I try very hard to take every day as a blessing. As I’m constantly reminded, life is short and sometimes it feels like tragedy is lurking around every corner. I try, but this year has not been easy. I often feel like I am being crushed by the weight of it all and just whenever I think I am past it, it all comes back down on me.
I can’t get pass a bunch of unresolved issues from my childhood. Issues that have finally reared their heads after all of these years. I guess they are right when they say you can’t repress an issue forever. I gave it my best shot though. I am struggling to come to terms with my family and the things that have happened to us. I can’t process or understand problems that I have with my friends, both past and present.
On top of this, I’m trying so hard to turn my passions into a viable career path. I’m trying to organise a wedding. My wedding to be precise. I’m trying to figure out how to save money when we live each week, pay check to pay check. On top of all of that, I’m still trying my hardest to be a good dad. I feel like I’m failing sometimes, but I try my hardest.
All negativity aside, I do try to be happy. Like I said, I try to be thankful. One of the things I try to be thankful for, is my daughter. Mostly anyway. Sometimes she is a real pain in the butt and seems to magnify all my problems. Other times though, she manages to lift all the pressures away from me and even if it is just for a little while, she manages to put a genuine smile on my face.
We have had a few such moments this past week, both examples of the good and the bad. I’ve been meaning to take the time to right them down and reflect. I really do marvel at the way children see the world.
One night, we needed to go to the supermarket, so we decided (I decided) to walk. Chicago was begging to drive (she loves to go for a “cruise” as she puts it), but I won the argument and off we went. Along the way, we passed a fish ‘n’ chip shop. “Fish!” she screamed excitedly. That’s one of my favourite words she says. I don’t know why, just the way she always says it is with such excitement, I can’t help but smile. I tell her if she is good, we can maybe get fish for dinner.
After our shopping, I had forgotten my offer. As we walked out of IGA, I asked her what she wanted for dinner. “Fish!” As we neared the fish ‘n’ chip shop, her ecstatic cries grew louder. “Fish! Fish! Fish!” We entered the shop and once more, an excited “fish!” escaped her lips. I ordered us some food and due to COVID protocols, we were asked to wait outside the front of the shop. No problemo.
Or so I thought. As I asked Chicago to leave the store, her shoulders slouched and her gaze dropped to the floor. She started to slowly shuffle out the shop, with one of the biggest pouts you will ever see. She was too sad to cry, but the look of devastation and disappointment on her face was 100% genuine. The poor girl thought that I had changed my mind and we weren’t getting her beloved fish.
I gave her a big cuddle and explained the situation to her. She seemed to understand and sat patiently out the front. I had to explain to another customer why she was depressed. I must admit, I found it pretty funny, even if they didn’t.
Our fish was soon delivered and we walked a couple blocks over to the park near our house. Chicago was literally jumping with joy the entire way. We sat on a bench and ate our dinner, watching the cars and trucks pass us on the highway. We even saw a dog, which Chicago was quick to point out was “so cute”.
We sat on that bench until it was dark and the look of sheer happiness never left her eyes. It’s amazing sometimes how the simplest of moments can sometimes be the best. $9 and a gross, greasy dinner was a small price to pay for an hour or more of joy. I won’t spoil that story by telling of the tantrum that followed when it was time to go home.
A few days later, we decided to go on a small walk. Little did I know that it would be a 2 hour epic tale, full of wonder and of heartbreak.
Because I am old, I can’t recall what was the first part of adventure. It wasn’t even a week ago. I think Chicago heard a dog bark and loudly shouted “Milly!” the name of her 4 legged best friend. Alas, it wasn’t Milly. But the sound of a dog barking seemed to be enough to remind Chicago of her dear friend and put a smile on her face.
I think we saw a truck next. Chicago loves trucks and always excitedly waves to them. Sometimes they don’t notice her. She is a tiny human after all. Other times they give her a smile or a wave. Best of all though, is when they honk the horn. Well, this guy was a honker and Chicago was so excited. She started to jump up and down, shouting “yay!” at the top of her lungs. She literally shouts “yay” when she is happy.
Shortly after the truck past, we saw another dog. This dog was called “Bear”. Bear ran right up to Chicago and gave her a cuddle and a kiss. Chicago couldn’t stop giggling.
We pressed on and got to see some tractors and a few other big machines working on some blocks of land. Chicago wanted to stop and stay a while, but I reminded her that we had to press on if we wanted to visit the cows. And off she ran, towards the cows.
When we got to where the cows lived, we saw a man in a tractor, moving some hay around. Chicago was pretty happy to watch him work for a while. Every time he passed her, he would smile and wave politely. Every single time. What a kind man.
As we watched him work, the cows finally came out to play. Because there normal gate was open due to the tractor, they came right up to us. So close that we could pat them! They noisily munched on the grass, right at our feet. Occasionally, they would look up and moo at us. Chicago would laugh every time and moo right back at them.
After about an hour, I told Chicago that we needed to start heading home. It was nearing lunch time and we had no food or water left. We had enough time to make one more stop, at the bridge that Chicago loves.
It’s nothing special. Just a very, very small bridge over an even smaller bit of water. Chicago likes to stand on the guard rail, squeeze her head between the bars and watch the water. “Water” she always says. Well, today she had the genius idea of throwing rocks in the water and watching them splash. For the next half hour, Chicago would run off the bridge, collect some rocks and run back to throw them in. It never got old. For her anyway. I tried to be patient, but eventually I told her it was time to move on.
Chicago ran away and headed to the bench where we had fish ‘n’ chips a few nights prior. She wanted to sit there a while. Reluctantly, I agreed. We stayed about 15 minutes, watching the birds and reading the catalogues I grabbed from our mailbox. Then it was time to actually head home.
It was as though the last 2 hours of wonder and joy vanished completely from her mind. Life wasn’t wonderful anymore and I sure as heck wasn’t a wonderful father. She threw the catalogues at me. Threw her drink bottle away. She threw herself down and the grown and let out a horrible scream. I asked her nicely to stand up and she growled at me. She does that a lot lately.
Well, I’m pretty hungry and bored so Mr. Nice Guy has left the building. I scoop the little brat up and wrestle her into her pram. She doesn’t make it easy. She kicks and slaps at me, screaming all the while. She even throws a headbutt in for good measure. It doesn’t connect but I still have to resist the urge to flick her between the eyes.
The next 20 minutes or so was not fun. We walked home, Chicago screaming all the while. When we finally get home, she tells me that she is hungry. I explain to her that that is why I tried to get her to come home over an hour ago. Sometimes, I forget that it is pointless trying to explain things to an infant, especially a hungry one.
“Sultanas!” she shouts “Tanas, NOW!”. Well, you little brat, you just crossed the line. Time to remind someone who is in charge. She spent the next 15 minutes in timeout, doing her best to literally scream the roof of the house. Jokes on you sucker, the house is well built and my Beats By Dre headphones can block out any sound.
My hand is starting to cramp pretty badly from typing, so it’s time to wrap this story up and get to the point. Just so you don’t think I am a monster, eventually she did calm down and we had a nice lunch together.
The point of the story is this. At one point in our lives, we all saw the world through the eyes of a child. We could find pure, genuine joy in the simplest things. The sounds of a cow, the cuddle of a dog, throwing rocks into a puddle. Little tiny things filled our lives with joy.
On the other hand, equally little things could ruin our whole life. Not getting sultanas or having to go home could be the worst thing imaginable.
To me, it feels that as time goes on and on, the joy lessens. It takes more and more to make us happy. Or maybe we have just forgotten where happiness is and forgotten how to find it. At the same time, our ability to have little things ruin our world seems to only sharpen. It’s like we are working all the wrong muscles.
I don’t want that for me. Or for you. I definitely don’t want it for my daughter. I want her to find joy wherever she goes.
I don’t have the answers. I wish I did. I’m just a sad man with a computer. All we can do is try though. Try and be happy. Try to talk to the ones you love. Cherish them. Cherish each moment as if it was the first time you heard a truck honk. Imagine how happy we would all be if something as simple as a horn could fill you with joy. Imagine if we all kept seeing the world through the eyes of a child.
Cherish it all. Friends, family, cows, ducks, water, whatever. As far as I know, we only get one shot at this and it happens so fast. Try and enjoy it. I know it’s not easy, believe me. We have to try though. And maybe if we can get better at it, we can teach our kids not to forget. Joy is everywhere, we just have to try to find it.