A few weeks back I was driving my daughter Kaya to school. Normally she takes the school bus, but given that it was her birthday and that she would also be graduating from middle school that same night, I drove her. As she was getting into the car, I plugged my iPod into the dash and scrolled to a song I know she likes by Josh Ritter called Bright Smile. The first few lines of the song filled the car—now my work is done / I feel I’m owed some joy—and I thought, wow, what a perfect sentiment for today: it’s her 14th birthday and the last day of a school year during which she worked extremely hard, often in the face of unrealistic expectations. And I turned to her and said, you know, you are owed a whole barrelful of joy. And it wasn’t for the amazing grades she got this year, it was that she had worked so hard and done her best at all times. She had put everything she had into her studies, even when it didn’t come easy, or especially when it didn’t come easy. We always say to our kids, do your best, and you’ll be OK. We don’t harass them about grades (they do that to themselves), we just ask that they give it their best, no matter the situation, and we’ll be satisfied. Most of all, they’ll be satisfied.
“A”s, they’re one thing. Joy. Now that’s another matter. Sometimes these days it seems everyone I know is so consumed by deadlines and other pressures that there is precious little left over for luxuries like joy. We can charge our i-Pods and smart phones by plugging them into the wall overnight. How do we recharge ourselves physically, mentally or spiritually?
For our kids it’s the summer holidays—their chance to leave behind the pressures of assignments and homework and rediscover, yes, joy.
Although spring has been here for a while (you wouldn’t know it sometimes), I’ll leave you with another lovely lyric from Mr. Ritter . . .
hello blackbird, hello starling / winter’s over, be my darling
it’s been a long time coming / but now the snow is gone