The One About Vocabulary and Book Burning

Some days our homeschooling goes beautifully.  We are on our game, learning all the things, and we stay focused, on track, and we get through everything that we need to do in a timely manner.  Then we are able to move on to other things that we really enjoy.  Or nap.  Naps are good too.

Today was NOT one of those days.

But it was still beautiful.

Which is one of the main reasons I love homeschooling.  It can be a success without being  a neat and tidy notebooked, paperclipped, stapled, workbook process.  It can be messy and chaotic and loud and scattered and done in fits and starts and still be really good.

Like today.

This morning Cooter started off building with his Legos in his room.  I know this because I could hear the sound of Legos being pushed and stacked and moved around.  That is NOT what reviewing your times tables sounds like.  When we finally sat down together he had his Star Wars: The Force Awakens Visual Dictionary that he got for his birthday on his lap.  As I wrapped up what I was working on, he asked me questions–vocabulary questions–what does “reprisal” mean?  What does “trumps” mean?  I think we went through ten words before I realized that we were indeed “schooling,” only I didn’t tell him.  Sometimes it’s best to let the learning just happen without calling it that.

img_1556

Who am I kidding?  With this one, it’s best to do that as much of the time as possible.

This afternoon I left them working on their writing, and I went to attack Mt. Washmore waiting for me on the couch.  I was folding clothes when I heard Cooter call my name.  I turned around to see him standing in the kitchen doorway.

“Well, I have a funeral to go to now.”

Because I know this child well, I didn’t clench or panic as I might have if it were any of my other children.

“Yeah?  Why is that?  Whose funeral?”

(WARNING: SPOILER ALERT FOR ANYONE WHO HASN’T READ THE HARRY POTTER BOOKS!)

 

 

 

 

“Sirius.  Sirius Black.”  He paused.  I took in the too bright eyes and the smile that seemed plastered on.  Oh my heart.  “He was my favorite character.”

I rushed over to him.  Yes, he’s nine now.  Yes, he’s rough and tumble and getting too old to hold my hand in parking lots much anymore, but I RUSHED OVER and grabbed hold of him and held him tight.

And he let me.

“Oh, baby, I’m so sorry.  I know.  I know.  It’s hard.  I’m so sorry.”

We’ve been learning a lot about grief over the past four plus years.  When my Daddy died, Cooter wouldn’t have much to do with Mama for a few weeks, and she was so afraid he was mad at her or blamed her.  He didn’t.  He just turned inwards.  He did the same thing when Mama passed.  Our Princess cried her heart out, tears for days, but Cooter just turned inward and was very stoic.

But today, today my little guy looked up at me and said, after I told him it was okay to cry, even if he needed to go to his room and be by himself to do it,  “I’m going to burn this book.  That’s what I’m going to do.  I’ll finish these last few pages, but then I’m going to burn it.”  He choked back the other unsaid things I heard in his voice and walked off.

This evening as he was reading the last of it in the car, he mentioned again his desire to burn the book when he was done.  His sister, who was delighted to find her very own copy at the used bookstore (a copy of her own that wasn’t her big sister’s), begged him not to.  “Do you know how hard it was to find that book?”  Finally, we agreed that might not be the thing to do, and we talked about Sirius and how he had gone just on the other side of the veil.  Just like Maemae and Cap had.  They are still with us, right there, just on the other side.  He nodded.

But still.

I remember when I read that chapter of the book.  I had so hoped Harry’s summer woes were over.  That he was going to finally have a good place, a good person who loved him, to spend his summers with and not the Dursleys.  But instead, life dealt him and all of them another terrible blow, and his life was upended yet again.

Much like real life.  Just when we think things might settle and be okay…..topsy turvy it goes, and we have to learn how to live with the new normal.

And so it would seem that on this day that no math was done (tomorrow will be really fun, y’all) and writing wasn’t finished, and we didn’t discuss the Bill of Rights as planned, that learning happened.  Important and good and hard learning.

And that right there.  That’s why I love homeschooling.  From vocabulary inspired by Star Wars to holding my baby through his book burning thoughts to sharing our thoughts on life and death and grief together, I love it.

It’s not my favorite everyday, and tomorrow I might need to be reminded how much I love it, but right now, I wouldn’t trade it for all the free time in the world.

Love to all.

A Dime For My Thoughts

A few days ago the littles and I were watching some videos about the Presidents.  One had a song about who is on this kind or that kind of money.  It was maybe a little beneath my two agewise, but it was a catchy tune, so we watched.

And I sort of sang along in the hopes that they would too.

Who’s on the penny?  Who’s on the penny?

Lincoln.

Who’s on the nickel?  Who’s on the nickel?

Jefferson.

(Did I mention I was rocking it while my two sat staring back and forth in disbelief between me and the screen?)

Who’s on the dime?  Who’s on the dime?

Eise

Wait.  What?

What do you mean–Franklin Delano Roosevelt?

I don’t even think so, people.

I pulled out my trusty friend (my phone) and asked that very question.

Who is on the dime?

And I’m sorry–

NOT Eisenhower?

My whole life has been a lie, y’all.

A LIE.

How did I ever get that confused?

Who was the first one to tell me that?  Or did I just assume and no one ever talked to me about this VERY IMPORTANT FACT, so that on this very day, I totally embarrassed myself in front of my two very impressionable children and had my very world turned topsy turvy, up on its end?

I feel like I should be sarcastically thanking someone, but I can’t figure out who.

I love my children.  I love homeschooling them.  Most of the time.  I love it when I learn new things, like how snails grow their own shells or a quick way to calculate something or the amazing things we have been learning about the Bill of Rights.  I love the great things we read and watch and the awesome conversations we have at times.

But this–

This I did not enjoy.  AT. ALL.

And it’s such a little thing, isn’t it?  I mean, I’ve spent more dimes than I would ever care to count or admit, and ALL THIS TIME I thought I was handing over Dwight D. Eisenhower, only I wasn’t, and so my world is a bit off balance right now.

What else have I assumed I KNEW AND WAS TOTALLY CORRECT in my way of thinking about–only wasn’t?

What else am I wrong about–in my thoughts, my understanding, my beliefs?

It’s scary, this thing of assuming what we know or understand is RIGHT.

Which is why, maybe, just maybe we should every now and then take a step back and listen to what others know and understand.  We don’t have to take those things on or accept them as true, but who knows what we might learn if we are open to hearing it.

Just a thought.  That’s my FDR coin’s worth, anyway.

……still shaking my head…..

Love to all.

img_1543-1

And so now, looking at it up close, OF COURSE I CAN SEE THAT THIS IS FDR. How have I been getting this wrong all these many years?

 

Cam, Cooter, and the Reason I’m a Fan

It all started when we found out the Broncos were going to the Super Bowl.

Or maybe it started last fall when the boys on the street started playing front yard football.  It looks a lot like wrestling but there’s a football involved, so they call it football.

They talk a lot of smack about different teams, too, so somewhere along the line–I’m not really sure when or how–my baby boy became a Carolina Panthers/Cam Newton fan.

…..you try to raise em right…..

See, I can smack talk with the best of them.

Last week at our dental appointments, my hygienist friend told Cooter a funny story involving Cam Newton and someone who was a huge Alabama fan.  Cooter started talking about Cam even more.  His birthday is this week, so I thought it would be fun to get him a t-shirt/jersey.  Come to find out there was no such thing anywhere in our town.  Each store told me that Corporate hadn’t sent them anything.  Well, they just missed out on a huge business opportunity, let me tell you.

Well a shirt sale anyway.

One $2.97 teal blue shirt and a jersey iron-on number and a printable iron-on sheet later, and we were set.  I found out that Cam Newton’s jersey number is 1, and we made it happen.  I might not be a Panthers fan, but I am a Cooter fan, and I like to make him smile.

img_1458

Aub and I stayed up late Saturday night creating the shirt, and Cooter was quite happy with it on Sunday.  We had a good day, teasing each other back and forth–him in his Cam Newton shirt and me in the Manning jersey the Fella got me a couple of years back.

The game was fun for me, not so much for my little heartbroken guy which made it not so fun for me in the end.  The outcome made me happy in the moment, but seeing my son heartbroken and melting down–I would have done anything to change that.  That kind of thing stays with you.

Today there has been all kinds of drama on social media about an interview Cam Newton gave after the game.  People have pointed fingers and said what a bad sport and example he is for his young fans.  A bad sport.

Sigh.

Who does that?  Who sticks a microphone in front of someone whose heart has just been broken?  Whose dream has been crushed?  Who gave it his all and it still wasn’t enough?  WHO EVEN WANTS TO SEE SUCH AN INTERVIEW?

Please, people.

I watched the little clip of him walking out.  The first thing that came to mind was my Mama’s words she said to us over and over through the years:

“If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.”  

The truth of the matter is that I teach my children to do exactly what Cam did.  If you can’t say something kind–and I do not fault Cam Newton for not having any “It was an honor just being nominated” words–then WALK AWAY.  Don’t let it escalate to where you are really out of control.

Just a little while ago, I saw a story that apparently a Broncos player was being interviewed within earshot of Cam Newton, and Cam overheard the things he was saying disparaging the Panthers.

Y’all, my Mama said…..

I would’ve walked away too.

And I’m a Manning fan.

But grace abounds.  He’s young, his heart was broken, dreams dashed, and he had believed in himself and his team.  Let’s cut him some slack.

To my children if you are reading this–especially Cooter who is probably going to hear some of the folks trashing Cam Newton:

He did the right thing.  Instead of blowing up, yelling, throwing things, fussing and saying things he might regret later, he WALKED AWAY.  And that is okay.  Do that.  When things are more than you can handle, walk away and get help.  

No one is perfect.  Would it have made a lovely story if he’d been very cordial and laughing on this major loss in his career?  If he’d been singing the praises of the Broncos and been full of the “we’ll get ’em next year” bravado?

Maybe.

But two thoughts.

First, that would not have been real.  Or authentic.  I would have called Face Mask on him.  Because no way that would have been anything other than putting on a front to cover up all the pain and hurt.  He’s a football player, and a good one at that, but he’s not a trained orator, and to expect him to be otherwise is very unfair and unrealistic.

Second, it’s a story we wouldn’t have heard, because the media loves drama.  They wouldn’t have commented much on a congenial Cam Newton, because that’s not how they roll.  Or they would have because he’s derned if he does, derned if he doesn’t.  It’s what they thrive on.

And we encourage it by buying in to the drama and making all the negative comments.

These little people we love, they aren’t just watching Cam Newton and his reaction.  They’re also watching us and ours.

Let’s show them what grace and love really look like.

Thanks for listening.  And Peyton, if you’re reading, congratulations.  I’m happy for you.  And Cam, I’m happy for you, too.  You have a good career ahead of you, and you didn’t show out in the face of adversity.  You walked away from creating a scene and from letting all that mixed up, pent up emotion out in a really bad way.  Well done.  Thanks for keeping your cool, because, well, Cooter’s a fan.

And I think I am too.

Love to all.

 

 

A February Project

I saw the sweetest thing the other day when a friend shared an idea for spreading the love this February.  For each day of the month (29 this time around, for those of you counting), the parent would stick a post it note on the child’s bedroom door with something sweet–a thought, something they appreciate about the child, encouragement–you know, something showing love.

It stuck with me for a few days, and while I love the idea of focusing on the positive and surprising my children with loving messages, something wasn’t sitting well with me.

And then it hit me.

The post-its.

We are no stranger to post-it notes.  I have used them in our homeschooling for quite some time.  They serve a great purpose and kudos to the inventor.  However, I know that nothing is permanent, and I could see those things fluttering down off doors, landing on floors, long before the 29 days were up.

And then there’s my sentimental side to deal with.  What do I do? Throw them away when the month is over?  I mean, I will have worked for 29 days to create the perfect message times 3, and then at the end, we just toss the messages?  Ummm, no, I think not.  But keep sticky notes?  There’s just no good way to do that, and it will contribute to the clutter I’m trying so hard to be rid of, so, hmmmm, no, not that either.

It finally hit me two days ago what the perfect solution would be.

Canvases.

At first I planned to paint 29 hearts on each canvas to fill in with the loving messages, but  I was worried about spacing and what if I wanted to say more on one day than another?  That could happen.  Today I decided to paint each canvas a signature color for each child, put their name in the middle and surround it with loving messages each day of February.  I’ll write the message, surround it with a heart, and hopefully, this will create something lovely for each of the ones I hold dear.  (I mean, I wish they’d clean up a little better, empty the dishwasher without being reminded, and put away their clothes for real, but I do hold them all dear.  And no, I won’t be putting any of that in my messages.)

I’m excited about the idea, and I hope it will go well.  I’m not even going to put a timeframe on when I write my message.  If I want to do it at night, I will.  But if it doesn’t happen until the next morning, that’s okay too.

After all, those elves just left not too long ago, and that was enough stress for a whole year.  I don’t need that whole “I can’t go to bed until…..” or waking up at 3 a.m. and running for a Sharpie to get it done before anyone else wakes up.

Just no.

This is about love and letting my people know how much they are loved today and everyday. Maybe this will start a new tradition, or maybe it won’t, but it in the words of my Mama, “It’s all for the fun of it.”

Wishing you all someone to tell you how much they love you each and every day!

Love to all.

The colors don’t show well in the light in that room but it’s purple for our Princess, Tiffany blue for Aub, and blue for Cooter.  Tomorrow we begin the hearts.  

   Note of Apology:  I was loading the photo from my phone into the WordPress App, and I hit publish accidentally.  I apologize to those of you who got a confusing non-post via email.  This is the corrected, edited version.  Sorry about that.  Best wishes to all. 

 

Running Out of Gas

This afternoon I got a call from my Fella.  It’s not unusual for him to call that time of day.  Sometimes he’ll call to see if we need him to pick up anything on his way home from work.  But today, that was not his reason.

The gas gauge is broken in his vehicle.  Well, broken is a strong term.  Occasionally it works, only you are hesitant to trust it, because what if it’s not?  So maybe malfunctioning is a better term.  His gas gauge is malfunctioning.

He called because he had “broken down” right after leaving his office.  Less than five minutes up the road.  He thought it might be that he was out of gas, but then again, he wasn’t sure.  He hoped that’s all it was.

Me too.

The funny thing is he’s always so conscientious about filling up regularly because he never knows exactly how much gas he has left.  “The one time I let down my OCD about filling up the tank…..”

We picked him up and did all that needed to happen to get gas back to his vehicle where it was stuck on the side of the road.  He poured in the gas and then tried to start it up.

Perfect.

Thankfully, that was the issue.  He closed his gas cap, and we were all on our way again.  Back to the day to dailies and taking care of business as usual.

Three things occurred to me as I was driving to my next adventure:

*We do this ourselves, don’t we?  We think we know how much “gas” we have left to get us through all we need to do, but sometimes we misjudge or we push the limit, and then we burn out.

*When we do run out of gas, patience and grace are the two things we need the most from those around us.  When those around us run out of gas, that’s the best thing we can give them–patience and grace.  (This observation is in *ahem* retrospect.  I might not have been the best giver of these things today, and I’m sorry for that.)

*It takes help from others to get us going again–we just need to ask.  Whether that comes in the form of a friend who sits and listens, someone who makes sure we rest and take care of ourselves, or someone who has our back and fends off the gas-guzzlers, we need the support and presence of others to get back up and running again.

Tonight I’m thankful for a vehicle that runs.  And for the Fella making his day interruptible, so I could do what I needed to do after the refueling.  I’m glad that an empty gas tank was the worst of our worries today.  That’s not something we can say everyday.

Wishing you all a full tank and the rest to refuel when it’s not.

Love to all.

Automobile_fuel_filler_cap

Photo By CZmarlin — Christopher Ziemnowicz [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Catch and Release

Our Princess came in from reading her science book yesterday afternoon.  She was quite upset.

“Mama, do you know why the pond down there isn’t running over with fish?!” she asked, referring to a fun fishing pond we’ve visited a couple of times.  “Do you know?  It’s BECAUSE THE FISH ARE DYING!”

Sometimes I cannot keep up with the trails her mind runs down.

“Ummm, okay?  And why are the fish dying?”

“See, it says right here.” She held out her book.  “Fish have a protective layer on their scales that protect them from bacteria and bad stuff in the water.  When people catch them and touch them, even if it’s so they can release them back into the water, those fish are likely TO DIE BECAUSE THEY’VE LOST PART OF THEIR PROTECTIVE LAYER!!!!!”

She was really getting wound up now.

She assured me she would no longer have any part of “catch and release”fishing if there was even the tiniest chance she was harming them.  “I mean, first of all, there’s a hook in their mouth…..”

I was thinking about that yesterday evening, and it occurred to me how we do this in life.  With people.  Folks we know and folks we don’t.  We have good intentions.  No plans to do any harm.  We’re just hanging out, enjoying ourselves, living our lives, and we meet folks, spend time with them, and then we return back to our own story.  But whether we realize it or not, we touched those folks.  And sometimes without intending to, we have left a mark on them that could be harmful.

It could be something we said, something we didn’t say, how we really didn’t acknowledge their presence, how we didn’t see them,  or how we made some offhand comment that was said in jest but really hurt.  We have the power to hurt without even realizing it.  Just in the way we touch someone in a moment.

We also have the power to heal.

I don’t think through the things I say or things I do nearly often enough.  My girl reminded me how important that is.  Fish are dying, people.  So are tender spirits.  It’s up to us to make things better.

May we all seek to heal with our touch.

Love to all.

Fish_on_hook

By U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Showing Me Their World

I continually find myself amazed by, IN AWE OF these creatures I have been given to raise.

Sometimes I’m amazed that they can eat so much or what they won’t eat or how much of a mess they can make or how long they can put off doing something I’ve asked, but mostly–mostly I’m amazed at watching them become their own people.

As my oldest writes her own story at my alma mater, doing things I never dreamed of doing, I’m amazed.  I watch her and think, She’s the cool one I always wanted to be friends with.  And I’m lucky enough that we’re even better than friends.

For the past eighteen months, I’ve watched our Princess swim and swim well.  I can hold my own in the water, but she knows strokes and dives and turns and the ins and outs and it just makes me wonder, where on earth did all that come from?  She is something to see.

Cooter is figuring out who he is and what his thing is.  Poor guy, he often gets stuck doing whatever his sister is doing.  He enjoys it but still.  He plays piano, does gymnastics, and after working really hard last summer, he also made the swim team.

But recently I saw him step out on his own to do something, and it took my breath away.  In that moment I realized I was watching him move one step closer to figuring out and becoming who he is.

We watched a youth performance during Christmas, and it was wonderful.  Cooter loved it, and I saw a spark in his eyes when they showed previews for their spring performances.  He was intrigued.  I mentioned to him that he could maybe try out, and he alternated between nervous and interested.  Aub helped him pick out his audition lines and memorize them.  Those lines stayed on our refrigerator where he could stand and practice them for over a week.

When the day came, he woke up excited.  I suppose there were some nerves in there, but my little ham was ready.  We dropped his sister off, and we were on our way.  He was #2 in line.  We walked to the back of the theater to the entrance to the back where he would be auditioning in front of two of the adult directors.  The helper asked him if he was nervous.  He shrugged and grinned.  He didn’t seem to be very upset that I wasn’t supposed to go back with him.

I, on the other hand, was a mess.  I held it in, but inside I was a rumbly tumbly tee-total mess.  That was my baby back there…..

He went back for a few minutes.  When he came out, he had a grin on his face and walked right past me, not even seeing me.

He’s been excited ever since.  No question, no turning back, no second thoughts.  He’s all about this play.  He’s also had this day, TODAY, in his head as THE DAY for two weeks.  It was two weeks ago that he auditioned, and today was his first rehearsal.  He woke up reminding me of what day it was.

As if I could forget.

What a cool kid, y’all.

He found people he knows to sit with and never looked back.  He clapped for others as their parts were announced and the look on his face when he found out his part was priceless.  At least it seemed to be.  I was all the way across the room with the parents.

Because he’s almost grown now, you know.  He’ll be 9 very soon–or “hitting the double digits next year,” as he likes to rush things and remind me.

It was a lovely afternoon.  The program is organized and fun and a really, really good place for these young people.  The playwright, bless him, didn’t finish writing the play until he found out how many cast members he was going to have.

46.

So he wrote a play with forty-six different characters.

That made me smile almost as big as Cooter when I learned that.

What a beautiful thing for these children.  Each and every one of them matter.  Each and every one important.  I’m so thankful that we happened upon this theater program.  Or, you know, were led there.

Tonight I’m thankful for the experiences I get to have because of these unique people I’m blessed to know and raise.  My Mama used to say, “You brought them into the world, now let them show it to you.”  Maybe she was quoting someone, I don’t know.  But beautiful words all the same.  And they’ve really hit home with me lately.  I love the world my children show me.  One full of love, laughter, justice, mercy, grace, teasing, storytelling, and joy.  Sure, it’s a messy world much most of the time.  But I will tell you this, I wouldn’t trade anything for it.

Love to all.

Barn_House_and_Curtain

By 76slideytrumpets (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons

 

Car Conversations

For whatever reason, some of the best conversations I’ve had with my children have been in the car.  Or truck.  Or whatever.

Tonight Cooter and I were on the way home from Evening Prayer together, just the two of us, when he suddenly asked one of THOSE questions.

You know, the ones where you gulp and feel yourself floundering for just the right words because you know, YOU KNOW, that he’s likely to remember your answer for a long, long time.

“Mama, why was there segregation?”

Oh my heart.

As the seconds ticked by the best I could come up with–and this is not a new conversation for us–was to remind him that sometimes people are afraid of people who are different and how some folks with light skin thought they were better than people with darker skin and even, at one point, thought they could own these people.

Once again, he was indignant over this injustice.

“We are all equal, we just have different gifts! Folks need to know that.  We all have different things we are good at, but we are all equal.”

Bless that heart.  Out of the mouths of babes…..

As he continued sharing his thoughts, it was heart-wrenching to hear him say, “Well, I’m glad that doesn’t happen anymore.”  Oh baby boy, how I wish.  Then he asked, “Mama, what should I do if someone is being unkind to someone else or is wanting to segregate people?  What should I do?  Should I just step away from the situation?”

How I wish I didn’t need to have these conversations with my child, but I’m so grateful he wants to have them.  That he’s genuinely asking me what is right.  I’m treading carefully here though.  This is way more important than multiplication or grammar or learning how a bill becomes a law.

So we talked about how the first thing you do when you know something is wrong is you stand up and say so.  Stand up for what you believe is right.

“Like you do?”

I searched my memory for what on earth he was referring to.  He continued, “So my friends and I should make signs and stand up to let folks know what is right?”

Oh bless. He’s thinking of the vigils for the people on death row.  He’s really been paying attention.  (Both wonderful and frightening, that.)

“Sure, buddy.  That’s a start.”

He talked about his friends and then, “You know, sometimes when I’m with my friends, and I hold back the way I’m feeling, sometimes it feels heavy on my shoulders.”

I know that feeling too, bud.

So we talked about the best way to share our thoughts and feelings with other people.  It was a good talk.  Hard, because I didn’t know he felt like he had to do that when he was with his friends, but a good one.

Good because he wanted to talk to me.

My little guy and I shared some really important things on the ride home tonight.

And it only takes us fifteen minutes to get home, y’all.

He’s a deep thinker for such a young fella.  But it didn’t take him long to swing it back around and start singing, “It was a Sunday morning and I ate four doughnuts, doughnuts, doughnuts, and it felt great…..until it didn’t…..”

And…..he’s back.  My class clown.  My self-proclaimed future comedian.

Tonight I’m thankful for rides home in the dark when hearts are open and shared.  I’m thankful for the one who talks, and that I can listen.  I love the deep conversations and the silly songs.  Because they are both very much a part of this journey we are on.  And it takes both to make it beautiful.

Love to all.

FREE_high_resolution_cars_driving_at_night_creative_commons_attribution_(9368836860)

By Pink Sherbet Photography from Utah, USA [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

It Wasn’t About the Hoodie–Not Really

I grew up not a UGA fan.  One of my earliest memories involves a vinyl covered stool that my Aunt and Uncle had in their home when we were visiting.  It had a Yellow Jacket on it.  My Uncle graduated from Georgia Tech.  From then on, I understood us to be a Tech family.

Because in Georgia–those are pretty much your choices.  Georgia or Georgia Tech.  There are other colleges, but that’s the big state rivalry.

It didn’t make me popular.  Still doesn’t.  When I wear my GT hoodie out, there are times when another Tech fan speaks up, not too loud of course, excited to find “another” outsider.

Bulldawg fans are serious, y’all.  But so are we.  I was right.  We are a Tech family.  When I was at Wesleyan, we as a student body voted Georgia Tech to be our brother school.  (I think this was so we could cheer for a football team or invite them to our socials…..right now the exact reason eludes me.)  A few years later Sister graduated from Tech, marrying a boy she met there.  After that my Cousin and my brother both graduated from there.  (I’m not mentioning the two cousins who went to UGA–we still shake our heads over that.) Mess Cat married Leroy, who also came from a diehard Tech family.  Only they were a bit more serious–they had actually been to games.  Live.  In person.

Yes.  Go Tech!

So you can understand why I was a bit perplexed, befuddled, if you will, that our Princess announced at a very young age that she is a Bulldog fan.

Where on earth did she pick up such language?

When she was smaller, it was cute.  Oh look at the little one, she thinks she knows what she’s talking about.  Okay.  Whatever.  We patronizingly indulged her little game, knowing  full well it would. not. last.

Only it did.

A couple of years ago she found a UGA top that she liked at the GW Boutique.  I got it for her, struck with bewilderment and wondering who had switched my child at the hospital in Japan, and where on earth was my little Buzz-loving child?   She wore it often, and I would feign shock and displeasure when she did.  We both wound up laughing before the day was over.  She loved reminding us where her allegiance stood by calling out, “Go Dawgs!” quite a bit during football season.

She eventually outgrew that top.  She does not, thankfully, have a replacement.  So be it.  (She does have an Auburn top, and I believe I tried to sneak a GT one in on her to no avail.)

Today we dashed in at the GW Boutique on our Outs and Abouts. I was looking at blazers for my future law school student, when I came across a red hoodie.  I’m a lover of all things hoodie-fied, if you will recall, so I flipped it around, fingers crossed, hoping it would not be…..

but it was…..

Georgia.

img_1282

Now in this state, “Georgia” on a hoodie does not mean what you think it means.  Georgia on a hoodie–a red hoodie with black writing–means only one thing.  U. G. A.

Ughhhh.  Uhhh.

This was not the hoodie I was looking for.

Still, in the interest of full disclosure, and because it was a hoodie and most of hers are getting too short on her, I lifted it up and showed it to our Princess as she walked over to where I was.

She smiled.  Really big.

That touched my heart and almost made me feel bad about not being all gung ho about this hoodie.

“So do you want it?” I asked her.

She looked at it, smiled again, and shook her head.

Wait.  What?

“No.  I mean, it’s nice, but I don’t want it.”

“What?  Why?”

“Well, I can just think about how it will bother you if I wear it.”  She giggled and then looked a little serious.  “I know how you feel about it, and I don’t want to make you feel all that every time I wear it.”

I took her by the shoulders and looked her straight in her eyes with fierce love.  “Baby girl, NO MA’AM.  You are a Georgia fan.  I can’t explain why, but you are.  Must have been something in the water or something.  Either way, you are a Georgia fan.  That’s how you feel, you chose it.  Do not–DO NOT EVER–change what you love or how you believe or what you want in life because you are limiting yourself to others’ expectations and preferences.  YOU DO YOU.  YOU BE YOU.  As long as you’re not physically hurting anyone else or being intentionally unkind, you don’t change who you are one bit.  Be loving, be kind, but BE YOU.  Every bit of your beautiful self.”

*sigh*

Okay, so that’s what I should have said.  Only I didn’t.  It didn’t occur to me until we were almost home WITHOUT the hoodie that I had missed a teachable moment.

*sigh* It could have been so beautiful too.  And then we would have gone arm in arm to the check out to buy the hoodie.  And instead of being (mock) frustrated every time she wore it, I would have seen it as my child expressing herself and comfortable doing so–even when she is the only one who feels the way she does.  I would have seen my child comfortable and okay with who she is and what she embraces.

Instead I was so wrapped up with how much she cared about my feelings that I totally blanked on what could have been a powerful lesson.

Man.  I really messed up.

I have put my request in with my people who are in that area that if they happen back by that GW Boutique and “iffen” that hoodie is still there, please get it for my baby.  I want to be able to tell her those things.  And hand her the hoodie and apologize.  It might not be a big deal for her now, but one day, I want her to remember it and be encouraged when life has her feeling on the outside because she believes differently than others do.

Because it’s bound to happen.  Eventually.

I’m reminded of the story of my cousin’s oldest child (who married a month ago–oh my, the time has flown) when he was very young.  He adored his grandmother, my aunt, and he was talking to her about a movie he loved.  I can’t remember which one it was, but he was so happy about it, and he asked her if didn’t she love it too.  She was honest about it and told him she really didn’t care for it much.  He was sad, and then she told him that it was okay.  That people who love each other can like different things and it still be okay.

I love that so much.  It has stuck with me for probably twenty years.  I want my children to take that story to heart.

It’s okay to like different things and still be okay with other people.

Better than okay.

May you have the courage to be you–today and everyday.

Love to all.

 

The Twelfth Day of Christmas

On the twelfth day of Christmas…..

Christmas_is_almost_over_(6640906905)

By Helgi Halldórsson from Reykjavík, Iceland (Christmas is almost over) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

as I prepare to break down Christmas and pack away the ornaments, I sift through the memories made this Christmas season, and my heart is full to bustin’.

There are so many precious moments, big and small, that I have tucked away to keep me warm this winter and in the ones to come, but these twelve stand out for me tonight:

1–The first night that we were all under the same roof for the first time in several months, and I took that sweet, deep breath of thankfulness.

2–Listening to Christmas music while baking Mama’s cookies in the kitchen, using her very own cookie cutters.

3–Taking the Zoo Crew up to Wesleyan on a cold, wet afternoon to hear the Washboard Band play and hear Aub in her percussion debut.

4–The joy of sharing St. Lucia Day festivities with friends and family at Evening Prayer as my writerfriend D and I shared our stories of light for the second year in a row.  It’s a tradition now, y’all.

5–Attending “White Christmas” at a local theater with youth actors and actresses.  Seeing their beaming faces at the end for the curtain call–they were so pleased with the job they had done.  As well they should be. I fell in love with the place, the young people, and the story all over again.

6–The joy of sitting next to One I Hold Dear as I watched my littles perform for their Christmas programs.  When folks do things they don’t have to do out of love and just because they want to, that is a beautiful gift.

7–Hearing Christmas songs played live in my own home. As we wrap up our first year of piano lessons, it has been so much fun to hear the littles playing Christmas carols for us.  I am anticipating even more songs in the coming year to brighten our holidays.

8–The musical offerings talented and beautiful folks shared at Evening Prayer both before and after Christmas.  So much time, talent, and dedication went into those evenings.  I love each and every one of them for making my holidays truly special with their music, smiles, and laughter.

9–Seeing the faces of children, young and old, as they saw Santa Claus when he visited us at Bare Bulb Coffee.  So many precious secrets whispered in Santa’s ear.  The smiles were bright and everlasting.  My heart will never quite be the same again.

10–Hearing “Silent Night” in the candlelit church on Christmas Eve.  I choked up and couldn’t sing all the words.  I felt so connected to the ones who are no longer with us who also sang those words on so many Christmas Eve nights over the years.  I felt surrounded by a host of those I love.

11–Those precious, quiet moments in the wee hours of Christmas morning, when I sat there by myself in the midst of gifts and love, and I was excited, worn out, relieved, happy, and filled with wonder and peace.  And as I sat there, loathe to leave the sweet twinkle lights and their golden glow and the love that filled the room, I thought about how all of those emotions were probably present that very first Christmas morning.  That’s when my heart filled with gratitude, and I found myself weeping as I headed to bed for a few hours of slumber.

12–One of the very best moments was seeing the excitement in my children’s eyes and hearing the anticipation in their voices as they wrapped and then gave their Christmas gifts on Christmas morning. They were more excited to give the gifts they’d chosen than they were to open up the ones with their names on them.  That was a huge gift to me, and I am so thankful for their giving hearts.

Y’all, I was just kidding.  Twelve?  All the little moments.  Cups of coffee with friends.  Surprise visits with folks I haven’t seen for far too long.  Painting with my little friends and watching them focus and work so hard to create their own masterpieces.  Sitting around a fire with precious people as the sun went down and the stars came out.  Watching the children play with their friends as the excitement of Christmas came closer and closer.  Wrapping up in warm, colorful afghans and talking late into the night.  Hallmark Christmas movies.  Watching my brother teach my Aub how to make “Maemae’s” biscuits.  Phone calls and Christmas cards.  Hugs galore.  Cousins who make me smile and laugh.  Oh the joy and peace that passes all understanding!

All of that.

May each and every day of this New Year be filled with just such gifts for all of us.

Love to all.  Merry Twelfth Day of Christmas!

12_days_melody

By Grover cleveland (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons