Cooling Off

How do you keep cool on hot summer days? Do you have memories of swimming, using a Slip n’ Slide or running through the sprinkler?

I was on a business trip after a long day and was looking forward to changing clothes and going for a walk. It had been a long day, it was hot, I’d been in a small, hot car for too long and was ready to de-stress. It was late enough that the intensity of the day’s heat was gone and it was starting, ever so slightly, to cool down. I was on the 5th floor of a six-floor hotel. When I got into the elevator I joined a Dad with his two sons, about the same age as my own kids. As kids will do, they were talking about how excited they were for the pool, and how annoyed they were that my arrival (really the elevator having to stop) really bummed them out–they had a pool to get to. “How come the pool isn’t on the roof?” one of the boys asked. We all kind of looked at each other like we were thinking the same thing….that’s actually a pretty good idea, kid. Before you knew it, we were headed down, but were stopped again on the 2nd floor. This time, a young woman joined us with her cellphone next to her ear. As soon as the doors closed, one of the boys looked at his father and said, “How come people on the second floor don’t take the stairs?” I couldn’t help but smile. My boys would totally have said the same thing. The woman took it in stride, took the phone away from her ear and said, “Well, my goodness, I’m so sorry.” And the dad attempted to apologize for this son’s remark. The doors opened again, and the kids bounded out towards the pool, leaving us, their comments and their cares behind.

I couldn’t stop smiling. I no longer felt the heat of the day, or the stress that I had felt only a few floors earlier. I relished in the simplicity of kids, their honesty and forwardness. I thought about my own kids, and how similar they were to these boys. They reminded me that sometimes you can get annoyed or delayed (much like the boys were in the elevator), but getting to where you want to go can help you leave your cares behind. I decided I would follow suit, and leave behind my cares once I stepped out of the hotel, it made for a much more pleasant walk–I was calm, and I was cool.

When has your child’s honesty gotten you to rethink a hot situation?

What a Turkey

Thanksgiving reminds me of holidays past. Memories come flooding back: the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade airing on TV, the smell of turkey and Thanksgiving goodies coming from the kitchen and the warmth of being surrounded by friends and family. These memories give me comfort and great joy remembering each day.

When I was on my own for the first time as an adult I wondered how I would handle Thanksgiving. I’d never cooked a turkey all by myself and stressed about the idea of doing one. I couldn’t recall ever hearing anyone share how they’d aced the turkey the first time they done it. I did my research: how big a turkey to get and how to best prepare it and then I made a decision…I’d get one precooked. Yes, I admit it. Precooked. Now, you may be thinking where’s the fun in that? But I was not looking to have fun, I wanted a turkey I wouldn’t have to stress out about. The precooked turkey delivered.

On that first Thanksgiving I got rave reviews. “Your turkey is so moist, how did you make it?” and “Wow, this is delicious” were comments I didn’t see coming, but happily received though with a tinge of guilt. I felt though I had given them a delicious bird I had somehow cheated my guests out of a “honest-to-goodness start-to-finish cooked” turkey (the kind where you wake up at 4 a.m. to get the bird going in the oven after you’ve thawed it for 48 hours. The kind where you pull out the innards and stuff it with dressing. The kind that you stress out about and spend all day trying to get right for the meal), and I felt I had to confess. “I’m glad you like the turkey, but I have to admit, there was really nothing to it. I got it precooked from the store. I just had to heat it up in the oven for two hours.” The truth was out and boy, did I feel better. The funny thing is sharing this information seemed to make my guests love the turkey even more, “What a great idea!” one guest shared. “I didn’t even think about stores offering precooked turkey, I’ll have to try that next year. This is really good,” said another.

As I reflected on that first Thanksgiving, I realized while I hoped to avoid the stress of cooking a turkey, I’d still stressed about not cooking the turkey all-by-myself. It was silly really. I’ve never really thought twice about how any other Thanksgiving was impacted by the taste of the turkey. It was usually a non-event, and I made the commitment after coming to this realization that I wouldn’t waste my time stressing over a Thanksgiving turkey again.

As we sit at the table this year, I look forward to delicious food, the smells, the parade, making memories with my kids and having great conversations with friends and family. I couldn’t be more thankful for having this kind of Thanksgiving, precooked turkey and all.

How are you preparing for Thanksgiving? How do you avoid the stress of the holidays?

Happy Thanksgiving.

Wooden Teeth and Honesty

As we observe President’s Day this Monday, we are reminded of some of our most famous forefathers, George Washington and Abraham Lincoln. When I was a child I knew a handful of things about George Washington:

  • He chopped down a cherry tree – I never thought to inquire why?
  • He never told a lie
  • He was our first president
  • He had wooden teeth – I did wonder how did he eat with wooden teeth? That sounded like a really hard thing to do.

As a child I knew the following about Abraham Lincoln:

  • He wore a tall hat and had an interesting looking beard
  • He was honest
  • He freed the slaves
  • He is on the penny – I never thought about what it took for someone to end up on currency. My child’s mind determined you had to be highly respected. My parents definitely instilled the belief that there is a direct correlation between honesty and respect.

As I reflect on our past and present leaders I think about the role they have played in leading our country and the example they set for our children. We are brought up to respect these leader, they were wise, their names are synonymous with honest and being truthful, and they were people to respect. They may not have been perfect (they chopped down a cherry tree), but they do try their best (they never lied or at least we’d like to believe they didn’t), they could handle difficult situations (be the first president, eat with wooden teeth, liberate oppressed citizens), and did a good enough job to end up on the money we spend today. We are reminded daily, when we pay cash for something, of their accomplishments and our continued respect for them.

Of course, as adults we realize our presidents, while great in many ways, were fallible. It reminds us as parents that we too may be great in many ways to our children, but that’s not the whole story. As parents we make choices in how we conduct ourselves and are role models for our children – we’re not perfect (none of us are), we try our best (but we make mistakes), we all handle difficult situations (its part of life) and while we’ll likely never end up doing anything that will make us famous or end up on a coin or paper bill, we do have the opportunity to be trustworthy and respected by our friends, family and peers, but most importantly by our kids.

Think about what it would be like for your children to honor you every day as an adult, by the way they treat others, the way they conduct themselves; all as a result of the example you set.

A President may lead the country, but you lead something even more valuable–the raising of your child. And that’s the honest truth. Happy Presidents Day.