We've all been there.
The last minute graduation gift.
"Oh The Places You'll Go!"
What a nice connection between childhood and adulthood.
What wonderful messages about life! And success! And how to get there!
Back in July, we were in SC for the 4th visiting family, and upon one of our child-wrangling-kids-need-place-to-run-outings we came across a "fairy tale village".
There were the typical.
Places to slide, children sized houses to explore, swings, trolleys, water features...
But on thing stuck in my mind. There was a "Dr. Seuss" house.
Totally unassuming, it sat at the back of the park.
Robbie was uninterested.
It was 100 degrees outside.
But I couldn't move away.
And now, three months later, I can't shake some of these signs. I couldn't delete the photos from my camera.
Maybe they are lessons to life.
Maybe they are messages to Congress.
Maybe they are what we need to teach our children.
Maybe we all need to spend some time thinking a little simpler. And acting with more purpose.
1) Today is your day! Your mountain is waiting. So... get on your way!
How much time do we waste on what could have been? When asked about the best advice I received in my life, I always say "Talking about it isn't going to change anything... you have to do something about it."
How much time do we spend with the what ifs?
How much time do we spend scared to take that first step? Make that bold move because the weight of the task in front of us is too much to consider.
How many mountains do we find the easy way around?
How often do we help our kids up that step, off that bed, chop that banana, correct their exuberance.
Kids are naturally inclined to get on their way... at least the Robster and Annie are. Put a kid in an open (safe) field, and they will run. Kids need that.
But you know what? Adults need it to.
Get on your way!
2) If you never did, you should. These things are fun, and fun is good.
Parenting and life are hard for those of us who don't naturally let go.
When else are you expected to dance to a stupid song?
To shake the wiggles out?
To laugh at what is stupid. To be stupid and laugh at yourself?
But the message goes deeper to my core right now.
I'm missing some of the fun. The adult and grown-up fun. That's the thing that has fallen off the priority list and it needs to get back on it.
I am rejuvenated after a girls lunch.
I thrive on laughter and silliness and joking and just plain relaxing.
So hey, hey me. Fun. Fun is good.
3) You are you. Now isn't that pleasant?
I think I mentioned before. I was gifted with a strong sense of self. A more than healthy ego. Comfort with exactly who I am.
But how do you pass that on?
How do you encourage your kids gifts, and help them be comfortable with their idiosyncrasies.
I particularly fear this part of raising a daughter.
I want Annie to lean in. I don't want her to be afraid. I want her to make choices for herself.
I want to be proud because your teachers call her "the lawyer" because she argues with them all day. (I didn't believe it either, but spend an hour with her, and you will TOTALLY get it.)
You don't want to worry that arguing will make her bossy.
Will make her a queen bee.
That Robbie's love of spinning things all day long. And his love of art? And his absolutely terrible but cute soccer skills?
They are him.
Now isn't that pleasant?
4) A person's a person, no matter how small.
With this one, I want to with "a person's a person."
The world is tough right now.
Congress is acting crazy.
People are picking winners and losers.
There should never be winners and losers in reality. In our very first world where so many have so much, and so many others have so little.
I will consider us great parents if people say our kids are kind.
They are being raised in a city where they have access to so many wonderful things... a diversity of experiences... of people... of food... of opportunities.
They are lucky.
I hope they will always be the lucky ones.
But I want them to always remember that not everyone is as lucky.
Shawn says regularly, "I thank God every day for the crib I woke up in"
I want our kids to thank God every day for our family, but also to have a heart and mind for looking outside their world. For not just seeing what is around them, but participating in it.
Living in a big city is a curse and a blessing.
It is important that our kids treat others with respect and kindness. Even those who woke up in much less fortunate cribs.
Hey Congress, number four is for you too.
5) Be who you are, and say what you mean. Because those who mind don't matter, and those who matter don't mind.
You read it.
You read it again and again.
And think WOAH.
And then think, what the heck does that mean?
The easy part is be who you are. Of course it is.
But how hard is it to be who we are?
How hard is it to embrace the good and bad about ourselves?
To open ourselves up to being infallible?
Me? I'm great at what I do, but I can procrastinate with the best of them when Congress is off acting crazy, and there aren't many people to receive my phone calls on the other end.
I can be long on ideas and short on action.
I can be quick to anger, and too quick to repress.
I can be frustrated, and hold it in.
I'm gifted (and I mean REALLY REALLY gifted) with a huge support network.
Why don't I speak my heart more often? Or why do I only do it sometimes on this blog?
So it is a personal charge for me. Teach not only our daughter, but our son, to be exactly who he and she are.
Do I hope that is a person full of humor and humility, intelligence and insight?
Sure. Of course I do.
But I will also embrace their foibles.
Maybe we all need to life our lives through our parents' eyes.
How often did your Mom get really pissed off because you lied to her about that party that wasn't really at that house, but the other one?
And then she hugged you. You were you. You were safe. You were whole. She loved you in spite of your mistakes.
I want our children to always be the joy that we see them as.
To be the integrity we hope we will teach them.
To react the same to advocates and adversaries.
And to always, always, be comfortable in their own skin.
So thanks, Dr. Seuss. You just gave us the parenting blueprint.
The mountain is waiting! Let's get on our way!
(After a snack).