Friday, January 11, 2019

ODT for kids

The bitter, gorgeous paradox 
for 2nd graders.

The Day (after "The Year" by Ella Wheeler Wilcox)

Did you have a good day, dear?
What happened today?

Chocolate milk spilled on my desk.
It got inside. It was a mess.

I made a card for Kim's sick mother.
She looked happy so I made another.

At recess Chris wouldn't play with me.
I went off by myself and discovered a tree.

My math was hard, so hard I cried.
Ms. P explained it. She was proud I tried.

My day was good but also bad--
the most normal day I've ever had.

draft ©Heidi Mordhorst

Now you can enjoy this song (and my personal day will be more gorgeous if I'm introducing it to someone who's never heard it) while you head over to the Roundup Downunder with Kat Apel.

Saturday, January 5, 2019

not OLW but ODT

not my actual dishes, but close
I just went back to see what my One Little Word for 2018 was and found that I didn't choose one.  I think I passed, knowing that I have had a hard time keeping my eye on it for a whole year and feeling slightly fraudulent and failed for taking the trouble to choose a OLW and then losing track of it almost immediately.  It's like embarking on a diet on January 2 and finding on January 3 that you have already blown it.  I have given up that kind of diet, that kind of New Year's resolution, because "resolve" and "will-power" are demons that distract me from One Difficult Truth.

It is this One Difficult Truth that, thanks to time, hurt, reality and Anne Lamott I will have no option but to attend to every single day forever, since it is the essence of every single day.  This is the paradox that you, Dear PF Friend, may have understood since your childhood spent in a bakery instead of a hardware store (you'll have to read Almost Everything: Notes on Hope to get that, although it's such a brilliant metaphor that you might grasp the meaning immediately).

This is the paradox of two truths about life that are bruisingly, simultaneously true at every moment of every day:  life is excruciating AND beautiful.  In each moment, at the same time as I am despairing deeply about the number of children separated and detained in cold metal "facilities," I may also be stirred by a freshet of joy, what Anne calls a "giddy appreciation" for a small, lovely satisfaction, such as how this year the number of holiday cookies was just right for the length of the holiday-cookie-eating season.

I know--duh.  But as Anne says, that all truth is paradox is "distressing for those of us who would prefer a more orderly and predictable system," a more black-and-white reality in which we could know we were Right, in which it's possible to Fix It.  I spent a lot of time and effort in my days as a young parent trying to solve the Dishwasher Problem, which was that no matter what system we devised for processing dirty dishes into clean ones neatly stacked in cupboards, THE KITCHEN WAS ALWAYS STREWN WITH DIRTY DISHES.  Really, I thought that there was some clever, simple way to fix this, if only I could discover or devise it, and it has taken me literally 20 years to understand that the only way to avoid dirty dishes is to stop eating.

And of course, to stop eating, to stop gathering for a hilarious, fraught family dinner as often as is practical, is a recipe for the end of humanity.

All this must be why I keep posting and reposting this old-fashioned poem by Ella Wheeler Wilcox.  She understood the paradox of the Dishwasher Problem even before dishwashers were invented, and she didn't even need a fancy metaphor to say it--only a few not especially clever rhymed lines.

I'm sure I still have loads of raging to do against the bitter and gorgeous paradox that is every moment of every day for those who have the wisdom and fortitude to see it.  It's making me exhausted and even depressed to be so wise.  But---

My injured foot healed in time for me to dance on New Year's Eve to "What I Like About You," and as we went around the circle after recess to practice naming our emotions, two 2nd graders said "Today I'm feeling happy because we are back at school," and my spouse took the trouble to find MacIntosh apples at the grocery store, and although these freshets of joy dry up fast when I listen to the news or notice the way my eyelids have drooped so that my boring blue-grey eyes barely sparkle anymore, at least I know this is normal.

I'm late to the roundup today, hosted by Sylvia at Poetry for Children, but I know I'll always feel a giddy appreciation by being a part of it.  Happy excruciating and exquisite 2019 to all.