Last month, my wife and I traveled to Southern California to visit my daughter’s family for a few days. She lives reasonably close to Disneyland; so, we decided it would be a nice idea to take my three-year-old granddaughter and one-year-old grandson to see the “happiest place on earth.” I had a few reservations about this adventure because some of my outings with grandchildren have not produced good outcomes for any of the participants. I could envision soggy, unhappy grandchildren making scenes in very public places, thereby, destroying the whole intent of carting them off to have a good time.
I was happily surprised. We originally planned to stay at the park from about 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., but the children and adults were having such a great time we didn’t leave until 9 p.m. Even little one-year-old Owen was happy being rolled around in his stroller while taking in the sights. I don’t ever recall seeing a bigger pair of eyes than Owen’s during the Nemo’s Adventure ride. Toward the end of the day, my wife bought Madelyn a pair of Cinderella slippers, and she literally danced through the streets of Disneyland proclaiming, “I’m a princess.” At least one observer will confirm that she truly is.
I always seem to learn something when I travel or take on an obligation that makes me a little nervous. I’ve come to realize that the older I get, the more likely it is that I will mistake education for a process that merely confirms my biases. I can build a pretty resilient shell around my opinions and “knowledge” simply by reading things that support my views, listening to others with similar outlooks, or going only to places I want to go.
Fortunately, I have a wife and grandchildren who seem to realize that I’m not as smart as I sometimes think I am. They expose me to feelings and ideas I probably could not experience if I simply did what I wanted to every day. I appreciate that I’m also surrounded by people at work who aren’t afraid to broaden my horizons. The City Attorney seems to take special delight at this task.
Next week, I plan to sign up for another year as a lunch buddy to a young friend at Calapooia Middle School. This is another one of those experiences that sometimes makes me uncomfortable, and I can think of a number of legitimate excuses to forego the obligation this year. My recent tour of Disneyland was just another reminder that many good things happen, and I tend to learn the most when I stretch myself a little to be of service to someone else.