We Don’t Wish Away Time

“You know you don’t get this time back,” go the sobering, older ladies. It feels too type-A, feels like icy snowballs. I don’t need or want any more reminders of how short childhood is, but these ladies always find me.

“You can’t get it back, this age, you know. It’s already gone”. Yes, I groan, with an internal scowl. Right, and this mealtime, this cute speech where she still can’t enunciate the “er”s and he hugs, “wuv ooooo!” with a smooch. I’m already there; I know time is short.

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Where do they think we’re trying to go? Does it look like I’ve got one or two feet out the door, passport stuffed in a sippy cup, “Date Night in Antigua or Bust” spray painted on my jacket? (it’s not like I could get a babysitter, this time of day). Who says we’re not enjoying it, these days and weeks and years with the beautiful ones we’ve knelt down with to fix their cars, or suggest an alternate way to tie on wings. These are the beings we’ve birthed, reveling in their baby breath, sitting skin-to-skin. We know it’s fast.

They are the same babes who learned color and sound, heck, basic trust, with us. We flash to when they were only milk-fed and we could simply get lost and found on the shores of their foreheads, those sweet downy hairs growing in, showing me fleeting peeks at who they would be when older.

“Don’t forget” they taunt; “it all leaves you!”

I see wisps of those first day, just-born kids; they are my same people, the children who clamor into the shower and scrub their own lanky bodies. I know every tickle spot, every muscle and dimple.

Who says I’m not enjoying it, this hard, glorious, demanding work? This thing of life, this parade of time?

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It is dreadful enough to know we people cannot forever exist in these forms. The pain of a life span is already tough to swallow, ladies and gents. Of course, I acknowledge that time moves. We, women, have knelt down in birth; we know Time. We are one big circadian rhythm, in line with the moon. I know fullness and fading, gimme a break. The important things are forever, though, I say to myself. I believe in the eternal.

Really, it’s the anxiety that must go. It’s just fear. Out like soapy dishwater! Out, crooked lady lips that bark, “You’re losing them!” or “You’re too busy to be a good mom. You’ll never be relaxed”. I have a longing to flick these warnings far away! Yet, they are right, in part.

This is the truth of right now–there will never be another moment with all like this, so young. It is an existential truth. There will never again be this night, with this exact moon, the conversation, the giggly songs of my children at almost five years old and two and a half.

Every moment is a kind of love song if we sing it. How do we want to be, I mean, really be, in light of that? The world is changing; our babies are outgrowing their new clothes two hours from now. How will we speak to them? And to ourselves?

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I look at their chins, the architectural arcs, lines, planes of the beings I have known since they were little bigger than grains of pearled rice.

The magic of growing is that it is inside and out. Even now, there is growth in my thoughts and a letting go. We don’t need to hold these moments white-knuckled with fear. I realize I’ve lived this way for a long time, afraid to really exhale, afraid something monumental would change. Really, though? The whole universe is in constant change, at every moment.

Now is the sum of all moments before; it is the excitement of four-year-olds already feeling five.  Change can be wonderful for us mothers. It is the first night out after giving birth, alone or with your partner. It is the potty training, no more diapers, and first days of school, witnessing your kid buying something with her own hard-earned money.

So go on, ladies. Tell me how I’ll never get it back. I’ll say a little prayer for the grace to hold out my hands, not to squelch change inside my house. I won’t cry when I measure their little heads. I’ll high five.

It is the growing that is great, not just the staying. I’ll not drag my feet, but will celebrate. We don’t have to be afraid if we’re really living.

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Where Do You Go When You’re So Bloggy?

I’m forever a teacher. In the summer, we teachers chill out, grab a magazine, and head to the beach. Or enroll in professional development of some kind. We learn to knit, roll out of bed rumpled and sea-tossed at ten am, and make our non-teacher friends jealous.  Or maybe take four courses at a university. The point is you think about bettering you, in whatever wonderful form that takes. Pedicures and margaritas! Salsa and burritos! Maybe, even Cancun. Heck, Harvard, online.

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My course? No surprise– It’s all about blogging. Write Your Way to a Better Blog, to be specific, thanks to the wonderful teachers and editors of Her Stories, the editors responsible for the Mothering Through the Darkness anthology, in which my essay is part.

All this to say, I’m thinking about my blog a bit more than normal, thinking about my writing. This week, I’m asked to write a vision, for gosh sakes. To really get clear about why I’m even spending two minutes with this. Is it a hobby? A journal? A sad Dear Diary or look-at-me-and-my-kids, oh, charting way too many insipid events?

What is the point and what am I looking to get out of it? What do I hope readers (thank you) get out of it? Is it a way to avoid more Skyping, because you’ll already know everything?

Here it is, maybe. 

I have a need to keep track, to record the things of substance, because life is windy. Stuff blows away. I want a place to say, “Here. Another place you can see, I lived. I loved. I worked at shouldering this family and my love of community. Here, I even wrote some words”. 

But what does that do for you?? Who cares, right, if I am only playing a reel of vacations in Sedona from 1983 and you don’t even know me. I better write some universal truth, some encouragement, big beauty.

I want to show the hard parts. If I’m posting pics of my kids’ new bunkbed, I want to show you the beauty in their expression, I want to capture childhood as it is now. I want to show the process of building the bunk, how my husband and I brought box after box up three flights of stairs, how the delivery man left all seven or eight ginormous boxes outside and the sky threatened rain. I want to capture movement and expression. I want my writing to bring great claps of beauty crashing down, to help me choose the words I need.

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To capture process, like an absolute dark room, play space, wine bar, and museum. To be a journal filled with authentic, get-noticed writing which can help me team-up and get better. To grow more. To write. To pause in retrospect. To honor those in my life. To cancel shame, to be a voice of faith and honesty. To reflect goodness in an unexpected place.

I don’t know. I’m still wrinkling my nose, but working with vision is always, always good.

Melissa

Eating Outside

Lately, we’re eating dinners outside. I thought we’d missed our May window, June notably bringing mosquitoes even up to our second-floor veranda, but it’s cool. We eat and giggle and just ready our hands to clap, clamp down on any errant mosquito. It’s working more than fine.

I think, in fresh air, kids eat even more veggies. It’s like packing for a time away at the seashore or up on a blanket in a forest. You bring out the things of substance and eating cukes and spinach is not such a problem because the smiles are so big, dinner framed by the whistling of a bird or rustling of hedges. Everything is good. The kids alternate bites with friendly neck hugs and, “Can I get you something, Mom” and, “Good job eating, little brother!”

Some evidence:

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We’re eating more veggies like this, and the kids are better enjoying dinner. I’m finding it just as pleasant to dine with a glass of Pinot as with iced tea. We all set the table and we all carry our dishes and acrylic silverware back inside. We are responsible; we are silly; we are eating for summer, alright.

I could keep this up, but July and its temperatures will be creeping-up. Maybe, though, on a particularly cool night, I’ll make a batch of gazpacho and together, on the balcony, we’ll eat it up.
Maybe they’ll need a grand lure called tortilla chips and the promise of dessert.

For now, it is sheer sweetness.

D is For Directions

D is for Directions (AZ of Raising Multicultural Kids)

A series launched by Varya, of Creative World of Varya.

Raising multicultural kids often means you, yourself, are not in your country of origin. Or perhaps you are raising kids whose own origins do not mirror your own, whether through adoption and/or starting a family with a partner of another culture, ethnicity, or language. Any of these scenarios are fun, yet sometimes daunting.

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Maybe you need to stop for directions once in a while. Maybe it feels like a flurry of snow in your eyes. Maybe you’re still mimicking your needs, like I first did, like a real-life, holy cow gave of charades. And sometimes, Pictionary. You need the library, need the pediatrician, need to know where the store stocks their darn toilet paper.

Don’t ask me all the things and destinations I’ve mimed (cough cough pregnancy tests). The point is you need help sometimes and your kids benefit from seeing you keep your cool, not lose it. Confidence, beyond finding whatever the place, is gained.

D, my friends, is for Directions. 

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All this discombobulation sounds like a Talking Heads song. Cue David Byrne!

Asking for directions is two-fold, I think.

First, I was thinking about literacy-extending activities for our multi-lingual kids–to illustrate and draw simple and complex directions. If kids are invested in a project or fulfilling a need, they will fully put that soul, that voice, and skill into a task, seen in this post, Writing to Help in the Home.

Isn’t this life in a different culture/different linguistic landscape? Working to figure everything out, staying true to yourself, using your own voice, and having a ball, no matter how tough, no matter the run-around and extra work!

Before we enter a more academic, nuanced wing of the culture, we must communicate basic needs.

So we use maps, we chart the new words, we make a plan. 

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There is the very real need for directions. Especially, perhaps, when you like in a city like this, concrete extending forever-high and wide, visibility permitting.

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    (I teach English courses at a private Japanese middle and high-school. This past week’s vocabulary included phrases for asking and providing directions. Many/none the students have never ever given (asked for) directions in a language outside of Japanese. In fact, though English will be learned fairly intensely in grade school and into upper-levels, a hefty portion of society is superbly hesitant to use their English in conversation, to let it escape their lips. If the learned language or study is not to perceived perfection, no one wants to throw themselves out there to possibly fail or feel embarrassed.

Today, there is a real move to awaken the country’s English with more conversation. Tokyo is gearing-up for the 2020 Olympics, after-all, when gobs of foreigners will ask directions).

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So we practiced. I introduced the phrases and words–nothing amazing, just words like, “Can you tell me where the station is? How do I get to the post office, please?”

They readied for replies such as, “Let’s see…it’s not too far from here. Go straight down this street, make the first left”, that kind of thing.

Then came the good stuff, a type of trust walk, led by directional words. Each young lady created her own picture and label, a sign for some site, shop, or whatnot needed and enjoyed in the community. They hung ’em up, wherever. You could totally do this with your kids, in a multitude of languages! Make a map of your home and town! Learn languages, develop the ones you have! 

And don’t let anyone off the hook who solely wants to use their Google Maps app! The fun and challange lies within interpersonal communication. No app can substitute a stranger’s language or the appreciation garnered when a friendly person directs, even respectfully escorts you to your destination. D is for directions and daring to look up from a screen.

Here’s how it went down ⇓:

Partner A asked where something was located (the beach, the flower shop, hospital, you get the picture).

Partner B answered with a friendly reply and began to direct a now eyes-closed A.

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They giggled and shuffled and found their way to Tokyo Disney Land and Sea, to a karaoke room, bakery, and so many other sites in our room our living map.

In their enjoyment, I’ve got to think they are that much more confident to provide directions. We’re only just started the chapter, too!

Let me know how your own asking and giving of directions go! To raise multicultural kids, you’re by now, not too shy about asking for a push in the right direction, and another way to engage within your community.

In fact, one of the best practices my mother did was refuse to be our speaker. We, my sis and I, were the ones who had to speak with the librarian, ask clerks for help, stop and politely ask for directions. We learned to trust our voice and trust “going out on a limb”. There is excitement in sitting in the driver’s seat, for sure.

Additional Ideas and Extensions:

 Create a family or solo-scavenger hunt, using vocabulary for the region in which you are traveling or now live.

⇒∗  If fairly new to the area, designate each family member to help find important community buildings and settings (library, park, emergency evacuation area, family-friendly cafe, bus stops, garden, fire station, supermarket, etc), using a wealth of resources.

→⇒∴ Compile all of the area’s best to create one map…using all of your family’s languages and the local language. Color-code, make it rock!

So long, adventurers. Keep up with this amazing alphabet for global citizens! Some of the most beautifully diverse and knowledgable people make up this community and have taken part.!

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In these Series 24 bloggers of Multicultural Kid Blogs Community got together to share ideas and tips on Raising Global Citizens. Follow us from June 1st to June 26th as we share a letter of the alphabet and an idea associated with it over at Raising Global Citizen Series page!
Creative World of Varya = Bilingual Avenue = The European Mama = Melibelle in = Smart Tinker = Good To Be Mom = Marie’s Pastiche = Third Culture Mama = Tiny Tapping Toes = All Done Monkey = Russian Step By Step = Multilingual Parenting = In The Playroom = Rue Du Belvedere = Discovering the World Through My Son’s Eyes = La Cité des Vents = Faith Seeker Kids = World Languages = The Piri-Piri Lexicon = Healthy Child, Global Mind = Mama Smiles = The Art Curator for Kids = Words n Needles = Multicultural Kitchen = Crazy Little Family Adventures