Single Parent Faith

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Day at the Park— Amidst the Fun, A Questionable Moment

Copyright © 2011 Ella Venezia.
All Rights Reserved.

Yesterday morning in an attempt to finally “start” back exercising, I accompanied my daughter to our favorite park. It is quite large and has many fields and trails—so there’s a lot to choose from.

The irony didn’t miss me. Years prior “I” was the one giving her instruction on what exercises to perform. Today “she” was doing that very thing to me. She of course, being in her teens and active with cross country running, is in a lot better shape than sedentary mom whose been far too many hours sitting at a computer.

We stretched, and I didn’t need any pointers there. I assumed she was going to do her thing, which typically is how we’ve evolved since she surpassed me in speed and ability.  But instead, she wanted to exercise with me. 

My daughter took the lead, “It’s time to get started.” She demonstrated the first exercise. We were to jog from one tree to the other, some 500+ feet away, with “knees high.” And I do mean high. She turned to look at me,  “Knees high, mom!”

I heard again, “High knees! Come on, higher!” In between huffs and puffs I responded, “I am!” And we both started laughing. She said, “Stop making me laugh, my abs hurt.” Believe me, it was not intentional. No telling how low they were, though in my head my knees were as high as my shoulders! 

Ready to do the next exercise, we noticed a young woman (maybe 20’s+) and two guys approaching. At first I thought they were going to pass right on by, as is typically park etiquette. But the woman approached us as the guys hung back.

“Hi. We’re with XYZ Church. Is it okay if we video-tape you while asking you some questions about faith?”

“Uh, no. Not interested. I appreciate what you’re trying to do, but it’s a matter of privacy.”

She walked away, and I reflected on this pretty much the remainder of the time at the park. I wondered many things and I replayed what I could have said instead.
I wondered if I should have agreed to it, but in a very limited manner. For instance, taping only from my legs down, so my face isn’t visible to who knows how many strangers. Then I thought, No, that wouldn’t work either, rushing out of the house this morning I didn’t shave my legs. Can you say “razor stubble?” Images of my stubbly legs on a big church screen, was not appealing to me, much less imagining the audience’s barf tolerance.

Then I thought, maybe from behind, only from the shoulders up of course. Too complicated. The whole thing would have been too troublesome. The bottom line is, a single mom with her gorgeous teen daughter, saying yes to being taped by strangers— regardless of their story— just didn’t sit well with me. This is the age of  “upload everything onto You-Tube, in a few seconds flat.” What guarantee do I have that they are who they say they are? What guarantee do I have that the images wouldn’t wind up in someone else’s possession?

I’ve lived long enough to learn that many strangers say just about anything to fulfill their agenda. We cannot trust strangers’ promises because they are just that: strangers. Trust takes time to develop, as you observe a person’s character, and how they demonstrate protecting sensitive information. This also includes people saying they are affiliated with a church. How many times have people used “faith” as a cover for activities that are anything but Godly.

Assuming they were who they say, and that their motives were sincere and honorable, then I might have participated. But that’s the thing. How can you know this for a fact to be true? I had a couple of seconds to make a decision. I don’t know these people. I had to go with my gut. And my gut, as Mama Bear, says “NO!” Truthfully, even if I were there by myself the answer would have been the same.

I understand that in this age of excessive “reality” T.V. shows, and paparazzi that believe they own celebrities, that it has become commonplace not to respect privacy. I do not agree with this. Perhaps they assumed strangers would agree to being taped.

When we have children, we must protect their privacy, to insure their safety. There are too many sick people out there looking to victimize, the last thing we want to do is call attention to your children. Additionally, we women are also vulnerable. Whether we are married or not, we need to be cautious as well. The Ted Bundy’s and countless others, of the world (they come in every age, shape, size, language, culture, and appearance), hands down victimize women because we are soft-hearted and are likely to “believe” a stranger’s story.

I watched as they approached others, and the ones I took note of, also turned them down. This modern world of technology has also made it commonplace to hear on the news countless stories of victimization. Most people don’t want to take the gamble on a strangers’ sincerity. Taking chances these days comes at greater risk.

Because we are more cautious, we are able to better protect ourselves and loved ones. And our children learn by watching us take caution.

After they left, we got back to exercising, and my daughter continued the drills. The next was running backwards with knees high. She cautioned me that you had to turn to look periodically to make sure you weren’t heading for a dip or high spot. She began the drill and told me. “Just follow me and I’ll make the path.”

Those words permeated and reassuringly lingered in my mind. “Just follow me and I’ll make the path,” is what you say to someone when you are sure of your footing and your skill.  These are words of self-confidence. These are words of protection and love.

My sweet daughter’s words reminded me of:
 “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make straight your paths.” — Proverbs 3:5-6

I am proud of my daughter. It is a beautiful blossoming I am seeing in her, as she leaves the child behind and takes on the role of confident, caring young woman. There is a transition afoot. Though many years her senior and as her mother, I acknowledge times where the wise thing to do is to recede my authority, and invite her rightful place as guide. I am not so proud that I do not understand that our children are also our teachers. To have the humility to acknowledge this is a powerful message we gift our children— that we believe in their capabilities. 

Ella Venezia
Copyright © 2011 Ella Venezia. All Rights Reserved.


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