Sometimes all you need is a rainy day to refocus. Like many of you last weekend, I watched it rain and rain and rain some more. In a home filled with a two-year-old and a six-month-old, a day can quickly head in the wrong direction based on the weather, the accidental deletion of a favorite show on the DVR (sorry Abby), or by not having the much-needed creamer to add to your large cup of coffee as you awake in the early morning hours to a two-year-old alarm clock saying, “I ready to get up. It is not dark outside!” Yet, those same ingredients can also lead to renewal, an increased focus on what is important, and a reality that the days we have with our children being children are limited – not limitless.
On Friday evening, my family joined Malcom Bridge Middle School and Oconee County Middle School administrators, teachers, students, and parent volunteers at “Middle School Mania.” As the name may denote, this event brought hundreds of young people together for an evening of music, games, and fun. Organized chaos was apparent, and the kids seem to love every minute of it. My two-year-old daughter, Abigail, had determined earlier in the day that this event was a big party for her, and she was excited to attend. Jake, my six-month-old, approached the evening in his usual fashion of eat, sleep, and grin. Nevertheless, as the sun began to set, the Branch clan headed up Highway 53 for the evening. From bands to kickball to hula hoops, MS Mania had something for everyone. Everywhere you looked children where simply being children. The night quickly passed and it was time to take my daughter, now covered in sand from head to toe and exhausted from hanging out with the “big kids,” home for a much-needed bath, a bedtime story, and a good night’s sleep.
As we awoke Saturday, Abby was once again excited to go with her daddy to the “dog show” at North High Shoals Park. This event brought together members of the High Shoals community and their family pets for a morning of coffee, dog demonstrations, and, for my daughter, face painting and bubbles. As we departed the event, the rains came down and sealed the plan that our family would remain in for the rest of the afternoon. Yet, as dinner time arrived, Abby lobbied successfully for a trip to Chick-fil-A for some nuggets and an indoor play ground. Jake grinned in agreement.
Sunday afternoon, as the rains continued, I attended the graduation ceremonies for Youth Leadership Oconee. This event was a nice way to finish the weekend. Yet, as I drove home, I could not help but reflect on the fact that time goes by quickly. Our children go from small playgrounds … to middle school … to graduations in the blink of an eye. Sometimes a little rain is a great reminder to slow down, refocus, and enjoy the ride.