When you were born, you cried and the world rejoiced. Live your life so that when you die, the world cries and you rejoice.
Honesty is the best policy. I know that. I also know where liars go. But telling the truth can sometimes get complicated. As I posted a few days ago, my grandsons found out that telling the whole truth, for instance, is not always a good idea when you receive a birthday gift. Here’s a conversation I had with one of their friends about two years ago.
Note: I have a small strawberry birthmark over my eye that I cover with makeup in the morning, but then forget to check during the day.
Little boy: What’s that over your eye?
Me: It’s a birthmark. That’s a little mark that’s on your skin when you’re born.
Little boy: How did you get it?
Me: It was just there. Babies sometimes have little red marks when they’re born and usually they just go away, but this one didn’t go away.
Little boy: How did you get hurt?
Me: I didn’t get hurt. It was just there when I was born. Some birthmarks are red and some are brown. My daughter has a brown birthmark on her leg.
Little boy: (still staring at birthmark) But how did you get it?
Me: It . . . ummm.
Little boy: How did you get it?
Little boy: How did you get it?
Little boy: How did you . . .
Me: I ran into a door.
Little boy: Ohhhhhh.
Just remembered this inspiring and hopeful little children’s book. In BEAUTIFUL OOPS, author Barney Saltzberg convinces us that when we make a mistake, we can think of it as an “opportunity to make something beautiful.” So a corner turned on a page become a penguin; a smudge can make a magic rabbit appear, and so forth. Fun book. One of my favorites.
Yesterday morning I noticed a bright pink puddle on the kitchen floor in front of the kitchen sink. What was that—the Danish Dessert from Sunday? If so, how on earth had it escaped from our fridge? Then I realized that it wasn’t Danish Dessert and hadn’t come from the counter. I guessed that when I opened the lower cabinet door, there would be an even larger gooey pink puddle there. I’d apparently forgotten to push shut the little nozzle on the top of the dish washing liquid. I’d done that once before.
Sure enough, when I opened the cabinet, there was a mini pond on the shelf under the sink. The bottle of dish washing liquid that had been full the day before was almost empty. I sighed and reached for some paper towels, not happy that I wasn’t going to get to my list of errands as early as I’d planned. But it didn’t take much effort to wipe up the pink liquid from the floor in front of the cabinet. I wadded the towels up and threw them in the nearby trash container. I remembered then that the back bathtub really needed to be cleaned, a fact I’d been doing my best to ignore. I’d discovered a few years ago that dish washing liquid works great on bathtub ring. Okay, I’d just hurry and use some of this stuff on the tub. I plucked the wad of towels with the d.w. liquid on it back out of the trash and took it to the back bathroom where I rubbed the liquid on to the bathtub ring. I still had plenty of d.w. liquid left for the sink and toilet, and then I remembered I hadn’t gotten to the tile bathroom floor for a while either. To make a long story short, I ended up cleaning just about everything I’d been putting off cleaning for weeks: the doors, the blinds, the chairs, the inside of the cabinets, the outside of the cabinets, even the shelves on the inside of the fridge door. Hey, once you’re on a roll . . . By the time the d.w. liquid was gone, I had a clean upstairs. The area under my sink was especially clean. It’s true that I hadn’t done one thing on my errand list, but oddly, I was feeling pretty good about myself. In fact, the next time I leave that little spout open on the dish washing liquid bottle, maybe I’ll plant it in the bathroom downstairs and have it spill there. I haven’t cleaned down there for months.
A glass of milk can spread as far as two feet in diameter when spilled on a flat surface, moistening whatever may lie within that area such as an envelope containing a card with a handwritten message and a carefully wrapped gift. It can then head to the edge of that flat surface and cascade off the edge toward the floor, splashing little white droplets onto the black velvet party pants and black suede shoes of the person who happens to be standing near said surface. That’s what spilled milk can do. But I’m not crying about it.
On our twin grandsons’ sixth birthday not long ago O found out that the best response for a gift is not, “A dinosaur? Why did you give me a dinosaur? I don’t even like dinosaurs.”
“Guys, let’s go out and have a little talk,” said my daughter, smiling apologetically at the little neighbor girl, and her mother, who’d been kind enough to bring over the gifts.
“That was an embarrassing eye-opener,” she said about five minutes later after the properly thanked neighbors had left. “I can see I need to really prep these guys before the birthday party.”
By official birthday party time, my grandsons had been thoroughly tutored on socially acceptable reactions to birthday gifts. To make sure they had it all down, my daughter quizzed them one last time just before their friends arrived. “What do you say if you already have three of something and you get another one?” she asked. “What do you say if you really don’t like the present? or What if you think the gift looks more like a girl toy than a boy gift? What if you think the toy is too small?” etc. etc. My grandsons totally aced the review. Sure enough a little later at the party, as they unwrapped gift after gift, we heard simple, clear thank you’s with no additional commentary. Some of the thank you’s, it’s true, were more enthusiastic than others, but they were nevertheless all polite and appropriate.
Me? I was feeling a sense of loss. Yes, I understand that children eventually need to learn not to blurt out any old thing, and that people’s feelings need to be considered. I taught these lessons to my own children. But I also realized with sadness that those completely candid and forthright little boys were disappearing into more sophisticated more socially aware children. I even mourned the fact that there was a possibility neither one would ever let me know again that I have a fat stomach, or that I must be at least a hundred, because I am sooooo old. Though these comments made me wince a little, recommit to a diet, and consider a facelift, I couldn’t help but laugh because they were so delightfully refreshing in today’s deceitful world. Luckily, we still have younger grandchildren, and the twins’ little brother is just learning to talk. I’m pretty sure he’ll soon have some interesting things to say. I have the feeling some of his comments will be just as wonderfully inappropriate. I’m secretly very glad about that.
At one point I wanted my blog to be called “Life’s Complicated” but because life is complicated, that blog title had been taken. It didn’t surprise me at all that the trendy saying “Keep Calm and Carry on” had been taken as well. “Moving Right Along?” Taken. I suspect even “Keep on truckin'” might even have been taken. I didn’t check on that one, but if I had . . .Next I thought of “Silly Old Lady.” I guess there are more silly old ladies out there, because it was taken. One of my favorites was “Duck on a Bike.” Again, no luck. The duck was taken. I was feeling pretty discouraged until I remembered that my name is uncommon. If I used it in the title, I might actually find a title that wasn’t taken. Anya On a Bike? That didn’t quite have it. Anya—Moving Right Along? Nah. Anya’s Life is Complicated? It didn’t quite work for me, even though it’s true. I finally looked up “Anya’s Adventures” and “Anya’s World.” They were taken! Finally I thought of “Anya’s Observations.” Amazingly, it was available. Even better, it depicted accurately what I planned to do. I planned to make some observations. Yes, that title would work. And so “Anya’s Observations” it is. And here are my first few general observations: A. Life’s complicated. (but we can) B. Keep Moving Along (even if we feel as silly as) C. A Duck on a Bike.