So, I put floater wings around their skinny little arms, took them to the middle of the shallow end of the pool, and let them go. Not a pretty sight. Nor sound. Strangers stared with open mouths, surely judging us as terrible parents. So, we always tried to do it when the pool didn’t have many people around. Our kids’ angst was explosive, to say the least, but it only lasted a few seconds…until they realized they were just fine, and that we were only two or three steps away. They began kicking their legs, and we slowly backed up to the edge of the pool. Within minutes, they realized they could navigate the pool just fine without sinking. (Post-anecdote note: All three of our kids became good swimmers, and the first two even joined swim teams in junior high school.)
How do I connect this swimming story to “crappy days?” Let me explain how today went:
First, I woke up feeling achy all over. I got up a little earlier than usual, but not so early as to explain the headache and stiffness in my limbs. Next, my wife and I couldn’t find a gift card to a local nursery—a $200 card—that we know is somewhere in the bedroom. From there, I met with friends and had to deal with a major disappointment (don’t ask). Then, I stopped by to hand in a resume, hoping for a job interview. Unsuccessful. Next, I drove across town to encourage a dear friend who is going through some struggles. But really, I was the one needing to be encouraged. Oh, the irony! On the way back, I stopped at the nursery (without the gift card) to find out what to do about some shrubs I had bought that were dying. The clerk told me to photo them and send the pictures to him online. Next stop was the grocery store, equipped with a handful of coupons. The checker—one of the nicest young men ever—forgot to enter the coupon discounts. He had already charged my card for the purchase. “Don’t worry about it,” I said, seeing how flustered he was because of the previous customer who had left a whole pile of groceries on the counter with the plausible excuse of being “over-budget” (his grocery cart was looooaded). On second thought, maybe the checker wasn’t flustered—maybe he was just hungry (he’s on the lean side). Rabbit trail: People used to look at my overly skinny self, shake their heads in pity—or worry—and tell me I needed an extra sandwich. So, I’m sympathetic to the condition.
When I got home, I walked into the house through the garage door, and there, sitting in the middle of the hallway floor, for the first time ever, was a big fat pile of dog poop. Our aging Golden Retriever (Biscuit, if you’ve read my previous blog postings) had left a stinky little present. Yes, it was a crappy day—literally. I cleaned it up, and then went out the back door to photograph the dying shrubs (for the nursery). In the process, I locked myself outside. Not devastating—we have a keypad for an automatic garage door on the front side of the house, but it was raining, cold, and the back yard was wet and muddy.
Sometimes I think back to my kids and the swimming pool example, and imagine God putting floater wings on my arms and setting me adrift. I may feel like I’m going to drown, or that the world is coming to an end, but in reality, He’s only a few steps away, encouraging me to navigate my way to the safety of the edge of the pool.
You may ask, “How did you deal with all of that?” To be honest, as I was walking through the wet, muddy back yard to let myself back into the house, I started chuckling at the absurdity of the day. I knew better than to yell, “How can things possibly get any worse?” because I know things can easily be far worse...just not today, hopefully. Since I didn’t get worked up about my misfortunes (this time), I suppose that’s a small victory worth celebrating. (I wonder...is that celebrating mediocrity?) And, I didn’t get mad at Biscuit. Guess that’s two wins for the day.
I bet the next time I have a crappy day, I’ll think back to this post and envision floater wings around my (still) skinny arms. Or, maybe I’ll default to what a friend once quipped about her bad day, “I just want chocolate and TV.” The second one sounds more enticing, but I’m pretty sure the first one is the healthier snack.