Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Complaint Department

Parenting goes hand in hand with wearing many hats. We’re the teachers, drivers, counselors, chief cook and bottle washer to our wonderful children, day in and day out. We also frequently become the maitre de to the whine and cheese department. Here’s how I’ve reigned in my kids excessive whining.

While reading a wonderful book by Linda Greenlaw, I zoomed in on a description of her mother dealing with multiple kids and their various daily complaints. As we all know, this can be the most annoying and disrupting part of a parents day. Her mom had a daily time set aside for the “complaint department.” Yep, the complaint department. What a concept!! Greenlaw’s mom would allow open season in her home for a set amount of time each day. She’d hear whines, fix boo boos, and generally perform all the magic that is expected of a mom. I latched onto this idea as the perfect way to save myself from mass hysteria in the evenings. I fully expected peace and serenity in my home every evening. And I must say, we are almost there. Almost!

My complaint department only opens from 3-4 p.m. every day. I hear complaints about school, homework, lunch box contents, bad hair days, and just plain whining on a daily basis. Children need to vent and Mom has the perfect ear for it. Children need our guidance and advice. It’s heartwarming to know that every day between 3-4 p.m., I’m gonna hear just about everything that matters to my kids. On their terms.

The biggest added benefit to this whole complaint department concept is that I’m teaching my children that Mom’s sanity matters too. I need my space and cannot be the top problem solver all day long. They need to work things out for themselves. My kids need to have their own space to figure out why they feel whiny. It’s a good lesson in self reliance. Of course, they know I’m there in a second for a major crisis. However, the evening whining has pretty much ceased in our home.

The really tough part of establishing a complaint department involves sticking to your guns. I found that I couldn’t be at all wishy-washy and allow whining at other times. I remind my kids that the complaint department is closed except for emergencies. I remind myself too. I also have told them I reserve the right to close the complaint department on weekends and holidays.

Of course, none of this works on children under the age of 3. I’m currently trying with my 2 year old and failing miserably! As soon as she’s able to understand better, she’ll have to figure out the complaint department program. Or I’ll have to figure out how to modify the compliant department to accommodate a toddler.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

The Tragic Death of Sean Taylor

I must admit from the get-go, I’m a Redskins fan. I love the burgundy and gold. I love the players and coaches and everything Redskin and have for my whole life. The death of Sean Taylor hit hard in our home. Not only am I a fan, but an avid college football and basketball recruiting follower. My daughter came home from school today and told me it was a bad day. Because Sean Taylor died. My tears this morning were genuine. The tears were for his baby, his girlfriend, his family and the whole Redskin family who must somehow go on after the senseless loss of a talented young man.

There are so many unanswered questions; ones that are probably plaguing most of the people who follow professional football. I hope these questions get answered to the satisfaction of Taylor’s family and friends. I fear there are many parts of this story that the public will never know. There’s anger out there. Immense anger at a senseless loss. And love and respect for the player and man Taylor was becoming. The outpouring of sentiment is evident on every Redskin’s message board on the web. En masse, sports lovers have visited these sites, sending their condolences and prayers. It’s heartwarming to see the camaraderie that can be born of a tragedy. Much like after 9/11, sadness and pain are great unifiers in this diverse country of ours.

I heard and read some things today that struck me as bizarre. I believe some people have a very difficult time facing death, especially violent death. Here’s an example; on the radio today, some man started ranting about how Taylor’s death shouldn’t be blamed on hip hop music. Okay. In my opinion, one doesn’t equal the other and yes, I understand the underlying influences. Most probably, music won’t be part of the investigation. The person was venting; looking for someone to blame. Another person suggested that Taylor’s death was the Redskins’ fault because they did not send someone to provide security for his home after last weekend’s “burglary.” This is emotion talking so throwing logic at it is pointless. The point is that someone murdered Sean Taylor in his home. Blaming anyone except the person who fired the gun is senseless.

Some folks are angry at other folks who suggested they weren’t surprised Taylor died from his wound. Again, logic isn’t prevailing. Blood loss is a tremendous strain on the heart. Two shots were fired. One bullet tragically found the absolute worst possible spot on Sean Taylor’s leg. Some grief stricken folks are calling for the Redskin’s to forfeit the rest of their games. That’s not going to happen but you can be sure, Sunday’s game against the Buffalo Bills will be rife with emotion and tributes to Sean Taylor. There’s word that Clinton Portis might be wearing the #21 jersey this weekend, and possibly for the remainder of the season. There’s word that every player in the NFL will have a #21 on their jerseys. One of the most fitting tributes would be 10 defensive players running the first play of the game.

The business of football changed early this morning with the Sean’s passing…changed from dollars and cents to one rife with sadness for what could have been. It begins with the question of where the organization moves on to from here. The Redskins were building their defense around Sean Taylor. He was their very best young player. There are salary cap issues and bonus issues. I personally do not think Dan Snyder will request signing bonus money to be returned from Taylor’s family. I think Dan Snyder will offer a reward for information leading to the arrest of who committed Taylor’s murder. Football means absolutely nothing at this point although it must be stated that the Redskins cannot fold their tent. While we all know winning or losing doesn’t matter anymore, we must understand that this franchise can’t end with the death of one player. Players need our help and support to move on. I am worried about the well being of everyone in the Redskin’s organization. Taking the field on Sunday will be one of the hardest but most courageous things that many have ever attempted.

Over the next days, weeks and months, we are all going to see Sean Taylor’s life examined under a microscope. There will be people who shred him for past mistakes and past associations. There will be people who praise him for trying so hard to turn his life around. Somewhere in the middle of this is an 18-month-old little girl who lost her father. She’ll never know him. She’ll only have pictures of him. She won’t ever again feel his touch and be folded in his arms. Sean Taylor’s fans just touched the very surface of who he was. But a huge part of the emptiness we feel is for his baby girl.

RIP Sean...