Here comes August – the season when school T-shirt sales soar. Often we need a new shirt because we’re not still going to the same school we attended last year…or the year before.
The school choice menu is a new phenomenon. Not that long ago, the choice was school or work – on the family farm or in the coal mine or in whatever industry could provide needed financial support. If you haven’t seen the movie “October Sky” – it’s one of my favorites.
Today we have high performing public schools – and not-so-high performing public schools. We have charter schools, private schools, Catholic schools, Christian schools, online schools, and home schools.
The effort of decision is painful for parents.
And the decision is not the end of the pain. School t-shirts too often draw lines in the sand – or at least are met with “the look.”
“You go to public school?” “Why are you homeschooled?” “We went to that private school last year – before we picked this one.”
Declaring your enrollment is coming out of the closet.
And because the effort of decision was so hard; we’re battle weary. We’re just plain whooped from endlessly listing the pros and cons – if not on paper, at least over and over in our heads when we’re supposed to be sleeping.
Husbands and wives are sick of talking about “the choice.” Divorced parents are sick of arguing about “the choice.” Moms and dads parenting alone are done with defending their thoughts about “the choice” to their friends – or their parents.
Many parents wish they had more choices to wrestle with; the neighborhood public school became “the choice” when the lease was made on the apartment or when the mortgage was signed on the house.
Because we’re battle weary, we’re vulnerable.
And we can sometimes confuse vulnerability with transparency.
Transparency is a proclamation of our current position. It may or may not be politically correct, theoretically correct, or helpful to you or anyone else – it’s just a reality statement.
Transparency statements often end up on picket signs.
“Black lives matter.” “Blue lives matter.” “Abortion matters.” “Choice matters.” “Rainbows matter.” “Man & woman marriage matters.” “My school matters.” “My team matters.” “My candidate matters.” “Grace matters.” “Law matters.”
We know. We all know.
Now what? Here’s the next real choice.
What do we do after we choose our picket sign?
How long do we hold it? Do we trade our sign in for a t-shirt?
Is our t-shirt our hope for change? or a line in the sand?
If your t-shirt is different than mine, what now?
How many t-shirts do I need?
When do we get to talk?
Transparency is as new as school choice. People used to live in the closet. Now we all come out in our own ways – more than willing to proclaim our current reality.
Transparency is a beautiful part of a bigger story, until it’s the last chapter in a short book.
When transparency is the beginning and the end of the conversation – it’s not really a conversation.
Transparency is a monologue. At best, it’s a campaign speech – or a cheer.
My transparency may be politically correct – and not really good for me. Or you.
My transparency may be legally allowable – and not really good for me. Or you.
Transparency stops being good for any of us when it is the beginning, middle, and end of it’s own conversation – often in an echo chamber. Or in a stadium. Or on a picket line.
Transparency is at its best when it’s the opening act – to vulnerability.
Vulnerability gets to have a conversation; we get to listen and respond – not just react.
Vulnerability gets to bring different perspectives and views and experiences and wisdom to the table. We are offered protection – and get to offer it, too.
Picket signs are important when marching past the status quo that is not in our best interest. But picket signs hurt others – and picketers get hurt – when the motive is my best interest, and not ours.
Picket signs draw two circles – us and them.
Transparency draws two circles – me and you.
I say, “This is just how I am – take it or leave it.”
Disconnection is a killer – it’s a slow bleed.
And there is really only one circle. Ever.
One world – with many choices. One city – with many schools to choose from. One family – with many relatives. One spouse – with many dimensions.
When do we get to reconnect? When do we get to listen? When do we get to hear? When do we get to empathize? When do we get to learn?
As my friend John Lynch might say, when does someone get to put their arm around me and say, “My, my, my…that is a big choice you’ve made. I’m not going anywhere kid; I’ve got you. If you ever want to talk about it – I’m here.”
Because that school choice you’ve made…it’s the best!
It’s the best choice you could make right now for your child and your family and your finances and your work schedule and your beliefs.
Buy the t-shirt! Wear it with freedom!
And let your freedom wipe the table clean where you’re inviting others to have a conversation – instead of using it to draw lines and circles in the sand.
Seasons change. So do we. The choice that is best for us right now may not be best for us in the future. How will we know? Where is it safe to admit we may have made a mistake – or now we’re ready for a change?
Who will we talk to?
What can we learn in an echo chamber?
Echo chambers are green houses for disconnection. A middle school is an echo chamber; who’s helping who? Transparency just invites side by side play – never connection.
If we’re looking for evidence that peer groups are places of side by side play – but not real, vulnerable connection, let’s consider this: “The opposite of addiction isn’t sobriety; it’s connection.” (Johann Hari)
We don’t have to even look close to find addictions that begin in middle school. and before.
Connection happens when there are different perspectives and views and experiences and wisdom. Connection happens when we listen and hear and respond.
Connection happens when we allow protection – and offer it. Connection is like a vine and a branch; connection is about growing.
Vulnerability sets the table for connection. It’s a safe place to put your picket sign down, and buy a new t-shirt…or wear the old one.
The inaugural launch of our new online class begins Oct. 1, 2017 – you can respond to this invitation to reserve your place at the table.
The class is called “connecting…and reconnecting – at home.” It’s for people who are recognizing their hunger for connection.
If you’re willing to be a part of a community that welcomes transparency as an opening act – this class may be for you.
If you’re wondering about the difference connecting…and reconnecting could make in your relationships at home, this class may be for you.
If you’re hoping to find a safe community to try out vulnerability, this class may be for you.
RSVP to this invitation by following this link to the contact page of our website – and include “connecting…and reconnecting – at home” in the comment section.
Watch for a new website remodel…coming soon! The remodel will allow you to enroll and pay to reserve your spot directly on our site.
The class will include five video lessons and a downloadable participant’s guide we’re calling “Connection Chronicles.” The five lessons will be available one at a time – every 10 days. The class continues for seven weeks.
During that seven weeks – you will have access to the videos and the additional ideas in the participant’s guide. You will also have access to vulnerable community – in a closed FaceBook group…for members only.
I’ll be an active participant in the group. We’ll offer and listen to different perspectives and views and experiences and wisdom. We’ll protect each other.
We’ll connect. and reconnect. Connection is the place where nothing is fixed, but everything’s changed.
We’re excited about learning to draw one circle in our families; welcome home.
“Tell me about your shirt.”