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Tapestries and Verses

Erika Petrelli
Erika Petrelli
imagep>My children could not be more different. Take this scene from the bathroom the other night: my 2-year old son was in the tub talking about what he was going to play when he finished his bath, and his current idea was, loosely, tow truck/boys/dinosaur/trains (all at once, of course). Meanwhile, my 5-year old daughter was fully decked in her Princess Belle gown, a tiara, and princess shoes, and was slowly passing by the bathroom door grandly waving from her makeshift “carriage,” which consisted of a play table and a stuffed horse. They are so distinct in their personalities and interests—so different from each other and also so different from me. Sometimes I marvel at how they possibly could have even come from me. For example, as I’ve mentioned before, my daughter’s idea of fashion includes colors, sparkles, and dresses, while I throw a serious pout if I have to put on anything other than jeans. My son could spend hours searching the iPad for videos on people mowing their lawns, while I’m happy to never go near our lawn mower.

Yet sometimes, I’ll see myself in them, too… not in the larger, more ethereal sense, like “oh he’s got my sense of humor” or “oh, she’s got my grandmother’s nose,” but more in the “oh-wow-yep-I-do-that” sort-of-way. For example, to prevent myself from unleashing a string of expletives that would shock their ears when something is going wrong I’ve been known to just mumble “darn-it” repeatedely  Recently, my son was doing something in a play kitchen and I overheard him saying “darn-it, darn-it, darn-it, darn-it!” My daughter likes to go to “work,” and when doing so makes sure she packs a huge purse to take with her.     When preparing for long and exhausting car trips like going to the grocery store we all agree that it’s necessary to stop at the McDonald’s drive-thru for something delicious to drink.

They influence each other as well—my daughter’s current love of pop music has infiltrated my son to the point where he belts out Katy Perry with the best of them.   My son’s matchbox car collection is impressive enough that it’s been known to make my daughter leave her princess carriage and join the pit crew (who am I kidding; act as pit boss).

They are parts of me and parts of my husband and parts of each other and parts of the world. And they are parts of themselves, unique and all to their own. We are all made up of a little bit of everything—a tapestry of things we’re born with, things we learn, things we copy, things we invent.

As they grow older, I wonder which parts of their current  tapestry my children will embrace and which they will reject. Will my son always be fascinated with machines? Will my daughter always love teaching? Will my daughter keep her spectacular fashion sense? Will my son always be a wild extrovert?   Will they form a rock band together and travel the world when they are just teenagers, leaving their father and me to wring our hands with worry but also beam with pride?  Will they stay close or go far? Will they embrace our family’s love of snacking and coffee or will they create their own habits?

Watching American Idol the other night (I know, I know), I heard Harry Connick, Jr. reference a line from Walt Whitman that I love:  “the powerful play goes on and you may contribute a verse.”  And I thought—that’s it!  No matter what our tapestry, we are all here to contribute a verse, aren’t we?   My children’s verses will undoubtedly be different, because their tapestries will be different—just as yours is different from mine. “Brilliant!”, I thought. That’s how I’ll end my blog—with the question of “What’s Your Verse To Contribute?”

And then this happened:

Watching the football playoff games this weekend (GO BRONCOS!) I saw an iPad Air commercial that pretty much said the same thing. Like, almost exactly. Using the same verse from Whitman. And I thought four things:

  1. Hey! iPad stole my line!
  2. Wow, I am as brilliant as the creative minds behind iPad!
  3. Jeez, my idea of inspirational thoughts is as lame as the people who make commercials.
  4. Huh. The universe put that Walt Whitman quote, which I hadn’t thought of in years, in front of me two times in less than a week. It must really be trying to get me to pay attention.

So, maybe instead of trying to figure out my children’s tapestry, and the verse that they will contribute, I should just take a look at my own. And, maybe I should also remember that all of our tapestries will often intersect and intertwine and overlap… and that is one of the most beautiful parts of this powerful play we call life.

Sorry, iPad, I’m still gonna keep my closing line even though you got to it first:   

What’s Your Verse To Contribute?    


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Erika Petrelli

By Erika Petrelli

Erika Petrelli is the Senior Vice President of Leadership Development (and self-declared Minister of Mischief) for The Leadership Program, a New York City-based organization. With a Masters degree in Secondary Education, Erika has been in the field of teaching and training for decades, and has been with The Leadership Program since 1999. There she has the opportunity to nurture the individual leadership spirit in both students and adults across the country, through training, coaching, keynotes, and writing. The legacy Erika strives daily to create is to be the runway upon which others take flight. If you enjoy these blogs, you should check out her interactive journal, On Wings & Whimsy: Finding the Extraordinary Within the Ordinary, now available for sale on Amazon. While her work takes her all around the country, Erika calls Indiana home.