I don’t like surprises – big ones, especially. Like most adults, I think, I like to see what’s up ahead and prepare myself.
If you show up unannounced, there’s a good chance you’ll find me in pajamas, still in need of a shower, and the house won’t be picked up. There definitely won’t be fresh coffee on, either, or pastries. So call ahead.
I mean that in a general way, too, directed at Life. Call ahead. Seriously.
Sure, I can be spontaneous, but that’s me in control of what comes next, and that’s different.
My kids, though, still like a good surprise. I didn’t know this for sure until Friday when I told them that we were going to do something really fun and new on Saturday, a surprise. Of course, they fired guesses at me all evening. Around bedtime, I gave them the choice to know before they went to sleep what we were doing , or if they wanted to find out the next day.
As excited as they were, I thought for sure they would choose to find out.
Well, they surprised me.
They wanted to wait.
The next day, the moment when they realized we were going on the train was as sweet and bursting as I had hoped – they were over the moon. And they loved the train ride. We spent most of the time outside on the open-air cars so we could enjoy unobstructed views.
It was a really good surprise, they said.
One day, maybe without knowing it’s happening, they might trade in this love of suspense, the thrill of the unknown, for something else they need. Something sensible and useful. For the need to plan, to budget, to take days off.
And they may even learn that it’s not always good to surprise someone else – that sometimes it’s better to make sure, first, that what they have to give is wanted by the one they might surprise. A lesson that’s rarely without embarrassment. (And there’s only one way to learn it.)
Or maybe they’ll get lucky, and find one of those people who lives for the unknown, for things that pop out of the cake of life, for what can’t be seen around a corner.
Who knows, my son or daughter may even turn out to be that kind of person.
Toward the end of the train ride, we went back inside the car to watch the last few miles pass by our window. We had gorged on the spectacular scenery, and we were tired and windblown, but happy.
Over the speakers came final words from the recorded guide for the trip, with a few words from the owner of the railroad. A reminder of how lucky we are to live in a place that has that kind of scenery to show off.
It wrapped with sentiments about how living in this country comes at a price, and how we should be grateful for the freedom we have, but stopped short of the right-leaning direction it seemed to be headed.
Then music started, that old standard, “God Bless the USA,” by Lee Greenwood – the ubiquitous patriotic song. Not that I don’t like it, because I do, and know all the words. But I’m a bit of a cynic, I guess, so I didn’t soften to the song, even after seeing such a beautiful place. Inwardly, I rolled my eyes a bit.
My girl, next to me, and my boy, across the table, started moving their hands.
The sign language to the song.
I’d forgotten that they learned it in school. My eyes filled up as I watched their small hands sing.
Before the end of the first chorus, my face was a mess of tears and pride. Of love.
Guess there are still a few good ones out there, after all.
The winner of the $25 Build-A-Bear Workshop gift card is….
Christine of She’s Just Another Manic Mommy
Congratulations, Christine! (I’ll email you for your information.)