Holidays generally have me thinking of food. Thanksgiving is all about turkey, stuffing, and pumpkin pie. This year I’m thankful for food in a surprising manner – not just that we have it but that I have access to an … Continue reading
Saturday mornings, I have a booth at the local farmer’s market. In hopes of getting some extra money for a newer vehicle (which you’re welcome to help with), I sell tea, granola, muesli, and organic bread.
Intending to buy a bunch of fruit from one of the vendors, I didn’t pack very many snacks for the kids this week. The regular fruit vendor, however, did not show up. That suited Raine just fine. The vegetable farmer beside us has carrots she really likes.
I sent her over to buy a bunch. But she came back with two. Raine spent five hours either talking about her love of carrots, eating them, or caressing her face with the carrots. Freshly picked, the dirt from them smeared all over her face and hands. But she didn’t care. Didn’t even want to wash them before eating them. Bags of chips were turned down as she begged for another bunch of carrots.
The grower of these carrots, in his mid-20’s and childless, kept commenting, “I’ve never known anyone to love carrots quite that much.” He flippantly invited Raine to come pick some this week. She, of course, thought him to be serious and asked me to fix an exact date and time.
He tried to explain the toil involved in harvesting carrots, mistakenly thinking this would deter Raine from wanting to come. It didn’t. She assured him, she’s very strong and certainly up to the task. “I can even pick up my sister and she’s much heavier than a carrot,” Raine explained.
She took his business card, promising to be there because “I really love carrots.”
As most people are, the man was completely overwhelmed by Raine’s tenacity. He gave her a bell pepper as a parting gift.
The entire drive home, Raine continued talking about her love of carrots until Athena finally shouted, “We know! We know you love carrots! Stop telling us!” Yes, for the love of carrots, could you stop talking about them for a moment, I thought to myself. But out loud agreed to think about taking her to the farm to pick some.
Although Athena has not been formally diagnosed, I’m certain she has attention deficit disorder like her sister – and practically every child who has been in foster care. Sitting still is not becoming common as it should the older she gets. So we’re using a light weight (bean bag neck warmer) to keep her from jumping around during meals.
The early learning kindergarten program perfectly masks Athena’s lack of concentration. She moves from one activity to another without much investment in anything she does. Next year, I plan to homeschool her. But this year it’s nice to send her off to school on occasion so I can work with Raine.
Still, Athena ends up staying home at least one day a week. The main focus is on concentration. Shortly after she came to me at 20mths of age, the pediatrician said Athena needed to be taught to concentrate. “Put her in a high chair and give her some toys to play with for a little while.” I did. And did things like putting her in the high chair when meals were not quite ready. Athena would have to wait. She also stayed in her high chair when she was done and the rest of the family still ate.
Now, she stays in her room playing Legos each morning while I shower and dress. She’s making necklaces as part of her at home schooling. In addition to concentration, this helps with her fine motor skills which I wonder about sometimes.
I’ve been reading The Believers by Janice Holt Giles. It’s a novel about the early Shaker movement in America. Living communally, each member is given a monthly task – working in the garden, laundry, meal preparations, etc. For a month they devout themselves to this job. Then move on to another posting.
I worry I’m not up to the task of teaching concentration. I bake cookies while doing dishes, watching Dr Phil, and giving instructions on how to create button art (in hopes of occupying the kids for a few minutes). My house is a series of started projects. My room is forever turning into a disaster. I’m not overly organized or great at concentrating.
The Shaker lifestyle is becoming increasingly appealing as I evaluate my own way of doing things. There’s a great deal I disagree with in their theology but I enjoy the concept of being fully devoted to a single task. It’s something I’d like to incorporate into my own life.
Fail as I may, concentration is still a gift I’m working on giving my children and myself.
I grew up in a large, lively church. My teen years were spent mostly at church where I was involved in everything from choir, youth group, weekly Bible studies, to putting on puppet shows for children’s church. When not at church, I would babysit for families from the church and cross stitch.
The boxes contained fabric and patterns that I used to make my own clothes and items for friends. And a great deal of cross stitching equipment. This is how I spent my youth.
I had a wide circle of friends from church. Some stayed on the straight and narrow, many veered off into another world. They drank, did drugs, and other things I dared not try. At the age of 10 I read the Bible from cover to cover. The verse in Ecclesiastes about remembering your Creator stuck with me. I wrote it in notebooks and on scraps of paper I put up around my room. This was the challenge I put before myself, to remember my Creator in everything I did – especially in my youth.
Looking back, I have no regrets. I lived a chaste life that others often ridiculed. I didn’t mind. My eye was set on a prize. I knew remembering my Creator would please Him. That’s what mattered to me.
I had a wide circle of eccentric friends. They were musical and comical. They were at times creative and serious. We laughed together a great deal. It was so much fun. Sadly, it was long before cellphones and social media. I was so busy enjoying myself, I didn’t stop to take pictures.
This is the youth I want for my kids. I realize it’s a different world today. But I think there’s still room for remembering and valuing the Creator.
Yesterday, as part of Raine’s birthday celebration, we went to see the movie Paddington Bear. Of
course I was teary over the speech about family not always being created by birth. Near the end there’s a dramatic scene where Paddington is climbing up a chimney trying to escape the woman trying to kill him.
“Why did he want to stay alive?” Raine asked on the drive home.
Born addicted to prescription drugs, Raine fought to stay alive. The details of her early life, some known but most unknown to me, indicate she has a strong desire to live. So the question didn’t worry me.
“Because life is really wonderful,” I answered. “And fun.”
She thought about that for a few moments.
“Why do you want to stay alive?” I inquired.
“Because life is really fun,” Raine replied. She continued to evaluate Paddington Bear’s response to the danger he was in. Mostly approving of the choices he made, Raine resolved to do the same should anyone want to harm her. She committed to climbing up a chimney in search of safety.
“And if you were climbing, I’d be at the top to catch you,” she promised me.
I doubt I’ll be squeezing through any chimneys in my lifetime, but I appreciate the sentiment.