Archive for April, 2011

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Overhead Bins

April 20, 2011

Stale air.  Endless waiting.  Shoes scanned.  Lurch gateward.  Mindless stalling.  Jet-way’s incongruous temperature.  Plane entered.  Elbows out.  Arms lifted.  Eyes beady.  Goal clear.  Overhead bin.

We vie, pry, maneuver, shove.  We stow our cherished cargo, there, above our heads.  Belongings too precious to be far, managed by a baggage handler, tarmac to belly of the plane.

We sit, sigh, shift.  We feign relaxed nonchalance. Ever watchful, we observe fellow passengers shoehorn their bags, crushing our own.

Turbulence has us gasping, glancing furtively upward, fragile objects just beyond our care.  We stare with nervous glances, willing safety.

Flight lands.  Runway navigated.  Seatbelt off.  Lunge.  Twist.  Heave.  Valise stained?  Scented?  Scratched?  Case opened.  Disorientation.  Liquids burst.  Items disheveled.

Peer in.  What did you pack?  Overhead bins are where we store our valuables.  Our values.  The truths we hold to be self-evident.  These are the moral codes we live by, the standards we hope will become heirlooms, handed down one generation to the next.

What happens if the skies we fly are unfriendly?  Though we expect our children to embrace our principles, we need to recognize that they will interpret tenets uniquely, grafting our beliefs to their own ideologies.  Politics.  Religion.  Sex.  Sometimes, the trappings of who they are seem to reflect a completely different personal creed.  It is then that we are challenged to gingerly and without judgment unwrap the exterior to reveal that which is underneath.  Examining the middle of the trifecta, can a parent who attends church faithfully connect to a child who finds divinity nestled in the woods?  Do we need them to worship with us, or is the virtue seeking spirituality?   Can we reroute our flight path so we can cross ethereal con trails?  Easter.  How is the date determined?  The celebration falls on the first Sunday after the first full moon after the vernal equinox.  And there, where you least expect it, is the bridge from one form of faith to another.  The timetable for celebrating that most holy of days swirls around the nexus of nature.  Connections caught.

Overhead bins.  Contents shift.  Children choose.  Destinations unknown.  Actual landings?  I’ll keep you posted.

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The Neighborhood of Make-Believe

April 4, 2011

A few years ago, while looking wistfully out the window at the house down the hill from us, Cole whispered ‘I wish I were in their family’.

He said it so quietly, so still-ly.  I yearned to pretend I hadn’t heard.  My heart plummeted and bruised my toes.  My cheeks began to flame with the prickly anticipation of dread.  The air rushed out of my lungs and made an audible ‘OhhhHHhh’.  He looked up at me with a face of innocent inquiry and I tried to scramble, casually replying ‘um, why is that?’

The neighbors down the hill were friendly, yet acquaintances we barely knew.  But I knew enough to preemptively cringe at what I surmised I would be given; a list of the ‘mores’.  More toys.  More vacations.  More motors; boats, cars, kid ATV’s.  More hours to stay up late.  There were plenty of mores.

‘Well, if I were in their family, I wouldn’t have Celiac Disease and I could eat whatever I wanted.’  I had projected onto Cole my own insecurities, my interpretation of what I assumed he would see lacking in our family, that I very nearly missed his profound and simple wish.

But sometimes, our kids’ wishes are based in materiality.  And when we hear these, it is difficult not to jump defensively into the litanies of we can’ts, we won’ts, we never wills.  We reflexively jerk into adult responses due to adult responsibility:  is it safe?  practical?  financially viable?  Yet our kids aren’t criticizing our ability to provide, they are simply imagining outside of their box.  Their words aren’t loaded with the social commentary we presume, they are simply dreaming a different reality.  We need to listen to these wishes, not for the content on top, but for what it tells us about what is important to our children underneath.

But sometimes, our kids’ wishes degrade into whines.  By osmosis, or more likely by sheer bludgeoning of repetition, at our house the wish of the elder became the wish of the younger.  ‘Aaannnhhh, I wwwwwiiiiiiisssshhhh we had a booAAt’ became available in stereo, and I began to lose my mind.  When out running errands with the two of them I contemplated complex and circuitous routes that would utilize only landlocked roads; anything to prevent the backseat passengers from glimpsing the kayaks, canoes, yachts, pleasure cruisers, fishing vessels and ocean liners that dot our town’s waterways.  Sometimes, wishes require action.  So I bought a piggy bank.  A cheerful, ceramic, polka dot piggy bank that lives on a shelf nestled amongst the art supplies.  If current rates continue, they will have saved enough for a dingy by the middle of the next century.  And the boat moaning?  It has magically ended.  The little ‘boat bank’ has calmed the waters, reassuring them that no matter how big the dream, there are small steps they can take every day to reach it.  Hope floats.

It is a powerful moment when our children trust us with their wishes, and it provides us an opportunity to share our own.  We can explore with them the duality of gently holding our wishes and living contentedly now.  Together we can listen for the bells and whistle of the red trolley, just waiting to take us to The Neighborhood of Make-Believe.

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