First of all, a big thank you to all of you who hang in there. Who continue to show up for those noisy crazy little beings. Perhaps a special shout out for those of you who learn to grow along side them too. (In this area I was fortunate, in that just about every roundabout loony or otherwise twist and turn my siblings and I took, at least one of our parents understood, or learned to).
But what I really want to suggest today, is to be adventuresome with your kids. I know you’re tired. I know too many of you are between jobs or down on your luck, and working with all your inner resolve just to keep putting one foot in front of the other. Regardless, those little ones need to see the shiny side of life. They need movement to exert themselves and they need art to be uplifted. At the end of each day they need all the light you can provide.
Yesterday I counted thirty high school students onto a school bus (with two other teachers) and together we crossed the Canadian border to spend the day in Montreal. These jaunts are generally a first for many of our rural students: leaving the country, venturing to a city, touring a fine arts museum, walking on cobble-stones and viewing architecture from the 1700’s as well as eating poutine and gelato. Some were timid, so we guided, others braver, so we cautioned; all were ecstatic to be leaving the known and headed on an adventure, one that included the Chagall: Colour and Music exhibit, as well as time to explore the Old Port of Montreal.
As tempted as I am to rant on Chagall and his stunning magnificence and our extraordinary great fortune to view his life’s work, from oil paintings to sculpture to stain glass to costuming and everything else in between, I only want to use this moment to encourage you to get your children into art classes and art museums, to let them strum something and hear an orchestra, to dance with them on the lawn and also watch those whose formal training allows for transcending gravity. Set your children’s bar as high as the clouds. Higher if possible.
By opening those doors your children will come to understand that their lofty goals will demand focus. Determination. Ambition. Gratitude. And even some luck. Help them find their love, and through this passion they will never fall prey to indifference. Every teacher in America will thank you. But even more importantly, as adults, your children will too.
No money you say? That’s an easy fix. Bring your afternoon coffee in a thermos, and you’ll save $5 a day, by the end of the month you’ll have $100 to pay for local theater tickets for the whole family, or a dance performance, or even a concert. Even better, it’s summer, which means there will be free outdoor events from coast to coast. Check your newspaper, read those flyers stapled around town, or chat it up with the guys at work. More than ever your children need to escape the fearful media, the pressures of our obsessive culture, and find a way to connect with their creativity. Help them find that way. Let the process be messy. Let them play with every expression of themselves. Without sounding preachy, just do it.