In 1998 my husband was killed. 2 years later I met and married a guy who grew up on the mission field in Guatemala and we moved down there. (we = me, he n' my 4 kids!)
I struggled as a 30-yr old to learn a 2nd language. (Fortunately that 2nd language was Spanish and not English!) Even though Spanish is a very well-structured language that totally makes sense (not as tough as you might have thought...and "ough"has 6 different pronunciations!!!) it was still hard for me to get to the point where I could have a conversation! I can still remember when sentences sounded like one big long word and how awesome it was once I could at least distinguish between words even though I couldn't understand yet!! In the end I could actually talk and felt comfortable in Spanish!
But, in 2010 we moved to Canada and then ultimately back to the US where I speak only English and am surrounded by pretty much only English people! So, what to do to not lose the Spanish I worked so hard to get?
Well...<ahem>...I watch cheesy Spanish soap operas, of course!!! :)
The one I try to watch is called, "La Rosa de Guadalupe." It's a Catholic soap opera, actually. Made in Mexico. It's not like American soaps that are one long never ending story. Each 1-hr episode of La Rosa de Guadalupe is a start-to-finish story that is totally predictible (so it's easy for me to follow and understand!) It's perfect for helping my Spanish! And, the other day...it actually made me cry!!!!!
The reason why is not because it was awesome...but because it got me thinking...
The storyline of this one was about "cohetes"...which I'd have spelled, "cuetes" had I not known how it was spelled. (now you know how to say it.) It means fireworks...which are as Christmas in Latin America as Christmas trees!
Christmas Eve...midnight...is actually when they consider it "Christmas" in Guatemala. And, this moment is not like the Mayan apocalypse...it is very loud, noisy, and you can't miss it!
At midnight it was always so awesome! The town we lived in would just explode! You'd never guess the place to be so poor seeing so many very expensive fireworks going off all over town! It was SO loud! The dogs would freak and run and hide! And, by 12:30 am...you couldn't even see across the yard anymore for the smoke that had coated the town!
That is one thing I miss!
But...these fireworks are made in...scary unregulated factories...where kids even work (child labor.) Kids play with these things by themselves (even ours did!) and each year there are kids who get their fingers blown off by (the big ones!) ones that go off prematurely in their hands...
So, this was the topic of this episode..."Fireworks Safety in the Christmas Season!" and it really made me think about something that applies to all of us...not just fireworks in Latin America...
The dad...was the main encourager of this cultural tradition...Dad was into it. Dad loved it that his sons played with cohetes!!!
Mom looks on approvingly, also. But, Grandma is not happy about it. Grandma keeps saying it's dangerous and the kids shouldn't be permitted to do this. But, just as in real life...her "I'm old so this means I've been there done that so you should listen to me!" wisdom is ignored, dismissed, and even mocked a little, "Mom! It's tradition!"
The main character kid (I guess I never got his name!) is very irresponsible with the fireworks. He lights one off in his bedroom to scare his little brother awake...
Then, he lights one off in the classroom! And, the teacher calls his mom in and fills her in on the seriousness of this "tradition!"
Mom is a new convert to understanding the seriousness of this. She's like, "Dude. These are bad!"
(the acting on these shows is great!!! hahaha)
Her son has to write/read a report to the class on the dangers of playing with fireworks. He seems like he is starting to understand that fireworks are dangerous...but...
Dad is into it!!! Dad keeps on keeping-on with this tradition! (So, no matter how good the teaching is that he gets at school...no matter how hard the boy's trying to learn what's right he lives and believes what he lives at home!)
Dad walks in with a huge bag of fireworks...and even lights one for his daughter inside the house! (which I never knew anyone to do in Guatemala but...it's a soap opera!)
Mom is like, "Honey! This isn't good! This is dangerous! The kids shouldn't be doing this!"
Finally...Christmas Eve...Dad walks in with this HUGE bomba (bomb which they call a paloma or dove). The kids are elated!! This is the awesomest firework!! Mom and Grandma are not happy.
Next scene...the kids are outside lighting off the bombs inside milk cans and one doesn't go off...
The son approaches the "dud" and picks it up and...well...of course...you guessed it!!!
It blows up in his hand...
So, he's rolling on the ground screaming...all the other kids are horrified watching...and his parents come running and haul him off to the hospital...
The next scene we see Grandma, Mom, and Dad show up at at the hospital with this bag of his iced fingers and plead with the doc to reattach his fingers!!! The doc then tells them he's sorry but the damage was too severe and they had to amputate his whole hand!
This is when I started to cry because this essentially is, "a true story"...This whole story of a parent disregarding science and truth in favor of "tradition" and resulting in "disability" in the child is a story that is happening in almost every family! :(
So, in the scene in which the boy awakens and finds out that he's lost his hand it really hit me...all the pain caused by his parents' well-meant ignorance.
Look at his...kid actor face ;) Pretty good job at showing anguish, yeah? This is what happens inside of all of us because of things that have been done to us which have made it impossible for us to live happy and healthy lives.
With so many people around him and so much access to "truth" why is this kid suffering this consequence?
Because of what he learned at home.
The people all around him were trying to teach him better...like at school...but the lesson about how to live that stuck with him was the lesson he got at home...from his dad...
It makes me think of all the sad and lonely people out there who are on meds because of that but still feel safer and more normal all alone.
It makes me think of all of the anti-bullying messages out there.
It makes me think of all the messages out there to teach kids about sex and how not to end up a victim of a predator.
How can we expect kids to be able to connect to others in healthy happy ways when they've been raised being routinely ignored and left alone at their most vulnerable times?
How can we expect kids to not bully others?
How can we expect kids to not be bullied?
How can we expect girls (and boys) to feel they have a right to not have grown ups do things to their bodies that they don't like...as long as kids live in homes where their parents bully them? (spank/smack)
In the end, the kids in real life, just like the boy in this story, all do have "permanent disabilities." They have issues due to having lived a life where they were controlled by force.
(Even the kids who grow up to be grown-ups who say, "I was spanked and I turned out OK..." Well, except for the part where you grew up to think that it's acceptable for a 200 pound 6 foot man to control a 30 pound toddler by hitting them. That doesn't seem like ya turned out "OK.")
In the end of this story, the boy had to come to grips with how to grieve the loss of his hand. (the normal function he should have had had his parents given him the right guidance and example in life!)
And, he had to help his little brother process the loss.
Everyone had to get used to the disability the boy now had.
And, I just thought of all the thoughtless actions by parents going on out there in the world as parents just "do with their kids how they were raised" not thinking about the reality of the dangers of what they're doing...
I thought of all the little kids out there suffering the consequences of that: being beaten up by bullies...bullying...and being touched inappropriately growing up...unable to be able to stop the things that are going wrong in their lives. Unable to navigate the world safely because of what their parents are teaching them at home.
Kids bullying and being bullied can't just stop because even if they become convinced at school that this is wrong if they live in a household where dad controls them by manhandling them...by hitting (spanking/smacking) them to get them to do what they want or any time they displease dad...how else can that child think the world is to be navigated but that if you're bigger you can use force to get your way from smaller weaker people?
If a girl lives in a house where her body has never been "her own" where she's never been allowed to make choices for herself or to say, "no!" when her parents want to hit (spank/smack) her because they dislike something she's done...how else is that girl to navigate life but to think it's OK to be hit by men who are displeased with what she does...or to let men do things to her body she doesn't like?
How are kids to see that things are wrong if their parents are always "bringing them bag-fulls of fireworks to play with while the teacher is telling them they're dangerous?"
I thought of all the damage that's done to kids because of these wrong things that parents do to them...and not just in the hitting department but I think of all the innocent babies lying alone in cribs crying themselves to sleep...losing brain cells...and getting their brains wired to be more likely to be addicts, and have anxiety and depression issues for their whole lives...all because mom n' dad have been raised to believe that "this is just how it's done with babies!"
I thought of how sometimes parents do realize what they've done and stop (like I did)...but still have to deal with seeing their child struggling with the disabilities that they caused...
I thought of all the parents who have naively led their children into these dangerous psychological places and how once realized they have to grieve their child's loss and help the child overcome the challenges that the parents' poor choices has led to.
In the end...whatever we do with our kids...however we treat them...they will have to deal with it.
If we've taught them well we can expect them to have happy and healthy relationships with everyone in their futures and for them to be not on depression and anxiety meds their whole lives! But, if we do wrong things to them...while it won't be as dramatic and obvious as this child having his hand blown off it will be just as crippling to them...
The world I grew up in taught me that bigger, louder, and meaner than me people control me and I have no choice. It taught me I'll never be good enough...liked...or acceptable in any way. The world I grew up in definitely left me crippled and struggling...even at my age...and I'm parenting 8 kids. God help 'em!! ;)
The world I grew up in also taught me that people are false and if they're being nice you'd better watch out for what they really mean so I look for deep meanings in everything...so that makes it so that I cry over cheesy Spanish soap operas...and leave me feeling like a fruitcake ;)
(In case you wonder...I went to handy-dandy Youtube and someone is into uploading all of these soaps and so I just went thru the vids there and got screen shots of moments I wanted)