An Education, Day 36
For the blessed handful of my readers who have told me they look forward to reading my blog daily, I missed you yesterday. I had a wonderful, extended weekend across three states while I babysat, skied, and finally kicked my sinus infection into oblivion with some long-avoided antibiotics. I grudgingly started the course of Azithromycin late last week, realizing that my infection persisted despite my best efforts and that I could otherwise infect my niece and nephew who I had agreed to watch on Saturday overnight into Sunday morning.
This entire weekend reminded me of a lesson an old professor of mine at Westminster Choir College once taught us that every person, no matter how old or young, has lived an entire lifetime so far and sees himself as a complete person. I certainly recall feeling entitled to the same things my elders and especially my older sister had, even to the point of seeing the church youth group as unfair for not allowing younger children to join them on a ski trip. Although aware as an adult that my older generations can have experience and wisdom I have yet to acquire, I continue to inhabit the same (though further developed) mind and body as I did as a child. Making decisions involved the same processes as now, and I often felt no more or less qualified to make them as I do now.
Matthew, my smart but sometimes spacey seven-year-old nephew certainly feels fit to decide on his own to do or not do something, as I witnessed firsthand this weekend. Doubtless I’ll remember fondly having to say, “As much as I admire your negotiation skills, you still can’t have any dessert if you don’t finish your vegetables,” after several dead-ended attempts to reason with him. Surprisingly, that worked, though I can’t report every “negotiation session” went as smoothly Although the fun and loving four-year-old Kendal agreed with her instructions more readily throughout the day, even she proudly retorted, “I know that one!” several times when Matthew or I tried to help her when she struggled while impressively trying to read us Olivia before bed. She certainly didn’t feel like her age should restrict her abilities.
On the flip side of things, I found myself enjoying so many simple things this weekend I don’t normally permit myself the luxury of attempting anymore as a “responsible” adult. From building a marble track to watching Phineas and Ferb and having an actual tea party, I had a surprisingly fun time hanging out in my more imaginative, childlike mindset. I discovered the same joy this the second time in my life in Vermont on Sunday while seeing a “shooting star” on a clear and starry night, free of the light pollution that haunts my everyday life. Returning to the delight of actually skiing with a technician and basically taking a free full day private lesson with my good friend and host Richard Alan Salz, I occasionally made him wait a little longer while I slowly made my way down the last few runs to gaze at the mountains and the sun streaming through the clouds. Of course, Rich used to work as a ski instructor and now skis primarily with his eight-year-old son. When asked about the day teaching me, he said, “It’s kind of like teaching Louis, except that he learns a lot faster than you do.”
My friend later retracted a bit, remarking how well I managed to take his instruction and keep up with him, but I personally wouldn’t mind returning to more of a childlike mindset more often, especially if I could learn faster and retain more information. In the meantime, I’ll have to find fresh perspective where I can and perhaps start searching for some new brain exercises or take up sudoku. I really could not have had a better weekend, forgetting about the antibiotics and the sinus clearing. I gained a lot of fresh perspective. I learned firsthand that growing closer to one’s family can be hard but really great work and that I can have fun talking and playing with kids, even when sick and tired. I love skiing and the stars as much as ever, and a good friend reminded me that I can fully appreciate the quiet (though not the cold!) of a small town in Vermont with no television and little music as much as all of the craziness of my city. Although I could write at least five posts about all I learned and experienced and understood differently as a result of this weekend, I must sleep and continue onto my next challenge. Many many thanks to my sister Becky Lorfink’s family, Enterprise, Amtrak, Bromley Mountain, and Rich Salz for a solid education and some good medicine.