I was hunting for one of my geneology booklets yesterday. I wanted to look up the dates of the immigration to America of some of my distant relatives. I couldn't find it. I know it's "somewhere". I remember sitting on my bedroom floor, when my bedroom was not where it is now. I remember paging through the Lynch family memoirs, and reading about a man who died in a horse riding accident, and about my great-grandmother Lucille Ione who died of cancer when my mother was only three.
I couldn't find it. But I ran across my "England box"--a box of trinkets from my year in England. I flipped open my journal and turned to February 3. It was not reminiscing time, it was school time, and my mission was elsewhere, but I couldn't resist looking back on the pages from that date twenty-nine years ago. I read quickly, I wrote a lot that day. It's embarrassing to read the words I wrote as a teenager. Embarrassing, but helpful as I continue to raise my own teenagers. It helps me to see back into that world, which is now their world--seeing things from their naive and fresh and uneducated eyes. The "older generation" can say all they want about how much youth have changed and what a turn for the worse we are taking. I'm guessing they don't have journals to remind them of what really was.
As I skimmed along I came upon a description of a memorable event of that day. I was with the AFS/UK group working on a Youth Conservation Project in Edale, England. We were staying in a Youth Hostel putting much more energy into relationships and fun than we put into work and conservation efforts. How they thought a group of 42 foreign exchange students could repair stacked stone walls and leave them to stand the hundreds of years test of time that the generations of bygone Brits have done is beyond me!
I smiled as I remembered the day and the event and this morning I went to a dusty photo album and found the moment that was captured on film. Lynn and I (the two on the right) started the mud fight in an area where we'd been gathering stones.
Not only does my journal betray my youthfulness but so does the photo. It brings back the memory of the two of us, Lynn and I, upside down with our heads in the bathroom sink trying to get the dirt and twigs out of our hair. The journal reminded me of our load of laundry that stopped up the machine and failed to drain. Our remedy was, of course, to go to the house supervisor--someone else to fix the problem.
It sounds like my house, children impulsively doing things that cause many minutes or hours to undo what's done and is beyond their ability to undo themselves. I will try to remember my mud fight and be a little softer and gentler as I teach and train them, not only to think before they act but moreso to consider the consequences and make sure they are prepared and able to accept them.
I never found the geneology. The Lynch family tree did not surface and we did not learn in what year our Irish ancestors came to this country. We're learning about the great Potato Famine of the 1840s and are intrigued to know if that event in history helped make us who we are.
We're not only learning about the famine, but about the political unrest and bitterness between the Irish and the Brits. We're tying it into the revolution of the French peasants just a few years before and the American revolution a few decades before.
And I began to reflect on history, and how our reasons for our reactions to things are not so very subjective, but colored deeply with perceptions and attitudes. Our American forefathers staged a revolution and fought for freedom over the right to vote and the "unfair taxes" of that day. We live in a time and place where every tangible thing is taxed. There is hardly an area in our country that doesn't have a government fingerprint on it. We have the right to vote, but generally fewer than half do. The attitudes and perceptions have changed. There is acceptance for things now where there wasn't before.
So, I look at my personal life and view my own history and wonder how my attitudes and perceptions have changed. I can see that some are definitely not for the better. I think I need to reread my life and put some things back in perspective, and maybe see the fun and joy in the mudfight rather than fret and moan over the clogged washing machine.