Every Child Needs a Warrior

I helped chaperon my children's team at last weekend's World Cheer Championship. Saturday morning Brosden and Bella needed to meet their mom at 8am sharp to see their cousin who was also performing.

I had the kids up, dressed and fed by 7:50 a.m. and started for the lobby. Brosden asked if he could run up to the room and get his Ipod. At first I said no, but then changed my mind to give him a chance to prove himself and said, "I'm going to bet you can get it and be back in 5 minutes."

He did come back, but not in 5 minutes, getting distracted by whatever it was. As we approached the car at 8:01 with his mom beeping and looking upset, I told him, "I lost the bet. But I'll keep betting on you for as long as it takes."

His faced relaxed and he gave me the warmest smile, and said, "Thanks Dad".

When I made a photo album of the weekend I saw this picture after he and I won a game of pool and were hamming for the camera. I immediately thought:

Every child needs a warrior standing behind them....Someone always believing in them instead of giving up. Someone holding them and guiding them to a higher level versus beating them down to a lower one.

Someone who sees right through all of their flaws, and into all of their greatness lying just below the surface.....

And holding on to that vision until it does surface.

As I walked away from the car I realized that I may have lost the bet, making me look bad in the eyes of some..........But I had won the heart of a boy, making him feel invincible as a great warrior was standing behind him.......

And with this powerful feeling, how can he become anything less than invincible?


But With Enough Love.....

My latest favorite movie is "Dan in Real Life". The last few lines are, "If we're really honest with ourselves, most of our plans don't work out as we had hoped.

So instead of asking our young people, 'What are your plans? What do you plan to do with your life?'
Maybe we should tell them this,

'Plan to be surprised'"

Around me my son feels he can do anything. Away from me not so much. So he's come to live with me for awhile.

Thinking positive and powerful thoughts is one thing. FEELING them because you BELIEVE them is entering a whole new world.....And I've become very good at doing this for others.

As much energy as this takes, it takes even more to KEEP THEM performing at a higher level. But if you can find the strength to do this, holding onto them until THEY develop the inner strength themselves....

...higher and higher levels of thought and performance will follow.......and when they no longer need you, you can finally set them free.

You've done your job.

The benefit to you is that this develops a strong and healthy relationship between two people believing the same thing and working towards its creation.

When I asked Brosden to help me study for my test on our way to pick up Sofia for school, he would do it even when he didn't feel like it.

And then again in the afternoon.

I knew my students would let me study during reading time if I asked them, but before I could ask one after another came to me wanting help getting to the next level of acquiring real knowledge and being able to use it.

What they were trying to do was more than they ever had, including developing their own lesson plans to test their hypotheses....And they were excited about it.

Even though they didn't quite believe they were capable of doing what they trying, I could see that for "God's sake" they really wanted to try.......and for "their sakes" I needed to help them make it happen.

So even though I had planned to do nothing but study after school, I couldn't help charting their progress to show them the next day how their actions and beliefs were making a real difference in their lives.

Since my plans for making time to study weren't working, I planned to make the time I did have work for me and not against.

No time for worry, stress or thinking about what I DIDN'T want to happen....only time for thinking about what I DID WANT to happen.

I saw it as a great opportunity to develop even more inner strength, and who can't use that?

Then something else started to happen. Instead of studying to get something (a passing score), I began studying to receive something (new insights into how I could make my teaching better).

As I received these new insights I immediately was able to give more to my students in the form of better teaching.

The more I read the more I realized that learning a foreign language is no different than learning math, science and reading as a new language, especially how I taught them; to be able to USE them.

Learning is formal knowledge, or knowing about something, like learning how a sport is played.

Acquisition is learning how TO DO something; like being able TO PLAY the sport.

But I planned to take Friday off, and that would be the day that saved me, giving me one full day of studying before the test........

And then I remembered Bella was in the 2nd round of the school speech competition being held on Friday, and I couldn't miss that.

I listened to her tell how her little sister inspires her with her inner beauty, her fearlessness to be herself, and her uncompromising love of life.

She even credited Sofia with giving her the strength to be speaking in front of so many people right now.

Sofia was on my lap watching the whole thing. What a moment! Everyone around me was winning.

Now I had to win one more victory for myself.

The test was going to be multiple choice so I made my practice test harder with short answer questions. On Saturday I had to take 120 questions. I had somehow found time to test myself on 414.

During the test I read such questions that seemed as crazy as, "You have a girl from Korea with a Spanish-speaking squirrel sitting next to a boy from Guatemala with a French-speaking ferret, what association would you join to learn which communicative method is best for a German-speaking goose?"

As I saw one test-taker after another get their scores and realize they failed, I knew I had as many excuses as anyone for failing too, and wishing I had opened up that bottle of wine a week ago.

But the world is already full of excuses for the failures we have. We need more people looking for and fighting for the solutions to the successes we need.

No matter how confusing the questions seemed to be, I still could hold on and make the choice of trying to figure them out instead of giving up and guessing.

I needed to stay strong and not allow any fear, worry or stress to enter my head or stomach. Dreams are dreamt for a reason. Goals that are part of the dream are meant to be achieved.

The ultimate question is, "Can you hold on to yours while others are letting go of theirs?"

To hold onto mine I began to think of all the wonderful things I had witnessed over the past week.

The incredible acts of love, of courage, of hope and heroism by so many children around me......for themselves and others.

I remembered Bella speaking and the hug Ms. Elisabeth gave Sofia. I began to feel it, really FEEL it......like I could pass this test........like I could do ANYTHING I put all of my thoughts and feelings on!

If I can do it for others, I can do it for myself!

By thinking of how much all these children chose to believe in themselves, I chose to believe in myself too.

And I passed the test because of it.

(While Sofia was hunting for eggs, she found her username and password: "Love You" and "You Love"......And people wonder where I get my strength and energy........I am surrounded and filled with absolutely the greatest source of strength and energy in the entire world......POWERFUL, PROBLEM-SOLVING, OBSTACLE-OVERCOMING LOVE)

And with enough love, any test can be passed.

Random pics for the memories


It Didn't Go As Planned

My one day of all-out studying last Saturday didn't quite go as planned.

After I helped my son with his homework, we celebrated his victory of not waiting to the last minute with an intense game of Two-Square before taking him and Bella to practice and then off to their mom's for Easter.

On the way home Sofia was so excited to have me all to herself for the rest of the day and all day Sunday, then started crying when I told her it was her mom's turn with her on Easter.

She loves her mom very much, and her mom loves her just as much right back, but more and more Sofia can't seem get enough of me.

And I can't get enough of her. So we played our own game of Father-Daughter Two Square when we got back.

Even letting Shanghai play

But after awhile I told her I had to pass my test. That's just the way it was. Daddy absolutely has to study.

She was so sweet about it. She told me she would "give me the peace" and watch a movie quietly on the couch.

So I began to study, appreciating how this little 7-year old was being so understanding.......This little 7-year old that I will never again in my entire life have for Easter morning at 7 years old.

I knew I had to find it in me to make this time that will never happen again, a very special time.

I looked at her and told her to put her shoes on, we were going to the store. We were going to color Easter eggs.

I also picked up a bottle of wine that was calling my name, but the stress of not being prepared for the test was calling harder. (But I still found humor in getting to eat out of the monkey bowl)

At the checkout line I was smiling right through my stress and into the eyes of my excited child telling me all the different colors she was going to dye the eggs and how pretty they were going to be.

When I asked our cashier, Rachel, how she was doing she said, "Oh, very stressed", but with a very big smile. I thanked her for that and told her how impressed I was with her for being able to do that.

On the way home we took the back way so we could hit the "go-over-these-slowly" bumps. Sofia ran the show as she would tell me when to punch "The Panther" and hit the bumps fast, making us bounce up and down in the jeep and laugh uncontrollably.

She held the wine so it wouldn't break, but when we unpacked the Panther at home discovered we had put a crack in the milk jug from all our bouncing.

We made the most beautiful Easter eggs that Saturday night while singing Easter songs....

...sharing with Great-Grandma Bette all the different colors in great detail, and feeling great about ourselves.

Trying to sneak into the cookie dough only to discover Dad had beat her to it and busting him for it.

Then going to bed cuddling and watching "Here Comes Peter Cottontail".

After I spent the early morning hiding the eggs as creatively as possible, she spent the rest of the morning hunting them down.

And then delivered them to some very special people.

Ms. Liz and her three children.

Ms. Elisabeth, who gave Sofia the most heart-warming hug when she received her egg. And Cristina, who had joined us by then as their mother had come to pick up Sofia, asked me as we got back into the car what was wrong with Elisabeth's face.

I told her she was born that way, and asked her wasn't it beautiful how she and Sofia hugged each other?

Wasn't it beautiful how real beauty shines through, knowing no bounds?

We couldn't find Santa Dave or Ms. Deborah, but Tom who runs the gas station knew where Deborah sleeps and said he'd deliver her egg to her at the end of his shift.

I shared with Cristina that Deborah's daughter committed suicide years ago, causing her to lose it and go "crazy", and has been living on the streets ever since, and no one has ever seen her smile. Tom told me that when he gave her the kids' Christmas card back in December, he saw a smile cross her face briefly.

As I packed the girls into mom's car I knew I had had a very good Easter, and now it was time to get done what studying I could.