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Waiting…and Turning it All Around

February 6, 2014 Leave a comment

I don’t like waiting…it takes too long, my son says at least three times a day.

Hmm, delay of gratification, I’m thinking. An important skill…

We all have to wait sometimes to get what we want. Most of the time we have to wait to get what we want. Before you even finish … [singing Mary Had a Little Lamb, counting to 20, etc.], we will be … [home, or wherever]/you will have … [Mommy’s attention, etc.]. I’ve said a version of this statement to my son many, many times.

And only recently have I started thinking more about my own relationship to waiting.

I don’t like to wait. Who does?

On a larger scale, I’ve never had difficulty waiting, though. Waiting for the realization of some kind of a goal while working towards it. That has never bothered me. Par for the course. Accomplishing big things takes time. Months, years, in a few instances decades. Fine by me. That’s what I want, and I don’t have a choice but to work towards getting it. Period. (This attitude brought me to a pretty high level of misery while I was a student in Belgrade.)

But, what I am talking about here is “small” waiting, short waiting, everyday waiting. Wait until I finish chopping an onion to tape your cymbal to the drum. Wait for your fiend to arrive. Wait for my appointment. Wait for something to start.

Over the years, I came to love this kind of waiting. Sure, I will take you to the parade, and no need to worry about the parking, I will just park illegally, stay in the car and wait. Sure, we can go skiing, although I don’t ski, I (or Andrei and I) will just hang out in the lodge. Sure, I can take you to your appointment and just wait for you to be finished, no big deal. Read more…

Circle-and-Line Whistle, Three-Two

December 13, 2013 Leave a comment

I want my yellow whistle, you know, the circle-and-line one, three-two, I want it right now.

Andrei, you can try to look for it some more, but mommy is not going to look for it any more. I tried to help you find it, but I ran out of ideas of places where the whistle might be. If you really want a whistle, maybe we can buy one in that store next to the train station, they must have whistles.

We can’t go to that store and buy a whistle, a circle-and-line whistle, because eighteen hunters came from a forest and killed all the stores and all the whistles. They really did.

So, what does that mean? We have to look some more for your whistle?

Yeah, the hunters killed all the stores and all the whistles. Read more…

Blowing Glass and Revising Stories

September 4, 2012 Leave a comment

Something else happened while I was away, sometime in early June: our friend Phil was in town. He was spending a day blowing glass in the East Falls glass-blowing studio and my husband, Andrei and I drove there to see him.

When we got to the studio, Phil was in the middle of blowing a vase. We positioned ourselves maybe five feet away from him and watched him work for a while. My husband was fairly familiar with the process, but I wasn’t. I had never seen anyone blow glass before. I don’t know why, but I was actually surprised to see the process included blowing in its most literal form. I was also surprised at how repetitive the process was. Put the glass into the fire, take it out, blow, back into the fire, out, blow, then all over again.

I watched the process in fascination. I sweated. It was maybe 120⁰F in the room that had several ovens. Phil was one with the vase, moving precisely the delicate vase-to-be, repeating the same steps over and over again.

I sweated and thought about my writing. More particularly, revision and editing. Over years, I’ve become less and less willing to work hard on revising my stories (or whatever else I write). Weighing every paragraph, every sentence, every word. I came to hate the repetition – read, read again, and again, until you are sick of it, then put it away, start all over again tomorrow.

I’ve become less patient. Less passionate about revising. More sloppy overall. More a fan of rawness.

I am not sure this is a good thing. I am pretty sure it’s not. At some point I thought this new phase of mine might be related to my first job as a trade magazine editor. We edited every piece so many times until we wrung the last drop of life out of it. The authors carried the by-line, but it was we editors in conjunction with the publisher who wrote the piece. At the time I believed we were on the mission to make every piece the best it could be. I was fresh out of school, quite used to getting feedback from my teachers and spending hours addressing their comments while trying to learn everything about writing I possibly could. (Later I realized my teachers were not teaching me how to write – nobody can teach you how to write – but they were teaching me how to revise and edit, and those were important skills and definitely a huge part of the writing process.) Read more…

The Parent Talk: “Greatness” and Motivation

May 11, 2012 2 comments

What is it with us parents – why can’t we just let our children be? Of course, encourage them to explore the world around them and their own responses to it, encourage them to build a relationship with the world and other people, but why put this heavy burden of our expectations on a little guy’s or a little girl’s shoulders? After all, these are all our own expectations that don’t have anything to do with our children’s passions and fulfillment.

So our son loves music. With every atom of his little being. We greatly enjoy his passion for music. Quite frankly, if I spent any time wondering what my son would be like and what he might like, music was the last thing that came to my mind. I certainly don’t consider myself very musical, and my husband seems to be more musical than I am, but playing music is not his passion. Rather, I thought, my son might love mathematics, like my father did (and like I did, the path I abandoned way too early in Serbian quite inflexible school system). Or, he might develop a passion for solving computer problems, like my husband, and he might delight in computer security and analyzing the codes that seem to me like they are beyond comprehension for any regular member of the human species. Or, like my husband, he might develop love of plants and animals, or of photography, or maybe, he might even love writing. My last thought was always, I don’t know, I don’t care, it’s none of my business, but I hope he has a passion, or two.

Now, at the age of two and a half, he loves music more than he loves anything else. I can’t even remember how old he was when we first noticed his passion for music. Maybe it was Goran Bregovic and his music that Andrei first fell in love with.  Sometime last spring, when he was about eighteen months. He would watch videos of Goran Bregovic and his orchestra’s performances and play his toy drum along. He spent many hours pretending he was playing a flute or a horn or whatever instrument he saw in the videos while using all sorts of objects (some random PVC pipe we had lying around, pen, syringe, etc.). Or he would play his drum, flute recorder, xylophone, toy piano – for hours.

Then, his toy drum broke. For several days I listened to Andrei using a toy tambourine as a drum, and that was more than I could stand. I ordered bongo drums online and paid for express shipping, hoping for a more pleasant if not less loud sound.

Read more…

Silence

December 29, 2011 Leave a comment

I’ve always talked to my son a lot in both English and Serbian. From day one, talking to my son has been the most natural thing to do. Yes, in the back of my mind there was the thought that being talked to and sung to was good for him in so many ways (intellectually, emotionally, linguistically), but more than anything it was what I felt compelled to do. It was a way for me to express all the feelings bubbling in me, a way to connect to that very little person in my arms, a way to encourage him to “talk” back to me. Then, as he grew, talking to him became also a linguistic tool, and then I read a few articles about the intellectual benefits of talking to your kid. Over time, a new “chip” was somehow built into the back of my head continuously sending the  message Talk. Talk. Talk.

Of course, at times, I love to talk, but I also love silence. Both of my full-time jobs awarded me with generous chunks of silence in my day. I always shaped my life in a way that allowed enough silence. I need silence the way I need air and water. Silence allows me to see, formulate, construct, analyze. I enjoy it the way I enjoy music – each one at a different time.

A few months ago, I somehow reached a point where I started noticing these chunks of time I was spending with Andrei in silence. He plays with something, maybe in the living room while I am in the kitchen, and we are both silent. If he comes to ask a question, I respond. But that’s it. I don’t label objects (That is a potato masher. To je rukavica.), I don’t ask him any questions, I don’t tell him what I am doing and what I am about to do. No, once he is back to his toys, I am back to my silence. Read more…

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