On Valentine’s Day this week, Cecilia cleaned her sneakers and I thought about love. Stay with me for a moment. The cleaning was not just a cursory wipe down, either, it involved spray bottles, hair dryers, and copious amounts of paper towels. She put in the time and effort. In short, she cared.
We often think of love as leading to care, but I think the opposite is just, if not more, true. Care can lead us to love.
The author Alison Gopnik writes about parenting and children: “This caring changes us, and deepens our love. We don’t care for children because we love them. We love them because we care for them.”
This sort of blew my mind and I’m not even sure if it is true, but even if it isn’t, it is a very useful fiction, because it encourages us to action, not to passively wait for the feeling. Be the verb first.
Too much to take from a shoe cleaning?
I had to bite my tongue this week. Ally is going to be a Broadway star. Or a pop star.
And I almost put on my rational Dad hat (ok, I rarely take that off) to tell her of course she would, but had she also considered accounting. Then I realized what a hypocrite I’d be. I’ve spent the entire lives encouraging them to dream big and they can be anything they want and now I’m going to hedge on that advice because the world is hard and I’m going to worry about them?
The world is hard. It will always be hard. And I will always worry about them.
I was going to be in the NBA. I was reasonable about my talents. I saw my self as a solid sixth man with slow feet but good shooting, but definitely in the league. If that didn’t work out my backup was professional Wiffle ball. Neither of those worked out. And that wasn’t a reflection on me. It was the industries. Pro Wiffle ball still had to mature as a sport. I tried. I failed. I tried something else.
Permission to try. And permission to fail. And supporting them either way. That’s my aim.
We are back from our West Coast vacation. We survived our one-day Disneyland whirlwind. It was a good age to take them.
I did my best to try to take it all in. That isn’t always easy for me. I like a to-do list. I like having a plan. I like feeling productive. Sometimes that drive comes at the cost of actually experiencing the thing I am so eager to check off my list. So I tried to say yes more this vacation and I tried not to get too tied up in the planning.
It wasn’t always easy. That water can be cold. Or the beach sand too… sandy. Or the thought of paying for another bowl of mac ‘n cheese too much. But I tried because (as just about everyone who hasn’t seen Cece in awhile comments on) they are growing older. Really fast.
So I tried to say yes while they are still asking and while I still can because one day soon they won’t ask Dad to jump in the hotel pool or body surf that wave with them.
They will probably still ask me for mac ‘n cheese however.
My girls really like arts and craft projects. Our basement (when we can limit it to the basement) is full of construction paper scraps, capless markers, crayons, play-doh, glue sticks and craft kits. I find glitter and beads in the strangest places. How did glitter get in the master bathroom shower? How?!
Once in awhile, typically when I don’t have the energy to open up the paints or face the prospect of a big cleanup, we will head out to a studio and let them do most of the work. Not the painting, decorating or other fun bits, but the set-up, clean up and generally messy parts. You know, the parts that get left to Mom or Dad. One of the girls’s favorite local places for projects is The Kids Place in nearby Needham.