Wednesday, September 30, 2009

A Random Act of Kindness

Janet had to run an errand for a sick friend today. I was waiting in the van for her with the window open, and a young, disheveled man stopped at the window and asked for cash. I didn't have any within reach, so I said sorry and looked away. (Don't make eye contact!) I have a random act of kindness sour taste still in my mouth from Christmas.

I was running some last minute errands last Christmas with Janet's daughter, Breann. We were getting gift cards for people at work. When we pulled into the McDonald's parking lot I noticed two homeless people sitting near the drive through area. I took for granted that they were asking for money for food. Breann and I went into McDonald's and bought some gift cards, and I ordered two Big Mac meals to go figuring I would participate in a random act of kindness. I didn't buy the cheap itty bitty hamburger, no, not me! If I am being kind, I am doing it big with Big Mac meals, SUPER-SIZED.

As we headed for the van I rolled toward the homeless. Breann jumped into the van saying, "I'm not going over there. I will wait in the van. I'll call the police, if anything happens."

Now, I am feeling good. It is Christmas, my favorite time of the year because I love GIVING gifts. I pride myself on finding the perfect gift. I relish the giving of gifts. I rolled up to the two homeless people with a big smile on my face and said, "Here you go, I got this for you."

They replied, "No, thank you, we are sick of McDonald's."

"You don't want it?" I inquired.

"No," they replied, nonchalantly.

"You don't know anyone that would want it?" I implored.

"No, we can't eat one more hamburger," they explained.

"But it isn't just a hamburger. It's a Big Mac meal . . . SUPER-SIZED!" I begged.

"No, really, we don't want it," they said looking the other way. (Don't make eye contact!)

I returned to the van stunned, confused, rejected, and baffled. I tossed the bag next to me.

Breann asked, "What's up?"

"They didn't want it," I sighed.

"You could eat it," she said.

"Are you kidding? I hate McDonald's!" I muttered.

We proceeded to drive away and Breann looked at me with a new realization and said, "Wow, Cathy, you were snubbed by the homeless!"

"Yea," I replied forlornly, "so much for random acts of kindness."

By the way, when Janet returned she handed me two dollars change, and as we were driving away I saw the young man that asked me for money. I had Janet stop and I gave him the two dollars.

Paco's Perspective
Excuse me, but you didn't bring the hamburger to me. Talk about the perfect gift. You could have made your little buddy very happy. And you wonder why I don't like you best.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Aberi Watoto?

I am reading a new book called Jeremy Fink and the Meaning of Life. It is about a boy, Jeremy, who receives a mysterious package from his long dead father on his thirteenth birthday. In it is an intricately carved wooden box that has the words "the meaning of life" carved into it. The box is locked with an amazing set of locks and there is no key. Jeremy and his best friend, Lizzy, set out on adventure to find the keys to the box. Throughout the adventure they are forced to ask themselves some difficult questions about life, even to the point where Jeremy has an existential crisis. He continually asks, "Why am I here?"

Why am I here? I, like Jeremy, ask my self this question. It usually comes to mind at about 2:30 a.m. Why am I here? Why am I here? Why am I here? I always thought that I was here to teach and learn lessons. Not math lessons, but lessons on life. I also have felt that I am here to make a difference in someone's life. The question is how many is enough? I could always fall back on The Starfish story where the moral is: If you make a difference in one person's life then that is okay. But is it? I am sure that throughout my thirty years of teaching and my fifty three years of existence, I have made a difference in somebody's life, but is that enough. When will God say, "You've done well."? OR do I always strive for one more?

At my school I believe that most of the staff is looking to make a difference in the life ofone more child. But, some have become complacent. Complacency is the enemy of excellence. Like a river a complacent person will take the easy route. During team meetings we have team roles, and the staff decided to add a role this week. That role is the questioner. It is the questioner's job to ask, after every team decision, "Is this in the best interest of our students?" What a great idea and what a great question!

The Maasai in Kenya are a tribe of warriors. Young Maasai boys are sent out into the bush alone to make their first kill at the age of thirteen. When these fierce warriors meet they don't bump chests and ask, "What's happening?" or "Whaaaaaat's uuuuuuuup?" They ask,"Aberi watoto?" (How are the children?) They answer, "Watoto wazema." (All the children are well.)

Wouldn't it be great if any adults that had anything to do with the welfare of any child greeted each other with this question, "Aberi watoto?" Wouldn't it be even better, if we could all answer, "Watoto wazema."?

Why am I here? I am here to teach and learn lessons. I am here to make a difference in the lives of others, and there is no magic number. I will continue to do what I do until I can honestly say, "Watoto wazema!"

Paco's Perspective
You are also here to make sure I get my treats! "Aberi waPaco?"

Sunday, September 20, 2009

I am Not the Fun One

I spent the other evening with friends from work. It was the first of monthly wine nights. There was wine and beer and food and drinking. Lots of drinking. I enjoy alcohol, but I don't enjoy what it does to me. After many years of the "after effects", I choose not to drink.

Unfortunately, choosing not to drink puts you in the category of being no fun. I don't mean to be boring and standoffish; I just am. It has taken many years of parties, nights out, and get-togethers to realize that I am not the fun one. I will not drink myself senseless and do crazy things. I will not dance on the table. I will not jump in the pool with my clothes on (or off). I will not be loud in a public place.

I WILL be the one who says:
"It's all fun and games until someone loses an eye."
"Quiet down, girls, we are in a public place."
"I don't think that table is strong enough for the two of you."
"Do we always have to act out the "Watermelon Crawl" every time it is played on the jukebox?"
"It's getting late, don't you think we should be getting home?"

My sisters are F - U - N! My friends are F - U - N! When we were growing up I was amazed at how much my parents were F - U - N!

I am the sensible one.

I am the rule follower.

I am NOT the FUN one.

Paco's Perspective

I am fun! (twirl) I am fun! (twirl) I am fun! (twirl) Alyssa is fun. She has races with me. Janet is fun. She plays with me on the floor. Caren is fun. She shares her wine with me. You are right! You are not fun, but you are comfortable like a big, overstuffed chair!

Monday, September 7, 2009

My Dog Doesn't Like Me

I never thought I would become a "dog" person. You know, one of those people that worry about and care for their dog more than anything else. I have a long haired chihuahua. His name is Paco. He is my best friend. I talk to him all the time. I don't know what I would do without him. I love Paco, but I don't think he loves me.

Paco loves Alyssa, my friend Janet's daughter. He will follow her anywhere, even to the depths of hell. Alyssa dresses Paco up, wraps him in blankets, yanks on his leash, and locks up in boxes in her room. Paco is put through torture by her and still adores her.

Paco loves Janet. When she is outside, he has to be outside. When she is inside, he has to be inside. He followers her all over the house. The only time he won't get anywhere near her is when she is running the vacuum cleaner or the tile steamer.

When we are in Montana, Paco is crazy for my sister, Caren. He will hike through thistles, run up mountains, and jump in the lake, if Caren tells him.

Paco will hang out with me, if I am the only one around. He sleeps with me, but only because he is afraid to jump off the bed onto the tile floor. I don't think he likes me, I believe he thinks he has a responsibility towards me. He lays just outside my bedroom door and guards me. When he is outside with Janet he has to come in and check on me. Paco wouldn't follow ME to the depths of hell, through thistles, up mountains, or in lakes unless I had treats. But that's okay, I still love him. Paco reminds me of past boyfriends. Treat me like dirt and I will still love you. I never thought I would be co-dependent on a pet.

Paco's Perspective

Alyssa shares her pbj, Fritos and cottage cheese with me. Janet is the alpha. Janet also makes sure that Dave gives me his ice cream bowl. Caren gives me wine and licks of her ice cream cone. Of course I have a responsibility towards you. You are my pet. I made a commitment to you the day I got you. I will care for you until the end. I don't lick the inside of just anybody's ears. Stop your whining!