Thursday, December 07, 2006

A bird in hand

Today’s painting is The Holy Family with a Little Bird by Murillo. At fist glance, it may seem that Jesus is doing the “boys will be boys” thing and teasing the dog by holding the bird above his head. But in fact – as with most paintings of Jesus as a child – the scene is meant to foreshadow the atonement. The bird is a symbol of the soul, and Jesus is saving it from destruction.

I love Murillo’s depiction of Christ. With his smiling, angelic face and the way he leans back into the arms of Joseph, he embodies the pure joy of life and trusting nature that I see often in my own children but rarely in myself. This need for childlike qualities – something I’ve been thinking about a lot lately – is the topic of my Thursday Thirteen list.

13 traits I admire in my children

1. Candidness
“Mom, I hope you’re not offended but this casserole is super gross.”

2. Generosity
My kids share everything with me: their Halloween candy, the last donut in the box, their colds, their secrets, their big plans for the future, their favorite Calvin and Hobbes lines, and their infectious love of life.

3. An easily triggered sense of humor
It takes some earth-shatteringly funny überwit to make me laugh out loud in a movie. My kids? Give them some fart jokes and a sarcastic koala with a British accent and they’re watching cinematic gold. I really need to lighten up. I’d probably enjoy movies more. And my kids more. And their farts too.

4. Keen vision
“Hey, why is my Your-life-is-not-complete-until-you-buy-these-new-Lego-sets! catalog buried under piles of newspapers and rolled up and tucked inside a cereal box at the bottom of the garbage?”

5. Imagination
In an effort to make their own mundane lives a bit more radioactive, my boys can turn a meal of green beans and lasagna into “spent fuel rods” and “Chernobyl wreckage.” If Ethan is holding Nora when she spits up, I get to hear this: “BOOP! BOOP! Warning, Warning. Toxic spill detected. Activate containment cloths.”

6. Quickness to forgive
As much as I try not to hold grudges, I can still remember offensive remarks long after their sting should have worn off. My kids on the other hand are happy to forgive and forget. (Which is a good thing for me since it’s often me doing the apologizing.)

7. Empathy
One day McKay started crying while reading a Harry Potter book. He was a little embarrassed, but he finally admitted that he felt sorry for Hagrid. Aw, how sweet. I think this kind of unconditional empathy (even for big hairy fictional characters) is one the first things to go when we “grow up”.

8. Trusting nature
My sons actually believe everything they read on cereal boxes. “Mom! Look, it says I get 100% of all these vitamins when I eat this. I could just have cereal for every meal.”

9. And not coincidentally, trustworthiness
In a world run by children, your cub-scout promise would be your bond.

10. Attunement to the supernatural
These may look like you everyday run-of-the-mill wadded up baby wipes, but to Gabriel, they are genuine angel brains.

11. Scientific inquisitiveness

Actual lab notes to Nora’s recent experiments: “What will happen if I drop this spoon onto the floor?.....What will happen if I do it again?.....and again?.....and again?....and again?”

12. Flexibility (figurative)
My kids can fall asleep in their beds, or in the van, or in a tent, or in a trailer, or in a boat, or at Grandma’s house, or with a mouse, or in the rain, or on a train…

13. Flexibility (literal)
Mmmmmm. Toes.


Anonymous said...

What a fun post! You are very witty and clever. I always manage to get a few good laughs in when I read your blog. And it is so true, we all definitiely need to become more childlike. I can really relate to #6. My kids are so quick to forgive and forget, and as hard as I try, it is hard for me to forget the times when I have felt offended. I am normally quick to outwardly forgive the person, but inside it is hard for me to make it go away.

What a neat picture of Christ as a toddler. It really does look like He is saving the bird. You get that impression from the way He is leaning back into His father's arms.

P.S. Hopefully you don't think I am stalking your blog :) !! I just love to read what you have to say!

Anonymous said...

Oh I love this post! One trait I admire in my children is their ability to live in the moment - not in the past, not in the future, but right in the present - enjoying life and all that it has to offer NOW.

Brony said...

What a great list. It was both funny and sweet.

Happy TT!

Anonymous said...

This was a wonderful post and I love the picture! (Well, both of Christ and your baby--what a doll!) Who knew toes made such good toys AND snacks?

Tug said...

How SWEET. My daughter sucked her toes, too - never her thumb!

Happy TT!

Julie said...

Ordinary Mom
When I wrote #6 I was thinking of a particular thing that someone said a few years ago on the phone when he didn't think I could hear him. How silly that I still carry it around in my heart when I should just let it go.

Oh and stalkers are always welcome as long as you leave comments :) It's nice to know who's out there.

That's another great one. I think as we get older, we get used to always looking into the future and ruminating over the past. Some of my kids do this already, but the younger ones are just content to BE. I love that.

Thanks Brony for visiting.

She is a doll, thanks for noticing :) Do you think maybe we should feed her more?

Another toe sucker eh? Nora won't take a pacifier so it's a good thing her toes are relatively clean. Hope the habit stops once she starts walking.

Le laquet said...

I have to admit I'm with the kids on the sarky koala!!

JO said...

this is a great list!!! thanks for sharing!

alisonwonderland said...

great list - it reminded me to be more appreciative of the "childish" characteristics of my kids that in many ways are the "childlike" characteristics i ought to be developing in myself!

happy TT!

The Lazy Organizer said...

Mmmmm, I love the toe eating stage. Lovely's toes aren't as tasty as they once were now that they stink from Faux leather shoes!

There is no garbage deep enough to hid evidence from husbands and kids. I know that from experience too.

Wonderful list!

Ruth said...

Love the list and the painting has given me something to think about for the day.

Goslyn said...

The angel brains crack me up. How on earth did Gabie come up with that?

Anonymous said...

Number five especially resonates with me. I wonder why?
Seriously though - Chernobyl awareness? That's pretty cool.

And though I am tempted to ask, I've decided I don't want "more information" on number 10.

elasticwaistbandlady said...

Amen on Number Two, Sister Julie! I'm preaching the word of FART Appreciation every day, while you spread a love of ART Appreciation.

I don't you well, yet, but from what I can see, you're a really gifted individual with the rare balance of intelligence and humor mixed with humbleness. The picture is breathtaking. I wouldn't have a clue to the symbolism without you as the tour guide though. Only 17 more pictures to go until Christmas!

Julie said...

OK, a couple of explanations:

First, Chernobyl. For some reason, my two oldest are really into nuclear power plants recently. They've watched every documentary we could put our hands on, read books, played meltdown simulations on the internet (crazy stuff) and for them to describe the lasagna as Chernobyl wreckage was actually a compliment. They are insanely jealous that Ken and I once lived within spitting distance of 3-mile island.

As for the angel brains -- you just have to know Gabie to nod your head in total understanding on that one. He's been told enough times that his name is "angelic" so he likes to play Angel Games where he pretends we are all angels living in heaven. I draw the line when he wants me to play the part of God. Where the actual brains fit in, I'm not sure. He built those and dried them out on the heat vent while I was gone to class this week.

Wahoo! We need more Fart Appreciation in the world today. And the compliments are very nice, but I'm afraid they're all going to my head and then that "humbleness" thing will be all shot to heck.

meno said...

i've had to have a few chats with my daughter about candidness.
"Grandma, there's a hair on your chin, gross!"

Although i did smirk later.

Ballpoint Wren said...

What a beautiful baby! Don't we all wish we were still that flexible? Although, I doubt I'd still be sucking my toes—at least, I hope not.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing the picture. How lovely!

(brought to you by Bonnie Wren's Super Sabado)