Annie Fox's Blog...

Thoughts about teens, tweens, parenting and this adventure of living on Earth in the 21st century.

Annie Fox, M.Ed., is an internationally respected parenting expert, award-winning author, and a trusted online adviser for tweens and teens.

No constitutional right to be a jerk.

September 10, 2009

President Obama greets high school students (AP photo)

President Obama greets high school students (AP photo)

In last night’s speech before a joint session of Congress the President was clear about his goals for health care reform. He also delivered a clear message to Americans about the most effective way to deal with rude and disrespectful people.  When the President stated the fact that the health care reform bill does not afford coverage to people who are in the US illegally, Rep. Joe Wilson (SC) shouted “You lie!” making the Congressman the liar. But I digress.

The President could easily have responded  to unexpected rudeness as many of us have. He could have handily shot back a history-making zinger. But it was the President’s choice not to that was most note-worthy.

After the speech a friend on Twitter asked “Heckling the Prez? Sheesh! Explain that 2 kids! arg!” If you’re worrying about that, don’t. The real lesson wasn’t in the rudeness of Rep. Wilson (whose name will be remembered for none of the reasons his parents imagined when their son was elected to Congress). The real lesson for kids was delivered by President Obama, some of whose critics were so bent out of shape Tuesday when he visited a high school that at least one was seen carrying a sign saying “Keep the president away from our kids!” 

Kids, here’s the real lesson from last night’s “interaction”: When someone disrespects you, you can choose to retaliate or not. When some jerk calls you a liar, or worse, you can do what Barack Obama did last night… you can control yourself. The President’s display of self-respect as well as respect for the people in that room and for the office he holds sends just the right message.

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#16: Inauguration Day Part 3 – 1.8 million new best friends

January 23, 2009

Everything you need to enjoy the Inauguration.. a hat, a visitor's map, and a chocolate bar

Everything you need to enjoy the Inauguration... souvenir hat, visitor's map, and a chocolate bar

Of course we came for the main event: To witness the Swearing In Ceremony of Barack Obama and to hear his Inaugural Address (part 1 and part 2). But if that was all, we could have stayed home, had a much better view, and a great bathroom right down the hall. But we were after something more.

I’m not sure I can even describe what I mean except to say that I wanted to feel the love. Sounds cheesy, I know. Maybe I should delete those last two words and not risk damaging my hard earned tough-guy image. But nope, I’m letting them stand because it’s the truth.  I wanted to be with all those people who also came to feel the tsunami of love that washed over the National Mall on January 21, 2009. Just having that one thing in common transformed 1.8 million strangers into old friends. 

In the 12 foot radius around us people from South Carolina joked with people from Indiana. People from Maryland sang and boogied with people from Minnesota. People from everywhere grinned knowingly at one another as if to say, “How cool is this?!” During our three and a half hours packed together like ice cubes in a tray, we cheerfully shared the basics of human survival– food, space, and chemical warmth. (The ones for our hands worked way better than the ones we stuffed in our shoes.)

When the ceremony was over,  I trudged away thinking, if we could so easily create an instant sense of community out of a bunch of strangers (with the bonding and the trust that goes with it), what’s keeping us from being more cooperative all the time, especially with people we know really well? What  could you do to get along better with your own family? With your friends? With the kids in your class? This is what “Out of many, one” really means.

Maybe you’re thinking… “Yeah, sure. I’d like to feel closer to the people I live with and the people I hang out with.” Everyone would. But we don’t often take the first step in that direction. When I hold back it’s usually because I’m afraid I might get laughed at, or ignored or rejected in some other way. That’s my excuse for not putting my friendliest self forward. What’s yours? C’mon… let’s be honest. Post your comments.

This image provided by GeoEye Satellite Image shows Washington D.C.'s National Mall and the United States Capitol (top), in Washington D.C. on Tuesday, Jan. 20, 2009 taken at 11:19AM EDT during the inauguration of President Barack Obama. The image, taken through high, wispy white clouds, shows the masses of people between the Capitol and the Washington Monument. (AP Photo/GeoEye Satellite Image)

This image provided by GeoEye Satellite Image shows Washington D.C.'s National Mall and the United States Capitol (top), in Washington D.C. on Tuesday, Jan. 20, 2009 taken at 11:19AM EDT during the inauguration of President Barack Obama. The image, taken through high, wispy white clouds, shows the masses of people between the Capitol and the Washington Monument. (AP Photo/GeoEye Satellite Image). Click photo for a larger version (and so you can see where we were).

11:30 AM, Michelle Obama arrives at the Inauguration

11:30 AM, Michelle Obama arrives at the Inauguration

Photographing Michelle's arrival

Photographing Michelle's arrival

Patiently waiting for the big event

Patiently waiting for the big event

Shaking a chemical hand warmer to activate it

Shaking a chemical hand warmer to activate it

11:39 AM Photographing more arrivals

11:39 AM Photographing more arrivals

11:43 AM Washington Monument in the background

11:43 AM Washington Monument in the background

Finally, the Oath of Office, "So help me God"

Finally, the Oath of Office, "So help me God"

Lots of cheering and picture taking!

Lots of cheering and picture taking!

Cheering continues

Cheering continues

Cheering continues

Cheering continues

Cheering continues

Cheering continues

Hugs, tears, smiles

Hugs, tears, smiles

P.S. Adventures in DC continue next week with blogs about: The Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, George Washington’s home at Mount Vernon, and our car accident! Stay tuned.

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#15: Inauguration Day Part 2 – Freezin’ for a reason

January 21, 2009

Obama's Inaugural speech: On this day, we gather because we have chosen hope over fear, unity of purpose over conflict and discord.

"On this day, we gather because we have chosen hope over fear, unity of purpose over conflict and discord." --Obama's Inaugural speech

The sun shines across my laptop as I type, though this Californian isn’t so easily fooled. I’ve discovered that the January sun in DC doesn’t mean t-shirt weather. (Who knew?) At this moment… 9:59 AM, January 21, 2009, it’s 21 degrees in Fairfax, VA  but due to the wind chill factor it “feels like” 10! I did my “Freezin’ for a reason” yesterday so I’m grateful not to be out in it today. Come to think of it, this morning I’m feeling grateful for many things.

I’m grateful for a good night’s sleep and as promised, I’m now ready to start writing about my experiences at the Inauguration. To get me in the mood to ruminate, I’ve spent the past hour reading other blogs and looking through online images of Malia and Sasha from yesterday’s events and video of the President and First Lady dancing at an Inaugural ball.

I’m not embarrassed to say that I’ve still got tears in my eyes. What’s that about? I look at the Obamas and think: Yes! This family now represents America, to us and to the world. Barack and Michelle Obama… good-hearted people who have worked hard as individuals and as a couple. They obviously love and support each other. They are obviously terrific parents. Their daughters are obviously open-hearted girls — friendly, polite, respectful, full of joy.

The First Family reflects the best of America. We haven’t had that for a long time. And from the many people I’ve talked with over the past 8 years, we have longed for it, prayed for it like people in a drought praying for rain. It feels like it’s been dry and dark and fearful and strange in America for a long time. That’s why I’m extremely grateful that this day has come. That America finally has a leader who reflects our values and can take us in the direction we need to go. The rain has begun and it feels just fine.

Here’s the full text of President Obama’s Inaugural Address. Read or watch the video and tell me what you think.

Obama's Inaugural speech: On this day, we come to proclaim an end to the petty grievances and false promises, the recriminations and worn out dogmas, that for far too long have strangled our politics.

"On this day, we come to proclaim an end to the petty grievances and false promises, the recriminations and worn out dogmas, that for far too long have strangled our politics." --Obama's Inaugural speech

One paragraph that jumped out at me: “Our challenges may be new. The instruments with which we meet them may be new. But those values upon which our success depends — hard work and honesty, courage and fair play, tolerance and curiosity, loyalty and patriotism — these things are old. These things are true. They have been the quiet force of progress throughout our history. What is demanded then is a return to these truths. What is required of us now is a new era of responsibility — a recognition, on the part of every American, that we have duties to ourselves, our nation, and the world, duties that we do not grudgingly accept but rather seize gladly, firm in the knowledge that there is nothing so satisfying to the spirit, so defining of our character, than giving our all to a difficult task.”

We all have faced “a difficult task” from time to time. Maybe, right now, in your life you are facing one. Or you know someone who is. What do you tell yourself at those times to keep you moving forward and doing what needs to be done? I’d love to hear what you’ve got to say.

On the flip side, everyone has experienced the pride and satisfaction that comes with “giving our all” and being part of the solution to a problem.  Tell me about what you’ve done and how it helped.

More about the Inauguration in my next blog.

Filed under: Inauguration,Politics,Teens — Tags: , — Annie @ 9:02 am
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#14: Inauguration Day Part 1 – WE are here

January 20, 2009

Crowds filled the entire Mall, with estimates of close to 2 million. We were about a mile from the actual proceedings. (Click photo for larger view - Jewel Samad-AFP/Getty Images)

Crowds filled the entire Mall, with estimates of close to 2 million. We were about a mile from the actual proceedings. (Click photo for larger view - Jewel Samad-AFP/Getty Images)

We left our hotel this frigid morning by the light of the crescent moon. 22 degrees at 5:02. Finally the Big Day had arrived and we were jazzed.

When we returned 14 hours later, the temperature had only warmed up to 25. (Just kidding, it actually peaked at 30 out there on the National Mall).

Those of you who watched the Inauguration on TV are probably wondering “What was it like to be there?” There’s a whole lot to tell about and I want to… I set up this whole blog project just so I could! But, honestly, it will probably take at least a day for me to begin formulating my thoughts, feelings, impressions, and questions. So the short answer to your question is “It was AWESOME!!!!”

Like one young man had written on the back of his T-shirt: “We’re freezin’ for a reason!”

He got that right! And I’ve gotta get some sleep. I promise tomorrow I’ll blog more about what happened. In the meantime, here are a few pix from this amazing day in American history:

Crammed into the Metro with 2000 others. It took us about three hours to get to DC.

Crammed into the Metro with 2000 others. It took us about three hours to get to DC. Normally it takes about 1/2 an hour.

 

Three Obamas walk to the National Mall.

Three Obamas walk to the National Mall.

 

Celebration the moment President Obama was took the oath of office.

Lots of emotion the moment President Obama took the Oath of Office.

Much more about the inauguration later. Suffice it to say that we are SO pleased, proud, relieved, inspired, delighted, and hope-filled because of our new President. The man is a once in a lifetime leader and America and the world needs him desperately.

Filed under: Inauguration,Politics,Teens — Tags: , , — Annie @ 7:27 pm
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