Sunday, December 22, 2013

A sort of merry christmas

In 1997, I did not go home for Christmas. It was the second time I had not returned home -- the first was Christmas of 1992 when I was studying abroad and went to Israel with a group of students. I couldn't go home in 1997 because I worked for amazon and I had to work. My sister called and asked me what I was going to do.. before I could answer she said, 'are you going to sit alone in your kitchen with a sad little charlie brown christmas tree, holding a cigarette over your martini and singing an off-key have yourself a merry little christmas?  The image is still so funny to me -- I imagine myself in an old robe with messed up hair .. and lots of ash hanging onto the cigarette.

This Christmas, I have been feeling low. I conjure that image and while it still makes me laugh, I feel like that image at times.  It could be the weather or it could be that Christmas is a difficult time of year when you have experienced significant loss. My dad is not going to send me a card. This is true every day but for some reason, it bugs me more now.  There is something about Christmas that reminds me of everything that is missing .. instead of what it should remind me of ... gratitude, peace, forgiveness.

I also just went to see the movie Gravity. Amazing, amazing movie about loss, isolation, and fear. Gravity is also about hope, perseverance, faith and redemption. I liked it because it's about all of it. The whole experience. If I had the power to change the Christmas theme, it would be a time of reflection and sadness as well as a time of hope and joy. There would be sad songs with all of this merriment. Balance is healthy.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

sonia's style

I've decided that my deepest fears for my kids can be categorized by their gender and are endemic to our culture. For Jack, I fear isolation. I think lonliness and isolation are real problems for men in our culture. As a result, my highest priority for Jack is teaching him good social skills. I care more about his ability to make friends than any of his academic abilities. For Sonia, I fear worthlessness. Did you see those Dove beauty ads? Or read the bio of any woman successful in the business world? Women tend to struggle with feelings of worthlessness or inferiority and it can be really crippling. It's why, when I observed an 8th grade class a while ago, all of the girls started their sentences with qualifiers (this might be wrong or this might be stupid) and I didn't hear one boy do that. I don't think I can battle the forces of our culture so I can only teach my kids how to deal with their consequences.

Recently, Sonia has been posing for people when she says hello. For example, she walks into her preschool and waits for her teacher to compliment her. They usually do. People often tell Sonia how cute she is (as we do for little girls). So after she gets dressed and asks me how she looks, I say, what do you think? I tell her it doesn't really matter what I think. Does she like the way she looks? Then that's what matters. Don't look to other people to give you approval.  I hope to cultivate a strong sense of individuality in Sonia and a strong sense of being part of a community with Jack.. I think the opposite will come naturally to them.

Sonia and Queen Kapiolani in Honolulu. Outfit by Sonia