I think of parenting as an art…parents are artists without constraints…whose children are blank canvases on which to apply their paint.


We remember how we also started as a blank canvas…years ago…and thus…we paint ideals and morals and values on our children…as our parents painted them on to us.


Around the time we’re happy with the painting we have styled…other artists with their own paints and brushes begin to paint upon our child.


Aunts and uncles…friends and neighbors…some who might not even be aware…add a splash of color to the canvas…a line…a shadow…here and there.


As more and more people on our painting lend a hand…we notice it begins to change from the painting we had planned.


But as the painting slowly begins its subtle transformation…we appreciate the artistry of this new creation.


Then there comes a day…it happens fast…so often it seems to rush…when the child…no longer a child…now controls the brush.


We smile…remembering our own life…and stand to the side…with no complaint…reminding our child…when they need us…we will always be ready to paint.


Knowing most of our painting is over…and how we painted with our heart…we sit back and we smile…enjoying beauty of our art.


At the same time we’re appreciating the artwork…the beauty we helped create…with paint and brush at the ready…patiently…we wait…


For the next blank canvases to arrive…when we, with no constraints

will again pick up our brush…knowing we have grandchildren to paint!

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The other night we took a pottery class and I wish I could convey…the excitement we both felt with our hands immersed in clay.


In some ways we felt like kids again…perhaps that’s the appeal…as we began to play in the mud…upon the potter’s wheel.


Sitting on my stool or at the table where I stood I was struck how working with the clay…is a lot like parenthood.


When you first come face-to-face with the clay you feel so unprepared…you have no idea what you’re doing…you’re excited…and you’re scared.


You know you have to do something because deep down you understand…whatever happens to this clay…is totally in your hands.


And so you take a deep breath, perhaps smile at your wife…and then you jump right in…at first trying your best just to hold on as your world begins to spin.


The clay seems to have a mind of its own…it’s not going as you planned…and it’s only when you relax that you feel the clay conforming to your hands.


You do your best to feel your way…you squeeze, you push, you pull, you scrape...and eventually right before your eyes…the clay takes on a shape.


As the clay keeps spinning and spinning…you’re always on your guard…hoping you’re not pulling too softly…or pushing way too hard.


When you’ve done all you can…you stop to look at the creation you’ve just thrown...hoping you’ve created something that can stand up on its own.


And whenever you see what you’ve help make…your smile is as wide as a Cheshire Cat…as you proudly whisper to yourself…”I had a hand in that!”


And you’re proud to see how tall your children have grown on they’re grown…still…every time you see their face…you smile…knowing they wouldn’t have grown so tall…if you hadn’t built their base.

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From the time you were a baby many nights after reading you a book and planting a kiss upon your head…after making sure there were no monsters lurking neath your bed.


After praying to the heavens how safe your soul should be kept…your mom and I loved standing by your bed and watching…as you slept.


Do not be alarmed it’s not as crazy as is seems…for parents often cherish every moment they are blessed to watch their children dream.


You see…while you are dreaming of soaring through the sky or sailing the ocean blue…or whatever you might be dreaming of…we are dreaming too.


Our dream is that your life will be like a fairy tale…with a happy ending just for you.

Our dream is that the dreams you dream will…all…one day…come true.


We whisper to you if one dream fails…we will be there with a smile and ice cream…to soothe your heart while encouraging you…to pick another dream.


And another…and another if you must…because in this world dreams are teeming…and while we watch you sleep we hope you never will stop dreaming.


We stopped watching you sleep long ago as the older and older you grew…but we never have…and never will…stop wishing for your dreams to come true…


You see wishing the best for their children…wishing all their dreams come true…wishing for their happiness…is just what parents do.


And no matter how old you get in life…if you ever need a bridge 

from your dreams to our dreams remember…

there’s always ice cream in our fridge.

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I like to think of family by visualizing a boat

with one family all together as on the sea they float.


Every family’s boat is different in size and shape and form

It’s a place where we learn of love and happiness 

and find safety from the storms.


As babies….under motor or with its sails unfurled

this boat is all we know…this boat is our whole world.


As we grow a little older we can see while we’re afloat

there are many other ships upon the water…

that we are not the only boat.


We make friends with other boaters…

friendships our parents happily promote.

knowing everyone at the end of the day

returns to the safety of their own boat.


But as we grow still older…as we move from year to year

we take on more boating responsibilities…

and sometimes we even get to steer.


Until the day we’re given our own boat

and with a mix of sadness, hope and glee

We thank our parents as we set sail

alone…upon the sea.


Then sometime while we’re sailing

we never know where or when

we have our own family on our ship

and the cycle begins again…


And we are happy sailing this way

because we know where our parents boat is moored…

and we know they are always willing

to welcome us aboard.



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When is a bookstore not a bookstore…certainly we have books galore…

but I think that sometimes it all depends on who comes in the store.


Some people come in for the air-conditioning…some to get out of the rain

Some people only peek their heads in and quickly pull them out again.


There is one women who comes in…an older woman…she always wears a hat.

She sits in a chair near the counter and all she wants to do is chat.


Yesterday a mother carrying her daughter on her shoulder walked into the store

Her daughter quickly smiled then toddled away when her mom set her on the floor.


The days when my children and grandchildren were that small are long ago in the past.

I had forgotten, in the interim, how something that small could move so fast.


Her mother immediately shot me a smile…or was it a look of dread?

“She headed down that aisle.” I pointed. “Toward the children’s section.” I said.


As her mother ran to the back of the store…now fully engrossed in the hunt

I had to smile as her daughter…had already returned to the front.


I heard her mother call her name…in that deep voice of a headmaster…

which only caused her daughter to smile and run away a little faster.


As I watched the daughter play this game and heard her mother’s sighs

I remember back to those sweet days of my own parental exercise.


The mother finally corralled her daughter…(she somehow found a way)

saying, “I don’t think the bookstore was a good idea…we’ll come back another day.”


And again in the interim I had forgotten toddlers are smarter than we think…

because as she waved goodby from her mother’s shoulder…I’m sure I saw her wink!


When is a bookstore not a bookstore?  

When it’s a place in which people peek…

When it’s a place to sit and chat a while…

or for a child to play hide and seek.

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I saw it as I walked one day…an acorn in the snow

and I stopped for a moment to wonder…what makes this acorn grow?


What makes this little tiny seed…barely bigger than a pea…

what makes this little acorn transform into a tree?


Certainly it must be planted with care…for it’s roots need to take hold 

If it’s ever to withstand the summer heat and endure the winter cold.


And an acorn needs to be cared for…of this I have no doubt 

It needs love…it needs to be nurtured…if it’s ever going to sprout.


And once it peeks out of the ground…once it’s leaves begin to show

that little tiny acorn…needs a lot of room to grow.


And it will always need nature’s protection as it’s life ebbs and flows

it will always need her patience and her caring…no matter how tall it grows.


As I saw that little acorn…and fancied it a full grown tree

standing in it’s imaginary shade…this thought occurred to me


Every child…every baby…is like that acorn in the snow.

They need what every acorn needs if they ever are to grow.


As parents we must understand…how tall our children grow


depends on how we care for them…when they are but acorns in the snow.

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When he was but a child his parents often smiled

when he wanted them to read him Peter Pan.

And when they read, “the end." he’d say, “Please, read it all again.”

“This time a little slower if you can.”


So they’d read it all again…and again and again and again

for that is what mothers and fathers do

because if it is loved by their son…and he is having fun

they find…they love it too.


When she was a but child her parents often smiled

when she wanted to climb their tallest tree.

She would climb up and down and then… say, “I want to climb again

there is still so much up there I want to see”.


So they’d watch her climb again…and again and again and again

for that is what mothers and fathers do

because if it is loved by their daughter…when they stand under that tree and spot her

they find…they love it too.


But sons and daughters grow…as all parents know

for life is nothing if not fleet.

The woman and the man move on from climbing trees and Peter Pan

and keeping up with what they love’s no easy feat.


So they watch and often worry as life seems to scurry

trying to love what they love too.

Their children may no longer heed them 

but they will be there if they need them

for that is what loving parents do.


And though they’re sad life moves so fast…from the present to the past

there is one thing that keeps parents happy too…

As they ride life’s ebb and flow…they are overjoyed to know

the things their children love may change

but not the who.


And there will come a day…when they are old and grey…

(for this is exactly what parents do)

A day they’ll look back when they can…

and remember climbing trees and Peter Pan


and they’ll remember how they loved them too…

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After the birth of his first child a son asked his father,

“How much influence will I have in my son’s life 

and how far will my influence extend?”

The father looked at his son and smiled…

“Well son, that depends.” 


“Will your children grow up to be kind and loving?”

“Will they be people you are proud of?”

That depends on if you’re teaching them 

how to be kind, 

how to be gentle… 

how to love.” 


“Will they grow up with prejudices?”

 “Will hate and bigotry they pursue?”

“That depends on while they’re growing up 

if they see hate or acceptance in you.”


“Will they grow up unselfish and generous, 

or will they in themselves be immersed?”

“That depends of if your teaching them 

to put themselves or others first.”


“Will they grow up greedy and miserly…

will they take what isn’t theirs?”

“That depends on if you’re teaching them 

not only how to accumulate 

but how to share?”


“Will your children grow up happy 

or will they end up sad and blue?”

His dad looked him in his eyes and said, 

“Son, that depends on you.”


He is proud of the adults his children grew up to be

and when they ask him how far their influence will extend 

he’ll be ready with his answer


he will tell them…that depends.

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As your children, Moms and Dads, we’d like for you to know

we’re glad you were around to help us all to grow.


You understood that our time as children is short…how it only lasts a little while

In that time you taught us how to be happy…you taught us how to smile.


You showed us that we mattered…we think that is the key

You loved us for who we are…not for who you wanted us to be.


You understood how to be a parent…how we were your priority

You knew your jobs were important…but also…so were we


You knew we were your children…not distractions you could shirk

In fact…you showed us every day we were your most important work.


You taught us to be accepting and kind…so when our childhood ends

We would be good people…good husbands, wives and friends.


Here are two things we’d like to tell you…two things we hope you never forget

The first…we will always be your children no matter how old we get.


The second is just a little something we shall forever be counting on…

always send us a goodnight kiss…even when we’re gone. 


And now that our childhood is ending…(like we said it only lasts a little while)

we want to thank you for giving us the kind of childhood we can look back on and smile.


Thank you for loving us every day…like you did the day we came


and making it so easy…for us to do the same.

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