Wednesday, March 23, 2016

What I learned on spring break

Spring has sprung!
Spring break has come and gone. The kids are sad. I'm ... I guess surprised at how quickly the time went by? We didn't have big plans, didn't go out of our way to visit all the places and do all the things. I guess that's what it means to be a mom of teenagers, they need less of those things and stuff and want more of sleeping late and command of the remote control.

But, still, there was time for learning. I mean, mostly for me, but for them also. And there were some big lessons learned this year. Like what, you ask?


Like I hate running up hills. More on that later this month, but I started running again and my neighborhood has all the hills. My legs hurt just thinking about them. Sigh.

I learned that lawmakers are accessible. I took my kids to the state capitol to meet our representatives and assert our belief that public education is important. I wanted my kids to know that their government is in their hands.

What my state representative told me was that they never see parents come to them when there are educational issues to be voted on. So, I implore you, people of your state (be that Oklahoma or not), make yourself known. Visit your own state representatives. (That capitol? Belongs to you.) Engage with them. Be informed and give a face to these issues. I was shocked at how easily we were able to gain an audience with our lawmakers, how ready they were to engage with us. I was also shocked to hear that they don't seek out the opinions of their constituents when issues arise that might be controversial—I would think that would be a thing. I think lawmakers should be proactive. Is there a bill coming up that will localize control of each school district? Maybe the lawmakers should reach out to the experts, the leadership of the school districts within the government district and ask for feedback. Is that not why we elected them as our representatives?

Your vote matters. Your voice matters. So be heard.

I learned that editing a book at the library will get you funny looks. Especially when that book is bound in an uncorrected proof, marking it up with a red pen or drawing on blank pages will cause the librarian's hearts to skip a beat, and not in a good way. During a recent trip to the my local library, I brought along some work to occupy me while the kids were busy searching for books.

But, it's kind of fun if you're in the mood to thumb your nose at authority, even in a not really doing anything wrong sort of way.

Because that's the kind of rebel I am.

My dog is an awesome goalie. I kick the ball and she prefers to catch it in her mouth. Ouch.

I learned that my bird feeder brings all the birds to the yard... including a turkey. Slim Shady has been by to visit the bird feeder on a daily basis this week. My neighbor first saw her in my driveway and texted me about it. I ran out the door to catch a look and was completely taken aback by how big the thing was. I didn't stand next to it, but I think if I had, Slim Shady would have been as tall as my waist. That's a big turkey. Oh, and why 'Slim Shady?' Because by the second time the turkey came around, I was singing: "Guess who's back? Back again. Shady's back—tell a friend." I think Eminem would approve.

She's been hanging around the neighborhood, driving the dogs mad and scaring me because of the NPR Poultry Slam story about a turkey who terrorized a neighborhood. Not even kidding.

I learned that a yard full of scrubby Black Jack oak trees will make a person wistfully miss their former yard, with its two simple Bradford pear trees, the source of much derision by others.

Those damn Bradford pear trees are popping up all over, flowery and leafy and green and white, while my scrubby trees are brown. No harbingers of spring, these sad trees.

And just when I'm about to give up on my trees, the buds start popping. Slowly. These trees are here to teach me patience. This is about all I've got so far, tiny little pops of sort of green. I know it'll be soon that I look out the window and the grayish brown trunks will be topped with rustling green leaves and I'll wonder how I missed it. At least I hope so.

And speaking of lessons? I learned that the words will be there when you need them, if you know how to find them. I was sorting through those "this day in history" posts and found a sweet update made to my Facebook wall by a friend last year.

This post was a part of those wave of kindness things—like this post and I'll tell you why you're awesome—that we all need every now and then to buoy our egos. This one came to me at a point when I was overwhelmed and my self-talk was particularly absent. I needed this kick and I'm so thankful for it.

I guess the big thing I learned over spring break is that the lessons you need will be there when you need them if you know where to look. What have you learned?

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