Holiday Recap

Dear J-

One of the things that surprised me this Christmas was the number of people who ended up posting pictures of Furbys and iPads. We’re sufficiently out of touch, I guess, that we had no idea what the hot toys were this year but I’m gratified that of the things we had opened (a little Hot Wheels set, a rubber band weaving loom and books) they all got used and set out and played with and read over the course of the day. Kids are sufficiently happy with the smallest things that it matters less what and how much. We’ve been trying to teach them kindness by flexing our generosity this year and sometimes it has worked, other times it has been difficult (and besides which it’s hard to send presents to distant cousins, although we are still trying to give gifts without obligation: small things kids would like but without any return expectations).

I know it sounds like I’m being self-congratulatory, but this is what’s been driving me nuts (yarr, said the pirate with a wheel attached to his pants) about moving back here: the dreamy self-involvement of San Diego is replaced by a harder-edged selfishness here that’s meant, I think, to show off how hard people are, but it just comes across as pathetic. From the aggressive driving (instead of folks not getting over, here it’s folks cutting you off) to the general sense of self-containment I don’t want the kids to grow up with that. Jump forward. Offer to help. Find some way to be involved when and where you can. Decide that enough isn’t sufficient, and go beyond when you can.

The more I see theVet stew about her mom the more I realize how lucky we’ve been, and how she is actively trying to avoid that example for our kids, although they are trying, all day, every day. It’s nice to have the time off (thanks, mini-weeks and weekends in the middle of the week) to experience it firsthand but I can’t imagine trying to deal with them all day. I love them, they drive me nuts too. It’s not the no-es, cheerful or otherwise: it’s the lack of empathy or consequence that they don’t seem to get, not quite yet. So it’s our job to impart that, patiently and quietly, by example and deed, flexing our need to be here against their needs.

Mike

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