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.



We Remember…

Three years after the Civil War ended, Decoration Day was established as a time for the nation to decorate the graves of the war dead with flowers. May 30th was chosen because it was believed that flowers would be in bloom all over the country on that date. It’s now called Memorial Day and is celebrated on the last Monday of May.

Memorial Day today seems in many ways to be just another 3-day weekend. Of course you will see red, white and blue paper plates and napkins at backyard barbecues. You might also see some flags in the front yards of some homes. And of course, there will be memorials in most cities.  However it seems to me that too often Memorial Day has just become the summer kick-off. School is out. Vacations begin. Swimming pools will be opened. Cold beer, grilled burgers, corn-on-the cob, watermelon and ice cream will be served. All of this is good stuff but it misses the point.

My son is a Master Sergeant in the Air Force and he has seen the horrors of war. Brave men and women like Tyson take up arms and “do their jobs” everyday. Their mission is to protect our way of life. And they do this without question and often at great personal hardship. As a citizen I appreciate and applaud their sacrifices and service to our nation. Tyson is one of the lucky ones – he’s survived two deployments in Iraq. Unfortunately many others have perished.

Of course I love my son and I am proud of him.  I also love my country and am proud to be an American.  But I hate war.  And I would ALWAYS choose diplomacy over conflict. Even a “just war” kills innocent people. War is not pro-life; war is never a good answer. But regardless of my political beliefs, I believe that all Americans should honor the men and women that have given their lives in performance of their duty. In defense of freedom; in the eradication of terrorism, in the protection of human rights; these men and women deserve our respect and remembrance.

In 2000, to ensure that the sacrifices of America’s fallen heroes would never be forgotten, the U.S. Congress created “The National Moment of Remembrance Act”. The National Moment of Remembrance encourages all Americans to pause wherever they are at 3 p.m. local time on Memorial Day for a minute of silence to remember and honor those who have died in service to the nation.

So this Memorial Day, in between the barbecue and the beer and playing in the backyard, I will take a moment (or two) to thank the brave men and women that have served our nation, especially those who have died.



P.S. Thanks Ty!

MSgt. Tyson Wilhelm is currently serving in Korea