Wednesday, September 14, 2011
Posted by Kersten at 9:47 PM
Tuesday, October 06, 2009
As a parent, I think my children are perfect, not infallible, but really just perfect at filling the responsibilities of being children. My Noah performs his role as a kid brilliantly. He’s obedient, thoughtful, selfless, kind, funny, logical and all-boy in his tastes and preferences. My Sofia fulfills her Sofia-ness with verve. She’s impetuous, curious, strong-willed, self-reliant, delicate, feminine, and has me wrapped around her finger. Most parents I know feel the same way about their children; which is why parents out there can understand the pain in my heart at Noah’s recent experience with ‘bullies’.
At recess yesterday, Noah was playing by himself. He often plays with other kids and has good friends at school. But he also relishes acting out the incredibly expansive and exquisitely constructed scenarios in his imagination. I foster his imagination because I believe it’s the only place where he feels like he is completely understood and unquestionably accepted.
Some kids noticed Noah’s play and commenced mocking him. I am unclear about some the details because Noah’s description of what happened is more based on the emotions that resulted than the specific actions. What I have pieced together is that they teased him about playing alone. When he defended himself, they started teasing him about his speech.
My initial reaction was anger. I wanted to physically protect my son by lashing out at the perpetrators of emotional assault. My head filled with stern words that I hoped would cause emotional hurt similar to the pain they inflicted on my son. Then my thoughts turned to telling Noah to use his Karate if these children persist and tease him again. Noah’s wicked kicks and elbow strikes would quickly shut the mouths of the offenders.
Anger gave way to heartache. Bitter feelings of my experiences at being bullied exploded within me and threatened to influence my next actions and words. I remembered the how helpless I felt; how much anger and hate I held for my attackers. I recalled fighting the desire to punch my bullies in the face to make them stop the torment.
Noah’s experience doesn’t have to be the same as mine. Most kids get teased, tormented and bullied. I don’t know why I thought my son would be the exception. I re-committed to treating Noah with respect. I will handle his ego carefully. I am determined to guide him to a strong sense of self. My hope is that he owns being Noah with peace and confidence.
Posted by Kersten at 4:26 PM
Thursday, September 10, 2009
**Caution! This is a vent posting. Read at your own risk. If you are sensitive, do not proceed.
Yesterday, my youngest sister was united with a man of her choosing. The ceremony was spiritual and brief. The bride and groom were nervous, as evidenced by their very brief kiss after their metamorphosis to husband and wife was complete.
On the surface, everything was going well. People appeared happy for the couple and seemed to get along with each other. If you dug a bit further you would find an angry, squirmy, stinking wad of miscommunication and hurt feelings. The result: a catastrophic tragedy! No bride, groom, family member or friend should ever have to endure the emotional piss-storm that swarmed around my poor sister’s wedding.
I suppose that major life events; such as weddings, funerals, births, etc, generate stress and make people sensitive. The things that I find to be incomprehensible about the emotional cluster hug of the wedding seem epidemic among many of the Utah weddings I have participated in and attended. I find it ironic that a culture that preaches love, community, tolerance and unity abandons these high-minded ideals during weddings.
I will refrain from going into details about my experience with my sister’s wedding. I am happy for her as long as she is happy. I do want to provide more generalized comments that may directly apply to her wedding and many other weddings that I have had the misfortune of being involved in:
Ceremony: Thou shalt not hold any element of a wedding as more important than the Ceremony. As far as I am concerned, the ceremony is the ultimate, the pinnacle, the absolute element of a wedding. Any other element is secondary to the ceremony.
Traditions: Thou shalt abandon thy will to the will of the couple. Every culture has distinct wedding traditions. The value of these traditions is up to the exclusive and sole judgment of the bride and groom. There are no rules written, implied or otherwise expressed that require each tradition to be fulfilled. Nor is there a prescription as to how the tradition should be executed. No parent, sibling, family member or friend should assert their expectations about the traditions to the exclusion of the couple’s expectations. The crime is magnified exponentially when the selfish will of the person other than the couple is asserted through subversion, guilt, brow-beating or temper tantrums.
Responsibilities: Thou shalt not assume wedding responsibilities. This is a subcategory of traditions. Often, the costs of a wedding are divided between the bride’s family and the groom’s family. No family should interfere with the responsibilities that the other family is paying for, unless express permission is given. If the bride’s family is paying for a reception, than the bride’s family should manage the reception to the couple’s expectations.
Finances: Thou shalt make-do with what thou hast. Many weddings I have attended have been hosted by families that are not wealthy and/or are not willing to go into debt for a wedding. There is no reason that one family should be compelled to pay more money than they have for the wedding. Likewise, no family should feel compelled to pay for any perceived deficiencies by the other family’s financial boundaries. There is no place for condescending, self-righteous behavior. There is no place for extension beyond financial means. Basically, each family shall be satisfied with the other family’s contribution. The bride and groom should have a clear understanding of this principal. If they expect otherwise, they should pay for it by themselves.
Bridezilla: The bride has the right to react to the emotional stress caused by a wedding. Bridezilla: A word used to describe brides who are unreasonable, entitled, spoiled and angry. I am sure there are many examples of brides who behave beyond reason; but are we so self-absorbed and fragile that we have no tolerance for a young woman who is extremely stressed and emotional? The bride’s responses to stress are the direct result of how she learned to cope with difficult emotions when she was young.
Let Them Go: The couple shall figure it out on their own. Don’t hound the couple with your ‘advice’ about marital relationships. They are their own people. It doesn’t matter if you have been married for 6 months or 35 years; the bride and groom are different than you and they need to figure it out on their own. If they want your advice, let them ask for it. The wedding is the first time that they have to make important decisions together. Interference from friends and family undermines confidence and builds unhealthy co-dependence. Let them succeed or fail together. Let them figure it out. Your ‘two-cents’ adds about ‘one million dollars’ worth of additional stress and anxiety to the couple.
Posted by Kersten at 2:11 PM
Thursday, August 13, 2009
Noah was only 3 when we discovered that his speech and language were far behind other children of his same age. As parents, we blamed ourselves for not being more vigilant or dedicated to his development. After multiple doctor visits, tests and evaluations, he was diagnosed with Apraxia of Speech. My heart broke a little bit for my son. I want the lives of my children to be richer, fuller and less challenging than my life. A speech disability seemed to dissolve my hopes for Noah to have a better life than my own.
The negative emotional impact of the speech disability to Noah is painful for me to observe. People don’t know how to react when they speak to him. Noah’s self confidence is assaulted daily as he attempts to interact with people that don’t understand him. He gets frustrated and sad when, despite his best efforts, the words that are produced by his mouth don’t match the words in his mind.
We do not hesitate to help Noah. Laurie has been a scientist, warrior, translator, teacher and advocate. When we learned of the availability of a speech assistance device, we prepared ourselves to take any measure or step necessary to get him a device. Noah heard our discussions about getting a device for him and immediately demanded to be involved with our efforts. His art is a direct reflection of his commitment to the cause. It represents his imagination, passions and understanding of beauty.
People who attended Noah’s art show made a permanent impression on Noah. He watched closely as people evaluated his drawings, paintings and photos. He thrilled when he heard the compliments and beamed with pride as people picked up the art to have as their own. My family is forever indebted to attendees of the art show for your monetary and emotional contribution.
We have also been the recipients of an overabundance of charity from others who didn’t attend Noah’s art show.
To everyone that has freely given of their emotional and physical support, prayers, time, money, facilities, art skills and materials; you have my sincerest gratitude. Thank you for everything you have given. Your efforts have ensured that Noah will get a speech assistance device. Know that your contributions will improve the quality of his communication and mitigate the emotional impact of his Apraxia.
Sunday, April 12, 2009
On Tuesday, our landlord told us that he was tired of being a landlord, was going to sell the house we rent from him and that we needed to be out of the house by May 7th.
We have been saving to buy a house and were planning on purchasing one in the fall, after we paid off a few bills and wiped out some of our credit cards. Our rent in this house has been nominal and has afforded us the chance to play catch up with our finances. Although we were on the right track, we are in no way prepared to purchase a house right now. Laurie and I panicked. I think Laurie and I felt like our dream of owning a home was smashed. Maybe that's a bit dramatic, but we have been working hard to buy our own little slice of America for a few years.
Through some miracle, and I am convinced it's because people love our charming and adorable children, family and friends have rallied around us. People have been bringing us boxes, helping us pack and helping us find a new place to live. We have received an awesome and immediate response to our little crisis and it has been overwhelming.
To my family, friends, friends of friends and anyone else who has offered support and help, you have my sincerest gratitude. My little family is so lucky to have so many people that care.
Posted by Kersten at 11:25 AM
Thursday, November 13, 2008
I was looking at a news website and thought I read a link "Tragic Feed". I would ask the overused question: "What is wrong with me", but I think everyone would answer. I do wonder what I was thinking; maybe one of the following ideas fit my mood?
1. Tragic Feed: When farmers feed low grade chicken meat to chickens.
2. Tragic Feed: A polite way to say you ate something that gave you the mud butt
3. Tragic Feed: A band name. Maybe for a group of young people who feel suffocated by society at large and struggle internally with their deep thoughts and volatile anger. "Nobody understands my angst!"
It's gotta be the last one. I am sure of it.
Posted by Kersten at 10:34 PM
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
Grandpa Rolf grew up on a farm in Germany during an extremely difficult time in Germany's history. I know he worked hard and sacrificed for his family.
I believe that much of his wisdom stems from his need for something light in his life. He turned to what our family does best: distort the ordinary, mundane and tragic into obscene, funny and/or outrageous images.
So, I picture a young Rolf gathering eggs from the chicken coup one early and cold morning when he created this gem of wisdom that is still preached with reverence in our family.
For any physical ailment, with the exception of a hurt back (I will cover back injuries in an upcoming post), You must liberally apply "Chicken Shit" to the affected area.
According to Gramps, it's an effective treatment for zits, rashes, patchy beard growth, warts, thinning hair, etc...
Posted by Kersten at 9:42 PM