Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Listen to the Lady

Kids can be a lot of things. They are sometimes loud, destructive, unruly, and messy. They can take the calmest, most sane adult-care-taker-person and bring her to her knees. They are wise and accepting and honest and wear their hearts and emotions on the outside. Sometimes these emotions show up in a screaming and yelling, legs and arms flailing tantrum on the floor of Target, but at least they are honest. My favorite thing about kids, though, is they are overflowing buckets full of joy and curiosity and wonder and unconditional love. Kids need their adults, but the adults, we need kids, too. 

A few Fridays ago, I drove out to Kyle and Ashlea’s and join their family for dinner. We ate a summer dinner of lobster rolls, corn, and cucumber salad. And because it is summer, schedules don’t really exist, so we watched a movie with the kids. This movie night wasn’t planned, it just happened. Ashlea put in the DVD of Secretariat to make sure it worked. My dad burned Kyle and Ashlea copy of the movie and we wanted to make sure it worked first. But, as soon as the movie started, we all gravitated towards the family room and were soon a big pile of kids and adults watching a movie, together. 

Kate, Jack, and Will, because they are kids, played with toys, puzzles, and iPads, while we watched. For a brief second, I glanced over at sweet Kate and saw her happily playing on the iPad and sharing it with Jack. Two sweet kids. And then in the next few minutes, I heard Kate say something so wise and beyond her years, it still gives me chills and still causes me to wonder. 

Early on in the movie, Secretariat, there is a scene where Penny Chenery, visibly upset, escapes to a barn on her family farm. She believes in her horse. She believes he is a member of her family. She believes he will win. But, very few people believe in Penny. As she struggles with the staggering risks of racing her horse and forcing her family into financial ruin, she gives an impassioned statement. I always thought of this statement as a turning point in the movie for dramatic affect. I never really paid attention to Penny's exact words. As Penny cries from her heart on the shoulders of the few friends who will listen, Kate looks up from her iPad, points toward the television, and loudly instructs all of us in the room to, listen to the lady. Kate’s instructions were so profound, Ashlea and I quickly whipped our heads around to look at Kate, but caught each other’s eyes instead. We shared the exact same surprise and wonder face. Kate, after her moment of brilliance, returned to her iPad and finished her game. 

Kids are a lot of things. They bring us to our knees in many different ways. We pray for their safety and strength and kindness and bravery. We pray for their innocence, wonder, and love to all remain intact. When we pray for them, we forget they are also here for us. They gently guide us out of pain and misdirection. They know they ways of the world better than any of the grown ups. They figure out how to play in the sandbox together. They don’t see difference as a detriment. Kids just learn to get along. They know how to comfort us and hurt when we hurt. They teach us it’s okay to feel sadness and doubt and fear. They teach us to dry our tears and try again. We think we raise them and, practically speaking, we do. And then they turn on us and raise us up so high we aren’t sure if they are kids or mystical creatures. 

So, I share Kate’s advice with you. I know she is six, and even I felt a little silly listening to the lady these past few weeks. But, you know what, Kate is right. Listen to the lady.

“We will win if we can and live with it if we can’t, but you never know how far you can go unless you run.  You have to run your race.  I don’t care how many times they say it can’t be done. I will not live the rest of my life in regret and no matter what happens, we are going to live rejoicing every day.”
-Penny Chenery, Secretariat

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