Oh my, oh my, oh my.
Where to begin? With the little boy in the airport who was on the ground spinning in circles and screaming at the top of his lungs because he didn’t get what he wanted at McDonald’s? Or the two little guys in the movie theater last night watching Jurassic World – throwing popcorn AT ME and responding with a defiant “What?” after I leaned forward to make eye contact when one shouted “Damn!” in the middle of the movie. I think he was maybe three years old? Well, probably older than that, but not by much.
One of the advantages of flying in and out of countries and cultures is the ability to see more clearly subtle shifts in accepted behaviors. No one blinked an eye in the airport, people walked calmly past this little one as if throwing a fit has become so commonplace, it’s not worthy of out attention. Of course, most didn’t notice him because they were walking and navigating a phone screen, but that’s another issue not for today. In the theater? The mom bought more candy and ignored it. Her child is shouting out inappropriate language in the midst of a public theater, and she does not respond.
Wow, just WOW.
And then this from the church bulletin on Sunday.
When we set about accounting for a Napoleon or a Shakespeare or a Raphael or a Wagner or an Edison or other extraordinary person, we understand that the measure of his talent will not explain the whole result, nor even the largest part of it; no, it is the atmosphere ( ambiente ) in which the talent was cradled that explains; it is the training it received while it grew…..the encouragement it gathered…..at each stage of its development: when we know all these details, then we know why the man ( or woman ) was ready when his ( or her ) opportunity came. Mark Twain ***parentheses mine
Ambiente lives and breathes – it is everywhere in a home, in a community, in the society at large. It is the sights and sounds and tastes and smells and touches of something more. It is elusive, it is Kingdom.
We are responsible for the cultivation of atmosphere – for the stacks of books that say read and learn, for the walks outside that say listen and pay attention, for the food served at our tables that says come and eat, for the aroma of rich coffee that says come and converse, for the hugs and eye contact that say you are known, you are the child of a King – stand up and be present, you were created for more than the floor of an airport or whatever thrill there is in flinging popcorn at a fifty year old woman.
What do your environments look like? Is your house clean and simple and filled with beauty?
What do you listen to all day?
What smells are simmering on your stove or baking in your ovens? Are the clothes in your house clean and fresh? Your sheets? Towels?
When was the last time you ate amazing food?
Are you sitting close to the ones you love? Holding their hands when you walk? Looking them in the eye? Kissing their cheeks?
I must say that in the end, while I believe that children must learn to take responsibility for their actions, I hold the adults, I hold myself, responsible. We cultivate ambiente and invite children to enter in and live life with us.
My apologies, this was perhaps a bit stronger than my typical writing.
Feel free to respond.