Having Russ retired has been a blessing in more ways than I can adequately describe, but the biggest happens twice a week when our car heads north to fill in for mommy and daddy while they work. Covid changed many things, but for our family it introduced a team adventure of the home school kind.
Papi and I arrive either early morning or just before lunch depending on work schedules, two days a week. Early on, he decided to introduce the boys to Henry Huggins because donut machines and a run-a-way bathtub are funny, I don’t care what generation you were born into.
Since there are only two seats next to Papi, I sit with them so we can bookend the band of brothers for this reading time.
Thus it was that I have finally listened to a series of books I never read and have struggled through the ups and downs of Ramona Quimby. As Ramona navigates the challenges of being the youngest child and the woes of public school, I have found myself entering in to her story.
She is obviously creative and has got to be a four on the enneagram. And I can so relate to her in ways that are difficult to express. Ramona is often driven by her emotions and although her desire is to be loved and appreciated, it has to be a genuine and authentic relationship.
No surface stuff for Miss Ramona.
On Tuesday we waited through the evening with a nervous 1st grade Ramona as her mom and dad attended parent night at school. The chapter before we learned that Ramona’s class had been making owls out of paper bags and one of her classmates copied all of Ramona’s efforts to make her creation unique. The teacher saw the copy version first and held it up for all the class to admire.
It was too much for Ramona, who threw her own original owl away for fear SHE would be accused of copying and thus had nothing to offer for the parent night display. On top of it, she was so upset she ended up destroying her classmate’s clone of her artwork.
Well, her parents do come home and her mom comes to her room but thankfully only wanting to know what ever had been on her mind to do such a thing. Her mom comes with a listening ear and Ramona tells her all that happened.
Mrs. Quimby is sympathetic but points out that copying an art project is not like copying answers for a test and not a reason to get so upset.
At this point, Mr. Quimby and older sister Beezus have crept into the doorway and are part of the therapy session. Beezus, who often is not Ramona’s best ally and who definitely must be a nine, whispers…”Yes it is. It’s very much the same thing.”
Then their mom gives one of the best pieces of parenting wisdom a children’s book can offer. As she absorbs all that has happened and considers the impact on her young daughter, she states that it is the offending party she feels the most sorry for because Ramona is creative but all her classmate can do is copy.
I know this won’t speak to everyone on the level of an art project, but I think we all have places where what we do and the way we do it expresses who we are. We put our hearts into a job or a project or an event and later see it copied.
It feels like a piece of our soul has been violated.
I get it.
But as I pondered Ramona’s angst, I thought about how Ramona’s mom had a different perspective and one that I need to remember.
Even at my most creative level, I have gotten an idea from something that was created by someone outside of me. Take for instance a photograph.
I love photography and many of the pictures I take are more than just a snapshot. I work at capturing the beauty or the message of a thousand words that are in that one picture.
So if someone who has seen what I did takes a similar shot or uses my photo as if it were his or her own, it feels like copying and somewhere deep in my soul, my inner Romana rears up and reacts.
But I have to remind myself…I didn’t “create” the beauty that spoke to me when I took the photo. I simply had a heart open to see it. So I was compelled to preserve it in jpeg digital and share it with others hoping it would speak to someone else.
And it did.
It spoke enough to cause them to want to either repeat on their own effort or use mine. And like Ramona I have a choice.
To either open my hand and thank God for spreading the story or clinch my fists and stew in my anger.
Like I said…for me it is words and photos. For you it may be the way you encouraged someone or advocated for them and when they succeeded, your part was forgotten.
Maybe it’s your humor. Maybe you share things in such a delightful way and then others seem to copy it and you see them getting recognition for being so clever.
Maybe it’s the way you do business and you feel you have developed a unique style only to have others begin promoting the same things like it was a new discovery.
Welcome to human nature.
I googled when Beverly Cleary wrote the Ramona series.
While the challenges of children in school have astronomically increased with Covid, the same issues that plagued kids and caused them to be refined in the 50’s are the same today.
Being understood is half the battle.
The other half is behaving ourselves when we are irritated by other humans and remembering that we, too, have quirks that are refining our fellow sojourners.
Praying for your hearts today as you navigate life on planet earth.
Hugs all around…because YOU…each of YOU are uniquely and wonderfully made <3