Channeling Yoda?

I friend posted about love and not accepting hate. This whole “hate” thing has come up a lot lately. The idea of a “hate crime” repulses me, as if it’s ok to hurt someone physically as long as you don’t hate them. Hate probably is on the rise. I’d agree with that, but why is the real question. I think I have an idea. We are repressing fear and anger, and then disallowing the natural results.

Think about a child through a peaceful parenting lens. When a child comes to you with big nasty feelings like, “I hate Bobby! He’s mean and ugly!” or “I hate you Mom because you won’t let me go to the park by myself!”, what do we do? Do we yell back and say “You can’t hate. It’s wrong and terrible!”? Some people might, but peaceful parents don’t. We realize as peaceful adults that everyone has those nasty feelings of hate and we know where they typically come from. We help our kids by validating their feelings, holding them close, and hearing them out without judgment. We let the light in on it, so to speak. Then we can start to talk about where those thoughts came from and whether or not they are really justified.

Maybe he doesn’t really hate Bobby, it’s just that Bobby wouldn’t give him some of his candy and he was so disappointed that his friend would share. Then we can explore how to handle that nasty feeling of being disappointed. The hate is gone. With kids fear, disappointment, and anger can be swept quickly together and boiled into hate in an instant because they are kids.

With Mom, it’s something else but very similar. You know he feels like he’s being treated unfairly, we acknowledge that. We don’t say, “You can’t hate me!” because we know he can very well hate us. To deny that is to deny the reality of his feelings. We need to accept that at the moment he does hate us. Those feelings are very real and powerful. Then we can explore how we got to that hate. We can go back through the situation, see new things, make some explanations, and move on to a better feeling.

Recently, I’ve found that most people today haven’t had peaceful parenting practiced on them growing up. We all could use a bit of extra love even when we’re hateful and mean. We don’t need one more person telling us that our feelings aren’t real and are unwarranted. We need the time and light to explore why we feel this way safely and come to our own conclusions. I find that giving people space to hate and be angry, validating their initial reactions to things, tends to help people work through the fear and anger that caused them to hate something or someone in the first place more than condemning them for having the feeling in the first place.
Love and respect of everyone’s feelings whether we agree with them or not leads to others doing the same. And loving others in a world of people hating is a great place to start. I’m just trying to expand on that idea and explore how we might reduce the rise of perceived hatred in this world.
I’m sure you’d respect justified hate. A human’s first reaction to the unknown is usually fear and anger. Yoda says that! It’s instinctual, a survival skill of days gone by and probably should be explored. If you accept the feeling of fear and anger, validate them, they are explored better. Unexamined fear and anger can lead to hate. Sometimes that’s a good thing, like when we find out about pain or lima beans, explore them, and come to a hateful conclusion. The only way back from hate is to embrace it with love so that it feels safe to explore. When we feel safe to express our true feelings, generally those feelings change. I can really look at them in the light and see if I need to change my heart towards something. Few people that really know another in person can hate that person (unless you’re talking about ants. I really hate them no matter what, but that’s really a thing, not a person.)
That doesn’t mean condoning violence or aggression towards others. I can feel something and not act on that feeling. Much violence is repressed and unacknowledged hate from anger, which comes from fear and causes suffering. (again, I must be channeling Yoda today). Just as when a child who is told he cannot hate or be angry becomes more outwardly violent towards those around them, so does the adult that isn’t allowed to feel the way he feels. You just cannot repress feelings without dire consequences.

Family

From “The Closing of the American Mind” by Allan Bloom

“In family questions, inasmuch as men were understood to be so strongly motivated by property, an older wisdom tried to attach concern for the family to that motive: the man was allowed and encouraged to regard his family as his property, so he would care for the former as he would instinctively care for the latter. This was effective, although it obviously had disadvantages from the point of view of justice. When wives and children come to the husband and father and say, “We are not your property; we are ends in ourselves and demand to be treated as such,” the anonymous observer cannot help being impressed. But the difficulty comes when wives and children further demand that the man continue to care for them as before, just when they are giving an example of caring for themselves. They object to the father’s flawed motive and ask that it be miraculously replaced by a pure one, of which they wish to make use for their own ends. The father will almost inevitably constrict his quest for property, cease being a father and become a mere man again, rather than turning into a providential God, as others ask him to be.”

He’s also not saying we should go back to the idea of women and children as property, but he has a point. They system worked in its way. It satisfied one natural need and we can’t just discard it like rubbish and expect to have the same outcomes of secure families. I guess what people think is that secure family attachments aren’t necessary. Mother’s aren’t exactly necessary to children to grow up in the world and become functioning citizens. Father’s aren’t necessary. It all seems so bizarre to me really because I’m a Mother and Wife. I don’t feel owned by my husband as property. I feel protected and respected for my role in our family. I don’t think my husband feels used as a provider of income. I feel like we work as a team. Hmm…Something is wrong in this world, though. Families aren’t the strength they used to be. We keep the older generation out of the current and the younger generation away from the home. Husbands and wives act as independent machines. It all seems to be going nowhere and no one is happy anymore.

This chapter has been very good to read. There is a lot about the equality of men and women, how things have changed (up until the late 80’s when this was written), and the political/social forces behind the change. Reading it I wonder if things are different now in the colleges and universities. Are entering students worse or better off? From what I see around me, I think it’s worse or at least things have run the natural course they were taking 30 years ago.

What will happen to humanity if we keep insisting that biology doesn’t exist and that we must all be independent citizens of a state instead of interdependent members of a family? It brings to mind the other book I’m reading at the moment, “Kallocain” by Karin Boye. The family situation in that dystopian novel is frightening.

Self Help

I was just listing to the Isaac Morehouse podcast and heard something fascinating. A “placebo effect”. Why don’t we research that more? If our minds have the power to heal us physically and mentally, then why wouldn’t we be researching how to actively make that happen? I’ve been given a sugar pill and told that it is an anti-depressant. I feel better and go about my life making other people happy, being productive. The power of my mind did that, not the pill. So why not figure out what that is and how it works? Some people have. There are loads of positive thinking books, meditation techniques, etc., but most people including scientists just dismiss the idea. Is it because something like this would set people free from a drug company or medical profession? Is it because having the knowledge and wherewithal to know how to start curing yourself would make you an independent thinker? If I knew I could change my way of thinking and create a better world for myself mentally and physically, I may not ask a physician for help when I really need it, right? Why? Why not raise humans that know themselves well enough to say, “Hey, this isn’t working. I may need more help.” and then go get that help. I’ll tell you why I may not ask for more help. It’s because I know that the physician or medical professional I end up asking for more help from will most likely disapprove of my trying to handle my own problem first before asking them to cure me. It’s because that person will not take me as I am, a person capable of thinking about and making her own decisions. They will take me a willful child that has attempted to thwart the authority of the doctors. Why not have doctors that support the idea that you would do best to make your own decisions about mental and physical healthcare and then ask for their help when you’ve exhausted your own resources, need a second opinion, or want the point of view from someone outside the situation.

Worst Parents Award!

I recently decided that, according to online articles and advice from other parents, that we are the worst parents ever created. It all started when they were born. I didn’t have a natural birth. I didn’t even plan to! I fully expected to go to the hospital the minute labor started and get an epidural. Labor didn’t progress after 24 hours and then they did a C-Section. Good thing though. The umbilical cord was wrapped around his neck twice. My second son was automatically delivered C-Section because it was a perfectly fine experience for us and it was 17 months after my first birth. Then I didn’t breastfeed either of them. Formula fed sickly kids. We co-slept most of the time because I was just too tired and upset to fight over getting them to sleep in their own beds. It was the path of least resistance. I picked them up when they cried. I tried to understand what they were crying about. I took their wants and needs as seriously as I could without losing my sanity. I didn’t go back to work full-time and put them in daycare so that they got used to being without me. I fed them when they were hungry and usually what they wanted, mostly goldfish crackers, “free” (meaning not on a plate) hot dogs, and cheerios. I didn’t enroll them in a pre-school. And when Kinder came around, we decided to wing it and wait for first grade. Then we decided we were having too much fun to send them to school and homeschooled.

Homeschooling turned into unschooling because, well, to be totally honest it was like fighting an uphill battle to get them to do any kind of school work. They were way too busy building, playing, creating, and going to sit down and go through lessons. So we went with that. I didn’t make them write thank you notes. I didn’t make them write! I didn’t make them wait for every little thing. I didn’t make them do chores around the house or keep a list of things they were supposed to do with gold stars for a check list. I didn’t make them slow down at museums and art galleries. I didn’t make them read all the signs and listen to a docent tour guide at the science museum. Instead we generally went places alone, tore through the place just looking, found something fascinating and spent all our time there, and then went to the gift shop and McDonald’s or Taco Bell. They played sometimes violent video games and watch tv.

And then came the older years, the dreaded teens. I give them an allowance without expecting them to do anything for it. I help them buy what they really want. I wash their clothes and make their beds. I buy whatever food they ask me to get at the grocery store. I bought them not just cell-phones but smart ones and they have Facebook and Instagram accounts. They play video games (sometimes all day) and they use dirty language and tell dirty jokes. They use the internet freely and without filters. They don’t have a to-do list. Basically, they go around doing what they want to do while I do the same.

It all sounds pretty bad. According to the internet, my children should be some kind of horrible illiterate drug dealers with porn addictions and disrespect everyone around them. They should be fat and lazy and unmotivated. Strange though because they aren’t. They are humans and pretty smart and kind ones, if I do say so myself.

They are self-training athlete’s in one of the most demanding sports out there. They’ve chosen a rigorous nutrition and physical training program and repair their own bikes. They’ve chosen to learn four different languages on their own. They read and study and discuss all kinds of topics from history and math to politics and philosophy (when I engage them since that’s my favorite topic). One of them has started going to church with his Grandma because he’s curious what she does there and she seems to need a companion lately. They help around the house when asked. They are kind and compassionate. They are aware of those around them and seek to make everyone comfortable. They play with younger kids when I have friends over to help entertain so that the parents have a chance to talk. They budget money and look for work to boost their income as they can. They aren’t demanding or rude. Basically, they are pretty stinkin’ cool people. I like being around them. And I count them not only as my sons but my friends, which I’m sure they will continue to be even after they are no longer dependent on their Dad and I. I know my husband feels the same way!

I don’t know. I read these articles online about how horrible things will happen if you do certain things for your kids but I’ve found that none of that really matters. What matters is treating children with the respect that you would treat anyone else in this world, being their friend, being their support. Humans are hardwired to learn and become independent and then care for others. What they need is the support to do just that and they will. If you force them before they are ready or treat them as though their needs are less important or reasonable, they will never grow up. I think we all need to stop trying to control children and re-learn how to be there partner in this world. Maybe things would get better if we stop trying to make children’s lives more difficult and try making the world a happier and more peaceful place. Any choice we made with out kids was usually the path of least resistance and we live a nice, comfortable happy life. If this is wrong, I don’t want to be right!

Breathe!

We focus so much on our breath during meditation because it resembles so much of our existence. We feel the breath coming in, pull it closer, and then let it out slowly, experiencing its release. If we did not release that old breath, that breath that was so sweet and perfect when it came to us, we’d suffocate. It has become what would kill us.

There are so many things in our lives that resemble that sweet breath. I’ll take the experience I’m having now, motherhood. You hear people talk about motherhood being forever, that your children are always your babies no matter how old they get. That may be true on some levels. I know that when I look into the eyes of my 6-foot tall 16-year-old son, I still see the “Mommy! Please!” look when he really wants something. I know I will always want to run to his aid and pet his head. But is it healthy for us to not allow that relationship to evolve and grow? My son doesn’t need me to hold his hand to cross the street. He doesn’t need me to be involved in every decision he makes like he did when he was little. Every conquest, every learned skill doesn’t need to be brought to my attention. It used to though and that made my heart so happy. Our lives have been closely connected the last 16 years but as he grows into a man, I know I’m working myself out of a job. I had my first painful glimpse of that this week when I realized he knew people that I didn’t know, and it was a girl. That seemed to make it even worse. The feeling of betrayal washed over me. “You’re only supposed to love me!”, I thought to myself. But that’s not true and we know it. I let the feeling wash over me and leave. I’m excited to see a new side of my son. I’m happy to see him moving out into the world without me, but I panic to think I won’t be there to hold his hand unless he wants me to. Remember that movie, Abyss, when they show the rat breathing the fluid? I feel like that rat. The water is coming up and I know it will soon cover my head. There will be a point that I cannot hold my breath any longer and will be forced to take that breath of fluid. Unlike the rat, the people knew logically that they would be able to breathe that fluid, yet they still panicked. Some more than others. Will I panic? Or will I let the panic wash over me and leave, so that I can breathe easily and continue on to the next place in my life?

Right now I’m taking many deep breaths and remembering them each time. Feeling them come and go reminds me that the old goes out and the new comes in and it’s just as sweet as that first breath. And then I remember I have to go through all of this twice, with my younger son right behind the older. It feels so much like loss but I know, logically, that it’s not. It’s just a change and how that change goes depends largely on how much I panic and fight against it. I’m scared and excited all at once. I’m not sure that I like it at all, but I guess I don’t really have a choice, do I?

My Sons Race Motocross

My sons race motocross. Those words seem to strike terror in the heart of other mothers almost as much as if I said “My son is a drug dealer.” It’s so strange to me and it’s not because it doesn’t scare me when they are out there on the track, as if I’m oblivious of the risks involved. If I said, my teenage son plays football or drives to work every day, no one would ask my why I let them do that. And those activities are just as risky, if not more so because people don’t see them as a risk. People take risks. They just do. Hopefully they are calculated risks that have the potential to bring them happiness but that isn’t always the case. Teenagers are more inclined to take risks, not because they enjoy being difficult but because it is part of the growing up process. If they didn’t take risks, they’d never fully mature into adults. As people mature (not always as they get older) they stop taking as many risks. It’s just life. Everyone has the thing that makes them happy. Finding it is the key. For my sons, it’s motocross and not just riding but racing. Lucky for us, both the boys love the same sport and there is no conflict of time, energy, and funds. I think I’ll describe a bit of what they do so that you may get the feeling of why they love it and why we support their efforts.

A few years ago, my Dad and Step-Mom got the boys a small mini-bike. It wasn’t a dirt bike. It was more like a bike built around a lawnmower engine. It had a pull start and wide tires. The boys rode it to death and within a few months were eager to get a “real” dirt bike. Living in the desert on five acres, there was no reason not to comply with that request. They began to scour the internet for a small bike they could ride around the neighborhood or out camping. And they found one right away. The man that sold it to us is still a friend today and hired the boys to do some work around his house so that they could afford to fix up another bike they bought.

So now we were the proud owners of two dirt bikes, then three, and then five. The boys were growing, in size and riding skill, so they were fixing up and outgrowing bikes pretty quickly. They learned a lot fixing up those bikes. Some of them were pretty big projects. One bike needed a “top-end rebuild” and a “resurfaced piston”. And one bike we bought wouldn’t start at all and the guy said he was riding it and it just stopped running. That engine needed to be completely rebuilt. The boys did all this work themselves with little oversight from Dad who works from home and was able to come out and lend a hand when things got tough. My husband is not a motorcycle mechanic but he does know a thing or two about engines. The internet is an amazing thing!

When they finally settled in on a couple of bikes, they really wanted to try out riding at a motocross track. How did they come across this information, I may never know! They found tracks, read about riding there, the rules, the gear they’d need, etc. They practiced riding around the house and the same guy that sold us our first bike came over with a tractor and dug them a track on our property to practice on! They are relentless when they want to do something, so eventually they wore me down with all their information about riding and I told them I’d take them when they could load and unload the truck without help. I’m not strong enough to push bikes up ramps! Of course, they went outside and did it the minute I said it and we began planning a ride day for the next week.

I took the boys on my own to the track during the week because we figured it would be much less crowded than a weekend. I’ve never been so nervous to go somewhere. I asked the guy at the gate what to expect, explaining that we had never ridden at a track before. He was the nicest person I’ve ever met in motocross! He gave us the run down, looked at the boys bikes and gear, and talked to them a bit. He said they’d be fine and to look forward to racing because everyone that tries a track wants to race. Great.

After that first day, we went to the track many times. I found a friend that used to race a bit and he met us there on a Saturday and gave the boys some pointers. That’s when the requests to race started to come up. The idea terrified me and not because I was afraid of them getting hurt. I was afraid for other riders! Most of these guys have been racing since they were four years old. They all work very hard to get on that track and mine had just started riding dirt bikes. What if they did something that got someone else very hurt? Don’t you need training to do this? Where do you even start? The boys knew, of course! Everything they read, watch, and talk about is about racing! We decided to start with hiring a trainer for a day to see if they even had the skills to give it a try. She said they were definitely ready. Sigh.

There was a race series starting in the next couple weeks, so we decided to go as a spectator and see how the whole thing worked. We arrived just after the sun came up and found a parking space. We walked around and talked to people. We watched the races and saw fast and slow riders, big and mini-bikes. The boys talked to the race people and they told them which class they should probably start in and we watched that race. It all seemed pretty do-able, much like Little League but on dirt bikes.

We signed up for the next series and have been going ever since. The boys rarely win but they have a blast every time. We’ve been soaked to the skin in rain and mud, stood there sweating in the 110 degree heat, listened to loud generators all night, and sat in Emergency rooms for hours. But they keep wanting to go back. We spend almost all our extra money on racing and it’s accouterments. The boys train every day. They ride mountain bikes for ten miles. The run a mile a day. They have changed their diet. They joined a crossfit gym and an indoor rock climbing gym. The pay for half of all their bike stuff and gas. They do all their own repairs. We eat, breathe, and sleep motocross.

And through all of it our family is stronger. We spend our weekends together at the track or in the garage. We spend our weekdays together training. They even got me up off the couch! We play cards and guitars after practice, camped out in a parking lot for the next days race. We grocery shop and cook together, trying to eat better and get stronger. They read articles and watch videos about how to ride better and faster. And they challenge themselves at the track. It’s not about winning to them. It’s about being there, a part of something exciting, and getting better every time. We’ve made friends along the way and really enjoy being at the track with them. I can’t imagine our lives without it.

What I wonder is where they will go with all of this? Will they become the next Chad Reed? It’s not likely. But they will be a part of a pretty fun community of people. And I’m sure they will share this love with their families when they are older. I know I’ll love going to the track and watching my grandkids race!

The risk, the pain, the injury’s, the sweat, the tears, the effort; it’s all worth it. It’s worth it to see my sons put their heart and soul into something that makes them so happy and fulfilled. It’s worth it to see the pride in their eyes when they clear that jump or pass that guy. It’s worth it to see their dirty hands in my kitchen sink after a days work of fixing something few 14 year olds even know exist. It’s worth it to see their independence and confidence grow and watch them mature into young men instead of just bored teenagers. My heart hurts for them when they are in pain from an injury, but it soars with them when they get back on that bike and sit in that gate, poised and ready for it to drop.

Why do I “let” my sons race motocross? That’s like asking me why I let them live, love, and breathe.

Kids These Days!

The other day we were stopped in an intersection when the lights turned green because a group of four teens were crossing the street against the red. They leisurely walked and waved to everyone looking pretty darn ridiculous. At first I started to get angry. These kids! What wrong with them?! Then I realized, nothing. They are doing exactly what is expected of them.

These kids have no control over anything in their lives. From what they do all day, what they learn, how they talk, who they socialize with, where they work, and how they spend their money, it is all controlled. How can any human of any age live like that? They do it by taking control by force. It looks hideous to adults and we worry for the future of the human race, like every generation before. But what would happen if we gave kids control of most things? What would happen if we became their helper, their support, and their friend instead of their master and controller? What would happen if we treated kids like humans instead of mentally incapable slaves? Would they still rebel against us in their teens, abandon us when we no longer legally control them at 18, and not invite us into their lives until they are nearly 30 and are well into their own lives? I don’t think so because I know lots of families that have raised their children with respect and equal rights, almost all of them have wonderful relationships and are beautiful people. My own teenage sons included.

Funny that it was my teenage sons that pointed out that those kids walking in the crosswalk against the red light were only reveling in the control they were experiencing over the people around them. I laughed out loud at the realization of the scene, proud to watch them take control (even if it was in a negative way), and cried for the work they have ahead of them.