No! I shout from two rooms away
Just before the laundry towel is in shreds.
No, not that! I shudder,
tugging paws, teeth and body from velour pillow
now christened where some have laid their heads.
When my kids call me “classic,” it’s their not-so-veiled way of calling me old.
While growing older is something I can’t avoid, and don’t want to, given the alternative, old is not a way I want to be, especially not at Christmas.
It used to be easy to do kid-stuff when our children were small. Our Christmas season was filled with holiday fun for them. Getting the tree, decorating, baking cookies, caroling, pageants, parties, stringing lights or popcorn, making crafts, shopping, wrapping … oh, and keeping secret what was under the tree. That might have been the best part of all because it invited those little wondering minds to sneak under the tree when they thought I wasn’t looking to snoop, look at tags and maybe even give that box a shake or two. What delight there is in a child’s wonder! Some things never get old.
Somehow, though, as I have gotten older, the preparations have lost their luster. The kids do their own thing and their Christmas lists have gotten shorter. The gifts are more expensive, more detailed, and often just a request in an email link so I get just the right thing. After all, you can’t count on old mom to know where to get the latest in fashion, fad or technology. Gone are the snooping, the shaking and the secrets. When did we lose the wonder?
This year, however, we have puppies. Two adorable, energetic, exhausting, did I say lovable puppies, and they are full of mischief. The world is their play-thing; everything is for investigating, nibbling, tugging, splashing, eating, or pouncing on. Play is their purpose. Wonder is their world.
When did I lose this? Can it be retrieved? That’s when I came across this in a magazine on my counter:
“Once a day, do what a kid would do.”
I could do this. I could … jump in the leaves, roll down the hill, splash in the puddle, gallop up the driveway… I could let play back in, classic play, simply by asking ‘what would a kid do?’ A kid would look at the lights in the sky and wonder if they could ever fly there. A kid would listen to the shrill whistle of a bird and wonder how a tiny animal could be SO LOUD. A kid would smell the smoky winter air and wonder which neighbor had a fire going and whether there were marshmallows.
Somehow, doing what a kid does even has me wondering what a kid thinks. The recipe? Fond memories, a still vivid imagination, some zany puppies, and an Advent pledge: “once a day, do what a kid would do.”
Unfortunately, what was so easy when the kids were small, now takes dedicated effort. So far I am resisting the urge to Google ‘how to be a kid.’ After all, spontaneity is the door to childhood and wonder is the key. I am putting my foot down: this Advent, I refuse to be an old fart. Wait, can I say that? Why yes, I’m a kid.
If kid gets too hard, maybe I’ll channel a puppy or two. Do you know the best thing about puppies? Even when they are engrossed in tussling and tugging on each other’s ears, they stop and run to you in sheer delight whenever you enter the room. Maybe that’s what will grow in me this Advent season, sheer delight when I see my Master coming.
Here’s the challenge: once a day, do what a kid would do. Of course, my kids will be completely embarrassed by me. Someday, when they have kids, I hope they’ll understand.
“Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” ~ Matthew 18:3
Sometimes you just have to do things in order. First things first. No exceptions.
Oh, I want to put things behind me and just “get on with it.” But life is not a ‘now we join our regularly scheduled program, already in progress’ experience. Stuff happens. Sometimes it is big stuff, and we need to put on the brakes, step off the roller coaster, and put that big item at the top of our to-do list. Everything else takes a seat. Not a back sat, mind you, but its place tossed with everything else in the trunk. You’ll unscramble it later.
Well, God-willing, the later does come. You unlatch the trunk and everything you were doing, everything everybody wanted you to do, and everything you had big plans for smiles up at you. It’s like a trunk full of golden retriever puppies, wagging and whining and hoping you’ll pick them up first. It is very tempting to just fling yourself in the trunk and submit to death by licking.
But that would be self-serving and irresponsible, so you resist. Instead, you stand there and try to decide which puppy to pick up. Which needs me the most? Which is clamoring for attention? Perhaps if I just clear a few away, either by pushing them to the side or setting them free to run around, then I’ll see the one who is really meant for me. (Honest aside: we have been looking at puppies) While that sounds like a terrific strategy, it isn’t working. And I think it’s because there’s an order to things: first things first, no exceptions.
I have uncovered this as I have tried to move on to the “next thing” but been prevented. This is not to say that I am twiddling my thumbs until a light bulb illuminates and I know just what to do. It is more that I am trying to mount several stairs at a time and something reminds me to take just one. And because life seems to be moving so fast at present, today it feels like I am on the slalom course, moving at break-neck speed, and the forces of nature unite with the rule-makers to remind me that I must go around each gate on the blue course to stay in the competition.
What I had been trying to do is join the racers, already in progress. Skip the first few gates and catch up with my friends. Nope. But please, won’t you take pity on me? I got a late start, had some trouble with my bindings, my goggles fogged up, I…please?
But the longer I wait in the starting gate, the further behind I get. So I blast out and cut my turns as sharply as I can around one blue gate, then another. I’m pretty good through three, but the slope steepens and I’m picking up speed. I miss the fourth gate altogether, whizzing past without turning, and the fifth gate is upon me in a split second. Might as well continue; perhaps no one will notice. It can’t be helped.
Yes it can. I slam on the brakes just shy of the fifth gate and sidestep up the mountain. Gate #4 demands navigating. Something about its terrain, its pace, or its trajectory is designed to teach me, heal me, and lead me into Gate 5. Everything in order, all the way to the finish line if you want a score and maybe a chance at a medal.
So, while death by licking has its appeal, life in an ordered course is being exacted from me now. Articles, emails, meetings, phone calls, they’re my gates. Each in order. Now to establish that rhythm…