Giving Thanks for Colorful Ideas, Sidewalk Chalk and Generous Hearts


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HMP

It’s cool to buy Valentine’s Day candy on clearance in March, and eat it in April. Did you know that?

And, according to Tamara of Tamara Like Camera fame, those Halloween socks are good to go, any time of year.

Get this: It’s also fine to give thanks now. Well, any time of year. Reading Gina from A 4 Star Life reminded me of that.

So I’m going to get in a little, before Easter.

# # #

It takes me a while to get to all the blogs I love.

I just got to Gina’s Thanksgiving post. Thanksgiving is one of those holidays unbound by expiration dates. (I wouldn’t recommend saving your Independence Day cookout fare beyond July, for instance.)

Gina’s Thanksgiving post reminded me to be thankful for loved ones always willing to include me in their fun. And to think – I almost missed it. Because of this blog.

# # #

One Sunday, I knew what to write for Monday’s post – but the pieces just weren’t coming together.

???????It felt I’d spent the entire weekend doing everything for everyone. So by Sunday afternoon, I just wanted to cue up the Pandora, plug in the headphones, grab a Coke Zero, and let it ride. I was all set, until …

“Do you want to help me, daddy?”

My reaction? Un-Coach Daddy-like. I.just.wanted.to.write.

You know, on my blog. About being a dad. I wanted my kid to leave me alone and let me write about being a dad.

The irony. I might as well get run over by a public safety van.

# # #

Grace didn’t need “help” at all.

She had a vision. She’s the kid with two intricate but failed plans for mini hydro models made with recyclables. This time, she wanted to put water and food coloring in a spray bottle and make Cherrios look like Froot Loops.

She’d string the colored cereal on a wire to make wreath bird feeders.

I know.

Horrible child, right?

photo credit: backonthebus via photopin cc
photo credit: backonthebus via photopin cc

She could have done this on her own, for sure. She didn’t ask me because she was incapable of mixing the colors. She could execute the plan just fine by herself. But she thought maybe dad could use a break for something fun.

Talk about stress-busters.

I wrote a guest post last week for Sandy Ramsey on Mother of Imperfection. I suggested parents ask their kids to help them with stuff just for the chance to do something with them. My kid reminded me that it works both ways.

# # #

Before I admit to my own pissy response, I want to express a hope that Grace’s heart is contagious. Or at least her perspective. For my sake.

There’s an enormous colony of a family new to the street. There are kids everywhere. Like, minion-like numbers. Like Ewoks. They’re underfoot and active and noisy and 7 years old-ish.

They swarm me as I wash my car or do anything outside. It brings out the George Wilson in me, unfortunately. It’s Dennis the Menace, times 20.

Grace, though, pulls them around in a wagon. Gives up her good scooter for them. Colors with sidewalk chalk with them, even when one writes “bich” on the street. (Wouldn’t it be cool if she edited it for him?)

Grace drew an enormous ice cream cone on the street, which they marveled over.

She found the one girl in the bunch crying, and spent the rest of the afternoon becoming her friend. Drawing. Picking flowers. They walked, hand in hand. Sometimes, Grace listened. Other times, they colored together in silence.

photo credit: Lost Albatross via photopin cc
photo credit: Lost Albatross via photopin cc

All Grace wanted to do that day was ride her bike.

# # #

Things have a way of getting done.

Assignments. Blog posts. Even taxes.

The roads there curve, turn, sometimes reach dead ends.

The way you get there might not be anywhere close to the way you imagined.

Grace’s cereal-coloring idea? A smashing success. And it took an entire 20 minutes out of my day to conspire with her. I could have missed it.

It’s a good thing the good things keep. You know, like Thanksgiving posts. Halloween candy. And small hearts with big potential. To love, and to teach.

For that, I’m grateful.

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39 thoughts on “Giving Thanks for Colorful Ideas, Sidewalk Chalk and Generous Hearts

  1. I am guilty of that for sure. I find that I always need to do other things when what’s really important is right in front of me. 20 minutes a day equals a lifetime of good memories!

    1. There’s not enough time in the day for everything. And when I go to bed at night? That’s when my brain plays back the tape and shows me all the opportunities I missed to do the right stuff.

      I don’t get it right all the time, but when I do, they have me 100%.

  2. It’s the little moments in life with our children that count Eli. Those tiny pearls of happiness that peek out of the shell. It doesn’t have to be the big stuff, most people are there for that. The extra effort for that help with a project, getting up when all you want to do is lay there, a small surprise. We hope that they remember those times and place the memories away somewhere safe, so that when they’re old they can take them out carefully and remember.

    1. It’s not the ponies and ice cream, is it, mate? Well maybe the ice cream. I never want the kids to think I’m too busy or too lazy to do anything. That’s important to me.

      Let’s hope they remember the times I did it right – not to justify me, but so that they can do that for their kids, too.

  3. You know I can totally relate to this from the conversations we have had on this and trust me when I say my kids are pretty much the same way and they can sense when I am planning on doing something or needing a few moments for myself, but that said I keep reminding myself they will only be this age for so long and there will come a time when they won’t need me as much. And that thought does truly keep me going and definitely puts it in perspective for me 🙂

    1. I don’t like to miss those moments – it’s sort of what I’m herer for. Today, I took the day off of work to go with Grace to a theater workshop … absolutely no regrets!

  4. Knowing how to make your own Froot Loops is a fantastic skill! After all you never know when you need some to fill up your cup?
    I love how your taking time for doing crafts with Grace caused her to play with the new kids on the block! What a fabulous ice cream cone!
    Oh and “I.just.wanted.to.write” – I hear you! And I did. Told them to leave me alone.
    Today I am a better Mommy. Cookie baking and all.

    1. Well, they didn’t have the frooty flavors, but they looked like the real deal. When I fill Lord Stanley’s cup with Froot Loops, I want the real thing!

      Actually, she had it in her to do the good deeds without my example. If she followed my example, she might not have been so gracious.

      I still have a lot to learn.

  5. I’m guilty of “I’m working” or “Just one minute”-ing my kids. The fact that I’ve been trying to stop and be more present and now, reading this today, taking it as a confirmation. Well said.

    1. I think there should be boundaries … sometimes, we do need to work. But many times, the better choice is to be present. I love that you’ve made it a conscious decision … that’s half the battle.

  6. I’m also reminded that Kate of Another Clean Slate asked for a Thanksgiving dinner for her birthday last week. That’s cool, right?
    And if Grace had added that “t” into “bich” she would surely have been my hero, although it sounds like she already has my total respect.

    1. Kate has the right idea. I could go for a little turkey and ham today – does a day of football come with that?

      If Grace had made that edit – the photo would have made this blog, for sure.

  7. This is the kind of day that I needed to read your words. It was a bad weekend, full of “not nows” and “laters” and a few “leave me alones” that stayed within the confines of my brain! 😦

    1. Yes, I know those kinds of days well, Rabia. At the end of the day, that’s when I think about all the ways I could have done better, both ways – to balance the work and present time. Tomorrow, I’ll try again.

  8. Glad you spent the 20 minutes – you are going to blink and they will be gone!! My youngest turns 13 tomorrow and now I’m the one asking them to hang out with me!!!

    1. That’s what I’m afraid of Kim – job one is dad, I have to remember that. Usually I do. When I don’t, it bites.

      I know all about those 13-year-olds … but you’ll see that when they *do* hang out with you, it’s pretty awesome.

  9. Hi Eli, I know you’re familiar with Tim Tebow’s famous pose. Shooter McGavin’s too probably. Although I’m not a famous athlete real or fictional, I just wanted to share with you that I too have developed a signature pose that I do whenever I read one of your posts. It happens automatically when I come to lines like the one about Grace wanting to ride her bike.
    It’s become my signature Coach Daddy blog-reading pose. Here’s how it goes: At some point in every post, I gently but quickly close my laptop and place my hand over my heart while cocking my head toward the heavens with my eyes closed. The movements happen very fast, but then I hold the pose for a few moments to enjoy the epiphany. Then, I open my laptop back up and commence hanging on your every word like one of Nolan Richardson’s Arkansas redshirts. I know it sounds cheesy, but it’s true!

    1. Tim Tebow is a hero of ours around here.

      I thought of responding with something self-deprecating in my response. That usually moms close their laptops when they read me, but it’s to rub their temples.

      Not cheesy at all. Somewhere, Nolan Richardson’s ears are ringing. And I’m smiling. And believing for another day I’m doing OK around here.

      Thanks for that.

  10. I tell my kids that I will get off my laptop immediately if they need me or want to do something with me. I’m not doing anything that can’t wait. And based on the number of times they come in to the den to “interrupt” me, they are taking me at my word.

    1. I like that a lot, Dana. There’s always after bedtime, like now. It beats keeping the kids up until midnight. It’s kind of nice to be in demand, though, isn’t it?

  11. This speaks to me on so many levels. I think we all want that time to ourselves, to be “grownup,” and I think that is important. But, you’re right. We don’t want to miss those imaginative childhood projects. It’s a struggle. A rewarding one, but still, a struggle.

    1. Glad you could relate, Lauren! The trick is finding the balance. Or at least just being in the moment, whether that’s writing, interacting with our kids, or just relaxing with a little Pandora in the background.

      Nothing’s that important that I can’t take a break and spray some organic cheerios, right?

      do you have a project you’re glad you didn’t miss out on, Lauren?

  12. Yup, I am so guilty of saying, “I’m busy!” I actually have a blog post started about this, how I’m trying to say yes more. I know soon my kids will get older and not want anything to do with me. Unless I offer to drive them somewhere or give them cash or something.

    1. Sometimes, we are busy, though, right? I’d love to see your post on saying yes more. And I think if you at least keep the possibility open when your kids are older that you can do things together, it’ll still happen.

      It’s not as often as it was before, but I can get my teens to help with dinner or run an errand with me. Sometimes, I don’t even have to buy them treats (although it helps).

      Never offer cash, by the way.

  13. Hey – we made those cheerios on a string bird feeders today too! We also smeared an empty toilet paper poll with peanut butter and then rolled it in birdseed. The chickadees are going nuts (ta-da-bam) for that one. The squirrels ran off with pinecones smeared with coconut oil and crushed peanuts though. dangbnabit.
    Whoever said the phrase “a child shall lead them” may have been the wisest person ever. I teach Sunday school and I can tell you, when giving the chance and encouraged with love; their hearts give BIG.

    1. They’re international, apparently! I’d probably eat from a toilet paper roll smeared with peanut butter and sunflower seeds. Move over, chickadee.

      (No kid ever crafts crap to feed a squirrel, do they?)

      I think Jesus might have said that. Or Gandhi.

  14. Eli, you are such a great dad! I enjoy your stories so much! I know I am just as guilty of doing this. I want to write, I want to read, I want to sit for five minutes with no one asking for anything….or saying a word for that matter. It never quite works out! I have to remind myself that this is short term. One of these days I’ll have all the time in the world to write, to read, and it will be so very quiet without all them here.
    You did good and Grace sounds like a great kid!

    1. I’m like Barry Switzer when he won a Super Bowl with the Dallas Cowboys – I believe it was less Barry, and more the players he was given!

      I’m glad you enjoy the stories, though, Sandy. The hours fly by, and there’s not enough time. I’m just now getting to write my Friday post, and it’s after midnight!

      Yes, it’s so fleeting. To see Elise play goalkeeper in high school, I sometimes see the little kid who wouldn’t leave her boofies alone during a game.

      I don’t know if I did good, but I do know that I’ll try my best again tomorrow. And Grace? She reminds me of who I want to be.

  15. Love the ice cream cone. Truly. I’ll have to remember that for my next chalk session.
    But you’re so spot on – talking about sitting to write about parenting, as our children are yelling, tugging, pulling on us to come be those parents. Life is one ironic bitch.

    1. It was huge, too, and had sprinkles. I think you could draw one, Melissa. Easy.

      There are so many ironies in parenting. Yelling to the kids “BE QUIET!” Or, smacking one and saying, “we don’t hit!” Or swiping a toy from one who took it from another and admonishing them: “We don’t take things from others!”

      Hilarious, isn’t it?

  16. Eli, you’re amazing! I’m grateful to you, I’ve fallen off the blog wagon (…was trying to think of something clever there… blagon, blogon, blog-agon… nah!) and I’d forgotten how much I enjoy reading your posts for the wonderful perspective you put on things, and the fabulous insight on life with your absolutely gorgeous daughters! The irony here is often so true, but it’s so important to remember to live life first. I’m glad you didn’t miss the moment, and I’m glad you shared it here with us afterwards! 🙂 xxx

    1. I’m just a dude with a blog! It’s just good to have you back in the quagmire, G. We’re definitely living life, and I hope you are too. Get me updated!

      The give me so many moments. I just want to put them out here for you and for them, eventually.

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