What parent doesn’t want to tell their child, “you’re the best,” or “you can do anything”?
Giving out trophies en mass teaches children that they don’t need to strive for anything to be rewarded.
And when we tell our kids that they deserve the world and the world doesn’t give them anything – they shout in frustration and wallow in loneliness and lash out.
We tell them to ignore the “haters” because they are better than them. We put one above and one below and lose equal standing.
Here we create their superiority complexes.
So then a child believes themselves to be a god and can control who stays and who goes and doesn’t understand the consequences.
(In hindsight – they understand. They always do. And then they end themselves to keep from facing reality.)
But we have created this. Us, the domineering parents. The ones whose children can do no wrong, can be the best, can ignore all else.
We cannot ignore the warning signs. We cannot give our children the world because it is not ours to give. We can teach them to treat others as equals, and to love the bullies and the loners and the popular kids. There doesn’t need to be a hierarchy in our schools or in their minds.
(There can be winners and losers in games because that is healthy competition and they can strive to be the best of their own selves.)
But if our children are handed ribbons for participation, when they are dropped into the real world they will have nothing.
And their minds cannot coincide with reality because they still believe they are the best. And so it continues…and they suffer…and others suffer.
Because we didn’t get a trophy when we were their age.
Being a mother brings out the best and the worst in me.
Sometimes all I want is to cuddle with my son.
Sometimes I just want to hide in the bathroom and lock the door just to be alone and untouched for once.
Sometime I am hyper-vigilant in watching him, to the point that I can catch him before he starts to fall.
Sometimes I look away too long and he falls hard.
Sometimes he is so clean and shiny and he smells wonderful.
Sometimes I can’t remember his last bath.
Sometimes I will read him books over and over again for hours on end.
Sometimes I just hand him books to play with so I can do something else.
Time spent being a mother is time spent tearing yourself in half between selfishness and selflessness. You feel like your identity is in your child and feel lost when you don’t have them near to hold. You want to do everything “right” and never fail. You don’t want others to see your mistakes for fear that they view you as bad at mothering. You will never please everyone, least of all your own self.
Sometimes you pour all your love into one defenseless, little person.
Sometimes you cry.
But that’s motherhood.
There are so many things that our parents have taught us. Many of these things are subconscious. Here are a few quirks and mannerisms that my husband has learned from his parents:
Instead of orange juice, they have “ornch” juice. Despite my efforts, he has and always will say it that way.
His dad has never been one for rushing. even though his mother hustles and bustles about like a bee. One of them is generally ten minutes late while the other is sometimes close to twenty minutes early. My husband has taken on the former habit, having rejected the need to be early to every event. To make up for that, he stays until the end of every get-together. That is actually how we came to start dating. He would come over to the college group that met at my parents’ house and stay until nearly midnight in order to talk to me.
There is no such thing as height. It is “heighth”. Although it is technically not in the dictionary, it is simply a colloquialism from Old English. It also makes sense to say “heighth'” when we have “width” and “length” and “depth”. I have noticed that even his grandparents say it this way. I do not.
A glass of water always accompanies your meal. It has helped me to drink more water, although I’ve had to remind his family multiple times that I don’t drink it with ice (as I am clumsy and tend to spill when big ice cubes get in the way).
He cannot stand being woken up in the mornings. I guess that back when he went to school his mother would have to wake him every morning. Now, it seems to give him a sort of traumatic reminder of his childhood (because getting woken up in the morning is incredibly traumatic).
As he so often reminds me, money should be spent on good shoes. A good pair of shoes is worth every dollar to him and his dad. If the fit is even slightly off, the shoes will be returned and anyone that thinks of buying them should think twice. Both of these men have extremely picky feet, so there are many shoes that do not pass their tests.
Now, let me set you straight. I’m not making fun of my husband’s (or in-laws’) ways. I like to observe and make note of my observations. Next up, things that I do and say that I get from my parents.
I can’t help but be drawn to languages. Communication and the fine use of words are beautiful things. It bothers me when people do not care about the language they are speaking. A lot of people only speak half a language; they speak a watered-down version of English, full of crass and mispronounced verbalizations. I understand that upbringing plays a large part in this, but then there is also the world of the Internet in which many people get lazy. From laziness comes a lack of care which becomes a bounty of grammatical errors. I am not perfect in this as I also grow lazy with my words.
My mom read to me and my five brothers when we were younger. She has always had a compelling storyteller voice, and even as we grew older, we would still listen in as she read to the younger kids. This brought a love of books to our family. We would collect series and try to read books before anyone else got to them. Our favourite series was the Redwall series, written by a man named Brian Jacques. We would take his fantastical stories to the backyard and pretend to be talking mice and otters and foxes. Even as an adult I am sure I would still play those games if it were societally acceptable.
I was lucky to have the childhood I did. I can speak and write and I hold a desire to learn inside of me. There are those, however, that never were given the chance. Kids drop out of school, dread homework, can’t even add sums or multiply simple numbers. It’s a hard world for learning, but I must reiterate: the language you speak is important. It is the difference between a high-paying career and minimum wage. It is the difference between forgiveness for a ticket and an instant fine. This is a prejudice but oftentimes a truth. We can use language to our advantage. After all, it is what convinces a nation to vote for a president, to believe what they read, and to take a single comment as complete truth. The moment someone types your instead of you’re, their opinion is instantly disregarded. It matters.
While I intend to complete my knowledge of the Spanish language, I am still learning the English language. There are words that I have never heard or have never dared to utter for fear of mispronunciation. English is complex and brimming with rules and exceptions to these rules. I occasionally bend these rules for the sake of rebellion and/or poeticism. All in all, maybe I simply wish for everyone to have the same draw toward their own language. Perhaps then our communication wouldn’t be so lacking.
Have you ever noticed how different we all are? Even people that are similar have differences. We dress different, give our bodies our own flair. Celebrities try to be each other, we try to be them, and yet we cannot. Do you know why? Because we can never be the same as someone else. We are not clones cut from the same mold or the same exact ingredients. Even children are different from those who made them. There are changes in personality, changes in the way they walk, differences in what they prefer to eat. Twins, the people who are the closest to each other, are different. None of us is like another.
Still we try.
We shape our bodies and our faces to be like people we know. Mass groups are changing themselves, compromising their images to be false. Why do we do it? What have we to gain? We have so much to gain from being unique. From each person we can learn. We all have thoughts and words ready to break forth out of our lips. Our ways are our signatures, the signatures that we leave behind when we walk out of a building. They leave people wondering, wanting to know more about us. Our differences hold the interest of those we meet. They are what make friends and enemies and rumors and job offers. Without these, life is lifeless, colorless.
Can you see the sparks?
Leaping off our faces and out our eyes, surrounding our sighs with light and laughter. Those are our desires and feelings. Those are me, drinking my coffee without any sugar. Those are you, drinking your coffee with several spoonfuls. Those are the world, preferring one movie over another, one fabric over another, one topping over another. Those are also the pain that each of us feels. The reason a father hurts his family and the reason a friend betrays a brother.
Without. We are purposeless, gray matter amidst rainbows. Nothing we do can change that we are not alike. Hello, you. It’s me, a person. I am not you. You are not me. Now let us be friends in that broken harmony.
There was a time when all I heard
Were my own thoughts and
I’d spin around without a clue
Of where I’d go
Even the streets with all the lights
They never blinded
I was lost inside my soul
And so it came
The age of fear and many problems
I never thought I’d be in need of hope
But now I stand a little shocked
At my surroundings
The differences of my abode
I wander the towns in search of what
My heart’s desiring
Whatever need that strives to waken my demise
I said sorry to the dreamer and magician
That carries far the weightless lies
Many memories, pens, pencils on a paper
All that sighed and left from me
To become known
Because what is life when everyone is sleeping?
On this I ponder
I absolutely hate it
When I have nothing left to say
Or when my voice is silenced
In the busyness of day
And when I take my pen up
To force some random thing
It comes out in a sonnet
Of how my world has been
All my thoughts on clouds and lava
And strange reflecting Coca-Cola
How ocean photos turn out funny
And people’s laughs forever change
And I wonder where I am
In relation to the leaders
Of the country I was born to
Of the state from whence I came
Have you garbage in your city?
Have you lights that blow to bits?
I have shirts that bear stains proudly
And bread I eat turns green too fast
Yet life is for much more than comfort
And poems I’ve composed myself
But since no one likes a know-it-all
I’ll let you figure out the rest