Loved and Proud (Stability, Grandparents)

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My parents came to her soccer game. She was a bit more ‘clingy’ than usual, my Mom said. I experienced this on the sideline as the Coach and Dad, too, with her often leaning into me for a hug or putting her arm around me when I circled the kids up to coach.

Not surprising as she was headed away for the weekend.

Anyway, we were all very proud of her as she was more aggressive than usual and persisted to get the ball. She was also our most consistent passer. Little by little, this artsy, skipping girl is finding her tiger side out on the soccer field. It’s a real growth experience for her, I think, so I plan to keep coaching if she wants to keep playing.

I remember how good it felt when I knew my grandparents loved me and were proud of me. I’m so glad she is getting that experience on a near-daily basis from my parents.

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Love Doing Life with You (Love)

We had a lovely evening. Time seemed to pass slowly like we had all the time in the world. Dinner out on the dock. Then we trotted off to the beach for some sunset fun. We finished it off with our Harry Potter and snuggles routine. As she closed her eyes to go to sleep, I whispered, “I love doing life with you.” A smile that said, “I feel loved” crept across her face and she settled in for the night. A nice ending.

A Worthy Daddy Goal (Love)

We were driving back from Disney where we had just celebrated her 9th birthday for a few days. I expected her to collapse in exhaustion in the car, but she was positively giddy and silly. She loves to be silly. One thing led to another…

Me – “I think I’m going to make it a goal to be a little more loving every year and a little sillier every year.”

Her – “How about a lot more loving?”

Me – “Do I need to be?”

She laughed

Her – “No, you’re already like 100% loving.”

Me – “Ok, now I am definitely not that. I do get upset about things now and then and raise my voice here and there.”

Her – “You’re probably 89% loving.”

My turn to laugh

Her – “How about me? Am I 100%?”

I reflected momentarily on the noticeable increase in the last few months of sharp looks and folded arms resistance to getting advice.

Me – “You’re probably 95% loving.”

She gave me a light smack in the arm.

Me – “See. You just smacked me.”

She laughed at the irony of it.

Me – “You’re probably 97% loving.”

She liked that number. I like it, too.

Maybe if I truly act on my goal of becoming a little more loving and a little sillier each year, I’ll catch up to her, one day.

Doubt it, though.

A Happy Heart (Gratitude, Family, Quality time, Playdates, Variety)

It’s been a good weekend for her. Soccer game and a movie with Nonna, yesterday. Today is another great day in the making…

Me – “Okay, your day is full. Soccer, frisbee, basketball, and tennis with me. Swimming at your playdate soon. The turtle. Going to Deirdre’s for a piano lesson. Then, a family dinner with Nonna and Papa tonight. We’ll finish it off with some Harry Potter and snuggles. That’s a good day for you.”

Her – “That’s an amazing day!”

That’s what I love to hear… a happy heart.

Except with Ice Cream (Love, Humor)

As I slumped in the car recently in an irritable mood after resisting dealing with some trivial nonsense

“It’s okay that you’re upset.”

Commenting on my reactions to dealing with the person with whom I was irritated

“I can understand how how you feel about it.”

While we were gardening

“I’m glad we have such a great connection. Not all kids have that with their parents.”

Last night when I stopped for ice cream, which I hardly ever do

“That’s not a healthy choice for you.”

She won my heart in an instant with all of her comments except the ice cream. A man has to take a stand for something!

Goodbye Early Childhood (Grieving, Perspective, Gratitude)

After a long, full, marathon-distance walking last three days at Disney to celebrate her 9th birthday, we arrived home. Ahhh….

Not so fast.

Just as she was getting ready for bed, she collapsed in tears, triggered, perhaps, by seeing pictures of her first nine years that I picked up at the corner Walgreens. I had them printed and ready for pick-up to share in school tomorrow.

Anyway, she cried deeply and told me, “I miss being 6 and 7, even 8.” She kept repeating that she missed being 6 or 7.”

Knowing that we humans can set up meanings in such highly emotionally charged moments that affect our destinies, my first inclination was to tell her that she’s going to have a great year ahead. “You get to decide what it means,” I told her.

But I simultaneously took her in my arms and told her that I understood. And, I really did understand. Just to have one’s sadness validated is step number one. Then, we can look for some more empowering meanings and perspectives.

She told me that she didn’t want to grow up and that she loved being little and doing adventures with me.

While telling her I understood, I did then try to assuage her sadness…

“Age is just a number. It’s just a measurement of how many times you’ve circled the sun. You can be whatever age you want to be in your spirit.”

“I really understand how you’re feeling, honey. But you weren’t born to remain little forever. You have gifts to share.”

“It’s the feeling you’re after of being in the moment, free, happy, and you can decide that that is going to be the center of your life forever.”

As her sadness returned in waves in between my words, I realized it was really just very common…

“I understand. I think I felt the same way (Actually, I don’t think I’ve ever truly gotten over the wonder of my first 12 years.). I felt it as a kid, as a teen, when I entered my 30s and said goodbye to my 20s and now in four years, I’ll say goodbye to my 40s. Fifty? How am I going to be 50? I can’t ever go back. Wish I could with some things. That’s why I tell you certain things, so you don’t have to go through what I did.”

“Nine is still so young!”

“It’s a part of life, honey, and it’s something you just learn to embrace. At first, it’s a bit sad as you notice one period of your life ending, but then new adventures await in the next stage.”

“We can’t control getting older, but we can control how we think about it.”

She of course, countered that she wishes she could control it so she could be little forever. She mentioned our adventures when she was very little, how she used to ride on the back of my bike as we sang songs. Our daily favorite was, “Mr. Sun, Sun, Mr. Golden Sun, please shine down on me…”

Clearly, those pictures from Walgreens had triggered her.

In the end, nothing I said quite hit the nail on the end, which is when I realized that it didn’t have to. It is a bit of a sad passing, a letting go. And letting go of this incredibly sweet, sweet dance she and I have had is understandably hard.

So, I just told her again that I understood, to let the sadness pass through and that I’d do everything I could to make the next year the most magical one of all.

She nodded somberly and drifted off to sleep with me snuggling her and singing the songs I’ve always sung.

Then, I laid out the pictures from Walgreens for this post, and I felt a bolt of heartbreak course through me, too. We can’t ever get it back that time. It is heartbreaking. This period is, indeed, over.

Cue long sigh.

And, with gratitude and positive expectancy, the next chapter begins…