the year of the cicada
So it is the year of the cicada, which was initially a pretty creepy concept to me. Apparently the cicadas go in 17 year cycles, and when they come, they bring all their friends and relatives and they party in every tree in the Chicago suburbs. They're so noisy that you can barely think when you get near one of their hang outs.
Recently, at a birthday party for one of Anna's five year old buddies, Anna managed to catch and cuddle two cicadas. The other girls were pretty frightened of the orange-headed insects, but Anna loved them with a strange passion. So much so that in the car she suggested we open a window because then perhaps more cicadas would join us. What delightful company a gigantic, screaming, orange-headed insect would make on our hour long trip home!
Anyway, as I was watching the cicadas crawl up Anna's arm with a mixture of horror and awe, I realized that the next time the cicadas come our way, Anna will be in college--or possibly have even graduated. I can't think or write these words without aching for my Anna, who is growing faster than I realized.
In light of the circumstances, I've come to think of parenting in a fresh way, one that seems to trim the task down a bit and bring more delight to the process. This summer, I'm not in the business of making perfect, successful, savvy girls. My job is simpler than that--for now, at least, I'm gardening--planting memories in the fertile soil of their hearts. I'm hoping that the lovely memories will outweigh the not-so-lovely ones which will inevitably slip in.
As Dostoevsky wrote in the Karamazov Brothers:
"Remember that nothing is nobler, stronger, more vital, or more useful in future life than some happy memory, especially one from your family home. A lot is said about upbringing, but the very best upbringing, perhaps, is some lovely, holy memory preserved from one's childhood. If a man carries many such memories with him, they will keep him safe throughout his life. And even if only one such memory stays in our hearts, it may prove to be our salvation one day.
Speaking of memories, Anna may have relished the cicadas at that party, but Natalie was all about the frosting . . .
Posted by Jenny at 3:38:00 AM