Monday, May 29, 2017

When is 0 Eggs > 2 Baskets

This past weekend, my eldest, Avery, was going to her best friend’s birthday party.  They have been besties since kindergarten and Avery was excited for the big day.  She then told me something I didn’t see coming.  She told me that she wanted to buy the gift for her friend herself.  Maybe it wouldn’t be a big deal in a lot of families, but my ten year old telling me that she wanted to buy her best friends birthday gift with her own money was a big deal in mine.  Over the weekend she wound up buying birthday gifts for her youngest sister's birthday and for her best friend.  She used her own dollars as well as a gift card she received over a year ago.  Avery has never been a spender, at least of her own money.  She has literally watched gift cards fade to zero worth because of her inability to part with them and I am quite sure her savings account is more robust than she can imagine.  The fact that she doesn't ever buy herself anything makes it as surprising as anything else that she chose to use her money on her friend and her sister.  It was surprising, but not unheard of.

It reminded me of a story from years ago.  It was a proud moment for yours truly.  It was Easter and Avery was three or four years old.  We were at church and there was an Easter egg hunt directly after the service.  The age groups were broken up and Avery wound up being among the older of the kids in her group hunting down their quarry.  A whistle sounded and Avery and the other children began filling their baskets.  At their age calling the eggs hidden would be a stretch.  Kids that were Avery’s age swooped in and within moments had full baskets.  Behind them was an army of empty basketed toddlers looking helplessly around the playground. 

Then the remarkable happened.  Avery began hiding her eggs and guiding the toddlers around the yard.  The little ones beamed as they finally found the plastic orbs.  When all was said and done, Avery’s basket was empty; her father’s heart was not.  On the way to the car I asked her about it and she explained that she had plenty at home.  That the little ones didn’t have a chance against the older kids and that some of them may not have candy at home.  I remember a stunned silence between my wife and me.  The silence was broken by my phone.  It was my brother calling to wish a Happy Easter and to describe his own proud papa moment. 
NOTE:  My niece and nephew are wonderful children and their actions on that particular Easter are not a reflection of the young people they have grown to be.  Clearly their actions are the fault of their father and absolutely no one else. 

Anyway, my phone rang and my brother was on the other end.  We exchanged “Hoppy Easters” and told each other about our proud papa experiences.  I started by telling Steve about Avery and her emptying her basket for other children.  I told him about how happy she was doing it, without a hesitation during or regret later.  I told him how proud I was of her. 

The other end of the line went silent. 

“Steve?” I asked.

He took a moment and said, “I was much prouder of my kids before this phone call”.   

He said that he had brought his kids to an Easter egg hunt.  They had traditional plastic type eggs filled with candy but they were also giving away a few full Easter baskets.  Ryan and Olivia are athletic kids and apparently the prospect of getting a full basket of candy appealed to them much more than small plastic eggs.  The way my brother described their effort was akin to the way someone would describe the doors of Wal-Mart opening on Black Friday.  He described the rugged elbowy running style of his kids.  He then let me know that his children had claimed two of the three Easter baskets.

“I was really proud of them before I hear Avery’s story.” He said.

From the tone of his voice, I could assume his kids did not give their baskets to smaller, less elbowy children. 
My brother and I have made plenty of jokes about how our kids stack up to each other’s kids, this was one in the ‘W’ column for me. 

Couple of lessons here girls.  The first is a little something about perspective.  Uncle Steve was at the pinnacle of proud until he heard about Avery’s generosity.  The fact is that the Easters we had were mutually exclusive.  Steve had every right to be proud of his kids for mauling the other kids for chocolate, while I had every reason to be proud of Avery.  Just because Avery committed her act of generosity did not diminish Ryan and Olivia’s athletic achievement, but don’t tell Steve that.  The second lesson is one you’ve heard a thousand times before, but it bears repeating.  There is nothing worse than a bully.  Picking someone out because they are smaller, weaker or different is one of the few things you could do that would make me question any one of you.   At the same time, there is nothing better than someone who sticks up for the little guy.  Avery, the generosity you showed those other kids was beautiful.   I will admit to being biased towards all of you girls, but every once in a while, and that day being one, you girls are the talk of more dinner tables than just our own. 


Final thought: For those who read the last post (and to those who didn't) Mai, Nash and their family can still use a hand.   Please click this link and loosen your purse strings.  Believe me, it’ll feel great knowing that you’ve lent a hand to a family that both needs it and deserves it.  If you happen to be a business owner who wants to give a little more, reach out to me.  We will brand our Wild West Relay shirts, our van and a finish line banner with your logo (hopefully you will be among a bunch of logos!).  If you don’t have the means to help, you definitely have the means to share.  Please either share this post, or the donation link wherever you can.  It’ll be a huge help, trust me!

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

So, Maybe I'm Not Running To Steamboat Because I'm Dumb...

Admittedly, today is a bit of a departure from what I normally write.  Poop jokes and fear of my daughter’s dating future will have to resume at a later date.  Today I come to all of you with hat in hand and bended knee asking for help for a friend.  Perhaps a little backstory is in order. 
As most readers know, I participate in an annual exercise in stupidity called the Wild West Relay.  It is a team race from Fort Collins to Steamboat taking about thirty hours and 200 miles.  It’s a means of pushing yourself physically and olfactorily as thirty hours I a van with six runners is one tough and stinky endeavor.  Another byproduct of thirty hours in a van, for eight consecutive years, is that you bond pretty tightly with your cohorts in stupidity.  Normally we run for fun, for comradery and yours truly runs as an act of self preservation.  This year we 'Dash for Nash' and here is why...

One of those teammates is Maila Blossom Benson Rider, or Mai for short.  Mai is one of those people who you may meet once or twice in your life.  In my life, she is a unicorn of a person.  Her spirit is infectious.  Despite only seeing her a few times a year, she is someone who I look up to and look forward to seeing.  She deserves the best life has to offer.  The best laid plans of mice and men…

During the Thanksgiving weekend of 2016 Mai received news that just the idea of it turns every parent’s stomach.  She learned that her son, Nash, had been in a car accident on I-25.  As the story unfolded, she learned that the car that her son was driving was hit by a drunk driver that had crossed the center lane and came into oncoming traffic.  She would learn that Nash’s friend Kyle did not survive the crash and that her son’s body had been badly broken.  To this day, he is still hospitalized and his road to recovery looks to be a rugged one.  Over the last several months Mai has learned about the power of faith, and of prayer and of community and of family.  She would learn how strong her daughter, her husband and even how strong she herself is.  The greatest thing Mai would learn is that superheroes exist and that she had given birth to one.  And like all great stories go, the hero must be terribly challenged before breaking through. Nash is just such a hero. 
Nash has seen his ups and downs but continually impresses his family and friends with the strength in his fight.  His family has not left his side during this process.  Through hard work, and prayer and the community around them, the Riders know that Nash will continue to improve, but they could use your help.

The driver that hit Nash and Kyle compounded his terrible decision to drink and drive with the decision to do so without carrying insurance.  The Rider family would never ask for it, but they will need help.  They have hurdles coming over the next days, weeks, months, years that are both seen and hidden, and the more their community can do to help, the better.  Any help you can give - be it financial, sharing this post to your social media or even a prayer for Nash, will be welcome and more appreciated that you can know. 

Count your blessing as very few of us can understand the brand of pain that the Rider family is experiencing and the level of worry that the future holds for them.    Thank whomever you pray to for that.

So here is the hat in hand part.  Please click this link and loosen your purse strings.  Believe me, it’ll feel great knowing that you’ve lent a hand to a family that both needs it and deserves it.  If you happen to be a business owner who wants to give a little more, reach out to me.  We will brand our Wild West Relay shirts, our van and a finish line banner with your logo (hopefully you will be among a bunch of logos!).  If you don’t have the means to help, you definitely have the means to share.  Please either share this post, or the donation link wherever you can.  It’ll be a huge help, trust me!

One final thought.  I was sitting on my couch last night talking to Macy, my middle one.  We were talking about a soccer team she had made and how excited she was.  It so happens that Adrienne and I had also been discussing Mai and her family.  Then it hit me, it could have been Macy, or Avery or Darby or Adrienne.  Something in me dropped.  The little family we’ve tried to create could have been turned upside-down just as easily.  Instead of talking about soccer and boys and birthdays, we could be talking about rehabilitation and MRIs.  I’ve heard it said that the Almighty doesn’t give you more than you can handle.  Well, I’ll be the first to say that I couldn’t handle it.  I can’t wrap my head around the thought of it.  Most of us can’t.  So maybe it isn’t just Nash who dons that superhero cape, but Mai and her family as well.   You are all certainly a bunch of Kryptonians to me. 

If the above link doesn't you go!