Their World

imageLoving kids is so much more about them than it is about us. As a teacher, I used to think working with children was filling them up with all the things you wanted to them to know and planning their every activity. Then at some point, I realized it was just the opposite. You let them fill you up with the things they know. You observe them, join them in their world, and help them by understanding more about who they are.

When they’re your own children and grandchildren, you just breathe in their world. Every moment is precious; every conversation, a discovery process. What can you learn about this little being who is your very future? Whom did God entrust to your care? These are questions that will bring you to a place of awe and absolute joy, if you let them.

This week, I embarked on a series of adventures with two of the dearest imagegifts of my life: Stella and Malaya. Here they are with their mother Kelly selling soaps handcrafted from wine, honey, and kombucha for Soul Soap Works, Kelly’s new business.

My visit started with a couple of texts from Stella that read, “Can we go swimming? And can we go catch frogs?” (Sure, what grandmother doesn’t dream of frog hunting with her granddaughter!) So Stella and I spent three days at the nature center, slogging through ponds bursting with algae in search of frogs, tadpoles, salamanders, and even baby dragonflies and swallow tails.  We made a partial list of our discoveries on the center’s observation board.

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Along the way, I learned so much about Stella, and her amazing knowledge of the natural world. For example, did you know that baby dragonflies live in the water and shed their exoskeletons to sprout wings?

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In contrast, time with two-year-old Malaya was a of a gentler nature—with a series of dolly birthday parties. These emerged when Malaya offered me a ball of play dough saying, “Cake?” I added some birthday candles, and she went to get a couple of dolls to join us. We sang “Happy Birthday” and started the whole process over again several times.

Following the sweetness of their days was easy and relaxed. I got to know each of the girls on a deeper level by exploring their interests and letting them take the lead. Time spent in their world was a gift of joy for all. —Diana

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Have YOU been ghosted?

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Yesterday I turned on NPR in the middle of an intervew about “ghosting.” These millennials had been ghosted during a dating situation, which means to say, they’d texted a love interest and never heard back. Sound familiiar? A bell went off in my head and the clouds cleared. I’d actually been ghosted by my kids, as in,

“Love you!  Hope all is well!”

“Happy graduaton! Here’s a gift.”

“When are you coming home?”

“I’m dying, please call. (JK, JK…!)”

No sooner had the texts flown off into cyberland, did I recognize the slow fade of nothing back, EVER.

It can make you crazy.

The young woman on the show said she felt like a stalker after she heard nothing, but saw her love interest tweeting about umbrella drinks to everyone else. She began calling and leaving voicemails (The kiss of death! What millennial returns those?)

It felt good to have company. OK, I’m not so weird, even if the love interestes in my life are my kids (and grandkids who aren’t old enough to ghost me.) My husband’s stuck for the long haul. (He made that abundantly clear when he inserted “Until Death Do We Part” into our wedding vows.)

What about you? Have you ever been ghosted? I’d love to hear your stories.

—-Diana

The Tutu Fairy

It’s easy to get caught up in your own stuff. I was pretty caught up in mine tonight as I read Facebook and scanned email for a note from my son while I waited at the food carts in downtown Portland.  My son, who’s been mad at me for a year, missed both Mother’s Day and my birthday (a big one) but I notiiced he’d made a point of wishing another relative a belated happy birthday on Facebook. Lucky her, I guess. Not so lucky me.

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As the food cart owner handed me a bowl of fattoush, it crossed my mind to perch on the curb but I thought better of it. “Where’s a good place to sit?” I asked, since there weren’t any tables and chairs. The owner directed me down the block to a fountain shut off for lack of water where children used to play. Now people who are homeless hang out there in the early evening. I was good with that, but felt a little sad about no kids splashing in the fountain.

So I walked a couple of blocks up with my packaged salad and found a stone bench. Up above the empty fountain, some young men were lounging with backpacks and sleeping bags. I kept my distance, when along came a woman in a tutu and crop top (This IS Portland) pulling a wagon of water, cheese sticks and breakfast bars. “Donations Appreciated,” her sign said. I cringed and hugged my salad to myself feeling a little irritated that I couldn’t eat a salad and feel sorry for myself in peace. Of course she was going to come by and ask for a donation.

But she walked right on past me and called up to the homeless-looking crowd above the fountain. “Want some water? I have cheese sticks too.” Several men came down and took some food and water. She ignored me altogether, and eventually disappeared around the corner. I thought maybe I should I track her down. Not only was she feeding homeless people but she was fulfilling a big fantasy of mine: dressing like a fairy godmother. Although I have to admit that I’d never do the tutu thing. A tulle dress, maybe, but my body is way too much like a sack of potatoes for a tutu and crop top. I moved across the square to get away from a phone conversation full of F You’s and not very conducive to digestion. I was thinking I might have missed the tutued water fairy for good when she came around the corner again with her wagon. I opened my purse and took out all change I had (a whopping 4 dollars) and she told me anything would help more than I knew. After a young child also gave her a donation, she moved on. By then, I had totally forgotten my grief over a son who’d dissed me big time, and I became intent on getting her photo. So I chased her up the block and asked to take her picture. She agreed and there she was, saying she didn’t judge. She was just doing what she could. I wanted to hug her for pulling me out of the depths. She really was a fairy godmother to me tonight. And I’ll keep her in my prayers. Thank you, sweet tutued lady. Thank you and God bless you.