So one of the posts I’ve had rattling around in my brain this summer is the idea of how life is like a GPS. That’s not a particularly original idea. I first heard it from a speaker at our homeschool co-op who pointed out how often during the day she hears in her head a voice saying “recalculating”. That idea struck me as true and funny at the time. Since the spring I’ve thought about it over and over again as I’ve been faced with sudden changes in plans and heard that little voice in my head: “recalculating”.
It’s true on a day to day basis and long-term. People stop by unexpectedly. Appliances break. Kids get sick. A school program that worked for one kid and that I planned to use over and over just won’t work for the next kid. Decisions are made at work that change my schedule and my responsibilities. Friends move away.
I was reminded again of this idea this week. The boys are away at camp and Ruth was signed up for a ballet camp every morning. She loves this small excellent camp run by friends of ours and it was a good way for her to have something special to do while the boys were away. Plus, having the house to myself every morning meant I could get lots of school planning and organizing done. Fantastic!
Then Tuesday night she jumped out of a tree at a friend’s house and landed hard on one foot. Thankfully, it turned out not to be broken but she was unable to walk on it at all the next day. We thought she was out of camp for the rest of the week. And that was ok. We recalculated. We planned some special activities. She was disappointed but understood that sometimes things just don’t work out.
Then one of the counselors from the camp called and said they had figured out a way for Ruth to still be in the end of camp show if she was interested. Interested? Ha! She was thrilled. We were actually driving to a local theater performance that I thought would help make up for the disappointment of missing camp when we got the call from the counselor. So we got off the highway, turned around and headed back to camp. Recalculating. The camp show was a version of the Nutcracker and they gave Ruth the role of Clara. Mostly she sat on the stage and watched the performance. They started by having one of the counselors play her mother and give her a teddy bear and she had to act happy and then pretend to fall asleep and wake up later. She embraced her role wholeheartedly and did a beautiful job.
I feel like over the years as a parent that I’ve learned over and over that the best gift I can give my kids is the ability to be flexible and resilient. In other words, to know how to recalculate. I feel like if they can learn that they will be successful in life. This is not the same as just “going with the flow”. I’m a planner by nature and so is H. Our kids are pretty much doomed to be checklist checkers, schedule followers and planners. I think that’s a good thing. It’s good to have a plan but it’s also good to be able to adjust when things deviate from the plan. To stick with the GPS metaphor, not having a plan would mean you get lost from the beginning. Having a plan means you start out knowing how to get where you want but you’re willing to try a different route if the original one is blocked.