Dealing With The Non-Believers….

I am going to go out on a limb and saying that our family was pretty fortunate for the run we had.  Far too many families have had to deal with the non-believers way before their time.  I could blame social media or television.  Spying eyes over your shoulder while on Pinterest is a killer for sure.  Stupid adults and their blabby mouths…  But really, it’s the stinkin’ kids.  They are the ones that ruin it for everyone.  Older brothers and sisters, caught up in a rage, blurt out non-believer hypocrisy.  Then the angry younger brother takes it to the playground….it’s used as a weapon.  A shame inducing weapon of words…. No, they don’t move by themselves!  He does NOT come the first day of December from the North Pole.  If he was really real don’t you think he would find a way to escape being trapped behind the sliding door of the pantry???  Sigh.  It’s over.

Sixth grade.  We made it through the sixth grade holiday season with both of the kids.  I hear rumblings every now and then that last year my son didn’t believe…. yeah, right.  I saw your face.  You may have been thinking about it, but you weren’t quite sure.  Not ready just yet.  Boy I love you for that.  Thank you, both of you, for giving your dad and I such pure magic.

I am proud to say that our elves came WAY before the Elf on a Shelf/Pinterest era.  We were all on our own with Silver Spurs who arrived one day with sincere caution and trepidation from a wide-eyed kindergarten girl.  She already knew what he was capable of doing – she had seen it with her own eyes.  A mischief maker.  Brought to our home.  A sly fellow who could get all kinds of pissy when the food diligently left out for him was not up to his liking (it took us a long time to realize that the thin gingersnaps were what he was after).  Silver Spurs never disappointed.  He didn’t come with any crazy rules or guidelines.  Some days he brought small treats like a few Hershey Kisses.  The next day he dumped every single book out of the bookshelf in the playroom (he was bored I guess).   He has camped out on the sofa in front of the TV, done yoga, roasted marshmellows….  And some days he did nothing.  Nothing.  And that was ok, too – patience my dear friends.  Patience.

We “adopted” two additional elves one year from Marshall’s as an experiment to see how Silver Spurs would receive them.  They all played well together, thankfully.  I’m glad we added on because we did “lose” our beloved Silver Spurs to the sliding pantry door a few years back.  Looking forward to the kitchen renovation to get him back….

man down
man down

But now….non-believers.  Well, I am having none of that.  And neither are the surviving elves.  We are doing it In honor of our  {temporarily} departed Silver Spurs….

What do you do with two eye-rolling, huffing, whispering, hypocrisy-embracing, critical, quasi-grownup teenagers?  You hit back.  HARD.

I’ve got my stash of tiny candies and gum…..I am already laying the groundwork and luring them into complacency.  They have been warned….

“Start paying attention to us if you want more candy.”

No response.

“We have been holding this container of gum for 24 hours … there will be consequences for your lack of action.”

Nothing.

Do they not know me?  Are they underestimating my ability to get what I want?  Are they too caught up in their snarky non-believing teenage world to play along? Silly, silly teenagers.  THIS is the magic of Christmas.  Not the clothes from Scout and Molly’s or the new Nike Airs….It’s the fun, and the laughter, and the joy.

All I can say is game on, peeps.  Game. On.

this is child's play....time to bring the smack down
this is child’s play….time to bring the smack down

 

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Privileged White Woman’s Obligatory Thanksgiving (and all I am grateful for…..) Post

I’ve done it before so I’ll try not to get all judgey judgey …. Oh who am I kidding – I love to judge.

I am about done with the Gratitude posts on social media.  It is the cynical side of me rearing her head again, but really?  My guess is that if you have FB and Instagram and Twitter accounts….AND internet access….. we know you have a roof over your head, warm clothes in your closet and food on your table.  Not status worthy – step up your game, peeps.  We are the 5% ers, the 1%ers…..surely we can look deeper.  Challenge yourself.  I’ll go first.

This year I am Thankful for……

Every single challenge and difficulty I have in my life.  (yes, including the f-ing brain tumor).  Without them I would be stagnant.  And boring.  And I cannot think of two worse things to be.  I have to adjust and adapt,  change and flow.  I have to problem solve and to strategize.  I have to feel (deeply), embrace those feelings and keep on moving.  I have to find resilience.  I have to acknowledge my strengths and my weaknesses.  I have to be smart.

Friends who bring their worries to me.  It is humbling to be a confidant for another person.  It means I am doing some things ok and some people see me as trustworthy.  It means I have emotional gifts to share.  It means I can think BEYOND myself for awhile.  Others’ worries fill my mind and heart and soul so I can pray and reflect…..and so I can refuse to be selfish.

CNN.  Just joking.  I hate CNN.  Especially Don Lemon. But I am grateful to be able to see uncomfortable images on television that challenge my complacency.  I am especially grateful to be able to process events that divide people so I can see more clearly where my own heart lives.  I am thankful for diversity of beliefs, ideology and experience.

Children.  My children.  Your children.  Children I serve in Rohr Rockstars.  They give me a landing place for my prayers and intentions.  They remind me to be engaged.

Cellulite and Zits (working on wrinkles….those are newer).  Yep.  You heard me.  Why?  Because they are a part of me.  I have lived on this Earth for 43 years and I am have earned them.  Why should I be embarrassed?  I’m not.  If you are embarrassed for me then boy oh boy…. you need a private blog post all for you.  Seriously, every flaw in my body is an opportunity to practice self-love and self-compassion.  I cut myself a break so I can cut OTHERS a break.  Get it?

OK, I’m done.  Hitting that yoga mat for Butterball Bootcamp so the gratitude can ooze out of me…oh wait, that’s sweat……

Privileged White Woman Crosses Over…..Sees a Vision, Hears Voices

Here is a really fun fact – if you look up the definition for community service on dictionary.com, this little gem is the first meaning….

nouna punitive sentence that requires a convicted person to perform unpaid work for the community in lieu of imprisonment.

Nice.  Punitive, unpaid and imprisonment.  Well sign me up!  Time for a new word, don’t you think?!

Mary has opened my eyes and absolutely changed my heart.  I will never view my world, our world, the same again.  Thank God for Mary.  There is nothing punitive, or unpaid, about my time with her.  And everyday I do hope to avoid imprisonment….that’s just a personal goal of mine.

{If you don’t know Mary yet, check out the previous PWW posts to become acquainted}

Mary is not my only conduit to the unseen (and unheard) side of my city.  There are others who are part of the growing problem of generational poverty that moves along the outskirts of all of our niceties.  This is not the middle class.  This not the lower middle class.  This is the generationally poor.  We had never met before, and now I am humbled to be able to walk along side them.

There is Daisy and her grandmother Eugenie.  Daisy is 5 with neuroblastoma.  If you know anything about childhood cancers, that statement alone should break your heart.  Daisy is a wild child – full of herself, full of life, full of IT.  I absolutely adore her, and she wears me out.  She has refused the gifts I have given her – the books specifically – “I don’t want she no books Miss Trish”.  She also hates the letter F….. guess I overplayed that one!  She wants attention.  She wants love.  She wants human connection and touch.  She wants to use her imagination.  She wants to play.  So we do.  We talk about baby dolls.  We play restaurant.  We made a water habitat for her two worms (brown string she pulled from a baby doll’s head).  We floated them and named them.  We took them in and out of the jar.  Eventually they had to be separated because the boy worm was kissing up on the girl worm, and she was getting a baby in her belly……I told you she was a firecracker!  Daisy has no letter recognition, sound recognition, number recognition.  She cannot write her name or sing the alphabet song.  She is going to be in Kindergarten in two weeks…

Eugenie has legal custody of Daisy and her brother Thomas.  Their mother lost her rights to raise her children.  I didn’t ask why.  Eugenie does not have a job.  She does not have a car.  She has very little money every month (think in the hundreds of dollars).  She travels with Daisy to every single doctor appointment on the bus, plastic shopping bag in hand with her important papers and letters.  She has found a way to provide a stable, clean home.  She feeds her two grandchildren, and she loves them very much.  She worries about them and wants them to achieve in school.  Eugenie herself is uneducated by any standard.  She does her best and she deserves my, and your, respect.  She is voiceless and invisible.

work that someone does instead of going to prison…

I am not serving these people.  That is insulting.  I am their partner.  I am the one who has the connections and the education and the resources and the money.  I can network on their behalf.  I am walking along with them.  I am staying for the long haul.  I am not dropping a few books in their lap, never to return.  I am engaging them.  I am talking to them.  I am listening to them.  We are holding hands.

I am obsessively thinking about a vision for renewed philanthropy….a model (a challenge really) to the PWW community.  We can put a dent in generational poverty – haven’t I already?  isn’t it really THAT simple?   WE can touch lives, hear voices and walk hand in hand to address the poor state of public education in many communities, high dropout rates, teen pregnancy, crime, poor health, obesity, homelessness.

Do philanthropic endeavors need financial resources?  Yes.  Keep writing checks.  And if that is all you can do right now, then do that with gusto.  And if you can do more……..if you are truly a PWW then I challenge you to start thinking.  With whom could you hold hands?

Only the beginning, my friends.  Let’s join hands.

American Psychological Association (APA):

community service. (n.d.). Dictionary.com Unabridged. Retrieved October 13, 2014, from Dictionary.com website:http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/community service

Chicago Manual Style (CMS):

community service. Dictionary.com. Dictionary.com Unabridged. Random House, Inc. http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/community service (accessed: October 13, 2014).

Modern Language Association (MLA):

“community service.” Dictionary.com Unabridged. Random House, Inc. 13 Oct. 2014. <Dictionary.com http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/community service>.

Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE):

Dictionary.com, “community service,” in Dictionary.com Unabridged. Source location: Random House, Inc. http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/community service. Available: http://dictionary.reference.com. Accessed: October 13, 2014.
life

Privileged White Woman Crosses Over…. Gets Slapped

Slapped upside the head.  I can’t think of a better phrase for how it felt this week as I ventured further into my new role of Privileged White Woman Who Reaches Out to Others….

My friend I wrote about last week is in the hospital.  Pain associated with her sickle-cell disease got the better of her, and so she has spent the past 3 days trying to get that under control.  Mary (she needs a name because I need you to feel her story) came to the clinic for pain by herself.  Mary was admitted to the hospital by herself.  Mary spent the first 2 days in the hospital by herself.  No one brought her PJs or clothes or books.  She is only 17.  Her visitors have been the nurses, the doctors, the child care specialists.  I was able to spend some time with her this week and so did my amazing cohort (let’s call her Wonder Woman).  We brought her soup.  We brought her school work.  We are working on those PJs and maybe a warm coat.  It wasn’t enough.  You could hear it in her voice.

Let’s step back and drop all judgement.  Don’t judge her mom – Mary doesn’t.  She wishes her mom were there.  Her heart hurts that she can’t be….and yet she understands.  Mary understands because she sees how difficult it is for her mom.  Mary mentioned again about getting help for her mom – help to find a place of her own.  Mary’s mom is overwhelmed.  It is that simple.

Now, fellow Privileged White Women (and by women I mean men, too.  I’m lumping you in because we always get lumped into your pronouns so this is just a little but of feminist payback.  xoxo) let me point out to you that this sense of being overwhelmed is NOT, I repeat NOT, our overwhelmed.  It is not because we are frantically running the kids everywhere they need to be while trying to get a good dinner on the table, and take the dog to the vet, and schedule the tutor for the week, and wash the uniforms for all 50 sports, AND get the Halloween decorations down from an attic that is so stuffed with crap you can’t find anything because last year October was a bad month because of the hubby’s tumor and you just threw that shit up there willy nilly…..

OK, you get the picture.  At least maybe you are starting to get the picture.  I know I am seeing glimpses, slices, pieces…  If I saw everything all at once I might actually grab a box of some sort, head on down to Trade and Tryon with a bullhorn and start yelling my frustrations.  Of course then my fear of being insane and not knowing it may become realized and that’s not going to do anyone any good.  Baby steps.

Mary cannot count.  Did I mention that?

Ever since I met her, Mary has been telling me that she does not know how to make change (as in when you are given $20 for a bill that is $12.18….)  Being the PWW I assumed (ass_u_me) that she needed a strategy to get from $12.18 to $20.00, right?  The way we fellow PWWs do it – start at $12.18 and add-on coins/bills until you get there.  So what did I do?  I delivered a very realistic set of play money (because she is 17 and it is insulting to use the baby money – I went for the good stuff).  Along with it I had practice worksheets for her –  leveled (in order) so she could start easy and work through harder and harder problems.  I even included an answer key in case someone else was helping her or she was working alone.  All printed out, sorted, stapled together in a nice new folder…..because that is what WE DO – PWW find the solutions to a problem.

Wrong.

Mary can’t count by fives.  Or tens.  Or twenties.  Fingers are needed to count by ones.

Shit.

Slapped upside the head.

Mary is convinced that learning to make change is the key to her better future.  If she can make change, she can get a job,  If she gets a job, she has money.  Money to give to her mom, money for her.  It is about the money because it is about survival.  Survival with just a little bit extra for some lipstick ….is that too much to ask?

I’ve crossed over for good and my whole life has changed.  I’m not giving up my PWW status and all of my beautiful issues that come along with it – no way.  I am just acknowledging who I really am and the life I really am leading.  I am thankful, sure.  But who cares about that.  What matters is using the PWW power (yes, it is about power and influence and education) to change a life or two.  Or a system or two.  Or a community or two.

There is soooooooo much more to come.

Want to cross over just a little yourself?  Pass these stories along to your friends.  Maybe through the telling of stories we can create something bigger.  A PWW movement even …. (hey, a girl can dream!)

Crossing Over {fair warning – I’ve been thinking again….}

My city has a problem.  A big one.  It isn’t an easy problem to see from where I live.  To know it means leaving the idyllic tree-lined streets for another place.  It means acknowledging invisible barriers and roadblocks that exist just beyond the well trodden, and very safe, path.  It lies hidden in places that our SUVs rarely go; it is in the shadows of our neighborhoods.  I have had occasion to see glimpses of this other place.  I briefly crossed over from time to time if a community service opportunity presented itself.  I have handed out food, folded donated clothing and even washed eggs in a freezer.  I crossed over, right?

I do love my city very much – my children are being given a truly idyllic experience as they grow up.  I love that we live in the south where things like manners and kindness and SEC football matter.  I love the landscape, the people, the traditions, the food….. but like most places, big city or small town, there is another side to the places we call home.  This is not new or a revolutionary insight but hang with me on this one.

What is novel is when an opportunity presents itself to someone like me to cross over to the side of the city that deserves to be seen and to stay a while (or sit for a spell).  This side far too often whizzes by as we drive down the road….images blurred just enough to be able to justify its lack of existence. I have been an outsider in parts of my own city but I am coming for a visit now.

There is some quote (I am sure it is one of my 516 inspirational images I have pinned to my “Quotes” board on Pinterest – gag!) about change lying just outside what is comfortable.  To move in the direction of uncertainty and fear and towards the unknown is when advances can be made.  I have lived this ten fold starting and running a nonprofit that serves a population I have very little experience with – families with the crisis of a child battling an extended illness.  It’s a tough group with a lot going on.  But I found my comfort in the beginning in two things – I am an excellent educator with many years of experience and all of my early families were just like me.

Believing in the power of education is something I have known since I was a little girl.  And I know exactly why it was important, and I know exactly why I have always had confidence in my ability to learn and to grow. I am not sharing my secret now – I’ll make you read another blog post on that one – but it is the cornerstone in my opinion of successfully educating our children.  Education gives rise to hope.  It is the harbinger of inspiration, connection and confidence.  Every child deserves this gift.  Every child.  Voila – Rohr Rockstars.

Serving families just like me is easy.  OK, not eeeeeasy but easy.  They get it.  Education = Opportunity.  It truly is that simple.  Everything begins and ends with education.  I challenge you to think of something important, some issue, some problem that could not be solved with education.  Tough to come up with, right?  That is why you and I are alike.

I want to introduce you to a new person in my life.  She is 17 years old and has sickle-cell disease.  There are serious challenges to living with  this chronic illness including fatigue and chronic pain, among other things.  Children with SCD can be hospitalized for pain crisis and tend to miss quite a bit of school.  Imagine how difficult it would be to learn with fatigue and generalized pain just beneath the surface…..my friend knows what this is like.  Throughout her life she has dealt with doctor visits, hospital stays, blood tests, painful days…and she has missed school.  Quite a bit actually.  The thing about this disease is that she was never out for a long enough period of time to receive any additional support from the public school.  She never “qualified”.  Oh my.

It is also very important to know that she lives with only her mother and her father is not present in her life.  She has three younger siblings with different biological fathers.  She does not have permanent, stable housing.  She does have a loving mother who is overwhelmed.  She is fed and clothed.  She is also mostly on her own.  My friend takes care of herself.  She rides the bus to her doctor appointments alone.  She only has three HS credits, cannot count money and was asked to leave her assigned public high school because she is simply too far behind.

She is also bright and wants to achieve a better life.  She wants a job.  She wants to help her mom.  She knows, she articulates to me, that education is how she will get there.  She tells me via text how much she wants her high school diploma, how frustrated she is with the school system and how the system failed her because her circumstance was difficult.  Her words, not mine.  A child who wants an education has been failed by our schools.  I know she is not alone.  I’ve crossed over.

Right now she and I are working on a plan together to get her to her goal of a high school diploma.  She has an amazing social worker from her doctor’s office who is also on the team.  Her team.  She is now part of my community, and I am part of hers.  I am not giving her a one size fits all approach.  I am not insisting she use technology.  Or a traditional school setting.  I am not giving her a generic solution, a one way path.  I am giving her a chance to find her way, her options, her best place in this world.  Isn’t that what education is all about?

I want to share her story with you as we journey along together, as well as others that I meet.  Maybe something will resonate with you.  This is not about me  – it is all about giving a glimpse into what it is like to leave everything behind – all assumptions, all well-meaning intentions, all preconceived ideas – and to step into a place where you work alongside others on their path in life.  You don’t need to save the world (if I had a nickel for every time I hear that jab…why is it a jab by the way?  another blog post…)

I think I will start a new blog series…(sounds professional if nothing else!)  I’ll call it “Privileged White Woman Reaches Out to Others and It Isn’t Even Scary”.