I'm going to preface this blog by saying I will probably make some people angry at me for what I am about to write. However, this is my blog and these thoughts have been in my thoughts since last week, so I need to get them out.
Last week was very difficult for me. It was the end of the school year, so that made it crazy busy. I thought I would have time to get my room in order and check out on time. That didn't happen. I found lots to keep me busy and even after 10 AM last Friday, I still had kids in my room. The kids in my room talked as if they have no clue that I was sitting right there. I heard things I really wished I hadn't heard, but I did hear them. And the things I heard made me sad, because kids that I love are making terrible personal decisions. It was also the week of the first anniversary of the day that changed my life forever, just because of a personal decision that can't be reversed.
Now back to the title of this entry. On Sunday, June 5, Bill and I went up to Andrew's grave and tended to the hanging baskets that are there. We watered them and turned them, allowing them to recover from the wind that had been blowing them since their last turning. So on Tuesday, June 7, when I went to visit again, I was shocked to see how bad the flowers looked. The constant blowing of the wind on that hill overlooking Dayton had really taken its toll on those poor flower pots. I thought maybe they were done for the season. So Kristin helped me load them into the car and I took them home to see if I could revive them. I placed them on the patio, out of the wind, and started their recuperation. It was amazing how quickly they snapped out of that dried up, destroyed flower look. This afternoon when I checked on them I figured it was time to take them back to Andrew and try this again.
As I drove to the cemetery this afternoon, all of those overheard conversations came back to my mind. I thought to myself, "What are they thinking?" That is the same question I asked last June..."What was he thinking?" Just like Andrew, have they forgotten all those goals they made so many years before? Have they forgotten the plans they have made? Have they forgotten that the rest of their lives is about to begin anew? Don't they know how these decisions can change their lives...maybe forever?
Kids, think twice before you do something that can affect your life in a way you are not prepared to handle. You have made commitments to adults who have helped you get to this point in your life. You have made commitments to friends and teammates who are working hard towards your shared goal. You have signed athletic contracts. You have created and agreed to covenants that you have shared with the community. You have or you will ask people to support you financially as you go to college. There are a lot of things that are fun and legal for your age that will not jeopardize your future plans--both plans for this next year and plans for the rest of your life.
Parents, you must parent your kids. All I get to do is tend the flowers on my son's grave. You have an opportunity to remind the kids of the goals they have for their future--both near and far. Say no. Don't give them access to places that are unsupervised. Don't give them access to things that may be legal for you, but are illegal for teenagers. None of our kids are perfect. Mine wasn't and now the decision that he made June 7, 2010 has changed everything. The decisions that the kids are making now can do the same thing. I know that we can't stop them from making and doing things that are wrong for them, but we can make it more difficult for them. As they leave, remind them to be safe. Remind them to make good decisions. Remind them that they have a lot of people who love them and who are watching what they do...whether they know it or not.
Kids are like those flower pots. For me, those flower pots are my responsibility to tend to. I must water them. I must feed them. I must take away the dead, so new can grow. I must try to protect them from the winds of our area. As a parent, you must do the same. Water your children with love. Feed them with knowledge--both new and from your experiences. You must help them grow, sometimes by cutting away the parts of their life that is stopping them from blooming. You must do everything in your power to protect them from the cruel winds of our society. Remind them everyday that you love them.