Dancing is Not to Get a Place on the Floor- But to Enjoy Each Step Along the Way
A few people have asked me recently: “Why should I burden myself with the problems afflicting other peoples kids?” Trust me, Darrell and I are holding a heavy load that we bravely carry daily. But, I will ALWAYS be Justin’s mother—which also makes me a Mom. For those of you who know me—I will always instinctively give mothering guidance to others—just as I did for Justin and for my friends—this is my letting me BE!!!!!!!
Over the course of a few days I had the following conversations that have been on my mind and I wanted to share:
I have a friend whose son (was in Justin’s class) is away at college. I asked her: ” How is he doing?” She looked at me in astonishment and told me with gratitude that” I was the ” ONLY” mother /parent in the past 6 months who asked this question.” She said the usual question is: ” WHAT is your son doing?” She said the “Parents want to know his major, grades, and where he falls or fails on the social status on his campus??? ” She said “They have never been concerned about his wellbeing.” I was shocked…
I congratulated my friend whose child turned down what society deems to the HIGHEST TOP tier college. Instead he chose his passion of study at another great University that had the best academic rigor for his chosen field. “What’s wrong with that I asked?” He told me that his child got chastised by his peers/teachers/other parents for “settling” for what seemingly appears to be the “lesser college.” He also told me, that to date, I was the “ONLY” parent who congratulated him on his sons acceptance. I was flabbergasted!
When I asked a friend (whose son is a Sophomore in college) “How he was doing?” She looked at me and calmly said: “ He tried to commit suicide a few months ago… and I am trying everything to save him and to pull him out of this deep dark hole… “Not being a professional—but only a concerned “Mom”, I told her I was glad she was taking his condition seriously and doing EVERYTHING in her power to help. I was saddened.
Another friend told me that her son ( who is a Senior at a top Ivy League in the big city) told her he needed to get diagnosed as being ADHD so he could take medicine ( to survive college) like a lot of his peers. She told him that she did not feel that he had this issue and she did not agree with him taking any medicine under false pretenses—but would support him always for getting over any seemingly impossible hump. He felt better after they talked and was glad that he got it off of his chest and that she listened and provided sound advice. That’s what our job is as Parents. To give sound advice.
Paralympic Star #1
US Paralympic Track Star Blake Leeper recently spoke at the HW Middle School. He told the audience that when he was born, the doctors told his parents that he would be wheelchair bound and that he would NEVER walk—let alone DANCE! His parents thought otherwise and embraced and armed him with the ” Can do anything” attitude. He profoundly told the crowd that “People laugh at me because I am different, I laugh at them because they are all the same”. He quoted Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and said:
“If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.”
I must add don’t forget to DANCE…
Blake Leeper just played in the NBA Celebrity All Star Game. He competed for the RIGHT reasons…
For those fortunate students who have the opportunity to seek their higher education, going to college can be a BIG transition for MOST. Moving to a far away place, sharing a room with a stranger, being outside of their nucleus and thrust into a college atmosphere with a microcosm sampling of what the real world looks like. College days can be lonely and sometimes scary.
Today, it appears that the most popular motto kids/parents have for the pathway to success is BY ANY MEANS NECESSARY. I do not need to list these in detail because everyone knows what they are. The kids these days have limited time to JUST HAVE FUN! They are dealing with (but not revealing) the major issues at hand that seem to be put on the back burner i.e. stress, failure (in the eyes of their parents/peers), isolation, confusion, depression,mental health issues or even having second thoughts about their choice of college/and or major.
I remember having so much fun at college—as my Dad said “Too much fun at USC!” —when my report card got home before I did and I received my first “C” ever! I can’t say that we were not faced with a few stresses and some failures—but not to the extent of sending us over the edge. We had random parties in our dorm rooms, in the cafeteria or campus halls. We Danced (thanks to Merle showing us the latest steps), we laughed, we talked to each other. We dated and collectively with groups we got together to socialize. I can’t honestly say that there were not any “vices” in the room, but that was not the focus either. When a friend was in need, we helped or directed them accordingly. We did not keep blinders on.
Today, the electronic devices and social media have taken over. They are our blinders. People don’t look at each other, talk, or engage without clutching and frequently checking their phones. Some kids have voiced their sentiments saying they wished their college/high school experience were like the years gone by—less competitive, that their peers would get together to really socialize sans the crutch of having to drink, get drunk or hook-up their way to happiness. They just want to connect and to have fun, and actually DANCE at a party… What happened? Justin loved to dance.
We would ballroom dance in the kitchen. He also spent many an hour teaching his friends how to dance so that they would be ready at the parties! I wish I could dance again with Justin.
I also knew (for the most part) if Justin needed help i.e. emotionally, academically or? Darrel and I did not take him for granted. We would often tell him that his only COMPETITION is with himself.
Today, I found my Dad’s college handbook from the 1950’s. It was a small pocket size book that spelled out how to dress, engage on campus, learn the school songs, and to have respect/assist their fellow peers/faculty/staff and how to seek help. As Freshman, they had to carry the booklet with them wherever they went.
They also gave each student a book on “ “How to Court” and “How to Fall in love.” So much for the good ole days.
I hope that sooner than later collectively society grabs hold of the real issues that afflict OUR kids—who ARE the future. It is time to listen to them, talk to them and pull them away from their isolation as a “Wallflower” (a person who has no one to dance with or who feels shy, awkward, or excluded at a party) and take time to dance with them, engage, with them and just “Let them be!
People take heed (me included) OPEN YOUR EYES, Fall in love with your family and friends appreciate your life and those around you. It’s ok to stand out instead of trying to fit in. Life is not always a Party. Daily life should not be so competitive that we become more selfish, lack compassion; empathy and genuine support of most people around us– and it should not definitely be the Last Dance. This is my two cents for the evening.