Posts Tagged With: advice

 
 

Light and Dark

Friday Letter to my Kids – March 27, 2015 –

*****

Dear J, J, L and L,

I wish I could dispense amazing tidbits of wisdom and peace in these letters to you.

Although, that’d probably just come off as advice, which I really don’t want these turning into. And I’m not really all that wise, just old. Older.

Think about it. In twenty years a couple of you will practically be my age and I’ll be my mom’s age, give or take few. That ought to blow you away a little.

Here’s the thing. Time doesn’t always equal wisdom.

Time amounts to experience, which some people confuse with wisdom.

Compared to some people’s stable, lived-in-the-same-town-forever lives, I’ve had a bunch of experience. But compared to other lives, I live a sheltered existence. The closest I get to some things comes across a flickering screen. And that’s fine with me. I don’t want those kinds of experiences.

A couple of weeks ago I read this thought that hit me full on in the face with how simply profound it felt.

Don't know who to attribute this wisdom to.

Don’t know who to attribute this wisdom to.

Wish I’d had that a year or two ago. Wish I’d known and believed it twenty years ago. I’m certain I’ll need a reminder of it in the future as well, dang it.

We all need reminders of certain things. This one now serves as my big reminder about who am I, where I’ve been, what I want, what I’d like to overcome. Hopefully this reminder will help me.

Maybe it’ll help you sometime, too.

By the way, you’re each part of the light I learned in. Thanks for that.

***

All my love,

Mom

~~~~~

“Wrinkles should merely indicate where the smiles have been.” ~ Mark Twain 

Categories: Friday Letter to My Kids, Friday Letters | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment
 
 

Friday Letter to My Kids: I Hope You Laugh

Dear J, J, L and L,

You know that poster that hangs in the guest bathroom? The one with all the little bits of wisdom to make for a happier life like “Call your Mom,” and “Sing in the Shower”? Life’s Little Instructions. Yup, that one.

I think I’d add a few of my own.

See I can make a meme, just not very well.

I could do it…

  • Laugh some every day

  • Give at least one hug daily

  • Cry like you mean it, don’t hold back

  • Write it down so you’ll remember

  • Naps are okay, encouraged even

  • Grow something

  • Get outside and do something

  • Remember childhood Happies

  • Make new Happies

  • Have some quiet time daily

  • Get rowdy at least twice a month

  • Dance

  • Sing

  • Crank those tunes

  • Ditch the to-do list sometimes

  • Put yourself in time-out and enjoy it

  • Sleep somewhere odd

  • Be a tourist in the state you live

  • Don’t be afraid to ask for help

  • Smile more than not

  • Wink at little kids

  • Roll down a grassy hill when you can

     

That’s all stuff I ought to remind myself of, often. Maybe I can get your dad to play along with some of them. Not sure I can picture him rolling down a hill, unless it’s unintentional while skiing. Ouch.

And of course, everyone has their own definition of rowdy. Let’s just all keep it legal. (Wink.)

I hope you laugh! And sing and dance and love life!

 

Love you tons,

Mom

 

p.s. I could make this into a cute meme if I wanted to spend the time and understood computers better, but I don’t. So here’s a drawing I made of myself instead. Way faster than creating a meme.

photo-25 copy 23

Sending lots of love!

p.p.s. It seems like a long list. Probably because it is. If I thought about it for a few days I could narrow it down some. But, it’s Friday and I wanted to get this letter out to you today. 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Categories: Family, Friday Letters, good ideas | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

At School In Your Underwear?

“Always follow your dream! Unless it’s the one where you’re at school in your underwear during a fire drill.”

~Friday Letter to my Kids~

Dear J, J, L and L,

That joke illustrates how I feel about advice. I’ve never liked the one about following your dreams especially. I have some pretty bizarre dreams!

When you started fleeing the nest I promised myself one thing:

“I will not give my grown children advice.”

Maybe, if you asked for it, then I would venture an opinion. Maybe. Otherwise, my lips stay sealed, my tongue unmoved, my pen silent.

If my parenting served you well at all, my advice got hardwired into you as you grew. Any nagging, suggestions or ideas I might throw out at this point in the game act as so much dust on the wind.

Honestly, y’all outdo me so far as parents, as spouses, as decent people in general. By time I was your age, clueless and flailing best describe how I navigated life. Scary thought.

What little advice or tidbits I’ve gleaned and could pass on over the years hang on the walls in my house or I simply live it.

(Except for the bit about you getting adequate education and being fully prepared to support yourself and your family, male or female. Maybe you learned that more from life’s hard knocks. I’m certain I also hammered it in verbally during particularly trying seasons and episodes of our ongoing dramedy.)

Y’all already get it. I think I just need to reassure myself that I actually taught you something. So here’s some of the advice I’m hoping you learned before rocketing into the jetstream of adulthood, in no particular order:

Non-Advice Advice

  1. Laugh every single day if you can.photo 5 copy 3
  2. Sing often and off-key if necessary.photo-26 copy 2
  3. Kindness matters more than you know.photo 2-2 copy 19
  4. Back door friends are the best and necessary.photo 3-4 copy 10
  5. Learn to say no if you need to, and yet…
  6. Pay attention to and follow that gut instinct you get about certain things.photo-24 copy 23
  7. Say yes when you can…photo 1-4 copy 17
  8. Mom loves you forever and always.photo-24 copy 24
  9. Family comes first.photo 2-4 copy 2
  10. Count blessings daily.photo 3-5 copy 3
  11. Learn as much as you can.photo 2-5
  12. Read, read, read.photo 1-7
  13. People outrank stuff every time.photo 1-5 copy 5
  14. When you’re lost or uncertain, look at a map.photo 1-6 copy 2 
  15. Love much and deeply.photo-25 copy 5

 

I’m glad you’ve busted free of some of the not so good behaviors (i.e. bad advice) you could have picked up from growing up as a child of mine. For instance…

You’re all waaaaaay better than me at:

  • living organized
  • having less clutter
  • managing your money
  • getting educated
  • making friends
  • working as a team with your spouse
  • kindness and generosity
  • being like a duck (little things stay little things)
  • sticking to your goals
  • stability
  • optimism

Basically you’re exceeding my wildest hopes and expectations. I couldn’t be prouder of or happier for each of you.

You make my promise to never give advice an easy one to keep. You don’t need any advice. You’ve got this. No worries.

Love ya tons,

Mom

"Bluebird of Happymess"

“Bluebird of Happymess”

 

 “I always advise people never to give advice.” ~ P.G. Wodehouse

~~~~~

 “The quality of any advice anybody has to offer has to be judged against the quality of life they actually lead.” ~ Douglas Adams

~~~~~

“I am glad that I paid so little attention to good advice; had I abided by it I might have been saved from some of my most valuable mistakes.” ~ Edna St. Vincent Millay

 

Categories: Family, Friday Letters, parenting | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Who Reads the Instructions Anyway?

My sister cleaned out her office a couple of years ago and passed on a poster to me that I’d always admired. I rolled it up, took it home and set it aside for a while. Recently I found a frame and hung the poster in the guest bath.

Now I notice people are spending longer in that bathroom than usual.

It’s a poster filled with awesome ideas. Just reading it takes a few extra minutes than you’d expect. But then, it also makes you think, so you reread parts of it. That’s the sign of some great information in a good format.

I wish I’d thought of it, but I didn’t. Someone named H.Jackson Brown Jr. back in the 1990’s thought of it. I looked online and guess what? The same copy I have on my wall is online as well. Must be a classic.

If I counted correctly there’s sixty-two great thoughts on being a better person. Implementing even one of them would improve your life. It’s all relative. Maybe some suggestions are impossible or unreasonable or go against something you believe in, but mostly, it’s simply sound, logical ideas for having more happiness in your life.

The rest of today’s post consists of just that poster, nothing more.  No comments from me even.

And you don’t even have to visit my guest bath. Happy reading!

instructions

Copyright 1991 H. Jackson Brown, Jr. Published and distributed by Portal Publications Ltd., Corte Madera, California

Categories: good ideas, Joy, Relationships | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment

Fortunate

Fortune cookies play as entertainment in my book. I don’t place much credence in fortune-telling, or in predicting the future, or stuff like that. I do, however, find some interesting tidbits of wisdom or humor in those crunchy pockets of cellophane wrapped take-out.

20130915-095630.jpgTake this one. “Good luck is the result of good planning.”

I plan much and then play things by ear. I’m spontaneous, flexible and easy-going. Planning on my part seems like a way to bring some humor into God’s day. “She thinks she’s going to do what today? Hahahahahaha.” As anyone who knows me will attest, I’m easy and I’ve learned how to fall without getting hurt too badly. I do feel lucky but not in the classic sense.

I’m glad to provide someone with a good laugh on occasion, even if it’s God, or the Fate’s or someone looking on at my attempts at leading a productive and helpful life.

20130915-095659.jpg“Most spend lives reading the menu instead of enjoying the banquet.” I can never decide what to eat when I go out to dinner. I end up getting something familiar then watch whoever I’m with enjoy something new and yummy. Put me in front of a buffet and I’ll have a grand time! Lately life’s banquet has been sumptuous. And if I’m honest, it’s always been a feast of epic proportions, but I haven’t always recognized that.

20130915-095710.jpg“Nature, time and patience are the three great physicians.” I’m not sure I can add any more to this one. Like most doctor’s advice, we don’t want to follow through, we want a pill, a quick fix, an instacure. Let Nature work her miracles on what ails you. She’s a master healer for me. And the twins Time and Patience, they’ll work their own special brand of healing whether you want to wait and see or not.

20130915-095825.jpg“Any troubles you have will pass very shortly.” If by “shortly” they mean eventually, then this one speaks truth. While we’re in the middle of chaos and mayhem and heartache, time seems to stand still. I’ve found it helpful to remember what  the Persian sufi poets have said, “This too shall pass.” I also try to picture myself still dealing with the particular flavor of trouble I’m experiencing, oh say, five years from now, and often picture seems brighter with the trouble in my rear view mirror. This is particularly true of children trouble, oddly enough.

20130915-095648.jpg“You will have a long and wealthy life.” Subjective words like long and wealthy can mislead. Long enough is long. And wealthy in what? Money? Sure that’d be nice. But, I like to think of myself as wealthy in family, rich with experiences, decadent in knowledge, comfortably well-off in friendships, affluent in laughter and prospering with gratitude. What greater wealth could a person hope for?

20130915-095841.jpg“You are strong and brave.” I have this one in my wallet where I can see it daily. Hopefully I’m internalizing the idea as well. It’s something I really need to incorporate. If you can believe that you’re strong and brave, then you can valiantly and gracefully endure any troubles you face.

*A side note here for a select few. If it doesn’t apply to you then skip ahead to the last paragraph, or if you can listen quietly, then go ahead and read anyway.

*I know a few of you think of yourselves as weak and scared. You’re wrong. I’ve seen as life has woven strength into and through you. I’ve watched as you’ve battled frightening odds and climbed treacherous trails. You’re braver than you believe. Say this to yourself today. Say it to yourself every day. “I am strong and brave.  I am strong and brave. I am strong and brave.” Say it until you believe it. Say it for the rest of your life. It’s true. You just need to believe that it is.*

An unopened fortune cookie

My favorite chinese food is crab puffs. There. I’ve admitted it. Followed closely by egg rolls, spring rolls and fried rice. I never have much luck with Kung Pao. I usually end up with one of those red peppers burning off half my tongue before I can swallow the rest of the deliciousness. Not sure why I felt compelled to disclose that. But it’s out there now.

And from what I’ve heard and read, fortune cookies didn’t even originate in China. You can read a bit more about it by clicking here if you feel so inclined. Wherever they came from, they sure make for some great conversation starters and often some good laughs.

Wishing you good fortune and happiness today and everyday.

Categories: Wondering | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Scrabblize: A New Word for the Dictionary

Scrabble game

Scrabble game (Photo credit: jcolman)

Actually I should probably spell the title of this post Scrabble I’s. It sounds the same but means something different.

Let me explain.

About year ago life pulled me up short and quick. One too many sure-I’d-be-happy-to’s, one straw too many on this particular camel’s back, far too many aches on the heart, and far too little sleep. I’d been through a couple of tough years and was working my way down off the teetering cliff edge of stress and worry.

One day it just hit. I couldn’t do it anymore. My body and my brain and my heart all just said, “Nope. No more. Not going another step. Done. Finished.”

Kaput – On Empty

Instead of getting out of bed and getting on with the getting on I dragged myself to the couch and sobbed for an hour or two or three. Then I lay there like a bag of rocks. Unmoving. Unmoved. Worn down completely.

Talked things over with MSH, with a conclusion that I needed a break, needed to get away, regardless of our non-existent resources. He pulled a rabbit out of hat and a few hours later I found myself on a plane headed to my cousin’s house. My return ticket was for a week later with the option of staying longer if I needed to.

I did a ton of sleeping, especially the first few days. I did a mountain of thinking. And got in some high quality nature time. Denver is awesome that way.  And in the evenings my cousin and I played Scrabble, live and in-person, instead of on the internet like we usually do.

As usual she won most of the games

In Scrabble you can get some weird letter combinations on your tray. Seven letters and all of them vowels is a common one. Or all of them consonants, happens more often than I care to count.

It’s not even unusual to get three or even four of the same letter on your tray at once.That’s annoying and kind of useless for scoring the big words and high numbers.

Something weird happened during one particular game. Cue the eerie music.

My tray filled up with “I” tiles.

What the aitch?

Getting a tray full of almost all the “I” tiles was aggravating. Can you think of any words with lots of I’s? I can’t. I couldn’t. Even if I cheated and used a word builder program on the computer, which I don’t do, there was little I could do with that many I’s.

Français : Lettre I dans le Scrabble

There are nine tiles with the letter “I” in the version of Scrabble we were playing. I got eight of them, not all at once, but close together, with six on my tray at one time.

“Maybe the tiles are trying to tell me something,” I said to my cousin.

Ever the wise and thoughtful one, she asked me what I thought it meant to get almost all the “I” tiles.

I figured it was the “game maker’s” way of telling me I needed to think about “I” more often. It was MY turn for a while. “I” needed to take care of my needs, my health, my mental well-being, my basics.

I kind of knew that by then anyway, but this was just a strange reinforcing visual of what needed to happen.

The song by that country western dude came to mind almost immediately, you know the one, by Toby Keith:

“I wanna talk about me

Wanna talk about I

Wanna talk about number one

Oh my me my

What I think, what I like, what I know, what I want, what I see

I like talking about you you you you, usually, but occasionally

I wanna talk about meeeeee

I wanna talk about me”

I didn’t just want to talk about me. “I” needed to talk about and take care of me for a change. The Scrabble tiles were pretty clear about it.

Like Spinning Plates

Spinning Plates Lego Style  (Photo credit: Jameson42)

Balancing Rocks or Spinning Plates

Well, my cousin and I discussed the need for the ever-elusive concept of balance in our lives. That seems a sort of common thread in many of our conversations. How to achieve balance, why it’s so difficult to find, what to drop or add where.

I don’t normally take advice from Scrabble tiles. I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone. But this one time, it seemed the perfect recipe for finding balance.

To twenty or more parts “U”

add eight parts “I”

for a more reasonable, balanced, livable life.

Stir well.

Season to taste.

Add more “I” as needed.

I’m certain that escaping to paradise for a week isn’t a normally balanced way of adding more “I” to one’s life. But it sure helped mine out.

Not your typical resolution

I returned to real life with a resolve to take care of myself more conscientiously.

I have an almost daily reminder when “My turn” pops up on my computer Scrabble game. There’s often an “I” tile that tweaks my balance meter and causes me to check my “I” gauges.

Writing this blog is part of that “I” time. Every day I focus on “I” for an hour or two, doing what I love, writing, thinking, and then writing some more. Then I get on with my day, taking care of all the “U”s in my life.

crop

(Photo credit: Emma Humphrey)

Scrabble I’s.

Scrabblize. It might not be in any dictionary, but it’s in my vocabulary anyway.

Your turn.

Have you ever gotten a message or advice you needed from an unusual source or in an odd way?

It’d be fun to hear about it, if you’d like to share.

Categories: Mental Health | Tags: , , , , , | 3 Comments

A College Graduation Speech, Sort of, But Not

graduation

(Photo credit: Sean MacEntee)

My oldest daughter will graduate with a Bachelor’s Degree in Sociology on Saturday!!

I am one proud mama!

During the ceremony, speeches will echo out across a sea of caps and gowns. Most of what’s said will skip about the room with a low absorption rate. Most members of the audience will focus on one person in the room, their graduate.

It’s a shame there isn’t a way to personalize such a momentous occasion. To hear from each graduate about the circuitous path they followed to arrive at graduation would take weeks, or months, but oh the stories! To get a taste of the audience members perspective of that path would add a dimension never dreamed of before.

To share some small fraction of lessons learned in and out of the classroom while on that path would fill libraries.

I intended to dispense advice in my own little version of a graduation speech for my daughter. After all, I gave a graduation speech at my high school graduation eons ago.

But then, I thought of my daughter and her path to this point in her journey. She’s taught me more than I ever taught her. I’m certain of it.

She arrived in this world already confident and brave and friendly.

Now she is also: A world traveler. Caring. Smart. Beautiful. Open-minded, open-hearted. Anticipatory. Relaxed. Brave, adventurous, fun. Prepared. Strong. Kind. Willful. Opinionated. Easy going.  Friendly.  Wise.

What’s next? Graduate school? Maybe. A career? Maybe. She’s taking the summer to mull it over and relax. It’s been a long winding road.

My Advice? 

  • Be yourself.
  • Trust your feelings.
  • Remember you are loved.
  • Keep your eyes open.
  • Enjoy.
  • Love.
  • Give.

That’s about it. No speech from me.

She has what she needs, she’ll get where she’s going with style and grace and a smile on her face.

Oh, one last thing:

  • Keep in touch with your mom.

That’s all.

I love you my sweet girl!

Confetti

Hooray for you!! (Photo credit: ADoseofShipBoy)

Categories: Family, parenting | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

More or Less

Perusing the book store recently I came across some great advice. I took a photo of it so I could remember and memorize it. I think it may serve as my new mantra.

20130410-084430.jpg

Hope, breathe, meaningful words and love. I need more of these.

Seems direct. Easy to recall. Not always easy to do.
But I can try.

(If anyone knows who I can thank for coming up with this great list, please let me know, so I can give them credit and kudos.)

Categories: Joy, Mental Health | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Navigating Through Life the Traffic School Way

A traffic school for navigating through life sounds like a good idea to me. Anything that helps me avoid a big fine, a penalty, some heartache, frustration or pain seems like a great idea.

So I’ve come up with a few rules of my own.  Having done some significant amount of traveling, I figure maybe I’m somewhat qualified. At the very least, I need the reminders myself.  I’ll work on the slide show presentation later.

Old Truck

Old Truck (Photo credit: cindy47452)

  • Avoid rush hour if possible, morning and evening.

The sun is always at a bad angle at rush hour, low in the sky and in your eyes, or reflecting in your side or rearview mirror.  I aim for the middle ground when possible.  I can legally use the HOV lane between nine and three. I can easily change lanes, merge, keep space between me and some yo-yo on his phone.  This works in real life too.  Trying to do what everyone else is doing, when they’re doing it isn’t always the best course of action. Be yourself.

  • Don’t text and drive. Don’t drink and drive.

That’s a no brainer isn’t it?  Likewise, don’t drink and be online.  You’ll regret whatever you put online while under the influence.  An emotional crash, a friend bender, relationship dents, are all possible outcomes when you’re online under the influence. You are not wiser, wittier, more honest or pleasant when you’ve had a few too many. Angry texts and online rants aren’t generally productive either.

  • Use a map, or at least have one with you.

I used to always have a map in the car.  I used to always have a plan for my life, for my day, for my week, for the next hour.  Sometimes your plan just needs ditching and you need to take a detour. If so, go for it. You’ve got a map to get you back on course when you’re ready. Sometimes you need to stick to the planned route no matter what.  Only you know which it is.  It’s also okay to ask directions, get a different perspective, especially from someone who knows the terrain.

  • Have a contingency plan if you get separated.

Staying in touch is always a good idea. A weekly email to your sister, a phone call to mom or dad, a text to your brother, an instant message to a friend, an ongoing Scrabble game with your cousin. There’s also actual handwritten letters, not to mention live and in person visits. Don’t let those distances grow too far apart. Those connections are what really count. That’s what the drive is really all about.

Another closed rest area.

Another closed rest area. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

  • Stop for bathroom breaks more often than you think you need to.

I can tell you from experience, breakdowns happen and you don’t want to be squatting on the side of the road, no matter how big the bushes might seem.  You think you can go full throttle through your day with no breaks, no feet up, no ten-minute nap, but you can’t and you shouldn’t.  Step outside and breath real air, go up and down the stairs a couple of times, drink a bottle of water, actually go to the bathroom, do some deep breathing, read a page or two of a book, rest your eyes, do a few stretches.  Give your brain and body a break here and there and then you can put the pedal to the metal for a while longer.

  • Bring snacks, CDs and water.

Snacks provide entertainment value sometimes, but they also provide memories.  See my post about the Lonely Duck for proof of that one.  What’s a road trip without licorice, peanuts and m&m’s?  Not a real road trip.  Pop some music or a great audio book in the CD player and enjoy. Sometimes it’s the little things that make the difference, don’t ya think? A handful of laughter, a little dollop of whipped wonder or a spoonful of silliness, can make all the difference in life.

A typical speed limit sign in the United State...

A typical speed limit sign in the US showing a 50 mph restriction. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

  • It’s okay to go slower than the speed limit.

Now there’s a revelation!  That number on the sign says it’s a LIMIT.  Not a suggested speed, but a maximum speed.  I know this is a new concept to most drivers.  It’s also okay to not race through your life.  Just because everyone else has their kids in fifteen afterschool events per week doesn’t mean you have to do the same with your kids.  Your to-do list could have one item on it, and that’s okay. Take life at the speed you’re comfortable with.

  • Take the scenic route occasionally, or at least take a different route.

Studies show, (okay I made that up, but it’s true) that a change of scenery is a great plan.  You don’t have to up and move to another state, like I did six times, for a change.  Maybe the change you need is simply a change in routine, or a change in how you react to traffic, or a change in how many breaths you take per minute, or a downshift in the urgency you place on whatever it is you’re doing. Smell those roses, pick those daisies, walk on that grass, take that photo, touch the wet paint, turn right instead of left!

road rage

road rage (Photo credit: Robert S. Donovan)

  • Don’t yell at, aggravate, cut-off, or flash random hand gestures at drivers.

I still talk to the traffic way too much, but I have changed how I talk.  I say quietly to myself  things like, “I sure hope his wife doesn’t deliver those twins before they get to the hospital.” Or I wish them well in “getting to a bathroom before the food poisoning hits full force.” I figure there’s a reason behind what people do, no matter how aggravating it is to me.  I also try to cut myself some slack when I’m the irritating person.  I try to say kinder things to myself, give myself credit for what I do right, instead of focusing on the few things I think I’m failing at.  Kindness never hurt anyone, in fact it often helps.

So, class…did I miss anything?  Would you add any pointers to my Traffic School Advice?  Let me know in the comments below.

Don’t forget to buckle up and have a nice trip!

Categories: Humor, Traffic | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

“Remember The Beanie Baby!” A Tale of Teenie Proportions

We have a saying at our house: “Remember the Beanie Baby!”

It’s a sentiment that applies to many situations and none of them have anything to do with collector’s items.  Well, not really, except for the incident that engraved that thought on our family’s collective conscience.

The summer of 1998 found our family frolicking about the countryside.  Leaving MSH home to fund our travels, the kids and I took off for family reunions, various once a year get-togethers, and just plain hanging out at Grandpa and Grandma’s, both sets.  It was a twelve-hour drive, or more with kids, to get there.  Then we drove a variety of shorter hops from one relative’s house, to another, to another over the course of three weeks.

To make the trip even more delightful, the AC in the van didn’t work.  There’s nothing like having a warm breeze whipping your hair around for half the day, the sound of the wind roaring in your ears, to make it really feel like an endless summer.  The back windows only angled out a couple of inches, serving mostly as venting for the hot air being blown through the van.   It couldn’t have been very comfortable for the back seat riders.  Fortunately, I was the driver.

That year was the tail end of the Great Beanie Baby Craze.  McDonald’s had jumped on the hyperactive pellet filled fuzzy critter bandwagon.  With each Happy Meal purchased, a Teenie Beanie, miniature version of the originals, could also be bought for $2.

My kids suggested that if we went to a McDonald’s in every town we visited, we’d finally accumulate all the possible Beanie Babies (12) that were available in miniature form.  It broke the monotony of all that driving, and gave a sort of treasure hunt mystique to each day. At least they’d end up with one or two of their favorites.  We seemed to have good luck with this plan and everyone was happy with his or her new acquisitions, except my youngest daughter.

She coveted Inch the Worm.  The bright colors, the squiggly body, the little stitched on eyes, would make her summer completely perfect.  Finally, nearing the end of the vacation, we hit the jackpot.  We’d down the last Happy Meal we’d ever want to eat and voilà. Inch the Worm was her new best friend.

A distant cousin of Inch the Worm Tilby.

A distant cousin of Inch the Worm Tilby.

Inch went everywhere with her, never leaving her hand for a second. The two of them seemed to lead an active fantasy life, where Inch the Worm was quite the little hero.

Inch had a predilection for flying.  He especially liked to ride the breezes created by the open back windows in the van.

“You’re going to drop your beanie baby out the window!” my son told her.

“No, I’m not!” she’d counter, obstinately gripping Inch even tighter.

“Don’t say I didn’t warn you,” he muttered back.

That conversation took place, or some iteration of it, multiple times a day.  Sometimes it was one of her two older sisters. “That little worm is gonna disappear!” they warned.

Rarely, she would pull Inch back in and rest him on her lap, or in a pocket, or in her backpack.  Usually, she just stubbornly kept Inch in the breeze, flying carefree and happy.

Then, the inevitable happened.

You guessed it.

“MOM! Pull over!!” my youngest screamed from the back seat. “I dropped my beanie baby!”

We were racing up a hill going 55 mph, with almost no shoulder to the road, cars packed around us. There was no way and no place to pull over. Even if we did, it would be dangerous and foolhardy.  More than likely, the beanie baby would have sailed behind us and been run over, or caught up under a car, or flung about the road like so much garbage.

We had no choice than to simply drive away from the tragic demise of Inch the Worm.

My daughter was distraught.  She was sure we’d find him when we drove that road again a day later.  Even with Inch’s neon coloring, we never did see tail or nose of him.

Of course, no other McDonald’s in the western United States had any mini beanie babies left by then.

Forever after that sad incident, when someone in the family warned someone else that their behavior was risky, or stupid, or that they ought to listen to the advice they were being given, these famous words would end the argument. “Remember the beanie baby!”

There would be laughter hiding a tiny heartache for what might have been.  It was a painful lesson.  It was a funny lesson.  It was unforgettable.

I’m pretty sure, when my daughter is a grandmother, someone will “remember the beanie baby” and the story of Inch the Worm will live again.

Categories: Humor, parenting | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

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