When I sit down to write my weekly Five on Friday list, I first try to come up with ideas by thinking about current events. Lately, every week there seems to be only more violence, vitriol, lies and lack of leadership. I get so frustrated and upset. I wonder how many "coping with the terrible state of the country" lists can one blogger can write? How many vigils can I attend or passionate speeches can I share just to have another horrifying hate crime happen? What can I possibly do that actually impacts the world? That promotes peace?
So then I usually turn to the smaller picture, my own community and my family, to find inspiration and hopefully some signs of hope or joy. This time when I did that, I realized that our recent act of hosting a British Exchange Student definitely provided lots of joy I could share. Then, like in a sappy after-school special, I remembered an important lesson. I've decided to share the laughter and lesson re-learning for this week's list:
1. Through a shared sense of humor and the magic of the Internet, we got to know our Exchange Student's parents, too. It's a long story, but let's just say it concludes with us taking a picture of the six kids standing on a sidewalk lovingly giving the middle finger to her Dad. CULTURAL EXCHANGE AT ITS FINEST.
(There are three things I want you to know about this picture, two in my defense and one because it's funny:
a. Her Dad started it
b. At the end of his daughter's visit, he admitted we were "okay, for Yanks"
c. After putting both middle fingers up, my 8-year-old said, "This feels sort of normal" )
2. I didn't mention that our guest has two prosthetic legs since losing her legs to an infection as an infant. I am thankful for her willingness to answer my family's questions about how her life has been impacted by this and basic facts about how prosthetic legs work. A highlight in this regard was when we invited a local family over to visit. Their 5-year-old daughter also has a prosthetic leg. I wish I was filming when she saw our Exchange Student's legs: her little face absolutely lit up with joy.
3. All the fun that comes along with learning each other's vocabulary (Jumper? That's a sweatshirt!), pronunciation (HOW do you say garage??) and expressions. My favorite was when the someone brought up the song "Uptown Girl" and my teenage son said he didn't know it. Our guest admonished, "Sort that out!" and it continues to make me laugh.
4. Yes, as predicted, we did have fun taking advantage of things to do locally but even better was all the playing we did at home. She renewed my family's interest in Wii Sports and we had some pretty serious competitions going on. Also, the kids together invented a new activity of wearing the Speak Out mouthpieces while singing karaoke songs at the top of their lungs. It was hysterical . . . highly recommended.
|UK vs US 10-day Wii Sports Showdown|
5. Here comes the After-School Special proselytizing: I remembered that happiness shared with a new friend, from a different country and perspective, is the kind of joy that brings along with it the hope and inspiration I long for. It reminds me the actions we take, the friendships we make, do help change the world. I can continue to feel helpless in combating hate or I can defeat it in small steps every chance I get.
I choose the latter.