Thursday, June 28, 2018

The Thing About Chaperones

Carson is somewhere around Cleveland making his way home from Niagara Falls with a couple of dozen or so other teenagers and five adult chaperones. Yes, it's that time of year when church trips, sporting events, scout activities, and all manner of camps require volunteer chaperones everywhere to leave the comfort of their own homes to sleep in bunk beds, dormitories, tents, hotels, motels, cabins, or whatever else the case may be.

This is Carson's fourth trip, this summer, which have all been supervised by different groups of willing adults. Currently, he's with our church youth choir and they've been singing in retirement communities and nursing homes as they've worked their way through various landmarks of Kentucky, Pennsylvania, New York, and now back down to Ohio. Of course, since the beginning of the early Christian church, there's been the obligatory bus/van/camel breakdown, which has also proved to be the case for our group, this week. 

Our minister of music is the trip coordinator/bus driver of this 8 day expedition and, just in case you're wondering, from good ol' Mississippi, this trip to Niagara Falls equals driving 25 children, who don't belong to you, approximately 1,061.4 miles. I don't really want to drive my own children 1,061.4 miles much less a bus full of other people's children. And the thing about being the driver is that when you drive a bus load of other people's offspring 1,000+ miles away from their homes, then you're kind of obligated to also drive them back. Otherwise, I think it's called kidnapping, so we're really talking about 2,122.8 miles...that is if you can resist your impulse to leave them on the side of the road somewhere.  
I don't know how many years David has been taking the youth choir all over the nation, but I do know that he's driven both of my children, for 10 consecutive years, to places like Chicago, Philadelphia, Washington DC, Pittsburgh, San Antonio, Boston, Myrtle Beach, and Toronto. I even know, one summer, he retraced 30 miles or so to go back and retrieve some shopping bags Blair had left in her hotel room drawers. I'm sure that God noted this in His books and will dole out the appropriate rewards to David in the hereafter. 

I remember when I was a kid and we'd go on church trips. The list of chaperones was always about the same from trip to trip. I suppose there just wasn't an abundance of people falling all over each other to volunteer. I remember one trip, in particular, on which one of the boys on our van mooned a passing vehicle. There's nothing like a church van traveling down a long stretch of interstate with its name, denomination, and address plastered on both sides with a derrière pressed up against the glass. Nothing reinforces the catchy van message, "Follow me to Church" quite like that does. In this particular case, the adults used the ultimate chaperone weapon...the threat to purchase the offender a Greyhound bus ticket home....and I'm sure caused the church to consider unmarked transportation going forward. You know, not unlike a prison bus. And, as I recall, through the years, a few first time chaperones hung up their gloves after pulling back into our church parking lot. Never to chaperone again. It's just a tough business.    
So, as a parent, I'd like to recognize all of those, who are hitting the road, this summer. Not for a glamorous trip with those closest to them, but those people who take a week of vacation to have other people's children annoy them in enclosed spaces for extended periods of time. Those who walk around with the medical release forms and a purse full of over the counter meds. For the ones who have to get out of bed, walk down the hall in their PJs, and give a room full of teenagers a final warning about the noise with a firm, "Am I going to have to call some Mamas?...because I will!" For those responsible for counting heads every time the bus is reloaded. For those posting pics on Facebook to entertain childless parents back home as they're eating bonbons and getting pedicures. For those, who keep the children from playing in the interstate, while a tire is being changed. Those who've comforted homesickness and cleaned up car sickness. For those, who load the luggage and unload the luggage and load the luggage and unload the luggage. For the ones, who have to find an exit to accommodate every whim of 30+ bladders. And for those who endure the smells that waft up from the back of the bus and are bombarded with snippets of a thousand conversations, while traversing unfamiliar roads....I want to thank you.

While it doesn't seem like one of those big, huge tasks, which garners a lot of attention or makes a big difference, it does. I still remember all of the adults, who invested time in my life and I know my kids will, too. Thanks to all the chaperones, who'll lay their head down on a lumpy pillow tonight and get up and load luggage and count heads again tomorrow.....all for the enrichment of other people's kids.

Here's to chaperones everywhere. Past and present.

God bless.     

Y'all have a great weekend!

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

That Awkward Moment When You Can't Think of Anything to Talk About Because You Haven't Done Anything

Well, it's been a while since I checked in and the only excuse I have is the lack of subject matter. My downtime at work is from around Memorial Day to when I go to market in mid-July. There's just nothing going on and I hardly work at all, so I've really slipped into a virtual summer coma.

Last week, Carson was out of town and I took the opportunity to do my summer cleansing of the house. Every summer, I go through the house, room by room, closet by closet, drawer by drawer, and purge, straighten, and clean. So, really, there was nothing blog-worthy about that.

The last few days, I've been glued to the tv watching the Bulldogs in the College World Series. Generally, baseball isn't my sport of choice. It's just not a good fit for my attention capacity. Games are so long and slow and there are soooo many of them. No, I'm cut out for college football fandom, where the action is fast paced and you only play each team once. But, when my beloved alma mater makes it to Omaha, well, I do perk up and get interested in America's pastime. Consequently, a week of excessive tv watching hasn't provided much wisdom or inspiration that I've felt the need to pen....except eat a banana and wish us luck on Friday. Tune in and learn about the rally banana phenomenon if you're not from these parts.
I won't lie. There's also been a lot of sleeping. Sleeping in and a little nap after lunch.....but that doesn't make for very good blog posts either. Don't get me wrong, it makes for a good time, but not so much for exciting reading.

I did have an appointment, this week, for some new headshots for the blog, but I had to reschedule that. I'm sure there would've been some material there, but we'll have to wait another week for that fun.
And, in case you were wondering, my feelings about summer haven't changed. If anything, they have deteriorated. Aside from the opportunities for more rest, summer has got nothing that I need. Mosquitos, snakes, scalding car seats, flies, wasps, humidity, sunburn, gnats, and heat that will singe your little nostril hairs. Nope, nothing about any of that appeals to me and so, until there is a hint of autumn air, you shall find me and my diminished motivation inside somewhere enjoying the marvels of climate control, waiting for the heat and all its evil minions to retreat. For now, I can look to Hobby Lobby to give me hope that better days are ahead.
Today was Carson's 18th birthday. He has a summer job and so this was his first birthday to experience the work day birthday. We've all got to experience it sooner or later. That year when your birthday becomes just another day at the office. Well, we celebrated big, this past weekend, when Blair and John Samuel were home and he had spurts of celebration again today, so his birth has been properly observed, I'd say. I just can't believe how fast 18 years go by. Why, it seems like just yesterday, they were pulling him from my womb, kicking and screaming. Good times.       

Well, I guess I'll go now. It's one thing to not have anything to say and another thing to go on about how you have nothing to say. Carson will be on another trip, next week, headed to Niagara Falls with our church youth group, so who knows what kind of project I'll start then. Maybe it'll be something worth sharing.

Y'all have a good week......and Hail State!


Wednesday, June 6, 2018

The Quiet Plights

Lest you fear that I was institutionalized after my last post about the shoe incident, I am writing to relieve your anxiety. I am still here. I just went to the beach for a few days, last week, and was out of my routine..... that's all. And as far as I remember, I successfully matched my shoes, each and every day that I was there, so I'm feeling pretty good about myself again.

I was at work, yesterday, when I sat down for a break and noticed the news breaking about Kate Spade. I sent a screen shot of the headline to Blair. Just last week, while shopping with me at the beach, she was saying that Kate Spade and the J Crew stores embodied her style preferences best. I knew she'd be so sad to hear the news as she'd been a fan for quite some time.

I don't know what touched me so deeply about the news of her suicide. I certainly didn't know her. She lived up in New York and I'm way down here...a Mississippi girl. I'm not sure I'd ever even seen a picture of her until yesterday. Had never really thought about how old she might be. I suppose the closest connection we had was my wallet having her name written across it and a purchase of a purse or two or three for Blair on special occasions, through the years. Other than that, I never gave Kate Spade much thought until I heard of her death. But, as I read, something about it seemed so incredibly sad to me and I even found my eyes tearing up over someone I'd never met.

From everything I've seen, she was a kind and funny lady. She had her husband of many years and a young teenage daughter and pictures showed her to be just a regular person......sitting barefoot on her sofa next to her hubby....laughing and drinking coffee. Her neighbors said she was always friendly and smiling. There just seemed to be something unexpectedly normal about this fashion icon and commonality probably doesn't show itself very often in the designer world.

I thought about how, like her, a lot of us go around dragging some pretty heavy things behind us. Life isn't always easy, you know? Sometimes, we can look over at someone else's journey and it's just so obvious that their life is weighted down with problems and cumbersome circumstances. There are people I know in pretty desperate situations now. Your eye just can't help but be drawn to their considerable, pronounced, and seemingly unfair load. Their struggle is dramatic and on full display for everyone to see and we run to help and offer our shoulder.   

But, maybe the saddest kind of all of life's struggles is that, each day, we are all wrestling with things that others cannot see. Silent, invisible foes that so many of us are grappling with and no one else knows. The big, noticeable battles, well, they scream for love and support from those around us, but the inconspicuous struggles are unable to attract anyone's attention or concern. That is quite possibly the saddest, loneliest place to be. On a battlefield with no one else around to stand with you.

We've all been there. Whether we're trying to maintain a certain image, be strong for others, be independent, or just too ashamed to admit a weakness or failure, we've all been in a place of distress or crisis where there were no other souls standing next to us.....because they just didn't know.

I saw this saying, a few years ago. It spoke to me because I believe it to be so true.
No matter how "together" we may like to appear, there are times when something is going on inside all of us. If we always treated others like there was a strong possibility they were quietly fighting a giant with everything in them, wouldn't the world be a better place? Wouldn't we, women, do well to encourage each another in our exhausting efforts to be all things to all people? Wouldn't we feel less alone in our journey if we disconnected from technology and reconnected with touch and face to face? Wouldn't there be more victories in life if we told people about the hope they can have even in their distress, Jesus? Wouldn't He want us to ask if we could walk beside them as long as they needed us....even the extra mile?

Maybe we could make a difference in somebody's life.

A really big difference.

Let's be kind today.