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Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Summer monsters

Children running barefoot through soft grass or squishing their toes in wet sand.

Frosty glasses of sweet tea or lemonade surrounded by a pool of condensation while we stretch out to soak up the sun.

The steady roar of lawn mowers or motorcycles or cardboard taped to the spokes of a bicycle wheel.

That wonderful feeling of true relaxation and sweet love serenaded by singing birds and lilting breezes.

Summer.....what fun....unless.....

There is a summer monster. It's just as big and ferocious as any Christmas monster. It's teeth are ugly and will ruin any child's dream. It's stench will take your breath away and will keep you feeling sick until the Christmas monster arrives. What is this awful thing? How will it destroy the wonderful summer you have planned?

We can be attacked by the Monster of disappointment anytime we forget that special moments just happen.

Special moments come because we allow them to come not because we "orchestrate" them.

Our country has become obsessed with "production". We want to produce more work, more product, a better home, a better company......push... push... push.......rush...rush....rush....always be better than you were yesterday. How are you going to top this has become a national slogan. And parents have the mistaken idea that the summer can only be fun if they top last summer's monster ridden plans.

In all that planning and orchestration we lose moments. We rush to "make" a memory and forget that most wonderful memories aren't of something we planned, but rather are a by-product of the event. For example, have you ever been at a theme park and taken a moment to watch the smiles of your children? Was it the theme park that generated your special moment? Or was it the simple joy of watching your child smile?

The monsters of summer steal our happiness when we forget the real purpose of rest and relaxation. It's not what we are doing at the time - it's who we are with and whether or not we stop and see the beauty of who they are. I always feel sorry for those families who go through summer with the attitude of "we are going to have fun whether you like it or not!" I've watched Dads dragging children across a beach or Moms spanking them at a theme park.

Hello - it's not your job to orchestrate the fun! You can't do that! Everyone loses to the monster of summer. You feel frustrated, your children sense that and everything blows up in your face.

So what can you do? My prescription for killing those monsters is to plan less and enjoy more. Plan more days in the backyard waving to your neighbor and watching your children run through the sprinkler. Plan more days of making homemade ice cream or playing croquet (remember that game?). Plan one big trip if you want, but go one day less. Spend that first day at home sleeping and resting before the big trip so everyone is ready to have fun. And remember to see less of the park or the resort or the town and enjoy the experience. When you are 80 and the children are grown no one will be upset that you didn't ride all the rides. They will only remember the laughter, the fun and that you killed all the summer monsters.

God loves you,


1 comment:

Michael May said...

It is funny how "Summer Monsters" was written at this time.
I was just thinking of how we tend to schedule everything in our lives. However, I never see "spontanious" scheduled. Those of us who are stay at home parents can be just as guilty of scheduling "fun" as those parents who both work outside the home. Fun cannot be written down in our daily planner. Fun just happens and is usually caused by something simple. Catching lightning bugs, wrestling in the yard, wrestling in the living room, but mostly when we let our minds run free and go with the flow.
Recently my wife and I were discussing buying the boys a swing set of some kind, but because of lack of funds, we weren't sure how we were going to do it. The Lord knows the disires of your heart. Less than 24 hours later our nieghbor across the street aproached me and asked if we would like to have a "free" swing set, all I would have to do was haul it across the street. I quickly said yes and thanked them profusely. Here is the best part--it was built by hand 15 years ago for their kids by their father with his own two hands with his kids in mind. The kids are now grown and out of school and this swing set had just been sitting taking up space. The best part of this whole thing and the thing that I will never forget is when I told the boys. Picture this. I took them to the end of the driveway to where they could see the swing set in the neighbors yard and I asked them to look across the street at the swing set and asked them if they would like to have it. The screams of joy and the jumping up and down is a sight that I won't soon forget and a memory that is burned into my memory for many years to come. But the memories they will make swinging, sliding and climbing are the most precious ones of all. Joyful memories at zero cost. Even better is the fun the boys had watching me and three other guys carry this monster across the street and into their back yard. They told every person who happened to walk our way just where we were takling that contraption. Unscheduled fun. It just happened and today the the boys were still talking about how cool it was to "help" us move it across the street.
You can't schedule true memories. You can't always organize real fun, sometimes we have to just let go and do something foreign to us....nothing...and have fun doing it.