Sunday, November 27, 2011

You think you're better than me?

  Don't you want your kids to be better off than you were?  That seems to be the question that people use to measure their success.  My answer to that question is heck no!  If you ask me, I had it too darn easy.  I never went hungry.  I was never cold at night.  I always had shoes on my feet and a coat on my back.  Beyond that, I never had to worry about much.  I knew my parents loved me, and that didn't mean that they bought me endless piles of junk to try to keep me entertained.  One of the most common phrases I can remember whining, like most kids growing up, was "I'm booorrrreeeddd".  To which my mom's response was always, "Find something to do.  You don't need to be entertained every minute of the day". 
  Having everything a kid wants isn't good for them anyway.  There comes a point when it's a waste to buy another toy, another video game, another set of clothes, and on and on and on.  When a person is given more than they need on a wasteful scale, they become lazy at least, greedy at worst.  Why would I want to do that to my kids?  This is also true for our family when it comes to t.v. watching in my house.  Too much sitting, staring blindly at what is rarely a redeeming program leads to a lack of attention span and attitude problems. 
  Having more than they need and not having to earn anything is not what I consider better than I had it.  How many times do we hear troubled kids blame their parents for the way they've turned out?  To quote Jeff Foxworthy, "Just once I wanna hear a kid say, 'My mom was great, my dad was great, I'm just a shit head.'"
  So how do I want my kids to turn out compared to me?  Watching my oldest son is like taking a walk with the ghost of Christmas past to see myself at 7.  Why was I so loud?  Why did I talk first and think last, if ever?  I want my kids to learn to be still.  To not seek out attention.  And to look around themselves and listen first and then be thoughtful in their response to others.
  I want them to be confident.  I don't want them to shy away from opportunities to make the world around them better because they think they are lacking some magical talent that the rest of the world possesses but somehow skipped them.  I want them to learn to walk with their heads high, not hide from the chance to right a wrong, to fix an injustice that makes them angry.
  I also want them to learn that hard work, and smart work, for that matter, is what makes a job worth doing.  And that whether that job was a success or not is measured by how many people it helped.
  I don't want my kids to have more than I did.  I don't want them to have it better than I did.  I don't even care if they are more successful than I am.  I just want them to be better than me.

Saturday, November 5, 2011


  I was filling out an online poll the other day, and I came to the part where it asks you to check the box for your occupation.  After reading through the usual choices (accounting, finance, law, medicine, mechanic, teacher, etc.), I came to the last box.  Other.  And of course, there was a blank to fill in what "other" is.  My first thought was, "I am a Jedi, like my father before me."  Then I thought, no, that would skew the results of the poll.
  So I began to think about what would best describe "other".  Last week, for instance, I was a veterinarian.  Today, I was a demolitionist.  Someday soon, and I'm dreading this, I'll be a mechanic.  Next week, I plan on being a trucker for awhile.  When all else fails, I'm a groundskeeper.
  Some days I'm a welder, but before I can be that I must be an engineer.  And often times engineering leads to construction as well, not to mention concrete pourer.  And when I get the bill for that, I become an accountant.  And through everything, I end up being a secretary and communications expert as well, relying on technology to keep tabs on prices, supplies, and orders.
  As is often the case in my line of work, I must become a politician, if I want policy to be steered in a way that's beneficial to those in my line of work.  And in doing so, I have to be a teacher also, so those making policy understand the ups and downs of what folks like myself deal with every day. 
  Some days I cowboy up.  Now we're getting closer.  If I'm being honest, this is where I probably lack the most, even though it's the most enjoyable part of my job.  In fact, if it weren't for cowboying, I probably wouldn't be any of the rest of those things.  Being outside, relying on nature for my welfare, and trying to improve on the results of generations of hard work keeps me challenged and focused.
  I usually just answer the occupation question with "farmer".  For awhile, I used the term "beef producer", but that sounds rather industrial in my opinion.  I'm not just a rancher, though, because I also spend an enormous amount of time in the field, tilling, planting, mowing, baling, harvesting, and hauling.  Not to mention feeding and caring for a multitude of livestock.
  I'm sure I've missed countless things that thousands upon thousands like me, before me, and after me, would list as their daily duties.  Truth be told, it's nearly impossible to accomplish all that needs to be done in a day.  But there's no overtime pay, no time and a half, and no paid vacations.  Much like a postal worker, even more effort is put in during the rain, sleet, and dark of night.  Because there can be no end to the caring for the gift given to all of us to use for the good of our neighbors as well as ourselves.  The land, the animals, and the plants that make it possible for all of us to thrive need to be protected by those of us who have been doing so for an eternity.
  I guess they need to make a box that I can mark for steward.