will perform the way your hand molded him to perform.  It's hard to give up your creation to the world, but you will be overwhelmed with pride when that creation performs better than your design had intended it to.

Happy Sailing My Friends.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Balancing Life, imperfection is required.

Balanced Scale
One of the earliest achievements in our lives that is heralded is the ability to walk.  This ability requires the mastering of balance.  Balance seems like a simple enough scientific term.  All you need to do is maintain a vertical line with the center of gravity.  This is true for something that is a permanent structure but we are living, moving things.  Better known as human beings or in scientific terms, bio-mechanical structures. Because of this, in order to maintain balance we must have a certain amount of sway.  This sway is needed to keep our muscles constantly working and adjusting to re-calibrate our center line of gravity.  This sway comes from the simplest things like breathing or a child constantly bouncing back and forth.  In short, if you aren't constantly adjusting for your center of gravity, you are very likely to loose your balance.

Same is true for balancing our lives.  If our life was constant we could set one balance point in our lives and never need to adjust.  But lets face it, life is never a constant.  We are always growing, learning, expanding, pushing new boundaries, and always making new connections.  Adjustments have to be made for every change in our lives in order to keep balance.  And here's the catch.  For all those that like to plan ahead, you never know how someone in your life will react to a situation or new event in their life.  It's these little nuances that you have to keep adjusting to keep up with balance.  If you ignore the little pet peeves of those closest to you, sooner or later they start to add up.  Then things tip way out of balance.  It's best learn to make small adjustments every chance you get instead of having a massive break down and having to make a large life altering change.  People that say change is hard are the ones that refuse to make minor course corrections along life's road.  Better to have ounce of prevention than a pound of cure, if I may quote Ben Franklin.

Just like a Gyroscope or a Bicycle, balance and life require constant motion and course correction.  Lose either one and you lose both.  Get a big head and think you have it all figured out and don't address either issue and both will come crashing down around you.  More often than not, those who are down and out, or have had a string of bad things happen to them are the ones that have stopped course correcting.  You can never stop adjusting your balance point in life.  To do so would tip the scales and send you crashing.  So if you are 16 or 65, always grow, learn, adjust, add, and always course correct.  And stay balanced in this thing we call Life.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Everyone believes in Equality but no one wants to be Equal.

The American Way.
Everyone today is so politically correct.  We believe in equality for all.  We think that everyone should have a fair chance.  No one should be discriminated against.  Everyone should be given a second chance, even if they have a checkered past.  In America, you can work to repay any debt that you owe to society for mistakes that you've made.  We also believe, that hate and bias should be things of the past.  Skin color, creed, and nationality should not be things that we judge people on or hold people back in this life. We all have friends these days that break the old barriers and say we will no longer tolerate prejudice, bigotry, and plain old ugliness.  But is that really true?  Do we really believe in Equality?  Or are we just pretending so we can feel good about having friends with dark skin and thick accents?  The answer might surprise you.

Now I could easily go the route of we all want equality for minorities as long as it's not in my neighborhood. Or we all want a fair shot for legal immigrants as long as it's far away in Texas!  But let's go a different road. This week is the Olympics.  Despite the controversy that surrounds Russian President Putin at all times on everything from Syria to Gays, the Olympics are supposed to be about fair play on a world stage.  And you can bet your weekly paycheck that at least a hand full of Olympians will be suspended for using performance enhancing drugs.  You see, everyone wants an equal and level playing field but they also want an advantage for themselves.  The same is true for America's favorite pastimes of baseball and football.  We want the fairest of playing conditions but we also want our team to have the guy with the gorilla arms that can bat that ball over the fence.  And if he's mixing a few extra carrot tops in his smoothies, why should our guy be suspended.  The rules are for the other teams and the other guys, right!  Psst, we think the same way about immigrants and minorities.  If somebody with dark skin or a heavy accent wants to work in a factory in Kansas, then there should be a law.  But if he wants to work at my plant, oh heck no!  I want equality for those people but I don't want to be equal to them.

Supreme Court of the 14th Amendment
Throw out the minority issue.  We all say we want companies to hire based on an even playing field.  We want jobs handed out solely on merit and qualifications, or so we say.  So we have our congressmen pass laws to force companies to adhere to such rules.  Then what do we do to get a job?  We ask some body's brother-in-law to put in a good word for us.  Or we try to find out about a job before it is offered to the public.  The bottom line is we don't want to be equal to all the others seeking out that job that we claim should be offered in the spirit of equality.  Equality comes at a terrible price.  That price means you can't guarantee success.  Equality means everyone must share the load of both the good and the bad.  It's all to easy to say you want equality, but it's another thing altogether to actually live it out. That would mean putting yourself down on the level of others.  And that is something that very few are willing to do in the life these days.  So weigh that out before you scream equality for all!  

Monday, February 3, 2014

A parent's need to shelter can lead to shock treatment for a child.

Happy Parenting
As parents we all want the best for our children.  We all want to provide a wonderful, loving home.  Every parent hopes their child has exceptional physical, mental, and social skills and will be in an environment that acknowledges those great attributes. We want our children to be exposed to the best educational opportunities possible.  Parents want their child surrounded by teachers, coaches, peers, and mentors that will only speak positive and encouraging words into their lives. We want the best life possible and definitely a better life than we had when we were children. In short, parents want to shelter their kids from the bad things in the world and only expose them to the good.  But is this the best for your child in the long run? And the answer is, no.

It's absolutely staggering to me how many kids today have never worked a job before they make 18.  Or how many kids have never had to fend for themselves until the day they leave for college.   Come on people, it's only common sense.  If Little Johnny has never had to punch a time clock or answer to some grumpy boss before 18 the learning curve is going to be extremely steep.  And no, having Little Susie watch here younger cousins for money does not count.  Getting a part time job at 16 or 17 is a lesson in how much the real world really sucks.  Vital lessons in what it's like to be at the bottom of the food chain are taught at these minimum wage, menial jobs.  Even if your child is going to college to be a rocket scientist, the lessons of a part time, minimum wage job are invaluable to a child in the long term plan of making a complete adult.  And those parents that shield their kids from these lessons will be compensating for it for years and years to come.  And if you send your kid off to college without having the know how to wash clothes, clean dishes, cook food, or bathe just might have a thirtysomething living on your couch for during your golden years.

My oldest is a Senior in High School and we've been doing the College tour thing.  We have gone to quite a few Universities and sat through a many a presentation.  Some of the best and most eye opening looks into the colleges are the ones that have college Seniors available to answer questions.  Just the other day we were at LSU and they had a 5 Seniors answering questions.  3 of them admitted to Freshman shock.  One said it was because he had never worked a job before and it translated into not knowing how to adjust to being the low man in the pecking order.  The other two said that living without the help of parents and so far from home was the shock that took and entire year to get over.  They adjusted and are going to graduate as fine students of their school, but I'm glad to hear their honesty of how shocking the real world is when they left the nest of their sheltered home.  The sooner you start adjusting your child to the real world the easier his transition will be into it.

College life without Mommy!