I’m excited to introduce you to Rebecca Patenaude, an artist who married into my family not by blood but still family. Rebecca and her daughter Rori and my Ya Ya Jen came up to paint the mural that for me became the emotional centerpiece of our remodel project. The mural has wheels because wheels have changed Aidan’s life and who says you can’t put wheels on a wall? I wrote about it here.
Mom: What do you think it means that everyone has something to give?
Hattie: We can do somethin,’ you know- like, helping out. I can put my shoes away.
Rori: NO! HATTIE- she means give something up! Like whining. Right?
Mom: What about giving something to others by just being you?
Rori: Like Aidan, he reminds me to smile…. by just smiling.
I am the mother of two young girls. There have been times when attempting to teach a lesson, to impart some kind of wisdom, or give a glimmer of global responsibility has been, well… less than effective. Occasionally selfish, these little souls I created sometimes have a hard time seeing the bigger picture. There are the change collections for Heffer International, donations to local charities, and trips to drop off blankets at the animal shelter; but these actions are lost without the ability to understand the world we live in. I want my girls to know that we as a family, as a community, and as members of this world need to take care of each other. I would love for them to know that you don’t always get what you want. I would like for them to know we are all not dealt the same hand.
So, how do we give our kids these opportunities? The answer is; we let them be kids. We introduce them to other kids from other places and other ways of living. We make them introduce themselves and then we back off. We throw away all of our expectations and we let them play. Somewhere in that magic, simple, unfiltered time, kids get the bigger picture. They make the connections and they live the lessons.
I had the amazing opportunity to come paint a mural in a newly created bedroom for our friend Aidan and his family. Aidan has the most beautiful blue eyes, a giggle to beat all giggles, and he can play fruit ninja like a boss. Rori is eight and when we went up to Maine from Connecticut she was a little frustrated that she wouldn’t know anyone. While I got to paint, zen out and commune with friends in my own way, Rori began to give in her way and Aidan in his. Two days later there was a wall covered in love and stories and hope, and Rori and Aidan were playing and reading and fruit ninja-ing like old friends.
Differences were overcome. Rori and Aidan became fast friends because sometimes it really is as easy as being together. We all have something to give, and sometimes it starts with a smile.
Because of Miles’s devastating seizures and powerful treatments, he lost his ability to smile for a long time. His family does not take that simple gift for granted. Miles’s seizures are better controlled and his smile is back. To learn more about Miles and the BARN project read here.