“If you haven’t time to respond to a tug at your pants leg, your schedule is too crowded.” – Robert Brault
Last week Amy and I were covering our plans for taking the kids to school and arranging pick-up. Amy had a field trip the next day so it messed up our normal schedule. As Aleck, Emma Grace, and Ella listened, we finally hatched out a plan. Then a little voice piped up, “Daddy, how about I just go with you? I can go with you to work.” Normally I would have probably ignored the request, but I had cleared the afternoon so I agreed. “Sure…You can come with me,” I said, smiling at Amy and then Ella. Her face lit up as if she had just received the Christmas gift she had been waiting on for the last 11 months. She ran to her room to pack her bag and pick out her clothes. Aleck skipped to the bathroom to brush his teeth. Emma Grace collapsed as if she was standing on a beach and a powerful wave knocked her legs out from under her. “It isn’t fair…This is terrible!!! It is…not…fair!” she sobbed…until she fell asleep(and continued without missing a beat when she woke up….all the way to school Amy told me)….And people ask us if Aleck and Emma Grace(twins) have different personalities…uhhh slightly.
“We worry about what a child will become tomorrow, yet we forget that he is someone today.” – Stacia Tauscher
It is no secret…I work a lot. It may be a secret…I tend to worry a lot…about my children. I want to be a good Father. I want them to be ok. When you put the two together…a lot of work hours and worry…It makes for an uneasy life. Not a terrible life…just somewhat uneasy. One summer my father bought an aluminum boat with a 15hp motor on it. My younger sister and I were told to bring the boat to my parent’s house from the marina where he bought it…by water. I don’t know how many miles it is between the two points, but it’s a pretty good distance. We were going from the Camden Causeway, down the Pasquotank River, to Newbegun Creek into Weeksville(just to give you an idea if you are familiar with where I grew up). This was not an unreasonable request from my father…I actually felt honored to be assigned the task. I’m not sure how my younger sister got roped in….but there we were cruising down the smooth glassy causeway…until we went under the bridge and headed down the big part of the Pasquotank. Clouds came from nowhere and whitecaps appeared. It got darker and darker. I tried to steer in a way to minimize the spine crunching wave impact on the small boat. This meant I had to concentrate on each…and every wave…for a long long time. And we took a beating…a real beating. Finally we turned into Newbegun Creek and into calmer water. As we pulled into my parent’s dock I remember thanking God. When I stood up I felt like collapsing because every muscle in my body had been working so hard…including my brain…my eyes…my mind(I have to admit…my sister Annette was a rock…she isn’t known for her calmness or sense of adventure…but she was awesome that day). I worked so hard for hours…trying to steer that boat…and fighting and fighting…focused on nothing else…one wave at a time…and it…wore…me…ouuuut. It seemed like hours of fear…calmness…then anxiety…then quietness…then more fear…but really…a plain and constant uneasiness. And so…. for me, that’s what life can be like. Believe me I know we aren’t supposed to feel that…I know we aren’t supposed to have anxiety…and that having anxiety may be a bit of an insult to God..because we know he will take care of us right?…Always. But…when you’re getting the mess beat out of you…whether it is nature, people, or other circumstances holding you down and smacking your head over and over and over….it’s hard not to feel uneasy…and just plain tired. It is at this point…I believe God understands…and quietly slips into our lives… a person…a quote…a sunset…a book…a song…a sunrise…a pet…an article…a snowfall…or in my case last Tuesday…a little 5-year-old girl who wanted to go to work with her Daddy.
“There’s nothing that can help you understand your beliefs more than trying to explain them to an inquisitive child.”-Frank A Clark
When I opened the gym that morning, I knew it would be a different kind of day when Ella asked me not to punch the code in for the alarm so we could set it off and see how loud it would be. We set up and waited for the first clients to arrive. She helped me all morning…training, timing, and cleaning. It was wonderful having a special little helper. When everyone left, we went to Biltmore Park to have lunch and shop. Ella ordered macaroni and cheese from the kids menu at Hickory Tavern. When it came out we burst into laughter because it was the biggest bowl of mac and cheese either of us had ever seen. Seriously, it looked like she could have jumped in and had a cheesy pasta hot tub swim. We went to Barnes & Noble bookstore and she came around a corner carrying a stack of books so high I could barely see her little eyes trying to look at me. “These are for Emma Grace and Aleck” she said. I made her pick one book for each and put the rest back on the shelf. We went to the O.P. Taylor toy store where she picked out a little hand massage ball(even with baby dolls everywhere). The lunch and shopping were great, but the best part was holding hands with my little girl, answering questions and talking along the way. The next stop was TCBY(my kids love love love TCBY)…Ella fell asleep on the way there. I picked her up and carried her in….where she fell back asleep in my arms while waiting in line. I took her back to the car…where she woke back up…and asked to go back in to get ice cream…and so we went back in and stood in line…she giggled the whole time about our back and forth zig zagging effort to get a little ice cream. We returned to the gym and she played. I collapsed on my back on the mat and watched her set up a cone obstacle course.
“While we try to teach our children all about life, Our children teach us what life is all about.” – Angela Schwindt
After about ten minutes, Ella looked up, sprinted to the mat, and jumped on me. She rolled to the side and we sprawled out on the mat…flat on our backs…as if we were in a field looking at animal shaped clouds. She said, “It was busy this morning. It’s fun here. You have nice people in your gym.” I said, “Yes I do.” She then said, “Daddy, this was the best day ever.” I said, “Yes…it was. It was the best. Thank you for giving me the best day ever sweet Ella.” “Yeah…now let’s go get Aleck, Emma Grace, and Momma,” she answered, while hopping to her feet.. We started the drive home and Ella fell asleep before we got out of the gym parking lot. As I looked in my rearview mirror at the exhausted little girl sleeping, I began to think about the day. I thought about how wonderful my morning had been. I thought about how I wasn’t as tired as usual. I thought about that little girl speaking to our waitress, the bookstore worker, and the toy store worker. I thought about how she smiled and said thank you to all the people we passed who told her how cute she is and how beautiful her curls are. I thought about how she wanted to buy her brother and sister the entire bookstore. I thought about how not once…had I checked the time. And I thought about how she wanted to share her ice cream with me. And then I thought….We are doing ok. She is going to be ok. And just like I did that day many summers ago when I finally got my feet on my parent’s dock, I took a long deep breath…thanked God…and smiled. 🙂
“Pausing to listen to an airplane in the sky, stooping to watch a ladybug on a plant, sitting on a rock to watch the waves crash over the quayside – children have their own agendas and time scales. As they find out more about their world and their place in it, they work hard not to let adults hurry them. We need to hear their voices.” – Cathy Nutbrown