Privilege Blog

June 20th, 2009, Saturday Morning At 6:47am

A post from the archives, during my brief blog vacation.

I’m sitting at my kitchen counter. It’s old. 17 years old. Butcher block. Which means that by now it boasts some fissures, a burn mark or two, and various mottled patches. Don’t get me wrong, I scrub my counter with reasonable frequency. I’d be embarassed not to. But wood seems to have a memory that cleaning substances and Scotch Brite can’t erase. Hmm, I see what looks like a pen mark too. Old homework relic. Time to sand. Rub it down with mineral oil. One of those house tasks that you carry in the back of your mind thinking to take care of. Whether you do it or not, who knows.

Last night my son said, “This is one of the great kitchen counters of all time.”

Being a parent of young children is such a large job. It’s like a camping trip, you pack everything you can into a car and take it with blind faith out to the wilderness. You get there and realize that you have forgotten your flashlight but you have the cayenne. You make something spicy to eat and sit by the fire. When you get home, some day when you are putting away the laundry or sorting the mail, your kid tells you, “Mom, you know when you forgot the flashlight? That was one of the great camping trips of all time.” It’s not just that you can’t tell if you are doing it right, it’s that you don’t get to say what any indicators that you are doing it right might look like.

15 Responses

  1. This brought a smile to my face. The little memories of “momdom” that make it SO worthwhile! Thanks, Lisa.

  2. Nice thing about a hard wood counter, aside from being beautiful and inviting, and having a built in cutting board for all your veggies, is that you CAN sand it and mineral oil it 17 years later! Cant do that with granite, which is also, unknown to many, more apt to harbor pathogens in its many invisible pores….

  3. I agree with Wendy; that was lovely.
    Teaching can be a bit like that. You do your best, try to be creative, and fun, and still have high expectations of the kids. And most of the time you never know your impact on them beyond the end of the semester.
    Except that one time a kid who you taught years before comes into school and asks if she can do her student-teacher practicuum with you. And you go…”Sure” … but are feeling a bit bewildered because the whole time she was in your class she had this really aloof scowl on her face and you were sure she hated your class. Then when she does come to do her student teaching…she keeps saying things like “Remember when you told our writing class ….whatever?” or “I never forgot how much fun we had doing that group activity in your class.” The whole time she was with me was a revelation to me. I just kept saying to myself…”Huh….you never know what little seeds you are planting.
    I do have to add, Lisa.. I love the variety of topics on your blog!

  4. My daughters, now fully adult and parents in their own right, agree that the most memorable nights of their childhood were the really hot nights in the summer when we went to the beach AFTER dinner, and they got to stay till the moon came up. And that the best vacations were the ones when we went to the home of my parents (who lived on a small lake, outside of a small town), and they got to do whatever they liked, all day.

    And now, when my California-bred grandchildren come to visit us in Minnesota during the heat of the summer, thats all we do: we go to the beach (because a lake beach is not the same as the ocean, you know), look for arrowheads along the old Indian trails, play tennis with Poppy…and just generally relax from the over scheduled world of todays children, and just be a kid.

  5. Thank you for this. Absolutely beautiful. Am sending to my son. Love the “flashlight – cayenne” example. Perfect!

  6. Wow, that last line made me catch my breath in my throat, and then I started to cry. I hope (think!) I “did” do it right by I am haunted by the not knowing.

  7. For those of us prone to a little perfectionism, it can often seem we should be doing better than we are. Those little moments of recognition bring a smile and help to keep a lid on the pot of anxiety. There are so many gems hidden amongst your archives. :)

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