Fun Comes First (Happiness, Playfulness, Success)

We were having an after-school snack at Panera’s, a bowl of broccoli cheddar soup to be exact, when she stopped me and looked me in the eye with a more serious tone

Her – “Daddy.”

Me – “Yeah?”

Her “I really like tennis.”

I felt she was expecting to see me get all excited because she knows I love tennis and that it would make me happy that my daughter wants to play. I kept it cool.

Me – “If you want to play, that’s great. I think you could be very good at tennis, and it would also be fun for you.”

Realizing I was talking to a child who filters through fun…

Me – “I mean, it would be fun for you, and you could be really good.”

She confirmed my correction…

Her – “Fun goes always first.”

The Right Middle Name (Happiness, Personal freedom, Identity)

She was in her glory tonight dancing around the dinner table, doing performances, bouncing on the mini-trampoline. She was excited about the salad she had made for dinner as well as the Torta Rustica she had made with Nonna. She brimmed with joy.

Me – “Your middle name should be enthusiasm.”

She didn’t miss a beat.

Her – “I already have a middle name. It’s Freedom!”

That is her actual middle name. I suppose the feeling of freedom and enthusiasm are the same. They are both unconfined joy. So, I guess she got the correct middle name eight years ago, after all.

Follow Your Talents (Enthusiasm, Authenticity, Finding clarity, Life purpose, Passion, Possibility)

We were driving home after school and discussing a looming hurricane.

Me – “I hope it doesn’t come.”

Her – “Why, so we don’t get hurt?”

Me – “No, because I make money teaching tennis.”

Her – “That’s not the only reason to teach. It also helps you learn it better. You learn it by showing.”

Me – That’s true. That reminds me of the Chinese Proverb: ‘Tell me and I’ll forget. Show me and I’ll remember. Involve me and I’ll understand.’ But what good does it do me to learn for my own game now?

Later on, back at home we discussed high-level tennis players…

Me – “But don’t you think i’m too old? Those people on TV are in their 20s. People say that you slow down when you’re in your late 30s and 40s.”

Her – “Maybe don’t listen to them and follow what you think. try your best and see what happens.”

She then trotted out as I pondered training once again while thinking I should stay focused on my creative projects.”

Like she was reading my mind she added as she rounded the corner…

Her – “Follow what you’re good at, not what you’re not good at.”

Love Energy Sandwich (Love, Bedtime rituals, Quality time

After giving her her nightly snuggle quota, I headed out to do my thing. A few minutes later, I circled back already missing that little ball of love and happiness that swirls around me. I drew some hearts on her back, which she understood and she giggled softly. Then, I leaned in and said quietly, “You’re the best.” She made another faint giggle and drifted off into wherever her spirit goes at night. I love starting and ending her day sweetly with some quality time mixed in during the day. It’s like a love energy sandwich. The morning and nighttime words take only a little time, but I think they’re important. And quality time, well, nothing says “I love you” like quality time.

Three and Three (Bedtime rituals, Play)

It was bed time. Last conversation of a fun day which included a clothes shopping outing with Nonna and a modern dance performance from her after dinner.

Me – “What are three things you are grateful for?”

Her – “Daddy, Codi (our cat), and Nonna and Papa.”

Me – “What are three hopes for your week ahead?”

Her – “Playing with you, math, and just having fun.”

So interesting how kids are so tuned into fun as the goal.

Me – “And why math?”

Her – “I just feel like doing it.”

Me – “Oh, okay.”

We Help Each Other (Consciousness, Family, Being of service)

She came over to the couch were I was sitting, pushed my shoulders and neck back and made me sit up straight while I was on my phone. She’s after me all the time as she’s heard my comments about kids growing up with ‘text neck,’ so she’s on my case as I get on hers when she’s on the tablet.

Anyway, I chuckled because she was looking out for me shortly after I had been looking out for my Mom with drinking water, and, of course, my Mom is always looking out for others.

Me – “See, I look out for Nonna drinking water. You look out for me on my phone. I look out for you in not watching too much TV. That’s what families do. They lookout for each other.”

Of course, these messages about family, friends, community are given in thousands of ways over the course of a childhood, but those struck me today as they just sort of came out in the moment.

We’re in it to win it… together.

Family
Community
Nation
World

Let’s Work Together (Consciousness, Teamwork)

This afternoon, on the way home from school pick-up, I decided to take a turn into a store for one of our favorite drinks. After making the left turn, we encountered a long line preventing us from turning into the parking lot. So, I drove to the end of the line where there was barely enough room between the last car and the last entrance into the parking lot. The lady in the car, had she been looking, could have seen us trying to get in and the large gap between her and the next car in front of her, but she didn’t. She was texting. I gave her a friendly honk. She didn’t budge. I honked several other times. Nothing. Her texting was all that mattered. Now, it could have been something incredibly important, but it looked rather selfish.

Me – “Like she’s the only one on the road,” I lamented.

Then, for my girl, I added…

Me – “We’ve all got to work together out here. We’ve got to work together to make it work.”

I wasn’t really trying to say anything profound, but it occurred to me that that sort of mentality, which reflects a unity consciousness, is important to hear. It’s not just what helps us or our family. There is our community, too, and, of course, the world. Talking about it in the thick of like seems to make sense.

Habitual Satisfaction (Happiness, Power thinking, Bedtime rituals)

Making a habit of feeling satisfied early in life

She’s a happy camper as it is, and, I intend to help her keep it that way. Her daily life experience is obviously paramount and a part of that, as all parents know, is having mindful conversations. Tonight at bedtime, after she had finished reading and had settled in to drift off mode…

Me – “You had quite a wonderful day, didn’t you?”

Her – “Mmh.” (agreeing)

Me – “Nonna and Papa took you to school. You enjoyed school and made a new friend. You had an unexpected play date with Gabby. We had a great dinner with Nonna and Papa (with facilitated conversation). Papa got you a lollipop…”

I went on listing a handful of other things and she nodded, agreeing.

Me – “Wow, that was a wonderful day in your life. You lived it well.”

The message that I hope she learns (or keeps going as I think she does it already) is to take satisfaction in the little things. After all these years, I’d have to say that doing this day to day is probably the best way to keep the good feelings going and the good things coming. But I think it takes a little daily effort to stop and review them and savor the moments and decisions that lit the way.

Helping her of course helps me do this better in my own life, not to mention just watching her go through life as she is…

A New Sheriff in Town (School, Grandparents)

First day of school. Got a call from one of her teachers who happens to be a close family friend. She was smiling as she talked.

Teacher – “So, I had to call you and tell you this.”

Me – “What’s that?”

Teacher – “She came up to me today and said, ” Ms. M, I just had the best lunch ever.” I said, “Did your grandma make it?” She said yes, and she showed me the meat, the beans, the sweet potato…”

I almost told her that my Mom slipped in a couple chocolates in the lunch, too. You’re not supposed to, but my Mom didn’t know, and I didn’t stop her, because, really, how can you argue with giving someone chocolate, let alone your own daughter? Besides I have to break rules here and there to deal with all the rules at a school. It’s like a release from my disdain for the notion of obedience.

Anyway, I digress.

In year’s past, her teachers have said to me, “Can you make lunches for us, too?” They were impressed with the extra lengths I would go to to send different, healthy meals. Indeed, I have my Mom’s gene of going the extra mile.

But you can’t top her, I guess.

There’s a new sheriff in town, and her name is “Nonna.”

Not to say I’ll be looking for my Mom’s help. That’s not my style on these things. But she’s an Italian Mom and a Nonna to boot. It’s not really an option to not get help. It will be a here and there thing, of course, as it’s still Daddy’s job.

But it doesn’t sound like my daughter will complain one bit when Nonna is at the helm of her lunches. 🙂