Selma’s Story Time – 7/23/14

Mrs. Stockton had grown up in Frankton, a small town in upstate New York. She and her husband moved from there to Mount Vernon, NY when he was offered a teaching position at Columbia. Shelby would come to visit her Grandparents every summer and Grandpa would take her to work with him. His love for the campus made her fall in love with it. When it came time to make the choice of colleges to attend, she already made her choice. Shelby was sad that he wasn’t there when she became an enrolled student, but she felt him by her side everyday in the memories they shared.
While studying at the library, Shelby saw her Grandma’s e-mail about dinner on Monday. Oh she did love the Mac and Cheese, and her Grandma knew how to make it. Baked in the oven, not made on the stove top. Shelby was also excited because her Grandma would send her home with leftovers. Perfect meal for the starving college student.
 
She was getting concerned about her Grandma wanting to find this Johnny Kidler. Why did she want to? Did she want to make peace with what happened on the bus? Or was she just curious about who he had become? They knew nothing about this guy, except that she knew who he was many years ago. The whole project seemed a little bit on the risky side. What if he was a bad man? What if he didn’t even remember her? Hopefully he wasn’t a mean or violent person. She would hate for her Grandma to come up against that when she was trying to understand what happened to him.
When her Grandma got something in her head, she always needed to find out the information or resolve the issue to be at peace. That is probably half the reason why she is doing this.
 
Shelby wondered if her Grandma had any reservations about pursuing this project. She guessed that she would find out on Monday.

Selma’s Story Time – 7/22/14

On Thursday morning, Mrs. Stockton poured the hot water over her mint tea bag and went to the computer desk on the three season porch. That was the spot she went to every morning, it  gave her a nice view of the Tinkers’ backyard and their dog Oxford. Oxford was a Foxhound, who was bred as hunting dog and ultimately wound up trained as a family pet. Has a pretty big bark, but wouldn’t hurt a thing. Mrs. Tinker let him out about a half hour ago when she went for her daily run. She was usually gone about an hour.
 
Mrs. Stockton watched Oxford sniff around the yard as she took in the smell of freshly mowed grass from her neighbor’s yard behind her. Then she saw the squirrel making his way through the yard with a peanut in his mouth. She named him Monte. He was going to the tree in the middle of the yard, where the nest was, because that is what he does every day. Oxford had made his way up by the back of the house, waiting for Mrs. Tinker to come home and open the door.
 
She watched the squirrel just hop around calmly towards the tree and climbed right on up when it got there. Mrs. Stockton would have to watch tomorrow to see if Oxford could make things more interesting.
 
Shaking her head at what just happened, she turned the computer on to see if she got a message from Shelby. As her email opened up on the screen, she saw the mail box flag up, indicating that she had mail. She clicked on the mail box on the screen and saw a message from her Granddaughter. She read it and responded…

My dearest Shelby,


Yes, Monday would work fine for me. Let’s plan on 5:30 PM. I’ll make the baked Mac and Cheese, your favorite. Looking forward to seeing you honey.


                                                                                Love you very much,


                                                                                          Grandma

She knew it would be so hard to have to wait until then, but she didn’t want to put any additional pressure on Shelby. She had worked very hard to get a scholarship to go to Columbia University, which was her first choice. Mrs. Stockton felt very lucky that the school was near her house so Shelby could stop over. As she clicked on the icon to take her to the morning news, Mrs. Stockton knew would have to find something to keep herself busy until Monday.

Selma’s Story Time – 7/21/14

Shelby saw the e-mail from her Grandma. It started off the usual way…

Hi honey! How are you? How is school? I am so proud of you!

After the opening line, she would tell her all about what was going on in her neighborhood. Starting with what the new neighbors, the Tinkers, were up to. They had a dog named Oxford, which Grandma loved to watch chase squirrels in the backyard, because the squirrels always seem to outsmart him. Then it would go into what happened with the church ladies at Sunday service that week. Shelby enjoyed the e-mails, it was like getting updates on a continuing saga whenever she received one.
This time the e-mail was different. Her Grandma wanted her to come over for dinner some night soon and help her to find someone from her past. A kid that had bullied her on the bus. Shelby thought the idea was interesting, but also a little strange. Why would her Grandma want to bring up all of the sad feelings she must have had about it. Shelby was curious what happened to bring all of this up again. Her Grandma had not given her much information, she wanted to talk to her about it in person.
Shelby wrote a reply e-mail…
Dear Grandma,
     
     I would love to come over for dinner and help you with your project. I have a pretty heavy load for homework and papers due this week. How about next Monday? I know you typically have dinner at 5:30 PM, so just let me know if the date works.

                                                                                          Love you,

                                                                                                    Shelby

Selma’s Story Time – 7/19/14

It had been a long time since Mrs. Stockton thought about Johnny, so she was surprised that he came to mind now. She wondered what has happened to him since the good ole school days. He was three years older than her, so she never saw him at school reunions. How would she be able to find out?

Back in her day, it would start with looking through information at the library, old yearbooks, newspaper articles archived on microfische, and phone books. Most everything in her time was driven off of physical addresses and telephone numbers to contact people. Once those changed and if one didn’t get the new information, a person would lose track of people. Now with social media and people keeping their cell phone numbers when they move, people are able to stay connected. 
She watched many TV shows about reunions of people who have found each other after years of not seeing them. Even her Granddaughter, Shelby, talked about how her friend’s Mom had found her long lost sister by using the internet. Last Mother’s Day, her son, Greg, had gotten her a computer, and Mrs. Stockton had gotten pretty good at using it by sending e-mails to her Grandchildren.
Walking over to the desk where the computer was set up, she decided to fire it up and start her search. Greg had preset the computer to just click on icons to get to what she wanted to do, but she wasn’t sure where to start. Should she call her son to have him help her? She wasn’t sure that she wanted to share her project with him. She decided to click on the e-mail icon and sent an e-mail to Shelby to find out what she has been up to. 
 

Selma’s Story Time – 7/18/14

 

Mrs. Stockton loved to hear the school bus as it came down her street every morning, picking the kids in the neighborhood up for school. She had fond memories of riding the school bus, sitting with her best friend Shelly Waters every day. They giggled a lot and talked about wanting the clothes and hair ribbons that the popular kids wore. 

She also had some bad experiences associated with the bus. There was a kid named Johnny Kidler. He was called the Frankton bully. Everyone knew how mean he was to the other kids. Mrs. Stockton was one that Johnny chose to pick on, just because she was shorter than the other kids. Since they were the only two that got on and off the bus at their stop, he would follow her home every day calling her shrimp and shorty.
He would sing this little song, in the teasing melody that we have all heard,
“Shirley is so shrimpy.
Shirley is a shorty.
Shirley is so shrimpy
Shirley is a shorty”
He would sing that song over and over again. Mrs. Stockton remembered having many nightmares about it. She would ask him over and over again to stop. That made him do it more.
Mrs. Stockton remembered what her Grandmother used to say about mean kids,
“Don’t pay any attention to those mean kids and they will go away.”

That was easier said than done. While it was happening to her, she couldn’t see any way out. She felt she had to take the punishment Johnny was dealing out. There was no way she could tell someone, a parent, a teacher, or someone about it to make him stop, she felt that would just make it worse. It is a normal feeling to have, the bully wants you to feel that way. That’s the only power that they have over you, and that is why they are doing the bullying in the first place.

People would say that Johnny was just teasing Mrs. Stockton, he didn’t physically hurt her. Well, he did hurt her, emotionally. That can be just as bad or even worse than physically hurting someone. Neither one is ok to do to anybody.
Johnny eventually stopped teasing her, because it finally wasn’t fun anymore. Mrs. Stockton had to put up with it until he stopped, because she was afraid to get help. Don’t be afraid to get help. Situations like these have led to suicide, because kids don’t feel like there is a way out. Don’t be one of those kids. You are a special someone to someone, your family, your friends, even your teachers. You are important and deserve to be treated right.

7/17/14

Kids Giving Back – Mitch’s umping his first game last night

The baseball association the kids play in offers an opportunity for the players to be the umpire for the younger kids games. It’s a great way for them to give back to the organization and make a little money along the way. The kids have to be at least 13 to be involved in the program. Max started last year and has worked 6 games to date. 

Mitch was scheduled to work three other games throughout the season. Due to our rainy weather this summer, he had rescheduled games for his team and his required attendance at a choir concert for school (his grade depended on it), that kept him from being able to do it.  Because Max ended up having a practice for his state tournament come up, he was unable to work one of his scheduled games, so last night became Mitch’s first experience. Finally, he was able to get one in. 
He was pretty anxious before the game. We had to drop Max off, but Mitch just wanted to get to his field across town and didn’t want to be late. The teams playing in this game were in the minor league division, 4th and 5th graders, light blue and red. We happened to know two of the kids on the light blue team, one is the younger brother of one of the players on Max’s team and the other one is the son of a friend of Sam’s. I wonder if knowing a couple of the players made Mitch feel more comfortable or more nervous. I will have to ask him.
I noticed that his confidence kept building while we watched the game. He was calling out the balls and strikes louder and standing more solid behind the catcher. Between innings, one of the players asked him how old he was. He said “I am 13.” The player looked up at him and said “wow” like it was a really neat thing. The end result of the game was that the light blue team won to go undefeated for the season and Mitch completed his first game as an umpire. When I asked him how things went and how would he feel about doing it again, he said that it was good and he had fun. And he would love to do it again.
There are many lessons learned by the kids who take this challenge on, and the coaches understand they are learning them on the job. Most of them center around how hard the umpire’s job is. Actually having the opportunity to do it gives them more appreciation for what the umpire goes through in a game.  Max said that he had a better appreciation of the umpire’s job after his first time doing it, and tries not to be too hard on them because of it.They also learn more about the game, seeing it from behind home plate. Mitch commented on one of the kids playing center field was messing around with his hat and not paying attention to the game. When the player looked up, a ball was coming at him and sailed right over his head and he had to leave his hat on the ground to chase the ball down. Mitch had to bring himself back to the fact that there are a lot of other things happening on the field that he also has to keep track of as the umpire.  
What a great experience it was for Sam and I to be there to support him through a first time event in his life. Having the anxiety before the game, and being there to watch him work himself into the game and become comfortable to do the job at hand. The fact that the players (younger kids) look up to him as a role model, added to building his confidence. He did a great job last night, and I am glad it was such a good experience for him.

7/16/14

A different moment in time

Looking out my open bedroom window, I am enjoying the cool and crisp morning air. The sounds of birds chirping is all that can be heard. I have always been amazed at how quiet it is around my house, even though I live in the suburbs of a major metropolitan area. I moved here 11 years ago, leaving an apartment and getting into the first place I’ve ever owned.

When I was house hunting, my wish list included having an actual washer and dryer in my own place and being closer to work. I found a condo which is in a very residential part of town and across the street from a park reserve.  I love the fact that I’m not looking out my window at fast food restaurants or gas stations, getting away from the hustle and bustle of the city in the comfort of my own home.

There’s a big evergreen tree outside my window. Lots of birds have made their homes there over the years. For a while it was a morning dove, who every morning at 5:00 or so would start cooing. When Molly was a puppy, at first she would almost growl under her breath at it to let her know she was there. But, after a while, she would just listen to it, accepting the fact that it really wasn’t a threat to her or me, it was just welcoming the morning from its home in the tree.
For a while, it was just me living here as a single woman and her dog. Then along came Sam and the boys and now we have turned it into a full house with a lot of activity. The peace and quiet is not here as much as it used to be, but that allows me to have moments like now, before everyone is up to appreciate them. With all of us in the house, those moments along with our day to day life are what has become very special to me.
Be sure to recognize and appreciate these moments in time, whether you are with the ones you love or by yourself. Take that deep breath every once in a while to enjoy those special moments that life has to offer us.