This weekend we went for an afternoon bike ride with our kids. Our oldest two rode their bikes, their mom jogged, and I pushed the stroller with our youngest.
Normally our youngest hates riding in the stroller, but for jogs–since the older two are riding bikes and wearing helmets–we let him wear his helmet too, and he loves it.
We are quite a scene! We went 5 miles–we saw prairie dogs, passed a bunch of people, waved to friends, had falls and close calls, needed perseverance to keep going… great afternoon!
When we got home, I said to my son, “Whew! I’m tired.” And he said to me, “That’s okay, Dad. It’s all a part of toughness training. You’ll be okay.”
Here’s something I’ve noticed on the bike rides: people can hardly help but smile as they go past us. It’s a scene, our kids our focused, we’re trying to keep up and keep them safe. And it makes the day for everyone we see.
Generally — that’s something I notice having kids that I didn’t understand before: they spread joy everywhere they go, just by being themselves.
It’s not all the time. Often they’re needy, or grumpy, or immature. And the logistics are a lot. We frequently hear “it looks like you have your hands full” from strangers.
But for a surprising amount of the time, kids just spread joy simply by being themselves. By having fun or being excited. By cheering for the Garbage truck driver. By getting up and trying again to start their bike without a boost. By having the highlight of the day be the neighbors cat in the driveway. By skipping when an adult would walk, as my daughter has been doing for months. By earnestly asking for a chips and salsa party, and immediately making decorations for the walls. Or asking if there will be a combine and corn swimming at the Farmer’s market. Or diagramming an activity they’d like to do. Sometimes it’s their innocence and happiness, or their generosity. But it’s also their ambitions and enthusiasm, pride at their accomplishments, and the things they’re working on and trying at. The things they enjoy. The small victories. They things they ask for–some of which are unattainable, some easy, and they can never tell the difference. The things they’re hoping for. Even their fears and their struggles.
And, come to think of it: I have no reason to think this will stop when they turn 8 or 13 or 18. Maybe it will never stop.
Maybe YOU and I spark joy in others too, all day, just by being ourselves.
Which is a fun thought for a Monday.
Have a great day!