Monday, January 29, 2007

play nice

It is gorgeous here in the Vancouver/Portland area (I guess I'm becoming a real 'couver-ite, because I put Vancouver before Portland), with blue skies, high clouds and cold, cold air. So yesterday, with my hubby off work, we decided we had to get out. Since we're still relatively new here, we have only a few reliable places, and were feeling the need to be a bit more adventurous, we looked in our handydandy book "What To Do If You Haven't A Clue In Portland". That's not the real title of course, but I can't remember the real title, and the book is upstairs and I am downstairs, so if you really have to know what it is, post a comment and I'll get back to you.

Anyway....I am apparently the go-to gal for our social calendar, so it was up to me to find something for us to do yesterday. I actually arranged three out of the ordinary experiences this weekend. I called my brother in desparation on Friday and beggggged him to babysit so my husband and I could see a movie. He did, and we did and it was great to be out of the house seeing something that didn't involve animation. Not that I don't love animation - I do - but I occasionally like to see real people in my movies, too. Then, I found a church to take my son and myself to yesterday morning. I am a lapsed Lutheran, and my son attended a real fire and brimstone Lutheran church preschool, and he somehow missed the hell and damnation part and is completely focused on the love one another part, so I thought it might be nice for us to get a little spirit. Also meet some people. I am searching a bit for those things right now, so I decided to take matters into my own hands. A lot of the churches in our neck of the woods have a lot of sayings on their message boards that lead me to believe I would not want to be there, so I sought out a Unity church. I had attended a few services in California with my m.i.l., and liked it for the most part. There was lots of talk about being open to "abundance" which grates at my Lutheran core, but for the most part I liked going there.

So we get to the church, and it's this sweet little chapel, and the inside is very light and cozy at the same time, and we seat ourselves at the end of the pew, and the service begins. There is a woman leading the service, which I find comforting, until she starts leading us in Kundalini breathing exercises, and talking about chakras, and having metaphysical out of body experiences. You can take the girl out of the Lutheran church, but apparently, you can't take the Lutheran church out of the girl. Don't get me wrong, I followed along, with Joe-Henry, who, I might add, was a much better sport than I. I practiced all the meditation, checking him out of the corner of my eye, and he was full on into it. Only once did we happen to catch each other peeking and we both nearly lost it. We made it through, though, and we both did have a nice time. It's good to step out of one's comfort zone, and since the edges of my comfort zone seem to be erased a bit, I have no idea if I'm stepping out of them or not, until I realize, like when you step on dog poo and don't know until you're in your house walking around and wondering "what's that smell?"

After church, we headed home, where Charley had just arrived as well, having just started a writing group. He had a good morning, and we did too, having all done something to tackle our midwinter ennui. But the day was too gorgeous, and kept calling us to come out and play. So I go to my handydandy book, and find a park for us to go to. It's near the Rose Garden in Portland, and it's so beautiful, but the sun has dipped behind the hills by the time we get there and it's freezing. But it doesn't matter, there are gorgeous, healthy families, and apple cheeked children running and shrieking and laughing, and it's the most spiritual place I've been all day. There is something about the full throated laughter of children that makes my eyes water with happiness. Joe-Henry is having a wonderful time, going as quickly as he can up the stairs so he can come down the bright blue tube slide. He's hysterical with pleasure by the time he gets to the bottom, having fooled us into believing that he was coming down headfirst and sliding down on his butt the normal way instead, being the crazy practical joker that he is. He does it again and again, and in time another little boy, there with his mom, joins in. He seems to be an only child too. You can always tell, because they are a little bit slow to warm to the other kids, but these two seem to recognize that in one another and begin having a "polite-off" at the top of the slide: "You go first!" "No, you!" They are a regular Chip and Dale team. Eventually we leave that slide for another, curlier slide, and I become increasingly aware that Joe-Henry is always so polite. The other kids race past him, like they always do, because he moves a tiny bit slower because of his feet and legs, and because he's cautious, and these kids just move past him without notice. And he doesn't care. But I do - I want to go up there and be his bodyguard and tell them to wait their turn. But Joe-Henry, he just knows, because he's a better person than I am, more patient and kind, that these kids are just kids too and I actually heard him say, without a trace of hurt or bitterness, "Go ahead of me, I take a little longer". When they all came down, I couldn't help looking at them in that purse-lipped way of mine, but then when Joe-Henry finally made it to the bottom, he was just one huge pink-cheeked, ear-to-ear smile. I tucked away that observation for later, something to ponder while looking for answers.

There is nothing, not one atom of one thing, that I would change about my son. I will always pray, in my clumsy, lapsed-Lutheran-mostly-heathen way that he will always be as self-assured and confident as he is, and that he stays as healthy as possible. But I wouldn't take away his syndrome, because it's shaped him into the most caring, artistic six year old imaginable. What I would change, and what I keep trying to change, is myself. My impatience, my judgemental attitude, my fear. I don't really expect to find any answers, but maybe that's the trick. If I keep looking, keep seeking, if I keep listening to that silly, sweet kid of mine, I might find them anyway.

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