Monday, August 22, 2011

Pride and Pretzel Crumbs

I have a great kid. She doesn't eat many vegetables, clean her room or spend much time practicing the piano. She snacks in front of the TV, and leaves a trail of crumbs. She'd much prefer to help my colleagues prepare their classrooms, unpack their boxes or hang up posters than spend time in my room at school.
But...she's kind. Conscientious. Respectful (most of the time). She has a good heart, and small children adore her. She makes her grandparents feel as though they are stars in her universe (rightfully so) because, well, they are.  She does well in school, makes good choices and often blows me away with her maturity and insights.

Unfortunately, on a moment-by-moment basis, her mother has a tendency to focus more on the first paragraph than the second. Silly, really, because when she graduates cum laude from Harvard (!), who will care whether or not she made her bed or cleaned her room? A vacuum cleaner can eradicate crumbs, but not bad choices, tattoos or the effects of substance abuse. And time spent helping others for no reason at all is time not spent engaging in...well, some of the things girls her age are engaging in.

When I was in second grade, the nun who taught us our catechism told us how important it was to always tell our parents that we love them, because some day, they wouldn't be here to hear us say it. I remember very little of the catechism that I learned that year, but I have always remembered the importance of saying those words to the people I love - so much so that even the simplest of conversations often end with those words.

I told my daughter that story a long time ago, and she has grown up hearing - and saying - "I love you" on a daily basis. What I say much less often, however, is that I'm proud of her. Instead, I complain about the crumbs on the living room floor, cringe when someone else sees her bedroom in all its teenage glory and nag her to practice the piano.

So, here it is, world: I am proud of my daughter. In a perfect world, she would eat her vegetables, clean her room and practice her instruments, but this is not a perfect world, and part of what makes her the awesome kid she is are her imperfections.
But telling you isn't enough. I need to look for opportunities not only to tell her, but to tell her why. This is hardly an amazing revelation, but on days when the griping (mine) outweighs the gratitude (again, mine), it's important to step back and take a look at the big picture.

Right before I send her for the vacuum cleaner.

 [photo credits: pretzels:
vaccum cleaner:]

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