Long ago in a galaxy far away, I read Collodi's Pinocchio. The original, Italian version is very different from Disney's kid-friendly movie. Collodi's version is far more violent and skeptical and, most notably, there is no Jiminy Cricket. If you are one of us Disney-philes, you understand the type of void that leaves in your soul. Jiminy's patience makes up for all of Pinocchio's ignorance of the world. Jiminy is the ultimate helicopter parent if you will. He dedicates himself wholly to steering Pinocchio onto the right path but follows undaunted when his pupil blindly treads down the wrong path. Even into the belly of a whale.
Collodi's novella does have a cricket but it is certainly no Jiminy. It appears only on one page without the cute top hat, without umbrella. Plain as it is, the cricket magically warns off Pinocchio who contemplates skipping school for the first time. The cricket only talks and that's it. There is no song, no wishing star, no fairy to offer bail. So Pinocchio does what anyone would do. He takes one look at the magical cricket and kills it with a shoe. So long, Jiminy!
It's only after loads of adventures and folly that Pinocchio understands the cricket's importance. After the puppet has been hung by the neck from a tree and after the cricket's ghost appears to Pinocchio to offer hindsight and another warning. This time, Pinocchio heeds the cricket as the help and wisdom he didn't value before.
I make reference to obscure Italian literature because, at the tail end of 2020, I find myself and my center knee-deep in crickets of various size and importance. Each has their own moniker, there is the payroll tax cricket (his name is Sam), the late utility bills cricket, the Section 6 of the COVID guidelines cricket, the wrong hire cricket, and so on and so forth. There are more than I can count on one hand as I add them to what has become a pile of corpses. Because every single one of these crickets is indeed dead. Some had long and painful deaths, some went quietly in their sleep but one by one I've managed to slay them all. And their ghosts have been warmly welcomed.
Like Pinocchio, I've learned to welcome my failures like mentors. Mistakes are more often fond memories for me instead of sad regrets. By the way, Pinocchio never apologizes to the cricket for killing it. I don't intend to do that either. It's basically for the sake of breaking eggs to make an omelet and I accept that the only way to truly learn is to screw up...a lot. So I continue to murder my mistakes and even try to do so on a daily basis. Every time I walk into the center it is with the intention of adding to the body count. I'm not happy if I don't kill at least five.
But the only reason I can say this without feeling remorseful is that I apply the cricket's lesson to just about everything. It certainly applies to opening a business during a pandemic, to being a spouse, to being a parent (a home schooling one to boot), acting as an employer, and to just about every endeavor I can make. Each cricket ghost has left an indelible insight that I plan to take with me as New Bees sees its first opening day in 2021. In fact, I'll even pull back the sheet to give you a view on a few of them:
Establish the basics. I need a routine set of basic training regimens for my employees. They have the guidelines but I want to implement something that can be practiced on a daily basis.
Establish expectations and provide structured guidance. New Bees staff is a surprisingly self-motivated bunch. That motivation can be channeled into specific actions and goals.
Stand by your culture. Magda Gerber once said that Educaring isn't for everyone. I've found that aspects of Educaring aren't for everyone but that is no reason to jump ship and abandon it altogether. My Busy Bee room is a prime example where Educaring works up to a specific point. Where it falls short isn't indicative of failure.
Practice gratitude. There are times when I get so head down in the water that I forget to stop, take a breath and thank the lifeguard.
Finish things. This is an undead cricket. It comes back to life often and I have to kill it again and again. New ideas are exciting but they are no reason to put off things that need to be seen through to the end.
Drink water. Coffee is made of water and yet somehow it doesn't seem to count.
Make people bring solutions with their complaints.
One Day At a Time. Like infants, I have to content myself with crawling first. Heck, even rocking up onto hands and knees is acceptable at this point.
I have to do the work not knowing if I'm strong enough to do the work.
And last but not least, the biggest lesson from 2020's crickets is that New Bees is growing despite all of my mistakes. I'm still working to make quality care more accessible and, eventually, more affordable for parents and children in Clatsop who need it. I'm looking at ways to make the care rooms even more conducive to learning and we can also learn more about what parents want from the care programs. I just have to keep an eye out for the tiny things, plain and unimpressive though they may be. I have to remember that details reflect the bigger picture and it would be folly indeed to walk by the cricket-sized matters without a second thought. Folly indeed to look at something like a cricket or a bee and think, how could something so small ever inspire anyone to greatness? :)