Our home is not “screen free.” After long days at Jewish school, my daughters (ages 4 and 5) love to come home to a snack and iPad-watching. For months I had dismissed the silly LOL Surprise dolls and egg surprise videos they watch as absurd. The high-pitched voices bored and aggravated me at the same time.
Egg surprises are legal in Canada, so I had witnessed my girls’ shrieking on past trips to Vancouver, when my parents presented them with plastic eggs that cost less than $2 but evoked a response no less dramatic than a teenager being gifted a sports car for his 16th birthday. I had yet to see LOL dolls up close, and was determined to find out what the fuss was about. I searched Amazon until I found a secondhand seller that had a few in stock, because all stores had sold out. A few days later, the LOL dolls arrived.
When I presented the surprise gift to my daughters, they beamed and screamed. They jumped for joy. They peeled away layer after layer of plastic wrapping to unveil a plastic sphere filled with a flyer, a sticker, a little doll and hat accessory, and a key chain. This was the least impressive gift I had ever seen, yet to my daughters it was absolutely thrilling. While witnessing their reactions, something clicked. What the toy was didn’t matter. What mattered was the process of unwrapping the layers. The crackling sounds of the plastic created a symphony of anticipation. What mattered was the surprise.
I learned a valuable lesson from the junkiest source. Fun in life is mostly had in the journey, in the process of unwrapping. No one can ever be guaranteed a perfect or even desirable final product in life, but we can hope for an exhilarating ride getting there.
So what does a chronic overthinker like me do with this new epiphany about the beauty of life’s unpredictable turns? Swinging on my friend Sima’s porch chairs later that week, together watching our kids sell homemade art to neighbors as we sipped margaritas, Sima turned to me and said, “Worry is like a rocking chair: it will keep you busy, but it won’t get you anywhere.”
I have begun to see the silver lining (or should I say plastic lining?) in the scary unknowns of parenthood. Ultimately there is so little that we can control about life. I am choosing to focus on the few things I can determine, by loving my kids passionately and letting them know I believe in their strength and resilience.