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Oh Happy Day 032610: “Prizes”

“Mommy, I have a ‘prize for you.”

Spoken with a gleam in his eye and hands concealed behind his back, trying to balance his “prize” with a juicy cup and several beloved stuffed friends, Squiggle Bug took obvious pleasure in saying it. Let me tell you. There is no pleasure quite as obvious as 3yo pleasure. And, although he couldn’t quite articulate the SURprise, I was all too happy to be surprised nonetheless.

Every day this week, my boys have commited themselves to offering Mommy an unsolicited “surprise” at the end of each work day. The Bradford Pear tree I mentioned last week is still in full bloom next to our driveway, and it has limbs just low enough for Little Drummer Boy and Bug to break off a small cluster on their way to the door after we get home. Although I know what the “prize” is every time, I still give them each a hug and a kiss and a surprised “oh I love it” before putting the current fruit of our “flower tree” into one of several vases on my kitchen window sill.

It’s Friday again, and I’ve neglected the Junkie this week in favor of a busy work schedule. But, with the daily “prizes” of the week fresh on my mind, I didn’t want to miss the opportunity to give credence to a thankful heart once again in an Oh Happy Day! gratitude posting. This week, I’m grateful for “prizes,” those unexpected pleasures that have come my way–the serendipity of surprising words, surprising accomplishments, surprising glimpses and surprising gifts. I’ve noticed how powerful those unexpected moments of crystal clarity can be, the moments when we recognize and embrace the value found in little things. The “prizes” of the week have reminded me that what may seem small and insignificant to one person, can grow and expand into something so much bigger for someone else. The insignificant can become significant in the right place, at the right time. The “off-the-cuff” can become “right-on-target” in the right place, at the right time. The simple gesture can become empowering in the right place, at the right time. It makes me think about what I’m doing a little more carefully. It makes me think about my own definitions of “small” and “big.” It makes me want to do and say the little things, just in case they might grow in the right heart, in the right place, at the right time.

The week’s lessons in the art of surprises:

Exhibit A: Surprising Looks. The proud faces of my boys as they prepared to hand over their treasured “prizes” was an unexpected pleasure this week that I took the time to enjoy. And, truth be told; I was kicking myself for the number of times I KNOW I have overlooked those precious expressions, distracted by some seemingly more important notion. Their smiles offered me a surprising glimpse into the unencumbered joy of giving, the joy of accepting, the joy of being affirmed and affirming.

Exhibit B: Surprising Words. I was the recipient of some unexpected, but much-appreciated compliments this week. Someone I value and admire offered some positive feedback on this blog and on some of the day job endeavors in which I’m currently engaged. It’s interesting how those surprising words gave me a new drive toward creativity, a renewed motivation to measure myself and my endeavors in terms of quality rather than quantity.

Exhibit C: A Surprising Fit. I’m just a girl at heart. Still. And, in specific, I’m a girl who had three babies in four years. This week, I pulled out a nice Eddie Bauer jumper dress–a lovely and polished outfit that I honestly hadn’t worn since sometime before I was pregnant with Baby Girl, maybe even Bug. It fit! It looked good on me. It made me feel like I could take on the world. And, in some ways, it empowered me to take on my little world in a new way. I know my male readers out there don’t get this one. But, we all have hidden confidence benchmarks. Sometimes for women it involves a pair of blue jeans or a nice grey pinstripe jumper with a pair of 3″ black boots. Just sayin.

Exhibit D: Surprising Freedom. This week I acted on something I’ve been wanting to do for a while. The details would bore you, but suffice it to say that it was a simple act that allowed me to feel like I was taking better control of myself and taking ownership of some of my own decisions. Following through on intentions brings with it an unexpected freedom–the freedom to act, the freedom to be deliberate, the freedom to move forward with new things. The impact of just one small act really surprised me.

When I go home in a few minutes, I’m sure LDB and Bug will gather their “prizes” again. They’ll struggle with hiding them while holding on to all their own personal treasures. They’ll smile and hand them over with pride in their eyes. They’ll follow me to the kitchen and watch me add them to the vases. Then, they’ll go on about their movie-watching and car chasing, satisfied with themselves. And, I’ll smile again. The Bradford has mostly leafed out with tiny bright green growth now. The leaves are inhabiting the same branches as the flowers and will soon push them out. Already, any decent gust of wind or drizzle of rain sends down showers of the white petals. The time for “flower trees” is almost gone. For the boys, it will give way to more outside time, rock collections harbored away in their pockets, dirty jeans and skinned knees. Their surprises will probably shift to something like interesting sticks or colorful rocks or slimy green lizards. And, I’ll gladly take them with a smile (even the lizards), but I won’t soon forget these blossomy “prizes.” Or the Exhibits of the week.

Oh Happy Day!

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