I can count on one hand the times I’ve seen my dad cry. The night I made the high school cheerleading squad was one. He knew how much I’d dreamed of it, how obsessed my practice had been and how I’d babbled for years about being a cheerleader. My sophomore year, my cheerleading coach told me I had to quit debate so I could devote more time to cheer. I cried. Then I quit cheer. It was one of those decisions in life that defines you as a person. Somehow my fifteen year old self knew that my soul would be more satisfied in research and rhetoric than physical excellence and social notoriety.
Thirty (and change) years later, I would still rather feed my mind than my body. I much prefer researching educational philosophies to planting rose bushes. I’d rather read a book than bake bread. Words are my favorite art medium.
Thus the challenge. Rose would rather play on the phone or the computer than do handwork or play outside. It dawned on me that she wants to be like me. She has at least ten good years left before she decides if she wants to be a nerd like me.
Her life and learning revolves around imitation. Joop van Dam in his article Understanding Imitation through a Deeper Look at Human Development wrote, “Imitation lives and moves in the child with these two legs or wings: that which opens to the world inwardly from the body and that which opens to the world in trust…Whenever children have the chance, they will eagerly watch a craftsman at work. They see the blacksmith, for instance, and drink in his gestures, and, later, they will play them out. These work gestures build the body. When a child has the opportunity to do many kinds of work in the first seven years, then she is able to build up her body in differentiated ways. Her body becomes an instrument with all kinds of tones and colors. This is a body the individuality can enter and live in for a lifetime.”
Imitation, according to Waldorf education, is the second law of childhood. It is also Biblical. The apostle Paul wrote, “Be imitators of me, just as I also am of Christ.”
So, I need to be and do what I want Rose to be and do. I need to remake myself.
I need to get in touch with the me I was before the Debate vs. Cheerleading decision. The me that built Barbie Dream houses on the branches of trees I had climbed. The me that was excited to eat Swanson Chicken Pot Pies because I had a new tin for creating mud pies. The me that ran races with the boys – and won. The me that created swimming holes from beaver dams. The me that spent hours searching river banks for the most beautiful rocks for my collection. I need to play more.
I also need to be a me I’ve never been. I really don’t like “meaningful work.” In fact, I don’t like anything that has the word “work” attached to it. I need to work more.
To work more, I need to:
Repent. God commands us to work, “For even when we were with you, we used to give you this order: if anyone is not willing to work, then he is not to eat, either. For we hear that some among you are leading an undisciplined life, doing no work at all, but acting like busybodies. Now such persons we command and exhort in the Lord Jesus Christ to work in quiet fashion and eat their own bread. “(2 Thessalonians 3:10-12)
Change my mindset. Work is not a bad word – in fact God told Adam to work before sin entered the world – which means God saw work as good. We were created to work. Work glories God. “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, 24 knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.” (Colossians 3:23-24)
I must be ever mindful that what I do is being seen and imitated by a growing young mind and body. “’Imitation’ is the magic word in the child’s education until the age of nine or ten, when it is gradually replaced by other forms of learning. The child’s habit of imitating us—filled with great trust and equally great expectations—exhorts us to be worthy of that imitation. Not lectures, but meaningful actions meld a ‘brain’ which is capable of thinking meaningful thoughts. Inconsistency has the opposite effect.” (Dr. Helmut von Kügelgen, The Laws of Childhood)
Now that I have been convicted, repented, and am changing my mindset on who I need to be and what I need to do, I must do it. Here’s my game plan for this year:
- Have a house cleaning routine. I set this up last fall, but haven’t really worked it. I’m going to be more consistent.
- I’ve already began loving to cook. I love the smell of chopping fresh herbs, and garlic and onions sautéing in a skillet. I truly feel happy and fulfilled when I serve a wholesome delicious meal.
- This spring, I’m learning to garden. This is a huge leap of faith, as I kill even indoor plants, and gardening is a lot of work (Ugh)
- Do more handwork. I am currently hand-making two quilts for my new grandbabies. I actually like this job. There is something so relaxing about feeling the texture of cashmere in your lap, and the melodic rhythm of hand stitching.
- This summer, I am going to teach myself to knit – so I can teach Rose next school year.
I’m a little scared – scared of falling back into comfortable patterns, and scared of failure, and mostly scared of not being worthy of Rose’s imitation. But I’m also excited about this new adventure and the changes God is making in me. Don’t think I’ll give up the old, book-loving, research-obsessed, want-to-be-writer, me – I will just save the nerdy me for after Rose goes to bed.
Feel free to ask me how it is going – I need the accountability.