neighbors

Cookie Cutter Lives

As I drove the back country roads to the next town over, on my way to get groceries, I looked around me at the wide open sky and the rolling farmland, the mountains the backdrop to it all.  I watched the eagle swoop from above to snatch some unsuspecting little animal that was now going to be lunch.  I long to have a house out there, in the middle of nothing.  (come on lottery ticket!)

As I crested the last hill, the sprawl of the town I was heading to was laid out before me.  I realized you could see an almost visible line between the old town and the newer area that had been built up in the past few years in response to the pre-recession population explosion.

My eyes strayed to the left.  The new subdivision on the hill.  I realized it stuck out – a copy of the city here in the rural countryside.  Rows upon rows of half-a-million dollar houses, with barely discernible differences, all shades of grays and beige.

I realized that this is the world we are bringing our children up in.  Houses need to fit in and not be too different from the neighbors house.  Certainly no bold colors.  No individuality to them.  Nothing that would stand out and cause talk.

This has become the life of our kids.

School is taught one way.  You’re expected to learn that way.  Our children are instructed for long hours on how to fit into the mold of today’s society.  Woe is the child who is different.  That difference will be pointed out and talked about and taunted and ridiculed.  Different is evil and something to be eradicated on the school playground.

I’m one of those square pegs that’s never fit into the round whole of society.  Bil, even more so.

And we’re bringing Vista up in that same tradition.

Part of me feels bad.  I know we’re setting her up to have a hard time in school (should we ever decide to send her).

But the reality is that my child is different.  I want her to embrace her individuality.  Her desire to wear a summer dress and a winter touque.  The various combinations of hats and sunglasses.  The way she can look at the flowers and see the butterfly.

I makes finding friends difficult, but those friends tend to be solid, lasting, steady…. not fair-weather flakes.

So my question for you today:

Why is individuality so scary to society?  Why does different = bad.  Why don’t we encourage, rather than trying to suppress, originality.

 Cookie Cutter Lives

Stop the Pity Party

I’m the first to admit I fall into the dreaded pity party trap on occasion.  Woe is me.  My life is so tough.  Blah, blah, blah.

One thing snaps me out of that in an instant.

A call from my friend Lee.

Lee and Mark are our next door neighbors.  And to say they are amazing people is an understatement.  You see, last spring their entire world was completely changed in an instant when their then 7 year old daughter, Nat,  was diagnosed with a brain tumor.  Then came the confirmation… the words that no parent wants to hear:  “We’re sorry, but it’s malignant”

I was in shock when I heard.  Little Nat used to regularly come over and visit, spending time sitting on my front porch with me, cooing over how much she loved Vista.  Could this same little girl that made me laugh and smile really have brain cancer?  Really?

But instead of falling into the pity party, their family banded together and fought.  The challenges they faced would fill this entire page.  And yet they smiled.  They laughed.  And they did what they could to stay positive.

A year later, Nat is finally out of the hospital and starting back at school.  But it’s not over.  You don’t have multiple brain surgeries, radiation, chemo, and a million other drugs without after effects.  But I have never, ever, once heard Nat complain.  She is confident she’s getting better and that confidence is infectious.

Now that they’re home, instead of just returning to regular life (as regular as life can be after a traumatic, life changing event like that), they’ve decided to put themselves out there and do what they can to give back.

They spend their weekends at fundraising events for the Children’s Hosptial and Ronald McDonald House, and speak to raise awareness about childhood cancer.  They put themselves out there to support others going through this in the hopes that, one day,  no one will ever have to go through this again.

How can I possibly feel bad about anything in my life, when I have friends like this living next door?

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