Saturday, March 14, 2009

Carry a Large Stick

(Pre-Script: This post is best paired with the song, " Stay For Awhile," by Amy Grant. Please go down to the playlist, click it on, then come back and resume reading. I'll wait...) (...still waiting...)
Who was it that said, "Walk softly, and carry a large stick?" I think it's Latin. My children are not Latin, so maybe that is why they do not understand the phrase. They understand the "carry a large stick," that part seems to be encoded into their DNA; they understand that it's best to carry a stick to ward off danger, real or imagined, to support yourself while walking, (even though they are limber and hyperactive and by my estimations will need no assistance while walking for 70 more years, probably), for imaginary purposes, and for randomly hacking away at the air, at the dirt, at, oops, their brother. Who was also hacking away at, oops, his brother. They also understand that there does not have to be an understandable reason to why a he or she is carrying a large stick. The child carries the large stick because he happened to have found a large stick, it was right there in front of him, or just to the left, or just to the right, where he was maybe exploring a bug or a rock or something, and the moment a child finds the large stick is a golden moment in his day, an "a ha" moment for any child, and so he (or she) picked up the stick. Because it was there. So he (or she) picked it up. Simple as that.
The "walk softly" part does not compute at all, and I don't know if it's just because my children are not Latin, but I think that in any language, you could say to my children, "walk softly," and if you could in fact open up their brains at that moment and observe the connectivity going on there, you would find a whole lot of firing in many different directions, and maybe eventually some explosions and burn outs, but never, ever would the connection make it to the comprehension center of the brain. It would make it, sometimes, instead, to the "I THINK I understand you, so I am just going to go ahead and do what I was already doing" center of the brain. And then you would have to close their brains back up, so discouraged by the mess, and you would look at me, and I would say to you, "I told you so." if you say to my children "Walk softly," they think it means, "Stomp as hard as you can, pound it out, and make wild banshee noises as you go, at the top of your lungs. And do not concern yourself with staying on the side of the path where you are less likely to get pummelled by intense, single focused runners or bikers who are 3 times your size, 5 if you include the bike. And then if your mother yells at the top of her lungs to your rapidly retreating frames, "STOP and wait for me," just yell back, "WHAT?? I CAN'T HEAR YOU!!" as you continue to get smaller and smaller in the distance." Sigh. It's a wonder that we ever make it home at the end of the day, that they get tucked into their beds.
I took the children down a trail along a river today. It was all of the above, and then, They did what all children should do. They picked up walking sticks, tall and not too flimsy. They found an off path that brought them closer to the water. They found rocks and sticks to throw or dip into the water, depending. They let go of somethings, and watched some things float away. They ran fast and effortlessly away from me. Far ahead, in front; boundless in their determination to run, and in their determination to keep going. With grass all around, they ran and laughed and ran some more, cheeks flushed...not afraid of getting so close to the water as to almost fall in, but avoiding a harmless plant, because, according to Jeremy, "It's poison ivy, because my foot bumped it, and now my foot itches."


jenzach said...

your blog has good content :)

Anonymous said...

I think it was Roosevelt that said that?