Wednesday, August 26, 2009

TBT: Being thankful for every day

This first appeared August 26, 2009; it was my third-ever blog post. 

Today's Cryptogram was "Write it on your heart that every day is the best day in the year." It's Ralph Waldo Emerson (not LL Cool J, who apparently posted it on his web site recently).
Just yesterday I was thinking about the fact that being grateful for each new day is one of the better pieces of self-help-book advice I ever got. Habitually making the conscious choice to appreciate what you've got changes your approach to the day. I notice it in my responses when greeted with "How are you?" Old responses: tired, overworked, hate the weather, I have this ache.... New responses, at least some of the time: great, love this sunshine, too busy but glad to have a job in this economy, and of course the newly popular, having the time of my life being a grandma.

That single change makes things go better, and it's a bit of a gift to others, too, since negative energy sucks the life out of everyone around. Being open--loving life, things, people--makes us grow existentially; we expand to incorporate in our being that which we love.

I was thinking about these things last night while I couldn't sleep (which made today's Cryptogram a timely surprise). I started thinking about the prayer we were taught to say as children: "Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep. If I should die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take." My mother assured me that I was asking God to watch over me, but it sure seemed that I was inviting someone to snatch my soul in the middle of the night. What a creepy thing to teach a child. What did we learn from this recitation, except fear? How did it teach us to be good little people?

So at 2 or 3 a.m. I asked myself, "What prayer would I teach a child, if I were going to do such a thing?" I decided it would be something like, "I give thanks for this new day; please help me use it well." And later in the day, "Thanks for all the good things that happened today." And then we'd talk about good and not-so-good things from the day that offer teachable moments.
When Peter woke up too, I mentioned this, and we agreed that these are messages Augie and Vi are already getting. Mommy Abby is effusive and animated about pretty much everything they do and see in the course of a day, and any little gift or kindness that someone extends. They can't possibly just take things for granted when she is so relentlessly appreciative. I talk to Augie about this beautiful day, the beautiful garden, the wonderful sunny day... and now we hear him express his own appreciation of beauty...that's a beautiful cat, look at all the beautiful flowers, etc. And we all celebrate the kids' achievements, letting them know how clever, funny. strong, talented, beautiful, kind, and loving they are.

I sometimes have wondered whether we confuse the quest for happiness with spiritual growth. But I have no doubt that these life-affirming, positive, confidence-building messages are totally superior to anything I got from the Catholic Church of my youth. When happiness is based on authentic appreciation of what one has and is and does, it will produce children (and grownups) who are far more fully developed individuals, in pretty much every dimension, than we ever were. As for me, in my new-found blissed-out state, I am a better person than I have been for a long time!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Let the wild rumpus start.

Actually, it started at 7:20 this morning, when "Grandpa Daycare" opened for a third season. We should find a new name for it, since I'm going to be a full-fledged partner four days a week beginning 9/1. (Most days won't start until about 9:15, which is a LOT better than 7:20!) We'd spent the weekend shopping for new toy storage/bookcase units, a kids' table and chairs, baseball gloves for Vi and me, etc. We didn't add new toys, since we knew Augie and Vi would be most interested in checking out all the familiar's what they do when they haven't been here for a week or two. They were great. We had good breakfasts (steel-cut oatmeal, muffins, fruit, ham) and had a great time at the park just down the street. We played nicely, read books, watered the garden (sort of), had lunch...everything but nap. Augie wanted to play, and Vi wanted her mommy and would NOT fall asleep. We've switched their arrangements since last year--she's in the den and he's in my office--and it may take a while to adjust.

Favorite moments: Augie singing "Five Little Monkeys Jumping on a Bed," while strumming the guitar, Vi showing great skill at nesting and even stacking cups, and Augie helping us pick up and put away books and toys before they left, with no complaints. Oh, and at the park, when Pa recited "Where the Wild Things Are" for our kids and another family that happened to be there, Augie reciting right along with him.

It's exhausting, but so much fun. I'm so glad that while Mommy and Daddy are off teaching, they let Pa and Grandma care for their children. Thanks, guys.


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