Yesterday, my friend and her family were kind enough to host us at their lake house for the day, and there were so many magical moments and memories made. One in particular is when my six year old, holding her hand behind her back said, “I got something for you, Mommy!” It was a bright yellow flower, one I’d never seen before. “I got it when we were near the lily pads,” she informed me with a smile. I smiled back and said, “Thank you, Quinnie! It’s beautiful!”
As I admired this interesting little flower, I noticed something. There was a little insect inside making its way out. I called Quinn over to take a look with me, and she was fascinated by the little creature too. Once it was out, we actually discovered that there was another inside. I snapped a few pictures of it and thought to myself, humans need nature. I may not be fond of creepy crawlers, but I found myself entranced. There’s something endearing about observing children be their natural selves exploring nature. I truly am grateful for the ability to simply slow down and enjoy nature with my daughter and friends. It may not be the “norm” for most in 2019, but it feels so natural.
Even though babies are not born knowing how to see, then only in black, white and gray before eventually seeing in color months later, it’s amazing how they add so much color to the darkest of lives and moments. This occurred to me as I watched my daughter use her rainbow scratch and sketch book we purchased as the Franklin Institute last week. What I love about the book is that it’s not just black pages with rainbow colors underneath, but it gives suggestions and inspirational ideas to bring forth the color.
As a child and even as a young adult, there’s been times when I’ve been swallowed up by darkness, felt depressed, lonely and struggled to find the “color” or rainbow. But now, I try to focus on knowing that the color is always there if I scratch deep enough below the surface.
It also doesn’t hurt that the colorfulness of my little girl fills me with joy and hope whenever I find myself headed towards a dark place. It’s so easy to focus on the darkness coming from people, places and circumstances. But as my six year old told me, “Isn’t it so cool that underneath the black there’s all of these beautiful colors!”
“Hurry, Quinnie! You need to move quickly,” I warned my daughter as the vanilla ice cream turned started dripping everywhere. A few months ago, I gave my six year old an American Girl cookbook full of tasty desserts. Yesterday, she picked a cool, refreshing treat which we both thought would be perfect to make with the series of hot days we’ve been having with temperatures above 90 degrees: ice cream sandwiches!
Before getting started, we made sure we had all of the ingredients and purchased some extra sprinkles, mini chocolate morsels and mini M & M’s to decorate our frozen treats. This recipe actually called for creating our own soft chocolate cookies for the ice cream sandwiches: a first time for me. So I told my daughter ahead of time that it’s okay if they aren’t perfect because we’re learning together. Preparing the cookies went rather smoothly, and she practically did everything from start to finish with the exception of operating the oven.
It wasn’t until we started making the ice cream sandwiches that it became tricky or should I say messy. I absentmindedly followed the directions of the recipe and let the ice cream sit out for ten to fifteen minutes to soften it up not taking into account how hot it’s been, especially in the kitchen. Needless to say, the ice cream turned to mush in a matter of minutes. We were both racing the clock to apply the ice cream nice and neat between the cookies, decorate them with sprinkles, mini morsels or M & M’s and get the wrapped up in press and seal to be left in the freezer for at least two hours. Though they didn’t quite turn out like the picture in the book, in the words of Quinn, “It wasn’t an epic fail because they still tasted good!”
Baking cookies and making ice cream sandwiches with my little girl on a hot summer day made me think about life. Sometimes you have all of the ingredients you need, along with a few extras, follow the instructions, and it might not turn out as you had hoped. It might actually get quite messy! But that shouldn’t take away from the fun memories created while you were collecting the ingredients and following the instructions. Even as an adult, I’m still constantly being reminded that sometimes I need to modify the ingredients or instructions based on the circumstances. Also, it’s necessary to get past the messiness to simply enjoy that mushy yet tasty ice cream sandwich, especially in the summer heat.
“I have something for you, Mommy,” my little girl told me. It wasn’t Mother’s Day, not my birthday nor Christmas. What could it be, I thought? Probably a picture she drew or a craft she made at camp. “You have something for me?” I asked. “For you and Daddy,” Quinn responded. It was a special note she wrote that said, “For Mom and Dad.” Inside, it read, “You are kind an loveing. love Quinn.” While the English professor in me was tempted to tell her she spelled loving incorrectly, I was just so moved by the kind gesture of my six year old.
I inquired, “Did your camp counselor ask you all to write notes to your parents?” Quinn quickly said, “No! I just wanted to write you and Daddy a note to thank you for being kind and loving.” Even though we’ve both been keeping gratitude journals since the start of the year and often talk about the importance of expressing gratitude and thanking people for their generosity and kindness, I was still pleasantly surprised to get such a lovely note from Quinn. She truly is a loving and caring daughter for which I am grateful.