100-0 Texas bball Post

wozsummerfeet2006Follow my blog today by viewing the discussion on the EP website http://empoweringparents.com/blog/school/the-100-0-blow-out-should-the-coach-of-the-covenant-school-been-fired/  about the 100-0 basketball game played in Texas.  What really happened? Should the coach have been fired? Would you accept the forfeit? Should a forfeit be offered? What about the kids? What can be learned/taught from this bad situation?

Click on the EmpoweringParents like on the right side of this page or click directly below on the link to the EP site. http://www.empoweringparents.com/

 

For the original story on NPR about the game visit http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=99838332

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Living by Childgrower A. Woz.

gno-moms-feetAll around me, good things seem to be happening.

A 747 lands in the Hudson and no one dies.

A single mom gets her mortgage refinanced and she can breathe again.

A new medicine is working for a little girl and her confidence returns for school days and sleep overs.

A father quits smoking after 50 years and his beautiful voice shares a tune with his son.

A man builds a wind turbine in his back yard and finds his actions start stirring conversations between strangers.

Someone finds a stray dog in Oklahoma and it makes its way to a happy family at the end of the leash who had lost their way once, too.

A father went to war and many months later came home changed, but safe.

A mom is inspired to stop fighting against the bad and to start fighting for the good.

It’s going to be a great year.  I cannot help but feel it.

2008 was a challenge for so many.  Shoulders grew weary.  Boxes of tissues met and held many tears.  Patient humility proved the best kind of support as many waited for their turn to come.

People often just started talking as they wandered, so lost.  It was their heart that took the lead, sought out others,  lightened its burden by revealing its own.

Candles were lit to shine truth on the darkest problems.  Shadows turned into sunshine after much meditation and acceptance.  Lives began living, even as pain made it seem that a new day ought to refuse to arrive out of simple respect for the hardship that kept staring them in the face.

People unloaded their lives by telling their stories and suddenly, instead of crosses those moments became connections.

When they turned to an acquaintance and admitted their weaknesses, they were met with similar confessions.  Strangers would open their mouths and out would come a situation that was overwhelming them.  Standing in the grocery line,  a woman shared with me that her job had been changed and now she was not only doing someone else’s work but also the work of a friend who was now out of a job;  how to be adequately grateful for one’s luck at the misfortune of another was one of her greatest concerns.

At times, kindness came from nowhere. And sometimes good deeds were done and the giver did not even know they gave the gift.

Anonymous checks arrived in mailboxes,  a load of wood was delivered for a wood stove,  a scholarship fund found a child who wanted to join a team.

Meals were delivered to new moms and to moms grieving for lost husbands.  A front door was thrown open to greet an old friend. Women joined bookclubs and found themselves sharing snippets from chapters of their lives, like sisters on a weekend getaway, they took confidence from fresh perspectives.

Front walkways were shoveled for a neighbor, children came home from college, jobs were offered to keep friends close.  Someone else encouraged a stranger with just a simple smile.  Another mom invited a woman in for a cup of coffee and she made a friend.

Cousins grew up and reunited, their children now play together.  The bonds of family, they realized, are rooted in its traditions, its comforting commonness.  With ease, they cheer for each other’s children as if they were their own.

Maybe a promise was not broken, an argument was not started, fidelity was not compromised.  Maybe someone searching for love, looked in a sunny spot, where the world could see all of her value,  and her spirit was renewed.

A neighbor waved to a lonely woman, a ride was offered to a stranger with a broken-down van,  a door was held for a tired mom.

In the local supermarket my little boy is made less restless because a patient clerk takes the time to make a paper airplane.  This mother’s distracted self refocused on  my child, and with a sense of wonder,  I glanced up from my grocery list to share in my son’s delight.  Together, we watched the folded piece of paper soaring into the next aisle and faith in the goodness of others was reaffirmed in this, the smallest gesture.

It is 2009 and I can feel the good things happening all around me.

Have you felt this?

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No Barbies for Boys, Either by Annita Woz

giantzucchinifeetPlease,” I instructed the crowd gathering in my mother’s living room, “please, no Barbies.” We had just drawn names for the holiday gift exchange and my daughter was three years old.

I had successfully managed to get into their heads, “no sticking out tongues” for fear that she would turn into a nah-nah kind of girl. I had managed to prevail with “no use of the word NO” telling everyone to say, “not for you” instead so as to limit her from learning to use the word against me. 

I had even managed to get everyone on board with my request for “boy toys” and invited screwdrivers, cars, and books about bugs from the time she was born.  I believed nurture over nature could eliminate sexism, gender bias, low self-esteem, glass ceilings, and the desire to ever become a cheerleader.

I had named my daughters gender neutral games thinking that they would get more job interviews if their resumes didn’t give them away as being females at first glance. I honestly put my oldest daughter to bed with a Beethoven CD playing in the background because I believed that it could develop the math side of her brain and that might give a competitive edge.  My sister in law must have laughed her head off given that she was raising seven and had never needed a stereo to put her kids to bed at night.

And the Barbie doll. I believed that her self image might be put to the test against that plastic woman that no one measures up against. In all fairness, I might as well have advocated to outlaw Barbies for boys! That way they would not have some sense of false expectation about what kind of beauty to measure my daughter against when they thought about who to invite to the junior prom.

They thought I was nuts.  And frankly, I was kind of nuts.  Or at least, I was on my way. I was racing against the growing-up clock that no one should try and outrun.  I was peering into the future and thinking about my kid’s life, her confidence, her career, her hopes and plans, her future, her potential-  and I believed I could control her environment in a way that would make all her dreams come true.

I was really working hard to read everything, say everything, do everything I could to make sure I didn’t negatively change this girl who came into the world with such perfection.  I had, of course, read somewhere that what screws kids up are their parents, since they arrive innocent, wonderful and full of big dreams of their own until their parents change their lives forever.

I was also afraid of the day when I would witness my daughter disowning me at some local high school ball game. I saw my baby girl unwilling to run to me in the hallway at school if her friends were around or refusing to acknowledge my existence at a community function.  Oh sheesh,  my kid might know who I really am and might run directly to the opposite corner of life.

And let’s not forget how hard this line of thinking is on grandparents.  For years, they are our parents, doing the best they can, mostly appreciated, have survived the teen years, now a good friend during the pregnancy. 

Then Whap! Their daughter is going to have a baby and she starts reading all the books. 

Suddenly, everything Grandma has done has to be reviewed, analyzed, pros and con lists are made, points are given for good choices, criticism for opposing theories, gasps of “what was she thinking!” can be heard by first time moms from all sections of the labor and delivery prep class.

How much of parenting is fear?

If you’ve ever looked into the eyes of a child, you know they can see right through you. If you don’t really love to play with kids, and you are the one starting up the game of kickball,  they know it. You get out fast.

In hindsight, I should have thrown out my wristwatch entirely then and there and just sat there taking time to stare at my creation and let her see me for what I was.  That alone would have scared her directly onto the right path toward adulthood.

There must be nothing more convincing than looking into mom’s eyes and seeing raw love for the safety and smooth transition through childhood into adulthood.  The honest glaring truth that a parent will do almost anything  to put a kid on the straight and narrow is probably a truth that translates into all cultures of moms everywhere in the world.

It’s a delicate balance this resistance to be everything we are. To let our kids see everything we are.

-And everything we aren’t. 

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A. Woz.

Profitable Pajamas by Annita Woz

bluefootyjammafeetThree children are leaping through the house right now. In sing-songy voices they announce that they have closed the schools by wearing their pajamas inside out last night.

The power of belief is strong at this age.

But I admit, the power of a pair of pajamas is well known to adults of every age.  Who hasn’t enjoyed lounging around in pjs and stocking feet on a cold morning? My sister tells me that when she goes out to shop, she can sometimes get away with wearing her pjs.  Some stores are pajama worthy, others are not. She knows where pajamas are welcome, goes where she is wanted.

Pajama day at school is the same. Every class works hard to earn the right to come dressed in PJs and defy the rules of growing up. You must get dressed before leaving the house. Not today, Mom!

What wise teacher figured out that having pajama days is a real motivator? Kids will share with each other, will not push in line, will finish all their homework for many nights in a row for a hard earned “wear your pjs day.”

Parents of new kindergarteners don’t always get it.  They sit wondering if they are supposed to send five year olds wearing clean pjs or just the ones they slept in the night previous? (up to you)

Can the boys wear Batman jammies or will someone tease them? (wear them)

Will the teacher wear her nightgown? (absolutely not)

Are footie pajamas a good idea? (no)

Would the pjs with the back flap meet the dress code? (at age 5, yes)

Can a mom drive  them to school for drop off wearing her pajamas? (you better)

What parent would turn down the opportunity to wear pajamas to work? Think of the leveling power of wearing jammies instead of a tie.  Really, who wears power pajamas to bed? Clothes make a man but jammies make a connection and have been proven to reduce stress levels in laboratory rats.

So my kids are at their jobs doing kid work today.

It is 12 below zero with a windchill that makes it feel like -40. Seriously. The list of closings was 120 schools long at 6 AM.  My middle girl sighed with relief knowing she would have one more day to read and mark down her page count. She’s aiming for 1,000 pages a quarter so she can get a certificate from the principal.

My little boy is mastering his fine motor skills and working on a Lego creation. Somehow at preschool age, he can follow a multi-page diagram, count the nubbies on the plastic pieces and construct an elaborate shuttle.  It must be the camouflage jammies.

An hour earlier, the two girls had moved on from remote control negotiations to contracting the baking supplies. They now want to have a best chef contest and have been granted full access to the contents of the refrigerator by the supervisor who happens to be wearing blue fleece footie pajamas with a yellow duckling theme.  These pajamas have been known to make an appearance at the scrapbooking table, at bookclub once, but haven’t been to the local grocery, yet.

The girls still wear their pajamas, and they are still inside out.  They are afraid to remove them just in case the weather man will call them back to the classroom. They are quick to remind me that they can stay up later tonight because they will not have to waste time putting them on again. They are very efficient workers.

I had punched in at 7 and went immediately to the board room and was joined by my three charges under the comforter. We discussed and drafted an informal agreement on who gets to snuggle with dad first. Projects were assigned to the most qualified, one to let out the dogs, one to let in the dogs, one to pick between pancakes or waffles. Monkey pile positions were taken, rejected, stolen. A tent was constructed using dad’s arm as a center pole.  Multiple hug memos were sent and received.

The office hums along in harmony with the staff and the work load seems light but profitable.

A. Woz

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The Rooster of the Day by Annita Woz

jaedynshospitalfeetShe bounds out of the bedroom, takes a flying leap and lands on my left leg, her arms gripped together behind me allow her to lift both feet off the ground and then she giggles.  I ask, in the traditional words that are a part of all of our mornings, “Did you have a good sleep?” And she says, “I had a good sleep, mom.”

The the sun shines and wakes us up, nature’s alarm never forgets to call us to the new day.  Since children, there is no horrid buzzing, no slapping at the clock to make it stop. That jolting sound, piercing into our cocoon of blurry hugs has been easily abandoned, rendered obsolete really, since the arrival of our children.

A crying baby in the night would rouse me from my bed faster than any electronic gadget could when I woke to go to work. You know the kind of work I mean- the kind for pay.

The sounds that wake moms and dads everywhere are the ultimate man-made non-technology sounds that would, at first appearance seem to be more harsh than the buzzer.  Before there were morning words,  there was that kind of communication that infants master- the crying kind.

Who wants to wake to a crying baby except a mother who knows that her voice alone may have the power to soothe those sounds into quiet calm.  With a practiced swoop, a mother can gather the rooster of the day in fleecy blankets and tuck her nose into that fork of shoulder and neck and inhale the air of onesies and lavender lotion mixed with helplessness and dependence.

It is both invigorating and crushing, this weight of reliance on our tired selves.

Though beaten down by lack of sleep, unable to string words together some mornings, craving coffee and the adrenaline that comes from a good workout, the call of a child, gets a parent up in time to remind us of the choices we have made when we accepted this new position as leader in this family.

To serve or protect? To comfort or to coddle? To hear or ignore? Ferberize or family bed? These are the questions that tug at our hearts, replay in our logical minds, give us sweet sleep or rob us of  things we did not know we didn’t know.

In the night, when she was learning from us how to survive living in this big new world,  our first child fussed and kicked enough to rock the little bassinet sitting right next to the bed.  I would turn on the little lamp, gather up my child and sit in the rocking chair, staring out through the window into the silent yard.  The sun was not shining.  The room was now lit like an airport runway and I could see the laundry piled up, could see the clutter of the bedroom that had no voice to force me to care about it.

My child, it was blatantly clear, was not the kind that slept through the night.

I rocked slowly, tears running down my face, exhausted.

Her little hand with open palm, touched my skin, then my robe, then my skin again, never sure where it was landing, but knowing that it was connecting to safety in the night.  I was safety. I was shocked to realize this truth. With no experience, no manuals, no training other than from books I was the resident expert on strength and guidance, even when sleep deprived and cranky.  I was the source of all good, if I chose to be, never alone again,  a part of this new little human’s life.

If I had slept I might have missed it.

The sweet silence of safety that lullabies a baby and gives it back to the night, is a mutual morning song that teaches us that we can start a day with thoughts of things other than deadlines and duties.  This is a gift children give to mothers and fathers instructing us to carve out of our modern routine the irritant called the alarm.

I have learned to recognize the opportunity of comforting a child as a way to start my day, knowing that if I hold her there long enough, I can start this day without that jarring non-giving noise, and I will see the sun rise, will watch the neighborhood lights turn on, will witness the street waken to the traffic of living.

I will not miss out.

I have left the warmth of my blankets.  The hollowed out pillow that cradled my head is cold now.  The mattress gives up the weight of my spouse who comes to check on his firstborn and his wife, both adults changed so much by being torn from our sleep,  to this point where it doesn’t really matter when day begins in this endless cycle of learning to sleep, eat, wake and begin again.

It is the middle of this night and her tiny hand wraps around dad’s giant pinkie. She settles. Her dark eyes search our faces,  we peer back at her studying this creature that holds our hearts.

And she graces us with her first smile.

A. Woz, Child Grower

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When You’re Here it is Always Friday by a. woz

flamingofeetEvery summer, between volleyball camp and the start of the next basketball season,  the nieces arrive with their duffel bags, several pairs of flip flops and a thirst for hot chocolate at odd hours of the night.

What began as a weekend to practice our potential parenting skills on someone else’s kids became – years later- a full week of summer vacation for some cousins all hosted by an aunt and uncle who love playing a small role in growing these spirited and talented girls into young women.

For anywhere from four to seven days our home is turned into a never ending slumber party and food factory.  It is Girls Week and we make memories out of whatever happens.

When hosting the girls for summer time, the rules are all different from home.  We have the added luxury of having no schedule to keep but the one we create for ourselves and post on the fridge.

  • Swimming is a main priority
  • Planning menus and cooking together is constant
  • Sleeping in the camper is where the age of “old enough” is defined
  • PJs can be worn all day, hair does not have to be combed
  • Bedtime does not exist on any clock
  • We always watch a movie with a strong girl role model
  • When the cousins come to visit – every day is Friday

Just like on any good vacation, a true measure of the amount of relaxing that is going on depends on the ability to lose track of the calendar day. Every day with these girls is like the best day of the week, the day that kicks off a traditional weekend of fun. Whenever anyone asks what day it is during girls week, so as to check what is on the menu or find out what the scheduled adventure of the day is going to be, they get the same answer,  and sometimes it is shouted in unison, “It’s Friday!”

We swim at the local beach where once a cousin swore a snake had brushed her calf as she was standing in the shallow water.  A 70 year old man on the beach, a native of the area who came every day for his morning swim,  laughed at our wild screaming and pointing, but wagged his finger and confirmed that for years snakes had hidden under the very dock that we had been jumping from. To this day we call the spot Snake Lake though we haven’t seen a snake since.

One humid morning, it began to rain just after we settled into our normal spot under the swaying twigs of the old willow tree. Everyone was so disappointed, but instead of leaving, looked at each other and laughed, then ran and dove into the water.  They swam in the sprinkles and dared it to continue.  As though the sun could not resist these girls, these walking sunbeams, it came to claim them, driving the rain clouds to some one else’s town and letting them swim until the call of cheap baloney sandwiches dragged them up to the picnic table.

We eat freezy pops and popsicles until the sides of our mouths are sore from sucking the colored juice from the plastic sleeve and we control the seasons by using shaving cream to turn June’s lazy summer days into January snow parties by spraying the entire length of the play set slide and blasting down through the white foam.  We have made our own mini waterpark resort by dragging the garden hose to the top of the slide and then wore away the grass as we set near Olympic distance records in the mudslide competition.

No one will forget the culinary lesson learned by seeing several strings of spaghetti noodles draped on the faces of the cupboard doors because someone had read somewhere that noodles, when taken from boiling water and tossed to the oak doors, will stick there, if they are done cooking. It is still a tradition to test the noodles this way and usually the youngest gets to make the first toss.

The camper has become the scene for many a future Hollywood screenplay.  Sleeping out there is allowed when the big girls decide that a younger cousin is just old enough to keep the secrets of the night.  Out there,  is where ghost stories are told and someone usually scares the pants off a victim by sneaking up on the trailer.  They stay up as late as they can playing cards and taking silly pictures of each other and doing what girls do best, joking and teasing each other in ways that develop character and strengthen their ability to laugh at themselves while learning something from each other.

Over the years, as it happens, several of the original little girls grow up.

They arrive now in their own cars, piled with pillows, snacks and a healthy dose of loud music and always a younger sibling or a couple of cousins tucked in the back seat. The bathroom has more blow dryers and make up bags when they visit these days,  and somehow, despite all the growing that happens between the ages of 4 and 21, there seem to be smaller bathing suits hanging on the deck to dry!

Though we have sat together for many summers under the ceiling fan in the living room to watch movies where the girl is the heroine, I’m so proud that they have learned to make just as much of an effort to just be themselves, different heroes for having survived all the pitfalls of growing up and all the while becoming their best selves –  girls with happy faces, who continue year after year, traveling here to Aunt Nita’s  to gather together and make the magic of summertime Fridays.

– Where it’s always Friday,

A. Woz.

Child Grower

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Gazing Grazers by Annita Woz

feetupbikecrashThe glow inside the establishment was not quite rosy, but had a familiar flicker.   Make no mistake- a cozy candle lit restaurant it was not.

We pulled into the parking lot and hustled inside to avoid the icy night air.  We were traveling south after a few days of visiting with family and had stopped at a pizza place to have a bite to eat and to break up the monotony of the four hour drive.

My peripheral vision soon caught a motion on my right side as I spied a glimpse of a blue team playing a red team on a flat screen mounted at about shoulder height on the far wall.

In the back of the restaurant a large booth was set for our family and we marched in a straight line toward the hot glow of a plasma screen solidly hung on the wall.  The changing colors of a commercial bathed the napkins in that blue hue and the clean white plates basked beneath it, as though warming themselves in front of the screen on the formica of a modern hearth.   

Two of my children settled immediately into seats that directly faced the screen and methodically took off their coats without taking their eyes off the scene. They quickly identified the name of the show and knew it was not a show that we let them watch at home because even though it was rated y7,  it was all about dating, talking rudely on cell phones and it seemed to be more about tricking grown ups than learning about growing up.

Looking at me for a split second they checked to see if it was okay to watch the program since they knew it was not on the approved list at home.  Before getting the feedback, their pupils darted back to the screen so they wouldn’t miss any of the illegal watch time they were getting.

I thought about changing the channel, looked around the mostly empty place on this New Year’s day and saw no one else under the age of 25 in the area and decided no one would miss it if I turned it off.

But I didn’t.

The waiter interrupted our TV viewing to take our order.  Normally proud to be able to ask for what they wanted, the girls could hardly focus on the menu and the waiter and the show at the same time. They managed to gain control of their oral function long enough to choose a beverage after we repeated the menu choices three times.

I took a minute to get some salad and looked around the restaurant. A glow machine was directly above a table in each of the four corners of the room.  There were two others strategically placed on side walls but not right in a booth or directly above a table; tvless tables were left empty.   All sets were tuned to different channels, all tables were turned to maximize exposure.  The speakers threw the stories and sales pitches into the room where all met and tangled together.  An electric hummmm permeated the room and wove in and out of the preliminary welcomes and the chit chat of appropriate commentary reserved for new arrivals and the hostess.

My husband settled directly under our corner booth entertainment and glanced over the shoulders of his daughters at the opposite corner where the game was featured.  I ate my salad and wondered if I started talking about how my banana peppers were- right this moment- leaping off my plate and were right now – look, see – dancing on my head,  I wondered if I could have gotten anyone’s attention. It would have been a test of mom’s emergency broadcasting system.

It was only a test. 

The couple at the table near us had no television but both of them were helpless to turn completely away from ours. They didn’t need the volume turned up to hear the jokes written for a ten year old audience and didn’t seem to even care that there was not closed captioning to help them keep up. They continued to gaze at the box while grazing. 

Had a low moo escaped anyone’s lips I would not have been surprised.

I had been warning my kids of this phenomenon for years- too much TV turns your brains to mush, I would say. Then I would knock on the sides of their heads, as if testing to see if it was still solid,  and then look right and left inside their tiny ears to see if any brain matter was leaking out.  I thought about reaching out of our booth and knocking on the neighboring noggins.

But I didn’t.

I continued to eat my meal and attempted some conversation about the holiday fun, then about how the pizza tasted, then turned to asking questios about why this show was rated Y7 instead of at least Y10 and got very little feedback.

I put my fork down and waved my arms in front of the girls like I was working for a large airport and directing a 747 into the hangar and got nothing.  No one in the whole place even noticed my crazy waving antics. The waiter may have thought about rushing over to see if I needed the Heimlich. 

But he didn’t.

I put down my fork and stared at my dinner mates. I looked around the room to see if anyone else was missing out on this thing called dinner conversation.  I wondered if the room had been more populated earlier but thought that each diner may have been silently zapped up into the screen itself, the missing guest gone unnoticed by the staff or his own dinner date. The guests checked in, but they didn’t check out.

Everyone seemed pretty focused on other things happening above my head and content to be deeply engaged in the hearty debate of someone else’s scripted dinner conversation with their television mother.

I thought this was a supreme opportunity to be very immature and not act like the responsible parent that I usually am.  I felt I could get away with a very large unmotherly-like burp. The long kind that kind of drowns out conversation and shocks people, young and old alike.

But I didn’t. 

A. Woz.

Child-grower

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