I have learned that little kids are quite particular about their own birthdays and their ages. If you ask a child their age they will almost always respond in years, months, days and hours.
Kids are so very proud of how old they are and look forward to the next year’s birthday and the following one after that. Children love to celebrate their coming into existence. It is somewhat sad how that changes as we get older...
I think we should all be able to wear our ages like badges of honor. I am much wiser now than when I was at twenty (at least I’d like to think so), and I have worked hard at earning that wisdom… The crows feet I most recently developed around my eyes and the grays that are sneaking up on me must count for something…
Anyways, It was another enlightening experience as the group of joyfully exhausted Holloways all piled out of Monkey Joe's in North Attleboro and into the minivan to begin our ride home. We had just spent an awesome afternoon celebrating the “almost official” birthday of one of our favorite little spirits. When I say, “almost official” I mean it with the utmost respect for our little kindergarten friend.
It bothered our little friend that people were saying happy birthday as they greeted her. She was intent on not misleading her guests into thinking today was her actual birthday. For it was not. Not quite yet…
I watched as her eyes dropped to the floor and her face grew serious and with each “Happy Birthday” wish she would respond ever so gently, “Thanks, but today is not my real birthday."
However, most certainly thrilled was our little hostess that you had come to celebrate with her and -- if it was still ok with you -- (now that the truth of the day be known) she would be happy if you would still stay and enjoy yourself in lieu of the “not quite yet” day of her birth.
I marveled at the finesse in which this child used her need to honestly address the issue at hand. Better than most adults I know. She immediately came out with what she was thinking and moved forward. I simultaneously found myself humored and slightly envious…
Most kiddos are programmed with honesty as the biggest part of their social repertoire. We learn as we mature that honesty, if used thoughtlessly, can hurt feelings. And on the flip side of things, we learn that honesty can also be invigorating and freeing. Honesty is one of the most powerful tools a child will learn to use as they mature and will continue to work on how to use it appropriately their whole lives.
Regardless of how poignant it can be --honesty that is -- it simplifies, clarifies, justifies and it is still the best policy if used with a kind heart.
A reminder to me as I stood there observing my children as they processed the information they received from the party hostess. They listened to their friend and they understood. It was sweet to watch as my kiddos graciously hugged the “to be” birthday girl, shrugged a little and flew off in four different directions to enjoy the seven giant jumpies at their disposal.
The lesson learned and the tender moment faded as we moved on and enjoyed an abundance of laughs, good company, food and festivities. The pre-emptive birthday celebration was most certainly a great success.
I gathered the Holloways to leave, which was easier said than done… Trying to claim each child from different locations inside inflatable party houses and pirate ships with slides was like trying to hold onto four bars of slippery wet soap at the same time – while having your hands covered in bubble solution. Try it sometime… Very difficult. I know, strange analogy... But true.
As we said our goodbyes and headed out the door to the minivan I found myself once again lost in reflection and thought over the things I had observed with my kids. I try to stop and watch them as frequently as I can. I like that they surround themselves with good people—kind hearted and honest people. Some days it seems those types of people are hard to come by in the adult world…
Just then, my kiddos all unanimously thanked me for a great afternoon. My oldest told me how much she loved me, and my youngest told me that I was the “Best momma ever.”
And the honesty in their gazes confirmed it.
It felt good. Good to see a glimmer of hope. Good to see some simplicity to things as I realized that honesty can be found anywhere if you stop and listen for a minute.
I never thought I would find a lesson in honesty at Monkey Joe's.
Thanks Gracie - our awesome little kindergarten friend. And Happy almost birthday.
“No legacy is so rich as Honesty”. ~ William Shakespeare