My Most Beautiful Thing (A Blogsplash)

What is beauty?

Don’t we seem obsessed with beauty in all the wrong ways?

When my mother would tell me I was pretty, I didn’t believe her. “You’re my mother. You have to say that.”

Now I’m a mother, and I look at my son and think, “Wow. He’s beautiful.” I don’t know if the rest of the world sees him that way, but his beauty is all I can see.

my son

But all children are beautiful to me. I see how I failed to appreciate this when I was young–how beautiful young people are. We should waste less time worrying about beauty when we are young. Well, when we are any age.

It’s a cliche for a mother to say how beautiful her child is. What is that expression? A face only a mother could love. Perhaps. Though I think there is enough evidence that for some mothers even beauty isn’t enough for love.

My son is beautiful. A few months ago he saw a movie where an orphan boy’s dog died. My son cried. “Mom,” he said. “That dog was all that boy had.” He went over to our oldest dog, then 15, now 16, and hugged him. “We have to let him now we love him,” he said, crying. My son wouldn’t let go of the dog for a long time. I was so upset that I’d stupidly allowed my son to see this movie, but…isn’t it good to see that our children feel? I knew that. I’d seen him feel many times of course. But still, my eight year old felt compassion.

That was beautiful. Don’t you think?

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I’m participating in a My Most Beautiful Thing blogsplash. It seemed like fun. The idea comes from Writing Our Way Home. If you go there, you’ll find other links, other people, worth following. You’ll find other beautiful things.

The Friendship Obituaries

Some friendships I’ve ended intentionally. Haven’t you?

I was 14 and I sent a note to a friend explaining that I couldn’t be her friend anymore. The reason for this valiant behavior? She’d discovered boys and sneaking out and smoking.

I’d been through that with a cousin, and I knew that if my friend was sneaking out with boys, those boys would be around even when they were allowed to be.

They’d be the kind of boys who encouraged girls to sneak out at night.

I wrote her that I wanted to stay out of trouble and that we were too young for smoking and boys. She never wrote back. She must’ve thought me a prude. But I wanted my life to go a particular way and that way didn’t include being derailed by boys.

She never spoke to me again.

Have you ever purposely ended a childhood friendship?

The Friendship Obituaries

Do you remember the first friendship to die?

We were in the 2nd grade and the murder was accidental. Or at least, I hadn’t considered the consequences of my actions.

In the lunch line I kissed a boy on top of his head. He was short with blue black hair and big blue eyes. I was the tallest kid in the class.

He was horrified.

My best friend, S., was angry. She liked him too, and the two of them were the same height.

S did eventually speak to me again, but the friendship died. I didn’t understand why she was so mad. It wasn’t as if the boy had then suddenly decided he liked me!

The last I remember of S was our sophomore year in high school. We hadn’t spoken in years and I saw in her the hallway. She was pregnant.

We never did speak again.

But in the 2nd grade we were best friends.

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Do you remember your first best friend?

Trouble with Tribbles and Lieutenant Uhura

We made a tribble.

My son loves the original Star Trek. He wants a model Enterprise, and he spent some time this evening trying to draw one. My son never takes half an interest in anything. He has his Star Trek action figures (though from the recent film, not the series), he has a Star Trek calendar, he wants to find a pattern to make an origami Enterprise (no luck there yet), and he wants a Lego Enterprise as well.

Tonight we made a tribble. More accurately, we took one of the torn up dog toys, salvaged the good parts, and stitched it together into a ball-like shape. Tribble! My son fell asleep with it, but I took it away and put it on a shelf lest the dog try to take it back.

But as we were working on other projects this evening, my 8-year-old son asked, “Why didn’t they give lieutenant Uhura more stories where she can be the hero?” While I struggled with how to answer this, he added, “Aren’t there any where she’s the hero?”

We’ve been going through the old series on Netflix, and I can’t recall if Uhura could be called the hero of any of them.

How do you explain a problem in the world without sounding…well, I don’t know, but I want to sound sane and reasonable when I talk to my son…nor do I want to end up sounding condoning of a way of thinking… It’s complicated!

But I told him that in those times women just weren’t given much to do in stories, and African-American women certainly weren’t. And times haven’t changed much. “How many shows do you watch where you see a black woman get to do much of anything?” I asked him.

He thought about it. “Not any.” He thought some more. “That doesn’t make any sense. That should change. I like Uhura. She could save people. She’s always helping.”

Indeed.

I looked for a video of Uhura that showed her fighting (she does!) but mostly all I found were videos that focused on the kiss between her and Kirk or on how sexy she was. This says something about the state of things in 2011. Oh well, She did have a lovely voice, and this little song she sang to Spock, stuck in my head for years–not the words, but the tune.

Uhura is cool.

My Novel Is Not My Baby

I can neglect my novel for weeks at a time and not go to jail. I can edit what my novel says. And I can be reasonably confident that other books on the shelf are not going to push my novel off the shelf to its death.

No matter how complicated a novel is, it can’t match the complications of raising a baby all the way to adulthood.

Maybe, however, parenting is easy for you.

That’s nice.

So, this evening my son decided to spend the last of his birthday gift certificate at a local toy store. Fine with me. He’s 8, by the way. And after a couple years of looking at things in the dollhouse section, he decided to spend his money on a table and chairs and some dishes for a dollhouse he hopes to get in the future. He is fascinated by all those tiny bits of furniture.

He asked me what I thought of these things, and I told him I thought they were cool. Which I do. I liked them when I was his age as well.

Now I support my son in whatever his passions are (You want to have 60 snails race up our front door? Well, okay… You want to spend all day Saturday testing origami boats in buckets of water? Sure…) and if he wants a dollhouse and we can afford it and he’s willing to put his allowance towards it and it won’t get in the way of the dogs, then that’s fine by me.

But I don’t live in Perfectlandia, and I know that it is entirely possible that one of his friends might come over and say something…less than cool. Will he stand up for himself or shove these things out of sight, feelings hurt and money wasted?

Everything I know about him and I can’t answer that question. I want him to like what he wants to like and not be hurt–even though plenty of times in life it feels impossible to do either. But for now he and I share a work space, and we can put these things on a shelf and say they are mine if we need to.

Which may well be teaching him to lie and to hide himself.

My mother used to say–in certain situations–”Tell them your mother did it” or “You can tell them it is your mother’s idea” or “Put the blame on me if that will help.” She meant it sincerely, though I only took her up on that once… “My mother won’t let me.”

“Oh, moms! That’s too bad,” came the reply. But I was off the hook.

It is hard in this day and age when we say we want our children to be themselves and to be happy, but we also know how hard a path that can be.

Well, I think it is hard. I could be wrong.

Do you find it easy?

Where Every Man Has Gone Before

My 8-year-old son has taken an interest in the original Star Trek series. I loved it when I was a kid, and while usually the kiddo professes to dislike any television I like (i.e. Doctor Who), he will ask to watch this show from the late 1960s.

This evening we watched the episode Mudd’s Women, and when the women in question beamed aboard the ship, I said rather offhandedly while struggling with gift wrap, “Here comes trouble.”

My son asked, “What do you mean?”

I thought about an answer while my son watched the men of the Enterprise watch the women walk across the room.

“Oh,” my son said. “I think I know what you mean.”

“You do?”

“They’re going to distract the men, aren’t they?”

“Well, yes. Yes, they are.”

Kids. Not as oblivious as you think–or as you wish.