Broken Bones and a Big Heart

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I wish for no one to break any bones.

In my son’s Kindergarten class, each child thought of one Christmas wish for everyone in the world. They wrote their wishes on construction paper ornaments and displayed them in the window of their classroom.

I stood in front of that window for a long time reading each wish, all the while feeling my heart swell.

I wish for everyone to have a good family.
I wish for everyone to have toys.
I wish for everyone to have presents.
I wish for everyone to have a house.
I wish for everyone to have food.
I wish for everyone to be loved.
I wish for everyone to have a happy life.

There is something about this time of year that truly reveals the tenderness of humanity. We give toys and clothes to people who can’t afford them. We cook and buy food for people who are hungry. We donate money to charities that do the kind of work the world really needs.

There’s an upswing of do-gooding and that is certainly a great thing.

Of course, there’s the frenzy and the chaos and the surge of superficiality too.

And it’s easy to get caught up in all of the static. Or in my case, all of the plastic.

But there’s also something about this season that reminds us to take care of each other, to help each other, and to make good wishes for each other.

And we try to teach our kids to do the same thing.

We try to remind them to appreciate. We try to give them perspective. We try to open their eyes. We try to make big reveals.

We try.

But I often find myself feeling guilty that I’m not doing enough.

It’s my job to plant those seeds. It’s my job to instill that perspective. It’s my job to remind them, to reveal things to them, and to teach them what is really important.

But standing there, reading those wishes on the window, I had a big reveal of my own.

Our kids already get it.

They are born with benevolent and generous hearts. They understand compassion and kindness and good will for all. They tend toward tenderness. They are soft and sympathetic and selfless.

They want everyone to be happy. To have food. To have a home. To have a good family. To have a good life.

They get it. They don’t have the years behind them that generally earn perspective and insight, but they still get it.

They get it because they’ve always had it.

We all have always had it.

So maybe we stop trying so hard to plant the seeds. And instead we search for the good heart that’s already there in all of us.

Of course sometimes that good heart gets a little bogged down with the mud and the fluff, but it’s still there.

And that day, those kids taught me that I need to appreciate it. They gave me perspective. They opened my eyes. They made a big reveal.

That day was a gentle reminder to seek out and celebrate our good, good hearts.

So even though my kid wants Santa to bring him transformers and shrinky dinks, he also wants no one in the world to break any bones.

And that’s enough to make for a Merry Christmas all year long.

KID

A Grandparent’s Time

This past weekend I had the chance to visit my three grandparents.

Lucky me to be 38 years old and still have three grandparents to visit.

It was a quick but concentrated 36 hours of surprise, serenity and sweet moments.

My Grandpa, Grandma and Granny are 92, 90 and 84 respectively. The life in those years is truly without measure.

During these visits we sat, we held hands and we talked. There weren’t distractions or responsibilities. All I wanted was to see them and spend time with them. Our time together wasn’t anything more than sitting on the couch, across a table, or in a chair next to the bed. We talked about the past, we talked about my family and I showed them a lot of photos that were met with smiles and wonder.

The last few years have been tough on each of them in unique ways. Certainly the challenges that come along for our loved ones late in their lives often command the rest of us to soften toward them and appreciate them in new ways.

In my moments and conversations with my grandparents this weekend I made a few observations.

I noticed that time seemed to slow way, way down, almost to the point of standing still. And I wanted it that way.

Our words were chosen very carefully, but also very easily and honestly. I found myself yearning to remember every single word that was exchanged.

I appreciated how patient we were with each other. Questions that were misunderstood were repeated and extra time was given for consideration and answer.

And the answers themselves were interesting and, more importantly, valuable.

I noticed that our hugs were longer and tighter.

We unabashedly stared into each other’s eyes.

I was overwhelmed with nostalgia and memories.

There was a heartwarming tenderness that blanketed these moments. It felt like sunshine on my face.

My grandparents have given me so much of their lives over the course of mine. But in this visit they gave me the best gift of all—their time.

The real kind of time.

The kind of time that is slow and patient. The kind of time that calls for longer and tighter hugs. The kind of time in which we look at each other, really look at each other. The handholding kind of time. The tender kind of time. The kind of time without distraction or to-dos or frenzy. The kind of time that beckons us to never, ever forget the moment.

It’s the only kind of time that truly matters. And it’s the kind of time we all deserve, especially by those who love us the most.

We live in a crazy world. Our conversations are harried and hurried. We interrupt, we talk over each other, and we ask questions without sometimes even wanting to know the answers. We listen with one ear, but with the other ear we strain to hear the beep of our phones, the cries of our kids or the conversations around us. We look beyond each other, rather than at each other. We have one step in and one step out. We divide and conquer. We multitask in our days, in our relationships and in our moments with each other.

So, in honor and in thanks to my grandparents, I promise to try to be better with my time. I promise to try to be more present. I promise to try to slow down. I promise less distraction. I promise to try for more patience. And more tenderness.

I promise to try to be better at giving a better kind of time.

It’s the least, but also the very best, I can do.

KID

To My Genies

I have three little boys. I ask for a lot of favors.

I ask for help with rides to and from school, practices and parties.

When friends go to the grocery store and call to see if I need anything, I say yes.

I quietly refrain from offering to host festivities or dinners or really anything at my house anytime, ever.

When I go out with more than one friend, I don’t volunteer to drive because I’m unwilling to wrestle and ratchet the car seats in and out of my car to make room.

Going places with any combination of my kids is tough and generally involves crying, darting and grabbing anything within arms’ length. And I’m crying, darting and grabbing too. Not so lovely. Not so fun.

And having people over at my house with any combination of my kids at home (and where else would they be?) is tough and generally involves crying, darting and grabbing anything within arms’ length. And I’m crying, darting and gabbing too. Not so lovely. Not so fun.

Maybe if I had a guesthouse or a tree house or even a tent where we could hide from the kids, I could host a holiday party. But I don’t, so I don’t.

And please don’t even get me started on the car seats. I’ve lost more than a fair share of blood, sweat, tears and fingernails over them. They are locked, loaded and not going anywhere until I know they are gone for good.

I have three little boys. I ask for a lot of favors.

But fortunately, for me, I have wonderful, generous and loving people in my life willing to do those favors. I have the friends who host the parties, carpool my kids and offer to drive to sushi. I have the friends who babysit and buy me groceries.

In fact, after our twins were born, I have a friend who, on several occasions, picked up my big kid after preschool, fed, bathed, pajama-ed, and returned him home five minutes before bedtime.

I have a friend who baby-proofed my house.

I have a friend who took my big kid out to lunch with her sons.

I have a friend who handed me up her kids’ clothes, gear and toys and saved our Christmas a few times over.

I have friends who loan me everything from Band-Aids to oregano so that I can avoid another trip to the store.

And these lovely favor givers never ask, nor expect me to settle up. They don’t count the marbles in their jars or the tallies on their sheets. They just do it out of the kindness of their hearts—those wonderful, generous and loving hearts.

So to my friends, my offerors, my heavy lifters, and the genies in my lamp, I say thanks.

Thank you for stepping in and stepping up and for never, ever keeping score. Thank you for all that you do and for not asking for anything in return.

Thank you for understanding that I might not ever be able to pay you back.

But I do promise you one thing.

I will return the favor someday to someone else.

One day I’ll be on the other side of this frenzy. My kids won’t be so unmanageable, my house will have some space and calm, and the car seats will be gone. And then the hosting and the rides and the grocery runs won’t seem so ill-fated.

When that time comes, when it’s my turn, I promise I will be a genie too. I will make the offers and I will give the rides. I will do the favors and I won’t keep score or expect anything in return.

When my time comes, surely there will be another frazzled mom who needs a helping hand. And I will be the one to step up.

But I won’t do it for her.

I’ll do it for you.

KID