The Truth Hurts, Skyler. Sometimes In A Good Way Though.

4 Nov

Now that I’m a parent I see a lot of my Dad in myself.  Is that a good thing?  I think so.  I didn’t turn out to be a serial killer or a drug addict.  And I married an amazing man who couldn’t be a better father to our boys.

I am my Dad’s only “blood” child.  However … he had a trial run before me.  My Dad raised my half-brother.  He was strict as hell on him.  On us.  Unfortunately … my brother didn’t take anything from my Dad’s parenting.  He rebelled.  And he’s a terrible Dad.  I can say that now because I don’t care who hears it.  I recently made the choice to cut him out of my life as he did his own children.  If you researched “Middle Child Syndrome” …. you’d see a picture of my brother.  And that’s all the attention my ex-bro will get from me.

13 years ago my Dad was picturing his youngest kid (me) going off to college soon.  His job raising a teenager was almost behind him.  The stress.  The worry.  The anger.  It was all coming to an end.

Or so he thought.

January 5th, 2011 …. Skyler Zane Mudloff was born.  A 120 lb, 16-year-old bundle of “joy”.
Backtrack 10 years (give or take a year) and you’ll find two old friends falling in love unexpectedly.  Which also meant … an unconditional love for another child.  Another commitment of raising someone else’s kid.  Skyler has a dead-beat Dad.  So after years of battle … my Dad legally adopted him in January of this year.  And in my opinion … it was the best decision he and my stepmom, Tricia could have ever made. 

This is an oldie but a goody of my Dad and Skyler

The ONLY downside of adopting Skyler is that it means raising another teenager.  Skyler is a good kid though.  He mainly sits in his bedroom and plays video games.  You could make fun of him for being a geek but I’d have to hurt you.  In my opinion, him sitting in his room all night playing video games means he’s not out smoking pot or getting in trouble.  It means less worry for my Dad, for my stepmom, and for me.  I may not show or say it a lot … but I love that kid.

And here’s where the “Plight of the Oldest Sibling” story comes in…

My Dad was DEFINITELY stricter with me that he is with my brother (I still love the fact that I can call Skyler my little “brother”).  Anyway….

If I asked to go somewhere with my friends, my Dad needed to know who all was going, their phone numbers, time of arrival, and if I was a minute past curfew … I had two weeks to sit in my room to reflect on life. 
Yet when Dad and Tricia go on a getaway … they leave my 17-year-old little brother at home alone for the weekend.  But then I remembered … that just means he’ll stay up all NIGHT playing video games instead of going to bed when they tell him to.  That’s the worse thing that boy will do.

Today my Dad called me to tell me that Busha (that’s Tricia’s nickname given to her from Cash.  It means grandma in Polish) had a fantastic time taking Cashie to the movie last night.  She thinks he’s a hoot and one of the sweetest little boys.  I was quick to agree.  Somehow that little man can turn one of the worse days into one of the best.  He can make me cry out in anger one minute and turn around and make me have the best laugh I’ve had in months the next minute.  And that’s when my Dad told me the trouble they’re having with Sky right now.  Those of you that know Skyler … I’d appreciate you not saying anything to him.  Anyway …. my Dad told me Skyler’s grades are plummeting.  And he actually had the guts to mouth off to my Dad.  NOT something you do.  So They gave him two weeks to turn his grades around.  I don’t know if he thought they were kidding or if he thought he’d actually get away with it.  But it didn’t happen.  He’s not doing his homework and he’s not studying.  So they took away the video games, the TV, and the computer.  He’s lucky he still has his cell phone.

Call me evil … but when my Dad told me they grounded him … it actually made me smile.

But here’s where the big sister in me comes out….

Dear Skyler,
This isn’t a letter to nag at you.  This is a letter to tell you that Dad’s not going to lighten up.  I know exactly what you’re thinking right now.  You’re thinking that he’s overreacting.  I’m writing you to tell you he’s not.  And while you may not believe that right now …. someday you will.

The folklore is that the parents punish the older child more than the youngest.  When Dad tells you that he’ll “knock your head on straight” for being mouthy – it’s not something you want to find out if he’s serious about or not.  Because those 5 words were said to me as well.  When your tv, video games, and computer were taken away …. I can promise you – you’re not going to get them back until you straighten up.

Now is the time to start thinking about your priorities.  Now is NOT the time to get lazy and slack off on your schoolwork.  Get it done so you can get them off your back.  Your life will be much easier.  If I could only go back in time.  School sucks.  I know.  But it’s a part of life and something you have to face.  This is the time of your life, bro.  You can get your homework done, study, AND still have a blast in high school.  I wish I had realized that 11 years ago.

Having a little brother is a blessing.  A little brother is someone I can share my knowledge with and give advice to.  I vow to always do that without stepping into your own life.  If you ever need anything you can always call me or Cale.  Even if it’s 4am and you’ve locked yourself out of the house.  If you’re ever at a party and you don’t want to be there or you’re too scared to call Dad or your Mom.  Cale loves like you’re his own little brother.  We’ll never be mad.  If anything … we’ll sit back and laugh.
I’m not going to tell you that you’re too young to realize that “it’s a tough world out there.”  So many people are losing their jobs left and right.  People with Masters degrees, doctorate degrees.  You have to be strong in today’s world.  Independent.  Smart.  Confident.  It’s scary.  It’s a competition.  But it’s amazing.  Figure out what you want and fight for it.

Don’t ever let anyone steal your joy.  Also don’t let them steal your self-confidence or your ambitions.  Steer clean of dream killers.  They’re out there.  Some people are negative and don’t want to see you do the best you can.  Dream killers will have you doubting who you are and who you can be.  Be ambitious.  And if you want to do something …. DO IT! 

Surround yourself with positive people.  They’ll guide you to do positive things.  Surround yourself with people who are looking toward a brighter future … people who want to do better and be better in life … people you aspire to be like and people who are going places.  When you do this, you start to think like these people and they teach you to do the same.

And lastly … if the thought ever crosses your mind that Dad is picking on you or overreacting … he’s not.  Or maybe he is.  But it’s mainly about him knowing that you’re better than you’re being.
One of my favorite books is “The Last Lecture” by Randy Pausch.  And here’s a gift spoiler…  you’ll be getting this book from me as a graduation present.
And the quote that hit the closest to home for me is this:
“When you’re screwing up and nobody says anything to you anymore, that means they’ve given up on you.”
Accept criticism as a good thing.  This not only applies to Mom and Dad.  It applies to Life. 

You learn to choose your battles in Life, and you learn what matters and what doesn’t matter.
Enjoy your Life Skyler.  You only have one.  But be smart with it.

Love – Your Big (and only) Sister,

Mandy

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