Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Self Centered

When I walked in to the the apartment, I was surprised by the grocery bag with box stuffing, canned cranberry sauce, and a roasting pan for a turkey sitting beside the door.  I thought to myself "huh - I didn't know they did turkey on Thanksgiving" and for a split second I thought that the mom had just come in from shopping and laid her things down by the door.  Then I realized that here was a care package delivered by some charitable organization to families in need during the holidays.  I also realized that all the things still in the bag were probably going right back out the door to someone else who would use them.  Not everyone cooks a turkey, likes turkey, or needs a turkey.  It was the first time I had considered all of those holiday dinner care packages in this way, and realized how much we don't know, or don't ask, about who we are helping to feed. 

I'm noticing this year that while people have their hearts in the right place, we are a very very self centered country when it comes to "our" holidays.  This morning at the grocery store, the cashier behind me asked the little boy if he was ready for Santa.  "Have you been good?"  Of course he's been good - he's barely 2!  What could he possibly do that would deem him "bad enough" for Santa to ignore him?  Then she went on about Santa not coming if he was a bad boy and such.  Good lord.  Maybe he doesn't celebrate Christmas.  Maybe his family has never talked about Santa. And maybe his family feel that all children are "good" regardless of the imminent visit from St. Nick.  I'm glad we weren't the ones in that line, since I'm not really sure how that conversation would have gone. 

Assumptions.  It's just that we assume that everyone is just like us.  And the reality is that they are not.  We live in an amazing multicultural world, and my area in particular has a huge variety of people from every country imaginable.  Each family has wonderful, varied traditions, dishes, customs, ideas, and holidays.  What if... instead of assuming, we all asked.  What if, we said "what is your family's favorite holiday?"  What if we asked what they do to celebrate?   What if we asked what they most need or want to help their celebration?  What if we cared to know?

Saturday, December 3, 2011


There are moments as a parent when you are in a weird kind of twilight zone.  You are acting and speaking, and at the same time, listening to yourself with disbelief at the things that are currently coming out of your mouth and at the actions happening, but seemingly unable to stop the train.  Recently, I was having a whole inner dialogue with myself (mostly consisting of "really? you really just said that?  seriously?") as I was getting more and more amped up about something the kids were doing.  As I extricated myself not so gracefully from the situation, I thought of this post with a much more eloquent inner dialogue than mine that reminded me that my job is to teach rather than to expect.  We are all doing our best and there is no need to be perfect.  We can always start again. 

Friday, December 2, 2011


Sitting outside today at playgroup with some moms from HMN, one commented that sometimes the hardest part is just to get out of their way.  The kids, she meant.  Once they started rolling with their imagination and creativity, there was a house and family on top of the playground collecting sticks, mulch, ice, and who knows what else for their dinner.  A lot of cake making was happening inthe sandbox.  Pushing, pulling, riding, digging, collecting, feeling, talking, directing, negotiating, assisting, all led by them.  I watched in wonder as my lately quiet and shy girl set out the scene and directed the players.  I loved my little one working hard to follow the rules laid out for him a nd trying to pull his weight.  Parenting well seems like less work.  It's allowing them to work it all out and deal with the messiness that is scary I think, so we get too involved and take too much responsibility for what is not our to take.  A lesson that gets repeated whenever we need it so it seems.