The Glass Is Half Full. Really?

I’ve been called a pessimist, but I’ve always considered myself a realist. I just realized this morning that I may actually be an optimist and that’s kind of disconcerting.

I was thinking about my post from Monday about unity. Why on earth do I believe that so many problems could be solved if more people and groups made an effort to work together rather than pushing separate agendas? Other people think money, research and protests will solve our problems. Why did I pick something so mushy?

When my husband was laid off a couple years ago, I was concerned, but I wasn’t overly stressed. I knew things would work out somehow. Why would I think that? Our state has one of the highest unemployment rates in the country. (He did find a job two months later.)

When I found out my son has Asperger’s Syndrome (after a day or so to process it), I jumped into figuring out how to reduce or remove his symptoms. It never occurred to me not to.

I’m always annoyed when I have to be around one of those “everything is horrible” people. Not that I don’t ever complain or get overwhelmed. Most of the time, though, I live in My Happy Place where I believe things aren’t as bad as they may seem. And it’s a bit strange to realize that.

Say What?

Warning: This is a cutesy-kid post that may be of absolutely no interest to any except my sons’ grandparents. I’m trying to put more things on my blog and less on Facebook, where it disappears after a day or two. I recently downloaded all my activity from Facebook, so some of the kid stuff is going on here. (Don’t worry. You won’t have to read about every move my kids have made since I joined facebook 2 1/2 years ago.)

I was orginally going to just post a couple things kind of as an update on how Bennett’s speech is rapidly changing. Then I thought I’d sort through the Facebook posts and see what I had to say about what he said over the last few months. It’s not all recycled Facebook posts, though. There’s some new stuff at the bottom. 😉

Oct 26, 2009 (15 months) “got teary-eyed tonight when Bennett said Mama for me for the first time. The little booger has been saying Daddy (not dada) for MONTHS.”

Aug 3, 2010 (2 years) “Bennett took off his onesie (without unsnapping it), grabbed a blanket and ordered Jeffrey to wrap him up like a “bito”. Just another day…”

Sept 16 (2 years, 2 months) “Bennett was standing at the top of the basement stairs yelling “Bob-bob! Bob-bob!” I thought his Spongebob dvd needed restarted. No, he was standing with the dvd in his hand yelling at Jay to come lay down and watch Spongebob with him. He’d even closed the DVD player and turned off the TV in the playroom. How do I opt out of having kids who will be smarter than me?”

Nov 11 (2 years, 4 months) “Bennett dropped his fork. While Jeffrey was being a sweet big brother and getting him a new one, Bennett grabbed Jeffrey’s fork and yelled, “Ha ha!” “

Nov 14 “We made it home, but Bennett really misses Papa and Grandma. Or as he calls them, POPpa and Muma.”

Nov 16 “Bennett doesn’t say “yeah”, he says “yah”. I have idea where he picked that up.”

Dec 7 ” The boys are “swimming” through the house. Bennett decided he had to take his onsie off because he’s “ah bee”. (Translation: “at the beach”) “

Dec 9 (2 years, 5 months) “Apparently, one can never have enough dinosaur books. Even if one can’t read yet. “More rawr!” “

Dec 12 “Jeffrey is learning not to play Hide & Seek with a toddler who can’t really count yet. 1,2,5! “

Dec 19 “What did I do for enertainment before I had kids? Bennett knows “2” & “5”. He also knows if you turn one upside down, you get the other (sort of). So every time he picks up a 5, he says, “Five”, the turns it over and says, “Two”, and vice versa. And you’re not allowed to argue. Logic has no place here. 😉 “

Dec 19 “Bennett just recently started talking and it’s sweet, entertaining and frustrating at the same time. He just told me, “My pizza happy.” How am I supposed to figure out what that means? LOL”
“I think he may have been bragging. The whole thing went like this: “Mama pizza all gone. My pizza happy.” Not sure he quite understands what “happy” means, but I think he was rubbing my face in the fact that my pizza was gone and he still had some. LOL”

Dec 21 ” Bennett: Mama! Hide.
Me: You’re hiding?
B: Yeah.
Me: Where are you hiding?
B: TV.
Me: You’re hiding behind the TV?
B: Yeah.
He hasn’t really figured out that the point of hiding is to not be found. 😉 “

Dec 22 “Jeffrey’s reading a dinosaur book to Bennett. There aren’t many things cuter than a 2-year-old trying to say, “Hypsilophodon”. LOL “

Dec 23 “So this morning at speech therapy, Bennett was making his usual sounds as if he’s counting.I said, “Show Mrs. Shannon how you can count,” thinking that after 2, she would have to prompt him.Nope. He counted to 8 all by himself, and I’m guessing he would have gone to 10, but he ran out of things to count. I got a little teary. That’s the first time he’s really counted on his own. This growing-up thing is bitter-sweet. “

Dec 28 “Bennett was saying “Yah”. Now he says, “Yep”. From German to cowboy in less than two weeks.”

Dec 31 “Jeffrey was trying to explain brothers and sisters to Bennett. Then came the quiz.
Jeffrey: So what am I to you?
Bennett: My Jeppy!”
Jan 5 “Bennett just brought me my water bottle and said, “Thank you, Mommy!” LOL I remember Jeffrey doing the same kind of thing. Apparently this manners thing isn’t as easy as it seems. 😉 ”

Jan 6 “Bennett told us a few minutes ago, “Jeppy mad me.” Jeffrey wasn’t mad at him, but apparently that’s the only acceptable reason for Jeffrey not wanting to watch what Bennett wanted to watch. “

Jan 12 (2 years, 6 months) “I think we’ve OD’ed on Dora. I was taping a package for ebay and Bennett yelled, “Sticky tape, Mama!” “

Jan 15  “For some bizarre reason, Bennett’s newest thing is saying he’s sorry all the time. It doesn’t matter if he’s done something or not. It’s just his new favorite word. I told him, “You don’t have to say you’re sorry all the time, baby.” His response: “Otay. Sowwy, Mama.”

Jan 16  “Bennett said “Arkansas” this morning, a word hasn’t heard in at least a couple of weeks. Makes me wonder what else is in there just waiting to pop out.”

His latest thing is “stupid”. We were looking for something to watch on Netflix the other night and he said, “Spongebob stupid!” I agreed and thought my kid was even smarter than I thought. But then he didn’t want to watch Garfield episodes because, “Nermal stupid!” I’m a little slow, but I eventually caught on. Spongebob is only stupid when he’s not in the mood for it. We’ve had a lot of “stupid” things in the house lately.

Jeffrey is no longer “Gaga”. He’s graduated to “Jeppy.”

We’re also learning how much fun it is to decipher words. It’s been a long time since Jeffrey was a toddler. I’d forgotten how many words sound alike. Nothing can make you feel “stupid” like having your child repeat a word 20 times while you run through every word you can think of that even remotely sounds like what he’s saying. Then giving up and saying, “Can you show me what you’re talking about?” I feel like Marlin from Finding Nemo. “You’re really cute, but I don’t know what you’re saying!” LOL

My favorite thing is that he’s started saying “I love you” spontaneously. Well, it’s more like, “I blub u,” but it works. I blub u, too, baby.

Does “United” Really Mean Anything?

We live in the United States of America. These days, the name seems to be the only thing united in this country. There are battle lines everywhere: skin color, culture, gender, political party, religion, financial status, sexuality, and probably a few more I’m missing. I don’t know if the Tuscon shootings had anything to do with Sarah Palin or anyone else slinging mud, arrows, or whatever else was handy, but the reaction has been ridiculous. Everyone wants to jump in and blame someone else. Loudly and vehemently.

I’ve said for a long time that if politicians would work together for the good of their constituents, instead of following the money and pushing their own agenda, so much more would get done and we would be so much better off. Of course, it’s not just politicians; they’re just the most obvious and should be the most accountable because they represent so many people. We’re all accountable for our own actions, though, and we can all make a difference, one decision at a time. We’re all stuck on this earth together, why can’t we make more of an effort to work together instead of finding every reason not to?

Yesterday at church, my preacher read part of a 2008 speech given by President Obama at Dr. King’s church in Atlanta for the MLK Day ceremony. The subject was unity. It struck me because to me, unity is the answer to so many problems. I have included some of the speech below. I’ve also included quotes from Dr. King regarding unity. John Donne wrote in 1624, that we are all dependent on each other. And we’ve all heard or read the following quote by Martin Niemöller:

“When the Nazis came for the communists, I did not speak out;
As I was not a communist.
When they locked up the social democrats,
I did not speak out;
I was not a social democrat.
When they came for the trade unionists,
I did not speak out;
As I was not a trade unionist.
When they came for the Jews,
I did not speak out;
As I was not a Jew.
When they came for me,
there was no one left to speak out.”

“From every mountainside, let freedom ring. When we let freedom ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, “Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!” — Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., I Have a Dream, 1963.

All men are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality. ” — Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

“Like an unchecked cancer, hate corrodes the personality and eats away its vital unity. Hate destroys a man’s sense of values and his objectivity. It causes him to describe the beautiful as ugly and the ugly as beautiful, and to confuse the true with the false and the false with the true.” –Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools.” — Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr

The hope of a secure and livable world lies with disciplined nonconformists who are dedicated to justice, peace and brotherhood.” — Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr

“The good neighbor looks beyond the external accidents and discerns those inner qualities that make all men human and, therefore, brothers.” — Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr

“All mankind is of one author, and is one volume; when one man dies, one chapter is not torn out of the book, but translated into a better language; and every chapter must be so translated…As therefore the bell that rings to a sermon, calls not upon the preacher only, but upon the congregation to come: so this bell calls us all: but how much more me, who am brought so near the door by this sickness….No man is an island, entire of itself…any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind; and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.” John Donne  1624

Excerpts of President Obama’s 2008 speech:

“Unity is the great need of the hour” is what King said. Unity is how we shall overcome.What Dr. King understood is that if just one person chose to walk instead of ride the bus, those walls of oppression would not be moved. But maybe if a few more walked, the foundation might start to shake. If a few more women were willing to do what Rosa Parks had done, maybe the cracks would start to show. If teenagers took freedom rides from North to South, maybe a few bricks would come loose. Maybe if white folks marched because they had come to understand that their freedom too was at stake in the impending battle, the wall would begin to sway. And if enough Americans were awakened to the injustice; if they joined together, North and South, rich and poor, Christian and Jew, then perhaps that wall would come tumbling down, and justice would flow like water, and righteousness like a mighty stream.

Unity is the great need of the hour – the great need of this hour.”

“But of course, true unity cannot be so easily won. It starts with a change in attitudes – a broadening of our minds, and a broadening of our hearts.

It’s not easy to stand in somebody else’s shoes. It’s not easy to see past our differences. We’ve all encountered this in our own lives. But what makes it even more difficult is that we have a politics in this country that seeks to drive us apart – that puts up walls between us.”

“So let us say that on this day of all days, each of us carries with us the task of changing our hearts and minds. The division, the stereotypes, the scape-goating, the ease with which we blame our plight on others – all of this distracts us from the common challenges we face – war and poverty; injustice and inequality. We can no longer afford to build ourselves up by tearing someone else down. We can no longer afford to traffic in lies or fear or hate. It is the poison that we must purge from our politics; the wall that we must tear down before the hour grows too late.”

I encourage you to read the whole speech. If you disagree with President Obama’s politics (as I do), ignore the political parts of the speech. Don’t let your political views get in the way of a powerful message.

Small things matter. Smile at someone you normally wouldn’t smile at. Say “Hello” or “How are you?” to someone you wouldn’t normally speak to. Of course there are also big things we can all do, we hear about them every day. Don’t fool yourself into thinking you can’t change anything because you don’t have enough time or money. With compassion and empathy, we can all work together to change our neighborhoods, our cities, our country, and the world.