This morning is our 4th snow day in 4 weeks. 4-8 inches of snow and freezing rain. Snow soaked with rain so each shovelful feels like lifting bricks.
But I’m humming “Oh what a beautiful morning” because we watched the Hugh Jackman version of Oklahoma last night. School was cancelled at 6 p.m., prompting shouts and dancing and lots of joy from the younger set. I already knew Scott wasn’t coming home—his hospital discovered their surprise 5 day audit started on Monday, and with the snow storm, all the leaders got hotel rooms—so after dinner, I announced the kids could either go straight to bed or watch Oklahoma and finish folding laundry.
The two younger ones wanted to watch whatever Disney show was on TV, even begging to take laundry to my bedroom, promising to fold it while watching the show on our upstairs TV so I could watch Oklahoma downstairs. What kind of fool do they think I am??? Laundry barely gets folded when they watch TV in our family room. Why would I, a seasoned mother for almost 15 years, trust that laundry would get folded out of my eyesight?
There’s no way I was going to sleep on clean laundry or fold it myself. So I repeated my offer, “Go to bed right now or fold laundry while watching Oklahoma.”
The lure of screen time, even watching antiquated Rodgers and Hammerstein musicals while folding laundry was too much for them. They caved, and Hugh Jackman strode on stage with a cowboy strut, “All the cattle are standing like statues. . .”
I love Broadway musicals, and Oklahoma was the first musical I ever watched on TV when I was exactly the same age as my son, 10. I don’t know why a 10 year old Chinese girl in Hawaii would fall in love with singing and strutting farmers and ranchers, but I was hooked, and have been obsessed with Rodgers and Hammerstein musicals ever since.
It probably didn’t hurt that Mama also loved musicals. She watched the original Broadway versions of many musicals during her days living in NYC, so she gladly passed her love of Broadway to me, letting me lie in her bed to watch TV versions late at night because our color TV resided in her bedroom.
I sometimes wonder about the loves we pass onto our children as opposed to the pressures we place on them. From my mother, I received my love of Broadway musicals, my value for good friends you can laugh with, an overweening obsession with food, and the passion for great bargains.
Academic achievement, Chinese identification, loving my siblings—all these felt like pressures in contrast, even though I now am grateful that I was coerced into valuing all three.
Faith in God was always my choice, perhaps even my rebellion, but as a result, I’ve completely owned it all by myself.
With my kids, the love of the Broadway musical is well on its way no matter how much they groaned that Oklahoma looked old fashioned in the beginning. They couldn’t believe Hugh Jackman is also Wolverine—we’ve seen all 4 X-men movies in the past 2 months—and we marveled at his talent. When the show finally ended at 11:30, I had to force them to go to bed rather than click on the songs they wanted to re-hear.
The love/obsession with food is clearly in place. From Scott they’ve received the love of snow skiing, water-skiing, Shirley Temples, and (for the girls so far) orderliness. (I keep wishing the latter on all 3 kids since not only do I not love order, I’m also completely incapable of it)
But how to help them love God, the greatest and most important love of all, that I still wonder about. I’ve seen the pressure strategy backfire, making the child think God’s all about control and behavior codes and breaking your will for the hell of it.
So maybe it’s like raising your kids to love Oklahoma. Exposing them, talking with them, doing it together, and hoping the love catches on. At least with God, there’s someone on the other side who wants a relationship too, unlike Hugh Jackman who I’m sure is perfectly happy without us.
So we go to church. We pray as a family most nights. We talk about Jesus. And I pray fervently that God will talk back so the kids know he’s more than just a random entertainment option.
Meanwhile, today after putting away all the laundry, the kids will have to shovel snow that’s as high as an elephants eye and it looks like it’s climbin’ clear up to the sky. . .
Oh what a beautiful morning!