Friday, February 5, 2016

When 100 Years Old Doesn't Look Like You Would Expect...

100th Day of School.  The students were challenged to "dress like you're 100 years old."  Only, something in my weird, creative brain was totally turned off by what I heard my son describe to me when the "assignment" came home:  "Everyone sprays their hair gray or white, and people dress old and walk with canes..."  Something prompted me to instead ponder with Everett the following questions:  "Hey, you're 100 years old - you're probably pretty healthy...what does that look like?  What kinds of things have kept you living till 100?"
That's right.  This poor kid is stuck with a mom that would rather think outside box than go with the status quo of dressing "old."  But y'all - let me clarify:  I'm not against looking "old."  In fact, I would rather look "old," than have surgeries to look "young."  I've never been one to try to "reverse the aging process," or to deny how old I am (35).  

Everett pretending to drink his "Green Juice," with an ingredient label that included (going off of memory here):  water, spinach, kale, apples, bananas, orange juice, ground flax seed, chia seeds, and cinnamon.  I normally add other ingredients to our Green Juice, but that was all I could fit on there. :)

I guess what I have learned over the last few years - especially since the kids have been in elementary school - is that I tend to want to go against the grain . . . and this inclination seems to be stronger and more purposeful when it involves our kids and them participating in things the way everyone else does them.  Stuff that would otherwise be pretty innocuous, black and white issues.  I've realized that I do not like being told how something is going to be, or how something just "is."  The reality is, I'm discovering why my kids seem to argue so much.  With everything.  Because, here I am, questioning something their school has pumped up and encouraged the kids to do.  I just don't like the notion of them following the masses because everyone assumes that's how it is.
Everett "Healthy at 100" - I stuck a label on the front of his shirt that says, "Want to be Healthy at 100?  Ask me how!!!"  If this were my first child, the label would no longer exist...she would definitely agree with the premise, but would likely prefer to not be approached by people regarding the topic.  Maybe that assumption is inaccurate, and she would argue otherwise, but regardless of how that would play out, I think it's safe to say that for our second child, he's more than happy to share this perspective with others!

Staying active and eating healthy can keep you feeling and looking young!  If only I could have also had him carry a little yoga mat and a sudoku book...there are definitely other factors that help one to stay young in mind and in body!

Maybe it's me trying to "train" Jillian and Everett to think for themselves.  Maybe it's the fact that being a Unitarian vegan has helped me learn that, "hey - you can think outside of the box AND be okay."  Because really, you can be MORE than okay.  You can be you.  You don't have to settle for "okay," for the norm, for the unquestioned, for the more traveled path.  And sometimes, taking that less-traveled path can be more challenging.  Sometimes, it's met with questions and obstacles along the way.  But as I imagine walking through this labyrinth of life choices and experiences, I envision little side roads that branch off from things that only appear to be walls along the way.  They branch off in a fashion similar to how I imagine neurons and dendrites within the brain.  (I know just about enough of that topic to know that providing an interesting link would be better than pretending to know more than I do.)
And that can't be a bad thing, right?  New neuron paths and dendrites are a good thing!

"Ask me how I'm so healthy at 100!"
Of course, it helps that Everett is willing and excited to do something unique that will allow/require him to explain himself.  For me, I just appreciate these little opportunities to create moments of conversation that might encourage development in the thought process.  I'm also thankful for the fact that Everett is in a school, with a teacher, that will embrace differences brought to the classroom.  Maybe she'll even encourage him to share the reasoning behind his noticeably different expression of what 100 years old looks like.  Even if she doesn't, I'm happy knowing that I've provided my child with a little bit of practice in being different, and owning those differences - whether they be physical, mental, spiritual, or otherwise.  These experiences in school and in childhood are what prepares us for a lifetime - of an unknown number of years - of accepting the challenge of learning who we are and taking that winding road of twists and turns that gradually shapes us and reshapes us into a constantly converting being, changed from both the inside and out, into something new each day, each hour, each minute.

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