It’s been a busy week, and just about every night I slip into bed at 10:30 with the laptop hoping to finish a thought. The mind and the body are often at odds, and when the clock inches up to 10:40, the body loses. My eyes send all neurotransmissions to voicemail and close themselves.
I believe in the sanctity of a good habit, so I’m submitting a couple late night, unfinished thoughts in order to remember the week when I did everything half way.
I. Sound Bites
I’ll be the first to admit there is nothing more savory than a juicy principle. I love principles. I love it when they’re just slightly underdone and bleed a little when you slice into them. I used to make my sister sing worship music on the way to school. It was great when she did whatever I told her to. It also felt wonderful to give all my clothes to the Goodwill in Tallahassee so that I could tell everyone that I gave all my clothes away in order to take the family rocking chair with us to Alaska.
Principles are also very convenient when no one is listening. You can tweet a principle. You can squeeze a prickly little absolutism into a conversation easier than an explanation and people know where you stand. But, I had to spend money we didn’t really have on clothes I shouldn’t have really needed because “I gave up all my clothes for a rocking chair” makes a better sound bite than “I unpacked the big box of clothes and kept the things I would need, repacking them into a smaller box that would fit between the mixer and acoustic guitar.” I think we have to be careful not to confuse where we stand with where we want to go. It’s hard to move forward when we insist on standing in one place.
II. I Am Afraid of Preschoolers
One day during November of 2010, a nice woman asked Aaron and me if we could lead music for the church’s vacation bible school in August 2011. I have a sometimes problematic habit of saying “yes” to everything that’s over six months away. We’re having fun, though a cluster of five-year-olds kept staring at me during “Lord, I Lift Your Name on High” when I too loudly tried to hit the high notes. I’m not sure they know yet that you can actually do something, like lead music, and not really be able to do it.
For a long time, the worst I could do as a parent was not dress Clara in enough layers for a trip to a heavily air-conditioned grocery store. Now, I find that if she whines excessively, some onlookers offer, “She’s tired, right? I’m sure she’s a good girl. You’re probably doing just fine.” Already I feel a storm of motherly defensiveness brewing that I try to subdue with public displays of vulnerability. For response, it’s either a “darn right, she’s a good girl” or a “I never thought this would be so hard.”
There are some seriously unwieldy kids out there, and sometimes I fear that I might become a mom who is too afraid of upsetting her children to properly parent. Today at Bible school, I asked a four-year-old to come sit with his group and he said, “I will eat you” and started snapping his teeth at my nose. I asked another girl to stop playing with the jingle bells and she starts to tremor in fear and bang her head against the pew.
There’s a nice line in East of Eden. Lee tells Abra, now that she knows she isn’t perfect, she can be good. I think sometimes people try to be perfect because they don’t yet know how to be good. . . .
Clara, laughing with her friend Carmen
Aaron, leading the VBSers in some music