I never had kids because I never wanted kids. I’ve spent the past 20 years of my life making every possible effort to ensure I didn’t have a child, and I’ve succeeded. It’s easy to not have a kid. It is. You just have to work at it, and plan ahead.
I say this because I never, ever thought I wanted to work with children. So it’s funny to be my age, and to want to work with kids – to want to be around kids. I think for all of my adult life I’ve stuck by the rule of “don’t bring your kids around me” without realizing that I actually enjoy being around them. I’ve had the mantra of “don’t ruin your life, don’t get pregnant” ruling every single step I’ve taken for many, many years, that I’ve never stopped to look around and enjoy the generations younger than me.
And the little ones, I could still do without. They are cute in pictures and far away, and that’s about as emotional as I get. I still have a pretty low tolerance. I do try, though. I make an effort. I even held a baby this summer, for more than 30 seconds, which is saying something. That’s a huge freaking step.
But the older ones – the teens and tweens – oh my gosh, how I love those ages.
I think it’s because I see the energy in their eyes – they’re starting to question everything they’ve been told. They’re starting to think for themselves. They’re starting to ask really important questions and then debate with you on your answers, because let’s face it, none of us really know the answers to life’s most important questions.
I remember being 13 and finally awakening: finally speaking up and questioning what was happening around me. I remember the moment where I stopped going with the flow and started to use my voice. I see these kids doing the same. And I love it.
For the past 12 months, I’ve been teaching yoga to 8th graders, only about once a month, at a middle school here in Fort Worth. Yesterday I led a 2-hour back to school stress relief & yoga workshop at Urban Yoga for 11-14 year olds. One of my yogi students from the middle school showed up, and I almost broke into tears. He was my favorite student, no holding back, this kid is awesome. I hope he never forgets his practice of breath and movement. He is kind and curious and funny and not afraid to speak up and is so, so studious. He’s a gem. I would not have been able to meet this sweet kid had it not been for that school. I’m so grateful.
What I taught them, mostly, is to use your breath in tough times. That your breath will tell you the answers. That you can’t always jump up in class into a warrior pose, but you can always close your eyes for a moment, go within, and watch your breath. That bullies will unfortunately always be around us, and that we’ll have many tough times ahead, and to know, you are love, you are peace, you are everything you need, and your breath will guide you. We did a lot of asanas, a lot of breath work, a little bit of journaling and drawing, and a little bit of group work. It was wonderful, and I hope to be able to do it again.
It’s funny how we change in life, as we get older, and softer. As we begin to focus less on ourselves and more on our society, and less on our needs and more on those around us. It’s nice to be around a generation who is questioning and leading and encouraging with love. I’m trying not to be negative, because you all know what I really want to be saying about what’s going on in our world right now. But it’s best to look at the positive – to look at these kids and to know, to really, truly know, that our world is getting better.
The perfect kid-friendly food has to be mac and cheese, right? Is anything better? I ate it out of the box as a kid – the old Kraft kind, with the powdered cheese. God only knows what that has done to my insides. I remember when Velveeta came out, it must have been the early 90s, the packaged gooey cheese with pasta shells. It was fancier, and it took me awhile for my taste buds to accept it. We couldn’t afford it at my house, but the kids I babysat always ate it, and it was so rich and so creamy. It was a special treat to be able to eat it. And lord only knows what was in that shiny silver package of orange goo. Seriously, it’s disgusting what we all use to eat in those days.
So this mac & cheese is a kid-friendly and adult-friendly version, and healthy to boot. And it’s super easy to make. I hope you enjoy!