Wednesday, January 13, 2010

No Title Because No Time

Writing day: organizing and planning for future interviews and columns, which takes more work than one might suspect. It's the background hidden labour that will bear fruit down the road. Today I have almost too many ideas. Which is better than too few.
:::
Something I'd like to figure out for my own children: how to involve them in the larger world, how to bring into their privileged and comfortable lives a desire to care for others, to be aware of need and sensitive to it; and to accept help, too. To treat everyone with dignity and respect. I'm not sure how to write a 600 word column on a subject I haven't got a firm fingerhold on myself; but I want to know more. Where in my own life am I lacking this kind of compassion? How can I find time and space to do more? Where to begin? Small, I'm thinking. (Shoot--I should have accepted that cough candy from the Mormons).
When Kevin broke his knee last winter, and I was run ragged trying to keep up with the demands of our life, I realized that despite my most sincere wishes otherwise, doling out seemingly endless help wasn't bringing out the best in me or making me a finer, more patient person; instead, I felt squeezed like an empty toothpaste tube. I had nothing left to give. A smile to a grocery store clerk felt like more emotion and empathy than I could manage. But I still believe it's always possible to give more, just in increments, like the way your body can stretch just that little bit farther when you're holding a posture in yoga and following your breath.
But it comes to me: without that breath, farther isn't possible.
Maybe that's the key.
Oh dear. My morning has been thrown out of whack! Have to fly. Unexpected arrivals all over the place today.
Here's what I wanted to say: read my interview with Jirina Marton, an award-winning illustrator and genuine inspiration. It was a privilege to talk to her.

4 comments:

  1. This isn't quite on my radar yet as a parent, but I think my parents did a good job of making me aware of others' need and their right to help. We talked about social justice at the dinner table. As a kid my parents took us to work at charity events, including things like MS fundraisers and food bank packing centres. My dad used to deliver food boxes for a week every Christmas and take my brother or me along. We also used to go shopping for a family's Christmas presents every year. When I was a young teenager my parents insisted that if I didn't have a summer job, I had to find volunteer work, and that's how I got that gig tutoring Mrs. Wu in English. I know a family that has a one-toy in, one-toy out rule. Right now, Annie's excess stuff is going to St. Monica House, again via my parents...

    I'm sure they conveyed this idea in more ephemeral ways as well, but the active stuff really stayed with me.

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  2. I am thinking that this crisis in Haiti is a good moment to open the kids' eyes, perhaps to collectively decide to do something--donate? fundraise?--as a family. I worry that they're lives are so comfortable and easy--and that's not a bad thing, and I'm grateful that we don't have to worry about money--but does our comfort create a bubble for them/us? When I was growingup, we rarely had what other kids had--whatever was cool to wear or to play with--because my parents couldn't afford it. I find that with my own kids, because we can afford it, we make choices not to buy things, but what they feel is that it's not fair--whereas, I remember understanding that we couldn't, so it was a more profound comprehension of what is and isn't fair. (ie. not fair that people have different amounts of money to live off of versus not fair that my parents won't buy me what I want).
    Dunno.
    We talk a lot. I love talking about global and moral issues with them.
    But I think you're right--we need to DO more. Concrete.

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  3. When the kids are small, it's good for them to see you care,to see you volunteer, even in the smallest of ways. I used to volunteer in the school, baby in tow, for pizza days. I've always been involved with our local Down syndrome association because one of my sons has DS. So it was a natural to sign them all up as they got older to volunteer at various events. My youngest daughter at 8 or 9 would help at the craft table, etc. My oldest son at 17 surprised everyone at the national conference by taking over the teen group when they were short staffed. I had signed him up to move tables, etc. As they grow up I see them choose how they'd like to contribute, and they've even asked me "Can we make a donation to xxxx because xxxx?" So, yes, incrementally is the way to go, and find something that ignites the passion in your household, something they can get interested in. That's my 2cents.

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  4. Haiti is absolutely a good opportunity--maybe if you're planning to make a donation, you could make it concrete for them by walking a cheque somewhere and handing it over rather than donating online? If you have a regular percentage of income that you donate, you might talk with them about where this extra money is coming from--or they could help you decide. We will pull from our entertainment budget for this one.

    We too were a bit skint growing up. That may be one reason we did so much hands-on stuff instead of just donating. In some ways it's harder to make a real connection when you can just write a cheque; apart from professional stuff and one night of canning for a food bank, I haven't done volunteer work for years. Just dipping my toe in again with the local community association.

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