After my father passed away early in the morning on Nov. 9, I did what I said I would do in my last column where I talked about his approaching death. I sat alongside the Lake Julia shore with Simon and Simone at my side to contemplate what his passing meant to my family and me and just reflect on his life and the many good times we had together. While I was doing this, flocks and flocks of swans flew over making their soft but lively whistling sound. I had seen a flock or two of swans in the past but never like this. It was as if they were all going to a convention or something.
I was standing on the 14th floor of the Gonda building at the Mayo Clinic while watching a flock of 40 or 50 pigeons soaring through the sky for no reason other than just flying. They flew up and down and around and around and in between other tall buildings. I wondered what they were feeling and thinking. Did they have a purpose in mind? There didn't seem to be a leader. There were white and blue and rust colored doves and doves made up of many colors. They were just flying and enjoying the moment.
If we are so concerned about foreigners entering our country, why do we continue to teach modern languages in our schools? Why do we continue to preach in our churches that we should show compassion for all people? Why do we continue to teach in our schools about the value of cultures? Why do we send our kids to Concordia Language Villages? Why do we have language immersion schools? Why do we have Ojibwa language signage on business doors? And, why, pray tell, do we continue to have lutefisk dinners? Aren't all of these anti-American?
I was recently waiting to speak to a principal when he walked out of his office and said to me, "I bet it's been a long time since you were sent to a principal's office." His comment did make me hark back to a time when I was in third grade and my teacher, Miss Rossow, did, in fact, send me to the principal's office for chewing gum. Yes, that was a major offense back in the days when there were few fights in school and even fewer truancy problems and when kids were let out for recess and lunch unsupervised.
As motivational speaker and business guru Zig Ziglar says, "Our kids are born to win." I have been a follower of the late Zig Ziglar throughout most of his career and there are some things he believes that I am vehemently opposed to like his condemnation of rock music. But most of the things he advocates for I agree with. He believes that people are born to win because why would the Creator make them any other way. Are kids born to lose? I don't think so. Kids are born to win and they can be winners in school when teachers teach for success.
Every parent worries about their kids. The older the kids get, the more they worry. One of their biggest fears is that their kids may use drugs. Will they try them? Will they like them? Will they become addicted? A nightmare for parents is having to go to the police station in the wee hours of the morning to get their child who has been picked up because he passed out on drugs. What do you do? What can you do?
I can understand why Bemidji is such a fine city. Its founders, Native Americans and lumberjacks, were pretty smart people because they worked with wood. I have come to the conclusion that there is a strong connection between people who work with wood and intelligence. Let me prove a point.
When you are at the Mayo Clinic you notice things. The first thing you notice is the VIP treatment. There are all kinds of people around to make sure you find where you need to go and to answer your questions. The second thing you notice is just the vast number of people going this way and that way and up and down and in this door and that door. It's like a huge circus.
It's a cool morning. The frost is on the pumpkins in the fields and on the cattails bordering Hand's duck slough located south of Waterville. The sun is barely peeking over the horizon. Guys are pulling their khaki green shallow duck boats alongside a snow fence laid a week before on the slough grass to give them more support as they walk out towards the water.
I wish I had a dollar for every time that I have debated and discussed what is a good school with parents, students and educators. I have always enjoyed the discussion even when there was some finger pointing. It was worth the time for three reasons. In all cases, the next day, teachers did a better job of teaching, parents did a better job of parenting and students did a better job of being a student. When people have to examine their own behavior they tend to live up to their highest expectations of themselves.