After dropping off one set of kids, I confessed to the rest of my brood, “I feel so sick this morning.” From the back of our bus, Snopes (a.k.a. Speed Police) sweetly asks why.
“Well, I may have blown The Today Show thing.”
To catch everyone up (because you know I don’t really like to talk about anything unless its actually happening – and I for sure don’t feel comfortable tooting my horn in any way) a couple weeks ago, the incredibly amazing PR folks that have been walking this road with me, let me know that The Today Show thinks our story is interesting. And by “our”, I mean OUR. The one where we’re realizing society has sold all of us a bill of enabling goods and that we don’t have to pay it. Since it’s really our kids (the “generation of narcissists“) who are the ones actually paying that bill.
So, needless to say, we were a bit excited. Guardedly excited. Days passed as did a week. I figured we didn’t pass muster. Which is fine. Then this Tuesday we scheduled a call with one of the producers. Excitement level rocketed. And I tried to line up everything I thought the producer would like to know. Most of the producers I’ve talked with want to hear everything flushed out like a waterfall. They pick and choose, then I go with whatever they think scratches the itch of their audience. With that in mind, I assumed my call on Wednesday was looking for the same thing. It’s about here where the communication break-down began. I don’t know if I wasn’t listening or if I just completely misunderstood, but he didn’t want me to pour out content, he simply wanted to get an idea of how we could tell the story in pictures.
The craziest thing of all. Telling a story in pictures was one of my favorite former jobs. I loved it. And was pretty good at it. When I worked in the Bush ’41 White House, my job was to make the picture (a favorable pic) that would land a coveted top fold of the front page in as many newspapers as possible along with lead story on local live news broadcasts. So I actually get what’s behind pictures and video.
And you know what I would film: I’d show
- a kid going into the grocery store without her mother to shop for the dinner she will be preparing that night for her family
- a kid saying “Hi Bol” to the guy bringing in the grocery carts – because she knows him; she’s talked to him; she’s realized that these are people with stories (Bol is a Sudan Lost Boy) who work at the grocery store; that people aren’t here to serve her; that she can make someone’s day by talking to them – talking, in person – not texting (!) … just sayin’
- a boy helping his younger brother get ready for bed by giving him a bath, teaching him how to brush his teeth, reading stories – then the brothers yelling at each other (they’re real kids.)
- another boy, a little one at that, putting away goods from a Costco run, because that’s “his” job
- every backpack lined up the night before school, one with it’s lunch already prepared, ready to go without so much as a glance at any homework from their mother
…and SO much more
- a group of kids (not just in my house, but all over) who are realizing that mountains aren’t obstacles, but opportunities because they can do so much more than they (or their parents) ever thought they could.
But, I shared none of that in our conversation. I knew when we hung up that I had somehow missed the mark. But couldn’t figure out how. I had done what I thought I was supposed to do.
Before getting in the car this morning, I read a text from the PR folks, “He just needed to find the visual story and you were pouring on content…” Ugh. Makes my stomach hurt writing it. Did I blow it? Did I lose the opportunity to share this incredibly liberating message that breathes life back into our kids and our families? You know, the message that equipping vs enabling gives our kids so much more than all our hand-holding, protecting, fixing, rewarding could ever give? Quite possibly, yes.
Snopes floated from the back seat, “Why do you think you blew it?”
I told her and added, “I’m sad – partly for me – but mostly because I just want to do my best. I’m on this road and my only desire is to do it without any self-serving motives and to the best of my ability.” Stomach still hurting, I continue, ” … You know when you take a test and you walk out after studying everything you thought was going to be on it. And you’re pretty sure you failed? … That’s how I feel. It’s like I filled in the right answer for the square root of 786, without realize the question was asking for the volume of a sphere.”
And here’s where the driver became the student, “Mom – All I’ve seen is you doing your best. In fact you’ve done so much more than anyone would have imagined. You need to be human again.”
Then Jack, who’s sitting behind me joins in, “Mmwah..mmwah…mmwah…mwhaa .. mwhaa … which means I wish I was back to a human.”
Sounds crazy I know, but those goofy mumblings ushered in some major perspective. They’re from such a funny AT&T commercial. A little girl being interviewed goes off some weird tangent about werewolves, ending it with the quote above. And I laughed. We all laughed. Because they’re right. Their take: quit running, just do your best. No one is asking for super human.
Then the kid from the back lobs, “Hey you know how hard science has been?” Truth is, no. I’ve been doing my best to stay out of her school business. She missed 12 days this semester from the flu and bronchitis. I’ve had to literally sit on my hands to keep them from emailing teachers and dialing the school to see if she’s on top of her make-up work and not failing. Granted, I’ve let one, “Have you caught up yet?” pass my lips. To which I received an evil eye and quick zip. So, I’ve banked on what I know to be true… she can handle it herself.
“Well,” she continued. “I walked out of the test the other day knowing for sure I made a 60. And guess what I made?”
“I don’t know,” I respond, scared to say what I thought she might have made.
“Umm… an 80?” I say hopefully.
“No!” she responds. “I made a 100!”
Get out… Did she just say 100?! “Well, that’s a bit different than a 60.”
“Yeah … I know. I guess my studying and listening in class paid off.” Her broad smile lit up our car. “And Mom, you never know. You may have done the same thing. It just might not look like you thought.”
There you have it. My blahs were blown away right then and there. I hope her encouragement might do the same for any blahs on your horizon. Though spoken in our car, they ring true for all of us. We do our best and the outcome, “just might not look like you thought.”
Thanks for walking the road with me.
… here’s the funny commercial. For anyone bit by the super-mom werewolf, just remember that cute kid and quit running. You’re only human.