bringingupbuddhas

suburban adventures in bu-curious mothering

no wonder wonder is a best-seller

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Have you read this book yet?  No?  Well then, you must.  While the target audience is Young Adult, the benefitting audience is ageless.  Wonder is a story of inspiring compassion unfolding among the very unlikely ranks of middle school city kids.

Ten-year-old Auggie was born into a body that is, to put it diplomatically, atypical.  He describes the way he looks in the first chapter: “Whatever you’re thinking, it’s worse.”  His is a face that only a mother can love, though as it turns out, his is a heart that is loved by all.

Auggie’s is the collective voice of not only those with deformations or disabilities, but also of every person who has ever struggled with finding his place in the world. As a reader, I absorbed his perspective without judgment or pity – just deep compassion and lots of tears.  My children responded similarly.

My 9 and 7 year old girls devoured this book.  (My little one went cover to cover on a Sunday from noon to 5pm, forgoing a hike in the forest with her family to stay home and read.) They were completely invested in Auggie, his friends, and his family.  And after they read the last sentence, they wiped their eyes and said, “Can we read another one like that?”

Our children crave inspiration and compassion.  They want to know how to love without limits.  This story makes acceptance acceptable, love lovable.  Through Auggie’s vulnerability they were able to share their own soft spots with confidence.

This is a superb family read and is guaranteed to inspire even the most tight-lipped of children to share from the heart.  We’ve been talking about Wonder all month, as there are countless ways to weave Auggie’s story into our own lives and experiences.

Wonder is wonderful.

From mine to yours,

Vanessa

great programming for young boys courtesy of PBS

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Every Sunday night, all summer long, my 4 year old has been asking me this question:  “Mama, Mama, Mama, does Supewhewo Camp stawt tomowwow?”

Finally, two days ago I was able to give him the answer he so desperately wanted to hear, “Yes, buddy!  Yes!  Tomorrow is the first day of Superhero Camp!”

“Woohoooo!” he yelped while punching at the air with his tiny, happy fists.  “Mama, Mama, Mama, can I weaw my Supewman T-shiwt?”

“Sure, bud!”

“Is it clean?”  (Sadly my response is too often what he so desperately doesn’t want to hear but that day he was in luck.)

“Uh-huh.”

“YESSSSSSS!!!!!”

He took off for his room to pack a bag and lay out his clothes for the following day.  Then he came back down, “But Mama.  Mama.  Mama,” he said patting my rear end, “I need anothew Supewhewo shiwt for the next day.”

“You can wear your Wild Kratts T-shirt, dude!  Chris Kratt is the best superhero ever!”

“The Kwatt bwothews awen’t supewhewos.”

“Whhaaaattt???  Of course they are!  They rescue animals don’t they?”

“But, Mama, they don’t F-LLLYYYYYY.”

“When they have on their falcon creature power suits they can.”

“OH YAH!!!!!  I’m going to be Chwis Kwatts.  WOOHOOOO!  Can I weaw a cape wiff my T-shiwt?”

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If you have a little one at home, you are probably familiar with the Kratt brothers on PBS.  They are animal experts who are known for getting down and dirty with creatures of all kinds, first with their show Zoboomafoo and later with their hit show Wild Kratts.  They don’t hesitate to roll in the mud or tromp though a swamp…  and they’re fun to watch.  My kids love these guys.  Especially my nature-loving boy.  Honestly, “nature-loving” might be an understatement.  Nature-ADORING, Nature-OBSESSING, Nature-WORSHIPPING boy is more on the mark.  My oldest daughter regularly entertains us by singing the Wild Kratts theme song to the rhythm of her own clapping hands while Nature Boy spins wildly in circles and hurls his body onto the floor.  (This primitive behavior is considered dancing in my household.)

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What I love about Chris and Martin Kratt, and why I’m writing about them today on BUBs, is that they’ve created a wholesome program that is centered on compassion, education, nature AND adventure.  This is especially important for our young boys who are almost always attracted to shows, events and toys that involve destruction and fighting.  Caring for and rescuing animals is a beautiful lesson in compassion and I’m standing up applauding these guys and the work they do.

Animals are a wonderful way to teach our little boys about reflexive compassion.  When we witness an animal in trouble, compassion is automatic.  And once that feeling of compassion becomes part of a child’s emotional foundation, they can have a better understanding of how to apply it when dealing with people.  Let’s face it, it can be hard to have compassion for humans sometimes.  As a mindful adult I find that I consistently have to remind myself to be compassionate when people around me are acting like jerks.  Imagine how challenging that is for a kid!

So there was a study that came out a few years ago.  I can’t remember who conducted it, but it was a happiness study based on words posted by children on social media sites (happy, love, peace, etc.).  Guess which state was voted to have the happiest kids in America?  (Go ahead and play some thought-stimulating Jeopardy music in your head while you ponder…  Doo!  Do-do-do-do-do-do.  Bom, bum!)

New Hampshire!

Yah baby.  Go New England!  I’ve gotta say, I’m not surprised.  Have you ever been to a New Hampshire State Fair?   One conversation with a young person about how they feel when caring for their animals is all you need to be convinced of the cornerstone of their happiness and kindness.  Farmer kids and 4-H kids are so damn nice.  The way these kids love and care for animals is inspiring.  So in a state like NH where nature prevails and farms are everywhere, I’m venturing a guess that the reason for being the happiest state in the nation has something to do with animals.  At least that’s my unscientific, un-researched theory.  But pretty a good one, right?

Kindness and compassion, though two different qualities, support each other in every way.  It’s impossible to have one without the other.

So in this spaghetti test called life, I suggest to toss the Kratt brothers against the wall and see if they stick.  My son is still only in-the-making of a man but from what I see so far, I have little doubt that his deep and passionate love for animals and nature are helping him to build a strong foundation of compassion and kindness.   Big props to my favorite superheroes for their contribution in supporting his development.  PBS made a great investment when they plunked their taxpayer dollars down on Wild Kratts.  Check your local guide for listings.

From mine to yours,

Vanessa

p.s.

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life according to monopoly

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The family was playing a hot game of Monopoly Tuesday night. At one point during the game, we stopped to assess the board.  My youngest was in jail, where he had spent the growing majority of his turns.  He hadn’t passed GO in about 8 rolls.  My middle daughter was banker, maintaining complete control of money, properties and building projects.  The number one requirement for her job seemed to be fuzzy math.  My oldest sat back and sniffed her putty colored hundreds while building hotels from Mediterranean to Connecticut Avenue.  A slum lord in the making.

I couldn’t help but look at this scenario and laugh about it in relation to my month’s spiritual work – acceptance of life as it is, the gentle guidance of my children toward peace and collaboration, the release of bearing the burden of their shortcomings and mistakes.  In 30 years, if my kids are incarcerated, corrupt and amoral, I’m going to blame it on Monopoly.

From mine to yours,

Vanessa

hi, it’s vanessa. where are you?????

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The clock in my kitchen is my go-to for all my timely needs.  There are other clocks around the house, but for some reason I always consult the kitchen clock for accurate time.  Oddly enough, the five minute intervals read “now” instead of numbers, so time telling is a two step translation process – a process that perhaps took the edge off last night as I was watching that minute hand in orbit, converting “nows” into numbers, waiting for my husband to come home after work.

We were all hungry, dinner was hot.  Around 6:0o I called him four times in quick succession.  I thought the intensity of my effort might encourage him to pick up, mentally willing him with every ring.  No dice.

So finally at 7:00 I sat the crew down to eat.  Dinner was typical.  The girls chowed down while my son staged a sit-in across the kitchen.  We ate the last half of our meal in intentional silence, doing our best to focus on chewing and tasting.  In the silence I had a hard time focusing on anything really.  Well, anything but this:  Where the hell is my husband???

As the “nows” accumulated, one nagging, irrational thought snagged its claws on my otherwise typical thoughts.  If he got into an accident, the hospital would have called me, right?  Would I have a sixth sense if he was dead?  Would I just know?  He’s not dead, though.  But he could be.  No.  Could he be?  I’m sure he’s fine.  Maybe I’ll watch a little TV.

The phone finally rang after I put the kids to sleep.  He was fine, enjoying dinner with a friend visiting from out of town.  He had actually told me several times he had plans but I forgot, didn’t write it down, screwed up.  Oops.  All that worrying for nothing.  It’s not as if I didn’t have a gentle reminder telling me to be here and “now”.  Jeez.

The scene brought to mind of a poem I heard by Richard Blanco on NPR’s Fresh Air with Terry Gross.  I pulled this off of NPR’s transcripts, so I’m guessing how the stanzas might be broken up.  Enjoy…

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Killing Mark, by Poet Richard Blanco

His plane went down over Los Angeles last week, again.

Or was it Long Island?

Boxer shorts, hair gel, his toothbrush washed up on the shore of New Haven, but his body never recovered, I feared.

Monday he cut off his leg chain-sawing. Bleed to death slowly while I was shopping for a new lamp.

Never heard my messages on his cell phone.

Where are you? Call me.

I told him to be careful.

He never listens.

Tonight, 15 minutes late. I’m sure he’s hit a moose on Route 26.

But maybe he survived.

Someone from the hospital will call me, give me his room number. I’ll bring his pajamas and some magazines.

5:25, still no phone call.

Voice mail full.

I turn on the news, wait for the report. Flashes of moose blood, his car mangled, as I buzz around the bedroom dusting the furniture, sorting the sock drawer.

By 7:30, I’m taking mental notes for his eulogy, suddenly adoring all I’ve hated, 10 years worth of nose hairs in the sink, of lost car keys, of chewing too loud and hogging the bed sheets,

when Joy yowls.  Ears to the sound of footsteps up the drive and darts to the doorway,

I follow with a scowl: Where the hell were you? Couldn’t you call?

Translation. I die each time I kill you.

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From mine to yours,

Vanessa

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