Wednesday, November 7, 2012

The Day After




So I am reading two books that touch on certain aspects of the state of our United States right now. Swagger by Lisa Bloom and How Children Succeed by Paul Tough.  It is my role as mother that prompted me to read them.  It seems the further I get into mothering these boys of mine, the more years that go by, the more questions I have about how to do it right…or at the very least keep them out of juvenile hall. 

How do I instill a work ethic in them? 

How do I make them want to achieve?

How do I make them understand the concept of simply doing the right thing?

How do I instill in them a social conscience?  Not "be nice to be nice" (as far as I'm concerned, "nice" and a buck and a quarter gets you a cup of coffee) but try to instill the importance of using a portion of your time or money or both to help others who can't help themselves?

How do I help them discover and develop their passion in life and try to chase THAT passion 40 plus hours a week instead of a paycheck or someone else's version of how they themselves should live their life?

The nice part about picking up these two particular books, one based on a personal recommendation from a friend who is also a mother who has raised three boys, the youngest of which now a freshman in college; and the other upon the advice of a dear friend who is not a mother but a very accomplished woman with a very active desire to keep herself aware of our country's issues, is that these books awoke in me a consciousness about ALL of our nation's children.  From the child whose mommy dropped him off at school "before the bell" today in her work-out gear with a kiss, hug, and a back-pack full of completed homework and a healthy lunch, to the child who might not make it to school at all today, not because she's sick or even because she doesn't want to, but because there is no mommy or daddy or auntie or grandma or big brother or sister or anyone to get her there.


And this morning, watching the post-election fodder on the broadcast news and reading about it across social media, the children I find myself thinking about most aren't MINE.  They aren't even OURS.  They're THEIRS - the children growing up and learning in countries that seem to be handily kicking the collective ass of the U.S. in a lot of important areas. 


"It seems like the office of the Presidency isn't what it used to be."  I first pondered to myself while sipping my coffee, then finally said out loud to Jeff.

"How do you mean?"  He asked.

"The country isn't what it used to be."

"Well, I don't think anyone would argue with you about that."

A few more sips of coffee.

"I think maybe the only potential upside is we'll become less of a terrorist target.  Kicking people when they're down isn't nearly as fun, right?"  I am cynicism at its absolute worst when I am worried about something I feel I have no control over.

"I guess that's one way of looking at it."

"Does that bug you when you think about Vince and Nick's future?"

"Of course but what can you do?"

The million dollar question.  What can I do? 

I had to ponder the question for awhile.  I know I can read more.  I can definitely become more informed.  I guess that's something.  For now.  I can be more aware and that awareness will inform how I perhaps augment my sons' public school education.  

For now.

But what about all the other children?



And I'm still left with all these other questions about how I can raise my children right.  Questions that I haven't found answers to in any book.

Questions like: 

How do I make them understand that it doesn't matter what "others" think?  Unless they have committed to sharing a life with said "other".

OR

How do I make sure they don't fall in love with and impregnate some twit who hates me and then try to go off and build a life with her?
      

Oh crap!  That was my outside voice again, wasn't it?



And please don't get me wrong, I recognize that we enjoy liberties here in America, especially as women, that many, many countries do not offer their citizens.  I just wish more of us, myself included, would get off our asses and exercise our freedoms to the benefit of ALL OF OURS.

Maybe it starts with awareness.       


Article examining more aspects on the state of our union from July 2012: http://www.cnn.com/2012/07/02/us/american-exceptionalism-other-countries-lessons/index.html

I am sure there exists more timely reports (though culling together global data is difficult) but a report published in 2009 about how OURS stack up against THEIRS in Math, Science and Reading: