1. This picture makes something inside me leap with an old, childhood joy. While I feel lucky to be raising my girls in this beautiful desert within the United States of America, this particular moment makes me feel they could have just as easily come out of the tall, silent forests of the true north, strong and free.
2. Sophie and Winnie, helping me organize the studio. Feel free to visualize quotation marks around the word helping.
3. My Izzy--mostly sweet, a little wild.
4. I think I speak for everyone present when I say that is one utterly charming tattoo!
5. In the sage words of a dear little friend: Winnie is a good dog, a bad dog, and a nice dog.
6. The Tollipop Beetle Club continues to grow with two new members, a boy and girl, joining last week. Jess named her beetle Cleopatra the Coleoptera (taxonomy for beetle), while Nixon named his Crunch. And if that doesn't make you smile, I don't know what will.
7. Lunchtime (and first) rehearsal of a piece Izzy picked up three days earlier. She is learning with increasing speed and acumen these days, deciphering new musical passages with long invested, hard earned instinct. Also, that teenagers would choose to spend their school lunch hour thus engaged...pretty cool.
Dear reader, how are things? How is your December going? Are you having a legitimate winter? Are you enjoying hot chocolate? Do you have a moment to say hello?
I suspect I may do poorly at updating my blog for the next little while. I may fare better on Instagram, though my little brother informs me I don't pull my weight in that medium, either. If you are at all interested, my account there is ktollipop.
A few evenings ago my husband and I went out for dinner at a sushi place and found ourselves sitting up to the bar. Three high school aged boys were seated to my husband's left and it wasn't long before we struck up a conversation. When they mentioned their high school, I asked if they had attended the same middle school as my daughters did, (as that particular high school admits a large percentage of students from there). Two boys had, so I went out on a limb and asked if they had known Izzy during that time. I started to describe her but they instantly exploded with recognition, calling out her full name. One of them gestured to the heavens.
"She's a god on the violin!" he exclaimed.
When I saw there was such fervent recollection, I asked if I could take their picture and text it to Izzy so she could say hello. The look on their faces immediately turned to horror and they waved off the suggestion, protesting Izzy had no idea who they were.
It's kind of a funny story, but at the same time it left me a little sad. Just...sad for the way this world seems to work. I have a certain peace in knowing Izzy would have been delighted to say hello to those boys but the point is, in their minds it was impossible, the futility of connecting between imagined ranks a foregone conclusion.
Recently I was reminded how unkindness between children can create such strife for everyone involved. Parents agonize on behalf of their child, not wanting to create waves with other parents, yet feeling conflicted and helplessly protective all the same. I've waded through this experience several times myself and find it both maddening and painfully bewildering. I don't think I handled it especially well but to this day, I'm not sure I could have navigated better, or if anything could have been done to achieve a better outcome.
All I can say is...parents should place a premium on working with their children to develop attributes of kindness, warmth, and empathy. We should hang onto this pursuit with tenacity, we should go to bat for it, it should be an ongoing quest through the years.
I say this, of course, on behalf of children who are teased and bullied. But I say it perhaps with greater concern for children who fall into the trap of being the aggressor, who allow cruelty to hold sway in their hearts. I realize this is often (though not always) an extension of issues in the home, but either way such behavior carries its own set of consequences and the potential for years of regret down the road.
I'll stop here, as this can be a complicated, case-by-case issue and I lack the time and insight to treat it fairly. But it disheartens me when I see a child being mean to another child. It disheartens me when I see one person assume he is not on equal footing with another because of some warped social hierarchy. It makes me unhappy whenever the assumption is made one human being is of greater or lesser value than another.
It seems we could do much better than that.
I want to end with two quotes recently shared by women who read this blog. As I reflect on these words, I am filled with hope. I have confidence we really can do better. I feel greater understanding we are works in progress, meant to keep trying, and I can be stronger than my moments of loneliness, self doubt, or whatever keeps me down on any given day.
"Our job is to love others without stopping to inquire whether or not they are worthy. That is not our business and, in fact, it is nobody's business. What we are asked to do is to love, and this love itself will render both ourselves and our neighbors worthy if anything can."
"This Christmas, mend a quarrel. Seek out a forgotten friend. Dismiss suspicion and replace it with trust. Write a letter. Give a soft answer. Encourage youth. Manifest your loyalty in word and deed. Keep a promise. Forgo a grudge. Forgive an enemy. Apologize. Try to understand. Examine your demands on others. Think first of someone else. Be kind. Be gentle. Laugh a little more. Express your gratitude. Welcome a stranger. Gladden the heart of a child. Take pleasure in the beauty and wonder of the earth. Speak your love and then speak it again."
Howard W. Hunter