My unemployed status and a conscientious watchfulness of my expenditures, has slowed my participation with entertainment and activities that cost money. It’s not entirely a bad thing as I projected. The awareness that this stage of my life is really a gift rather than a curse, has opened me up to some of the yummy dessert waiting to be savored. You know, the sweet, delicious, gooey stuff that we usually enjoy after... if we have room, or time. I can have it when I choose right now, because I do have the availability to be truly present these days. I have time to listen with my heart rather than a head that swirls with things to do, say, and obsess over. Children have always fascinated me. Being a grandparent, I view my only task is to love, spoil, and treasure. This exemption from responsibility allows me to step back and see my little ones as they are, rather than projecting my own expectations and dreams onto them. It’s not that I don’t want their lives to be blessed beyond measure. It is just that I have learned, I don’t have to correct my past, or live my future, through them, as I likely tried to do with my daughter. I am much more relaxed than I was with her, in allowing them the space to blossom, in their unique way. My “best intention parenting” has taught me, they were born with their own path already outlined, and as much as I may want something different, it's egotistical for me to think I can control that. I can shepherd, support and cherish. Each of my three grand-daughters possess different personalities, temperaments and skill sets. Being mom to an only child, their individuality fascinates me. I know they all came from the same mommy. I was present at each one of their amazing births! All three are incredible little girls. My tiniest one, Cameron is at the perfect childhood age. She is still so fresh from heaven and God’s arms. She just turned three in April. Hanging out with her has been better than a library of self-help books and a year in therapy. In addition to melting my heart simply at the sight of her, she conducts her uncomplicated little life in a manner which would behoove us all to consider. This miniature mentor has taught me so much about how to live a serene, joy-filled, authentic life. She has no baggage. Maybe if I gather up these lessons and tuck them safely away, I can pass that basket back to her someday, when she inevitably begins to allow the world and others to place definitions and limitations on her life. I personally am learning so many lessons from my tiny tutor. She is teaching me:
Authenticity: She’s always herself. She hasn’t yet learned to be any different. She feels what she feels, no labels or judgements. Her innocence and purity tell her, when she is tired, go to bed; when she’s hungry, eat, and maybe of greater importance, stop when you’ve had enough. She is overjoyed when she can share a Dora Party Hat with her Mimi and could care less if others think we look silly. She just loves celebrating, her birthday and life. When she is hurt, she cries and when she is angry she’ll let you know, but generally only one time. She doesn’t hold a grudge, forgives immediately and gets on with the dessert of her uncluttered life. She is never hurtful and has excellent manners which she seems to have been born with. Instead of saying “excuse me” when she belches or “toots” (she finds it wildly hysterical to hear those sounds emitting from her body) she says “pahhhhdon me”, something her grandpa taught her.
Lesson: Be who you are. Feel what you feel. Wear your favorite party hat. If you belch, toot, or make a mistake, just say “pahhhhdon me”, with love, of course, and move on.
Delight: She can spend hours chasing bubbles, fireflies, and puppies, complete with wide-eyed awe and smiles. She actually prefers these forms of entertainment to expensive toys, trips, and television. She isn’t highly interested in sitting and watching the latest episode of Hannah Montana (DVR’d from the week before, of course) with her sisters. She knows God’s playground is a fascinating place. It’s fun to build sand castles on the beach, pick a bundle of dandelions for her mommy, flitter alongside a butterfly. She doesn’t yet see the entertainment value of a DS Lite, cell phones, or computer games. She doesn’t want to miss something important, so she’s constant motion, absorbing all the nuances of the world.
Lesson: If you could spend one more day with a loved one who has passed on, how would you spend it? Playing the Wii? Texting or checking your e-mail? Or, perhaps,talking, laughing, touching and chasing a few bubbles?
Honesty: If you have a piece of spinach stuck in your teeth, a bird’s nest in your hair, or a bloated belly, without malice, she’ll let you know. Those revelations are almost always spoken with a sparkle in her eyes and a big, loving bear hug. She will also unabashedly point out her OWN green tongue (from an Icee she just savored), shoes on the wrong feet, and erring in the mispronunciation of words. She giggles about her blemishes, defects, and flaws. If she slips up, and does something wrong, she admits it, immediately. Often with tears in knowing she made a mistake or that there may be a price to pay. Those dry up pretty quickly as a sense of relief sets in when she is freed from her little secret and discovers the burden of the pretense is a far worse punishment.
Lesson: Lighten up. We are all human. We aren't perfect. There IS beauty (and humor) in imperfection. Everyone is a mixed pot of character traits, good and bad. Be honest about yours. Don't start or end anything with a lie. Unload secrets right away, so they don't become barriers to serenity and joy.
Confidence and Tenacity: This precious angel does not take after her mother. She can’t sing a note in a bucket. Nonetheless, in her mind, she is an American Idol contestant when she belts out, Kelly Clarkson’s “My Life Would Suck Without You”. Frankly, I can’t believe there is a song with that sentiment and I daresay she doesn't know what it means. I get quite a charge out of this tiny girl confidently screeching out the lyrics from her car seat in the back. Her big sisters rented an American Idol Wii game whereby the potential candidate can sing a song into a microphone and is rated on mostly pitch. Afterwards, the judges, Simon, Paula and Randy give their feedback. Simon, (the jerk) was not kind to my little tone deaf diva. She didn’t care, when he was finished, she asked if she could sing “Walking on Sunshine” for them to judge. She is the kind of child who has always said, “I do it myself”, even when she was younger. I would watch her struggle with putting her shoes on, or making her own bed (which she does immediately after getting out of it- amazing), or buckling herself into her car seat. Often it would take her a rather long time to complete her little task, but she did it. Not only because she kept trying, but she knew she could.
Lesson: Just because someone thinks you aren’t good at something, if you enjoy it, do it anyway. Never, ever quit. Even if the task seems insurmountable, keep trying, try a new tactic, take a different route. If you believe something with your whole heart, don’t stop before the miracle appears.
Spontaneity: She has this custom ... I can be sitting anywhere with her, a ballgame, a restaurant, her living room. She'll sidle up to me, push my hair off to the side, and place a gentle kiss on my cheek following it up with an, “I love you soooooo much, Mimi.” Unsolicited...out of nowhere. I found myself waiting for the other shoe to fall as she asks me for something. She never does. She questions just about everything. Why can’t I have cake before breakfast, make snow angels at night, by the light of the moon; or splash in mud puddles during a hard rain? Frankly, I question those things as well and (shhh....) let her do some of them when she is with me. My dad had this saying, which is great in prioritizing degrees of importance. In six months, will you know the difference? In six months and even 60 years, she will remember the puddles and snow angels and the decadent luxury of a cake smeared face at 7:00 a.m.
Lesson: Tell people you value them, love them, need them without expecting anything in return. Eat cake for breakfast occasionally, dance in the rain or anywhere really.... just dance. Take risks. If it will make a difference in enhancing your joy or others...do it!
Forgiveness: I accidentally pinched her finger in a door the other day. She looked me directly in the eye and said, “Mimi, you hurt me.” I, of course was devastated to think I could do anything to bring pain to my little love and kept repeating over and over again, “I am so sorry...” With tear filled eyes, she looked up at me and said, “That’s okay, Mimi, you didn’t mean to.” Very shortly, she was off and playing with her little friends. I, on the other hand continued to rehash the incident in my head and make myself miserable. On the way home, she sensed my guilt as I continued to focus on her baby finger. I kissed it again. She looked me square in the eye and said, “Mimi, accidents happen. Can we get ice cream?”
Lesson: Acknowledge pain when it occurs. Let the person who hurt you know they hurt you. Feel it, grieve it, soothe it. Recognize accidents do happen. Most folks don’t intentionally want to cause you pain, physically, or to your spirit. S- - - happens. Free yourself from the bondage of both guilt and resentment. Free yourself to live in joy. Forgive, and go get ice cream.
My hope, is that I will always be open to the simple lessons the smallest of the great ones bless us with. We just need to take the time to observe, how they walk in this world. God willing, I forgive others, jump out of more airplanes, regroup, rather than give up, be honest with myself, love me just as I am, say yes to most everything, and frequently, wear my party hat!