Thursday, September 27, 2007

Light a Candle

Adlai Stephenson said of Eleanor Roosevelt "She would rather light a candle than curse the darkness" .....approximately (the quote is in a children's book CLEAR OVER in the kitchen). We read that quote yesterday after poring over about 6 books on the late first lady during an improvised unit study surrounding the movie Annie (I call it a unit study because Obsessing-over-every-vaguely-interesting-detail-related-to-anything-which-gives-us-pleasure is entirely too long a label). I turned to Olivia and gushed, "Olivia, I hope one day someone could look at my life and say something like this about me, don't you?" She answered instantly, "What are we waiting for mom? You would rather light a candle...than....swallow the night....or something." Then we both busted up laughing and went back to Eleanor (who really had a difficult childhood, and was FDR her cousin or something?).

I can't spend 20 minutes sentimentalizing about dishwashing detergent and then go to bed without telling at least mentioning the fact that my daughter, daily, lights my candle for me. Tonight we fancied up and went to see the dress rehearsal of The Magic Flute (Olivia loves the opera). She has been looking forward to this date forever (in the way that a 5 year old understands forever.....maybe in the way that any of us understand forever)....and so have I. We hurried to the performance hall, arrived early, and found out that the dress rehearsal was LAST NIGHT. It was a long drive. We spent money we should have saved. No opera. Olivia cried. I nearly cried. Poor Patrick at the information desk almost cried. After about 4 minutes of grieving and then 3 more of regrouping, I remembered Eleanor, and Olivia and I resolved that, after a quick trip to the bathroom (and 10 or so more apologies from me about my mis-schedule) we would salvage our date and light a candle instead of sitting around cursing the darkness. ("What's cursing again mom?" "Complaining or sitting around saying really bad things about your situation instead of doing something to change it." "Oh yeah; let's light a candle.") So we left the auditorium and saw a pack of sorority girls (women?) with painted faces and balloons in their hands. Needless to say we followed them for a time. Olivia thought they were clowns, and I was open to anything that would help to drag our date out of dissappointment quicksand. Then I saw a mom with four kids exiting a minivan with a purposeful look on her face. I distracted Olivia from the clown processional long enough to accost the woman, fill her in on our tragic date, and ask her what she had planned for her own kids. Her comments led us to a rehearsal of the Indianapolis Children's Choir, which we surreptitiously attended and LOVED. Then, candles lit, we left the campus. We were so close to the Indianapolis Museum of Art that, in spite of the late hour, I told Olivia we could stop before we headed home, and she jumped at that one. So I darted across a couple of lanes (sorry, Dad) and we surveyed the whole of African art in about an hour. Now, we know a good deal more about incorporating the beautiful into everyday life, and every docent in the wing knows about our Ethiopian adoption thanks to a VERY proud big sister. We both declared the evening one of our best dates ever, and we told the story of The Magic Flute (as best we could remember it.....somehow, we managed to forget how the actual flute played into the plot, but we did not forget the crazy bird man!) all the way home. She will be very tired tomorrow in school....all that candle lighting wears a body out. What a great kid.

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