family life, women

Listening to the season 2

“Parents can only give good advice or put them on the right paths, but the final forming of a person’s character lies in their own hands.” Anne Frank, writer, hate-resisting firebrand

The other day, our youngest daughter asked me to get something on a high shelf in the kitchen. Our house is old. Our cabinets are exceedingly high, built no doubt for a year’s worth of canned goods. So, I got up on my tip toes and reached in a manner than would impress any yoga instructor. As I have done for the last decade plus.

Then, I sunk back down on my heels. “Wait a minute,” I said. “You’re as big as I am. You get it.” We looked at each other and laughed. It’s true. Anything that is within my reach is now within her reach.

Both of our daughters are now somewhat bigger than I am, in fact. A sudden growth spurt that caused even the older daughter, who hadn’t grown in nearly two years, to move from petites to plain old clothes came upon us this summer. They literally grew like weeds in garden soil, like shelter puppies of mysterious ancestry, like piles of laundry.

So, today, when both of them headed back to school, a bit bleary eyed given the insanity of the hour, they looked more ready than ever. So tall. So grown up. So ready.

Everything is in reach.

family life

Silver slippers

“Most people don’t grow up. Most people age. They find parking spaces, honor their credit cards, get married, have children, and call that maturity. What that is, is aging.” Maya Angelou, American poet

Growing up is on my mind these days. Our oldest daughter is in one of those times of transition. Not a full-blown commencement, a job or an engagement — just something big enough to make us sit up and take notice that she is practically a woman.

Last night, it was all about the silver slippers. They’re pewter really, with just enough sheen that they have some zing but not so much that they’d look at home on a 1970s disco floor. Sling backs. A heel that’s somewhat higher than a kitten but no where near a stiletto. A delicate bow on each toe. Classy. And, very, very grown up.

I held my breath when she rose from her chair and headed to the front of the room wearing them, but I didn’t need to. She can walk in these shoes, these silvery, pewtery slippers. Quite well. So very, very grown up. And, isn’t that what we’ve always wanted for her, for our other daughter, as well?

Children are lovely. Teens are lovely, as well. If that is what you are, be that with great joy. But, the world also needs its share of grown ups, especially in a time when so many people simply refuse to function as fully-formed men and women.

This Peter Pan syndrome is all around us. Women doing bizarre things to their faces and bodies in an attempt to look like something other than what they are — grown ups. Men who are old enough to qualify for AARP still flitting from woman to woman, leaving a child here or there. Young adults in their 20s and 30s avoiding grown-upness in favor of a never-ending pursuit of degrees. Adults of every age, race and social status turning to a pill or an injection rather than dealing with life as it is.

It’s even in the church world. The church ladies portrayed so humorously by comedian Dana Carvey are nearly gone. There are few willing to organize a potluck dinner, let alone share sage advice and spiritual wisdom earned the hard way.

So, although I’m in no hurry for my daughters to grow up, I really, really want them to do just that. The world will need them, silver slippers and all.