Girls Just Wanna Have Fun

Our two youngest granddaughters spent last week with us. This was kind of a big deal because these two haven’t spent any time away from home without their parents. Ainsley is five and Gwen is three. The five year-old thinks she’s in charge but the three year-old is often the one who is calling the shots. We all learned a few things from our week together. We laughed a lot and cried a little bit, too. Most of my tears were silent. You NEVER flinch or show fear or a three year-old will have you over the barrel! When she cried it was because I said NO! In fairness, nobody wants to be told no.

back yardMy lovely wife had the lion’s share of the responsibility, as I worked all week, but in the evenings and on the weekend I joined in the fun, too. We played outside everyday. We would have “dance parties” on the patio. Our inflatable pool was a source of joy and learning, as we tried to hold our breath under water (and learned to spit the pool water out after gulping some of it). We played ball in the backyard – soccer or wiffleball or “chase the ball” or whatever. Sometimes our outdoor play included looking for bunnies in the garden and then chasing the elusive beasts back into the lilies or honeysuckle.

It was exhausting and exhilarating. The girls sometimes pick at one another as sisters often do. Mostly over silly things: “Look what I have!” followed by, “I want it!” Or “Let’s play Disney Princesses” and then the fight would ensue over who got to be which princess. Usually we would let the squabbles play themselves out because really Ariel and Jasmine and Elsa and Tiana are pretty much one in the same. However at times adult intervention was required. One thing is for certain, we all went to bed early every night and slept soundly.

poolI learned that there is a bully at daycare (whose name will not be used to protect the innocent). This girl has been very rude (or WUDE as Gwen explains it). Apparently she has told our adorable granddaughter that she isn’t her best friend. And of course this hideous child has also pushed in line on occasion and says “oh my gosh” – which apparently are bad words in some circles.

One day Gwen told us that her baby doll would need to go to the doctor. This was all the more amusing because Gwen has the raspy voice of a two-pack-a-day smoker and declared matter-of-factly, “My baby’s dead!”  I thought it seemed a little late for the doctor but I’m not three.

Both girls learned a new word: consequences. If you make a choice you must live with the consequences. Crying because you wanted the green cup until your sister asked for the blue cup or throwing yourself on the floor because you didn’t want a hair clip until your sister had one and now you can’t live without one – these are consequences. This is tough territory for a three year-old and five year-old. But someone we all survived.

Truth is, I learned more from them than they learned from me. I learned we should all play outside whenever we can. We should dance on the patio and not worry about who may be watching. Ice cream cones should be served with every meal. We should all take more time just to be silly. We should all laugh more and cry less. And we should all (not just the girls) wanna have fun!

Maybe they should stay for two weeks next summer. I think I have a lot more to learn.

Peace,

Denis

Women’s Equality Day

Today is “Women’s Equality Day”. At my house that’s everyday. I suppose I’ve been blessed to have had some extraordinary women in my life, not the least of which is my best friend and soul mate, Debbie. We’ve shared (equally) in good times and bad. Carrying one another or being carried by the other as needed. Our life together has proven time and time again that she is my equal. She is simply unafraid. She is love and pure joy but she is also tough and resilient and relentless when necessary. She has taught me that tears don’t make you weak and laughter is truly the best medicine (especially when you need to laugh at yourself). And she has instilled the same spirit and strength and humor in our daughter.

Of course I’ve known and loved many other strong women. In fact, I believe that in my family the female role models are the ones that stand out as leaders.

women's equality dayMy Mom runs the show at her house. She will be 87 this year and remains in the know about politics, current events, style and fashion trends. For someone not afforded an education she is smarter than most women that I know and Dad knows not to mess with Mom.

My three aunts, Lucida, Noel and Gene Marie, were Sisters of the Most Precious Blood. These were intelligent women who were well-traveled and well-educated, not something to be taken for granted by women born in the 1910’s and 1920’s. They were teachers, administrators, catechists, and persons of authority.

The stories of my great-grandmother Elizabeth are legendary: Coming to this country alone at thirteen from Germany. Marrying and then raising her young family alone after my great-grandfather died. I’m told that she was tough, stubborn and a force to be reckoned with.

My three great aunts Marie, Minnie, and Liddy lived together in the family home that became the base of operations for all Wilhelm family gatherings. Aunt Minnie was a business woman – the County Nurse’s secretary. And she was well-respected in our hometown. I remember walking downtown with her many times and people would greet her very politely as “Miss Wilhelm”. I was always so proud to be with my Aunt Min!

And then of course there was my mother-in-law. She was a tough lady who fought for justice and looked out for the underdogs in our world. She was fiercely loyal to those she loved and protected her children like a lioness. She taught her daughter that real beauty requires confidence, kindness and a sense of humor. Jackie never went down without a fight. I’m not sure if you can “raise hell” in heaven, but if you can I’m sure she’s leading the charge.

Finally there are my four beautiful granddaughters. They each have so much to offer. I can see into the future because of them and I want it to equal and fair.

In the many decades since suffragists organized and mobilized, countless advocates and leaders have picked up the mantle and moved our Nation and our world forward. Today, young women in America grow up knowing an historic truth — that not only can they cast a vote, but they can also run for office and help shape the very democracy that once left them out. For these women, and for generations of women to come, we must keep building a more equal America — whether through the stories we tell about our Nation’s history or the faces we display on our country’s currency. On Women’s Equality Day, as we recognize the accomplishments that so many women fought so hard to achieve, we rededicate ourselves to tackling the challenges that remain and expanding opportunity for women and girls everywhere. ~ Barack Obama

I’m proud of the women in my life and I am a better man because of them.

Peace,

Denis