Crowns and halos

Yesterday, I led my weekly “book club,” in my son’s second grade class. We do a program called Junior Great Books in which we read classic tales with themes that are relevant to the kids’ real lives, and discuss them. Yesterday, we read  Arap Sang and the Cranes, an African folk tale about a man who learns to think outside his immediate needs, and look at the bigger picture, and the way that even his best intentions can have a cost when executed without enough thought.

If you’re not familiar with the tale, I suggest you read it. Arap Sang is so grateful to a group of cranes for helping him in his moment of need that he bestows golden crowns on them. However, they come back to say he’s harmed their population by making them the targets of hunters who wish to harvest their golden crowns. So, he casts a spell to change the crowns to feathered halos and everyone is happier.

The kids had lots of interesting insights–everything from the ways pushing their own agendas can backfire (like when they beg their parents for a new toy) or how  altruism can become self-serving if it’s not done in the correct spirit.

For me, it was enlightening to think about this in terms of my own parenting–how I teach my kids the lessons they need to learn can be more important than the message I want to convey. I’ve bumped up against this before–throwing a fit at my kids by way of reprimanding them for, yep, throwing a fit. It makes me wonder, constantly, what is the crown and what is the halo I can offer them in a situation.

What are your favorite halos? When have you accidentally crowned your child with a burdensome “reward”? Chime in!




Powder Fever

Today, I heard about the BEST ILLNESS EVER. My friend Janet (aka Mama J) told me her husband has been known to look out the window on a day like today (think: tons of fresh white stuff) and say, “I think I’m feeling a little sick,” then wait a beat and add, “I’ve got a touch of powder fever.” And with that, he’s out the door, ski pass in hand, to get a little cure.

Usually, if it snows on April 8, I’ve got the same diagnosis. But with my knee still mending, I’m watching the snow fall with resignation. Sunday is closing day at Deer Valley Resort, so I’ll probably click into some skis for a couple of runs with my little guy, and bid the resort farewell until the summer concerts start up. In the meantime, check out my thoughts here on the end of the season.


This is the week of being benched.

I’m trying to bring my left knee back to life–it started copping out on me when I went running last week, reminding me that I’d tweaked it on a killer powder weekend at Deer Valley Resort, skiing with Florida Keys Guy (mostly). Florida Keys Girl was dealing with her own knee issues—so she and I spent one day hanging with my Little Guy on the bunny hill. It was also the day my binding broke on my Atomic GS skis.

Anyway, I tried running in the week following that awesome storm and it’s attendant epic ski days, and found myself seeing stars (not celebrities, but the kind of constellation that arranges itself in front of your eyes in the universally understood formation STOP! YOU ARE IN PAIN.)

Sigh. My doctor examined it (I happened to be in her office on a routine visit), and asked me to sit out last weekend, and to not run, but instead ride a stationery bike for my workout. I thought back to my chairlift chat with Florida Keys Guy, regarding Florida Keys Girl’s knee issues. Both of hers require attention, she’s about to have surgery on one. After she rehabs that, she’ll do the other. I noted that if she’d give up running, she could preserve the mileage on her knees for skiing, to which he said, “Trouble is, she likes running better than skiing.” Which I get–and although skiing always ranks first for me, I didn’t realize how close a second it comes in my world. Truth be told, I only like running after I’ve slogged through the first 15 minutes. That part is torture, to be specific. But I like it enough after minute 16, that I agreed to join FK Girl in training for the NYC Marathon in 2012. Having only ever trained for and completed a 5K, I’m counting on providing endless entertainment for myself, my family and friends, and you, dear reader.

For now, I’ll busy myself with finding a good training schedule for a Half Marathon, so I have a mid-point goal between now and November 2012. I will also busy myself with grumbling. A few weeks ago, I went on a lovely birthday snowshoe with my dear pals L, M and D, and we regrouped for another round this week to honor L’s just-passed birthday. Except that I got less than 50 feet up the trail and my knee argued like one of my kids trying to get out of taking a shower. Sigh again.

So here’s what I know: I’m in a lot of discomfort. And I really want to be able to run this spring and summer, not to mention be able to ski again before the end of the season. I took this all into account and shouted ahead to the gang: “My knee won’t put up with this. I’m going back to the car. I’ll meet you at the bagel place when you’re done.” And now I know this: I’m grown up. Because the immature me (who still rears her head, just less frequently) would have soldiered ahead, figuring no-pain, no-gain. Grown Girl said no.

I called Florida Keys Girl to collect the points that Ski Dad would not dispense. You know, the points for doing the sensible thing. He’s a sensible type, and has a tough time imagining why one would not act sensibly. FK Girl obliged.

So, today, Saturday, I whined a bit about my knee, consoled myself with the knowledge that not skiing was a gift, as the conditions seemed iffy, at best (or at least, that’s what I told myself), and set about my plan to enjoy my family’s company for the day.

Which, more or less, worked out. Until it didn’t. And the kids got so wound up and disagreeable that we benched the entire family from going to the Purim celebration at Temple Har Shalom. I hated to do it. It’s hard to take away the observance and celebration of a holiday, but harder still to manage to relax and enjoy said observance and celebration when the kids aren’t in a cooperative mood.