Thursday, December 20, 2007

Immature Thinking, Part 2

When I was 15, I developed a love for jazz music. I bought a few albums from my A&W earnings as a cook and carhop; favorites included Herbie Hancock, Miles Davis, Claude Bolling, Hubert Laws, even Chuck Mangione. I read in the paper that a famous trumpeter was playing in Spokane, 3 hours northeast of my hometown of Ephrata. My best friend's older sister could drive the two of us to the concert, and she could stand in as a sort of chaperone. I posted the newspaper ad on the pantry door, so that my parents could see that something cool was going to happen in a few months. I asked the trumpet players in our high school stage band what they thought of the concert. The older ones were planning to go. I couldn't believe such good fortune. Culture and cute boys, could not miss this.

So, I got the courage to ask my parents if I could go. They asked me very specific questions about my plans. Like, who else other than Sheila and Karen are going? Ummm, older boys from stage band--nice, nerdy boys. (What, how did they know about the stage band guys?) How old is Sheila? Ummm, 17--really mature for her age. How long is the concert? I don't know. When will you be home? I don't know. They said they'd get back to me in a few days. I was on pins and needles for three days. I played jazz on my turntable in my bedroom for hours on end. Loud, so that everyone could tell I love this music. Finally, my parents declared that I was too young to go to a concert in the big city of Spokane. I could not understand why. It wasn't rock and roll. It wasn't Loverboy or Kiss or anything else that I heard other kids my age were going to see. It was Jazz. Mature music.

When I was 16, some friends invited me to go along with them for some camping during spring break. Hmmm. Let me ask Mom and Dad. The questions began. So, who is going? Laurie and Sue. How old are they? Laurie is 20, remember, my camp counselor from summer Girl Scout camp? And Sue, she's 15, I camped with her at the same summer camp. Where are you going? I'm not sure, somewhere around Lake Chelan. Is it a State Park? No, we'll just find a place in the woods and camp. How long are you camping? Probably the whole weekend. What are you going to eat? Canned stew. Okay, we'll get back to you on Monday. What? I'm a Senior Girl Scout--I camped and camped, in the winter in 9th grade, in the summer, in the spring, in the fall. I camped with girls. I back packed. I camped with my mixed gender Outdoor Ed class. I always came home in one piece.

On Monday, my parents gave me a firm no. I was too young to go camping with a 20 year old and a 15 year old. I asked why, and the response was that it didn't seem well planned and I would be somewhere without being able to contact anyone. I had left a lot of details in Laurie's hands, but she was the camp counselor who guided us through a few backpack trips in northern Washington state last summer. I trusted her completely. My parents wondered why a 20 year old would hang out with high schoolers. Without getting paid. It didn't seem right. And we were all women. My dad made a point that weird men hung out in desolate places. We would be sitting ducks. And the time of year was bad. There are avalanches in the spring at higher elevations.

After this, I realized that my parents were looking for logic in my thinking and complete answers. They even wanted me to consider "opportunity costs" in my plans--pay I would be missing out on when I asked for time off from work on weekends. And "little birds" told them what I was thinking about before I even asked them about it--loved my little brother and sisters for their double agent spying activities. Everytime I said "I don't know", it increased my chances of not going to 200%. Just saying, "I want to do this", no matter how passionate I was about it, didn't cut it with Mom and Dad. And they weren't going to plan my outings for me. After this, I learned to have better answers and a thorough itinerary prepared.

I never heard "too young" again. My parents were impressed by a weekend trip my best friend and I planned to Wenatchee to visit her sister Sheila in college and celebrate our upcoming graduation. We went shopping, out to eat, went on a lake cruise, went hiking, saw Sheila and some other older friends in now in college. I went with a couple of friends from work to Pullman to check WSU over a weekend. I went with friends to Seattle to visit the art museum for a weekend, staying with friends and investigating a real big city. My best friend and I went frequently to shop in Wenatchee on our own. My senior year, you could not keep me in Ephrata. I was continually on the go. My parents gave me "flying lessons" by showing me how to think. They taught me that having a big heart was not enough, but heart and brains were meant to be a team.

So, following my parents' example I also learned how to ask myself questions everytime I planned something. It helped to anticipate what they would ask and be prepared. I ask as many questions as possible from every angle of the plan. Maybe too many questions. But I've learned sometimes it is good to know what I don't know. The habit has stuck with me ever since.

Spiritually, it helps that we learn to think maturely. To have complete logical thoughts even though we do not have all the answers. It isn't good enough that we have all heart and no brains, which is the common stereotype of Christians here in America (and some think the heart part might be stretching it, too). And we need to kick in the question machine, it is good to know what we don't know. But even better to know what we do know, what we can know and what we should know.

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