I don’t have kids; yet. It’s unclear whether my wife and I will have kids, as time continues to move quickly. We have dogs, though, and they unfortunately are strapped with the role of De facto children.
And they really are children to me.
It’s quite alarming, actually, how I miss them through-out the day. I miss them any time we are not with them.
I could go on and on professing my love for our furry children. Perhaps that calls for a blog all of its own one day.
But beyond love, I appreciate our furry babies, just as I appreciate the many children I am blessed to be around. I appreciate dogs and children because “they get it.” Each, in its own way, sees life as it’s meant to be seen; with wonder, awe, and endless enthusiasm.
They are matter of fact.
FROM THE MOUTH OF BABES
Most of us remember that show “Kids Say the Darndest Things.” I’m not sure if the show was a success, or even if it’s still on the air. But I do know that it rang true and it tugged the heart strings and pressed the laughter button. Because, it is true, the things kids say can dumfound us.
We have the cutest neighbor children who live across the street; Rachel is 4 and Dylan is 2. They love screaming our names, enthusiastic to see us, any time we wander outside. Rachel, in particular, loves to visit and loves to chat. This past spring, several of us were outside in the front yard, attending to our landscaping. Rachel insisted on cheering for us and visiting, as we continued to work. If people in my family, or at the office, think I can chat; they have never met Rachel. Girl knows how to talk. And it’s a pleasure to listen to her innocent little voice. Anyhow, while we were working on the front yard and Rachel was chatting away, I asked her “where is Dylan, why isn’t he out here?” Without hesitation she responded matter of fact, “oh, he’s not friendly like I am. But, he looks up to me. He has his whole life.” Luckily I was on my knees, so falling to the ground in laughter wasn’t a dangerous fall. For real, how can she be 4 years old?
My brother is a grandpa; well, technically, he’s a step- grandpa. His grand-daughter, my great niece (ouch) is named Brook. Since she was born I’ve called her baby Brook. It doesn’t matter that she is now 8 years old; and not 2 or 4, as she still appears in my mind. She is 8, and she’s a very sweet little girl. We saw Brook yesterday, who repeatedly hugged me and hung on me. As we had lunch and sat across from each other at the table, she told me directly “It’s really good to see you.” HA! And then a few hours later, she repeated her charming ways by telling me again “I’m sure glad I got to see you.” Who speaks like that, at 8?
Too precious for words, that is for sure.
And those are the type of things most kids say; that most parents or grandparents hear out of the own mouths of their own babes. It floors me, sometimes, and it typically makes me tear up.
It literally feels like only a few years ago that I went with my step-sister and brother-in-law to the ultrasound of their first child. At the appointment, we learned they were expecting a girl and we saw my niece yawn. I smile and tear just remembering it, and it’s so bizarre to realize that same niece is now learning how to drive. How can that be?
LIFE IS GRAND
I have never been one to hide from more birthdays or from aging; each year is too much of a blessing to bring any negativity to the table. I welcome each year, even if I wish I could at least temporarily slow time. I wish to slow time not to fend off aging, but to add to the amount of time I have with precious things; like my dogs, loved ones, or the young and fresh kid views that will inevitably be lost to “maturation.”
NOT JUST WHAT THEY SAY, BUT WHAT THEY DO
Even without knowing, young people steal our hearts in mere moments. My cousin (more like a sister), just had her first baby. Upon my first meeting with little Cosette (they call her Coco, I call her Cozy Bean), while sleeping, she closed her tiny fingers around one of mine. It’s just instinct for little babies to connect to us; to the world.
When my nieces were younger, they would grab my hand to hold it, or get into my lap to snuggle without thinking about it; without asking, without hesitation. Kids are just like that; they get it….what matters most…somehow along the line I think many of us lose it, but for a brief stint in time, we get it.
DOGS GET IT, TOO
I’m sure it sounds weird to say, but I’ve loved few things as much as my dogs. I know they are not human and I don’t value their lives above other loved ones. But I honestly can say that I have learned and received more from my dogs than I could ever explain. They somehow inheritably know that life is about being together. Dogs are pack animals, so it’s normal for them to mainly travel and live in groups. But, outside of their doggie connections, dogs simply want to be near us. They want to smell the world, they want to roll on the ground, they want to walk, and they want to explore. They want to snuggle, and they even snore (our Emma snores like a sailor). They appreciate the small things. That’s all life really is for them, anyways, the small immeasurable things that add up to joy.
It really shouldn’t be that hard for any of us, either, to add up the little things into a life of joy.
STRESS SCARES JOY
And I get it; dogs don’t have the same stressors that we do. They don’t pay bills; no mortgage for them. They don’t have to take care of older parents, or children, or dogs. They don’t mow the lawn, or take the car to the repair shop. They don’t worry about their health or the health of loved ones; at least not that we know of. They don’t have our stressors, although we can’t be sure they don’t have their own.
And kids, well, they don’t have the same pressures as we do; at least not yet. They are about eating and burping and running and playing. They are about hugging, and laughing, and dancing, and skipping.
And that’s why dogs get it. And why kids get it, too. They are about the joy.
They haven’t been bogged down with regret, or rejection, or the reality of the inevitable pain life brings. They have fresh eyes, and open hearts. They are a pretty clean canvases just waiting for a bright splash of color.
The bigger truth, though, is that within each of us lays dormant the heart of a kid and the heart of dog. If we move the stressors, harsh memories, and fears aside, we make room for the joy.
I say it’s time for each of us to unpack the old dusty water colors and splash some color on our lives. We may think only kids and dogs “get it,” but the reality is it’s less about understanding and more about embracing. Three cheers for embracing the joy!!!!