I’m sitting here listening to one of the Native American CD’s that I bought when we were on vacation. I tend to favor the music that has more of the Native American (or indigenous) flute than the drums. I recognize the drums as a strong part of their music, but they don’t tend to fit well with my brain for long periods of time. I have listened to drum music on KILI radio from time to time, but I have more of an affinity for the flute, I guess.
The CD on right now is Midnight Strong Heartby Kevin Locke. The jacket says, “Honoring his Native musical heritage, Kevin offers innovative and original interpretations of songs of love, honor, celebrations, comfort, play and joy.” It’s good music to write by.
Last night I got a call from my Lakota godchild who is out in Rapid City. I was happy to hear from her. The first thing she told me after I answered the phone was that she’s decided she wants to be a singer. Okay. I asked her what kind of singer. She didn’t know for sure. But she is writing songs. I encouraged that, because I think it is an incredibly good thing for a girl who will turn 12 in just a couple of days to do. Writing down things, whether in songs or poetry or simple journal entries, is an extremely good way to get them out of your head and see them in a different way. I think kids, especially those who have some chaos in their lives, need a way to help them sort out the feelings and hopes and dreams they have. I’m glad she still has hopes and dreams. There are so many out on the rez who lose them.
She read her mother’s e-mail (I told her that was rude) and found out about the passes I’ve set up at the water-slide park. She was very excited about that. She really loves the water. I asked her if she liked it better in Rapid City than on the rez. Her quick reply was yes! There’s more to do. She can go to the pool with her sister (the older one). She got a guitar. She’s working on learning that. She isn’t reading books too much – she’s “taking a break for the summer.”
She liked the backpack I sent her to start school in a new place. She wanted to know how I got her initials on it. I told her the company (L L Bean) did it for me when I ordered it. I didn’t do it myself. But I wanted her to be able to identify it as hers and no one else’s.
I told her we were coming to visit her and her family in October. That really got her excited. “For how long?” Three days. “Three days? Why not 2 weeks?” Because my husband has to work and can’t get that much time off from work. “Why not?” It’s just the rules where he works. “Oh.” Take a breath and “Are you going to take me shopping?” I had expected that one! I countered with a question of my own, “Are you going to be doing well in school when I get there?” “Oh, yeah.” I told her I would check on that and then decide about the shopping. It’s easy for a 12 year old to see you as a source of limitless cash. I want to put some responsibility on her, too. Yes, we get gifts from the people who care about us on special occasions, but mostly we have to work to get what we want in life.
I fear that, living on the rez as long as she did, the concept of work ethic eludes her young mind. Her mom and step-dad have set as good an example as possible out there, working on their GED’s and getting jobs when they were available. That’s one of the reasons her parents wanted to leave the rez – to have more opportunities for work and a better life.
I hope my godchild will appreciate what they have done someday. I don’t expect that she will get it at 12. But I’m going to do my darnedest to point her in the right direction.
Time to go change the CD. Next up will be Beneath the Raven Moonby Mary Youngblood. My favorite is still Canyon Trilogyby R. Carlos Nakai, which we picked up on a trip to the Southwest last year. The music he plays is a wonderful match to the incredible scenery of the canyonlands in Utah, Colorado, New Mexico and Arizona.
My godchild had ADHD, I think. Her mind flits from place to place and she speaks so quickly sometimes that I have to ask her to repeat herself. I tell her it’s because the cell phone reception is bad. Actually, it’s because I have no idea what she said and I want to know. It makes me wish we lived closer so I could see her more often. It is hard to be a mentor to a 12 yr old girl who can’t focus on a topic for very long when you only get to communicate occasionally. I do write letters; she does not. I hope it’s enough.
I do hope the family has made more permanent living arrangements by October, so we know where to head after the plane lands in Minneapolis. We could be going to Rapid City or Nebraska. Different routes entirely. It would be helpful to know which one to pick. Say a prayer, if you’re so inclined, that they will find jobs and housing so the children will have a stable home. Then they’ll be able to flourish like the beautiful flowers that they are.