A New Day Dawns

I love days like today. It’s sunny. Blue skies everywhere you look. Feeling renewed from church and a wonderful weekend. It’s hard to not imagine that it’s 75 and perfect outside while sitting inside at my computer.

Taxes need done, bills need paid, but I just keep looking at the window of my computer loft at the woods behind my house and the sunshine pouring in. I am straining to see the beginnings of a bud on the trees, but not yet. Snow crocuses are breaking through the mulch, so I know spring really is just a few short weeks away.

A sense of renewal comes with this time of year, a feeling of hope just out of view, but almost there.

Maybe it’s due to that feeling or something else, a waning, a crack. We decided to give Ryan his phone back, his Xbox back, and his laptop, although the latter is a limited basis and at the kitchen table only. That does not mean he is still not grounded from parties or sleepovers. Ohhhhh boy, he is. He suffered a week with no contact with anyone except while in school. It’s time to put that part behind and move on. He’ll get small things restored as trust improves, but he knows that will take time. And surprisingly, he’s grateful for what we’ve already returned to him. Maybe there’s hope for the silver lining in this after all.

Alcoholism – A Family Affair

One of the things that has been brought to the forefront this week is the sheer number of teenagers who are drinking. Not just at the now infamous party last weekend, but way more often than their parents realize. It’s kind of scary how often they do this, and where and how they are getting their hands on it.

I have certainly done my share of drinking when I was high school. I snuck around just like kids today do. They aren’t the first ones who thought of the old switcheroo tactic to go to a party. It’s been around since long before even I was a teenager. I say this because I am certainly not naive. One doesn’t get to be, um, er, mid 40s shall we say, without acquiring some knowledge of the world along the way.

I am not an alcoholic. I can drink. I can drink too little, sometimes I drink too much. Ohhhh the stories that come from those times….woahhhhh! I think I might still be on some list with potential blackmail material there. But most often, I don’t drink. At all. I don’t like the bed spinning when I lay down. I don’t like realizing I need to apologize for my behavior the next day. I don’t like wondering who held my hair while I threw up in some bathroom somewhere. But mostly, I don’t drink because I am married to an alcoholic.

Being married to an alcoholic is rough. It’s an ongoing every day struggle. We have been together 20 years, and there were days, weeks, months, years that I didn’t think we would make it. The term “one day at a time” also applies to anyone who lives with, loves or knows an alcoholic. They can try the best of a person, they can make a sane person doubt what they know, but most of all, they know with the swiftest of abilities, how to destroy trust and a relationship. It takes someone with a strong fortitude to stay connected with an alcoholic. I don’t say that to pat myself on the back, I say that because of others I have seen come and go. They can’t take it. I get it. It is a constant state of not knowing what today brings. The alcoholic doesn’t know and neither do his friends and family. It is a harsh living. He comes from a long line of alcoholics so it’s bred deep in him and his behavior. His mother, her father, his father….it goes back generations.

But what that does, how that paints a picture of what we want for our kids, is surprisingly crystal clear. We do not want that for our kids. And the sneaky, sad, mysterious part of alcoholism, is you don’t know you are one until it’s too late. It’s not like going to the doctor for a blood test, or when a baby is born the doctor can say “10 toes, 10 fingers, not an alcoholic”. You only know when you start drinking and you can’t stop. When you lie to get a drink. When nothing else at all, however important, matters more than getting that drink.

So what is the best way to not have to experience that? Never drink. Ever. At all. In today’s society, that seems almost as impossible as breathing. It’s everywhere. TV, magazines, billboards, movies, the store, the restaurant, the countless number of pubs and bars. It’s quite literally everywhere. Fill up your gas tank, buy a 6 pack. Go out to dinner, the drink special list is already on the table. Go to the grocery store, they have so much it’s divided into the wine section and the beer section. Some even have the hard liquor section. Turn on the TV and watch the great beer ads that make it look so fun. Who wouldn’t want to be a part of that?? Certainly not a teenager who wants to snuggle up with a cold one and that hot babe!

When the rest of the world seems to be promoting it, when kids at school are openly admitting they are doing it (some right under their parents noses), when they have no repercussions, how in the world do you tell your child they can’t do it??

So far we’ve tried talking, pleading, crying, reasoning, explaining, reminding, and begging. He still did it. And now that he’s had that taste, did it awaken something inside where he is just waiting to do it again? I pray not. I pray that he has my genes and that the alcoholism genetic deformity did not get passed down to him. He can be his father in every other way. Every way. But please, let him get this one thing from me. If you have any words of wisdom, please feel free to let me know. I’d love to hear suggestions.

Skipping yoga and other perceived sins

This morning I skipped yoga to help my brother. If that’s the worse thing I do all day, I’m in luck and glad it’s over so early in the day. He needed help, I helped him. I could have gone to yoga and not helped him, but it didn’t seem right. So I did what I felt was the right thing to do.

That’s what I have been trying to do all week. I’m trying to do what is right for me and my family. That doesn’t mean it’s right for you and your family. Might not even be the way you see the world. That’s fine. We all see things through different lenses, view the same situation in different perspectives and pull our own experiences into what and how we are dealing with everything every day. What is right for me might not be right for you. What is right for you could certainly not be right for me.

I want to make something clear, since it appears not to be: I am not naming names, pointing fingers, on a tower of judgement, or looking down my nose at anyone. Have you actually read what I wrote?? I mean, I have been brutally honest about my own situation. Have I asked other parents to perhaps look at what their kids are doing? Absolutely! I am not condemning all children in Westerville. Not calling all of them liars. Not saying every parent in Da Ville is reckless and uninvolved. If anything I have said struck a nerve, again, perhaps you should figure out why. Not for me, but for yourself.

It is human nature to lie. White lies, big lies, lies of omission. When a child is asked point-blank if they did something they know they will get into trouble for, they lie. Yep. Right to your face. Haven’t you ever lied to the cop who pulls you over for speeding? “NO officer! I wasn’t going 50 in the 25.” Uh huh. What about the little child who breaks the lamp and then denies it. He’s 5 and lying to not get in trouble.

That has been one of the biggest lessons. Everyone WILL lie. Looking you in the eye. Nope didn’t break that lamp. Nope, I didn’t drink at the party. Nope, wasn’t speeding. Trying to open communication, not only between me and my son, perhaps you and yours too. And realizing that parenting them when they are teenagers is just as important than any other time. The needs are just different, but they are very real. And there are very real consequences.

I would like to end this post with a favor. If you have comment, please post it here. My inbox on Facebook is becoming unmanageable. Facebook is a conduit to find this blog, not as the place for communication. I welcome the differing opinion. Keep it respectful as I feel I have done.

Parenting Teens – Standing strong in times of trouble.

I wanted to follow up, explain, expand, perhaps clarify from my post yesterday. I’m glad some are actually discussing this huge problem we have around here, I’m saddened to hear that most are still burying their heads. But that brings me to my main topic today.

I have not been elected the police of Westerville among high school students. I am not some vigilante running around trying to find kids doing wrong or illegal things. I do not have some self-imposed moral high ground. Actually, if anything, from where I stand, I feel like it’s the opposite! Until Monday morning, I was the parent who would’ve said “My kid wasn’t even there!” or something to that effect. We have discussed these issues for years with our son. He’s taken the middle school and high school classes at church. He even attends church with us every Sunday! We have told him how alcohol, in his bloodline, is literally like drinking poison. But that’s a different story for a different time.

I want to use a very real example of parents burying their heads. If this sounds remotely true, please pay attention. Our schools have a Ski Club. Buses take the kids roughly an hour north to ski for a few hours, bus ride back home. It was reported by students to advisors, teachers, and parents that many, many students were smoking weed on the back ski trials. This was not a one time occurence. Not by a long shot. By the time it had finally escalated to some parents being told that their kids were doing this, what did they do? A big fat nothing. Oh they got a “talking to”. They asked their kids, who denied it and then it was over. How many of them searched their phones? How many searched their rooms? How many went to buy a home drug testing kit, handed their child the bottle and made them on the spot go fill it up??

I wouldn’t have. Not my son. He wouldn’t do that kind of thing. He knows better. We taught him better than that. Blah, blah, blah. The child who has the nurse for the mom. The child who has the successful junior executive for a dad. The honor roll child. The child who is involved in sports, or drama, or any other club or group. The child who has both parents working in their own business to afford all the good things in life, but not spending time with the child. The child who has a stay at home parent, like me, and I have no idea. You ask if they have done it, they say “Gosh Mom! Gosh Dad! How could you even ask me that?? Of course I would never drink! I would never smoke that!” And Mom and Dad want to believe soooo badly, that they do. Even if the signs are there. And those parents, even in light of what has been brought to light this week, are still believing their child.

Then we have the parents who do know what is going on. And they are fiiiiiinnnnnneeeee with it! Well, that’s just dandy. I am not your child’s guardian. Parent your kid your way. None of my business. But do not expect me to be ok with it when it comes to my child. We can agree that we have different philosophies, different ways of raising our kids. But my child won’t be with your child. They say “It takes a village” and I agree with that. But the village needs to at least have the same general guidelines or that village has chaos. Our world has enough chaos without adding in mixed signals of “Well, so and so’s parents don’t care the he spent the night at that girls house or that he drank, or that he smoked that weed” (Remember, I am talking about mainly about 15 year old Freshman in high school here!)

These parents are of the mindset that they’re going to do it anyway. Again, freedom to parent how you see fit. I am not of that mindset. Maybe I am the outcast, the strict one, the delusional one, the unrealistic one. I am not ok with standing by and allowing my child to do these things without consequences.

So please don’t paint me with a broad stroke brush that I am climbing up some moral superior tower spewing my own beliefs and expectations on all the good citizens of Westerville. I most certainly am not. And if you have a different opinion, I would love to hear it. The more us parents talk about this, openly, honestly, without fear of how you think it will look in the eyes of someone else, the better it is for our kids. We have almost 3 1/2 more years to go. Banding together, helping each other and leading by example will only make our wonderful community better and stronger.

Teens and the Death of Common Sense

Well, this past week has taught me so many lessons, I don’t even know where to begin. So I think I’ll list my lessons, and then expand on them as I go.

1. Parents have learned that as long as there is no photographic proof, it’s almost impossible to prove anything.

2. Honesty does NOT pay off, especially when dealing with the school.

3. Kids getting drunk and/or high is ok with 98% of the people around here. (Also see #1 regarding this)

4. Only a handful of parents actually care about their kids well being.

5. People will never fail to surprise and shock me.

It is simply AMAZING to me how parents have been handling a situation that occurred in our relatively small town this past weekend. Huge party. HUGE. Kids from 8th grade through seniors in high school. Drinking. Pot. Make out sessions. And if you’re reading this from my small town, and you think for one second your child wasn’t involved, I have an island to sell you in the south Pacific. How can you truly believe that your child was the only one who wasn’t participating? Your child knows better, right? Your child would never do something like that, right?? Mmm hmmm. Let’s be clear, you’re contributing to the problem. Denying that there is a problem is part of the problem too.

Some parents are thinking, well, my child wasn’t even there so this doesn’t affect me. Really? Bet they were. Unless your child was home with you, curled up on the couch, watching a movie right next to you, you might want to check into where he or she really was Saturday night. All night. You might want to check some text messages, or their Twitter account. If they still use Facebook (which I doubt), check it. Check Instagram, check all of the latest apps, you might be surprised at what you find. Or better yet, what you don’t find. All texts deleted? Wonder why?

One of my favorite Judge Judy-isms is “Ya know when teenagers are lying? When their mouths are moving.” Yep. That’s the truth. My own darling told me he was spending the night at a friend’s house. I won’t name the name, but it was a male friend. 3 of them were going. No big deal. They’ve done it before. Lots of times actually. Except they pulled the ole bait n switch and that child told his parents he was spending the night at one of the other boys houses. Got it? Yep. So they go to a girls house to a party. A girl who all 4 of these boys had been forbidden to go to her home for past grievances. Sigh.

They worst part of this whole thing, is we had NO IDEA this was going on. None. We didn’t find out the truth until Monday from a brave mom who told us the truth, told us what had gone on all night long at this party. We are grateful and thankful for her honesty and courage to tell us something she knew we would not like, something we didn’t know and something that would surely cause divide.

Which brings me back to my numbered list. I realize that we live in an age of technology, where it seems video and/or pictures are taken everywhere. Please don’t think that unless there is photographic proof of your kid taking a drink or lighting up a blunt that they aren’t doing it. If a parents comes to you, actually comes to you, saying, look, this is hard for me to tell you, but your child was doing this, for the love of all that’s holy, believe that parent!!! Believe them! Yes, even over your own child saying “It wasn’t me.” “I wasn’t there.” “I didn’t do it.” And for the parents who are having the parties, supplying the alcohol, looking the other way from the smoky haze in the corner, you are more guilty than these children. Just because there is not photos of you pouring into a glass of a smiling teenager, karma will find you.

That brings me to point #2. You parents who have denied your child was involved when asked, I hope you’re happy of the example you are sending your child. “Lie so you don’t get in more trouble.” That’s the message, loud and clear. You’ll be living with those consequences for a lot longer than the consequences of our honesty.

The last three points are pretty clear. Parents just don’t care. Saturday night was their date night, or their sit on the couch night, or maybe their own party to attend. More concerned about being their friend than their parent. More concerned with how it will look to other parents for anyone to find out their kids were doing wrong.

Well, I care. I care that my child lied to me, that he was somewhere he was forbidden to go, that he did something he was not supposed to do and that he will have consequences from his actions. I care that he learn a hard lesson now than thinking he can keep getting away with it. I installed the locator program on his phone, for if and when he gets it back. I’ll be walking to the door to any house he goes to that, once he’s allowed to go anywhere. There are only 2 other people who will be permitted to drive him anywhere outside of our household. I can’t seem to fathom a time in the distant future where he will be able to be out past 11. No sleepovers, no parties, no lying.

But you go ahead and believe your kid wasn’t involved.

Blogging – Making it a Habit

When I first agreed to start blogging, I thought I would be fun. I checked out some friends who were doing it to see what, when, how and to get some starting tips. Some friends did it once a week. Some were doing it multiple times a day, almost like an online version of Dear Diary.

I figured I would do this when I had something I really needed to say. Something to get out, or vent over, or I thought was just oh-so-important that I was just sure the rest of the bloggesphere would want to know about. And that was great, until I started to get a cold last week. I wasn’t sick, just…..blah. I couldn’t think of anything remotely interesting to write about, so I didn’t. And a day turned to a few days. I did go to yoga last Saturday and felt better that day, but by Sunday afternoon, it was back. But worse!

So I didn’t blog a few more days. By Tuesday, full blown cold or sinus infection or something is going on. And the last thing I wanted to do or felt like doing was writing. And then it dawned on me this morning as I was blowing my nose for the 8, 945th time, I need to blog about THIS! How many other newbie bloggers are there who are probably feeling the exact same way? Bet I’m not the only one! One thing I have learned for certain in my, um, mid 40s, it that the more you feel like you’re the only one feeling a specific way, you are NOT the only one. It’s wonderful to meet kindred spirits who say “I thought I was the only one!!!”

So here am I, sick, blowing my nose again (count 8, 946) and am very glad I decided to do this today. Because this isn’t meant to be stressful. Or tedious. Or guilt-filled. It’s supposed to be fun. Light. Hopefully slightly entertaining even to those who don’t know me. So I vow to make this more of a habit than not. To be more engaged even if I don’t feel like it. To decide that if my topic of the day isn’t life shattering, that’s ok, because really, who needs their life shattered every day?? I would get tired of picking up the pieces!

I need to get more tissues……..

Yoga Convert

I survived!!! That was my first thought after our yoga class ended Monday night. I survived, I can still speak and walk!! It’s a miracle straight from Heaven!!! I couldn’t believe it. And not once did I give up, so I give myself props for that.

I wanted the instructor prior to class starting that I had never ever ever ever done yoga before. She assured me I was not the only one, there were different levels of people in the class and to only do what I felt comfortable doing. She made me feel at ease and I wasn’t as nervous as I had been. She let me borrow a mat, and we found a spot on the floor. My friend and I were able to be mat by mat, so that was nice, but the lady on the other side of me was super nice and very friendly. I slipped my shoes off and BAM! My toes weren’t painted and there we are barefoot talking about pedicures! Ok, not there to compare feet, here to do yoga. Mental note to fix toes.

We started by some simple stretches and I was pleased that I really could touch my toes. That alone is an accomplishment in my book! We would learn a few moves, then go through the whole thing from the top slightly faster. Then a third time through in what I would describe as a fluid pace. Not fast, just fluid, flowing, easing from one pose to the next. She kept assuring us that we could move at our own pace, doing only what we could do.

She would come around, helping each of us a one time or another with a pose. Straightening a leg here, bending an arm there. Always reminding us to breathe. We went worked on our arms, legs, core, breathing, balance, centering. There were only 2 poses that I was not able to do, one was the side plank. The other…well, I’m not even sure what to call it. We used to do it all the time when I was young and slightly more flexible and certainly skinnier, when you lie on your back and your legs and butt are all the way off the ground. You can even prop your in the air hips on your hands. Then, ya know, you made your legs do pretend bicycle moves. Yea. Couldn’t do it. I think I was more distraught that I couldn’t do that than anything. I used to do that all the time!!

Before I knew it, we were all told to assume the “corpse pose”. Point the toes, palms facing up, and just breathe. She turned the lights off, nothing but soothing “zen like” music and relaxing breathing. How did an hour go by so quickly??

It was shockingly relaxing and invigorating at the same time. I was shaky from using every single muscle in my body, yet surprising loose and limber. Huh. Did I……like this???? Yes. Yes, I think I did!!

Luckily they have classes during the day, Saturday mornings, and in the evening. I called our instructor to tell her she had a convert and I would be back. But now I have homework to do before my next class: Find a really cute yoga mat, and practice getting my ass off the ground and into the air. I know I can, I know I can, I know I can…….