October 26, 2010

{Parent's Day Essay Contest: 1st Place Winner!}

On October 3, 2010 I was invited to the Colorado Parent’s Day Awards Banquet to speak and to judge an essay writing contest.  To read more about the event scroll down or click here to read my October 6th post. It was a heart touching event organized by Peggy Yujiri and her team at the Colorado Parent’s Day Council, which celebrated  parents of excellence and the parents of the year. 

This essay, submitted by Irena Smith, has a simple writing style, and I love the fact that she reflected on small stories and her changed perception over time. Congratulations to the first place winner!

Parents
by Irena Smith

In our lives we meet thousands of people. Hundreds of thousands maybe. Maybe we’ve known some of them all our lives, since before we can remember. Maybe some of them are just people you once said hi to, and they said hi back. Maybe one is your kindergarten teacher, one is that kid at camp who taught you how to hacky sack, one that old lady across the street who once asked you to help her bring in her groceries. And of course, two of those people are your parents. You get the idea. Hundreds of thousands of people.
Every one of those people changes you in some way. Every one of them puts a little part of themselves in you when you relate to them, when you reciprocate with them. Now, we’ve all heard the phrase, ‘it takes a village to raise a child’, but I doubt many people picture a village of hundreds of thousands. Every one of those people makes you who you are.
Parents are unimaginably valuable to a child. Childhood is when a person is developing themselves, when you need someone to look up to, to show you the way, to support you. That is the role of the parent. Naturally, the parent can’t do everything. That’s where all those other people in you life come in.
We’ve all been in a parental position to someone else at some point in our lives, whether we realized it at the time or not. We are all a part of the community we live in, the society we live in, the world we live in. It is our responsibility to take care of and teach the people around us. They are invaluable.
When your mom tells you not to hit people when you are too young to figure this sort of thing out for yourself, it is because someone once told her that, in a different time, in a different place. In general, it is an accepted rule that one does not hit other people. This is how a society is built. When you are a parental figure to someone else, you are changing them, just a tiny bit. And someday they will change some one else, and so on and so forth. Our mothers could just as easily spread the general rule that when someone else offends, for God’s sake, knock them out. That certainly wouldn’t create a world based on goodness.
When I was younger, I used to think that being a parent wouldn’t be a very good job. You aren’t saving people from fires, or teaching people how to read or anything important really. I couldn’t have been more wrong. My mom would try to explain it to me, “Maybe one of my children will save someone’s life someday,” she’d say. I just thought that was an awful lot of pressure for us. Now I am beginning to realize how true that is. Not just about your children literally, but all of the people you have been in a parental position to. All of the people you have put a little bit of yourself into.
So, next time you are in a parental position, think about what sort of rule you are spreading, what sort of world you want to see. Because parents have that power. Parents really can change the world one person at a time.
{Parent's Day Essay Contest: 1st Place Winner!}SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

October 19, 2010

{Parent's Day Essay Contest: 2nd Place Winner}

On October 3, 2010 I was invited to the Colorado Parent’s Day Awards Banquet to speak and to judge an essay writing contest.  To read more about the event scroll down or click here to read my October 6th post. It was a heart touching event organized by Peggy Yujiri and her team at the Colorado Parent’s Day Council, which celebrated  parents of excellence and the parents of the year. Many excellent essays were submitted and I was privileged to read them all and want to share the three winners with you.

A Daughter to Her Parents
by Giselle Davenport (age 16)

Those of you that put faith
In believing you are on your own
That only you are reliable
Only you are worthy of your love

Must remember where you came from
One birth was not spontaneous
You don’t owe yourself that credit
Give that to who deserves it most

You know them very well, I’m sure
They’ve been next to you for years and years
Helping you to walk those first uncertain steps
And being there to laugh when you flat-bottom fall
But sure to pick you up again

Sitting you cautiously
On the set of that bike you just had to have
Screaming for you to hit the brakes
But all in vain as you flail helplessly down the sidewalk

Who took you that first day of school?
Prepared your lunch all nice and pretty
To show off at snack time to envious eyes
All the “I’ll trade you”s are due to them

When peers’ harsh words brought tears along faithfully
When opinions of others were most important
And sticks and stones could break your bones
But words could hurt much worse

It was they who made you love yourself
Believe in the bountiful beauty that is you
It was they who told you so
And turned the tears to ashes as they fell
Never to fall for that reason evermore

Finally done with studying, working
All those late night essays, readings
Are finally done with, those long sixteen years
Your tasseled cap and gown adorn you graciously

And who but they sit front row
Smiling bright, pride shining in their eyes
The same eyes you have, there upon that stage
They are due the highest reward

Now as you sit in your pretty white dress
Nervously stand at that alter, forever promise
You look to the ones who so happily gaze upon you
Hearts full to bursting with love

Sadly, now you wear your black
Flowers tightly held in your shaking hands
Tears roll down that face they created
As all those fond memories flow back to you

Melancholy fills the air, yet a hint of happiness
A funeral is not for sorrow and broken heart
It’s for loving reminiscence and a proper heaven send
You know you will someday reunite again

But now, as you proudly reflect
Just remember to never forget
Who was there to walk alongside you
As you took those first uncertain steps
{Parent's Day Essay Contest: 2nd Place Winner}SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

October 13, 2010

{Parent's Day Essay Contest: 3rd Place Winner}

On October 3, 2010 I was invited to the Colorado Parent’s Day Awards Banquet to speak and to judge an essay writing contest.  It was a heart touching event organized by Peggy Yujiri and her team at the Colorado Parent’s Day Council, which celebrated  parents of excellence and the parents of the year. Many excellent essays were submitted and I was privileged to read them all and want to share the three winners with you.


My Relationship with My Parents
by Krista Smith

In this essay I will share about the ever growing and changing thing that is my relationship with my parents.
I wish that I had a better word to use; the word “relationship” doesn’t seem nearly powerful enough to convey the bond between parents and their children. For one thing the connection we have is much more than just the affiliation between people, or a “mutual exchange”, as the dictionary defines a relationship to be. As we’ve been told, the love of a parent to a child is the most powerful, beautiful kind of love there is. But in this essay I would like to write not only about the unconditional love of a parent, but also about some of the stages and feelings (both loving and not) of the child.
          From the very beginning of my relationship to my mother and father, that is from the beginning of my life, my parents made mistakes. They would do all sorts of little things to regret, they were only human, and learning the complicated difficult process of raising children. It didn’t exactly make it easier that they had four children within three years, and then a fifth only three years later. At this point my parents had a five-year-old, two four-year-olds, a three-year-old, and a new born baby to worry about, not to mention the difficulties of a matched marriage and a low income. Just today we were talking to our parents about what an insane time that must have been, and they were telling us how much they would yell at us and then regret their anger almost instantly. My parents were probably stretched so far by the stress and noise and chaos of five young children that they yelled at us more in that crazy time than they do now with four teenagers and a preteen. The funny thing is that when looking back on that time of my early childhood, my parent’s frustration and difficulty with us is not at all what prevails in my memory. What I remember most from that time is an unconditional love and admiration for my parents that I had, especially my mother. In my eyes they were absolutely perfect. Although there were (and are) a lot of us, I don’t remember ever feeling unloved or attention needy, I just recall how in my innocent, childish eyes my parents never did anything wrong.
As time went on and we children grew into preteens my mind, as every mind does, began to mature and change. I began to look at the world, and at my parents, in a very different way. Although they were as good of parents then as they were in my early childhood I began to view my parents as less and less perfect. One might say that at that time in my life I became aware that my parents were human, that they made mistakes, that that they were, at times, unjust. I saw that they too got tired and grouchy, that they got impatient and angry and sad. And I was mad at them. Shouldn’t they, adults, be mature, responsible, and right all the time? It just didn’t seem fair. It never entered my mind that I should thank them for all that they did or that I should try to shoulder some of their burden by helping them in whatever way I could; in my immature mind I thought that it was their job and responsibility to care for me and everything else. Of course another part of this was that my once entirely innocent vision had now been clouded by other things. When I thought that my parents were being unjust or unkind, they really had my best interest in mind. A parent’s job is more than just loving their child, parents also have to discipline and shape them into the person they will be. So when I didn’t understand why I had do the dishes and wash my own clothes when my friends didn’t, it was not because I was growing up and becoming more mature as I thought, but because I still had a lot to learn.
I am currently in yet another stage in my relationship to my parents. Now when I see that they are human just like me and can be worn down with worry, can want to cry for frustration, and sometimes wish that things are different then they are, when I see that sometimes they make mistakes too, that they do things they regret, instead of making me mad, it makes me proud. I cannot even comprehend all that they’ve done, that they do all that they do. I am in awe and beyond grateful to think that they do it all unconditionally for their children, for me.
As I grow into an adult, and perhaps have children of my own and, in some way, walk the path that my parents have, I know that I will only grow closer and closer to my parents and that my gratitude and admiration for them will only increase. I know that our “relationship”, the beautiful bond I cannot find a name for, will continue to grow as the most perfect, breathtaking, powerful love in the universe.       
{Parent's Day Essay Contest: 3rd Place Winner}SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

October 6, 2010

{Where were you on the morning of Sept 15, 1993?}

Last Sunday, October 3, 2010 I was invited to the Colorado Parent’s Day Awards Banquet.  It was a heart touching event organized by Peggy Yujiri and her team at the Colorado Parent’s Day Council, which celebrated  parents of excellence and the parents of the year.

When dinner started and everyone was settled in their seats, Peggy invited me to talk about my reflections on parenting.  As I walked up to the podium, I kept thinking of the life story of James and Jenny Davenport, the 2010 Colorado Parents of the Year.  I was quiet for a minute as I stared at James, sitting happily with his family around him.  Somehow my prepared speech was not important to me anymore.  I addressed him and the other parents present as I started speaking.  

“What were you guys doing at 3:08am on September 15, 1993?  Why didn't you come and smack me on the forehead the moment Raka was born, to make me aware of the responsibilities of a father.”  I paused, then went on to ask, “What were you guys doing in December 1988 when I got married and took a vow. Where were you to tell me what it takes to stay married?”

I shared with the group the consequence of the divorce as faced by Raka.  She has to hide pictures of her with her mom and dad in her closet.  Divorce, among other things, makes a child defensive about sharing her parents in public.  This is only one of the many challenges a child goes through, but it did not just happen. It was baby steps taken after marriage, that eventually resulted in divorce, and that put Raka into her current lifestyle. I really wish that the consequences for children of their parents wrong turns could be reinforced when a couple gets married.

I had to leave the Colorado Parent's Day Awards Banquet early to be with Raka. As I left the room, I was sad. I also felt the energy from the parents who were in the room, celebrating their 24-7 commitment to their children.  Of course as I started driving, I had to call Raka and say, “Baby, I am on my way.  I love you.”

Raka was very excited about her day.  She enthusiastically told me what she was doing and then she said, “I love you too. Be safe as you drive, Dad.”
{Where were you on the morning of Sept 15, 1993?}SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend