Tuesday, January 24, 2012

"Report Card for Parents"

School report cards are just one lens through which to measure children

Sometimes I forget how stressful it is to be a student. Tomorrow my boys begin their semester finals and soon after will face the "moment of truth." Report cards will come home, and we’ll know just how well they’ve measured up to the academic challenges of high school.

It’s been years since I received a report card—at least I thought it had been. Just a few days ago I was cleaning out old files and came across copies of a “Report Card for Parents” that Grant and Mark had each filled out for me (http://tiny.cc/z1bee). Back in the day, I was a pretty good student, so I was very disappointed to see that Mark, addressing the report card to “Mrs. Perry,” had given me one glaring “F.” (My turn to be stressed.) Evidently, I failed at watching TV with him. Ouch. Grant had given me a failing grade in the same area. Double ouch.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Are your friends durable?

Challenging, monotonous, and unexpected moments help create durable friends

“Are your friends durable?” my friend Ruthie used to ask her children when they invited friends to come over. One of her sons was mentally challenged, often making him difficult to be around, and not just any so-called friend could handle the chaos and messes and uncomfortable moments he created. Having a brother like theirs provided those kids with a litmus test for identifying potential friends, sorting through them perhaps more quickly than they might have without him in the picture. But awkward moments pass, and kindness can be faked. If nothing else, people can excuse themselves and go back home. 

Real friends—durable friends—are not found but rather created over time in the crucible of tough circumstances such as sickness, stress, or sorrow. Any one of these can strip us down to the nails, exposing the real structure of our foundation.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Too efficient

Sometimes efficiency can go too far

I have an enviable little device in my kitchen that’s connected to our built-in vacuum. Whenever I sweep the floor, instead of using a dustpan, I just kick a little lever, and WHOOSH--away goes my pile of dirt through a labyrinth of pipes and into a canister in the garage. If I mistakenly suck up something I shouldn't have, I can rifle through the nastiness and retrieve it if I really have to. Efficient. 

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Swimming, driving, and kissing

Some things simply must be practiced in the moment

Some things just take practice. To illustrate this principle to my colleagues, I once created a presentation using three examples of activities that can only be mastered by doing: swimming, driving, and kissing. Talk about these activities all you want, but unless you actually do them, you’re not going to get any better.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Today I sold part of my soul

The real worth of books is the time spent with them

I could only bring myself to part with the ones I didn’t love, love, love, but I had to do it. We were just getting too many books around here. I had to let go of mostly children and young adult books that had done their job. So, after complimenting myself for purging our house of unused items, I schlepped two big, full boxes into Half Price Books.