“Aden!! Get up!!” I hollered at 6:45 A.M. My wail was answered with an impressively quick, but thankfully inaccurate paperback novel chucked in the direction of my face. My son gets a little testy in the morning, especially when he is late and forced to move before he is ready. This morning he had seven minutes to get dressed, eat breakfast, pack lunch and pee before our departure time so he could avoid yet another tardy.
The mountains were moved and the oceans were parted to make his arrival on time. And so we did, barely. Crisis avoided. The rest of the day pretty much followed suit. Urgent fires popped up requiring me, as the extinguisher, to put them out. I don’t like fires, especially when I don’t set them. I don’t like stressful emergencies. I like control of my day and this day I had none.
Staying consistent with the “flow” of my day, I got a call from my wife about whether or not she should purchase a new dining room table. Apparently, a pretty significant sale was happening at a local department store and she saw one she liked. While I appreciated the courtesy of her phone call, I understood that it was only a courtesy and that she was going to do what she wanted independent of my feelings about it.
My wife and I differ in many ways, including the decision about a new table. I still liked our old one. It was worn and scratched and had stains and Sharpie scribbles. It was a time capsule reflecting my kids’ lives. Juice was spilled on the white cloth seat covers and high chair rubs marred the table edges. I notice this stuff and I think about it. And I hate to see it go away.
But…since we ARE getting a new table, I will simply miss the old one. She was a good table.
Near the end of my wife’s conversation about the new table (I call it her conversation, because I didn’t have much to say), she “asked” if I wanted to check out the new table she had in mind. I, naturally, replied with “sure”, not because I was remotely interested, but because I understood that I was expected to at least act interested and she wasn’t really asking.
We made a date to view the new table later that evening. Here, I was really hoping she would be too tired after a long work day to really want to slog out in the dark rain. But…she wasn’t. So, we went.
When defeated, I have learned it is best to just accept it and go with it. Fighting it does no good. So, I put on the best attitude I could muster and hoped it would be a quick trip.
While in the store, we checked out the table and it looked fine to me. Deal done. “Let’s go home!!” I silently screamed in my mind. But…we needed to get a “couple of things”. We split up to divide and conquer this task.
Feeling slightly frustrated and impatient, I fast walked to my item’s department. Along the way, as I was approaching the frozen food aisle, I heard a loudly muffled voice yell, “Pull up your pants!!!” This was an unexpected twist to my evening and as I peeked down the ice cream aisle I saw a little boy, probably around three years old or so, dancing down the tile path with his pants around his ankles, his cartoon underwear shining for all to see. He was smiling and laughing, as was his not much older sibling. His mom was smiling and suddenly, so was I. The rest of my trip carried on without incident.
This episode made the whole trip worthwhile. A carefree, unconcerned little kid dancing down the frozen food aisle in his skivvies changes one’s perspective on the world. Like me, this kid didn’t want to be in the store either. Unlike me, he found a way to enjoy it. (Though it is unlikely that I could pull off this kid’s response to a tough night without risking some looks that would not be smiling and/or maybe some handcuffs.) This kid had it figured out. And he helped me figure it out, too: Sometimes, when it’s raining, it’s best to just tip your head up, turn your palms to the sky, and dance in the mud.
The new table looks pretty good… I think it’s gonna be a good table.
[EDITOR’S NOTE:”Feel Good Friday” is a regular column written by Des Moines resident Dave Markwell, who extols to all neighbors: “Enjoy where we live. Put your feet on the pavement and truly feel how great it is to live here!” Also, you can “friend” Dave on Facebook here. Or work out with him at his exercise company Waterland CrossFit!]