Little boy with his hands touching a paper cut out of a red heart.
Helping Children,  Life Experiences

Oh, Those Days

This won’t be published before Mother’s Day 2019, but it is still important. Maybe the message will prepare those concerned for the coming year.

The “days” I refer to are labeled, Mother’s Day,  Father’s Day, Grandparent’s Day and then Parents’ Day, as if Mother and Father didn’t get gifts the first time. There are celebrations galore and people are made to feel special. For one day. I am a real Scrooge about these days for a variety of reasons.

Firstly let me protect myself before the attackers take over.  Whomever wants to celebrate those occasions need to do so. These are merely my opinions.

My children were raised to believe that Mother’s Day was a Hallmark plot. I preferred to know the love was there every day of the year. It’s a huge business market and I have no challenge with businesses flourishing.

Each year, I have been told, it gets bigger and bigger. Some of the gifts are off the wall. One wonders what these children of all ages need to prove. I am all in favour of children’s drawings, maybe going out to eat; although to get a seat in just about any restaurant is almost impossible. I am sure you get my drift.

I do love celebrations of an intimate nature.  I always enjoyed Valentine’s Day for obvious reasons. I really do like greetings cards and have some precious ones from when John was unable to go to a store. He made cards out of pictures from magazines, old photographs, and cutting up tiny scraps of paper with messages on each of them. So, you know where I am.  You don’t have to be there. I respect your wishes as long as they don’t have expectations above and beyond.

Marketing Love

Recently I have noticed an increase in selling celebrations. As I said, this weekend is Mothers’ Day and I am to meet a mother whose son died a few weeks ago. The question is usually, “Am I still a mother?” Of course! A mother is a mother. Oftentimes on meeting people the conversation usually goes from what you do, to how many children you have, which is a dreaded question for bereaved parents. The answer is however many were born to you. Some of my parents say how many and then tell people that one died, or sadly more than one.

This is not a blog on bereavement. I can do one on that at another time.

The questions I have is how does a child who doesn’t have a mother, celebrate Mother’s Day? How do children who don’t have a father deal with Father’s Day? What happens on Grandparent’s Day when there are no grandparents? These are all valid questions.

When I was teaching credit courses off campus for Marywood University, where most of my students were teachers, school counselors, school nurses, I posed these questions to them. I wanted to know how they handled it.

They told the children it was a holiday celebrating Mother’s Day, not necessarily their mother, but mothers all over the world were celebrated. Really? How that does work? The cards, gifts or drawings would be taken to their parents. Where do all these things go when there is no one there who qualifies?

Normally there were no Administrators at these classes and I realised that nothing could be done without their participation to make changes. I wonder if those in education understand the pain this can cause to a child. A sixth grader once told me they feel they have failed somehow.

I didn’t want to believe it but there are some bullies who torment orphan children. I have counselor friends who have told me of this brutality.

There is one friend who has a very different approach to bullying and I know this might well seem to be off course. It isn’t even though my grasshopper brain does do leaps and bounds when this subject arises.

She is a school counselor and her name is Lee. I haven’t asked her permission to use her full name so Lee it is. When a child is being bullied and the bully is not approached, parents come to her in extreme anger. Her philosophy makes a lot of sense to me. She told the parents that she deals with the ‘victim’, teaching them how to deal with, or walk away from the perpetrators.

The families are outraged and if you know the relationship between parents and teachers these days, stay tuned. She feels that by working with the abused child, she can help them face up to the behaviour and by doing so can prepare them for life being assertive. If this isn’t done, they will probably be bully bait for their adult life too. Makes sense to me. This is the same counselor who asked me to speak with four sixth grade classes about my wartime experiences as a child. They studied the Holocaust too (you know, that event that never happened) so you can understand the kind of school this is. I’d like to see Lee train people in other schools with her philosophy.

Back to those Days. 

Loving Is The Right Way

Mother and daughter reading a book together at a picnic.

The questions I have is how does a child who doesn’t have a mother, celebrate Mother’s Day? How do children who don’t have a father deal with Father’s Day? What happens on Grandparent’s Day when there are no grandparents?

There are so many foster children in the world, and they need attention and love. Is there a better way to ameliorate the situation by making these days acceptable to both mothers, fathers, and grandparents with cards and gifts, and also help those, who through no fault of their own, cannot in all consciousness, celebrate?

I admit I am critical of a lot of situations that cause pain and deep sadness. Some children feel they have been abandoned. Most of them will need some kind of therapy as they grow up and I hope it is available to them and they ask for it. I don’t like critical people if they don’t have some suggestions.  I do.

First of all we have to take a look at the touch situation in this country. As I have written before, the No Touch movement was helpful in its time. It did its job. Then it went too far. By being too far, I am referring to not being able to pick up a kindergarten child who has fallen and hurt themselves, give them a hug and make it all better.

I agree wholeheartedly that one must ask first, even for little ones it seems. Before I hug anyone I’ll ask if that is what they want. (I’ve been hauled over the coals for that one.) Some of these children who have been abandoned by their parents, who have been physically abused, are orphans in care and have never been loved or encouraged to pursue their goals in life. None of my foster homes were loving except one who tried and  made a lousy job of it. I sought love for many years, making unhealthy decisions. I was 55 until someone told me they loved me. We have to do better than that.

Lately I have been hearing about women who have offered themselves to be mothers for gays when their families have rejected them. Can you believe it in 2019?

Another woman has offered to escort gays down the aisle if their families will not do so. I do same sex weddings. So, why couldn’t we offer to be surrogate mothers, fathers, grandparents in schools on those celebratory days? I can only see good in it and I would be the first to volunteer.

As a foster child myself I would have relished such loving communication. I am sure the authorities would nix it immediately. Those lawsuits can be debilitating indeed. Maybe we could create a paper which would allow the children to say whether or not they would like this. It could include whether or not they wanted a hug as in some cases, those who were physically or sexually abused might be mistrustful. Then they could sign it with a simple yes or no. Easy. It could expand to cheering them on at their chosen sports. Why not? It makes sense to me.

Many years ago my dear friend Dr. Bryan Robinson organized a conference for young people who came out as gay or lesbian. They were terrified to tell their parents even though in most cases families accepted them. Some of them were in the military and we all know what a mess that was and is. One of the Keynote speakers was a General I believe.

She had recently emerged as a gay woman and was phenomenal but even she didn’t address the issue at hand. The participants were inspired by her yet didn’t know how to start the process. My Keynote offered suggestions, which were well received. Every presenter at that conference was gay, except me. I was the only straight person in that entire gathering, and I asked Bryan, “Why am I here? I am a straight woman?”  He replied, “They will listen to you.”  By “they”, meaning the powers that be, and the public at large. I was surprised and it all made sense at that time.

If any of you see the sense of this, perhaps you can get involved being a child hugger at such times. At one time, mothers were invited to hold premature babies, those who were withdrawing from drugs, were children of full time workers (I never could understand how they managed to conceive if they were always so busy), who were not wanted, or who were out of wedlock babies.  You know the picture. My story as bastard is different and it will be in the book! I was told they no longer offer that service.  I am going to research it as it is so necessary for these tiny ones to feel love.

I remember when our Nicolas was first diagnosed with Tuberous Sclerosis, an awful illness for children. My daughter was at Children’s Hospital night and day for a while. When I was with her I saw a little boy in a cot in the corner. She told me that no one visited him so in the night, she would cuddle him. How important that was. She is amazing! The most important thing is love. It feels, it heals, it is warm and sort. I craved love when I was growing up even though I didn’t know what it was. Once I found it, I literally changed.

I don’t want these children and people of all ages to have to wait for that miracle to be loved. It can start by being aware of the pain and confusions of these “I don’t haves”. If you have any ideas, let me know.

We could have Happy People Day, congratulating them on being kind, even once. Deprived children are hungry for affection. There are so many days that are celebratory. Those I have mentioned and here are some others. Memorial and Labour day. Red Nose day. Famous People day, which creates great discounts for purchases of just about anything. Each State has their own celebrations. There are thousands of them. I don’t have space for them – you can find them on the internet. There are days that are most acceptable, even weeks. Nurses’ Day, School Teacher day or week, not sure. Holocaust Survivors day. So many.

As stated, this is one of the most challenging times for people who have never known the warmth and charisma of love and acceptance, children in particular. I went to a High School in Camberwell London, whose motto was AMOR VINCIT OMNIA. LOVE CONQUERS ALL.

I love the word intimate, which decries any of our cultural definition. From the Greek it means to be without fear. Truthfully, I don’t know where to start and will consult with others as to possibilities. First on the list will be Lee. She knows! Any suggestions would be welcome. I left out my age group. It matters. Ripening people liked to be acknowledged too.

Be well and love endlessly.

Photo Credits:

Photo of child with heart by Anna Kolosyuk on Unsplash

Photo of mother and child by Liana Mikah on Unsplash

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