Today is my daughter’s birthday. Riley Grace is 15 years old. (Go ahead and tweet her a birthday message here)
Anyone reading this who has children (or grandchildren) is probably thinking the exact same thing every time you celebrate one of their birthdays; “Where did the time go?” Most new parents laugh after their babies are born when people tell them to take lots of photos and cherish every moment, thinking that they will be different from other parents. They will enjoy and remember every minute, every giggle, every smile and every tear.
Until they are the one’s giving the same advice to younger siblings, friends and co-workers and wondering to themselves, “where did the time go?”
Who’s the Role Model Here?
The nightly news and most of the headlines will tell you that there are many people out there who aren’t concerned with being a role model to their children. From politicians to athletes, community leaders to actors, there are some parents who just don’t set a great example for their children. I’m not suggesting that anyone with children needs to be above reproach. We can’t all be perfect in every moment and in every action. Truthfully, sometimes the best lessons are when we struggle or fail and how we react to a negative situation.
While I have no doubts that most people work hard every day to lead by example, sometimes it’s amazing how much we can learn from our kids. Here’s just a few of the things that I’ve been learning from my daughter every day.
Respect – Riley is always respectful to others. She says “please” and “thank you,” she rarely talks back and she is always trying to be a good friend to others. It’s amazing to me how today’s youth doesn’t really see race or religion, they just see other kids. I guess that comes with age, which is a shame. Maybe someday, we’ll get back to “teaching the world to sing, in perfect harmony”*
Imagination has never been a problem for Riley. From the pictures she used to draw as a toddler to the songs she would write when she was 6 or 7, she has always been a dreamer. Give her a pad of paper and some colored pencils or markers and you never know what you’ll get but you can bet it will be more than a stick figure. How will you uses your imagination this week?
Laughter – Not a day goes by that Riley isn’t laughing about something. While it will rarely happen before she is awake and dressed (she’s a teenager after all), she is always quick with a smile and giggles about anything. Usually she and her brother Ryan will laugh together over something that happened at school, a funny picture they saw on Instagram or a video from YouTube. There is just something special about sharing a laugh with your daughter and Riley is always willing to share.
Bricks and mortar make a house, but the laughter of children makes a home. ~ Irish Proverb
Enthusiasm – Are you excited to tackle the things ahead of you this week? Does your passion for your career and other activities in life show? Riley is always excited to go new places, try new things or take new actions and she always goes at them with great enthusiasm. That attitude not only makes her adventure more fun and engaging, those who get to be around her usually enjoy it more too.
Youthful – Sure, she’s quickly turning in to a young lady but she’s still (and always will be) my little girl. She’s old enough to order off the menu but still enjoys a Happy Meal every now and then. She enjoys going to Starbucks with me but will still sometimes get hot chocolate. Riley loves going to hockey games with me but won’t be shy about curling up on the couch to watch Nickelodeon. She is becoming quite a good golfer but will also play hide-and-seek with the kids in the neighborhood too.
“One hundred years from now, it will not matter what my bank account was, how big my house was, or what kind of car I drove. But the world may be a little better, because I was important in the life of a child.” – Forest Witcraft
I love my job. I love getting to work with and engage my students, co workers and friends everyday but there is no job that I take more pride in than that of being a father. It helps when you have awesome kids like mine. I’m lucky to learn from them both each and every day.
Happy Birthday Riley. Keep building relationships, solving problems and having fun.
Daddy loves you!
*The song that was featured in the iconic Coca Cola commercial, “I’d Like to Teach the World to Sing” by the New Seekers, earned a gold record on this date in 1972. Click here to see the famous commercial