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It was around 4 a.m. when I first realized that my bedside
water glass was also the cat bowl. This
despite the fact that there are two cups designated as feline fountains not 10
feet away, not to mention an open toilet that doubles up in a pinch. No, the
cat chose my glass, joining us forever at the lip, and I suddenly understood my
constant desire to nap in the sunlight.
Things like this happen to all of us, the repurposing of
life and the plans we have for it. Everything is in flux. Everyone is going
somewhere. Few things go the way we hoped they would and often for the better.
For instance, I never considered using a can of scented room
freshener as a body spray. I am actually a bit embarrassed by this, because it
is genius. Granted, I have Febrezed my whole body running late out the door, and
I have splashed enough cologne on the shirt I slept in to choke half of Paris,
but it never dawned on me to think outside the can.
My son, however, smells of cinnamon apples, lavender and
juniper (but not in a gin-soaked way). His aroma changes with the season.
During the holidays, he is sweet spice and pumpkin, and now, on the cusp of
spring, he is all lime tarts and sunshine. He wears it like a second coat, and you
will always smell him coming.
To be clear, this is not something that we officially
encourage. In fact, he has been told to stop on several occasions. I haven't
done the research, but I'm guessing that room freshener isn't supposed to come
into regular contact with human skin. Also, that stuff is expensive. Still, we
live in California and there's a drought—that's his case against bath time.
Life seldom goes as planned and that is what makes it so interesting.
The point is, everyone sees the world through their own
lens, our kids included, and we can either fog it over with so much hot air or
we can make ourselves readily available to shine light as needed and offer what
we can in the way of focus.
The kids will return the favor. It is their responsibility
to be somewhat irresponsible. They have license to challenge the status quo, to
ask why as many times as possible and to remind us of the fun we used to have.
They find focus in the blurriest of places, and sometimes we only need squint
to see it.
Fun fact: the older we get the less likely we are to accept
change. We have spent years defining our vision and molding our own
understanding, and when we set a glass of water on our nightstand, we expect
that it won't be contaminated in the night by tuna breath and hairballs. When
we buy a can of room freshener, we anticipate a house full of gentle wafts, not
a note from the school saying our child reeks of cherry blossoms and sandalwood.
Life seldom goes as planned and that is what makes it so
interesting. It is easy to get upset when children don't follow the unspoken
rules of life, that's the quick fix and the default setting for many of us,
myself included. I grew up being rebuked by rote and now, as a father, I pay it
forward, one careless word at a time. Everyone is paying something.
But the lens is mine for the looking, and life is filled with wonders to behold, like the scene of my children laughing long and always playing.
This is where I struggle, real-time reactions vs. the
perspective of hindsight. It is a struggle that I like to think I am winning. I
understand all to well that few things matter as much as we think they do and
that when I reprimand creativity I am also crushing it.
We only get so many takes, and I am doing my best to take
every single one of them.
There may be whiskers in the water, and all breaths are deep
with lemon and pine. But the lens is mine for the looking, and life is filled with
wonders to behold, like the scene of my children laughing long and always
playing. The world is as lovely as we make it, short of time and full of focus.