Monday, March 7, 2011

Finding Nemo

"When life gets you down do you wanna know what you've gotta do? Just keep swimming." -Dory from "Finding Nemo"

Showing up is just half of the job. The other half, is making your presence felt. Being there. Despite the hunger, the exhaustion, the last shred of patience, you've got to spread sunshine and put on a happy face.
Harvey Keitel in "Pulp Fiction"

Life's not perfect. It's messy and complicated. And it's our job as parents to deal with the mess.  We're Harvey Keitel in Pulp Fiction. And Point of No Return. We're The Cleaner.

One evening my wife and I were having a nice, quiet, easy time with our daughter. They went upstairs to start the bedtime ritual while I stayed behind to finish cleaning up dinner. Suddenly, crying broke out, shattering the peace. I headed upstairs to investigate and see what, if any, help I could provide.

My daughter had broken a new toy beyond repair. We had bought her a little blue fish (blue is her favorite color) that you wind up and set free to swim in the bath. She loved it. She loved it so much she carried it around everywhere. She loved it so much, in fact, she ripped off the tailfin in a fit of unbridled affection.

She was devastated. Usually, I sit on the sidelines and try to soothe her with platitudes like "It's ok, honey" while rolling my eyes at her inability to just get over it. But not this night. This night I sprung into action. I thought to myself, What would she want to hear in this situation?
A simple solution

That's it... I had to think like a 3-year old.

I headed to the bathroom... and got... a Band-Aid. And not just any Band-Aid. A Nemo Band-Aid. What better way to fix a fish's broken fin? (Actually, it was a Dory Band-Aid).
Smiling again

The crying stopped and a smile appeared on Penelope's tear-stained face. I got her back. Me. Grumpy guy. Annoyed guy. When-do-I-get-to-relax guy.

How you ask, did I manage to get her back? It wasn't the Band-Aid. I was there. With her. I wasn't thinking about work or chores or sports. No blackberry or television or telephone. I was able to help my daughter simply because I was in that moment.With her.

You are their world. Just showing up isn't enough. You have to be present.

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1 comment:

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