When my children were younger, we would often play hide and seek and their hiding paces often made me smile. The stealth of my three kids ranged from faces buried in pillows while the rest of their bodies were fully visible, hiding under the dinning room table in almost plain sight, or a pair of little feet sticking out from under a bed. Because if they couldn't see me, surely I couldn't see them. But as they grew older, they began to understand more about the art of hiding. Now, they never make a sound, move from spot to spot to keep the game going longer, and even use distractions, like throwing rocks or sticks, to divert my attention.
Watching my children learn and grow is an incredible adventure, especially when their learning and growing lead to my own.
So many lessons of life are hidden in plain sight, glaringly obvious if we just experience a slight shift of perspective. My nine-year son offered that to me this past weekend as we celebrated my birthday.
As I was lying in bed trying to chase the cobwebs of sleep away, he came in with all kinds of excitement. Nine years old and he still crawls in bed to snuggle. Lying next to me he turned to his mom.
"Mom, Can I give dad his birthday present?"
"Did you wrap it yet?"
"No, but I will right now!"
He flew out of bed and into the other room where he stuffed something into a gift bag, covering the gift with wads of tissue paper. Within minutes he was back on our bed with a huge grin and radiating the joy that comes with giving.
I sat up, reached into the bag, and tried to discern what the contents were. I was pretty sure there were two t-shirts in there, one bigger than the other. When I looked inside the bag, I saw I was right, two t-shirts sat at the bottom, one black and one gray.
I pulled out the larger of the two, the black one, and held it up. A black t-shirt with the simple outline of a record silkscreened on the front. Next to the record was a hand that looked like it was turning the record as if it was on a turntable. Underneath was one word in white letters.
I smiled and told my son how much I loved it because who doesn't love a gift from one of their kids. I then reached back into the bag so I could take a look at the second and smaller shirt. When I help it up, I saw the gray cotton material was adorned with a nearly identical design but with one very important difference. Underneath the same white outline of a record being turned by a hand was a different word.
"Do you get it, dad?" my son asked. "You're the original and I'm the remix!" Needless to say, I lit up with joy at the unnecessary but awesome explanation. It might be the best birthday gift I have received. We immediately put them and wore them all day.
Since then, I have been thinking about those words "Original" and "Remix" and it dawned on me, a hidden lesson in plain sight. My son desires to be like me, but a fresher, newer version of me.
Now, we've all heard remixes of songs that are every bit as good, if not better than the original, and we've all heard remixes that should never have made it out of the recording studio. A lot of how I treat my kids is going to determine what kind of remix they will be. My words and actions make up the notes and beats of their newer version of me.
Each parent has influence over what kind of remix their kids will be. Children can be a fresh and fun remix of our good stuff, a thoughtful remix of our ability to gracefully navigate challenges or have hard conversations with those we disagree with but in a loving manner. Or, they can be a foreboding remix of our negativity, our fears, our darkness. No one wants that.
We all need to be mindful of the notes we play and the rhythms of life we live by. Our kids will take what we give them and make a remix. I want it to be one I'll listen to on repeat for the rest of my life.