Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Doing the Right Thing - by Cara Potapshyn Meyers

I always try to be a good role model for my son. As an example, around the Holidays, I received a package in the mail with a return address of a company I recently made a purchase from. I ripped open the package to find four X-box games inside. Because I don’t own an X-Box, I knew something was wrong. Sure enough, the previous owners of our house didn’t give this company their new address, therefore my address was still in their data base. 
My son was so excited to see those games because although we don’t own an X-Box, a few of his friends do. I told him that I was going to send them to the person who bought them. He asked why. I replied, “If you spent $50 on something you were looking forward to receiving, would you like it if your purchase went to someone else’s home and they kept it for themselves?” He sheepishly said no. So I explained that by sending the games to their rightful owner, it is called, “Doing the Right Thing.” I followed it by saying that although trying to get away with something may feel exciting at the moment, in the end, you probably will feel guilty and ashamed. When you feel that way, you know inside that you didn’t “Do the Right Thing.”
Fast forward to this past month. I mentioned in a previous blog that my son graduated to a higher belt level in karate. He was the youngest and smallest person in his class.
This particular karate school does something called sparring. The kids wear protective gear from head to toe with the exception of legs and arms exposed. This was the first time my son was sparring at this higher level. All of the other kids in his class were older, taller and bigger than my son. As sparring began, I noticed first that my son’s opponents were not sparring to perfect technique, they were sparring aggressively and to purposely injure. My son got kicked in his head five times during one match, staggering as he struggled to get up. I mouthed to him, “Do you want to leave?,” he shook his head no, but once the sparring was over, a Mom doctor came over and sat with us for well over an hour hydrating my son, giving him food. When he finally got up and began practicing karate kicks, she said it was probably unlikely that he had a concussion but to look out for warning signs the rest of that evening and into the next day. My son was acting fine.
This past Friday, my son had sparring at karate again. I said to my son as we were driving there, “Honey, you don’t have to go if you don’t want to.” He said he wanted to try to spar once more. I asked him if I felt he was being injured, would he be upset with me if I called him off the mat. He said no. The ground rules were laid. I was planning on sitting front row, center.
The first sparring round, my son got knocked to the floor but got right up and continued sparring. He then had a break. When it was his turn again, he was up against a much bigger, aggressive type kid. My eyes were glued. I never blinked. My son got kicked to the head. He slowly got up. He continued to spar. He got kicked in the head again. This time, it took more effort for him to get up. He wanted to continue. Whack! A third kick to the head. I stood up and said, “My son needs time out! He can hardly stand!” The instructor reluctantly called over another kid. I slid over to where my son was seated on the mat and said, “You are drained of energy, tired and hurting. Do you want to get off the mat and stop sparring?” He said he wanted to try one more match. My insides were cringing but I had a strong feeling that I was going to make this stop.
My son got up to spar again. He got punched to his arm so badly, it started to bleed. He got hit in the stomach right under the protective padding. He doubled over in pain. Finally he got hit in the throat and kicked in the head. He was on the mat, in a ball, crying. I screamed, “Stop! This is over!!,” and ran to help carry/walk my son off the mat. The Mom doctor was there and she carefully helped get his headgear off and again examined my son for signs of a head injury and felt his ribs and neck area. Again, she said to keep an eye on him. I assured her I would. Once my son stopped crying and hugging me, my son said, “I don’t ever want to come back.” I told him that he didn’t have to do anything in life that made him feel abused or hurt in any way. We left.
The next day my son said he was sore but felt fine. I had him try to rest as much as possible. We had a heart to heart talk about what happened the night before. I asked him if he still felt that he didn’t want to attend that karate school anymore. He replied, “yes.” I asked him how that made him feel. He said he felt really relieved and really good. I explained to him that any time he is faced with a situation that doesn’t make him feel good inside, he can walk away. And if he feels much better inside after he walked away, then he knows he made the right decision. In this case, besides peer pressure, besides being elated at his higher belt ranking, besides not seeing casual friends each week, he chose to walk away from being beat up. I honor him. How many adults could just walk away? I told him several times, how brave I thought he was, how mature, how glad I was that HE felt he made the right decision. When I stated that my son is more of a man than my husband is in a previous blog, I wasn’t embellishing at all.
Now to today. In my blog called, Everyone Has Stress, I knew I had to make amends to a friend I referred to in that blog. I had to, “Do the Right Thing.” Both my friend and I have a truck-load of stress. When I first saw her today, I gave her a big hug because I knew she really needed one. As we sat and talked, something dawned on me. I had gone through the same or similar stressful scenarios in my life, just as she was experiencing. The difference was that in my life, my same stressful situations came one after another. They were not all clumped together on top of each other at the same time. The more I thought about my past and all of the stress I’ve endured, it’s been more than most people will have experienced in a lifetime. However my events gave me small gaps of reprieve to “repair” myself. This poor friend has it poured on like wet cement and she is desperately trying to find her way out. 
I’ve been going through intense stress for two and one-half years now, with more years to come. I was drained completely a year and a half ago. I am literally existing on fumes. I can’t compare what I am facing with what my friend is facing because I am not walking in her shoes and vise versa. But I can imagine that hers is quite comparable to mine. What I do know is that I had to “Do the Right Thing” and make amends. My poor, stressed out friend, I am truly sorry. I hope you accepted my hug in friendship and with warmth. And I hope we both “Do the Right Thing” and will always try to be there for one another, even if just in thought and kind messages. I sincerely apologize. Let’s be stressed out friends together!

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