Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Goalposts and Milestones

Our two beautiful children give us constant blessings—laughter, love, delight, deepening of emotion, growth of our souls…we are so lucky.

I’ve written a lot lately about wanting to slow down. I’ve reposted the article about the Race to Nowhere in Youth Sports elsewhere. I’m constantly—daily—looking for ways to streamline our lives so we have free time. In other words, I DO NOT want to be so busy we’re chasing our tails all day.

What DO I want? That’s the real question. I need to answer that one to make any effective changes.

I’m starting to get glimpses of it now, though.

One glimpse…
We have the best times at dinner—our family jokes and debates and flights of imaginations are so precious to me. I think of them as my paychecks. I want this for my family.

And then this glimpse…
Recently, S. has fallen in love with shopping at her school store, buying a vast assortment of mechanical pencils, novelty erasers, and other miscellanea that only grade school kids appreciate. Every once in a while, her brother will get big eyes when she displays her goods. And then, in the next day or two, she’ll come home with another one of the admired item, just for him.

Even more recently, Little A. discovered he could buy sports drinks at tae kwon do. The first day, he carefully counted out some money from his allowance. I watched him do it all by himself, smiling at his independence. Then, as I helped him make the purchase after class, I realized he had brought enough money for two drinks—he let his sister pick her favorite flavor and then bought it for her.

I want this for my family.

They did this all on their own. No one hinted or suggested or nudged them. I’ve always said that my most important parenting skill is staying out of their way so they can do their thing. And look what they do in that space.

And especially this glimpse…
S., like all of us here in our house, struggles with perfectionism. She’s always gotten a little down when she, in her mind, makes a mistake. And absolute tasks, like playing piano, have black and white results—you play the right note or you don’t. So difficult piano lessons have always been…difficult for her.

S. had tackled her piano practice last week with gusto, working on complex new pieces (including a duet) and learning an extra piece by ear. So I listened in a bit when she had her lesson last night. And I heard lots of corrections but also lots of laughter.

This morning, when her dad asked how it went, she made my heart sing. She said, “It was great! Ms. Debbie showed me lots of things I was doing wrong and it sounds so much better!”

I want that for my family.

Meals full of shared words, ideas, and laughter. Spontaneous, joyful giving and receiving. Delight in learning and creating. Resilience.

I’m starting to learn what I do want for my family. And with my eyes on that prize, giving up the race to nowhere suddenly feels ridiculously easy.

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