She Agrees with Pharrell (Happiness, Humor)

Driving to Trader Joe’s. Randomly I heard…

Her – “Crabs are (the) worst, ice cream is good, and love is perfect.”

Me – ‘Why are crabs the worst?”

Her – “Because they pinch you.”

Me – “Why is ice cream good?”

Her – “Because it’s yummy!”

Me – “Why is love perfect?”

Her – “People loving each other. Like you love me and I love you.”

Me – “And what does that do?”

Her – “Happiness.”

It’s interesting to me that when I dig through her life philosophy, at its core, it always leads to two things:

1) Happiness is home base
2) Loving and feeling loved facilitates happiness

If she can stay connected to this, she’ll have one heck of a rich, satisfying life. I’m grateful for her example. I learn from her.

“Clap your hands if you feel like Happiness is the Truth.”

Now She Spots It (Humor, Indirect communication, Being truthful)

I like to think I’m pretty good at detecting indirect communication – as in concealed secondary motives. And, with my girl, I’ve always called her on them.

One time, when she was very little, she was trying to stay up late. I was out by a backyard fire, and she had gotten up a couple times. On her third attempt to extend her day I heard her say to a friend on the lanai, “I know.. I’ll tell him I love him.” It didn’t work.

And, I guess she has caught on over the years to spotting indirect communication, too. This afternoon, instead of getting frustrated about her leaving a mess by the TV table I said, “Oh, I left that mess there. Let me clean that up before we do our project.”

As I gathered up the wrappers…

Her – “Daddy, I know you’re trying to get me to clean up.”

Nice.

Parenting Madness (Priorities, Love)

Nearly eight hours on the road yesterday. Definitely not a thrill.

Driving my girl to school – 2hrs

Taking my teen tennis student for an IMG visit – 2hrs

Driving my girl to Orlando for the weekend for a visit with a friend and then returning home – 4hrs

Yep. How you spend your time tells you what is important to you.

For the life of me, I can’t understand how truckers do it day after day. Madness. They have my respect.

Maybe some of them would say they can’t understand why parents drive around all day for free. It’s a form of madness; as in madly in love with your child, I guess.

Gross Laughter (Humor, Playfulness, Daddy specialties)

This morning started out with a belly laugh.

First, you have to know that I still have remnants from my 12yr-old boy self who comes out in my relationship with her now and then. That is to say, I have no problem with making light of bodily sounds or letting her do so. Okay, I don’t let her burp freely in restaurants.

Anyway, she was getting dressed this morning. I stuck my finger out in front of her. Thinking I was just pestering her, she gave me a sour look.

Me – “Pull my finger.”

She giggled and pulled it.

Insert bodily sound.

Her – “Gross! That’s disgusting. In my bathroom!”

I laughed.

Her – “I’m going to burp in your bathroom!”

She took three steps, leaned her head through the partition into my bathroom and burped.

I howled with laughter at her response. She giggled, pleased.

A fine start to our day.

Don’t Push the River (Ease, Allowing, Wisdom of a child)

Khalil Gibrahn, author of the classic ‘The Prophet’ wrote, ‘Take me away from the religion that does not bow before children.’ Granted, we adults have much to impart on children, but we musn’t dismiss their inherent wisdom. They are, after all, still more connected to the unseen dimension of life than we are.

On this subject, the other day, I said to my girl, “Your spirit is big, bright and powerful. You just have a little body, right now.” This perspective honors her space in our home as much as my own or any other. It also honors her light, which is brighter than mine and her wisdom, which seeps out here and there.

So… yesterday she was playing with our tablet and did something to make every app disappear and prevent it from turning off. While I was concerned and a bit irritated, I reminded myself that Being able to see was more important than a tablet, that my parents and her were far more important than some measly data. That helped. She felt bad, so I made sure she knew I understood it wasn’t her fault. “Accidents happen.”

While I tried the same things again repeatedly letting out an occasional sigh or groan, she said, “Daddy, why don’t you just let it rest and leave it for a while. Then maybe it will start working.” It sounded good philosophically, but it made no logical sense. “No, that doesn’t make any sense. It’s a machine.”

Well, in the end, my only option other than tossing it in the lagoon was to follow her advice; let the battery wear out, forcing it to turn off. So, it rested for the next few hours. I skipped doing all the things I normally do at night on it. Finally, it went dead. Plugged it in and… everything came back. I thought about what she had said. She was right. Not ‘pushing the river’ was exactly what worked. We think they know so little…

A Winning Spirit (Consciousness, Competition, Changing attitude, Dealing with losing, The game of life)

She is quite competitive along with that happy, skipping innocent spirit. On several occasions, I’ve seen her boldly go for the victory amongst a group of people and revel in her vision materializing. But I don’t emphasize winning in games around home, so I don’t see that side of her much. Today, however, we were playing a new, harder memory game she recently received. Good thing, because she beat me often at age five with the other! This time, I pulled ahead, and she started to fuss. “You have more!” While I cheered her on when she found more pairs, my lead grew. Her attitude soured. “I’m winning because I’m having more fun. Whoever has more fun wins. You’re losing because you have a poor attitude,” I said. She responded competitively to this, too. “I’m going to change my attitude!” In the end, I got the most pairs. She put her head between her legs and teared up. I tried to nudge her out of it but to no avail. “Come here, let me give you a hug.” She resisted. “Loving is winning,” I said calmly. She edged over and into my arms and her tension melted away. We played another game, which she won while I watched Rihanna videos and she wiggled her front tooth and took trips to the bathroom mirror. Wins and losses with this and that will be a lifelong reality, but it matters less if you can stay grounded in winning at the game of life first. A challenge for one and all…

Just Love (Love, Letting go of upsets, Making family life work)

Bedtime for her was its usual laughing, tackling, snuggling affair that put us both to sleep. Oops.

But the day was not without its rough spots. We had had a fun afternoon shopping for Valentine’s for her classmates. Later, we mixed a little tennis instruction with two games she invented. Good fun.

But early evening, I was preparing dinner, and I saw five different piles of her items around the great room. In my tired state, it upset me. I called her and lectured her about not treating it like it’s her room only.

Her – “Okay, sorry.”

Not so fast.

During the course of this, I was reminded of her munching crackers and then grapefruit on the couch earlier. “How many times have I told you not to eat on the couch?” She nodded in agreement.

After my lecture, we sat down for dinner. I was now irritable, and she was decidedly fine. She came over to me at the table, lifted my arm up, put it around her shoulder and said, “I love you, Daddy.” I embraced her. It did soften me up. “I love you, too, and can you understand that it’s frustrating to ask the same thing over and over again?” She nodded. Fast forward to bedtime. We’re laughing and playing…

Me – “How is it that I can get upset with you, you say okay and sorry and a moment later you are bouncing around happily?”

Before she could answer, I added…

Me – “Is it because you know I’m right (about not dumping things all over the house and eating on the couch)?”

Her – “No, it’s because I love you.”

I chuckled, amused and humbled by her spirit…

Me – “Come on, you must have a secret to going back to happiness so quickly.”

Her – “No. No secret.”

Guess not since her secret is out. Just love.

Skipping to Class (Playfulness, Letting go of what others think)

Like most parents, I try to make the ride to school and the walk to class enjoyable; to prime her energy and thinking for a fun and satisfying day.

Yesterday morning, we were in that good space walking into the school grounds…

Her – “Daddy, let’s skip!”

I momentarily thought about others watching a grown man skipping through school but then dismissed the care and started skipping with her. When we got to her classroom door, it took a while for the teacher to answer. She waited there, and I kept skipping in circles in the waiting area.

Me – “Come on, let’s skip while we wait!”

She shook her head no. She was fine.

Had thought we could have one more climactic skip together that would send her off into her day flying high emotionally. Hence, the extra effort. Not to be. So, I leaped into the air to finish it off doing an airborne dancer’s sidekick. Just then her teacher emerged and looked at me…

Teacher – “Trying to keep warm?”

Actually, I was just trying to warm up my daughter for her teachers, but I I just laughed and went on my way.

One tries.

Have to say, skipping did put me in a really good mood. No wonder my girl does it all the time!

When I’m in my heart as a parent, I can see her innocence. When I’m in task mode, annoyed with the number of times I’ve asked her to do something, I lose sight of it. Pretty normal parenting reality.

Last night, for example, it was past her bedtime, and she was delighting like a toddler in some boxes, imagining it was a spacecraft. I was annoyed with myself for not managing our evening to get her to bed on time for a full night sleep. Now, I was feeling the rush to get her to bed. Repeated attempts to ask her to brush her teeth were met with, “Okay, Daddy” but no follow through. She was caught up in her joy. I could see it and the innocence of it. Playfulness would have quickly solved it. I could have scooped her up in the rocket and given her a fun flight to bed. But instead, after the fourth time, I firmly said, “March!” She listened but was not deterred from her state of play.

Typical for her. Nice.

After her teeth were brushed, she got into a strong stance and leaned forward.

Her – “Daddy, stop! We did not play, and I want to play. I want to wrestle right now.”

Her powerful approach cracked me up, and, realizing she was bouncing with energy from being cooped up in school on a rainy day, I complied. An epic wrestle and tickle fest ensued that made her even later to bed.

Nights like this where I goof on timing leave me with a difficult choice. Compromise her sleep and get her to school on time or let her sleep for her health? I choose the latter unless we have been late too often.

Fast forward to this morning. I decided to let her top up for her health. I reasoned, “If the teachers and principal say something I’ll just tell them the truth. Eight is too early on many days, and her health comes first.”

Nevertheless, at a certain point it was time to go. I had to time getting back to teach.

Me – “I’ll be in the car. Grab your things by the door here.”

Her – “Okay, Daddy” I heard from the distance.

In the car, I waited. No daughter. What could she possibly be doing? All she had to do was get her jacket, lunch bag and come outside. For a moment, I felt that anxiousness coming up; that voice that wants to lecture. Then I saw her. She was bounding out the door. Under one arm were the things I had asked her to carry. Under the other was her treasured blanket and her stuffed animal shark. I saw a little girl. I saw a child still in her innocence. I smiled. She hopped in and off we went on a pleasant ride.