Once upon a time, in the first preschool class I taught, I had a very sweet little student. Those of you who know me know my affection for Diet Dr. Pepper. Each morning I would stop on my way to work for a Diet Dr. Pepper from Chick-Fil-A. Each morning my student would ask me, "Mrs. Karen, what are you drinking?" Each morning I answered with a smile, "Diet Dr. Pepper" and we would talk about our mornings. Christmas of that year, She gave me a new ornament for my tree and 2-liter of Diet Dr. Pepper with a big red bow on the top. Her mother, at the time, thought she had chosen a very strange gift, but she went with it anyway. It was perfect! My student & I bonded each morning over my Diet Dr. Pepper and she knew I would love her thoughtful gift. Now, each Christmas, as I decorate my tree, I remember fondly the sweet little girl in my first preschool class that got to know me and gave me a gift I will never forget.
My parents, QB, Red, and I went to the George W. Bush Presidential Library this week. We'd been wanting to go visit the new library and museum since it first opened over two years ago. Unfortunately, the timing was never quite right until this trip back home.
Boy, was it worth the wait! On the heels of one of the most contentous elections in recent history, plus, just having finished teaching a co-op class all about the election process, I was very excited to see what the library/museum had to offer. I'd heard it was very hands-on and a lot of fun!. It did not disappoint.
I knew there was a 9/11 memorial at the Bush Library. I knew there was a portion of the building. I attempted to prepare myself for what I might feel.
Similar to my parent's generation when Kennedy was assassinated, so many people remember every little thing about September 11th; where they were when they heard the news, who they called first, did they choose to tell their children, how they felt when they heard the news.
9/11 happened before my children were born, but every year (since I felt they were old enough to understand) I tell them my story. Where I was when I heard the news, how it madI e me feel being so far away from New York. I tell them how my cousin, an officer in the Air Force, was in the Pentagon that day; he was safe on the opposite side that was hit. I share with them how unilaterally terrified the United States were that day and for weeks to come.
We enter the 9/11 memorial exhibit in the Bush Library. Front and center, the very first thing you see, are the twisted beams from one of the towers. The docent told us they did not know which tower they were from, but they were from a top portion of the one of the towers...and that we could touch them. I stood there looking at the mangled beams and all the feelings I had from those days. All the images from the news footage, all the interviews and pictures. The terror and anguish. All those that died. All those that chipped in to help. Everything.
I was frozen in place. I couldn't hold back the tears anymore. The feel of this space was somber, respectful. That same feeling of sharing the same feelings with strangers returned. As I felt my eyes begin to sting, I just kept staring at the beams. I wanted to reach out and touch a piece a devastating history, but I couldn't. It felt wrong; disrespectful somehow.
I caught my daughter, Red, out of the corner of my eye. She, too, was frozen. She asked me about all the names on the wall. I was so taken aback by the piece of the tower that I missed them. There they were, though. The name of every single person who lost their life that day. Organized neatly by their place of death...North Tower, South Tower, Pentagon, United Flight 175, American Airlines Flight 11, American Airlines Flight 77, United Flight 93...over 3,000 innocent people. My daughter looked at me with confused eyes saying, "All those people died?" All I could muster was, "Yes. It was horrible."
9/11 will always be remembered as a truly horrendous day in American history for many reasons. Everyone has a story. My family was lucky that day. My cousin was safe. There were thousands of families that weren't so lucky. So many families lost loved ones. I am blessed to have had the chance to visit this memorial at the Bush Library. I am blessed to have had the opportunity to share this with my kiddos, even though it was painful and may have been uncomfortable. Life is messy. Life is uncomfortable. If we weather these things together, with the Lord's help, we will grow stronger together, as well.
Hug your kids, y'all...
We are a part of an amazing local co-op, Heart for Homeschooling. My kiddos & I have made some amazing friends in our three years there. We are looking forward to spending many more years with this co-op. Below is a video our historian made of pictures taken throughout the year. Love it!
What are we, as parents, to do when other adults in our childs' lives misbehave?
Innately, parents want to protect their children. We want to do everything in our power to keep their little psyches intact. We don't want them subjected to any unnecessary pain...physical or emotional. But what do we do when something, or someone, out of our control tramples on our little nuggets? How do we handle situations like this? What do we tell them? How do we explain away the bad behavior of an adult?
My son, "the Quarterback", recently found himself in such a situation. He is part of a local flag football league. A league which prides itself on teaching the children the rules of the game while promoting good sportsmanship. Sadly, he & his teammates ended up on the wrong end of the field when it came to proper football etiquette.
I will not go in to all the the nitty gritty, but his coach ended up threatening the referee and the game was subsequently called; our team being forced to forfeit. The boys didn't understand. A few were visibly upset. Personally, I was angry & embarassed for our team. I felt horribly for the boys. They were there to play football...to have fun.
I passed out snacks to the team. Told them how great they were and we would see everyone the following week. They smiled, quietly thanking me for the snacks. I could see...feel...their disappointment. My heart was breaking for them.
I turned to my son, who was being consoled by my father. He had tears in his eyes. He blamed it on being tired, but I knew he was upset by the events of the last hour. I wanted to rush over to the coach and blast him for his behavior. Point out to him, in my "momma voice" how ridiculous he was acting; how childish he was behaving. Wag my finger, bringing to his attention how he was no longer following those 'good sportsmanship' rules he'd been touting to the other team & the ref. Alas, my better senses kicked in. (Good thing for him. Ha!)
I do my best to tell my children the truth, age appropriate truth, but the truth. We talked about what had happened during the game. He filled me in on a couple of things I wasn't aware of. I asked him some questions, he asked me some in return. I can only hope that QB walked away understanding what angered the coach (the same actions that frustrated he & each of his teammates), but the choices he made were not those of mercy & grace. Choices not of a good sport. Choices lacking self-control.
By the time we arrived back at home, QB was happily playing MineCraft on his ipod. I logged on to my computer to find an email was waiting from the coach. He apologized (sort of) for his behavior and advised us that he would no longer be our coach. I was saddened by this, another of his choices. But in the wise words of my father, "Maybe it's for the best".
Maybe, Dad, maybe.