Monday, May 12, 2008

Kids Say the Darndest Things, and So Do Grandmas


"If you look deeply into the palm of your hand, you will see your parents and all generations of your ancestors. All of them are alive in this moment. Each is present in your body. You are the continuation of each of these people.”

-Thich Nhat Hanh

I'm Italian, so I'm passionate about food:

Passionate about pasta, passionate about bread, wine, and veal.

As we traveled the rolling lavender hills of Italy,

reminders were everywhere.

I mused:

Now I know why I like scarves, and Bergamot and inspired design,
Citrus, and Leather,
boots and shoes of all kinds!
Italians are passionate about life in general.
As you stroll the piazzas it's clear;
sauntering arm in arm, lingering pauses at the espresso bar;
Life is for living, and they do it with flair.
I thanked my parents for making me Italian.

Our Ancestors are in our bones; I'm sure of it.
I could feel it as I wandered the streets of Castel Disangro Italy, imagining my ancestors resting on the stoop cleaning green beans they had harvested earlier that day.
I could smell their lavender scented linens clipped firmly to the clotheslines, lyrically rising and falling with the music of the mountain breeze.

There is so much we can learn from our ancestors,
but dually as much we can learn from our offspring.
I'm routinely humbled by them, but with a deep sense of inner pride.
Of course their ancestors are in their bones; and when they blend that with their own experience and observations, they leave me both awe struck, and awe inspired.

Case in point:
In Pennsylvania right now, it's Baby Cow season.
Baby "Oreo Cow" season,
Baby "How-Now Brown-Cow season
I've never seen a Baby cow,(alright a calf, alright potential veal) up close, but I want to.
It doesn't matter what kind of animal it is, observing the baby ones just makes me smile.
We enjoy seeing them on the way to my daughter Avery's school,
and I wonder aloud if they frolic
like puppies and kittens do.

Flash forward:
Friday evening, having dinner at an Italian restaurant. My 15 year old Daughter Lindsey gently reminds me, as the waitress delivers my Veal Piccata, why veal is so tender.
Flashback to 1990:
I am reading Diet for a New America, my first reminder that veal comes from baby cows who are kept in cages no bigger than they are, and thus, have a very limited existence before they turn into Veal Piccata.
Holy, Canole!
Our Ancestors are in our Bones, and they'll remain there,
even if I decide to learn from my offspring, and refrain from ordering veal.

As we return home that evening, Avery, my 13 year old early riser, suggests that maybe I should consider going to bed earlier to combat my recent insomnia problem. "Then," she says," you can wake up earlier, and you won't be so tired in the morning."
I decide to take her advice, and some Advil PM. I did wake up earlier. I did feel better. I made cinnamon rolls to send by beloveds, Terrence, Lindsey and Avery off to school, cleaned out the kitchen cabinets and did three loads of laundry before 8:30 a.m.
Kids do say the darndest things.

Terrence, our 17 year old recently taught me something about my motives. He just got his license, and I was a little tentative about letting him drive right away. Of course, with his newly acquired ticket to freedom, he was eager to get out there and drive alone; eager, like all 17 year olds with a junior license, to get in the car, turn the radio on full blast, and go somewhere. He wanted to drive to school the very next day.
"Mom," he says, I have my license, so I'm legally allowed to drive. When you got your license, you wanted to drive, right? Isn't that why you get a license?" I do remember, My own father, after training 5 other drivers before me, sending me out to pick up potato chips and ice cream, until he felt I had enough local driving experience.
As Elaine Bennis, of Seinfeld would say,
"I'm speechless. I have no speech."

Day two of license, I am at my meditation class. After discussing the techniques we'll be working on, we settle in, begin our breathing, and feel the way the air moves through the nose and into the lungs, enlarging the chest cavity, then feeling it empty. We do this again and again, until, eventually, thoughts creep in. You notice your thoughts, but don't judge them, and redirect your attention to your breath. This goes on for about twenty minutes, and when we bring our attention back to the room, and to our surroundings, we discuss, as a group, what challenges we faced as we sat with ourselves.
We talked about what thoughts came up, and when it was my turn I confessed that I had hard time settling my mind, and that the thoughts that were coming up were centered around Terrence driving, and his imminently leaving for college the following year. Avery, our youngest had reminded me that the year Terrence goes away to college is the same year that we agreed to let Lindsey board at her nearby high school.
What I begin to realize, as soon as I speak it, is that my anxious thoughts have a feeling-tone of clinging. Knowing what's imminent is reminder that time indeed marches on, whether your mother likes it or not.
Acknowledging this, I send Terrence out for Potato Chips and Ice cream.
He drives to school every day now.
If he's anything like me, a trial and error learner,
there may be a fender bender in his future,
but as my Grandma Jo-Jo always said when we made a mistake,
"Live and Learn."

Kids Say the Darndest things
and So do Grandmas.

" I believe the children are our future, teach them well and let them lead the way."
Whitney Houston, The Greatest Love of All

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