Posts Tagged ‘education’

When I became pregnant with our second child I was so thrilled. Just as thrilled as I was with the first.

Hard to believe it was twenty years ago.

While pregnancy brings about many things the first on my list was prenatal visits. So an appointment was made with the ob/gyn group down the road from our home.

On one of the first prenatal visits I checked in at front desk. Soon I was escorted to an examining room in the back. I am handed a disposable paper covering for the bottom half of my body. You have to know when it comes to me disrobing in an exam room I take it very seriously. It’s like a game of twenty questions. The nurse normally gets pelted with my inquiries.

Usually goes something like this.

“All of my clothes? Just the top? Bra? Panties? Socks? Headband? Watch? Earrings? Wait! Does a paper gown open to the front or back?? Flimsy disposable paper sheet covering the lap?”

I quickly followed the instructions. Took off clothes and placed the neatly folded clothes on the chair. No one dilly dallies around in those exam rooms. Because anyone could open the door at any moment and catch you partially clad. Or exposed. Doesn’t matter that the doctor and/or nurse is going to soon see every little bit of you.

While waiting for the doctor I sit on the table and get caught up with the celebrity news in the latest “People” magazine. I am making a lot of noise because every time I move an inch the paper liner on the examining table crinkles up, rustles and makes a racket.

I soon realize that I cannot concentrate on the magazine. Or anything else. Because the heater must have been broken. It was absolutely freezing in the room.

The doctor poked his head in and saw that I was turning blue. Okay, that’s an exaggeration but he did get that I was cold. He appeared upset at this.

Said, “Hold on a minute.”

He leaves the room. Two seconds later he returns with his jacket. It was waist length and black leather. He takes it and wraps it around my shoulders.

So, there I am. Sitting on the examining table with nothing on except a black leather biker jacket.

Feeling uncomfortable and awkward. Like I was about to star in a S&M photo shoot.

I honestly didn’t know that to think. Was it kind? Unprofessional? Creepy? Chivalrous? Inappropriate?

I was surprised and didn’t know how to react. This was not in the rule book I learned over the years or in my memory bank. I left feeling confused.

See, him inserting his gloved fingers into my vagina for a pelvic exam was okay and appropriate. I knew that would happen and signed up for that. But putting that black leather jacket on my body was not in the pre-approved script.

Did not go home and tell my husband. Or my friends.

Just filed it away in the old gray matter under the indexed tab, “Confused.”

I wouldn’t be the first to file that. Women can experience all sorts of confusion. We are taught to be nice. Think the best of folks. So we question is the boy/man being kind or pushing a boundary? Manipulating or thoughtful? Purposeful touch or an accidental brushing? Surely, he didn’t mean that? Did I somehow lead him to this? Allow this? And on and on.

I did eventually share this anecdote at a party with a couple of lady friends. Not in the vein of my being wounded, scarred or anything. Just adding to a conversation topic that might have included “Bizarre behavior” or “You can’t make this stuff up!” Or maybe even, “Wait, get this! I have an even better one for you!”  Maybe even, “Proceed with caution.”

My husband hears me recounting the experience and looks at me like I have more stories than Walt Disney and says, “What??? That never happened.”

I replied, “Oh, yes, it most definitely happened. I was there.”

The reason I never shared this with him was because, in my mind, it sounded crazy and embarrassing.

I didn’t do anything wrong. Yet I couldn’t rightly say that the doctor did anything wrong either.

I would also later share with my ladies’ bookclub. Again, using it as fodder for interesting, bizarro conversation. Certainly not portraying me as a victimized woman.

It’s not something I really shared with anyone else.

I was a grown woman nearing her thirty-fourth year. Not physically hurt in ANY way. Just want that to be crystal clear. Yet, I still walked out of that office feeling like it was a bit surreal. Embarrassed and confused. Not feeling quite as clean as I was when I arrived. Thinking how on earth did that weird scenario happen. Could I have prevented the cow hide from being draped over my shoulders? Who’d believe that story?

Imagine then how a young girl might feel if someone abused power and violated a different boundary. Hurt her. Who would believe her? Against the word of a possibly upstanding young man? What would she be put through if she actually told her story? Character assassination? Shame? Embarrassment? Confusion? Guilt?

63.3% of sexual assault cases are not reported in the United States. Think about that for a minute. That’s something to really ponder. We don’t even need to wonder why. We know why. And since the thinking caps are on consider this also. One in three girls/women will experience some type of sexual violence in their lifetime. In the United States of America. So take a good look around your neighborhood, classroom, place of employment and home. Then count to three.

My last couple of postings have a recurring theme (girls and women) with some type of vulnerability as the common denominator.

The mindset of our society needs to change. The old, abhorrent way is no longer acceptable.

We certainly don’t need to worry about boys/men and possible false reporting. The boys (if they are white) will be just fine. The percentage of that happening is quite low. Something like 2%.

While actual sexual violence perpetrated against women is disgustingly high. 

Wait. Tell me again. Who do we need to worry about?

How’s this novel idea, though? Instead of worrying about our girls why don’t we focus on properly educating our boys. About boundaries, respect, language and objectification. It will be a struggle since every outlet we (men and women) are exposed to these days seems to support the objectification of women.

Maybe we could make America great again.

My original intention was to keep this short and sweet but it morphed into something else.

I’m glad it did.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Visited Pennsylvania Dutch Country this past summer. This is where a population of Amish people live in the United States. Only place with more Amish is Ohio. There are more than 40, 000 Amish in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania.

Canada is also home to Amish communities.

It was just so beautiful and peaceful. Rolling green hills and gorgeous farms.

I’ve always been fascinated by the Amish people. And not just because maybe one of my daughters might have said I dressed like one.

But because I find it quite interesting that they live in a community that shuns a lot of the modern world. Have their own language and customs. Live and dress simply. It’s all about faith, family and farm. They help each other. They are pacifists.

Yes, some do business with folks outside their community. And probably do quite well based on the hefty price tags I’ve seen attached to homemade quilts and hand carved furniture.

For the most part, though, they stick to their own. Travel around in horse drawn buggies. Members of the Old Order avoid modern technology.

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My cousin and I had a lovely visit. Bought some fresh yarn (lol) and visited a farm for fresh peaches and zucchini bread. Checked out the animals. We even did some Lancaster County wine tasting although that had nothing to do with the Amish.

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The first time I visited was about twenty five years ago. I remember telling my mother about the trip. I was enthralled with the simplicity of their lives. My mom said, “Well, not being allowed to attend school after the eighth grade really doesn’t sound like a great thing.”

But my argument then (and still) is this: In this context it actually is a good thing. For them. I’m not talking about you and me.

Why would they need to be educated beyond the eighth grade?

The children are groomed in the ways of Amish. They do learn English in school. And maybe a smattering of geography or history. They need to learn the skills necessary to live in their community. Not ours. They won’t ever be a part of our community.

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They will need to learn about agriculture. Or how to measure planks of wood for building homes and furniture. Quilting. Gardening. Preserves. Biblical text and verses.

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They have no desire or need to learn more.

I think I’ll always find it fascinating that these communities still exist in North America. Not because they are the “other” but because maybe, just maybe, their lifestyle is sort of refreshing.

Simply stuck in time.

 

 

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My great-great grandmother was named Margaret Haughey and was born in Lurgan, County Armagh on March 8th, 1840. She was the tenth child of eleven born to Luke Haughey and Mary McDonald.

She grew up and married a weaver by the name of Bernard McConville on February 14th, 1863.

A baby boy, named after his father, was born January 2, 1864. Margaret’s mother, Mary McDonald Haughey was present at the birth of her grandson.

Sadly, it lists his father, Bernard, as being deceased by the time the little fellow arrived into the world.

And baby Bernard appears to have died soon after-in 1865.

So Margaret was married, widowed, a new mother and a grieving parent all in a matter of two years.

My great-great grandfather was a man by the name of Charles Dornan. He was a weaver and married a woman in Lurgan by the name of Anne Skeath on May 31st, 1863.

They would have two children, Mary and Hugh. By 1866 Charles lost both his wife and his two children. Anne died in 1866 along with her little daughter, Mary. Three short years. A family of four down to a family of one.

Margaret (Haughey) McConville and Charles Dornan, a young widow and widower, married in 1869. They would have seven children together. Lost a few of their kids at young ages.

My great-grandfather, Michael Dornan was one of their children. He would later succumb to tuberculosis at the early age of thirty-five in 1912 along with his one year old daughter, Annie, who also died from general tuberculosis that same year.

He left his wife, Maggie, with three young daughters and a son. My Nana, one of their children, was just six when she lost her dad and her little sister.

This blog posting was actually going to be a story about Margaret Haughey’s siblings who left Lurgan in the 1860s to set sail on a ship to New Zealand. I tend to veer. Guess that will have to be my next posting!

 

I remember having a discussion with a fellow a couple of years ago here in K.L. He was a guy at my husband’s office and a few of us were having drinks after work. He more or less said that researching ancestors was a waste of time. It’s about who you are now. And it has nothing to do with your ancient relatives. You have nothing to do with your ancestors.

With that being said, I have to mention that even my own husband also never quite understood my fascination with the dead. But he was certainly glad to support the project because I loved it so much. Also kept me off the streets and out of trouble. Lol. He never, ever said it was a waste of my time.

My feeling was that discovering my family’s history made me more sensitive to the plight of others before me. And after me. This man claimed that I would have been sensitive anyway. That’s who I was. I disagreed. I said that I had new appreciation for my ancestors and their troubles. We went back and forth for some time. Fuelled by passion and a couple of brewskies. He didn’t buy it.

But I did.

I appreciated the economic struggles during that time. People flocking from the rural areas and neighboring counties to the mill towns that offered employment. Migrations of people. Leaving the farms to live in cramped, damp row houses with their large families. I also imagined them toiling away, at very young ages, in the crowded mills. Spreading tuberculosis and who knows what else. Being overworked. Being uneducated. Most of the birth, marriage and death certificates are signed with “his X mark” or “her X mark.”

My heart broke at the images in my head of these two young people, newly married, losing their spouses and babies in a matter of a few short years.

I imagined how hard it was for my Nana to grow up without a Dad and what impact that had on her life.

I envisioned many who fled that life on ships for an unknown world. Because it might have been better than the one they were experiencing.

Yes, I might have been sympathetic anyway. Due to my parents raising us to care about others. But when it’s really personal you really identify with it. And you might want to do more.

I would have been totally fine if I never pursued my curiosity about the family tree. Would have a secure identity and continued community service work.

But I might work a little harder because my ancestors taught me a very valuable lesson from their graves. “It could be you. Because it was us. Not all of us survived it. But some of us did. You, mo chroi´, are the result. Make it worth our struggle.”

There are loads of quotes out there about history and the past. Most of them go something like this, “Those who do not learn from the past are destined to repeat it.”

I don’t want to be a part of a repetitive cycle in world history. Rather be a part of learning.

So, thank you, Margaret Haughey, mo chroi´, and the rest of you. I’m still learning and you will never be forgotten.

Rest in peace.

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On Monday, Rory left us in Malaysia to head back to California to finish up her last year of college. We had a few good weeks with her here so we were and are thankful.

Early that morning, even before I posted my Facebook status that she was leaving, I received a message. Out of the blue. Very unexpected. From the daughter of a friend of mine in Texas. She had never emailed me before that day.

It was very complimentary. I really didn’t even feel that I was deserving of her words.

But it truly lifted me up. And I needed it on that particular day.

I remember reading an article about five years ago. Basically, it said it was important to let others know how you feel. How grateful you were if someone helped you. Taught you. Guided you. It suggested writing a letter to a family member, an old friend, mentor or teacher. Terrific idea!

In 1997, I attended a parish/school reunion with my entire family. My second grade teacher, Sr. Mercia, was there. We caught up and laughed. She was very good-humored. A hot ticket as they used to say.  When I was leaving I heard her say to the other women in the group, “I always liked that kid.”

I was over thirty years old at the time. But it still made me feel great.

So, years later, after being prompted by that article, I wrote to thank this particular person. Not for liking me or for pulling out my wiggling baby teeth. But to let her know that I was appreciative of her commitment. To let her know that she had an important role in my life. I admired her choice to dedicate her entire life to teaching. Without a partner. Without her own children. Devoted to God and second graders while eschewing many of the material goods that most of us couldn’t imagine living without.  I wanted her to know that she was and had been appreciated, valued and loved.

I knew her address. From time to time, my mom would keep me updated on Sister Mercia. When she was battling breast cancer and beating it. Where she was currently living.

But by the time that letter was signed, sealed and delivered to her door it was just a little too late. Sister Mercia was older and had Alzheimer’s. She wouldn’t have understood my words of gratitude and love.

I was glad that I wrote the letter but very sad that she would not be able to read the words. The woman who taught me to read. She would never know how I felt. I waited too long.

So, if there is someone who helped, nurtured, guided or loved you then go ahead and drop them a few lines. Out of the blue. You will absolutely make their day.

I guarantee it.

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Today was the first day of school for Annie here in Kuala Lumpur. Tempus fugit!

It prompted a memory of another first day of school in Coppell, Texas. That time it was Annie’s older sister, Rory. Who is now in her last year of college.

When Rory was about to enter third grade she was so excited. We had moved within the same town to a different neighborhood. This meant that she would be attending a new elementary school. And she would be taking the bus with the other neighborhood children. A first for her.

So, on this first day of school I walked her up to the bus stop. She couldn’t wait to hop on board. Eagerly lined up at the front when it pulled up to the stop.

But, even in her excited eagerness, she noticed a little neighbor girl who was starting school for the first time ever. Kindergarten. The child was crying, scared, wouldn’t move and made no attempt to gravitate towards the line or the bus. And her mom wasn’t making any progress.

Totally unsolicited, Rory left her place in the line. The others started boarding but she went over to little Davis. She took her by the hand, gently spoke with her, and coaxed the little girl onto the bus with her. Off they went.

One of the moms came up to me after the bus departed and asked, “Was that your little girl who helped Davis?”

I said, “Yes.”

She said, “That was so amazing to watch. I’ve never seen anything like it.”

And those are the things that should make a parent proud. Like I was on that first day of school.

I wish you all a wonderful school year!

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