by Dave Markwell

After picking my son up from school yesterday, we/he decided it was a good day to burn the left over branches from a cherry tree I cut down that had been a bit of an eye sore in our yard since last autumn. So, burn we did. The sun was out and a light breeze fanned the smoldering coals into a pretty decent little fire.

After a few minutes of clipping branches into the appropriate size for our fire pit, my son got bored. This is not unusual. I saw him begin to waver. I have seen this before and I know the signs. I warned him, encouraged him and yelled at him. To no avail, he went into the house because he was “hungry”, once again, leaving me to do the heavy lifting.

As my window was closing on this project and I had to go to work, I admonished him with an expectation. I expected the project to be complete before I returned home. He sat in his desk chair, eating his bagel and with zero enthusiasm said “ok”. I was not optimistic.

Alas, upon my arrival back home the yard was clean and he had actually done what I asked. It doesn’t usually work this way and I was pleased. Following his hard work, he apparently felt worthy of a reward and walked down the street to get a soda from ABC Grocery. I don’t like that he loves soda, but I do like that he walks around town to get it.

I like that he “lives” in our community. He knows people and chats and visits and buys. I regularly get updates on his visits from my friends about his travels. People like him and I like this. As parents we see ALL sides of our kids. We see the good and the bad. It seems our kids often reserve their worst behavior for their parents. I recall hearing an “expert” on parenting pine that when our kids act up/out, they feel safe and secure enough to express, fully, all aspects of their character and emotion. Some days, I think maybe my kids feel a little too safe and secure, because they often express more than I want to deal with.

I stumbled across some words the other day that reminded me of my contribution to my kids’ behavior:

“It doesn’t matter how strong your opinions are. If you don’t use your power for positive change, you are, indeed, part of the problem.”

– Coretta Scott King

I have strong opinions and regularly express them. My results are not always positive. As I suspect most parents do, I often feel unqualified to teach my kids anything and that I truly am “part of the problem”. I see them reacting in haste and frustration. I see them being impatient and just not very nice. These characteristics are mine. I, also, see them being kind and I hear about how polite and well-spoken they are. These traits are mine, too. Some imperfect balance is being sought and hopefully, found. Being mindful of my influence, I simply try to do the “right” things, whatever the hell they are…

While standing in my kitchen doing the dishes this morning, I glanced out the window at the sunrise colors on the mountains across the water and almost began to cry. As I listened to some happy Jimmy Buffett music and heard the busy sounds of my family scurrying around, I was overcome by gratitude. I had a sense that things were right and good. In that simple moment of recognition, I truly and deeply felt love for the life I have and the people in it. For all of life’s challenges and struggles, the sun still came up and shone on the mountains. Many things change, but the important things like a sunrise and the love of a family are constants and make all pain and worry and fear worth it. This is nice to remember, and may be the most important thing to remember…the sun always rises…

[EDITOR’S NOTE:”Feel Good Friday” is a regular column written by Des Moines resident Dave Markwell, who just published his first book called “A Feel Good Life” (buy it on Amazon here). Dave also 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!]

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