Between our last check-in and this, the Beandricks’ family has been up to much. From birthday celebrations and holiday festivities, to new career paths and seasons of change, there have been no shortage of experiences from which to tell their next tale. And yet, no matter the topic, and no matter the age, the Father of the household still finds himself a constant pupil of the world; and the masters of his constant and ongoing tutelage? His loving family, of course.
So here we are, in the earliest parts of a new year, full of exciting ambitions, fresh goals, and, of course, new lessons to be learned…
Lesson Nineteen, in which Father is Purely Proud
The simple transition from one room to the next does not suggest it would carry enough meat on the bone to be considered the subject of a lesson; yet, when it comes to the youngest of the family, there are chapters to be written.
“Daddy, can you carry me upstairs like an airplane?”
“Dad, I want you to carry me to the bath like a butterfly!”
“Can you please hold me like a backpack?”
“I’d like to be a sack of potatoes today!”
“Hold me like the Queen…like a bumblebee…a sleeping bag…a parachute…a chair…an upside down hot dog…”
The list, as you can see, has no end, and Father, becoming a certain vintage of this Earth, has come to recognize that some forms of transport are far more difficult to execute than others. When challenging the requests of his daughter, however, he managed to find all the strength in the world.
“Audrey, my dear, why must I always carry you in these elaborate ways? It is becoming difficult for my back.”
“Because, Daddy, I love playing with my imagination.”
Lesson Twenty, in which Father Sees What He Has
With a household as busy as the theirs, it seems there is no shortage of chores to be done. From endless heaps of laundry, walkways to shovel, chickens to tend to, and mouths to feed, time for oneself is rarely front of mind for Father.
With recent explorations in self-care, however, he has taken to a new weekly routine of a night outside the household that is dedicated to his well-being and things that bring him joy. This is no easy task, as his thoughts constantly stir with feelings and assumptions steeped in guilt for not being there to help prepare the meal, put away the dishes, wash the floors, read the children stories before bed. There is much that he has left in the sole responsibility of his wonderful wife, and reconciling those feelings of culpability are a challenge for him.
When he arrives home, late into the evening hours, after the little ones have fallen asleep, these feelings swell and he readies himself to apologize for leaving so much undone before venturing out earlier.
He walks in the door, takes off his coat and boots, and makes his way to the back room, where he finds his inspiring, bright and beautiful bride on the couch, snuggled in with a tea and a book.
“My dear,” he starts out, “I am sorry for being out so long.”
And here, then, is her reply:
“My dashing, brave, hilarious, and remarkable husband, I am proud of you and it makes me so happy seeing you take time for yourself.”
Lesson Twenty-One, in which Father Catches a Glimpse
It will comes a no surprise to those who have been following along that Father spends a great deal of time in the kitchen; playing exploring and creating. It is a happy place for him to be, and he makes that no secret. Over the past several weeks he has begun to observe his oldest start exploring this domain on her own…
“Dad, I have something for you.”
She says this walking into the room holding a plate with a piece of toast and grinning ear to ear. The toast appears to be mostly plain, save for a smearing of butter and what appears to be some pepper.
“What have you got there my love?”
“It’s rye toast, with butter, salt, pepper, lemon and lime juice. It’s delicious and I made this piece just for you.”
Other fine creations have included yogurt parfaits, complete with fresh strawberries, maple syrup and honey-garlic pepperoni sticks. Fresh orange juice with sprinkles has made and appearance, and one cannot forget the mustard, black pepper and raspberry jam sandwiches.
With each attempt at new recipes, her pride shines and Father musters at least one bite, for he will never forget her explanation of why she creates these culinary adventures:
“Daddy, I want to create new things the way you do, and how will I know for sure I don’t like it if I don’t try it for the first time?”
Lesson Twenty-Two, in which Father tastes the Medicine
Playing hide and go seek, bandits in the park, tag, or any other adventurous outdoor game comes with a specific form of strategy that is parts cunning, witty and careful, as one tries to out-think their opponent. “Where would they hide? How do you they think? How can I anticipate their next move?” All important strategies that Father employs as he navigates the playground with his young children; proud of himself for being able to outwit the younger generation.
On this fine afternoon, however, a shift seems to have taken place. Despite the hiding spot, despite the attempts to out manoeuvre and outwit, Father has been rightly caught at every turn. They would not fall for his attempts to distract them; no ‘your shoes untied’ or ‘look over there!’ tomfoolery was working on them. They just kept persisting…and winning.
“Girls, I am impressed, but how have you gotten so good at these games?!”
“Daddy, don’t be silly, we are your daughters…do you think we don’t know you?”
Lesson Twenty-Three, in which Father Stops in His Tracks
Evening walks are always a joy. It’s a time when Father and his oldest daughter can stroll peacefully at their own pace and revel in discussions on any and every topic that comes to mind.
Whether that conversation takes them down a path of planning a meal, a birthday party, or the next Daddy-Daughter day, or instead it takes them down a simple recall of the days events, there is always something special in the fact that it’s just the two of them sharing their thoughts in the quiet of the cool night air.
One particular evening, while standing on a bridge crossing a river that overlooked an especially clear, crisp, and dark yet sparkling sky, Nora paused at around the half-way point between where they came from and where they were headed, stepped up to the railing and looked up. Father kept marching forward, since, in his mind, that’s where on’e s destination is always found.
Approaching the 20-foot mark, he stopped to look back and say:
“My love, let’s keep moving forward, please.”
“Why?” she replies, simply.
“Because it’s getting late.” His words stern and precise.
“Late for what?” she asks, rather fairly.
“Well, it’s close to bedtime, and we still need to make it all the way around the block.” These words came with frustration building as he backtracked his steps towards where his daughter was standing still in the middle of the bridge, still leaning against the railing.
“Please sweetie, I’d like to keep moving.”
“Daddy, I’ve never told you this, but after you put me to bed and tuck me in, once you leave the room, I climb out of my bed and lift the blinds on my window. I look outside and find the brightest star I can find. I stare at it and then close my eyes and ask my thoughts: ‘will my sister always be my sister? will my mommy always be my mommy? will my daddy always be my daddy? and will I always be in my family? If I keep my eyes closed and stay super quiet, then in my mind I can hear the answer ‘Yes’. And right up there, Daddy, I can see the brightest star tonight.”
Father steps up to the railing beside his daughter, takes her by the hand and, without saying anything, smiles through tears and looks up.
Another chapter in the lives of The Beandricks has come to its end. It would seem that Father, with the constant and uncompromising guidance of his family, will never stop growing or learning. He reflects on his gratitude and looks forward to whatever comes next.
FOR OTHER LESSONS LEARNED:
Lessons from the Family, Part 1
Lessons from the Family, Part 2
Lessons from the Family, Part 3