Today I volunteered at Kaio's school helping with a kindergarten art activity. As the teacher's aid explained the task to me I couldn't imagine the kids actually doing it. She wanted the kids to draw symbols on a paper bag vest and write the words for the symbols below. This was to teach them that Indians wrote using pictures instead of alphabet. She had a poster with about thirty symbols to choose from, like a teepee, a tree, a girl, a boy, etc. The task seemed really complicated to me because the kids would have to look at the picture and copy it, along with spelling a word.
I asked, "But what if the kids don't want to draw that and they start drawing something else?"
"Oh they wont do that. This is the task and it's not free draw what you want time, they need to draw these symbols only. They'll do it."
She seemed confident the kids had been trained to follow directions.
In came five kids, including Kaio, to work with me on this task. I was imagining total anarchy breaking loose. Kids scribbling all over the page and not understanding the task. My expectations were pretty low you could say.
Kaio walked in with a smile bright as the sunshine, beaming all over his little face. He sat right next to me, petting my arm, feeling my hand as if I was barely real. As if I might be an illusion. As if I was his sweet long lost love.
Kaio whispered and chatted instead of looking at the teacher while she explained the task... I braced for needing to repeat the instructions all over again. I worried about how I'd help five kids all at once.
But, then he proceeded to complete the task exactly as she had instructed. It blew me away. At home, he would never do anything of the sort. At home, he draws what he wants when he wants, don't even waste your breath asking him to do a worksheet or draw something specific. It would just result in a backlash of, "No! you do it."
I had no idea he could write words other than "Spiderman, and Lego". I had no idea he could follow directions without continual prompting. I had no idea he was even paying attention when people talked around him.
So seeing him siting peacefully in the chair, keeping on task, just knocked my socks off.
Then he asked if he could add a door to the teepee. The teacher had left the room so I said, "ok." Then he added a tongue to the snake. Then, in the very last line on the vest - the last spot for a symbol, he drew something that wasn't one of the 'approved images.'
He didn't ask for permission this time. I could see it was too late for that. The creativity inside him begged to escape. The ideas flowing through his head, visions bursting through the little muscles of his hand, pleading to bleed onto that paper vest. He'd proven he could complete the task, he'd repressed the desire to cover the vest with symbols for ninjas, monster trucks and angry birds. Now, at the bottom of the back of the vest, cleverly shaded and camouflaged by the perfectly conformist copies of teacher produced symbols, in a subtle act of creative defiance, he drew a simple stick figure dog. And under it wrote the word, "DOG"
This time of year always gets a little crazy. I either find lots more time to write, or none at all. The last couple weeks I've made no time to write. And really, that's uplifting. Because writing's a type of therapy for me and so if I'm not doing it, it's because I don't need the therapy.
I've stepped into a mellow phase in life. Not that there aren't 100 things to do. I still have a to-do list a page long, written on the back of an envelope, next to the computer. Every day I cross a couple things off and add 5 more.
I still get out and have fun, see the kids acting incredibly cute and want to burn the moments into eternity. But, it seems less important now that they're older. Maybe that's dangerously deceiving and I should be writing these things down. Like the time when Nala discovered her elbow, or when I heard the greatest sound ever, or when I learned how dumb I am, or when the kids had their first tiff. Are the moments of today any less important? Nala stuck a role of Scotch tape to the tip of my nose and it hung there. Then she balanced two pens and a scissors inside the roll. I volunteered at Kaio's art class and he looked over his shoulder brightly beaming at me the whole time, then made this self portrait:
A couple days ago I walked into the bathroom and it looked like this:
You see Kaio and Mari were out of town for a week. They flew down to Brazil for a good friend's wedding. That whole week the house felt so quiet. Nala's such an easy kid, she'll entertain herself for hours without asking for anything. By the end of the week the house was clean, so clean and organized. Just us girls we got through the piles of clothes to be put away and kept the toys off the floor and the rooms tidy.
Then the boys come home and within an hour toys are dumped all over the floor, suitcases sprawled and clothing piled. I still haven't gotten it all picked up. In no time Kaio was leaping down the stairs, four stairs at a time. The yang energy back in full force.
The quiet lunch time that Nala and I usually share, ripped into by a hippidy hoppidy kiddo full of bounce and ideas. He wanted to bob for apples. This is the kind of request that would make me annoyed. But because I hadn't seen him in a week, it sounded fun and refreshing. I'll try to remember that on a daily basis. Remember that although these off the wall schemes he comes up with seem like a nuisance, they are the thumping of the heartbeat that keeps our family thriving with life.
Then he dressed up in a spiderman suit and climbed a tree.
Nala dressed as Rainbow Dash, her favorite My Little Pony. She was always on the move, jolting from one spot to another.
My costume sucked but whatever. I'm always looking for an excuse to dress up. The day I stop dressing up on Halloween will be the day my inner child turns to ice. I hope that day never comes.
There was a sign saying "No Adults Can Bounce" so I had to just sit there and watch them. It sure looked like fun :(.
When you're a teenager you feel like you own the world, like you can bend light with your mind and change a city from the ground up. You get older and wiser and realize that you can't do much about anything without exhausting way more effort than it's worth. And the idealism melts into a something payment, signed away with indifference and learned helplessness. Then we nod at the news and weather and find our joy in the smiles of the younger generation, in their sparkle, their naivety and wonder.
In case you wanted to see a jack-o-lantern massacre
Ack. that sounds so depressing. I'm not depressed, just mellow, contemplative, reflective. I love my life right now. Love my kids and man. Could just kiss them endlessly.
And so as 2012 comes almost to a close. To my pleasant surprise, the world has not ended yet. Looks like the human race might survive. As the kids are older, diapers are away in the closet. I don't have to worry so much about watching their every move, making sure they're not holding a knife or running with a glass jar. We can spend more time focusing on what we like to do, and on little projects.
And time passes slowly again. And we savor every minute with great gratitude.
and I just love this family with big kisses all over.