I've been walking one of my granddaughters to school each morning, supposedly to save her mother from being exposed to the cold. My daughter has Scleroderma, which is aggravated by changes in temperature and cold weather. (Look up Scheroderma and see if this is a cause you can contribute resources to, please.)
I say supposedly because that's not the whole truth. I also walk JJ to school because I enjoy it and so does she.
I hold her small hand and we talk about anything that comes to mind. And with an 8 year old, that means just about anything a young, agile mind can focus on for more than 30 seconds.
We've talked about the curse of learning multiplication tables. "Why do I have to memorized them? Do you use multiplication at work, Grandpa?" Not sure how I danced around that one, because of course I rarely use those pesky tables.
"Why does God have to make it so cold? The grass is brown because it's so cold, so why not make it summer all the time so the grass would be green and I wouldn't have to wear this coat?"
"I want to be a teacher when I grow up."
"I want to be a doctor when I grow up."
"I don't think I'd like to be a programmer, GrandPa, you work too much."
"I want to be an astronaut and go to Mars. We've already been to the moon and there isn't anything interesting there."
Talking with JJ lights a small, warm candle in my heart that glows and carries me through most of my day. Walking with her reminds me so much of walking and talking with both of my daughters at that age. The world isn't even 'the world' to her yet. It's small and comfortable. Safe and fun and mostly happy.
It's the way it should be for me, for you, and everyone.
It stopped being small when I learned about JFK's assassination in 5th grade home room at school and I saw all the teachers crying. It stopped being comfortable when a relative died and for the first time I knew what that meant. It stopped being safe when my brother crashed his car in high school, even though everyone was OK.
All these things, and others, affected my life, just like they would and do yours. I'm always trying to be positive, let the anxious feeling go, relax, be happy, be cool. And it works most of the time.
But when I'm walking with JJ, on a brisk school morning, talking about 3X3 and why birds sing, I don't have to try to be warm, safe or happy. I just am.
After dinner, sit on the floor with your child and help them make a list of 10 things that make them happy. Tape the list on your frig.
Now make your own list, and share it with them. Read your list each morning and ask yourself, 'how can I be happy today?' You can keep your list internal if you like, but there no reason you couldn't put your list next to hers.
Now, take your child to get an ice cream cone and ask her or him why dogs barks but cats meow. Then just listen. Really listen. And laugh. Be a child with your child. It's OK.