Yesterday was a special day.
I mentioned last week that my iPhone autocorrected the word "daughter" into "laughter" and I felt that God was trying to tug me toward a translation that I deeply needed to make in my parenting.
It's amazing how serious life can make you as the soberness of life's needs press in like a pack of wolves. Joy is devoured and the ability to relax into a moment with your children can be forced at best. You're trying to sit with them and do their homework, or kick the ball in the front yard, or let them sit with you on the lawnmower, or push them on the tire swing, or concentrate on them exclusively as they share their day's school stories...but something just keeps nagging you and pestering you away from that beautiful moment hanging there like a drop of mercury. Something just keeps reminding you that more pressing things need your attention or more important matters are waiting for your intervention. Of course, it's hogwash, but your lizard brain keeps banging that gong.
I mention that propensity toward seriousness to set the context for the special day I had yesterday with my daughters on a daddy/daughter night in the bustling town of Lowell.
On our way to Lowell, a friend of mine, Doug Olin, had texted me that he had two yearling Clydesdale colts he had just purchased the week before and that we should stop by and check them out. The girls were geeked about this...the farm life is enchanting to them and new horses couldn't be a more charming ingredient in that enchantment.
We pulled up to the horse barn and as we walked in to the see the horses in the stables, I noticed blood running down their back legs profusely which, needless to say, was quite alarming to my daughters. Doug sauntered into the barn, the cowboy he is, and while chuckling mentioned that these stallions lost their manhood just hours before and so they were a little "bloody".
What perfect timing! There's nothing like bringing your daughters to a horse barn and being forced to explain to them what castration is and why it's necessary. They kept asking, "What did they cut off?" I didn't know what word to use. Part of me wanted to use more medical terms so as to keep them thoroughly confused. "Testicles, honey, testicles." "What are those, dad?" "Well, those are the horses private parts." "Well, how will they go to the bathroom then?" "Well they don't cut all of the private parts off, just a part of them." "Which part?" "The part that holds the horses gonads." "What are the gonads, dad?" "Well...hmmm...let me see...ummm..." I knew the term that would understand and I just cringed to say it. "Their balls, baby. Do you know what I'm talking about now?" At that point, they stopped asking questions and just cringed with deep furrowed brows and painful expressions of compassion. Thanks, Doug, for inviting us over to see your horses, only next time could you invite us on a day when I don't have to explain the anatomy of the common male and the purpose of why someone would have to lop them off. I'd appreciate that. Hahaha.
We moved from there to Mynt Fusion and shared a "Fried Ice Cream" together. We dug our spoons into the heavenly dessert and played tick-tack-toe on the table covered with white butcher paper. The game quickly progressed to hangman and we laughed as we tried to guess each others crazy ideas. I love butcher paper and crayons at restaurants...whoever came up with that idea was in the zone that day, along with the person who came up with the idea to throw your peanut shells on the floor in Logan's Roadhouse. Climbing into a kids mind and making that dream happen usually leads to a better life.
We parked in a downtown parking spot and walked the train tracks behind King Milling. We looked for fish in the river and explored the river like Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer. They asked a lot about trains and why there aren't as many of them these days as there were in the "olden" days. I tried to explain that to them as we walked hand in hand down the vacant tracks. Antiquity. Pure and pungent antiquity.
We circled around and I bought them each a beef stick at the Shell station and as we walked down the sidewalk toward our parked car, we noticed the cars stopping in the middle of the downtown area near Flat River Grill. A mother duck was leading her seven new born ducklings across the street. It was like a tiny parade. The funny thing was watching the little ones trying to climb the curb. They would jump over and over again stumbling back to the bottom until the last one finally eked his fluffy body over the cusp. As they made their way to the rivers edge, they popped into the water one by one, and pumped their little legs to keep up with mama as she led them across of the surface of the calm rivers current.
We came home, gathered together, and sat on the couch to watch the final 5 in American Idol compete. Curled up on the couch, we let them stay up till 10:30pm and told them they could sleep in in the morning. You only live once, right?
You just never know how your day is going to transpire, do you? The important thing is that you're right there when it does. I've missed a lot of moments over my life because of what's going on up there between my ears. I don't want seriousness to crowd out the joy of simple moments of beauty.
This was a good day...horse castration aside. I take that back...that was the best part!