Thursday, January 22, 2009

special is as special does

Sometimes I struggle a bit (maybe that means over-think) with the way we've chosen to live and Be. Different from most of society, I mean.
There's a subtlety that rests (and stirs) at the heart of it - that if you choose to bring and recognize Magic in your life Every Day -and sometimes every moment- then you have a life full of said Magic, and there's nothing left that's sacred or special.
Because it's all invited. The Extraordinary is invited to live and celebrate in the Ordinary.
Tea parties with fresh coffee cakes (and real sugar cubes and honey for tea) on a plain ol' Thursday afternoon, painting whenever and wherever one chooses, playdough at any time, not just once in a while when Mama can take the mess, games, computer games, cartoons, butterfly chases, water balloons, visits to museums, warm cookies..... it's all invited to live in our everyday days.

My problem -question- is the same as has always been asked, I guess: If every thing and every one is special, then can Special really exist?
And is there anything left to embrace as special or sacred?

It's a question of philosophy, I s'pose.
Am I alright with my children taking for granted their lives?
Cartoons any day of the week- not just on Saturday mornings? Candy on the counter? Free computer play? Pancakes or waffles with berries with freshly whipped cream whenever they request it?
Yesterday we played a math game with gumballs. Trev had asked if we could buy a big thing of gumballs when next we went to the store. "We have gumballs," I responded. "No we don't." "Yes we do." I knew full well he didn't know we had them - or we wouldn't have had them. The boy loves gumballs. Will eat three pounds in one day. I suffer a bit with this one. "No, we don't." He started to question mine and his convictions, and wondered if it's really possible that we indeed had some hiding somewhere. (Hiding in plain sight, they were.)
"Then where are they?" he asks with suspicion.
"Right up there..." I nodded to the shelf above the counter.
I handed him a few, and asked him if he wanted to play a numbers game with gumballs. He did.
So we got out the dice, and sat at the livingroom table playing - losing and gaining gumballs.

The question ran through my head later if I was manipulating my child. Was I using his love for gumballs to get him to practice addition and subtraction skills? Would this push him further away from wanting to learn, explore, and understand numbers, just for the joy of understanding?
I fretted for a while. One thing I've learned in this parenting thing, is you can infallibly find the answer you're seeking... If You Just Ask.
So I did.
As usual, I got around to the question slowly, so's not to encourage him to say what he thought I wanted to hear.
"Trev.... what are your very favorite things to do?"
"I like nature walks, and I like bike rides."
"What else?"
"That's it. That's all I like to do." I chuckle at this, because at the moment we have the worst air in the country, and playing and running outside is just not a good idea, and we've been inside, much to his disappointment. (We live in a high valley, and the polluted air gets locked in due to air pressure. We're expecting it to storm today, thank goodness, it will clear us out. And we'll be playing outside. Even in the rain.)
"Nothing else?"
"Nope. That's it, Mom."
"Well what about cartoons?"
"Oh yeah. I like cartoon network, and nature walks, and bike riding."
"And the computer?"
"Yeah. And my computer games."
"Well what about our science experiments we do, do you ever like those, or do you not like to do them?"
"Yeah, I love our chemistry experiments!"
"Anything else?"
"Okay, Mom. Here's my list. I like nature walks, and bike riding, and chemistry experiments, and having friends over, and playing at friends houses, and cartoon network, and the games we play..."
"What games?"
"The games that we make up."
"What games are those?"
"You know. Like the one we played today. With the gumballs."
"Oh... (looks down) You liked that game?"
"Yeah, Mom, it was great."
Suspiciously, now, "You liked the game, or you just liked the gumballs?"
"I liked playing the game. It was fun."
"Well, would you like to play it again? With sour patch kids, or something?" (This is the true test, because we often have sour patch kids in the house, and he has free access to them.)
"Yeah. That'd be fun."

Imagine that.

So we arrive to a place where I can say "It may not be special, but there is still the Joy of the thing."
And I'm okay with that.
It's related to my taking freedom and liberty for granted. I ask myself if my forefathers would want me to pine away with gratitude for them daily, or if they'd like for freedom and liberty to be such an intrinsic part of my life that it be the foundation of my every thought and breath. I believe they'd choose the latter. It's bigger, it's a much different experience from their own, and in that lies true Liberty.
'Tis the same for me, and my children.
I'd like for Magic and Happiness and Joy to be such a part of their lives that they know no other way. Sure, I'll get irritated when I ask Little Son to pick something up and in a grump he wails "Clean, clean, clean, that's all I ever do! All you do is make me clean!" and I may grit my teeth and be tempted to shout point out the Joy he is offered almost Every Blessed Minute Of His Life.

But when all is said and done, we are in pursuit of Happiness.
Truth and Peace in the Spirit, Wellness in the Emotions, Joy and Laughter in the Heart, and Curiosity in the Mind.

And that's special enough for me.


Bella said...

You're right that although many of us work hard to make a 'special' and 'magical' homelife for our families, they don't realise it as they go through each day. It IS special though and it is special to us, those who know what the alternatives could be and what we are giving our children instead. Each day we are making memories for ourselves and our children and just as you can stand back and see the wonder of your freedom and liberty, won for you so long ago, so your children will reach the point in their lives where they will realise the magic of their upbringing. Let it be special for you now knowing that as adults they will look back in recognition of a special childhood.

carri said...

Holey moley!! Well said Stephanie!

Aubrey said...

i appreciate your post.
i find that my kids and i often have different ideas on what is deemed "special."
i don't think that they (maddie and trev) will ever take loving, wonderful parents such as you and eric for granted. i believe they will look back at their childhood very fondly.

i just read what i wrote and i doesn't make much sense, but the message i am trying to convey is, you are great.

Maria Rose said...

What a thoughtful post!

Crunchy Christian Mom said...

I loved this post! I can totally relate... especially to the "clean, clean, clean, that's all I ever do!" Uh, whaa?? LOL.