This morning, Ruby desperately wanted to learn how to snap this morning. Jonathon wasn’t feeling well, so I was making lunches and cleaning up the kitchen.
“It’s like this,” I demonstrated. I put my thumb and third finger together and scuffed them across each other.
She watched me. She tried it. Her tiny fingers produced a bit of friction but no distinctive pop. She tried over and over.
“I can’t do it!” she wailed.
I directed her to ask her father, ensconced in a cozy chair in the living room. He had more free hands than I did.
Jonathon, being a former public school teacher, took her through the exact process to get a good snap on. From what I could hear, Ruby tried it and failed again. Ruby got more and more frustrated until she annoyed her dad and herself. She fled to her room to cry into her pillow.
This, friends, is a typical Thursday. After being up late for Wednesday night church, Thursday mornings begin kinda roughly. Nobody wants to get up. The kids seem incapable of reasonable discourse. We have learned to roll with it and recognize it as Thursday tribulations.
Ruby returned from her room with tear-stained cheeks. She flopped on the couch to do some writing and drawing in her sketch pad.
I finished cleaning up the kitchen and joined her.
“Mom”, she cried, “I just can’t do it! All the other kids in my class can snap but me.”
Peer pressure raising its ugly head in first grade. It’s a low-down dirty shame.
She crawled onto my lap. I comforted her by saying I didn’t think that was true. I reminded her that she knows how to whistle. I don’t remember learning how to whistle until I was 9, an ancient age for such an important life skill. I tried to cheer her by letting her know her classmates probably couldn’t do that, at least not all of them.
“Oh yes they can”, she countered, cowed by the thought of her classmates’ advanced skills. I tried to elucidate the fact that snapping is not a make-it-or-break it thing. Nobody cares unless you’re a beatnik. I reminded her that in her short life span she had already learned how to walk, talk, write and read, not to mention do simple math. She would master this, given time. It doesn’t even rank, in my book. Whistling is *way* cooler.
“Do you want me to play with you?” I asked, a last-ditch effort to lift her spirits. I was not in great form for Twister but I would suck it up for her sake.
She proceeded to climb back onto our Barney couch and entertain herself, submerging down into her comfortable imaginative world.
Okay then. I know better than to force myself on her or anyone else. I went on with my tasks.
Aren’t we just as irrational? This person can salsa; another can make amazing salsa. That person sings like an angel. The other person has a photographic memory. And I want that, too! When will it end?
I do believe we all have abilities that, with some time and effort, will produce great fruit. Let’s pursue those and forget the things that we can’t do. I will never be a great tennis player. I basket-weave like a drunk lemming. I’m not sure if I’ll ever master the art of biscuit making. But I can cook well and I bake great desserts.
Ruby soon reappeared in front of me, calmed by her creative efforts. She showed me a fish she made out of black construction paper with purple, green and yellow fin inserts, held on by royal blue paint. She fish had a tiny orange smile. An enigmatic smile, I should think, full of self-knowledge, as if to say, “I can do great things and I don’t need to be like anyone else.”