Monday, August 1, 2016

“Stay hungry, stay young, stay foolish, stay curious, and above all, stay humble because just when you think you got all the answers, is the moment when some bitter twist of fate in the universe will remind you that you very much don't.” 

     Who would have thought that the star of Thor could have come up with something so profound? When searching for a good quote about humility, I passed over Mother Theresa and Winston Churchill and chose those of Mr. Thor. Why? Because they are humble words—words of a 35-year-old. When we cannot learn from someone younger than ourselves, we have become old and arrogant. We think we have “all the answers,” when in fact, we should still be asking questions, and maybe asking them of those who see the world with less experience and a few ounces of naiveté thrown in might give us fresh perspective.

     Yesterday, as Mr. Wonderful and I sat on the beach watching a toddler run away from his mother, zigzagging back and forth through the tide pools, we laughed and marveled at the innocence and freedom of youth. Sometimes we think we know so much and are so wise in many ways, and yet we are humbled by the passing of time and the fading memories of our years as young parents.

     When I think back of my years as a young mom, I fondly recall the daily nap I took with my two-year-old after we studied a page of her big French picture dictionary. We would lie on the floor together and giggle into slumber. 

     I recall the holidays when I dressed both daughters in the same outfits and asked them to sing songs together on the hearth, I remember being so proud of how cute they were. Today, they remind me of how they hated having to do that, and why on earth did I cut their hair so short?

     I remember giving them birthday parties where I made up little games about them, and their friends would have to answer questions about them to get the prizes. I was so happy to see all of their little friends giggling and having fun together. They were so free, so innocent
and so engrossed in play. I used to be able to see the sparkle in their eyes and the little spaces where they had lost teeth.

     As I watch them parent their own children, I am humbled by their devotion, their sacrifice and their unrelenting drive to build strong, courageous young people. I am humbled by the challenges they must face in a world seemingly controlled by technology and threatened daily by terrorists and bullies. I didn’t have to deal with how much time to limit them on their devices; I was busy making sure they did their homework, kept their music down and stayed off the phone. I was sometimes surprised by two-day-old oatmeal under the bed or a dent in my red Firebird. Those things kept me humble.

     We aren’t always lucky enough to have parents with admirable parenting skills. My own parents were children of the Depression and survivors of World War II. Their parenting was fraught with rigid rules, formidable punishment and a work ethic that promised the American Dream. We were taught to do as we were told without question. We were taught to respect our elders and keep private business private. We were taught manners and made to work for our privileges.  My parents didn’t worry about our feelings or what was fair; they dictated, and we obeyed. How times have changed, or have they? 

     How do you teach your children humility? How do you make sure that what comes out of their mouths is sensitive, kind and reflects the values you’ve taught them? Are you living the American dream? Will that dream be available to them?