Being There

If I was once enthusiastic about the smells associated with grass freshly cut by my efforts, I’m over it. My family currently lives in a rental property with extensive land. My “half” take about 3 hours to mow on my landlord’s John Deere. The bouncing, spine-jerking mission is always at the bottom of my list, yet duty compels me to get on the horse.

My girls are excited about the tractor. I take them with me on rides periodically, and the times are filled with mysteriously uncontrollable giggling while I contemplate an extensive fire to the land. In my “mature” adult state, many times I miss the fresh perspective and enjoyment of a child. Yesterday was one such day.

Anna (5) and Ella (nearly 3) were taking turns riding with daddy while mommy wrestled with Abby (10 months) who has developed an infestation of ants in her pants. On one leg of the mission, Anna sat on my left knee quietly taking in the scenery as we were jostled about. Suddenly, she lifted her arm and began waving. Mommy and the others had gone in to prepare for dinner, so I assumed Anna was in “imagine land.” I watched as she did the princess wave, placing her hands neatly in her lap during each turn, and making sure she waved on both sides of the tractor.

“Are you pretending you’re in a parade?” I inquired.

“No,” she replied.

“Who are you waving at?” I asked.

“No one,” she said simply.

“Well, what are you pretending?” I persisted.

“Nothing,” she said with slight frustration.

I relented from my questioning, and we continued on our journey. Instead of dreaming of a drought, I began trying to figure out what she was doing. We’ve always encouraged imagination, and I would have gladly joined her in it as we had done many times before. Yet, Anna was insistent that she was not pretending a thing. What then was the cause of her waving?

It was from her heart. Anna’s heart was so full that she simply felt like a star – like a princess. On a John Deere? Yes, but more specifically, on a John Deere with her daddy. I didn’t have to play games. We didn’t even have to talk. Simply being with her daddy brought peace, wonder and deep joy to my little girl’s heart.

As parents, we sadly have become too mature for our own good. We miss the wonder. We forget that the air doesn’t need to be filled with noise. Our days don’t have to be planned down to the last minute. Actually, we’ve become so busy that our children don’t get to experience the joy of simply being with us.

My loathing of lawn management was turned into rejoicing as I experienced something I should have been looking for all along. It’s caused me to reconsider all of the menial tasks of my day and how I can accomplish them along with my children. Sure it takes more time and energy, but my girls are worth it, and nothing says love more than daddy simply being there.

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