Tuesday, February 28, 2012

I want my extra day

As I am sure you are aware, it is a leap year. That means we get an extra day in February. Yahoo! But wait, is it really an *extra* day in the year? The dictionary lists one of the definitions of extra as "an item which is in addition to what is usual or strictly necessary". So in other words, we do not need this day for any specific purpose. In my opinion, if a day is truly extra it should be free of anything. Since most years February 29 does not exist, we should consider it a bonus when it does show up and get the day off. Every other year we manage to make due with only 365 days so I would like to keep my 366th day all to myself when it comes around. Completely and totally off. On February 29, regardless of what day of the week it falls on, there should be no school, no work, no meetings, no appointments. My husband's smartphone will not produce anything of interest that would distract from our family time. All the stores should be closed so there can be no errands. I envision this once-every-four-years-break kind of like Christmas, but without gifts and all the family angst and huge meals. It would be a day where everything pretty much shuts down so that you have no choice but to shrug your shoulders, make a cup of tea and read your book. And since it's a random day off that only happens every four years, my kids would be so ecstatic that they wouldn't sit home and bicker and complain but join hands and sing Kumbaya. Because as long as I'm envisioning the utopia of February 29 why not go big? Everyone would be thankful for the extra day, knowing it won't come around again for a while.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Taking a bite out of life

This morning my daughter ate a piece of cardboard. She is 9 and this is not behavior you would typically expect at this age. Okay, so I won't be the least bit surprised if her brother eats cardboard at 9, or 19, but that's another issue. So why would my daughter willingly eat the piece of cardboard? Was it a dare? Was she showing off and being silly? No, she wanted to see if it was candy.

Last night my husband brought home a half dozen gourmet cupcakes from a fabulous local bakery. They were a gift from a political journalism organization trying to woo him into subscribing to their services. Each beautiful cupcake had a disc with the company's logo placed on it, about the size of a silver dollar. My daughter assumed that because they were on the tops of the cupcakes they must be edible, and therefore were candy. She could not be convinced that they were just cardboard despite our repeated assurances so she took a bite.

We are not sure why she wouldn't believe us. Did she think we wanted to keep all the candy discs for ourselves, to eat when she wasn't around? Did she think we were trying to deprive her of the candy discs because we'd just gotten back from the dentist? Who knows? The point is, she had to find out for herself whether or not they were in fact cardboard. The downside would be a mouthful of paper. The potential upside was tremendous.

And that is just one of the many reasons why I love and admire my daughter. She considers the downside but is always focused on the upside. The what if? She is not a reckless child, but she is a risk taker. And the world needs risk takers. We need people who look at the status quo and not only ask why, but just as readily ask why not? She is constantly coming up with new and creative ways of doing things. I find this exhausting - why can't we just do them the proven way? The efficient and easy way? We know the outcome. It is cardboard, not candy. But if everyone had that attitude then we'd still believe the world was flat, or that travel to space is not possible so why even try? I would be willing to bet that all the great thinkers and doers of the ages bit into some cardboard at one point in time. Maybe even more than once.

I am not a risk taker and never have been. I am way too conservative, worrying about the potential for things to go wrong. I work very hard to prevent disaster or messiness and this isn't a recent development because I'm now a mom or because I've gotten older. I spend a lot of time weighing the pros and cons to ensure a positive outcome. But the drawback is I will never experience the thrill of biting into what everyone else told me was cardboard, only to discover they were wrong and it was the best candy I've ever tasted.