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They're gonna sivilize me and I can’t stand it

We said there warn't no home like a raft, after all. Other places do seem so cramped up and smothery, but a raft don't. You feel mighty free and easy and comfortable on a raft. -Huck Finn
Lately, Cole has me wanting to read The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn again. This morning the windows are open because it's going to be nearly 60 degrees on Leap Day. And there's a breeze blowing in with the sun shining--so he stood in his bedroom for the better part of an hour staring into the alley like it was the greatest thing he'd ever seen.

There he was dirty-faced, tangled hair, silly grin like he was getting away with something. I have no idea where this little boy came from sometimes. It's like some 1950's American stereotype of boyhood where little kids should plot and scheme and make messes and get dirty. I'm all for it. It's just that it bears no resemblance to me as a boy. At least not that I can remember. He's all screams and piles of things on the floor that he steps on and crunches. I used to line my toys up carefully in a row, stay clean, and play quietly while the adults talk.

Last night we watched the special on the Amish on PBS. I'm going to need them to write some rules down, but overall it was fascinating. I think the reason we're so obsessed with them and flock as tourists to their quaint little shops is that on some level we realize what we've lost and what they've gained by giving things up. It's, existentially, a very intentional way of life. Simple, yes. But the piece on the killings at the schoolhouse where the parents of the murdered children show up at the funeral of the killer is a lesson in humility, forgiveness, and a whole lot of other points we've lost touch with in our society.

In some ways the Amish have a keener eye than we do about our contemporary understanding of civilization. At one point you hear the voice (many refuse to be on-camera) of an Amish man saying how wonderful it is to not be a slave to aisle after aisle of Wal-Mart consumerism. He doesn't need a toaster. Or a tv. Or a digital anything.

Cole's funny in that way. He has a strong independent streak. He knows what he wants and isn't afraid to demand it. If he could get it himself, he probably would.

Here's to dirt under fingernails. I'm hoping as he grows older he doesn't lose his free spirit.

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