Today was a big day… no milestones were achieved, no one won the lotto, no big announcements, but anyone with a couple of kids and a full Saturday diary knows what I’m talking about. Our day looked like this – 8am soccer, brunch with my Dad before he left after spending the week with us , 11.30am dancing, 12.30 drive to Brisbane for long overdue catch up lunch with friends, 4pm child medical appt, groceries, laundry and cook dinner. It was a big day. For the most of it, the kids were good. When I say good I mean amicable which is a bonus compared to some days.
Then, at lunch, Beau started to go downhill… hello attitude like a rotten fish, disinterest, boredom, iPhone, nagging and all table manners flew out the window, and for the whole 45 minute drive to his medical appointment all I heard was “I don’t want to go, I’m tired”. Finally, we arrive at the specialists office and I can tell by the scowl on his face and watery eyes this isn’t going to be a good experience. Fortunately for us the Dr was running late and in the 10 minutes in that waiting room I conceded. Home we went, not without a lecture (aka grilling) in the car on the drive home. I was so angry, so tired, so frustrated. ‘Why are you being so uncooperative like this?… You were fine before… I’m trying to help you be happier and you won’t cooperate. How can I help you if you won’t help yourself’… you get my drift.
We get home and the poor little dude is not looking too good, he actually is warm and looking a bit pale. So I send him off to bed. No tv of course … refer to growling session above.
Then something happened…
Isla went in to see if he was ok… and they ended up taking turns reading each other stories in bed. Beau helping her with the big words, and Isla responding to Beaus questioning to check her comprehension. Then they both went downstairs to help Dave clear an old garden and work together to load the wheelbarrow with rocks ready for the rebuild. At dinner that night we ran through our daily reflection ‘best part, worst part, something you’d change’. Both Beau and Isla’s best part was reading together and doing the gardening. Beau’s worst part was his getting angry and upset after lunch and at the Dr’s. His something to change was related to the worst part, however he made a comment that playing on the phone at lunch had made him start to feel angry so he probably should have stopped using it sooner than he did. – Interesting
He then proceeded to lead an in depth conversation with Dave, Isla and I about how he felt so happy helping with the garden. How doing something together and working towards a result made him feel happy deep inside his body and that it comes out as a smile which ‘just makes you happy’. He spoke about how he had picked up rubbish in the playground at school voluntarily once and that when the teacher found out and praised him for this behaviour he couldn’t let his head look down ‘it just stayed high’ and the ‘smile just came out all by itself. From deep in my tummy, it just came up through my body to my mouth and made my lips spread wide to a big smile’ and he couldn’t have made it go away even if he tried. This reminded him of when he got randomly selected to go up on stage to help out for various presentations at school assembly. That when he was on that stage he just couldn’t help but look out at everyone and SMILE.
“You know Mum, it’s not like when you get a new toy. You know I got my new Beyblade or Pokémon cards and that made me happy for a bit, but then it just dips down again” When I asked him why he thinks this happens he replied “Because that’s not true happiness Mum, it only lasts for a little bit, but the other happiness… it lasts for ages” This coming from the boy who had previously told me he needs to have lots of money to buy a fast car and big house and to whom I have tried to explain that having these things doesn’t necessarily mean you will be happy. And just like that, a tear rolled out of my eye… “Gosh I love you so much” and to think, earlier that day I pulled into the carpark of the psychologist to help with my sons emotional management and concentration… he is more realistic and in tune with his emotions than many adults I know.
The next comment he made took me by surprise. From an 8 year old’s view of the world, based on pure observation, Beau stated that kind people are always happy. “When I think about the kind people I know, they are always smiling, like they can’t help it because they are just so happy. And the angry, not so kind people seem to walk around with sad looks and not smiling” (Take a moment to think about the people you know, are the people who are always happy also the kind people?) I explained to him that sometimes the reason they are unkind on the outside is because they are unhappy, sad, lonely or angry on the inside. Beau agreed, that being kind and helping each other within our family and in life in general makes him feel happy.
When I said my thing I would change about the day would be not getting angry at him in the car, he calmly and confidently responded “Its ok Mum, I knew you didn’t mean it”… queue tears for the second time tonight… This was closely followed by “I wasn’t really listening anyway”…the brutal honesty of an 8yr old boy. The honesty of an 8yr old boy who had just schooled Dave and I in the true meaning of happiness.
Jump forward to Sunday morning when I received the following text message…
Reflecting on what Beau said yesterday at the dinner table I think it really is important that we all remember it truly is the things that make us smile that matter in this short life.
We all worry so much… we worry about things like money, our looks, how we look to others, our careers, we drink too much, we don’t eat healthy enough, we need to exercise more and thinking that the grass is always greener.
I think we all need to appreciate the now. We just need to find those things that make us smile and be thankful for them.
I just want to let you know that you and our kids are what makes me smile.
THANK YOU for making me smile
I hope that you have a great day with the kids today…..and take time to just smile.
So open your eyes and you heart and choose kindness… because if what Beau says is right, kind people look happier, which means they probably are. Be one of those people, and SMILE, that ‘you couldn’t wipe it off my face if you tried’ kind of smile from deep inside your tummy and across your whole face.
Here are some pics of the garden we built together… with happiness and smiles… and a lot of sweat and backbreaking work.