“Mom, will you help me make a bunch of paper airplanes? I’m making an Army of Love.” Jenny showed me how to fold the paper, told me the color order and where the gas tank went, and we made 13 paper jets. As we were folding and coloring and giggling and talking of paper cuts, I asked her how she came up with the idea. “I dunno,” she said. “It’s a good idea. I think they should fly over the world dropping candy hearts, like little love bombs.”
While my daughter might have a fine imagination, she also knows of the practicality of forming an Army of Love. I don’t need to spoil the fun by saying, “Come on, Jen, do you really think there’d ever be such a thing? Wouldn’t it really be an Air Force of Love, even if it could be real?”
She’s exploring possibility through art and writing. She’s gotten a taste of the more unpleasant aspects of life. It’s good to balance that with the freedom to try, to imagine, to pretend.
It’s good to be free to wonder.
It’s good to be allowed to try, with the belief that anything is possible.
When they told me not to quit college, they said it would be a huge mistake, that I’d never go back to get my degree; and I believed them. But finally, one afternoon in the third week of Spring quarter of my junior year, I found myself sitting in a desk, staring at a chalkboard where an instructor had written, “I&ME”. I looked from the instructor to the chalkboard to my notes, and back to the chalkboard. I couldn’t clearly tell if I was in a management class or a Japanese as a Second Language class.
I walked out and quit college.
I went back a year later with focus and determination, and finished my degree.
When they told me I ought to get a real job that paid better, I took their advice. I spent 18 months sitting at a desk, staring at a clock that either was broken or incredibly slow, because it never reached five o’clock when I thought it should.
I quit that job.
I took a job cooking. Then I took another job at different restaurant, then a coffee shop, then a bakery. I worked a lot of jobs that I enjoyed – jobs that didn’t pay much, but jobs that made me look forward to getting out of bed and going to work.
When they said I shouldn’t leave my husband and raise two kids on my own, I trusted that they knew better. I spent many nights quietly crying in bed, wondering if I was tough enough to raise two kids on my own. When I couldn’t sleep any more and my stomach wouldn’t quit hurting, I packed up my kids and we left.
Now I sleep through (most) nights, my stomach doesn’t hurt, and my kids are free to be who they are in a healthy, safe and happy home.
When they said I would be making a mistake by taking my kids out of public school, I agonized for months and questioned my instincts. The three of us wrote pro/con lists for weeks, while Will and Jen complained of upset stomachs and talked of how they hated recess because they just wanted the day to be over.
We made the choice to home school – against the advice of almost every single person we know – and we’ve never been happier.
Now I know what they meant when they were giving me advice. They meant those choices – quitting school, working odd jobs, divorcing and homeschooling – wouldn’t work for them. Their advice was about them. They weren’t trying to frighten me or discourage me. Those folks wanted the best for me, but their suggestions would not work for me.
When Jenny thinks she can create an Army of Love, who am I to tell her it can’t be done?
Are you following advice meant for others?