Bill Cosby has always been a favorite of mine. The Cosby Show was a staple of my childhood. I don’t think I missed many episodes. He is famous for his “Kids Say The Darndest Things” television series as well. And a couple of nights ago I experienced what would have been the show’s best live recording ever had I had a film crew in my living room.
At the end of the day I was sitting on our couch talking with our 7 year old son, Oscar. We had finished his homework, read from one of his favorite chapter books, and started chatting about his day. I asked him how things went at school. “Good”. I asked him what was his favorite part about school. “I’d say recess, but I always say that…so I guess I have to say something different”. I encouraged him that he could say recess if that was truly his favorite part. I was met with a large grin after he heard that.
Whereas a hurried, “normal” night would have been the end of that conversation…I had the feeling that we just needed to slow down and talk more. Spend more time. It wasn’t lost on me that as I looked into the face of my 7 year old, with his teeth missing and sweet smile there was a family in Boston, Mass. that wouldn’t be able to do that again.
It made my heart pause, my hands wrap his little frame closer to my side, and my mind come up with questions…any questions…just to talk with him more. I didn’t want him to go to bed yet. I just wanted more time with him.
So I asked him what it was about recess that he loved so much.
“LEGOS!”. It took him less than a second to answer that one.
I asked what it was about the legos he likes so much. He went on to tell me how he likes to make things that aren’t on the pamphlets they [the manufacturer] included with the building pieces. And he proceeded to tell me that he really likes making ducks with the legos. Not only that, but he was teaching others to make them…and now his whole class liked to make ducks out of the legos.
I paused. A smile came over my face that caused a chain reaction in that little boy of mine sitting next to me.
I said…”Oscar, do you realize what you did there? You were a leader. You showed others how to do something. Something new. Something different. You showed them it was ok to use their imagination and create something new, instead of just what is “on the box”.
A simple “Yeah”, with smile came back to me.
I followed that up with “Do you like being a leader?”
His response was something I will never forget, and we can all take something away from.
“Yeah. I like how when I teach them that they can make new things, then they can go teach other people too”.
And there it is.
At 7 years old…
He isn’t afraid to try something new.
He enjoys the friendships that are built as they build “the new thing”.
And most of all?
He enjoys that because of that, other people will lead…and lead well. Other people will invest in the lives of others. They will teach. They will see the value of the person next to them and do anything they can to pour into them. They will “do life” together.
In my perfect world I am a very healthy old man that just passes away in my sleep one day. Having been able to live a full life, watch my children grow. See them get married and raise families of their own.
But when a day like April 15, 2013 in the beautiful city of Boston, Mass. takes place…
I can’t help but re-assess.
I don’t know how many tomorrows I will get. For that matter, how many minutes left in today I will see.
My heart grieves with and for those who have hurt in unimaginable ways that can’t be taken back. And trying to figure out how to honor and cherish those who lost their lives, those who were harmed so severely physically, emotionally…
What I’ve realized is this.
I can’t change things for them, but I can be changed because of them.
I can honor their memory and pain by leading well, loving always and pouring into every life God let’s me interact with.
I will slow down. Bed-time can wait. I will spend, steal, and grab every extra moment I can to pull those I can close to me to experience their lives intersecting with mine.
Talking about recess and legos for a few extra minutes showed me something that will stay with me forever. And my sticking to a “routine” of bed-time would have gone right past it.
See…there aren’t really rules for how to and what to build with legos after all.
And there won’t be excuses for why I rush to get my kids into bed. I will tell more silly stories to them. I will drink way more coffee with a friend. I will make the time to plan romantic and spontaneous dates with my wife. I will stop to say hello to someone on the street even if I don’t know them. Especially when I don’t know them. To encourage them, lift their spirits if I can.
If I lead well, I will posture my life to reflect the lesson I learned from my 7 year old.
Lead by example. Take chances. Invest in the lives and hearts of others.
May God’s hand of love, grace, healing and blessing be upon those that grieve today. Most of us weren’t in Boston on the day an unspeakable tragedy changed lives forever. But all of us can honor the memory of those no longer with us, the resolve of those healing from their wounds, and the courage and bravery of those who ran into the direction of the dangerous unknown to bring others to safety.
We can stand with them, learn from them, and move forward with them.
In our hearts, our minds, and our actions.
We can lead well today. We can lead better than we ever have today.
Our actions may very well be the thing that teaches someone else that love does win. It is here. We can change the world with it.
Thanks for listening to my heart today.
Thanks for spending some time with me.
Please make sure you make the time…find the time…to pull those closest to you…closer.
Spend the time.
May God Bless you. May God Bless your family and friends. May God bless those we will never meet.
May God Bless Boston and help them heal.
May God Bless America.