Tuesday, March 19, 2013

We Looked and Looked.

Kids in the car at 3 am. 
A fill-up and the Harlem Shake at 3:15am. 

That's just how we roll when we feel happy. 

I know every one says that west Texas is a boring wasteland, but we were fascinated by all the space. You could look and look and still see horizon in all directions. As the sun broke over the eastern rim, the landscape began to separate and roughen. The colors turned into muted gray versions of green and pink and blue. We looked and looked. 

We crossed over into New Mexico where the earth turned red and craggy and the sky dazzled.  We looked and looked thinking that we had already seen more than we could imagine possible in 5 hours of driving. 

We took the scenic route into Santa Fe, and wedged between tall hills were hidden adobe homes, scrub and rocks. We looked and looked. 

Suddenly, snow and pine trees. Out of NOWHERE. We kept having to roll down the windows because we were fogging them up with our looking. 

Then the two most recent landscapes merged, and we were back in the dust and scrub, but were looking at snowy mountains.  All the space my Texas born heart could desire but with mountains crowning the edges of it and my soul grew. 

We went to bed that night, tired and eyes-full and even when I closed them to sleep the landscape stayed with me. I know why artists live there. The colors and shapes burn themselves into your retinas and you can't help but want to echo back a grateful response. 

"And if I were a painter I do not know which I'd paint 
The calling of the ancient stars or assembling of the saints 
And there's so much beauty around us for just two eyes to see 
But everywhere I go I'm looking"  
-Rich Mullins

Tuesday, March 05, 2013

Raising Children.

When I found out that Van Cliburn died, I was sad. My dad was out of town, but when he got home, I asked him about it. As it turns out, Dad had known him from 2-11th grade. His cousin  "ran with the crowd Van was in" more during high school, but they were friends. He said he played with him after school, but only for 30 minutes because he had to go in and practice after that. I asked dad if he ever complained about having to practice. "No. Nope, not ever."

This gives me comfort. 

Van Cliburn was a single minded man. And apparently, a single minded child.

My daughter is fairly that way.  She may not be the Van Cliburn of the dance world, but oh, she loves to dance. She is not the best in her group, not the most perfect, but she rarely stops. She does situps on Sundays for crying out loud. I push her to be better, but I also back way off if I can tell that it's overwhelming her. The son is slightly more versatile in his interests, but is serious about film making. He asks me for feedback and I give it. Sometimes it's harsh. Sometimes it's 100% cheerleading.

Sometimes corrections by teachers feel too severe. It's hard to comfort a child who is being challenged to be better at something. Really, how do we do that? Stop the correction they are getting in their lives? Heaven forbid! But it's tough on them. I want to comfort them, want to make their ache and mine on their behalf go away. I have to consider very carefully the balance between respecting authority and comforting internal wounds.

Every day I question our parenting. Every day. Are we doing too much? Am I one of "those parents?" Are we doing too little? Is one getting more support than the other? I start to sweat, thinking about how I have the potential to "wreck" these lives, but then I remember, who better than us? Who could love them and know them more than us? As long as I am checking on their emotional and physical health each day, and reflecting on their response to what has been said and done, I think things will be ok. If the kids are not doing well and are unhappy, then we will change the schedule, shift the focus, push less/more, cheerlead less/more.
 I've seen enough children grow up to know that there is no way to 100% predict what the adult will be. Really, if they grow up to be thoughtful and polite, I feel that's no small accomplishment. For today, the kids are alright. As far as tomorrow goes, who can tell? We just keep moving forward.