“Can we please have a weekend where we don’t have another social event on the calendar? No birthday parties, no family functions, no work commitments. I would just like to wake up, relax with my first cup of coffee in the morning and have a day where I am not on a schedule!!!” A cry for help by my husband Kash and also a fair request. The weekends tend to get crammed with all the “other stuff” that cannot be scheduled during the week. As a result, all seven days on the calendar sometimes get packed with either work or non-work related activities, leaving little time to do “nothing”.
Voila! A weekend we discovered we had wide open! Kash, who works 80/90 hours a week in his software sales job calls the week a “compression chamber”. Come the weekend and all he wants to do is decompress, relax and rejuvenate! So here we were with the gift of free play time on our calendar. With a desire to go hiking with the kids weeks ago he had already picked out a place 20 minutes from us. The place is called Scotts Run Nature Preserve, a park in McLean, VA. He was so so excited to “create” a weekend with all four of his girls. “Let’s go to Scotts Run Park for a hike!” I said yes, trusting it would be a place he knew would be an age appropriate hike for our girls, then 8 and under.
It was a beautiful day that summer and Scotts Run Nature Preserve was truly a gorgeous place. We walked on a trail through the forest that led to a stunning view of the Potomac River and lo and behold – a waterfall we were not expecting! It helped that I had not done any of the research and just allowed the scenery to reveal itself, rather than go looking for replications of images on flickr.
We enjoyed our walk despite the frequent “slow down”, “back up” and “don’t get too close to the edge” leaving my lips pretty regulary as I cautioned the girls, especially my youngest who is by far the most daring of the three. I recall how she loved jumping in the puddles left over by the recent rains. She has a knack for finding all the squishiest, gooiest mud and slush she can find. The messier the more fun for her! I guess its to have something to show for it? Well, she was having the time of her life. I noticed myself however on the other hand, occasionally worrying and contemplating the onous of the task ahead of me that would involve the cleaning of these muddy up shoes.
Alas, as this went through my mind, I was struck by a thought. Clean shoes tell no stories.
I remember the time my parents reminded me to be “careful”, “don’t climb, you’ll fall”, don’t run, you’ll trip”. I couldn’t count the number of times I’ve heard other parents, and still catch myself many times cautioning, warning my children, “don’t or….!!!” Wow, really? So not only are we living our life with our own limiting beliefs, we are teaching our kids how to share our limiting beliefs with us. Never thought about it this way before.
Clean shoes tell no stories. I quickly took a picture of my daughter’s shoes to remind me that on this day much fun was had. On this day of family memory-making, life was celebrated. As Phyllis Diller is quoted as saying, “Cleaning your house while your kids are still growing up is like shoveling the walk before it stops snowing.”
We laughed, we chuckled and giggled, the older kids ran up ahead faster than our youngest, and that upset her. She doesn’t like being left behind and wants to do everything her sisters do and better, faster if possible. That in itself prompted a few giggles that she didn’t quite appreciate.
Our children remind us to be unconditional in our propensity for fun, freedom from inhibition and have the time of our life, laughing, loving and celebrating the limitless possibilities for fun and joy!!! As we become adults we slowly start to unlearn our natural ability to be in the moment and happy. We started to get afraid, paid more attention to how being silly would make us look, what kind of impression it would make, what other people would think and how that would impact us in our future. Children don’t think about any of that. If they want to dig their hands in dirt and throw it up in the air to watch how it flies, they will – they don’t think about gravity pulling it right back down on their head. Because the act in itself brings them so much joy that the dirt in their hair is a minor inconvenience. They don’t think about consequence or limitations, they just do what seems fun.
How about let kids be kids, jump in puddles, dance in the rain and how about we join them. It sure would do us good to not be too serious, lighten up, loosen up and have some original fun! We think we have to teach our children. And I think sometimes we have just as much to learn from them.
When was the last time you abandoned all inhibitions and fears and dared to do something you have only thought about? When was the last time you actually ROFL (rolled on the floor laughing)? When was the last time you had unadulterated fun without being held in the clutches of the past or apprehended by the worries of the outcome?
Opportunities for happiness are everywhere, we must only connect with them.
Here’s to messy shoes!
You are worried about seeing him spend his early years in doing nothing. What! Is it nothing to be happy? Nothing to skip, play, and run around all day long? Never in his life will he be so busy again. ~Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Emile, 1762