Thursday, August 21, 2008


I was going to post this last night, but then Q went down only intermittently until 5am. He's just now stirring in his little easy chair... Here 'tis:

So the first week of the new fine arts academy is done. At the end of the last day when one of the directors asked the kids if they wanted to come back again next year, there was lots of fist pumping and shouts of "Yeah, yeah!!!" I'm guessing they liked it.

The best part for me personally was the reminder that: " is important to point out the difference between burying your dreams and simply suspending them. To bury your dreams means to be unaware of them, or be in some sort of conflict with them. (...) On the other hand, knowing your soul does not mean that you have to accomplish every dream at once." (Henry Cloud, PhD, in Nine Things You Simply Must Do...) He goes on to tell about a woman he knows who has tabled her dream of law school while she raises her young children. "While she desires a law career, she also desires to raise her children well. She puts both desires in perspective with her values and what she knows her children need from her. That is not burying anything. It is holding her desire for a law career on the altar of sacrificial love, which is the highest form of heart and soul that we know in this life. It is the ability to 'lay down one's life' for those he or she loves."

To whit: I got to help wash brushes, mix tempera paints, talk with children about the colors and shapes they were making, get messy with charcoal and watercolor crayons. I helped cut 32 mats for the finished work, and arrange and hang the final show. I helped little ones who had never read music before to hit their notes with chimes. I picked up trash, fetched water bottles, and washed some more brushes and palettes and tables. We discussed ideas for masters classes, perhaps framing or painting for the high schoolers. I had an utter blast. I can't remember ever seeing so many people in one place who were so tired and still so smiley.

The performances during church and after were neat. Some mamas teared up, just a little, dontcha know. And the inspiration and ensuing discussion for next year's plans were so cool. Lots of really great suggestions made already. Kudos to the persons who jointly held the position of overall organizers -- they pulled all kinds of stuff together seamlessly. And worked their hinies off. I hope they're still asleep, recovering.

The kids are all energized for lessons now, plus new stuff as we stare down the beginning of the new school year. We've joked that maybe we'll just chuck the whole silly "skool" idea and just do piles of lessons for a few months (heh). Or maybe we'll end up just doing math and spelling en route to all the activities? They can still read while Q's in therapies... I'm kidding. Sort of.

We've been looking at service and volunteer possibilities as well. It's tough with this age range to pull off something like feeding the homeless, etc., but we'll find something to do because that's part of the life/curriculum, thank you very much. We've sent a couple of small care packages to soldiers in Afghanistan and the kids have been talking about how kids there could maybe use small items that would help them be warmer through winter -- mittens, hats, etc. (G read Three Cups of Tea this summer and he recommends it highly as something that will change the way you think about that region. I agree.) We did His Kids through church the last couple of years. That was amazing. Makes me nauseous to think about children being so low in resources, homeless, left wanting. We've corresponded with orphans in Mexico -- children the same gender and ages as mine. Their buildings were in the path of the hurricanes last year and the rebuilding process has been arduous, but the progress steady. One little girl thinks her mommy is coming to get her any moment and has warned a couple of times that while she likes writing to my daughter very much she won't be there much longer to write back. I inquired and no, it isn't true. It just rips my heart out.

This thing of children slipping through the cracks brings to mind a topic that's lingered in my head lately: It's compelling to me that we often find ways to marginalize the humanity of others so that we might dismiss their worth as people, thus avoiding any response-ability. I've witnessed situations over the last several months that have made me flinch. Labeling someone as a "slob," "mean," "stupid," or, say, "Muslim," "Catholic," or "poor," makes it easy for us look down on them, to look past them, generally treat them as less than or as if they're outright invisible. What for?

In previous posts I've written a little about disabled folks taking the brunt of someone's untethered limbic system/lizard brain. What makes it okay for people to do this? We all justify the most astonishing things, really, in order to self-soothe. But how does it soothe one's self to be abusive to another? These examples are extreme, horrifying. But when was the last time you yelled at your kid or spouse or some "idiot" in traffic? For all you know, that person who so rudely cut you off is in the middle of an aneurysm bursting. Ya better hope that during your next breaking aneurysm, whomever happens to be nearby extends more grace to you than you just did to them.

Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.
--Plato (as quoted on the wall of a flight school)

Anyway, it's just something I've been thinking about. And to quote me: You are not the center of the universe. Or: Get over yourself. I've found that these axioms are best kept as reminders to oneself as they are unlikely to be well-received no matter what tone one might use for delivery. Discretion is helpful when opening one's mouth (wince). While we're here, let's talk briefly about whether or not you already know better. Well sure you do. You've been on the planet a while now and you've picked up a few things along the way. Some of them really productive, some of them not so. Does your knowing this and still messing up make you a hypocrite? No. Unless you're preaching that people shouldn't beat their wives, then going home and beating your wife. Or telling all you encounter how evil chocolate is even as you suck it out of it's wrapper in your closet the moment you get home from your now world-famous seminars on the evils of chocolate. These kinds of scenarios would make you a hypocrite. It is a word overused by those who feel that they're being judged and found wanting. Of course, sometimes they are being judged (hand-smacking -- you know who you are and you can stop now) but often, it's been my experience that the invocation of the term as a label/slur means there's a serious lack of understanding at play -- see the previous paragraphs. A nasty feedback loop, no?

So -- what for? Most everything we do is somehow about self-protection. We like to think of ourselves as functioning on a higher plane than our ancestors or forest animals, so from what do we need to be protected? There aren't any bears on the front lawn. Not a single disabled person is trying to steal my lunch. Children don't choose to whom they're born and then plot to become criminals. Your spouse loves you and wants what's best for you, your kidlets adore you -- why are you freaking out? Why are you making things harder for those who love you most? Why must you find ways to continually make sure that those receiving help are deserving of it? How will you ever know that, anyway? If you are remotely religious, your Higher Power has all that under control. You can let it go and let him/her do the job. Really. It's true. If you're not remotely religious and you're doing this, may I suggest you re-examine the beliefs that have placed you within spitting distance of your own brand of dogma? And then, religious or not, maybe you could engage in some serious self-examination (not navel gazing) which might include some good books or long talks with smart people, professionals or otherwise.

In a nutshell? Perfect love casts out fear (1 John 4:18). Fear, through contempt, drives the nasty stuff (road rage, Darfour). You don't really have anything to fear and you know it. You are a human being of infinite value (humming: Redeemed, redeemed...). You already have a bottomless well of patience for those little offspring of yours. You have the words that your spouse needs to hear. You know better. And it will be okay. All of it. Just make those little choices, one at a time, that allow you to pat down the cranky lizard brain, to be gentler with yourself and those you interact with. Push and hold that door shut on fear and contempt lest they skew your version of reality and cost you everything you love. Just keep swimming, baby.

Well that subject sorta got away from me. Moving right along...

Q is crowing in the next room. Chuckle. He's getting better and better with the head switches, increasing recognition and accuracy in choosing colors and games. No small feat, this. For a kid with vision issues, whose motor planning abilities are hit and miss, to be able to get the switch when he wants to and when he's asked to and do so appropriately and with good timing? WAHOO. A couple of months ago, his OT mentioned potty training (gasp). Yikes. I mean, yippee!! It's just that there's going to be all kinds of other things to overcome in the process. The ongoing work on his posture, muscle tone (too high/ too low), ability to sit unaided, to know when he needs to go potty and then to communicate it effectively. Then there's everything with the big kids (school, lessons, fun and games, character development, crafts, laundry, messes) and the prospective acquisition of software and hardware and aug. com. devices and assistive arms for his chair, with working on standing, walking, a walker, helping him to keep himself entertained and clean and fed and...

You get the idea. Sometimes The New Normal makes me tired. Every once in a great while, I would like someone else to do this for a bit.

Earlier this evening I was filling out the fridge calendar for the next couple of months. Turns out it's plenty busy with just the ordinary everyday stuff, never mind ortho and dental, neuro and vision appointments. Lest I sound whiny, I'll be perfectly clear: I am grateful to be here, doing all this, worn to the best kind of frazzle, mama to these incredible little (not so little) human beings. Sometimes I just wish... things. That is all.

And one more thing. About the van issues. We're okay. We're good. We're covered. When I know how to talk more about it, I will. Let's just say for now that I won't be stuck alone with five children, in the dark, by the side of the road, while Q suffers a grand mal seizure (a worst fear of mine) because the poor old thing has finally given up the ghost. We are grateful. I am grateful.

Hope your summer has been spectacular thus far and that your prospects for fall are enlivening, intriguing, and wholly worthy of your attention.



Anonymous said...

Thanks - I needed that.

Squeaky said...

Glad to hear about your artsy adventures. Waiting to hear about the van.... If you look at my blog you'll see some video from Wally world that you might want to watch. Piano playing, that sort of thing.

annie said...

...have to admit, slightly shocked to see "Catholic" right up there with "stupid" in your reporting of slurs; truly? wow.

Loved the "not losing your dreams ,simply defering" Exactly what I felt like I was up to- but such a beautiul turn of phrase. Gives me hope and patience to continue this most important journey of raising the boys!