The nearly eleven-year-old and I started a project this week. Using one of my favorite parenting books as a guide, we are attempting a different service challenge each month. While it was not her idea, Nearly-Eleven’s water conservation efforts have dwindled with this year’s rain, so she was ready for something new.
Like others, we started with gratitude. Nearly-Eleven felt it would be good to start thanking members of our family for things they did. We could also take turns giving thanks for one thing each day at dinner. We gathered some pretty pens and paper and started writing thank you notes.
At first it was easy. You think about the things you like and why you like them and write it down. When you have a bad day, you look for all the things in your life that are still good and give thanks for those–like sunsets and your cat.
But this week Nearly-Eleven (who loves a challenge) had a new idea.
Nearly: What if you take one thing that’s difficult or makes you feel really bad and give thanks for that?
Me: Why would you do that?
Nearly: Because it would be hard.
She was right. Every day I come off the treadmill and head to the floor to stretch, I think how much easier this used to be. My bends and twists were more fluid. My muscles didn’t resist the way they seem to now.
This suggestion reminded me my way of thinking could use some stretching, too.
Election week was hard. I wasn’t one of those who couldn’t wait for this angry and contentious election to be over. I knew the anger wasn’t going anywhere, regardless of the election.
I thought about this for a minute, while she thought about hers (and drew pictures). Then I slowly started sharing with her what I was thinking:
People don’t agree on everything. In families, in book clubs, churches and government there are differing points of view. That’s a good thing.
A better thing is living in a democracy and in a great country where people always have a voice. Not just every four years, but every day.
We always have a voice, even when we feel neglected. If we use that voice to affect change, we will never be victims.
I like knowing so many people are angry and discontent. When you know what is broken, it can be fixed. Knowing can foster listening, showing empathy and negotiating. Not knowing can be Columbine, Ft. Hood or Orlando. Knowing is always better.
Nearly-Eleven thought for a minute, then nodded her head.
“That’s good, Nana. I get that.”
“I hate carrots,” she began. Her face reflected struggle and consideration.
“I hate everything about them and yet I am forced to eat them.”
“I can see better because of it.”
Cool things from the internet this week. Ever wonder why some people don’t speak out more? All this talk about carrots has me thinking kitchen. And if you can’t wait to start baking for Christmas, you’re not alone.