“We should do something to right the wrongs that we see and not just complain about them,” – Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Growing up in the 1980’s, I was always taught that my vote is my voice. I was raised knowing that it is our right and our civic duty to vote and it should never be taken for granted. I know that on Election Day, I show up and vote. Not only did Mom and Dad teach this, but they led by example. Back then, my sister and I accompanied our parents religiously to the voting booth. We entered the gym/cafeteria of my elementary school as a family. We watched them sign their names into the log. They took us by the hand and led us to the back of the line with a tight grip on our small hands and their punch cards. Small talk was common as we stood in line. No matter what your political party, there was still a sense of community. We followed our parents into the booth and they reminded us not to shout out the name they picked on the ballot. Our job was to quietly close the curtain behind them and observe. In that booth, my parents conducted the smallest civics class known to mankind. They explained each of the races to us with great importance, whether it was electing our next president or selecting the next local school board members. We stood on our tiptoes to see what name they moved the lever towards. Before they made their selection, they carefully checked to make sure the ballot and the lever lined up to the candidate of their choice. Once or twice, we helped them punch in the hole. Afterwards, we piled back into the car and drove home satisfied to know that we did our part to make a difference. Just like learning to tie my shoes, blow my nose and make change, I grew up knowing the importance of voting. And since turning 18, I’ve rarely missed an election. Now that I have kids of my own, the tradition continues. When they were little, they came with me to vote. Of course, now there are no more paper ballots. Everything is computerized, but the rituals are still the same. They watched me register. They stood in line and talked to the neighbors. They pulled the curtain closed behind me and watched as I cast my vote. When it was all over, they ran to the desk and asked for an “I voted” sticker to show their teachers at school. Now, my oldest is close to turning 18, but unfortunately not in enough time to vote in this election. But, she has been taught well. She knows the issues that face our country today and she has her strong opinions. She is more than ready to cast her vote in 2020. “Don’t boo – vote!” – Barack Obama
“I want a million dollars and a Lamborghini.” This is a line that my son always offers up when I ask him what he wants for dinner, for his birthday or in life. “A million dollars and a Lamborghini,” he declares with his big metallic grin. He thinks this is so funny. It was cute the first few times he said it. Then, it started to get a little old. These days, I give in and say it along with him, so now it’s our thing. I too want a million dollars and a Lamborghini. Actually, I want a BMW, but I have to admit that a Lamborghini sounds way cooler. We played the lottery last night and lost, but it allowed me to dream a bit about what I would do with the million dollars. I would definitely worry less about how to send 2 kids to college in the next few years. Maybe I would allow myself an early retirement to travel the world, sit in cafes in exotic locations, drink fabulous coffee and become a full time writer. God knows there are a million ideas for books and blogs inside of me that have yet to come to fruition. But, if I’m being completely honest with you, I want the intangible things even more, like:
- I want my kids to not be almost 18 and almost 15 years old.
- I want to take them back to Disney World, go on all their favorite rides and listen to them squeal in delight.
- I want to sit on the floor with them, play games and sing along with the Wiggles on TV.
- I want to go to the mall and treat them to ice cream and a ride on the carousel.
- I want to take more home videos of their childhood milestones.
- I want to be the tooth fairy.
- I want one night to sit in that comfy rocking chair, read their favorite bedtime stories, and sing The Rainbow Connection.
- I want them to hold my hand and not let it go.
I’d take all of the above over a Lamborghini any day of the week, but these are things that money just can’t buy.
One of my co-workers gave birth to a beautiful baby girl recently. A pretty pink card was passed around the office so that we could all write words of congratulations to her and her husband on becoming parents. Most of my colleagues signed the card with cute sayings like – “Welcome to the world” and “Can’t wait to meet the little bundle of joy.” I, on the other hand, really wanted to pass along my words of wisdom. (I didn’t – but I wanted to). I’ll never forget what a good friend of mine wrote to me right before I was about to give birth to my daughter: “First the pain, then the pleasure, then the patience.” At the time, I had no idea what she was talking about – but 17+ years into this parenting gig and now I get it. In case I need to spell it out for anyone – The pain is childbirth. The pleasure is all the cuddles and cuteness that babies and toddlers bring. The patience, well that would be the teenage years. The God’s honest truth is that I love this stage of their lives when they become young adults and see their individual gifts they will soon contribute to make the world a better place. But, let’s face it. We parents need a lot of patience when it comes to raising teenagers. And full disclaimer–patience has never been my strong suit. I remember when those “What to Expect” books were helpful for potty training, sleeping schedules and socializing. Unfortunately, those books stop at the second year of their lives–which is a real shame.If there was a “What to Expect” book for raising teenagers, I think this is what the table of contents would look like. Chapter 1 – Patience – Get Some. You are Going to Need It. Chapter 2 – The Front Seat – Birds, Bees, Smoking, Drinking, Drugs, Politics – and other conversations you will have with your child when you are driving them somewhere. Chapter 3 – The Passenger Seat – Where you sit, hold tight and pray while you teach them how to drive. Chapter 4 – Clean Your Room – Is this worth the battle? Chapter 5 – Grounded! – Discipline beyond timeouts and swear jars Chapter 6 – Cell phones and Social Media – Necessary evil or perfect parenting tool? Chapter 7 – Friends – Fights and Forgiveness Chapter 8 – Dating – Need I say more? Chapter 9 – The Tough Stuff (Part I) – Teen depression, anxiety, bullying and so much more. Chapter 10 – The Tough Stuff (Part II) – Love and limits. Roots and wings It ain’t easy. It’s quite a journey, But, I’ll say one thing – it’s all worth it.