Tuesday, March 19, 2013

The Color of Trees

Okay this is an artless moment for me.  I don’t normally tackle controversy or go against the grain, but every so often something strikes me and when it does, I can’t help myself.  So if you are easily offended or hurt by this article, please accept my sincerity when I say, this is how I feel and nothing more.
What is happening to our children?  When did Kindergarten become so high pressured that children need tutoring after spending a full day at school?  A full day I might add that has become so intense there is no time for music or physical education programs.  I am a firm believer in education, it is truly important, but so is being a child.
I see it every day, children constantly labeled by their testing scores instead of their individual abilities.  When do they get to enjoy being young?  They can’t climb trees, drink things with red dye or ride a bike without a helmet.  They are padded, censored and tested beyond identity.
Teachers are bullied by test scores and budget cuts, and parents determined to win that ever coveted, imaginary award for excellence.   I read an article the other day where a mother actually called her own child an “unmotivated, underachiever”; her child is 6 years old.  Really?  That’s your baby!
Which also makes me wonder how many more posts am I going to see where children are disciplined by means of public ridicule?  They are forced to hold signs broadcasting to the entire world whatever offense they’ve committed.  Parents openly welcoming judgment and shame to befall their off spring, the very person they are bound to protect.
I am guilty of challenging my children; trying to sway them to see beyond their own comfort zone.  I am in no way, shape or form a model parent.  In fact when my oldest was in preschool I made her cry, because I insisted she color a tree something other than its natural color.  Keep in mind she was a very serious child, I wanted to provoke her to envision life as more than mundane.  Time and existence are full of variables, creativity, excitement, and imagination.  I wanted her to have a vision of her own, to embrace what lies beyond rules and what is expected.  She is now a very promising artist, but it isn’t because of anything I did or anything her teachers did.  It’s because this inspiring, beautiful person was already residing within her. 
I’m not saying to let your kids slack in their education, or that discipline and guidance aren’t necessary.  Good grades, studying and manners …all of it is crucial and extremely important, but it shouldn’t burry who they really are.  We shouldn’t be so focused on an idealistic perfection that we forget to free them from time to time.  Teach your children right from wrong; introduce them to hard work, ethics, morality and common courtesy.  Encourage them where they excel and help them when they stumble.  Open their eyes to all possibilities and instill in them the security that you will always be proud of who they are. 

Emily R. Haag age 15 
My babies trees have come a long way

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Round 10 of NPR's Three Minute Fiction

Well another round of NPR’s Three-Minute Fiction has passed.   They posted a lot of great stories and did well in choosing a victor, congratulations Lisa Rubenson.  As I’ve said before, I have been anxious to share my entry with you, ever since I posted “The Beautiful Mom”, which was written twenty-two days after I wrote my contest piece.  After reading it you will see how surreal the moment was for me.  Happy Spring Break to some of you and happy reading to everyone! 
I Only Called to Hear Your Voice
“Hi.  I know it’s been a while since I last called, but… well, you know.  Today Carol lost her first tooth and Randy started football practice.  The coach said he has real potential.  Janet Mayven was there and asked me all sorts of questions about you.  I did my best to smile and be polite, but I really wanted to shove her latte in her face and tell her to go away.  I don’t think it will ever get easy. 
I finally got around to having someone fix that old, rusty water heater.  It works, for now and everything looks new, but I still worry I got ripped off.   
Your sister eventually stopped coming by.  I knew it was just a matter of time, but in a weird way I miss her.  It was nice having someone to chat over coffee with, and of course her bringing dinner spoiled me.  
Your mom keeps calling.  I know I should answer, but I just can’t bring myself to listen to all the stories.  I know she means well.  I know she wants to let me know she is still available for me and the kids, even in these circumstances, but it is just so hard.  I’m so tired of talking about you.  I want to talk to you.  Sooner or later I have to move on.  I have to let go.  I have to.
Anyway, I got a job.  It doesn’t pay what yours did obviously, but it’s something.  The kids are getting used to it and Uncle Teddy helps get them to and from school, but I hope one day to be able to handle it all on my own.
I know you don’t approve of my working, but the bills keep coming and the money is almost gone.  I didn’t have a choice.  You didn’t leave me with a choice.  You left me with very little and the kids are paying for it.  I am so angry with you…I don’t mean that.  Please, I don’t mean that. 
I love you.  I will always love you.  This is just so very difficult and those damn doctors.  Everywhere I turn their hands are stuck out.  Lord, help me if one of the kids gets sick.  I don’t know where I would take them.  I owe everyone!
I’m sorry; I don’t mean to make you feel bad.  You were a good provider, and a good father.  You know finance has never been my thing.  I get stressed out so easily.  I just wish you were here to help me, to show me what I need to do.  I’m in a panic every day, and the more I panic the more lost I feel. 
I picked up your shirts from the cleaners.  I know it was a silly thing to do, but I wanted them.  I needed them.  I’m wearing one.  It’s like having you close to me.  Having your arms wrapped around me.  I miss you.  I miss you so very much.  I think if it weren’t for the kids I would grieve myself to death.  I just want to cry myself into an eternal sleep.  I know I have to stop.  It’s time to be a grownup, but you were always the strong one.  I need you so much. 
I have to go.  They raised your headstone today, and I promised the kids we’d take you daffodils.  I know you don’t care for flowers, but it means a lot to them.  I only called to hear your voice.  I miss you; I will always miss you, my love.  Good-bye. “