Sunday, March 5, 2017
At some point we were only allowed to call our only daughter Mrs. Jumbo. This followed her obsession with the movie Dumbo and her compulsion to nurture a fictional elephant painted on a television screen. For Halloween she dressed as a newsboy, donning tweed boy pants, red suspenders, and a Scottish touring hat because “Elephants don’t dress up as elephants, silly,” she remarked.
While most girls in the 1st grade had their bedroom strewn with princesses, all things glitter and fluffy, and closets bulging with tutus, and dresses that twirl, our girl was swooning over animals, not cute animals, ugly ones. Her room was lined with posters and photos of varying sizes of bat species and her shelves were heaped with non-fiction books about Vampire bats, Fruit bats, and all types in between. Her jeans pocket was home to a stuffed bat with long brown wings and tiny ears and, if they were available, her comforter, sheets and pillowcase would have been printed with frightening flying creatures. There’s a reason why bat sheets aren’t available, anywhere.
While we secretly hoped that her bat fixation would pass, quickly, we always welcomed a new bat book, key chain, or plush into our home without hesitation. While talking about bats we withheld wincing and spoke positively about their behaviors keeping all bat opinions impartial. We celebrated national bat week, viewed bat videos on YouTube together, and visited museums which housed bats and their habitat. When her birthday arrived, we enthusiastically threw her a bat themed party complete with bat shaped cookies. We embraced bats. Figuratively speaking.
Our only girl hated Barbie and loved bats. Flying, blood sucking, creepy, fly-in-your-hair-and-get-stuck, bats. She has never owned a doll or Hello Kitty pillow, and was more interested in drawing dolphins on doodle pads than painting toes and fingernails.
After the bat stage passed our only girl went through a phase of pulling her hair into a ponytail and wearing boys’ basketball shorts and t-shirts every day. She never played basketball or any sport requiring the taming of unruly hair or baggy and breathable shorts. This wardrobe lasted 3 years.
Our. Only. Girl.
And while I thought that she would never wear a dress, they are now her favorite, and when a birthday warrants celebration, she opts for a manicure and shopping for shoes. Her Instagram account is strewn with elements in nature, mugs brimming with cappuccino, and adventures with friends, and she prefers yoga pants over shorts.
Every child in unique, with different interests and skills. Celebrate the individuality of your kids. Find the common thread no matter how different they are from you. Engage in conversations surrounding things about which they love to talk and activities they are interested in doing. Thankfully, stages pass, interests shift, and maturity happens. Sameness is dull and ordinary is boring. Cultivate your child’s distinctive personality. But be warned, you may have to learn how to discern between a Little Brown and Bumblebee Bat. My condolences.
Thursday, May 26, 2016
More than once I have made the mistake of picking a boy’s sock up from the floor of the laundry room and smelling it in order to discern its cleanliness. Baseball socks score highest on the foul smell test, if you were wondering. While I should have learned my lesson the first time, I did not.
Thanking God for loads of laundry spilling over the plastic baskets doesn't happen at the same frequency as thanking Him for Cinnabon. However, after a poignant story told by my girlfriend, my “Thanks for laundry” meter is on the rise.
When my friend Catalina was a young mom, dumping baskets of clean laundry on the kitchen table for folding was an every other day occurrence. Her boys were smaller then and the frequency of outfit changes was multiplied. When she inadvertently complained to her barren, childless, girlfriend, the lack of sympathy was significant. “Be thankful that you have laundry Catalina. I would love to be home doing laundry.”
Hearing this story led me to take a different perspective on my complaints. I haven’t mastered thanking God for piles of dog poop in the back yard, but I thank Him for a back yard. And although I need more practice thanking Him for bulging trash cans that only I notice, I thank him for providing the funds to purchase the food whose wrappers have been trashed. Finding ways to change my complaints into thanks is mood boosting and showing God my appreciation for what I have instead of what I have to do makes Him happy.
Our daughter came home from college and my laundry piles have exploded. I’m certain that the washing machine in her dorm building doesn’t even recognize her. In addition to bedding and clothes she had a few pair of dirty socks to clean. And if you care to know, girl socks are equally as repulsive to boy socks. I know. I’ve smelled them.
Saturday, January 16, 2016
I ruined my vision in the 7th grade. Because my head was lazy, I began resting it on the back of my hand, fingers sprawled in a tripod position in order to complete schoolwork from a 4-inch distance from my paper. At first notice my teachers questioned my vision and my desire to be so close to the paper, but I assured them that it was just comfortable for me and that my vision was perfect.
Fast forward a few years and because my eyes have gotten used to seeing clearly at five inches in distance, I cannot see far away very clearly. Although my far vision is lacking in all areas, my close up vision remains nearly perfect. I can read 1-point font with accuracy and will probably never need reading glasses.
By the time I reached college, I needed glasses in order to correct my far vision and after wearing them for several months, I opted for contact lenses. When contact lenses are clean and doing their job correctly, they are wonderful, providing the clear vision that I need for seeing anything farther than 5 feet away. When they aren’t performing correctly contact lenses can be irritating. At times they immolate dry, crispy, corn flakes, and at other times the slightest fleck, can feel as if a hunk of bark were lodged in my eyeball. If I try and move them with my finger when they veer off course, the smudge left behind from whatever was on my fingertip often results in my vision shifting from 20/20 to cloudy.
When I can clearly see what is ahead of me, I have confidence. When I cannot see what is in front of me, I am filled with fear, anxiety, uncertainty, and frustration.
Sometimes my experience with God is like my experience with my degree of eyesight clarity. I cannot always see clearly what God is doing in my life. But when I put on the “contact lens” of faith, I can see more clearly what God is doing. There have been times when I have questioned God’s direction, but, in the end, I have been able to witness His divine path with clarity. I just have to keep my “contact” on and clear. Knowing that God always knows what is ahead and that He is the tour guide of my life, gives me confidence.
Although my eyesight fails me my Father never fails to lead me. And although I cannot see far enough ahead to what is coming, He always sees what’s ahead and takes me along the perfect path. His vision is perfect, and better than 20/20.