How to Get Lost (and a free book)

I’m not sure when it happened, but it was confirmed this past Christmas.  We have moved past the toys on the wish list.  My (not so) littles were hoping for things that supported their dreams–like dance and games and shoes.  My little fella asked for a pair of Crocs (easy to slide on and off and APPARENTLY back in fashion?!?) and books.  When I asked him what books–was there a series or author he preferred, he said “No ma’am, surprise me.  I always love what you pick out.”

As they were excitedly planning what gifts they wanted to give each other, I was scratching my head about what books to suggest to Santa to bring for him.  My little guy Cooter who didn’t read a lick until he turned 7 is an avid reader–magazines, books, cereal boxes…..whatever he can get his hands on.  He loves it when I grab a paper at the grocery store and bring home to him.  He reads it front to back, with extra attention to politics, comics, and ads for trucks.  And gas prices.  He’s a fanatic about watching gas prices.

Christmas morning was a delight and joy as we shared love and gifts and laughter and memories.  Cooter was intrigued by the book choices and said they looked promising.  Last fall he read the young adult version of Just Mercy because his big sister had read the original version, and there was a movie coming out.  He and his sister were fortunate to get to go to the advanced screening for the movie locally two days after Christmas.  He came home saying the book and movie had changed his life.  That moved me to tears because he has found a passion for justice and defeating wrong.  When looking for books for him, I knew to stick with history and books that would fall in this same realm.

One night about a week or so after Christmas, I was locking up and turning off the lights, preparing to go to bed a little after midnight.  Cooter has always been my child who goes to bed before everyone else.  10:30 is about the latest he can handle on the weekends, and he’s usually in bed way before that.  The girls tend to be night owls in comparison.  So I was surprised to see the light on underneath his door.  I suspected he’d fallen asleep reading as he often does.  When I opened the door, his face popped up from behind one of his Christmas books.  Shocked, I asked, “Buddy, what are you doing? It’s after midnight!” His eyes got huge and he said, “What?! For real?”  I recognized that look.  I have been blessed to feel that more times than I can count in my life.  He’d gotten so wrapped up in the story, he’d lost track of time completely.

Bless.

After he recounted the story to me, I encouraged him to put it away and turned off his light.  My heart was light and thankful.  He seemed to struggle–or maybe it was me–when he was little and reading was on the agenda.  He never seemed to be able to get what the letters in front of him were doing. Or I couldn’t help him understand. Until he turned 7.  And then it clicked.  For the past almost six years he’s been a voracious reader.  I’m so very thankful for that.  For his anger over injustice, for his love of funny books, for his need to read the stories from the past, for his desire to share the stories with me.  This year we are using a literature based curriculum for his lessons, and he is loving it.  Who knew when I was close to tears over his lack of drive to learn to read that we’d be where we were that night…..with his little face showing the shock of coming back to reality after being so lost in a really good book.

It all started with reading him good books when he was small.

Actually, that’s not true.

It started with my Mama reading me books when I was small.  I never felt our lives lacking, no matter what we did or didn’t have, because we were always surrounded by good stories.

Mama passed that and so many of those good books down to us.  I have shelves of her books that are blending with ours.  Children’s books that are still brought down and pored over and read and left sitting out to remind us that we are never too far from that child in us who first delighted over the pictures and rhythm of a well-written story.

That’s why I’m happy that me and mine are never too old to enjoy a good children’s book.  Especially since all of the ones by one of my favorite children’s authors have been published after my three have traditionally aged out of those books.

But we say we’re never too old to love one.

Matthew Paul Turner has a new book coming out tomorrow–When God Made the World.  You need this book for your littles, your grands, your friends, your home, yourself! Like all of his books before, he uses words to paint a story that your heart longs to hear–how each part of creation was designed lovingly and with a purpose–including and especially YOU! The author leaves us with a blessing and a charge–words that I find myself praying over my children as they enter this new chapter in their lives.

MPT when God made the world photo

I was talking to my sweet girl yesterday about her future and her dreams for it.  She listened and responded and finally shrugged.  “Mama, I’m just trying to figure out this being fifteen years old thing right now.”

Oh baby girl, I hear you.  And I get it.

Sometimes–actually quite often–it’s good to sit and simply reflect with gentle words and remember the stories from when we were small.  When God Made the World is just right for doing that.  With rhymes and words that remind us to look around us in wonder and appreciate the gifts that God has put before us, paired with the lovely bright and vivid illustrations by Gillian Gamble, Matthew Paul Turner has given us the perfect book for those moments.  He reminds us we are a part of a much bigger picture BUT a very important, precious, and unique part of it all.

MPT 4 books photo

The book releases tomorrow.  If you pre-order TODAY, you can copy and paste your order number at this link and choose another of Matthew Paul Turner’s books to be sent to you ABSOLUTELY FREE.  You don’t want to miss out on this.  All of his books are wonderful and make great gifts.  Or belong on your own shelf.  Go ahead and treat yourself.  I won’t tell.

Wishing you all some time today to get lost in a good book.  Cooter and I highly recommend it.

Love to all.

Gilligan, Tom Hanks, and That Deserted Isle Thing

As bedtimes were backed up this evening, and the children abandoned the street, and balls and bikes were tossed aside in anticipation of school starting in the morning, all the quiet was way too loud this evening.

It had me remembering another time that the quiet was bothersome.  When our Princess was eight days old, it was Thanksgiving Day…..and we were living in Japan.  Our little family had been invited to our friend’s house for Thanksgiving dinner, but the wind was whipping, and the cold was biting.  We decided it was best not to take our newborn out in all of that, even briefly, so I sent my Fella and Aub on without us.  We both would probably sleep most of the time they were away anyway.

As it turned out, only one of us did.

And it wasn’t me.

So I turned on the TV.  We got some channels from the states, so I flipped around and landed on a movie that, to this day, I cannot tell you why I kept it on.

“Castaway.”

Oh my land, I wasn’t crazy about it when I saw it in the movie theater–why on earth I thought I needed to watch it on Thanksgiving day while my sweet baby slept and the whole rest of the world was celebrating without me and I was miles and miles away from my Mama and Daddy…..well, I have no idea.

And yet I did.

I’m sure I flipped away from it a time or two, but let’s face it–putting on your best shows is not a programmer’s priority on Thanksgiving Day.  So Tom Hanks it was.

And then Wilson.

I canNOT bear that scene.  Volleyballs in stores send me back to that moment, and I will tear up, no joke.  Fortunately, that’s not something you see a lot of at the getting places around here.

This summer it finally hit me why I LOATHED that movie so much.

It’s not because of Tom Hanks either.  I LOVE him.  #SleeplessinSeattle #YouveGotMail #Big #Splash #andalltheOthers #except Castaway

It occurred to me on one of our OutandAbouts.  Sometimes I’ll let the crew watch something while we are traveling in the car.  This summer they’ve watched (and I’ve listened) to more than our fair share of “Gilligan’s Island,” including one of the followup movies.  (Tina Louise wasn’t in that one–it troubled me to no end, and I was only listening.)

I grew up with Gilligan and crew.  I KNOW how deserted island life is supposed to go.  I KNOW how much people pack to go on boats even when they’re only going to be gone for three hours.  I KNOW how much food is on an island, and I KNOW that others happen upon the “deserted” isle from time to time, so there’s NO WAY AT ALL that someone would need a volleyball for companionship.

And so I’ve decided that’s it.  That’s why I cannot tolerate “Castaway” and all of its suggestions to the contrary.  I’ve seen Gilligan.  It’s ruined me for any other shipwrecked or plane crashes and the like where you wind up on a deserted island type of shows.  Once you know the truth, fiction just won’t cut it.

Tonight I’m thankful that my littles love Gilligan as much or more as I ever did.  I’m thankful for their giggles and that the sound of their laughter was the soundtrack for this summer.  As we stir ourselves in the morning and pull out the sharpened pencils and pristine notebooks and turn the crisp pages of new books, I hope that the spirit of the folks of the S. S. Minnow will prevail–love, friendship, ingenuity, loyalty, and togetherness.  And I hope that none of my children ask to play volleyball this year.

It’s still too soon.

Love to all.

Bob_Denver_Gilligans_Island_1966

By CBS Television (eBay front back) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

A Few Minutes in the Dark

Yesterday morning I woke up to the sound of my cell phone vibrating repetitively against my bedside table.  I barely had the time to pick it up and read that there was a tornado warning issued before the tornado siren a few miles away started going off.

It was startling to wake up that way, but we jumped up and gathered our littles and Miss Sophie and made our way back to my closet–our safe place in our home.

I have been remiss.  This is not something we had prepared for or practiced.

Also, my closet was kind of a mess.  And it was dark in there.

Still we squeezed in and waited while the Fella checked news reports.  It sounded like the worst of it was a couple of miles north, but we weren’t sure when we would be safe to leave the closet.

Sitting there holding Miss Sophie, gently rubbing her fur to keep her calm, our Princess said, “You know, I know this is scary, but it’s really kind of exciting all at the same time, isn’t it?”

Ummmm, well, yeah, I guess that might be an understatement, but okay.

Huddled close on my left was Cooter.  He was shaking.  When I’d gone in his room, the siren had already awakened him.  He was afraid we were being bombed, bless him.  And though he knew that wasn’t the case, he understood the real threat of a tornado, and it had him very anxious.

After a few minutes of our Princess talking about things like how they are never allowed in my closet (one word–Christmas) and how she really hopes I will move some things around before we have to do this again, we got the all clear from the Fella.  The meteorologist said the storm had moved to the east of us, and so the rain would be coming soon.

And it did.

That whole time, I’d been holding Cooter and rubbing his knee.  I don’t know why, but that’s what I did.  He was still pretty shaken when we finally emerged.

We spent the rest of the morning hearing about the damage and checking on folks we love and care about.  Round two of the storm hit in the afternoon.  We were very fortunate, and other than losing power for about thirty seconds, we had no issues.  I am thankful.

I learned a lot from that storm.  I need to have emergency plans for all of the emergencies, and we need to practice them.  No joke.  I KNEW this, but I hadn’t taken it seriously I guess.   Day to day life carried on, and I didn’t make it a priority.  That will change now.

I also learned something about people.  Our Princess can be so sensitive about so many things, but in the midst of the storm, she kept her cool, and after her initial reaction, carried on as usual.  I think she just trusted that everything would be okay.  She has a quiet strength that we tend to overlook in the midst of her butterfly personality.  On the other hand, Cooter has reached the age where he is trying to be tough.  He will find things to laugh or joke about in a heartbeat, and he’s really clever and very funny.  I do get glimpses of his sensitive side, but never more so than yesterday.  He was concerned, and all of the potential outcomes ran through his mind.

Turns out strength can come from where you least expect it.  And so can tender hearts.

Giving thanks for moments in the dark and those who hold me close when we are there, and even more so for the light that greets us when we come out.

Love to all.

Ferbuary_6,_2008_tornado_warning

By NOAA (http://www.spc.noaa.gov/products/watch/ww0048.html) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

the petals on the ground

on this first day of spring
I remember vividly another beautiful spring day
walking beneath the towering cherry blossom trees
dressed up in their pink finery
so full that they blocked out most of the sky
that was a brilliant blue with only
a few of the fluffiest clouds

I held the hand of the girl who walked
and he carried on his shoulders
the girl who was quite new
in six short months she’d filled our hearts with joy
and our lives with stories

these two girls who were and are my world

the little one looked up at the blooms above her and laughed
that deep gurgly laugh of the very small ones
and to this day I wonder
if that is why she so loves the pink

this one born in the land of the rising sun
all those years ago
as she rode on her Daddy’s shoulders
smiling down at the one whose hand I held

and our feet landed on the petals on the ground
as step by step we made our way to this spring day
half a world away

Cherry_Blossom_(4524817941)

By THOR (Cherry Blossom) [CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons]

She’s Been Listening

This evening on the way from one place to the next on our list of day to dailies, our Princess spoke up with a question, completely out of the blue.

“Mama, our family from way back on your side and Daddy’s sides of the family–they weren’t always from here, right?  I mean, at some point they moved here, right?”

Wondering where it was going, I answered her. “Yes.  Someone even traced our family tree back to the first ones who came over from England in the 1700s.  Thomas and Faithful Carse.”  (I’ve always loved their names so they stuck with me.)

“Wow,” she said, thinking.  “So then, aren’t we all in some way–aren’t we all immigrants?”

Oh baby.  Yes.  Yes we are.

I share this tonight, not to start a political discussion, because I will walk away from that in a heartbeat.  I can no more convince anyone to change their beliefs to resemble mine than anyone can change my mind.

No, I share this simply to say:

Y’all.  Please be careful.  Our children–and they are all of ours, whether we gave birth to them or not–all of our children are listening and watching.  They will call us out on all of this chaos and hatred and all the misunderstandings eventually.  It might not be until much later when they truly comprehend what is going on in our world right now, but they will call us out.

Guard your words and your heart.  These little ones are growing up watching and becoming what they see, despite our best efforts otherwise.

Teach them with your actions as well as your words.

It’s not easy, but I made a vow tonight to start doing better.

Join me?

Love to all.

Cobh_-_Annie_Moore

“Cobh – Annie Moore” by Marcus Kircher MKir 13; sculpture by Jeanne Rynhart – Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons   

“Annie Moore (January 1, 1877 – 1923) was the first immigrant to the United States to pass through the Ellis Island facility in New York Harbor.”

Sardines and Food Allergies

This past weekend I took our Princess up to my alma mater where her sister is also a student for their annual event, where alumnae are encouraged to bring young women of all ages to visit as prospective students.  I enjoy it immensely as it has become something of a mini-reunion with fellow classmates, and it culminates in a scholarship fund-raising theater event–STUNT–which I loved when I was there and still love now.

Our Princess has enjoyed going for the past two years, and this year was no exception.  She had her “bag” packed by the middle of last week and woke up on Saturday SO excited.  She knows her way around campus very well, and she has the routine of the day down by now.  However, they did something new this year as an icebreaker.  The younger set of students played a game of “Sardines,” which has best been explained to me as a game of reverse hide and seek.  One person hides, and as you find her, you join her in her hiding spot, until there is one person left seeking all of you.

My girl ditched me and her bags faster than you can say “Golden Heart” (the class she will be at Wesleyan) and headed out for the game.  I was tempted to follow her out into the hall, but I didn’t.  I let her play and found myself holding my breath.  Worrying about how close she could potentially be with others who might have just eaten some of her allergens made me nervous.  I sat there, worrying and yet amazed at how eager she was to go play with these other girls, some of whom she sees once a year and some whom she had never met.  She had a great time, and all was well.  Then it was on to the mini-STUNT scripting activity, and after we took a break during the campus tours.  Later we joined all the others by the fountain for supper (we always brown bag these events), and then it was time for a pep rally and off to the main event in the auditorium.

A great night.  Aub was a part of the team who put the whole thing together, and they did a fantastic job.

On our way home after 11 p.m. that night, I asked our Princess what her favorite part of the day had been. I was sure it was going to be our visit to the campus store or her beloved Golden Hearts winning the STUNT Cup, but no.

“It was when we played Sardines in Taylor Hall, and then later when we played a modified version around the fountain after supper.”

Bless.

Y’all.

Of course.  Her two favorite times were when I wasn’t hovering.  Obsessing over clean hands and what she might be exposed to in the midst of a day outside our norm.

Bless her.  Her two favorite times were both when she had handed me the epipen case she wears cross body style whenever we leave home.  The two times when she let loose and was just another kid running around with friends and some who will be.

It’s hard, isn’t it?  This whole parenting thing and knowing when to let go and when to be on guard.  Add in a life-threatening allergy (or any number of other health issues), and the difficulty level in being a good, balanced parent grows exponentially.

I’m glad she had a great time.  I’m thankful she was safe.  I don’t know what the answer is, from one situation to the next–how vigilant to be without being obsessed and way overprotective.  There’s no precedent here for me, and I’m just doing the best I can in any situation we find ourselves in.  It was bittersweet to be reminded that she only wants what the rest of us want–to fit in and be a part of a good time and not be reminded of what weighs us down.

May we all have those precious moments.

Love to all.

img_1644

For more information about food allergies and research, go to http://www.foodallergy.org

 

 

What Prayer Can Be

Sunday evening at the end of Evening Prayer, a young man in our midst whom I respect and treasure very much offered to say the prayers for the night.  He asked if there were any prayer concerns.  Our Princess spoke up and looked over at me as if seeking approval for her request.  She shared about her upcoming piano recital and how nervous she was.  I realized this was important to her, but what really touched my heart is that she felt comfortable in this group of adults to share her innermost feelings.

A couple of minutes later Cooter raised his hand.  He shared that he had auditioned for a play and that he would be finding out about his part and beginning rehearsals the next day.  He too was nervous…..and very excited.

My heart was overwhelmed.

As the young man offered a heartfelt, beautiful prayer for illnesses and diagnoses and peace and healing, he also asked for calming of nerves and the ability to do what needed to be done to do a good job and feel comfortable playing the piano, standing on a stage.

Bless him.  His words were just right.

I will admit that I lifted my head just a little as our friend asked for peace for Cooter, who was sitting right in front of me.  What I saw was so precious it moved me to tears.  His countenance was turned to the sky and he was looking around, slowly, with a delighted look of anticipation.  And then it hit me.

He was looking for God.

Oh my heart.

Prayer can do beautiful things and open up eyes and hearts looking for God.

There’s a story that is being shared rampantly across social media.  The story of a daddy/daughter date at their local fast food restaurant.  While there, they saw a man come in whom the dad writing this assumed, based on appearance, was homeless.  The man went up to the counter and asked if they had any extra food.  He waited on a manager, and the man watching him noted his kindness and the way he smiled at folks around him.  When the manager came out, he offered a full meal, not just leftover scraps, to the hungry man who had asked for food, and the only thing he “required” was that the man let the manager pray with him.  The “homeless” man agreed, and the manager stopped what he was doing and prayed what was described as a beautiful prayer filled with love.  And at some point during this prayer, the daddy watching it all and writing about it snapped a photo of the hungry man and the manager.

At this writing, this has been shared over 109,000 times on social media.  People are praising this manager and this restaurant for their Christian ideals.

Oh me.

A hungry man was fed.  A good thing, right?

Hamburger_sandwich

Ericd at the English language Wikipedia [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

I don’t know if this man actually was homeless or not, because the person who wrote the about this didn’t share the man’s name or his story.  He didn’t mention asking about it.  The thing is I have friends who are homeless.  They have names like Mac and Rick and Donna and Travis and Roger and Tonya.  They have powerful and broken stories as to why they are without a home to find refuge in.  They have stories of how they have been treated and what they have had to do in the face of hunger.  They also have stories of kind people and people who have used them.  And that is why this story tears me up inside.

What they have had to do to get food when they are hungry breaks my heart.  That someone would require one of my friends to pray with them before getting food, not knowing how long it had been since he or she had last eaten…..that does more than break my heart; it makes me sick to my stomach.

In all fairness, I read some of the comments in the thread. I could hear how pleased folks were with what this manager had done.  I wondered if maybe I was missing something, so I wrote my wise friend and advocate for those in the margins, Hugh Hollowell from Love Wins Ministries in North Carolina.* What he had to share opened my eyes even more, and he put what I was struggling with into words.  Good words.

“The way to think about this is to replace ‘prayer’ with ‘whatever the helper wants to do.’  When seen that way, it is horribly offensive, and can be abusive. If Aub broke down, and asked for help, and some guy said he would give her a lift if she went out with him, that would be seen as creepy as hell. That is exactly the same scenario. Guy asks for help, the helper will only help if the recipient will do what makes the helper happy…..it is all about what the giver wants, and not at all about the recipient.”

My friends who are homeless will tell you they aren’t walking around with a lot of dignity.  Folks aren’t eager to hear their thoughts on much of anything.  They aren’t given the respect and consideration that other folks are given.

Think about it.  This man’s picture was taken.  It was shared OVER 109,000 times and, to my knowledge, no one asked his permission.  I’m not sure anyone bothered to ask his name.  Did anyone invite him to sit down and eat with them?  The man on the daddy/daughter date watched it all and took a picture of the actual prayer to put with his story.  While I don’t know what happened after the prayer was said, there is no mention of anyone reaching out to this man and taking the time to get to know him.  I sure hope it happened that way, but I have my doubts.

It makes me sick to my stomach that prayer was used as a bargaining tool for food.  A basic need.  I can’t even begin to imagine what I would do to get food for myself (let alone my children) if I were hungry and someone said, “Sure but first I require…..”  That this has been hailed as a beautiful Christian act makes me realize once again why my friend Mac once asked me, when he was trying to figure out why I was giving him a ride, “So what are you?  One of them…..Christians?”

That last word was said with disdain.  Since reading this story, my heart has been heavy wondering just what all has happened to my friend at the hand of well-intentioned Christians that has him saying the word in such a tone.

It’s not okay, y’all.

We are supposed to love.  Without conditions.  Or demands.  Or requirements.  Just love.

Or, in the face of hunger, feed.  That’s a form of love.  No tests, no hoops to jump through, no questionnaires.

Prayer can be a beautiful thing.  It is relational, something that makes it very holy to me.  What happened on Sunday night, when Cooter and our Princess were prayed for, that was sacred.  It was beautiful and it touched my children deep in their souls.  Our Princess hasn’t blinked an eye of worry over the recital and has practiced intently ever since that prayer was offered for her.  Cooter took it to heart and felt only anticipation and joy as Monday afternoon rolled around.

Prayer is beautiful.  Those prayers were heartfelt.  Because my children asked for them, specifically sharing their needs, in a room where they felt safe with people they felt connected to.  And the prayers were offered by a young man who knows their names and listens to their stories and has a relationship with them.

And that to me, makes all the difference in the world.  When prayer is asked for, and it is freely given, that is a beautiful, precious, and holy thing.

Tonight I’m thankful for the people in that room Sunday night who seek and build and nurture relationships and who try to love each other just as we were commanded to do.  I’m thankful for a young man with a giving heart, one that listens for the whispers of grace and talks to God with unfaltering trust and faith.  I give thanks for my friend Hugh and people like him who teach the rest of us about loving folks, all folks, and giving them the respect we all deserve and the love we all yearn for.  I am thankful for folks who ask others their names, hear their stories, and build community such that when one needs a friend or guidance or peace, they feel safe asking for what they need and for prayer.

Prayer can be a beautiful thing.  But it should never be currency.  Or required.  It should connect us, not separate.

Love to all.

 

**************************

*It is interesting that I went to Hugh for his input on this story.  It was Hugh’s writing about prayer that first stirred my heart years ago and led me to work through some hard questions I had about prayer.  If you’d like to learn more about or support his mission, please click here.  You can subscribe to his weekly newsletter about the pursuit of beauty here.

 

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

You Know You’re Loved When…..

Yesterday the littles and I were heading over to my Aunt’s for some cousin time and to circle the wagons.  As we traveled the familiar path, our Princess announced from the backseat, hairbrush in hand: “I just want my hair to look nice, and I’m worried that it doesn’t.”

Yes.  We are those people.  We keep a hairbrush in the car.  (Maybe even two) It has made me a better Mama to be honest.  Instead of losing it as we are trying to head out the door and realizing I need to send someone (HER usually) back to brush their hair and wait THAT MUCH LONGER to pull out of the driveway, we just get in the car and she (or you know, whoever) can deal with it there.

I looked in the rearview mirror and saw that she had actually already brushed it and pulled it into a side ponytail style of sorts.  It looked brushed, and really, that’s all I’m aiming for.

I was actually impressed.  This is the child whom my great Aunt W once looked at and commented, “She sure is pretty.  She’d be even prettier if you’d brush her hair.”

What could I say?  I was busted.  She was right.  Our girl has never been a fan of having her hair brushed.

So you can understand why I was VERY confused that my child was suddenly so concerned about the condition of her hair.

She was brushing it and looking quite serious.  “Do you want to know why I’m so worried about my hair?”

Well, ummm, YEAH.  “Sure.  I’d love to know.”

“Well I want Aunt to know how glad I am to see her.  See, I heard that if you show up just thrown together and everything, it will seem like you aren’t glad to be there and you don’t care about that person.  And I don’t want Aunt to think I don’t care.  So I want my hair to look nice.”

Well.

For the love.

I’m not sure where she acquired such information, and I do intend to ask her, only I keep forgetting in the busy-ness of our day to dailies, but I will.  I mean, it’s not a bad thing to do, putting yourself together because you care.  Still, I am curious as to where she might have come across information such as that…..the mind boggles.

Tonight I’m thankful for my Aunt, the one our Princess loves enough to brush her hair for. (And y’all know that’s some for real, no kidding love.) I’m thankful for Cousins and laughter and dancing in the rain.  For cups of coffee around a kitchen table and holding on to love and stories and the need to be together.  I wouldn’t trade anything for my time with my people, and that I can have that, I am eternally grateful.

May you all have someone so happy to be with you they’re willing to do just about anything to show it–even brushing their hair.

Love to all.

Brushes_(5351538413)

By Mr. Brian (Brushes) [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.