A blog is a funny thing. You get a snapshot of a moment in time and a chance to see who you and your family were during a different moment.
I wrote the post below five years ago and even though I lived it all there is a part of me that wonders who that and those kids were.
Five years late elementary school is just a memory for the kids and I am struck by just how surreal some things feel.
That is because five years from now my oldest will be in college and my youngest will be closer to graduating from high school than starting.
Sometimes I wake up Â Saturday morning and hear little voices whispering about something or other. I can’t always make out the actual words but I can usually tell from the tone whether it deserves immediate attention or additional slumber. Yes, I just wrote additional slumber. That is part of the joy of having children who are in elementary school- I get to sleep for an extra 30 minutes sometimes.
Ah, who am I kidding- I can sleep anywhere at any time and have been known to do so- but I digress.
If the situation merits my attention it is usually because the wee angels are fighting over toys and territory. Most of the time I’ll wait a bit and see if they can negotiate their own truce. It is not out of laziness but because I don’t want them to become incapable of fixing their messes without mom and dad. We won’t always be around and I need them to continue to learn how to be self reliant.
Yet there are those moments where their diplomacy fails and other measures are required. So the old man drags his butt out of bed and wanders over to wherever they are hanging out and dictates the rules of the road. There is no discussion of who did what to whom or why I am so mean. More often than not I preface the lecture, conversation with “since you forced me to become a policeman I will not be nice about it” and I issue my decree.
These moments tend to be few and far between. You can attribute some of that to my being blessed with good kids Â and some of that to being blessed with smart kids. Because when they hear me coming the whispering gets a little bit louder and always contains a plea to’ just agree before dad gets here.’ Sometimes I wish that I had a bigger house so that they would have more time to talk because often all they need is a little incentive and they get it worked out. And by incentive I mean, the sound of my footsteps.
A Sentimental Father
Cleaning out a garage isn’t always easy. It requires a chunk of time accompanied by a desire to purge yourself of the things that are no longer needed. Â Items are taken off of of shelves and pulled from boxes for a quick inspection. The goal is to engage in a quick inspection so that you can determine whether there is merit in retaining it. Does it have enough monetary value to be offered for sale on eBay? Is it something that you can still use and if so, why aren’t you? The general rule of thumb is that if it isn’t a family heirloom or not worth selling than it should be pushed out because it is not paying rent.
At least this is what I tell myself but sometimes I fall short of the mark. Today was one of those occasions. With the growing conviction that we are going to be moving soon I hit the garage with a chip on my shoulder. I wasn’t going to allow myself to be persuaded to hold onto things that are no longer needed. Boxes of baby clothes, old toys, shoes and assorted bric-a-bracs saw sunlight today for the first time in a while. Moments later they were placed in a different box so that they could be donated to people in need.
That part wasn’t hard at all. It was a bit time consuming but overall it went very smoothly. The problem came when I arrived at the donation center and started giving it away. As I watched the parade of items go by I couldn’t help but see images of the little people who once used or wore them. Shiny shoes that were worn to a wedding reminded me of the 18 month old boy who wore them. The little guy who would stand up in his stroller and start dancing to the music they would play in stores. Â A white dress that was worn by a baby girl at her naming ceremony. Books, cars and games whispered at me.
Everywhere I looked were echoes of my children- or at least the toddler and babies they once were. It wasn’t easy to watch. Â It is nice to know that they are going to be used by people who really need them but at the same time it was hard because they tugged at my heart. They know secrets about these children of mine. They know stories. They have borne witness to their major milestones. They were there when they first called me by name or took their first steps. They are, were a piece of their childhood.
But I talk to them about letting of the things that we don’t need to carry with us. When my grandparents died I talked to them about how the people we love are in our hearts and that whenever I want to speak to them all I have do is remember. They know that people are always more important than objects. They know that the reason that places/things have meaning is because of who is there or who used them.
It is not something that I say- I believe it. I live it. But I won’t lie and say that I wasn’t happy to be doing the drop off alone. Â Because when the donations had been made I took my receipts and sat down in my car. Alone with my thoughts I closed my eyes and remembered. There in the silence I listened to the laughter and thought of what once had been and maybe there was a tear in my eye. Or maybe not.
The future is what I am focused upon- but it doesn’t mean that I need to forget what happened in the past.Â
A Father’s Wisdom
Time has taught me that I know everything and I know nothing.
I have learned the river doesn’t care how strong or determined I am to alter its course. When I push against it rivulets of water flow between my fingers and keep on going.
The current forces me to adjust to it, not it to adjust to me.
So I do my best to take a deep breath as necessary and to serve as the captain of my ship. Life is easier and more manageable that way.
The kids have heard me say these words to them too.
Sometimes they listen and follow my suggestions and sometimes they don’t. I try not to fight those moments because they need to learn the same lessons I did when I was their age.