As I mentioned yesterday, I got a very good reminder about my need to be a little more flexible and spontaneous, thanks to an impromptu visit to the park with my kids. I realized that I had fallen into the tired-parent routine of saying no to my kids without really considering their request, and my reconsideration was rewarded with a fun day (and lots of happy smiles.)
But there was more to it. As I watched the kids on the swings ("Look at me, Mommy! Look how high I can go!") I was approached by a young man who explained that his church group and another local non-profit organization had teamed up for a summer program which included, among other things, the daily snacks that they were giving away at the park.
The guy was very nice, and urged me to please bring the kids over to their table before we left the park. I tried to be polite, but I still just gave him a kind of non-committal "Sure. Thanks." The back of my mind was already kicking around polite ways to refuse the offer. (Why exactly are they doing this? What do they want? Am I always this distrustful?)
Finally, having another internal conversation about whether I had any valid reason to say no, I realized that I didn't. So I pointed out the booth, and told the kids that if they asked nicely they might have a treat. And to their great surprise they were rewarded with animal crackers and chocolate milk. (Score!) Talk about happy kids, to get such an unexpected and yummy surprise.
As he gave the kids their snack, the young man told me about the rest of the program, which also included the dinner that they would be serving later in the evening. (And, like the snack, it was free for all kids under 18.) I thanked him for the info, and said it sounded really nice, but that we really needed to be heading home.
So he gave me a flyer about the program, and suggested that maybe we could come back for dinner if we weren’t busy. I said sure, we’d think about it (not really intending to give it a whole lot of thought.) Then we thanked him for the snacks and headed home.
But as I drove away, I did start to think about it. And once again I asked myself if there was really any reason not to accept the offer. I hadn’t really made any plans for dinner yet. We needed to go home and rest a bit (and cool off a bit) but there really wasn’t any reason that we couldn’t go back to the park later in the evening.
So once again I agreed, and once again the kids were thrilled. I was happy to get out of cooking for the night, and the kids were happy to get the adventure of having a picnic dinner at the park. And of course more play time after they finished eating.
As the day came to a close, I couldn’t help but reflect about everything that had happened. If I hadn’t agreed to stop at the park, we never would have known about the snacks. If we hadn’t accepted the snacks, we never would have known about dinner. And we would have missed out on a really great evening.
I have to wonder how many other things I’ve missed out on over the years because I was too closed-off to accept the opportunity. There is no point in dwelling on that thought, of course, but I do want to let the concept sink in, if only to serve as a reminder to be more open in the future. Whether it’s a picnic in the park, or a new friend, or a job opportunity, or any other great adventure, I hope that from now on I will be a little more open to the possibilities that life has to offer.