Sunday, August 12, 2018

My 60th Birthday Wishlist ~ Wish Number Two

Since a 60th birthday is kind of a once-in-a-lifetime experience, I hope you will allow me a bit of opportunity to ramble on about things that matter to me in life. Here is the next installment of my focus on the three wishes that are most prominent in my celebration of this particular birthday.

My third wish for my 60th birthday is going ice skating, and that should take place Monday, August 13 from 6:00-7:30 pm at the Merritt arena.[1]

My second wish is for a daycare water fight on the afternoon of my birthday, Tuesday, August 14, with present daycare kids and any alumni who would like to join in the fun. I will elaborate upon the significance of this wish in today’s post.

My first wish, most important of all, is to share personally with anyone who is willing why knowing and loving the Lord Jesus Christ in this present age is the life of my life, so to speak, the thing that drives everything else that matters to me.

So, why would a guy who (technically speaking) is a grown man look forward to a water fight with a bunch of little kids?

Sharing in a family-style daycare in our home is one more of those things in life that my wife and I had never planned. In fact, our one regret with the whole adventure is that we did not start sooner!

After almost fifteen years of sharing life with the children in our home, there are many things that have wonderfully impacted me. While I happily share how spending time with kids does tend to keep a person feeling younger, there is another side of such relationships that helps us grow up.

When I consider the impact of children on my life, I think the first and foremost quality the Little Ones have brought is their capacity to be real.

In context, by the time we reach our adult years, many of us are so broken and dissociative from the actual condition of our souls that we’re hard-pressed to be real ourselves, let alone find mature adults living as their authentic selves.[2]

What I have recognized with children is that they usually have not yet learned the pretenses and role-playing that are common among us grown-ups.[3] Yes, some Little Ones have already been wounded by traumatic experiences and their coping skills are already well entrenched. However, in most cases, children are wonderful examples of being real.

I recall vividly the first summer that we had children ranging in age from 2 to 8 years old. Much of that season I spent marveling at what I saw in each of the children, and in the social dynamic they shared together.

This was particularly significant to me because I was 9 years old when we moved away from Sandspit on the Queen Charlotte Islands, and by that age, I had already come to see myself as both invisible and stupid. Somehow I knew that people could not see the real me and were quite okay with that, and “stupid” is the best summary of how I felt about myself.

So, watching children spread out over the various ages reflected in my seven years of growing up in Sandspit taught me a lot about children in general and myself in particular. What I learned was that children are neither invisible nor stupid (unless they are taught to feel that way). Left to themselves in a loving and nurturing environment, all the children showed that their lives mattered very much, and that they were brilliant, creative and inspiring little creatures.

How does that connect to a water fight for a 60th birthday celebration?

Simply put, over the years I have discovered the value of a man’s affirmation of children’s worth. Listening to their stories, smiling at their referencing, returning them to joy in their hurts, joining their fun and games, and always having a pocket full of Tic Tacs, has been a wonderful way to communicate to children that they are seen, and they are treasured.

One of the things that give our Little Ones an amazing dose of relational joy is to pull out the water-squirters or the fire hose on a hot summer’s afternoon. Getting everyone wet is not only a lot of un, but also a great way to cool down. And, the fascinating thing is that the Children don’t seem to have as much fun doing this among themselves as when they can try their best to get me soaked in the process.

For some time now, I have appreciated the immense value in multi-generational social groups. When we first started daycare my wife and I were in the upper end of the parenting level of life, and now we are well-established in the grand-parenting aspect of this dynamic.

In fifteen years, I can see that I’m not quite as agile in a daycare soccer game as even a decade ago. I also now let the kids do most of the running in the water fights and other adventures. But maturing through the years increases what an old guy has to offer a multi-generational group such as a daycare setting provides.

This means that I fully expect to continue water fights and other activities as long as we continue our daycare life. But, more than that, I look forward to sharing my growing view of life with whichever children we have in our daycare at any given time, as well as the treasured experiences when any of our alumni drop by and reconnect with us.

As long as we are free to mature to the level that most matches our age, children will always benefit from us doing so.

So, if you happen to hear or see anything going on in our backyard the afternoon of August 14th, 2018, and you see what appears to be an old guy running around spraying water on any kids he can catch, and you think you should tell me I ought to grow up, I would simply answer you that I already am. The smiles on the Little Ones’ faces and the joy in their little hearts blows me away with wonder that they know this as well as anyone else.

© 2018 Monte Vigh ~ Box 517, Merritt, BC, V1K 1B8 ~ 

[2] Much of what our world pridefully declares to be real about them is not real at all but an outer role-playing fantasy that avoids how they are really doing on the inside. The suicide rate among people we thought had it all together in a real kind of way betrays that such is not the case. Others cope with the discrepancy with food and chemical dependencies (drugs and alcohol) and addictions of many varieties. These, too, declare that the role-playing so commonly accepted among us is not people living out of their real selves.
[3] A grown-up is an older person, not necessarily a mature person. It is important to note the distinction. 

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