Each year the high school football team closes another successful year by celebrating with friends, family, coaches and athletes. The Polish hall serves as the annual venue, and we are treated to an abundance of food, followed by an awards ceremony and a silent auction. To keep everyone entertained between events, the parent group holds a random draw for door prizes. The past 3 years I have been lucky enough to go home with a gift, however this year was not to be mine. In a parting conversation to thank the mother who works very hard to keep the team running financially, I jokingly told her that my 3 for 3 record of winning a door prize ended this year so, returning the lightheartedness, she handed me a blue bucket.
We all laughed about the fact that because I complained, I was returning home with a bright blue wastebasket which is about 12 inches in height, and approximately 14 inches in diameter. It’s a basket that one would place in their office to catch the daily paper and other wasted items. At about $1.00 in value, this blue bucket would come in quite handy around my house, because I have two little princesses who would love to play with a shiny blue plastic bucket!
As most parents discover after the purchase of the latest hot toy, the children play with the packaging more often than they enjoy time with the toy, so I was quite excited to present my girls with their new inexpensive entertainment device. Fast forward weeks later and the bucket has been used as a chair for cousin Ella, a storage container for the girls’ toy collection, and a peek-a-boo game with mommy and daddy. Hayley and Keira play with the bucket more often than not, so we have kept it in the living room, as it is usually the number one item for the girls to grab first.
Today, as I was working in the kitchen, I heard giggling from the opposite side of the counter space, which separates the kitchen from the living room. I continued working and smiled as I enjoyed the pleasant sounds coming from the girls, until I noticed after a few minutes that the giggling escalated into an all out laugh, you know, the laugh that means your children are either up to something no good or at least having a blast doing something for the first time.
I decided to stop what I was doing to investigate, and as I walked around the peninsula I noticed Hayley on all fours facing Keira…both were laughing hysterically. Keira was on her back with the blue bucket by the handles, and had the opening pulled all the way over her head. As she was pulling the bucket over her head, her laughter became an echo and the sound was apparently so funny that she would pull the bucket off of her head, look at Hayley, and then pull it back over her face, continue the frantic giggle and then repeat the sequence.
I watched for a few minutes until she noticed me, and then she quickly placed the bucket over her head and continued laughing… I laughed as well; it was pretty funny.
This past week has been full of events similar to the blue bucket incident. I think it’s a combination of their stage of development and the fact that there are two children the same age. They often feed off of each other, but other times they work alone.
Just yesterday, I was making breakfast in the kitchen (I am in the kitchen a lot aren’t I?) when Jen whispered that I need to check out Hayley right away. I put the knife down, wiped my hands and quietly walked into the room only to bust a gut laughing at the situation that Hayley had managed to organize for herself.
Much like the blue bucket, we have a number of bright colored rectangular boxes that are used for storage. We have 3 in the living room holding the girls’ toys. They measure about 5 inches high by 10 inches wide and 12 inches long, so they aren’t big, but big enough to hold a 9-month-old girl.
Hayley is much like me in that when she gets something on her mind, the only thing that will stop her is certain injury, so she has managed to get stuck in numerous places thus far. As I turned my head, I noticed that she was in the prone position (lying on her stomach) on top of the open side of the box. The look on her face is what made the situation funny because she looked at both Jen and I with wonder at how she was going to make her way down from the top of the hot pink box. She eventually made her way off of the box, but only after a brief struggle, and a whole lot of grumbling in the process. Jen wanted to save her but I am of the opinion that as long as she isn’t in danger of injury, she needs to learn how to get out of this type of situation.
Last but certainly not least, we move to the exer-saucer.
I was checking my email today when Hayley began making periodic grunting noises that sound like a high-pitched version of “eh.” It is a quick sound, only one syllable, and is repeated every 3 to 5 seconds. She continued making the sound until I looked in her direction, then she increased the frequency to one every 2 seconds. Initially I wasn’t able to visually locate her, but her mating call brought my attention to the exer-saucer which was situated to my immediate right, about 10 feet away. I noticed that the wobbly, round plastic object was moving and then looked inside (underneath the white platform) to see Hayley sitting in the middle. I responded with the mating call, and she immediately responded. This game went on for another minute or so, meanwhile the exer-saucer picked up speed and Hayley was blissfully rocking back and forth while continuously repeating her little call. The only thing a father can do in this situation is laugh, respond, and reach for the camera.
Sorry to let you down, but just as I turned the camera on, she casually crawled out of the exer-saucer and made her way under the kitchen table to play with the toy she had left behind earlier in the day.
If I can say one thing about spontaneity before I conclude. Life without children offered plenty of opportunity to live spontaneously…I was easily free for a weekend mountain bike ride with friends, or a squash game on a weeknight. Jen and I were available for last minute calls to meet for dinner or coffee, and we were able to drop everything when we noticed that our favorite television show was about to begin. Nothing can match the joy and excitement of spontaneous moments brought to us by our girls. We have laughed out loud each day as the girls became more and more mobile. They have been able to get into all kinds of silly situations, and they have also entertained us with on the spot ear-to-ear smiles combined with the laugh only a child can muster.
Children offer us adults the true meaning of living spontaneously. They don’t think about what they have to complete before committing to dinner plans, and they don’t worry about what others will say about them when nudged to hop on stage to sing at karaoke. They simply seize the moment, go for it and enjoy the experience. That is what living in the now is all about. No holds barred living, laughing, and acting silly for the sake of enjoying life. For such a lesson, I am thankful to my daughters for opening my eyes.
And so it is,