Thursday, September 13, 2007

Small Town Parenthood


I'm trying to adjust, make heads and tails of rural life. I came to Arkansas in 1990 after having lived in several metropolitan areas in Pennsylvania, Colorado, Virginia (just outside DC), and I have been trying to acclimate myself to Southern ways since then.

Some things were easily adapted - I have a (ahem) slight southern drawl, I have 2 goats and a horse next to a field full of cows (not my cows, but they are there just the same), and the 'relaxed' atmosphere of southern living. Other things, like the whole lunch/dinner-dinner/supper thing and living in a small, rural town, have been much slower in coming. Heck, I didn't even start to like the Razorbacks until just a couple years ago.

So, now there's parenting children who are growing up in a small town. To give you an idea, my son is in athletics, which includes nearly every boy in his grade, except three that we know of. Where I grew up, there were a lot of boys in athletics, but we had other extra-curricular programs we could participate in.

Tyler chose Athletics because he wants to play basketball and some of the other sports, but he does not like playing football. He opted for the "no contact" route, which he found out today, relegated him to Water Boy. He was teased, and we had a long talk about a lot of things.... Then, Shan and I talked about life in a small town, and the differences in options he has versus what I had. He can choose Agri (except he is NOT an animal person), band (not what he wants to do), and possibly some other options instead. I think he could even do Art, if he wanted. He is very creative and his artwork/doodles are getting better over time...

I grew up being the kid who got picked on, beat up, etc. I could run like the wind, which I used to my advantage often. I don't know when the switched flipped, but I eventually overcame that role in life. It probably happened in late Junior High, I think. I mean, don't get me wrong, I was still the nerd/geek who owned his own computer (basically unheard of back then), but I guess I was able to pick new people to hang around in school (and out of school, to a certain extent). Once you're given a label, though, no matter where you live or where you end up, that label can stick with you - even if you're the only one doling it out to yourself....

My point is that I told Tyler he has two options, so far as I see it: 1) Put the pads on and take out his frustration on the other kids, or 2) Find a way to earn respect as the Water Boy/Manager. My son followed partially in my footsteps: He hates to get hurt, and hates the THOUGHT of getting hurt worse than that. I never played football (much to my Aunt's dismay) because I had an incredible fear of being pummeled. Looking back now, I realize two things: 1) Though I would have taken many hits, I would not (most likely) have been beaten as badly as I feared, and 2) I wouldn't have been put on the field enough to even worry about being pummeled.

No one gives you an instruction book with an index when your kids are born, so you can't just flip to the back and look up, "Water Boy" or "Respect, Helping your child to earn." We parents have our own experiences from growing up, and we know how much of the day-to-day "junk" won't amount to a hill of beans when our children get older, but somehow none of that seems to be "enough" when it's your child who is trying to grapple with life as he/she knows it. It's a hard place to be, and I know he will not be in this position forever. But knowing something doesn't always mean knowing the answers, and since I spend most of my days being the "answer guy," it's even harder.

We'll figure it out eventually, and we'll take whatever next step comes with the solution to this problem. Life is all about making choices and learning from our mistakes and experiences.


On the other hand, we have our daughter, who begged us to take her to the county fair in order to see her drawing hanging in the exhibit hall. Of course, she also wanted to see all the chickens, goats, cow, pigs, etc. We spent a good deal of time in the exhibit hall, looking at photos and drawings and other artworks. Every year, I am reminded that I need to submit a couple of the pictures I have taken. And, every year, I have no idea when the deadlines are (because I don't read the local weekly paper). I digress. After the exhibits, Emily wanted cotton candy. We got some, and they must use blue ink from a Sharpie because so far as we can tell, the candy leaves a permanent blue stain on your tongue (and lips and fingers)! I have never seen anything like it!

As Emily grows, we are going to have our hands full, I can tell you that.....


(Warning, techno-babble ahead)

Now that Sharepoint is running pretty well the way we want it, I have been playing with other aspects and features of the software. My latest project is using the Thesaurus feature and the "Best Bets" feature. Let's just say I wish I had left well-enough alone. But, as Shan pointed out earlier, that is not in my nature. I'm a tinkerer... I got to see what I can change, adapt, modify... Why leave it in the "standard" or "vanilla" or "out-of-the-box" state that the program came in, right?? We need to explore it, expand it, bring the server to its knees in the name of research! Oh, sorry, got a bit carried away there...

I do have thesaurus replacements working (type in 'hot dogs' and it instead finds info about DL Classes), but straight expansions of search terms is not working. I'll figure it out eventually.... :-)

1 comment:

  1. Hummm, maybe that's why I was in the marching band... didn't get bashed there... and we had as many cheers as the football team did... lol... Oh, btw, the need for an instruction book for kids never goes away...

    jk

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