I heard the Walters family sent their kids to public school and they're all happy and doing fine

Sunday, September 17, 2017

This is the time of the year when school just started so new interest has peeked its worried head out of the protection of the summer, and asked, Where in the world will I send my kid to school next year?  Or my all time fave, Where, oh where, will I send my kid to preschool?  - which totally makes me laugh because the actual answer is to just send them to that little Mother's Day Out program at the local church or the YMCA and have a few hours to yourself, Mama.  

And while you're having a few hours to yourself, look around at all the people you see and ask yourself what preschool they might have attended in their formative years to get them where they are today.  Yes, that's a joke.  Because they probably have no clue where they went, if they went at all. Because y'all, bigger things happened since then - things like life and love and disappointment and tragedy.  Things like friends, and family and family trips.  Things like church and scouts and weekly visits to the library.  Things like neighborhood walks and visits with grandparents and volunteer work - all of which made a bus load of weight more impact on the person than the choice of school so many years ago. 

I was visiting with a neighbor the other day and the conversation turned to our kids - mostly to my prediction that this year, as his oldest enters 3rd grade, every conversation at soccer games, birthday parties and school programs, will turn into the age old question of Where will we send our angel to middle school? And trust that I speak from experience, because we've heard it all, done it all, and visited them all.  I've talked to parents, teachers, school counselors, and read reviews on school ratings websites.  And the best answer I have come up with in the years of getting all three of my kids well into middle school and high school is this - just go ahead and enroll them in that school in your neighborhood.  Because its wonderful. 

But the fact is that you're never going to know how wonderful it is if you're afraid to take that first step.  And if you're too busy talking about which schools are bad to actually just try it.  The school gossip travels through the ages.  You know the talk ... I heard that the Walters family sent their kids to so and so and there was a fight in the hallway.  I heard that the Walters family sent their kids to the local school and there was a drug overdose in the 8th grade hall.  Which is actually true, by the way.  But what about the news that the Walters sent all three of their kids to their local elementary, middle and high schools and they're all happy and doing well...  That's the news that I wish would get spread louder and further than the bad. 

Until parents are ready to view each school opportunity as equal, there will be forever and always the ones that don't stand a chance.  That school that you and your mom friends have all discussed and decided isn't very good?  Well, it won't be very good until a mom like you who cares to give her child the very best of everything gets involved and makes that school shine brighter each year you can contribute.  Our little neighborhood elementary is in great demand these days, but when we enrolled Kid 1 - our now Junior in high school, people acted like we were sending him off to war.  And it took a whole lot of working on fundraisers, PTA meetings and Halloween carnivals to leave that school a better place after Kid 3 finished his turn there 10 years later.  And we left it in the very capable hands of other neighborhood parents who believe that change won't happen till we make it happen. Yay for parent involvement.  

I understand the call of private school, and had that been a financial option for us, I may be telling a whole different story today. I get it.  And I am not anti -private school and I am not anti-YOU.  So don't even say it.  What I am is PRO-KID. And that means every kid getting an equally wonderful chance at an education. 

I can honestly say that I have to smush down the mad every Friday night and Saturday morning when I hear about all the young parents taking their kids to the high school football games - but not the game of the school that their kids should go to according to address.  There's a favorite around here and it wins the popular vote every time.  It also wins the race card because it's the only high school in our district that has less than the 95% minority and 90% economically disadvantaged enrollments of the rest of the district.  And yes, my kids go to one of the 95% minority and 90% economically disadvantaged ones.  And they love it there.  

I can say without doubt that my boys have seen and heard things that I wish I could shelter them from, but I can't.  And never was able to do even before public school.  Their worlds extend beyond the walls of our home and out into the mall, the movies, their friends' houses and everywhere social media has a touch screen connection to their hearts and minds.  But what I know is that they have seen and heard enough to practice their right and wrong decision making skills - skills that they will have to exercise sooner or later no matter what, and I'd rather they do that now while they're still in my care. 

post script- photos in this post were from yesterday's high school Homecoming parade. And it's not corporate sponsored.  Nor is it fancy or big.  But it's ours.  And the kids are so proud, happy and excited.  And to me, that's one heck of a parade. 

post post script - If you're sitting on the school fence but afraid of which side to climb off?  Visit them all.  Visit by surprise, then visit again.  But mostly talk to the parents who have had kids in those schools and value their words over the words of the young moms still afraid of that first day of kindergarten or middle school or high school.    

I can only do so much

Saturday, September 9, 2017

I think I've been in another one of those empty spaces where I've been trying to figure out things.  Which in a variety of different scenarios... could be either good or bad.

I really think I walked away from here for a few weeks because, as I've said so often, I question my place, my purpose,  - my influence, even.  But sometimes its just that its so crazy loud and messy around here that I can't hear myself think.  That and Kid 2 has gotten off to a roaring start in school and has decided, being the new, dedicated student kind of man that he possibly always secretly dreamed of becoming... to start tackling his homework on a daily basis.  But on our laptop... our ONLY laptop.  And then by the time he's done, I'm already asleep.  I tried to watch a movie with him last night and couldn't keep my eyes open past 9. 

So there.  Sometimes bloggers disappear.  If this should happen, please come looking for me, and a special thank you to those who already have.

Let's catch up.

I think I need to put this info out on my permanent record  - for permanent record's sake .... If  I am found passed out in my car at any time in the coming days, it could be for many reasons really, but mostly because my air conditioner went out on my car last week.  The repair shop says they fixed it but I think they forgot about the part where noxious fumes come out of the air vents.  

I had to drive a rental all week, which explains why I've tried to get into at least 3 different cars that didn't belong to me - yesterday's clue.... um, that's not my pink sweater in the passenger seat, and hey, why won't the doors unlock.   But I think it important to note that Fireman Dave got a really good fireman discount when we went to get the car today from the shop... which makes the poisonous fumes seem so much better, in a weird sort of way.

So THIS is happening...  
Hello cute Kid 1!  Friday Night Lights here we go.... Y'all remind me to take my stadium seat with me, though.  Those games are long even for us proud mamas.  

And a short season of Fall baseball for Kid 2.  That's him down front, #3.  

And since I don't have a team pic of Kid 3 yet, though football is coming for him, I'll just share that THIS happened a few weeks ago.  More candles than I even want to count for this sweet boy, but I love that I've gotten to share each day of them.  

Oh, and I bought a couch.  But getting the couch in the house was like pushing an elephant up a hill.  First I had to clear out all the old stuff we had stuffed in here.  Trust the meaning of that word, STUFFED, in this particular usage.  So I tried every online sale site in the land, only to find out that people in general are liars liars pants on fire.  For two weeks I listed my heart out on garage sale site after site, trying to give the stuff away..... and had people actually come to the house and commit to taking it.  But then leave and never come back.  Maybe they found something better... which is totally possible after the Walters have lived on furniture for the past 10 years.  Maybe they just didn't have the heart to tell me to take down all the sale listings because I was embarrassing myself by letting people see how we've been living in here.   Or maybe they just went out for ice cream and forgot to come back.  Anyway, people are people and it turns out they don't really want used furniture off Facebook Marketplace so trust my experienced expertise on this and just put your old couch out for the big trash.  It'll save you a whole lot of trouble and shield you from the myriad of crazy people who pretend shop for old furniture on Facebook.  I ended up giving the entire set to my occasional housekeeper and I love that she had a need.  She is going to take a few more things from me soon as well... once I get organized enough to get it ready to move.

The new couch arrived last week and for perspective purposes, y'all, it happens to be huge. Huge as in... I could invite every blog reader over here to sit on it and we could play musical chairs around it for a very long time since everyone would always find a seat.  Its my first sectional sofa and my biggest regret is that I was overcome by car fumes or something when I chose an almost white fabric.  How do cheetos and koolaid stains look on a white couch?  I hope good. 

Anyway, I loved it like crazy in the store, but now I'm second guessing myself and can't decorate a room to save my life.  I think maybe the couch just needs a little bit of heart and home... code words for Hey boys, invite all your friends over and have everyone sit and do whatever they usually do to break it in really good.  That ought to do it. 

In deeper news, and in answer to the most asked question of late.... What is REALLY going on?  Ummm...  drug overdoses at the middle school level.  Yes it happened at Kid 3's school.   Insecurities and grumpiness at the high school level.  Kid 2 says that every day of 10th grade is longer than Moses lived.  Now that's a long day, especially if it involves algebra and chemistry.  

And of course, the continuing saga of The Young and the Restless . Romeo and Juliet.   I mean Kid 1 and Princess Chatterbox.     Seriously, when I get a text from Kid 1 saying that he is about to be at a church garage sale with Princess C and then going to bathe her grandmother's dogs, I have to stop and ask myself,... what the h -e - double hockey sticks is happening here?  This is a story unto itself and I'll let it stay that way for now. 

We made the parental decision years ago to have the boys attend our local Dallas ISD schools, and tossed aside the norm of the day of moving each and every kid to the suburbs.  We love our neighborhood, and we knew we wanted to invest in the schools in a way that would last beyond the age of our kids.  And to do that, it takes more than charitable contributions and volunteer work, it takes us enrolling our kids in schools that the rest of the world is afraid of .  And when we chose to go the inner city school  route, our hope was that  the values that our kids have been taught would slowly and regularly seep into the fabric of the day - that our kids would be the teachers about family and rules and boundaries and faith.  About persistence, caring and integrity.  About hard work and dedication and mostly about simply doing what is right.  

But I find myself chatting on the phone with Fireman Dave - since he basically lives at the station or at the hurricane shelter these days - and questioning our choice.  Did we empower our kids by sending them into the real world so early?  Or did we sentence them to limited prospects with the potential for certain doom?  

Kid 3 saw some iffy things at the middle school the other day.  But he talked to us both about it and that's good.  Y'all, its better than good.  It is everything when raising a teenager.  And if we can keep that communication going, I don't worry so much about what he's seeing.  I tend to be more thankful that he sees, learns, and moves onward and upward.  

All my boys are learning to deal with a culture that doesn't often look like ours at home.  They tell me daily about the profanity, the gangs, the drugs and general sense of loss that so many of the students get stuck in.  Maybe that's the case for all secondary level schools, but I tend to think its more in the ones where the kids are more often than not, raising themselves, and looking at their peers to figure out how to do it.  I have a big ol' long prayer that I say every day for these boys as they start a new day.  Remind me to share that with you sometime.  I totally know if by heart because it comes straight from it every time. 

And the Kid 1 romance?  Here's where I think I am on this - right now anyway.  It isn't what I would want for him at this age.  But I've decided that I can only do so much.  And that includes setting limits, boundaries, and being consistent with the follow through.  I can tell him that the choices he is making today will affect his forever... but that's just gibberish to a kid.  So really all I can do is say that he needs to stay in line with our rules, no questions asked on that one.  And beyond that, wish him well with his decisions, actions and consequences.  

It's taken a lot of praying for me to be able to say that.  And I'm not done praying.  But I'm the first one to tell you that the power of prayer only goes half way, we have to meet God where we are now, and work with what we've been given.  

I'm trying.

Geez. It's like the end of times out there

Thursday, August 31, 2017

I thought I might give everyone a little something to read while waiting in those long gas lines around Dallas.  Geez.  It's like the end of times out there .

It's been three weeks since I've been on the blog.  And in those three weeks I've sent the boys back to school, had a nervous breakdown in the car driving to church and gotten robbed.  Uh Huh. 

Here are some pictures....

1. Kids 1 and 2 wouldn't let me take their back to school pictures this year.  Kid 2 is reeling from another bad haircut decision, and I feel his pain - being crowned the Queen of Bad Haircuts many years in a row.  Anyway, I think he looks as handsome as ever, but he promised a picture later when he adjusts his self image.  But here is Kid 3 and let me just say it before anyone else.  He is a giant.  I  know.  

2.  Since we are obviously not doing a home renovation any time soon, we decided it was at least time to buy a new couch and get rid of some of the beat up clutter that we've called ours for too many years.  We Walters have a way of making a couch feel at home, loved, but then eventually trapped in an endless cycle of co-depency for far too long.

I don't have the couch yet as it is being made special for us, and now I've had time to re-consider my almost white fabric selection.  Especially since the boys have been making pitcher after pitcher of red Kool-Aid lately.  The first person to spill dies. 

3.  Now that the couch is coming we decided that our yellow-ish paint color won't work so Fireman Dave decided to paint the den all by himself.  For about 2 weeks.  And for that time, we lived like this. 

And this...

And this...

Because during all our work on the house, the guys at the fire station who have been restoring this boat for the past 2 years, were told it had to find a new home.  And that would be my driveway. Hoping it will be the lake very soon. 

And finally, this.... 

This will be a space to either send the boys and their video games, or for me to run and hide.  Yes, that's Fireman Dave out there building things.  Because he can.  

So the chaos of the noise and the mess and the longest summer in the history of summers got to me and I finally broke on the way to church last Sunday morning.  And by broke, I mean hysteria close to the gas shortage kind we are seeing around here right now.  I was driving and telling Fireman Dave about how he acts like I don't do anything around the house when he's gone and how I actually do about 10 million things around the house while he is gone, and how the boys are the ones that don't do anything but eat, sleep and make messes and how they're really more like pets than people - and suddenly I started choking on the water I was trying to cool my steaming self off with and I ended up  spitting it all over the car and myself.  And then I cried.  Yes. 

Then he felt bad for leaving me in the black hole of home improvement for so long and probably decided that he should've married someone more resilient. 

4.  Then on Monday my wallet got stolen while I was at work by a lady who got into the facility somehow... then pretended to be interested in observing my class.  Then she went to Home Depot and bought something close to the value of a small car, and proceeded to go steal some other things. I got a call from a neighboring police department yesterday that they found my wallet while the gal was stealing someone else's purse.  She got away but tossed her loot bag when she ran. 

But then, and really I can't make this stuff up.. she came back to my work today, same time, same place, and when I saw her I called security.  But because they are so (not) awesome, they let her go so she could get back to doing her thing. Again, Geez.

But here's the thing....  I stick by these last weeks being hard.  They have been.  But it could be worse.  When I went to have my stolen library card canceled the other day, the librarian commented about how cheerful I am for someone whose wallet was just stolen.  And I told her... at least there's not an alligator under my bed.  Which sounds like something crazy I would've said on my meltdown morning... but whatever... 

A while back when I had another particularly stressful time going on... there was a news story about a man that woke up in a hotel room and found an alligator under his bed.  Seriously,...y'all, that's bad.  And that sounds like a decent benchmark to me to compare my smallish frustrations. 

These last weeks have been frustrating and dirty and long and exhausting.  But then I look around the world in all its torn and tired state, and see that my house is still standing.  And it is dry and somewhat comfortable and I'm safe.  And yes, I had to go get a new drivers license and the picture is at least 50% less cute than the one I had, but I'm still safe.  And I'm healthy and I have a job that I love even though the occasional wallet thief surprises me there.  And yes, this summer the kids made me re-think my original desire to become a mom, but only for a itty bitty part of a second.  

And David is working like a mad man to get all the house chores done and his work and his overtime at the hurricane shelters, and still trying to be husband and father. And I'm more than lucky to have that to count on.  

So,  be careful in the gas shortage hysteria out there y'all.  Or just go somewhere else.  That may be better.

There may even be notes and pictures to prove it

Sunday, August 13, 2017

What would I tell my son about love?  I guess first I'd make it very clear that I've been trying to figure it out for decades - and for decades the perfect answer has run the other direction.  But I would tell him that in chasing that answer, I've found some pretty good examples of what I think love should look like.  What I think it should feel like, and mostly, what I know it shouldn't. 

This has nothing to do with anything other than me feeling the pressure of being a fire-wife.  Last week Fireman Dave worked 136 hours, the week before that was similar - I'm actually too tired to remember - and he's working a straight 72 right now.  Which means that I am, too.  What I'm trying to point out is that nothing exciting, eventful or scary happens when he is at home.  The general rule of fire-wifery is that everything should break, burn, or explode only while the fireman is on shift. 

Here's my story. 

I woke up last night to the sounds of anger and sadness and frustration - all rolled into one teenage boy who didn't know how to best handle whatever was happening on the phone with his girlfriend at the time.  Actually what I heard was hitting and yelling and I immediately thought the brothers were killing each other and should I or should I not risk life and limb to go check it out.  ......  I ended up going to check it out.  What I saw was a kid trying to navigate an adult-like relationship while only equipped with adolescent emotions. 

And this wasn't the first time.  It seems there's always something to apologize for, to ask forgiveness for, to make up for.  There always has to be contact, permission, check ins and notifications.  And there has to be constant togetherness - in person or on the phone.  Even if that means the phone just stays on all night while they sleep miles apart in their separate houses. 

Maybe its the girl's fault.  Maybe not.  As much as I would like to blame her for all the drama, we all know there aren't too many lone character soap operas on TV......  One person creates the drama, the other has to allow it - it really doesn't matter who did what or in what order once it becomes a regular part of the deal.  And its a regular part of the deal.

So as I tried to go back to sleep last night and ended up crying over more things than I started out with, I prayed simply for me to be the mom that my kids need right now.  But I'm not sure I really know what that is.  I think I may text this particular kid later, once we've let some time pass between the loud and the quiet.  Here's what I'm thinking it might say.

Love doesn't have to hurt.  In fact, love shouldn't hurt.  Most of the time, anyway - but on occasion it might.  But know that when we feel pain and claim it in the name of love,.... it should be for the sake of the one you love, not for the sake of trying to make a relationship something it was never supposed to be.  I think that when we feel sadness in love, for it to actually fit into the love category it has to be because we want so badly for what is good for the other person that maybe it hurts us to step away and let the right things happen.  I'm positive I've cried my fair share over some mixed up emotions in this general area.  Maybe I should say arena.  Because arenas are huge and areas can be small.  My heart aches and heart breaks fall into arena size.  There may even be notes and pictures to prove it. 

But when a relationship brings constant stress, worry and doubt; when it makes us feel afraid of another person for any reason - or even afraid of ourselves and what we become when we're too close to see what's really happening - that's not love.  It's something - and I know you feel it is more real than anything else you can think of at the time. But its not love. 

When you're in constant fear of losing someone over just about anything, when you're in such doubt over the strength of your relationship that you have to remind each other through words and time and desperate pleas and promises, that's not love. It's something - and I know you feel it is more real than anything else you can think of at the time. But its not love.

So here is a pretty good test to see if what you feel is really sent as a gift to you.  Is it a love that God planned for you?  Or is it something else?  Insert your girlfriend's name in these statements .... does it sound true?

......        is patient

.....        is kind

.....        does not envy

.....        does not boast

.....        is not proud

 .....       does not dishonor others

.....        is not self-seeking

.....        is not easily angered

.....        keeps no record of wrongs

.....        does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth

.....        always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres

I also want you to know that I'm not fighting against you in this relationship, and even though you can't believe it now - I'm fighting for you in this relationship.  I want you to have and experience these young relationships, because they are teaching you how to navigate the bigger ones yet to come.  But I want you to experience them in an age appropriate way.  Which to you right now sounds like the words, blah, blah, blah,... my mom is mean and crazy. 

But I think more than anything, your dad and I want you to work out whatever is going on to the best of your ability.  And when your ability runs out, we're here to listen.  We can't fix this, but we can help you try to figure out how. 

Y'all, I know this isn't my best work in this post.  But its accurate and truthful and it serves as a good reminder for me of all that I went through in my younger years trying to figure out the age old questions of love.  And maybe that's why its so hard to see my own kids try to learn those same difficult lessons.  If only I could tell them all my mistakes, sometimes I think.  But they're not at the age of understanding.  They're just reaching the age of trying things out for themselves.  Me too, said a younger Kristi.  If I could just tell them to look over here or over there or take a few steps back or away to see what I see now..... but I know they can't.  

So last night I prayed, as I always do.  And I asked a friend that I knew has the the power of prayer in her to pray in that moment over the events of the night.  Because I wasn't sure how I was going to.  And I am asking you to pray for this, too, wherever you are.  How ever often, how ever long or short.  I ask that you pray for my son that his eyes be opened to possibility and promise that he can't even begin to imagine.  And I ask you to pray for the young lady involved, prayers of the same. 

And I ask that since you're already there and in it... go ahead and ask God to work in the lives of young people as they are trying their best to grow up in such a different kind of time.
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