Wednesday, February 23, 2011
Lessons From A Manual Coffee Grinder
Home life has been turbulent over the past weeks, to put it mildly. Overall, the transition to public school has gone remarkably well for both kids. They seem to really thrive in their schools, they are learning that they can hold their own academically despite their recent entry into school life, they're making friends. However, this move to school has happened to coincide with the next jump in Samuel's emotional growth, something "they" call the "tweens."
I guess adolescence starts more around 11 or 12 nowadays, or so it appears to be the case with Samuel and his peers. He seems to have been recently endowed with the overwhelming knowledge that he knows Everything and that we, poor benighted parents that we are, are alternately "stupid" or "boring." To Samuel's credit, this kind of attitude really only rears its ugly head when he is tired or hungry. Unfortunately, he is one or the other or both 75% of the time. Maybe I exaggerate.
Anyway, we have found ourselves sucked into crazy arguments or debates about any and all things trivial or not more often than before. Examples you ask? How about: 1) our food sucks; 2) my room is colder than everyone else's and it's a plot against me; 3) our house is too small; 4) we don't have enough cats; 5) the Red Lion hotel is for "losers"; 6) big cities "suck". Really, any of these topics seem like they should be dealt with quickly and firmly. They're non-arguments. But just like when new-ish parents get broadsided by that first "NO!" from their adorable toddler, we are slow to pick up on the new world. We don't respond well. Or rather, we react when really we shouldn't even give his fits the time of day. Kind of like what parenting books say to do with a kid in the midst of a temper tantrum: isolate him/her, make sure he/she is safe, and then leave them to calm down. We are surprised every time he devolves into toddler-hood, which is now called "tweens".
And so we went off to Portland, having had a rough week of Samuel being a kid and us being non-productive participants in crazy arguments. One moment he is our sweet little boy, the next he is some kind of alien being possessed by his latest insecurity, fear, frustration, or anger. By the end of the weekend, however, we found that we can all still be together and genuinely enjoy each other's company. Or rather, Samuel realized that this can happen and we figured out, at least for now, how to cope with his mood swings. The challenge is to be the adult. How come that is so hard??
We are trying to keep calm, not react, take each moment as it comes and above all, not judge this moment's behavior against yesterday's or even this morning's. It's not easy. We love him like crazy and he loves us like crazy, too. We are trying to be compassionate with him and with us, forgiving all parties involved for forgetting how to be civilized and constantly striving for that idea.
School is not the culprit here. Samuel was moving into this new stage before this semester. I guess what I notice is that he doesn't have the downtime like he would before, he can't sleep in and then have a leisurely cup of tea before starting lessons. On the other hand, he is being exposed to new ideas, new sports, and new people, in a way that we never could have achieved had he stayed home. Heck, he even put avocado on his tuna and black bean burrito last night. He has hated avocado since I overdid it when he was a baby. And he's contemplating joining up with some kind of soccer scrimmaging group at school, too.
Now, what in the world does all this have to do with my new coffee grinder? My fancy electric burr grinder died a couple weeks ago, presenting me with the opportunity to make a change in my life. I have long thought that a manual burr grinder would be a lovely way to enjoy my coffee everyday. I like the idea of this slower method which still makes for a mean cup of joe. Before I got my new grinder I would grind up a hopper-full of coffee all at once. The engine screeched and growled and whined in the morning if I forgot to do it the night before, its sounds reverberating throughout the house. It was fast, easy, no-nonsense. Now, as I wait for the water to come to a boil, I carefully feed beans into the little cast-iron hopper and then grind the beans. It takes a while. It's quiet. My coffee grinder gives me the time to think, to be in the moment, to anticipate my first cup of coffee. Instead of rushing into the day I have a moment of quiet. It's this pause, this appreciation of the process, the patience involved in grinding my daily coffee that helps me to remember that although the process of growing up can be painful for everyone involved, a lovely cup of coffee is there at the end. My son is going through the throes of growing up but by taking the time to savor all the moments and having the patience to get through a temper tantrum without myself losing my temper, both of us come through to hug and kiss and share our adventures.
It's all worth it, the ups and downs and all the in-betweens. My kids are terrific people. I just have to listen to the moment and help them along.