Sunday, February 8, 2015

The Best Thing I've Ever Done

As a mom, I get it wrong a lot! 

I got it wrong when I gave my daughter permission to get her nose pierced just because I was mad at her dad.

I got it wrong when I let my kids quit piano, or so they have told me repeatedly.

I got it wrong when I told my daughter she wasn't sick, she just didn't want to go to ballet. And then she puked in the van on the way to ballet.

Every now and again, however, I get it right.

My son's favorite music artist was going to be in concert in Kansas City. He had to go! I agreed and bought the tickets.

The thing about living as a single mom on a teacher's salary...well, I'm a single mom living on a teacher's salary.

The day arrived, I filled up the gas tank and carefully budgeted for the trip. By budgeted, I mean we stayed at the cheapest motel I could find. The view included what my son referred to as a "rape van" just outside our door. You know--big, white (even the windows painted white). But the room seemed clean enough and the bars on the windows of the little check-in office made me feel really long as I was standing in the little check-in office.

We checked in, got ready, ran past the rape van to the car, dined at the Hardees Drive-through, and headed to the Power and Light District where I proceeded to show my son around to all the restaurants he would have had the option of patronizing if his dad had taken him to the concert. We meandered our way past the Fred Phelps clan and their "God hates Great Britain" signs, pausing only for my son to ask them, "Is that all of Great Britain, or just certain parts?"

We found our seats and the concert started. Just a boy and his guitar--Ed Sheeran took the stage.

My son was clearly impressed, enthralled, enthused, and cool. I, however, lost it.

Here I was sharing this moment with my son. It was his first time to see in person the artist who inspired him to pick up a guitar, who let him understand that sharing the gift of his voice was okay, even noble. Here was my son in the presence of his inspiration, and I was there, too.

I sat back and watched a boy and his guitar, and a boy and his inspiration and a thought--from somewhere outside of me--entered my psyche, and I knew it was the best thing I've ever done with and for my son.

It was better than the times I made his sister stop forcing him to play dress up. It was better than when I took him to the batting coach because I didn't know a thing about baseball. It was better than risking having a stroke because I finally relented and tried to teach him how to drive.

It was just a concert, but it was also a moment--the kind that you never forget.

It didn't happen the way I wanted. I wish I could have made it more, made it better. But in the end, it was the best thing I've ever done.

Friday, January 2, 2015

Why We Should Hang Out With Two-year-Olds

I recently returned from spending a week with my oldest daughter and her two-year-old son. I've known for a very long time that our children teach us the most valuable life lessons, but being in the presence of a two-year-old who isn't your own child, can remind you of life joys most of us forget.

The Top Ten Reasons Why We Should Hang Out With Two-Year-Olds:

10. They run everywhere! When it's time to eat, they run to the highchair. When it's time to go outside, they run to the front door. When it's time for a bath, they run to the tub. Maybe if we tried it, we would experience the same exhilaration for the simple things. Time for work, run to your desk. Time to walk the dog, run to get the leash. Time for your spouse to come home, run to the door. I think it could make a difference.

9. They love books! And when they find one they really love, they read it over and over and over! There is joy in reading. Most of us have forgotten that.

8. They dance. If it has a rhythm, they wiggle their little bodies and laugh and smile to the sound. Exercise and endorphins, and they didn't even have to join a gym!

7. They know what they like. Two-year-olds have favorite toys. My grandson's favorite happens to be a set of stacking cups. He stacks and unstacks and sorts and unsorts a million times a day. He doesn't feel guilty about the soccer ball lying idly in the corner or the firetruck half-hidden under the bed. He isn't full of "I should be doing this or that". He likes stacking, so he stacks.

6. They laugh. I read somewhere that the average child laughs 300 to 500 times a day while the average adult laughs only about 15 times a day. Hang out with a two-year-old, and you'll up your average.
5. They nap. Who doesn't like a good nap?

4. They learn new words daily, sometimes hourly. The English language grows almost that fast. Merriam-Webster added 150 new dictionary words just last year. We all should aspire to broaden our linguistic lexicon.

3. They like what they see in the mirror. My grandson spends a lot of time smiling, giggling, talking, and admiring himself in the mirror. Wouldn't it be great to check yourself out and love what you see?

2. They throw tantrums. Come on. Aren't there times when you would like to throw yourself down to the ground, have a good cry, and then be over it? Maybe they have this emotional stability thing figured out more than we do.

1. They kiss and hug for any reason and for no reason. That just feels good.

Here's to channeling your inner two-year-old, or at least finding one to hang with for a while.

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