I've been in Washington DC for the week at a convention. We had probably 3000 women in attendance when all was said and done. I met women from across the Nation, all with similar interests... great concern for our Veterans, a love of our children, and a passionate Patriotism.
It was a long week, but I had a great roommate, probably one of the most considerate roommates I've ever had, and it actually made the week fun. I have gone in the past and wanted to run screaming, in total sensory overload.
There was a fantastic gym with a rowing machine and I found when things got crazy in my head, if I just rowed for 20 minutes, it cleared. I cannot imagine how head clearing it would be on a lake in the wee hours of the morning. Alas, living in Florida, our lakes full of gators, that will not be for me.
I am slated to run our State of women in three years. I don't think I've put that out here before, although I know many of you know I'm involved with this great organization. But as with any organization of mass quantities of people, comes the human element: some are mean, some are nuts, some are dumb, others are selfish, there are egos, and then there is... the ever present incompetence.
For 22 years I've been affiliated with this group. We've done some tremendous things and I've met some brilliant and amazing women. I've had the opportunity to hear speakers and meet people that I would never have had chance to otherwise. From children who've done amazing things to Battaan Death March survivors, sponsoring seeing eye dogs for our wounded warriors, and helping families in crisis as their wounded warriors recover at a VA... the experiences are tremendous and I soak it all in and help when I can.
I have observed how things run, what needs to be done and have made mental note of what we do right and... of what we do not.
Finally in a fit of aggravation over leadership one night, as I jokingly said in frustration to a friend, "I should run for the Executive Board for our State"... she replied... "You should."
And it started. Over the last three years I've run for offices and won. I have always run opposed. I'm on the track to run this organization within my State of 10,000 women in three years. It will be a full time job of a two year commitment with my traveling the State constantly, going to every chapter (over 100) and meeting every woman I can.
I'll be in the field, if you will, helping and listening to the women who are the backbone of our organization.
And after coming back from our National Convention, for the first time, I am nervous.
For the first time, I wonder, will I be what they need me to be? Will I be as patient as one needs during conflict? Will I be able to steer and to guide as a true leader?
Every night I go through my thoughts and I've now started to write them down. In what direction do I want to take them? Will they want to follow? Will they come together? Can I quell the petty arguments I see going on within some chapters? Can I get them to realize... we must be kind?
My roommate gave me a book to read while we were visiting Ford's theatre. Lincoln on Leadership, Executive Strategies for Tough Times.
Of course, I'm joking that my goal is not to get shot at the end of my administration, but I am taking it to heart. I'm reading it and pondering areas of which I have concern.
But the question I ask myself most is... do great leaders ever doubt they can lead?
I guess that is the basis of this post. Am I capable of being a great leader to these 10,000 women, when I am doubting myself and my abilities to be what they need to be?
Am I destined to be just another mediocre leader, a name with the dozens of names I can conjure up?
My ladies deserve more than gross mediocrity. They deserve a good strong leader... and that is where I've been this week mentally, as I've been in DC, watching, listening, praying.
I don't know. I pray I can be... what I need to be for them, before I quietly go back to my private life.
On a Bones' note... I received an text picture of him last night; his hair was gelled. He is now clean cut and this 'gel' hairstyle is quite the innovation.
I was greeted tonight with, "Mom! Mom! Mom! Look what I got! I got hair gel, Old Spice Spiffy!"
Of course he did. Old Spice is big with my boys. Whoda thunk it?!
Bones has this thing about words. He always uses them incorrectly. Sometimes I think he does it on purpose now, but other times, I think it's the impulse.
This word pops into his head, so he uses it. The definition does not define the word. He thinks the word comes up with its own definition based on how it is used.
I worked until 7 tonight and my husband was out with the boys. So the four of them were trying to decide where I was going to meet them for dinner. My husband finally said, "Just throw some names of places out there and I'll tell you yes or no..."
Hunhead: No. We ate that recently.
Bones: I know. If you're feeling ambidextrous, we could do PF Changs.
Silence was in the car until finally my eldest said, "Bones, if you're feeling like you can use both hands? Or... would that be... ambitious?"
Evidently there was a lot of laughter over it and it's now the family joke. If someone is being overly driven, they will now be ambidextrous.
This online math is a disaster. It's everything I remembered it to be and worse.
Add to it that we're dealing with an ADHD kid and... It's horrible.
That's how we're trying to get ready for this Algebra retake in mid July, he's having to take an EOC prep class online. They wanted him to sit in a classroom every day for four hours (that thrilled him), but we're out of town for two weeks.
I'm actually talking to my boss about working less hours. I'm going to teach him math for a couple hours before I go to work, go to work, and then come home and sit with him again.
Wash, rinse, repeat.
And... I'm out of town for a week coming in June, so I'm going to have to show Mr. T what we do so he can do it. I'll pay him on the side. Bones works well with his brother.
The first chapter was on parabolas. Any of you math teachers want to shed light on this, feel free.
My son goes to a remedial class for Algebra I and the FIRST thing it goes into is finding zeros and a vertex of a parabola.
Not basics of solving an equation. Not basics of factoring. Right into parabolas.
And I loved when he said to me, "I've never seen this in my life. I know, my remedial math teacher showed us a video on rockets because it has parabolas in it..."
I am just this short of grinding my teeth down to nothing...
Classic Bones... he called me at work:
Bones: Mom, I started that class with a pre-test.
Me: How did it go?
Bones: Not well. They kept asking about a vortex. I don't know anything about a vortex. She never taught us about those.
Me: Hmmm. Vertex. Were they asking you about a vertex?
Bones: That could be it...
Me: Were there parabolas in your problem?
Bones: Like rockets. Yes.
I was at work today when Bone's school popped up on my cell.
I nearly stroked. School is out. When a school calls you, a school like his, it is not good news. All I kept thinking was, "Holy crap, he failed something. They're calling to kick him out."
After 10 years of schooling with him, that's where I am not mentally. For three years, I fought to keep him in the art middle school. He was perpetually on probation.
I answered and it was the Assistant Principal. When he introduced himself I said, "This can't be good..." and he got quiet and said, "No, not it's not."
Finally he said, "Bones did not pass the Algebra I EOC". The EOC is the End of Course Exam that he must pass to get his diploma from high school.
And when the AP said he'd failed, I was relieved. I wanted to yell at him, "THANK GOD!"
I'd feared so much worse. I never expected he'd pass the EOC. He didn't have homework for 18 weeks in his Alg I class. How do you pass math with no homework in particular when you have a disability with math?
I let him go on about how he missed it by a few questions, that had to be a lie, and how we had options.
I'm not sure what he was expecting. A surprised mother? A horrified mother? A crying mother?
Instead, I stopped him and said simply, "I never expected him to pass the EOC. I fully expected we'd have to do something this summer. We just need a plan."
He said quietly, "You never expected him to pass the EOC?"
And I replied, "Absolutely not. He hasn't had homework in 18 weeks. How do you teach a MATH class with NO homework?"
And his response to me boggled my mind.
"Mrs. L., many teachers don't give math homework because there is nobody that can help them at home."
He said that.
Welcome to 2014. Everyone feels good about themselves and we don't give homework to kids who may not have someone at home to help.
Bones is 15 today. I started blogging right before he entered kindergarten. He is going to be a sophomore in high school.
At the age of four, he wanted nothing more than to be Hulk. He dressed like him once a week for pre-school. Now 11 years later, his big request was a Hulk compression shirt made by Under Armour.
That and a new Celtic Cross... with no dead bodies.
As of today, he is allowed to test for his Driver's Permit, something that scares the ever living hell out of all of us. We're dragging our feet with it. We don't see a must for him to have it. My husband is having him mow the lawn on the riding mower, as he did with the other boys, in an attempt to get him to have a feel for driving anything.
So far, he hasn't hit anything although he did nearly run down his dad a few weeks ago.
He made friends readily in his new high school. His buddies are here all the time or he's at their place. The school he goes to is a good fit. Kids just stay after and hang. There is always some sort of performance and so it's not uncommon for him to say he's staying late to go to a theatre production or a piano concert.
There is no bullying. Nobody cares what you wear, what color your hair is, if you're gay, straight, bi, or transgender. They don't care what your religion is or if you have one. There is no color. Everyone is the different and they embrace it.
Quite frankly, I find it remarkable.
From a social aspect, I think that it's been a fantastic year. Education wise, I cannot say the same. The struggle I am finding is when you have a student who has to be in 'regular' classes, the regular student has some serious behavioral issues.
That is our biggest problem with high school.
His English teacher had some sort of dementia (not kidding), his biology teacher went out on maternity leave in January and they didn't replace her until March and then the guy that replaced her had never taught. No homework, no tests, he got an A. His math teacher never assigned homework, yet he did have ONE test, so he got a B in the class.
Fortunately, he was in remedial Math as well and that teacher taught him something.
Bones is in his element. People think he's funny and kind. They see him for what he is. His teachers like him and he wakes up every morning excited for the new day.
He has started endurance trainings on Sunday with a local football coach. He has no intention of playing football, but is thinking of running track. He is fast and he has a good attitude.
The best part about high school so far is... I love his friends. When your children are small, you can pick and choose who they hang out with. But as your children age, you have less and less control.
Bones picks GREAT kids to hang out with. And I think this is an indicator that he too... is a GREAT kid.
I still have many worries. I feel certain he did not pass the Algebra I EOC exam and will have to retake the class, but we will cross that bridge when we get to it.
So, Happy 15th Birthday, Bones. Should all the children be so blessed to be as loved as you are… for if they were, I suspect the problems of this world would be so very different… We love you so.
I have spent the day reading, reading items people have sent me with regard to the swap of terrorists for a deserter. The articles are all good... not shrill from the far flung left Obama supporters. Most were military perspectives and one was from Charles Krauthammer, a man whose opinion I do respect.
What am I left with? Many thoughts. My first one is... I miss Lex. I miss his voice of reason. I miss how he could put it out there, put what he thought, and there would be intellectual discourse, and rarely did my opinion change, but sometimes it took on a different flavor to me, on the few times I did disagree with him.
I think if he of all people had been in favor of this swap, I'd have listened and maybe had become more gray on the area.
But I don't know how he would feel and he's not here and so I'm stuck reading people I have never read so I don't know their perspective, and trying to cobble my thoughts together so I don't sound ignorant.
People don't come here to read my views on politics or the degradation of our society. They come here for stories of Bones, my child who has become a caricature of sorts. He is the happy go lucky in the gloom of our world.
He is the cotton candy to the sticky goo stuck to your shoe at a carnival.
But... my thoughts.
Bergdahl was a deserter. Perhaps he was not a traitor, but he was a deserter. Krauthammer talks about the Israelis trading 1000 Palestinian prisoners for one Sergeant.
I don't think it is the same. We don't have the case of a young man who was ambushed and taken as a POW. This is not a case where he was in a battle and instead of their killing him, they decided to take him.
This is a case where a man decided he was no longer going to stay with the US military, to fight for his Country's decisions, to stay with his post, and instead walked off to the other side.
He deserted his Country.
I have no idea what kind of people the Palestinian prisoners were or how they ended up in an Israeli prison. I've read accounts where the freeing of the Palestinian prisoners was seen as a progression of sorts, of perhaps a change in relations.
That is not the case by any stretch with what we have here. The Bergdahl event is the case of five ruthless terrorists who want to see Americans dead. American military men and women, American civilians, American children, all dead. And their release was not in any way going to change the relationships we have in Afghanistan nor was it going to be thought of in the positive... it was never going to be viewed as 'this was our chance to free Bergdahl and we blew it'.
If the 1000 Palestinian prisoners were of the same ilk of the five, then yes, I would still struggle with the decision to swap, it would not be so black and white, but more so because the Israeli Sergeant... was not a deserter. I would not like the trading of terrorists for his life, but his life would be worth it because... he was not a deserter. He did not turn his back on Israel therefore, Israel should not turn theirs on him.
Bergdahl turned his back on his Country. The Israeli Sergeant was fighting on behalf of his Country. In my mind, there is a definitive distinction.
Bergdahl's life was no longer worth saving, in my opinion. There are a cast of millions who probably disagree with me on that.
But my thought that his life was not worth it is because by saving his life, it meant that others must give up theirs.
It was not a swap of five terrorists for one deserter. This ordeal was the swap of five terrorists AFTER the deaths of six men who were SERVING this Country.
Six men who were sons, brothers, husbands, fathers, died for a deserter and in turn we released five men who want to kill Americans.
And that is not equitable in my mind. His life was not more important than theirs. His life did not have more meaning.
By releasing terrorists, not only did we broker his life for them, but we may have brokered the lives of many Americans, perhaps on this soil. They were TERRORISTS.
I have read accounts calling the five swapped for Bergdahl 'prisoners' and that calling them terrorists was just that... name calling.
Not all prisoners are created equal. Some are more horrific than others. A drug addict in a cell is far different than someone who has committed a horrific crime against a child. A prisoner may be a prisoner, but in my mind I would be differentiating saying, "Addict vs Monster".
I'm going to pear it down. It is what we do. We weigh the crimes in our head as we define the people who have committed them.
Men who want to commit acts of terrorism against the people of my Country deserve to be called more than a prisoner, a moniker given to someone conjuring up visions of the Count of Monte Cristo.
They deserve to be called what they are... Terrorists. They are waging a war on my people.
And so I stand by my opinion, although I will not call Berhdahl a traitor. He is a deserter.
And in my mind, he was not worth a swap of five terrorists and the lives of six of our men. In my mind, he is not worth the air we breathe in America. He is not worthy of setting foot on American soil. He is not worthy of hugging his parents as the six dead men can no longer hug theirs.
He should be dead to us.
That is my stance.
Bones' last final exam is today. It's in English. I've been badgering him about studying when finally he said, "Ma, I got this. I was Romeo, remember?"
His teacher had him play Romeo, reading it in both modern English and Elizabethan. I said to him, "She chose you?" to which he replied, "Please, there was nobody else for her to pick. I can BE Romeo".
So, there you have it.
On a math note, not only did he not have ANY math homework for 18 weeks, his final exam was some crap group project he did with a buddy. He got an 89, securing his solid B in a class in which he learned absolutely NOTHING.
There is no way in hell he passed the End of Course exam required for him to graduate from high school. I'm so irritated.
Then there is Mr. T. T took Honors Pre-Calc this year and went through the class with an A.
His final exam, he studied no less than 10 hours. I walked into the study room the other day and I heard a voice. I peeked in, saw him with his phone on speaker, and quietly shut the door.
I asked him about it later. He was evidently on a telecon. He was teaching the last few lessons to a group of his friends who just never got it.
He said to me, "Hey, I don't mind, it solidifies it all in my head."
Yesterday in school, his math teacher stopped him in the hallway and told him that she ran all of them through the scantron and any of them that came up perfect, she immediately graded first.
He was one of two kids in the entire Junior class that got a 100 on the Pre-Calc math final, both Honors and Regular classes.
And he said he finished it in 28 minutes out of the 90 allotted. He said at some point when he was finished he had a quick question about something she wanted at the top of the page. His buddies said he walked up and they were all thinking, "Yeah, he has a question. He thinks he's so smart."
They were ragging him later.
But when he came back to his desk, wrote something on the top and then turned it back in, one of his buddies, (a girl he is best friends with) whispered to him upon the return to his desk, "I hate you."
Heh. He's ready for Calculus. This could be a fun math year.
There is a woman I know through an organization I'm in and she friended me on Facebook.
She thinks all the prisoners should be let out of Gitmo and this whole thing was a good thing and that Obama did the right thing... all the way around... 100%.
I'm struggling, folks. I really am.
I feel so strongly about men dying for this traitor and how I think the release of these five terrorists will directly result in Americans dying here on US soil, that I don't know if I can be in her presence.
I am having to alter my settings so I never see any of her posts ever again. The only reason I haven't, is there is a guy she is friends with that occasionally goes over and delivers an enormous slap down and I enjoy watching it and I don't know when it happens until her crap ends up on my feed because I never go to her wall.
But I can't stomach it. I try to be tolerant of everyone, but I'm going to admit, I'm struggling and I don't think I can ever be nice to her ever again.
I pray I don't see her any time soon. I keep saying to myself, "If I wasn't on FB, I'd not know any of this about her and I'd still like her. I have to get past it."
But... I can't. I'm struggling. I keep wishing that maybe the five terrorists will visit her and her family.
We are at a cross roads with Bones. His vocal teacher is leaving to get her Masters degree. This is the second vocal teacher we've lost to moving on. It is good for them.
It is tough for us.
He will be 15 on Friday. His voice isn't settled and he's still not had enough training, but in my mind, he will sing just through high school and then it will be relegated to the shower or the car.
I don't want to dismiss him though. Do I think he will ever be an Andre Bocelli? No. But as my boss says, charisma comes into play as well and I shouldn't discount what Bones provides beyond his voice.
I called his original vocal teacher and asked her what she thought, if I should go with this new unknown teacher that is being provided through the studio or do we find someone else?
She watched his latest video for me and said if we continue to train, he will be very good and could teach. (She said he has a wonderful tone.) She doesn't see him making a living at it.
Honesty is what I was looking for.
We decided we will give him one year with this new vocal teacher and then I will pay to have him evaluated by a man in town that is very good. Bones will have to decide how far he wants to take it. I personally think he would be good on stage, but...
The thing is... I'm in the sciences so I am at a loss as to what to do with a kid that is artistically inclined.
I'm winging it.
I'm getting angrier and angrier over what has happened with President Obama, five terrorists and a deserter. I am sicker and sicker for the families of those that died looking for that jerk. I can hardly see straight I get so mad.
I have a sister in law who is part Syrian. She is a Catholic Syrian. She has family over there and she told me one day that we should go over and help with their current issues. I listened to her and she said, "Don't you agree?"
I keep politics very close. I don't talk to anyone about them except my kids. But I couldn't let this one go... not for a minute.
I looked her straight in the eye and said, "No. The life of my 19 year son, not one person over there is worth the life of my 19 year old son. Therefore, I am not going to say any other American son is worth losing to those people. NOT.ONE.American son or daughter should have to die for those people."
She looked at me aghast. She was completely shocked and I said, 'See your sweet little four year old boy right there? Are you willing for him to die for the Syrians? When you can look me in the eye and tell me that you are willing to give the life of your son for them, then we can talk."
What Obama has done now... it is a slap in the face to every American. Every American family... none of our children should have to die for a traitor, a deserter... for terrorists.
As one of the mother's of the slain men looking for this deserter said, "We got a box and our son was a hero."
I'm so angry I'm reverberating.
So to Sgt. Bergdahl and to all involved with brokering this deal, "A pox upon you and may you rot in hell".