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Blind Support

Dear Loch,

Your Dad and I recently came to watch your after school Ninja Presentation. It was a culmination of what had been learned over the past semester and a graduation ceremony as you move on to the next headband. They can’t call it a belt because the whole thing is more game based lessons rather than any formal martial arts training. To be honest, I don’t really understand it. I’m not sure what you’re doing or learning in these classes because it sure as heck isn’t any actual skills but, you throughly enjoy it so, we continue to sign you up no matter how pointless it might appear from the distance of an adult mind.

IMG_450644036This was the fifth presentation I’ve been to. The first couple were quite enjoyable because I went into them with zero expectation. You were just cute and committed and I dug it. By the third and fourth presentation I knew what to expect but, despite the minimal skills presented, I always felt proud because you took the whole thing so seriously. Clearly working hard and doing your best, you were respectful of your Sensei and committed to the process. What more could I ask for? By the time this presentation rolled around, however, I’m ashamed to admit I was kind of wishing there was something I could do to get out of it. Despite my pride in watching your hard work, the presentation itself is a pretty tough hour to sit through. I support you unconditionally but keeping a pleasant smile on my face while most of the kids fall on the ground in convulsed fits of goofiness and laughter while seemingly incapable of remembering what a line is and generally hard pressed to preform even a single move is quite difficult for me.

What I’ve held on to during these master classes in patience is that my child’s seemed capable of rising above the “noise”. The attention and respect you’ve always shown your teachers and the other children amidst the chaos impressed me. You seemed to understand when you should be quiet and when you should be talking and you always performed like a champion when it was your turn. Are you an amazing ninja? No. But, you always put forth an amazing effort.

Quotation-Jack-Kinder-life-expectations-achievement-Meetville-Quotes-186285I don’t need you to be the best. I just need you to be your best and, untill now, you’ve never let me down.

This time however, as I sat there watching the craziness, I found myself getting more and more twitchy. Not only did the Sensei have to come over and tell you and your friends to be quiet three times (with me giving you the hairy eyeball on a number of other occasions…) but, when it was your turn to present, you were all over the place. Giggling. Laughing. Falling over. Talking back to the Sensei in a cheeky/show-off way, forgetting almost every move and just generally acting like a cut up. At one point I leaned over to your Dad and said, “When does unconditional support end? We can’t tell him he did great. He’s doing awful.” Your Dad just shook his head. Neither of us knew.

After one particularly bone headed move, where you clearly could have done what was asked of you if you’d only been paying attention, I muttered, “Uhhhh, that was terrible…” and the mother in front of me turned around and looked at me as if I’d screamed “You SUCK!!!” at the stage. I was simultaneously embarrassed and defensive. Was I an asshole parent? Should I be just smiling and clapping like she was? Why should I feel guilty for not being impressed by my child’s bad behavior? Her child had wrestled another kid to the ground during his turn, not because he was supposed to but because he wasn’t listening when he was told to stop, and she just sat there giving him the thumbs up and sharing a laugh with her husband about how silly and wonderful he was.

1484c8b77a4b35d6864c7ec7a19e7ff3Look, I believe kids should have ample opportunity to be silly but I also believe they should understand when that behavior is not appropriate and I think it’s the parent’s job to help them make those distinctions. Being inappropriate and disrespectful to your teachers and the people who’ve given up their time to come and watch you is not, in my humble opinion, worthy of a double thumbs up. Sure, I might have muttered you were terrible but, that’s because you were. You could be a terrible ninja and I wouldn’t care. I’d smile and clap and cheer. But you don’t earn my praise and respect for not even trying. What lesson does that teach?

You knew I was less than thrilled with how it had gone so when you finished you came over and said “That was really bad wasn’t it?” After feeling like the s*&^est mother on the planet for about 10 seconds while I weighed the consequences between being blindly supportive or honest I said, “Well you’re not bad but, that wasn’t great was it?” You looked at me earnestly and said, “No.” I said, “Look babe, I’m always proud of you but I can’t say I’m proud of what you did here today.” As you started to blame your friends and the younger kids I stopped you and said, “I’ve seen a lot of these presentations Loch and I know a lot of these kids aren’t respectful but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be.” I reminded you that you were one of the oldest kids in the room and more was expected of you. That the parents come to see what you’d learned and that the Sensei wanted to show what they’d taught but that we didn’t have the opportunity do either with the way you’d chosen to behave. Then, because you looked completely crestfallen, I finished with, “I love you with all my heart Lochlan and I’m proud of you every single day. I don’t care if you’re amazing. I just care if you do your best.” 

B_vAXfXUwAAh22E.jpg-largeWe left it at that but later in the car, still feeling guilty, I said “The thing is Loch, I want you to trust what I tell you is the truth. That if I tell you you were amazing it’s because you were, not just because that’s what I always say. It wouldn’t mean anything if I told you you were great all the time. I want you to know I’m telling you you were great because it’s the truth. I want my words to mean something. I want you to know that your Dad and I are happy and impressed because you’ve done something worthwhile. Do you understand?” 

You said you did. I think you did. I hope you did.

article-2261903-16EAE9F3000005DC-903_306x410I want to be the kind of parent who encourages you to do your best. Someone who believes your best self takes effort and applauds the effort not just the result. I want to be the kind of parent you can believe in. Who’s praise means something because it comes from a  place of truth and authenticity. Yes, your mother should be your biggest fan but that doesn’t mean everything you do will be perfect. I have high expectations of you because the world will have high expectations of you. You won’t do well in school by spacing out and talking through classes, you won’t move up in a job if you can’t deliver what’s expected of you at the time it’s expected and you won’t succeed in life if you disrespect the time and effort of those around you.

Life doesn’t offer double thumbs up for blowing it so why would I teach you it does?

I love you Loch and I’ll support you in all that you want to do. I just won’t cheer unless you deserve it. Fair enough?

God bless you baby. Put forth your best effort and the rewards will come.

Ever yours,

xoxo Mommy

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An Open Letter to Those with Real Power

Dear Bill Gates, Warren Buffett and Larry Ellison; Hollywood Heavyweights with back end points and a conscience; readily interviewed Sports Stars who donate money; Politicians who still believe in public service and Celebrities with hope,

I need your help. I feel as if I’m drowning in anxiety about the state of our society and I can no longer bury my head in the sand and pretend everything is fine. As a culture, an economy, even a planet we are so far from fine it’s devastating. We are in serious trouble and I’m beginning to feel hopeless about our abilities to do anything about it. I’m turning to you, those with power, with influence, with the ability to really facilitate change and I’m begging you to do something.

Let me preface by saying, although I am a worrier, I am ultimately an optimist who has never found herself strung out over conspiracy theories or spent any real time time riling against the atrocities of the world, of which there are many. I feel strongly about politics but for the most part keep my opinions to myself and send money and lend support to causes I believe in but don’t do a whole lot of preaching the word to others. I feel today, however, on World Health Day, that I must speak up about a worry that has recently left me terrified. I hope I’m wrong. I pray I’m wrong. My problem is, I don’t think I am.

Until now, I thought my biggest fear was dying of my terminal disease and leaving my child without a mother, but now I wonder if it shouldn’t be watching our beautiful world fall apart around us. I was devastated reading Cormac McCarthy’s The Road. It was such a bleak, hopeless depiction of our future. Humanity having botched everything so terribly there was no one left to help. The only reason I finished the book was because I was waiting for the redemption that never came. I put it away in horror, but looking at the way the world is unfolding, I wonder if my child isn’t looking at a future closer to Mr. McCarthy’s than what I ever imagined. I’m petrified of the direction in which we’re heading and I’m overwhelmed and discouraged that we, as a culture, have allowed things to get this far.the-road

Perhaps history is just fated to repeat itself. I look at lost cultures like Rome, Greece and the Mayans and I think, are we next? Will anything worthwhile be able to even follow our demise or will our self-destruction, combined with our technology, be so absolute that we will, in fact, be the Omega. After reading (and confirming) the two new studies by NASA and the UN: NASA Study Concludes When Civilization Will End, And It’s not Looking Good for Us and UN Scientific Panel Releases Report Sounding Alarm on Climate Change Dangers, I wonder if my current fear of being buried under a burning pile of rubble in Los Angeles’s “Big One” isn’t merely trivial selfishness in the wake of “the end of our planet as we know it”. America (and the G8) should be leading the battle to save us and yet we seem all too easily distracted by personal gain, the fight for wealth and power and various celebrity mishigas to take any – behaviorally altering – notice of the real issues at hand. While we should be fighting to preserve, protect and improve what we have, using our wealth and influence for change and salvation, we’re killing the environment, dismantling the middle class, attacking women’s rightsvilifying America’s poor while making it easier for the wealthiest Americans to take advantage of the system, and turning politics into a cesspool of stagnant infighting, potentially corrupting the democratic voice with the endless fundraising one upmanship. Frankly it’s hard to know what’s really happening anymore because we all just watch the news we agree with.

Infinite-ResourcesAnd these are just issues on the home front. I’m not even touching on world issues like North Korea, Russia and the effects of the Crimea takeover, the potential nucular fallout still looming after Japan’s earthquake, Syria and the ongoing crisis of Middle East. I know “We Didn’t Start the Fire” but we sure as hell seem to be fanning it to epic proportions.

It seems all too possible that this ongoing selfish, inward looking behavior will ultimately only bring about our downfall. Scientists are screaming it. I believe it’s time the rest of us started listening.

When did we get this insular? This clueless? Why are we not more afraid? More outraged? More informed? Where is our connection as a people? Do we truly need an alien attack, a environmental catastrophe, a unstoppable viral outbreak or a 3rd, planet devastating, world war to reconnect? How bad do things need to become before we, as a people, stop apathetically ignoring the facts.

ceasefiremagazine.co.uk

ceasefiremagazine.co.uk

The time has come to get behind a singular agenda: The Salvation of the World as we Know It.  I realize that sounds heavy handed but legitimate, respected scientists are seriously talking about a few decades left. That concept is unfathomable and yet, it remains a REAL possibility. “Decades Left” and we sit in our society of freely disseminated information choosing to talk about anything else. I understand the desire to ignore. Every day I pretend I’m not sick. I pretend I’m not dying. I believe this is something I’ve learned to do in order to survive, to not dissolve into a puddle of fear and sadness. I understand the impetus to bury your head. I just think we, as a culture, are doing it on too large a scale. We are pretending it’s all going to be okay, that we trust our leaders to not let us fall, to have confidence they have our best interests at heart. We are choosing to believe that everything will work out because the alternative is just too much to contemplate. It’s more desirable to hide in the fluff of the tabloids or in the “busy-ness” of our daily lives and focus our energy on fighting our waistline or crow’s feet rather then opening ourselves to the bigger and far more terrifying issues at hand.

It’s preferable to ignore but I believe that ignorance is going to kill us.

We need people like you to remind us of this fact.

firstcoversPlease, look into what I’m saying. Find the truth. Step up to your respective platforms and tell us what’s really going on so we can do something about it. We will listen to you. Your voices will resonate.

Major magazines and newspapers: Put a call to arms on your covers.

On-line sites, comedic news, major news stations: Come to a truthful conclusion of facts and forget the spin. Add “The Future of Humanity” to your agenda. Help us to help ourselves before there’s nothing left to discuss.

Forget your political leanings. Forget your bias. Forget your bottom line. Think of your children. Think of the future. I may not personally have one, but I sure as hell want to ensure Lochlan does.

The time has come.

Thank you.

With hope,

Leigh McGowan

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smileslovesyou.tumblr