Cherie K. Miller lives on a lake in Georgia with her husband, Steve, and a blended family of seven sons, two dogs, two leopard geckos and one freakishly grumpy 17-year-old cat, named Kitty. Steve & Cherie have a nonprofit organization that provides compelling character development curriculum for use by parents, in schools, or other community organizations.
My shaky marriage disintegrated one night in a flurry of 911 calls. My husband ripped the phone out of the wall, preventing me from calling the police. Instead he called the domestic violence counselor who ordered him to leave our home immediately. My husband drove off into the night with the burnt rubber smell wafting into the night. Living with him over the past year had become akin to living in a tiger’s den.
In 1867, a yellow fever epidemic swept Memphis… Across the street from me, ten persons lay dead from the plague. The dead surrounded us. They were buried in night quickly and without ceremony. All about my house at night I could hear weeping and the cries of delirium. One by one, my four little children sickened and died.
Emergency vehicles appeared again this week at the door of a family we know. It’s such a common occurrence that the family greets the firemen by first names. After hearing about the latest event, I was sorely tempted to call the state of Georgia’s office of child protective services to check out what actually goes on behind closed doors. Maybe they’ll find concerns, but maybe not. There are a couple of reasons why I hesitate. First, I was a foster parent for more than two years for some girls that had been involved in an abuse/neglect case.
For my family, high school has been a crazy mix of testosterone, education and a bunch of kids with low levels of self-control. Mix in a cadre of frazzled, stressed, budget-deprived administrators and teachers, and you have a recipe for disaster. One of the craziest school policies we have had to deal with is “in-school” and “out-of-school” suspension. For our seven boys they ranged from benign to just plain stupid. One of our boys, who really struggled to keep up in school, had a week-long illness that put him far behind in school.
A few nights ago I found myself in the lobby of my church in northwest Atlanta preparing sack lunches for 1,800 needy children. Since I live in upscale Cobb County, Ga., I wondered, why is this needed? I’ve since learned that the almost 2,000 children on the receiving end of these sack lunches really need this and would suffer without the daily distribution by volunteers at MUST Ministries. I discovered, this “feeding program” is continued all summer long Monday through Friday in neighborhoods all around Cobb County with the lunches being delivered to needy children who normally qualify for the free breakfast or lunch programs at school, but are now “food insecure” during the summer. What is going on?
You would think that my husband and I would be voted most likely to raise readers. Our home is filled with thousands of books. We both read every single night. Steve has books in his car and even takes them with him on appointments. We’re both authors – we WRITE books for gosh sakes.
Once my husband and I took a rare opportunity to have a date night leaving our six-year-old twins with what we thought were capable babysitters. Well, were we surprised when returning home we found the twins finishing up the R-rated movie The Matrix. We have found it virtually impossible to shield our boys from Big Media’s bombardment of images and lifestyle choices of the current crop of celebrities. Yesterday’s Snooki is today’s Kardashian. The Simpsons used to be horrible, now it’s South Park and The Family Guy.
In 2010 the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project reported that the typical teenager sends and receives about 50 texts per day or 1,500 per month. But with the rapid increase in the number of teens between the ages of 12 and 17 owning cell phones, the dangers of texting behavior increases exponentially. Despite the fact that texting while driving is illegal in many states, including in Georgia, where I live, I’m still seeing teens and adults juggling the difficult tasks of driving, texting and talking on cell phones. It’s difficult to find a driver that isn’t driving distracted. And many of them are teens.
My husband, Steve, and his first wife, Laurene, moved to Eastern Europe shortly after the 1989 fall of the Berlin Wall. The day before they boarded the plane to move to Bratislava, Slovakia, Steve and Laurene discovered that they were expecting, unexpectedly, twins! Since Bratislava’s medical care was still behind those of Western Europe and the birth of twins is a higher risk pregnancy, they chose to go to Vienna, Austria for the pregnancy care and birth. Early one morning Laurene’s water broke and they made a harried run across the Danube River for the Slovakia/Austria border. Before long David and Paul made their dramatic debut about a minute apart via C-Section. Steve and Laurene planned on living there long-term, but a breast cancer diagnosis short-circuited those dreams. At six months of age, the twins were brought to America for the first time.
My fifth grader, Mark, suddenly developed an obsession. He was determined to try out for the local park district football team. He began doing pushups and running around the block doing sprints with his buddy, Joey. As a single parent, I was more than uneasy about his desire and fervently hoped it was a phase. It wasn’t.