When I think about my hopes for my children it’s certainly not for fame or fortune. My dreams for them are almost deceptively simple: 1) To find a passion (or passions) that they love in life and compatibility between that passion and the necessities of life (i.e., making a living, taking care of themselves) and 2) To be a good, kind person who, in their own way, increases the amount of good in this world. With little kids who all too often seem ungrateful I sometimes question how well I am succeeding at goal number two.
When my kids are sad or scared one of the surest ways to cheer them up is to tell them a story of when I was sad or scared or mad as a child. They howl with laughter by the end the story where I tell them about the time my four-year-old self refused to eat all of her peas and dumped them on the ground under the dining room table in a (wildly unsuccessful) attempt to hide them from her mother. They hang on to every word when I tell them the story of stepping on a nail when I was twelve and having to go in for a tetanus shot. One of their favorite stories is from when I was three years old. I was running errands with my mother and at an otherwise boring stop at the bank they were handing out helium filled balloons. I remember my delight at receiving a big orange balloon; my favorite color at the time. We lived in California at the time and it was a hot day. My mom drove a big grey station wagon without air conditioning. We climbed into car; my legs growing instantly slick with sweat against the vinyl seats. My mother, smartly, tied the balloon around my wrist as she buckled me in and then cranked down the window. We took off and bored I began to fiddle with the balloon string. In one horrifying instant the string slipped over my tiny wrist and the balloon took flight out the car window. I screamed, I wailed, I pleaded for my mom to stop. “Stop! You have to go back! My balloooooooooooooon!” In the time it took the words to tumble out of my mouth the balloon was, of course, long gone. I remember crying so hard that my eyes swelled to the point I could hardly see. I am pretty sure that the loss of that balloon was the primary tragedy of the first five years of my life (yes, I had a good life).
My birthday was this week and when I walked in the house on the afternoon of my birthday there were ten perfect orange helium filled balloons waiting for me. Older was vibrating with excitement. After hearing the lost balloon story multiple times, It had been his idea to buy me a bouquet of balloons for my birthday. Apparently he had wanted to buy 100 of them but Husband talked him down to ten. I was very touched by Older’s thoughtfulness. I think he’s turning out to be a pretty damned good kid.