Thursday, September 22, 2011

09.22.2011 -- Wisdom is as Wisdom Does

This picture was taken on the way home from Lake Powell.
We stopped here with friends to eat and to break up the drive. Good times.

Part of the nighttime routine in our house is reading to the kids. They love it, we love it. Everyone's happy.

One of the things I like about it most is the conversations that arise when we get to a word that the kids aren't familiar with. These past few nights, Lucy and I have talked about wisdom. After trying a couple of different approaches, I explained wisdom this way: being smart about how you act.

"For example," I said, "What if you had a friend and were walking to school, and your friend wanted to walk with someone who you didn't want to walk with, and YOU wanted to walk with someone SHE didn't want to walk with?" (To my knowledge, this scenario hasn't played out, but it's right in line with some of the problems that color Lucy's life as a first grader.)

"You could ask anyone what two plus two is, and they could tell you the right answer, but it takes wisdom to figure out how to act when things get tricky."

There have been a couple of things that I've been thinking about lately that might qualify as wisdom.

The first is: the wisdom of casseroles. You might laugh, but it became very clear to me a couple of nights ago when I had chicken burning on the grill, a baby who urgently wanted/needed to be held/changed/fed, a two-year-old who wanted to be read to, and a daughter who needed help with her homework. The kids needed attention, the chicken needed attention, the sauteeing and steaming vegetables needed attention, and I was also trying to get the house cleaned up by telling my kids what to do. You can imagine, maybe, the level of peaceful bliss in the house which enveloped my sweet husband when he walked in the door.

Now, If I'd had a casserole going, the veggies would've been happily nestled next to the chicken, in no danger of getting either burned or overcooked, and ready to serve in the next 5 minutes or the next two hours. It would've been either in the oven or on the table--either way, it wouldn't have mattered because it would have been hot but not burned--and my hands and attention would have been freed to manage everything else.

That was my aha moment. I literally thought, "So this is why casseroles are a staple for moms with small children!" You may be wondering why it took me so long to figure that out. And in response, well... I got nothin'.

My next bit of wisdom is even less impressive: Parks are good.

After Lucy got off to school this morning, I took the boys to a local park. While I watched them play (and played along with them), I started to reflect of the difference between myself as a mother of one, and myself as a mother of three. When Lucy was tiny, I took her on a lot of hikes and a lot of walks. I just loaded her into a frontpack or backpack and took off.

Aside from one memory of her pointing to an especially lovely vista and saying "beautiful day" when she seemed way too young, I'm not sure how she would describe those hikes, but for me, it was wonderful. Wonderful, at least, until it wasn't.

She eventually got tired of riding and wanted to participate more actively. At that point, I would head out to a trail full of hope that I would get some miles in, and Lucy would insist on walking herself. I went from being able to go several miles in a morning to going maybe fifty yards.

So this morning, I found myself enjoying the low expectations of the park and the resultant good vibes. Kids get enough carrot or stick motivation in life, a park is a genius way to let them play as hard or as quietly as they wish.

If you take a child on a hike, poor time management can bite you in the backside. I know, because I has happened to me. In a quest for more time on the trail, I have endured more than one trip down with an exhausted, unhappy child. Contrast that with a park where you go, you play. You play as hard as you want and if you misjudge what ought to be the middle of your session, no one suffers! Genius.

I will still take my kids hiking with me. But, for now, at least--we will be going to more parks than trails.

Tayler news: Charlie has taken a total of three steps so far while I've been watching. He is very competent climbing stairs, but hasn't learned to go down more than one safely. He would not calm down last night until I let him pound on the keyboard (of this computer). He still hasnt cut any teeth, which is pretty new to us. Love that boy.