Sunday, March 11, 2012

Pep Talk: "Transporting Precious Cargo"

It was a Saturday afternoon in mid March, the weather warming nicely, the Buffs and ‘Cats from Los Angeles for the Pac 12 basketball tourney title and a simple dude from Missouri is finally getting around to reading Thursday’s paper. Hey, better late than never, right?

A front page Denver Post story freezes my marrow. There’s debate going on, in the Colorado state legislature, concerning an educational retention bill. It would make it tougher to graduate young kids, early in their education - kindergarten, first and second grade - if there are obvious literacy challenges. One of the bill’s sponsors is a former school superintendent, Millie Hamner. The life-long educator, with a doctorate in Curriculum and Leadership from the University of Denver, admitted this: “Really, this is a plea to parents to read to children, to spend time with their children developing language early in their lives.”

Wow. Has it come to this? We have legislators pleading with parents to spend time with their kids to help them develop necessary reading and writing skills? First, let me say thanks to all who enthusiastically embrace the responsibility of fostering an educational environment at home. This is a topic for another day but we need more of you!

It does make me think about parenting and a recent conversation, via texts, with teenage daughter’s mom about fetching the volleyball standout from practice. We had some rain/snow mix going on in the Mile High City and a concerned mom reminded me: “Be careful driving.” I responded with: “You bet. I’m carrying precious cargo.”

Our kids. 25% of our population, 100% of our future. A Centennial State law maker is begging parents to spend more time with them emphasizing reading and writing? And we wonder why education seems broken? Kids must have early-education literacy fundamentals mastered before moving on. I’ve been called many things in life, smart rarely one, but that just seems to make sense, right? Please say yes.

In sports, it always starts with the fundamentals. Football, you have to run, throw, block, tackle, stuff like that; basketball you must pass, dribble, and shoot; baseball....well, you get the point. If you don’t have the fundamentals mastered you’re gonna get your butt kicked whether it’s sports or educating kids, right?

I can remember my first television sports job in Harlingen, Texas. I once did a “Christmas for the Needy” story on a family of eight living in desperate poverty along America’s border with Mexico. Many of the kids were school age but none spoke English. My piece focused more on the love present in the cardboard shack with no running water or electricity. Two king-sized beds dominated the primitive space. I told a story about love and hope but was dismayed by the reality and the link between education and poverty. I wonder what those six kids are doing today?

Then my mind wanders back to transporting precious cargo, our kids, and showing them the way. Two words dominate the thought process: create and care. When we create something, whether lives, relationships, careers or buildings, doesn’t it make sense to care for it?

The basketball game on the television had ended. Tad Boyle’s team had shown great heart in winning four straight games in four days to claim the Pac 12 basketball post-season championship title. In a game far more important than basketball, we need to have great heart in our duty to care for our creations - kids.

It ain’t always easy, right? Parenting is tough work. But let’s never grow weary of doing good in that area, okay? Where this week can we get better? There’s always room for improvement, right?

Transporting precious cargo.

This week’s Pep Talk was finally finished, the next day, two hours before zooming around the globe for your thoughts. Please let me know, will ya? I love to hear from you. I learn, thanks.

Anyway, it’s exactly noon on Sunday the 11th of March; vigorous workout complete, the CU Buffs are Pac 12 champs in their first year in the league; the sun shines brightly; Billy Joel plays in the background and we’re wrapping up a chat about playing like champions when it come to raising healthy and productive kids.

How do we effectively transport precious cargo? The answer to that question is far above my pay grade, but I’ll offer this as a launching pad: With love, encouragement, discipline, joy, patience, goodness and self control because against such things, unlike literacy retention, there is no law currently on the books or proposed.

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