What I Learned at the Surgery Center

Last week, I had a little surgical procedure. No biggie. Just a routine test based on my family’s history of cancer.

And, based on my family’s history of anxiety, I was a little bit nervous.
(Okay, I was in a tizzy…)

So, I decided to make myself feel better by doing what any hypochondriac responsible, proactive patient would do: I turned to the Worldwide Web. I found not only helpful articles, but also videos of the procedure, helping me to know exactly what to expect. In addition, the medical practice has a website, so I could see pictures of the surgery center, equipment and even pictures of all the doctors, nurses and office managers. All of the necessary paperwork was available on the site, too, making preparations easy.

Once at the surgery center, the technology sparkled…state-of-the-art medical equipment, computers and even a luxurious and, I learned, quite expensive, blanket warming cabinet. Technology made everything so much more comfortable, and certainly calmed my anxious mind.

stanfordchildrens.org

stanfordchildrens.org

But it didn’t replace the care and kindness of real, live people.
Not one little bit. Not even close.

Online videos helped, but they couldn’t replace a discussion with my sister (the nurse!). Web-based articles were informative, but paled next to my husband’s steadfast, calm presence. Downloadable forms were convenient, but nothing compared to the nurse’s reassuring words as I woke up, or my friend, Rebecca’s outrageous sense of humor, or the doctor’s rather jolly bedside manner.

In today’s online, web-based, texty, tweety world, we can communicate silently and work independently. We can connect with people all over the world and access information that only a few short years ago, would have only been available at a university library. On microfiche. Technology is a very, very good thing.

But I was reminded, last Tuesday, that I shouldn’t  be so wooed by the speed, convenience and intricacy of technology that I forget that I was created for real-live, warm, honest community.

That blanket, all cozy-warm, fresh from that high-tech cabinet, wouldn’t have meant anything at all without the nurse’s capable hands tucking it around me, squeezing my shoulder as she calmly reassured me: “Everything is just fine.”

britsattheirbest.com

britsattheirbest.com

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The Elephant in the Room: How Kids Learn to Bully

Recently, I attended a school meeting to discuss progress and create plans for an energetic, kind, insightful fourth grader.

The teachers, school counselor, parents and principal intently discussed accommodations that would help this student stay organized and on task. The conversation flowed naturally into the child’s needs during non-classroom portions of the day, such as recess, lunch and bus rides. Reluctantly, bravely, the parents began to share the difficulty their child was experiencing during these unstructured periods of time.

Tears flowed. Anger surfaced.

The team refocused the discussion on what one researcher calls “a pervasive public health problem.”

Bullying.

The parents described specific examples of social aggression…exclusion, rumor-spreading, teasing. The staff listened intently, and somewhat incredulously. “We had no idea this was going on…” And that is understandable. Bullying can be incredibly subtle–even silent–and quite easy to miss.

kidsgossip

As the team discussed a plan to address this issue, a team member ruefully asked, “Where do they learn this?”

At that moment, a glossy magazine on the corner of the table caught my eye:

cctimemag

And then I knew the answer.

While this Time cover may be construed as clever, it has been perceived as insulting, unkind and just plain mean. Bullying.

Most kids don’t need to have a subscription of Time to learn the subtle tactics of social aggression…they have adults in their schools, churches and neighborhoods that will model mastery for them in real life.

adultgossip

Think about the kinds of things they hear…

“Did you see the Halloween costumes Alice made for her kids? Sheesh. Talk about elaborate. She’s clearly got too much time on her hands…”

“Hey…thanks for inviting us to your timeshare for spring break. It’s going to be SO much fun. Are the Donaldsons and Hansons coming, too? All our kids are going to have a great time on the beach…” (said in front of those who were not included)

“Have you noticed the Margaret’s kids? They are OUT of control. Wow. I heard the police took the oldest in for drug possession. Margaret’s really got her hands full. Bless her heart.”

“Hey, I want you to pray for Marty. He just can’t seem to keep a job…he got fired AGAIN! But I’m telling you so you’ll pray for them. It’s not gossip.”

We’re the Elephant in the Room.
I am.
You are.

And our little elephants are watching and listening…
And everyone knows…elephants remember everything.

Photo credits: eonline; images.smh;mycolormusic.

An Accommodating Advent: Preparing our hearts

A cure for Christmas-“Perfectionitis”

Diving for Pearls

Christmas is coming!

I confess that I tend to get as overly excited about the season as a four year-old. It’s true. I love every little detail…the decorating, baking, selecting gifts, hosting parties. I also struggle with what I call “perfection-itis:” an overwhelming desire for the holidays to look as wonderful as a Martha Stewart magazine cover.

A few years ago, I really hit the wall. I had  four big dinner parties planned at our home, and I busied myself with decorating, food preparations, and creating crafts and games for the children involved. By the time Christmas finally arrived, I was exhausted, teary and edgy…and more than ready for Christmas to be OVER. Much of the holiday had gone quite well. The house looked beautiful, guests were impressed and the kids had fun. My joy, however, was extinguished, and the heaviness in my soul and body led me to truly understand the…

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