Saturday, March 27, 2010


So once upon a time I was given a handout that described the roles of children in a family. They were something like “The Hero”, “the Angel”, “The Clown”, I don’t remember the rest, there might have been a fireman and a newspaper carrier? I can’t remember if was for the typical family or for the dysfunctional family, of which I came from, spelled with a capitol D.

That list came to mind recently when I was thinking about my kids, there are five still here with us, the sixth one watches over us from heaven. Any one of them doesn't seem to fit into just one of the categories, or if they do, it isn't long before they have traded with anther sibling. I was thinking about them on an unusually good day, a couple of them had made their beds, one emptied the dish drainer without being asked, another had said something complimentary about what another was wearing, one of those rare days I was wasn’t scratching them out of the will, again. So I made up my own categories for them (no handout yet, though). I call them Keepers.

The oldest seems to be the Keeper of Childhood. Like Peter Pan, she never wanted to grow up. If I ever talked about going away to college or having a family of her own one day, she would want to stop talking about that. She has a great capacity to play and an innate understanding of what children consider just and fair. I watch her with her own kids and see that though the boundaries are clear and non negotiable, inside there is plenty of tenderness and fun and space, and each individual is rejoiced over for their individuality. She brings out the child in all of us.

Child two is the Keeper of Potential. She sees the potential in any situation and gets better everyday at helping others see their own potential. We love to have her around because she manages to find our potential, even if it takes a lot of searching. It is an exhilarating experience to brainstorm with her, optimism distills as the dews from heaven.

Child three is the Keeper of Peace. Though he would never sacrifice his integrity in an effort to keep the peace, he seldom starts trouble, but looks for peaceful resolutions and pops in if we are leaning towards being offended, even if we really, really want to be offended. I can’t remember the last time he seemed ruffled.

Child four is the Keeper of Tradition. She loves movies about small towns, where everyone grew up together, knows each other, then loves and sacrifices for each other in spite of it all. Her siblings are her best friends, and she is as fierce with their imperfections as she is with any threat to them.

Child five is the Keeper of Wonder. Her room is filled from top to bottom with all of the things she finds wonder in, old hubcaps, new seedlings, a tool box, Nancy Drew books, Wall-E stuffies and anything manufactured that is less than 1/2” around.

They take turns being The Hero, they are all Angels at the most difficult of times, and the later they are for bed the bigger Clowns they are. They are, most definitely, keepers.


  1. I couldn't agree more on the description that holly has placed for our children in this most recent blog entry. Each child truly does have a unique and view on life and how they interact with each other. And an even more interesting conclusion I have made is that their mother is an amalgamation of all of their best qualities and attributes. Oh, and there is a little bit of dry wit sprinkled in there for good measure.

  2. A very interesting approach to this idea. It really resonates for me. I, myself, and the keeper of the family - not of the house or kitchen - but of the relationships, history - I preserve the memories, write down the stories, do the genealogy. And perhaps this explains why I also happen to remember every stupid thing, too - for every virtue/job/calling/ there is a flip side.

    I was surprised to hear that you came from a disfunctional family. I would never have guessed it. Not from knowing you.