Opportunity knocks at the most interesting, inspirational, and even during the dry, does-not-seem-like-anything-is-really-happening-at-all-moments. Sitting around a kitchen island while my children eat organic macaroni and cheese is hardly an exciting experience in one’s life, yet my inventive spirit often challenges the mundane. Today is no different.
As they eat their food with child-fun utensils, a yellow fork in my son’s hand that looks like a bulldozer scooping out his food, and my daughter with a fork shaped like a train, I make a protein shake in the blender. Experience has taught me that my two-year-old does not welcome abrupt noises; creative approaches are a necessity. As I am about to hit the On button to the blender, I announce lift off will occur in minus ten seconds, and the count down begins. Within a 10, 9, 8, my eyes widen to communicate that their participation is necessary to continue. Then in unison, the count down meets shouts of excitement, “7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1.” “Blast off,” I yell, as the blender takes off, pulverizing ice cubes, swishing water in every direction, and combining protein powder until no longer a dry, fine particle exists. Within seconds, the mixture is compounded by the release of turbo boosters, and “Boom”, with the flip of a button, the high position goes on, as the noise level rises. A few moments later, the air is silent as the off button is engaged, but the smiles of this trio continue to unite and glow. Our spirits like to pretend, and the energy that is moved from such moments brings a carpe diem attitude.
Within a few minutes, my six-year old daughter looks down at the floor beneath her dangling feet, and announces quite nervously, “Look mom, ANTS!” Then without provoking him, my son joins in, “ANTS! ANTS! ANTS!” I run to their side of the island to see a swarm of hundreds of ants, mainly crawling upon cereal that had fallen aimlessly from the counter earlier, from my son’s breakfast spoon. My smirk and bewildered look show amusement and amazement at the scene upon me. The ants are attacking Mighty Bites, gingerbread man-shaped cereal. It looks like killer ants are attacking people, a scene from a horror film. My eyes dart back at my children; I see expressions that are neither amused, nor amazed, only bewildered and interested on what my next step may be. I look up with a gentle smile, a curious look to show my mind wandering freely, and then state matter-of-factly that an opportunity is upon us. I grab a napkin and kneel down to push the ants towards a circular pile. My words loudly pierce their ears,”An opportunity is upon me to be brave in the face of the ants that are marching one by one, hurrah.”
As I begin wiping the ants to the center, I am repeating the words, “Gross, gross, gross, I am really grossed out, but this is an opportunity to be brave. See? This is what it means to be scared of something, but do it anyway.” I then go underneath the sink to retrieve some type of ant-killing spray. Gathering ants to a circle, as they try to escape, is not helpful for disposing of ants. I did not find any ant-killer anywhere, since potent, toxic spray of such sort is kept in the garage. Not wanting to leave my children, I searched for an alternative insect destroyer. This was no time for collecting ants and setting them free outside, as we had done countless times.
I found a can of Lysol, anti-bacterial cleaning spray. My knowledge about its toxicity is that it is enough to keep under the sink in a locked, childproof cabinet. With lemon freshness, I spray the ants with vigor, as my children question my technique; “What’s that, mom? Will they die?” I speak the truth when I say, “I don’t know.” Sure enough, the spray sends out a glorious lemon-fresh scent while ants seemed to be stopped in their tracks.
In celebration, I wipe up the ants and leftover Mighty Bites with a paper towel and begin to march while singing, “The ants go marching one by one, hurrah, hurrah. The ants go marching ….” My youngsters, thinking that this looks like fun, join in harmony and we march together around the kitchen, hands raised, and with a rhythm in our step.
The opportunity to seize the day adds energy to our spirits. We are uplifted, engaged in life’s music, and we find a shared connection between us. The contagious laughter that spreads throughout the kitchen, the smiles that emanate across our faces, and the joy that fills our hearts to make the most of every situation that arises, is a strong boost to the mood of the day. Bringing the dull, uneventful day-to-day experiences into energetic, musical adventures full of gusto, rocket ships, cleaning with Lysol the ants that attacked the fallen Mighty Bites, add such exuberance to our lives. My only hope is that my children entertain the thrills that the ordinary offers them, to see them as opportunities of entertainment, problem-solving, facing one’s fears with bravery and action. With a blender, some ants, Lysol, and with song, anything is possible.
As I start to ponder the incredible energy that entered our realm so inconspicuously, my daughter says, “Can we go outside and play now?” as if we were not playing already. May non-playing always be fun opportunities to seize the moments of the ordinary, transforming them into the extraordinary adventures they potentially possess. May our inventive creativity always challenge the mundane.