Sunday, February 1, 2009

Wife Rule #95: It's a Good Day

You would think that any day where I get to show up late for work on account of an important appointment that involves eating donuts and reading stories about pirates would be a pretty good day.

And indeed, it should be. "Daddies and Donuts" is a little program sponsored by our elementary school's PTA where once a year, the dads all converge on the school to read books for an hour and eat a donut with their kids. Of course in my case, I have to split my time between Dawn, Rachel, and Scott, so they each only get me for twenty minutes. It's unfair that there's so little of me to go around.

But on the upside, I get three donuts.

So you may be surprised that when the long-anticipated Daddies and Donuts day finally came, I wasn't in the best of spirits. There was nothing wrong with that particular day, it's just that I had been a little down for a while, for a number of reasons too boring and personal to mention here. However, there was unanticipated goodness in store for me today. And I'm not talking about finding colored sprinkles when I only expected plain glazed, either.

Dawn and Rachel went to school at their normal time and I worked an hour from home so I could drive Scott to Kindergarten just in time for the blessed event to begin. As we made the 90-second trek from our home to the elementary school, Scott chattered happily from the back seat of my car. I honestly wasn't paying attention too closely, but my ears perked up when he enthusiastically exclaimed, "Dad, this is going to be a great day, huh!"

Those words caught my attention and caused me to wonder what was going on today that had Scott so excited. Did he have any big plans after school? Not that I knew of. No soccer practice until spring. There was nothing special I could think of, except this one little thing: that his Daddy was coming to spend twenty minutes with him, reading books about pirates and snakes and dinosaurs, and eating a donut. Was that enough to merit a full day's excitement, to deem this a great day?

Maybe so.

Then it dawned on me that my precious son was expressing in his own way that twenty minutes with Daddy was still a Big Deal to him. He may not have been thinking it, but his words were saying, "Daddy, I love you!"

My heart surged with affection for this rough-and-tumble little boy who is such a big, big part of my life, and he taught me.

He taught me that life's joys come not from the removal of big road blocks or the resolution of major problems, but from little moments of reward along the way. He taught me that I already had all the reasons I needed to overcome the doldrums I had been wallowing in for the last couple of weeks. I had reason enough to be filled with joy and optimism about that day--and the rest of my life--sitting in the back seat of my car, complete with unruly blond hair, pure blue eyes, and a backpack that was still just a little too big for him.

He caused me to reflect that I had even more reasons to be grateful waiting for me in other places: two already at the elementary school, three more at home, others across the street or across town, and a limitless supply in my own mind, where a thousand memories of happy occasions with family and friends still reside, vibrant with life and the promise of more joys to come.

Scott's attitude seemed to perfectly reflect the sentiments expressed in the following:

"Both abundance and lack exist simultaneously in our lives, as parallel realities.... When we choose not to focus on what is missing from our lives but are grateful for the abundance that's present...the wasteland of illusion falls away and we experience heaven on earth." Sarah Ban Breathnach, in John Cook, comp., The Book of Positive Quotations, 2nd ed. (2007), 342.

We parked and nearly skipped, hand in hand, to Scott's classroom, our pace barely able to keep up with our enthusiasm. We read. We laughed. We ate. All too soon I had to move on to the next class. I hugged him and told him that I loved him as I left his classroom.

After three years of hearing about Daddies and Donuts from his older sisters, I wondered if it had been everything Scott hoped it would be. I thought about my son more than usual that day at work. I smiled when I remembered his words and what he taught me. I hoped that I had somehow fulfilled his expectations, that my brief presence with him that morning had lifted his spirits, as he had mine.

When I pulled into the garage that evening, Scott was there in the doorway to greet me.

"Today was a fun day, huh Dad!" he exclaimed as he hugged me, the potency of his enthusiasm fully intact, seven hours after our twenty minutes of together time.

Yes, son, it was a fun day. It was a great day. You made it special. You made it a little like heaven on earth.

And son, I love you too.


Anonymous said...

Boys with unruly hair and beautiful eyes make me happy every day, all 3 of them!

Luell said...

Thanks for the reminder to see the small things. It doesn't matter what age the boys with unruly hair are.

You're awesome!