At the end of a long day of work, dinner prep, board games, dancing, puppet shows, bouncy castles, balloon keepy-uppy, bed time books and hair brushing, there are fewer things I look forward to more than sitting on the floor in front of the fireplace to work away on a Lego set with Nora during that extra half-hour she gets to stay awake. It’s a time in which I don’t feel I need to be ‘on’, and can simply wind my thoughts down in what I like to refer to as ‘brick yoga’. My mind soothes, my body relaxes, and the bond I’m creating with my daughter grows as we each find joy in the snapping together of little plastic pieces in a Zen-like fashion.
Of course, there’s not always a new kit in our possession, so when we aren’t working on Lego, we are instead in the kitchen baking muffins, preparing lunches, or getting into some other type of foodie indulgence. It may not be Lego, but it is still a therapeutic bringing together of pieces and ingredients to create something spectacular and joyful. The 30-45 minutes we have, regardless of how we spend it is relaxing, calming, peaceful and, in a word: precious.
So, the other night, as we were in the middle of opening the next bag of our Harry Potter kit, and Nora asked me: “Daddy, instead of Lego tonight, and because it is so mild outside, can we go for a walk and have a conversation?” I was initially thrown-off, but, tired as I may have been, I was instantly energized, proud and, most notably: inspired. So we strapped on our shoes, threw on our coats and headed out the door. It was just one of many moments in the past couple of weeks where I found myself changing my mindset and intentions through inspiring choices and suggestions of my daughters, and so here I am writing about it.
Getting into a routine is certainly a positive thing, with enormous benefits, but I do admit that I get a shot of adrenaline when that mold is broken and a new path is forged. Going for an evening stroll with my daughter who wanted not only take advantage of the weather, but to also engage in conversation with me is a break from the every-day that I will gladly take each and every time. We chatted on all things important and significant in her life, and out of complete respect for all the things that made that conversation so special, I will not share the details. Suffice to say: the pieces of that conversation fit together more perfectly than any Lego kit ever could.
Fast forward a few days and we find ourselves on the ski slopes during a slightly rainy and overcast day when, were it not for our already paid for and registered lessons seasons passes, we quickly would have called it in and stayed home. After nearly 4-hours of lessons, Alison and I had already come up with the game plan to eat lunch and head home; our moods were just as overcast and cloudy as the weather at that point, and we were, frankly: done with the day. So, during the final bites of our lunch in the chalet, when both kids mentioned how excited they were at going back out for “ten more runs”, we were less than thrilled. As if by serendipitous nature, however, it was at precisely that moment the drizzle turned to light fluffy snow and just about everyone else on the slopes had opted to leave and go home. In other words, we had the shortest lines with the most enthusiastic kids during the most beautiful, fluffy and calming snowfall one could imagine. Inspired, yet again, we shifted gears and took to the hills for another 2-hours before having to leave to make it back for piano lessons.
I have a tendency to get so caught up in my own thoughts, realities, and moods as a parent/adult, that I too quickly forget to enjoy the current moment(s). I think of the traffic, the roads, the piano lesson, the dinner prep, the laundry to fold and the emails to respond to; everything is not happening right now, that I forget to enjoy the thing that’s right in front of me. Not that I think I should turn to a life of total irresponsibility, but I do think I could benefit greatly from enjoying the innocence that my children inspire to simply enjoy the moment and take a few more runs down the hill. They didn’t care about the grey skies in that moment; they cared about the thing we were there to do and we were quite capable of doing it. Their approach paid off in dividends.
Lastly, at least from the perspective of this entry, I will call attention to Audrey’s recent interest in Narnia. See, for the past 41-years, I have watched movies more than I have read books. Perhaps that is a damning admission for an author, but please rest assured that I enjoy, admire, and revere books, so don’t get me wrong here. It’s for reasons likely based in the fact I grew up in a video store that I’ve always found more enjoyment in books and stories which perhaps haven’t been turned into films (yet), or maybe it’s just that I enjoy the ones that aren’t as easily translated onto screen over those that are (House of Leaves by Mark Danielewski is a perfect example of what I mean). So, shame on me when Audrey expressed her interest in The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, that my thoughts initially went to renting the movie. She, however, expressed more interest in the audio book first, suggesting that the movie could follow as its own family event.
Pause quickly here. Full disclosure: Alison is a huge and driving inspiration behind this thinking, as she is an avid reader, and has always encouraged our girls to first allow the words to do the work of painting pictures in their mind before letting Hollywood take that role on their behalf. I give credit where credit is due.
In any case, 3-weeks and 17-chapters later, our little lady had consumed the story in its entirety, dancing happily through the house every day as she listened to the audio book through her headphones. At that point she allowed us to watch the movie as a family, and I was so unbelievably proud and inspired by the joy she brought to the experience; providing her family with a bit more background and story that the movie couldn’t offer as the pictures flew by, that I pledge to ‘take a page from her book’ and apply this approach more in my own viewing experiences. Paint the pictures in my own mind and, oh, I don’t know: use my imagination first. Huh who would have thought?!
There you have it: three out of countless examples in which my children have inspired me to do and grow more. All it seems to take is a willingness to see and hear what is being said and what is happening around me. Yeah, I think I can do that.