Sunday, August 8, 2010

Kids, I give you Nothing.

I am sitting at a huge round dinner table with three of my classmates and their parents from the graduating class Parsons School of Design, 1996. We are up on the balcony, and can see below, the tables gathered around the runway, and the exciting top designers, like Tommy Hilfiger and Donna Karan that have come to support the up and coming fashion designers. We are not entirely sure why Fergie is there, but we are all in a buzz, seeing her red hair and smile amidst the sea of black cocktail dresses and tuxedos.

One at a time, they call the student winners of each mentor designer's group to the stage to accept their awards. I realize, with a sudden sadness, that all of us at the table, save one, is receiving an award. I feel awkward for a moment, sad for my friend. Then I realize she isn't sad at all. In fact, she looks genuinely happy for us. I go down to the stage, walk in tiny steps across the stage in my skin tight, electric blue, rubber dress, dizzy with joy of the moment. The "Gold Thimble Award" is a real gold thimble, the several hundred people before me are real important people in the industry. It all seems so very, very, important.
When I get back to the table, and my friend is smiling so lovingly at me, I remember that she is the only one out of all of us that actually already has a job in the fashion design industry. Several weeks before Banana Republic came to interview at our school and hired our friend Cathy on the spot. I know why, too. She is delightful. Her warm and joyous smile makes anyone feel happy and calm. She is genuine, honest, funny and always looks on the bright side.
She got the job, not just because she is a creative fashion designer, but because of who she was being.
That's what is important.

At a recent birthday party, as several Moms discussed the classes we are putting our kids into after school, french, swim, chinese, art, soccer, tennis, math tutoring etc...I was compelled to tell them this story. Because in the end, our kids will get their dream jobs,or become entrepreneurs, not because they are the smartest or most accomplished,or because of what they know, but because of who they are BEING.
We parents are the only ones who are going to actually take the time to teach them and guide them from that perspective. Teachers don't have time, with their classrooms of increasingly ballooning sizes of 36 or more, to actually coach kids on being responsible, being humorous, being a person of integrity and compassion. No, teachers, bless their hearts for what they take on, need to get to the next chapter and meet the standards set before them. If the child doesn't stop talking, or start answering, they get just consequences and move on.
We parents are the ones that need to take the time to talk with them about who they are being.

If a child has ten after school activities, when do they get a chance to just BE?
We are a culture that is so busy doing, doing, doing...sports, tutoring, games, practice, classes...what about the joy in watching them play with their stuffed animals in bed, or perform a dance or song? That's a dance or song they never would have made up had they been in soccer or Chinese school. That's a self expression that never would have been created had they been in tee ball. They are imagining, creating and developing who they choose to be...they need time, and nothing, to do that. In fact they need more of NOTHING and LESS of outside sources to create.
So kids, I happily give you Nothing today.

I am not saying there is anything wrong with after school activities. But Moms, there is nothing wrong if they are not in them either. In fact, it is just as important for them to have afternoons of NOTHING planned, including no TV or computer, so they can generate themselves. Bored? Good! Go create something! But, but...what about everyone else? Judy's kid is playing chess already, Martha's kid takes a language and three sports.
So? That's them, That's their life. My kids have their life. There is no race, there is no scarcity of time for them to learn. They will learn, they will do...I vote for them, and empower them, to just BE now.

Zen Honeycutt

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