SPIRITUAL NURTURE FOR THE INTERIOR JOURNEY, CONNECTING HEARTS & SOULS

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Best-laid plans

I am not in charge.
I am not in charge.
That's my new mantra, the result of Artsy Fartsy's (AF) first field trip. I want to say it was the trip from you-know-where, but will stop short and accept it's imperfections. In my head, as I planned, it was perfect:  an "easy" summer session that wouldn't require me to get the studio in order or supply a lesson, activity and project.
I am not in charge.
I am not in charge.
The girls and I began developing the museum scavenger hunt on the long drive back from our recent East Coast trip. We bounced ideas around as I drove, Autumn facilitated and Lily took notes. We know the museum pretty well, but, just to be sure, we trekked there a week in advance to double-check, make adjustments and record gallery numbers. That was the basis for our hunt, complete with a teacher's guide for leaders and museum maps with divergent paths for each group.

Dozens of empty water bottles from our June open house were the impetus for the trip. Painted and sliced in spirals, they'll make incredible Dale Chihuly-inspired sculptures for our old school building. But I wanted the kids to see a real Chihuly: the stunning, snaky, cobalt one greeting visitors as they enter the Cincinnati Art Museum. Most AF kids had never been and were stoked for the trip. Parents must've been, too, as permission slips came back sans much coaxing.

And drivers were plentiful ... until, for extremely valid reasons, they began to drop like flies. No worries, I chanted, invoking Spirit's help. Thanks to good friends and neighbors, we had our last-minute transport. I had carefully assigned particular kids to each car based on pick-up destinations and separating siblings and those who don't get along. I wanted it to flow smoothly.
I am not in charge.
I am not in charge.
That went out the door at my first stop. Could I wait 20 minutes til he could get back from his grandparents? Unfortunately, no, I responded, I have six others to take and meet the group in 10 minutes. One of the girls had asked if her step mother, an artist, could ride. Sure, I said once I knew there was an extra seat. The girls were lined up and ready at their complex when two of us arrived. Yet the artist was absent, running an errand. With her finally in tow, we met up with the other drivers and their charges at the school.

As we re-made car assignments, one was angry to be moved to accommodate warring siblings. She wasn't in my car, so I didn't understand the depth of her frustration, which she, apparently, articulated the entire ride.


We arrived, neatly, met a Quaker friend on the steps, took a group photo, had the kids read the etiquette and museum tips aloud and split into four small groups. We entered together and all spent time under the Chihuly, then went our separate ways, indicated by the orange highlighter on the museum maps. I was there long enough to experience real awe as one of the most shy and least self-assured girls become entranced with the shimmering sculpture. She saw an entire universe in that piece: animals, the sea and connected family members. I was charmed and grateful she had this opportunity.
I am not in charge.
I am not in charge.
My reverie was cut short when, a museum greeter asked me to fill out a lengthy form for our group, suggesting that I could have called ahead for a docent-led tour. I knew that would have been the death-knell for this group. Also could have received complementary parking. Ouch, I thought. Why hadn't the information-desk attendant mentioned that last week when I said I was bringing a group, I wondered to myself.

Soon, I received a panicked phone call from my night-before volunteer driver and group leader. "We're lost, I don't know the museum well and the girls in my group, well, they're not listening." Okay, so if anyone had to have a difficult group, it should have been me. I flew up the steps, rescued them and we all entered the special exhibit. One with wonderful props that I had hoped would set the stage for these kids. One of the three 6th graders, new to Artsy Fartsy this summer, pulled me over to a particular Potthast painting, noting that the label mentioned the variety of color in the ocean rocks. She was astounded as she began naming them. Another moment of awe for me.

A stop at the digitized sketch books would fascinate the kids, I thought, as they flipped through with a swipe. That's when things fell apart and two of my regulars wouldn't budge. They spewed that this was boring and too much like school and how one had begged her mother to come and now, she said without words, she wished she hadn't.

In my stern mother voice, I remarked that unless she changed her attitude right now, she and I would head downstairs and wait while the others finished. I was angry at how disrespectful she'd been of the teen leader and her mother. I mentioned that she had no idea how much time and how many people it had taken to put this trip together. Her face flushed and she was silent. She wouldn't budge. Sometimes I believe she rules the roost at home because she's the oldest and parenting has been absent. I also now understand that they were so many variables at work; that we weren't in our usual safe space with clear boundaries. I wish I had prayed in that moment.
I am not in charge.
I am not in charge.
I knew I'd have to throw the scavenger hunt idea out for this group. Clearly it wouldn't work. When the unbudger finally relented and focused on an encased toy kitchen, I mentioned that, perhaps, we could find the miniature paintings. That got her attention and off we went, casting caution to the wind and winding through rooms I had not planned on, letting the kids gravitate to what moved them. The tide had turned. We eventually completed about half the stops on the hunt and were warming up as it was time to wind down.

Apparently each of the other groups had been extremely successful, but they were with teens and adults they knew. I had thrust these two with new guides. Now I see the unfairness to both parties.

This is only the second time I've scolded any of my AF kids. I didn't like it, but their behavior made it necessary. Later I took each aside and said I was sorry that it had come to that, that I knew they were good kids and I was grateful we got past that moment. One of them apologized and the other, without words, signaled it was okay.

Again, we struggled to leave the museum collectively as the step mother tagging along was buying something from the gift shop. I had asked the kids not to visit because some had money and some had not. My plan had been to allow each to choose a post card of their favorite museum piece, but my time and energy had been directed elsewhere.
I am not in charge. 
I am not in charge.
Generously, the museum greeter approached me and said how grateful they were for our group and the information I'd provided. She comped our parking. We were off for a successful French picnic in Mt. Adams that went off without a hitch ... until we did some car swapping, two left and we realized we were left with an extra passenger. The second car swiftly returned and we re-situated ... about an hour later than scheduled, but we'd completed our trip.


A successful picnic!
I was worn out and wondering what had just happened. This was a lesson, I heard my Inner Teacher say. The biggest one being that I am not in charge no matter how much I think I may be.

• When have I labored to plan something that completely fell apart?
• What lessons did that experience impart?
• How have the lessons of not being in charge humbled me?
• How can I be present when that happens?
• How can I be prayerful in those moments?



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2 comments:

  1. Yes, it sounds like it was a lesson-filled trip for everyone! I'm glad it all ended up fine!

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  2. Thank you, Jean ... you are a good friend and wonderful person!

    ReplyDelete