Sunday, March 6, 2011

The Perception of Power

Today I had the privilege of being posted as a "MEET MARSHALL".  Privilege?, well, let me re-think that one. . .  OK, so I was "assigned" to be a meet marshall.  Unless you are involved in swimming yourself, or a parent to a swimmer, the term is probably just as foreign to you as it was to me.  Until of course today.

My stepdaughter is on a swim team and they are always looking for volunteers to help at the meets.  Quite frankly I am very busy and find it challenging enough to make the time to go to the events and so when I am there, the last thing I want to be doing is working. 'Let me sit just in the stands, drink my java and route her on.'

When I found out that if I were to volunteer for a job, we will be reimbursed $75.00 on her tuition, I thought, SIGN ME UP - how hard could it be?!  Well, that was at the last meet.  Last time I was assigned to be a "TIMER".  Wow, talk about some serious pressure (and I am not referring to the sinus pressure in my head from the chlorine overdose)!  As a timer you are responsible for a fraction of a second which makes the difference in who places and who doesn't - so for God's sake, DON'T SNEEZE !!
Anyway, today was very different.  They gave me an official "MEET MARSHALL" t-shirt, neon yellow, of course.  The dang thing was ten times the size of my body.  So to try and avoid looking like a giant marshmallow dipped in road paint, I attempted to tie the lower portion into a knot.  A little apprehensive about my appearance, I thought I would take on a new perspective and dive into the role I had just been assigned, after all... I am a MARSHALL!
As marshall, you are basically the pool police.  Make sure no parents sneak onto the pool deck, tackle the kids that are trying to climb the wall above the bleachers, no food, no street shoes on the deck, monitor the crowd, etc.  I scanned the auditorium looking at all the people.  How effective can I be?  Sure I might be able to intimidate an eight year old enough to make them stay on their towel, but what about his 6'3", 275lb father who is breaking all the rules?
Much to my surprise, most of the people saw the yellow shirt coming and were very accommodating (perhaps a little intimidated) and polite.  I felt powerful.  All I had to do was wave my finger at some of the kids and they jumped to attention.  Others, however, would ignore all levels of authority.  As I watched the ones that I had to repeatedly reprimand, I realized that it was not the yellow shirt that made them defiant it was the lack of discipline their parents had instilled.  Gosh, remember when we were kids?  You didn't dare talk back to an adult.  You'd be lucky not to get whopped by the person, let alone what your parents would do when they found out!  Boy, have times changed.  I am always astonished by the parent who tries to be their kids' friend and let them do and say whatever they want in fear that their children won't like them.  Let me be the first to tell you, that's not your job!  A parent's job is just parent!  Not to be a friend.  You'll have plenty of time for that when your children grow into respectful, independent human beings and then you can develop a friendship.  This is not to say you have to be a militant who has children who fear you, but it does mean that it is more important to teach them so that you will actually like them when they are adults.  Trust me if they disrespect you when they are young, they will never grow into respecting you later on, the disrespect only gets worse.
Throughout the day I was tossed between feeling like a powerhouse who could make the public move in a blink of an eye and the overwhelming sense of discouragement in our future generations.  So, after a nice long comfortable nap on a rainy Sunday afternoon, I awoke with a peace of returning to my sanctuary and knowing that we are all doing the best we can with what we know.  In the words of my dear friend Elaine, I must return once more to MYOR (mind your own reality).
I find that when I do that, life becomes... simple again. Peaceful. I can choose to be angry at others and let them disturb my peace, or I can just simply be.

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