Sunday, February 22, 2009

Lessons Learned From Starbucks???

A couple weeks ago I went to Starbucks for the first time. I do drink coffee but not that often and when I do I usually go to Tim Horton’s which is a Canadian coffee chain that inspires unbelievable loyalty and devotion. So much so that many people have argued that they put “something” in their coffee that causes addiction. Anyway, before I veer off topic anymore, I was talking about my first visit to Starbucks. I stood in line nervously as I stared at the “menu’ trying to decide what to order. I have no idea about all this coffee stuff – lattes, mocha, skinny, soy, tall, grande, cappuccino, frappuccino. I heard people ordering with words I’ve never heard before. More than once I contemplated just leaving but was desperate for a caffeine fix. I looked around to determine whether anyone looked friendly enough for me to ask for advice. As I studied their intent faces, I quickly decided no. Besides I was way too embarrassed to ask for help. I settled on a café mocha and that’s what I ordered. It was quite good and I’ve been back to Starbucks a couple more times but still have never worked up the nerve to ask anyone what all those other coffees are.

Now why on earth have I told you that story? It wasn’t just to demonstrate how incredibly uncool I am. Instead it was because it has led me to think more about something that I’ve been worrying about since Bennett’s diagnosis. I think a lot of us worry about fitting in. Learning how to fit in can be an important skill in our society. We need to know things like what kind of behaviour is acceptable, manners, etc. Growing up it can become very important. As a child I was lucky in that I was a good student and a good athlete and never had too many problems fitting in. As I got older fitting in mattered less but as was revealed in the coffee story, it obviously still matters to me a bit.

Growing up is difficult and I think we can all agree that as wonderful as they are, children can sometimes be the cruelest creatures on earth. Ellen over at To the Max has had some great posts about this. I worry that Bennett may be picked on because he’s different – maybe he’ll have difficultly making friends. Most of the time I have a hard time believing this because he’s just such a happy, fun, and good-natured kid that I think anyone who didn’t love him would have to be crazy. But I know life can be difficult for kids that have anything that makes them “different” whether it is freckles or crooked teeth or cerebral palsy - despite great results from studies like this one. Erin, a wonderful young writer has written many poignant blog posts about what life is like for a teen with CP. It’s not easy.

So, I worry about what life will be like for Bennett. I am a mother and apparently mothers are masters of worry. I do remind myself that I’m probably worrying for nothing. Bennett will find his own way. He will have difficult moments as every child has. But hopefully I can help him learn from these incidents and help instill in him the confidence to be his own person with his own mind. Somehow I need to find the courage myself to teach him a lesson that I’m obviously still struggling to learn -the lesson that life should be more about standing out than fitting in.


Bird said...

It's a toughie. Truth is, I think we all go through phases where we feel left out and as we get older we find our place in the world. I don't think it comes easily to anyone.

Dawn said...

Gosh Barbara, another insightful post. I think somedays you could be a professional writer. Just awed!

And for what it's worth, Austin, disability and all is a small celebrity. People truly see past it. I do worry about the future, but so far Kindergartners are pretty sweet and helpful to him and adults just love him. Personality trumps physicality any day.

Ellen said...

Barbara, what a thought-provoking, heart-tugging post. You are so right, our kids will make their way in this world.

I am actually doing post about this topic tomorrow, and am going to mention this post.

Kara said... are so deep sometimes - okay...all the time.

And here I thought this post was going to explain to ME exactly what all those Starbucks coffees are about! Maybe it would help if we went there together, we could be each other's back up. You could ask someone about the coffee and I could jump in with, "Yes, yes...I wondered that exact thing myself!"

Seriously though, the best thing we can do as parents is make our kids feel happy, safe, important and loved. I think those things are big contributors to children having good self-esteem and the confidence to face the world.

Popcorn House said...

I read this post last night. I wanted to think about a comment before I made one. I totally agree just a great post from a great mom and a great writer.

I think about this all the time. No one wants it to be hard for their kids. I worry the most about Sammy of course, but I worry about all of my kids fitting in, and finding their way. I agree with the other poster that the best we can do it provide a stable loving environment for them. And I think the basics like family meals, family game nights, movie nights. All those things that really foster family unity. I think if they know that they fit in with us, it will be easier for them. I think the hard part of being in our situation is that we KNOW what our childs trial will be. Each kid will struggle and go through things, we just know from a very young age what theirs will be. I think it is a blessing and a curse at the same time. I sometimes wish I had a crystal ball that would tell me what my other four will struggle with. LOL!

Again, great post! And you are a terrific mom. I am grateful to "know" you. Your insights are fab!

Bonnie said...

You are so right. I think God gives us parents to help us to learn how to "stand out" in the crowd - recognize our own giftedness, and to embrace our limitations as part of that giftedness.

I would guess that being an athlete, you would neve have known what it was like to struggle to walk or to have pain (for the long term). How ironic that the child you have been blessed with to nurture into abundant and full life, struggles with many of the same things you do - it's hard to walk, and life has its limitations and often big struggles - with the environment and the system.

What I have seen Barbara, is this incredibly compassionate heart that has grown in you (it was probably there all the time but I did not know you well enough to recognize it - how can you see that kind of compassion when you are only sharing thanksgiving dinner - where the corn is in with the gravy???)

You and Bennett and Jim have become this huge grace in my life - this mirror through which I see unfailing love and hope in the midst of pain and struggle. (This reminds me a bit of the movie "Slumdog Millionarie" - a movie about living in hope in the midst of huge struggle and pain. If you haven't seen it - do go. Do you need a baby-sitter on Sat night? You can go to the movies and I'll babysit!)

Would I like to wrap Bennett up and protect him from the bullies of this world? You betcha! Will Bennett's learning to deal with these very ignorant and frightened people with the help of those who love him, give him the chance to grow into this wonderful, loving, compassionate man who will change our world for the better? Absolutely!

I will have to wait until Saturday to give you a hug - - but to all of you, a big thank you for sharing this journey of life with us. How did I get to be so blessed to have you in my life?

With much love,
Auntie Bonnie

Bonnie said...

Oh - I forgot to say - I hate Starbucks - coffee is way too strong. However, I'm sure the Mocha is good. I wonder why coffee has to cost $5.00?? Re Tim Horton's - I went on their website to see what they have in the coffee. It's only coffee - - but it's always fresh. If you want a mocha there - just order 1/2 hot chocolate and 1/2 coffee - it's only $1.50 or so.

Barbara said...

Bird: You make a great point. I think it definitely goes in phases. I hope it stops as we get older but somehow I doubt that it will completely.

Dawn: Thank you so much for your kind words. I love hearing about Austin because he is doing so well and seems to quite the comedian. I'm not surprised that he's so popular. I agree - I think personality is key.

Ellen: Thank you for linking me in your post. I'll be leaving a comment there as well.

Kara: I think your plan for Starbucks is perfect! When are we going? I also couldn't agree more about the importance of family love and support. That alone will get you through pretty much anything. I think we're both perfect examples of that.

Suzanne: Thank you for your support! I couldn't agree more with you. All kids go through something and maybe it's an advantage that we know what Sammy and Bennett might have to deal with. Maybe it will help us prepare them and deal with stuff when it happens. In the meantime nothing is more important than family and I think you've got a great one! And speaking of mothers, I think of you so often - 5 wonderful kids! Wow!!!

Auntie Bonnie: Thank you so much for your love and support. I have often thought of how my new physical situation will help me help Bennett with his. I'm sure Bennett's struggles will shape his character and I have little doubt that he will grow into an incredible young man. He is a very lucky boy to be surrounded by such a great family.

As for the Starbucks cafe mocha - the price is absolutely ridiculous but the taste is quite spectacular. I decided to let it be my little treat every once in a while. Other than that - I'm still a loyal fan of Timmy's!

Kiera Beth said...

You are such a wonderful blogger! First of all, I never know all of the drinks at Starbucks, plus I do not like the taste of coffee. I am usually really boring and get a skim milk hot cocoa.

I know what you mean about fears for your kid. For me, in 5th grade, I was the class loser. I honestly did not have a single friend. I remember coming home every night crying because I was so upset. I hated school and hated not having any friends.

When I look back now, I see how that formed me and how it gave me the self confidence that I have today. I think that there was a reason for that in my life.

Now, I DO NOT want that for my little guy. I remember the same feelings when we first found out. It warms my heart to see him so social these days.

But, if it does happen, I do think I would find comfort in knowing that it helps to form what type of person you become.

Thanks for the thought provoking post.

Erin said...

That was very deep and insightful! Thanks for including me in your blog!

It is hard sometimes, and although I write a lot of posts about me not really fitting in, I believe I have come a long way over the last few years. I've learned to ask people for help when I'm struggling. It's been tough for me as I like being independent, BUT it's made life a whole lot easier, and I think people have become more accepting of me. Also, as you can read in my latest blog post, I appreciate it. :)

I have no doubt that Bennett too will find his place eventually. Who can resist that grin?!