If I write one more book, it will highlight grandmothering. Maybe I’d call it “Being Susu: Grand Kids as Spiritual Gurus.” It would please any reader who counts on sacred teachings, with chapter titles like Gratitude. Faith. Hope. Compassion. Presence. Open-Heartedness. Acceptance. Community.
Imagine grandkids as gurus. I had always wanted one special mentor whose books I could read or whose retreats I could attend. Then I’d find I one I liked and he or she would dole out an task I’d resist. “Wake up at 4 a.m. to mediate for an hour? Where’s a new teacher?” Or I’d find a good match and he or she would go all teachery. “Read the Bhagavad-Gita for the third time from a third source? Seriously?” I don’t take orders well.
I decided to ask Jon Kabat-Zinn if I need a teacher. Through years of my studying and working at his Center for Mindfulness, I had met many top names in the field. There I had trained in the magic of dropping into the here and now, opening to its awe, seeing in crisis opportunities to grow, change, transform, letting our moments teach. Still, I had a nagging sense that I needed my own guide. So I asked him what he thought. He paused. He lifted one eyebrow, then spoke, “You got a husband?”
We laughed. He meant that teachers and teachings show up everywhere if we look around. Right in front of us.
When I started to pay attention, my tutors appeared: teeny grand babies whose cries for diaper change, bottle and swaddle trumped my exercise plans. Over and over. The lesson and working chapter title: Drop Expectations. Drop them again and again and again. Gurus demand repeated practice.
For four plus years I have studied with these gifted instructors. I took notes. I wrote stories about what I’ve learned from the almost five-year-old twin boys, and then from their 3-year-old sister, and now their newborn sister. Jon Kabat Zinn calls them “everyday blessings.” He also says, “The little things? Little Moments? They aren’t little.”
Not little at all, my toddler advisors have big drive, big love, big hearts. They hug me with a big frown, “Susu, I am so sad. Why do you have to leave today?” Spiritual note: Pure and Simple Unconditional Love.
They, too, insist on my rousing every day at dawn. “Susu, time to get up! We gotta finish that Lego ‘struction or make forts out of the sofa cushions.” Note to self: Let Go of my Plan for Sleep. Meet the moment.
They also want me to read classics repeatedly. “Susu, please open to that big scary place in ‘Where the Wild Things Are,’ where Max cries, ‘Let the wild rumpus start!’ We turn to the fantastic double page. How many times have they requested these words of Max (whose own mother called him a “WILD THING”)? ” I roar, “LET THE WILD RUMPUS START.” They wiggle-waggle, roll, stomp, bump, hoot, bow and dance like the wild things imaginary Max meets on his imaginary voyage. Then they beg, “Again!”
I ask, “Again? Are you sure?”
They giggle, ‘YES! Again!”
Sometimes I forget our roles and try to force my will, “How ’bout we just sit quietly and draw with these really cool markers? Then maybe we could all take naps”
As if with a Zen sword, they strike ,”No ,Susu, let’s jump like bunnies to the back yard to build a stone wall and twig bridge big enough for the turtles to go under but not so high that the rabbits trip.” The young Zen masters speak and I pick branches and wet rocks. There are no rabbits, no turtles. No matter. As I place debris around, I ask, “How big? Is this good?”
Three-year old Lawson says, “No, it’s too heavy. It’ll cwash. That’s ok, Susu, maybe you never built a bwidge befow. Just keep pwacticing .” Humility.
I want my life to go like that. With them. Following them. I want to be a student moved by the wonder in each moment’s lessons. After all my teacher-shopping, if I let my mind, like Max’s, “sail back over a year and in and out of weeks and through a day”, I sense the end of seeking. And if I can laugh with the dear teachers I have been sent, then I think Lawson is right when she says, “Susu, this is going to be weawy weawy fun!”