Saturday, August 14, 2010

Back to life.. Back to Reality..

I know those are song lyrics, but I couldn’t tell you the song or who sang it. Can someone fill in the blanks without looking it up?

tunnel2006 ©LKHunsaker School is starting again. We have a couple of weeks or so to go since we start later than most, and later than before. When we moved here at the start of my son’s Freshman year,  he started several days late because we didn’t get here until the end of August and they’d already started. Poor kid had to be a new student and a late new student at the beginning of his HS career. But then, they were out by the end of May, as most are.

The next year, my sister planned her wedding at the beginning of June, in Illinois (my home state). No problem, I said. School ends the end of May.

Ah well, that year they decided to change dates and didn’t start until after Labor Day, which meant they weren’t out until the first week of June, which meant I had to pull him out to miss the last days of his second year of high school. (It’s an all day drive to get there from here, and as one of the matrons of honor, I couldn’t pull in last minute.)

At the time, those events caused me some deal of stress. I’m a rule follower. If school is in session, it means you’re there unless ill enough you can’t stay on your feet (“You’ll feel just as bad at home as you do at school/work.” – a family motto of sorts).  Same with work. I heard a song on the radio this morning about calling in with a fake illness in order to take the day off. I literally cringed. Unless I can’t stay on my feet, I’m where I’m supposed to be, even when it’s just at my desk at home trying to stay upright just to get that chapter finished by my self-imposed deadline.

Okay, maybe that is pushing it too extreme, but in these times when our social services don’t get taken care of because the county’s budget hasn’t been passed yet, and those in charge are still leaving at 1:00 in the afternoon to go play golf or whatever (maybe a slight exaggeration – they might stay until 4, and I mean lots of places are doing the same, not only my own), I miss the days when more people had that “get it done” work ethic.

The other day, I picked up a children’s book. The reason I picked it up is because when I checked out the few I was buying for myself, the clerk asked if I’d like to donate a book to the children’s drive to help them learn to read. I’m a sucker for those and one of the books put up to select from was “The Little Engine That Could” – what better to provide to a child learning (likely behind schedule) something that can be difficult for many of them?

As I left the store, I realized I didn’t have that one on my children’s shelf at home. I have quite a few, mainly from the discount bins (where they were rescued cheaply from a certain fiery death) in preparation for future grandchildren. (Future, as in not expected for some time, with any luck.)  So I went back to buy it. (I’m not much of a shopper until I find a book, music, or office store, so I let myself splurge on those.)

I was asked once, if I could choose one book to have the whole world have to read, what would it be? I think I said “The Prophet” by Kahlil Gibran (“Your children are not your children. They are the sons and daughters of life’s yearning for itself.”)  Maybe I would change my mind now, though. Maybe I would have to answer:

The Little Engine That Could

Yes, it’s an optimist book. Yes, I’ve been called Pollyanna more than once. *shrug* But I’ve also recently been looking through my old high school things and shook my head at how often I used to attempt things I should have known wouldn’t happen. Cheerleading (much too shy), Homecoming court (laughing out loud at that one: too much of a nerdy bookworm), Basketball my senior year though I’d never played before (yeah so as a senior, I barely played JV), Asking a couple of guys to a dance (Ha! again, shy enough I didn’t even speak to them otherwise)…  and the list goes on.

Did it matter whether or not I was there for the first or last days of school or how many sick days I had? I couldn’t even remember those things. I did find a report card showing a D in social studies one term (I HATED memorizing dates!)  and then winding up on the honor roll with a B in the same class later that year.

Most of all, what I got out of looking back was that I kept trying despite the odds. It’s horribly hard for a very shy girl with unknown ADD to accomplish much in school. And yet, I ended up on the Top Ten with a ton of activities under my name in the yearbook.

The Little Engine That Could was always one of my favorites, and I took it to heart.

Those days don’t seem real to me anymore, at least not very. I’ve done things since then I never could have imagined doing. I went from horribly dependent on my family to being completely on my own with my kids much of my life while my military husband was away doing as his country asked. I’m still away, and still doing much on my own as he has the same work ethic I have and is still doing as his employer asks (well past 4pm, btw). For me, this is reality. It’s not good or bad; it just is. I now have the advantage of seeing things from both viewpoints, dependent and independent, and I try to use it all in my work to share, as well as passing as much as I can to my children, and later to my grandchildren.

This year, my son (my baby) is a senior. As he begins this transitional year toward what he will be, I can’t help wonder what he will take with him most. How will he look back and see these days? What will happen to define him? He’s much more social than I was, and yet has taken part in only two school activities, one of which he gave up last year. He’s more of a rebel than I was, and much more confident. I find it amusing that he’s in that “group” I couldn’t begin to understand during my own HS days, and yet, now I do, at least to an extent. I admire them more now than I did then.

All around me, I see adults who I’m sure have remained the people they were in high school, who still view everything from that one perspective, whose kids follow in their own footsteps. I suppose that makes it easier to figure them out and help them along, but I enjoy this widened perspective, even if many days I think Zeller Zone sounds like a good idea.

So what about you? Are you the same person you were in school?

If you could choose one book for everyone to read, what would it be? Maybe I’ll check it out.



Dorothy said...

Very interesting, as always. I did have to think that perhaps there might have been some days you should have been allowed to stay home; but then I thought of the woman who skipped her own daughter's wedding (albeit a courthouse wedding) because of all things, she had cramps. ?? How's that for teaching self-indulgence and a collossal disrepect for marriage, all in one shot?

Laziness and self-indulgence has run amok in this country and, sadly, we are reaping the results. That "do your own thing" motto of the late 60's, passed down to children and grand-children is going to be reason for our decline.

"The Little Engine That Could" is great, also "Stanley" which should be as well known, : ) and maybe even a well written history book, so people could learn, or remember, how this country was built- and it wasn't done by taking off at 1 pm or 4 pm to play golf, laying in bed with cramps, or by doing as little as possible at the office.

Dorothy said...

oops...that's lying in bed, not laying. : )

LK Hunsaker said...

Ah, as often as I was sick (to include allergies), I never would have graduated if I did! LOL!

Laziness and self-indulgence are right up there with disrespect and rudeness, in my book. Yes, much of what we need to rebuild is a better work ethic, and less greed to go with it.

Definitely a non-PC history book would be a worthy choice! Stanley as well known? Well thank you :-) Guess I should get on the restructuring of it, then.

Helen Ginger said...

Oh gracious, I hope I've changed since high school.

I like The Little Engine That Could. It's not complicated. The message is clear. Much better for kids than most of today's video games.


Celia Yeary said...

LORAINE--I'm probably the same person I was in high school. People say they change, but I'm not so sure. At a recent high school reunion, with all of us a little gray and a little paunchy, I still recognized each person and after speaking with many of them, their old personality came out. Friends think I've changed when they learn I'm doing something none could have imagined from me, but really, I'm still the same old Celia Ann. Writing romance novels somehow make others SEE you different.
One book? Probably Ten Things I Ever Needed To Know, I Learned in Kindergarten. It's not so much a motivating tale compared to The Little Engine That Could, but a reminder list of basic principles of how to be a good person and treat others as you would like to be treated--Golden Rule? If our World Leaders would read the Kindergarten book, we have peace. Celia

LK Hunsaker said...

Hi Helen,

I think most of us do to an extent, at least maturity-wise!

Celia, probably only those who have taken an extremely different path really change a lot. My values haven't changed, but not much else hasn't. I used to be a real peace-nik, lol. I've seen too much by now to be able to still feel that way. My spirituality hasn't changed, but my religious beliefs have. I suppose you're right though, and that's uncommon. The Kindergarten book is a good one!

Jane Richardson, writer said...

LK, I don't think I'm the same person I was in school. I followed all the rules there, to the extent that I followed 'em whether it was genuinely good for me or not. I think I missed a lot of opportunities becuse I didn't do what I knew in my heart was the thing I wanted to do - teachers and careers advisors said,' no, you musn't take that path, take this one we have marked out for you,' and I wasn't strong enough then to say no. It took me twenty years to come full circle and do something I had always loved for a living - the very job 'they' told me I shouldn't do. So maybe now, I'm more inclined to think, if you love it, if it's your dream, do it. Least, that's what I tell my kids. :) Is that more like 'The Little Engine?' I don't know, it's not a book we read here in the UK so much, but I've heard it's a goodie.
As for a book I'd choose for everyone to read - well, not a book but a writer, it'd be Shakespeare. So much truth in in writing, and of course, his is the statement by which I live now - 'this above all, to think own self be true.' You can see where that came from!
The song - is it Soul II Soul? It was a huge hit here.

Jane x

LK Hunsaker said...

Jane, wonderful reply! I think many kids have their dreams stifled either by others or by themselves. Hopefully, they do come back to them as they grow. :-)

I agree about Shakespeare.

You're right! It is Soul II Soul!
Thank you :-)