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Look carefully...at the seemingly small moments...in the constant shaping of souls.- Neal A.Maxwell
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"mom lecture"
"You're going to be mad...  My friend has been doing my math papers for me."

"I'm not mad.  But, I am going to give you a 'mom-lecture'."

"I expected as much."

"Integrity and learning are much more important than grades - with integrity being by far the highest."

"Not for me.  Grades are highest.  Integrity has been pretty much non-existent in my 14-years."

"Well then, you are at a turning point.  Will integrity be a part of your future?  What do you want for your future self?  What goals do you have regarding your first year of high school?..."

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This 8th-grade girl may not have a current vision of her future.  I see distinct possibilites - some good, some not so good, depending on the decisions she makes.  My goal in tutoring her in math is not just to help her through pre-algebra, it's also to help her recognize choices and the power she holds in the decisions she makes regarding those choices.

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"...The course of our lives is not determined by great, awesome decisions. Our direction is set by the little day-to-day choices which chart the track on which we run.

"Many years ago I worked in the head office of one of our railroads. One day I received a telephone call from my counterpart in Newark, New Jersey, who said that a passenger train had arrived without its baggage car. The patrons were angry.

"We discovered that the train had been properly made up in Oakland, California, and properly delivered to St. Louis, from which station it was to be carried to its destination on the east coast. But in the St. Louis yards, a thoughtless switchman had moved a piece of steel just three inches.

"That piece of steel was a switch point, and the car that should have been in Newark, New Jersey, was in New Orleans, Louisiana, thirteen hundred miles away.

"So it is with our lives—a cigarette smoked, a can of beer drunk at a party, a shot of Speed taken on a dare, a careless giving in to an impulse on a date. Each has thrown a switch in the life of a boy that put him on a track that carried him far away from what might have been..." 

From, "Watch the Switches in Your Life," by President Gordon B. Hinckley.  Though initially addressed to young men, it applies across the board.

https://www.lds.org/general-conference/print/1972/10/watch-the-switches-in-your-life?lang=eng

defining choices
4-year old girl told me, "I am going to make a lot of new friends when we move to NY."  When my husband came home from lunch I told him that the girls were moving to NY where they were going to get a lot of new friends.  4-year old looked at me and said, "Make not get."  A very important distinction and very important life lesson that the girls' parents are teaching so very well.

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A new class member joined 5th grade math group mid-year this year.  His first day he was kind of squirrelly.  The class told him, "You need to behave or Mrs. B will send you back to class."  One of the girls added, "She really will too."  I had never sent any of the kids back but I had made it clear being there was a privilege that needed to be lived up to.

Last Tuesday one of the boys crossed the line of appropriateness.  I asked him to go back to class.  He pleaded not to go.  I stated that he needed go.  He pleaded again.  I said, "I will give you a choice, you can walk back to class by yourself or I can walk you to the office."  He chose to go back to class.

This Tuesday a different boy was being a distraction to those he was sitting next to.  I asked him to move to a table by himself.  He asked, "Can I please have one more chance."  Last week's boy said, "She didn't give me another chance."  I said, "I gave him a choice though."  This week's boy said, "Give me a choice!"  A girl said, "The choice will be move or go back to class."  This week's boy looked at me with a startled expression.  I laughed and said, "She's right."  Last week's boy said, "That's a better choice than I got."

Last Tuesday when my 11-year old son came home from school he said, "That boy totally deserved going back to class."  I ran into a mother of a girl in the group.  She told me that her daughter came home from school that day and said that a boy was sent back and that if she were the teacher she would have sent him back too.  I hope this boy comes to recognize that initial choices in life define subsequent choices.

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I get to have the girls each Wednesday because their mom is currently in the hospital and the dad has to work.  Ideally the mom would be with the girls and I would have girls of my own.  Things aren't always ideal.

The mom closed a recent blog post of hers:

"Here is my modified serenity prayer...

God grant me the wisdom to choose the things I can choose.
Grant me patience to accept the things I have already chosen.
Grant me hope as I endure the things I have not chosen.
Help me love those who choose differently.
Bless me with reflection to learn from the past and vision to see clearly the choices ahead of me.
And as I continue to learn and climb, bless me to enjoy my journey.

Life is beautiful.
Choose wisely, and be filled with joy."

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I close my post with excerpts from Elder Neal A. Maxwell's, "Content with the Things Allotted unto Us" :

"...contentment is more than shoulder-shrugging passivity.  It reflects our participative assent rather than uncaring resignation.  The Lord knows our circumstances and the intents of our hearts, and surely the talents and gifts He has given us.  He is able to gauge perfectly how we have performed within what is allotted to us, including by lifting up some of the many surrounding hands that hang down.  Thus, yearning for expanded opportunities while failing to use those at hand is bad form spiritually...

"...within our allotments we see how the saintly display kindness even within barbed-wire circumstances, yet others have barbed attitudes even within opulence...

"...spiritual contentment rests on our accepting the Atonement of Jesus, because we 'have come to a knowledge of the goodness of God, and his matchless power, and his wisdom, and his patience, and his long-suffering towards the children of men...(Mosiah 4:6)'"

https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2000/04/content-with-the-things-allotted-unto-us?lang=eng
Literally
I look forward to Wednesdays - it's the day the girls come.  Each week when it is time to pick 6-year old up from school, 2-year old and 4-year old get jackets on for the stroller ride.  Last week it was raining so I put my 11-year old son's rain jacket on 2-year old.  4-year old wanted a "jacket dress" too so she wore one of my mother's.  Today when it was time to get jackets on 2-year old wanted to wear my son's again.  4-year old wanted to wear my mother's until she realized there were no pockets - then she wanted to wear one of my 15-year old son's jackets.  On the walk 4-year old said, "Tell your son I wore his jacket today."  I said, "I'll say, '15-year-old, 4-year old wore your jacket today,' and he'll say, "But I'm much bigger than 4-year old.'"  4-year old immediately corrected me, "You mean you think he'll say, 'But I'm much bigger than 4-year old.'"


Felt Faces
We recently had to buy, and adjust to, a new computer.  Some things I still don't like.  One of the things I am enjoying, however, is the screen saver slide showThe new computer includes photos the old one did not, therefore I am seeing pictures taken by my oldest that I had not seen before.  I am sending the following two in my weekly letter to him.  I hope they make him laugh, they did me.

100_2369.jpg
(from afar)

100_2367.jpg
(and close-up)
tenacity
15-year set a goal of lettering in track as a Freshman.  To do so he needed to finish 8th or better in a Varsity District Event.  He did not qualify for Varsity in his usual events, javelin, long jump and 300 meter hurdles,  and therefore competed Junior Varsity in those three events.  Nobody from our High School was running 100 meter high hurdles so coach said 15-year old could automatically quality varsity if he ran that event.  15-year old was willing.  He had 4 days to practice.  The day before the event Coach asked 15-year old if he wanted to scratch out of the event.  15-year old said he did notCoach said if 15-year old had any concern before the race he wanted 15-year old to false start and be disqualified.  Coach also said he would have a stretcher waiting at the end, just in case. 

I didn't know if Coach was serious about the stretcher but I knew he was serious about scratching and doing a false start.  I asked 15-year old what would happen if I forbade him to run the event.  He said, "Mom, I am running the event."  I said, "You have stubborness issues."  He said with a smile, "There are no stubborness issues here, my stubborness is alive and well."  I requested he follow Coach's advice and false start if there were any question about completing the race safely.  He just smiled. 

6pm, the evening of Varsities I received a phone call.  I was grateful to hear 15-year old's voice saying, "I ran the race.  I'm okay.  I came in 10th of 11.  The 11th fell out of step and walked off without finishing the race.  15-year old was disappointed to not place in the top 8.  I was grateful he was okay.

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Today was 11-year old's last soccer game of the season.  As an asst. coach I have spent a lot of time with the boys and have come to recognize some strong points and weak points in their playingThis was the first complete soccer season for one of the boys.  In the fall he was struggling to learn the game.  By today's game, though by far not the best player, he was playing his position well and making good moves and playing decisions.  At the end of the game I mentioned to his mother that he was ending the season strong.  She replied that he was not a good player and that although he wanted to play next year she was strongly discouraging it.  As she was speaking I heard the words, "What would happen if I forbade you to run high hurdles?".....

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Home from the soccer game I told 15-year old that I was proud of him for setting goals and working toward achieving them.  He tilted his head and asked, "Where did that come from?"  I told him I was sorry I had not been more supportive of his running the high hurdles.  He nodded in agreement that I had not been supportive and then related that the hurdle coach said that by senior year the highest achieving hurdlers are not necessarily those with the most talent but those who were willing to stick with it.  A truth that can be applied to so many aspects of life.

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