Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Oh The Things I Used To Do!

As I cruise through Facebook, I'm constantly seeing posts about "if you know what this item is, you're old school" and you'll see a picture of a key to open corned beef cans.  Or the original discipline device and you'll see a picture of a salu or slipper.  Or a list of things you did when growing up and you still turned out okay.  Well, I have my own list of things I did while growing up and if my kids were to do those things now, I would probably have a heart attack.

*Climbing trees.  Really tall trees.  Tall enough where the wind blows and the tree is swaying, partially from the wind, partially from your weight.  Nowadays, I can't even go into a tall building and ride an outside, glass encased elevator without feeling like I'm going to throw up.  My children will climb a small tree in the park and I'm telling them not to fall because I don't have time to go to the hospital.  "The house isn't clean, yet!"
*Racing bicycles down an unpaved, rocky road at full speed.  Flying down the hill and having everyone throw rocks to see if they can hit you.  Or racing with someone else and trying to kick them off their bike so you'll win.  Oh wait.  That might be a village thing.  My kids barely know how to ride a bike and only in the safety of my in-law's fenced-in yard.  With a helmet, pads, and cushions because once again, I don't have time to go to the hospital.  "You need to finish your homework!"
*Playing in the rain and throwing mudballs as a team.  Even when there's lightening.  Just an added bonus if you can dodge that bullet.  Getting hit in the mouth with mud and everyone begging you not to cry because if the grownups hear, we'll all be in trouble.  True story.  The culprit and victim know who they are.  My own children?  Mud?  That's dirty!  And we don't know what elements are in that mud!  And I don't have time to go to an emergency dentist because the mudball had a rock and your teeth are broken.  "I need to do all this laundry now that all of your clothes are covered in dirt, mud and goodness knows what else!"
*Watching karate movies, preferably Bruce Lee or Jackie Chan, then practicing the moves outside with siblings, cousins, neighbors.  THEN going to school the next day and comparing your snake style, tiger claw, or drunken monkey with your classmates.  Because more likely than not, they were also studying under one master or another.  If my children were to go to school with their moves, they would be suspended.  Plus, I don't have medical insurance for other people's kids.  "Sorry, Mr. Principal!  How much is their medical insurance?  They don't have any?  Wonderful!"
*Running around the neighborhood at night, unsupervised, playing hide-n-seek, chasing annoying kids, or hiding from other annoying kids.  We have neighborhood kids now that run around at all hours of the night and I'm extremely annoyed.  Because they make a lot of noise.  And where the heck are their parents?  Why aren't they inside doing homework, reading a book, watching movies?  My own kids outside even in the daylight?  You know those stories about kids being taken?  Yeah...  Not happening!
*Riding in the back of a truck, standing up and holding onto the bars (if you're lucky and your truck has them) or just clutching the roof of the cab for dear life.  Or sitting on the edge of the truck, wherever there is room, and once again, holding on for dear life.  Because there are potholes, quick turns, or dogs that may or may not get hit.  My own children in our SUV?  Strapped down with seatbelts, car seats, helmets, blankets, any buffer I can think of to keep them safe and sound.  "No I cannot reach the M&M you dropped on the floor because I'm trying to pay attention to the road and not get into an accident!"
*Walking to and from school everyday, rain or shine.  Of course, now we have to deal with another element that is fairly cold.  Okay, fine.  Someone will pick you up from school.  "Rain is the best, all natural conditioner and unlike the wicked witch in the Wizard of Oz, you will NOT melt!"

I've run around with no t-shirt until I was 9 years old, pushed wheelbarrows with people riding in them down steep hills, run barefoot through tall patches of weeds, played football in the pouring rain, taken showers outside in cold water, played cricket, dodgeball, lape until it was too dark to see anything, clotheslined people who tried to jump over my head,...  and I turned out okay.  Some days are questionable but mostly okay.  So why am I so overprotective of my own children?

I'm positive we all have stories to tell about our days growing up and what we do with our own children now.  What are some of YOUR stories?

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Time to Reflect

I sat watching my 7-year-old as she gathered little leaflets and emptied the seeds into her hand.  We were posted outside of the Junior High/High School waiting for her sisters to finish the school day.  It was in the upper 90s so we moved to the passenger side of the car to avoid direct sunlight.  My youngest decided the car was too hot altogether and asked if she could hang out in the grassy area next to the car.  I sat in the passenger seat, not a place I'm in very often since I'm usually the main driver of the family, and observed as she first discovered the leaves, opened them to find the seeds, then began gathering as many as she could. 

"Look, Mom, my hand is almost full," she held her hand out for me to see from her squatting position.

I smiled and kept looking as she quietly looked for more leaves and more seeds.  She was entranced with this simple piece of nature and then, out of nowhere, a thought hit me.  And I felt like crying.  Not tears of sadness.  The complete opposite.  Reflecting on life and what matters is a rare occurrence.  I use the excuse of being a busy mom and joke about
having one minute of reflecting time in the evening when the house is finally quiet but in all honesty, I don't actually take the time to sit quietly and just observe.  Listen.  Ponder.  Pray.  Watching without saying anything.  Only communicating through gestures and facial expressions.

I've been a mother for 16 years and I never realized how quickly time would fly.  My oldest will graduate from high school next year and the next two will follow fairly quickly.  And soon my house will be empty.  I want to enjoy what is here, right here, right now.  I want to listen to my children laugh, play, tease, and yes, even cry.  Because I am here for them.

Growing up in American Samoa, we had no choice but to leave the island if we wanted to attend a university.  At the time, I was ready to leave and fly on my own.  I was born and raised there only leaving a handful of times to visit the states.  I wanted to experience life and be on my own.  I never once thought how that would affect my mom.  She actually encouraged me to stay for two years and go to the community college but I was not willing to listen.  I wanted to be free!  At the airport when I left for school, a good friend of mine whispered to me, "Could you at least squeeze out a couple of tears and don't look so happy to leave?"  I never would have thought the next few times I visited home I would cry with a passion because I didn't want to leave.  Is that what irony looks like?

Thinking about my own children, and watching them as they grow into amazing young ladies, I realize I need to take the time to watch and listen.  Enjoy the simple wonders of life.  Write everything down.   So when the nest is empty, I can read and remember.  Then call my kids and let them know that I love them.  All day.  Every day.