Love Covers All the Bases

***NOTE: I WROTE THIS ON FRIDAY, DECEMBER 14TH, AS THIS HORRIFYING EVENT’S DETAILS WERE CONTINUALLY BEING RELEASED TO THE PUBLIC***

Comfortably reclined on my sectional couch with my fingers poised I took notes on my laptop as I was glued to the TV news throughout the day Friday.  Anyone else find they were unable to function at times as details of the Connecticut school shooting streamed through your media devices?  This tight-knit town of Newtown, CT had a very low crime rate and is a place where everyone knew everyone.  Truthfully, my stomach is still upset.  I knew without a doubt, even though I had long durations of sitting there frozen, that I would write about this tonight.

My 3-year-old daughter, Lylah, sat curled up next to me watching Mickey Mouse Clubhouse on my tablet-a much happier program than the one unfolding before me.  This led me to think on the sweet innocence and joy children have within them, such gifts from God.  To witness the fatality count of elementary children was heart-wrenching and it truly did leave you asking…”why?”  What causes the alleged 20-year-old gunman, Adam Lanza, to shoot not only all these children and adult school faculty staff but also members of his family as well?  You will hug your loved ones a little more often today and ask yourself whether you and your family are as safe as you once thought.

News teams scramble to get the most updated information to give answers to the questions all of us watching have.  Admittedly, I was on the edge of my couch cushion trying to put the pieces of this horrible tragedy together as they became available.  It seemed the more information relayed to the public, the less it all made sense.  I found myself relating the compassion I felt for the people affected by this tragedy to my passion for the game of baseball.

We desperately try to analyze what went wrong to cause this horrific shooting by gathering any and all facts relating to the suspect(s), victim(s), gun control is again brought up, school (and other public places’) security revisited and so on.  And this is done not only to prevent future sickening incidents like this one in Connecticut but also to ensure those responsible for the crime are brought to justice.  Baseball players (and teams as a whole too) analyze their individual/team struggles in order to learn from it, fix the problem(s) and continue to put them into practice to record the most wins they can in the 162 game season.  Each player has their individual stats but they add up to team stats.  They each contribute to make their team the best they can.

Likewise, the people in Newtown make up their small community ‘team’ in Connecticut.  From what I understand, people seem to care about one another, they know one another, they help one another out in times of need…and they suffer this tragic loss together.  People step up to plate in love to take care of those that need healing.  The aftermath of a senseless crime like this brings people together and we are already witnessing this as they are backing each other up in comfort, love, prayer and tears.  This should be the main focus for this quaint town as they begin the healing process.

The answers we all seek and especially asking why as we look back really shouldn’t be so focused on.  I realize by saying this it probably isn’t too popular.  I do truly understand the need/want to try to prevent these tragedies however I believe we can’t completely predict human behavior, we can only theorize what could happen.  Trust me, I was audibly asking why with tears in my eyes sitting in the living room with my daughter too.  Our minds are intricately complicated, along with the emotions created within us and even those differ by gender, upbringing, personality etc.  Truth be told my friends, just as a bad season for great baseball players happen, there are awful things in this world that happen that we have no explanation for and no control over.  I challenge you to be a light, an outstanding teammate in your community because you know what happens when you are?  You expose the darkness around you.  You can be the light to someone’s inner darkness with prayer, a kind word, a good deed…you never know how much of a difference you can be.

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I DO KNOW THIS: Love covers all the bases. LOVE covers a multitude of evil in this world.  If I have a decision to make (a more substantial one than how I’m wearing my hair to a special event or which shoes should go with the fabulous new outfit I bought), I strive to lean towards the side of love.  I literally ask myself, “What would be the most loving response?” or “how can I best show love here?” I have to constantly remind myself to put on love and control my reactions just like everyone else and more times than I care to admit, I fail.  It might sound cheesy but even if it doesn’t produce positive results or if I never know the result, I’m good with knowing I chose love.

Perhaps instead of why, we can ask in the present, how?  How do we move forward from this point?  How can I help the people where I live?  And regarding the shooting, I believe the people of Connecticut will soon move forward to asking themselves how to help heal those family and friends affected.  Hope is always alive!  Jim Leyland, Detroit Tiger’s manager, always encourages his team by saying, “we play hard 9 innings.” The game isn’t over until the last out is made, in baseball, you can be behind 5 or more runs and comeback in the 9th inning to win-which are extremely exciting games to watch, assuming it’s my Motown Boys with the comeback win!  However, you win and lose as a team.

Keep the hope going; pass that onto others with genuine care, encouragement, love and prayer.  Tragedy often brings people together and I believe the folks of Newtown will mourn this loss together.  Press on as a team, one pitch at a time, one inning at a time, one game at a time.  Let your team know that you have their back for the full 162 game season, through the good and the bad.

Hug your loved ones today. I am grateful to have both a personal and professional support team in my life!

Until next game,

Belle of Baseball

Giving Our Kids a Reason Why Other Than ‘Because I Said So’?

Do you remember when your children asked “why?” after darn near everything you told them?  Or perhaps you are going through this stage with a child now, haha?  Regardless, when they ask why, do you give them an answer or a reason why to their questions?  We tend to answer them (as patiently as possible) after each of the 17 “whys” when they are young yet when this stage passes we tend to forget our kids still might want to know why even though they don’t ask.  I believe explaining helps when you discipline them and when you set household rules you expect to be followed. 

I have two kids, an 11-year-old boy and a 3-year-old daughter, and I’m certain my son at least would tell you his Momma isn’t perfect. The reason I say this is because I am honest with my kids, I admit my failures to them (as much as is appropriate for their ages) and we talk about them.  I strongly believe this helps them to deal with failures of their own. Obviously, when I discipline my son I go about it differently than when I correct my daughter due to their age differences, but I have also come to realize that I approach the genders differently.  My children each have a sensitive side and both also relate well to humor-and I use this even as I’m scolding them.

We don’t have to teach our kids to be naughty, ever notice that?  For some reason, my son, as a toddler was a laid back little boy.  Seriously, I rarely had to punish him, it was crazy!  My little girl on the other hand is a bit more ‘curious’ and tends to put caution aside, getting herself into trouble.  I understand curious kids and all but I can recognize when naughty is just naughty!

So what do you do? How do you get your child to listen to you? How can you get them to respect you enough to understand that no means no?  Well for one, this is a process.  Your kids of course will forever be testing you to see if no, indeed, means no.  I can’t wait for the eye rolling teen years!

I enjoyed being a youth sponsor in my local church for several years.  Since these adolescents were not my own children, I (usually haha) wasn’t the target of any of their eye rolling and muttering under their breath.  However, we did play a ‘parent ‘ role in their life, at least an authority role.  Through experience which led to wisdom, I had a life-changing moment when I realized something:

These teens were actually ok with being told yes and no to things in life by authority WHEN THEY WERE TOLD WHY.  In fact, they WANTED to know the reasons to why their parents had the rules they had and why we as youth sponsors set certain rules as well.   Doesn’t mean they always agreed but they seem to respect that there were reasons other than “because I said so”.  Preteen and teens are going through life deciding what is truth in their lives at this time.  Do these truths change?  Yes certainly, but I believe at this time in their lives they lay the groundwork for who they are, what they believe in…and to be told why so they can then relay why they believe what they believe-powerful.

Going back to my own kiddos, I have put this to practice when disciplining them.  For example:

Loving my dog

Loving my dog

To keep it simple, we’ll use my 3-year-old (explaining and discussing reasons to an older child are obviously more detailed haha).  The other day, I caught my daughter yankin on our dog’s tail.  I love animals, dearly and on purpose or not, I just can’t handle it when kids do things like that to them and I don’t tolerate it.  I quickly said no firmly.  She backed off, some. However, she went right back at it not even 5 minutes later.  I gave another warning, firmer this time.  You see, she has been told “do not play with the dog’s tail” a handful of times.  I think sometimes I figure if my voice is louder where I’m nearly yelling it or are yelling it, that’ll work and she’ll back off.  Not.  This last time I told her, I sat her down on my lap and said again, “no, I said leave it alone.”

Then it dawned on me!  Explain why, give her a reason!  Maybe she wasn’t understanding what a dog’s tail even was.  Could be that she was just being naughty and yankin on her tail was fun.  Ok, regardless, I decided to try giving a reason to see what happened from here on out.

I gently said, “Sweetie, that hurts Lucy (dog) when you do that, she will cry and say ouch.”  Then I took my daughter’s arm and kinda pulled on it, then pulled on it harder and asked her, “see that can hurt huh?”  And she looked up innocently at me with a scrunched up face and I smiled.  Removing her from my lap, I went over to Lucy and held her tail (I’m sure she was thrilled about this haha) and tugged a little on her tail, still tugging my daughter’s arm.  I repeated, “see, this is your arm and that’s Lucy’s tail, we have to be careful and be nice.”  I watched her as she observed and tried to soak in this lesson Mom was teaching her and smiled again.  I asked her to please give the dog a hug and say you’re sorry.  She did so and even gave her a kiss.

I’m happy to report, as is Lucy, that there have been no tail-pulling incidents since this time.  Can I credit it to giving my daughter a reason we will not pull the dog’s tail?  I don’t know, but I know she’s not doing it anymore.
Perhaps we as humans need to know the why, the reason(s) behind an authority figure in our life says no to something?

On the flip side, I also believe it’s beneficial to be told the reasons behind a yes answer as well.  Some are common sense reasons of course though you might be surprised how many people are running low on common sense!
This was a breakthrough for me years ago and it’s a practice I still implement today.  I try my hardest to not use ‘because I said so” to my children.  Admittedly, an earlier bedtime after a stressful day though could very well get that answer!
Well, gotta go folks…why? Because I’m hungry! : )