Kristina Furey

"Thank God For Kids"--Oak Ridge Boys

What I wanted for myself was thrown out the window, the moment I decided to become a mother. No wait, on second thought, I looked into the eyes of this beautiful child and thought, "He gets better! He gets protected, nurtured, supported and the best shot I can possibly get him at a life that allows him to be all he can be for himself and others." I knew when I held him in my hands, he was life and I had an obligation, a contract between me and the universe that I entered into, the moment I became and it was my job to be a guardian of this sacred gift...

When I was a young mother, I developed a friendship with an older mother, who had left a prestigious job to be a stay at home mom.  She was the PTA president at the school our sons attended. Both of us had sons in the gifted, talented program and they both shared an unquenchable thirst for knowledge that became a bond for their friendship. She and I were maybe not so different from our boys in this way... While our children played, she and I discussed our strategies, hopes and the challenges, we felt we were faced with, both in the school and in our community.  We saw our children and their well being as our responsibility and we mentioned on more than one occasion, our number one job was to get our kids to age 18-and we took it seriously.  

 

For me, this included more than just the typical parent involvement, as I took on more than one abusive teacher, took on many volunteer positions and in the process took other students under my wing.  I made teachers aware of student’s needs through conversations I had with the teachers, as I volunteered to help them. I advocated for mine and other children as I worked alongside these teachers. I challenged teachers through very deliberate and sometimes very assertive actions   Oh and on one occasion I cried over the phone, in an effort to get a particular person, who had the ability to transfer my son to a school more fitting of his needs, to do exactly that. Well, I cried while explaining the many ways I had volunteered and things I had witnessed in the schools that I was certain the school system would not want me writing in a letter to “7 On Your Side”. Things I had put much time and attention into, in an effort to make sure that they did not escalate into bigger problems and things I had not been able to change, that I concerned over, thinking they could compound into something at some point if not addressed. All of this a reason to have my son moved to a school where I had faith in the principal, as his goals were in line with my own beliefs. I managed to get him into that school and it was as I believed it would be, a blessing to him!

In the end, my time, sacrifices and efforts, paid off and my goal of getting my children to age 18 was accomplished. I am aware of how fortunate I was to be able to play a proactive role in helping to have that goal realized. However, my family was on a strict budget, so that I could be at home with my kids.  Later, that strict budget along with random luck, afforded us the ability to move to a better neighborhood, with better schools. I realize it wasn't just our hard work and our sacrifices. Many parents are working hard and sacrificing and I wish they could also have the advantage of luck. I know, every parent that is advocating for students in our school systems, are a benefit not only to their own child but to the other children in the schools, to the staff of the schools and to their communities.  For all of us, I wish more parents had the ability to be in the schools participating in their children's school lives and education, while also advocating for other students. Honestly, I believe there should be some sort of tax credit given to parents who choose to be there volunteering for the sake of children, while putting their own desires to be a success, financially and otherwise, aside or on hold. Maybe one day...

I am disturbed by the violence children are experiencing in their schools.  I won't say I'm surprised by it. I will say, we individually and we as a society, make choices every day.  If our choices are not working for us, it may be time for us to start making different choices. I believe one of the best things a parent can do for their child is to have a presence in the school. There are all sorts of opportunities to volunteer and when you do that, the staff begins to see you as approachable and solution based. They also begin to connect your child/children with your efforts and even the most challenging children are seen in a more positive light, for the help, the available parent is willing to offer. ...hmmm... I think this acceptance and willingness to extend one's self, on the parts of the children, parents, teachers and staff, is called community. I believe a community is only as great as it's weakest link. If we strengthen those weaker links we strengthen our communities.

(It's been a hard week for me. We've had so much rain and getting sunlight for me is important to my mental state and energy levels. I'm also very aware of where I was last year at this time, in hospice with my Mom. My puppy Aja, while often a delightful little ball of energy, is also a stress, as we are still learning her routines, while trying to fit them into our own and yes, our sleep has been impacted for this. Still, I try to stay positive, as I prefer a positive life and realize all the little moments add up to what your life is and what your attitude about life is but I know too well how challenging that can be at times. I also know, "this too shall pass" and I know that from experience. When I was a kid, I did not have the experiences to understand that, which made the harder moments, harder in some ways. If you have the opportunity, share those difficult stories from your own youth with adolescents you are in communication with as they may need to know that life has hard moments and beautiful moments. I can assure you the beautiful moments become more intense when you learn to appreciate them, rather than expect them. They also multiply when you are generous and share them and your good fortunes with others. The hard moments become easier to go through as you focus on the beauty that continues to surround you as you muddle through. God bless and take it easy on yourself and others!)

 

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