Sometimes Pineapples Are Even Better

The trigger has been pulled, the starter gun has gone off… in fact to most of us the countdown to it is a simmering, distant memory …The year is in full inertia and we are hurtling forward again… very possibly already feeling caught up in the unrelenting, spinning wheels of life-as-we-know-it.
In all likelihood, this year may have begun with new plans, expectations, wishes, challenges, determinations to make changes, new opportunities…but with the wisdom that comes along with aging we also know that often times, almost inseparable from dreams, may come disappointments and shattered hopes for both us and our children. And at these times, we need to be there… and teach them about pineapples…
He raced through excitedly “Dad, can I go on the canoe with the boys?”. We put on his life jacket and watched him running across the open field to the verge of the expansive waters where Bass and Trout had been caught in the run up days to Christmas. And now, at the end of a long, festive and fun filled day, some unwinding on the serene waters seemed like the perfect way to digest lunch…. and Christian was desperate to join the Fly Fishing family members in their ventures to catch a sunset fish.
But, by the time he reached the water’s edge, the canoes were all out, and he stood alone on the banks, his excitement quickly fading to devastation, hurt.. his hopes crumbling, tears welling as reality set in….
My husband and I sat on the distant veranda observing what to me was a heart breaking scenario of an excited little boy whose hopes had been shattered…. no one had waited…. he had been left all alone…. completely unintentionally, but his pain cut deep….
Now I am not an advocate of jumping in and rescuing our children emotionally each time life hands them disappointments, in fact occasions such as this can become the most valuable learning tools in teaching resilience and problem solving, whilst at the same time supporting our children through empathizing and acknowledgment of their emotions. But from 50m away, although I couldn’t see his face clearly, I felt my boy’s pain, I felt his confusion and his immense sadness…
Something flooded over me… while I couldn’t change what was, I could navigate this heartbreak alongside him.
The air was starting to cool, and entering the chilly dam water was the last thing I had wanted to do, late afternoon, on Christmas Day… but fierce instinct rose up. I ran to my room, tossed on my cossie, adding my long sleeve rash vest in the unrealistic hope that it would somehow raise the water temperature a few degrees, grabbed my oversized pineapple lilo (a recent hilarious-looking purchase) and charged across the mowed field to where sobs were erupting.
I threw my arms around my little boy, and gently acknowledged the devastation and sadness he must be feeling after being so excited to go on the dam. This caused even greater tears, but within that was a deep connection that welled from him feeling understood. I explained that I couldn’t offer him another canoe, and that we couldn’t fish off of my lilo (in fear that an AWOL hook would leave us treading water in the middle of the dam), but that we could go for a paddle on it together.
Plans don’t always go the way we hope and fantasize them to, in fact, as adults, we know that life seldom maps out how we envisage it, but it’s invaluable to teach, to show, to experience alongside our children that sometimes an alternative plan can be just as good…. even better….
We gently floated across the dam on the enormous pineapple, drifted up close to the fishing canoes, watched the nylon lines dancing across the crystal waters as they attempted to land their flies in the perfect spots. We watched the bright red Bishops flutter in-between the reeds, paddled our way to the Blackberry brambles lining a particular section of the dam’s edge, we watched Egyptian Geese fly overhead, we soaked up the salmon-coloured sunset and all the perfection of the nature surrounding us….
The unplanned, alternative moment was beautiful… to me, it felt untainted, unblemished, flawless… and I realized how perfectly at peace my soul was in that completely uncontaminated connection with my boy … I breathed it all in. “Christian, I love hanging out with you” I uttered, to which he beamingly replied “Mom, this is such fun”.
Sometimes our children need to hear from us that we are not just spending time with them because we have to, or because it’s our duty… Their sense of self explodes when they feel that we actually WANT to hang out with them, breathe life’s moments in their space… just because we want to….
We can’t always give our children canoes. And even when they are available on the banks of life, we shouldn’t always give them canoes. But we can teach our children that navigating life on pineapples can be just as beautiful, just as memorable, just as filled with opportunity, just as magical… and sometimes even more…
When plans don’t go according to what we originally hoped, share the alternative with your children, breathe it in… fill yourself with the beauty… and know that sometimes… just sometimes…. pineapples are even better.


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