Yesterday, as I was sitting at the cafe table inside the Mobil store sipping coffee, the boys stood at the door collecting donations for Little League. At the next table, two men commented about how well the kids were handling themselves. I told them how much my sons really enjoy "tag" week, where the players are sent out in the community to solicit donations for the program, and that it's the boys' way of saying "Thank You" to all of the coaches & volunteers.
We also talked about how much I value the programs our town offers the children in our area, which in turns gives kids something to do other than stir up trouble or experiment with the rampant drug activity here. That's when one man began to blame the trouble & drugs on the recent rise of "the black" population, saying that our area never had problems this bad until "those blacks got here".
I tried to sway the conversation away from this negativity by turning the conversation back to how my boys love sports. No matter what he said, I tried to put a positive spin on things. Eventually he back down and said "You must be an eternal optimist."
This is when it hit me that since I became a mother, my life is different and so is my outlook. I told him "Actually, until recently, I always saw my glass as half empty. And it wasn't until I had children that I learned that my attitude would affect they way they saw the world. So I decided that I needed to adjust my way of thinking, and put more emphasis on the positive aspect of a situation. I don't always succeed, but most times I stress the importance of making a constructive difference in the world."
Although I'm not a perpetual Pollyanna who wears rose-colored glasses, I do try hard to make the boys understand that they have a choice to be happy, to find ways to make a bad situation better, and to turn their misfortune into a learning experience.
I love sharing stories with Birdie, ones that pull at my heart strings because these stories somehow seem to strengthen our bond. Just recently I told him about the days I watched the Columbine & 9/11 horrors unfold, and how each tragedy affected my life.
As he listened, I could see the change in his eyes as he tried to comprehend the details. Later that evening, the news ran some footage from Columbine so we watched it together. He was stunned to see what happened inside that school and the terror that ensued.
Maybe this story was too intense for a ten year old, but it is my hope that it raised his level of compassion. I also hope that he learned that he must find a reason to move forward even when the road appears to end.
3 days ago