Sunday, August 29, 2010

Teachable Moments

Not long ago, my dear friend F sent me an email that went something along the lines of:

"I took my cat to the vet yesterday morning to have him de-matted: they gave him what they call a Lion Shave...everything except his tail, paws and head is completely bald.  Of course, I took pictures. Maybe my son will help me get them posted on Facebook.  Or maybe he'll just ridicule me for not knowing how to do it myself.  Maybe that's how we should have responded to THEM when they were little: "OH MY GOD! I CAN'T BELIEVE YOU GOT A KNOT IN YOUR LACES--CAN'T YOU DO ANYTHING?" Or maybe, "EVERYBODY KNOWS HOW TO DRINK OUT OF A CUP--I CAN'T BELIEVE YOU DON"T KNOW HOW TO DO SUCH A SIMPLE THING!"

I thought this was pretty funny until I asked my own college-aged son to help me launch this blog.  Of course, he was too busy, and couldn't understand why I needed help anyway.  After all, kids these days are fully versed in the ways of blogs and the Internet, and have little patience for fumbling moms who don't know the difference between a tweet and Twitter.

I decided to share F's comments with my offspring, reminding him that there were plenty of times in the past when I dropped everything to help him tie his shoes or reach a drinking cup.  My logic didn't set well: he argued that I'm an adult who should know how to post pictures, whereas he --at the time--was an innocent four-year-old.

True enough.  But no matter what age we are, we're still learning.  A teacher can be anyone from a grizzled octogenarian to a two-year-old who demonstrates the oh-so-Zen value of staring at ants crossing a mound of moss for a good twenty minutes just when his mom is in a hurry to get to the bank.  We learn from our children, and they learn from us--it's a two-way street. (You needn't wear an orange robe to be a guru--
someone who brings light to darkness--which reminds me of a book I just finished called Breakfast with Buddha by Roland Merrulo--great read!) 

Well, my friend did post her pictures on Facebook, and as you can see--with the help of my fabulous son--in the end I did manage to start this blog.  Yes, there are times when we have to buck up and figure things out for ourselves.  But there are also occasions when we should feel free to ask for help, just as there are times when we need to be patient with and compassionate toward people who may not possess our particular nugget of knowledge.  We're all simultaneously teachers and students, no matter our ages. The bottom line is: Nobody has all the answers, and sometimes we need a little help from our kids.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Goldfinch Day

Did you ever notice the thing about birds? They're there one moment, and gone the next. Take the goldfinch, which happens to be the state bird of New Jersey, the "garden" state. I rarely see these birds because they like to hang out in treetops. I can hear them sometimes, but I don't see them.  This spring, I discovered something curious. I bought some zinnias--just by "chance," and placed a few pots around my deck. A week or so later, I noticed that the petals of the zinnias were strewn all over the place. Were the squirrels getting into them? Nope, it was the goldfinch. One morning I looked out and there were two of these beautiful birds--a male and female--fluttering from zinnia to zinnia, pecking the hell out of them. What a fabulous sight! "My point?" you may ask. Simply that beautiful things, people, experiences, come and go. We may not know why they show up in our lives (maybe because we planted zinnias, maybe for some other reason), but show up they will, as certainly as the sun rises and sets. Right now, my goldfinches are gone--haven't seen them in weeks. The zinnias--what's left of them--are still there, but no awesome little birds are nibbling their sweet petals. But maybe in a few weeks, the birds will be back--heading down to Cape May or somewhere, after spending a couple of weeks in the Adirondacks. I'm not a bird expert (and this is not a bird blog, though my favorite book about writing is Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott), but I do know this: Life is chock full of goldfinches.

Monday, August 16, 2010