I do not typically editorialize things that happen with my own children, but I found this event to be very meaningful. As I stepped back to reflect on what had happened, I realized that my 10-year-old had just taught me a great deal!
I recently had a birthday and like many kids, my daughter Madison decided to make me a birthday card, or so I thought. One day after school she spent an hour or so with a few sheets of white paper, scissors, tape, and a box of crayons. She decided to work in the conference room next to my office while she waited for me to complete a few after school meetings. If I were to walk by she would tell me to “not look” at what she was doing. Of course, I knew what she was up to but figured it was just the typical birthday card.
Boy was I wrong!
I was curious as to why she wanted to stay behind as I we locked up the office. She wanted to make sure that I walked out the door before her. To be honest, by the time we were ready to leave I had forgotten all about what she was doing. She had done a nice job of cleaning up and hiding her project from me.
That night (the night before my actual birthday) we decided to go out to eat to “celebrate”. We had a busy day the next day and knew that we wouldn’t be home until late, so we took that time to spend together as a family. I was okay with changing the date, if you will, as birthdays just seem to be another day after you get to a certain age.
The next morning as I arrived back at my office I found my daughter’s project sitting on my desk. I had the typical reaction when I first came across the simple design and crayon writing – “Aw, that’s nice”. Then I studied it a little more closely. I opened the box that says “Box of Hope!” and took out a few cards. They were coupons for chores – I will clean my room or I will read for an hour were written down just awaiting their time to be cashed in. A basketball hoop with “We love you coach” is on the second page. (Yes, my daughter calls me coach once in a while due to my work with our youth programs.) On the third page was another box for drawing cards. It reads, “When you’re having a stressful day draw here” with “Are you lucky?” written underneath. These tickets are as inspiring, maybe even a bit more. Things like take the dog for a walk, read, go exercise or call your mom are written on them. The last panel simply says, “We love your work”.
When did my 10-year-old become so thoughtful and sophisticated? Why was it so evident that she now understood adults? How did she get so smart? Where did she get the optimism?
Call your mom, take a walk… are you kidding me! How does she understand that this simple advice is what we need as a daily reminder to get us out of a rut.
I think that as adults we forget how simple life really can be. We all get bogged down with the day-to-day grind of work, responsibilities, bills, and just simply being an adult.
I am thankful that I have the opportunity to work with kids. I am thankful that I have children. I am thankful that I have a child who understands me better than I understand myself sometimes.
I am thankful that our kids are eternally optimistic. And yes, I will be cashing in the coupons!