Thursday, December 14, 2006

Teach Your Children Well

Namaste (before sunscreen), 1981

My parents? They were hippies, uh-huh...

I spent the better part of my early childhood living on a small island in Boston Harbor, where my father's ratty old canoe was our car, and my mother kept a very strict Macrobiotic kitchen. I knew all of the Hindu names of yoga postures, and spent a lot of time hanging out with a revolving group of Persian and Afghani children whose families also sought refuge on the island. I had a working vocabularly of Dari and Farsi without knowing the difference, or, for that matter, even caring. My father would jam out on his 12-string acoustic guiter, and I entertained anyone who would watch with my perfectly pitched song and dance performance of "Puff the Magic Dragon". Even though I often took requests, at 3 years old, I did a fabulous impersonation of Janis Joplin. Can you imagine your 3 year old, dressed in beads singing "Mercedes Benz" at the top of her lungs? Indeed.

I did not consume processed sugar until my grandparents haplessly handed me a lollipop at the age of 5. In fact, it wasn't until the age of 5, when we moved off of the island and into the heart of Washington, DC that I learned that little girls were required to actually wear shirts and bathing suit tops to cover their nipples even though boys and men were not. For a child who spent the better part of her young life in the buff, I found this incredibly problematic. Perhaps it is for this reason alone that I am an adult fan of topless beaches and fail to understand why Americans are so weird about their bodies. Just last week, a friend of mine confessed to me that she is incredibly uncomfortable when she sees women breastfeeding in public. My best guess is that she's one of those women who puts her flannel grandma pajamas on immediately after sex, and if she has ever had an orgasm, it may have been once, by accident, on the treadmill, at the gym. But I digress.

From time to time in my yoga practice, certain early childhood memories (such as the one above) will come to the surface of my consciousness and leave me smiling for a few days. In a very meaningful way, I find that a patient, ego-free hour or so of this sort of meditation allows me to reconnect with that bead-wearing, half-naked girlchild banchee within. Because of this, I've recently started to wonder what kind of parent will I be one day to my own little hippie children? I really hope that I don't become one of those parents who makes their offspring overly neurotic and fearful of the world at large. I also don't know how I feel about full-time daycare or live-in nannies. No. I want sweaty, earth-caked children with sticky hands and pet frogs, who have an abudance of crayon drawings on their bedroom walls. They will love to read and build tree forts, and stand up to school bullies, and spend hours doing gymnastics tricks in the back yard.

Lately, I have had the vision of one day bringing my own girlchild to yoga classes with me so that she may grow up loving herself and her body. And I see myself being the kind of mother that allows her boychild to know respect, sensitivity, strength and compassion, so that he may grow up to be a very good man. Of course, all of this is contingent on actually having these fictitious children. Given the fact that in the late 1970's, they stopped placing biological clocks in most of America's girlchildren, I am in no serious rush to reproduce any time soon. In fact, for now I'll just be sticking with the yoga, the topless beaches and my all-time favorite set of hippie beads.


VJ said...

Thanks for the tale N. I think at that age I also owned the same cap, but it was in white. About that time I think I took the best pic of my life, but yours is quite charming too. Contemplative, and perhaps with that frog nearby. We can never predict what paths children will take. They are constant surprises. We can only hope that they surpass us in meaningful ways. Cheers & Good Luck! 'VJ'

Anonymous said...

n f of g,
your life sounds so intriging! amazing how much one can remember from the early age of three. did you live in a commune? are you belting out joplin tunes while driving a your mercedes these days!? entertaining reading! indeed!

Namaste said...

Glad you like my charming pic, VJ. You're so very nice to comment.

Anon- It wasn't officially a commune, but it came pretty close. I was blessed with both a great early childhood, but a very good memory of it too. I've written about it before, too. In face, I'll try to resurrect another post about the island. It was a pretty wild place. Thanks for reading...and liking it. :)

Anonymous said...

n f of g,

looking forward to your post! :) I'm hooked!