Oh Mama, the places you’ll go.

(the following post was written before we traveled to Bethlehem this morning.  I now have 400 pictures of our trip to comb through, lots new experiences to process, and one accidental detour to an Israeli Military checkpoint.   I am still trying to decompress from that particular part of my Bethlehem experience.  More on that coming.)

"O Scary Road to Bethlehem, how steep I see you rise..."

Today my family will venture to the nearby cities of Beit Sahour and Bethlehem.   It’s only about 50 miles and a checkpoint or two away from here, so I decided we should go see it.  We are loading up the car and going way out of my comfort zone, but “if you never do anything difficult you don’t grow” as Faris’ Aunt has said.

As a rule, checkpoints make me nervous.  They are a point of direct contact between potentially hostile Israeli soldiers and potentially hostile West Bankers. But going to Bethlehem should prove no big deal, if you consider potentially being asked pointed questions by strangers holding guns while your kids squirm in their car seats no big deal.    Such is life here, I am told.  And I would love to see Bethlehem.  I would love to see more of Palestine in general.

So, more after our trip.  Meantime, I have been looking for an excuse to post the following list. I jot these little gems down as they happen, and its a thing I like to call:

Deep Thoughts with Sufyan and Laila:

8/4
Sufyan:  do you want mayonnaise, Laila?
Laila:  no.
Sufyan:  does Laila like mayonnaise?
Laila:  yes!  sometimes I like mayonnaise and ICE!
Sufyan: mayonnaise and ice?
Laila:  YES!
Sufyan (seeming to consider this deeply):  that’s funny.  I’ve never had mayonnaise and ice before.

8/6
Sufyan: I’m not going to want this all day today.
Baba:  are you sure?
Sufyan:  I’m sure.  But I’m going to change my mind.

8/7
Sufyan (standing at our gate):  This gate is a magic gate.  I push this button and a face comes out and tells me, ‘Hey!  Push that button!  That’s what you do!’

8/10
Laila to a toy:  Listen to my words.  I am not saying that!  Listen. to. Laila’s. words.  

8/12
Laila (laying in bed, refusing sleep, takes my chin in her hand and lifts my face to hers):  Listen to my words, Mama.  Alice Mouse went poop on da potty.  She got CHOCOLATE!  Then she went to work.

8/17 Sufyan, upon waking, yelled, “Its like AVOTADO but it’s not AVOTADO!”

8/23
sufyan:  hey mama?  when I’m sitting, and if I blink…my batteries run out!

8/27
sufyan:  can I have the phone?  I want to call my bread.

Mom Thought for Today:  on community that includes non-parents,

Parents need community.  This is my version of “it takes a village”.  Because it truly does take a village—every part of a village, not just the parents of the village.  Parents know we are not meant to raise children in isolation from one another, of course.  We know we need others who totally understand what a major accomplishment it is to fold an entire basket of laundry in a week, and who can follow a conversation that spans 12 topics while never completing a single sentence, and who will not think less of us for finishing the mac & cheese with our fingers and washing it down with a cup of cold coffee while standing over the sink.  But we also need non-parents around who are positive and trustworthy and loving to our children.  We need them so that our children grow up with a sense of connectedness to an entire community.  If we only network with other parents, we isolate our children from the perspective and energy of the rest of their village.  In turn, people who don’t get to experience life around children don’t get to see the value of interacting with growing minds.  Children (as if we were not them a couple of decades ago) are looking for reflections of themselves in everyone’s eyes and seeking their place in the community.  Am I valued?  Am I welcome?  Am I loved?  Am I safe?  Non-parents have a perspective on the world that parents don’t have because we are too busy deep in the trenches.  One of my most cherished life changing moments happened when my parent’s high school friend came to visit.  He never had kids.  His life sounded so exotic and amazing to me.  He played the sitar.  He wore linen pants and tunics.  He was an artist.  But more than that, he treated me like a person with something to contribute.   When I confided in him about the difficult time I was having with my parents (I was maybe 15), he took me seriously and answered like he would have a friend.   He was so kind and his perspective was unlike any other adult I knew at the time.  He wasn’t a parent, but he was part of my larger tribe and I felt a connection to that wider world through him.

Unfortunately its not easy to find non-parents who have time for their friends with kids— much less their friend’s kids.  But if you do have a friend with no kids who you trust, it might be good to let your kids see what their tribe looks like beyond the nest they are being raised in.  There is value in that.

Yoga Thought for Today:  on language and clarity

Given that the job of yoga teacher includes lots of monologue time, there is plenty of opportunity to have a monologue-malfunction.  For example, I once innocently used the phrase “you just can’t get it up” to a young man who was trying to get into a handstand, in front of his girlfriend (a regular student of mine) who had dragged him to my class.  He never came back to my class.  Likewise, I was amused in a class recently to hear the teacher describe the energy in our legs as a “warm flow running from the inner thighs down the legs to the feet.”  I have been working to try to refine my language skills in class lately.  Then I noticed that my language needs refinement elsewhere, as well.  A LOT of refinement.  So, taking the idea of clear, centered, and loving communication from my yoga mat to my family is my new project.  And while the following may not applicable to all situations, it does give that essential moment of pause before speaking.   Whatever you want to say, run it by these 3 criteria first:

1.  Is it true?

2.  Is it necessary?

3. Is it kind?

Try it for just an hour.  It’s amazingly difficult and for me, shocking.

I have to thank my first real teacher, Angela Dinunzio, for these 3 questions.

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9 thoughts on “Oh Mama, the places you’ll go.

  1. I love those questions! If I asked myself those three, I am pretty sure I would. Be silent for an hour….unless Clair was with me. In which case, I would be forced to speak.

    I love the strippy yoga pants!

  2. I work really hard on the first and third but adhering to the second would probably shut me up. But the question is – necessary for whom? Most of my son’s questions appear unnecessary to me but I still have to answer them!

    • Yes, necessary for whom is a great question. For me, the question is what is necessary for ME to say? And most of the questions my kids have require answers because 1) they are learning sponges and 2) if I don’t answer they will ask over and over until I’m insan. So my answers fall into the necessary category. Though they also sometimes fall into the “tedious” category when I answer the “why can’t we run on the beds?” question for the millionth time…:-).

  3. While the distance between Ramallah and Bethlehem FEELS like 50 miles, on a map it is about 13 miles. Actual miles required to be driven by Palestinian drivers, however, are much more because of the detours they are forced to take as Israel takes more and more land in the West Bank to build illegal settlements for Jewish Israelis and then forbids Palestinians access to nearby roads.

    • precisely. and if you look at google maps (which only allows for Bethlehem Israel and Ramallah Israel rather than Palestine or Palestinian Territories) you can see how close the cities are and how winding and crazy the road Palestinians must take is. Thanks for the comment. I hope we get more west bankers commenting here.

  4. Pingback: Truth « Coffee from a Reusable Ceramic Mug

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