When I was a little girl, it was so easy to just be. Be in the moment, savor the present, appreciate the goodness that was me and mine. No worries, no troubles, everything was good. Well, not everything. I had lots of chores to do; sometimes I got in trouble or got hurt. Lots of times I did things wrong even before I knew the thing was wrong. At the same time, my life was filled with anticipation.
I found out after I was grown that most kids watched cartoons on Saturday morning. My mom was a genius t getting stuff done. Everyday I had I had barn chores or dishes to do morning or night. Clothes to fold, odd socks to sort, and of course Little Kids to watch. On Saturday I had catechism, then house-cleaning.
Sometimes, I got out of house-cleaning, ’cause Mom picked me to go grocery shopping with her. That was the berries, just me and Mom alone. She let me push the cart, which was an okay job, except for her going so slow, looking at every box of macaroni like there was a real find up there somewhere, so I had no choice but to twirl around so my dress ballooned out like a ballerina. Right about then Mom would say, “pay attention,” and she pressed her lips so tight together they almost disappeared.
As the cart got fuller, it got harder and harder to push, and even harder to stop. Plus, Mom stopped right in the middle of the aisle for no reason at all, and no matter how hard I pulled, kapow, the cart hit her right in the heels. Mom’s face took on a whole new look, with her eyebrows pulled together, her breath came out between her teeth in a sssissing sound.
“What did I tell you about following so close?” That’s the kind of question a kid’s not supposed to answer.
I got to watch TV when all my work was done. I liked to go outside better. For one thing, not that much good stuff was on TV by the time all the work got done, and for another thing, Deanna always wanted to watch those movies with the bouncing ball, which bored me stiff.
Me and Bonita built forts in the hayloft. Playing in the hayloft was off-limits, but we sneaked. I got the hay-hook and pretended to be a mountain climber, using the hay-hook to pull me up the mountain. That was super-fun until the bale let loose and the hay-hook went slammed full-force into my knee instead. That was almost as bad as when Deanna jumped out of a tree and landed on a board with a nail sticking out. Looking at the blood running out of her tennis shoe with the board stuck to the bottom made my legs hurt almost as much as getting that hay-hook in my knee. Deanna had to go to the hospital and get a tetanus shot and get the board pulled off her foot. None of that happened to me. I just couldn’t walk for about a week and a half.
Lots of other stuff happened to us kids, so my hurts were nothing. Vickie got her tooth knocked right out of her head. Loren-dee-dee-bopper had lumps on his neck that no doctor could figure out, so he had to be in the hospital for a blue-moon. Johnny was allergic to everything and almost died from a haircut. Bonita broke her collar bones just being born. Julie had such bad eczema somebody at church offered to adopt her, so she could be taken care of proper. Frankie went #1 on the wall socket and started the wall smoking and shocked his peter pretty bad. Who knows why he did that. Probably the same reason I used the hay-hook to do some mountain climbing.
I was always waiting for something. Seemed like as soon as summer got here, I could hardly wait for school to start again. Once school started, I looked for snow. When was Christmas ever going to get here? After that my birthday, and I was sick of snow and cold. Why did it take so long for summer to come?
I suppose it’s that innocent anticipation and trust that everything will be good, even if it’s not now, that draws me so much to “Be like a Child.” Even when life is filled with work, we get hurt, and our dreams seem light-years away, if we have a network of love and trust, we have hope and faith. That’s way more important than goals and deadlines, worries and anxieties.
So I return to my touchstone word for 2012: Be. Just be. And if you see someone twirling in the grocery store, well, that just might be me.