I’ve been on this “let’s do it with PURPOSE” kick lately. Whether I’m whipping up some mashed potatoes or making an art project with the kids, I have been pausing to ask, “How could this meal/project/time make a difference for eternity?” With four pre-school children underfoot every moment of my day, this question may seem a bit far-fetched at times (I should probably be thinking instead, “How can I SURVIVE until bedtime?”) and my husband does sometimes call me unrealistic. Of course, I much prefer the term “optimistic”!
May Day was just around the corner (thought the actually presence of Spring is still M.I.A!) and my crew and I worked as long as their attention spans would last (about five minutes) to create some fun little May Day baskets and cards. After this crafting tornado died down, I was left in a wake of glitter, uncapped markers and sheer joy: I love doing life with my children…messes and all!
As I stared at the May Day Museum spread out to dry on my kitchen counter, I thought: we should take these to some elderly people because older people are sometimes lonely and they usually love children! Not to mention, my kids would be enriched by interacting with the older generation as well. Hey, I thought excitedly, this is a WIN-WIN.
May Day dawned gloomy and cold but that didn’t matter because we were bringing our own sunshine! I loaded up the kids in the van to make the appointment we had at a local assisted living facility and the kids were all smiles as they held hands and entered the living room of the group home, everything was going according to plan.
Then, once again, LIFE happened…or, as some may say (aka, my husband whose fateful laugh at the proposal of my idea was ringing in my head at that moment): REALITY. My Little Rays of Sunshine were too busy stuffing their faces with all the candy from the May Baskets to notice any of the sweet little grandmas that came out to say hello. I tried to give them discreet nudges and little whisper-warnings of being grounded until their 18th birthday if they shoved another piece of candy in their mouths, all while attempting to converse politely with the aforementioned grandmas.
Since I was holding on to my baby, Gabby, the only one that didn’t look like a chipmunk, I couldn’t actually stop the May Day Mutiny. Fortunately, none of the residents seemed to notice the May Day Baskets being handed to them by my children were all empty. The residents did seem to enjoy interacting with the little ones, and my kids also seemed to enjoy the new faces of the elderly.
In fact, I was just breathing a sigh of relief when my nose caught wind of a strange smell…the smell of something burning…the smell of FIRE! I turned around and saw my four-year-old son standing next to a candle at the kitchen table with a flaming candy wrapper about to burn the tips of his fingers. I did one of those “Mommy-Air-Jordan” moves (that I’m still hurting from days later) and pretty much flew across the room without my feet ever hitting the floor. I grabbed the wrapper to save my son’s finger and then realized, Oh, snap. What do I do with this?
The only thing that came to mind at that HOT moment was my fifth grade assembly class when the fire department came and taught us the fire safety basics: Stop, Drop and Roll. So I stopped holding the burning wrapper, dropped it onto the lovely linoleum floor and rolled my tennis shoe on top, burning a little hole into the floor and wishing the hole were big enough for me to crawl into and die of embarrassment!
Meanwhile, the residents looked on in shock and I wondered who we should call first; the fire station to put out the fire, the ambulance to care for the residents we nearly gave heart attacks to, or the police station to arrest me for being so unrealistic in my expectations that it is probably considered illegal!
After my son also recovered from his shock (“Mom, I didn’t know it would do that!! I didn’t think…I was just seeing what it would do…”) and joined me in cleaning the floor while apologizing profusely, I felt like the new Evil Knievel of assisted living homes, “Able to start dangerous fires, can leap across walkers in a single bound and (with the assistance of curious little helpers) cause crazy chaos wherever she goes!” I wondered if there were a secret "Blackball List" that Assisted Living Homes swapped and if I would make tomorrow’s front page.
After a bit more small talk and head pattings (the elderly to the children), we made our escape…the taste of humble pie still lingering in my mouth. Ah, LIFE…REALITY is so…unpredictable sometimes!
Well, at least we gave them something to talk about!