On a week when I am at away at a practice retreat, I asked Lindsey Mead of A Design So Vast to write this guest post. She offers her own practice reminder and weather forecast. If you’re in Boston, it looks like you’ll just have to get wet!
I never understood the saying, Our kids are our teachers. Actually, I’d go further. I rolled my eyes whenever I heard it. I thought it was one of those trite adages like another one that I love to hate, It is what it is.
Then one day last fall, the universe hit me over the head with the truth of that statement. Grace, Whit and I were walking to the playground in Harvard Square. Grace was in the middle of a long-winded story when I glimpsed a friend standing by the gate of the playground. She waved at me and shouted hello. “Hi! So glad to see you!” I responded, waving enthusiastically. When I dropped my hand to recapture Grace’s I found that she had crossed her arms angrily across her chest. She’d planted her feet in a classic I am NOT happy stance, stubbornly remaining behind as Whit and I kept walking. I turned back to her. “Gracie, what’s up?” She shook her head, screwed up her eyes, and I saw tears rolling down her cheeks. I dropped Whit’s hand to hurry back to her, crouching down in front of her.
“Well, sometimes, when you see an adult and you are excited to see them you stop listening to me. Sometimes I feel like you are not paying attention to me. And you always tell me interrupting is wrong. But then…” she hesitated, “then you do it yourself sometimes?” Her voice wavered and I could tell she was not sure if what she was saying would get her in trouble. I wrapped her in a huge hug as I realized the wisdom of her words. I whispered that she was right, that I needed to be more careful, that she was a thousand times right and thank you for reminding me.
The ways that Whit teaches me are somewhat different, though the lesson is always the same. Mostly he makes me laugh, which is in its own way a tug back to the reality of my life. One morning as we sat at school waiting for the classrooms to open, I had Grace on one side of me and Whit on the other. Absently, I said, “What do you guys want to talk about?”
“Let’s talk about our feelings,” Whit said firmly.
I was impressed. My little sensitive soul. Moments later he was vigorously kicking my sneaker with his boot.
“Whit! What are you doing?” I asked him.
“What do you feel, Mummy? Do you feel pain?”
Ah. Those feelings are the ones he wanted to talk about.
Occasionally, though, he blindsides me with tremendous wisdom. A week or so ago Whit and I took Grace to camp to drop her off. I went in with her and Whit stood outside, uncharacteristically pensive. When I came out I took his hand and we headed back to the car. As we walked, he said to me, “Mummy, it looks like it is going to rain.” I was distracted, as usual, and murmured, “yeah, yeah.” The sun was shining and I wanted to get him to his camp. He yanked my arm, stood stock-still, pointed at the clouds, and said, “Mummy! It really looks like rain. Look at those clouds.” I looked up, annoyed to be hesitating for this long moment. “Do you see, Mummy?” he asked me insistently. I hurried him to the car.
Fifteen minutes later it was pouring. Not only was he accurate about the rain, he was accurate about the clouds – the ones that blind me to the truth in every moment. It is what it is.