Monday, September 26, 2011

Smoking Hot and Beautiful Are Different

It's spring in the desert.
That sweet smell of orange blossoms drifting around our Valley puts me in mind of lots of springy things.
And being a retired high school teacher that includes countless proms and graduations.

I remembered once when Larry and I were sitting in a dark parking lot at our nearby high school at 1:00 in the morning. We were waiting for our two youngest daughters who teach there to finish closing up the school after a dance.
Teaching is only one of the many things they do. They sponsor a very active student council so there's always tons of extra duties. Like organizing and locking up after dances.

Well, Larry gets nervous when daughters, even adult ones, must be alone in a dark parking lot that late at night. He says it’s a jungle out there.
So, as long as we were able, after dances we'd drive over to sit and wait for them.
Our daughters thought we were silly, even ridiculous as I recall one of them observing.
They're right of course. Two broken down geezers wouldn't be much help in a crisis, but we can watch their backs, and it makes their dad feel better.

Anyway, we had arrived way early, just in time for the huge traffic mess, and pulled into a space up front to get out of the way.
We sat there and watched as hundreds of students left the dance.
This was a semi-formal so everyone was all dressed up. Lots of the kids looked very nice in their best dancing duds. We noticed that this year there seemed to be a great deal of “sparkly” going on, which I really love.
We wished we’d invested in a sequin factory or a “Bedazzler” store or something.

It became obvious after a while, however, that quite a few of the girls were having some really serious wardrobe malfunctions.
Actually the problem seemed to be more of a "lack" than a malfunction.
In way too many cases there simply wasn’t enough wardrobe to completely cover the child in question.

It was late and dark and Larry can’t see very well now, but when I looked over and saw him shaking his head I knew he could see well enough. Once I was afraid he was going to jump out of the car to angrily cover up some little girl with a raincoat we had thrown in the back of the car.

All I could think as this parade passed by was something my daughter-in-law once said to me in a similar situation.
“Kathy,” she cried, “What in the world is wrong with that child’s mother!”
That’s a good question for sure. Something’s definitely wrong somewhere.

Don’t misunderstand.  Even though I’m old I know what motivates these young ladies. They want to be noticed and liked by boys. Most teenaged girls do.
Then this "fashion parade" sent me back to another spring about four years earlier at the high school where I was teaching.

It was graduation.
I was sitting at a table just inside the huge auditorium that our district rented for all these ceremonies, one of several teachers signing kids in and giving them name cards to hand to the announcer.
After check-in they formed a line directly behind us to wait for the ceremony to start.

Nervous, excited kids kept coming through the glass doors carrying caps and gowns over their arms.
The group behind me was getting big and we teachers often had to turn to shush them a bit.

There were six boys standing directly behind me, one of them a student of mine.
They all looked so young. One foot still in childhood while a wispy mustache grew on their faces.
Tomorrow would take them to college or work or war. I hoped God would bless them all.
We spoke a few words and then I got busy. The boys went back to talking and joking the way kids do.

The crowd in front of me began to thin out as it grew closer to the time to begin.

Then two girls came in wobbling precariously on the highest heels I’d ever seen. They stopped and gave me their names and I looked for their cards.
Both had elaborate hair, streaked and piled high. It must have taken hours. Makeup included gargantuan eyelashes and lips. Bling was everywhere.
Then there was the wardrobe.
One girl’s tight top was cut so low it was truly a worry. I heard her say to the teacher next to me, “Dress code doesn’t matter because of the cap and gown. We’re going to party after.”
The other girl wore a skirt so short that she couldn’t possibly sit down and still remain dressed, but we teachers let it pass. We were too late. They were 18 and it was graduation after all.
Thank goodness for those caps and gowns. They’d be covered from neck to ankle for a while at least.

As they leaned over to sign in I noticed one of the young ladies glance provocatively over my head to the boys behind me.
I turned to say something to my co-worker and noticed the guys.
All of them were still talking and laughing, but now they were sort of leering in the general direction of the cleavage and bare thighs in front of them. I saw one elbow his neighbor in the ribs in case he’d missed it. Alerted, he looked and then leered with the rest of them.
The girls left, I shook my head and forgot them.
The crowd coming in dwindled to a few latecomers.

Then the door opened and another girl rushed in, hurrying to the table.
First I noticed a sweet smile. Then her hair. It was simple and shiny, swaying gently just above her shoulders.
She had on a dressy, cream colored knit top. It might have been silk. It had small cap sleeves and a neckline curving just below her collarbone.
Her skirt was dark, fitting close to her waist and hips and then swinging out to fall in soft folds ending just above her knees.
Her simple, dark heels looked about three inches high.
Her makeup was light.
I caught a glimpse of a pair of small pearl earrings, a simple necklace, and a thin jeweled watch on her wrist.
When she moved a slight scent of some wonderful fragrance moved with her.
This girl was absolutely lovely. The only other word that came to mind when you saw her was “beautiful.”
It felt like a fresh breeze had just drifted into that now stuffy auditorium.

I turned around then to say some last words to the kids behind me when I noticed those six boys again.
It actually startled me.

Because now none of them were talking, joking, laughing or leering.
All were standing and silently staring.
They were looking at the face of that girl.
I knew it was her face. I could see their eyes.
No crude remarks….no jabs to the ribs.
Just respectful, silent, deep appreciation.

One boy had a wistful look on his face. Two of them had their mouths open. One kid looked like he’d just seen a new car or something.
It was a totally different response to someone of the opposite sex than I’d seen from them just minutes before.

It was then that I realized that I hadn’t given those boys enough credit.
They might be young but they already knew one of the most important lessons in life.

That lesson is that smokin’ hot and beautiful are not the same thing.
Nope, not the same thing at all.

Beautiful, lovely and of good report.
Those are the qualities to look for. That's what it says in the Articles of Faith. Seek after them.

I think those six guys are going to be all right.
I hope somehow the message gets through to those first two girls before it’s too late.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Pornography Is A Lie

I had an interesting discussion one time with a bunch of teenagers about the subject of pornography.
The teenagers were students of mine, most of them seniors, in a Lifeskills class for kids with disabilities.
The text we were using covered everything from how to write a check, rent an apartment, get a job, fix your car, shop for groceries, and avoid arrest, tornadoes, flash floods and sexual diseases. We learned how to stay healthy, choose a mate, and plan for parenthood.
Well, we were in the middle of the chapter covering sexual matters, knee deep in STD’s, when the subject of pornography came up.
None of these kids were LDS and when someone mentioned porn, 100% of them said they viewed it regularly.
I kept quiet about the subject until the next day when I posted my regular discussion starter in its usual place on the door. It said……

                                   PORNOGRAPHY IS A LIE

As the kids entered the room there were a lot of comments like, “Wazup? Ms Dub (W)?   How can pictures be lies?”   and   “ Ms Dub, we knew you’d be against porn cause you’re really old and all “churchy.”
That sort of thing.

After everyone was seated I began my explanation.
I told them that this class was all about learning to live full and rewarding lives despite any handicaps a person might have and that basing your life on the truth was an important part of that.
We were trying to learn true principles in lots of different areas from finances to parenting skills and apply them to our lives.
Sex was no different. Principles were involved.
I told them that indeed I was “old and churchy” but that didn’t necessarily make me wrong.
Sex, I explained, was one of the most powerful forces known to mankind and one that can bring happiness or misery into people’s lives depending on how its handled.
I asked them to think hard and see if they knew of someone who was now miserable because of messing up with sex.
They didn’t have to think hard at all…. everybody knew someone. Often that someone was in their own family.

I continued….  “Understanding the truth about something as important to happiness as sex is would be necessary to living a fulfilling life, wouldn’t it?”

“Yea, Yea, Yea……why’s porn a lie? someone  said.

 “Because” I went on, “Porn tells its viewers that great sex is something it’s not."

Porn tells people that great sex is something people do with strangers, or do for money, or pay money for. That it’s a group activity, a spectator sport, an exhibition, or something you do in front of a camera. That it’s all about the size of certain body parts, or how a person looks.
Porn tells people that it’s OK for sex to be a weapon, a crime, a game, a joke, a job, a contest, a bribe, a payoff, or something you do because you want to be popular.  
Porn tells people that sex is only about sensations in bodies and that it has nothing to do with the human spirit. That it doesn’t change you, that it means nothing, that feelings don’t matter.
Porn says that a condom is all you need to be protected from harm.
Well, each and every one of those things is a lie. If you want to build a life of misery, build it on a pack of lies.”

“Furthermore,” I added emphatically, “all of you know that porn is not only a lie but that it’s wrong.”

“Wait up, Ms Dub….no way,” said one of the students. Then a chorus of “Nobody makes those people do those things…we’re just looking…. Besides it looks like they’re having a real good time….Everybody watches porn”…etc.

“Stop. I can prove that you know the truth,” I said.
“Get out paper and pencil….we’re taking the “Porn Test.”

"A test?” more than one kid whined.

“Stop complaining,” I said, “There’s only one question.

The kids looked up from their seats expectantly.
I could see all of their faces and the whites of their eyes.
I told them that on second thought they could put their pencils away, they only had to “Think” the answer to the test question.
But they had to promise to be honest with that one answer.


I didn’t tell them the most important thing I knew about them at this point.
I couldn’t tell them because we had kids of all faiths in our student body.
It wouldn’t be appropriate to mention Christ in this situation as much as I wanted to.

Nevertheless, I knew that each of them, no matter what their faith, was born with the light of Christ.
The scriptures taught us that.
That light helps all Heavenly Father’s children to know right from wrong, good from bad.
They all had that light to see by whether they knew it or not.

So I gave them the test.            
Counting on that light I asked the question.

“Pretend you’re looking at pornography as you usually do. Pretend that the images are right there in front of you now.
Now, look deep down in your own heart, mind, and spirit.
Be still and listen.
Be honest.
Isn’t something saying...

This is wrong. What those people are doing isn’t good. It’s wrong. It’s wrong for them and I shouldn’t be watching because I know it’s wrong for me too.                                                                                        
Isn’t something saying that to you? Look at me so I can see the answer in your eyes.”

My students looked up at me. I could read their answers plainly.
Every single face in that class…. every one…. told the truth about pornography.

There was a kind of sheepish shuffling of feet and desks at that point and then one kid said, “Okay, Ms W…. Then what is great sex?”

“You’re asking an “old, churchy” lady a question like that?
Do you really want to know what I think?”

“Yea, sure…why not?” someone said.

“Well then, I have to tell the truth even though you probably won’t like it.
Sex is a precious, divine gift given to a man and a woman who are MARRIED.

Some of  life’s greatest blessings come to people through sex.
You can become one with another human being through sex. You can get closer to them and connect with them more fully than in any other way.
And the greatest love you will ever feel will come into your life through sex because your children and grandchildren will come into being because of it.

Probably most important of all, sex can never be great unless first there is love.
It has to be the mature, unselfish, building a life together kind of love.
The, "Your happiness is more important to me than my own," kind of love.
Only if there’s love like that can sex be all it was designed to be.”

Pornography is a big, fat, lie. 
It hurts people. 
Don’t live a life filled with lies.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

His Mother Wasn't Home

School will be out for the summer soon.
This is an old post reprinted as a caution to mothers with sons.

Teenage boys aren’t known for their sound judgment.
In fact, scientific studies show that the portion of their brains that control this skill isn’t fully developed yet.
Having taught high school for many years I can testify to the truth of that science.

Because of this developmental delay a great deal of the world’s mischief has been invented at the hands of teenaged boys.
But in my opinion they didn’t do this alone.
Their mothers have to share in the blame.
They weren’t home at the time to put a stop to said mischief before it got out of hand.

I know this is true because nobody but a teenaged boy would think of some things. And because no woman I know would have let their son be the first kid to do the crazy stuff we have to deal with today.

For example…….

Two teenaged boys stand outside a pasture leaning on the fence. Inside, peacefully grazing is the biggest, meanest, Brahma bull for miles around. Cyclone is it’s name. One kid says to the other…

“Hey, I know what let’s do! Let’s go in there and one of us climb on the back of old Cyclone. Then we'll kick him in the sides until he throws us off, stomps us into the dirt, and breaks both of our legs!  We can get some of  our friends to time us with a stopwatch. The one that stays on longest and is still alive will win a new belt buckle!”

“Great! says the other kid. Me first!”  

Both of those kids had mothers who weren’t home that day. I guarantee it.

Or ……

It’s summer…no school…everybody’s bored. One teenaged friend says to the other as they finish putting rubber bands on the newspapers they’re about to deliver.

“What do you want to do today…go to the movies?"                                                                                  
“Nah…I have a better idea,” his friend says as he bands the last paper. “Lets hike up to 5 mile bridge and tie big rubber bands to our feet.  Then we'll dive off the bridge headfirst into the rocky river and see if we survive!  It’ll be cool!”

“That sounds like it might be dangerous,” says the other guy. “I better ask my mom first…Oh, I forgot…she’s not home today. OK, I’m sure she won’t mind. Let’s go!”

And then there’s…..

Best friends…Saturday afternoon….looking for something fun to do.

“Hey, I know what…..Let’s build a big playpen in your backyard and put pads on our hands.  Then we'll get in the playpen and beat each other in the head until we’re senseless and one of us falls down with brain damage!  Our friends can throw water on us to keep us conscious and the last one standing will win a new belt!” (Belts must be really important to teenagers)


And don’t forget…….

“Hey….my friend says he’ll take us for a ride in his new airplane on Saturday. Let’s have some real fun! We’ll take big tarps and hook them to our backs somehow. Then when the plane’s really up there we’ll open the door and jump out!  I’ll bet the tarps will fill up with air and we’ll just float down to the ground.”

“That might not work,” says his friend in an excess of caution.  “Let’s stuff the tarps into our backpacks first. We can figure out some way to get them out on the way down. Maybe we could hook a string on the zipper and pull it open that way.”

“COOL!” Should we ask our moms first?”

“Nah, my mom always has to go shopping on Saturday. She won’t mind.”

Then there’s…..

“Hey Dude, I just got my driver’s license!”

“Me too!”

“I know what! Let’s get all our friends with licenses and make a big road in a circle. We’ll all get in our cars and drive 100 miles an hour around and around in the circle. Then everybody'll tries to pass and get in front without slowing down until somebody gets in an accident and maybe gets killed!”


“Did you ask your mom if it’s OK?”

“Nah, Dude, she’s not home today.”

There’s more, but you get the picture.

The moral of this story is…..Moms need to keep a sharp eye out for mischief.  

Also, another moral is…. adults should be patient with teenaged boys….their brains aren’t done yet.