Sunday, March 3, 2013

An Ode to Getting Out of Bed

I stared blearily at my phone. Yes, it was indeed late enough that I should get up even though going back to sleep seemed promising.

There was a creak followed by footsteps and my son appeared by my bed, even though he's not supposed to be in my room uninvited. (One day he's going to get an eyeful of something he doesn't want, but it wasn't today.)

"Oh, good! You're awake!" he said. "I'm going to the Ethical Society."

"You're what? By yourself?" Yes, the building the Baltimore Ethical Society meets in abuts our parking lot, but you have to walk around an innercity block to get to it. And while I trust The Child completely, he is only eleven and I haven't seen any other eleven-year-olds wandering our neighborhood unaccompanied. Plus, it seemed to me that the adults at the Society might think it odd for him to just show up alone. "Did Dad say you could do that? Did the Society people say you could do that?"

He titled his head. "Well, they invited me to the Sunday School."

Yeah, I knew that already. I'd gotten a brief when my males got home from a boardgame night hosted at the Ethical Society that a.) the child adored the place and b.) they had a Sunday school program he really wanted to join. I'd even looked up the email address of the lovely-sounding poet who runs it and intended to email her in the morning about enrolling him.

I was preparing how to say all this to the child while promising we could go next week when I realized something. Not only was he dressed, he was holding his water bottle and a bag filled with egg-free snacks, enough to share with others. He was bouncing in readiness and his eyes held what could only be described as the bright sparkle of childish enthusiasm. (And I say 'childish' here meaning the essence of all that is good about youth, that thrill and vivaciousness that most of us loose in adolescence but which I have repeatedly vowed to protect in my offspring.) In short, looking at him made it absolutely impossible for me to tell him no.

So instead, I told him I needed to get dressed. I rolled out of bed, threw on the first thing I could find that didn't have a cartoon image smeared on it since I had no idea how formal this group was or wasn't, and passed a toothbrush across my mouth. Then, without food, drink, or even the thought of makeup, I walked my child to the meeting.

We were late. Very late. I had thought things started at ten thirty, but they actually kick off at nine thirty. Ooops. So I got to smile apologetically at all of the people who looked to see who was coming in mid-program. The Sunday school had already split off, so I dropped the Kiddo in there, apologizing at least half a dozen times in thirty seconds for just barging in like that. Then I went out to the main room, where they had apparently been talking about Marriage Equality and how happy everyone was that Maryland woke up and passed it.

I hovered against the back wall, thinking I'd just stay there, but one of the leaders noticed and lead me to a seat in the middle of the back row of chairs. At which point I started to hope I wasn't going to have a panic attack from being surrounded by strangers in an unfamiliar place. But before I could get a good worry started, the guest speaker was announced.

James Croft was one of the reasons my child was so enthusiastic about us going today and as soon as he started speaking I could tell why. James is charismatic in an approachable way, his enthusiasm for Humanism contagious and his intelligence obvious. Plus, he's easy to look at and has a lovely accent. And he mentioned my son at the beginning of his speech, saying he felt very welcomed in Baltimore even while being beaten at boardgames by an eleven-year-old. Yes, I could see why Kiddo was taken with him.

James's message was a good one. He covered the basics of modern Ethical Culture, read some words of Felix Adler's that were originally spoken nearly a century and a half ago but which still for the most part apply, and discussed the need for modern humanist leaders to bring the movement to mainstream attention. It was a good speech and I'd encourage you to look at James's website, his Temple of the Future blog, or maybe his profile to find some of the papers he's written at Harvard, where he's a doctoral candidate. (Told you he was smart!)

What I truly learned today didn't come from James though (sorry, James!), but from my child. My child is the one who inspires me to get out of bed, leave my comfort zone, and discover new things. He's the one who makes sure that I continue to grow as a person. He enriches my world and inspires me to enrich his. He doesn't just make me want to be a better human being, but he helps me work toward it. In short, I am fortunate beyond words to have my son in my life.


Kathryn Sloboda said...

Hi Andy... I didn't have a chance to introduce myself to you this past Sunday but I read your post and I'm thrilled that your son is excited about BES and you enjoyed your time there as well. I wanted to post a comment mostly because I wanted to let you know that we do, indeed, begin our regular program at 10:30. Many Sundays there are activities before that, but you weren't really very late and if you, hopefully, return, I wanted you to know that.

Andy Brokaw said...

Thank you, Kathryn! It just seemed like an awful lot had already happened. And maybe I'm not used to being back East yet. In Washington State, when something starts at 10:30, no one shows up before 11. :)

Andy Brokaw said...
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