Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Live on the sunny side

     An acquaintance emphatically told me that he “didn’t do March.” It bummed him out. How’s that for honesty?

     If March comes in like a lion - and it did in many locations in our readership area - then weather lore says that it will level out by the end of the month. That’s promising for kite flyers, baseball fans and lovers of sandals.
     Living in Upstate New York comes with its teasers, and probably if all goes according to history, we will be up for one more giant storm around St. Patrick’s Day, and that should be it for the season.
     Of course, there will be a little more snow – most likely on baseball opening day - but nothing to write home about in the spring of 2016.
     Don’t get your hopes up unrealistically, or take out your shorts just yet, unless you are spending Easter vacation in a southern climate. Even then, you will come back warm to the bones with leftover visions of blooming flowers to find April raining on your parade. So much for the gentle lamb, wouldn’t you say?
    Here is where positive thinking comes into play, and besides, that’s enough discussion on the weather. I was writing about the topic two weeks ago. Enough. I’m taking it off my radar.

     Changing the subject, it occurred to me that in everyone’s life there is someone – sometimes a family member, other times, not - who smoothes things over when the going gets tough and troubles abound.
     You might call them the “storm catchers,” and many of you relate to that very one person who rescued you from yourself, even if you didn’t realize it at the time.
     A doctor told me that a sixth grade teacher saved his life while he was growing up in a tough Bronx neighborhood. In fact, he repeats the same story every time he sees me, and I believe he wants his personal message out about his gratitude for teachers.
     His parents were poor and did their best raising a large family. His teacher opened him up to the world of books and possibilities beyond simply falling into a street gang with prison prospects in the future. His peers were pushing him in the wrong direction. This particular teacher saw his thirst for knowledge, and showed him a different way.
     I asked him if he ever had the opportunity to thank his teacher - he looked at me for a minute before answering - and remarked that he hadn’t ever thought of it until it was too late. Let’s believe that she knows and is smiling down on him.

     I taught numerous children in the classroom, who for one reason or other, were raised by grandparents. Those kids had so much loving care, and I appreciated the sacrifices of grandparents. They gathered up the physical stamina required to run after younger children. A repeat performance was in their curriculum, instead of full retirement.
     Care giving grandparents were fast learners getting a quick mental adjustment lesson in dealing with a skip in generations along with youthful attitudes, styles and language. I don’t think a child suffered any in the long run, and I know many of them as adults who are flourishing. I give all – grandparents and students - full credit for passing with flying colors.
     In many cultures multi-generational homes are the norm, and children grow up with the wisdom and values of their elders every day.
     I noticed while in Spain that grandparents help raise the children so that young parents can advance in their careers. Although affordable, and in cases, free day care is much more prevalent that in our country, all grandparents pitch in to make things flow successfully.

     My tour guide had two teenage boys and “they are a handful” – those were her words - in the Azores where she made her home along with her husband, a construction worker with unpredictable hours. Her parents were live-ins.
     As a travel guide she spent three weeks away on a job, and then a quick break to go home just in time for another tour on the mainland. It didn’t make for consistency in raising kids without help.
     One day I noticed that our guide was on her cell at every chance she could break away, and she explained to me that it was a discipline issue with her eldest son. She was making sure that her parents were on the same wavelength with how they were going to handle the problem. They would be the ones making the final decision in her absence.
     I visited in a Spanish town where a young couple worked out of their home in a travel business promoting ecotourism in their rural part of the country. They had a daughter in kindergarten, and when they were out giving day tours, the husband’s mother, who lived above them in an apartment, became number one in charge.
     The daughter was used to her grandma, and life went on. In fact, the afternoon I was there, the cutie first went upstairs to give her grandmother her most recent art project before coming down to her parents.
    Keep hopeful and looking at the sunny side of life whether it is thoughts of March’s fickleness, or appreciating those who were part of raising you to handle what’s tossed to you.