The State Seal

nunst081Over the years, my daughter and I have engaged in several entertaining conversations about school and homework. However, a conversation took place this week that will be told around the dinner table for years to come. It went something like this:

My daughter: Now, I need to color the state flag.

Me: Wow, the flag will be difficult to draw. It has the state seal on it.

My daughter (coming to my chair with a copy of the state flag): No Mom. That’s a badger, not a seal. Wisconsin doesn’t have any seals.

She was so earnest. She was so polite, but there was just this little edge of “I can’t believe my mom doesn’t know the difference between a seal and a badger” in her voice. Just a touch of patronage.

She was right of course, the animal depicted on the state flag is a badger, and Wisconsin doesn’t have any seals.

She was also wrong, because she was unaware of a larger truth. Continue reading “The State Seal”

A Rose by Any Other Name

IMG_0177Our family ate at Red Robin this weekend. While I often long for a quieter dining experience, Red Robin is a great family restaurant that does a good job serving children, and I appreciate that. This week the children’s menu included directions for an origami frog, which my husband and daughter made—carefully reading the instructions and following the fold diagrams.

Then my daughter and I started hopping the frog back and forth across the table. It hopped amazingly high, and we made it jump crayons, silverware and other assorted items. (Probably not the kind of table manners I should be teaching my child, but hey, when you’ve got an origami frog, you have to let it be a frog.)

We were in the middle of our hopping escapades when our server came to check on us. We explained we had made the origami frog on the menu, and he smiled. He took our requests for drink refills and when he came back he asked our daughter, “Would you like me to show you something that my dad taught me? How to make a flower from a napkin.” Continue reading “A Rose by Any Other Name”

To Make the World More Beautiful

There is a classic children’s book that seeks to provide an answer to the question “Why are we here?”

The answer it gives is “To make the world beautiful.” The book takes a literal approach to beauty, which is where it falls short, because it misses the opportunity to teach that real beauty lies not in external appearance but rather that true beauty stems from what is inside. The book misses the opportunity to teach children that to make the world beautiful, a person has to act beautifully—with compassion, mercy, grace and charity toward others. Continue reading “To Make the World More Beautiful”