Thankfulness Week: The Big Kid

In the first session of the Wool is Cool project, I lead the (mostly) French kids in a discussion (in English) about clothes.

It’s an easy conversation, but it gives the kids the opportunity to stretch their wings in English with a native English speaker, on a topic they should be relatively comfortable with. It’s a fun “get to know you” kind of activity.

As I was preparing the materials for the first session, I dug into the boys’ “boxes”, that is, the little treasure chests where we put objects, cards, hospital tags, and newborn onesies and socks from the time surrounding their births. I needed some small items of clothing, and, let’s be honest, there is nothing more adorable than tiny baby clothes.

As I’ve written about rather recently, our eldest scalawag has put us through it these last few weeks. If I were being honest, he has put us through it since he was born, but it is a cyclical kind of through it.

I looked at a pair of tiny tiny baby shoes, the ones that were given to us by a woman I barely knew, who, long before I ever thought I could get pregnant, told me, “God wants you to know that you will have a baby,” a phrase at which I scoffed at the time. I was livid that anyone thought they could say something like that to me. My childlessness was not a subject of public discourse.

Those shoes, though. I refused to look at them for a long time.

It’s not like a newborn actually needs shoes. So after he was born, he never wore them. But I kept those shoes in his box as part of the journey.

I hadn’t looked at them or thought about them in years. And yet, here I was taking them out of the treasure box and using them as a prop in a lesson about clothes.

At the appropriate moment in the lesson, I unwrapped the baby clothes (I had furushiki’d them all…so it was like a grand reveal, and lots of little packages set up on the desk…it was so dramatic!) and I took out the shoes.

“Are those Joel’s?” one of the kids asked. Twenty other kids sat in rapt attention, waiting for the answer.

Now, it’s a small school. 180 kids. Neither of my kids were in the two classes I met with yesterday. I could have feared a kind of mockery. I really could have messed up my kid’s year, and I didn’t even think about it in advance. I mean, kids can be mean.

“Yes,” I replied cautiously. And I watched the kids react. They were…I don’t know how to say this…there was this general sensation of, “That’s so cool!!!!”

One kid even said, “I can’t wait to tell Joel at recess that I saw his baby shoes!” But it was not in a mocking way. It was like…”Joel is cool. Now I know more about him!”

There was an enthusiasm about both of my children from these two classes, but especially about my eldest. Granted, it’s a small school and everybody knows everybody. But the way these kids seemed to genuinely like my eldest…it put all the putting us through it into perspective.

We forget that our kids are out there being little soldiers all day long, holding it together, navigating relationships and finding their place in a world that is just so incredibly complicated. I mean, I only spent one morning with these elementary kids, and I was made dizzy by the intricate world of their relationships.

When he decomposes emotionally with us, his parents, who are his safe space, or with his brother, who is his really really safe space, it’s because he knows what to expect from us and he can put his guard down.

Wow. It was just a pair of baby shoes that got me thinking about all this.

The Double Bass: A Love Story

I’ve been meaning to tell this story for a while, and this seems to be the best occasion, since I am writing an Ode to Scalawag 1.

When he was 2 years old, my eldest Scalawag took my guitar, held it upright and turned it into a double bass. He stood with it, and pretended to play the double bass with it. He was barely 2 years old.

That year, the Conservatory moved into a new building. I have a friend who teaches there, and she encouraged us to come for a visit during the open house. So we went, and we ended up outside the classroom for the Double Bass teacher.

He was just a pipsqueak, a tiny little thing. But the teacher noticed how intrigued he was, but also was observant enough to see that he was shy and didn’t want to go into the room. So she brought a teeny tiny double bass into the hallway and left it there for him.

He got spooked and made us leave. But not more than ten minutes later, he wanted to go back. So we did, and the double bass was still there. He admired it. We chatted with the teacher.

He started taking the Intro to Music classes, did it for two years, and then was able to choose his instrument. Marie, the teacher, remembered him when he came for a trial lesson. She encouraged him, and even said that it seemed like he had already played a stringed instrument before (aside from that upright guitar and smashing keys on a piano, he had not.)

Now, my cool kid plays the double bass. My prayer is that his life will be like the double bass: stable, steady, a rhythmic, beating foundation.

I am so thankful for this kid.

Episode 40: Loving Yourself at the Holidays Sing With Your Feet

Talking Points: Unhooking ourselves from the expectations of others; the lowest common denominator for joy; imagining our ideal holidays; taking care of ourselves. A great big thank you to Seven Productions in Mulhouse, France, for the use of the song La Joie as the intro and outtro of the show; to Matt Kugler who sang it and Claude Ekwe who wrote it.
  1. Episode 40: Loving Yourself at the Holidays
  2. Episode 39: Leaving a Commitment
  3. Episode 38: Let's Do This!
  4. Episode 37: I Need to Think!
  5. Episode 36: What Isn't Working?

Published by Lily Fields

I am passionate about contentment. This is a challenge, because I am equally passionate about progress. I get up at 4:00AM to chip away at a solution to this monolithic problem: how to make progress on my contentment. Born and raised in the USA, I married a French philosophy teacher in 1999. We have lived in France since 2007. We stayed young and carefree until life threw us two curveballs in the form of little humans one after another in 2015 and 2017 respectively. Now I am a slightly older, slightly more exhausted version of myself, but with mystery stains on my walls and a never-ending pile of laundry.

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