Thursday, March 24, 2011
Life with an almost six-year old is great, mostly because her deep knowledge on a variety of topics is matched by her acute, near-psychic sense of hearing and a willingness to teach others. This means, essentially, that she can sense that her brother is having a thought, know ahead of time that he is wrong and have the right information ready to refute him. This is amazing since we live in a two-story house and he usually speaks quietly. Just yesterday I was doing the dishes when Mister came around the corner.
“Hey, Mom. Duuunowhat?”
“What, Brother?” I asked.
He began to form a word, but was momentarily distracted by the loud stomping of a ballerina coming up the stairs. Before he was able to throw an elbow, she had stepped between us, the pink, purple and blue layers of her twirling skirt filling up the space.
“Go ahead, Mister.” I said, making eye contact.
She inched closer to the plate. Worked the shoulders. Choked up on the bat. He looked at her, looked at me, and then began again.
“Mom, I think we should get one of those flying mats so we wouldn’t have to drive the van anymore.”
“They don’t make those anymore,” she answered smugly, turning to sachet back downstairs to the royal ball.
At six, the potpourri of sassy confidence, imagination, unbounded energy and a willingness to speak is cute, especially when tinged with error. At sixteen is scares the boys. In the early twenties, yet untempered, it grinds through bosses. It does not necessarily work well in marriage either. This I have found out.
My husband calls Sister my "mini-me". Poor thing. Luckily for she and I both, we share our home with this wise and gentle man who understands that she is still listening to him, even though she is singing and drawing with her finger on the window. He thinks its funny when she makes up games and demands that we all play them. He loves that she goes with gusto and even sat up a little straighter when the Kindergarten teacher told us she left a note for the substitute that said, “Just ask Sister.”
I, on the other hand, am prone to discipline (or even resent) the "me" I see in her. Maybe because I know her gifts will likely leave her on the outside looking in, up late at night in a quiet house pondering the world’s problems, inexplicably dissatisfied with the middle road.
This week my husband brought home a book of Myers-Briggs personality summaries, a psychoanalytic horoscope of sorts. He was laughing before he even began to read mine. “This personality type, found in five percent of the population can be summarized in one word: Commandant.” The corners of his eyes wrinkled as he smiled and continued, “when this person is in the house, everyone knows who is in charge . . . he or she takes their work very seriously . . . they are prone to view their family as an extension/tool with which to meet their personal and professional goals.” Yuck. Double yuck.
But a gift is a gift. We don’t get to choose which ones we get. But we are accountable for our efforts to make something beautiful and make it multiply. That is the parable of the talents: each man a coin to invest. The sin – not in gambling – but in fearfully burying the treasure.
So, what, or more importantly how, do I teach this strong daughter? How do I help her see that all of God’s gifts must be tempered by a hunger for peace, an appetite for humility and a willingness to wait for the wisdom which must simmer? Maybe I don’t. Maybe those are the lessons that she will have to learn by skinning her knees.
But skinning the knees comes with a cost. Last month my mom took Sister out to by some new clothes. She had been asking Grammy to sew together the round and gaping holes on the knees of all her pants. “Sister, I can’t sew these pants. These holes are round. If I try to close them up, they will bunch and bother you. We will have to buy new ones.” And before Sister was home from her vacation, the new pants were already wearing thin in the same old places.
So I pray: for the protection of her gift and for lessons easy on the knees.
"Do not neglect the spiritual gift within you..." I Tim 4:14