Saturday, April 30, 2011

Doer, Thinker, Dreamer, Creator

I know I'm entirely biased, but I've never met someone - especially a kid - quite like you, Sweetie.

You cannot be lumped into one of The Four Categories: Doer, Thinker, Dreamer, Creator. No, you actually are The Four Categories:

You would much rather do something than merely watch it happen around you. Did you have any interest whatsoever in watching the Royal Wedding festivities on T.V. yesterday? Heck no! Instead, hosted and directed the "wedding" of a couple of your stuffed animals here. Very elaborate stuff, too, with veils and rings and guests and at least a couple days worth of planning. The whole nine yards. And how was it again that you learned to ride your two-wheel bike last fall? Oh yeah, that's right. While dad and I stood on the street trying to figure out how best to teach you, you just got on and did it! Way to go, Sweetie!

And going back to the Royal Wedding, your curious mind came up with some pretty good questions about the royal lineage and such. What if the king or queen has twin sons as their oldest kids? Who gets to be the king next then? Good thinking, Sweetie! Your mind is always working, and it's amazing. I also witnessed that mind of yours hard at work when learning 2-digit subtraction a couple months ago. You'd missed that whole week of school due to illness, so you were left to learn more or less on your own/with Daddy and my assistance. After not too long, you were going through the process with no problem, getting each answer right on your worksheets brought home to complete. But that was not good enough for you. You didn't understand why you were doing what you were doing! Why did you have to not only carry, but also change the other numbers along the way too? It didn't make sense to you at all. But I was struck, as I watched you struggle. Most other kids, I bargained, would be happy enough to just get through the process correctly - who cares about real understanding!? Well - you do. And it bugged you for weeks, until, finally, it all because clear.

And, boy!, are you a dreamer! Quite literally, too, as you seem to have some of the most elaborate dreams I've ever heard. Almost every morning when I wake you up for school, you are either relieved that you just finished your dream before I got you up, or you're miffed because you were just getting to the good part. "But that's okay," you'll finally conclude. "I'll just finish it tonight when I go to bed." And then you're off to school, finally returning home in the evening where you'll often times set right to work, drawing out your dream from the night before. "It's too hard to tell you about my dream. I'll draw it for you instead." Okay, Sweetie. Can't wait to see it!

Whenever I ask you, Sweetie, who you play with at recess, you most often tell me that you usually just play on your own. "Why!" I ask, knowing full well you're not shy, so asking another kid or two to play really shouldn't be a problem for you. Your answer? Well, you love to act out your dreams on the playground, and the other kids don't know what your dreams looked like - only you do! So you play on your own. Well, alrighty, then.

As for a creator - well, of course you are! Give you a pile of Legos, some crayons and some paper, add in a plethora of tape and a pair of scissors, and you are golden! You will be all set for the day, creating not only the most amazing Lego creatures and automobiles as well as some amazing drawings and paper crafts, but the highly detailed stories to go along with them all.

You know, I've most consistently pegged you as a creator, given your mad skillz for story creation, from-scratch crafts, and Lego universes. But... your building ability - with Legos, paper clips, blocks, what have you - is actually very scientific and shows a great engineer's mind. You know how to play chess quite competently, and your great ability to visualize accurately with your mind's eye is a big assist to you when playing both this and other games that require you to first envision steps 4, 5 & 6 in order to make the best moves # 1, 2 & 3.

In short, Sweetie, you amaze me. I'm really impressed (cough*jealous*cough) of how you swiftly think through problems, create vast worlds, and dream up big plans. Where others either Do, Think, Dream or Create, you do all four - often at the same time! I love how your mind works, how full your heart is with love and compassion, and how deep your soul runs with spirit and energy. You are one of a kind, Sweetie. I'm so proud of you and know that, above all else, you will not only reach for the stars in all you do, but also continue to succeed, return, and reach higher toward every further goal you seek to fulfill.

(song below composed by Sweetie, sung each time she swings at the playground...)

The wind in my ears feels so great,

Yes, the wind in my ears feels so good!

Cuz I've, I've never been this high since this very second,

I've never been this high befo-o-ore!

I've never been this high since this very second,

And I'll probably be this high way more!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Selfish With My Time, Hopeful With My Lessons

Yes, it's true. I do have 5 different part time jobs to juggle. You could say I'm busy. You could marvel at what it must take for me to get through each week, let alone each day. You may wonder how I keep everything straight.

And I'd letcha.  Cuz it can be tricky.

But all in all, I only work each week about 40 hours - the typical number of hours anyone with a full time job works. So, no. I don't feel overly busy. And most of my workdays start a little late. Yes - that means they end a bit later too. But I have my free time. That's my point. I'm not working myself into the ground. I like the changes of venue. Each of my jobs offers me the chance to engage with people, and myself, in different but interesting ways to me. I am not bored and I pretty much like every different job that I do. I am happy.

Still, when it comes to my free time, my down time... I really prefer it to be just that. Time for me. Time for my family. Committing myself to other responsibilities just isn't what I'm interested in doing. Not any responsibilities outside of the home, anyway. Give me some time for myself to do things for myself, like write or take care of weekend chores. Or give me some time to spend with Sweetie and Hubby. I'm sorry, but that's all I'm really interested in.

Don't get me wrong. I do love and feel connected to various people, groups and issues in the world and my community. But would I rather join a committee to help save the whales, committing myself to multiple meetings, various obligations, and event dates on my calendar? Or would I rather take day trips with my husband and little girl - stopping for geocaches along the way and finding a little hole-in-the-wall eatery with amazing food to try? Sorry, but my family and our time together wins out every time.

It's an internal struggle, of course. Because there really are issues and groups and principles in this world that I believe in and support. By not joining a cause and fighting the good fight - or whatever the case may be - am I sending Sweetie a message of apathy? A message of "This is important, but don't worry. Plenty of others will take care of it. Let's go get ice cream!" I don't know.

I worry - what is it, really, that we're telling our child?

I don't honestly feel like a bad, disinterested person. Not usually, anyway. I feel like I have a good deal of things on my plate so that when free time comes around I have a right to decide how I want to spend it and who I want to spend it with. And that is almost always with Sweetie and Hubby. That's a good thing, right?! I'm putting my family first and valuing the time we have together by making the most of it... even to the detriment of time spent with others we love and world issues needing attention.

Sweetie is a good kid. She cares for others and recognizes, at least basically, some of the big concerns of others around her. She sees all around her - at church, on TV, at school - that there are plenty of ways to help all sorts of people, animals and groups to make a better way for themselves. I think she knows that mom and dad are caring people, as well, who feel for those who are less fortunate in their lives. I think she also recognizes that we ourselves struggle on a daily basis with getting by as best we can with the money we have.

But what do we do about it? Isn't there a way we can help? Isn't it our responsibility to do our part - as tiny as that may be - to help those beings in need of assistance, love and support?

Apparently not. The problems of the world  - or even our immediate community - must not be that compelling. We can care and feel compassion. Others can actually do something about it.

That, I'm afraid, is the message we're sending.

And it may not even be that big. You know? Maybe we're invited to a casual party with acquaintances. The whole family can come! Great, but yah. No. I value my family time too much to put one more thing on the calendar than is completely necessary right now. Because even parties can start to feel like "have to's" instead of "want to's" when the rest of your weekends are full too and you're not in the mood. Not that we always decline an invitation, of course. We actually very much look forward to many gatherings! But there are times when we'd really prefer to just lay low instead.

"We like to leave our Sunday afternoons free. It's never fun to be out late on a 'school night'."

"This week has been so insanely busy that we just want to take Saturday as a 'Do Nothing' Day."

"These people never serve any food that we like. We don't want to go there, so far away, just to starve."

"Sorry, but we already made plans to go to this Fair that day. Hopefully we'll find some time to get together another time soon."

We may plan to do something that we put on the calendar, but then at the last minute Hubby and I may change our minds. Maybe it's even something that really sounded like fun to Sweetie and us too. But we now say no. "We don't want to go anymore." "We changed our mind." "Wouldn't you rather stay home and play a game together or watch a movie with us or ride your bike instead?!"

That's right, kid. It's okay to reneg on your plans for the sake of your own wants and needs. Don't worry about backing out on what you said you'd do. It's okay. No one will really care in the end.

Bad, bad parents.

Then again...

We are raising - somehow, miraculously - a pretty GREAT Sweetie. She really is a caring, (mostly) polite little girl who feels for others and wants to do good for those she loves as well as anyone she sees who is sad. A girl who loves to make little "secret" postcards of hope and love that she hides in various places during our travels for random people to find. She's bright, self-confident, creative, funny and interested in so many different kinds of things. And we're teaching her, I think, above all else, that the love of your family is the love that can make all the difference in the world.

When the world is getting you down, you can rely on your family to help you through.

When you feel like you have nowhere else to go, no one else who cares, your family will always be there no matter what.

Your family can make you absolutely crazy mad and want to scream and run away.... but will also be there 15 minutes later for a hug and a kiss and a Band-aid when you trip and fall and skin your knee.

Likewise, your family can be beyond mad at something you've done or said. They can punish you and express their disappointment in the bad decisions you've made or the poor way you've conducted yourself. But, that night, will always tuck you into bed with a "hug, kiss, nose & pose" and tell you how very much they will always love YOU (if not always the choices you make.)

And, perhaps, that the value of a loving family is so incredibly important and can, in many different ways big and small, impact those around them to do better, be better, love better themselves.

And the more people who can live a loving life in community with family, the better our world will be in the long run...

(...Until the tween & teenaged years. You'll have to check back with me then to see just how important Sweetie finds a loving family to be...

Talk about apathy and selfishness. I don't even want to think about it...)