Friday, May 25, 2012

I was finally star struck.

Flying with a school group from Detroit to D.C. for the 1993 Inaugural Festival, we were waiting to board when my dad realized something amazing was happening.  He says, “Emily, do you see who is next to us?” 

I looked over his shoulder and replied, “An old, black man is talking to our choir director.” 

He says, “Look again.” 

I looked again and corrected myself, “An old, blind, black man is visiting with our choir director.” 

After being redirected one more time, it finally hit home that Ray Charles was sitting next to my dad, waiting for the same flight.  As everyone around us went a little nuts and started interrupting Mr. Charles to get pictures, I thought, “Eh, leave the man alone, he just wants to catch his flight.”  I noticed that he had a Braille book in front of him, and even as he looked up and smiled for pictures, he continued reading.  I just refused to give in to the temptation to disrupt his peace and soak up his celebrity.

I had a similar reaction when my roommate, an active college Democrat, was short on volunteers for a presidential visit and begged me to drive for the motorcade.  I turned her down because I had too much homework, and she convinced me that you spend most of the day waiting in the car; I could get a lot done.  I ended up having quite a madcap adventure that day, including getting firm with police and secret service who weren’t convinced that the dirty, blue Olds they had assigned me, really belonged in the motorcade.  It all ended with a brief moment of being face-to-face with Bill Clinton, while we waited for the photographer to set the flash.  I was, again, so nonchalant about meeting the president that I’m not sure I really grasped the moment, even as I grasped the hand of the leader of the free world.  I passed my souvenir photo on to my mom on my next visit and haven’t seen it since.  Last night I lived to regret it.

Despite a very busy week, we decided to take all three kids to see President Obama out at the Iowa State Fairgrounds.  We knew from past political rallies that POTUS is never on time, so we ignored the advice of the organizers who suggested getting there at 3:30pm, and instead didn’t head out until 6, stopping on the way to drive through A&W and eating our spoils in the parking lot before going in.  We cruised right through security with the small band of latecomers and realized as we were ushered into an amphitheater with only a hundred or so other people that we had blown it – we were in the overflow and would only get to hear a piped-in version of the presidents’ speech.  One of the volunteers explained that, if we were very lucky, the president would stop by after his speech and say a word or two before heading out; we should get comfortable for the potential wait.

Imagine our surprise when maybe 3 minutes later, before the official appearance next door, the crowd went nuts and the president walked out on stage right in front of us.  The crowd was so small that we were only a few feet away as he made a few remarks about the brilliance and work ethic of Iowa’s citizens, then he came down off the stage and worked the line, passing just an arm’s length in front of us!  Throughout the evening, our oldest daughter had exactly the nonchalance I used to.  She didn’t see why we needed to walk so far, to stand around in the heat, to give up our evening, just to see some guy in a suit.  Why all the fuss?  He’s just a person like the rest of us.

But after she saw the excitement, heard the nice things the president said about the people of her state, actually looked the nation’s leader in the eyes, her attitude shifted.  Walking back to the car, she expressed her gratitude that we had dragged her out there, and we all marveled at our good luck.  We didn’t have to crowd in with 15,000 other people and look down with binoculars to see a pin prick image of Obama; we were just about close enough to touch him.  On the way out, my husband and I started to say, “That’s probably the closest you will ever get in your life to the President of the United States!”

And my middle girl chirped, “Unless we are her!”

 Among the crowds there was widespread whispering about him. Some said, “He is a good man.” Others replied, “No, he deceives the people.” John 7:12

Friday, May 18, 2012

We're going boy crazy.

Picking the kids up from school recently, an exceedingly young couple was walking home together, holding hands.  They paused to hug at the corner before parting ways.  I wanted to vomit, because they seemed way too little to be “in a relationship,” but instead used their public display as the entry point into a conversation with my daughters about whether their lives or friendships are being affected by romance, yet.  In doing so, I opened the floodgates.

It has set in.  My daughters have gone a little boy crazy.  They were just waiting for me to ask.  I’m thankful they tell me so openly about their lives, but I found myself growing bored quickly when they started outlining the list of boys they like, which other girls like the same boys, which girls the boys like, and all of the various dramas that ensue.  I tried to keep a stiff upper lip, to act very casual about their interest in romance so they would hopefully keep these communication channels open, but on the inside, I was just so SO sad.  I pray their search for Mr. Right doesn’t crowd out the wonderful breadth of interests, friendships, and activities that have, up to now, brought them joy and contentment.

Their sudden excitement about boys got me to thinking about the posting and conversation trends of people I know who are single, as well as my own experiences from back when I was single myself.  Those memories were buried some sixteen years deep, but I pulled some out and dusted them off to try and relate.  I had forgotten how consuming it is, waiting for your other half to come into your life.  Every new room you walk into, “he” might be there; I remember now the daily anxiety and anticipation that goes along with knowing you weren’t meant to be alone, but not knowing yet who it is that will fill that void.

I’m sure I sometimes lost control of my senses and went a little boy crazy in those days – letting my hope for love cloud my enjoyment, possibly even my pursuit, of other interests.  I rejoice to realize all the spare time and mental freedom I have to play and learn and cook and sing, because my time and attention isn’t consumed with the quest for the One.  I can go about my business, dressed however I want, focus on what I’m after, and not care who is or isn’t noticing me.  It is very liberating, but I’ve taken that for granted since I realized my husband was "him."

As we head into the turbulent season of adolescence, I wonder how I can help my daughters appreciate that while God designed us for partnership, their lives are now; they don’t start some day off in the future when they partner up – they are beautifully complete works of art, all on their own.  I hope they will let romance happen upon them while they are doing all the other exciting and meaningful things that fill their lives with contentment and satisfaction, rather than surrendering all those wonderful things and letting their pursuit of romance become the central focus of their lives.

It sounds so basic, but I know it will not be easy.  I pray a lot.  For their self-worth, for their discernment, for the boys they’re going to fall for along the way, for the dreams I hope they pursue, and ultimately for the marriages I hope they’ll have.

Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: Ecclesiastes 4:9

Friday, May 4, 2012

The baby ate a pill bug.

Her culinary experimentation didn’t stop there, either.  I was making photocopies at the church, allowing her to crawl around the workroom at my feet.  She crawled toward a corner and I heard her hacking and gagging.  I looked down and saw that she was poised near a pile of bug carcasses and when I asked her if she had something in her mouth, she drooled out a small gray remnant of rollie-pollie shell.  Although she seemed none the worse for it, I had to take a deep breath to avoid the dry-heave sensation that welled up in my gut.  Within a few days of the pill bug ingestion, I looked down at my precious bundle of purported “sugar, spice, and everything nice,” to find her smiling up at me with a ring of drool around her mouth that had two, tell-tale, translucent fly wings dangling in it.  While I was, again, disgusted, she seemed only proud of her ability to provide her own provisions.  In retrospect, I wish I’d gotten a picture, but at the time I couldn’t get those wings off her face fast enough.

This is all new to me.  My oldest daughter, the model of decorum, never put anything in her mouth but food.  My middle daughter, the scavenger, never put anything in her mouth that hadn’t at least at one time been food.  An M&M was an M&M, no matter how long it had lain beneath the shelf at Target waiting for her.  Now my youngest is putting me through the paces, happily chomping down on anything that her fine motor skills allow her to capture.

As we experience our first spring since the move to an acreage, and what with my baby’s ambitious critter consumption, I’m realizing that I’m going to have to step it up in one of two ways, or both: tighter supervision of the baby to intervene before the insect gets into her mouth, or acceptance of insects as potential nourishment.  If she likes bugs, we have a smorgasbord now.

There are, however, some flying insects that walk on all fours that you may eat: those that have jointed legs for hopping on the ground. Leviticus 11:21