Mormons, Sex, and Basketball

There has been so much press lately about this “sex scandal” involving Brandon Davies, a basketball player for BYU. I’m not going to rehash the entire story or even provide links to the story simply because I think most of you have read enough and know enough of what’s going on. I just want to give a few of my own thoughts on the subject. Am I an expert? Nope. I am a Mormon, but that doesn’t mean I speak for all Mormons. I speak for myself. I enjoy watching basketball, but I don’t follow it closely. I just enjoy the game. So everything I say here should be taken with a grain of salt.

I am not a fan of BYU. I don’t hate the school or anything, but I’m just not a fan. Through all of this “controversy” I have become a huge fan of Brandon Davies, however. And yes, I will be cheering BYU on as they play through the championships. I hope they go far.

I attended a Church-run school myself. I wish given a copy of the Honor Code with all the information about the school, so I had a chance to read it and agree to it before I ever even applied to the school. BYU and all the LDS church run schools are private schools. They have every right to have an extremely strict Honor Code. Every applicant knowingly signs the Honor Code. They all agree to it. It is never a surprise to find out that rules are being broken because as a student, you are made fully aware of what you are signing on to. If you don’t like the rules, you either don’t attend the school (thereby giving the spot to one of many students who would gladly follow the rules and attend the school) or you obey the rules but get on a committee that helps review things and change things. You try to change things in a positive manner. When I was at Ricks College (now BYU-Idaho) I was in amazement at the many people who had blatant Honor Code violations because they simply didn’t like it. I may not have agreed with everything,either (seriously… a curfew for college students??),  but I did my best to adhere to what I had signed on for. I signed my name stating that I would follow the Honor Code and I tried to be honorable and live by my word.

I have made the mistake of reading comments on other news articles and blog posts about this whole thing with Brandon Davies. Wow, there are a lot of negative, degrading people out there! I couldn’t believe how many people used the words “medeival”, “archaic”, and “antiquated” when describing the part of the honor code the says to live a chaste life. Most people didn’t even have the verbal skills to use those words, however, and pretty much just called it stupid. Many commenters said it is unrealistic to expect a 19 year old to not have sex with his girlfriend. And even more said that the Mormon church is making sex out to be dirty and shameful.

Again, I don’t speak for the Church and I don’t speak for every Mormon, but I do have my own experiences and opinions on this. So this is what I believe.

Sex is not dirty. It is not shameful. I have never, ever been taught that in church or by my church leaders or even by my parents. Not once. I was taught that sex is very special, sacred, intimate, and private. My parents didn’t talk a lot about it to me, and it would have been nice to have some more information, yes. It was drilled into me that premarital sex is not okay, but I knew there was a difference between being told not to have sex until marriage and not to have sex ever. Mormons obviously have sex (look at the number of children we have!), and we don’t have to constantly talk about it or advertise our sex lives to know that we actually have very healthy, enjoyable sex lives. The thing is, we hold it so close to our hearts… make it into such a special and intimate act… that it really is that important to only have sex with our spouse, and only after we’re married. Ches and I did not have sex of any kind until after we were married. Why? Because we wanted it to be that special. We wanted to wait and to save it for that time. Did I want to be intimate with Ches while we were engaged? Absolutely! But it was more important for both of us to wait. I cannot express how important it is to members of my church that we really do hold off until marriage for sex. It is not something that everyone else believes and I don’t think I’ll be changing anyone’s mind, either. I would just like people who are not of our faith to understand and respect that this is extremely important and leave it at that.

I also do not believe it is unrealistic to expect teenagers or young adults to abstain from sex. Yes, there are plenty out there that are going to have sex. I get that. I do not deny it. I feel like society has turned teenagers into walking hormones with no self-control that are ready to rip each other’s clothes off at a moment’s notice. We have made sex so prevalent in our movies, music, advertisements, books, speech, etc., that it’s no wonder that’s all we think about. Just because it’s so out there doesn’t mean that it’s that normal, however. There are so many things going on for teenagers and young adults. They are figuring out who they are and what kind of adults they want to be. Why do just expect that sleeping around is part of it? It’s not! It’s okay to teach kids to abstain from sex until they are older and more ready for it. Because of my believe that it is such an intimate and special act, I believe that it is a highly emotional thing that is being shoved down our throats as something commonplace. It’s not special if you’re experimenting with different partners or whatever. It’s not special if you never hold off or hold back. I’m not saying that it is shameful to ever have sex and we shouldn’t have it at all. I’m just saying to hold off… and don’t have such a low opinion of young adults that they “can’t”. Sex isn’t everything. There are so many more things… far more important things… than having sex. And there is so much more to it than having sex because your 19 and that’s what 19 year olds do.

I feel awful for Brandon Davies. He has been thrust into this spotlight for a seemingly small mistake. As important as chastity is to us as members of the LDS church, in comparison to the kinds of things athletes at other schools do, this is nothing. I find Davies to be extremely brave. He broke the Honor Code. He committed a serious sin. He did not wait until the end of the basketball season to confess. It seems to me he went to his bishop right away. He could have waited, you know. It doesn’t sound like anyone caught him doing anything. He made the choice to confess. He wasn’t coerced into confessing. There is no actual scandal involved. The girl isn’t pregnant. Again, he could have waited until April and stayed on the team, but he didn’t. He knew what he did was wrong and he decided to take care of it right away. That takes guts. That takes honor. Sadly, the entire nation knows what he did and he is unable to take care of this privately, as he should be. Can you imagine the pressure he must be under? Let’s not forget his girlfriend in all this. She is also a BYU student. Everyone knows what they did. That’s just never fun to have your private life broadcast. I wish we could just let them take care of this privately. (And yes, I realize that by writing on my blog I am also making this much more of a public display that I should. I have thought long and hard about writing this, believe me.)

I read comments that Davies will be shunned because of having sex. Interestingly enough, that seems to be the opposite of what has happened. Davies has the support of his teammates and coaches and the entire student body. Guess what, general public? Most Mormons do very little shunning. I’m sorry for that one random person you know that was disowned by their family, but in most cases, we are a very accepting group of people. We know that we are all human and we all make mistakes and we are all just doing the best we can. None of us are perfect, and we don’t ostracize others for not being perfect.

I am glad he didn’t get any kind of preferential treatment. It says a lot for the university. Basketball is extremely important to Mormons. We have basketball leagues in our congregations across the world. “Church ball” is crazy! But it’s part of our culture. We love playing as much as we love cheering it on. And BYU fans are pretty rabid (I know some of you reading this “bleed blue” and can attest to this) about their sports. So yes, it is disappointing to have such a great player get suspended from the team. I am absolutely amazed at the love and support Davies is getting. No one is going to blame him if the team doesn’t win the whole sh-bang. If they do blame him… well, we need to re-teach the concept of team sports, then. One person does not make the team. And honestly, before he was suspended, how many non-BYU fans had heard of Davies? It was all about “Jimmers”, wasn’t it? Not saying he’s not an important member of the team, but there are all those other guys on the team that also play and can pick up the slack.

So Davies confessed to violating the Honor Code and was suspended from the team. He had to know he was going to be suspended from the team. He had to know that by not waiting until the end of the season that he was putting himself in jeopardy of suspension simply because BYU has suspended football players for the same thing. It’s well publicized. You break the Honor Code, you face the consequences. Hey, Amare Stoudemire… he’s still in school. No one is denying him an education. Before you start spouting off ugly, hateful things you should understand what you’re talking about. We have this great concept that we believe in as Christians. It’s called the Atonement. We believe in repentance and forgiveness. By confessing what he did, Davies is seeking repentance and forgiveness. There are consequences for our actions, and being suspended from the team is the consequence. However, because he isn’t repeatedly breaking the rules he gets to stay in school and everyone says they are sure he’ll be on the team again next year. I can completely see that happening. We believe in forgiveness, and Davies is absolutely going to get it.

So, I’ve rambled on far too long. Most of my readers are also LDS, went to Church-run schools, and probably having the same thoughts as I. I just wanted to throw it out there. Not to beat a dead horse, as my friend Katie has said, but I find the entire issue fascinating because of the reactions of both Mormons and non Mormons.

Sacred Music

There is something that bugs me. Well, there’s a lot of things that bug me, but here is one that has been really bugging me for a while. This is a message for anyone that goes to church. I don’t care what religion you are, I think it will apply.

When you go to church, please be on time so you can sing the opening hymn. Please.

Sing all of the congregational songs. Please.

There is a reason that we have music in our church services. It is not to hear only the people who have a degree in vocal performance. It is not to have a break between speakers or sermons. It is not to quickly check your phone for any texts.

The reason we have music in church is to bring the Spirit. Music brings the Spirit more than anything else. Again, I’m not talking to just my Mormon readers here. I’ve attended other churches, I have family members of other religions, and I have studied a bit of sacred music, being a music major and all. The hymns are inspired pieces of work. They are little prayers and sermons themselves. If you actually sing the hymns, you will feel the Spirit. You will feel your relationship with God grow a little closer. You will feel uplifted and edified.

The LDS hymnbook has a great little introduction that talks about hymns in our church meetings, hymns in our homes, and hymns in our personal lives. Under the section about church meetings, it says,

“Inspirational music is an essential part of our church meetings. The hymns invite the Spirit of the Lord, create a feeling of reverence, unify us as members, and provide a way for us to offer praises to the Lord.

Some of the greatest sermons are preached by the singing of hymns. Hymns move us to repentance and good works, build testimony and faith, comfort the weary, console the mourning, and inspire us to endure to the end.

We hope to see an increase of hymn singing in our congregations. We encourage all members, whether musically inclined or not, to join with us in singing the hymns. We hope leaders, teachers, and members who are called on to speak will turn often to the hymnbook to find sermons presented powerfully and beautifully in verse.”

Now, back to the part about what bugs me. See, we have a large congregation, and I sit in the front so I can hear whether people are singing or not.

They aren’t.

Most of the time it’s because they are late for church and are messing with their kids and getting in their seats so they don’t even bother to open their books, much less sing. I am in charge of the music for Relief Society (the women’s organization in my church). People have already been in the building for two hours by the time Relief Society starts. No one is late. Still, no one is singing. A lot of the women too busy talking to the person next to them. Many women are just sitting there. They aren’t talking, but they aren’t singing, either. I just don’t get it. How can you invite the Spirit to our meetings if you aren’t singing? When someone prays, we all bow our heads, close our eyes, fold our arms, and reverently say “Amen” at the end of the prayer. Singing along with the hymns is the same thing as participating in the prayer.

Get to church on time. I get it. You have kids and it’s hard to find their shoes and comb hair and make sure everyone actually made it into the vehicle before you get out of the driveway. So leave earlier. Get up ten minutes earlier. I don’t care. Get there on time.

Open the book and sing. I don’t care if the woman in front of you is a professional opera singer and you didn’t even make it into your middle school choir. God gave you a voice. Use it. I firmly believe that everyone knows how to sing (there are some people who are just more talented and able than others. I am not one of those more talented and able). You have no excuse not to sing. Chances are, you’re better than you thought, anyway. And if you don’t have a voice, sign it. Some of the most beautiful singing I’ve heard I never actually heard. I saw deaf people signing the hymns.

Fellowship is nice. Fellowship is wonderful. But when it is time to sing, it is not time to fellowship with other members of the congregation. Cut the conversation short and sing the song. You can talk to your friends after the meetings are finished.

Music is one of THE most important things. I understand that I’m a little biased, but if it weren’t that important, it wouldn’t be there. Our church leaders wouldn’t ask us to sing so much. They wouldn’t sponsor musical events. We wouldn’t have choirs like the Mormon Tabernacle Choir (which is awesome live, by the way. Even for a snobby instrumentalist like myself who doesn’t like choral music all that much). Think about how different your spiritual meetings would be if you didn’t have any music. It would fall flat. The speaker would have to work ten times harder to bring the right spirit to the meeting. The congregation would have to work at least that much harder to feel the right spirit! Music just makes it all possible. What else is there that can be a sermon, a lesson, a prayer, and praise all rolled into one?

So now… Go. Do. Get to church on time and make an effort. Sing. Sing! SING!!!!

Piano FAIL

I was not a piano major. I was not a piano minor. I went to college with very little knowledge about the piano (I had figured out on my own how to play a couple of hymns, but that was it). As a music major, one of the requirements for graduation is to pass a piano proficiency. When you walk in to the music building, one of the first things they do is determine where you belong in your piano skills. I was put into group piano lessons. I took two semesters and passed my proficiency. I still had to use the piano in many of my studies, but you can get by with little piano skill. I got by.

Fast forward about 15 years.

I was singing in the choir for a special stake conference at church on Sunday. We had to get there early for a sound check and to do a little bit of a warm-up. The pianist (who is amazing) was busy setting up mics to properly get the sound broadcast into the other church buildings (in our last stake conference I attended in another building and the sound was awful. The mic basically picked up one alto… and she wasn’t that great. They didn’t want that to happen again). So the pianist looked around and asked, “Does anyone play piano? Just some simple piano? Anyone?” No one was responding, so I said, “Well, I can do one handed.” He asked if I could do some five finger scales for warm ups and I said that yes, I could absolutely do that.

I sat at the piano… and started to shake a little. Now, if you remember, I taught 6th grade choir many years ago. I wasn’t a great choir director, but I did do the warm ups and I played the piano for that just fine. So I should have been fine. Something didn’t click in my brain on Sunday and I kept missing the notes. Grrr. And I realized later that I should have been going up the piano in half steps, but I only played scales starting on all the white keys. D’oh.

Next the choir director said, “We’re going to warm up by singing Come Follow Me. Can you play that one?” If you do not know this hymn (I’m pretty sure it’s a strictly LDS one), I can tell you that this is one of the easiest hymns in the book. I can play this one. I practice this one all the time. So I said, “Sure!” I was still quite nervous because in addition to the choir sitting there, all sorts of people were already sitting in the chapel so they could get good seat for conference. I looked at the choir and said, “Is there anyone else who plays better than I? Anyone? Because really, this isn’t going to be great.” People shook their heads or just didn’t respond. Apparently I was the only one who could play right then.

I tried to do the introduction. FAIL. So we just started. My hands were shaking and my eyes kind of blurred. The keys on that piano are a LOT heavier than on my piano. The pedal felt really funny (maybe because I was wearing shoes and I don’t when I’m at home??) I couldn’t read the music, I couldn’t hit half the notes, and I just butchered that poor hymn.

Ches was sitting in the chapel with our boys. All sorts of people I know where sitting there. I felt like everyone was staring at me and thinking about what an awful pianist I am and cringing at the thought that we were going to be performing a piece for the conference. More than likely none of that is true, but at the time it felt like a giant spotlight was on me. I wanted to melt into the floor, never to be seen again.

Ches told me later that yes, he heard a couple of problems in the scales, but the hymn was just fine. (I think one of the boys must have hit him pretty hard in the head.)

After I was done playing, I went to my seat. The choir director wanted to run through the piece, but our pianist was still busy, so another woman got up and went to the piano. My jaw dropped. “Where were you ten minutes ago???” I asked. I didn’t get a reply. I’m still kind of upset about that.

The good thing? I think I have just guaranteed that as long as we live here I will not be asked to play the piano. Ever. I’m fine with that. I’ll keep waving my arm like I do now. 🙂

My apologies to my piano teachers at Ricks, especially Sis. Wilcox. You tried so hard to teach me and give me the skills I would need in case of Sunday mornings like this. It just didn’t work that day.

Oh, and I”ll have you know that last night for Family Home Evening the boys asked to sing Come Follow Me, and I played it perfectly. Over and over and over again, I played it perfectly.

Book Questions

Okay, my well-read friends (I know you all are!!), I need your help. I’ve been asked to teach a class on literature at a Relief Society Meeting (formerly known as Enrichment, formerly known as Homemaking). I am not going to talk about what is “appropriate” and what is not because I believe that is something that is different to each person and something you kind of have to figure out for yourself. Obviously I’m not going to promote erotica (Can you imagine?).

I believe I was asked to teach this class not because of my expertise in literature but because I am such a voracious reader. I read more than just about anyone I know. I read fast, so I’m able to read several books a week. And I hunger for books. Seriously, it’s a hunger. If I don’t have a book to read I freak out a little bit and that’s not good for my anxiety.

Anyway, I’ve been asked to focus on adult literature and another woman is going to talk about children’s literature. We’re thinking of splitting young adult. We’re probably actually going to team teach a lot of that together. Our total amount of time is 40 to 45 minutes.

I want to talk a bit about how to find your style of reading material. I know there are a lot of women out there who don’t consider themselves “readers”, and they are often afraid to try something new. I am going to give recommendations of books, and talk a bit about Goodreads and how it can be such a good source to find what you want. (By the way, if you aren’t on Goodreads, check it out. I love it. If you are on Goodreads and we aren’t friends, please add me!!) If you have any suggestions on what to talk about, let me know.

What I would like from YOU is to please answer these three questions:
1) What are your all time favorite books? (or what do you consider to be “must reads”)
2) What is your favorite style to read?
3) When looking for a new book to read, what do you look for? (For example, do you use book lists? Certain people’s recommendations? Do you just browse through a stack in the library until something strikes you as interesting? Do you stick with certain authors? That kind of thing.)

And if you are local (meaning, in my ward!), be sure that you come on February 18th. Yummy food, good class (I hope. heh.), and if you don’t want to come to the class (I won’t be offended or hurt in any way! I promise!!) we are putting together hygiene kits for the Humanitarian Center. The current stash has been depleted with what all has been sent to Haiti, so we need to help out and get more kits made and sent in! See you all there! 🙂

The Woman Has No Filter

This is a story of a woman who has tried my patience and who I don’t want to gossip about but after church today, I’m more than a little frustrated. Enough is enough. And too many of you asked on Facebook what I was talking about, so I’m giving you the loooooooong version. You love me. 🙂

As my faithful readers know, last year I was the Primary Chorister at church. That meant I was in charge of the music for the children — teaching them songs and leading them and such. It was a really hard job for me and I did not enjoy it. I think I did an okay job at it, but after our yearly Primary Program, I was more than ready for someone else to take over. In January I was released from that calling, and someone else got the job. I was asked if I would be willing to sub every so often, and I said yes. I subbed for her quite a few times (at the very last minute, I might add) and talked to her a bit on the phone to answer any questions she had. The new music leader asked me for any materials I used, and I gave her a couple of things I had, but there just wasn’t much to give. I wasn’t given anything because there really isn’t a budget for it, and besides, it was a new year and the kids were learning all new songs. The games I had made and the visual aids I made were for the old songs they had learned and performed already. They didn’t need that stuff anymore.

A couple of months later, I was at the park after school with my kids and a lot of the neighborhood moms and their kids. It’s what we do here. heh. Anyway, the woman who became the new primary chorister was putting some visual aids together and talking to some of the other moms about the whole thing and complaining that she hadn’t been given anything. I don’t know if she didn’t realize I was sitting there (2 feet away… not hidden by anything… talking to friends over there…), but I didn’t feel it necessary to say anything about it to her. Someone else said, “You know, other music leaders in the past have just made things on their own. But if there’s no money, they draw pictures on the chalkboard or whatever. You do what you can.” I appreciated my friend for saying that and thought that would be the end of it.

And then the new music leader said, “Well, I guess I just care more than other people.”

I got up and went to play with my children. I didn’t need to hear anymore. I guess I just didn’t care enough about the Primary children. Whatever.

This woman has aggravated me on a bunch of other issues since then, and I feel like I have been more than nice to her and supportive of her (even when I absolutely didn’t want to be). Maybe I’m two faced and totally fake to be smiling and nice to her and then go and complain about her to my husband and my close friends, but that’s me. Two faced and fake. You probably all know that by now.

It has been a long time since any of the stuff about music has been mentioned and I thought everyone was over it.

The new music leader is no longer the music leader. Hasn’t been for about 2 months or so.

Today, in Relief Society (the Sunday meeting for our women’s association), we were talking about our talents and how we can use those to serve and uplift and magnify our callings and such. There was a great discussion and I was feeling really edified and uplifted. Really.

And then this women commented. In her comment she said, “When I became the chorister, I was so scared and felt so inadequate. I was given NOTHING to help me out. NO handouts or anything and so I just felt unprepared. So when they put in the new Primary Chorister, I made sure to give her ALL of my handouts and visuals and I told her I would answer any questions she had and just help her out so she would know what to do.”

This woman said more (that I don’t remember exactly what she said, but the gist of it was more of the same), but I sat there like a statue. I determined I wouldn’t change my facial expression or say anything because really, there was nothing to say. She obviously thought I was not supportive of her by not giving her materials (that didn’t exist!). She obviously didn’t remember the advice she had asked me about. She obviously didn’t remember me subbing for her many times and even finding a sub for her a couple of times when I couldn’t do it because of other commitments.

This woman also obviously doesn’t realize how hurtful her comments could be to the people she was talking about. She often says things without thinking about who is there and listening. She has no filter and just says whatever she wants. And that is why I was so upset after church today and put the status on Facebook that I did. Now you know.

Just a Few Thoughts

I hate working out. I hate having to work to make my body acceptable to myself. But I went to the gym last night and took my first class. It’s called “Body Pump” and it was an hour of working with barbells. It was so fun! My legs are total jelly today, but I did everything (even though those lunges were haaaaaaard!!) and I’m definitely going to that class again. So yes, I hate working out in general, but if all these classes I want to take are half as fun as this I think I could get addicted to working out. I wish I had gone in earlier this evening for the Body Jam class (dance moves — meaning let’s see how dumb Sariah can look!!)

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I found out on Sunday that our ward is having a father/son campout in a couple of weeks. I asked the girl next to me if the sons had to be a certain age, thinking they would want the cub scouts and older or something, but no. No age requirements. So I could potentially have a night off. Just me.

I’m giddy at the thought.

I doubt Ches will want to take all three boys, with how young they are, and I don’t know how fun it would be. So I’m kind of requiring him to take Aiden and Dallin, and he can decide whether or not to take Parker. I’m still excited at the thought of just one person at home with me. 🙂

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I know I’ve said it before, but I seriously want to throw the XBox out the window most days. It’s loud and obnoxious, the boys fight easily, and I just don’t get it. If they need help with something, I can’t do anything. I don’t really like playing video games. Not for me. I’m not a video game person. Now, the boys don’t fight all the time, and they actually play well together most of the time. I just fixate on the times that they argue.

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And now, a total Mommy Blogger thing to talk about:

We have been working on potty training Dallin. Things were going really well, but lately it’s not so great. I don’t want to gross anyone out, but I’m a mom of young ones, so bodily functions are just a part of my life and daily conversations. You don’t like it, skip this part.

Dallin will not poop on the potty. I’m throwing out underwear because it’s just easier than trying to clean up that much of a mess. I don’t know what to do. Dallin only wants to wear underwear, and we are trying everything to get him to stop what he is doing and sit on the potty, but nothing has worked so far.

Today I was so frustrated I threw him in the shower to clean him off (usually he gets a bath), and he did NOT like the shower. Cried and cried. So when he had a second accident involving poop, I did it again. I told him everytime he poops in his underwear, I’d put him in the shower to clean him. He cried and cried again. Later, he was playing and peed all over the couch. So I threw him in the shower (he was pretty soaked). He hates showers. I’m hoping this will get the message to sink in.

I told Ches about it, and he said, “Great. You are making him hate something that he has to do. You are making a punishment out of something that he will have to do for his entire life. He has to take showers to get clean. It can’t be a punishment.”

I see his point. But what do I do????

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I hosted a Pampered Chef party last week because I wanted to buy some stuff but totally can’t afford it. I’m pretty pumped because I’m getting some cool stuff. The best part of the party, however, was that we made this awesome pizza. It’s called a California Club Pizza. It has doesn’t have pizza sauce, but does have tomatos, avocado, chicken, bacon, red onion, and cheese and it is SO SO SO good. If you want the recipe, I’ll email it to you. And it was really easy to make. And made good leftovers. So yeah. I liked it a lot (if you can’t tell).

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I just found out that a girl from our ward in Idaho moved here a few weeks ago! She was a student of Ches’ in the band, I had her in Young Women’s, and I taught her flute lessons for a school year. She is the cutest, sweetest thing. Anyway, she is married and has a little baby girl of her own now, and she only lives a few miles away. I talked to her on the phone today, and as soon as her baby gets over the flu we are getting together. I’m excited to have her here, and she said she is excited to be living so close to us and to have a friend!! YAY!!

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I’m hosting Book Club next month. Any suggestions for the book? I was thinking either “The Book Thief” or “The Time Traveler’s Wife”, but I’m afraid they already did the first and the second may have some objectionable material for a kind of church-sponsored club (language mainly, from what I hear). Some of the women in my group may not like it, but I don’t know them well enough yet to be able to tell. They joke around about not getting anything “too trashy”, so what exactly is “too trashy” and what is considered “clean”?? I just don’t know. But if you guys have a suggestion for a book that you did in your book clubs or a book you read recently that you consider a Must Read, please let me know! (This month we are reading “Cry, the Beloved Country” by Alan Paton)

Rules Of Teaching

I remember a few things from my undergrad studies very clearly. As I studied music and studied the theory of teaching, I knew there was only so much that I could learn as a student and so much more that I would learn once I was the teacher. As we studied methods of teaching and talked about different situations, I remember one time being told to never let the students see you cry. Once they have seen you cry, they know they have power over you and you have lost that class forever.

When we were in Idaho, a guy Ches worked with had apparently cried because of frustration in front of a class once. It was several years before we were there, but I’ll tell ya, the kids talked about that for years and years afterward. Those kids lost all respect for that guy. I don’t recall ever seeing one of my teachers cry, but I think I, as a student, would have reacted in the same way (after being afraid of whatever beating was waiting for me at home once my parents found out I was involved in whatever happened that would make a teacher break down like that). I’ve seen teachers lose their tempers. I’ve seen band directors throw batons, bullhorns, and stands. I didn’t lose respect for that. I was intimidated as crap, but I can handle someone losing their temper and yelling or throwing (I never saw anything thrown at a student). As a teacher, I work really hard at keeping my (very) short temper in check. It’s important to me that my students don’t see me lose control.

Teaching is tough. A lot of you guys are teachers, so I know you know what I’m talking about. It doesn’t matter if you are teaching in high school or elementary, in public school or private, in Sunday School or preschool. Teaching is just plain a hard gig! I do love it. I just know that it’s not the thing I should be doing right now, and so I’m counting down the months (soon I’ll start with the days) until the end of the school year.

I also teach at church. I’m the primary music leader. I get to teach all the children between the ages of 3 and 11. I have 20 minutes with the 3 through 7 year olds, then 20 minutes with the 8 through 11 year olds. I’ve never been that comfortable with this calling, but I do what I can. I work hard to find ways to teach these songs the kids need to learn, to keep their attention, and to have fun ways to learn and sing, too. I’m just mostly not comfortable because I’m not any kind of a singer AND when I do sing, I have a pretty low voice. Children’s songs are written kind of high. I cannot sing these songs! Add to this the fact that kids in that “tween” age are actually quite rude and mean. I’m learning to not ask open-ended questions, such as, “Do you think you can do that now?” because they will always answer with “NO!”

Things have been kind of culminating for me for a while there. I’m still trying hard, but I do not enjoy this calling at all. The bishop actually asked me recently about how it’s going and I answered with “I hate it.” I then corrected myself. I don’t really hate it. I’m just having a hard time and don’t feel like I’m doing a good job. I know there are so many other people that could do a better job, relate to the kids better, and actually get the kids to sing. So a few weeks later I was informed that they are currently looking for someone to replace me, but it might be a while. No worries. I’m still trying my darndest.

Today was one of those days for me. I’m not feeling in top form, I’m super emotional, and I’m still not enjoying Primary. I made it through Junior Primary okay, and then it was time for Senior Primary. The kids are always a bit tough, as I described above, but today they just weren’t in to being at church or something. They were very irreverent and very rude. I’m trying to teach them a specific song, and I just couldn’t get and keep their attention. It finally was just too much for me. I couldn’t give any more warnings. I couldn’t do anything. I knew if I opened my mouth, I would just start crying. I was done. I tried to pull myself together, but I felt like I was going to explode inside. I turned around and said to the Primary presidency, “I just can’t.” I couldn’t say anything else. I put down my book, and I left.

As soon as I left the Primary room, the tears started to flow. I left the building and leaned against a pillar to pull myself together, although that took quite a while to do. Not only did I lose it in front of the kids, I started to feel SO stupid for just leaving. I remembered the “Never let them see you cry” rule, and it just made me cry even more.

A member of the primary presidency found me and I immediately started to apologize, but she cut me off. She said that the kids were extremely rude and she apologized. She also said that they were being talked to now, it was deathly quiet, and many of the kids are quite emotional about it themselves. It was really good to have her talk to me and she really made me feel better about the situation. I didn’t feel great, but she helped me feel better.

I still feel like an idiot for just losing it like that, but I can’t go back in time. I will go in there next week. I’m not sure exactly what I’m going to do, and I don’t want the kids to think that I hate them, because I don’t. I just couldn’t do it anymore. I didn’t want to let them know just how badly they get to me, but I’m sure they know now. I hate that they’ve seen me lose control. Did I ever have control in the first place?

I’m trying to come up with a positive outcome in all this, but I’m having a hard time doing that. I know the kids will be super quiet and obedient next week now, but how long will that last? How will they treat the new music leader? And now how am I going to face going back there, even when I’m not in Primary? I’m sure it’s not as big a deal to anyone else as it is to me, but I still feel horrible. Foolish. Ashamed. Idiotic. Just typical Sariah.

WHY??? (A Complain-y Post. Be Ye Warned.)

My 3 Day Walk is almost here, and I’m NOT ready.  I still have to raise $450 (or it comes out of my pocket… guess who is giving up her next two paychecks????), my period started today (I haven’t had it since the beginning of September… I’m so unpredictable… it couldn’t wait ONE more week???  I won’t be done and comfortable by Friday!!), and this evening I wrenched my lower back (OH!  The pain!  I can’t move… I can’t stand up straight… ).

I still need to either borrow or buy an airmattress so I don’t have to sleep on the ground.  I still need some proper clothes to wear (I only have one actual pair of capris that I’ve been walking in, and I’m not wearing the same pair for 3 days in a row), and I need a new waist pack (mine is super small and only holds one water bottle, my cell phone, my driver’s license, and a small amount of cash and I need to hold 2 water bottles, my cell phone, body glide, chapstick, cash, ID, bandaids/moelskin, and an extra pair of socks to change at lunch time).  

I had a rotten day at church today.  The kids in primary can be so obnoxious.  Our primary program is in two weeks, and since I won’t be here next Sunday, we didn’t have Sharing time today, just singing time.  The kids groaned no matter what song I said we were about to sing.  They wouldn’t follow direction, kept talking to their neighbors, and some just flat out wouldn’t sing.  In Senior primary, when I mentioned I wouldn’t be here, the kids cheered.  Thank goodness primary was over right after that, because as soon as the kids were out of the room, I seriously started crying.

Dallin won’t eat food.  Well, he’ll eat junk food, candy, and cereal.  He didn’t have lunch (it’s not unusual for him to skip a meal or two) or dinner, but only wanted milk to drink.  I wouldn’t let him have any milk until he ate some food.  He is one stubborn kid.  He never did get any milk.  I couldn’t even get him to take one measly bite of food.  So no milk, no dessert… nothing!  The kid worries the heck out of me with his constant refusal to eat.  And he’s not the skinny kid in the family.  How is he getting enough nutrition out of cereal and milk and tootsie rolls??  I don’t get it.

I stopped taking my medication for about 2 months.  I think it was only 2 months.  Anyway, things were not good, and Ches got me a refill.  I’ve been taking it, and I think overall it has helped, but now I’m getting migraines a lot.  I think Welbutrin is not right for me.  I might have to go back to Zoloft, but I hate the way Zoloft makes me feel when I forget to take it even once.  I get all dizzy and feel like I’m about to pass out at any second.  So… off to the doctor I must go to discuss my options.

I think my job is great, but I also think it sucks.  I am not a teacher of young kids.  My degree is in secondary education, and I think if I’m going to teach, that is where I should be.  As sweet as the kids are (most of the time), I’m just not enjoying it like I want.  I am a firm believer in doing what makes you happy.  If I’m going to leave my kids with someone else all day long, I’d better darn well LOVE what I’m doing, not just tolerate it.  And then there’s the whole discipline thing:  I think that most of the classes are fine.  I can handle a little bit of extra noise.  i mean, I’m not in a normal classroom, and these are all toddlers and preschoolers and young elementary school kids.  I don’t expect them to be able to come into a large, muti-purpose room and stay on task 100% of the time.  My methodology is to essentially ignore the little disruptions.  If I ignore them, they go away.  If they don’t go away, then I deal with it appropriately to the situation.  I am so tired of having other people in the school tell me to always be right on top of these kids… to not even give them an inch… blah blah blah.  Just let me handle my classes, thank you very much.  If I have major issues, I will let you or the lead teacher (who is where I’d go to first, anyway) know and we will come up with a plan.  But I just don’t think things are THAT BIG A DEAL, so stop instructing me EVERY DAY on how to teach and discipline my classes.

I’ve been having a real hard time just enjoying my life.  It’s so easy to put on a fake smile and pretend that everything’s great, but I’m getting sick of faking it.  I’m pretty sick of being so lonely.  I go to the park with my kids for the playgroups and I try to talk to the other moms, but I just don’t feel all that comfortable.  One day, after school, one kid had his skateboard at the park.  This other kid, who is probably in 2nd grade, was riding on the other kid’s skateboard, on his knees, when he feel forward and hit his head on the cement.  Of course he starts crying for his mom, but she isn’t there.  Their house is literally across the street. So he immediately runs home.  The other moms say he’s not the type of kid to take comfort from anyone else, but he ran home, so I’m not thinking it’s a big deal.  Then one mom says very emphatically, “THIS is why you come to the park!  You have to watch your kids!”  The other moms all start agreeing and nodding their heads, and they are all talking around this one point, and all I’m thinking by now is “CUT THE APRON STRINGS!”  The kid is old enough to be by himself at the park across the street!  I let Aiden go to the park now all the time without me.  I don’t let Dallin or Parker go, but Aiden, I feel, is old enough to be able to play without my constant supervision.  The park is visible from my house, and Aiden has certain rules he knows and follows (like he is either at the park or at home… he doesn’t go to anyone else’s house, EVER, for anything), so I don’t really worry too much.  You can not watch your kid 100% of the time, ladies!  Let them learn to be responsible for themselves at some point!  (The mom most vocal has kids both older and younger than the hurt boy)  I’m also thinking that if this is how you are talking about someone who isn’t here, what are you saying about me, behind MY back!  Sometimes I’m not there, at the park, when the bus comes in the afternoon.  I would like Aiden to come home first, but most of the time he just stays at the park and plays (because all the other kids are staying and playing), and a couple of the moms mentioned that they have tried telling him to go home and check in with me and whatever.  So I’m wondering what exactly are they saying to each other when I’m not there.  If they are going to say stuff about the one mom and be SO rude about it, I can only assume you do it to me, too.

I’m sick of trying to make friends, but not succeeding.  I just don’t feel a part of anything, no matter what functions or casual meet-ups I attend.  I feel like an outsider.  I miss my old ward and my old friends.  I miss other places we’ve lived because I had such great wards and friends.  I loved my callings, and I loved the friends I had and the plans that we made.

I miss autumn.  It’s my favorite season.  Arizona just doesn’t get an autumn.  It goes from HOT hot hot hot hot summer, to summer, to a mild “winter” (which feels like summer to some of you, perhaps), to summer, and back to HOT hot hot hot hot summer.  It was in the 70’s all last week and it was wonderful!!  Aiden wore a jacket to school each morning (hey, it wasn’t in the 70’s yet that early in the morning) and the boys wore pants instead of shorts and I got cold enough to want hot chocolate at night.  Not that I ever need it to be cold to drink hot chocolate.  It’s just nicer.  But I miss a real autumn, with a cool wind, changing leaves, wearing sweaters and scarves, and seeing my breath in the morning before school (I can do without scraping frost off the car windows in the morning, however).

So, now you know why I haven’t written in a while.  When it rains, it pours.  I have tons more I could complain about, but I need to go to bed and get some sleep before another “fun” day of work tomorrow.  Oh, and I have to pray REAL hard that my back is better so i can function.  I guess tomorrow I gotta try to see a chiropractor.  I can’t let this be like when I hurt my back a couple months ago.  It was a couple of weeks before I was back to normal.  It sucked!!!!

Camping and Pumpkins and Primary, Oh My!

Last week was Fall Break for Ches and Aiden (my school doesn’t have Fall Break, but I only work 2 days a week) so I decided I was done with our family never doing anything or going anywhere.  I went to work Monday, and once I got home we loaded the van and went camping.  We got out a couple of hours later than I had originally planned, but since Ches and I are used to setting our tent up in the dark, it wasn’t that big of a deal. 🙂
In the tent

We got there, set up the tent, and went to sleep. It got down to the low 40s during the night, so we were pretty cold, but it wasn’t horrible. I think the worst was waking up in the middle of the night to hear coyotes screaming. That’s what it sounded like, anyway. Screaming. It was so freaky!!

On Tuesday, we got in the van and started to drive, just to see what there was. We were camping just outside of Payson. Not too far away we saw the sign for the Tonto Natural Bridge in Tonto National Park, so we decided to check it out. It was so fun! We got to take a small hike to see a waterfall, and we had a picnic lunch while we were there.

After lunch, we jumped back in the van and continued to drive. The boys fell asleep, and we woke them up to see Potato Lake. They liked seeing all the animal tracks around the lake and climbing on the fallen trees.
On the tree

We drove up Kehl Ridge, and at the top got to see a gorgeous view. I’m not a photographer, and I’m sure I had my camera settings wrong, so this just doesn’t do it justice.
The View

That night, back at camp, we roasted marshmallows and made s’mores and had hot chocolate. The kids had a blast running around, “collecting firewood” (which really meant picking up sticks and throwing them into the campfire).

Wednesday morning we packed up and went home. It was a short camping trip, but perfect for us right now. We figured out that Parker has never actually been out of Phoenix… he’s never been in the car for more than an hour at a time! He had a hard time that first night. Parker really didn’t like being strapped in the car for so long. (Driving to Texas for Christmas is going to be interesting)

On Saturday Ches and I took the kids to Vertuccio Farms, which is a farmer’s market, pumpkin patch, corn maze, and more. The kids jumped in a bouncy house, pet and fed some farm animals, and ran through a hay bale maze for kids. Then, as a family, we went through the corn maze. That didn’t go over as well!!
corn maze
Yay sheep!!
The boys

It was a good week, overall. Until Sunday.

Sundays are hard. It’s hard to be dressed up and have to sit quietly and be reverent during chruch. I get that. But Aiden has SUCH an attitude lately! As you may know, I’m the song leader in Primary (basically the children’s church). We had just started Singing Time when a sister from the Relief Society (the women’s organization) came in to make an announcement. They were getting a group together for whoever wanted to join to make rag quilts. She was showing some quilts as an example and said, “So if you are interested, let me know…” when Aiden stands up and says very loudly, “My family is NOT interested in THAT!”

I was SO embarrassed. I told him to sit down. I actually am interested in participating in this activity. Aiden just thinks it’s girly and is anti anything girly these days. It’s one thing to not want the pink cereal bowl, however. It’s quite another to be rude in front of the entire Primary. So he got quite an earful after church (even though when I went to apologize to the sister for Aiden’s rudeness, she just laughed it off and said she can’t wait to tell her grown kids about it. At least she thought it was cute!) and we’re working on limiting outbursts now.

Today is a new day. I’m cleaning and cooking and baking and ignoring the kids who are begging for ice cream for breakfast. I don’t have to work today, and we have friends coming over for Thanksgiving. Hooray!! it’s a great day today!!

Girl’s Night… Kind Of

I just got an email from one of the girls at church. Since all the guys will be attending the Priesthood session of General Conference Saturday night, this girl said we are all going to get together at the park with our kids. Everyone should bring napkins and drinks and $5 for pizza. And someone is going to run to Little Ceaser’s and get the pizza.

Finally! An activity I can attend because I don’t have to find a sitter! Finally! An activity I can attend because I don’t have to be somewhere else! Finally! An activity I can attend because I want to attend!

I had a really hard weekend, and I’m basically in the feel-sorry-for-myself mode. I don’t feel great about where we live, and while everyone else seems to love it here and all anyone can talk about is how great our neighborhood is, I just don’t feel it. I don’t think it’s a bad place. I just don’t know that it’s so much for me, you know? But then, when I get an email like this, I think I might be okay. I just need to get out there and meet these other moms and kids and have some fun. I don’t get the opportunity to do that a lot, so this should be great. Now I can’t wait for Saturday night!!! 😀