|Monte Verde, Costa Rica 2010|
I read The Giver in a day and a half. I read while I made a sandwich for Gage. I read while I nursed KJ. I read while I stirred coconut curry on the stove. I read while I blow dried my hair. I read while I put Aquafor on Kjel's eczema. In short, I couldn't put it down.
I had previously read it back in middle school and I remember being disturbed by one scene in particular. I was similarly disturbed this time around by the same scene, but I was able to read it more symbolically and that made a difference.
This book reminded me of the importance of choice in mortality and the gift that free will is to each of us. It made me grateful for the small decisions I am able to make (what to wear, when to go to bed) and the big decisions, too. It also firmed my resolve to start letting Gage make more decisions for himself.
I read an article in the Times a few months ago about a tribe of people somewhere in South America. The children in this tribe are amazingly self-sufficient - I'm talking three-year-olds using machetes, people. I felt those stirrings in my heart that I needed to let go of some of the control I've had on Gage and try to emulate the things I had learned from the article. No, I have not given Gage a machete. But I have started letting him use scissors, a butter knife to cut his dinner, peel his own oranges, choose his own clothes, wash and load dishes into the dishwasher, unstrap his carseat (this was huge for me. I've always been fine with him knowing how to strap himself in, but I never wanted him to learn how to un-do his straps, for fear he'd free himself and attempt escape through the roof hatch. Hasn't happened yet)... among other things. And he's totally risen to the occasion.
I realized that when I made the decision to let him make decisions that life would have to slow down substantially. Sometimes it is frustrating when I am in a hurry and he insists on unstrapping his car seat or washing his own dish methodically until every bit of food is down the sink, but it's worth it.
It's worth it because his own sense of self-worth has risen with each good decision he makes. Interestingly, his self-worth rises when he makes wrong decisions, too. Because he starts to grasp the power of the human will and I see a spark ignite in his eyes when he realizes that he could keep being naughty, but he'd prefer to apologize and rectify what's been made wrong. He's realizing that he, of his own accord, is good.
So I guess you could say I'd recommend that you read The Giver. :)
I'm curious - do you remember when you first started making real choices? If you have kids, what choices do you allow them to make on their own and what do you decide for them?