Gratitude Sunday: The Village Auntie

Gratitude * Sunday

Quote of the Week – “So you start one person at a time. Change one person, you can change a village.” Robin Quivers

Sunday Haiku
Mild summer solstice,
sun creeps inexorably
southward once again.

Sunday Musings
Sometimes you just get it right. I love the idea of being the guru auntie everybody seeks out for profound advice, but that’s not my reality. More often than not I am the one who dredges up deep piles of whatsnot and then slips sideways and knee deep into said piles. I’m the auntie of the cranky sounding voice, the one whose tone (of solicited and unsolicited advice) is often mistaken as judgment.

I believe in the village. The suburb I grew up in we didn’t have fences between yards. Kids played in the common area and when somebody’s mom said something everybody listened. We didn’t get away with “you’re not my mom” or “you’re not the boss of me,” because if your mom hadn’t overheard the whole thing, that mom would call your mom before you got inside the house and if you hadn’t done what any mom had told you, you were in deep yogurt.

In the pool this week I was doing my exercises on the entry/exit steps. In front of the steps, I do twenty push ups, twenty squats and twenty tiptoe squats using the rails for balance, and sitting on the steps I do sixty leg/tummy crunches, all of which takes about five minutes.

At the same time a little five or six year old mermaid was having her five minutes playtime after swim lesson. I didn’t recognize her, but a new session of lessons started this week and she might have been a new student.

“Will you get off the stairs so I can jump on them?” she said to me.

“No. Thank you for asking, but I’m still exercising,” I said. There were plenty of other things she could play with and on. Had an adult needed the steps to enter or exit the pool I would have promptly moved.

She swims over in front of me, with her face twisted and in a sharp voice she said, “You’re fat!”

It was everything I could do not to laugh, because first, as soon as the words left her mouth she looked like she surprised herself that she dared to say such a thing to a fat, grandma-aged stranger. My face did not blow up in shock at what she said, because second, she was right. I am fat. I see nothing wrong with fat; your body is your body and whatever your body shape or size it is not a marker of worthiness or health, nor always within our control. But to her she wasn’t stating fact; from her body language and tone of voice she was doing her little girl best to try to insult me off the stairs. I kept my face as neutral as possible.

Her instructor standing behind her heard what the child said and her face did that “O” thing people do with their mouth and eyes when they are shocked or embarrassed or appalled.

It was a village auntie moment.

“I am fat, that’s true. But it’s not a nice thing to say to people. It hurts some people’s feelings,” I said, in a softened voice, not an angry voice, but in my best village auntie teaching voice. I find most people don’t respond at all well to a harsh voice; mine is harsh by default; it’s an intensity thing and the older I get, the more I think it’s also a hearing thing. A quiet voice, respect for the other person, and courtesy works most times to convey necessary village messages. Like how we treat each other messages.

Swim teacher said to the girl, “That isn’t nice. Please apologize,” which the little mermaid promptly did. With a big smile I thanked her for her apology and we were done with it as swim time for her was over.

When the child had gone I told her instructor how hard it had been not to laugh in the child’s face when she stated the obvious about my fat, and the instructor told me the girl needed to be told no as she was the kind who did just what she wanted and often disregarded instructions. The swim instructors are well tuned-in to their students as the usual ratio is one instructor to six students.

One of the life guards had witnessed the whole thing and surprised me when he came over to me with a big beaming smile on his face and told me he thought I was awesome and had handled the situation brilliantly. I thought I had heard him wrong, saying, “Wait, what?” and he repeated himself. I told him I appreciated his validation and kindness as many people would have told me I was wrong to have corrected the child.

I’ve loved my pool and its staff for many years, through a decade of swim classes and twice fishing out toddlers who’d lost their grip and went under while the pool was busy, and I was so appreciative they weren’t upset because I corrected the child’s behavior. I might not have been so lucky with the parents. Who knows where she learned the behavior from. I’ve been at the pool long enough and I’m so comfortable with all the staff I feel free to ask if my behavior is acceptable, and what to do with the behavior of children who are having challenges following the rules of the water. Because of our free and open communications we are all on the same page and it centers around safety.

As I age perhaps my skin is thicker. No need to be insulted by the truth. It’s not like I could deny being fat. What if she’d said I was ugly? That’s a little more difficult because beauty, as they say, is in the eye of the beholder. Some people who fit the standard of physical beauty I find quite ugly because they are not kind and caring people or they are unable to think beyond themselves. Other people without physical beauty I find to be the most beautiful people because of the kindness with which they treat others. Me? I think I’m OK to look at; the beauty of the love inside me is harder to see; you have to look beyond my fat unruly body and saggy grimace-y face and passionate cranky voice.

Though this child’s physical beauty was average, her spirit was still bright and clear as a brand new shiny penny. She needed a little guidance in social skills at that moment from a kindly (or cranky depending on how you see me) old village auntie. Auntie goals do not include killing the fresh spirit of youth.

Though I have a feeling the event flew right by this child and she will never give it another thought (she is still so young), perhaps the girl will one day think about the “nice, old, fat lady,” who didn’t let her play on the stairs, when she is swimming with her grandchildren. Perhaps she will remember the incident when she is older and rounder as happens when we age, as she is a solidly built, stocky girl and this village auntie foresees a curvaceous body in her future.

Color Watchcolorful attractions in my neighborhoods this week – A friend caught these yellow daisies being busied by a bee.

Photo by Tina Carlson

A neighbor has a whole row of these marbled purple hollyhocks. My sedums are blooming these creamy white blossoms. An old fashioned pale pink climbing rose entertaining another busy bee. Bright yellow nebula of Saint John’s Wort.

Current View – {These are only my opinions about movies and books, but don’t let me stop you from trying these reviewed items yourself; your opinion may differ.} The Ballad of Little Jo (1993, rated R) with Suzy Amis, Bo Hopkins, and Ian McKellen. Trying to escape the stigma of bearing a child out of wedlock, a young woman disguises herself as a man in post-Civil War western America. This is one of those significant movies that I recommend to all people over the age of 14. * Puzzle (2018, rated R), an introspective mother discovers she is a skilled jigsaw puzzler, secretly enters a competition and a friendship, then leaves both her family and her new love for a new start.

Currently ReadingThe Keeper of Lost Things (2017, fiction) by Ruth Hogan (British author). What a delight this read has been. I’ve read several reviews and was surprised at how many reviewers didn’t care for this book, thought the characters and the plot trite. I enjoyed the character Sunshine, who is a 19 year old girl with Down’s Syndrome who is psychic as well; I thought the character was carefully and tastefully drawn, though many reviewers didn’t like the character. I’ve worked with diverse populations, maybe that’s the difference in our reviews. Plus, for those literary types out there, the prose reads like a semi-sestina in that, for most of the chapters, a word or phrase in the last few sentences of the chapter are repeated in the first few sentences of the next chapter. Charming. * Plan Your Prosperity: The Only Retirement Guide You’ll Ever Need (2013, personal finance) by Ken Fisher (American author). I won’t finish this book, one of the few. So many financial terms I don’t understand, I won’t spend time researching enough to understand; I’m not an investor anywhere near this level. This book is for upper-middle class people who already have money. The author annoyed me when he wrote: let’s say you are a beginning investor and have $100,000.00 to invest. Clue to author: many beginning investors are people with their first jobs who might have five bucks a paycheck to begin their investing career. The author completely lost me when he said: let’s say you are 62 with 2 million dollars saved and you want to invest. What upper middle class people don’t seem to understand is if I (an average poor person with a bit of wit) had 2 million dollars in my pocket at 62 years of age I could make that last the rest of my life even without other investment advice, because my needs are few and simple, and I have a minimal grasp of the beginning basics of investing. This is NOT a book for beginning investors. I’ve found Elizabeth Warren’s (yes, that Elizabeth Warren) book All Your Worth: The Ultimate Lifetime Money Plan (2005, money management) to be the best beginning money management and investment book ever. All the basics, simple language, simple plan. If I taught real world math in schools I would use this as a text because it works whether you are making $100.00 a week from your first after school job or if you are retired and on a limited budget. * Eloquent Rage: A Black Feminist Discovers Her Superpower (2017, African-American feminism) by Brittney Cooper (American author, associate professor in the Department of Women’s and Gender Studies at Rutgers University). I’ve long admired Cooper’s interviews on various news shows. I know little about black women’s experience in our culture and I appreciate her sharing her experience.

This week I have been grateful for:

  • A freshly swept and mopped kitchen floor. So calming.
  • Hot packs for after the pain of doing.
  • Empty, clean kitchen counters.
  • The pathway to my bed amid all the abundance.
  • A lovely long weekend with a friend from grade school who has known me long enough and loves me enough to tolerate my cranky, bossy mouth for more than a few hours.
  • The long weekend above, which I’m going to count as a semi-vacation. I certainly made lots of work for her and she accommodated it all.
  • Fine point pens and paper. Doodling.
  • My aquatic center. I’m so spoiled with the luxury of private family dressing rooms available to anyone who needs them, always hot showers and plenty of soap in the dispensers, the choice of regular temp or warm temp pools, and a comfortable hot tub where the jets don’t blow you out of the water. Being able to see the bottom of the pool without chlorine burns. Awesome staff who always honor my “observations” as we call them.
  • Witnessing the grand-sonning of my friend who is a single, child-free woman, as her younger friend claimed her as his official adopted grandmother. Witnessed, so officially grand-sonned, so say I.
  • The fun of my first ever henna tattoo.
  • Semi-controlled chaos. Or semi-random control. Depending on point of view.
  • The hubster being flexible during a change of plan.
  • That cool little seam ripper tool. And the gentle tug that releases a few stitches all at once.
  • Finally appreciating that the gratitude for my material abundance does not cancel out my grief. Gratitude and grief live side by side.
  • Water.

Hoping you have a lovely week.

Namaste. Peace. Blessings.

Floral ribbon border by Laurel Burch

This entry was posted in abundance, Aging, Education, Exercise, GRATITUDE, Grief, Health, Photography, Poetry and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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