Rock, Make-up, Scissors: Allowing Exploration of the Sometimes-Bazaar

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“Wok, Mommy! Here ‘go!” says my daughter B as she hands me a beautifully smooth tan rock from the front landscaping of our house. This is, and I’m not exaggerating here, the fiftieth or so toddler-fist-sized rock that has been relocated from the front stoop to the toy bins.  My husband John even cautioned that we will have to trek out to Home Depot to get more if her obsession with stones doesn’t cease.

What does she do with them? Her collections defy Machu Pichu with their mystery. She stacks them.  Lines them up by size. Piles them by color. Sorts them by texture. And then what does she do? She decorates them with a layer of make up so thick it would make a drag queen blush.

She prefers an old purple and pink palate, gifted by Mommy, and a purple brush, to oh-so-gingerly apply healthy amounts of rouge to each defenseless rock. It is difficult to appreciate the subtly of her work, but I know it is important work, none-the less. B is so proud to show off her accomplishments.

And as her parents, we are proud to receive them.

I wonder, as I gaze at her creations, what skills this self-directed activity will garner for her later in life.  Besides the obvious shape/color/texture sorting (pattern recognition) and the painting itself (fine motor skills) there are greater lessons here that are more difficult to quantify.

Perhaps these are baby steps toward a career as an artist, and she will paint great masterpieces for an adoring public. Or maybe she will study to be an archaeologist, spending hot summers brushing away thousands of years of dust to reveal fossilized skeletons of great beasts. Perhaps landscape architecture is in her future, arranging boulders in pleasing patterns to define manicured outdoor spaces.

Or maybe none of these. Maybe she will do something I cannot currently fathom because gazing at her now, wandering our yard in search of more pebbles, all I can do is marvel at her innate curiosity.

And I realize, even at the tender age of two and a quarter, that the most important skill my child has mastered is the ability to explore. With this fundamental tool, B can do and be anything she wishes. It is an immeasurable, un-assessable, yet essential part of education. It is the core of our curriculum.

For now, though to an outsider it may look like an unimportant task, the collection of rocks will surely continue to grow, and there will certainly be more makeup “ruined”. She’s working on something important. And something very special, indeed.

Why there is a TARDIS on top of our Christmas Tree

"Have a time-y wime-y Christmas...it's the best part of the year..."

“Have a time-y wime-y Christmas…it’s the best part of the year…”

This is my husband’s third Christmas.  Ever.  Let me explain.

Growing up, John did not celebrate any holidays, including his birthday, because he was raised a Jehovah’s Witness.  (If you are not familiar with this group, other than the proselytizing, door-to-door part of their public presence, check out the official Jehovah’s Witnesses page at wikipedia.  OR for an outside-having-been-inside viewpoint, explore FreeMinds.org.)  Before we met, he left that church-like, religion-ish cult.  Thank God.  But some of the mental patterning remained, and so he had never celebrated Christmas.

Our first Christmas married, 2010, we had no tree.  Our second Christmas, I put up a wreath crammed with ornaments from my childhood.  By early December 2012, I suggested we drag the fake one out of the shed, left there by the previous owner, and maybe just use the top section in a centerpiece.  Sweetly, John said, “If you really want a tree we should just get a real one.”

Squee!  I had married my wonderful husband with ne’er a hope for my very own, real live, gin-scented Christmas tree.  And here it only took two years for him to come around!  Having cleared that hurdle, we began negotiating, you know, the IMPORTANT stuff, like, white lights or multicolored?  Garlands or bows?  Angel or star topper?

Here’s where we get a bit technical about the Christmas story.  As a JW, John grew up believing that the star that led the wise men to Jesus was created and sent by The Devil.  Yes, you read that correctly.  It must have been, you see, says the Watchtower, because the star signaled the baby Messiah’s location.  Basically, the star was an evil GPS tracker for King Herod, who tried to kill baby Jesus.  Therefore, the star of Bethlehem, a symbol of Christmas peace pasted on greeting cards, adorning evergreens everywhere, is a bad thing.

All to say, John was kind of against putting the symbol he once believed was evil on top of our tree.

Instead, cheekily, he chose an action figure of Onslaught, a lesser-known Marvel character from the 1990’s, to don the top of our first marital Christmas tree.  Special.

Onslaught - Our 2012 Tree Topper

Onslaught – Our 2012 Tree Topper

No really, it was VERY special.  It reflected both his interests and my interest in making him happy so I could have the tree in the first place.  And because the Christmas ritual is fueled by unique traditions, we decided, arms around each other, smiling, gazing up at the magenta and purple-clad Onslaught action figure, that we must never have anything expected on top of our tree.

So what to crown our amazing tree with this year?  Why, a timey-wimey, bigger on the inside, beautiful blue box, of course!  Nothing says “Bow ties [and Christmas] are cool!” better than our very own TARDIS flying in, reminding us to be ready for anything.  Because the unexpected is always around the corner.  Be it a timelord, or THE Lord, arriving as a baby in a manger, at just the right time, to save us from a broken, sinful world.

Did I just compare Dr. Who to Jesus Christ?

Why, yes, Allison, yes you did.

So that is why we have a TARDIS on top of our tree.  I wonder what will dress the top of our tree next year…

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What Christmas or other holiday traditions are off-beat at your house this time of year?  Leave a comment!  Would love to hear from you!  Hope your holidays are full of wonderful surprises.

Merry Christmas,
Allison