more on this later...

ah... the arrogance of an extrovert
the short comings of a procrastinator
the issue with trying to wear so many hats

earlier this week we had an episode that was very Western Mom
4th grade age Dean signed himself up for a 4th and 5th grade Spelling Bee at his school
the word list came home... but it hardly got a glance

on the eve of the Spelling Bee the word list came out
Lisa tested Dean on some of the words
I made mention but I did not get the point across about the standard convention of a Spelling Bee
which is to listen to the person who tells the word... ask them to use it in a sentence
if you did not hear them... ask that they repeat it
say the word
spell the word
then say the word again

my interjection was an interruption
my input from the sidelines was not only not taken constructively
but I think my unsolicited aid derailed the task of practicing for the spelling bee
as I went to the basement to work on my bike I heard what seemed to be the sound off footsteps headed upstairs away from the dinning room table where Dean usually does his homework

the following day after school I asked Dean how the Spelling Bee went
he said "good"
everything is "good" with Dean
so... I prodded for more information

it turned out Dean misheard the word
then tried spelling some made up word that does not exist
thus eliminating him in the first round

I tried to turn this into a lesson on how being prepared is vital to success
but... Lisa would not have it
Lisa and Grant ganged up on me and told me that I should be proud of him for trying
that his getting involved is reason enough to offer applause

I agreed that it was good that he signed himself up
I agreed that it was good that he has the strength to get up in front of everybody and give it a shot
but... I felt that was not enough

as I spoke I felt the strict criticism that my father always game me
my dad always came down hard on low results but never did anything to nurture or build for solid performance... he just criticized
I tried not to sound like my father
Grant and Lisa persisted

I am not so sure I was so bothered by Dean's being eliminated in the first round
it was more a matter of the failed approach
to go in blind
to forsake practice and preparation
to be so vain as to wing it
for an okay speller to take on a word list above his grade's reading level without any practice was the set up for failure

in listening to the guidance of Lisa and Grant I toned it down
I gave credit where credit is due
then I told Dean how I felt... that it was good for him to get involved but to build on this
to take what he learned and apply it to the next situation

later that afternoon I saw a ribbon hanging on the fridge... PARTICIPANT!
absurd... total Western Mom
the TIGER MOM would have nothing to do with such foolishness
this everybody gets a trophy philosophy is crap
when I was a kid I got all sorts of trophies... but that was because I played for one of the best soccer teams in the area... we worked hard
we paid close attention to our statistics
we put in a stronger effort to maintain our dominance
so when we got those trophies... there was a measure of merit
a feeling of pride

this week DC Council Member Phil Mendleson hosted a Hearing to discuss Bicycle and Pedestrian Safety in the District
I signed up to be a "witness"

initially I had scripted a little piece on "the sphere of awareness"
but then I realized that it did not really fit the bill
they were looking for something more exact and to the point
like what law should be modified
or what rules should be abolished or put in place

the tasks of life were around me
as a parent there is no such thing as "free time"
there is always something... shopping... cooking... cleaning...
homework... drop off and pick up... orchestrating play dates... and getting kids to activities
and then there is more homework
which reminds me... I need to find out the due date for the science fair project for Dean

all the excitement of the box bike stole my focus
there was not much time for the bike... in fact... I was driving my car to Adam's house to work on the box bike... I was using my car to build on my effort to be less car dependent
but I had to... that was the most cost effective
I could carry more stuff... and I could go straight from working on the bike build to picking the boys up from school

there it was Thursday... the eve of the hearing
I had nothing concrete... I decided to wing it

well... like father... like son
some times winging it works
but really... most time it pays to arrive prepared

I thought that I would spend some time in the morning before the hearing on getting a basic outline together
when morning came I walked the dog... Lisa swapped taking the kids to the dentist for me taking her car to get its oil changed
while the car was being serviced I rationalized things
telling myself that I am totally unfamiliar with this concept of a "hearing"
so I will base my witness presentation off what others say

it seemed like a good idea

the car was finished
I drove home and got on the bike
with the camera slung around my neck I rode down to 1350 Pennsylvania

at the hearing I listened and watched
I was pleased to see that Pedestrian and Bicyclist Safety are becoming a priority
it was an interesting representation
there were a number of people who spoke about incidents where family members were killed within the last year as pedestrians or cyclists
Alice Swanson's mother spoke... it saddened me to hear the stories of their losses
lives cut short
deaths that need not happen

then other witnesses told some "show and tell" stories
telling things about how the process failed them
trying to express that there needs to be changes in the process and even the laws

I thought of some stories I could tell... I thought about my "sphere of awareness" presentation being too fluffy
so when my time came I took the stand along side a few others
I had notes... a slight guideline... nothing dynamic... but something
my nerves caught the best of me... I got off course
I drifted off into an adrenalin based auto pilot
off course I went... meandering around and really going no where
I knew it as I spoke

it was the opposite of nailing it
which I guess is failing it

like my son Dean I took the initiative to sign up
but I failed to do the proper prep work to make my effort worth my time
it was aggravating
I felt that I had wasted my time
beyond that... I felt that it was a failed representation of myself

my words were empty
there was nothing that I said that would get weighed into the hearing
I just took up space and time
wasting my time and others

I could have been working on my box bike
but no...
just like Dean... there was some learning

just as I told Dean to "build" on his effort
I too am not above learning
lesson learned

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