Monday, March 29, 2010

Changing My Script

It's an ugly thing to admit, but if I am going to be a bold and truthful writer, it must be said:

I am a snob.

I wish I could say that this is the endearing kind of snobbery involving organic goat cheese or free-trade coffee. It's not. (Although I am that kind of snob as well).

No, my snobbery is the ugly kind, the kind I would prefer not to write about or even admit to myself. It's a personal failing kind of snobbery.

Allow me to back up. Owen had his first T-ball practice last Thursday. He had a great time and is eager to return. I, meanwhile, spent most of the practice silently judging. One parent brought a one-hundred pound barking dog to practice. He tied it to the dugout and went off to smoke a cigarette. The dog was some kind of nasty breed, but, in the man's defense, he finished his cigarette and took the dog on a long walk away from the children for most of the practice.

I didn't have a chance to talk to some of the other parents, but I did notice the smoking, the diction, and  other signs that I dismissed as low-class.

I'm ashamed of myself.

I don't even know these people, and I judged. If I believe that there is a divine light in all of us, and we are wonderfully and fearfully made, then I need to change the scripts in my head.

I would like to believe I'm a person that doesn't value money and appearances, but I know that I care more than I admit. Paul and I have been talking about vacations. It started with Ireland, which we deemed impractical. Next, we discussed renting a beach house for a week in the Outer Banks, which is more reasonable.

Yet, all this discussion of vacations and money stirred up waves of dissatisfaction. I started thinking of all the things I wanted---a weekend getaway to Savannah, new floors, new window blinds. I wanted to travel overseas and feel the coolness of white crisp sheets in a soft feather bed. I wanted to take the boys on sailboats, helicopters, or any thrill their hearts desired. I wanted to have the funds for unlimited possibility.

For them, of course. Right. For them

Today, though, I took the boys in the backyard to play. It's been a rainy Monday, and yet, out we went. I watched the boys make muddy soup out of twigs and rainwater, run down the hill, wave around sticks, and examine old stumps. They were content. They didn't need freshly-ironed sheets or poolside drink service.

They wanted to get dirty, feel the sun on their faces, and maybe the splash of cool water.

In that backyard, I was humbled all over again. Those boys are powerful teachers. They showed me that the beauty comes from noticing, from appreciating, and from seeking the warm glow of God inside each of us.

And so, I called Paul and suggested that we use our vacation funds to do a weekend getaway to the beach, and then we should take the remaining funds and buy a nice tent.

We need to camp. We need to go into the woods, have long conversations with each other, take naps in the afternoon sun, and go wading in the lakes. Hot dogs and marshmallows over a fire will last longer in our minds than chicken nuggets from the kids' meal in some crowded chain restaurant.

More importantly, though, I need to change my script. My children will not be happy by hanging out with a certain "type" of person or going on the "right" vacations. They will be happy if I teach them that they are not better than other people, and that there is beauty everywhere. That they need to notice more, judge less.

And maybe, just maybe, they will see that in loving other people, they will see the face of God. (with apologies to Hugo).

What makes a vacation memorable for children? What do you remember from travels?


blueviolet said...

Oh man, you gave me chills! That was beautifully expressed.

My own family vacation memories are those of traveling in the car on weeks long road trips from national park to national park. The beauty of this country is what I remember and hold dear.

Traci said...

Thank you for being brave enough to voice this. I am guilty of quiet snobbery myself. I catch myself thinking things that makes my heart sad. I have thought these same things and never said it. I think that God gives us kids so that we may learn. They are powerful teachers. On the front of the money and vacations, we are on the same weird wavelength again. Maybe we are separated twins. Enjoy the beach and enjoy the tent.

clearness said...

My parents would discuss among themselves different destinations for our vacations and my brother and I were allowed to talk about (while looking at the brochures and stuff they had collected)them and (often fight)eventually agree on one place to go.

Then my parents always gave my brother and I maps and showed us where we lived and where we were going. Then they showed us the roads and told us to draw lines over the roads so that we'd know where we were going.

We always just found a hotel to stay in when we arrived at our destination. We'd drive around until we found one with a pool and my brother and I would go nuts and they would pick that one.

Once we got to the hotel, they would show us the different things to do and let us pick the places we wanted to go and things we wanted to do. One day, I'd get the morning activity, the next day my brother would get the morning activity....frequently my parents picked the afternoon or night time activity.

We were also given our own bags to pack, we were told what to pack, but we were responsible for packing our own bags.

I mostly remember being involved in the whole planning and stuff and that made me feel valuable.

We went to Branson, MO (way before it became the tourist destination it is today) a couple of times, and once went to Nashville, TN. We also went to Eureka Springs,, it's not like we even did really amazing vacations.

Vacations were all about family bonding.

SamiJoe said...

I remember road trips and i remember camping. We also loved DisneyWorld-or rather, my father loved Mickey.
We didn't have loads of money, but my parents always tried to give us some sort of experience.
AND i believe that Emerson and Thoreau said it best: "Get your butt back to nature."
For it is there true beauty lies. We need to escape all those things that make our scripts ugly- you are not bad for thinking those things, just human. The best part of your realization is that you DO REALIZE.
Mistakes of this kind are always helpful and growing-
I congratulate you on your new eyes!

Caution Flag said...

I destest camping, but was the prime mover in forcing us to buy a pop-up camper this year so we could more affordably show our kids some national parks. The one child who I was sure would throw up at the mention of camping was my soon to be 15 year old daughter. Amazingly enough, she likes the idea. Of course, that will change when she really understands that there is no bathroom nor air conditioning. But her initial response was a shock to me.

Jen said...

I have similar scripts and voices in my head. I'm usually able to stick socks in their mouths, but with stress levels climbing they yell through the fabric. I finally decided that it's my family and then everything else. Everything. That may not all make sense here, but I guarantee we have similar voices shouting at ourselves.
Jen at Laughing at Chaos

only a movie said...

I could post-it note this to my mirror to visit with everyday. Lovely.

We don't do big vacations, usually spending our down time visiting family, but my boy has appreciated short trips to Acadia National Park, which is only a few hours from us. When I ask him if he'd like a more 'vacation-y' trip - like Ireland, or Grand Canyon - he wants to go back to Acadia. Go figure.

LB said...

Your blogs are always so thought-provoking. I only wish I could remember to be so humble. We apparently play T-Ball in the same league. I think I know those people you described!!!

I'm a bit of a snob, too. I don't believe it's that I think I'm better, though. Mine's more like getting my laughs via someone else's ignorance or inadequacy. Oh, I laugh at myself too. In fact, I'm my own biggest critique.

Viv said...

I am a snob too...somewhat reformed. One of the things about having a large family, is that it tends to stretch what to some, might be a healthy budget. There aren't many days that go by, that I don't wonder if I am one of those neighbors that my mother and her neighborhood cronies would have talked about, back in the day.

Unknown Mami said...

I think there is a snob in all of us. Mine likes to come out and ruin a perfectly good time by being judgmental and stand-offish. It sometimes really surprises me when this snob chooses to make an appearance. I realize that this snob says more about me than it does about whatever or whoever is being judged. I need to snub the snob in me.

Coby said...

I agree with Mami - I think there's a snob in all of us. My snob tends to say, "My way is better. No, wait - my way is BEST!" And then God will humble me and put his finger on what really amounts to a pride issue.

Ultimately, I think what really makes a vacation memorable for kids is not only the experience, but the time cultivating shared memories with their families. And I really think it's the little things. The twins STILL talk about the AMAZING front-load washing machine from our rental house in Colorado last summer; feeding almonds to the squirrels was a major highlight, and just having time together - uninterrupted and undistracted (is that a word?) by tasks we'd normally do at home - is what really makes our vacations.

Cat said...

I remember road trips. Lots of road trips. And an annual vacation to Dauphin Island in south Alabama- the extended family would go in on beach houses, and the cousins would run each other ragged. It was awesome.

And of all things to be "snobby" about, I think it's OK to feel superior to smokers. No one under 50 can say they didn't know smoking was bad when they started. But that could just be me being a snob!

Sonya said...

It's hard not to judge..if you want a smack in the face reality check..come to the netherlands. This is the most self absorbed country. They claim to be super opened minded but will cut you quick with one glance. I've learned alot since moving here and the biggest one is seriously not to judge because it makes you look twice as bad. I've been judged for being an american,being a stay at home wife/mom,not being super skinny, and for not wearing the right clothes. In the long run does it really matter what clothes I wear? no but it matters to alot of others here.

We are going camping this year too..wait til I blog about it. You are going to be in shock when you see where we

I dont think it makes you a bad person for smoking..we all have our vises..mine happens to be cookies..although I HATE the whole second hand smoke deal..thats not fair.

Anonymous said...

It's not the distance you travel or where you go. It's what you do when you get there that builds memories

mama-face said...

I know a lot of people disagree with me on this...but my hubs and I decided long ago that our vacations would almost always include the children. (you know, as opposed to getting away for just the two of us...which is important but you will see my point in a second...I hope). Your children are home for such a tiny amount of time. We've had so many great vacations together. Now they're growing up and we can't always all be together. And yes...camping is probably are most memorable times.

ha. It's embarrassing, but I have to tell you that Sunday we were at the park and I mentioned to my husband that I thought this certain family must not live around the neighborhood. GAH!!!!! I can't believe I said that. In my head it was just such an innocent thought. Not so much once I said it aloud.

Whoa. Long comment. Good Post. :)

Angie Muresan said...

Don't feel bad, Nancy. I'm a snob too. I think we all are, if we'd just be honest with ourselves.
I'm lucky I have family throughout Europe and so we don't have to splurge on much more than airfare. And here in the States, camping is how we spend our weekends.

Daffy said...

It speaks such beautiful volumes to your character to share in a public way the things that many of us feel (or go through in our own heads).

Ms. Moon said...

I don't even want to discuss my family vacations. Not. At. All.
BUT- I know what you mean. My "people" were incredibly wealthy. Yacht-sort of wealthy. Owning entire city blocks in downtown Chattanooga wealthy. And there is a part of me which wonders where the hell MY new Cadillac is every year. Where is MY maid? MY gardener? MY damn yacht captain?
But, like you, I have come to the realization that real riches have nothing to do with that sort of crap. It's all about being completely and utterly happy with what you have.
Still, though, I must say- WHERE THE HELL IS MY MAID?!

Muliebrity said...

"And maybe, just maybe, they will see that in loving other people, they will see the face of God." long as those people don't bring giant dogs and cigarettes to toddler sporting events. Was that snobby?

Melani said...

as always beautifully written!

I remember from my childhood, going on vacation with my parents and sister in our camper, yes attached to my dad's truck. We drove from CA thru whatever states necessary to ND in the summer! We would drive straight thru, only stopping to use the bathroom. I rememeber the farm my dad grew up on and the farm my mom grew up on.

We also went camping a lot and went swimming in our pool all summer long! Good times.

4 Lettre Words said...

AMAZING post! I have so many great vacation memories from the beach. I hope my boys say the same one day.

Bethany said...

You are brave to write this.
And already changing by getting it out. Good for you.
I hope too you can change your script about the "nasty" dog breed. There's no such thing. (Of course I know you just meant a big, scary looking, guard dog type). But still, I hope you don't mind me saying, the sterotypes do the dogs such injustices. It's sad sad. Tragic really. One of my favorite, educational, enlightening web sites:

Thanks for letting me share back. I hope it's okay.