Monday, July 26, 2010

Make a Wish

How appropriate that today is Candles on a Cake Day! Tomorrow we finish up our crazy, birthday month with party number four out of four. Jot and Jewel's birthdays are just ten days apart. Justice's birthday is New Year's Day and I can honestly say none of my kids have ever felt slighted by the birthday bashes I throw. While it would be easier for me to combine Justice's with Christmas or to have the family come once to celebrate for both Jot and Jewel, I don't do it. I want them each to have one day a year devoted totally to them.

So, in the past week and a half, we've hosted the family for both kids, Jot's friends for him, and tomorrow Jewel has six 10-year old girls coming for swimming and overnighter. Needless to say, my frig is packed with a kaleidoscope of colorful remnants of birthday cake. This is definitely the time of year for candles on a cake, at least at our house.

My kids have made many requests for presents through the years, but some stand out. This year, Jot's favorite gift was the 2-pack of ShamWows I purchased for him in the "As Seen on TV" section of the store. Once he asked for a live chicken. One year, Justice, in a strep-throat induced stupor requested a Native American hidden picture 1000 piece puzzle that's never been out of the box. Jewel asked for (and got) a drum set--as a three year old. And this year, she is immersed in the tragedy and mysteries surrounding the Titanic sinking, so along with her sock monkey flip flops, requested a Titanic game for the Wii.

As they grow older and the number of candles increase on the cake, we begin to look more toward the future. Along with What do you want for dinner? and What do you want for your birthday? we guide them toward thinking about what they want to be when they grow up. My kids, at one time or another, have expressed interest in being an NFL player, a tax man, a marine biologist, a popcorn farmer, a race car driver, a teacher, an architect, and a vet. The best one yet was a few years ago when I asked Jot what he wanted to be when he grew up. "A teenager", he answered.

God reminds me often of a more important question regarding my kids. Life sometimes interferes with our plans and dreams for the future. But there is one aspect we can always control--"Who do you want to be when you grow up?" I ask them to think of the type of person they want to be. I ask them to imagine what they would like others to say and think about them. Do you want to be a champion of the misfortunate? Do you want to be known as wise? Do you want people to see you as kind? or strong? or giving?

The follow-up question is "How are you going to accomplish that?" The nice thing about deciding who you will be rather that what you will be, is that you don't have to wait to grow up to be kind or strong or wise. You can do that right now, today.

I'm a writer, a teacher, a mom, a wife, a friend. But it is who I am, rather than what I am that people will remember long after I'm gone. Who do you want to be today?