Thursday, January 9, 2014

Stories We Tell Ourselves

I've been getting some great responses to this blog-a-day thing. Folks have been writing comments on posts, thanking me for my writing, generally being supportive. Thanks, all. I gotta say this is not easy, though. I am hitting serious resistance today. But here goes-- Day 9 of Blog-a-Day for the amazing 10th year of the Fun-a-Day project.

I make up stories for my son all the time. When we are in the car, or when we are in his bed, trying desperately to get him to sleep, or when we are in a restaurant waiting for food and the books we've brought just don't cut it anymore. I love telling him stories, and I think my son likes hearing them, too. My partner is always interested in them. It's fun to make up stories, fantasies of dragons or magic books or friends who live far away. And in these stories I try to give some lesson or idea that I think he needs to hear, that I can't imagine he hears elsewhere. 

Like the story about the very mean dragon. This story has in it a triple gift.  First there are the three friends who now live in Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Vermont, magically moving onto the same street in Philadelphia along with a very mean dragon who will scorch your shrubbery if you mess with him. Second is, well, a story in Philadelphia. Third is the lesson of what happens when people are made fun of and give up on friendship. 

This dragon was once a grand communitarian-- working at food cupboards, participating in civil disobedience, hosting garden parties, running for city council. But a 'friend' started to make fun of him, and told him his breath smelled bad. And not politely and quietly, but in front of all his other friends, and he was laughed at. 

The band of brothers-from-other-mothers write the dragon love letters in various colors while in school together, and the delivery and reading of the letters helps the dragon to realize he doesn't have to give up on friendship. Weekend barbecuing ensues and they live happily ever after.

Why do I feel like this is a good story for my three year old? Maybe because he tells me about the mean games that happened in his old school, or how he was chased by older kids or told he was a girl because of his long hair and love of pink and purple.  I tell that story to my son to explain both the mindlessness of meanness from others, and the chance that there will be good people elsewhere. I also want him to know that his kindness can change things for others.

I am trying to show my son a resilience that I can only make up stories about, that I don't feel all the time. Sometimes it takes a fantasy, a pretend thing, to teach what is most necessarily human, most possibly our best selves. 

Our family doctor has got this down cold. When we went in to see him, the doctor first felt the heartbeat of the plastic frogs my son was playing with before moving on to my son's chest. I took a clue from that and started acting out with a finger puppet the steps of our days together.

I gotta say I wish I was able to motivate myself in this way. Looking at the vastness of possibility and
work waiting for me in starting this farm, I feel overwhelmed! It is too much to look at directly, some days. Okay, today it is too much to look at. 

Maybe because in the business planning class yesterday we talked about types of risk in business. We looked at five types of risk: market, production, financial, legal, and human resources. This way of thinking makes me want to hide inside, or better yet, in a white room with ambient light and no sharp edges anywhere. It stimulates in me the fear of failure that stops many many many amazing people from doing their amazing thing. I want to believe I am not one of those people. 

So I will tell myself a story, maybe. A story about a child, afraid of the dark, who listened to his mother's stories for comfort and calm. And that mother, content in her success at caring for her child, dreamed and grew her life as a model and example of just what joy, what love can do, when put to good use. 

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