I came down hard on weaknesses in my last post. To counterbalance that heaviness, I want to put a plug in for the unique, sometimes quirky, personality traits that we all have. They resist change even as we age. There is comfort in knowing something about what to expect from a particular person.
I dug these four vignettes out of the Falco archives. These stories come from 2002:
Journey is TWO.
Journey only wears certain items of clothing. Although it is cold outside, Journey is currently choosing to wear only dresses, usually summer dresses. Her favorite is a sleeveless red and white striped cotton dress she refers to as “my Berne dress.” (Berne is Journey’s beloved Music Class teacher.) A couple of weeks ago, Journey learned a way that she could prolong the length of time she wears the dress. Any time it gets wet — which, when you are two, is often — it can go in the dryer. The warmth from the dryer is so appealing that Journey now gets the dress wet several times a day so that it can be warmed.
Journey still loves comfortable, soft clothes. No jeans for this girl. She craves comfort in other things as well. Discord in relationships worries and saddens her. Rest and a stress-free environment are more important to her than vigorous exercise and competition. Journey is a lover and a snuggler, and she is drawn to the warmth of the sun.
Skye is FIVE
Our church revived the tradition of a live nativity scene this year. K.J. and I played shepherds. Emily was one of the Host of Angels. Skye also asked to be an angel. However, she refused to rehearse the dance with the others on rehearsal days.
The production lasted for five days, three performances each evening. On the final day of performances, our entire family came to church. John and Journey were assigned the job of serving hot chocolate and goodies to performers and audience members after each show. Our director came up with the idea of allowing Skye to dress as an “Advent angel.” She could hand out programs and dance freely BEFORE the performance. That plan was somewhat successful for the first two shows. However, by show number three, Skye had studied the dances of the other angels and joined them behind the scenes. (John was inside the church with Journey. K.J. and I were standing “in the fields watching over our flock” when this happened.)
In our production, the Announcement Angel was to appear before the shepherds to herald the Good News. She was to dance while the Announcement was made and then to summon forth the Host of Angels to dance with her. During this third performance, however, while the Announcement Angel was dancing, Skye darted out of the bushes toward her. One of the other angels grabbed Skye around the neck and dragged her back. Again, Skye darted out and a different angel pulled her back into the bushes. Eventually, Skye escaped to the audience. A little later, the angels were lined-up on either side of the manger. Skye decided to join them, and fluttered over. She played peek-a-boo with Joseph and then fluttered away.
Conformity was never Skye’s thing. In fact, trying to conform to a misguided understanding of what she thought was required to be a popular teenage girl just about did her in. We can expect that when Skye returns from Texas, she will return NOT to being a conformist, but to expressing her unique take on the world. Some will find her challenging. Others will smile and applaud her courage.
K.J. is SIX
K.J. and his friend, Chase, were playing baseball in the backyard yesterday when Chase slammed a ball over the back fence. The boys came running in the house to tell me that they needed to go retrieve the ball. Did they know where to go? Oh, yes, they said. Just to make sure, I went over the directions with them:
“Go out the front door and turn right. Go to Pangborn Rd. Turn right. Go to the first road and turn right again. Walk down to the mustard-colored house that is behind ours. You should find your ball in that backyard. Are you sure you don’t want me to go with you?”
No. No, they replied. A few minutes later, Skye and I decided to put on our coats and follow them — just to make sure. We walked around the block, found the ball, and walked home, but we never encountered the boys. Where could they be?
To make a longer story shorter – we found them down the street directly in front of our house. That is, they had gone out the front door, crossed the street and headed in the opposite direction of the lost ball! When we found them, they excitedly exclaimed, “We’ve been behind every house on this street and we still can’t find the ball!”
K.J. needs direction in many things that seem commonsense to others. He always has. He probably always will. It isn’t that he is unwilling – especially if directions are provided. But even giving directions doesn’t necessarily guarantee the result you might expect from someone else. My prediction is that K.J. will eventually surround himself with people who keep him organized and moving forward. He will provide those others with steadfast love and friendship because that is what he does so well.
Emily is EIGHT
I bought a series of picture books about great women in American history for the children this Christmas. Emily and I were reading the one about Rosa Parks. She read a page and then I read a page. Toward the end, I was choking-up, and Emily studied my face.
“Why are you crying, Mama?”
“Because it makes me cry when people do courageous and important things. I hope I can do something important someday. But it probably won’t be as important as the things these women have done.”
Emily looked at me and said, “I think you are important, Mama.”
I was recently asked how Emily was managing the transition to college. As I responded, I thought of some of the stories I’d heard about less-than-stellar transitions with some of her more academically gifted peers. I said, “College is hard, but she has a positive attitude and she’s doing well.”
School, in general, has always been hard for Emily. But her sense of what is important, e.g. getting an education, keeps her on track. For the most part, she understands her limitations, and she works proactively to get the help she needs. But when it comes to appreciating the people around her, the people who make her life what it is, Emily has no limitations.
P.S. I just read these historic stories to Becton. He asked, “Where’s my story?”
“You weren’t born yet.”
Becton replied, “I am a child of this family too. What’s wrong with you, woman?”
I don’t even know where to begin!