Destiny and Metamorphosis

5

May 13, 2019-

A dear friend posted, on another media site, that we are ever in a state of metamorphosis.  This has nothing to do with the shape-shifting that was all the rage, on television and in film, as recently as two years ago (“Game of Thrones”, “Power Rangers”, etc.)  Metamorphosis is best-seen in terms of growth.

I have also read quite a bit, elsewhere, on narcissism.  I once had a touch of that affliction.  My mother never let that horse out of the gate.  She told us that one who regards self as above reproach is dead in the water.

That’s true beyond doubt.  In the course of dividing up the contents of a bin, I re-read some old papers from my administrative and college-teaching days.  One, invaluable, summary of my students’ evaluation of a rather paltry teaching effort, in 2009, pointed out that I trended towards hidebound monotony, complete with soft, unchanging voice, in presenting what should have been a vibrant, challenging course.

When I returned to teaching, after Penny’s passing, the presentation became more vigorous and engaged.  The old dog had to master new tricks.

Likewise, in younger years, my disciplinary tactics included the bellow, and a harsher tone.  Being a full-time counselor “metamorphosed” my demeanor towards favouring my empathic side, and the hardness of my teacher training went out the window.  I have kept that empathy, yet have also learned to employ a modicum of taking people to task, when that appears necessary, though without being rough or demeaning.

Nowadays, my life-change continues. I am in the process of giving many of my professional materials to others.  Work, as I have known it for the past forty-three years, has a light at the end of its tunnel:  One and a half years remain, until my focus becomes largely travel-journalism and Work Away-based, with a healthy mix of family, perhaps even grandparenthood.  There may be some money, in the former, but I am not worried about that.

My destiny, it seems, has always been to go forward, to build bridges and to not be held to anyone else’s notions of success-no matter how well-meaning those may be.  This may require a few more positive life-changes.

 

Tantrums

11

November 1, 2016, Prescott-

The classroom quiet is broken,

by a ten-year old,

telling his teacher

that black is white,

up is down, and so,

she should stop arguing with him.

The national stage

is occupied

by cartoon characters,

some dangerous,

others just annoying.

The media ranges

from warnings, of impending

Communism,

from the far right

to shouts of “approaching Fascism”,

from the far left.

I sit beside the child

and show him that black is

indeed, black

and up is, most assuredly,

not down.

Who will guide the nation,

away from the crush

of tantrums?

The Road to 65, Mile 329: Headlong

3

October 23, 2015- After two weeks with my third graders, eight and nine-year-old beings, I am drawing some very definite conclusions about how their world is treating them, and how they are reacting.  I have said, countless times, that adults, especially young adults, tend to look at children as being mini-adults themselves.  The American media persists in addressing children as young as three by their last names, especially in cases of children of colour, and oddly enough, when the child is a victim of tragedy.  There was a tendency, a few years back, to sexualize teens and pre-teens. Fortunately, the media have dialed back on that hideous format, significantly.

I am not so sure,though, about the public-at-large. Kids are still picking up on that message, and our task, as teachers-and as parents, is to guide them away from talk of “relationships” and “romance”, just as we will guide them through it, later on.  There is something, though, in the lives of all too many people, that prompts them to live through others.  There is an impediment, called vicariousity, that lets one off the hook, with regard to owning one’s life and facing up to the comfort zone.

When this impediment involves children, it gets problematic, to say the least.  There has always been “puppy love”, worship from afar, as it were.  When it involves adults cooing in the corner, exchange of phone numbers, social media and spammed “love letters”,however, it can be injurious- to both parties.

So, I discourage the ardent swains, and reassure both them and the targets of their affection that life is not meant to be lived in one fell swoop, that there will be a time in life- in fact, much of life, that friendship can and does entail romance.

The headlong rush, after all, too frequently ends in a crash.

The Road to 65, Mile 220: Cross-Bullying

1

July 6, 2015, Prescott- I read this morning about the “rising phenomenon” of children bullying their parents.  Then, a short time later, a friend wrote me a message that her parent was referring to her in the most vulgar of terms.

This goes back to how I was raised, and how we tried to raise our son.  No two people always get along, and the permutations of social discourse get more complicated with three, four, or ten, in the mix.  The bottom line, though, is respect, Golden Rule, “how does the shoe feel on your foot?”

It’s a given that children regard having limits set as part of their safety net. Limit-free kids are scared, more often than not, and fearful people strike out.  We raised our son with what common sense we could muster, encouraging his curiosity and exploration, and discouraging any tendency to view, and treat, us as eyeball-to-eyeball peers.

I would not have my wife be subjected to abuse, nor she, me.  Son is a fine human being, and I don’t think he would be comfortable with being able to give too free vent to negative attitudes.  In fact, he has said that, all in all, we set reasonable limits.  Likewise, we did not ridicule or catcall at him, something that I have seen far too many people my age do with their children, in the name of “honesty” or “free speech.”

Millennials speak of “adulting”.  I love that generation dearly, and certainly expect that acting one’s age will be de rigeur for them, as it should be for us, and for “Generation X”.  Perhaps the term is natural, though, as we witness so many, from ages 21- 90, indulging in unseemly public behaviour, again in the name of “self-expression” or “my rights”.  For the adult in the room to have plenty of company is a fine thing, and since it happens more often than the media would have us believe, it should be contagious.

My feeling is that, if children see adults being adults, consistently, and if they feel well- and fairly-attended, which means having limits set for them, then there will be less bullying, in either direction.