Saturday, September 20, 2014

Not an Accident

Parenting is like a big bowl of guesswork. Seriously. None of us really have any idea what we are doing. If we're being honest, in all parenting you just made an educated guess based on a series of factors involving your child's individual personality, how hard it was going to be for you personally, and what it was going to cost you to implement.

Holding the injured foot on stage
I made the kids take this theater camp at the local library. They did it several years running.  One year I made the Number One Son this (amazing) storm cloud costume. (It was one of my finer moments as a mom.) My son was awesome as a rapping/singing/angry storm cloud. He was the villain of the play. He also painted himself green for a production of A Mid-Summer Night's Dream. Twenty minutes before curtain the kid stepped on a hot flat iron that had accidentally been left on the floor backstage. It was an awful, cringe-inducing kind of burn. He went on stage anyway. I was so very proud of him both times, because once he stepped totally out of his comfort zone and went for it. The second time he went on in pain because the show must go on. This past week was homecoming, and he got up without a single hesitation and danced the cha-cha slide in front of the whole school. He volunteers to pray out loud first without being coerced. Carter is so cool. And that didn't happen on accident.

Naynuh has always been an encourager. She's also got the kind of
Nay-nay is in the blue blocking that shot
stick-with-it I wish I had. She used to be so very clumsy and awkward. On field day she was always last in every event (every field day she was last in every event). There was this one time though, she was in the lead on this relay race--seriously, we couldn't believe it--and about 3/4th the way around her section of race the kid in the lane next to her tripped and fell. Naynuh stopped, went back and picked that kid up. Dried his tears. Gave him a pat on the back. Then hobble-walked him across the finish line. She was a half step behind him, so she finished last yet again. When we were taking photos at the end of field day she held up all matching, last place ribbons and beamed, "Look! They all match! I'm so awesome!" Last year she started on the Varsity basketball team as an eighth grader in the post position. She started every game, one of them with a raging case of the flu. She took her meds, put on her uniform and got in the car, because she was NOT missing that game or letting the team down. Elaina is the picture of dedication and charity and what can happen if you apply yourself and keep running, picking up people and taking them with you as you go forth. And that didn't happen on accident.

SGA President and Homecoming Princess
Big E has always been the child most like me. She's bossy and melodramatic and this wonderful kind of demanding of herself and of others. She wants to be the best. When the kids would play games, she gave them roles and explained how they were going to be and nothing less than perfection has ever been tolerated. So, when she campaigned for Student Leadership Council and then made the Homecoming Court no one was the least bit surprised. She makes the people around her better simply because she demands it of them. She was helping her little sister with math and when The Little Flower said she "couldn't do it", E snatched that paper out of her hand, slammed it on the table and said, "Oh, no you don't! We are Johnsons and we are unconquerable! We do not bow down to math problems! We do not hang our heads in shame at failure, because we do not fail! Now, pick up that pencil and get back after it!" The idea of quitting was a personal affront to her. She's voted most likely to achieve world domination in Johnsonville. And that didn't happen on accident.

Totally awesome.
The Little Flower is another thing entirely. (Everyone knows that if the Last had been First they'd have been the Only.)  She's the creative mind in this domicile, but she's also the most stubborn person ever to walk the planet. She like this constant contradiction--she can recite and draw the digestive tract and process but refuses to complete a simple math sheet. It's puzzling. Example: we tell her that she's going to have to go to the games as punishment if she's uncooperative in the classroom, but we'll send her home with Nana if she has a good day in class. See? Contradictions. She's probably going to invent a video game and make a zillion dollars and then spend it on a fortress that she never has to leave. She's like Emily Dickinson waiting for a place to happen. The kids were talking about their dream cars. Lillian announced that she wanted a motor home for her first car, "because then I'd never have to leave the house ever again." (Alrighty then.) She knows her art is good and worth of framing. She gives her drawings away every time she's asked. And that didn't happen on accident.

Fitting in on the bizarre photo poses in Johnsonville.
Sister is one of those mysteries in our house, because she is of us but not one of us. It's a tightrope she has to negotiate daily, because Johnsons are powerful and scary and overachieving and just a loud crowd of half-(and sometimes whole) crazy. She's shy and quiet and other. But she's resilient. And determined. And that means she's probably going to be okay. And that isn't happening on accident.

So, while parenting is guesswork, you need to be intentionally building people you can be proud of and that the community will thank you for one day. Confident, personable, powerful people who can lead the world. And that doesn't happen on accident.

Because making evil step-sister faces is more fun, and we're cool like that.

We go NOWHERE without pen and paper, cause you never know when you'll need it.

Evil Step-Sister Pose yet again, because we know we're beautiful.  We don't need you to confirm it.

Because real men wear pink. And dance. And bring flowers. (And photobomb like Dad in the back and Son in the front.)

The Johnsons (plus Donovin the Best Friend, because there is always room for one more.)

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