C is very into singing these days.
I’m not talking about conventional signing, with lyrics, to a tune. I’m talking about taking everyday conversation (assuming you narrate everything you do) and adding a totally out of tune warble to it so that you are, basically, singing (off key) about all of the everyday things that are happening throughout the day.
My girl is never going to win American Idol (or [insert foreign country] Idol), which is TOTALLY fine with me, but watching her put her daily life to a tune is hilarious and has been amusing B and me for a while.
Last Friday C and I headed to meet good friends at the National Zoo. I (stupidly) opted to drive instead of take the Metro thinking (stupidly) that it would be easier. We did fine for the first 10 minutes or so, then I missed the exit to Rock Creek Parkway and we ended up stuck in construction traffic in the middle of D.C. Not fun.
I *might* have been providing my own non-musical running commentary on the situation, when suddenly C says to me, “Mommy, are you annoyed at the traffic?”
“Yes sweetie,” I said. “I am very annoyed because we’re stuck in traffic and I don’t know where I’m going.”
This prompted C to begin to sing “We are stuck in traaaaffic, and we don’t know where we’re go-oh-ing.” Over. And over. And over.
It was actually pretty sweet at first, but the out of tune repetitive signing combined with the devastating stand still traffic finally got the better of me and I said, rather loudly, “Pumpkin, I really need you to stop singing and be quiet. Mommy really needs to think!”
I felt bad. Truly I did. I was annoyed and angry at myself and C really had done nothing wrong, but I was at my wit’s end and I really did feel like I needed silence to contemplate my options (add my lack of movement to a fast dying phone – my only “map,” as a bonus).
I got silence. At least for a few seconds. Then very quietly from out of the back seat I heard a real song.
C was singing “Let it go…Let it go…” from Disney’s Frozen.
Out of the mouths of babes.
Turns out we made it to the zoo and had a fabulous time. C was right. I needed to “Let it go.”
What I find fascinating is that I struggle to let go of the little stuff. The traffic. The whining child. The dishwasher in our new apartment that doesn’t work properly. But I feel incredibly calm about the big stuff. Not knowing where we will live this time next year, for instance.
I know some of my friends think we’re nuts, and can’t imagine spending a year in sub-Saharan Africa, or in the Middle East, or anywhere but the United States of America. But no matter where we get posted – whether it is a “high,” a “medium” or a “low” on our list, the end will be in sight for us. Two years. Twenty-four months. 104 weeks.
Two years goes by in a blink.
Nelson Mandela spent 27 years – 27! – in prison, and yet you rarely saw him without a smile. People live in horrible conditions every day all over the world – millions of people. I’ll be living in a government provided house or apartment, fully furnished, with clean, SAFE water and enough money to buy plenty of good food. C’s schooling will be paid for. We will get vacation, benefits, medical treatment from the best available physicians – and if they can’t be found at post we’ll be medevac’d to London, or Petoria, or back to the U.S.
Meanwhile, many (if not a vast majority in some places) of the people who live their entire lives in whatever country we get posted in will not have enough food, or fresh water, or medical care – not just for two years, but ever. They won’t know what vacation and benefits are. They can’t access Amazon Prime when they need something. They won’t have an Embassy pool, tennis courts, or playground to entertain them, and they will probably never have the opportunity to leave.
So traffic and dishwashers make me a little crazy, but two years in a “hardship” post. I’m ok with that. That I can let go, maybe because it allows me to appreciate the little things as well. Maybe it will allow me to appreciate a traffic jam because, after all, I’m on my way to a free zoo to eat ice cream and wander aimlessly with people I love. Or appreciate my not so perfect dishwasher because, after all, I’m not having to wash all my dishes by hand in water that was previously flowing through a sewer. Or even better, appreciate the fact that, with one call to maintenance I got a new dishwasher. Along with a note from Juan, our wonderful maintenance man, which said “I’m so sorry for the inconvenience.”
I hope C and I will sing together about our new life in our new home in a few months. And I hope I can continue to learn the lessons she teaches me about enjoying life one minute at a time and letting go of the little things.