Thursday, May 22, 2014

my cool kids can change the world.

i am turning into my dad.
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here's the evidence... i have been leaving the peanut butter and jelly open and crumbs all over the counter... i can't resist the allure of thrift stores, lately... i have an insatiable urge to talk to strangers.
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what i am learning from this transformation... my dad just adores his kids. he's nuts about them.
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the habit of leaving the pb and j open is the product of prioritizing, i'm telling you. he knows that messes keep but kids grow up. he slops a quick sandwich and then he's back to fashioning swords out of duct tape. or singing "froggy went a courtin'" while bouncing a baby on his knee. i get it now.
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initially i go into thrift stores for a little break. matt will come home after i've had a crazy-kid day and he'll send me off to browse. i start looking for vintage shoes or clothes but i always end up carrying random objects around the store that remind me of each of my kids. a satchel for ossi's "flin rider" look, the perfect evy-tea-cup, swim flippers for finn, and the whole world for liam (in convenient globe-size).
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my dad is a gift-giver. it starts with his love for his children, but his giving expands to enfold so many. he brings things for me. he brings things for matt. he brings things for the kids. my siblings, too. their spouses. their kids. if there is someone in my life i tell him about, he finds things that remind him of them. any need i mention, even in passing, he remembers, whether for me or someone i love.
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i am beginning to see that my dad loves his kids so much that he can't help loving everyone and everything they care about. the fabulous treasures he brings from thrift stores are a humble expression of utterly unfathomable devotion. i get it now.
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i remember being little and hearing my dad strike up conversations with strangers. he has such a friendly demeanor and sees good in everyone he meets. he talks about everything and anything, but usually he talks about his family. "my son is really into this" and "my daughter goes to school here." his love for us kids coupled with his general kind feelings for every person on the planet inspires him to reach out. this may be going out on a limb a bit, but it may simply be his love for his children that inspires him to love all others.
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today the kids and i were wading in a stream when a man walked by. he looked like he was in a hurry so i was a little surprised when he stopped. his native language was spanish but he leaned forward across the steam and, stumbling over his words, asked, "can they eat ice cream?" i was taken aback but answered, "yes, they love it." i waded across to meet him and he pulled several ice cream bars from his bag, handing them to me. we thanked him and i watched him walk away along the bank. i wondered what had motivated him to share with us and to be honest i was a little sketched out. Just a few yards down the stream he stopped to greet a woman and a boy who'd been fishing. He put his arms around his son and then pulled ice-cream from his bag for his family. I was so touched by the scene.
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our families are the reason we carry the ice-cream around, if that makes any sense. our happiness in family life is something we would share with the world if we could.
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so i've been talking to strangers. mostly we talk about our love for our families. and it's amazing how, by the time we part, i can't help but love their families, too.
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and that's how i think a focus on loving our own families can change the world.


Laura said...

I admit I'm a little jealous. I love him, but my dad is the exact opposite. I'm trying to purge that part of me, and become more open and less insecure. I'm discovering the key is LOVE!

Anonymous said...

I just wanted to say how much I appreciated this post today. It sounds like you have such an amazingly loving family.

Teresa said...

Loved this post. It reminds me of how much good there is in the world, and how simple gestures of love are so very powerful.