I first heard the idea of “juxtapose” at a Ricks College fireside almost 20 years ago. I have loved the word ever since. Juxtapose means to place side by side, put up against each other, for purposes of comparison and contrast… and then learn. In this post I will juxtapose my family banner and my kids’ parade costumes at Philmont Scout Camp.
We were assigned to bring a family banner to camp. As usual, I put way too much thought and time into it. The banner had to look good and be meaningful. (I am as shallow as I am deep.) We held a family meeting and brainstormed our family values and goals, but in the end I did nothing the kids suggested but what I (and my MIL, SIL, and friend) could pull off. I didn’t let the kids get near the banner because it had to look just right.
Basically, the banner is the graphic version of this quote by Harold B. Lee: “”Beautiful, luscious fruit does not grow unless the roots of the tree have been planted in rich, fertile soil and unless care is given to proper pruning, cultivation, and irrigation…” as it applies to parenting. There is symbolism in the design, the tree, the fruit, the colors, and even the textures.
I was proud of my family banner. It just might have been the cutest banner there. But my family had no particular attachment to it and my camp mates could care less about it.
Juxtapose that with my kids costumes for the Children’s Parade at Philmont. I put no time or thought into them. We worked on costumes for a couple of hours in the craft room with supplies that were on hand. Crew wanted to be Jimmer Fredette so we went off that idea. Crew picked his color and designed his own shirt.
Crew also drew the lines on Locke’s basketball.
Elle was Jimmer’s cheerleader. She made her skirt and her sign. (Crew came up with the joke.)
Croft beats to her own drum and wanted to be a “pirate princess rockstar”. Since I had no idea what that would look like, she picked the colors and told me what she wanted. She glued on the cottonballs and made her own wand.
In the end she probably looked more like an island princess, but all she really wanted was to feel special.
Although I was sort of embarrassed by our costumes, my kids were so proud of what they had created. They cried when I broke the news that the costumes weren’t going to make the journey home with us.
They weren’t the cutest costumes there, but Jimmer was the hit of the parade. People called his name out all the along the parade route. Crew felt like a little celebrity. People stopped Elle and her friend to get pictures of their sign because they thought the joke was so clever. Many little girls and mom’s loved Croft’s costume and told her how cute she was. She felt beautiful. All of my kids got to walk at the front of the parade.
Herein lies the lesson I learned from the juxtaposition of the two craft experiences. I was reminded that as mothers we need to resist the urge to take over, to hover, to do the project ourselves, to make it cuter (or the cutest). It takes swallowing our pride with the other mothers and letting go of the perfect costume, science fair project, report cover, Primary talk, birthday party, etc. so the kids can have the experience and growth. In the end, it is not about us, it is about them.