Hello CTB! It's Sunday, June 24th and I hope you are doing great this summer so far. Many of you are working and I think summer jobs are great and good for young souls. Working at my grandpa's gas station at an early age taught me many valuable things. I guess that's where I learned to talk with and work with people. What was your good deed this week? I had two. One was helping an elderly woman find a special kind of two-sided carpet tape at Walmart when she couldn't find a Walmart employee to help her. We looked and looked and finally found it. She was so happy. The other was at Kroger. I was at the help center cashing in a $2 lotto winner. I was kidding around about how one day I would be cashing in big in Austin. The lady behind the counter laughed and said me too. She went on to say that she could use the money because of her medical bills and how she didn't have much left in her savings. So after she gave me my two bucks, I combined it with another 2 bucks and bought two lotto tickets. I went back and let her choose one for herself. She was so excited! As I walked off, I could hear her say to the other employee that it made her day. How are you doing with your social media? Oddly enough, the summer is when teens make the most mistakes with social media. (something to do with that old saying: "idle hands"). Please be wise. What you do on social media could follow you and catch up to you in the fall semester. I've seen this play out several times before. Be smart. Besides...don't be "that" person. Just avoid negativity even if you think you are entertained by it all. Chances are that you don't even know them anyway and as for the people you do know...don't dive in head first into their drama. You will be better friends when you don't help "stir things up." It's true. If you want to be friends then logic dictates that you refrain from taking sides or "stirring it up." OFF SUBJECT...I have two new sets of neighbors on my street. As is custom when a new neighbor moves in...what do you do? You meet them right? Wouldn't ya know it. They were excited to find out that I was a band director. Why? Well...because they were in band when they were younger. They were so eager to tell me some of their band stories. One of the two important take aways is that my new neighbors are from Texas and California and, in separate conversations, when listening to their good ol' days about band...the stories were similar in every way. I wasn't surprised. Band is pretty much the same in any part of the country and in any decade. We all share similar experiences. We all get it. The other important take away was being able to witness the sheer joy in their voices as they shared their band memories with me. That was great! BACK ON SUBJECT...I wish to share something I call "sharpening your claws." It has to do with "banter." What is banter? Banter is basically "the playful exchange of teasing remarks." I allow you to "banter" with me all of the time. It allows me to get to know you. Through the banter process, you learn to "sharpen your claws" or basically to verbally defend yourself with the "come back" while hopefully learning "where the line is." It gets back to the paired questions of: "what makes people TIC" and "what TICS people off." Banter can teach many positive things but when does harmless banter become harmful banter? When does it go too far? When does it become threatening, insulting, rude, degrading, or hostile? Some say it has to do with "knowing your audience" or knowing who you are talking to. When banter gets out of hand, some will say it's a form of bullying and they may be right. I have been studying what many psychologists believe "bullying is" and "bullying is not." "Banter" may lead to bullying in smaller social group settings such as school classrooms, organizations and clubs and, believe it or not...the workplace and even in churches. It is argued that 'banter" is very common and is found in the family dynamic (sibling rivalry) and may even fuel friendships, marriages and even small social groups to become that much closer and stronger. Remember, "banter" is intended to be a playful exchange. That means both parties are equally involved. I will repeat the operative word: "PLAYFUL." If you feel you are bantering but the other person has stopped...take a breath...you stop too. You might have hit a nerve with the other person. So, 1. Know your audience (or person) 2. Stop when the other person stops (remember banter is an equal exchange) 3. Be prepared to apologize for something you did not really mean to say. Apologize quickly too! Don't let time and space fuel a raging fire. If one says something negative and then walks away...many will label one as a bully in this day and time. 4. Banter should be playful whether it's face-to-face or while using social media. 5. It's OK to use banter to sharpen your claws but learn where the line is. BANTER DOES NOT CONTAIN: bigotry, hatred, racism, vulgarity, or profanity. There is nothing playful about any of that. 6. Be careful...you may have to defend yourself later on with a WEAK DEFENCE when you say: "I WAS JUST PLAYIN" or "I WAS JUST SAYIN" or "IT WAS JUST A JOKE" or "I WAS JUST JOKIN'AROUND" Really? You were? Really? Remember: a playful and equal EXCHANGE Have you ever had to make one of those statements? Banter is a playful exchange with good intentions NOT harmful intentions. Banter has no negative outcome when used appropriately. Banter IS having fun with NOT poking fun at. It's "having fun with" when both individuals are equally engaged (and both feel good). It's "poking fun at" when only one is "dishing it out" and the other "just taking it." (as we used to say in the 70's). Banter is good not bad BUT could easily go too far and may lead to bullying. That's enough preaching for today. One of my favorite quotes: "It is our choices ... that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities." -- J.K Rowling You guys have a great day. H loves ya!!!!!