Monday, January 26, 2009
Remember that time . . .
Several years ago, my two oldest sons were given a chance to take a fun trip to southern Utah with my brother and his wife. We were all in agreement that my youngest son, Devin, was too young for this kind of adventure, figuring he would get homesick for his mommy, etc. Devin was only about three-years-old at the time. His brothers were ages: seven & eight.
My sister-in-law is an archeologist and she had planned to take my older two sons to areas where they could see cool archeology finds, including dinosaur treasures. These two boys were extremely excited and talked for days about all they would be doing on this trip.
Devin was miffed about the entire thing. He sulked as his brothers packed for their exciting adventure. To make amends, I told Devin that we would be journeying down to Logan, Utah to stay with my mother while his brothers were gone. I promised that we would be doing fun things, too, but the wounded look on Devin's face was an indication that he was still unamused.
As the time approached for this adventure, we began the first leg of our journey and I drove all three boys down to Logan. Incidentally, this was before my brother and his wife had children of their own to entertain, so they were really excited about the proposed trek, too. ;)
The next morning, we loaded Kristopher's and Derek's gear inside my brother's car, and I bid them adieu for a few days. I'll admit, their departure tugged briefly at my heartstrings. Then turning, I saw the outraged look on Devin's face and knew "operation entertain the three-year-old" needed to commence.
We began our "Devin adventure" by taking him to every store we knew about within the boundaries of Logan to find what my youngest son was calling a "stud" horse. He had inherited a large plastic barnyard set from his brothers and he loved playing with it. I had brought it with us to Grandma's house for obvious reasons, figuring it would help keep Devin entertained.
My mother and I thoroughly examined each and every toy horse we came across, trying to find a "stud" horse for Devin's collection of farm animals. This proved to be interesting since we weren't sure if Devin fully understand what a stud horse was. Bearing in mind that he was only three, we didn't want to add to what information his brothers had likely already contributed. ;)
Finally, at the last store, Devin found a horse that had a weird plastic formation in the correct location and he seemed thrilled by the discovery. I purchased it for him, and we then drove this little tyke to his favorite place to eat, McDonald's, where he consumed a "Happy Meal."
That afternoon, we took him to see an afternoon matinee at a theater in Logan that was showing a new Disney flick. From the time this little guy could talk, Devin had shown an aptitude to memorize entire Disney movies. We figured seeing this new Disney movie would appease him, and he did seem to love it. He quickly memorized several interesting phrases from this movie that he shared with us during the remainder of the week, whenever he thought they were appropriate.
We had established a pattern that we would follow during the rest of the week. In the morning, we went shopping for yet another farm animal for Devin's collection. We ate lunch at McDonald's where Devin would order his favorite combination, the ever- popular "Happy Meal." Then we would either drive to one of the theaters to watch a kid flick, or we would take Devin to a video rental store to pick out the movie of his choice. We also embarked on a couple of picnics at the animal park (Willow Park) located in Logan where among other things, Devin got to watch monkeys cavort, bears romp, and he even fed an assortment of birds the bread crumbs we had brought along. In short, we did our best to keep this three-year-old happy and entertained while his brothers were gone. And Devin seemed to enjoy the time we spent catering to his whims.
The week passed quickly and before we knew it, Tom and Shar had returned from their trip with Kris and Derek. A good time was had by all, or so we thought. As Kris and Derek began sharing some of their adventures, they started each story with, "Remember that time when . . ."
After they had shared several experiences, a tiny voice loudly exclaimed: "Remember that time when I didn't have any fun?!!!"
We all turned to look at Devin, my mother and I especially shocked by his contribution to the conversation. Hadn't we spent nearly an entire week doing things that three-year-olds love to do? And during that time, Devin had giggled and laughed and smiled, indicating he had enjoyed himself. Evidently, his Logan adventures paled in comparison to what he assumed his brothers had experienced.
Devin's comment has become a family saying, much to Devin's dismay. =D Whenever a family member feels slighted, or overlooked, "Remember that time when I didn't have any fun?" is exclaimed.
I've used this saying during firesides, indicating that there are times in all of our lives when we feel picked on. We look around at others, convinced that they are having a better time of things than we are, pointing out that it is human nature to overlook the blessings that are a part of our lives.
Yesterday I heard a wonderful talk in a ward my husband and I were visiting. It was based on Elder Quentin L. Cook's conference talk, "Hope Ya Know, We Had a Hard Time." During this inspired talk, Elder Cook shares what his three-year-old son said (it must be the age) to his mother after enduring what he thought was a horrible road trip with his father: "Hope ya know, we had a hard time."
I smiled a lot when I first heard this talk. It will always remind me of our own version of this sort of thing. And yesterday, when a wonderful man from our valley spoke, using this same concept, I loved it. He talked about how picked on we all feel when facing trials. I've felt that way myself, numerous times. It's easy to feel disenchanted with life when things are going awry. I suspect we all feel discouraged and down during trials that stretch us beyond our comfort zone.
Currently, most of the people I know and love are experiencing "technical difficulties." Life isn't what any of us envisioned . . . at the moment. The challenge is to find reasons to smile, even when we're not having a fun time.
So that is my challenge to you . . . and to myself . . . to remember why we're here in mortal mode. To reflect on the wisdom Charles Dickens once penned: "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times." It is up to us individually to determine which viewpoint we will proclaim.
P.S. Devin did eventually forgive us all for the slight he felt he had endured. =) He went on to become a well-adjusted, though at times silly, child who is currently serving an LDS mission in Canada. We love him greatly.