“It was the best day of my life!” said my nearly five-year old daughter as we were lying in bed late last night. We went to breakfast, did some work in our community garden, went to the grocery store, went swimming in our $20 Target pool, and waited for Mommy to get home from work before heading off to swim lessons at our local recreation center.
Any other day this would be more than enough activity to earn “great day” status, but unbeknownst to me, this was just the beginning.
There was a mini-meltdown after face-planting at the community pool. No injuries were sustained but it was enough to create a bad mood. The lesson could be made up on Wednesday so no major issue. Getting my usually sweet little girl back in a positive mood was another issue entirely.
After an arduous conversation with an irrational child allowing her to lather my bald head with sunscreen did the trick. It was just in time as a family friend with 3 of her 4 kids rolled up for a planned visit while her oldest was at some sport practice nearby.
A prior version of myself would have lost my marbles with 4 children running around while my wife and her friend split a bottle of wine on our back porch. While every one was very well behaved it is still more action than I am used to. Kids were running in and out of the house, half-eaten snacks and wrappers littered across the floor and tables, and Amelia’s slightly organized toys littered the floors across multiple rooms.
Again, a prior version of me would have been rocking back and forth in a fetal position after 20 minutes. The fact I wasn’t is progress.
If the night ended there I would have considered it a good day. It wasn’t nearly the end I expected—but I will get into that in a minute.
Since starting this blog I have talked incessantly about mindfulness. I was able to put it into practice for the majority of the day. Rather than stress about the future or dwell on the past I was present in the moment enjoying every aspect of the day. I didn’t worry about the usual issues that plague my mind. I was doing exactly what I meant when I try to remind myself to “just be” meaning experience life in the moment without concern for the thought-forms of past or future. Most importantly I was able to experience a day in the life with my child.
I believe as we get older we forget how to live. I know I get caught up thinking about the mistakes of my past and over-analyzing every potential future occurrence. It prevents me from being present the majority of the time. Sometimes I just need to let go of the need to control and just live.
That “letting go” brings us to the end of the night when 4 children were dry from hours of play, the house was cluttered from activity, and the day was winding down. It was time to drain the pool as rain was expected overnight as well as wanting to protect the grass from more than 2 days of water pressure.
For the kids, a small plug in the bottom of the pool didn’t drain it fast enough. Cups would help it drain faster and of course help the flower bed nearby. Watering flowers turned into watering each other and eventually getting back in the pool—fully clothed! The adults lost control as everything was getting covered in water. Then I got the effects of some splashing. The kids didn’t know what to think at that point.
Keep in mind I am a bigger guy with a bald head, beard, piercings and tattoos. I can look “scary” even to people who know me well. When I got splashed it fell silent.
I turned around, walked away silently, and came back with the hose. It was on!
Nobody was safe! 4 kids came at me with cups of water at once. They were met with a jet stream of cold hose water. The younger ones got a less aggressive hosing but the older girls were recipients of a full on blast at times to the back of the head. They were in heaven.
At one point, and keep in mind we were all fully clothed, I was IN the pool picking up a couple of them and “gently” throwing them back in the water. We were experiencing summer. We were making memories.
A good day was made into a great day simply by letting go, living in the moment and aided by a water fight with a small group of kids.