Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Day 12: Teach Your Children To Strive For An Ordinary Life

sidewalk heart
I once read that when we only expect to experience joy in the forms we’ve previously experienced it, we’re shortchanging ourselves. That has really stuck with me (what didn’t stick with me was where I read it).

It’s like showing up at an amusement park and only expecting the rides to be fun. While the rides are the obvious draw, the goofing around while waiting in line, the anticipation of the day and the dipping of the warm apple fries into the whipped cream are an awfully good time too.

Children are especially good purveyors of joy.

Last year my son came down with the flu on the same day my husband left for a business trip. I called in sick and stayed home with him. Later in the day, I had to take him with me – bucket in hand – to go pick up his sister. I felt terrible because he was so miserably sick. That night though, he told me that it had been a “good day.” I was stunned and a little confused (especially given how many times I had cleaned the bathroom). “I got to stay home with you today,” he said. “Wasn’t that lucky?”

My youngest was being discharged from the hospital. I went to pull the car around to the front and came back to find him chatting excitedly with the nurse. He was over the moon because he as going to get a ride to the entrance in a wheelchair. The nurse was amused but a little bit puzzled by his enthusiasm until I explained that he has a sister who uses a wheelchair.

Joy is where we choose to find it. It doesn’t just show up at birthday parties or on good days. It’s nestled next to the hard and buried beneath the boring.

Look for joy. Make it.

Do the unexpected.

Put potato chips in your kids sandwiches.

Stick a love note in their shoe or up their sleeve.

Teach them to marvel at the pleasures of an ordinary life, for joy resides there.

Do not ask your children to strive for extraordinary lives. Such striving may seem admirable, but it is a way of foolishness. Help them instead to find the wonder and the marvel of an ordinary life. Show them the joy of tasting tomatoes, apples and pears. Show them how to cry when pets and people die. Show them the infinite pleasure in the touch of a hand. And make the ordinary come alive for them. The extraordinary will take care of itself. William Martin

don't teach your children to be extraordinary.psd

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